Archive for philippe grandrieux

Goregirl’s TOP 10 Favourite Horror Films From 1998

Posted in horror, movies with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 24, 2013 by goregirl

Just one more list after this one and this 90s horror feature is done like dinner!! I’ll be announcing the winner of the Criterion contest this Friday, March 1! Nothing new with 1998, lots of crap and a handful of gems. The top two films earned a 5/5, films three, four and five I rated 4/5, films six, seven, eight and nine are films I rated 3.5/5 and film number ten I rated 3/5. I also rated the following films 3/5; The Untold Story 2, Progeny, Night Time and The Wolves of Kromer.

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#10 SOMBRE
Directed By: Philippe Grandrieux

Sombre is definitely a somber affair. This slow-moving artful film has lovely looking and gritty visuals and at times is thoughtful and provocative. Marc Barbé and Elina Löwensohn both give great performances but I did long for more character introspection. On reading my May 2010 review I suspect I allowed myself to be affected by another’s influences. It seems like something I would normally be all over. Even what I can recall, it was still the strongest of the films I rated 3/5 from 1998. I need to revisit this one again soon. To read my 2010 review click here.

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#9 THE FACULTY
Directed By: Robert Rodriguez

Films with covers like The Faculty scare the hell out of me. So many films I hate from the 90s and early 2000s featured covers with the faces of their 20-something cast strategically lined up. Quite a few of these god-awful abominations were on this 1998 list; Disturbing Behavior, Urban Legends, Phantoms, I Still Know What You Did Last Summer. I hate those films so very very much! I was literally afraid to rent The Faculty when it showed up on the new release wall at my video store! The Faculty was an exception to the rule. While the film is not without its flaws it is actually a pretty fun movie. The students suspect their teachers might be aliens, and inevitably are correct. The teachers are as integral to the plot as the students and the cast largely speaking is pretty good. Action, laughs, a few surprises and it’s a high school flick where the adults get to have all the fun!

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#8 RAZOR BLADE SMILE
Directed By: Jake West

This trailer is a little on the “self-aware” side! Nonetheless this low budget effort is a lot of fun. Lilith Silver is a sexy black-clad assassin who also happens to be a vampire. She draws a lot of unwanted attention when she starts knocking off rich powerful business men. They do all sorts of neat original things in this vampire flick. Eating a woman out when she has her period?! Is that a little too graphic for ya’ll? Well, you have to admit that is something you don’t see too often; and frankly it makes sense that a vampire should enjoy that! In Razor Blade Smile gunfights, swordplay, sex and the obligatory stakes are all part of the fun in this violent, gory and humorous low budget effort from the UK.

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#7 GOODBYE 20th CENTURY
Directed By: Darko Mitrevski & Aleksandar Popovski

No trailer for this one I am afraid, and in fact this little bit of bizarreness does not appear to be available on DVD. Goodbye 20th Century is a Macedonian film. I don’t think I have ever seen a film from Macedonia other than this one. I watched this at a friend’s place who warned me it was not a horror film. Well, it came up on the IMDB list so here it is. My friend was right, it isn’t exactly a horror film, but it does have a ton of violence and even some gore! It is sort of a Christmas film too! Yeah, Santa is a character in Goodbye 20th Century! And he may or may not be god?! There is also an immortal dude who gets shot a whole bunch of times that is the catalyst for the whole tale. There is all manner of religious mumbo-jumbo in this crazy trippy apocalyptic film which is a real mixed bag of craziness! If Goodbye 20th Century was a stew some of its ingredients might be The Holy Mountain, Road Warrior and Bladerunner with a pinch of Batman. I don’t think I understood it all, but it sure was a visual extravaganza!

goodbye 20th century

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#6 BIO ZOMBIE
Directed By: Wilson Yip

There is a goodly amount of horror-comedy on this list, but I am surprised by how few zombie films were around in the 90s. A soft drink called Lucozade has been spiked with a bio weapon that turns its consumer into a zombie. Enter Woody and Bee, a pair of lazy, irritating losers that work in the mall selling bootleg films. These two got on my nerves early in the film, but by mid-film I found myself rooting for them and their group of pals. There is a significant body count but not much in the way of gore. It is more of a comedic character-driven affair, but there is plenty of action in its second half and a freaking great finale! Bio Zombie is undead fun from Hong Kong! To read the full review click here.

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#5 VAMPIRES
Directed By: John Carpenter

Another vampire film?! Bloody hell! Why Vampires isn’t listed as a horror-comedy on IMDB is a mystery to me. The film has more one-liners than you can shake a stick at! Vampires is an entirely campy affair that is action packed with loads o’violence! James Woods is super terrific as cheeky slayer Jack Crow and has a hell of a lot of fun with the role. Thomas Ian Griffith is also a hoot as bad-ass vampire Valek. The effects are quite decent, the kills are energetic and there are plenty of laughs. Expect more fun than frights.

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#4 RINGU
Directed By: Hideo Nakata

It is so easy to forget how good Ringu was after countless bland and outright terrible long black-haired Japanese girl ghost flicks that followed it. North America isn’t the only movie making continent that can bastardize a cool concept! A video tape that kills its viewer seven days after watching it is the premise behind this scary, well-filmed and intense little Japanese horror flick. The real fun however comes in the discovery of the story behind the tape. The first time I seen this was a midnight showing with a friend who wasn’t much of a horror fan, and it scared them so bad they insisted on spending the night at my house!

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#3 BLADE
Directed By: Stephen Norrington

This splashy big budget affair is one of a handful of mainstream flicks I love from the 90s. It is insanely action packed and I rather like the idea of a vampire slayer that is a vampire himself. Wesley Snipes is also smoking hot, even with that stupid ass looking hairdo! Martial arts, swordplay, great special effects and a nifty cast without a second of downtime. Kris Kristofferson as Blade’s mortal assistant Whistler is top notch and Udo Kier as Dragonetti is a no-brainer. Goddamn I have included a lot of vampire titles on these 90s top ten lists! Apparently I like vampire films!

