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Posts tagged ‘killers’

BSD Movie Log: My Bloody Valentine

My Bloody Valentine (1981, d. George Mihalka)

After a 20 year moratorium, a small coal mining town plans to relaunch their once traditional Valentine’s Day dance, even though the day is scarred with the memory of  a serial killer who brutally murdered V-Day revelers.  Then real, dissevered human hearts, in heart-shaped candy boxes, start getting delivered to the town’s elders – the same modus operendi of the legend.  Has the Valentine’s murderer come back or has someone else picked up his trademark? A group of young partiers end up in the bowels of the local coal mine, trapped inside with the spiteful Valentine’s Day killer.

I don’t know why this guy came to hate Valentine’s Day so much.  Maybe he thought he was the only one in town who wasn’t getting any.  Anyway, the motivation for all the killing is really secondary to the joy in seeing innocent people cut into pieces, no?  Murder qua murder. My Bloody Valentine isn’t like the high-tech torture porn of today’s horror cinema.  It’s just gory, suspenseful, cheap, idiotic and cool.

BSD Movie Log: A Nightmare on Elm Street 2, Freddy's Revenge

A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge (1985, d. Jack Sholder)

Teenage Jesse and his family move into the same house on Elm Street where the teenage girl of the first movie was terrorized in her dreams by the psychotic spector Freddy Krueger.  Now Freddy is haunting Jesse’s dreams and wants to make Jesse his living avatar for murdering people in the living world.

After successful use of the familiar “last surviving girl” motif, the first Nightmare on Elm Street sequel went with a story centered around terrorizing a teenage boy.  Not a bad direction to take, but horror movies are cathartic fantasy and male protagonist victims always come off a little gay.  If they didn’t mean for it all to come off gay here they should have maybe cut the scene where the teenage boy in the gym shower psychokineticly strips his bondage fetishist coach naked and lashes him to death with jump rope.  There are a lot of weird homoerotic scenes if you like that.  Otherwise this is below average material.

Kill More, Talk Less

My Soul To Keep (2010, d. Wes Craven)

The reason I never really followed the Nightmare On Elm Street horror series beyond the first movie was because the concept never attacked  me, so to speak.  I know people enjoy their serial killers, or blood and mayhem but I have to believe in what I’m watching for 93 minutes.  Nightmare, directed by Wes Craven was about a serial killer, Freddy Kreuger, a nine-inched nailed spector who hunts teenage victims in their dreams.   The teenagers are the surviving children of a mob who burned Kreuger to death because he had murdered children (molested in the 2010 remake).  It’s a pretty simple, although supernatural,  slasher concept that was understandably popular and basically repeated for 10 sequels.  I, personally, found it too simple and too separate from my anxiety portfolio to ever be interesting.  Craven has returned now with something called My Soul To Take and comparing the coherency of this new concept makes Nightmare On Elm Street read like “Ulysses.”

Here goes.  A guy who has been mis-diagnosed as schizophrenic, stabbs seven people  to death, stealing their souls, while in unconscious thrall to his evil personality nicknamed “The Riverton Ripper.”  When he is captured and demobilized, the souls within him escape and infiltrate the bodies of seven babies born that same night at Riverton General.  Fast-forward 16 years.  The Riverton Seven, now teenagers, are marking the solemn anniversary of Ripper Day by participating in a ritualized puppet show that is supposed to call The Ripper back for a confrontation.  Among the seven is Bug, the fearful, perhaps schizophrenic, perhaps telepathic, surviving son of The Riverton Ripper (Bug, doesn’t know he’s the son, but everybody else in town does).  Someone wearing the ugly, lifesize Ripper puppet costume, acquires the Ripper’s signature weapon, a fold-out knife with  the word “vengence” engraved, and starts the business of murdering the Riverton Seven one-by-one.  As it appears The Ripper is finally coming for him, Bug goes through a mild metamorphosis and decides to face his fears.  When only Bug and his best friend Alex are left, they accuse each other of carrying the inhabitant soul of The Ripper.  Bug, stopping to explain in great deatail how he traced back Alex’s movements, proves how only Alex can be The Ripper.  He stabs Alex in the abdomen with The Ripper’s knife.  Bug, once the object of everyone’s quiet pity is now a hero for rescuing Riverton from The Ripper, even though everyone The Ripper returned to kill is now dead.

