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Movie Diary 2019 by pahaK

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Alien: Resurrection (1997) R

200 years after Alien 3 Ripley is cloned in military science vessel. Some alien DNA was added into the mix and she was born with a new queen inside her.


It's safe to say that Alien: Resurrection is very different from the previous films. The characters and dialogue are typical Whedon with funny dialogue and well-written strong women (i.e. not modern feminists who see the world as one big battle of sexes). Visually it looks pretty much like Jeunet's urban fantasies did and using some of the same actors just emphasizes this.

I suppose there are quite a few holes in the plot (if the new queen reproduces like humans where did the eggs come, how did the aliens set up their trap in such a short time, etc.) but the characters make it an enjoyable ride. I like almost every lab raised superhuman character and Ripley isn't an exception (though I kinda wish that Weaver had declined the role and we'd got cloned Newt instead). Call isn't that far from that archetype either and Winona Ryder looks so cute.

It's not as big deviation from the previous films as The Predator was for its franchise but there are some similarities. It's not exactly the direction I wanted Alien to go but as an individual movie it's pretty good. There's not much horror, action scenes are little uneven but the dark humor and odd characters keep it together. I wish there'd been a sequel to this.

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I really like Resurrection too. Some action scenes are hilaribad, but Jeunet's quirkiness in space really catches my fancy. The spaceship's atmosphere is up there with the original for me, but like you say, it's best seen as an individual movie.

I like the score a lot too.



Interview with the Vampire (1994) R

A vampire tells his story to a reporter. A story of melancholy and sadness and death that starts in the late 18th century Louisiana.


To me Anne Rice's The Vampire Chronicles seem the most influential modern vampire stories. They brought the modern vampires back to mainstream, made them sexy again and gave them feelings. It's almost impossible to imagine vampires these days without her books - practically everyone was ripping of her work from books to films to roleplaying games.

As a film Interview with the Vampire is quite melodramatic and theatrical but for some reason vampires always seem to be portrayed as show offs and buffoons so I'm not bothered as much as usually. Other than the mandatory vampiric mannerisms the acting by the star-studded cast is quite good. Young Kirsten Dunst is also very good as a child vampire Claudia. There's quite good chemistry with the lead trio.

There's lots of brooding, angst and guilt. For the most part it works but like Lestat says Louis does come out as little whiny at times. Still the trio of Lestat, Louis and Claudia is rather interesting unit (even without Lestat the other two work nicely). The whole present part including the actual interview is unnecessary and the ending doesn't fit the style at all. It has its flaws but I have a soft spot for vampires.




The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974) R

Two siblings and their friends are visiting their grandfather's grave and his old, now empty, house. Things go wrong when they meet local cannibal psychos.


For a Finn of my age The Texas Chain Saw Massacre is more than a film - it's the epitome of our old movie censorship. Back in 1987 when the law that forbade the distribution of K-18 (kinda like NC-17 but our stance towards violence was way more strict than MPAA's) movies on video came into effect it that was that notorious film that was most often used as an example of the filth we were being protected from. Obviously almost none of the hypocrites had seen it but still they were able to recount it's hideous content in all the newspapers.

With that out of the way lets talk about the movie itself. For the most part it's one of those dark and dirty horror films that try to make the viewer uncomfortable. It has surprisingly little violence and everything potentially bloody happens off-screen. It doesn't need jump scares but builds its oppressive atmosphere from the isolation, hostile environment and kind of unexpected introduction to the horrors (the first appearance of Leatherface is great).

The radio news that plays during the opening credits sets the tone perfectly but the film fails to maintain that. There are good moments every now and then (like the hitcher and the arrival of Leatherface I mentioned earlier) but the five friends alone can't keep up the interest. In the end things get better again and after Sally is brought to the house the rest of the film is great. Acting is surprisingly good for a film like this. I'm still undecided whether I like the soundtrack or not. As a whole I think it's a good film.




