Movie Review- Found (2014)

Based on Tom Rigney’s 2004 novel of the same title, Found has won big on the film festival circuit. 40 Official Selection awards, 15 best picture awards and 8 best actor awards. It’s a dark coming of age story that follows Marty (Gavin Brown), a bullied young boy who spend his free time watching horror flicks and creating graphic novels… and sneaking peeks at the decapitated heads inside of his older brother’s bowling ball bag.

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He knows his brother Steve (Ethan Philbeck) is a serial killer but he still wishes that they were closer like the old days. Their mother is clueless, or at least seems to be from Marty’s point of view, and their father is a racist and an asshole.

I can tell without looking that the Best Actor awards went only to Gavin Brown, because no one else there was doing any good acting. Ethan Philbeck delivers his lines in a bizarre manner, and audio quality and editing seem to make the other’s seem jerky and unsure. Everyone else looks like they are acting.

This film really could have gone places for me. It’s doing something really rare in horror, focussing on the emotion not of the tortured but on that of someone just on the outside. Following a family living in suburban paradise, a family who has secrets. Marty has an all too common real world problem, he’s bullied by classmates until his own friends turn on him. And a dysfunctional older brother who loves him. He thinks his parents are out of touch and he doesn’t understand what is happening around him. Steve takes revenge on Marty’s bully and Marty threatens a friend who turns on him that Steve will kill him… a stunt that he wonders if Steve will turn on him for.

And it would all be so perfect. So perfect.

Except that there is a movie within the movie, called “Headless” (which you can watch in full on the DVD) which involves a serial killer who hacks women to bits and then fucks the decapitated heads. Not to mention that Steve’s killings are racially motivated. Why? We were going along so well without racism, And needless skullfucking. And uncomfortable to watch scene of eyeballs being eaten and regurgitated (although that one by itself isn’t a deal breaker). But after following horror nerd Marty around and people thinking he’s weird for liking pretty much all the shit that I like and having him misunderstood by peers -it seems thrown away to have Steve motivated by a horror VHS that he stole from the video store.

And I hate everything where there is rape or incest portrayed just to have it there. Because the heads in the bowling bags didn’t indicate that Steve was a bad guy or anything by themselves… right?

So it starts out rather poetic and then gets too weird at the end for me to have loved it the way that I would have without those troubling elements. Sadly, I feel like the purpose or moral of this story is thrown out nearly entirely by the break down of Steve’s character. It could have been so much more. But sadly, 2/5 stars.

Movie Review: ABC’s of Death 2 (2014)

The follow up to the original film makes you rethink your fragile existence with 26 more interesting short films of bizarre deaths. Not all of these are horror (though many are). The plots range from sadistic killers to vacations gone bad to children’s fantasies gone awry. Most are live action, but some are claymation or animated. Some send chills down your spine while others are quite poignant, and another references The Three Stooges.

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Some of Radio Of Horror’s favorites: A is for Amatuer gets the ball rolling with an action packed romp about a beginner level assassin. The most bizarre short was D for Deloused directed by Robert Morgan who is known for directing Tool music videos which are also bafflingly creepy. Believe that this stop motion animated freakshow of beheadings and bugs will make your skin crawl. E is for Equilibrium  switches the tone to something completely different with castaways fighting over a woman who washes up on shore. Then F is for Falling tugs on my heartstrings with the story of a female Israeli soldier whose parachute gets tangled in a tree is found by an armed Palestinian young man, in just a few short minutes Aharon Keshales and Navot Papushado tell a modern story more gorgeous and heartbreaking than “Romeo and Juliet” that ties into current affairs that seem intangible and far away to much of the West and instantly it’s relatable, it’s just fascinating.

H is for Honorable Mention: H is for Headgames is an interesting concept: a man and a woman kiss and it turns into a surreal power struggle. I am a huge fan of Bill Plympton and I really wanted to like this one a bit more than I did. It was good, and instantly recognizable. I’ve been a geek for Bill Plympton since I Married a Strange Person came out in 1997 (just kidding, I was 12. I probably watched that for the first time in 2003).

