From Robert Fontenot’s blog: Surf music and the great Dick Dale.
Posts tagged ‘teenagers’
The Curve (1998, d. Dan Rosen)
Two college roommates, Tim, an underachieving playboy and Chris, a scholarship student, determine to capitalize on a school policy that grants a 4.0 grade average to a student if their roommate commits suicide. The two plot to push a third roommate over a cliff and make it appear as suicide. When the police investigate, Tim leaves a trail of clues to frame Chris for murder. Then the roommate they thought they killed shows up alive. Was the whole thing really plot to kill Chris and fake his suicide?
I have to credit this movie for Matthew Lillard’s standout, Dennis Hopper-esque performance, but that is the extent of my generosity. With all the twists in the story, characters with secret alliances, and casting Lillard as the lead, you can see that somebody thought The Curve was going to be the next Scream. But they neglected to provide any likable or believable characters. They don’t come off to me as clever and cool, just petty. Save your trash diving for the Jerry Springer show.
Borderland (2007, d. Zev Berman)
Three impulsive and illiberal students, awaiting grad school, take a bro-cation to a tenderloin, Mexican border town. Although looking for dope and hookers, they accidentally find themselves the prey of a violent drug order/religious cult. While one bro is being tortured and strung up by his castanets, the other two come after the well-armed gang with a tire iron and get their gringo culos handed to them. They should have turned around at El Paso and headed straight back to Stanford.
Based on a true story, Borderland is a case where a better movie is lurking just beneath the one we’re unfortunately watching. The American douchebags are neither sympathetic characters nor well cast actors. More interesting to me is the gang of drug-smuggling orphans who kidnap virgin male tourists for their Jim Jones-esque leader. A guy who performs a sadistic Santeria ritual upon the victim in the belief that such blood sacrifice will render him invisible to narcotics law enforcement. Now that’s entertainment!
Fear of the Dark (2002, d. K.C. Bascombe)
A 12 twelve year boy old lives with chronic phobia of dark places. Is it a psychological disorder, immaturity, desire for attention, or does the boy see really see terrifying things in the dark that can’t be seen in the light? His torment comes to zenith when one stormy night he and his older teenage brother are at home alone during a blackout. Evil spirits come from the walls to attack the boy, and big, macho brother starts to see them too.
This is a horror movie that falls in-between being to0 scary for kids, and too arrested for any adult with an IQ above 80.
The Brown Shoe Diaries Halloween Movie Club.Track down today’s movie and post your comments. Good? Lame? Scary? Not scary? Bring it.
Today’s recommended feature is:
The People Under the Stairs
Between numerous sequels of Nightmare On Elm Street and The Hills Have Eyes, horror director Wes Craven came up with this wild, little urban-horror fairytale. It is a horror movie, but a patchwork of just about everything horrible under the full moon: sadomasochism, poverty, injustice, incest, slumlords, economic exploitation, OCD, racism, child abuse, castration anxiety, haunted houses, gore, slapstick, violence, and animal cruelty.
Fool, a 13 year old boy, gets involved in a home robbery with two adult burglars. Fool is looking for a rumored coin collection, the value of which could prevent his family from being evicted and pay for his mother’s lifesaving cancer surgery. The coin collection belongs to a wealthy, racist and a bizzare man and woman who are also the family’s landlords. After breaking into the fortress-like surburban house, the burglars discover that it is full of passageways between the walls, deadly traps, and a vicious guard dog. Also, the homeowners are holding their teenage daughter captive as well as a dozen or so teenage boys in a cage under the stairs, and their tongues have been cut out. The homeowners themselves are a nerotic folie a deux, alternately compulsively clean and prone to wanton destruction of their own property; alternately sexually perverse and obsessive about their daughter’s chastity. Chased by the couple and their flesh eating dog throughout the house and it’s hidden chambers, Fool befriends the teenage girl and her imprisoned, mutilated consorts, and they help him escape with the coins. His family’s financial crisis solved, Fool makes a deadly decision to return to the house and liberate all of the teen prisoners.
The People Under The Stairs isn’t great horror movie or a great movie period. But its unique story and the story telling is intriguing. It has a fairytale quality and a lot of juvenile humor, yet adult themes. It has slapstick and farce, but it’s also effectively violent and gross. The bawdy comedy and gore is definitely intended for a broad theater audience. However dumb it was, I have to confess it worked on me. The bad guys lose and the audience wins.
The People Under The Stairs (1991, d. Wes Craven)
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.
The Covenant (2006, d. Renny Harlin)
Four young men at a prestigious New England boarding school are scions of a powerful witchcraft legacy. They are forced into battle with clandestine fifth power long thought to have died. This movie looks like actors from the Ambercrombie & Fitch catalog were cast to star in a 90 minute Mustang commercial. But a Mustang commercial has more substance.