03 September 2014

THE DEMISE OF NECROTIC CINEMA


I have been mulling this over for a while and I have come to the conclusion it is time to retire Necrotic Cinema. I am struggling with blogging as a whole and have lost most of my passion for it really. Most, but not all. I really like the blog but after several years at it I have yet to get even 100 posts completed. it does not mean I do not want to do posts and have a zillion (give or take a billion) in the plump draft folder, but to be quite blunt I just am having a hard time giving a fuck any more. I seem to still give a shit, but the giving a fuck part is really becoming a burden. In the end my main blog is and always has been The Uranium Cafe and that has become a burden as well for me and I am wrestling with retiring it as well. As a sort of compromise I have decided to expand The Uranium Cafe (always baffles me whether or not to capitalize the indefinite article there) and allow more modern movie posts there as well now. I tried to keep it an obscure movie blog and it will still be that, but when I think about it a lot of the modern movies I gravitate towards -horror and other types- are pretty damned obscure by most standards so I will simply merge the content really. I may even move over some of my cooler posts from here to there to get the ball rolling as they say. I have no intention of deleting the blog and if you found your way here you can still support the concept of Necrotic Cinema (where some movies are better left buried) and visit The Uranium Cafe, where old and new drek are pandered with willful and wanton abandon. RIP NC.

15 August 2014

LOVE BITE/2012

Another British horror/comedy here. Love Bite, directed by TV director Andy De Emmony in one of only a couple ventures onto the big screen, is well made and well acted for a horror genre film and starts off well enough. The sex starved lads of sleepy Rainmouth are on a rainy summer holiday and all are hoping to lose their virginity this summer. On this point one poster compares the film to American Pie. Maybe since the filmmakers are British they can be forgiven, but that is probably not the best film to compare your work to. Three of the guys are hopeless dwebs but handsome and polite Jamie (Ed Speleers) would have no problems attracting the farer sex if he did not associate with his annoying mates all the time. And of course being the handsome and polite chap he is he is more the romantic and committed type, looking for lasting love and all that. Enter into the pie making community of Rainmouth two new characters: the sexy and worldly (and possibly lycanthropic) American Juliana (Jessica Szohr) and the werewolf hunting Sid (Timothy Spall) and the action in dreary Rainmouth soon gets going at a breakneck speed, right? Wrong. The movie gets stuck in its weird Porky’s world of the boys desperately wanting to get their cherry’s popped and repeated instances of that dry British humor that is funny in doses, but soon gets too, well, too dry and Britishy for my taste. The big problem, the big, big problem, is that the werewolf itself is not introduced into the film until about the last twenty minutes or so.  And then in that last stretch of film the makers try to shove a twist or two down your throat to spark things up but it is too late. The last scene in the diner (or whatever they are called in England) seems like it was stolen from The Howling as far as I am concerned. I had no issues with the revolting horny British young guy story line, but that is basically all the film is. It never really becomes a werewolf story. There are funny enough moments and it never gets as grossly over the top American Pie really but a film like this needs the monster in it before the half way mark really. You don’t want to show a monster too early but you don’t want to show it too late either. I lost interest and paused the movie and finished it the next day just to do this review about it. This definitely had potential but by the mid-point I was losing interest but held on in hopes of a bigger bang the makers were holding in store for the viewer who hung in there, but it never arrived. I can't even find any scary screen captures to liven the post up a bit. 

