Archive for Shinya Tsukamoto

Fun With GIFs: TETSUO, THE IRON MAN

Posted in Fun with GIFs, Japan, movies with tags , , , on August 21, 2013 by goregirl

GIF set for Shin’ya Tsukamoto’s 1989 film Tetsuo, the Iron Man; a freaky trip of a film about a metal fetishist. A cyberpunk classic and a personal favourite. I wrote a review for Tetuso in 2009, the first year of ye olde blog. It also made my top 10 list for 1989. Read my review for Tetsuo, the Iron Man here.

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The above image was taken from Genkinahito’s Blog who did a hell of a review for the 2012 Third Window Films release of Tetsuo, the Iron Man.

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Goregirl’s TOP 10 Favourite Horror Films From 1999

Posted in horror, movies with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 26, 2013 by goregirl

This is the final top ten horror list of the decade!! Other than my announcement of the winner of the Criterion contest on Friday, this will also be the last post I will be doing for this feature!! I am completely 90s horror’d out! And speaking of the Criterion contest I want to remind you that the contest ends this Thursday, February 28th at noon (Pacific Time – West Coast of Canada yo). If you entered, poke your head in on Friday, March 1 to find out if you were the lucky winner! The last year of the decade was an entertaining one and heavy with Japanese titles with four picks from the country. Film number one I rated 5/5, Films two through nine I rated 4/5 and film number ten was rated 3.5/5. I also rated the following three films 3.5/5; Los Sin Nombre, Top of the Food Chain and Hellblock 13.

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#10 IDLE HANDS
Directed By: Rodman Flender

No one is more surprised I like this film than me. As I have mentioned in previous posts I have felt really spurned by the volume of North American made horror films with a high school theme. I did rather like the idea of a possessed hand-ala-Evil Dead 2 and throwing in two mates coming back from the dead was a nifty twist. There is a little mockery of the genre and some good laughs in this silly horror-comedy with a significant body count, creative deaths and decent effects. It is not without some problems but Idle Hands was pretty fun!

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#9 TERROR FIRMER
Directed By: Lloyd Kaufman

Terror Firmer is one of Troma’s funniest and most outrageous films since the 80s! Cheap, sleazy and gory fun with lots of Troma regulars and appearances from Ron Jeremy, Lemmy, Matt Stone, Trey Parker and Eli Roth and of course the face of Troma, Lloyd Kaufman playing himself! It is a Troma film about making a Troma film and as you would expect it is ridiculously schlocky, tasteless, full of boobs, bodily fluids and tons of over-the-top violence. Troma’s trailer really says it all…

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#8 SLEEPY HOLLOW
Directed By: Tim Burton

Ichabod crane is sent to the tiny town of Sleepy Hollow to investigate a trio of murders by decapitation that may be the work of a malevolent spirit known as the Headless Horseman. Johnny Depp was all over the place in the 90s and here he plays the eccentric and eager Ichabod Crane; one of the first of many Tim Burton films he would star in. The film screams Burton with its lovely gothic sensibility and a touch of playful menace. While I certainly would not call the film scary, it does have its suspenseful and mysterious moments. It also has Christopher Walken as the horseman and you can’t go wrong with that! Walken is quite creepy in the role and I really dug the makeup on his character! I still have the special orange popcorn bucket from when I went to see this in the theatre! Sleepy Hollow is classic Burton entertainment!

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#7 THE 13TH WARRIOR
Directed By: John McTiernan

This is one of many films from the 90s I seen in the theatre and haven’t revisited until now. When this showed up on the IMDB horror list I thought what the hell? This is a horror film? This is a big flashy Norse legend kind of thingy and it does in fact have ancient mythical creatures that come from within the mist and eat human flesh! How could I forget such a detail? The film looks like a million bucks and so does Antonio Banderas; the man is not hard on the eyes. The 13th Warrior is jammed-packed with giant battling big sweaty men on horseback with literal names (Hyglak the Quarrelsome, Ragnar the Dour etc), elaborate costuming, impressive set pieces and cinematography and a surprising amount of blood.

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#6 HYPNOSIS
Directed By: Masayuki Ochiai

Three suicides that occur on a single night may actually be murder and could be related to a popular television hypnotist and his muse Yuka. The strange suicide-murders continue to leave the police department mystified. A well-seasoned cop and a young psychoanalyst team up to attempt to solve the puzzle. I picked this film up in Chinatown for $2! As much as I love these finds, I have been burned by Chinatown cheapies. The subtitles in this film are unbelievably bad! Spelling mistakes and some seriously questionable phrasing. I am going to blame this on my cheap copy because otherwise I quite dug this film. The characters were a bit of an odd lot! There are a whole lot of cranky middle-aged cops that are awfully shouty! The young psychoanalyst and lovely Yuka the hypnotist’s muse are definitely the highlights here. Poor Yuka is one messed up little gal! Hypnosis has kooky psychedelic hypno-visuals, creative deaths and an interesting premise with a few twists I did not see coming. Hypnosis was a first time watch and was a great surprise.

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#5 THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT
Directed By: Daniel Myrick & Eduardo Sánchez

The Blair Witch Project is the made on the cheap film that started the shaky hand held camera and found footage craze. When this was out in the theatre I went to see this with a huge group of friends and we all loved it but these days I can nigh find a comrade who even likes this movie. Oh well, I still think this film is great!! It is so simple, subtle, scary, well-paced and if I had not known better I could easily have mistaken it for a documentary. The three central characters never seemed like they were acting to me and they don’t look beautiful or glamorous at any point in the film. The scene where Heather Donahue is staring into the camera crying and shaking, she literally has snot coming out of her nose, like you would if you were lost and weeping in the cold night! I am not exactly an outdoorsy camping sort of girl; I prefer the comfort of the cottage and the idea of being lost in the woods is actually quite frightening to me. Never mind finding freaking creepy trinkets that look like they were made by bent cult members. Despite it being seemingly unpopular to do so, I really dig The Blair Witch Project.

