Thursday, April 27, 2006

Happy End. (2005, Daniel Stieglitz) played at Newport Beach Film Festival - German horror

The director was not present, but there was some commentary before the film about how he is a student - not a film student, but a business student. Fortunately this movie does not play like any sort of student film, it is not amateurish in any way. Still, plotwise, it plays out like a fan tribute to The Ring and The Sixth Sense, and yet the story holds it's own. Unfortunately some elements may be borrowed to closely from today's mainstream horror movies. It was a bit painful to watch the ball rolling down the hall, the children's drawings, and the security camera footage of young Joana in therapy. At least the production values are high enough for this not to be one of those indie horror films that makes you want to tear your hair out.

Stieglitz did a phenomenal job directing and really should consider doing film full time. His script also shows great promise though I disliked some of the details as I mentioned above. Two more mistakes include a quick montage near the begging of the film that shows a bunch of the upcoming scares (why do this?) and the presence of a Sixth Sense video tape in the film. There is a clever twist involving the tape, but I really would rather it had not been there at all, maybe just because I'm not a fan of that genre of horror anymore. Stieglitz has the potential to spice that genre up. He did not do so with Happy End., but it is one of his first movies and he impressed me greatly just by making a movie that can sit next to the big budget studio ghost movies without looking like a low budget knockoff.

The actors are terrific. The sets are terrific and the comedy bits are funny. This movie was projected off of the DVD (not available in the US?) and subtitled at the beautiful Lido Theater on the peninsula in Newport Beach. Despite being an attractive theater from the golden age of movies, it is perhaps not the best place for horror as it is not particularly dark when films screen. The theater is lit with blue lights and black lights that slightly illuminate glowing swirls of waves and sharks painted on the walls. I hate to see DVDs blown up on a huge screen, the quality just is not good enough for that, but oh well. I think Happy End. would be very scary if played at home, alone, in the darkness of your apartment. I did jump a few times myself at the screening.

After the movie a staffer ask me if I had any comments about the movie that he could e-mail to the director and I was not complimentary enough (I have trouble being nice sometimes) so here goes: Excellent job, Daniel Stieglitz, Cub and I were very impressed with your first full length movie, most film students will never create something so accomplished - a real movie.

If you are a fan of stuff like The Ring and The Sixth Sense, you should buy this movie, you will LOVE it. You can't get it on Netflix to my knowledge.


Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Don't Go Near the Park (1981) played at L.A. Grindhouse and a press release for It Waits (2005)

1st: Net Neutrality - broken down so simply that anyone can understand.

The director's own 25 year old print of Don't Go Near the Park (Nightstalker on Thriller Video) screened at
Grindhouse in Hollywood last night. This print and all the prints, were butchered way back when in order to shorten the film. Linnea Quigley's full frontal nude scene was cut, but director Lawrence D. Foldes promised that all the missing footage appears as extras on the DVD, also released yesterday. Also on hand was star Tamara Taylor, who looks exactly the same as she did in the movie, despite the passing of 25 years. In the UK, Anchor Bay is releasing the DVD, and had to provide evidence to the British censors that Taylor was not underage when being shot topless in a nasty Don't Go Near the Park rape scene.

This movie was one of the famous UK video nasties. It is a gore/slasher film and nothing more - according to the director - but watching this movie one could see why some have read to much into the film. There is tons of extraneous junk in this film, much unintentionally funny. It is based on Griffith Park/Bronson Canyon mythology and tells the tale of two 12,000 year old white North American cave people who tear holes into peoples' stomachs and suck the guts. There are sexual and graphic moments as well as very campy sci-fi scenes. I really don't won't to go into details as some of you might want to check out this movie without me ruining it. Seeing it with a drunk laughing Los Angeles audience would be ideal, but I doubt anyone else will get that opportunity. Director, Foldes, says he was very pleased that anyone was even left last night after the closing credits rolled. He takes full responsibility for this movie, as producer, director, and CO-writer, which is a very standupthing to do since these last two roles are practically criminal with a movie like this. As a producer, I congratulate him, for finishing this ridiculous, but ambitious, project.

We were treated to previews from Foldes personal collection, several of which were for a couple of his action b-movies (The Great Skycopter Rescue, Young Warriors) and well as his first film, the sleazy Malibu High. These are movies that the audience expressed a strong desire to see. None of them are on DVD.

