Saturday, August 31, 2013

The Last Will and Testament of Rosalind Leigh - Angels are Creepy!

The Last Will and Testament of Roaslind Leigh
Directed by  Rodrigo Gudiño
Written by  Rodrigo Gudiño
Starring Aaron Poole, Vanessa Redgrave & Julian Richings

Not Rated - Approx.  82 min.

Tag Lines
Faith Is Fragile

Alternate Titles:

I have been looking forward to seeing this film ever since it was first announced.  I was a big fan of  Rodrigo Gudiño's short films and was quite eager to see what he could do with a feature film.  On the whole, I was quite happy with the film, but it was not without it's issues.  For me anyway.

Lookit!  The Weeping Angels come in a hand held size!  Where is Dr. Who when you need him?

This actually gave me the chills....I've heard this saying before....though I can't remember where.

The film follows a guy named Leon who moves into his deceased mother's house and starts to experience a myriad of strange happenings.  We learn that Leon's mother was involved with a cult of Angel worshippers.  Now I"m not talking you're typical evangelical fanatics, I'm talking like freaky deaky cults.  The kind that they have specials about on The History Channel.  It's possible this cult may have had something to do with his father's death....but it's not clear.

While putting some stuff in the basement, he finds a statue of an angel that his mother used to test/torture him with.  She would light candles around the statue and ask him if he believed in God.  Every time he said "No" she would blow out a candle.  She told him that if all three candles went out, the angel would turn her back on him and wouldn't protect him any more.  Real nice, eh?

Man, I thought people with porcelain dolls were bad....but all the damn statues......

What the hell is THAT?!?!?

I'm sure you've already figured out what happens......statue starts to move by itself.  You never see it's more like The Weeping Angel's from Dr. Who.  The odd occurrences continue and escalate and Leon finds himself stalked by a shadowy being that is absolutely disturbing.  What does it all mean?  Well, that's the crux of it.....I have no idea.  The film is a bit up in the air, with an ending that will especially leave you scratching your head.  Does that mean it's bad?  Hell no!  It's a great film with some absolutely creeptastic's just.....ya ending that made a little more sense would have been nice!

Midnite Cinephile Tally

Death Toll:  No one actually dies on screen.  There are deaths that are discussed and implied, but no one actually kicks the bucket in front of us.  Oh well!

Nude-O-Meter:  Sorry amigo, thwarted again.

Things That Go Bump In The Night:  FUCKING EVERYTHING GOES BUMP IN THE NIGHT!  Jesus, I swear I've never seen a movie where every shot gave you the willies.  The house itself is a disturbingly beautiful domicile that I doubt I would spend more than two seconds in by myself.  Besides the fact that Leon is in the creepiest house ever, you've got semi-sentient angel statues, black shadow beasts, possibly his mother's ghost, something unseen growling (is it the shadowbeast?  Fucked if I know, dude!).  There's plenty here to keep your hairs standing on end.

Final Thoughts
I was one hundred and fifty percent into this movie until the last five or so minutes.  I then descended into a pit of confusion and head scratching.  Does it ruin the movie as a whole?  No....but it does kinda kill any kind of after effect the movie would have because you'll be too busy trying to figure out just what the hell happened.  Still well worth a watch if you're into haunted house or theological horror.  Or both.

Final Rating
Four out of Five Pizza Rolls

Blood for Irina - Death In All It's Beauty

Blood for Irina
Directed by Chris Alexander
Written by Chris Alexander
Starring Shauna Henry, Carrie Gemmell & David Goodfellow

Not Rated - Approx.  70 min.

Tag Lines:
No sir!

Alternate Titles:
That's a negative, Ghostrider.

I had been waiting for a long time to see this film.  I was fortunate enough to have a fantastic interview with Chris about the film when it was being shown at festivals.  In preparation for the film, I went back and started watching a ton of Rollin and and Franco films.  At long last I was finally able to sit down and watch Blood for Irina....and I was not disappointed.

A slow burn film, which follows the last days of a dying vampire as she stalks the streets for her last victims.  She resides in a broken down motel by the sea, watched over by the motel manager, who keeps her secret.  The motel is in complete disrepair and it is at once melancholic and beautiful....and it beautiful mirrors Irina, who is also beautiful, but dying.  In Irina's nightly excursions, her path crosses with that of a prostitute who looks like she may not be doing much better.

The film is gorgeously shot and drips atmosphere with every frame.  The mood is further cemented by the minimalist, yet haunting soundtrack, also written by Mr. Alexander and in the seventy minute running time there is almost no dialog.  Don't let that sway you I truly believe that dialog would have gotten in the way of the story.  It truly is most impressive, as even the silent films of the early days of cinema would rely on text cards to help tell their stories or deliver some dialog, that Blood for Irina can make such a powerful connection to the viewer with out it.