12 July 2014

TORMENTED/2009

This “slipped under the radar” British horror film by Jon Wright hit me in the hit places so well that I watched it twice in one week. Well, the first version I watched on a Chinese streaming site called PPTV had over 20 minutes of the film cut from it, including all the death scenes, and so I wanted to see what I may have missed, but that was not the only reason I rewatched it. The film is very well made on all fronts, including direction, editing, acting, and score. While not a perfect horror film in any sense, if there is really such a thing, the movie delivers all the goods using a pretty simple premise; bullied teenager returns from the dead to wreck havoc and revenge on his tormentors. It is never explained why he is able to return from the dead and there is no occult subplot (thank God) to muck up the storyline with. I have long felt too that British films in general deal with the whole social class issues better than their American counterparts, were the class struggle concerns are not as relevant or explored storylines. Seems a lot of films like this have come out in Britain since the late 50’s and the old b/w angry young man films of the 60’s are some of the best movies ever made. And there is some element of that class struggle in Tormented, though it is more amongst the members of some sort of elite prep school meaning most likely they all come from money. But here we have the more modern spin on things with the conflicts being between the upper preps and jocks, and the nerds and emos. But the film presents the conflict with elements of snooty British snobbery that you just do not find in American high school type dealing with the same themes. But to be clear, the movie is not really addressing any such issues on a deep level, anymore than it is addressing the problems with bullying. In fact that social issue things are not the reason I watch horror movies, not all. I watch horror movies for the tension and jolts, and to be quite frank, some blood and a bit of gore delivered in just the jut doses at just right time. And it is in that department that Tormented sits well with me. And as well as the horror and violence, it has some of that special dry British humor you either like or do not like, and which fortunately I like a lot when it is done right as it was in Shaun of the Dead. But Tormented is not meant as a spoof or parody of slasher or high school body count films, and while imbued with black humor and at times campiness the film over all takes itself pretty seriously. That can backfire on many horror films, but I do not think it does here despite a glitch or two every now and then.

Poor geeky fat kid Darren Mullet (Calvin Dean) is so bullied by the school’s popular crowd, led by pretty boy Bradley (Alex Pettyfer) that he is ultimately driven to commit suicide. He secretly holds a love for head girl Justin (played just right by Tuppence Middleton in her first role) and it is the last straw when she appears turns against him along with the gang of evil preppies. A party is help after Darrel’s funeral and Justine develops a quick romance with slightly nicer preppie dick head Alexis (Dimitri Leonidas) and soon Justine herself in with the popular crowd herself. There is basically one death and one deafening of an emo during the first half of the film, but the deaths start piling up quickly in the film’s second half, and they are a batch of grisly demises to say the least. The relationship between Justine and Alexis is actually handled rather well, and the role of asinine, spoiled Bradley is played to the hilt by Pettyfer. We do not see much of ghost/killer Darren or what happened with him and the bullies until later in the film, and as is often case you find yourself rooting for the bullied kid and hoping he gets all the bastards even if you have learned to like one or two of them. Does he get them all or not? I think you can check it out and find out for your self. It does have a twist of an ending, but not a ridiculous one that seems tacked on later in the editing room, the way many such slasher films end off these days. I saw another British bullying/suicide film recently as well called Truth or Dare and I want to review that one soon, maybe next, as there are some comparisons I want to make between this film and that one, and why I think this one worked better in the end, though truth or Dare verged on the edge of becoming a great horror/revenge movie. In closing I will say that I have not seen Tuppence Middleton (wow, I love that name) in anything else but and trying to find something. She was great in this one and was simply lovely to behold. The films listed for her on IMDB do not look at that great in a way and she certainly seems like a good actress able to do more than slasher material. I can recommend this film. If you are fan of slasher films with a bit of gore you will like it I think, and if you are not I doubt it will do much for you, but if you’re not why the hell are you reading this friggin’ blog in the first place?!
 

