Friday, October 24, 2014

Netflix This Movie! Vol. 100

Our 100th installment of this column! Happy #ScaryMovieMonth!

Adam Riske: Satan's Little Helper (2004, dir. Jeff Lieberman) Because I like it more than Halloween (1978). I'm not saying it's a better movie though. And yes, I am high.
Adam Thas: Sorority House Massacre II (1990, dir. Jim Wynorski) A few weeks ago someone commented on my post about American Ninja claiming that the poster is every stereotype of 1980s action movie. Well, I think they wrapped up the '80s and decided to put together every stereotype of '80s horror in 1990’s Sorority House Massacre II. Let me just set it up: a group of girls move into a new house to start a sorority, and after walking around topless for no particular reason (because apparently that’s the type of shit they do in sorority houses) the girls find out the house was once a part of a murder. Well, what better idea to have at this point than to break out the Oujia board?Needless to say a whole bunch of shit goes down. I would have liked to see better kills, but I have to admit I found the movie fun.
Doug: The Last Days on Mars (2013, dir. Ruairi Robinson) Is this a bad movie (as many critics would have you believe), or is it just a disappointing movie? That's a weird way to begin a recommendation, but HEAR ME OUT. I was excited when I featured the trailer for The Last Days on Mars in September 2013, because I love movies that take place in space. Also, ZOMBIES! The director, Ruairi Robinson, is a promising up-and-comer, and the cast consists of solid middleweights Liev Schreiber, Elias Koteas and Olivia Williams. So why doesn't it completely work? For one thing, it takes itself way too seriously, even when the undead start to comically screech and claw and cough up blood. Likewise, it can't seem to find the right balance between moody sci-fi thriller and shocking B-movie camp. The beautiful cinematography and atypical score can't compensate for what is, essentially, a standard zombie flick. But it's not all bad -- there are some compelling performances, unique tech design (which, granted, is borrowed from a dozen other sci-fi movies) and a lot of AMBITION. Finally, it's better than Prometheus, so it's got that going for it. Watch it and tell me what you think.
Erich: Shadow of the Vampire (2000, dir. E. Elias Merhige) Like Hugo with fangs, this alternate history suggests that the star of F.W. Murnau's horror classic Nosferatu was a real vampire hired by the director to add authenticity to the film at the expense of his actors. John Malkovich brings an intensity to Murnau that outstrips his ability to pull off a German accent. Willem Dafoe is the star attraction as Max Schreck, aka. Count Orlok, aka. what his Green Goblin should have looked like. He's a dead (undead?) ringer for the silent actor, giving the re-creation of scenes from Nosferatu a documentary feeling that elevates the terror, while giving us movie types a peek into a long-dead filmmaking process.
Heath Holland: Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1920, dir. John S. Robertson) We're now one week away from Halloween and this is when I save the best stuff to watch. I'll be closing out #SMM with Universal Monsters, Vincent Price, and films like this 1920 silent version of the classic Robert Louis Stevenson story. John Barrymore is fantastic in his role as the fated doctor, performing most of the transformation from Jekyll to Hyde in one single shot without the aid of any special effects; it's all in the facial expressions, his body language, and the way he uses the light to his advantage. Later in the film prosthetics and makeup would be added, but the single shot transformation is one of the great moments in horror cinema. I've come to value these pre-Hays Code films for how raw and dark they often were, and this is a classic example of great silent horror.
Mike: The Fly (1958; dir: Kurt Neumann) While David Cronenberg’s 1986 remake of The Fly is one of my favorite horror films of all time, and an improvement on the original, I still really dig The Fly (1958). Its at once silly and creepy, and always a lot of fun. Like Halloween, The Exorcist or The Wolf Man, I find myself watching The Fly every October. Also, it makes me think of Lucas, which is never a bad thing.
Patrick: Dead Silence (2007, dir. James Wan) It took me a few viewings to warm up to this one. James Wan's follow-up to Saw represented a huge departure for him at the time, switching up his debut movie's grisly, grimy aesthetic for something much more classical and gothic. It still doesn't all work -- the performances are generally weak, the "twist" is transparent and stupid and the moments of gore are at odds with the movie's overall tone -- but a lot of it does. There's creepy atmosphere, some amazing sets and more than one scary ass puppet, which is pretty much the foundation of the entire film. It's a movie that looks better now that Wan has gone on to make The Conjuring and the two Insidious films; we can see that he's always had an interest in making that kind of horror film and trace the evolution of his style. I recently heard (I think it was on -- and I promise it's the last time I'll mention it this week -- Killer POV) that the movie plays much better if you change the settings on your TV and watch it in black and white. I'd be willing to try.

19 comments:

  1. OK, Riske. I'm going to cut you some slack. "Satan's Little Helper" is really enjoyable. My wife and I watched it expecting garbage, but came away as semi-fans. It's the kind of movie that ended with the two of us looking at each other, shrugging simultaneously, and then, in unison, both saying, "I kind of liked it."

