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A few reviews
Island of Lost Souls (1932)
Dr. Moreau's "House of Pain", his twisted laboratory where he conducts sadistic quasi-scientific procedures, his toothbrush mustache, his slicked down side-parted hair, his flight from authorities in Europe, the trademark round black Nazi-esque sunglasses worn by his assistant, might make the viewer think this was inspired by Dr Mengele but of course 'Island of Lost Souls' was made 10-years earlier. There is also a touch of Col. Kurtz's compound about Moreau's island.  The way Charles Laughton plays Dr. Moreau is really creepy, giddy with power and not showing a shred of remorse. The makeup prosthetics are still pretty startling, we see glimpses of hair covered ears, creatures with one human foot and one trotter and distorted facial features, just enough so our imaginations fill in the rest. The queasy atmosphere that these FX create is occasionally shattered by hilariously rubbish dummies being tossed around. This came out in the same year as Tod Browning's 'Freaks' and shares some DNA with that controversial film. 'Island of Lost Souls' was banned in the UK for 25-years, only securing an X-Certificate after cuts were made (it's uncut and PG now Big Grin ).



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24 Hour Party People (2002)
I've watched Michael Winterbottom's Factory Records/Hacienda/Tony Wilson/Happy Monday/Joy Division biopic so many times on DVD, it was added to Amazon Prime so why not watch it again. The film mixes together actors playing real people, real people playing fake people and the real people playing themselves. Meta layer upon layer, like recreating the final night of the Hacienda nightclub, except there was no such event, so the scenes in the film are the real faked last night, or Tony Wilson (Steve Coogan) breaking the fourth wall (constantly) to tell us which bits are true and which are lies, or him telling us about a cameo appearance, then remembering it was cut, except it wasn't and that it'll be on the DVD extras, which it is. This anarchic style conveys the spirit of the times even better than the content of the film itself, which is a laugh riot and the music is incredible. I love this film.

The UK trailer is even a comment on trailers:



The more cheesy US trailer is fun too:

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In honor of Halloween, been watching a fair few creepy movies:
1.Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (Revisited)

I hadn’t seen the original for probably a decade, and besides the flashback sequences, it was hard for me to tell what Andreas had changed.  Yes, it looked darker (tonewise) but actually there were still a lot of lighter, little kid elements to it.  This was great for me, since I think the films should grow up with the main characters.  I was worried it would be too dark, but I’d say all the small trims and music changes simply accomplish the goal of making it fit better with the rest of the series.  I actually couldn’t remember any scenes that were missing while watching it, and at over 2 hours, it’s probably the best length now.  Pretty good as a kids’ Halloweenish movie, with a brief floating Jack ‘o Lantern scene (though sadly, less candy eating.)

2.Night of the Living Dead (1990)

Well, a lot of good elements here, but everything this film does well has been done better in other zombie films since.  I notice Savini’s penchant for lingering on pointless gore effects is here, too.  The zombies here are a lot more skillful and intelligent than in most other films.  They drag bodies, try different entrances if it’s not working, try doorknobs, use simple tools.  But for more dangerous zombies, I’d skip this and watch 28 Days Later.

3.Insidious (2010)

I was a big fan of the original Saw and a lot of the gang is back here, but this never really reeled me in.  This seems to be an odd hodge podge of imagery and tropes from the supernatural horror films of the 70s and 80s, but it didn’t come up with anything original enough to set itself apart for me.  Plus, I didn’t really care enough about the characters before things ratcheted up to 11.  The script has a fair number of “okay, let’s just make this incredibly obvious so we can move on to the next scary scene” moments, which would probably make for an entertaining date night in the theater, but just made me roll my eyes watching it at home.
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(11-01-2019, 03:03 PM)mnkykungfu Wrote: 3.Insidious (2010)

I was a big fan of the original Saw and a lot of the gang is back here, but this never really reeled me in.  This seems to be an odd hodge podge of imagery and tropes from the supernatural horror films of the 70s and 80s, but it didn’t come up with anything original enough to set itself apart for me.  Plus, I didn’t really care enough about the characters before things ratcheted up to 11.  The script has a fair number of “okay, let’s just make this incredibly obvious so we can move on to the next scary scene” moments, which would probably make for an entertaining date night in the theater, but just made me roll my eyes watching it at home.

Haha I too rolled my eyes at this movie, especially the finale, which I found utterly absurd and ridiculous. The plot itself was ok, but random creepy things grinning at the camera are just silly, not scary.
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Burnt Offerings (1976)
As I watched a father, mother and son drive toward the remote haunted building that they'll be the caretakers for (as it slowly drives them insane) I was thinking "This seems a lot like 'The Shining'?", then I realised this was released 4-years before Stanley Kubrick's film and 1 year before the book. You've even got a father with a typewriter and near identical plot elements around old photos. Bette Davis, Oliver Reed and Karen Black do a great job showing the decent from loving, happy family to paranoid and unhinged. The scene where Reed is messing about with his son in the swimming pool and their play twists almost imperceptibly into violence is really disturbing. A creepy 70s Horror film that is well worth checking out.

