Sunday, December 27, 2009

My New Friend

This is Magni, my new puppy. I got him on the 26th (last Saturday). He's a Great Pyrenese. So far the cats have been wary of him, but he's been eager to make freinds with them. Magni is 6 weeks old. Even though Odin can never be replaced, I decided that I'm as ready as I'll ever be for a new dog, and the house has been too quiet without a canine presence. I also thought that if I have a new 'fur baby' to care for, it'll help me heal from the loss of Odin.

This is Spirit, Magni's mom. She's very sweet.

This is Tuffy, Magni's dad. He's a gentle giant, just as sweet as Spirit.

So far, Magni's fit in well with the rest of the household. I'm really looking forward to seeing him grow, and to see what kind of dog he'll be. I think he'll be a good friend.
All hail Magni!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Happy Holidays

Here's to all of you out there in Blogland having a happy and safe holiday. Take care, all.

Hail and skoal!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

Though my dog and best freind Odin recently passed on, I do realize that I have some things to be thankful for. I'm thankful that I had him as a friend and companion for the past 13 years...I'm lucky to have had him as a pet. My life would have been much poorer without him. I'm also thankful for my cats that I still have with me...they miss Odin,too. I'm also thankful for my family and my wonderful friends, who do their best to make it easier for me to get through times like this. I include all my friends I've made through this blog in that group...I'm glad to have 'met' you, and I hope one day I may meet you all in person.

I hope you all have a great Thanksgiving out there in Blog-Land. Take care, people.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Drapa To Odin

My good friend Mike Myers, aka Big Mike, wrote this ode to my dog Odin.

For fourteen years his howl was heard,
the fierce and mighty silvermane.
A gift of friendship long incurred,
and now he sleeps till raised again.

At the feet of his namesake he doth lie,
honored as any warrior slain.
Till his Master,too, does boldly die,
and together they trod the field again.

Hail Odin!

Thanks, Mike, and thanks to all of you who sent kind words and thoughts during this tragic time for me. I do appreciate it...I miss my friend so much.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Odin 1996-2009

The greatest dog ever, and my best friend...I miss you, buddy.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

The Beast's Movie Cave-Deadgirl

Being a teen in high school can be a horrorshow at times, but the film Deadgirl (2008) makes it literal. The film starts with Ricky ( Shiloh Fernandez) and J.T. ( Noah Segan) skipping out on school during a fire drill to go to the creepy local closed sanitarium to drink beers and break stuff. A vicious dog appears and chases them into a room with a door that's rusted shut. Curiosity gets the best of them and they force the door open. They find in the sealed room a table with a naked woman ( Jenny Spain)chained to it. At first she appears dead, but she starts to move. J.T. decides that they should 'keep her'. Ricky disagrees, and an argument erupts, ending with J.T. punching Ricky. Ricky returns later and J.T. reveals his discovery-the girl is neither live, nor dead, as he tried to strangle her for attempting to bite him while he had his way with her, as she sometimes comes out of her semi-comatose state to try and bite anyone nearby. Ricky still has issues with 'keeping her', even if she is some kind of zombie, though he promises to keep it a secret.

As with most secrets kept between teens, it doesn't last long. Ricky, whose dreams of longtime crush Joann (Candice Accola) are interrupted by visions of the Deadgirl, goes to see the undead woman and discovers J.T. with their stoner pal Wheeler ( Eric Podnar) , who is taking his turn, as it were, with the Deadgirl. Wheeler later spills the proverbial beans when getting a beating from the school jock/preps, and Joann's boyfriend Johnny (Andrew DiPalma) ends up getting bit on a very sensitive area by Deadgirl, which leads him to become sick, and later in a tortuous undead state as well. Johnny, after being bitten, violently beats Deadgirl's face, leading J.T to be less than attracted to her anymore. After discovering the effect of Deadgirl's bite, he decides he'll 'make another one', which leads to a tragic finale involving Ricky, J.T., Wheeler, Joann, and of course, Deadgirl.

