Behind The Mask : The Rise Of Leslie Vernon

416904_258453500904910_1119559100_nBehind The Mask : The Rise Of Leslie Vernon 

There are no original ideas left, cynical people often say.

However, there are original ways to create new things from the old ones. This film, despite the clunky forgettable title, is a perfect example. This film was made for us, the horror movie geeks!

The “world” of this movie exists in an alternate reality, where the movie slashers we grew up with in the 80’s actually existed, and the characters in this film reference that consistently and casually. Half of the joy of this film is in spotting the reference to the old school of slasher horror. It starts with a great opening scene of our reporter and heroine Taylor talking up the exploits of Leslie Vernon, a new generation slasher, against shots of Haddonfield, Elm Street, and Crystal Lake. Kane Hodder, who originally played behind the Jason mask, is pictured as living in the famous Elm Street house in a knowing nod to all of us horror fans.

les1The classic references don’t stop there. Leslie’s real last name, Mancuso, is a reference to the producer of most of the Friday the 13th films, Frank Mancuso, Jr. In the scene where Leslie is suiting up, a song from the soundtrack of The Shining can be heard and blocks in the background spell out the word “redrum”. Eugene’s wife, Jamie, is named in homage to Jamie Lee Curtis, who played the final girl role in the originator, Halloween. The three young girls skipping rope outside of the high school are dressed the same as the girls from the A Nightmare on Elm Street series. Leslie has a bottle of “Stay Awake” on his mantle, the same medicine featured in ANOES. When Eugene and Jamie are giving Leslie his doggie bag, the Lament Configuration from Hellraiser can be seen next to a lamp. Also, Leslie’s pet turtles, Church and Zowie, are an allusion to two of the pets in the Pet Sematary films.


The references to these classic films may seem like they would be intrusive, but, I haven’t yet mentioned how ingenious and convincing the entire film is. You are completely immersed in this bizarre alternate universe, where all of those guys who you used to tell yourself were “just a movie” when you were a kid really exist, and there is a new generation out there, building on the foundations built by Fred, Mike, and Jay. The first half uses the now-tired “documentary” style to great effect, since the brazen young serial killer, Leslie Vernon, has agreed to let Taylor and her crew film his life and give them unheard-of access to the preparation and work it takes to stage a mass murder that would stand up against the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre.

The second half switches out of Steadicam mode, and turns the classic slasher flicks on their head. The creepy short lady with the creepy voice from Poltergeist is the first victim chosen to be Leslie’s “red herring” and spook his intended final girl. That is when Robert Englund (Freddy himself) shows up as Doc Halloran (a reference to Scatman Cruthers character in The Shining)  to put a stop to this senseless killing, much like the classic Dr. Loomis character from the original Halloween. They refer to him as an “Ahab”, and Leslie is excited to have a nemesis on his tail.

All in all, this is a smart low-budget flick with the street cred and heart to make it all work. The story twists and turns at a quick pace, and sometimes things escalate to pure horror before you know it, punctuated with knowing laughter.

In one of the deleted scenes, Leslie is asked what he has been doing, and he mentions having “spent some time in Texas, helping a friend kind of reinvent his thing,” which is an obvious allusion to Leatherface in the remake of Texas Chainsaw Massacre.

Highly recommended to all horror geeks.

Grade : A

Faithfully submitted by Darth Biscuits.


Red

Red (2008)

Jack Ketchum is one of my favorite authors ; Lucky McKee is one of my favorite modern directors. Brian Cox is a character actor I am always happy to see when he shows up. Red, the novel, is one of my favorite books. Stir all of those ingredients together, and sprinkle in a pinch of Robert Englund, Tom Sizemore, and Amanda Plummer and you have cooked up a stew that I would be happy to dip my Biscuits in…

Red is one of the best films of the last ten years, in my opinion. Even though McKee was inexplicably fired and replaced after shooting much of the film, his expert fingerprints are all over it. This is a near-perfect film, and should be taught in any film class about how to translate book-to-movie.