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#4 GEMINI
Directed By: Shin’ya Tsukamoto

Yukio, a well to do doctor has his life turned upside down when his identical twin brother, abandoned for a disfiguring birthmark, returns for revenge. This film is all about contrast. Yukio and his family are very reserved and the scenes featured in their home are done so with muted tones. The scenes shot in the slum are the polar opposite. The actions are exaggerated and the colors are loud. The costumes were fantastic! The traditional garb is amazing and the Cirque du Soliel-esque slum wear was an extreme contrast that worked beautifully. The music was bizarre but perfect and the performances are absolutely top notch across the board! Gemini is an extremely effective story about revenge, love, betrayal and class war.

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#3 WILD ZERO
Directed By: Tetsuro Takeuchi

The action revolves around the Japanese garage punk band Guitar Wolf. A trio of coiffed, leather-bound super cool rockers. Ace, our main character is a wannabe rocker and number one fan of Guitar Wolf. One fateful night he finds himself in the middle of a gunfight between Guitar Wolf and an evil hot pant wearing wigged club owner. Guitar Wolf recognizes the lad as having a heart dedicated to the true spirit of rock and roll and makes him a blood brother and furnishes him with a “wolf whistle” to blow if he is ever in trouble. Trouble comes quickly in the form of UFO’s and the living dead. Along the way we meet an adorable transsexual desperate for love and a bad ass female weapons dealer. Wild Zero Features guitar picks used like ninja throwing stars, a naked woman blasting zombies in the shower, a UFO sliced in half with a samurai sword, more exploding zombie heads then you can shake a stick at, and of course, plenty of rock and roll, guitar punk sensibility. Wild Zero is way too much fun…I love it!

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#2 THE NINTH GATE
Directed By: Roman Polanski

Roman Polanski is one of my favourite directors; I ranked him #14! A rare books expert is hired by a well-known collector to retrieve the two remaining copies of The Nine Gates of the Kingdom of Shadows allegedly written by the Devil himself, needless to say shit happens. First and foremost The Ninth Gate has one of the best scores from the 90s; one I must add to my collection soon! It also has an outstanding cast that includes Johnny Depp, Frank Langella, Lena Olin and Emmanuelle Seigner. The Ninth Gate despite all the Satan shtick is very much a suspense thriller with an exciting build-up, beautiful sets and an intriguing story. One of Polanski’s best in years.

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#1 AUDITION
Directed By: Takashi Miike

Takashi Miike rocks! Sure, a few of his films are a miss but how can you not appreciate the man’s literally unclassifiable array of films? I am a big fan of Visitor Q, Ichi the Killer, Gozu and The Happiness of the Katakuris. I also loved his more recent entry; a real departure from the aforementioned bit of craziness; 13 Assassins. Audition was my introduction to this incredible film maker and it still remains as one of his only straight-up horror features. A widower arranges a fake audition for a film role with a friend in hopes of meeting his future bride. He finds the perfect woman in Asami Yamazaki, but the seemingly sweet young woman is not what she seems. Hahaha!! That is the understatement of the decade! The movie definitely has a slow start but personally I think it adds a lot to the impact of the seriously insane twist in the film’s final section. Audition has a truly gruesome and surprising ending that was such a spectacular shocker the first time around! I love the subtlety of the first half of the film and the way Miike uses sound and off-camera events to pique the viewer. Audition is not only one of my favourite films of the decade but of all time!

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Goregirl’s TOP 10 Favourite Horror Films From 1992

Posted in horror, movies with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 13, 2013 by goregirl

As has been the case with every year of the 1990s thus far, there was an incredible amount of mucky-muck to wade through for 1992. There were however some truly brilliant entries from the year including my favourite horror comedy of all time! The top nine films were solid entries but coming up with a tenth pick made my head spin. I gave the top three films a 5/5, film number four I rated 4.5/5, Films five through nine I rated 4/5 and the film in the number ten spot was rated 3/5. I rated five other films from 1992 3/5 and those were Split Second, Body Puzzle, The Vagrant, Doctor Mordrid, and Curse, Death and Spirit.

*Only feature-length films will be included on the top ten lists for the decade; I do not include shorts, documentaries or made for television movies.

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#10 DRACULA
Directed By: Francis Ford Coppola

Francis Ford Coppola’s Dracula made my list by the hair on its chinny chin chin. Save superb cinematography and the inspired casting of Gary Oldman as Dracula I think this is one of the worst cast horror films of all time. I don’t have strong feelings about Winona Ryder one way or the other but she was an absolutely dreadful choice as Mina/Elisabeta and equally horrific is Kneau Reeves as Jonathan Harker. Aren’t Harker and Mina supposed to be deeply in love? There is zero chemistry between the two. It is probably somewhat unfair to say Sadie Frost was not well cast as Lucy as I thought the bigger issue was really the trashy characterization. Even Anthony Hopkins who seemed like a reasonable choice as Van Helsing gave an uninspired performance. The only two characters outside of Dracula I found at all compelling was Dr. Seward played by Richard E. Grant and Renfeld played by Tom Waits. It seems to me that the cast were not chosen because they were the best choice for the role but because they were popular names at the time. I am quite aware Bram Stoker’s novel contains romance but I am still not a huge fan of this aspect and the heavy focus on that and a PG rated eroticism just made me hunger for more horror. Dracula’s brilliant lead performance from Gary Oldman, a lovely score and spiffy visuals rescue it from complete mediocrity.

