Screamfest: And All The Rest...

OCTOBER 17, 2010


You might have noticed fewer reviews for Screamfest this year. That’s because as I get older, I get tired-er, and thus need to sleep more instead of writing up full reviews for every single movie I see. But I figure folks might like to know what I thought of the other films I saw at the festival (plus sort of prove that I saw as many as I claim!), so here's a little mini-review collection, sort of like I did for Frightfest. Enjoy! And if you wrote one I didn’t like, don’t threaten to punch me in the face. I didn’t threaten to punch you for writing the movie, did I? Do on to others and all that.

I’m starting to wonder if Chris Smith is just a guy for hire, because his films are all so different, with no common themes or “signature” of any sort (at least, that I can recall). They’re all good (Creep being his weakest) though, so who cares really? Black Death is much slower than his other films, and it takes a while for it to even get to the part where you know you’re watching a horror movie, but it’s an interesting take on the plague film, and you can’t go wrong with a cast that includes Sean Bean, David Warner, and Andy Nyman (a rare tie to a previous Smith film! He was in Severance). Bean’s top billing is more ceremonial than factual; the real star is Eddie Redmayne, who is front and center for the entire film and does a damn fine job of carrying it and making his arc believable. Not a slam dunk, but worth a look.

I was really excited for this one, as I found the original to be surprisingly fun and even occasionally suspenseful, which is not what I was expecting from MTV. But something just felt “off” with this one right from the start, and I left disappointed. It’s a perfectly serviceable slasher (especially for a TV movie), but it lacks the fun of the original, opting for a darker, more mean-spirited story. The King barely wears his costume (which is a bad call since he looks like a homeless Viggo Mortensen without the mask), the film’s best character is killed halfway through, and the climax is just a bunch of standing around yammering. Plus, I in no way could buy that the characters were supposed to be 14 and 15 – Skye (who is about to turn 16) looks past college age by now and her younger sister is supposed to be a freshman? And kudos to her mom for waiting roughly an hour before getting pregnant again, I guess. Hopefully if they do a 3rd film they can bring back some of the fun spirit of the original. Great opening titles though - probably the most enjoyable part of the movie (summing up the first movie via Facebook status updates and tagged photos).

I actually saw this a while ago (full disclosure – am friends with the director/writer), but it was great to see on a big screen with a big crowd instead of in a little screening room with a bunch of suits. It’s oddly light on gore (though not on nudity!), but it’s an improvement on the original thanks to a more appealing cast, and a top notch punk soundtrack. It’s a shame it won’t be getting the theatrical release it deserved (and that was originally planned – thanks for letting all of the recent indie horror movies bomb, guys!), but at least it will be out on DVD in time for Halloween. Invite a bunch of friends over and enjoy!

You know how Creep was basically a ripoff of Raw Meat/Death Line? Well, Stag Night is a ripoff of Creep. Featuring the absolute dumbest goddamn characters in recent memory (they get off the subway train – forcing the door open no less – at a track change stop, thinking it’s the actual stop), the best thing I can say about it is that it’s thankfully short, and I appreciate the balls to kill off the “safe” characters (some of the kills are decent too). But Christ almighty, what a repugnant group of people. Been on the shelf for over two years, for the record.

No more low budget single location zombie movies. Please. And if you absolutely must, then no more: a. characters who hide their impending zombie-ness, b. digital blood, c. asshole characters who have to say something negative about every single suggestion or occurrence. I’d also like no less than a 30 year moratorium on people pumping a shotgun when asked if they know how to use it by another character (a moment we actually get twice in this thing).

Hey I’m friends with this guy too! Robert Galluzzo (aka Rob G)’s love letter to the Psycho series as a whole, this long-awaited doc is a must for Psycho fans. Knowing that the first film has been covered extensively, Galluzzo spends only a brief amount of time on Hitchcock’s original, and then moves on to cover each of its three sequels (the remake is thankfully ignored) in greater detail than their respective DVDs ever bothered to provide. You get lots of great anecdotes, priceless stills (one with Jeff Fahey’s unbuttoned shirt drew a round of applause), and lots of love for the great Anthony Perkins, who was the sole participant of all four films. It’s a shame that he and Psycho II director Richard Franklin have passed on, leaving Mick Garris as the only director to provide new insight, but Galluzzo has assembled pretty much everyone else that’s still alive (Meg Tilly is the only major omission, far as I’m concerned), plus some newer filmmakers like Adam Green and Dave Parker to offer their insight. Hopefully future series docs will take a cue from Legacy and give the sequels their due instead of spending half the time on the one that’s already been covered in detail. P.S. The DVD has three hours of bonus features!

This was a late addition to the lineup, after Hisss had to be pulled due to a subtitle issue. Not really a traditional horror movie, it IS a brutal and water-cooler worthy account of what happens to illegal immigrants who are caught by the “Patriots” who spend their time building their own border fences and such. And they’re led by Peter Stormare, so you know it ain’t going to be pretty for the immigrants. The structure is very much like all the other kidnap/torture movies, but in the process raises some interesting questions about who the real villains are, do the immigrants deserve to be here (in the film’s best moment, one of them is forced to answer the questions that are on the citizenship exam, only to be fed an incorrect answer by one of the “real” Americans), etc. Since I myself am conflicted about the issue at hand, I liked that the film didn’t really DEFEND the immigrants, though I did find it terrifying that someone could watch the film and think of Stormare as the good guy. It’s a ballsy film for director Chris Peckover to make, and I wish him luck finding a studio to release it (if it hasn’t found distribution yet, anyway).

And that’s it! Screamfest 2010 is over. I only missed three films: NEEDLE (which conflicted with the all-nighter at the New Bev), and then both MIRRORS 2 and PSYCH:9, which conflicted with the Reaper Awards, which is something I was invited to, as opposed to having to ask multiple times before getting a press pass. I also ran a bit late on Sunday and missed the first few shorts. Otherwise, I was there for everything. My apologies to my twitter followers who were sick of the RTs and other “pimping” for the festival, as I really enjoy it and wish it drew bigger crowds. Perhaps if the other outlets made more of an effort – I saw very few press guys in the audience (and even fewer more than once). Pretty damn sure no one was there was often as Bloody/HMAD. Didn’t stop one of the staff from basically yelling at me for not taking pictures of the “black carpet” before the short block on Saturday though – apparently even though I am and always have been there as a reviewer only, and had been in there all day watching stuff and thus wanted to eat before the movies started, I’m some sort of asshole. *Shrug*. Other than that, I had a good time, as always, and enjoyed seeing some friends that I don’t get to see too often throughout the year. And Mann’s stopped being so strict about outside food, so I didn’t have to drink their awful soda or eat their stale popcorn once! Thanks to Starbucks and their delicious cocoa/banana choco chip bread, I was never dreading what was happening to my stomach. And that is the greatest gift of all.

What say you?

P.S. I also saw ALTITUDE but I also got the blu-ray to review so a writeup of that will be up as its own thing sometime this week. Preview: not very good!

1 comment:

  1. I paid to see The Collector and Midnight Meat Train in theaters, so it wasn't me, I swear! Nice write-up. I might have to actually go next year.


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