Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Frightfest the 13th Day 3

Sequel to rather good stripped-down Nazi-Zombie film. With the sequel inflated to try to accommodate the scale of the original concept – Nazis have built amazing-machine to create an indestructible supernatural zombie/phantom army – it implodes and ends up with lightning-from-fingers to resolve he undead problem. A certain earnestness keeps things a little grim and eerie. Best of all is the cinematography and lightning where the shadows are the same grey as the zombie skin.

Italian giallo homage – in 3D! (which improves nothing) – where three guys break into luxury villa to party away, but there’s something in the basement. Enjoyable thriller hinging upon the degradation and torture of a beautiful woman: half of the films I will see will feature this in some way. The guys aren’t total jerks so the dilemma is to do the right thing and save their own skins too. Slick direction, some crowd-pleasing nastiness and a little pathos help keep this stylish and memorable.

Under the Bed
Despite its moody greys and blues, ‘Under The Bed’ barely knows what to do with itself. Under the kid’s bed is a festering monster of all the household’s males, threatening to tear them all apart. It’s a “Goosebumps” episode with added Fulci-gore at the end. Bad acting and baffling narrative make this unintentionally humour: the Frightfest audience was having a great time chuckling away through the last act when the fact that the moodiness really couldn’t disguise the weakness of the whole enterprise. At one point, the parents wake up their sleep-deprived boys who are sleeping on the sofa in order to make them go to a sleepover... it really doesn’t make much sense. Hilarious answer to the monster problem – throw mum’s ashes at it!! – really tops off the whole shruggable affair. Too gory to be a Dante-like kids’ horror; too underwhelming for anyone else.

Post-Holocaust flick: a small rabble of survivors hide away in a cellar and slowly die. The lead hero is a sanctimonious asshole – he is meant to be heroic, but he needs a good kicking – and Edward Furlong just looks ill and uncomfortable. The actors wear their burns, but they don’t look like they hurt. The tone goes for sentiment rather than the horror and it’s all very TV drama until the final showdown with marauders, and then it’s a bit nasty – just a bit. No matter the worthiness of the message, it’s all rather dull.

When I heard that Elijah Wood was going to be in a remake of that infamous 70s scuzzfest ‘Maniac’, I was greatly intrigued: who would ever have predicted such a thing would come to pass? At its Cannes Festival screening, there were walkouts after the first five minutes. Well, the first five-ten minutes set the tone and that first kill and scalping is built up to and executed brilliantly. With the soft voice of Woods’ derangement, a fantastic post-‘Drive’ retro-electro score and riveting and upsetting kill scenes – not to mention very believable and lovely women – this was the very first triumph of Frightfest that I saw. A great re-make that I will be returning to again. Not for the squeamish, though.


MrJeffery said...

don't know the first 4 films you reviewed. will have to check them out.

Buck Theorem said...

Ah, Mr Jeffrey, but "Maniac" is the real treat out of the crop. It has haunted me no end since I saw it. Of course, it does depend on whether you like extreme slasher films and Elijah Wood, but I'll plead guilty to both.