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#9 THE JOHNSONS
Directed By: Rudolf van den Berg

A doctor delivering septuplets, a bulgy eyed fetus god, a thirteen year old girl’s horrific dreams of rape and little boys drawing on walls in blood and a professor tasked with advising a top secret organization as to the next course of action to take with seven twenty-one year old psychotics are The Johnsons main plot points. Clearly there is a connection between these plot points but I will leave that for you to discover on your own. The Johnsons is a wonderfully odd little supernatural tale. There are themes of rape, incest, puberty and adulthood weaved into the story but the film does not focus on any particular one of these ideas. The film has an intriguing build up that made me hunger for answers. It starts out as a real pot boiler but all hell breaks loose in the final quarter when the psychotic septuplets escape their prison cells. That might be a bit of a spoiler, but it seemed inevitable in my opinion. The Johnsons is a unique entry from The Netherlands, the ending is a bit disappointing but otherwise it has a great atmosphere, intensity, some light humour and some solid moments of horror. To read the full review click here.

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#8 DUST DEVIL
Directed By: Richard Stanley

Dust Devil opens with some brief ominous words of narration that take us to a handsome man in a duster and cowboy hat hitching a ride. The cowboy is picked up by a woman who takes him back to her home in the desert. He snaps her neck during sex and we get a shot of the room where he has covered the walls in drawings and symbols in what appears to be the dead woman’s blood. He than sets the house on fire and drives off in the woman’s vehicle. Ben, a long time resident and detective is working on the case. In another part of Africa a woman named Linda has just left her husband and plans on driving through the desert until she reaches the sea. The three characters paths inevitably cross. Most of Dust Devil takes place in the Namibian desert in an African town called Bethany. Once a town full of life that is now practically deserted. Even the town’s sheriff has been offered two years salary to leave. Dust Devil is a supernatural tale with its name not only referring to the sand tornados but to the story’s cowboy who is in fact a demon. He is a demon that prays only on those who have lost hope. The film is partially narrated by a Shaman who was formerly a projectionist at the local drive-in (the drive-in’s last feature was to be The Bird with the Crystal Plumage and Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires). He gives us much insight to the nature of the beast. Dust Devil is a slow grind but a haunting and mesmerizing one. The endless desert landscapes and moving skies provide the perfect accompaniment to the films theme of hopelessness. There are some beautifully executed and haunting dream sequences scattered through the story and some well used set pieces. One particular scene near the end of the film featuring a deserted sand-filled theatre where a projector comes on as Ben stands in front of the movie screen is fantastic. The score is also wonderful and lends much to the film’s vibe. Dust Devil relies on atmosphere and a slow and steady suspense; there is not much for action sequences nor is there much of a body count. Be warned, there are two versions of Dust Devil out there. The version I watched was called The Final Cut, but there is also a heavily edited version you can buy for five dollars. Apparently the cut version has no narration, less music and a couple scenes have been cut out all together. I was able to rent the final cut version but if you are one for buying titles unfortunately the final cut version is pretty pricy. Dust Devil is beautiful, bleak and completely enthralling.

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#7 ARMY OF DARKNESS
Directed By: Sam Raimi

Army of Darkness is definitely my least favourite of Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead trilogy but I still think it is an energetic crapload of fun. The series moves from horror (Evil Dead), to horror comedy (Evil Dead II: Dead by Dawn) to a fantasy action-adventure in Army of Darkness. After going through a time portal Ash ends up in 1300 A.D. Ash is captured and thrown in a pit with a deadite who he defeats and is hailed as a hero. He falls for a woman named Sheila and is sent on a mission to locate and bring back the Necronomicon. Needless to say Ash’s journey does not go well. Along the way he is terrorized by tiny little versions of himself as well as a life-sized evil Ash. When he finds the book there are actually three books and in classic Ash style he forgets the special words he is to use before removing the book which causes all hell to break loose…literally. There are some pretty impressive and outrageously fun effects in Army of Darkness. I loved the Ray Harryhausen-esque army of skeleton soldiers and Evil Ash is a riot. Once again Ash takes quite a bit of bodily punishment. He is terrorized by mini versions of himself and drinks a pot of boiling water to torture one that jumps down his throat. The mini Ash forms the life-size evil Ash clone who deals him a few hearty blows in a three stooges like fight. Ash is as handsome and cheeky as ever spouting out hokey one-liners served up with a healthy dose of clumsy antics that make his character such a lovable smarty pants. I get a real kick out of Army of Darkness!

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#6 INNOCENT BLOOD
Directed By: John Landis

Now Innocent Blood is a vampire flick I can really sink my teeth into. I hadn’t seen this flick in years and now I am wondering why in the hell not?! Innocent Blood is a crazy combination of comedy, horror and crime and is an absolute hoot! Marie is a vampire with a conscience whose personal code dictates she only kills criminals. Unfortunately she is interrupted after biting crime boss Sal and doesn’t get to finish the job. Sal wakes up in the morgue and realizing his new found status converts his crime family into an undead army. Marie sets out to make things right with the help of a cop named Joe. Innocent Blood is a fun movie played for laughs not scares from John Landis who brought us the outstanding American Werewolf in London. It is stylishly filmed and has plenty of action, solid special effects, blood and gore, sex and nudity and an array of recognizable cameos from the horror industry including Dario Argento, Linnea Quigley, Sam Raimi and Tom Savini. Anne Parillaud is sexy as hell as Marie and Anthony LaPaglia is solid as Joe the cop. Robert Loggia is a blast as crime boss Sal “the shark” Macelli. I completely forgot how balls to the wall Innocent Blood was! Landis is definitely not trying to please the masses here with the copious nudity, ridiculous amount of swearing and insane and gory sight gags. This is not a family film; this is a film for comedy horror fans who like it over the top. I enjoyed Innocent Blood so much I intend on adding it to my collection! Seriously entertaining fun!