The always excellent and ubiquitous Brian Cox plays old man Avery Ludlow, a peaceable fellow in small-town Maine, who runs his own general store and enjoys spending time with his old dog Red, fishing down by the lake. The story is simple enough : some young hoodlums show up to disturb Av’s relaxing afternoon, harassing and bullying him with a shotgun and tough teen talk. One of the kids is ripe with an extra-mean streak, and ruthlessly shoots the old man’s faithful companion, then they stroll off, laughing about their blatantly destructive behavior.

The plot moves along briskly, as all of the characters react to things in a natural and reasonable (to their respective life situations) fashion, and tension escalates quickly. Av searches out the kids and their parents, hoping only to see the boys punished and made to feel “damn sorry” for what they have so callously done.

The greedy, rich father (expertly played by the real-life maniac Tom Sizemore) backs up his kids, even though it is clear that they are tripping over their own lies. Unfortunately for them, Av is not the kind of man to back down from doing what he believes to be the right thing. He enlists the help of the local towns-folk, who have known him for years, an old lawyer friend of his, even a local news-reporter with a conscience.

The film goes to dark places, to be sure, but the characters never seem contrived or manipulated. Even when things are at their craziest, the viewer can still see the logic (albeit twisted at times) that each character is using to try to ensure their own survival.

In the end, it is a story of one man making a bold stand for the things he believes to be right, and fighting for it, at the cost of his own life if necessary. Great storytelling all around, and a thoroughly engaging and beautiful piece of film-making. I give it my highest recommendation.

Grade : A

Faithfully submitted by Darth Biscuits.

PS : Here are the links to buy the movie and/or the book from Amazon.com. If you are going to purchase the DVD or the book based on this recommendation, please do so from this link. Thanks, and enjoy!


Ironclad

Ironclad (2011)

I will admit it; I didn’t pay a lot of attention to the details of this film.

I don’t know any of the characters names or what year or what the hell they were really fighting about. All I know is that it features two of my favorite character actors in ridiculous hairstyles fighting in some of the goriest battle scenes ever. Brian Cox is the good guy, leading a disgraced templar who looks a lot like a young Christopher Lambert, against Paul Giamatti and the wrath of his bowl-cut.

Seriously, when he first shows up as the diabolical King dressed like Peter Pan, I will admit it is a little hard to swallow.

The film doesn’t waste any time getting into the action, however. And it is fucking brutal.

Over the course of the film, we are treated to repeated battle scenes flooded with red fluids and grue. The King is trying to crush the rebellion, and siege after siege unfolds. The rebels defeat the kings’ troops time after time, until getting pushed back to the mighty Rochester castle, where a lengthy, blood-soaked battle takes place.

Be aware, when I say this thing is graphic, I mean it. The battles have that sped-up hyper-real Lord Of The Rings style, splashed with waves of blood. We get burning bodies, axes to foreheads, catapulted corpses, and even a brutal severed leg beat-down.

The obvious comparisons are with the Rings trilogy and more recently the Game Of Thrones HBO series, but, in my opinion, Ironclad shouldn’t even be mixed in with them. Those two are intensely character-driven stories punctuated by violence, with the emphasis on the whole of the story. Ironclad feels much like the opposite of all that, gleefully splattering us with gore in the name of some feeble story about rebels and kings and what-not.

I am a big fan of Paul Giamatti, but unfortunately I believe he was horribly miscast here. He does a respectable job as the deranged and sadistic king, and I am sure he had a lot of fun playing a different type of role, but it just doesn’t work here. There is a scene where he is all red-faced and screaming that is particularly hilarious. But then he cuts Brian Cox’s fucking hands off with an axe, and watches him bleed out, so there is that…

The characters we are supposed to give a shit about are all casually-constructed sketches of archetypes we find in all of these type of films. Of course, Giamatti is the evil king and Brian Cox is the leader of the rebels, but then we have a wide variety of stereotypical brutes, maidens, and peasants. The disgraced monk. The young boy getting his first taste of battle. The grizzled old man of the keep. The kept woman. They are all here, and most of them get their heads caved in for your enjoyment!

All in all, it is a fun gory movie, with not much substance, but more than enough bodily fluids. Well worth a watch, if you have nothing better to do for two hours.

Grade : C

Faithfully submitted by Darth Biscuits.