Written by Troma alumnus Trent Haaga and jointly directed by Marcel Sarmento and Gadi Havel, Deadgirl is a very dark film. The trailer calls it a film about the horrors of growing up, but wrapped up in that , I think, is a lot of other stuff... high school friends growing apart, as Ricky and J.T. do, for example. The objectification of women by men is a not-to-subtle part of the program as well, I'd say. Teen romance is also thrown in the mix, and the unfortunate reality of it not working out, as well as the hierarchy of the 'in-crowd' and those who are not part of that crowd in high school.

I think the main theme in Deadgirl is morality, or lack thereof. Upon finding Deadgirl, J.T.'s first and immediate response is one of ownership, and discovering she's not really 'human' just makes it that much easier for him (and others) to use her as they see fit. J.T.'s motivations aren't simply one-dimensional, though. At one point, he tells Ricky that , essentially, Deadgirl is the best they'll ever have, given their social status (being squarely outside the popular camp in school) and in perfect teen vision, can't see past his present situation. Wheeler, a classic stoner 'dude' character, literally jumps right in on abusing Deadgirl for his can assume he shares J.T.'s sentiments, or merely just doesn't care. Johnny, the poster boy for jocks and preppies, has no problem not only beating up those smaller than himself, but is easily steered towards cheating on Joann with Deadgirl. Joann, the girl Ricky pines for, seems sweet for the most part, but doesn't want to 'be seen' with Ricky, for fear of social reprecussions. Ricky seems to have some moral stability, at least. He is against 'keeping' Deadgirl, and at first intends to free her, but soon his judgement is clouded by teen lust...and he goads Joann's boyfriend Johnny into performing forced oral sex on her, knowing full well her temperament, and the likely outcome . Whether Ricky manages to keep his already shaky footing on moral ground or completely slips away like those around him is one of the most interesting aspects of the film.

Deadgirl is a horror film, but I'd call it social horror. There's an undead being at the center of the story, but it's a different kind of zombie movie. Yes, she is a monster of sorts, but Deadgirl is merely the catalyst to the main horror, that of the behavior of the 'people' around her. Like in many of Guillermo Del Toro's films (The Devil's Backbone, Pan's Labyrinth, Chronos), the monster is no where near as bad as the humans are.

As I said, Deadgirl is a very dark film. There are bits of humor in it, such as J.T. and Wheeler's botched kidnapping attempt, but for the most part, it's a deep, dark view of the way some humans treat each other...and it ain't pretty. Deadgirl is no feel-good movie by far, but if you are in the mood for a thought-provoking look at the less-than-wonderful way some humans treat each other, wrapped in a horror story, check it out. I liked Deadgirl, maybe you will, too...just don't get too close...she bites.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Leif Erikson Day 2009

I'm still in the process of downloading pics from the Beast's Halloween bash, so for now I'll hold you over with pics from the Leif Erikson Day gathering I attended, where much mead and homemade beer was drank, and silly Viking helmets were worn. Hail!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Halloween Memories- Costumes In A Box

Hail all! I know I've been slacking off of late, as real (and unreal) life has been intruding on my blogging. This is inexcusable during this month of my favorite holiday. I'm going to try to make up for it from now on, that is if anyone gives a shit. Anyway, on with the show!
Halloween was always my favorite time of year, even as a child. I looked forward to Fall, with it's changing colors and cooler temperatures (in Michigan, where there is more than one season, anyway). Apples went on to become cider and pies, and the stores started to carry Halloween decorations and costumes. I loved going to get my Halloween costume...when I was little, the aisles seemed huge, with hundreds of reality, there were probably only dozens, but it seemed bigger than that back then.

Readers of a certain age will remember those costumes...made more often than not by either Ben Cooper or Collegeville, the costumes came in thin cardboard boxes with a cellophane window on the front, the mask inside peering out at the world and its potential owners. These costumes consisted of a thin plastic mask which covered the front of one's face, with an elastic band to hold it in place . The other main element was the costume, as it were, a sort of jumpsuit that tied in the back that usually has a picture of the character you were supposed to be on the front, instead of , say, a picture of the character's costume printed on it. Looking back at these costumes, they weren't all that great...but back then, especially when you're only , say, 4 or 5 years old, they were pretty damn cool. I remember going to the department store, like a K-Mart or a local store like G.L. Perry's , and searching for my yearly never had the same costume for more than one year because they were so cheaply made they wouldn't last any longer than one Halloween and a few wearings afterwards.I would try to find something cool, and hope they had it in my size. Among the costumes I remember having were The Spider, an obvious Spider-Man ripoff ( Steve Miller is wearing the mask for this character on the cover of his album 'The Joker'), and a guy from a line called the Creature People that was either named Bat-Man or The Bat....he was sort of a were-bat. My cousin had the Cheetah -Man outfit that year from the same line.