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#5 TWIN PEAKS: FIRE WALK WITH ME
Directed By: David Lynch

Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me did not come up on the IMDB horror search but I adore David Lynch and this qualifies enough in my mind. The film is somewhat of a prequel to the television show and could also I suppose be considered postscript to some extent. The film focuses on the last week of the life of Laura Palmer. The film opens with the investigation of the murder of Teresa Banks in Deer Meadow by the FBI. Among the agents is Dale Cooper but the investigation leads to a dead end. One year later we meet several students at a high school in the town of Twin Peaks; among them Laura Palmer. If you have never done so and are interested in checking out the television show you definitely do not want to watch Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me. The movie divulges the shows greatest mystery of who killed Laura Palmer, not to mention Laura’s dark extracurricular activities that were contributing factors that led to her death. Since the film specifically focuses on Laura Palmer not every character from the show is part of the plot but the characters that are brought back are all played by the same actors and actresses with the exception of Lara Flynn Boyle who played Laura’s best friend Donna. There are additional characters introduced also including Chris Isaak, Kiefer Sutherland and David Bowie who all play FBI agents. Are real FBI agents that quirky and entertaining? Probably not. I honestly don’t know what more I can say about the film except to offer it does answer some questions left hanging from the show and it is full of weird, beautiful, imaginative imagery that is fascinating, trippy and at times terrifying. Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me is special for me because I had mad love for the show which featured some of the most interesting and unusual characters to ever appear on cable. I think Fire Walk with Me is a delicious companion piece to the show but I am not sure it would hold much interest for anyone else. Although in my opinion all, and any David Lynch is worth visiting.

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#4 TETSUO II: BODY HAMMER
Directed By: Shin’ya Tsukamoto

I am probably one of the rare few who enjoyed Tetsuo II: Body Hammer as much as the original. Like its predecessor it is completely bizarre and visually mind blowing. Like the original film the metal fetish theme is the focus and the hyperkinetic visuals, stop motion animation and violence is even grander in this sequel. The film is in color this time around instead of black and white which obviously makes the gory bits stand out. I found the story in Tetsuo II: Body Hammer more coherent and it even answered some questions I had left after watching the original. The films protagonist, a salary man leading a regular sort of life with his wife and son has no memory of his life before he was eight years old. He becomes the target of a group of skinheads and an evil scientist’s experiment and finds his body transforming into a lethal weapon. Trying to explain the premise of Tetsuo II: Body Hammer is impossible in a short paragraph and this is all you need to know really. I highly recommend checking out the original first, although it isn’t really necessary as the two films are not exactly sequels. I loved Shin’ya Tsukamoto’s terrifying glassy vision of Tokyo with its dilapidated factories. The visuals really are something quite extraordinary and really should be seen to be believed. The family drama adds an interesting dynamic of tragedy and the film’s insane finale will not soon be forgotten. Shin’ya Tsukamoto’s Tetsuo and Tetsuo II: Body Hammer are two of the most wild and unique films I have ever seen! Tetuso II: Body Hammer is an action packed, gory, bizarre, jarring and dizzying experience like no other.

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#3 MAN BITES DOG
Directed By: Rémy Belvaux, André Bonzel, Benoît Poelvoorde

Man Bites Dog is yet another film to make the top ten lists that was not listed as a horror film on IMDB. I don’t believe the filmmakers had any intention of making a horror film, but considering its violence, its serial killer central character and the fact that I think this is an outstanding and unique film I am putting it on the list nonetheless. Man Bites Dog is a black and white mockumentary about a serial killer named Ben. This black as coal comedy hailing from Belgium features a charismatic (albeit racist and misogynistic) killer named Ben who agrees to let a film crew capture his horrific deeds. The film crew besides being complicit in the crimes just by the act of filming them gradually takes an active part in helping to commit the acts. This is a graphic and brutal film despite its comedic leanings. It features not just beatings, shootings and strangulations but a gang rape. The films intentions seem to be to make the viewer uncomfortable and further more gives you cause to feel guilty about watching. The character goes on tangents about immigrants, art and music among other topics and even introduces the crew to his family! You can’t help but laugh at the character and be amused by his audacious nature and than they pull the rug from under you and make you feel guilty for laughing. Ben seems completely indifferent to his crimes, at least until the tables are turned on him. Man Bites Dog is a grim declaration that uses violence to make a statement about society’s obsession with same. I certainly make no apologies for being a lifelong horror fan. I am a sane, reasonable adult who enjoys films that evoke strong emotion, and that would include those outside of the genre also. I will not deny however that I have seen some horror films over the years that made me feel sick and sad and guilty for sitting through them. To be perfectly honest though, I feel more guilt about being a human being when I read the news. Perhaps I am reading more into Man Bites Dog than what is actually there. Man Bites Dog is a well made, fascinating, darkly funny, disturbing and dare I say, sobering film.

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#2 CANDYMAN
Directed By: Bernard Rose

