Dave’s Cinema Digest 2012 – Week 40

Well I already fucked up on watching a horror movie every day this month. In fact, I only spent three days this week watching movies. I got a good one in there though. The rest were middling to terrible but Looper! My god! I know I’m going to get into it just two paragraphs down, but I feel like this must be emphasized. Looper is absolutely fantastic. Loved loved loved it. Go see it very soon. In fact, stop right now, go see it, and then come back and finish reading this. I know you aren’t going to do it so I won’t bother with the tired joke of making sure you’re back before continuing. Let’s just carry on as we were.

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Demons 2 (1982)

Let it be known that I really enjoyed the first Demons. It was enormously fun and gory and ridiculous. Unfortunately, the sequel is far less fun and gory and ridiculous. The main problem is that there are far too many characters spread too far apart from each other. There’s no central character that we can latch onto and many characters disappear for a while and then show up again just when we’ve forgotten about them. If you’re a fan of Italian horror films, watch the first one but stop before you get to the sequel.

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Looper (2012)

Sci-Fi films are (or should be) filled with ideas, questions, predictions. They’re all about the what-ifs. What if we had time travel? And what if we could meet our older selves? And what if a fantastic writer/director made a really awesome movie in which these things happened? Well, then you’d have a film called Looper. Unlike certain recent sci-fi films where the world the characters inhabit is the whole crux of the film, Rian Johnson wisely uses these sci-fi elements as a tool to tell a much deeper and challenging story. It’s a film that touches on subjects like regret, responsibility, ethics, and a whole host of other really cool ideas. This is a film that uses all these sci-fi tools to tell a really compelling and difficult story. It also helps that it completely kicks ass.

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Torso (1973)

Before I begin, I’d just like to say that the original, Italian title translates as, “Bodies Bear Traces of Carnal Violence.” What would make someone change such a great title to the stupidly boring Torso? Anyway, this is an Italian Giallo movie so there’s lots of people being killed by a mysterious stalker in the goriest of ways possible and a metric shit ton of red herrings. Unfortunately, it doesn’t have the sense of style that a director like Dario Argento can bring so this ends up being a fairly run-of-the-mill Giallo.  And like any proper Giallo, the murderer has a traumatic past that has scarred him for life and led to his current career as serial killer; but his past trauma is so ludicrous and insignificant that it would have been better to have us assume he’s just always been a psychopath. Skip this one or your brain will bear traces of a sub-par film.

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Beyond Belief (1976)

[no picture for this one because, believe it or not, I couldn’t find a screen capture from a really obscure documentary made in the 1970s]

Even though I don’t believe in it, I’ve always been fascinated by the paranormal, the supernatural, and unexplained phenomena. This documentary cobbles together footage from other films into a series of segments which “investigates” phenomena such as ESP, hypnotism, UFOs (tacked onto the end after the narrator has wrapped up), ghosts, faith healing, and whether or not yogurt has feelings (no, you didn’t read that wrong). The aforementioned narrator introduces and closes each segment with a sort-of goofy, wide-eyed seriousness. As expected, all the “proof” is either through second-hand accounts or dubious at best. I doubt this would even convince a believer.

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Playback (2012)

Being a horror fan is tough. There are a lot of good films out there but it often feels that there are way more bad ones. This is one of those latter types. There are ample opportunities to make some kind of statement on film’s influence but it never gets close to being at all smart or clever and it’s all so predictable. Of course, the creepy, weird loner kid wears all black (hoodie often up), has an earring, and drives a rape van. Hmm. I wonder who’s going to get possessed by an evil spirit. The most hilarious part is a little more than midway through the movie when things need explaining. Enter Sassy Expositional Black Man. Literally, his only role in the film is to spout exposition in a cheeky manner. At one point, the main character is asking about a man named ‘Loius Le Prince’ and one of S.E.B.M.’s lines is, and I shit you not, “That dude is Satan. Think about it. Louis… Lucifer… The Prince of Darkness.” ’nuff said.

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