As I write this, I can recall the plasticy smell of the masks and costumes. I remember all the kids in elementary school marching around to the other classrooms to show off their costumes, eyes peering out of eyeholes in their masks. I remember being pissed when it was cold out and our Mom making us wear our jackets over our costumes, which , of course, ruined the whole look...Mom valued warmth over Halloween asthetics, obviously. I remember going over our hard-earned Trick-or-Treat loot when we got home, and putting candy in one of my dresser drawers like pirate treasure. I remember wearing my costume after Halloween, until it fell apart...which , as I stated earlier, wasn't very long.

As I got older, Trick-or-Treating gave way to parties, and the pursuit of candy gave way to other pursuits (girls, if I have to spell it out for you), and those cheaply-made boxed costumed faded into the past, and eventually from the store shelves as well. Now costumes are in bags and on hangers, and though they're , for the most part, still of less-than-stellar quality, they're quite a bit better than those allegedly flame-retardant , elastic-banded ones I grew up with. Still, when October rolls around, I always think of those store aisles full of those boxes, plastic faces peering out, and it makes me smile.

Steve Miller as The Spider!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Halloween Horrors- Frankenstein (1931)

Off to a late start, but my first Halloween film post is on a personal favorite, Frankenstein. The story, for those of you who have lived an incredibly sheltered life, is based on the 1818 novel written by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, who was a teen when she wrote it, though the film is merely based on it, and not a direct adaptation.

The film, directed by James Whale, is about the efforts of Dr. Henry Frankenstein (played admirably by Colin Clive), who strives to make a living being using parts of dead bodies, literally creating life from death. Assisted by his huncbacked employee Fritz (Dwight frye), he assembles enough pieces to make his creation. However, Fritz manages to destroy the brain Henry had designs on during his fumble-fingered scavanger hunt, and brings another brain of not exactly equal but definately lesser value. When he realizes that his creation isn't of the caliber he had hoped for, he decides to wash his hands of him, but the Monster (portrayed by Boris Karloff, in a stellar performance) has other ideas, and escapes. Murder, chaos, and fear lead up to a final confrontation in a burning windmill in one of the all-time classic horror films ever made.

Frankenstein is a classic, and after a recent viewing, it does still hold up well today. The plot moves along at a decent pace. It starts right off in the graveyard, with the good Doctor and Fritz gathering parts for Henry's big science project, and goes along from there. The creation scene in the lab is great, with all those crazy , pseudo-scientific contraptions ( created by master propman Kenneth Strickfaden) crackilng , whirring, and blazing. The sets are mostly of the studio-standing-in-for -outdoors type, but it gives the film a kind of storybook feel, albiet a dark storybook. The acting is well done, too, and not as 'stagey' as some films of the era. Clive does an excellent job as the Doctor, giving an intense performance of Henry Frankenstein as a basicaly good guy who is obsessed with his pursuits, and perhaps a bit insane as well. Frye sets the standard for hunchbacked, morally depraved lackeys as Fritz, and Karloff knocks it out of the park as The Monster, billed in the opening credits as '?'. His Monster is indeed scary, but he manages to also give him a sense of innocence, almost like an unwanted child...a big, scary, undead child, who can be violent when provoked, but a child nonetheless. When Fritz is tormenting the Monster with fire, I know I wanted to see him grab that hunchbacked bastard and let him have it( which he does later). The famous scene with the little girl also illustrates the child-like nature of the Monster. Wandering the countryside, the Monster finds a litle girl playing by a lake. She is unafraid of him, and invites him to play. The towering brute is joyful at making a friend. They play at tossing flowers in the lake. When they run out of flowers, the monster, with his less-than-adequate mental capacities, decides since the flowers were pretty, it'd be Ok to toss the little girl in the lake, too. As she drowns, we see the the Monster visibly upset at his mistake...far from a mindless murder machine, he didn't mean to hurt the little girl, but is unequipped to let the villagers know it was a mistake, as he is mute, communicating only with growls, grunts, and whimpers...not that the villagers would probably listen, anyway.