Midnight Cinephile Tally

Death Toll:  This is not a high body count film.  I'll be honest, I meant to keep track of the body count, but was so entranced with the film that I completely forgot!  We'll say that it's more than one and less than ten!

Nude-O-Meter:  No nudity, but there is much sensuality to be found in some of the scenes.

Things That Go Bump In The Night:  I hate to put Irina in this category, despite the fact that she is a vampire.  She is quite possibly the most sympathetic vampire character that I've seen.  I truly felt as though I was dying with her.

Final Thoughts
So I know what you are thinking....if I loved this film so much, why such a short review?  Well, I'll tell you:  First of all, I think that the less you know about this film going into it the better.  This film is a tapestry that is best unraveled on your own.  There is much to be interpreted for yourself, and I don't want to sway your impression of the film.  I found that it touched me on a very personal level, and I hope that it has the same effect on you.

This film is achingly beautiful and you would be remiss to dismiss it as just another art house vampire flick.  I know that there are those who will not like this film and that's cool....we can't all like the same stuff.  But I am going to go out on a limb here and say that if you read this blog regularly, then you owe it to yourself to watch this film.

Final Rating
Five out of Five Pizza Rolls

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Chop - An Eye For An Insult

Directed by Trent Haaga
Written by Adam Minarovich
Starring Will Keenan, Timothy Muskatell & Chad Ferrin

NR - Approx.  98 Min

Tag Line:
An Eye For An Eye....And Then Some!

Alternate Titles:
Αιματηρη εκδικηση  (Bloody Revenge)  Greece

I ended up watching Chop on a whim.  Netflix's new Max service picked it out for me based on ratings of other movies I've watched.  At first I wasn't expecting much of anything, but I was pretty quickly pulled into this weird little tale of revenge.

Never take rides from Strangers...especially when they have a grudge against you!

Hey!  Lemme.....AXE you a question!  BAZINGA!

Will Keenan plays Lance Reed, a former drug user who was a major dick and did a lot of bad things to a lot of people.  Those days are behind him now though and he's put his life together.  Everything is going great until his car breaks down one day.  He's picked up by The Stranger, who as it turns out has a grudge against Lance for something he did.  The Stranger wants an apology, but won't tell Lance what for.  He wants Lance to remember on his own.

What follows is a little cat and mouse game in which Lance is first forced to kill his brother in order to save his wife.  Then the fun really starts as Lance wakes up with missing body parts and syringes stuck in his neck.  The police find his brother's body and start to suspect him.  The Stranger tells him that if he notifies the police of what's really going on then he'll kill him.

I've heard of giving someone the finger....but......all of them?!??

I think this really speaks for itself, doesn't it?

Eventually Lance ends up in The Stranger's lair tied up and at his mercy.  Things go from bad to worse as Lance desperately tries to remember who this man is and what he did to him.  Everytime he thinks he has it, he relays the story of something horrible that he did (mugging a man and crippling him....killing a prostitute) but unfortunately none of those things were the correct person or incident.  Instead The Stranger contacts these people and lets them come over to exact their own revenge on Lance.  It all leads up to the fairly amusing yet absolutely ridiculous finale in which we finally find out what atrocity Lance was guilty of

Midnight Cinephile Tally

Death Toll:  Seven!  Not a bad body count, I suppose!

Nude-O-Meter:  Not this time, Kojak.

Things That Go Bump In The Night:  Once again, humans are the monsters here.  Hilarious monsters.....

Final Thoughts
Will Keenan and Timothy Muskatell have a fantastic chemistry here.  The dialog is fairly witty and funny.  I really wanted to know what it was that this man could have possibly done to deserve such harsh revenge.  The final reveal is at once amusing and slightly annoying, but because it's a pretty fun ride getting there you won't really mind.  Definitely worth a watch if you're into comedy/horror.

Final Rating

Three out of Five Pizza Rolls!

Monday, August 5, 2013

Event Horizon - Hell House in Space!!!!!!!!