Despite Don't Go Near the Park being on of the worst films I've seen, it was a video nasty, a bloodbath, starred Linnea Quigley, and several other Hollywood names, so completists may have to take note. It's like
Jerry Warren movie with gore, so if you want to see something that was certainly NOT ahead of it's time, get the DVD.

After Don't Go Near the Park, The House on the Edge of the Park (1980, Ruggero Deodato), screened, and the drunken laughter and heckling from the crowd were really not appropriate for this movie, which is one of the most brutal ever. In fact, there were more unfunny lines thrown at the screen during this movie than there were during Don't Go Near the Park. Some times, vile acts bring laughter, because we don't have any better way to respond to them. Still, there was too much here. At least, during the climax, there were squeals of discomfort from some. David Hess' line to the virgin, that she would never forget her first time, landed with near dead silence from the crowd. I guess at least that one made them uncomfortable.

I always blame the kids for fucking thing up. The kids are messing up the internet, the kids are ruining the show. I made a remark that the kids did not understand House on the Edge of the Park, but a look at the crowd revealed not a single kid in attendance. Kids just don't live in Hollywood and these movies play past their bedtimes. It was a fully adult crowd, totally different from what I see when going to the stadium-seating multiplex in Costa Mesa to see new horror hits.

David Hess did not appear in person. He is getting his Masters in San Francisco. The print of House on the Edge of the Park is from Quentin Tarantino's personal collection.

Next: In a controversial move, I will reprint a press release for It Waits (2005):

TROY , MI – Anchor Bay Entertainment, an IDT Entertainment Company, presents the terrifying story of a dark legend come to life seeking vengeance on mankind. From acclaimed writer/producer Stephen J. Cannell (“A Team”, “Hunter”, “Profit”, “ 21 Jump Street ”) comes… It Waits! Premiering on DVD May 23 rd , 2006 , consumers won't have to wait any longer to thrill at the extensive bonus features including behind-the-scenes footage and interviews of the cast and writers, in addition to a feature-length audio commentary. SRP is $19.98 and pre-book date is April 12.

Written by Cannell, Thomas E. Szollosi (“Mythquest”) and Richard Chris tian Matheson ( Masters of Horror ) and directed by Steven R. Monroe ( House of 9 ), It Waits focuses on a tale taken from Native American folklore of a lost Human Being whose vicious resentments fueled an anger so fierce that its soul was banished from the world of the living. What happens when this malevolent spirit returns – can anyone stop its relentless and destructive powers?

After her best friend is killed in an auto accident in which she was the driver, Forest Ranger Danielle St. Clair (Cerina Vincent – “CSI”, Not Another Teen Movie ) moves into a secluded watchtower in the mountains to bury herself in her work, unaware that something else is buried in the forest. A spirit of the underworld – a victim of its own evil bitterness long entombed in a cave. For a chance to escape and exact its bloody revenge, it waits…

And when accidentally released, the peaceful forest becomes a killing ground. Only Danielle and her fiancé Justin (Dominic Zamprogna, “Battlestar Galactica”) are left to stand up against this ancient nightmare.

I should be seeing the movie soon. Also, tonight, I may go to the Newport Beach film festival, still going on in my town, to see the German film Happy End. Depends how much coffee I have tonight.

Friday, April 21, 2006

"that's not a knife - this is a knife!" don't rent Wolf Crock, it sucks so bad!

Yes, the killer uses that line, in what might be the silliest part of this lame Australian movie. There are not many moments like that. This movie is not one of those PG-13 teen slashers, but that alone does not make it good cause actually I'd probably have more fun laughing at one of those shitfests.

I don't want to review Wolf Creek, but I just have to say my "emperor wears no clothes" bit about another movie that people have been tricked into thinking is hip.

Just because this film played at Sundance every horror site that reviewed it gives it rave reviews. So it's not a stupid J-horror remake or rip-off, big fuckin' deal, there are plenty of other recent movies out there from the Texas Chainsaw Massacre school of film making and this one finishes dead last in the pack. TCSM the remake, Hills Have Eyes the remake, Hostel, House of Wax, Wrong Turn, Haute tension, Saw, and Saw II, are all more entertaining than this, and you know some of those movies blow. Wow, this was such a drag and I really don't get why people are writing about how hardcore this was. The villain is one dimensional and totally boring. People write about his "head on a stick" trick like it was sick, but it just looked like a chick getting stabbed in the back to me.