I don't know how it is for generations younger than mine, but Frankenstein is one of those characters that is universally known (pun intended). Frankenstein set the bar for monster movies...the mad scientist, the hunchbacked assistant, the monster, the angry villagers, the dark castle, the stormy night, the graveyards to creep around all started here, although I believe Dracula(1931) was made first, it's Frankenstein that , to me, that remains the gold standard of horror film mythology. Frankenstein(the monster), as a character, has become immortal, like other literary characters such as Sherlock Holmes, Dracula, James Bond, and Conan. Also like these characters, Frankenstein is better known through movies featuring him than the original source novel. He has also, like the aforementioned examples, gone on in countless other media, like comics, TV shows, toys, and in spoofs such as The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975), and the brilliant and hilarious Young Frankenstein(1974), done by Mel Brooks. Even folks who don't watch horror movies know who you mean when you mention Frankenstein. Something about him has etched itself onto our popular culture psyche. It may have to do with the fact that he's both monster and innocent, or maybe it's because most of us have grown up with these movies, and they've left their mark on us in one way or another...or maybe it's a bit of both. I often wonder , just how I wonder what Robert E. Howard would think of his characters still being popular today, what Shelley would think of her creation being such a part of the horror ( if not cultural) landscape...I think she would probably like it.

If you've never seen Frankenstein, I humbly suggest you do so ...and this is the perfect season for it. And if it's been a long time since you've watched it, get a copy and revisit and old classic...and an old friend of mine.

"Here's to a new world of Gods and Monsters"-
Dr. Pretorious (Ernest Thesiger), Bride of Frankenstein,

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Leif Erikson Day, Oct. 9th

This Friday, the 9th, is Leif Erikson Day, celebrating the Nordic fellow who just happened to discover what would become North America about 500 years before that Columbus dork. So fill up your drinking horns and hail Leif with a hearty drink of mead (or the beverage of your choice). You damn well know I will. Hail and skoal!

Monday, October 5, 2009

#554; The Fiction Generator.

#554; The Fiction Generator.

Very writers should especially like it.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Blood, Stitches, and My Old Pal Frankie

A while back my dentist told me that due to overly brutal brushing habits and bad luck in the gum genetics department that I needed to have oral sugery done. I finally went in and did it.It involved cutting tissue from the roof of my mouth and transplanting it in various places along my gumline. I was blissfully unaware of the procedure itself, as the surgeon gave me two little blue pills to take a half-hour before the procedure, plus IV sedation once I got there. I remember seeing two of everything at that point. The rest of the day is kind of a blur, except I do recall waking up with a mouthful of blood ( a common thing with this procedure, I'm told)...I got up and went to the bathroom, and spit up about a cupful or so of blood, then went back to the couch to crash again. The next day , I was more lucid, but with a mouthful of pain. So, with a fresh bunch of sutures, a monosyllabic grunting vocabulary, and a dim view of things in general, I decided it was a good day to watch the original 1931 Frankenstein.

I got a copy of the Universal Frankenstein Legacy DVD set at Half-Price Books a while back. It's a collection I'd been meaning to get for some time, but hadn't gotten around to it yet. Usually Half-Price doesn't have a lot of DVDs that interest me, but when I saw this 2-disc set for 12 bucks ( they were having a sale), it seemed meant to be. I hadn't watched these classics in a long time , and resembling the monster in question, it seemed a perfect film to watch that day.

