In the post Xmas ‘exhale’, my wallet is feeling a little light and Card of Credit is feeling a little heavy. So it was certainly not going to be some extravagant and expensive excursion for us this last weekend. Luckily…there’s ALWAYS movies to fall back on…especially when you hate your neighborhood and don’t want to be out in it for ANY reason. (shakes fist angrily) So, aside from a cool lil hang-out with some friends one night, we had the Good, the Bad and the Ugly of Cinema to pick through…and waste time with.
Finding ourselves in a ‘genre’ mood, we picked the first outta the bunch:
This was yet another supernatural thriller that I stumbled across in my normal travels through the Geekverse, and it came surprisingly recommended…so we gave it a shot.
‘Triangle’ introduces us to a group of twenty-thirtysomethings that are keen to head out into the Atlantic for a day of sailing. While unwisely tooling around out on the waves, they are suddenly set upon by a freakish weather anomaly that flips the boat and strands them. Before long, a huge passenger ship passes by and the survivors scramble aboard. As they explore the apparently deserted vessel, it soon becomes evident that they’re not alone and are, in fact, being hunted. As the stakes ramp up, one of the survivors, a distraught single mom named ‘Jess’ (Melissa George) discovers the mind-twisting truth about their situation and sets out to face their violent assailant.
For a low budget ($12 mill) flick from the UK and Australia, some very note-worthy effort and thought went into this gnarly take on The Bermuda Triangle phenomenon. The way it’s pieced together is intriguing, and it kept me interested and guessing all the way through. There’s some unsettling shit that turns up, and the ending was morbidly appropriate. I would definitely recommend this to Horror / Science Fiction fans who like sifting through endless low-budget flicks searching for a ‘gem’ worth their while. This one puts up a good argument, in that regard…and I enjoyed it as a result.
Next up was another Horror offering, this time released in the last couple years to significant critical acclaim.
I hit PLAY.
It Follows (2014)
I’d heard many good things about this STD-as-spectral-virus flick and decided that it was time to check it out. Were the critics right? Mostly…yes.
‘It Follows’ introduces us to ‘Jay’ (Maika Monroe), a gal in her late teens who unwisely screws some dude she knows very little about and discovers that she’s been deliberately given a ghostly virus that will eventually track her down, run her down and kill her…unless she can pass the curse onto some other unfortunate guy or gal through a sexual encounter.
This one, another of the low-budget variety, knew what it was and made the most of it…especially where style was concerned. VERY clearly, the filmmakers used horror / sci-fi flicks from the 80’s, especially those of John Carpenter, as the stylistic template and it worked surprisingly well. Another element that I found intriguing was the efforts to deliberately mask the time period the story was set in. For all intensive purposes, this flick took place in the 1980’s…and it would make total sense if it weren’t for one piece of futuristic / now-ish seeming tech that a main character uses from time to time. That’s not necessarily a critique…more of an observation of an interesting and perplexing detail. The retro synth-based music score was pitch perfect and the cinematography was patient and disciplined, with lots of long, stationary shots and gentle pans. If I had to render a complaint, I’d have to say that the pacing and logic of the 3rd Act suffered a bit and the outcome seemed rushed. All in all though, it was an effectively creepy and inventive thriller that I can easily recommend to fans of the ‘haunting’ genre.
After this, we decided to switch gears a little. I may have mentioned this in some past review but my girlfriend loves Marilyn Monroe. Having just watched a recently-made biopic of the troubled sex symbol on Netflix, she put forth the suggestion that we throw on the last full-length and completed film by the doomed actress, who would die under mysterious circumstances a year later. This film also carries a certain amount of notoriety, as Marilyn was on the outs with her then husband, screenwriter Arthur Miller and when coupled with her own
issues with depression, alcoholism and prescription drug use at the time, the end result would undoubtedly be fascinating. I’ve seen other Marilyn titles and enjoyed them for what they were, but this one interested me on it’s less reputable merits. I dutifully scrounged it up…and hit PLAY.