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Bringing the horror: The contest winner (chosen from 541 submissions); M is for Masticate takes a turn for true crime and reminds us all about bath salts (did everyone just smarten up real quick about those or what?) and it was great, both humorous and terrifying. Hajime Ohata’s O is for Ochlocracy a mother protecting her child from zombies finds herself not in a struggle for survival but a legal battle when zombies are “cured” and coexist. S is for Split sees an ill fate for one half an unfaithful couple. In Jen and Sylvia Soska (The Demon Twins of Berlin in American Mary)’s T is for Torture Porn a woman harassed at an audition gets her hentai on. U is for Utopia gets sci-fi, big brother meets cosmetic culture when an unattractive man is targeted in a crowd of the fit and well groomed. V is for Vacation gets gritty and real with killer prostitutes. French actress Beatrice Dalle appears as a creepy and unstable babysitter in X is for Xylophone. Z is for Zygote creeped me out …mostly because the idea of being pregnant for 13 years is terrifying.

This film has many high points, although it is up for debate which ones are king. With bites from various genres, demographics, weapons of destruction, style and sentiments there is something for everyone. And it’s worth watching for that alone. Most of the actors are unknown and so the only thing to judge on is the direction, which is something so rare in the typical reboot and sequel cinescape, that’s what really makes this unique (even if it is the second time). The showcasing of new or relatively unknown directors with cult favorite directors made for innovative and enticing bites of film.

Worth the watch -just put down the popcorn during D for Deloused.

4/5

Produced by Ant Timpson and Tim League, distributed by Magnet Releasing.

Have you watched? What were your favorites?

Movie Review: Burke and Hare (2010)

This is a horror-comedy directed by John Landis (no one does this genre better) and starring Simon Pegg (who has found his forte in horror comedy, as well). It’s set in Victorian London, a setting that has found recent popularity again in the genre with NBC’s “Dracula”, Showtime’s “Penny Dreadful” …but this is more reminiscent of Sweeney Todd than any classic monster mash.

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Burke (Simon Pegg, Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, The World’s End, Fantastic Fear of Everything) and Hare (Andy Serkis, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes) are two Irish immigrants living in London who can not find suitable work. They stumble on a profitable venture after trying to dispose of the corpse of another resident at their rooming house and they find that selling cadavers to a medical school could be quite profitable. Only, a good corpse is hard to find, and they become increasingly more desperate and ridiculous in their venture. Burke, for his part, isn’t that gung-ho about their scheme until he meets Ginny Hawkins (Isla Fisher) -a former sex worker looking for financial backing for an all women production of Macbeth.

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Burke becomes taken with her and their increasingly bizarre killing spree ramps up.

The find themselves in danger when the corpses become recognizable and the medical professor is confronted.

Some of this is based on a 16 victim killing spree in West Port in the 19th century, that much is true. The real story is much more macabre, Burke and Hare were found out and turned in by Burke’s lover, the duo found lure people in, get them drunk and suffocate them.

Slapstick murder, increasingly wild schemes and cover ups, naive lovers and neighbors, and a soundtrack and costuming that doesn’t try too hard at realism and atmosphere. It’s nearly perfect and I’m not sure why this film isn’t more popular.

That being said: all the women are side characters or motivation for the men. Not that they are quite 2-D… but they are not much more and there are virtually no PoC characters even in the background.

4/5

31 Horrifying Days- Day 20: A Fantastic Fear of Everything (2012)

This is one of my favorites that I’ve watched since starting this project. I’m behind, I know, but I’m catching up.

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The film centers around Jack; a crime novelist whose research on serial killers has turned him into a paranoid, delusional, insomniac wreck must confront his worst fears when a film executive takes a sudden interest in his movie script. He assumes that the exec is planning to kill him of course. He’s suspicious of the only person who’s still speaking to him: Clair (Clare Higgins, “The Night of the Doctor”). Clair is his friend with money who buys him lunch and fluffs his hair and affectionately tells him that he’s sensitive. Clair also wishes that he would go back to writing children’s books. But Jack is past that. His new effort is consuming him. And he doesn’t understand why she doesn’t understand.

#1 I frigging love Simon Pegg and he really brings horror comedy to the next level.

#2 I love when academics/artists/workaholics get pushed to the brink.

 I have undying affection for anyone who does anything so wholeheartedly that it eats them alive. So Jack starts carrying a butcher knife everywhere, losing time, seeing things out of the corner of his eye, falling in to narcoleptic naps, seeing a “psychopathic stare” in people’s eyes, narrating his own life, envisioning Vietnamese crimelords and concocting relationships between people that make o sense.