Some guts on the road, rotting corpses, severed fingers, that's it for gore. Jeepers Creepers is more gruesome. Every scene in here also exists in one of the movies I listed above. Do you guys like watching the same movie over and over? How about the victim discovering the killers bulletin board of newspaper articles of missing people? How about the victim finding an area where all the other victims' cars have been stashed? How about the killer being incapacitated and the victim not finishing the job? The list goes on and on.

What about the hand held camera action? Is that cutting edge directing? I hated it. The movie with about 45 minutes without any killing. There is so much build up and then... tame shit. I promise, you will not be shocked by the standard-issue "torture" scenes. Also, there is a non-ending, after all, this movie was "based on true events" and the killer was never caught. That may mean something to Australians, but it doesn't mean shit to me. Forget Wolf Crock, it's a total bore.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

shit is going down - you nerds

This weeks O.C. Weekly is more awful than usual. First it suggests, that this movie, Ten ’Til Noon, is secretly written and directed by Quentin Tarantino. "Sometimes a well-known artist gets tired of being told that everything he does is great, and for a lark he’ll put out some new work under a pseudonym, just to see how people respond to it without all the expectations and without a big name to help it sell." I guess this is supposed to be cute, but it will get some of the free paper's more naive readers wondering for real.

That movie screens at the film festival in the town I'm living in right now. I'm pretty much obligated to go to one event, the OCC Film Shorts, student films from my community college that play at Lido Theater Sunday morning. The Newport Beach Film Festival is big news this year, because America's or the world's Best Motion Picture of the Year, Crash, premiered at last year's festival. Too bad Crash is as hated by as many as it is loved. Hated by me.

Also in the O.C. Weekly, records store shoppers, take note. I am embarrassed for this girl. Not her fault, but it's the
worst article I've seen lately. If the intent is too send more creeps with boners to Bionic, then maybe they did a good job.

The girl does drop an interesting bit of knowledge. Customers asking “Do you have anything behind the counter?” are looking for white power music. Typical Orange County. She says they never carried Skrewdriver, but I saw a Bound for Glory CD in the used bin last time I was there - about 2 weeks ago. Hurry up and get it, you nazi scumbags.

In their defense, they has less nazi records there than I've seen in other O.C. punk rock record stores. At least the Bound for Glory CD was used. Buying one directly from the white power record label is basically giving money to a terrorist organization.

Found this: Stephen King on
lame DVD extras. You DVD-philes salivate all over this shit. Just cause you paid extra for it, does not mean it's worth watching. There is better shit running on Vh-1 and the E! Channel, 24-7, than some of this junk. You don't obsess over that, do you?

This article compares the 3 DVD versions of Zombie/Zombie 2. The Shriek Show disc includes this extra:

The final supplement on disc two is a real head scratcher. Titled “An Evening With Dakar”, it is a short little clip of the aged black actor from the film performing an acoustic number. He does not speak about the film at all, and there is really no context to him playing. He sings in a foreign language, and no subtitles are provided, unlike the documentary. The lack of subtitles sort of has a mocking aura to it, as if Shriek Show is just sort of mocking what Dakar has become. It is a puzzling inclusion, and I wish Shriek Show would have at least went to the work of translating it, or otherwise just not included it at all.

I would not read so much into it. It's just quantity, not quality, being stressed here.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

"Among the living Follow me or die"

Seen this bullshit?
Image Hosted by
I'll explain in a moment, but first:

I was out looking for a new apartment today. It has not been totally hellish yet, but the first place we went to got me down. Beverly Hills, right near the Flynt Building, so it's kind of West Hollywood, but officially Beverly Hills. These fucks wanted proof that we were making 3 times the rent - which mean your last three paycheck stubs and a copy of you tax return. Yeah right, I get paid in cash, and I've got dick for money, just enough to scrounge up enough with Cub's help to pay for this - of course needing the parents to put down the security deposit and then some. Cub is no millionaire either - she is in between jobs.

A young Hitler Youth couple surely got the apartment. I'm not big on calling people I don't like "Nazis", the holocaust was worse than anything my worst enemies could come up with, but the Hitler Youth were more like aspiring Nazis and young processionals, younger than me, who make shit loads of money, are the future fuckheads of the USA. Now you might not like me, who goes to college at age 27 and gets money from the folks, but trust me, you want to smash this couple's faces in with a hammer way more than you would want to smash my face in with a hammer. Trust me.

