There are people who dismiss Martin Scorsese’s non-gangster films. Sometimes it feels like they don’t even acknowledge the existence of movies like or Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore or The Last Temptation of Christ or The Age of Innocence. These people are going to be more entrenched in their beliefs after the release of The Departed, Scorsese’s balls-to-the-wall return to the world of crime. As much as I appreciate the films he has made over the last decade, there is no denying that The Departed is Scorsese’s best film since Goodfellas. It’s just an awesome movie.
Halloween set the formula for almost every slasher movie that followed it, from Friday the 13th to A Nightmare on Elm Street to I Know What You Did Last Summer. On that last particular note, I’m not sure whether to praise it or condemn it, but regardless; it’s still the best of the bunch. Shot for a mere $300,000, it definitely has a small-budget look and feel to it, but that’s also part of its charm, I suppose. Want to know another thing that it has going for it? The title of being one of the two greatest slasher movies of all time.
Frank Cotton is a jaded individual. Having perused the world over, he visits a Middle Eastern cafe to meet his contact who agrees to sell him a very particular kind of box. Returning to his family home, he sets up a makeshift camp in one upstairs room and sets about solving the riddle of the box, which eventually opens to let him experience the very limits of pain through supernatural means. Not long after, Frank’s brother Larry arrives to stay at the house with his second wife Julia, but she’s not keen until she finds evidence of Frank’s presence – she previously had an affair with him, and her marriage is leaving her feeling claustrophobic. What she doesn’t know is that Frank will soon be returning to her life in a big way…and the end results of that will be messy, to say the least.
Written by the director Clive Barker, and based on his novella, Hellraiser felt as if something fresh had arrived on the tired horror scene of the eighties with its deadly serious approach and elaborate special effects which served the story rather than the other way around. But seeing it now, it’s clear it was still part of the horror cycle it once appeared to have broken away from: its effects represent a showcase for talented makeup personnel with a flair for gore, it features a young, female heroine who could have easily walked off the set of any Nightmare on Elm Street or Friday the 13th installment, and it has a cunning villain – or in this case, set of villains – who started a franchise.
The latest horror film to come from France, Alexandre Aja‘s ’70s-inspired slash-fest, High Tension (or Haute Tension, depending on if you speak French or not) was clearly born from grisly, though esteemed, influences. You’ll see Halloween, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Last House on the Left, and even Duel in this suspenseful blood feast. And for those of us who appreciate such things, you’ll really feel the grindhouse exploitation factor more so than in many U.S. Chainsaw Massacre knock-offs. High Tension is incredibly gory, disturbing, and at times, sickly scary. And to place it firmly in the tradition of 70s drive-in fare, it’s dubbed (and subbed on the DVD).
There’s some weird component in us all that makes us wonder how we would deal with the apocalypse. Would we be people of action, stepping up in the moment when we are most needed, or would we be cowering simps, hiding until the worst of it is over? The titular hero of Shaun of the Dead prefers to gather some friends (or acquaintinces) and head over to the pub for a drink in the midst of a gigantic zombie rampage, hoping for said rampage to be over by the time that they’re sufficiently smashed to deal with it. Genius!
In cinema history, there are some movies that make their audience treasure the life that they have, yielding smiles or tears. Some movies make us laugh. Others have been known to renew our faith in the indomitable spirit of humanity.
Riki-Oh: The Story of Ricky is the type of movie that makes the audience go “THAT WAS [CENSORED] INCREDIBLE!” and for good reason, too. If you’ve ever seen the old Daily Show where they show the loop of the head being smashed, you’ll know what to expect from this movie. For good martial arts, look elsewhere. For a good plot, look elsewhere. For some of the most outlandish gore around, step inside! Be prepared, as the movie being reviewed this week is not for the week of stomach.
Let me preface this review by saying this: The Seven Samurai is my favorite movie of all time. You have been warned.
“A truly good movie is really enjoyable, too. There’s nothing complicated about it. A truly good movie is interesting and easy to understand.” –Akira Kurosawa
Beerfest starts out with a disclaimer warning the audience not to try this it at home. Why is this? Because you’ll die, that’s why. They have a point. Imitating the actions of the characters, or even build a drinking game behind this maddeningly uproarious, sud-soaked comedy aimed straight at the frat boy set (or just about anyone that likes to laugh), is to invite mortal peril, or at least a ridiculously bad hangover. With that in mind, let us please neglect to point out that this movie reviewer goes by the name of “Chugs.”
Note: MasterChugs Theater is a new weekly feature which will be appearing Friday afternoons (yes, we know it’s Thursday). Movie nut Chugs Taylor will pull one random cinema choice from his vault and review it.
Take a trip back to 2003. What happens to a cinema geek like Quentin Tarantino when he’s away from directing for six years? What happens to a guy who is full of wiry, jittery love of filmmaking on the slowest of days? It’s like a high school physics experiment–he builds up kinetic energy until he finally vomits it out into a movie in the form of ball-clutching action, reverent reference and homage and culture shifting cool. Oh, and there’s bloody revenge, spaghetti westerns, wuxia and plenty of giallo. Quentin calls it Kill Bill, Volume 1. We call it “friggin’ awesome, MAN!”