Wednesday, January 5, 2011

2010: The Year In Horror Part 3: The Top 5

5. A Serbian Film The most disturbing thing put on film since concentration camp footage.

When it comes to movies, I’m pretty jaded. I’ve seen Cannibal Holocaust. I’ve seen Salo. I’ve seen the August Underground trilogy. I’ve seen the Guinea Pig series, Irreversible, The Girl Next Door, Begotten, Audition, Nekromantik, Slaughtered Vomit Dolls, and Men Behind the Sun. Hell, I even saw the first half hour of Twilight (shudder). It’s very VERY rare that I see a flick I would describe as “disturbing.” Serbian Film is definitely one. I’d read all the hype about just how gut wrenching A Serbian Film is. I heard all the stories of people storming out mid-showing at European festivals, and figured there was no way it could live up to the hype. I stand corrected. There are many who say that, its core, the whole purpose of cinema is to elicit an emotional response. If that is true, this is cinema at its most effective. I’ll put it this way. Christmas night I took this movie to show a bunch of guys who, like me, are sometimes considered to be “sick bastards.” Throughout the first half, everyone was drinking, making jokes, and having fun. The second half, even until the end of the credits, this group sat in stunned silence. That’s how this Grinch steals Christmas. Muahahaha. Anyway, the plot concerns a retired porn star lured back to do one more job. It then devolves into quite possibly the vilest parade of atrocities ever depicted on film. I cannot overstate the absolute depravity of some of the scenes. The kicker is that this is a very well made movie. The acting is brilliant. I can only imagine the psychological state of the lead actor after filming some of those scenes. The camera work is imaginative, the soundtrack is used perfectly, and the direction is inspired. This is one of those films that inspire debate about why subversive art is important, mainly because you want to rationalize the fact that you just watched THAT. It’s definitely not for everyone. This is not an “enjoyable” watching experience per say, but it is a challenging and strangely beautiful one.

4. Human Centipede (First Sequence) – The mad scientist movie is back! Just ignore the hype.

As I stated in the last review, hype about how “extreme” a movie is works backwards on me, making me immediately skeptical. Any time a movie is touted as the “sickest/goriest/most demented/most shocking” movie ever, I automatically put up my defenses. Is it the sickest movie ever made? Not by a long shot. Not even this year (see #5.) What it is, however, is maybe the sickest premise ever placed into a tightly paced, dark, bleak thriller. It seems that everyone who didn’t like this flick either does so either because it was too sick for them (if that’s the case, you might want to think twice about taking my movie recommendations), or that it didn’t live up to the hype. This movie is far more extreme in concept than execution. There is very little in the way of gore. This could have been just another hardcore gore flick competing for the gross out title. Not that there’s anything wrong with that by any means. I dig gore. A lot. I just personally think that in this case, with the unthinkable premise of stitching people together at the pie hole and poop chute, it wasn’t necessary. What really makes this film for me is the mad scientist himself. I’ve always thought that the mad scientist was a terribly underused horror villain. The other “science run amok” movie on my top 10, Splice, wasn’t about mad scientists, just scientists who went too far. Dr. Heiter, on the other hand, is just plain bat-shit crazy. He is portrayed by German actor Dieter Laser, who looks like the love child of Udo Kier and Lance Henriksen. He plays this part to absolute perfection. I’ve never seen him in anything else, but his performance in this film screams that this is the role he was born to play. The scene of him calmly (and with visual aids) explaining to his test subjects the exact procedures involving sewing them mouth to anus while they scream in horror is absolutely chilling. The best thing about this movie is the subtitle “First Sequence.” That sounds a lot like there’s gonna be sequels, and I can’t wait. Call me twisted, but the only thing that would have made it better was randomly inserted clips from Clerks 2 of Dante saying “You never go ass to mouth!”

3. Piranha 3D – A film that actually delivers on its promises, in this case; blood and boobs. These are a few of my favorite things.