    I won't dare say it's more enjoyable than "Halloween," however. That's the kind of sacrilege likely to make Sam from "Trick r Treat" pay you a visit. I'd be careful.

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    1. Side note: I'm a big fan of slasher films in which the silent killer shows a bit of personality. That's one of the things I like about the Friday the 13th movies; you can almost imagine what Jason's thinking in any given scene. I love that. The villain in "Satan's Little Helper" (the slasher, not the dorky kid) has tons of personality.

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    2. I would love to be visited by Sam from Trick R Treat

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    3. Me too. He's kind of adorable. Plus, he just wants to give you candy -- jagged-edged, glass-filled candy of death. Nothing wrong with that.

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    4. Geekyness post ahead, be warned.

      "Sam visits one town a year on Halloween to enforce the rules of the holiday and punish those who ignore and defy them. The rules include handing out candy to trick-or-treaters, wearing a costume, and never blowing out a jack o'lantern before midnight. As enforcer of the rules and rituals of Halloween, Sam takes it upon himself to punish those who break tradition."

      You don't want Sam to visit cause if he does, he ain't there to give you candy.

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  2. Satans little helper keeps popping up on my radar. Another film that sneaked by me. It keep coming up on podcasts from here ive been listening too.

    Also I like Dead silence. The Black and white idea sounds very intriguing

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    1. I recently re-watched "Dead Silence" and really enjoyed it. Out of curiosity, I went and checked out Patrick Bromley's review on DVD Talk and was disappointed he didn't enjoy it, since his opinions of movies seem to run pretty close to mine (I almost always enjoy his recommendations). I'm glad to see he's come around somewhat.

      Wan certainly seems to enjoy puppets and puppet-esque monsters. I can't wait to see how he works them into the Fast and Furious series.

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  3. After listening to the last podcast, Satans Little Helper was already queued up!

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  4. Man, the ending of The Fly. That's seriously one of the biggest mind-fucks I've ever seen in a movie.

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  5. I reviewed The Last Days on Mars for Scary Movie Month last year (might have seen it because of the trailer Doug posted).

    With some movies I believe in the saying "You don't have to reinvent the wheel every time. Just make one properly". Last Days on Mars didn't have to make strides in space monster movies or zombies for me. And for most of it, it is a satisfying movie.

    But there are frustrating bits. During one attack a zombie is at a puddle of clear liquid spilled on the floor drinking it. Since this is a lab it could be lots of things but...does that mean these zombies are after water (or just moisture) rather than eating flesh? We don't find out. Off and on the main character seems to be flashing back to an attack of claustrophobia he had in space? Was there any consequence to that..was someone hurt? Other crew members know about it but.... You sense that it might have something to do with the ending but what?

    It was entertaining and disappointing just because it tries SO HARD and doesn't quite make it.

    Shadow of the Vampire is a wonderful movie. That speech about Dracula's solitude is right there with John Merrick's speech about how Romeo didn't love Juliet in The Elephant Man (the play). And then the moments that Schreck wants to see the sun and light...he's a moth to a flame. Risking being with these humans because he's so lonely could be his end.

    And the story actually goes back to the promotion the movie got in the US. I even have an old book on horror movies that repeats the story as real. People were told that Max Schreck was someone that Murnau found for the movie and then was never seen again - disappeared off the face of the Earth. Truth being that Schreck mainly worked on the stage, other films he made were things unlikely to be shown in America and that he died at the age of 40 kept that story going for quite awhile. There's two films of Schreck's in a museum in LA now... And he's out of make up in one scene in Nosferatu...he's one of the workers in the office when "Harker" comes to his boss for his assignment.

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  6. Adam Riske, you magnificent bastard. I wish I was high right now...watching Satan's Little Helper...or just high watching anything...maybe Xanadu.

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  7. Adam...I don't have Netflix so I watched a rather detailed review of Satan's Little Helper on YouTube - they're called "Bloodbath & Beyond".

    I can see that there's kind of a good idea there...but they were the wrong people to handle it.

    And, Noir - my black cat with yellow eyes - asked me to say, fuck you. :-p

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  8. I watched Satans Little Helper a couple years ago after Riske's recommendation.
    Lets just say, Riske has unique tastes.

    ...

    The movie is crap is what im saying.

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  9. Ooh dear. Conflicting opinions. Lol. I don't think Patrick liked it neither if I remember correctly?

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  10. Happy 100th guys! What a cool way to celebrate with it being a Scary Movie Month week!

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    1. Gabby, they know what they're doing. ;-)

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  11. Gonna try to watch dead silence again, last time I only made in a few minutes in before I decided to watch something else. Thats the problem with netflix for me, with all the movies and shows I can never make it through a full movie before I get an ADD attack and go back to looking for other things.

    Also would love for you guys to do another commentary for a movie that is on netflix, I went through all the commentary episodes on the sites and none of them are on there, or have been taken off :( you should do riki-oh or the story of ricky

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  12. Movies definitely impact the youth. Though some young people are hit worse who have not had ample time to develop the brain capacity to evaluate the actual consequences of their actions.

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