Monday, January 31, 2011

Nekromantik: Oooh Yeah Suck On That Eyeball!

In high school, our Varsity basketball team used to get pumped up before a big game by blasting some hot rap beats. Eminem's 'Til I Collapse' would play over the sound system much to the chagrin of people's grandparents, while the rest of us thought it was obviously the coolest thing in the world. So as I sat there about to put Nekromantik into my computer to watch, I couldn't help but feel like I needed some pumping up too. I wondered if Eminem still had the power to make me feel FEARLESS....

Hmmmmmmmmm I guess not. Yes, I think I needed something a little more.... me.

There we go, Jock Jams.

It's true, I rarely feel the need to do some mental preparations before watching a film. Nekromantik however had been waving its seedy little gross dead body sex hands at me for quite some time now. I wouldn't say my displeasure of finally watching it reached "Saving the snakes" caliber (That would be AU's Mordum)

But I did find my stomach turning a bit at the realization that my viewing would finally happen. Now that all is said and done, I think what I feel most is surprise.

Nekromatik is a very German film that follows a brief glimpse into the life of Rob. A wimpy looking guy who works for a street cleanup company, disposing dead bodies--Rob typically likes to come home and put dead organs into jars. After bringing home the mother-load one day, Rob proudly shows his girlfriend an entire corpse for them to play with. The two then engage in the creepiest threesome you will ever see. The next day, Rob gets fired from his job, causing his girlfriend to be insanely annoyed. She leaves him the next day, sending Rob on a strange descent into loneliness. Now being, Corpseless, girlfriendless and jobless, how will Rob survive?

I expected to be grossed out by the dead body sex in Nekromantik but I did not expect to actually throw up a little in my mouth when I saw Rob take the dead body's eyeball into his mouth.

Most gross things I can handle--as long as they don't involve fingernail trauma or vomit---but seeing someone making out with a dead body is kind of a different ball game altogether. I will say however, that it somehow wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. I've done some thinking and I'm pretty sure this is because the sex is so romanticized. It is this fact that keeps me from completely forgetting that I ever saw Nekromantik. It's disturbing sure, and extremely disgusting but still---there's something about it that screams it has a purpose, so I'm not entirely willing to write it off just yet.

The music has this curious ability to completely remove us from the fact that there is a dead body on that bed. Of course, we are still aware of its presence but if you go back and pretend like that's a real body on the bed---the sex and threesome is actually pretty gentle. It's handled with this odd sense of carefulness---Rob and his girlfriend seem to respect the corpse which was something I was not entirely prepared for.

I expected some revolting depiction of a gross guy doing dead girls in the butt and doing....other gross things I don't have the heart to describe--but I was wrong. The scene of the girlfriend in bed with the body reading it a story also proves this point. And the fact that she takes the corpse with her when she leaves is extremely telling.

It almost made me think....just because I don't like having sex with dead bodies doesn't mean people that do are evil, disgusting, psychos. I mean, do I hate people because they like Lucio Fulci? No. But then I remember, no..... necrophilia, is actually pretty fucked up--and then I sit down.

Though the film deals very closely with the idea of necrophilia, it also handles another giant taboo that I was also not prepared for--animal death. One very real slaughtering of a rabbit, and a not as real, yet extremely disturbing murdering of a cat. The rabbit death is hard to withstand because it is both real and gross. Skinning is not my strong suit--but what makes this worse is that, that bunny was fucking cute! I did sort of appreciate how the bunny was tied to something that Rob had seen when he was younger and how it probably harvested all these curious ideas and rationales about death into his head. I just didn't go that far for the bunny I guess.

The cat felt less appreciated by me because as you know cats are my life. I do understand how that change in his psyche made a switch in how far he was willing to go to gain access to dead bodies though. It kind of reminded me of the switch in Jennifer Connelly's character in Requiem for a Dream. One minute you're a person with an unfortunate addiction who is still nice and the next your ass to ass at Keith David's house. It's horribly sad but still---you keep your distance. And actually, viewing Rob and his girlfriend's fetish as more of an addiction than a fetish is a very interesting thing to think about.

So here's the thing about Nekromantik. I did not find it that disturbing. It WAS disturbing but for some reason, I just expected a lot more. I expected more of that needing to take a shower feeling and I didn't get that. I was disgusted, unable to eat during it--but I'm still alive. Perhaps I'll think differently tomorrow if I find that the film continues to invade my regular thoughts throughout the day.