The Misfits (1961)
Thank to m’lady, I’ve been exposed to a few of Marilyn Monroe’s classics, and can admit that I enjoyed and appreciated them for what they were. That being said, this particular, somewhat notorious, flick had evaded our ‘lookin balls’. So we decided that it was time to rectify that…especially since my GF had just recently finished a Marilyn Monroe biopic movie on Netflix and now wanted to see the end result of THIS tumultuous period in the legendary sex symbol’s career…and life. It’s a shame that THIS was the last completed picture in her filmography, as her suspicious death occurred during the filming of ‘Something’s Got to Give’….and that sucks for her, because this flick is a nonsensical, needlessly melodramatic, confused, annoying and somewhat creepy pile of Black and White shit.
Marilyn plays a depressed divorcee who, through a silly and idiotic series of pointless events, hooks up with an elderly cowboy weirdo, creepily played by the supposedly terrific Clarke Gable, to play ‘house’ out in the middle of desert ‘nowhere’. There’s some kind of drama about rustling up some wild mustang horses from out of the nearby mountains …and Marilyn looks like she’s going through the motions from behind glassy eyes the whole time.
The story goes that her then husband, screenwriter Arthur Miller and her were on the ‘outs’ at this point, and the on-set strife was creeping into Miller’s work on the script, As a result, the character that Marilyn plays began to take on less and less likable traits and if this was a calculated goal on the part of Miller, then he sure succeeded. Holy shit! If she’s not lethargic and moody, then she’s hysterical and border-line manic. Added to which, the entire story feels totally pointless. Many times, we looked at each other and wondered what the hell the point of any given scene was. There’s also the fact that Marilyn did a two-week stint in a hospital for mental health issues midway through the production and came out looking noticeably haggard. In a desperate bid to salvage the film, they opted to ‘soft focus’ many shots and scenes with Marilyn and they stand out like a sore them. It’s like they smear vaseline on the screen and then intercut those shots with perfectly clear compositions. It was a mess. By the end of it…I just felt annoyed, especially when I acknowledged that I wouldn’t get that hour and a half of my life back.
After that depressing garbage, it seemed like we needed something fantastical. So we went with one I haven’t seen in many, MANY years…and that was:
The Sword and The Sorcerer (1982)
I first saw this one when I was a little shithead kid, probably around 8 years old or so and the intro to this slightly confused fantasy flick was gnarly enough to stick out in my mind (a nasty witch has her heart yanked out of her body from across the room by the gross-looking demon she just resurrected)….and not much else stuck in mind. Oh yeah, and I always remembered the ludicrous but strangely awesome 3-bladed sword wielded by the flicks roguish hero.
The plot to this one is pretty standard, as stories of this type go.
An evil tyrant enlists the aid of a demon to help him defeat the richest and most proud kingdom in the land. As his forces invade, this bastard kills the entire royal family, with the exception of the weak, teenage son who flees into the wilderness, brandishing his fathers tri-bladed sword and an arrow through the hand.We catch up with the story a decade later and the fugitive heir to the throne is now a charming but brutish mercenary leader who likes the drink and the dames. He encounters a sexy and mysterious princess-type, who bargains for his services…with her services, if ya know what I mean (pervy wink) This puts him in direct contact with the asshole that off’d his folks, who is now paranoid as hell due to having betrayed and then attempted to kill the summoned demon. Much low-budget-but-still-fun sword play, magic and gratuitous nudity ensues. Ahhh…the 80’s. This flick was directed by veteran B-movie director Albert Pyun (‘Nemesis’) and is actually one of his more elaborate and higher-budget-seeming cinematic efforts. There’s some genuinely cool shit in this flick. There are some inventive and gruesome fantasy elements and many scenes of violence come with noticeable splashes of red. It’s funny, looking back and realizing that 1982 was THE year for fantasy films. Other high profile fantasy movie that year were ‘Conan The Barbarian’, ‘The Dark Crystal’ ‘The Beastmaster’, with other notables like ‘Excalibre’ and ‘Dragonslayer’ having come out just the year before.The early 80’s was a good time for Fantasy / Sci-Fi fare. This movie is gritty enough to be cool but self-aware enough to be fun. If you like movie of this ilk, from that time period…give it a go.
And that was it! The OTHER crap we rotted our brains with. While ‘The Hateful Eight’ remains the best flick I saw this last weekend, it’s always fun to check out new flicks. Sometimes they’re a sweet surprise (‘It Follows’) and sometimes they’re a boring slog (‘The Misfits’). Still, getting to write about them is ALWAYS fun. So on THAT note…to any unfortunate soul who’s bored enough to read my ramblings…all the best to you in 2016!!!