Today on Melrose I saw some interesting stuff. Militant crust punk/Crass-style Christian wheat pastings. One was written in the Crass font and was very anti-commercial, but also perhaps anti-Semitic, though it attacked several Eastern religions in it's drawing as well as Nazis. Another poster was a mess of b+w drawings that appeared anti-Christian, though it contained text that specifically asked punks and skins to accept Christ as savior. Another smaller wheat paste declared that "Easter is not about the bunny". Interesting stuff, though I doubt I will ever learn about it's origins. These are put up illegally in the dark of night after all.

There is a gore movie about Russian history that was mentioned in this month's issue of Vice Magazine, but I forget the name of it. I assume this movie is real (who can trust Vice?), but I have forgotten the name of it and can't find the article online at
viceland. Can anyone help me?

I am not a militant skeptic, but today I read a bulletin about 9-11 that just reeked of stupidity. It ends with this bit:

Open Microsoft Word and do the following:

1. Type in capitals Q33 NY. This is the flight number of the first plane to hit one of the Twin Towers.

2. Highlight the Q33 NY.

3. Change the font size to 48.

4. Change the actual font to the WINGDINGS

The image near the top of this post is the result. For the full bulletin, much of which deals with the number "11", check hear at
snopes. They debunk a bunch of the shit and drop the big bomb. No flight Q33 NY crashed into the Twin Towers. Oh.

Do a google search for "Q33 NY" and it only comes up in reference to this bulletin. By the way, I believe this little hoax is anti-Semitic.

Friday, April 14, 2006

omg! omg! internet exclusive! also... Naked Massacre

Silent Hill must be the most blogged about and hyped horror movie coming out this year! Secret shit is hitting the web all over the place, but I've got a one-up. A key shot of the killer, Pyramid Head, in most brutal scene! No one has shown this image before, in fact, many of you will be sorry you've seen it! So do you dare to roll your mouse over the question marks and click, because if you do, you might wish you had not!

see what pyramid head looks like

Have you ever hear of Born for Hell, better known as Naked Massacre? I had not. Naked Massacre (1976) was just one of fifty titles on the 20 dollar DVD bundle Chilling Classics, which does have some nasty stuff in it, like Driller Killer, Deep Red, and Bad Taste, but this one did take me by surprise. There are maybe ten movies I'd never even heard the names of before in this pack - maybe you should rush out and buy it, but I'll warn you, the quality is crap. Naked Massacre stopped twice and many movies suffer from over-pixelization during the dark moments. Sometimes you can't see a thing but large black on black squares. Other than in this pack, I don't believe that Naked Massacre is available on DVD.

The movie opens with a church bombing in Northern Ireland. Later we see clips of terrorist attacks in Israel and civilian casualties in Vietnam. I did not completely follow the message that the filmmakers are trying to convey here. I know that they do try to equate the killings in this film with real life terror and war, which seems a bit of a stretch to me. I'm all for making a statement, but real life death and on screen horror are two different things.

Of course, other writers point out that this movie may be lossely based on the killings of one Richard Speck, a serial killer I have never heard of. I never completely understand the killer in this movie and his motives. Is it merely a pathological hatred of women? What about the suicide attempts? What about his record as a war hero? In any case, the movie tells the killer's story more than it does tell the stories of the victims. It is not a slasher film, and I think it aims to be something far more serious than 70's exploitation, yet the movie that it most resembles is House on the Edge of the Park.

I'd love to describe the graphic and cruel moments, but I would rather that they surprise you like they did for me, besides, if you peaked at Pyramid Head you may have had enough.

I think director Denis Héroux aimed high with this movie, but maybe he just threw in a bunch of social and political shit to make us think he did. In any case, watching the movie will make you feel dirty, especially because of the passive nature of all the female victims. Get inside the head of this american psycho with a few days to kill in Belfast. Recommended.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

I really should not review this, but... Slither

My bunny video has been watched 127 times on youtube. Sure, that does not sound like much, but did anyone else in my class share their mini-doc with 127 fans that they don't know? I think not.

A bit about rip-offs. I'll take rip-offs over remakes any day. From a fan perspective rip-offs are fun, but is it fair to yesterday's horror makers if today's use their ideas without giving tribute?

Slither, homage, or rip-off? Take a movie like Evil Ed (Swedish, 1997, video could be found at most rental stores).. Evil Ed had the character, The Darkness, from Legend, running around in one scene. It steals the catchprase, "don't you fuckin' look at me!", from Blue Velvet. Yet, Evil Ed is not trying to make anybody think that they created these elements. The movie is about editing horror films and their are numerous horror films referenced by posters on the walls.