 


Black Swan


Black Swan 2010

I have always wanted to see Darren Aronofsky make a horror film, and Black Swan is as close as it gets, not counting Requiem For A Dream. What a shame we won’t get to see his Wolverine film, but I am sure he will keep us interested in the future.

I didn’t like this movie at all at first. It starts off at an excruciatingly slow pace, as we watch Natalie Portman’s uptight ballerina Nina doing boring shit like vomiting in toilets, sobbing, standing on her tippy-toes, pouting, and letting her mother trim her fingernails.

Nina is a terribly uninteresting character, showing no emotions, frigid and unlikable.Christ, even the scene where she masturbates in her bed is practically passionless. But it turns out that this is the point. In order for the movie to work at all, we have to see Nina’s horizons expand. We have to believe she has transformed from boring Nina into the Black Swan, and this is how they succeed in the films hypnotic finale.

For example, at one point the ballet’s director asks one of the male dancers, “Would you fuck that girl?”

He just shrugs, like, “Of course not, I’m a ballet dancer. I’m gay.”

The correct answer for any straight man, of course is, “Right now? That’s Natalie fucking Portman, dude. I would absolutely fuck her.”

The point is supposed to be that her character lacks passion. And they get the point across well.

Mila Kunis shows up looking hot as always, and starts making Nina’s life a little more interesting. She always has that mischevious look about her, and you can tell she enjoys stirring shit up. The controversial scene where she makes a Meal of Natalie Portman’s Kunis instantly ranks pretty high on the boner scale.

SPOILER!

The whole “twist” where a main character is actually the same person as the other main

character is getting old, Hollywood. It works here, just because it is left so ambiguous,

but please can we find another trick? This was done much better in Fight Club, and much

worse in High Tension.

END SPOILER!

All in all, this is a solid work of art, with a great performance by Natalie Portman. By the

end, she will have your jaw on the floor. Plenty of creepy stuff going on in hallucinations,

and barely glimpsed scary images. And who hasn’t always wanted to see Wynona Ryder

repeatedly stab herself in the face with a nail file?

Watch this one, class.

HorrorHomework.com grade : A

Faithfully submitted by Darth Biscuits


The Descent (Blu-Ray)

Santa was very kind to the Headmistress and I this year. For one thing, he brought a 47″ HD TV which apparently didn’t fit in the sleigh last year. And he topped it off with a sweet Blu-ray player with streaming capabilities. What a guy!

So, we searched for the perfect disc for our first high-def experience. We considered all of our options, before settling on the 2005 classic, The Descent, which my lady had unbelievably never seen.

The Descent is the incredibly well-told story of a group of female friends who decide to go exploring a cave in the wilderness called Boreham Caverns. All the characters are well-developed and interesting, especially Sarah, who lost her husband and child in the jarringly violent opening scene. The claustrophobia and paranoia developed throughout the course of the movie is incredible, even literally breath-taking in parts. It is a genuinely tense, scary film, even before the albino cave-monsters show up and kill every one.

The film looks amazing on Blu-Ray! So much detail in the opening scenes in the forest and cabin, you can almost smell how green the landscape is. The cavern scenes are equally impressive, so cinematically tense and beautifully detailed, you feel like you are right there, fighting for your life alongside these desperate, horrified women.

This is definitely recommended for purchase, especially if you are lucky enough to have quality gadgets to view this masterpiece on. Even the standard def edition is still a great experience. In my opinion, The Descent is one of the best scary movies of the last ten years.

Also, this is the excellent unrated edition, with the vastly superior original ending released in British theaters. If you have only seen the Americanized version, do yourself a favor and check out this uncut edition for a much more satisfying conclusion.

(Not to mention, the REAL ending completely negates the entire concept of a sequel, which was surprisingly not horrible…)

If you haven’t seen it, do your homework!

Grade : A

Faithfully submitted by Darth Biscuits.

 

 


K Flay

K Flay is a bad bitch.

In case you didn’t know…

K. Flay is the face of the future of hip-hop. A smart, funny white girl from the suburbs. Who could have guessed?

Move over, gangsters and thugs. Get ready for the next evolution of hip-hop music. Just like in everything, bored overprivileged white people have hijacked another art form and transformed it into something new. I am talking about Nerdcore rap, the recent generation of nerdy white kids making beats on their lap-tops and rapping about video games and comics. Leading the way here are MC Chris, MC Lars, YT Cracker, Schaffer The Darklord (STD), MC Frontalot, and, of course, K.Flay.

