Pizza (2014)

directed by akshay akkineni
UTV Spotboy/getaway films

This Indian production, a clever and stylish feature, is unfortunately too clever by half. The revelations that follow a somewhat arduous setup are more than less a cop-out, and as the SHOCKING finale meanders its way to the screen, it provokes not only disbelief but a couple very big questions that are impossible to ignore. This is in addition to the fact that the rather lengthy middle portion of the action itself raises a query or two as it transpires – deservedly so, as it turns out. Though it’s mostly enjoyable anyway, in the end this picture is a little too dependent on its comedic values and doesn’t maintain its attempted eeriness well enough. And it just don’t add up.

why did i watch this movie?

Its offbeat title, which does not suggest terror, drew my interest, and when I found out it’s actually a remake of a 2012 film, I had to know more. (Somehow, I missed that the 2012 flick was helmed by Karthik Subbaraj, who was responsible for last year’s Mercury.)

should you watch this movie?

You may well lose your patience during the previously described middle movement, or be exasperated by the wrap-up and finale. I’ll get back to you about the original at some later date.

highlight and low point

Several of the musical numbers in this picture serve as diagesis, including the catchy tune during the ridiculous animated title sequence, but I think my favorite factor is the unexplained origin of Slices of Mumbai’s “Pizzaria Napolitana” setting. As hinted at several times, the resolution is unwelcome and more than a little hackneyed, although I suppose credit is due for the filmmakers resisting the urge to double down on the supernatural element … until the dubious conclusion, anyway.

rating from outer space: C+

クロネズミ aka Kuronezumi aka Black Rat (2010)

directed by kenta fukasaku
avex management, inc./deiz

This Japanese production plays like it WANTS you to think it’s merely another anti-bullying flick, but it’s a bit too clever and a little too insidious for that to be the case. It is a revenge picture, which it doesn’t try to hide at all, but the nature of that revenge – and who’s enacting it, and for what reason – is a bit slipperier. Not even pretending to hide its sardonic intent, the film doesn’t overplay its more comic moments and the humor stays mainly black. Layers of pathos also are added as the underlying mystery takes almost the entirety of the film to be revealed. Although a bit brief at 76 minutes or so, and maybe a bit lightweight for focusing on drama amid schoolmates, this is an engaging and enjoyable offering … you know, for a bloody revenge picture full of torments.

why did i watch this movie?

I saw it mentioned … somewhere  … while I was looking for information about … something. Man, I have GOT to start taking notes. It sounded obscure enough, basically.

should you watch this movie?

Though it certainly has elements that detract from its overall effectiveness, it also has enough endearing facets to make a viewing worthwhile. (It’s also not that long, as mentioned above.)

highlight and low point

The cheerful sadism of the Rat is wonderfully juxtaposed with the tremulous responses of her victims, and it was hard not to be amused by the occasional subtitled notation of “Squeak.” More seriously, I thought the picture did a good job depicting what subtleties can create enmity or animosity amongst young adults. Hints of stock scenarios were unwelcome, and a bit of creative liberty may have been taken with the resolution of the affair.

rating from outer space: b

this blog approves of this nod to Ichiro

미확인 동영상: 절대클릭금지 aka Mihwakin Donghyeongsang aka Don’t Click (2012)

directed by kim tae-kyung
ad406 pictures

Some Korean schoolgirls are obsessed with web videos … which can be deadly, would you believe. Well, one might be, anyway. Or is it only one? And what kind of recording IS it, anyway? (Answer: it’s an “incantation.”) Basically a no-bullying PSA in the form of a horror flick, this production succeeds for two reasons: One, its viral element spreads to a plainly alarming degree via conduits that you wouldn’t have suspected, and two, I watched it after viewing a couple of really bad pictures. Yes, it does have its own merits, and I also enjoyed the somewhat peculiar English translations in the subtitles on more than one version of this film, but it’s not terribly different in tone, effect or affect from some of the other flicks that have probably come to mind via this synopsis. Kang Byul does make for one hell of a scream queen playing Jung-Mi, who’s more or less the cause of all the trouble.

why did i watch this movie?