Frankie and I go way back ( I know that Frankenstein is actually the doctor, not the monster, but I'm one of those that was brought up calling the monster by his creator's other words, if you're a nit-picker, deal with it). The big, flat-topped amalgamation of dead parts brought to life was one of, if not the first, monsters I'd ever seen. I was about 3 years old or so, and I can remember getting out of bed at night, and on weekends my parents would be watching Creature Feature on the local ABC affiliate out of South Bend, Indiana. They would show what I would refer to back then as 'monster movies' on Friday and Saturday nights. This was back in the Dark Ages when there was not yet such things as cable TVs or home VCRs, much less DVDs. TV stations used to show a lot more movies back then, and they were often black-and-white classics(and not-so-classics,too)...something unheard of these days, except for TCM, maybe. It was either Frankenstein or The Mummy that I saw first, at least those are the two ones I can recall seeing at a really young age. Boris Karloff played the monsters in both films, so I guess he's partially to blame for how I turned out, because seeing these classic movies formed my love for horror way back then.

I remember being scared as Hell of Frankenstein when I was little...I even remember a nightmare I had, somewhere between the ages of 3 and 5, I think, where Frankenstein chased me down the corridor of an old castle, and grabbed me and lifted me up over his head, presumably to smash me on the floor or something, but I of course woke up and ran to my folks' room, bawling my rotten little head off. Still, even though Frankenstein scared me, I was fascinated by him. My parents still laugh to this day, because during a horror movie I would get scared, run out of the room...and always come creeping back in, unable to stay away from the black-and-white images on the little TV set in the otherwise darkened living room. There was something there, calling to me, speaking to me, even though I couldn't quite understand it yet. I recall my neighbor, an older kid named Rusty, who was an excellent artist, drew a very nice picture of Frankenstein for me, and I carried that thing around with me for the longest time. I sometimes wonder whatever became of Rusty...I hope he's still drawing today. That drawing meant the world to me then. I also remember having those old Aurora model kits of Dracula and the Phantom of the Opera, with the glow-in-the-dark parts. My parents put them together for me, because I was too young to manage a model kit...Hell, I can barely manage one today, for that matter. Somewhere along the line I got a Frankenstein trash can, and a Frankenstein action figure, both of which I still have to this day.

As I got older ( and by older, I mean about 7 or so), I saw the true spirit behind the monster that I intuitively saw as a toddler. Frankenstein was scary looking, and yes, he did kill some people, but really, he was just a big doofus who wanted what we all do...friends and understanding. This especially came clear in the first sequel, Bride Of Frankenstein (1935), when the monster learns to speak, and briefly has those things he wants so badly, only to have them taken from him. My heart broke along with his when I watched , and my heart still goes out to that giant, stitched-up monster when I see it to this day.

Human feelings aside, I suspect, deep down, that one of the reasons I liked Frankenstein ( and the other monsters) so much is because they were scary. I don't know why this is...I just know that on some deep, primeval level I've always been drawn to monsters and scary stuff, as well as superheroes ( which I guess is the flip side of monsters and horror, though there is a lot of crossover territory...Batman, for example). As I got older and quickly realized that I wasn't one of those kids that 'fit in', I began to identify with monsters more, as they are typically outsiders, especially Frankie, since unlike , say, Dracula, he isn't evil, just misguided. Sometimes the people around you seem a lot like the villagers in the Frankenstein films...a mindless, judgemental mob out to get rid of anything different, unwilling to take the time to look beneath the surface. One can hardly blame Frankie for throwing a few villagers around.

I plan on covering the Frankenstein films in more depth in October when I do my Halloween Horror film reviews, but for today, I just wanted to 'talk' a bit about an old friend of mine that I got to see for the first time in years, and how he's responsible for getting me into 'monster movies' all those years ago. Thanks, Frankie..I owe you.

Safety tip: Kids, take swimming lessons before playing with Frankie...

Thursday, September 3, 2009


I remember , long ago, when comics and animation (or, manga and anime, if you will) from Japan were a rare find. Now there's aproliferation of this Japanese entertainment form here in the States...there are shows on saturday morning, tons of product in comic book stores, and even big chain booksellers such as Barnes and Noble have shelves and shelves of digest-sized manga volumes, ready to be read. These days, I don't read as much manga or watch as much anime as I have in the past, but every once in a while a title pops up that interests me...and such a title is Hellsing, created by Kohta Hirano.