Event Horizon
Directed by Paul W. S. Anderson
Written by Philip Eisner
Starring Laurence Fishburne, Sam Neill, Kathleen Quinlan

Rated R - Approx. 96 Min

Tag Lines:
Infinite Space - Infinite Terror

Alternate Titles:
The Stars My Destination  - USA (working title)
O Enigma do Horizonte  (The Mysterious Horizon)  - Brazil
Event Horizon - Le vaisseau de l'au-delà  (The Ship of the Afterlife)Canada
Event Horizon - Am Rande des Universums  (On the Edge of the Universe)  - Germany
Horizonte final  (Event Horizon)  - Spain
Den sista horisonten  (The Last Horizon)  - Finland
Viimeinen horisontti  (Event Horizon)  - Finland 
Το σκαφος του τρομου  (His Boat Horror) - Greece
Na rubu horizonta  (At the Edge of the Horizon)  - Croatia
Halálhajó  (Event Horizon)  - Hungary
Punto di non ritorno  (Point of No Return)  - Italy
Ukryty wymiar  (Hidden Dimension)  - Poland
O Enigma do Horizonte  (Puzzle of the Horizon)Portugal
Destinatie mortala  (Destination Deadly)  - Romania
Konačni horizont  (Finite Horizon)  - Serbia
Na ivici horizonta  (At the Edge of the Horizon)  - Serbia (DVD title)
Сквозь Горизонт  (Through the Horizon)  - Russia
Krvavo obzorje  (Bloody Horizon)  - Slovenia
Ufuk faciasi  (Event Horizon)   Turkey 

"You know nothing.  Hell is only a word.  The reality is much worse."
                                                                                     -Dr. Weir

Event Horizon is a film that I hold dear to my heart.  This film was one of the first to actually make me question whether or not I could take the terror of the film.  That may sound silly to you, but lets go back in time to the year 1997.  An 18 year old Midnight Cinephile goes by himself to a Tuesday night showing of Event Horizon.  He is completely alone in the theater (just the way he liked it!).  The film starts familiarly enough.....a deep space salvage crew is recruited to take one Dr. Weir on a mission to explore his ship, The Event Horizon, which had previously vanished after trying out a new device on it's maiden voyage that is to warp time and space.  The ship vanishes into a black hole and has only  recently reappeared above the planet Neptune.

Meet the crew of the Lewis & Clark, a space salvage team....

All was going well for me until the scene in which the crew plays the distress call that had been received from the Event Horizon.  The 5 - 10 second audio clip that played nearly destroyed me.  I broke out in a cold sweat and I suddenly desperately wished that there was someone, ANYONE was in the theater with me.  The feeling of isolation was further exacerbated by the desolate cinematography of the film.  You really felt as though you were out in the middle of nowhere, with no help in sight.  The whole film shifted tones for me after that distress call played.  I wasn't dealing with just some spooky alien monster on the loose flick, I was dealing with something much more sinister.

That's no's a giant fucking portal to HELL!!!!!!

So where did the Event Horizon go?  Well, that's what the crew wants to find out.  Upon boarding the ship, they find a horrific scene on the bridge, bodies beyond mutilated and floating frozen through the ship.  What could have happened?  Hell.  I'm not talking metaphorically.  The ship LITERALLY WENT TO FUCKING HELL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Video data that the crew watches shows some of the chaos and madness.  Most unfortunately, it seems as though the ship itself is now alive and is praying on the crew, possessing some.

A couple of great shots of the architecture of the no attention to the gore on the windows....

Yes, you are reading this right:  Event Horizon is a terrifying haunted house story set in the absolute desolation and isolation of outer space.  I would rather deal with a Xenopmorph any day that spend a second on that derelict ship from hell.  Every single frame absolutely drips with menace and atmosphere.

I made it through the end of the film that fateful Tuesday night, but my understanding of horror had forever been changed.  Just the mention of the title is enough to send a shiver down my spine these days, and yet I own the film in three different formats (VHS, DVD, Blu Ray).  This film is severely underrated and it should absolutely go down as a classic in the pantheon of haunted horror cinema.

Well, that's just....unsettling.

Midnight Cinephile Tally

Death Toll:  To be perfectly honest, I forgot to keep a running tally of the deaths....but there are at least 6 on screen deaths and of course there's the gore soaked frozen aftermath of the ship's occupants' trip to well as a few highly disturbing flashbacks and hallucinations.

Nude-O-Meter:  We get to see exactly one pair of breasts...but to be honest you're going to be too freaked out to even worry about them.

Things That Go Bump In The Night:  The whole goddamned ship is like one giant evil....thing that goes bump in the night.

Final Thoughts
In case it didn't come across very clearly above:  I love this film.  There's nothing that I don't love about it.  The direction, the cinematography and above all....that oppressive, pervasive doom that permeates the entire film.  You want to see on of the scariest haunted house movies ever?  Guess what....this is it.  The ship itself even has a certain Gothic styling to it that seems to recall some ancient evil place.

Final Rating
Five out of Five Pizza Rolls!