How about Making Contact . This Poltergeist copy featured little Joey's Star Wars toys coming to life and flying about the suburban home. In one Goonies-type scene, the bullies, trapped in a maze, come across Darth Vader. Many belief that Roland Emmerich would have been sued, had this been an American movie. It was made in West-Germany. In any case, two versions of the movie exist. If I remember correctly (from articles I've read - I only have one version of the movie), they changed a boy's testimony from "I saw Darth Vader" to "I saw my hero."

How about Hostel? It stole blatantly from two Asian horror films, perhaps more... Here is where we can tangent into talking about Slither, which steals the kill of a man getting cut in half vertically, from Takashi Miike's Ichi the Killer. In both movies, the victim is stunned for a 2nd, spills a little blood, and then suddenly splits in half.

How about Night of the Creeps? While scene for scene, Slither and Creeps (1986) are different, the general concepts behind the two are identical. Slugs from space go into mouths and turn people into zombies. Both movies are comical and both feature zombie animals as well as people. I won't go into, but I will share this
link where Slither director James Gunn claims he did not see Night of the Creeps until after Slither finished filming. To his credit, he also mentions Basket Case and Re-Animator, two movies I am about to bring up...

Many horror viewers will pick up on the fact that Slither is breaking very little new ground. Similar sequences in Tremors, Return of the Living Dead, and John Carpenter's The Thing are fairly well know. Still, I feel that two more frequent horror collaborators were somewhat burned by this movie and should have at least got a thank you or some sort of credit for their inspiration. The first is Stuart Gordon, most famous for directing comical shock horror, Re-Animator, in 1985. The villain, G.G., of Slither, was very similar, in my opinion, to the man/monster in Gordon's 1986 movie, From Beyond. I could site Belial, from Basket Case, as well, but really see more in common between the creature in From Beyond and G.G..

Spoilers in this paragraph: Also ripped-off badly, Brian Yuzna. He produced From Beyond and directed the Re-Animator sequels, but it is his debut film that I want to focus on now. Society (1989), a tale about secrets of the upper-class, end with the exact same climax as does Society. I'm talking about a giant orgy where the gooey flesh of many merges into one gelatinous blob. I saw this coming too. When the voices call for Starla from downstairs, I was thinking in my head, "I bet it's all like Society down their in that living room." I knew, I shit you not!

Friday, April 07, 2006

my new video and... Doll Graveyard is amazingly bad!

First of all, I recommending the new Doll Graveyard to fans of 80's horror, but it is awful. You say this should be no surprise. I should have expected it to be terrible. Well I didn't and in a moment I'll explain why.

My new video is online - it stars not dolls, but bunnies. Here is the link and url:

That's Cub of 'cub speaks' as the bunny owner.

It screened in class 2 days ago and no one criticized it. The class can really rip into things, my big fear is that they did not rip into mine only because they feel sorry for me. My videos that screen are always a little off and I think they are pretty deserving of a critique or two, but maybe there is something about them that seems very sincere or something about me that screams too sensitive. Actually neither of these things are true - the videos make fun of themselves and I don't actually put myself out there enough to be really hurt, but I think people get quite the opposite impression.

One kids video about Satanism really took a beating from the class. I think the piece itself was fair and balanced, between Christians and the hooded Satanist, but the kids took offensive mostly to the filmmaker's running commentary, which was full of profanity and him dropping info about being friends with lots of Satanists. It was kind of tacky. Ok, it was very tacky, besides, this kid hates me, why am I holding back?

When my tape screened I offered no running commentary for a change. It's hard to keep your mouth shut when your work is playing.

I talked to a classmate today who said my mini-doc was totally different from all the others. I should have asked for more specifics.

Doll Graveyard (2005): I've sung the praises of Charles Band many a time in this blog. He brought the world the direct-to-videostore movie. He is also the Producer who has brought us the most death via small monster or killer toy. The Ghoulies, Troll, Stuart Gordon's Dolls, the Puppetmaster series, Subspecies, Demonic Toys, Ragdoll, and many more. This movie is directed by Band as well. Around the turn of the millennium, his Full Moon Pictures went to shit (shot-on-video movies), and eventually died, but in the past three years it has returned with promise of higher quality material.