I will say that what makes the movie probably most disturbing in most people's eyes is the ending. I can agree with this sentiment as it definitely hit home that "what the fuck" feeling. But then still I can't help but think about that ending and what it means and doing that somehow takes away the ultimate moment of disturbia that I think I'm supposed to feel. Hmmmm I don't know you guys, I just don't know. What was I expecting--- real penetration? More smelliness?Maybe something more along the lines of Aftermath? Nekromantik is an enigma to me right now. I may even have to come back and watch it again before completing my final disturbing film list.

It's gross---but I think somehow, I appreciate it. Is that weird? Am I weird for saying that? Oh god , oh god I think I am.

Until next time Nekromantik......

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Dead and Buried: Grandpa Joe Continues to Walk.

Once, not so very long ago, we at the Bloodsprayer were asked to contribute an article in some way related to Dan O'Bannon for the aptly named Dan O'Bannon week. If you don't know by now, it's time I tell you that when it comes to horror, I am actually a horror newbie. Due to this I had a very small idea of who exactly Dan O'Bannon was. Sure, I knew the big stuff-- Alien, Return of the Living Dead, but what else? In an attempt to gain a better understanding of the kind of legacy he left behind, I asked three of my blogging buddies to tell me what Dan O'Bannon meant to them. Surprisingly, Stacie, Chris and Uncle Lancifer all mentioned Dead and Buried. What was this Dead and Buried exactly? And why had nobody ever told me about it before?

People often use the term "underrated" when they talk about Dead and Buried. I like to use the term "underrated" when talking about turkey sandwiches, Paul Rubens and a nice pair of socks. After watching Dead and Buried, can I group it in that same category? The answer is yes. Dead and Buried is a surprisingly creepy and neat film that even finds itself on the Video Nasties list. By why aren't people talking about it more? Are they lazy? Do they forget how awesome it is? Are they simply uninformed like I was? I think in order to pump up the awesomeness that is Dead and Buried--we just need to get people interested. How do you get people interested, you ask? For starters, I would bring up these two very important points.

1. Grandpa Joe

I'm pretty sure I would have been itching to see this a lot sooner if someone had mentioned that Grandpa Joe was in this movie. It was also his last film which is sad--but his role is a pretty amazing one to end on. Maybe more normal people would beg to differ--but I disagree....Dobbs is the coolest.

And although I admit that while watching Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory I did tend to liken the smell of Grandpa Joe, to poop in a bucket (hey he had to pooped somewhere while being bed ridden), this role has made up for it. So please people that have not seen Dead and Buried---do it for Grandpa Joe.

2. Robert Englund

Who isn't interested to see Bob Englund in a movie where he doesn't channel Freddy Krueger? I tend to think that even though Bob had other roles that have nothing to do with Freddy, he still has this hidden spark behind his eyes in each of his roles. Kind of like a knowing wink to the Freddy fans. Here though, he is just a very normal character which produces a curious feeling inside of my heart. In fact, I had to double check it was Bob Englund. It looks like Bob, smells like Bob (lavender and sea breeze) but is it Bob? It is.

That should really be all the hooking you need to do. Once they're in, Dead and Buried will do the talking and all will be okay. They'll become entranced by the gore, the story and the eerie mystery that envelops the seaside town of Potter's Bluff.

Dead and Buried seems to feel like part mystery, part Twilight Zone and part gore fest. Not a gore fest like Dead Alive or anything, but there are certainly some moments worthy of your attention. The film follows Dan Gillis, the sheriff of Potter's Bluff, as he investigates several recent and violent murders. After uncovering some important clues, Dan finds that the recently deceased have sprout up again as residents in the town. How can this be?

One of the more interesting aspects of Dead and Buried is how it uses that little thing called dramatic irony. We know that so and so was brutally killed for instance, and that so and so was in attendance--but Dan continues to interact with these murderers and doesn't realize anything is amiss. However, although we know this key fact long before Dan figures it out--what we don't know is how this is possible. It is this little aspect and how its kept hidden in the dark for so long that made me really, really enjoy Dead and Buried. I love the possibility of a mystery and when that mystery is creepy and kind of absurd--it makes things all the more better.

The gore runs surprisingly rampant and although there are moments where an obvious dummy head was used--the creativity and the final outcome is usually always enough to make up for this. My favorite part, which actually wasn't entirely gruesome now that I think about it---but never mind, never mind, is when Dobbs is shown doing his "art". He takes the female hitchhiker victim who's head had been smashed with a rock and carefully and artfully gets her back to looking normal.