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Angel Heart - Supernatural Film Noir

Angel Heart
Directed by Alan Parker
Written by Alan Parker (novel by William Hjortsberg)
Starring Mickey Rourke, Robert De Niro, Lisa Bonet

Rated R (cut)  Rated X (uncut)   -  Approx 113 Minutes

Tag Lines:
 - It will scare you to your very soul.
 - Harry Angel is searching for the truth... Pray he doesn't find it.
 - Harry Angel has been hired to search for the truth... Pray he doesn't find it.
 - Nothing can prepare you for the ending of Angel Heart.

Alternate Titles:
Coração Satânico  (Angel Heart) -  Brazil
Aux portes de l'enfer (At The Gates of Hell)  -  Canada
Djævelen i hjertet  (Devil in the Heart)  -  Denmark
El corazón del ángel  (Angel Heart)  -  Spain
Det förhäxade hjärtat  (The Enchanted Heart) - Finland
Noiduttu sydän  (Charm Heart)  - Finland
Δαιμονισμενος αγγελος  (Possessed Angel)  - Greece
Angyalszív  (Angel Heart)  - Hungary
Angel Heart - Ascensore per l'inferno  (Angel Heart - Elevator to Hell)  - Italy
Corazón de ángel  (Angel Heart) - Mexico
Corazón diabólico  (Devilish Heart) - Mexico
Harry Angel  - Poland
Angel Heart - Nas Portas do Inferno  (Angel Heart - In The Gates of Hell)  - Portugal
Anđeosko srce  (Angel Heart)  - Serbia
Seytan çikmazi  (Satan Dilemma)  - Turkey

"No matter how cleverly you sneak up on a mirror, your reflection always looks you straight in the eye."
                    -  Louis Cypher

Angel Heart is a perfect example of film noir fused with supernatural overtones.  For those who are not familiar with the story, Harry Angel is a private detective who is hired by the mysterious Mr. Cypher to locate an old crooner named Johnny Favourite.  It seems that Johnny has some unfinished business with Mr. Cypher and has disappeared.  Angel is on the case and things just keep going from strange to worse as a trail of corpses pile up around him as he delves deeper into the mystery....leaving himself as a prime suspect.

"It's Wednesday.....that means it's anything can happen day!"

Interestingly this film was originally awarded an X rating for it's scenes of graphic gore and sex.  Lisa Bonet (Denise Huxtable!!!!!!) bares her breasts fairly often and has a rather steamy sex scene with Micky Rourke. Remember when Mickey Rourke was a fairly decent looking dude.....and not.....weird?  Anyway....what was I talking about?  Oh yes, Lisa Bonet's breasts.  They're lovely.  Anyway, I've only seen the R rated cut, but I'm going to try and track down the X (or unrated...if that even exists) cut to see what was trimmed out.

Mr. Louis Cypher.  Lou Cypher.  Hhhhmmm.....why does that sound familiar?

There is much creepiness to be had here, not least Mr. De Niro's portrayal as Mr. Lou Cypher.  Yep, you read that right.....and you know damn well who and what he is the first time you meet him.  This is quite possibly the most UN-DeNiro I have ever seen him, but it is also one of the best roles I've seen him in.  He completely nails the whole evil personified thing.

Angel Heart made me think of Mike Hammer stories to an extent...if they were completely amped up with sex and gore.  The story takes us from the mean streets of New York to the eerie voodoo laced land of New Orleans.  The film absolutely drips with atmosphere as Angel fights to unravel the mystery of Johnny Favourite, and we are riveted to the screen by the outstanding performances by Rourke, Bonet and of course the inimitable Mr. De Niro.

Hey!  It's Denise Huxtable!  What a very un-Cosby like situation.....

Midnight Cinephile Tally

Death Toll:  There's a pretty decent little body count piling up in this one:  5 dead.  Plus a chicken and a horse get it too.

Nude-O-Meter:  There is quite a bit of skin on display here.  The aforementioned breasts of Lisa Bonet and for the ladies there's also quite a bit of Mickey Rourke shown during the blood shower sex scene!

Things That Go Bump in the Night:  I don't think it's much of a spoiler to tell you that we're dealing with ol' Scratch himself here.  The whole film has a bizarre supernatural tone to it that keeps you unsettled throughout, but beyond there's just ol' Lucifer....and perhaps his spawn?

Final Thoughts
Being a fan of film noir, I found this to be a terrific detective story.  Being a fan of horror, I loved the supernatural slant.  The cinematography is in turn gorgeous and also quite effective in conveying a sense of pervasive dread.  The ending you may see coming, you may not...depends on how perceptive you are, but either way it reminds me of something you'd see in an old Twilight Zone episode.

Final Rating
Four out of Five Pizza Rolls!