I’m going to make this as brief as possible because I honestly cant be bothered writing about all this and I need to get onto more important things but I would feel guilty for not passing on the word about some of these films. I’ve edited the first post in this series to be less annoying, long winded with good pictures because those films really do need to be seen by everyone.
This will be the last post in the series for a very long time hopefully, I’ve been trying to stay away from movies but I hope eventually there will be more films in the future that do not stick to the conventional length and structure, which is my biggest beef against movies. I also hope someday the will be dazzling fantastical arthouse surrealist movies with huge budgets, because arthouse should not be synonymous with cheap.
I have a little bit of optimism that there will be some of the films I’ve always wanted to see will come in the future, so all the things I expected of older films might still happen yet, there is a lot of good directors who are past their prime and follow a predictable routine but maybe they will break out of that and do their best work unexpectedly,, but otherwise I’m excited by the idea of a long future of films by Tsukamoto, Lynch, Kim Ki Duk, Greg Araki, Del Toro, Laugier and Sion Sono. I’ve still not investigated guys like Fassbinder, Goddard, Bunuel and loads others because I’m impatient with films that don’t inspire me visually, but I have discovered a few times there are prominent directors right under my nose who I ignored but I end up liking far more than I ever imagined I would. I’ll do that someday when I’m next in the mood for a film binge.
- KIM KI DUK is entirely worth the hype. I’ve saw something like 7 or 8 of his films and have never been let down, certainly one of the most consistently good directors I’ve ever encountered, I’m usually turned off by quiet arthouse social commentary but this guy is never boring. I’m amazed how much shit he gets for his portrayals of women, because they are obviously extremely sensitive and thoughtful to the suffering women. SPRING SUMMER FALL WINTER AND SPRING is incredible as everyone says and TIME would be my second suggestion. I would like to see everything.
- I’m not really big on Yakuza movies but I like MIIKE and I think the best thing about him is how versatile he is and I wish more people knew that he can do any type of film. I also recently saw one of his more typical films: the Masters of Horror episode IMPRINT which you can buy by itself. Some of the acting is a bit off and it often feels weirdly stagey but it has some really great imagery and the extreme torture scenes and abortion imagery somehow look quite lovely at times.
BIRD PEOPLE OF CHINA has a Yakuza in it but it is a really beautiful soft story set in Chinese mountains. I don’t know how to summarise it, but it’s very funny in places, I’ll just say it is beautiful and hope you watch it.
GREAT YOKAI WAR is one of the best family films I have ever seen. Some of the cgi is abysmal and there is a lot of really fake looking make-up but the fascinating enormous variety of charming monsters and epic last half of the film more than make up for it, the grandeur parts at the end of the film make me come close to crying, for some reason sweeping grandeur makes me cry, that’s why I listen to symphonic music.
- I really quite like TARSEM SINGH. I like how he has arty ideals but tries his best to get great production values to boost his vision. THE FALL didn’t have the most interesting narrative but is well worth watching for the epic visuals. THE CELL really surprised me, how could a film with Jennifer Lopez and Vince Vaughn be so dark and weird? It has some really amazing costumes and dream imagery. I look forward to Singh’s upcoming fantastical films which might get wider screenings since the new one has Mickey Rourke.
- To be fair to Vince Vaughn, there was a film called THE LOCUSTS/A SECRET SIN that was also really dark, weird, quite depressing and has an oppressive atmosphere. The director was called John Patrick Kelley, this was his only film and I wish he would do more. I wonder what happened to him? I only saw 20 mintues of this film but it made a strong impression, there has been a lot of reviews commenting on bad acting but I didn’t notice any at the time. Ashley Judd looks like an angel in it.
There was another vaguely similar film with Judd looking amazing again called Passion of Darkly Noon which was pretty good. The films of Philip Ridley came to my attention recently because of the bizarre inexplicable rave reviews of Heartless which was a below average faustian tale of the type I have seen endless times. I really don’t like to kick a small director who others are trying claim is an obscure genius, but Passion of Darkly Noon is very nice but not the gem I was led to believe it was, Reflecting Skin was interesting but spoiled by bad child actors and Heartless was extremely clichéd and had very little to recommend it.
- I really like some of Michael Powell. BLACK NARCISSUS was probably the best argument I’ve ever seen for making epic scale films indoors, really sexy too with some really great gothic horror imagery at the end. Peeping Tom is probably better than Psycho.
- TIDELAND and FISHER KING are the best films GILLIAM ever done.
