Friday, October 12, 2007

More Horror Films

So I don't feel like doing full-blown reviews, but I have been watching many horror-genre items to get into the spirit. It finally feels cold!! I'm so weird, I take this weather as an opportunity to not wear socks with my shoes.

"1408" - as has been said, this is a pretty damn good horror movie, but nowadays (as an old man once said) it doesn't take much. The film revolves around John Cusack as a washed-up author of books that delve into the world of haunted locales. He's an uber skeptic, and eventually makes his way to a spooky, made-up hotel in New York, the Dolphin. Samuel L. Jackson is the hotel's manager, and he's really only in one scene -- he tries to convince Cusack to not stay in room 1408. But Cusack only sees the caution as a ploy to this challenge; Jackson is obviously building suspense so it gets a good write-up in his next book. However, Jackson bluntly warns, "It's an evil fucking room."

And how! The strength of the film lies in the fact that it does more than just stick Cusack in a room for 90 minutes. Slowly built up are certain biographical elements that come into play as the room becomes an acid trip/lucid nightmare gone bad. Again, it's mainly Cusack here, and there isn't any specific ghost haunting the room. The room represents a spin cycle of bad memories made manifest and, really, it's the bad trip of bad trips. The mental confusion, disorientation, loss of equilibrium, and the conviction that Cusack ultimately reaches are utterly delusional and handled very well. The tone of the film permeates every scene -- I was actually jumping with every phone ring, every dog bark.

"Cemetery Man" - This film is very strange. It's in the style of Italian horror cinema (I think; I've only seen "Suspiria" and I hated it). It was made in 1994, though it could easily pass for late 80s, due to the cinematography, which is all washed and reminiscent of "Evil Dead." However, the plot's very interesting. Rupert Everett, looking nothing like Rupert Everett, works the graveyard shift. At a graveyard. His job -- rekill the undead, who rise from the graves every night (why he doesn't just shoot them in the head before they bury them, I don't know).

After a few questionable zombie killings, the line between the living and the dead blurs for Everett. He knows more dead people than living, as he puts it, and his course turns starkly existential. He no longer knows, nor cares, who he kills. What's more is that this is all rather funny. His disregard for the living and an out-of-place visit to the doctor add levity to what could be really depressing. The film's rich with metaphors and symbolism, though they escape me at the moment.

"Creepshow" - I remember this from my childhood. A quick rundown: In order, they are "Father's Day," "The Lonesome Death of Jordy Verrill," "Something to Tide You Over," "The Crate," and "They're Creeping Up On You."

"Father's Day" is very forgettable, except for watching Ed Harris 80s dance. "Jordy Verrill" stars Stephen King. It's dumb. It's very, very dumb. King guffaws and jaw-drops his way through acting, and luckily we get to see him kill himself. It's too campy.

"Tide," however, is nothing but brilliant. Leslie Nielson and Ted Danson give amazing performances. Really. Nielson shows what a gifted actor he is. Even at the end, he looks like he is shitting his pants with terror. And the story is genuinely creative and creepy. I remember loving short horror stories as a kid -- Alvin Schwartz's books in particular. "Tide" is really clever and simple, which is why it's so great.

"The Crate" also has a very good storyline. It's just as good as "Tide," but lacks Leslie Nielson (though Adrienne Barbeau is superbly annoying). And "Creeping" is just fucking gross.

"The Simpsons - Treehouse of Horror 1-4" - good lord, what can I say? These are the funniest Simpsons episodes out there.

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