The series is named after a British organization, which is in turn named after the family that has run it...yes, it's that Hellsing family, famous for hunting monsters. Also known as the Royal Order of Protestant Knights, the group is like a secret service that goes after supernatural entities such as ghouls, vampires, etc, also referred to as Midians. Integra Wingates Hellsing is the leader of the group, a tough, no-nonsense lady, who isn't afraid to take up gun and sword and get her hands dirty to get the job done. Integra's ace in the hole, however, is an agent known as Alucard ( spell it backwards). Alucard is a vampire who hunts other Midians. He is unaffected by sunlight ( 'I just hate it', he says in vol. 3 of the manga) and holy relics ( he often has a cross in his teeth, like a toothpick). he's a very powerful vampire, and how the great Dracula ened up working for his enemies' family is a mystery that is unraveled as the series progresses. The third main character is Seras Victoria, a young policewoman, who wounded unto death, is offered unlife by Alucard, and accepts it. She takes a job and residence with the Hellsing agency, trying to adapt to being a vampire. It has its advantages ( she can now wield huge ordinance easliy), but she is reluctant to drink blood, not wanting to completely lose her humanity ( '..if I do drink the blood, it feels like something will have ended forever', she says in vol. 2). Other supporting characters of note are Walter, the butler, aka The Angel of Death, who helped Alucard fight Nazi Midians in WWII; Captain Bernadette of the Wild Geese, mercenaries hired by Hellsing in their war against evil; and Father Anderson, an Irish priest who works for Iscariot XIII, a Catholic anti-Midian branch of the Vatican, who is good with blades and has regenerative abilities.

One aspect of Japanese manga/anime that I like is the creators' ability to take a genre or character that's been around for a long time, and put a radically different spin on it. Hellsing definately fits the bill here. Not only do we have Dracula working for his enemies, but his character is interestingly writen by Hirano. Our vampire protagonist goes about his business with a sort of detacthed amusement, which is probably how a powerful immortal may view life, or un-life , as the case may be. As the series goes on we see more in -depth Alucard's feelings and why he feels the way he does.

Alucard is also a visually striking character. Tall, lean, with long black hair, usually smiling with a mouth full of fangs, he is typically dressed in a red trenchcoat and wide-brimmed hat over a black suit, with heavy boots on his feet and red/gold sunglasses on. He can go from charming to bloodthirsty on a drop of a dime, his grin going from sly to crazed. Emotions and feeling notwithstanding, Hellsing is primarily a horror/action story, and our hero is as bloodthirsty (literally), if not moreso, than the monsters he battles...a scene in vol. 3 illustrates this well. While in South America searching for their enemies, Alucard and company are staying in a posh hotel, where they are besieged by commandos. They are made short and bloody work of, and from outside the hotel, onlookers witness bodies hurled out of top-story windows, to land atop the flagpoles in front of the hotel, after which Alucard calmly walks out the front door, grisly corpses dripping above. This scene harks back to one of Alucard's earlier titles-The Impaler.

Besides being inhumanly strong and fast, Alucard is alsao armed with a pair of guns made specially for killing Midians- the .454 Casull, which fires 13mm rounds made of alloyed steel and silver from a cathedral cross; and the Jackal, whcih fires 13mm armor piercing explosive rounds with Macedonium silver casings tipped with blessed mercury ( 'The ultimate anti-freak combat pistol...this isn't something a human could handle'). The Jackal is black with the inscription 'Jesus Christ Is In Heaven Now' along the barrel. Needless to say, like many other Japanese manga/anime, Hellsing is very violent, so it's most definately not for young kids.

Another aspect of the story I find interesting is the way the main religious groups are portrayed. The Protestant Knights use Christian iconography ( the Jackal is a good example), but seem to have a pragmatic view of stopping evil, finding the best method is to fighht fire with fire. The Catholic Iscariot XIII gruop hates the Hellsing group, mostly because they have an unholy creature as an agent, but in later volumes the Iscariot group , and other groups of religious knights, are shown to be fanatical, and a bit power hungry. I don't know if Hirano was expressing opinions when writing this, or was merely trying to have a lot of conflict in his story, but for whatever reason, it does make for a good tale.