- GREGG ARAKI is one of my top 5 directors, a thing I like about his films is that the beautiful teen characters who are often a bit obnoxious and stupid are the type of people I kind of wish I had as friends sometimes, especially in my mid to late teens, I really longed for that type of company and wondered if those groups of friends ever really existed and I still wonder about it, it seems like a distant fantasy world to me.
It’s incredible how polarising his films are, even a lot of his fans hate some of his films, but I’ve never understood that, I really like them all. DOOM GENERATION and MYSTERIOUS SKIN are his key films and although they can be pretty miserable, it still looks like a sort of odd desirable fantasy lifestyle to me.
One of the most important things is that Araki’s films introduced me to the world of dreampop/ethereal/shoegazing music, at the end of Doom Generation hearing Slowdive was one of the most important moments of my life, just like the day I leafed through the pages of a book showing Ditko’s Creeper and an EC comic cover, it was like a siren calling to me from billions of miles away showing me worlds I never knew existed but where I knew I needed to be. You’ll never forget the ending of that film.
Kaboom is his new film and it should be out soon.
- I had mentioned in the first post that LOVE EXPOSURE is one of the best films ever made, and later I saw a few other SION SONO films, one was a decent horror comedy called Exte but far better was NORIKOS DINNER TABLE, which had a similarly long length and structure to Love Exposure but with more serious drama, it is sort of a sequel to Suicide Circle but it stands alone just fine and feels nothing like the first part. It was really impressive.
- THE SHOUT is a bizarre 70s film about a man who can shout fatally loud, it has really great acting and it stands among the best weird films ever made in that era. John Hurt is in it.
BLACK MOON is another crazy 70s film but far more surreal with a talking horse and an old lady who likes to be breast fed. I had to buy a Louis Malle boxed set for it but I wasn’t interested in any of his other films.
- Crazy Lips is not a great film but it has a newsreader in a leotard playing with a dildo and a girl being forced by her family to have sex with the hanged corpse of her father that still has an erection while a criminal sodomises her.
- I watched a lot of old classic Japanese horror films like Horrors of Malformed Men, Jigoku and I don’t think many of them lived up to their reputations. I quite liked the Shindo films Onibaba and Kuroneko, of which the latter I think is really the better even though I loved the grass landscape of the former. Hausu/House was fascinating at points and I thought it would be a favourite but something was missing. KWAIDAN was probably the best of that era I saw, which is quite long and it has some fascinating vaguely humorous yet eerie singing, some great visuals too. I’ve still yet to see Blind Beast/Moju and Ghost of Yotsuya.
Even though they are not great films I feel compelled to write about the Japanese Dracula trilogy because there is so little talk of it on the internet somehow, you can buy them in a boxed set. They are blatant attempts to be like Hammer movies and seeing a Japanese attempt at this is what makes them attractive, I’ll talk about them in the order they came out...
Legacy of Dracula is the closest to a traditional Japanese ghost story, with a very Japanese ghostly vampire girl with golden eyes, it is okay but there is no Dracula even in it, I have a feeling they really wanted to stick closer to something Japanese but maybe a lack of success made them go more western in the next two.
LAKE OF DRACULA is one of the most beautiful and intriguing film titles I have ever heard of and the name is what made me want to see it for years because the idea of a lake being the home of Dracula really got my imagination going. Sadly Dracula actually lives in a house nearby a lake, but this is by far the best of the trilogy. Dracula has golden eyes, he looks fantastic, shouts and growls more than any Dracula I’ve ever seen. Visually pleasing, as good as one of the better Hammer films, but I don’t rate Hammer that highly.
Evil of Dracula is longer, more violent and has more nudity, but it is somehow really boring and by far the worst of the three. None of the vampires have golden eyes and the settings are less atmospheric. There is one visually striking scene in the film when a vampire girl cuts the face of a sleeping girl off and wears it convincingly as her new face while a crow sits beside them watching, this is the only thing worth watching it for and it is only brief and sticks out almost as if a better director taken over for those 2 minutes, but the whole trilogy is by the same director.
-There were two MARIO BAVA box sets but be wary of the second one, it has more films but the quality of the films is far lower. After seeing and loving BLACK SUNDAY, BLACK SABBATH and KILL BABY KILL(a really shit western title for a gothic horror) I was really let down by most of his other films, but those three I liked are a far better option than the Hammer horrors and gothic Corman films. It is really worth listening to commentaries and reading about Bava because some of his filmmaking techniques are jaw dropping when you find out how he did some scenes.