It was done really nicely and strangely made me appreciate Dobbs' work (although I do realize I should be appreciating the special effects work but still...go Dobbs!). There's also a really awesome looking severed arm that wriggles while attached to the front of a car, a really gruesome eye stabbing with a large needle (Which funnily enough should have ended up on both The Mike's and BJ-C's fear exchange lists)

and some gnarly decomposing hands and faces.

What the film really does well however is establish a great atmosphere. The foggy and downbeat Potter's Bluff is such a strange place. It's populated by these people that we KNOW are murderers and yet life just continues on normally throughout most of the day. Practically the entire town feels in on this strange plan to violently kill people and yet we as viewers are much more distracted by the fact that everyone feels the need to whip out their cameras before the heinous crime can take place.

I didn't even notice this before but why was I not more bothered by the fact that they were just randomly killing people? This little detail of the emphasis on the cameras is pretty fascinating.

Perhaps the greatest scene in my opinion, is when that family crashes their car and then ventures inside that creepy house to get help. It's such a great suspenseful moment because we know these people are probably done for. Again, the dramatic irony is rich as we see the ominous shadows of the scary townspeople on the outside of the house and we realize what will probably happen to them. The family however continues to be clueless right up until a rabid towns person busts through the window.

The escape, pursuit and the surprise reveal of the back seat intruder is all done rather well. Although I have been exposed to a wide range of child trauma--I was still almost fearful of what would happen to that little kid.

The one confusing bit about all of this is that even though we see the family escape--they end up as dead alive town people anyways (or at least the little boy does). This makes me wonder if something was perhaps cut out of the film--this would explain its inclusion on the Video Nasties but who knows. There's also of course the unwillingness and the amount of disdain one suffers when they include an onscreen killing of a child, so I suppose it's acceptable. But still, I want to know what happened there.

Sure, there is plenty confusion to be had and a few plot holes regarding when certain people died and blah blah confusing stuff. This ends up not bothering me so much because I find that the premise is creepy enough to withstand the shouts of "Hey! That doesn't make sense *grumble*"

Overall Dead and Buried is a solid inclusion into my horror shelf. The ending and the mystery that eventually gets solved pays off, I think. Maybe you saw it coming, maybe you didn't--the point is that it was still awesome. Sure, some parts may feel a bit slow but I still maintain that the overarching creepy mystery is enough to keep me glued to the screen until the end. And boy, what an ending it is.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

The Writing's On the Wall


The Exorcist III


Mother's Day

The Shining

The Exorcist

Hide and Seek

The Lost Boys


I Know What You Did Last Summer

The Haunting (1999)


The Walking Dead

13 Ghosts

The Strangers

Are You Afraid of the Dark?
The Tale of the Lonely Ghost

Children of the Corn

Return to OZ

Black Swan


Hellbound: Hellraiser 2

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Enter the Void: Gently Brutal

As I settle into watch Enter the Void and the rapid fire credits start flashing before my eyes, I start getting that familiar feeling of being brainwashed. My head tilts sideways and I stare at the screen with my mouth open. One would think that these moments of brainwashing, or even subliminal messaging would vanish with the chaotic opening credits---but they don't. In fact, only after 30 minutes of the film did I notice that I hadn't been paying attention to anything except the screen. My head was still cocked to the side and my mouth continued to hang open.

When I say familiar feeling, I am of course referring to the same feeling I got during Irreversible. Even then during a film not as visually captivating as Enter the Void, I still noticed Gaspar Noe's incredible talent for sucking someone in. I don't experience this often--mostly because I always watch movies on my computer and distractions are easy to come by. So this strange power that these movies have is startling and unexpected to my ADD brain.

Well, you must be wondering so I'll tell you, the rumors are true--Enter the Void is one of the most fantastically surreal films I have ever seen. And here's the really amazing, heart stopping news--it's 2 and a half hours long....and I didn't even care. Normally I'd be exclaiming and whining about its length and blah blah "well Alfred Hitchcock said that a film should be as long as someone can hold in their pee without exploding" or whatever but nope--not this time my friends. This time I was fully and completely sucked into the film. I was hoping that it would never end because I didn't want to be pulled out of this odd dream-like state. I was even trying to calculate if I had enough time to watch it all over again before I lapsed into an "I'm really sleepy coma".

There isn't much to speak about in terms of the plot. A drug addict who had formerly been reading the Tibetan Book of the Dead gets shot, and we follow him on his existential path to reincarnation---or something...but not really. Think of it this way, Enter the Void is like taking drugs without actually taking drugs--it's like dying without actually dying--and it's like being inside of a vagina and seeing a penis come in without really being inside of a vagina (because really that's not possible).