Anyone who knows me could tell you that I’m a big fan of blood. They could also tell you that I’m an even bigger fan of boobs. When I heard that these were the selling points of Pirhana 3D, I had to see it, but I thought “there’s no way it will deliver the goods as much as they claim.” Boy was I wrong! There is gore and TaTa’s galore! In fact, I’m shocked this got an R rating. This movie, much like Sharktopus, does not take itself seriously in the least, and never pretends to be anything but an exploitative parade of B-movie clichés pushed far beyond the limits of good taste. It’s obvious that the makers of this film were having such a great time seeing what they could get away with that you can’t help being swept up in the crass, hilariously gruesome glee of it all. There’s not a damn thing in this film that isn’t 100% gratuitous. Let’s face it; no one went to see this for the story. It’s a good thing too, because it plays out like a couple of 15 year old boys saying “Dude, you know what would be cool…” The gore relied way too much on CGI, but that can be forgiven considering the amount of practical effects that were used also. That scene where the piranhas attack the lake party is an amazing orgy of mutilation. The outboard motor scalping was worth the price of admission alone. The nude underwater ballet is a sight to behold. Jerry O’Connell’s severed penis being puked into the camera by a fish? Why the hell not? There was one problem with this movie, however. Post converted 3D looks terrible, plain and simple. It only emphasized the bad animation on the fish. I would have enjoyed the 2D version just as much, but my 3D rant can be saved for another time. I can’t really complain about anything with this movie, it was just pure shamelessly sexy and violent fun. There’s a wet t-shirt contest that becomes a bloodbath? That says masterpiece to me. You bet your ass I’ll be first in line for the sequel. On a side note, is it bad that I recognized Gianna Michaels in her cameo as a topless parasailer BEFORE we saw her face?

2. Never Sleep Again For Nightmare on Elm Street fans, it’s an 8 hour geek-gasm. ‘Nuff said.

Documentaries about certain horror franchises have become rather popular lately. Friday the 13th, Psycho, and Halloween have gotten this treatment, and Best Worst Movie, about Troll 2, was a surprise theatrical hit this year. Never Sleep Again, however, will forever be the measuring stick all other horror docs are compared to. Clocking in at 4 hours long, yes I said 4 HOURS LONG, this leaves absolutely no stone unturned in its exhaustive look at the Nightmare on Elm Street phenomenon. Every tiny aspect of the series is examined from the origins of the original story, to the motivations behind the sequels, to a wealth of behind the scenes stories and footage. We hear the makers of part 2 finally admit to all the homoerotic subtext. We see Robert Englund on the set of part 5 bitching out the crew. We hear people wax philosophical about Freddy’s resurrection via flaming dog piss. I mean, it is truly all inclusive. With the notable exceptions of Johnny Depp and Patricia Arquette, nearly everyone remotely involved is interviewed. Sure, you expect Englund, Craven, and Lagencamp, but the freakin’ hall monitor with one line from part one? Screenwriters who had their scripts rejected? Dokken? Yep, they’re all here. This would have been more than enough, but it comes with another 4 hours of bonus materials. That’s 8 hours of NOES goodness. This was a straight to dvd release, and may be hard to find in stores, but if you are in any way a Freddy fan, or a horror fan at all, you owe it to yourself to track it down.

And the winner is………………….

1. Hatchet 2 – A love letter to horror fans. The best movie this year that NOONE SAW!

I’m not going to rant about how the first unrated horror film to get a major release since the mid 80’s could have been a turning point in cinematic history had anyone gone out to support it. Ok, maybe a little. I drove 2 hours to see it, and my 2 friends and I were the only people in the whole theater. Where was the horror community? It was opening night for a lot of local haunted attractions, so if you were working there, I’m not talking about you. I also understand that it was only in select areas, so if you live nowhere close to one of the 60 theaters showing it, you have an excuse. Anyone within driving distance, however, specifically the so called thriving horror community in Atlanta, has no excuse. The next time you want to bitch about PG-13 horror having no balls or about how everything is a remake, I don’t want to hear it. You could have helped make a difference. Oh well, you all missed out. Sorry, I’ll step off my soapbox now.