Candyman. Candyman. Candyman. Candyman. Candyman. I do enjoy a good urban legend! A well known artist and son of a slave falls in love with a white woman who he impregnates. A lynch mob descends upon the artist and cut off the hand he paints with and replaces it with a hook. The mob smears the artist with honey, chanting Candyman as he is stung to death by bees. Helen, a graduate student researching urban legends for a thesis learns of the legend of Candyman. The legend claims that repeating Candyman’s name five times while looking into a mirror will materialize the man who will than kill you with his hook. Helen and her friend Bernadette try it out but nothing happens. The two women decide to investigate a housing project called Cabrini-Green, the site of an unsolved murder allegedly linked to Candyman. While there they are told by a boy named Jake that a child was castrated by Candyman in a public restroom nearby. When Helen checks out the restroom she is attacked by a Candyman copycat who is later arrested. It turns out however that Helen’s summoning of the legend worked as Candyman appears to her. Candyman is based on a short story by Clive Barker. Bernard Rose moves the story from England to Chicago. Candyman is a gem of a horror film with an atmosphere so thick with intensity it could be cut with a knife. A genuinely creepy atmosphere that is beautifully complimented by Philip Glass’ haunting score. Smart, disturbing, spooky and wonderfully cast and acted. Helen is a strong and intelligent character that is played exquisitely by Virginia Madsen. Tony Todd is perfectly cast as the handsome and powerful urban legend and that fantastic voice of his is used to brilliant effect. Great use of the Chicago setting and little details like the artwork on the walls of Cabrini-Green are magic. Reality and surrealism collide in Rose’s expert visuals and he does not hold back with the gore. Candyman is horror done right, every detail is picture perfect including its outstanding story and balls out finale. Damn shame the sequels didn’t live up to the original; the third segment is almost unwatchable. Candyman is without a doubt one of the best horror films of the decade that should not be missed.

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#1 DEAD ALIVE
Directed By: Peter Jackson

Dead Alive is my favourite horror comedy of all time and its position in the number one spot was an easy choice. Seriously, it is not “one” of my favourite horror-comedies it is my favourite; I put no other horror-comedy above it. Dead Alive is a fecking visual extravaganza and is not only the funniest horror-comedy but the goriest. Overbearing mother from hell Vera Cosgrove is bitten by a Sumatran Rat-Monkey while spying on her son Lionel and his date Paquita at the zoo. Vera becomes a zombie. Instead of killing his hideous mother Lionel attempts to keep her confined by tranquilizing her. Of course mum starts chomping down on visitors and soon Lionel has a gaggle of zombies locked in the basement. Unfortunately mum escapes but is hit by a tram. Because of this very public accident Lionel is forced to pretend his mother is dead. In order to keep her quiet during the funeral he gives her an extra heavy dose of the tranquilizer. Complicating his life further is the appearance of his greedy and sleazy Uncle Les who is looking to get a piece of the inheritance. Poor Lionel! All this and trying to juggle a new relationship! Timothy Balme and Diana Peñalver are both charming and delightful as Lionel and Paquita and Elizabeth Moody kicks some serious ass as the hideous Vera/mum! How delightful is it that it is a bite from a Sumatran Rat-Monkey that causes the zombie outbreak? What exactly is a Sumatran Rat-Monkey you ask? They are a rare species native to Skull Island (note the King Kong reference) and are tree monkeys that have been raped by plague ridden rats! And how many zombie films do you know of that feature zombies having sex that produce a zombie baby?! I don’t want to spoil all the surprises for you if for some bizarre reason you haven’t seen this film. Why have you not seen this film? Dead Alive is a gore laden zombie fest packed with piles and piles of blood and guts! Zombies are dismembered in all manner of ways including one of horror’s most epic scenes featuring a lawnmower! Even dismembering doesn’t always take them down and the non-infected are also forced to deal with animated intestines and severed heads among other goodies. And then there is the reappearance of Vera in the finale. Oh boy! If Lionel thought mom was demanding before he ain’t seen nothing yet!! Dead Alive is a gorehounds dream and it is outrageously fun, deliriously vile and insanely entertaining!

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Goregirl’s TOP 10 Favourite Horror Films From 1991

Posted in horror, movies with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 6, 2013 by goregirl

There was a tremendous amount of truly awful films from 1991. I seen sixty-eight films from the year and gave twenty-five of them a failing mark. That left me only 43 films to choose from, and twenty of those received just a pass (2.5/5). I have compiled these top ten lists for every year of the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s and have never failed that many films in a single year. Sitting through some of these films was like stabbing myself repeatedly with a blunt object. In any case, this is what I came up with; I rated the film in the number one spot 5/5, the film in the two spot was rated 4.5/5, films three, four and five were rated 4/5 and films six through ten were rated 3.5/5. I rated just one other film 3.5/5 and that was Bloodsucking Pharaohs of Pittsburgh.

*Have you entered my Grunge Cinema Criterion Contest to win a $50 Criterion gift certificate? You still can here.

*Only feature-length films will be included on the top ten lists for the decade; I do not include shorts, documentaries or made for television movies.

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#10 THE BONEYARD
Directed By: James Cummins

The Boneyard is a little oddity that I missed out on in the 90s and only discovered a few years back. Two cops attempt to enlist the aid of a psychic who has helped them solve cases in the past. This exchange is quite bizarre and strangely serious considering what occurs later in the film. The case they need her assistance with involves a man who has been arrested for keeping children locked in his basement. The accused claims he had no choice due to a family curse that must be fulfilled. The two cops and the psychic end up at the morgue which is where the majority of the film’s action takes place. This film is far more fun than it is frightening. It obviously doesn’t want to be taken too seriously. The effects are cheesy and over the top and quite wonderful! The little zombie children had delightfully nasty looking makeup and the creatures were ridiculous but definitely a blast. There is a 50 foot tall zombie poodle for god’s sake! Most of the comedy comes from the visuals and not the dialogue. This is a wee bit of a shame since they cast Phyllis Diller as a cranky night clerk named Miss Poopinplatz and Norman Fell as coroner Shepard. More effective verbal humour would have gotten this one even higher marks. However, the visual humour is impressive and really is a hoot! Have I mentioned there is a 50 foot tall zombie poodle?!! If you are a fan of the horror-comedy genre and you like it cheesy I think The Boneyard is a must see!

