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Archive for October, 2011

Review of The Severed Arm

(1973) Thomas S. Alderman Director

Starring Paul Carr, David G. Cannon, Marvin Kaplan, John Crawford, Vince Martorano, Ray Dannis, and Deborah Walley

When six friends go spelunking it comes down to the luck of the draw as they are trapped by a cave in. For them to survive they decide to resort to cannibalism and sever the arm of one of their companions. After being rescued the men go their seperate ways. Five years later, the one armed man begins seeking revenge.

This movie is a character study in the Darwinistic belief of survival of the fittest that delves deep into the social contract of how we determine who is most valuable to a society.

Okay, it’s really not. It’s a schlocky, low-budget horror revenge story with a who’s who of character actors from the seventies and eighties. However, aside from the low budget and scenery chewing acting it is not a bad yarn. This would have been double billed at the drive-in with a much better movie.

The storytelling is strong and there is an element of surprise that later became standard in many of the slasher films. The films end does fall into the Bolivian Army Ending trope that many early 70’s films succumbed to but it is not the letdown that it could be. In fact, this is the type of film that I would like to see Hollywood remake with a bigger budget and better directors and actors.

In all The Severed Arm is a fun movie to watch and doesn’t disappoint provided your expectations are not too high.

This film is available on netflix and on YouTube.

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Review of Werewolf of London

(1935) Stuart Walker Director
Starring Henry Hull, Warner Oland, and Valerie Hobson

While on a botanical expedition to Tibet, Dr. Wilfred Glendon is attacked by a strange animal. Returning to London he discovers that he is now afflicted with Lycanthrophobia. The only cure is the blossoms of the rare orchid he brought back with him. Can he make the flower bloom before the curse causes him to kill his wife?

The film has fairly decent acting and storytelling for its time. Hull is capable as the distracted and cursed Dr. Glendon. Warner Oland who was making a living playing Charlie Chan, serves well as Dr. Yugami. One nitpick about the film is that the characters are not afflicted with lycanthropy but rather lycanthrophobia. The writers should have realized that lycanthrophobia is fear of wolves.

This movie holds an interesting place in the history of movie monsters. For starters it is a Universal film but it’s werewolf is not part of the Universal Monsters pantheon. However, the makeup for this movie does hold a connection to Universal’s Wolf Man. Jack P. Pierce created the Wolf Man make up for actor Henry Hull. After doing screen tests Hull complained that the application process was too time consuming and Pierce redesigned the look of the creature. When asked to do the make up for The Wolf Man, Pierce used the appliances he had created for this film to turn Lon Chaney Jr. into the monster.

If you are a fan of older horror movies then this film is a good movie to curl up with on a dark and stormy night.

Werewolf of London is available on netflix and in pieces at YouTube

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Review of Trolljegeren (Trollhunter)

(2010) André Øvredal Director

Starring Otto Jespersen, Glenn Erland Tosterud, Johannah Mørk, and Tomas Alf Larsen

I will start by saying I am not a fan of “found film” horror movies and horror “documentaries”. My opinion of The Blair Witch Project was that the characters would have accidentally killed themselves tying there shoes. I found Paranormal Activity equally disappointing. AThat being said I didn’t go into Trollhunter with high hopes. Oh the joy of being surprised.

The film tells the story of a group of university students who set out to find a suspected bear poacher and come upon a much more interesting story. What they discover and what the Norwegian government is trying to hide is that trolls are real.
Yes, yes, anyone who’s spent anytime on the internet already knows this but I am not talking about those trolls. I’m talking about the kinds of trolls that live under bridges. The kind that steal and eat sheep. The kind that can smell the blood of a Christian man.

In all honesty the film is less scary than it is an examination of one man’s job. Otto Jesperson plays Hans the Trollhunter. He is a man who is tired of the secrecy, the cover ups, and the lies. To that end he agrees to allow the film crew to follow him as he tries to discover why the trolls have left their hunting grounds.

The film fortunately does not suffer from the two banes of the found film genre; shaky cameras and lens flare. In fact the camera work paints a beautiful picture of the Norwegian countryside. The actors are believable in their roles of college students. The government employee who Hans reports to is excellently played as well. His reluctance to explain why the people can’t be told about the existence of trolls comes across as a genuine character trait rather than poor writing.

If you want to see a good movie and don’t mind subtitles (and if you do I don’t fucking care because dubbing foreign movies into English is a horrid practice and should be outlawed) then catch Trollhunter.

This film is currently available on netflix. Get used to me saying that because I’m trying to clear my queue.

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Review of Bruiser

Bruiser (2000) George A. Romero Director
Starring Jason Flemyng, Peter Stormare, and Leslie Hope

Henry Creedlow is a cog in the machine of life. He’s nothing special. His wife doesn’t love him, his co-workers ignore him, his boss can’t remember who he is, and his investment banker friend sees him as just another client. So what happens when a nobody loses who he is? The answer is Bruiser.

Let me start by noting that I have been a fan of Romero’s since the first time I saw Dawn of the Dead.
(Most likely at the when I was “chaperoning” one of my older sister’s dates. Truly a good venue to see any horror flick is sitting atop a van at a drive-in eating pizza. I think I saw most of the horror movies from 1975-1979 this way.)

In Bruiser Romero examines the idea of identity and self image. There are no jump out and yell “BOO!” moments in the movie but there are several disturbing moments of twitching corpses and lingering deaths. Romero does a good job with a cast of character actors and at the time unknowns which seems to be his forte. This movie was Romero’s first return to directing since 1993’s The Dark Half.

Bruiser stars Jason Flemyng who has done enough movies to make you want to look him up on imdb.com and see what he’s done that you recognize him from. For me it was the fact that he played Dr. Henry Jekyll in The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. His British accent does try and sneak itself in on occasion but isn’t horribly detrimental to the film.
Flemyng plays Henry Creedlow who works for Bruiser, a fashion forward magazine which is run by a degenerate creep named Milo Styles, played here very effectively by Peter Stormare. Henry seems content with his mediocrity. He doesn’t stand out. He doesn’t speak up. He doesn’t draw attention to himself. He is a cypher. When his nondescript life begins to fall apart though he begins to lose his grasp on reality with lucid daydreams of murder. As his world crumbles more he loses who he is, waking up one morning without a face. Freed from his public mask, Henry begins acting out his daydreams.

Whether you are looking for a standard thriller or wish to examine the deeper issue of how much of our public face is us and how much is how other people react to us Bruiser delivers.

This film is currently available on netflix.

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Movie reviews

As a huge fan of Halloween and horror movies I try to watch a horror movie a day during October. Since I have nothing better to do I will be reviewing the films I’m watching and trying to post a review a day. Since I’m already a few days behind on both points I will be posting updates as I get them done.

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