02 May 2014

NECROVISION/TV IN CHINA/THE FOLLOWING



I like watching TV shows when I can get them to stream on my iPad here in China, as that is only one of three ways I can see any real TV here. There are no American or foreign shows to mention of here in China. Okay, they have Sponge Bob I think. All TV programming is done by the communist party and the only network is CCTV and the local variations on it that are still the same thing -news reports about perfect China is- but with specialty shows on local tourist attractions or food  basically. CCTV really sucks and I never watch it really unless I am holed up in a hotel somewhere and bored shitless. There is some outside programming and in particular the soap operas from South Korea are popular here, but the commie government deems them as a threat to something  like a harmonious society too and they too are getting restricted more and more. So the other options are these; 1) Buy the full season on pirated DVD discs. The episodes are ripped from HD TV recorders or whatever it is that captures them and complied onto a diskc after a season completes. Problem is DVD stores here are getting fewer and far between and the quality can really be bad at times, especially the audio. I hardly buy DVDs here anymore as the quality is just getting poorer and poorer. I still get one now and then, but the newer option has become 2) streaming movies and TV. I have to correct myself and say that I discovered most of the movies and TV shows they show here (not all) are not actually pirated. The streaming companies here like PPTV, TuDou, AiQiYi and SoHu (to name only a few) pay big bucks to outside suppliers or distributers to use the shows legally and so advertise over them legally. A big commercial here lately is one with Brad Pitt promoting a car. Yea, Brad Pitt did a Chinese TV commercial and I saw a Johnny Depp on a billboard advertisemtn the other for a car. For the streaming sites to legally use that commercial the programming itself should be legal too or there can be issues. I found out a lot about this recently when The Big Bang Theory was banned in China and all streaming sites (like the above ones) was ordered that they must stop showing this subversive show immediately or face serious consequences. Why is Big Bang subversive? Who knows. The government here only has to say it is. Or not say anything other than “take it down” and that is it.

But there can be other problems with streaming TV here as well. And a big one is the lousy ass Chinese Internet. I read somewhere that China was developing a super high tech Internet that would be superior to anything in the US or Europe or South Korea. Well, maybe that is fine for the commie party fat cats who will have it and want to flaunt it and proclaim "we are better than thewest again!", but the rest of the people here, Chinese and foreign alike,  are all stuck  with ADSL type connections that are dial-up speed at best back in the States. For some things I manage quite well, but for watching movies and TV it can be hit or miss. Mostly miss here lately. The shows just stream so slow as to make them unwatchable. So that leaves one with the last option and that is 3) downloading via bittorrent type sites. I am good at this and used to be quite the ripper and uploader as well. I am able to find the shows, like Big Bang, and can even find Chinese subtitles (http://shooter.cn)  and pair them up with the AVI or MP4 file for my wife to follow. She can speak English but it can be hard to follow native speakers when they speak quickly, a problem I have trying to listen to Chinese native speakers to be sure. So subs help. And for the most part that is what I do to get shows and movies (I also download old movies from Youtube now and in MP4 but maybe more on that another time) but the glory days of bittorrents (R.I.P Demonoid) are over and I worry about all of that, but for now I get my TV shows via this method. My wife does not watch most of them really. She does not like cannibals and guys who wear masks made from the flesh of teenagers faces the way I do. Ah, go figure.

So here are a few shows I have been watching (or trying to watch) lately. Actually, only one show for this post as my intro went on a bit longer than I intended. Some new coffee beans, sorry. This show here I gave up on before the end of the first season. It is called The Following and is put out by FOX TV. It stars the reliable Kevin Bacon as burned-out  FBI agent Ryan Hardy, who is dragged in from retirement to seek out serial killer and cult leader Joe Carroll, played, I think, with tongue firmly in cheek by James Purefoy. The whole FBI/cop in retirement or semi-retirement because of of a dead partner or because they shot a kid with a water blaster one night in Compton being cajoled into returning to duty because they are the only one who can do it formula is getting pretty goddamned old to me. "I need the old Bladerunner." But Kevin Bacon handles it okay. I like the guy over all and the fact that a lot of the cool old movie actors from the 80’s and 90’s who are turning up in these TV shows now (like Kiefer Sutherland and Laurence Fishburne) is welcome to me. Those guys can still act better than the new generation and while they are not spring chickens they are still young enough to carry a good drama or action lead and even have a believable romantic relationship, but they are also old enough to be totally jaded and worn out with life and all it's bullshit. And Bacon’s Ryan Hardy is just that and an alcoholic to boot. I got pulled in to the first couple shows but soon got burned out with the strain on my suspension of disbelief with the continuous implausibility’s and plot holes. 

