Saturday, May 29, 2004

Review – Alice

Jan Svankmajer’s version of the classic Lewis Carroll tale plays like a Rankin Bass holiday animation on PCP. Not since Dreamchild has Alice in Wonderland gotten such a disturbing work-over. And while Henson and company appeared to be trying to make some kind of point about child molesters, the creepiness here seems to be outrĂ© gratia outrĂ©. Some of it works in an odd way (which is about the only way it could work). But other parts come across as a little tedious. The disc also includes Svankmajer’s somewhat famous short, “Darkness, Light, Darkness.” Mildly amusing

Friday, May 21, 2004

Review – Dracula 2: Ascension

I don’t see anything here that qualifies as an ascension. If anything, this is a significant step down from its predecessor, Dracula 2000. And that’s saying something, because the original wasn’t exactly Citizen Kane. Through a series of uninteresting plot twists the reanimated body of Dracula falls into the hands of an annoying collection of med students, mad scientists and various riff raff seeking to use his blood to develop a cure for death. And of course hot on the trail is an assassin priest from the Vatican’s ever-popular anti-vampire squad. This might have been a better production if they’d worked just a little harder to make at least one of the characters – even Dracula would have done – somewhat sympathetic. See if desperate

Thursday, May 6, 2004

Review – The American Nightmare

The interviews that form the meat of this documentary about seventies-era low-budget horror movies are downright fascinating (for the most part). But given that many of the subjects either haven’t worked at all or haven’t done anything substantial for many a year, perhaps they didn’t have much better to do than sit down and give good interviews. Romero, Carpenter, Hooper, Craven, and Cronenberg all had interesting things to say about the early days of indie horror. I found Tom Savini’s remarks about the connections between his work and the real-life horrors he experienced in Vietnam especially compelling. However, a fair amount of screen time also ends up squandered on commentary from academics (not the end of the world, but not as good as chat from the guys who were really responsible for the sub-genre) and montages of footage of nuclear explosions, Vietnamese casualties, race riots and so on. Result: anecdotal information is great, but attempts to prove some bigger point from it all come across as more than a little heavy-handed. Mildly amusing