Even if this movie had been terrible, I would have loved it just for giving the finger to the MPAA, but Hatchet 2 is quite possibly the greatest pure slasher film ever released. I was not a huge fan of the first Hatchet. The old school-ness of it was enjoyable, but the jokey tone of the film made it more parody than homage. Part 2 fixes this problem. Sure there is some funny dialogue between characters, but it’s not Naked Gun level like some of part 1. Much of the humor comes in the form of inside jokes for the hardcore horror fan, from Leslie Vernon references to a Lloyd Kaufman appearance. The rest of the humor comes from the over the top violence, but I’ll get to that later. The 3 leads all show why they are deserving horror icons. Danielle Harris, mark my words, will be this decade’s biggest scream queen. The underrated and always entertaining Tony Todd as Rev. Zombie chews scenery like no other. His menacing voice makes me wonder why he isn’t tapped for more voiceover work. Personally, after Candyman and now this, I think Mr. Todd should be named mayor of New Orleans NOW! Kane Hodder plays a hulking killer as only he can as Victor Crowley, but he also takes off the makeup to play Victor’s father. I never thought I’d ever say these words, but this movie has Kane Hodder in a sex scene. Go back and read that again. It’s one of 2 sex scenes in the movie. The other involves a little mid-coital decapitation, which brings me to the real selling point, the gore. The copious gore. The glorious, insane, visceral, hilarious, unapologetic gore! Victor cuts a man’s head in half. Why is that a highlight you may ask? Well, because he does it with about 40 whacks with the BLUNT END of the hatchet. There is a death by gas-powered belt sander. There is a double crotch to head bisecting with the biggest chainsaw in cinema history. That’s just the tip of the iceberg folks, but I don’t want to spoil any of the other surprises. All in all, this is a great flick, and my favorite of the year, because it is obvious that director Adam Green knows how to please hardcore horror fans because he is one. When Victor Crowley and Rev. Zombie have their fight scene, my inner horror fanboy couldn’t help saying “Holy shit, its Jason vs Candyman! I have a feeling Green said the same while filming it. Go buy this on DVD February 1st, it is required viewing.

So there you have it folks, my look back at horror in 2010. Do you agree with my list? Of course you don’t! I’ve looked at dozens of top 10’s for last year, and not a one is the same. What do you think was the best of 2010? Comment and let me know. In conclusion, I just wanna say Happy New Year you sick freaks. Here’s to 2011, and all the fear, blood, and guts it can throw at us.


Anonymous said...

I haven't seen A Serbian Film or Human Centipede . . . yet. I did however see the other 3 on this list, and I have to agree with you. Hatchet II was most definitely the Best of Horror for 2010. Pirannah 3D was HILARIOUS (to me) & I can't wait to see what they do with Pirannah 3DD! And, you are soooo right about Never Sleep Again. It was very insightful and it amazed me about how much I didn't know about the series being a big Freddy fan myself.

Cash Wampum said...

Oh dear Lord God!! Now this is interesting. I get to disagree with you completely and debate the whole Hatchet II shit.

Was it chock full of badass horror icons?!?! SURE!! Did it have ridiculous gore? Absolutely. And a good thing it did cause other then that I was completely let down.

Lemme explain....

I love Danielle Harris. I grew up with her running from Michael Myers when she was a kid. Now that she's all grown up she's a positively striking little spinner. I think she's the cutest little thing. But she really bugged me in this movie. The first scene with her and her uncle (and I give mad props to Tom Holland as he did direct Fright Night and Child's Play, two terrific movies) was downright horrible, awkward, hard to watch. The dialogue was stupid. Didn't make sense, had no feeling and my wife and I thought someone had slapped Danielle in the back of the head while her eyebrow was cocked just before shooting cause, if you watch closely, she has this one eyebrow raised through the whole scene. The bitch upstaged herself with an eyebrow for God's sake!!!