For one thing the entire premise is too unbelievable for me. That the character of Joe Carroll could be so charismatic and his followers so needy and easily misled and manipulated that they all could develop a murderous Charles Manson like family built around the writings of Edgar Allan Poe is not something I swallow easily. And not only that, but to develop the cult-family while Carroll is still in prison -and meets many of his followers via prison visits- for murdering some sorority girls one night takes it even further from the realm of believability. And that night not only finds Carroll doing a soroity house Ted Bundy routine but has him stabbing Ryan Hardly in the heart and  therefore having Hardly need a pacemaker implanted in his chest. The pacemaker thing seems totally unnecessary and leads to some goofy situations really later in the series, like where a female killer tortures hardy with some batteries she hovers over the pacemaker. And that is really only part of the issues for me. Hell I could handle that stuff. But it gets keeps get getting deeper and deeper in terms of what I can sit and accecpt. My malarky meter was always in the red.

That this cult could be so powerful that they have technology that is beyond the FBI’s is ridiculous. Carroll calls Hardy and taunts him constantly on some satellite but the dopey, stuck n the stone ages FBI can never trace the calls because the bad guys are so smart and organized and one step ahead of the cops and feds. But when a call is made from Hardy to Carroll’s ex-wife in a witness protection program -who Hardly loves but can’t commit to cos’ he is a distant brooding loner and he will just get her hurt in the end cos' everybody he loves dies... and, and she does die later- and a window of a few seconds opens up on the phone line security because of a virus the cult memebers put there and the feds can't get off  the killers trace the call immediately and are there as quickly with machine guns and armored vests shooting up everybody in broad daylight. The family also stays in a huge multi-million dollar mansion somewhere in Virginia or Delaware. This is a palace, and they can stay there because one of Carroll’s top followers is the local sheriff. As if being a local small town sheriff suddenly means you have access to places that look like Buckingham Palace. And that is another issue I had. The family is not located in the mountains of Idaho or the deserts of Southern California or some mountains in west Pakistan. They actually seem to staying about a twenty minute drive from the FBI headquarters and never get caught at anything until after the fact, and sometimes not even then. 

You never know who is or who is not a family member. Well, okay, after a while you do. Once you catch on it is a story gimmick that some of people you least suspect are members then you started getting the hang of figuring it out pretty quickly. Could it be the helpful cop or FBI agent next to you? Or the kind, committed gay couple next door? Or maybe your trusted nanny? Or even the friggin’ president of the United States himself! I don’t think I even finished the entire first season now that I think about it. I may have been thinking when I went into this that there would be different stories over the back story of Hardy’s tainted past and drinking problems and inability to love and trust and stay focused on his chakras. I thought it would be a profiler show like Criminal Minds. In Criminal Minds the back stories not explored deeply enough really (these new shows are only like 40 minutes long, compared to the 50 minutes old TV shows were, so you cannot explore too much as a commericial break is needed all the time) but there was not a stretched over all the episodes story that focused on Edgar Allan Poe and a murder family built around him all the time. I love Poe, but I cannot except the premise of a frenzied murder cult built around The Raven or The Tell Tale Heart. That’s like saying people today even read Poe. I have my doubts. And what about the local sheriff with the hillbilly accent? Am I to assume he is an avid Poe reader? I now Poe was asouthern gentlman and all himself, but I don't think the sheriff here is the type to get all sucked into a Poe cult.  Yes, one has to suspend disbelief to a degree for most any movie or TV show I know. There has to be plot holes in order for the story to move along briskly. People are going to do things they would not do in real life or no one is going to die or get kidnapped. But enough is enough. And in the end I just did not buy the villain enough to continue watching. Purefoy’s acting style and weird accent from another time and place just began to annoy me. And there was one last major problem; I was watching ths via streaming TV here and it got so slow I could not finish the last episode I watched. It did not intrigue me enough to download and finish it. Bad sign. I could possibly watch a few more if the streaming worked again, but I doubt I will download this odd little series. 


TV show reviews coming up: Hannibal, American Horror Story,  Bones, Criminal Minds, The Big Bang Theory. Stay tuned!