Come to think of it, an ugly, vengeful killer returning from the dead to possess people and murder a circle of impartial teenagers is the same story as A Nightmare On Elm Street!   But what’s most ironic about this convoluted supernatural/natural movie is the amount of time dedicated to having characters try to explain it to the audience.  The murders aren’t very gory and The Ripper’s appearances are never much of a surprise.  Given all of Craven’s experience in depicting bloody murder and horror cinema’s advancements in senseless torture, I find the killings here rather uninspired.  Yet, characters take an inordinate amount of on-screen time explaining what they’re going to do, what they’re doing as they’re doing it, and why they did it.  There is a lot of dialoge but I’m not sure what it’s ever  in service too.  It doesn’t help much in combing out all the tangles over who The Ripper was, who The Ripper is now, and what’s really bugging Bug.    I’m not a fan of violence for violence sake, but this movie would have benefited from not taking itself so damn seriously, telling less, showing more, and hacking up more pre-maritally lustful teenagers.

By the way, My Soul To Take was cynically released as 3D.  There’s not much real 3D in it.  It was a trend-driven afterthought, added to bump the ticket price up by $4 and probably is not the least of  reasons why it flopped at the box office.  Don’t fall for it either.  Any of it.

Once Upon A Time in Italy

The American (2010, d. Anton Corbijn)

In one reflective scene of The American (of which there are many) the character Clark (George Clooney) sits in an Italian café considering his future and his immediate personal safety.  He is characteristically composed while knowingly being followed by a hit man.  A Sergio Leone “spaghetti” Western, Once Upon A Time in the West, plays behind him on an oddly bright flat screen television.  A state-of-the-art television feels awkwardly foreign in the quaint café; a reverberating theme as the broadcast is an Italian movie about an old American place directed by an Italian.  Leone did what he’s good at.  That’s the same way Clark describes himself in his job as freelance assassin and expert gunsmith, attempting to blend into the reposing Italian villages and  proceed unnoticed,  like a flat screen t.v. affectedly hung on the wall of an old cafe.  Although the story is contemporary, The American is a citation of classic Westerns.  Borrowing from a familiar movie Western trope, e.g. The Wild Bunch or Unforgiven, Clark is considering taking one last fated ride.

Clark is his apparent last name.  His first name may be Jack or Edward.  His identity and background are purposely opaque, an allusion to The Man With No Name character played by Clint Eastwood in Leone’s “Dollar” Westerns trilogy.  After a murky attempt on his life, in which Clark  feels forced to murder his girlfriend, he hides in the small Italian village.  One last assignment comes along, this time only to build a high powered rifle, not to pull the trigger.  Inbetween work on the gun he visits a local prostitute to alleviate his loneliness.  While at first telling her he is only interested in his own sexual gratification, he gradually begins to take real romantic interest in the prostitute, however tainted it may be, even performing sex acts in which she is the object of pleasure.  Meanwhile Clark also has a date in the woods with his client for the rifle, a sexy woman assassin who is finally his equal in weaponry, intellect, and inscrutability.  They seem compatible as more than just colleagues.  They share an almost romantic afternoon complete with a picnic basket and mutual appreciation for Clark’s large and powerfully accurate gun [insert Freudian reading here].  But he is incapable of, or indifferent to, reciprocating the hit lady’s flirtations beyond their professional relationship.    What he wants is the money from this last job to facilitate escape from Italy with the prostitute.  However, this plan to finally get out results in his becoming a target of the people he works for, and his escape from the emptiness is thwarted in an ending reminiscent of many Westerns as well as Greek tragedies.  Perhaps it is the Western genre itself which is so reminiscent of Greek tragedy.

Clark is a depicted as a highly paradoxical anti-hero.  In what little we learn about him, we gather that the loneliness of this career as paid killer suited him better at a younger age.  He is told by his superior that making friends, such as the murdered girlfriend, is a mistake Clark would not have in the past.  Clark’s desire to change and find love and fulfillment in life, instead of only the hollow rewards in killing people, is said to be a sign he is losing his professional edge.  The requirement of denying intimacy is characterized brilliantly by Clooney who plays Clark not as unemotional, but as methodically guarded.  His Eastwood-esque sentences are clipped but never timid.  He balances his persona like the sights on the rifle, but he can no longer fight his underlying desire to become a whole person.    He wants the chance to be a lover and no longer an expert killer.  He is trapped in the life he has chosen and in the sins he’s committed. His very desire to rescue someone – the prostitute – to become a real hero, is what leads tragically to his downfall.