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Wednesday, December 31, 2014

The Babadook (2014) - Jennifer Kent


The best horror movie of 2014 is definitely Jennifer Kent's The Babadook. This movie is beyond creepy and crawly. It does such a great job of getting under your skin. It has a fantastically deep concept that is pulled off in a really well way. It is wonderfully acted and exceptionally written. I know it sounds like I am praising it a lot. But this is really a fantastic film in the genre. 

This movie has layers. It's a depressing tale about a broken, widowed single mother that is raising the worst child in the world. Her life is horrible and her time is completely taken up by this hellion. A mysterious children's book shows up one day and begins to terrorize their little family. This book warns about the coming of a figure known as Mister Babadook. 

A supernatural and psychological terror begins to unfold as we watch this mother deal with a possession. Deal with fighting this unknown antagonist and simultaneously taking care of her child. It shows the her deteriorated mental state as she falls deeper into her possession and we are shown this neglect. This doesn't just start to become scary because of this Mister Babadook character. You start to worry for the mother. Root for the mother. It's really quite a fantastic ride. 

Jennifer Kent has done a magnificent job here. It's really promising since this is her debut film. Essie Davis' performance was amazing. Award worthy even. Everything from top to bottom is great. It really can't get much better. Of course I recommend this one. It isn't a movie that you are going to forget. If you liked the Grudge... this is much better. 

Director: Jennifer Kent
Country: Australia

Did ya know...
Jennifer Kent and Essie Davis were mates in drama school. William Friedkin, the director of 'The Exorcist', said "I've never seen a more terrifying film than 'The Babadook'".

Tusk (2014) - Kevin Smith


Definitely the most original and outrageous horror movie of 2014 is Kevin Smith's Tusk. This film is the product of the Hollywood Babble-On Podcast that is hosted by Smith and Ralph Garmin. They had literally just tossed the idea around and then, poof! It was made into a movie starring Justin Long, Haley Joel Osment, and Michael Parks. I will admit that when I started watching Tusk I expected to see something in the same vein as The Human Centipede. I expected to sit cringing through the whole feature. However, the end product was a bit disappointing and highly confusing.

This movie is about a podcaster, Wallace (Long), that travels to weird places and interviews weird people. He then, usually, returns to his best friend (Osment) and recants his entire trip while his friend laughs about it. The podcast is un-inspiringly called the Not See Party. Get it. Wallace heads to Canada to interview this Kill Bill kid that had cut his leg off. Only to find out that the kid had killed himself. Scrambling for a story he finds a letter from a crazy old man that is obsessed with walruses. Eventually the old man tricks Wallace and turns him into a half walrus half man. 

The horror starts to take a similar form. It starts to feel a bit Tom Six inspired and it nearly goes down the Human Centipede route but veers off into obscurity. Tusk starts to become a cluster-fudge about 1/3rd of the way into the film. It goes into areas that don't necessarily need to be explored. It feels like it's missing something. Johnny Depp makes an appearance but it feels like his cameo is quickly forgotten. It's like all of these characters are just elaborate frameworks of what real people should be. 


The movie isn't all bad. I love this nu-horror mad scientist genre. It is definitely a Body Horror film that does wonders for gore hounds and makes for an interesting tale. It's funny. I enjoy Justin Long's role. He was just the right kind of jackass. His back story was just... slapped together. It was interesting seeing Osment in his role. All in all, this movie is mediocre yet really original. I am curious to see where Kevin Smith can take this "Great North Trilogy"


Director: Kevin Smith
Country: USA
Style: Body Horror 

Did ya know...
 It was named the first runner-up to the Midnight Madness People's Choice Award.* Quentin Tarantino was offered the role of Guy Lapointe, but turned it down saying he dug the script and "couldn't wait to watch Michael Parks let loose his internal Kraken," but he had no interest in acting at the moment.* Kevin Smith and Johnny Depp's daughters play clerks. Clerks. (1994) launched Kevin Smith's career as a movie director and script writer.*


Thursday, December 25, 2014

You'll Find Out (1940) - David Butler

I am kicking off 1940 with You'll Find Out from 1940. A hilarious forgotten released to promote Kay Kyser. A popular big band leader from the 30's and 40's. The film is filled with comedy bits and witty charm that carry the plot along nicely. The production is exquisite. You'll Find Out is definitely a movie to check out. It's a shame it has been forgotten for so long.