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#9 HIRUKO THE GOBLIN
Directed By: Shin’ya Tsukamoto

I am definitely a fan of Shin’ya Tsukamoto’s films and particularly his outrageously creative visuals. The man knows how to make the most of camera angles, lights and color and while Hiruko the Goblin is definitely a more light-hearted affair than some of his other entries like Tetsuo, Tetsuo II: Body Hammer and Tokyo Fist it certainly screams of his visuals. Professor Yabe and a young female student discover a creature in a cave nearby the school and are quickly attacked after which all hell breaks loose. Soon a nasty little goblin named Hiruko who was buried under the local high school that is closed for summer holidays is suddenly lively and stealing heads. Hiruko the Goblin has a spirited enough pace and a decent body count and features a possessed Janitor, human heads on mechanical spider bodies, gore, strange crustacean/insect creatures, and a character with a penchant for creating bizarre Macgyver-esque gadgets from kitchen implements. Hiruko the Goblin is a horror comedy with outrageously fun albeit cheesy effects. The effects are really as amusing as they are creepy. While I would not say Hiruko the Goblin is a film for children it does have a child-like joy about it full of silliness and crazy creature effects. Hiruko the Goblin’s story is a bit needlessly complicated and characters could have been better developed but it was pretty damn fun despite that and well worth a look.

HIRUKO THE GOBLIN

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#8 POISON
Directed By: Todd Haynes

Poison is a weird but interesting collection of three intertwined stories, each shot in a unique way. One story is about a boy named Richie who allegedly shot his father to death who than, according to his mother flew out the window. The segment is done in a documentary style and is a collection of interviews with various people who knew Richie including classmates, teachers, his family doctor and his mother. Another story is filmed in black and white seemingly intended to mimic the sci-fi horror from the fifties. A scientist succeeds in isolating the elixir of human sexuality. When visited by a fellow female scientist and a great admirer of his work he becomes distracted and accidently drinks the elixir. The elixir transforms the scientist into a murderous leper. The third story is about a gay inmate named John Broom. Broom becomes attracted to a fellow prisoner who he recalls in flashbacks was taunted and tortured as a youth when they were both in an institution for juvenile delinquents. In the early part of Poison I thought perhaps the stories were connected in some way, but really the only thing that connects them is a theme of sexuality. The sexuality in the science fiction and prison stories is obvious from my summary. The story of the boy Richie also has its sexuality as the young boy witnesses his mother having sex with another man. In two of the interviews a doctor comments on Richie’s genitals and a student claims Richie exposed himself. To say the film is ambiguous is an understatement. I enjoy an ambiguous story but Poison leaves behind a little more mystery than I cared for. I can’t say I found it unappealing though. The visuals throughout were intriguing, alluring, disturbing and at times mesmerizing. I especially enjoyed the black and white sci-fi segment. Although Poison does contain some horror elements I would not classify it as a horror film. It is more art house fare than anything.

POISON

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#7 SUBSPECIES
Directed By: Ted Nicolaou

The good people at Fullmoon contributed a few gems to the 90s and Subspecies is the first of two to make the list for 1991 (the second is in the three hole). The film opens with the return of Radu an evil vampire and the estranged son of King Vladislav. Radu has come to claim the bloodstone an ancient vessel that contains the blood of saints. Radu craves power and believes it is his birthright as the eldest son. The king isn’t having any of it and attempts to cage Radu, but Radu easily escapes and kills his father. We are than transported to a train station where we meet three young college students. The lovely ladies are the only guests staying in a historic stone building with the exception of a handsome zoologist who only studies at night. The women intend on studying the customs of the small superstitious village. The handsome zoologist Stefan as it turns out is the half brother of Radu and the two vampire brothers engage in a battle of good versus evil. Subspecies is filmed in Romania and the location and its amazing old architecture is absolutely beautiful. The effects are slim and not particularly well executed but I got a kick out of them nonetheless. As sketchy as they were I enjoyed Radu’s little demon helpers! And Radu himself is an absolute delight. He is one ugly freaking vampire. Radu is in desperate need of a manicure, drools like a leaky faucet and has a voice as smooth as sandpaper. Radu is evil to the core and is a crapload of fun! The acting in the film was tolerable enough but some of the minor characters were horribly flat. Angus Scrimm’s name is featured prominently but has only the brief appearance in the films opening scene as King Vladislav. Seems a shame they didn’t use him more, at least in some flashback scenes or something. More concentration on the vampire family and less on the women would have been most welcomed. There is a little bit of gore and nudity but overall it just barely warrants its R Rating. Subspecies is all about Radu who is one of the most entertaining vampires to grace the subgenre.

subspecies

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#6 LA SETTA
Directed By: Michele Soavi

La Setta or The Sect if the name didn’t tip you off is a satanic worship/cult sort of thing. It is a rather convoluted one at that, although not unenjoyable. La Setta begins with a flashback to 70s California but the balance of the film takes place in present day (present day 1991 that is) Frankfurt Germany. We begin with a man who kills and takes the heart of a woman who “disobeyed” and later shoots himself in the head when he is caught by police. We than meet a well meaning school teacher named Miriam Kreisl who nearly hits a man with her car and offers to take him to the hospital. The man, Moebius Kelly ends up resting on Miriam’s couch where he uses the opportunity to slip some sort of insect into her nasal passage while she is sleeping. Miriam unwillingly becomes involved with the cult who has chosen her as the mother of their unholy leader’s baby. That is probably a bit of a spoiler but I think it is blazingly clear quite early that this is the direction it is going. Soavi’s visuals are fantastic. One particular dream sequence is very trippy-terrific and the downright bizarre ritual towards the films finale that incorporates a birdman and a birthing well is still firmly imprinted on my brain. Kelly Curtis is a likable protagonist and the great Herbert Lom is solid as Moebius Kelly. La Setta has a good atmosphere and an appropriate pace that builds some decent tension. My biggest bones to pick were Pino Donaggio’s disappointing score that at times was just plain awful. I actually thought the ending was great prior to the twoish minutes they tacked on prior to the credits but this final revelation left a bit of bad taste in my mouth. I do enjoy me some devilish hi-jinx and despite its flaws I found La Setta entertaining.