- If you liked the madness of NICOLAS CAGE in Bad Lieutenant and Wild At Heart, you have to see a really great film called VAMPIRES KISS about a yuppie who becomes convinced he is a vampire, it is actually very similar to American Psycho but long before it. I was in disbelief at the way he acts in this, it is hilarious but it does get a bit serious in a surprising way. His performance in Peggy Sue Got Married is also really odd and he makes a far more interesting popular high school prom king than anyone I’ve ever seen.
- The original BLACK CHRISTMAS is one of the best horror films I’ve ever seen, do not be put off because it’s termed a slasher film, it is probably the first one ever made and actually quite scary. Bob Clark also made Children Shouldn’t Play With Dead Things, which is a nice little zombie film he was planning to remake before he died.
- In animation I highly recommend the QUAY BROTHERS films, PAPRIKA and PERFECT BLUE by SATOSHI KON, Tale of the Fox by Starewicz is a really impressive early stop-motion film, most of his films are on youtube because the dvds are rare.
- I recently showed Daughters of Darkness to my brother and he wasn’t impressed by it much and I was amazed how much his impression changed my own after we discussed it, but I still love the scene when Countess Bathory scratches and strokes the chest of a man sitting on a chair as she hangs over him while he describes the tortures she had done hundreds of years ago while his wife screams in disgust, I found it funny and strangely arousing.
- I was really impressed by City of Lost Children, I wish there were more films like that. Anyone else think the videogame Bioshock looks a lot like it?
- I recently bought the 67 episode 14 disc boxed set of Boris Karloff’s Thriller, it was extremely expensive and although it is a high quality show, I regretted it. It was often said to be the best show ever made in the Twilight Zone, Outer Limits and Masters of Horror tradition, always talked of as a horror show and the box leads you to believe it was all horror, but in truth it is a crime and mystery show (not of the gruesome variety) and there is only roughly 10 episodes of proper horror. As I said, the show is good, but it is NOT really a horror show. I was attracted to it because it had adaptations of August Derleth and Robert E Howard classic horror stories, but there was not nearly enough of it to justify buying it.
- Video Nasties: The Definitive Guide is a documentary with interviews from directors, fans, critics, journalists and politicians about the censorship of horror films in the 80s in Britain. The main part of the dvd is the documentary about fabrications, gross exaggeration, spreading of lies, idiocy and incompetence that made it really scary to be a gore film fan at the time. There is an interviews with a person who possibly still believes that real people were actually killed in these mostly very shoddy and unconvincing films, and there is a journalist who did a lot of research and investigations into the cases and I think he forms the backbone of the film because he makes a brilliant damning attack against people who completely taken advantage of the public and will gladly do it again and again.
72 of the outlawed films are reviewed across 2 discs and it is funny how many of the films had nothing in any way extreme about them (police were sometimes mistaking films like Apocalypse Now and Best Little Whorehouse In Texas for horror films) or are completely laughable in every way. Funny how even fans of the genre think that more than half of these films are awful. So if you are a beginner to horror films and expect this to be a guide to a host of harrowing nightmarish films, prepare to have your hopes and dreams crushed like I did in my teens.
- More than most of the 70s-80s horror film directors, I really like TOBE HOOPER and it really saddens me to hear the reputation of his 90s-00s films and the difficulties he has had considering he did TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE and SALEMS LOT. But even though they have terrible reputations I recently heard someone highly recommend Night Terrors and that Kiyoshi Kurosawa is a huge fan of Spontaneous Combustion. I really want it to work out for him, he recently made an enormous claim about the power of his upcoming films will have and I wonder if he has a right to be so confident.
I think Funhouse is a nice film that has another of his child-like monsters from an outsider family, the main character is really cute I think. Eaten Alive/Death Trap is quite underrated, it feels more like a fifties horror comic than any film I’ve ever seen, even more so than Creepshow. It has a really good visual style that evokes the dingier comics of the era but it does go on too long.
I recently saw Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 and despite enjoying the impressive road killings at the start, I kind of wish I hadn’t saw it because it slightly spoiled the original for me. I was completely aware that Hooper chose an entirely different style for the only sequel he ever directed, that even attracted me that it would be so different, but as it goes on it becomes far too similar to the original. I wish it had more focus and development on the deranged Dennis Hopper, but it just ends up referencing the first film in a way you expect a fan might, and is a bit bloated.
- Buying films because you fancy an actress is really frustrating, I bought a couple of Alison Lohman films and I have to stop myself from making ear-piercing squee noises when I see her and that is just how I feel about SANDRA JULLIEN, an excruciatingly cute French actress who starred in Jean Rollin’s Shiver Of The Vampire, and the erotic comedy films I Am A Nymphomaniac and I Am Frigid... Why? She even recorded several extremely rare albums always naked on the cover. She really deserves to have a lot more fans, she is so sweet and cute. I find those type of porn comedy films to be really boring and it makes sense why those films died out, but those films are the best look at her you will ever get.