All you need to know before you watch Enter the Void, is that you should prepare to be whisked off to the magical land of holy shit. Not in a disturbing, people are getting raped way--but more like in a holy shit how is this possible kind of way. As one of my friends told me--just turn off the lights and turn up the volume and prepare to have your mind blown. Truer words have never been spoken.

There are a few ways you can choose to view the film. As an art form, as a religious experience, as a non-religious experience and even as a porn. Or you could also choose to see it as a fucking amazing movie--which happens to be the route that I took. Gaspar Noe has been pretty vocal in asserting his non-religious standpoint. To him this is not a movie about what happens when you die, it is instead what happens to somebody stoned out of their gourd who dies and is still thinking about the Tibetan Book of the Dead. Technically as movie goers, we don't have to undertake the same viewpoint as the director and here I must say that I went my own way more or less. This is because around the same time that I was watching this, I was having an emotional collapse centered around the idea and the thought of death.

Here's what I love about Enter the Void. For the first time, in a long time--there isn't this huge dependence on the actors. Sometimes I wonder what a movie without actors would be like--and Enter the Void seems to come extremely close to what I imagine. There are actors sure, but for the most part we are more inclined to pay attention to the experience. What comes through the strongest is the visual aspect and closely following--the idea and the movement of death. What happens when Oscar dies follows the same route as the Tibetan Book of the Dead which of course is also following exactly what Alex was relating to Oscar on the way to the club. For some reason, this is what makes the film the most powerful for me.

There's this moment right as Oscar is dying where the camera blurs the outlines of the scene, and we get this sort of tunnel vision. But it's not tunnel vision as we typically see it, it instead is an extremely slow and extremely heavy depiction of the fading out of someone's consciousness. Since it's filmed as though we are Oscar, it is additionally like a depiction of fading out of our own consciousness. It was simultaneously the most beautiful and scariest thing I've ever seen represented on film. And then there's the floating---the flying from one plane to another. The going through walls and the flying above the room sensation. These moments of the film had me completely awe struck because it's exactly how one pictures death--and the exiting of one's soul. But how on Earth can Gaspar Noe create this feeling so perfectly? It really freaks me out to think about.

Here's what my emotional collapse was about. Someone I had known briefly had just passed away. As is standard per the further growing age of Facebook and technology, people flocked to leave messages for this person on their Facebook account. What struck me about all these messages is how frequently people write the words, "I know you're in a better place" or "I know you're looking down on me". But how do they know? How can they be so sure? I say this cynically but at the same time I was also sure that my Dad was looking down on me after he died. I had to know that he was and I had to be sure or else I wouldn't survive. I had to be sure that everything that was happening to me was also being seen by him because so many things were happening that he never knew about.

This is what made my Enter the Void experience truly unforgettable. It was like for that 2 and a half hours I was stepping on the other side and getting that assurance. Keep in mind I am not religious, nor do I typically enjoy talking about this stuff--but a film like Enter the Void magically creates all these crazy feelings and emotions within me.

Granted, Enter the Void goes into some crazy directions and fills the viewer with some crazy questions to boot. Things that I would need an entire blog post to even step into. This film is a film you need to experience, because just simply talking about it won't do it justice. Yes, I could diverge into tangents about incestuous relationships that are hinted at, the over abundance of breast feeding, or simply how amazing that car crash imagery really is--but I won't. For now I want to just breathe deeply and take it all in, slowly and delicately, just like the entirety of Enter the Void. Because even at its most brutal, where things like murder, sex and abortion are shown--it still comes off as being gentle---and that, is impressive.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Shivers: The Horny Disease

I've been dreaming of what watching Shivers would be like for a very, very long time. After reading in length about some behind the scenes "drama" and the backlash it caused Cronenberg as a filmmaker, I was positive that I needed to see it immediately. My dreams were put on hold however for 6 months or so until I was able to dig up a copy and now that my dream is over all I can say I would never have imagined that the range of the phallic symbol could go so far, nor would I have ever imagined that J.K. Rowling would ever have based Ron Weasley's horrible slug vomiting mishap on horny parasites.

I suppose I have to believe it now. Shivers is pretty amazing and pretty impressive considering it was Cronenberg's first big time film. Sure it's dated and some parts a bit dodgy, but overall the film ends up being one of his most subversive. Some view it as a zombie film, some view it as a vampiric disease where blood is switched for sex. Some view it as a social commentary on the restraints and taboo-like nature of sex AND some believe that Shivers is proof that Cronenberg inadvertently foresaw the development of AIDS. What do you believe?

