I made all those sophisticated tools available to anybody so you can do all of this too. This is a site for film and DVD enthusiasts (i.e. freaks) where you can build your own communities, with your very own movie and dvd lists, reviews, blogs and RSS feed, mailing lists, a home page like this one, and even keep track of movies your friends borrowed from you.
2011.09.09 - What Does Horror Mean To You? at Brutal As Hell
I am starting to write this article right after I just finished watching Dario Argento?s Stendhal Syndrome for the third time in about two years. I am fascinated by it because it is likely Argento?s last good/great film (Dracula 3D doesn?t look very promising so far), and because surprisingly, what disturbs me the most is the brutality of the film and that Dario put his own daughter Asia at the center of it. Talk about a Freudian setup. Additionally, the movie is gorgeous. Yes, its use of digital effects is very crude, even for the time, but the film is otherwise very polished in the greatest Argento tradition. I appreciate that. I also appreciate Asia greatly....
2011.08.25 - Not Quite Hollywood review at Brutal As Hell
Documentaries about films are a tricky affair. Either they have to be about an incredible film, or the documentary itself has to be cool and uncover little known nuggets about a cult classic, or they have to paint an epic movement and give you tons of information, references, and cool interviews. Not Quite Hollywood is of the latter kind, but unlike the recent American Grindhouse, it manages to pile on so much energy, laughs, outrageous interviews and cool film bits...
I have extolled above the incredible feelings i have experienced when i watched Videodrome and Naked Lunch, experiencing a piece of work that truly challenged me in a subversive way. Well, Cronenberg does a three-peat with Crash which depicts people who get aroused by violent road accidents and mangled bodies. Yep, this guy has a way to find people?s buttons and push them hard with a rusty rod. Crash scandalized pretty much everybody when it came out. It was booed at Cannes where it premiered, and yet, received its prestigious, seldomly awarded, Special Jury Prize. This is again Cronenberg creating such a level of controversy, yet managing to get awards out of it! It?s a long way from the days of the Canadian Film Development Corporation controversies, but highlights how much of a survivor he has been.
I went to see it with my wife when it was released and she walked out of the theater. I stayed. I can?t say i loved it and i felt it was less interesting than Videodrome or Naked Lunch. Not as high minded perhaps, or philosophical, it seemed to me to descend into abject human sexuality just for the shock value of it. Good performances and the always top-notch technical aspects of the film don?t help making it more endearing to me even if it reprises many of the themes that Cronemberg developed over the past 2 decades. In particular, the imagery of a gaping wound as a vagina (shown in Rabid, The Brood or Videodrome early in his career) is ever present in this film as people literally have sex with wounds, bordering on necrology. I just wasn?t able to connect and enjoy the film because it lacked the multi-dimensional aspects of his other films. Where is the philosophical powerhouse of Videodrome? Where is the daring visually creative adaptation of an impossible novel like Naked Lunch? Where is the emotional power of The Fly? Where are the batshit crazy fireworks of Scanners?
This is Cronenberg?s second masterpiece, along with Videodrome. It?s very hard to describe how this movie functions. It?s a drug-induced hallucination mixed in with paranoia. Adapted from William S. Burroughs? thought-to-be-unfilmable groundbreaking novel, Cronenberg is able to create a world that makes sense in its disjointed dreamy drug-induced structure. I just don?t know how to describe this film except to say that it is mindbendingly creative in its visuals and narrative. It is true to Cronenberg?s ethos and a direct continuation of his Body Horror ethos: the drug-induced hallucinations produce strange biological beings that the main character interacts with throughout the story, such as a typewriter that is really a sentient bug, or a strange creature that secretes some hallucinatory drug from phallic appendices. Be ready to be challenged as rich imageries and complex thoughts are hurled towards you at 1000 miles a minute. If you watch this film, you must be in the right mood or it could spoil on you.
