Saturday Night Horror Fest

Hello there, kiddies! How are you doing this fine and lovely weekend? In Oklahoma it’s raining. And it’s very much appreciated. We’ll have a nice cool Sunday.

But we’re not here to talk about Sunday, are we?

Last night me and my horror buddies (otherwise known as Mom and Sis) watched another 3 films. First, an episode of Masters of Horror, followed by a good ol’ horror-comedy, Black Sheep. Then a somewhat cheesy, surprisingly entertaining B-flick, Séance that starred, an odd coincidence, Adrian Paul as the murderer. (Visit this link to understand why it’s odd.)

So let’s begin….

Imprint

From director Takashi Miike, Imprint

From director Takashi Miike, Imprint

The last episode in the first season of Masters of Horror, Imprint was held back from broadcast due to its highly offensive subject matter and violent scenes of torture, incest and abortion.

We picked it up since it had BANNED written across the top. Most things banned are good for something.

I’ve seen Takashi Miike‘s controversial film Audition. He is also the director of the original Japanese film One Missed Call. Now about Audition, all I have to say is: Keep a bucket handy.

And about Imprint, I’ve got basically the same thing to say. There were some scenes even I–disgusting, gore lover that I am–could hardly bear to watch. (In fact, neither my sister nor I could watch some scenes. While I hid behind my hand, I could see my mom watching all of it. Not even flinching!)

And as an interesting trivia fact, the author of the horror story the film is based on, Shimako Iwai, even had a cameo role. As a torturer. (Gruesome, eh?) It also starred Billy Drago, better remembered as Papa Jupiter in the remake of The Hills Have Eyes.

The movie itself, story aside, is beautifully rendered. The colors of costumes and hair, scenery and sky, all blend together to make this film a work of art, not just an hour long horror flick. But the story does the beauty justice. The story is strange, otherworldly. The viewer is not quite sure what is going on. It’s very reminiscent of the film, Hero, starring Jet Li and brought to the states by Quentin Tarantino. In the film the viewer is repeatedly told the same story over again, with each retelling stripping the story of a veil of lies.

Underneath it all is a strong current of punishment and retribution. That everyone pays for the wrong they’ve done–and some even for the right.

This is definitely not a film to pass over. Since it was a Masters of Horror production, it is not a foreign film, so don’t worry about reading subtitles.

I’m giving this film 4 blanks. While you may be left a little confused, it’s an example of beautiful horror and those are hard to come by.

Black Sheep

Theyre 40 million sheep in New Zealand. And theyre pissed off!

They're 40 million sheep in New Zealand. And they're pissed off!

I have had the privilege to see this film twice and I fully intend to purchase it soon. When it comes to horror-comedy, it seems no one does it better than New Zealanders. (Let’s not forget the cult classic, Dead Alive, directed by none other than three-time Academy award winning director Peter Jackson himself.)

This film is pretty much non-stop funny. Beginning with an animal even the Cowardly Lion would have a hard time fearing, Black Sheep creates new rules in the world of were-animals.

Simply made and filled with an abundance of gorgeous landscape, this film examines the consequences of the genetic manipulation of livestock to satisfy corporate greed. Well, maybe it doesn’t really try to shoot for a lofty a goal as that, but it does present a humorous take on the revolution of animals. Think of it as Animal Farm, horror style.

This is definitely a great movie for kicking back and enjoying. It doesn’t require serious thought or contemplation. The closest the viewer comes to thinking is, “Wow. New Zealand is a lot like Middle Earth.”

I give it 4 blanks for its deliberate and shameless approach to mixing gore and comedy. And for combining farm animals with vicious infectious zombies.

Séance

5 College Kids. 1 Ghostly Killer. You do the math.

5 College Kids. 1 Ghostly Killer. You do the math.

Truth be told, with such great talent as Miike heading up the first movie of the evening and a New Zealand horror-comedy after that, I was expecting this film to be the flop. (There’s usually one.) Fortunately, I was pleasantly surprised.

The viewer can tell the director, Mark L. Smith, who a year later went on to write Vacancy, spent his money on the only name actor in the film and the few special effects the film has. It was cheaply made, although it doesn’t look all that bad. (I’ve seen some indie films that were just terrible–they couldn’t afford anything good, so they put the whole film in the dark, literally. One day I’ll tell you all about 13 Seconds.)

Amazingly enough, the simple set and fearless way the film says “Yeah, we made this cheap and it doesn’t matter” add to the atmosphere. The characterization of the college kids is completely believable and the dialogue through the film is great at times, others it’s okay. There are some snappy lines that catch you unaware and knock you off your socks.

The first serious downer of the film is when Adrian Paul makes his entrance as James Spence, the ghostly killer. Not that he isn’t good looking, though it makes fearing him a difficult job. But as my sister pointed out, he has very sad eyes. I felt bad for him, even though I knew immediately that he killed the original ghost the kids tried to rid themselves of–a young girl who plays with the bathroom taps a lot. At exactly 1 hour and 4 minutes (I know because I looked) Paul/Spence truly taps into his inner psycho and unleashes a deadly look of menace. I finally began to fear him and what he would do/had done.

Aside from Paul’s sad eyes, the film showed either masterful planning or excellent editing. There’s an instance where a parrot is introduced–seemingly at random–where later its revealed to serve dual purposes. (One is obvious, see if you can figure the other one out.) And as an interesting twist: it’s better to be in the dark. Very few and far between are those horror films that declare the dark the safest place to be.

The film also won a prize for “Best Feature Drama” at … well… someplace.

I’m giving Séance 3 blanks for a good, simple B movie that gives the viewer a chill or two.

While I’d like to leave you with a movie I haven’t seen yet and looking forward to, I find myself drawing a blank. So instead, I’ll leave you with this:

Dont trust the sheep.

Don't trust the sheep.

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