Taking place in an idyllic apartment building, we find that Dr. Hobbes has developed a parasite to aid in organ transplant. However, due to his own observations, Hobbes concludes that we have lost touch with our bodies and instincts, and so he creates the parasite to act as both an aphrodisiac and venereal disease. The parasite has been tested by Hobbes' young mistress, but after realizing quickly that the parasite has gotten out of hand, he kills the woman and the parasites inside her, before killing himself. What he didn't know however was that his mistress was getting freaky with some other people in the apartment, causing the parasite to spread....

To put it lightly, the parasite turns people into sex crazed maniacs. They act like zombies except they want to rape you instead of eat your flesh. To be honest, I don't think I knew going into it that this was what Shivers was about. I believe I was fixated on the image of the squirmy, slug like thing in the bathtub with Barbara Steele more than I was the actual plot.

When all was said and done however, I must say---Shivers goes places. Yes, one's first reaction to zombies that just want to have sex might be laughter---but think about the kind of people that a typical apartment building houses. We're talking, old women, little children, teenagers and their parents.......all wanting to have sex. It's really quite frightening when you take a step back.

For some reason I didn't anticipate the possibility that children would be in involved in all this and then....this happened.

Later on, Roger is running through the building and comes across 2 young girls leashed like dogs being led by someone. Still later, we come across a young girl and her father just about to do the deed. It really was one of the more disturbing moments that I have ever come across--and it really made me think.

Aside from all this disturbia, Shivers also has phallic symbols up the wazoo. Or perhaps it's one phallic symbol whatever---the point is, these parasitic creatures are disgusting. Not only do they look like penises but they also suffer the grave misfortune of looking like a piece of poop.

Few things are more terrifying than seeing someone open their mouth and having this come out.

It's also terrifying for me, as someone suffering from a fear of vomit--to hear someone violently puke blood and parasites up in a bathtub. Which reminds me.... why do people find it necessary to throw up in things that ought not to be thrown up into? Why would you throw up in something that doesn't offer the quick and easy clean up method that a toilet does? This really bothers me...but anyways. This dude pukes in the tub of all places, and it's a cringe worthy scene. Later he goes out to the balcony where he throws up a parasite on top of an old lady's umbrella--which she erroneously thinks is a bird. Sigh....the brilliance of that particular scene is stifling.

Shivers also boasts the good fortune of Barbara Steele!

She sits in a bathtub and a parasite plops out of the drain and goes inside her......vagina. Then there's all this blood and nastiness and boom-- Barbara Steele is a sex maniac. She makes out with Janine and then pukes a parasite into her mouth.

Yes, Shivers is full of awesome.

Aside from all the social commentary and the you know, important things--Shivers is surprisingly entertaining. There's laughter, there's fear, there's sex, there's sadness. Shivers really has it all. One thing in particular that I noticed is how great the end is, where Roger is running all over the apartment building slowly realizing that everyone has been infected. It kind of reminded me of that scene in The Shining when Wendy stumbles upon that man getting a blow J from that guy wearing a mask. Take that moment and multiply it by about 20, and you have this ending scene. It's like behind every door was a highly uncomfortable and embarrassing situation, and they seemed to get worse with every door he went or looked into.

Sure its bizarre seeing someone just jump somebody and want to do them--but it comes off as being a lot more invasive than I would have guessed.

I mean really, it's all just a bunch of raping isn't it? And the best part is it isn't just women getting raped by men. It's really just a big game of equality. Men raping men, women raping men, women raping women, children raping men, men and women raping children.

I can see why Cronenberg's reputation with the Canadian film board was slightly tarnished after this. There is a lot of boobage, a lot of gore, and a lot of freaky deaky shit in this. With a director as smart and subversive as Cronenberg however, these things are all just stops on the train to mind explosion. Much like I did after watching Rabid, I wandered over to an interview where Cronenberg talks about Shivers. Some of the stuff he says is pretty inspiring, especially all the stuff about how being a true artist requires that you be subversive to some extent. If people get disturbed and upset--then you know you're doing something right.

Overall, Shivers is one of the better Cronenberg films--unpolished yes but I maintain that the ideas and the themes tackled are pretty insanely brilliant. For a director's first film to be this wild it takes some serious guts. I'll need to see it again to fully wrap my head around everything but I am confident nonetheless that I love this film.

Oh and finding a copy of Shivers can be tricky if you aren't planning on dropping a few bucks (or 40)--so I think we should all just pester people until they re-release this on DVD. Thank you.