“I’m not here to hurt anybody. I’m a professional writer.”

His terrifying moments jump from seeing ghosts with eyes in their mouth to the humiliation of tossing his dingy underwear across the laundrette in front of a beautiful woman, Sangeet (played by an actress who is of Sri Lankan descent. Diversity is cool). 

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For any aspiring professional, not having clean dress clothes for an important last minute meeting is as terrifying as any serial killer. 

Visually magnificent, great soundtrack. Written and co-directed by Crispian Mills, it’s his first feature and it’s truly outstanding. Chris Hopewell co-directed. For two unknowns especially: it’s outstanding. Part of it is reminiscent of James and the Giant Peach

Towards the end of the flick Jack and Sangeet end up in real danger, held captive by a madman. Can Jack pull it together and help get them out of it? Or will he crack? Or will Sangeet save them? Or will art save them?

But is it scary? Parts are actually creepy because you don’t know what to expect. But really? It’s just a ton of fun and amusement.

5/5

 

31 Horrifying Days- Day 9:Wolf Creek 2 (2013)

One of those sequels that comes out substantially after the original. Wolf Creek came out in 2005. The premise and main character are repeated.

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The murderous bushman Mick Taylor once against targets travellers and those who would seek to stop him. His wrath is first turned against cops who heckle him, then to a couple travelling internationally, Katarina and Rutger. Rutger gets mangled by Mick rather quickly and Katarina falls to shambles, frozen in terror, Mick easily knocks her out. She awakens to Mick shredding her boyfriend’s limbs in a woodchipper. She tries to make a break for it, another traveller (this one from England) stops for her and a car chases ensues. Paul, the Englishman, causes Mick to crash and it seems as though they’ll get away: until Mick pulls out his rifle. 

This whole: you shouldn’t have come here/you don’t know about us/backwoods maniac thing has been done well recently in In Fear. 

It’s overdone here, but it works. The gore is overt, gallons of blood, decapitations, bullet holes the size of fists. Paul does all he can to out run, out wit and fight Mick, but his terror is palpable. He runs off into the wilderness in the hot sun with little water and no clue of where he’s going and is momentarily saved. When Mick turns up again, he goes into full panic. Ryan Corr does an excellent job. When he can’t get away, he tries to be charming instead. It briefly works. Briefly.

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John Jarratt really sells it as Mick Taylor, a man deranged enough to kill a young man for not knowing who Australia’s most famous cricket player is. His antics are so out there that extra credit should be given to Ryan Corr for acting scared rather than laughing in hysterics. Paul is a very easy character to root for, every time he sees a light at the end of the tunnel I was elated for him, and his reactions are realistic to what a naive traveller would experience. 

Overall: Night and day changes seem inconsistent. But it hardly matters. There is one moment that had me panicked while Paul is in Mick’s dungeon and sees Mick’s previous captives. 

“In this world: there’s people like me and people like you. And people like me eat people like you for breakfast and shit them out.” -Mick

But was it scary? The creep factor is real. Horror flicks centered around travellers always get to me more than others. I travel. And things are unreliable, you get lost, your technology might not work, you might get mugged and there’s not a branch of your bank, you might get lost, you don’t know the customs, you can’t call your people over to help you out. And people in this world still hold tight to “survival of the fittest” as a valid way of life even though we are evolved (supposedly). It was really gross, a little tense and decently acted. Greg McLean nailed it on this delinquent follow up.

Almost Human- Episode 13

The episode begins with a woman at a homeless shelter being harassed by a man, a seemingly nice guy in a wheelchair comes to her defense and offers to help her out, he pricks her hand, drugging her.. then he pulls a Lucky Number Slevin and stands up out of the wheelchair and put the victim in it. Nothing looks amiss as they continue up the street. The next day they find her dead and stuffed with straw and stitched back up.

It’s identical to a case that Kennex’s father worked shortly before his death. And I was baffled because the plot was about how Kennex’s father was framed, threatened by dirty cops, thought he put the wrong man away for the Straw Man killings and we didn’t get back to Anna, Syndicate, his crush on Stahl or anything.