The Witch: Part 1. The Subversion (2018) N

A little girl escapes from the research facility and ends up living with an aging couple. Ten years later she's a high school student and doesn't remember her past until it finally catches up with her.


So The Witch is basically a combination of Bourne Identity, Hanna and an R-rated superhero film like Logan. It's also distinctly Korean meaning it starts extremely slow and has some dumb humor (especially during the early parts) but after it picks up its pace it has very nice and somewhat brutal action.

I'm a sucker for these films with young girls with superpowers who've been raised in a lab (or at least forced to participate in experiments at some point) and then escape. More messed up, broken or even psychotic they are the better. Amnesia as a plot device is on my hate list but here it's handled much better than usually. So to avoid any confusion I like the lead character and the actress too.

The Witch isn't the most sophisticated and deep film but it's damn entertaining. It has some pacing issues and it's too obviously just a first part of the story (it ends in kind of a cliffhanger). Even some of the actors are kinda weak. Still it matches my cinematic fetish quite nicely and I can't stop liking it.




The Conjuring 2 (2016) R

Another family haunted by a supernatural threat means more work for the Warrens. This time scary things are happening in London.


"It's so small and light."

I honestly remembered that The Conjuring 2 was about as good as the first film but apparently I was wrong. It's not nearly as focused and tight as its prequel and could have used some editing. It also makes Warrens too important by connecting the threat so directly to them (while in the first part the connection to them was accidentally formed during the case).

There's very little character development in the film (especially with Warrens) and too many disjointed horror scenes (like the Crooked Man stuff). Acting is still great (especially Madison Wolfe - after seeing this for the first time I was sure the actress was British and after finding out that she was that blonde girl from Zoo I was like WTF?) and as thin as the characters are they're still very relatable.

It tries too much to repeat the first film's formula (I think the whole Amityville case was useless here while the lectures in the first were not). Despite all the complaints The Conjuring 2 is not a bad movie but the first film just set the bar too high. It's still well above average modern horror and well worth seeing.




Dog Soldiers (2002) R

A small group of soldiers are sent to Scottish backlands on a routine exercise. Unfortunately for them the routine turns out to be being a bait for a local werewolf pack.


Neil Marshall's debut feature film put him right at the top of new British horror cinema (unfortunately he's only done two horror film so far but both of them are good). It has lots of references to other films but it never feels pure worship ("There is no spoon" craks me every time) but stands firmly on its own furry feet.

Dog Soldiers has some of the best looking werewolves ever. They're huge, savage and move really well - just claw and tooth above the CGI lycanthropes usually seen in big budget films these days. All the other effects are solid as well and the violence feels like its hurting.

Characters are little bit cliched but aren't soldiers in movies always? Acting is very good nonetheless (I mean how could it not be with that cast?). Pacing is nice and things never really drag (it's kinda like Aliens but almost an hour shorter and way more horror). I'd say Dog Soldiers is the second best werewolf movie out there. RAWR!




28 days...6 hours...42 minutes...12 seconds
I saw Liam Cunningham at an airport in London. I said hello and told him I was a fan, loved him in Dog Soldiers. He smiled and said it was nice to see someone appreciate his work outside of Game of Thrones.
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"A laugh can be a very powerful thing. Why, sometimes in life, it's the only weapon we have."

Suspect's Reviews



I saw Liam Cunningham at an airport in London. I said hello and told him I was a fan, loved him in Dog Soldiers. He smiled and said it was nice to see someone appreciate his work outside of Game of Thrones.
Yeah, I imagine it would be . I'd like to watch him again in Cracker, alongside John Simm, as I don't remember the episode too well.

He was considered for Doctor Who in the Nineties, as David Puttnam had recommended him to the then producer. Paul McGann was eventually cast.



Event Horizon (1997) RR

An experimental faster-than-light spaceship, Event Horizon, disappeared on its maiden voyage. Seven years later it reappears near Neptune and a rescue ship is sent to investigate.