He brought back Wizard Video, in name only, as Wizard Entertainment. I'm not sure why, but I do know it's not to release the old Wizard Video classics. If they were Charles Band originals they are probably currently available from Full Moon. If they were not, say they were European exploitation movies, or whatever, it is very unlikely that he still owns the rights to any of them.

So is Full Moon back and kicking ass? Well, I just watched all the new trailers and a bunch of them were for compilation DVDs of old Band video store classics. Of course, most of you have heard of The Gingerdead Man with Gary Busey as a killer... you know what.. well at least the effects look good in that one. Doll Graveyard? Not up to par with Puppetmaster movies. No stop motion animation. The weirdest thing. The dolls' blinking is done with CGI. Man that looks weird.

But plot wise this movie is must see! It's strictly 80's by-the-book horror with the dorky brother at home and the older sister having boys over when she is supposed to be baby-sitting. The bickering is right out of The Gate. You will swear the ironic 90's never happened!

The first scene is the best. It's 1919 or something and little Sophia is playing with her dolls and breaks a vase. She is then confronted by the most evil father of all time. Instead of whipping her like usual, her makes her dig a grave for her precious dollies, who are the only friends she has. When she stumbles into the grave and breaks her neck, he looks around to make sure no one took notice, and fills in the hole.

Of course Full Moon movies has always been aimed at kids. They are Rated 'R', but written at a level for 14 year olds. Preteens are not gonna mind stock characters, which is just what this movie is full off, but so what, the dolls are the stars. Sure the effects somewhat lacking and by that I mean that dolls don't have enough moving parts. Some are hand puppets most likely - I did not watch the extras so can't be sure. Still, I like to watch the guys in action. They all talk to themselves as well, muttering nonsense words quietly. Very interesting. One kill is just like one performed by Tunneler when he got a guy between the legs in a later Puppetmaster sequel. Here too it comes from a doll with a spiky helmet.

I expected the movie to be good, a return to the form of the Full Moon glory days when they shot on Film. It's not shot on film, but it's considerably better video quality than the movies they put out from 1999-2002.

Any one could write this movie, it's short as shit, and the ending sucks beyond belief, but we had a good time watching.

Next up, a review of Class Reunion Massacre from 1978, a truly weird movie, long out of print.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

"Cigarette burns On her arms From her mom and her friend"

I spent eleven hours using Final Cut Pro in the lab today. No food breaks - no problem, but no coffee breaks... I was getting irritable. At one point I just had to tell myself to cool it, cause I was stuck and in a position where even a patient man might be driven to smash something. It took 4 different computers for me to output my mini-doc and I went about it the same way on each one. Computers DO blunder. Anyway, an internet version of this should be showing up at the end of the week. It's not horror related, but it's got an interview with Cub, in fact, she is the star... once again.

Saturday night, 45 Grave played up the street in Huntington Beach. You should all be familiar with them if you've seen Return of the Living Dead. "Partytime" plays over the closing credits. Hear it over at the
45 Grave myspace. Anyway, Dinah Cancer looked fantastic. The room kind of cleared when 45 Grave played. Most of the crowd was there for D.I., who I have come to love, having gone to see them 4 times in the last 6 months. Battalion of Saints played as well. They were fuckin' loud, hearing damage loud. Second time seeing them, first time was ten years ago in Boston, at the Middle East when they toured with The Business.

By the way, I love these 21+ punk shows. Without the kids, you can see legendary bands struggle to fill a small room. I like it laid back that way.

45 Grave photos... click to view!

Free Image Hosting at

Free Image Hosting at

Free Image Hosting at

Free Image Hosting at

I should have got a pic of Battalion of Saints' amp with an excellent Dawn of the Dead head painting on it.

Unrelated news: I will not be at the Fangoria convention in Burbank this year.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

commentary on Pulse (2001) Kiyoshi Kurosawa

Scares, I am reminded of a story my friend told me of two younger kids who rented The Brood for a sleepover and were so frightened of it that the put the tape outside of the house for the night. Then I think of the Crank Yankers when Special Ed calls the video store to find out if they have got The Shining. They have it. Well could they please take it out of the store, Special Ed wants to come and rent a video and The Shining scared him very much. By the way, that skit, which transforms into a bunch of Shining-like happenings going down at Special Ed's house, is the funniest Crank Yankers I've seen.

I try to stick with reviews for obscure, long out-of-print videotapes that have not been written about thousands of times on the internet, but once again I've got some things to say about a newer release. Pulse is a movie where the meaning is not explicate, and most reviews I've read do not try to explain what the filmmaker is getting at.