Hellsing is published in the U.S. by Dark Horse in digest-sized volumes, nine of which have been put out here. There are two different anime miniseries out, one simply called Hellsing, the other called Hellsing Ultimate, which I think is more faithful to the original manga from which it's based on. I reccomend the Ultimate series for watching, and I highly reccomend the manga for readers. Like other manga artists, Hirano's art improves with each volume, and there's some dark humor in the story as well as pop-culture references,drama, horror, action, and blood-lots of blood, actually. But, what did you expect from a Japanese vampire comic...this ain't no Twilight. Hellsing gets a hearty Beast's Seal of approval. Check it out.

'The Bird Of Hermes Is My Name,
Eating My Wings To Make Me Tame' -
inscription on Alucard's coffin

Thursday, August 27, 2009

The Beast's Movie Cave- Inside

Back when I reviewed the film Martyrs, I stated how the French are kicking ass in the horror film department, and I mentioned a film called Inside. Now it's time to take a closer look at that film.

Inside (or A' I'nterieur,2007) tells the tale of a woman named Sarah ( Alysson Paradis). Sarah lost her husband in a tragic car wreck 4 months prior. She is pregnant, however, and due to go to the hospital the next day ( which happens to be Christmas)to induce labor. Sarah is not overjoyed, however, as she is still overwhelmed with grief at her husband's death. She makes plans with her mother and boss to get to the hospital the next morning.

That night, she has a stranger knock on her door- a woman (Beatice Dalle), who when Sarah refuses to let her in, tells her that she knows her name, that her husband is dead, and that she wants Sarah's baby...and the woman is armed with a very large pair of surgical scissors to do the job. What starts as a holiday evening filled with depression and solitude becomes a blood-soaked night of terror and murder. Will Sarah survive? Will the unborn baby survive ? Who is this mysterious woman, and why does she want Sarah's baby so badly?

Inside is a masterpiece of horror, in my humble opinion. It takes a very simple (if not twisted) premise and runs with it. The film, written by Alexandre Bustillo and co-directed by Bustillo and Julien Maury, makes the most of its modest structure-small cast, few locations (the primary one being Sarah's house), and a small budget by your usual Hollywood standards. In spite (or maybe because) of its somewhat small scale, the film is packed with emotion, intensity, and blood...gallons of it.

Like Martyrs, the acting helps to sell the story. Paradis' portrayal of Sarah makes the viewer feel for her loss, even as she alienates those around her(in fact, she's downright bitchy at times). Still, it's hard not to have sympathy for her, especially when there's a crazy woman trying to cut her baby out of her with a big-ass pair of scissors. Speaking of that, big acting kudos go to Dalle for her role as 'La Femme', said scissor-wielding psychopath. Dalle makes her character one of the scariest screen nutjobs to come down the pike in quite a while. Whether it's lying, acting innocent, or going all stab-happy, La Femme will do whatever it takes to reach her goal.

It's interesting that these two French films, Martyrs and Inside have a lot in common- strong female lead actors, powerful emotional content, intensity, and violence aplenty. I think one of the reasons these films are so effective is the depth of the emotional content , and of the acting...if you care about and feel for the characters, it's even more horrific when tragic and violent things happen to them.

I want to also mention the look of the film. The colors/lighting used make for an interesting look-the dark house, the yellow, sodium-looking light in most of the house, the bright, white of the interior of the bathroom (which makes the blood stand out all the more)...the use of different colored lighting reminds me a bit of Italian filmmaker Dario Argento's Suspiria ( see my review back last october), but used in a more realistic efffect, as opposed to the otherworldly, fairytale effect Argento strove for.

As the above picture may tell you, Inside is a very violent film. There were some scenes that made me cringe, and that takes a lot. As always, the copy I own is unrated, and , as always, if there is a watered-down version, I would stay away from it...there's no sense in half-assing it.

If you've a mind to watch an intense, bloody horror film, put a copy of Inside in the old DVD player, and prepare for a wild ride. I officially give it The Beast's Seal of go watch it, already.