It goes on and Kennex gets to clear his father’s name, Michael Ealy sings Lionel Richie (actor says it was improv BTW) And successfully made it through his first review the conclusion being that this DRN is fit for duty.

Which lead FOX to tweet this:

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Which… what does that mean? Is the show renewed?! Quit messing with me!

Anyway, in a major plot twist, it is found that the dead bodies are not dead bodies and that they are 3D printed with bio-organic engineered skin and such. There was some interesting technological/futuristic implications -such as the homeless getting blood analyzed and receiving vitamins specific to their missing nutrients- but this one felt more like a traditional cop show than a lot of the episodes. They touched on the class struggle, homeless youth being the target of this person, a man who took the fall for the crime being easily convicted because of a history of mental illness. It was fairly well done, and I was glad to see the poor depicted less Fight Club/Mad Max destructive.

Quotes; Rudy trying to say something nice about Dorian for his review “If I had a child, I would want Dorian to raise it instead of me” or Kennex: “He flipped a van once. That was cool. I didn’t know he could do that” And later, messing with him, “I told them you have no concept of privacy. You scanned my balls, you exposed yourself..” And Dorians reply “I apologized for scanning your balls.” And then as a gift to his partner, Dorian buys John a gift. Kennex: “I wonder what it is.” Dorian: “It’s a leg!”

Baha, and it totally concluded at that place where Deckard ate noodles.

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FOX had better not let me down. For some reason it was acceptable for them to let X-Files run itself into the ground, but any other sci-fi show is beyond doomed. Don’t let this be the last case for Kennex and Dorian!

The Movement #5

After panicking and flailing my arms because I could decide what to read first:

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I settled on the Movement #5-

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Channel M/the Movement still has officers Pena and Whitt hostage. They have Katharsis back and they are planning a trial for the two cops.

Captain Meers meets up with Virtue to make a deal. (That cops can patrol the ‘tweens but can be monitored by the Movement. A civilian board of claims for complaints against police. He needs the cops back. He warns her that professional hitmen are coming to stop the Movement.

They meet at a diner called Calvins and dunk donuts in their milkshakes. Virtue doesn’t wear her mask. “Oh no, you might see the skin around my eyes!” (I know, right?)

At the trial in the abandoned warehouse: The officers are being charged with sexual harassment of a minor. Speaking for the defense is Tremor, who we just found out had been the mole in the last issue. Her conscience got the better of her and she truly aligned herself with the Movement. Or that was the idea, anyway.

Whitt refuses to participate. Pena pleads guilty. (Whitt’s still missing a ton of teeth, BTW).

Captain Meers is trying to track down Virtue, guessing at clues about where she might work.

Tremor, defending the officers brings up how Whitt saved an infant from a fire, risking his life. Katharsis angrily points out that it’s no excuse for scaring 16 year olds and attempting to assault them (true again. When charges of rape/abuse/harassment come out- especially when perpetrators are men in authority leads back to “but he’s such a nice guy” “oh I can’t believe he’d do that” Well, he did. and if you do that, you are a bad person. It’s nice to think it’s only evil men…). The victim herself steps up to say how scared and threatened she was and that Pena’s apology means nothing. (And frankly, it doesn’t. they both abused their authority). Whitt says that they don’t know what it’s like for cops, to be in the line of fire, to be helping people but to be disrespected and called “pigs.” (Oh, boo hoo). The officers try to bust out as the Cornea Killer shows up to claim another victim nearby.

Tremor quits?! & Mouse attacks the Cornea Killer until the stalker is backed up by the THE GRAVEYARD FACTION.

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(possibly) Unintentional unanswered question:

Our girl Vengeance Moth was about to get her violence on. Katharsis, who can’t resist a fight… or knocking more teeth out of Whitt’s head… jumps in. Tremor sets of a quake. Katharsis (touching the ground) was hurt and Tremor orders the men out. But Ven was in the air… sooo… why did she let them go?

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The last pages are Calendarman underground reporting for Channel 52, and of course: the big story is Superwoman unmasking Nightwing as Richard Grayson! LOOK YOU CAN SEE THE SKIN AROUND HIS EYES! OMG haha, love it.

This series continues to be great. The Movement is fighting against society’s everyday evils and a very weird killer and now they’re about to face some Super Villains on top of in-fighting as each member tries to figure out what justice really means to them.