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Muppets from Space (1999)
Following the back-to-back perennial classics 'The Muppet Christmas Carol' and 'Muppet Treasure Island', I was excited for and then extremely disappointed by 'Muppets from Space', I didn't even bother watching all of it... 20-years later it's not got any better. Like the Marx Brothers, The Muppets are perhaps best when they have something to deconstruct, a narrative framework for them to tear down, making the story just about them is hard to make work. Removing all the joyous songs and replacing them with boring Funk montages was also a bad idea. In the last two movies Michael Caine and Tim Curry were playing it for the Best Actor Oscar, where as Jeffrey Tambor (as the main human character) is simply awful, overplaying every line to the point you think he's going to have an aneurysm. The film is full of embarrassing, dated and nonsensical celebrity cameos from Hulk Hogan and characters from 'Dawson's Creek'. The lazy parodies of things like 'Men in Black' and 'Independence Day' make this feel stuck in the 90s. The only genuine laugh I got out of it was Miss Piggy falling off her high heels 33-minutes in. It's the only Muppets movie to have lost money, no wonder it was 12-years before they'd release another one.

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Naked Lunch (1991)
Director David Cronenberg fuses together Burroughs' novel, elements from the author's life and his own disturbing visions. Stylistically it's a classic Film Noir, shot in golden browns and sickly greens. The characters and the plot are largely either uninteresting, or unintelligible but Cronenberg's wild and disgusting visual ideas and the freaky makeup FX are enough to sustain the viewer's interest. By the time you get to Roy Scheider unpeeling the woman skin he's wearing, you've probably got used to that kind of stuff happening. Peter Weller plays a writer/exterminator/fugitive having bad trips on "Bug powder Dust", "Black Meat Powder" and "Mugwump Jism".  The croaky voice Peter Boretski does for all the creatures is the creepiest thing.

This original trailer is very strange and worth watching:



The film/book has inspired some great songs:



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(11-04-2019, 02:26 PM)TM2YC Wrote: Naked Lunch (1991)
Director David Cronenberg fuses together Burroughs' novel, elements from the author's life and his own disturbing visions. Stylistically it's a classic Film Noir, shot in golden browns and sickly greens. The characters and the plot are largely either uninteresting, or unintelligible but Cronenberg's wild and disgusting visual ideas and the freaky makeup FX are enough to sustain the viewer's interest. By the time you get to Roy Scheider unpeeling the woman skin he's wearing, you've probably got used to that kind of stuff happening. Peter Weller plays a writer/exterminator/fugitive having bad trips on "Bug powder Dust", "Black Meat Powder" and "Mugwump Jism".  The croaky voice Peter Boretski's does for all the creatures is the creepiest thing.

I remember actually watching this back in 1991 and thinking it was the weirdest thing I'd ever seen.  In the end, I can't say I exactly liked it, but I did like that it existed.
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Il Orfanato (The Orphanage 2007)

Oh, now this is supernatural horror done really well.  To be honest, it’s as much a drama as a horror film as a suspense/mystery.  I just watched Insidious recently, which this shares a lot in common with, but Il Orfanato adds a lot more originality to the mix, and is made with a lot more craft.  I appreciated the extra time taken to make me care about this family and want to see good things happen for this couple in the beginning.  I loved the gorgeous shots of the Spanish coast and the amazing old architecture.  I liked that almost every hint dropped early in the movie becomes relevant later, but that very few of them are obvious until that moment.  There was really a lot of time taken to get this film tweaked just right, and the only sore point to me was that the kid playing Simon really did come across as pretty bratty a lot of the time.  The whole film kind of seems like an indictment of so-called “free range” parenting, but I’m not nurturing enough to think that little s**ts don’t have it coming.  lol
 
An American Werewolf in London (1981)
What an interesting movie!  I saw this classic for the first time this Halloween, and it’s such an odd film.  The tone is kind of all-over-the-place between horror and suspense and black humor and earnest romance.  It’s got an honesty to it that holds it all together though, despite some less-than-stellar acting.  I won’t say that the special effects all hold up at this point (almost 40 years later!) but they’re still pretty fascinating.  There are some really interesting choices here too, for instance, about showing the pain of a werewolf transformation, or the kind of juxtaposition of these foppish Londoners as prey and this rambunctious American as predator.  (Make of that what you will.)  I don’t know as I’d say that this is a ‘must-watch’ at this point, but there’s certainly enough interesting stuff here to warrant a modern remake (if they really invested enough to make it look good).
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The Shallows (2016)

[Image: shallows-ban.jpg]

I like survival movies - All is Lost, United 93, Buried... I haven't seen 127 Hours, but I want to. I don't, however, like Jaws - sure, the first half (tourist town social satire) is pretty good, but the second half, in which the shark becomes an evil, obsessed predator that attacks a freakin' fishing boat, is too silly and unrealistic to be endured. Perhaps The Shallows is more credible?

Sadly, no. This shark is also nonsensically fixated on a particular human, in spite of a nearby dead whale in the water as well as several other kills it scores over the flick's brief run. What's more, the third act action finale is an eye-rolling cartoon. As others have stated, there's some fan editing potential in trimming unnecessary exposition and a lame coda, but for nautical danger, I'll stick with In the Heart of the Sea, thanks... even if it lacks Blake Lively in a wetsuit, which is altogether too rare a feature of contemporary cinema.

Grade: C
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