K. Flay is the real motherfucking deal.

Her name Kristine Flaherty, and she started making music a few years back while getting degrees in psychology and sociology at Stanford University. She has opened for Ludacris and Snoop Dog, and toured with Passion Pit. She hasn’t even released a full album yet, but you can download some insane mixtapes and her amazing EP at her website, http://www.kflay.com/site/. She is an incredibly talented remix artist as well, recently killing it with her official remix of a tune off the new Beastie Boys album, “Don’t Play No Game That I Can’t Win.”

The song that follows, “Doctor Don’t Know” is a great example of K.Flay’s distinct, original sound. Her genre-bending beats and rhymes made me an instant fan.

Not convinced?

Check out her awesome collaboration with the great MC Lars for further evidence.

Single & Famous.

Want to know what it is like to be young, hot, and talented?

Watch this clip.

In an interview on http://www.thebaybridged.com, she says of her influences :

“I’ve always been drawn to confessional lyrics. Regardless of the genre, that’s what really captivates me as a listener. Once I figured out that I liked making music and was semi-competent at doing so, it allowed me to open up and dig into my own head. Right now, my motivation for writing songs and composing music is discovery through self-expression. Which might sound a little art-school pretentious, but I mean it in a totally middle-school-girl-writing-in-a-diary way.”

In the same interview, when asked about her shows being categorized into a certain genre, she responds, “From my perspective, it’s okay for shows to be a little like mini festivals, in that you’ve got artists on stage who represent different genres but appeal to a similar crowd or a similar aesthetic or all just tell weird jokes. As an audience member, I like to be introduced to something new at shows, something unexpected. So it’s been cool for me to be that unexpected element at a lot of gigs. Plus, I haven’t really figured out my own genre yet . . .”


Her live shows seem to vary depending on her mood, switching from longing acoustic jams to frenetic hip-hop flows. Check out the video below, as she speeds it up, and out-raps all of those “fastest rapper alive” geeks on YouTube.

 

K.Flay Live from K.Flay on Vimeo.

When asked what is on the horizon for her :

“Smog! Mass illiteracy! No, but really, I’m splitting my time between recording new material, playing live shows, and working on a fresh performance setup. It’s a cool cycle. The studio stuff gets me hungry to go out and play; the live show gets me excited to create new stuff.”

 

Enjoy your new favorite rapper, kiddies.

Thank me later.

Faithfully submitted by Darth Biscuits.

 

 


Red State

Red State (2011) directed by Kevin Smith

For me, the announcement that Kevin Smith was directing a horror movie was great news. I have been a big fan and admirer of the director since seeing Clerks at Burns Court Cinema in 1994. While his movies have never been perfect, he has always made it clear that he was doing things his own way and making his own path. He has made his feelings about religion clear before with “Dogma”, and uses film-making as his own personal diary to express and work out his own views of the world, which is the core of all art, unless I am sadly mistaken. In fact, “Red State” was inspired in part by an odd premonition of Smith’s that he was going to die after his tenth film and wanted to leave an unpleasant, nasty film as his last.

The controversies surrounding the very release of this film are interesting in themselves. The Weinstein Company, who had been involved in the distribution of most Kevin Smith films, passed on supporting Red State with necessary funding. He found the $4 million somewhere, and shot the movie quickly, then decided on an unorthodox self-distribution scheme, which angered quite a few Hollywood types who felt they were somehow swindled.  For months, Smith had maintained that the rights to the film would be auctioned off to a distributor at a controversial event to be held after its premiere at Sundance, but instead Smith purchased the film himself which, according to analysts, “might have been a difficult sale for any distributor.” On June 28, 2011, Smith announced a one-week run in Tarantino’s New Beverly Cinema (making the film and its actors eligible for Oscar consideration). The film was released via On Demand on September 1, 2011 through Lionsgate, was released in select theaters again for a special one-night only engagement on September 23, 2011 (via Smodcast Pictures), and was released on home video October 18, 2011.