I understand that the movie was made for horror fans. I caught the references and laughed when I saw Kaufman. It took me all of two seconds to recognize John Carl Beuchler at the beginning since he did direct one of my favourite Fridays. I get the idea but the execution of this movie, to me, was horrible.

Lemme interject by saying I loved the deaths. The spray blood until the set is soaked method has always been winner with me. I enjoyed the indulgence with scenes that you mentioned including the sex death and that wonderful bludgeoning. Excellent and well done.

But my love affair with Hatchet II pretty much ends there. Tom Holland's character was an absolute bore. I didn't buy his close relationship with Marybeth, not one bit and since the whole movie rotated around those two dealing with Crowley.....ugh!!

I loved Tony Todd, that vicious conniving bastard that he is. Poor Kane Hodder had to cry that one scene and he's not getting an Oscar any time soon. I still love him though.

The finale where Rev. Zombie has to hold onto Harris for like 5 mins as she watches her uncle fight Crowley was so badly directed I couldn't stomach it.

A few script revisions and a little bit more hardcore directing would have been nice. At the beginning when Cracker figures out who's kid Marybeth is and he grabs the shotgun and tells her to leave, that was a huge wasted scene. Pop off a few rounds at the girl, have her dive for her life and flee, let us know the guy means business, that would have been exciting!! But no!!

As a horror fan I'm not looking for Academy Award shit, but lets keep it somewhat intelligent. Thank God for Hatchet II's gore. If I can leave this on one positive note its this. The scene where the wife is dying and the camera pans to her upright, just glaring at the infidels after she catches them kissing. That whole freak out where she curses them. THAT segment was very well done. Perfectly executed. Well written, well shot, well timed.

SonOfCelluloid said...

I agree that Hatchet 2 is not without its flaws. I think the acting and directing is just fine in this one. I guess since it is aspiring so much to be an 80's style slasher flick, that's what I judge it against. I'm not a stickler for a movie being good if it's fun. This one was both. More could have been done with certain scenes, I give you that, but this movie already did more than 99% of the movies I've seen done in the last 10 or so years. There is no such thing as a flawless movie. This one I think delivered the goods in a way most movies are afraid to any more, so I'll overlook those eyebrows and awkward moments. What would you say was the best flick of last year?

Cash Wampum said...

I'm sadly behind in my viewing of horror in the last couple of years. There's so many being made nowadays. I'd have to say the one movie that I really enjoyed from beginning to end from last year was the remake of The Crazies. Good gore, good story. I even liked Olyphant in that one although I can't shake Deadwood everytime I see him, no matter what he's playing all I see is Seth Bullock.

If I can take this opportunity to say that within the last FEW years the movies that have really blown me away and have actually SCARED this horror fan was REC and its sequel. I think that was some of the best film making to hit the genre in a long time. Fresh and new. The shaky cam (which I know you hate) was warranted since its all a POV but for me it added a manic impression. The movie had my heart racing in anticipation which is hard for a film to do without being over the top in subject matter. It was very easy to immerse myself in the situation and believe these people as genuine. I can't say enough good things about them.

SonOfCelluloid said...

I did indeed like REC. The shaky cam made sense in that one. I'm cool with POV shaky cam, it's 3rd person shaky cam that pisses me off. I haven't caught up with REC 2 yet, but it's definitely on the list.

Cash Wampum said...

REC II has a bit of silliness in its plot but the film makers didn't fix the formula. Its a true sequel right down to the manic realism. Best sequel since Halloween II 1981, I would say.

SonOfCelluloid said...

Wow. Best sequel since Halloween 2? That's a hell of a statement to live up to.

Cash Wampum said...

It fits so well and continues the same evening so correctly that I strongly suggest that you commit 3 hours and watch the original again and then throw in part two right afterwards. I'll be waiting to hear what you thought about REC II ;)

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