la setta

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#5 THE PEOPLE UNDER THE STAIRS
Directed By: Wes Craven

I hadn’t seen The People Under the Stairs in several years before this recent viewing and remembered very little about it. I was slightly scared off by the fact a child was at the centre of the action as this can often result is a ball-less affair but The People Under the Stairs has a little something for everyone. Fool and his family have been evicted from their home by their landlords the Robesons. It is decided that they should rob the Robeson’s home. What they don’t know however is that the Robesons and their huge labyrinth-like residence are full of nasty surprises. The psychotic and incestuous brother and sister are ruthless killers that have a basement full of cannibals who were once children of the Robesons who disobeyed them. Fans of Twin Peaks will remember the delightfully coo-coo eye patch wearing Nadine Hurley and her brow-beaten hubby Ed who are both just spectacularly nuts as the Robesons in The People Under the Stairs. The performances are pretty strong across the board. The film has a spirited pace and tons of action. While gore is somewhat limited there are some nasty tidbits here and there and the effects included are very good. The house is simply magnificent with its endless labyrinth of passageways and its aging and crumbling bricks and plaster. You can practically smell the dust and decay in your living room. For me the Robeson’s and their sick twisted history was a major highlight. They throw in a kidnapped girl, a vicious dog and a little S&M for good measure. The People Under the Stairs is a fun-filled, nasty, thrilling, action-packed adventure.

the people under the stairs

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#4 964 PINOCCHIO
Directed By: Shozin Fukui

964 Pinocchio is a lobotomized cyborg sex slave who is sold to a couple of rich eccentric women. When their sex slave is unable to maintain an erection they throw him out on the street. A young woman named Himiko befriends Pinocchio after he flops down and puts his head in her lap. Himiko tries to help Pinocchio adapt and teaches him how to speak. Eventually Pinocchio begins to question who he is and both himself and Himiko take one bizarre, insane, dizzying journey through hell. I think most of us are familiar with the story of Pinocchio; the little wooden doll who wants to become a real boy. To say 964 Pinocchio is a unique interpretation of the story is probably a grand understatement! There are several, long dizzying POV shots, insane angles, quick cuts, stop motion animation not to mention one of the longest vomiting scenes of all time. A scene where Pinocchio’s skin melts off looked like they used paint for the effects judging by the thickness and bold coloring of the ooze. Pinocchio running at breakneck speed down a busy pedestrian littered street with huge clamps around his neck chained to a concrete block he is pulling behind him is really something else! The film’s effects are definitely creative! 964 Pinocchio is not always an easy film to follow with its lack of dialog, tweaked-out visuals, abrasive sound effects and the screaming. Flashback scenes are shot at you like a machine gun and you would miss something if you blinked. Obviously the film relies heavily on its visuals. The ending mystified me, but it was nonetheless a trip. 964 Pinocchio was a fascinating, bizarre and creative bit of insanity! To read the full review click here.

964 pinocchio

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#3 THE PIT AND THE PENDULUM
Directed By: Stuart Gordon

The Pit and the Pendulum is not a remake of Roger Corman’s 1961 film and it also has very little to do with Edgar Allan Poe’s story with the exception of its titular device. Set in 1400s Spain the Grand Inquisitor Torquemada reigns with bloody supremacy enacting torture on the populace in the name of religion. A woman named Maria airs her grievances during a public torture and is herself accused of being a witch. The evil Torquemada is perplexed and disoriented by his desire for the beautiful Maria and throws her in the prison where she befriends Esmerelda a confessed witch. Meanwhile Maria’s husband Antonio makes a failed attempt to free his innocent wife and is sent to the torture chambers. Lance Henrikson is absolutely top notch evil as Torquemada. He enacts his torture in the name of god with such utterly nasty conviction! He tortures and kills a shitload of people without blinking an eye. Rona De Ricci is a lovely and likable choice as the innocent Maria who challenges Torquemada’s vows. Jeffrey Combs is fun as Francisco and is really the only character that doesn’t seem to get a thrill from the unsavory duties he enacts. He is pretty kooky looking with that hair and those giant horn-rimmed glasses though. And Oliver Reed has a brief but memorable cameo as the Cardinal. There is a little humour throughout the film which seemed a bit unnecessary but is occasionally effective. There is not a moment of downtime from The Pit and the Pendulum’s brutal opening to its action packed and crazy finale! It is bad fecking news to be accused of witchcraft; confess or don’t confess either way you are tortured. There is more violence than you can shake a stick at! The visuals are solid and the sets and costumes are fantastic. Stuart Gordon’s The Pit and the Pendulum is a thrilling and unsavory bit of nasty wonderfulness not to be missed!

the pit and the pendulum

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#2 THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS
Directed By: Jonathan Demme

I don’t really consider The Silence of the Lambs a horror film. It also did not come up on the IMDB horror search for 1991. I felt somewhat obligated to include it since I included Misery which also did not come up on the IMDB horror search. It does in fact feature not one, but two serial killers even if it is more interested in the hunt to track down a serial killer than the serial killer’s dirty deeds. Frankly, it was a weak year and The Silence of the Lambs is a solid film, so here it is nonetheless. FBI agent in-training Clarice Starling is tasked with enlisting the aid of imprisoned psycho psychiatrist Hannibal “the cannibal” Lecter. The FBI believe Lecter may have information that could lead them to a serial killer coined Buffalo Bill who has abducted a prominent Senator’s daughter. Starling wins Lecter’s confidence but the cannibal psychiatrist makes the fledgling FBI agent work for her answers while the life of the Senator’s daughter hangs in the balance. The Silence of the Lambs heavily focuses on the relationship between Starling and Lecter which is good because it is the film’s best asset. Outside of Starling and Lecter’s back and forth and the outstanding performances from Jodie Foster and Anthony Hopkins The Silence of the Lambs is a fairly standard thriller. It is definitely the performances that elevate this film to a higher tier. Lecter is one of celluloid’s most intriguing killers; intelligent, charismatic and well-spoken as well as a master manipulator and mind fucker who hungers for human flesh. Hopkins is truly chilling and fascinating as the brilliant albeit psychotic cannibal psychiatrist. Starling when forced into a quid pro quo lays her soul bare and it is not impossible to understand how Lecter might find her honesty and frankness alluring. I would certainly question the wisdom of sending a student FBI agent to deal with such a foe but Foster is a great actress who brings strength to the Starling character that makes it work beautifully. The Silence of the Lambs is an outstanding character-driven crime thriller to be enjoyed with some liver, fava beans and a nice Chianti.