When I moved out to California 4 years ago Japanese horror was everything that was exciting about genre. In 2006, after 4 years of remakes, American rip-offs, and Asian sequels, spin-offs, and rip-offs, J-horror is no longer the definition of cool. If Pulse, which is getting recognition in America right now, had been made this year, instead of in 2001, the premise of ghosts transmitting themselves over dial-up modem wires would be inexcusably lame. This movie did follow Ringu, but predates Ju-on: The Grudge, The Eye, and Dark Water. Most Americans, though, have seen all those movie plus their remakes and are only getting around to Pulse now. Well, that's my story anyway. With that said, Pulse is not very scary today. We've seen enough ghosts already. Fortunately, Pulse has more going for it than conventional J-horror scares. The whole 2nd half of the movie is described by reviewers as inducing more of a general feeling of dread and doom rather than frightening us with straight forward ghost attacks. Pulse did keep me up late in bed last night, not because I was scared, but because I was thinking about what the movie meant.

What have I figured out - my interpretation - well I ran over a bunch of the scenes in my head, trying to figure them out. Spoilers up until Cub Speaks.

"When there is no more room in hell, the dead will walk the earth.": That's pretty much the story here. The afterlife is full and ghosts are crossing over. They do not want to kill, as that would create more ghosts. They are trapping people in their own loneliness. A ghost says it himself, that he is forever alone. If that is Kurosawa's view of death, I don't know, but I doubt he would make a whole movie based upon something inevitable and unchangeable. The movie should be looked at for its views on life. The characters in the movie are alone. One girl rants about how she looks forward to death as she is alone in life. The thought of death being lonely as well brings on hopelessness.

Suicide: There are several suicides in the movie. It seems that people kill themselves after submitting to the ghosts. They then become shadow-like, but don't others become this way before or without killing themselves? Suicide is not the ghosts main objective, as they do not want more ghosts. None the less, the behavior of those who submit to ghosts is much like the behavior of people who intent to kill themselves in the real world. Shortly before suicide they appear normal, even carefree, as the weight of the world has been lifted off of their shoulders by their choice to escape.

Technology (the computers) is an excellent metaphor for the isolation. We try to use it to bring each other together, but really we are alone with the devices, not as together as we would be communicating face to face.

Salvation in this movie, survival, is achieved by being with someone else and talking to them. Still, some are lost who do want to live. Perhaps this shows how vulnerable we are to putting ourselves in positions of isolation, despite what we think are our intentions. It is too late for most of us.

Also, living with someone else will not save in only the literal sense will not save you. After all, all of Tokyo falls, and their were many families and married couples in Tokyo, if few in this film. That adds to the general ominous mood of the picture, as it hints that those who live together are still alone in this day and age.

The ending is very Dawn of the Dead, or even Maximum Overdrive... ok, maybe more Dawn of the Dead.

Here is
another review of Pulse, or Kairo, with an interpretation.

Oh yeah, the United States version of Pulse comes to theaters July 14th. I saw the trailer. It looks like absolute shit. Nerds have noted that the trailers includes FX shots from the original film. Whether or not these will be in the actual movie, or were just thrown in to complete the trailer on time, is unknown.

(Cub kind of looks like a ghost in this picture... no?) Cub, here is my theory on Forbidden Rooms. Sure they might exist as a cool plot device, but think of what a room is. All humans need shelter, sure, but rooms within the shelter only work to separate people. It creates literal walls between them. See what I mean, Cub? That is why we have evil rooms in this movie about loneliness.

I agree with your thoughts cub! Rooms do separate and in turn create loneliness (unless it's two cubs in a room. It was a good movie although it was not very scary.

Cub, would you agree that after about the 1st half of this movie, the ghosts, and the people changing from solid to shadows, are more sad than scary? They even shoot some scenes in daylight, not a scary atmosphere.

I thought the Grudge was scarier by far. But also it would have been more effective if we had seen it in a theater rather than on our tv. And I agree that the ghosts looked more sad rather than they did angry or scary. I kind of thought it was an existential film in some ways, would you agree?

(Cub has me stumped about existentialism...) Cub, Pulse did not leave you lying awake thinking about it, like it did me, you were out cold very quickly.

I actually had dreams about it all night long, even though I appeared to be sleeping soundly. They were not scary though, the movie just left me with thoughts.