The film is about Kay Kyser and his band after they are hired to play at a spooky mansion for a young heiress. The heiress had been invited to this mansion to celebrate her birthday party. She doesn't know who invited her. However, she is sure someone is trying to kill her. For some reason she still decides to go. The mansion is filled with creepy artifacts and crap lining the walls. It does a really good job of putting it's own spin on the Old Dark House motif. Not to mention it also has some very good cameos from Lugosi, Karloff, and Lorre.

The film is a parody/homage to the horror films of the 30's. The comedy is dated but laughable. It runs more like a Looney Toons short than a full length horror film. Actually with all the singing and musical numbers it runs more like a morbid Merrie Melodies. I guess with the world being in the shape that it was people didn't want to be scared anymore. They just wanted to be entertained. Well this movie does just that. It entertains like no other.

Director: David Butler
Country: USA
Style: Comedy

Did ya know...
Contrary to belief this movie was not a direct influence to Scooby Doo. It was beautifully filmed in 35mm and also featured a huge soundtrack. It was even nominated to win for best song. 

The Face at the Window (1939) - George King


Tod Slaughter is such an awesome character actor. He really puts everything he can into his pictures. I loved watching him in Sweeney Todd. This movie was no exception. George King is one of Britain's greatest story-tellers and delivers another keeper. The Face at the Window takes the Old Dark House motif and turns it on its head. 

The film takes place in 1880's France where someone has robbed the Brisson Bank in Paris. Chevalier Lucio del Gardo (Tod Slaughter) is the only one wealthy enough to help bail the bank out of trouble. Lucio del Gardo is horrible person that demands the love of the bank owners daughter. Not only is he horrible. He is a brutish creep. He stalks and harasses while seemingly getting away with it. Oh, I didn't even mention that he keeps some strange werewolf man thing as a tool in his repertoire for manipulation. 

The film is more of a melodramatic thriller than a horror movie. However, it deals with werewolves and has some pretty tame but scary scenes. Interestingly enough this movie even focuses a bit on Science Fiction. Not something I was expecting to see while watching a period drama. Though the movie didn't have your usual scary scenes. I found that del Gardo had the creepiest scenes. It was weird that he made a father instruct his daughter to proposition the Chevalier. His persistence is off putting and it matches his insanity. It may be muddled with age but the film is incredibly well balanced. 

George King is known for making something out of nothing. Though his films may be low-budget. They are creative and large. They always feel as if we are only watching a very small piece of a very grand landscape. The combination of King and Slaughter is a strike every single time. Do yourself a favor and educate yourself on this gem of the United Kingdom. It comes highly recommended. I suggest watching this movie back to back with Sweeny Todd

Director: George King
Country: United Kingdom

Did ya know...
This film is in the public domain. That means you can get a bag of popcorn and stream it below.


Sunday, December 21, 2014

The Human Monster (1939) - Walter Summers



Bela Lugosi turns in a fantastic performance. It is right on par with the exact same films that had made him famous like Dracula. My personal favorite being The Black Cat. Like the latter, this film suffered from poor circulation and lack of advertisement. Either that or the public wasn't interested in seeing Lugosi in anything else other than his famous bloodsucker. This film has a broad and well acted plot that was rich with detail. 

Lugosi has two sides in this picture. His well loved and compassionate side. The other is a strict, brutal lone shark that acts as a sinister villain to blind and handicapped people. He really brutalizes his victims. It's a macabre message to pay your bills. 

The film is slow moving and plagued by the usual setbacks from its time. Most of the nation wasn't really that concerned with horror at the time. But studios knew that they would always have an audience. This film is a prime example of that. It's sad because it's  such a gem. Definitely could have benefited from being released by a major studio.

Director: Walter Summers
Country: United Kingdom

Did ya know...

This film was the first official "Horror" movie of the United Kingdom. The film quotes Lewis Carrol's The Walrus and The Carpenter.