silence of the lambs

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#1 NAKED LUNCH
Directed By: David Cronenberg

Like The Silence of the Lambs, I have never really considered Naked Lunch a horror film, but it actually did show up on the IMBD horror search, so it instantly qualifies. Also, I fucking love this film! Naked Lunch is only loosely based on William S. Burroughs’ novel Naked Lunch. Cronenberg turns the story into more of a semi-autobiographical account of Burroughs life. Characters are based on real life acquaintances Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, Joan Vollmer and Paul and Jane Bowles. Bill Lee is an exterminator whose wife Joan is addicted to the insecticide he uses to kill bugs. Bill too is affected by the substance which causes him to have severe hallucinations. So severe are his hallucinations that he believes he is a secret agent for an organization called Interzone and is assigned tasks by a giant insect! Naked Lunch is an epic film that can not and should not be summed up in a short paragraph. I intend on doing a detailed review later in the month so I shall not dwell on its wonderfully bizarre story. I can’t think of a single director who could capture Burroughs vibe better than David Cronenberg! This film is such a trip! The visuals are mind-bendingly phenomenal and the perfect casting of Peter Weller as Bill Lee and Judy Davis in her dual roles as Joan Lee and her doppelganger Joan Frost are spot on. Weller and Davis get perfect support from the likes of Roy Scheider, Ian Holm, Julian Sands and Canadian mainstay Nicholas Campbell (who also made appearances in Cronenberg’s Fast Company, The Brood and The Dead Zone). Naked Lunch is a film that has withstood countless viewings and always leaves me awestruck; it is a brilliant mind twist with unforgettable images and fantastic performances that is truly a one of a kind experience.

naked lunch1

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MAREBITO (2004) – The Dungeon Review!

Posted in horror, Japan, movies with tags , , , , , on October 17, 2012 by goregirl

Marebito piqued my interest due to its lead actor Shin’ya Tsukamoto. Tsukamoto is the director of Tetsuo, Tetsuo II: Body Hammer and A Snake of June, among other fascinating gems. Marebito came out in 2004 at the height of the new Japanese horror wave of long-black-haired, pale-faced ghost films. Like any overused horror trend there were a few good flicks and a bunch of copycats and miserable remakes. Speaking for myself I was losing enthusiasm for these ghostly offerings. Marebito was directed by Takashi Shimizu who also did the 2003 film Ju-On; a fairly decent entry from the sub-genre. I unfairly avoided Marebito when it showed up in the foreign section on the new release wall at my video store. I was pleasantly surprised by Marebito, which evidently is not a ghost story. It was grittier and stranger than I anticipated.

Masuoka is a freelance cameraman. On his way home from a documentary shoot he catches footage of a man committing suicide in the subway station. He watches the footage repetitively becoming obsessed with finding out why the man looked so terrified before he died. Masuoka ventures into the hidden world below the subway to find out. In the strange and surreal world he finds a naked woman chained up and brings her home. Not surprisingly issues quickly arise. The woman he names “F” refuses to eat or drink. She becomes deathly ill and Masuoka is at a loss until he inadvertently discovers she has a taste for blood.

It actually takes a goodly amount of runtime to establish the above basic plot points. Marebito is definitely a slow burn. I feel like I have said too much, but yet I haven’t really told you much at all. Marebito’s story is fairly convoluted. There are not clear-cut answers to every question. I don’t find these qualities a negative if I am drawn into the story and visuals. Drawn in I was! I found the narrative enthralling and I was fascinated by the world beneath the subway. I would have liked more exploration of this world. I was particularly intrigued by its alleged creatures; the Deros. The series of dark spooky tunnels, old buildings and beautiful natural landscape below the city are other-worldly. Dare I say almost Lovecraft-esque? The documentary-style filming added to the intensity quite effectively at times but I couldn’t help but ponder the potential of the subway scenes in a slicker presentation. Overall, I think the grittier look does suit the film. There is a minimal body count but there are a couple memorable scenes of violence worth noting.

I thought Shin’ya Tsukamoto was great as Masuoka. He displays just the right amount of emotion to keep you guessing. One epiphany about Masuoka’s character really took me by surprise! Tomomi Miyashita is also good as “F” doing the feral human thing; although she is more like a kitten that a lioness. There are a couple other minor characters but the vast majority of the film focuses on Musuoka and “F”.

There are definitely strange and dark ideas introduced in Marebito with a strong fantasy vibe. Marebito is open to interpretation and has an ambiguity that I found alluring but others might find frustrating. Ambiguious endings and those where everyone dies are the cat’s ass if you ask me! Personally I found Marebito a mesmerizing watch with interesting visuals, solid performances, a few surprises and some decent violence despite its low body count. Recommended!

Dungeon Rating: 4/5

Directed By: Takashi Shimizu

Starring: Shin’ya Tsukamoto, Tomomi Miyashita, Kazuhiro Nakahara, Miho Ninagawa, Shun Sugata