Is it any good? Well…

The film starts in true old-school slow burn fashion, no title card, no credits. You are simply thrust into a situation, which is a great horror movie trick, that disorients you from the start. The initial characters are a few “average” teenage boys with a plan to meet up and gang-fuck some 38-year-old spinster they met through some dating app.

Of course, unless you have been a teenage boy, you probably can’t relate to this, and Smith probably alienated a lot of his audience here. In my case, I could relate. Not about the gang-sex, but just to the boys driving around aimlessly on a weekend night, drinking and smoking. It felt like something my friends and I would have done at that age, even though we sadly didn’t have the trusty internet back then in 1995.

Anyway, they arrive at a sad old trailer in the backwoods, inhabited by a sad older woman, who encourages the boys to drink up, because she “don’t let no man enter her unless he’s got two beers in him.”

Then, suddenly, the boys are unconscious and nearly-naked, in the cramped bedroom of a single-wide trailer, and some figures come into view as the point of view fades out. When we wake up, we are still looking through the eyes of one of the boys, Jared, as he is rolled along inside of a cage covered with a sheet. The in-your-face shaky cam during this scene really hieghtens the suspense you feel, in this instance.

Then we arrive at the best scene in the movie. A local religious zealot named Abin Cooper reveals himself to be the mastermind of this situation, as the sheet covering Jared’s cage is lifted to show the insides of a church-house, and Cooper giving a true fire and brimstone sermon.

Abin Cooper is played amazingly by Michael Parks, who everyone here should know as the Texas Ranger Earl McGraw from the opening scene of the modern classic “From Dusk Till Dawn”. He also reprised that role in both Grindhouse films, “Planet Terror” and “Death Proof”, not to mention his dual roles in “Kill Bill”. He has always been relegated to supporting roles, that I am aware of, but here he takes center-stage and is riveting as the deranged preacher who is convinced that his god is vengeful and angry, and homosexuality is the cause of all the evils in the world. As he rants on with incredible conviction, more elements of the surroundings are slowly revealed.

A figure is moving under a sheet below the cross behind the preacher.

A trap door below the cross holds the other two boys.

Jared’s plea’s for help fall on deaf, deluded ears.

The man under the sheet is revealed to be a “deviant” homosexual, bound to the cross with plastic-wrap and his mouth stuffed with a red gimp ball-gag. The women and children are asked to leave, so the others can get down to “man’s business.”

The struggling man is suffocated and executed, then pushed into the trap door, where the other two boys are struggling to escape.

They cut their cling-wrap cuffs off with a protruding bone from the corpse.

The movie gets fuzzy from here on out, cops are involved, action, running, screaming, and gunshots. It turns into a kind of stand-off film, blatantly echoing the fuck-up at Waco in 1994.

I was excited to learn that John Goodman was cast in this film, but, unfortunately he is quite unconvincing as this character, the head of the ATF squad called in to handle the “terrorists”. He looks old and grizzled, to be sure, but when he is barking death orders into a walkie-talkie, it is simply laughable.

The film twists and turns and shocks the rest of the way through, and if Smith was really going for “unpleasant” with this film, he was successful. The ending is incredibly cynical, but I found it to be a fitting punch-line to the overall film, maybe to Kevin Smith’s whole career.

After all, the last line, “Shut the fuck up!”, is delivered by Kevin “Silent Bob” Smith himself, and if I am correct, I suspect he might be talking to himself….

Grade : B

Faithfully submitted by Darth Biscuits.

 


G.I.Joe : Retaliation

Wow, this looks great!
Someone is actually taking G.I.Joe seriously this time.
Thank the Flying Spaghetti Monster that they found a REAL director this time…

I could do without the Rock, but he seems to make a good Roadblock.
And, holy monkey fuck, was that Bruce Willis?!?
I’m so on-board with this thing.
What do you kiddies think?


The Hobbit

Holy shit, has everyone seen this yet?

It looks amazing, too good to be true.

I got freaking goosebumps! Sorry, I have nothing intelligent to say, but I cant even get my jaw out of my lap.

Now excuse me while I go watch this a million more times…


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