Horror mini-reviews (part 4)
This week, let's look at three Asian horror films, Vincent Price horror from 1960s, and two of Peter Jackson's splatter movies
The Host (2006)
South Korean horror. The visual style of the film feels like a comic book, you could watch by following the images without reading the subtitles.
There’s also a bit of social commentary, the disregard for nature, the way America force its will on the rest of the globe, and the false front provided by governments declaring bogus "terror alerts".
Spoiler: I was confused by the ending, that the main characters are not affected by the agent yellow?
A Tale of Two Sisters (2003)
South Korean horror film. At first, I found it difficult to get into the movie, in fact the first half I was bored, because hardly anything happens. I found it difficult to figure out what the story is about? I agree with rotten tomatoes, that it is confusing.
I was interested in figuring out the mystery, and I liked the soundtrack score, but due to the languid pacing, it didn’t grab my attention as much as I had hoped. It seems I’m in the minority, since it has garnered heaps of praise.
It also didn’t really scare me. The twist was good, but I prefer I Saw the Devil (2010) from this director, which had faster pacing.
The Audition (1999)
Japanese horror. Not what I was expecting at all from the poster. A slow-paced character-driven drama.
I was okay with the pacing, because I wanted to learn more about the two main characters.
The horror elements don’t arrive until late in the film.
I don't want to spoil what happens, let's just say the last 30 minutes are memorable.
Dead Alive (1992)
Splatter Horror/Comedy. Also known as Braindead. Early directorial effort from Peter Jackson (Lord of The Rings Trilogy).
Very impressed by the special effects in this movie. Considered among the best in the gore genre. The bizarre mix of comedy and grossness somehow works. One of the supporting characters almost throws up, and that’s how the audience may feel as well. Highly entertaining, if you can stomach it. Looks like they had a lot of fun making the movie. They got a lot out of the reasonably small $3 million budget, because it has nearly every gore effect you can imagine. Definitely the most impressive “splatter” film I’ve ever seen. Just wow.
Bad Taste (1987)
Splatter Horror/Comedy. Can’t escape the look of a low budget film, which of course it is. Amusing to see Peter Jackson acting(dressed as a goofy Harry Potter) in what was the first feature he directed. The story is nothing special, though.
The gore effects are generally good(only missing the mark a couple of times, a fake human head, and fake seagull, look like props).
It has a few suspenseful chase scenes, on a cliff, and involving a car.
The stand-out scene could be when he regurgitates the green substance, followed by the gang eating it from a bowl, yuck!!!
Also, the ending is unexpected and feels iconic.
Horror of Dracula (1958)
Considered among the best of the low budget Hammer horror films. By today’s horror standards, this 1958 version is a bit tame, and I also found it slow. John Van Eyssen was a better casting choice as Jonathan Harker than Keanu Reeves. But I prefer Gary Oldman’s Count Dracula over Christopher Lee’s(even though I realize Count Dracula is Lee's signature role)
As with Coppola’s 1992 film, the script takes some liberties with Bram Stoker’s original story. I just personally prefer the 1992 adaptation, in terms of pacing, music, visuals, and atmosphere.
The Hills Have Eyes (1977)
It does follow the usual horror formula of the hunter and the hunted, but it’s still pretty scary how uncivilized these savages are. Especially the blonde wife is good at behaving hysterical and helpless. The dog attack is very realistic.
Spoiler: The ending is surprising, in that it just stops, and feels unfinished. Maybe the sequel explains what happens to the characters?
It seemed the female character was more interested in shooting her friends than in exploring the ship, I didn’t understand why. I read the explanation and it made sense.
If you like thought-provoking horror, give this a try.
Phantasm is an underappreciated horror, doesn’t get talked about a whole lot today. Deserves to be better known.
The "Tall Man" is creepy, and many bizarre, unpredictable things happen. Remarkable to read afterwards it only cost $300.000.
The House of Usher (1960)
Saw it because one of the clips from Nymphomaniac (2013) mentions the story. Based on a short story by Edgar Allan Poe. A man arrives and demands to see his beloved Madeline, only for her brother to refuse him. He claims both he and his sister suffer from a morbid acuteness to the senses, so the wrong food, clothes, light, noise, smell causes pain. Interestingly, the house is the villain. The film is boosted by a fine performance by Vincent Price.
Probably the best film I’ve seen directed by Roger Corman, who is known for his b-movie career.
Pit and the Pendulum (1961)
It’s pretty much acknowledged that the majority of the films directed by Roger Corman are low-brow b-movies, but there are a few highlights, and this is another of them. The Edgar Allen Poe short story is so brief, that they expanded the screenplay.
An atmospheric horror with a thrilling climax. My only complaint is how similar it feels to House of Usher (1960) the previous year, which also stars Vincent Price.
The Masque of the Red Death (1964)
Based on a story by Edgar Allan Poe. Visually the old castle looks really authentic, and Vincent Price is his usual sinister self. Among the better Roger Corman b-movies of the 1960s.
The knife game was uncomfortably real, did they really cut their arms for that scene? The scene with the ape costume was pretty horrifying.
Favorite quote: “You’re a madman! And yet I will live and you will die, where is your God in your hour of need?”
Abominable Dr. Phibes (1971)
The weirdest serial killer movie I saw for a while. Dr. Phibes sure has imaginative methods of disposing of his victims.
For all the beautiful set pieces, and inventive killings, the actual plot is rather repetitive.
Agree or disagree? Have you watched any of the above? Which horror films do you plan to watch this October?
Next week, for the final horror post this October, mini-reviews of 1920s horror, Cronenberg's Dead Ringers (1988), Bergman's Hour of the Wolf (1968), Kill List (2011), Tucker and Dale vs. Evil (2010), and The Orphanage (2007), stay tuned!