I remember exactly when the film came out in Paris where i grew up in 1981. I was 11. The posters were popping up everywhere, and if you were smart enough, you could find a way to hack some of the displays at bus stops and score one of them. I did, and this very poster was in my bedroom for years to the dismay of my parents of course. Every kid pretended to have seen the film and was talking about the infamous exploding head scene: of course, none had seen it. The film came out with a ?no one under 13 allowed? rating. It?s different from PG-13 in the US in that it doesn?t matter if your parents accompany you: if you are not 13, you are not admitted. It was enforced, often by asking for your national ID card which contained your birth date. Zoom in the picture and look on the bottom-right to see the ?Interdit Aux Moins De 13 Ans? notice.
So it?s not until summer of 1983 that i was actually able to see this film, in a second-run theater in the sea-side town where i used to spend my summers as a kid in the south of France. and boy, did i love it. It was the first Cronenberg film that i saw and i loved it. I have seen this film half a dozen times since and the supernatural brotherly feud still resonates with me, ending with one of the great ?final duel? caught on film with some real bat-shit crazy fireworks. The effects were groundbreaking and the story was emotionally complex. Michael Ironside became immediately recognized as an uber-baddie. There was also a memorable score from Howard Shore (he scored many of Cronenberg?s films). This is a classic Horror film that hits all the notes, plus, it?s heady and multi-dimensional. Still funded by the Canadian Film Development Corporation.
Some people noticed Cronenberg over the past few years and with The Brood, his third feature, he finally had access to more budget. Still funded through the Canadian Film Development Corporation, The film is miles ahead technically from Rabid and marks Cronenberg?s first truly master film imho. The cast, led by international star Oliver Reed is fantastic, and the film looks and feels polished end to end. The story of a woman who pops out deformed murderous children like a queen bee is unsettling, and this is in my opinion a key evolution for Cronenberg. Whereas he had aimed at shock in his previous films with taboo subjects and graphic contents, The Brood starts to become much more metaphysical. The film is full of interesting ideas about motherhood, genetics and mental illness. This is where the fundamentals of Body Horror, that of mutation generating a divergence between body and mind with physical biological manifestations, is starting to take its full form.
Not my favorite Cronenberg. I like his earlier, crazier, work a lot more. But it's hard to not admit that he has achieved here a level of storytelling, maturity and gravitas he had not reached before. I just wished the final execution had been a bit "crazier".
Dead Ringers is at the same time engrossing and frustrating. A master class in filming technique and acting, it is truly gorgeous to look at and watch unfold. It is right up Cronenberg?s alley with 2 identical twins, both maverick obstetricians, who fall in love with a woman with a trifurcated cervix. This is a love triangle like you have never seen. It gets perverse (in classic Cronenberg way), and ends in a bloody tragedy. It is anchored by an award-level performance from Jeremy Irons, executed way before digital technology would allow David Fincher to fool the world with the Winklevoss brothers in The Social Network.
Yet, it is frustrating somehow. This film is Cronenberg at his most clinically cold: it feels too controlled, too restrained at times. Only 2 years before had The Fly made many audiences weep. At the end of this film, you stand by as a tragedy unfolds, but it feels like a car accident in slow motion. This happens a lot with directors who are often criticized for being too brash or too gimmicky. They then struggle to remain true to themselves while remaining more controlled and mainstream in some way.
Again, this film is absolutely incredible, but sandwiched between The Fly and Naked Lunch, it lacks some pop. I know this is not a popular opinion.
If any snotty film critic tells you that all remakes are shit, i am pretty sure The Fly figures in your list of films to disprove it. Like John Carpenter?s The Thing, this remake outdid the original in pretty much every way possible. The Fly manages to be 100% Cronenberg: he took the core idea of the original film and transformed it to fit his unique universe. Often accused of being too clinical in his treatments, Cronenberg here builds up an emotional powerhouse. I am almost 50 and i am not shy to admit that i still shed a tear during the grand finale when i watched the film again tonight. If you pay attention, you cannot avoid a surge of emotions during the last 5 minutes of the film, when Goldblum, heretofore a gentle thoughtful genius, loses his last ounce of humanity, only to recover a milligram of it in his last moments. Anchored by powerful performances by Geena Davis and Jeff Goldblum (probably his career defining role), this movie excels at building the deep romantic connection between the two characters, only to tragically shatter it in the most gruesome way. Yes, there are some great creature effects, and the gore is top-notch, but the films excels in so many other dimensions to make it truly one of the greatest horror films ever made.