I don't like using the term guilty pleasure because why would I be ashamed of liking a particular film. If I were prone to use it though I would certainly apply it to Event Horizon. I've seen it like five times now so it has to be good, right?

The film has major issues that do bother me. It doesn't have proper characters at all, it has terrible mechanical issues with the ship (like the airlock scene) and there are some bad humor scenes that don't fit at all (like Cooper's return to the ship). Some of the CGI is really dated too (mostly the floating stuff in zero-G) and for large part the film is just a collection of scary scenes.

So what's good? Event Horizon (the ship) looks absolutely gorgeous with it's dark Gothic style and threatening black spikes protruding form all sorts of places. It's like something straight out of the old Warhammer 40k (actually the whole plot reminds me a lot of 40k - I'm pretty sure that in the original lore Chaos came from the Warpspace used by ships on FTL travel). I just really like the concept of something evil lurking beyond the boundaries of our world (in fiction, I mean).

All those quick glimpses from Hell and of the original crew are very good. At least when the film was newer there used to be rumors that lots (maybe even 10+ minutes) of gore and torture was removed from the final film by the studio (there was even a persistent rumor that such version was showed somewhere in Far East). Based on what's left I'm really sad these seem to be only rumors (or at least the material doesn't exist anymore).

So Event Horizon is one of the worst films I'm calling good. For some reason I'm willing to forgive its faults to rather large degree.




A Black Veil for Lisa (1968) N

A narcotics inspector has an issue with his case when all potential informants are stabbed to death. He also has problems at home due to his morbid jealousy for his wife.


I was expecting this to be a giallo but it's a police film with very light giallo influences and very heavy jealousy theme. It never explains why the inspector behaves like he does (it hints that there's a reason though) and we just have to watch him call home every couple of minutes. The first twist makes him feel quite insane.

The chase of the mysterious drug lord also has some promise and the film seems to constantly hint towards certain direction (I don't know, maybe I'm thinking too modern here) and the actual revelation feels disappointing. Overall I don't think A Black Veil for Lisa redeems its potential too well. Everything would make more sense with little changes.

Not exactly a bad movie but not much better either.




Holmes & Watson (2018) N

Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson are saving the Queen, meeting American girls and raising some eyebrows.


"Damn it, I forgot to unzip my pants."

I was mildly curious about the subject and the IMDb score (at the time of writing 3.4) acted as a final incentive. Bad reviews for a comedy doesn't always mean bad film - offend enough people and your ratings will plummet but the movie itself may still be funny.

There's very little new or innovative in Holmes & Watson. A good portion of its jokes are predictable and somewhat tired. For me its best moments are when it takes modern trends and issues into Victorian Era (best scene of the film is Watson telegraphing a picture of his penis to the American female doctor he fancies). Unfortunately the proper laugh-out-loud moments are quite few and far between.

I kinda liked the concept but the script would have needed much more work. Its lowbrow humor and exaggerated stupidity is not a bad style of comedy but it requires sharper writing. Still Holmes & Watson made me laugh several times so it's definitely not a bad film. Couple of great scenes, few good, few bad and lots of mediocrity. Based on IMDb I'd say this is underrated film.




The King of Comedy (1982) N

Mentally unstable man has dreams of greatness about being a famous comedian. When the world doesn't adhere to his fantasies he tries to force the matter.


Why am I feeling like I've just watched a remake of Taxi Driver? Sure de Niro has slightly different neuroses in both films but they're still essentially about the same conflict of fantasy and reality (or of want vs. have). And it really doesn't help that de Niro plays both roles pretty much the same (I admit that I feel that way from majority of his roles). I honestly don't know why Scorsese felt this needed to be done.

In a way The King of Comedy feels plausible in its portrayal of obsession and escaping into fantasy (I mean I do dialogues like Pupkin in my head every now then and it's tempting to blame the world for your own shortcomings). While such fixation to public figure seems alien to me and Pupkin is very annoying (I generally hate people who have to talk all the time) he's still relatable. Maybe it would have been better with different actor though - de Niro feels too dangerous and threatening somehow.