Why are trash films so boring? They surely should be sensationalistic, fun and easy. I don’t know how there are so many enthusiasts of this sort of thing. But I would like to think there could again be erotic films that work as both porn and art/entertainment and get on cinemas. I’d like to see an arty director who made films full of angelic pretty boys with massive cocks.
Outside of a few very obscure brief appearances, movies don’t have any of the main “genre” of women I draw, but the next best thing is Christina Ricci in Buffalo 66 and Pecker, in those she is jaw dropping and super-curvy. Also Deborah Caprioglio is really voluptuous in Paprika by Tinto Brass and I couldn’t stop crying when I first seen that because she was a bit too beautiful.
I’m also really fond of Shirley Henderson, who recently appeared in Life During Wartime, which might be her first American film, unfortunately she hardly ever gets lead roles. She’s so small and adorable.
- I don’t know why I group all these horror films together, perhaps they all satisfy me in a similar way.
VALERIE AND HER WEEK OF WONDERS is a really nice arthouse horror with lovely imagery.
VIY is an odd old Russian film that can be a little dull, but totally makes up for it in the fantastic monster swarmed ending that is nothing like any other film I’ve seen. I think it is being remade.
ALUCARDA is a great Mexican film with some really striking scenes, tender moments and a fascinating, adorable lead character.
LEMORA deserves to be as famous as the biggest cult horror films I think. People who say the visuals are lacking are talking crap, this is one of the most visually strong horror films I’ve ever seen with the exception of an awkard looking fight scene at the end. Everything is exaggerated and the cartoonish acting helps the weird fairytale feel. It really inspires me and I get loads of ideas everytime I see it. I think it is a crying shame the director never made more films.
LETS SCARE JESSICA TO DEATH is also very dear to me. It is nowhere near as intense as the title suggests, it is actually pretty mellow and it has a scene that somehow didn’t scare me the first time I saw it, but gave me nightmares the second time. Great acting, really special.
- Dario Argento: SUSPIRIA, INFERNO and DEEP RED are all wonderful films, and I often heard TERROR AT THE OPERA was his fifth or sixth best film but it really must be up with the three I just listed, I just seen it recently and I’m glad I didn’t decide to avoid it in favour of just imagining how I would like it to be( as I often do, because horror films are crushing disappointments 95% of the time), with the exception of an extremely ill-fitting heavy rock song at the scenes of the murders (Goblin and Emerson were at times abrupt and slightly too much in some of his earlier films, but they were still great) the style is extremely impressive and the camera work is the best I have seen in any of his films.
You should also see Two Evil Eyes, the Romero section isn’t very good, but the Argento half has Harvey Keitel!
- I was really impressed by MARTYRS especially the scary parts in the first half of the film, I’ve rarely been that scared by any film, but the rest of the film is more straightforwardly unpleasant in a violent way, so I think Laugier is a director to keep an eye on. It is said he will do a Hellraiser remake, and that is a rare circumstance where a remake sounds actually worthwhile.
His first film House of Voices gets a really bad reputation for no good reason, perhaps because it isn’t violent like Martyrs. I don’t think it was great or anything but at the very least it is really pretty and somehow the look of the shower rooms made an impression on me. But what is interesting about the film is that it was filmed in two different languages by the same actors! That is the first time I’ve ever heard of that practice. I also heard Laugier got Claudio Simonetti (Goblin) to do a soundtrack but he rejected it, I’d like to hear it and I can imagine it being perhaps too bombastic for the film, maybe I’m underestimating him.
- I’ve recently heard a lot of praise for Paul Verhoeven, especially from Japanese directors like Miike and Sion Sono, often mentioning Showgirls favourably. Tobe Hooper even went as far to say that Showgirls was an ahead of its time masterpiece that will eventually get recognised as such. I haven’t seen it yet, but I think I might just jump on that bandwagon before everyone else does so I can say “I toldya so”.
- Another film I haven’t seen yet is Late Bloomer, the very concept of it has me fascinated. Director Go Shibata says: “When I first met the star of the movie, Sumida-san, one of the first things we talked about was how society has a certain image of handicapped people. The typical film would show a crippled person overcoming great odds. We thought, "wouldn't it be interesting to see a film about a handicapped killer?"’
Go Shibata interview
-Memories of Murder is really good, I’ll finish this post with a really beautiful sad music piece from it. Try not to cry too much...