Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Olive Street Cinema, no. 6 | of aliens, vampire aliens, and murder

Super 8 (2011) - I knew this would be  the case.  I knew after viewing the trailer (I think before one of the Deathly Hallows movies?) that this was not going to be my thing.  But, Wolfman, moreso than me, is sometimes tricked into thinking children are cute.  (Whereas I tend to think of children much the way some superstitious people think of brownies or pixies or kobolds.)  The idea I'm trying to express with all this wordage is this: too many close-ups of children's faces.  This film suffers from far too many close-ups of precocious children's tear-stained faces.  I just.  Can't.  I felt as though I was being poked consistently thoughout the movie by some greasy movie exec saying, "How about that?  That's emotional, eh?  That's a real tear jerker, eh?"  Ugh, shut up, greasy exec; I'm trying to watch a fucking movie.  Unearned sentimentality: this movie has it.  Also, for a movie called "Super 8", the film making aspect of the plot wasn't utilized as much as it could've been.  While I'm just not that into precocious childrens' faces and emotional states, I wouldn't have minded watching more clips from their home-made movies.  These kids were, clearly, very clever and talented.  (Little Joe Lamb's zombie make-up effects were brilliant!)  But, I think the biggest problem with this film has nothing to do with the movie itself, but with another 2011 flick about children meeting face-to-face with alien entities: Attack the BlockAttack the Block was challenging and surprising, and just a little gorey, and very funny. (And please trust me when I say I am not one of those people who automatically assumes or claims something is better just because it's British; I very vocally prefer the US version of The Office to the UK version.)  Super 8, on the other hand, was simply a less-good E.T.  2.5 out of 5 stars.

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Not of This Earth (1988) - Roger Croman-produced (and a remake of his own 1957 Not of This Earth), this is perhaps best known, simply, for being the first "mainstream" movie made by Traci Lords following her debacle of a porn career.  The opening credits consist of creature and gore effects clips from previous Roger Corman movies which, to my mind, is the definition of fiscal responsibility.  (There is a reason this man never lost a dime on any of his 400+ flicks.)  The story of this film is one of a sci fi vampire (they sometimes crop up to varying degrees of success; "Vampires of Venice" anyone?), yet none of the investigating police ever actually said the word "exsanguinated," which would suggest that the script might be a clunky one.  Actually, I found it to be clever and funny (even cute at moments, like when the Birthday-singing stripper-gram girl shows up at the wrong house and laments, adorably, "I can't see anything without my glasses").  Roger Corman simply knows his audience--boobs appear on screen within two minutes of the movie starting, after all.  Traci Lords also appears topless while thoughtfully (much more thoughtfully than I ever have) toweling herself dry post-shower, which is the only nude scene she's ever done post-porn.  (She apparently has tried through her career to separate her film career from her porn career, which means perhaps her appearance in Zack and Miri Make a Porno indicates a tongue-in-cheek change of heart.)  By the way, if her role as Wanda Woodward in Cry-Baby wasn't an indication, Traci Lords is a very natural actress and charming to watch.  3.5 out of 5 stars.

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Theatre of Blood (1973) - Of Vincent Price's 107 completed films, he considered Theatre of Blood a personal favorite, and I can see why.  My wish of seeing Price do Shakespeare (in the hammiest, most robust of readings) was finally fulfilled as he played a sociopathic actor seeking revenge on the theatre critics guilty of writing bad reviews of his productions--killing each individual according to the deaths in the Shakespeare plays in his repetoire.  I love the aesthetic of certain 70's horror flicks--the camera angles and choice of surrounding characters and extras (in this case a gang of murdering hobos) is always drippingly gothic and macabre, while the music, sets, and wardrobe reek of evening soap operas.  And though I would say most horror flicks made before 1975 are SFNHF (Safe For Non-Horror Fans), some of the deaths in this film may not be for the easily squeamish (though the gore is kept to a minimum, excluding an awfully funny decapitation scene in which blood sprays about a sleeping chamber in dialogue-punctuating spurts).  In fact, Theatre of Blood may include one of (if not the) first murder-by-force-feeding scenes, which always make me a bit nauseated (see also: Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child and Se7en), and  to specify, a murder-by-force-feeding-victim's-beloved-poodles scene.  Pause a moment to let that sink in.  ... Okay, still with me?  The image I'd like to leave you with, though, is that of Vincent Price saying some version of "it's cool, baby" while wearing an afro wig.  Because that happens.  4 out of 5 stars.


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