14 November 2013

THE BONE BOYS aka THE BUTCHER BOYS/2012/KIM HENKEL


Guess what everyone! Kim Henkel has written and produced a new film. And further guess what! It sucks. You may know the name of Kim Henkel as co-writer of the original The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Or you may be one of the 99% of the people out there who scratches their head and mumbles "who the hell is Kim Henkel!", like I did. He went on to do nothing much else to speak of over the next few decades of his career but that is still something cool to have on your horror movie resume, that you helped Tobe Hooper create one of the greatest -and one of the most ripped off- horror movies of all time. And at the end of the day I am a fan of the TCM franchise in general. I can’t say they are all great films but I definitely look forward to a new installment. Henkel was also the writer on the okay TCM: The Next Generation from 1994, but really I do not see why the name Kim Henkel would be any sort of real endorsement of any film being made in 2012. Nor would I see why the names of directors Duane Graves and Justin Meeks would turn any heads, but the reviews of the film The Bone Boys (the few ones favorable I read which I highly suspect are being written by people associated with the project or had to sit through a free screener of the film and feel driven out of guilt and a desire for more free screeners) seem to heap praise after praise on these guys. Meeks directed some indie horror film called The Wild Man of the Navidad I have wanted to see but which I cannot get my hands on but will once Cinemageddon has another free leech period. It is “praised” by the indie crowd but  the stills do not even look that great really, but it is a “bigfoot” type movie so I want to check it out. 

Before going into this chunk of drek I want to say one thing about Tobe Hooper, which maybe I have said here before or tried to. I sure don’t like all of his films but to be quite honest I think he did better work than The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Arggh! The heresy some are screaming now! But every time the poor bastard does a new film it gets compared to TCM and then shot to bits. “When will Hooper do another classic like TCM!” Well I have long felt that the original TCM was a great little low budget film. It works for me, but it is hardly the only thing Hooper ever did worth watching. I feel Lifeforce, and Invaders from Mars and even films like The Funhouse and Eaten Alive are decent little horror films and cuts above what others are doing. And his one return to the TCM franchise –The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2- was met with bitter reviews as well, though I kind of liked that one myself. So, what I am trying to say to all the “Hooper’s only good film was the original TCM” is “fucking get over it geeky fan boy!”. 

And why all the chit chat here about TCM anyway? Well because Kim Henkel is none too ashamed to exploit that film here in The Bone Boys/The Butcher Boys. The references are all but in your face and that is okay since so many hillbilly slasher films pay homage (a euphemism for blatantly ripping off something better) to the original TCM. And if you were co-writer of the original film then surely you would have some right to do that in your new screenplay. I guess. Might have more credibility if you had tried to do something else in the nearly four decades prior, but lets over look that for now I guess. But the goddamned tagline for the flick is “The 'spiritual sequel' to The Texas Chain Saw Massacre”. So rather than the film containing clever little references to TCM in a tribute sort of fashion it is blatantly exploiting the first film in a cheap way. And well, that annoys me. The film follows a group of teens, led by Sissy (genuine Texas girl Ali Faulkner) around the back streets of the still wild and wooly San Antonio Texas (where I lived for about fifteen years of my life, and where, long with locations in  Austin, the film was shot) where they run afoul of a gang of white guys in leather jackets and greasy hair that resemble something more out of an S.E. Hinton novel than a gang you would actually see in the run down warehouse districts of San Antonio. Or any other city in North America. Or the world for that matter. The local macho Mexican gangs and even the hard boiled drug cartel savvy San “Antone” cops fear these guys and let them do as they wish. Which is utterly unbelievable. In the end the gang is just some guys with knives and guns and the fact that they evoke such terror in the gangs and cops hastens the film on its downward spiral into scene by scene disbelief and irritation. I am sure if you were a young person of 18 or 20 and have only seen a few such films this thing may strike you as wild and crazy and too much to endure. Maybe this "roller coaster ride" will take your breath away. But if you’re a jaded old movie fart like myself you will find yourself rolling your eyes up in annoyance more than covering them in fright.