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#2 BRIDE OF CHUCKY
Directed By: Ronny Yu

Yeah, that’s right Bride-of-motherfucking-Chucky! Oh how I do love this ridiculously silly film!! The Child’s Play franchise was meant to be horror-comedy in my opinion! I love that smart-ass doll and his voluptuous bride! Curvy Jennifer Tilly was the perfect choice for Tiffany and what can I say about Brad Dourif? I love that guy! I’ve probably seen this movie at least a dozen times and it makes me laugh without fail. Bride of Chucky is violent, hilarious and incredibly daft fun I personally can’t get enough of. “Chucky gets lucky” – that shit practically writes itself!!

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#1 THE QUIET FAMILY
Directed By: Jee-woon Kim

Director Jee-woon Kim is without a doubt one of my favourite directors and is one of South Korea’s most talented. His spectacular A Bittersweet Life, the gritty I Saw the Devil, the beautiful and haunting A Tale of Two Sisters, the quirky The Good, The Bad and The Weird and The Foul King; the man can do no wrong in my book. As much as I love all of these films one of my favourites is still his first feature film; The Quiet Family. Dark, hilarious and superbly cast The Quiet Family is one of the smartest and most original horror comedies ever. Damn shame I could not find an English subtitled trailer for The Quiet Family as the laughs just don’t translate here. I really can’t recommend this film more highly and I could go on and on but I will instead direct you to my friend Jason’s review over at Genkinahito’s Blog (click here).

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SOMBRE (1998) – The Dungeon Review!

Posted in France, horror, movies with tags , , , on May 12, 2010 by goregirl

I read some positive reviews of Sombre a few years back; an artful film that delves into the mind of a serial killer. The film received some positive response at various festivals. I’ll give it the artfulness but what about the delving? I didn’t feel like I learned shit about Jean, the films killer. Equally as frustrating is the introduction of beautiful virgin Claire who is compelled to save Jean from his demons. Again, a character I felt I learned nothing about. This film does have its moments, and starts out pretty strong but by the end it left me shaking my head.

The film begins with a theatre full of kids screaming, focused on the action before them. We soon learn that what is captivating and frightening the tykes is a puppet show put on by our serial Killer Jean. The film jumps right into Jean’s first kill, which is obscured by blurred and bumpy camera work. The first half hour of Sombre was actually intriguing. Shot without music and very little dialog added nicely to the sense of malice. The blurred and obscured kills are quite effective. Although the kills aren’t graphic the nudity is, and the camera lingers often on women’s vaginas. Jean often remains clothed in these scenes and his victims are mainly sex workers. He bumps his head up against a few crotches like he’s trying to get back into the womb. He does a lot of smelling of hair too. Mother issues? Who knows! Jean’s killing spree across France’s countryside takes place during the Tour De France. There are numerous shots of people gathered along roadsides awaiting the cyclists. Jean also uses the beautiful countryside as a dumping ground for his corpses. When the shaky camera actually settles you can capture the inner struggle of the character. Marc Barbé is actually quite good in the film and is brooding as hell. You can almost see his mood change and darkness take over. An interesting and complex character that you are left to come to your own conclusions about. Claire, an equally complex character is given the same treatment. Claire’s car breaks down and she accepts a ride from Jean who actually delivers her safely to her destination. She meets up with her sister in a department store and Jean follows her inside. The two girls attend a family gathering after which they meet up with Jean. Claire is quite brooding herself and although we don’t know why, it is clear that she is dissatisfied with her life. It is also divulged that she is a virgin. Elina Löwensohn delivers an intriguing performance and displays an impressive array of emotions. Her sister, played by Géraldine Voillat, is the polar opposite. A free spirit and open about her sexuality, she is somewhat of an accessory here.

The hand-held camera was interesting at times but didn’t really do the characters any favours. There was so much to see in their faces and their physicality was all you had to work with. The characters barely speak! Without giving away too much of the story, Claire makes some decisions about Jean that were perplexing to say the least. Think Stockholm syndrome…sort of. She doesn’t really spend that much time with Jean and considering they barely speak to one another it was difficult understanding her draw to Jean. Claire and Christine aren’t exactly trapped either. The two women have their own motel room separate from Jean. It isn’t until a swim in the lake that things get weird. Stockholm syndrome as a cause didn’t make much sense. Why is an attractive 30ish year old woman who doesn’t appear to be religious a virgin? Chances are there is a reason. Claire wants to save Jean and literally risks her own life to do so. So many questions marks!

The film does have a great gritty and sleazy look and feel about it, which is extra impressive against the backdrop of the amazing French landscape. It is interesting that Jean is a puppeteer that works with children. Although I can’t say for certain it is Peter and the Wolf that he is performing, he does have a wolf costume which at one point Claire dons during the film. The deafening silences and the road noise was a great touch and what music there was I really enjoyed. The hand held camera worked well at times but was equally irritating during other scenes. Sombre certainly does deliver on its title. The film is definitely a somber affair and is occasionally mesmerizing and powerful. I thought there was a little too much downtime and some scenes linger longer than necessary in its close to two-hour runtime. Certainly if you are looking for a straight-up horror flick this will likely disappoint in a big way. Although I often enjoy a film that makes me think, Philippe Grandrieux really pushes his luck with Sombre. When the credits rolled I felt pretty unsatisfied. I had a love/hate relationship with Sombre. Recommended with warning.

Dungeon Rating: 3/5

Directed By: Philippe Grandrieux

Starring: Marc Barbé, Elina Löwensohn, Géraldine Voillat