There's quite a bit of drag in the film (while Pupkin doesn't mind waiting I'm not too enthusiastic about watching him do so). Masha doesn't feel necessary character at all and her only function is to make the actual kidnapping feel little more realistic. Scenes of Pupkin living his fantasies are pretty good (not sure the "Mom!" stuff was needed though) but the actual stalking is rather dull.

Not a bad film but somewhat pointless. I don't think it's too sharp in its satire either and much prefer something like Network.




[Series Review]
The Passage - Season 1 (2019) N

It's a series about vampires so I was going to give it a chance. I've also read the first book of the trilogy which was a bit bloated but somewhat decent (not good enough to encourage me to read the sequels yet though). I was little worried about how its scope would fit a TV series and I guess some of those worries did materialize.


So there's a government research facility that's researching a virus in the hopes of curing all disease and elongate life. Unfortunately the virus turns its hosts into vampires. Scientists assume that the age of the recipient could be of importance and they add a little orphan girl to their lineup of death row inmates.

Based on the first book alone they've changed a lot. Some of the characters are completely different (like Antoine), there's lots of silly magic-like mythology stuff added to the vampires (I don't remember the number 12 being important in the book - it was just the number of the vampires) and for the (obvious) budgetary reasons the whole season only covers about 1/3 of the first book. And Amy, I have no idea what they're going to do with her. In the book she was special even before the virus but based on the last episode I'm afraid they'll just make her a little Ms. Blade.

Acting is pretty so-so (Wolgast and Richards being the worst - I don't know if they're bad actors or just in the wrong roles). Amy is mostly fine but at times her emotions feel quite fake. Too much dreams, too much hissing with teeth revealed and too many changes to make it fit the usual mold. I mostly stayed 'till the end because of the subject.




Pet Sematary (1989) r

Beyond the pet cemetery lies an old Indian burial ground with power to raise the dead. But sometimes dead is better.


I saw this back when it was new and thought it was mediocre at best. With the new version just around the corner I decided to give it another chance. While it wasn't exactly as I remembered my opinion hasn't improved over the years.

The story is rushed and characters' decisions seem to lack any sort of logic (like why did Jud take Louis to the burial ground in the first place?). Dialogue is clumsy and arbitrarily pushes the events forward. I don't remember anything from the book (read it before this came out) but some things make zero sense in the film (Pascow, Ellie's visions, Zelda stuff, etc.).

Technically Pet Sematary is rather poor. It looks more like a straight-to-video movie than mid-budget film with proper theater launch. Acting is mainly terrible (almost everyone is either wooden or overacting). Effects are fine except for the killer Cage who looks more like Chucky than little boy.

In my opinion Pet Sematary is vastly overrated film. Based on my earlier viewing I didn't expect too much but still managed to be disappointed.




Good post on Pet Sematary. The new one coming out might be my most despised trailer of the year so far, but here's to hoping it's better than the original.



The Asphyx (1972) N

An English nobleman is researching what happens at the moment of death. When he discovers that each living being has its own Asphyx, a spirit that's responsible of its death, he decides to pursue immortality by capturing his own Asphyx.


Ghostbusters?

I like the idea behind The Asphyx. The actual film has a multitude of flaws though. Especially the attempts at immortality are outright stupid (e.g why change the method of death every time?) and the whole operation is so badly planned from the start that it's no wonder things go little wrong.

The Asphyx looks prety good but lots of British horrors from this era do. I like the warm color palette a lot and its contrast to the cold blue of Asphyx itself. Acting is solid and characters are decent as well. There's nothing really wrong with the technical aspects of the film.

Script would have needed a lot more work. The concept of Asphyx comes from nowhere and only Sir Hugo knows about it despite of the fact that he's been doing the research with others for a long time. The guinea pig stuff is really forced (kind of everything related to Christina is). In many way The Asphyx is also way too generic cautionary tale about trying to compete with gods. There are lots of little and big issues with writing - sadly because the idea was interesting.