Looking for some other pic led me to this one, but I cannot recall the exact pathway.

should you watch this movie?

It’s nothing too special, ultimately, nor particularly memorable. I guess one could highlight its quirkiness as a selling point.

highlight and low point

The complexity of the layers of guilt and levels of involvement among the major players in this drama are a bit of a curveball, and elements of subtle humor plus a degree of edginess are also a bit uncommon – or at least were unexpected by this reviewer. A few of the story’s supporting aspects are underdeveloped, though, almost as if to acknowledge that while necessary to provide a foundation for the happenings, they weren’t a primary concern of the creative staff.

rating from outer space: C

Nightshift (2018)

written & directed by stephen hall
greenflash pictures/blue shadows films/grump films

Maybe a little over halfway through the 75 or so minutes of this production, it veers into a psychologically tormenting sequence that elevates what already had been an interesting picture into a compelling one. The effect isn’t really sustained, but nonetheless this is one film that understands the dynamics of parceling out its particulars. Often, the moments in between events carry the most weight in this tale of weird happenings in an Irish hotel. At times more than a little reminiscent of 1408, for at least one example, what works best here is that nothing ever seems too surreal to accept. Not exactly unpredictable, this presentation of a truly terrible first shift at a new job still manages to defy the norm to some degree, although that mostly may be a matter of style rather than substance. Whatever the case, the end result is another effective exhibition from Ireland.

why did i watch this movie?

The description didn’t exactly dazzle me, but something about it made the flick seem worth a look. Maybe it was the Irish thing; as noted, I generally seem to enjoy output from those shores.

should you watch this movie?

While acknowledging there’s only so much one can do with the whole place-where-something-terrible-happened angle, this one at least tweaks it a bit.

highlight and low point

I cannot stress enough that I was greatly impressed by how much this flick does with its scenes where nothing actually winds up happening. The aura and suspense generated in those scenes is masterful. Also, during the mind- and time-bending sequence, a few instances work wonders for the picture’s chill factor. As for the downside, surprise isn’t notably in abundance here, despite the fact that it avoids becoming overly formulaic.

rating from outer space: B

The Mutations aka The Freakmaker aka Dr. of Evil (1974)

directed by jack cardiff
getty picture corporation/cyclone productions

Roger Corman’s name somehow is not attached to this tale of a mad scientist creating hybrid creatures by meshing flora and fauna. “My theory of Total Genetics is all-embracing,” intones the dependably taciturn Donald Pleasence, playing the nutter professor with his hair and beard varying its balance of black and white from scene to scene. Presumably this movie has played countless times on the types of late-night programs that specialize in daffy, misbegotten, or just plain awful cinema. Not merely horror, this flick is equally science-fiction-flavored, all the better for those sorts of showcases. Contents: Plant/human hybrids, plant/animal hybrids, fake deformities, actual sideshow freaks, and a whole lotta stock footage of vegetation. The real star is either the ludicrous monster costume that looks like a deconstructionist Creature from the Black Lagoon (or Swamp Thing, I guess) or the hilarious props in the lab of Dr. Pleasence, a cross between the Little Shop of Horrors and the workplace of Bunsen Honeydew.

why did i watch this movie?

I don’t remember, but probably because it sounded completely ridiculous. And Donald Pleasence.

should you watch this movie?

It’s the kind of presentation you enjoy while wondering how in the world any of the people involved possibly could have been taking their jobs seriously. It’s … definitely amusing.

highlight and low point

Once “Tony” escapes the lab in his hybridized form, the proceedings shift into another realm entirely. It’s almost must-see stuff, almost enough to justify sitting through the rest of it … such as the blatant exploitation of Freaks, for instance. Basically, the plot of Dr. Freakmaker (hmm … ) is grafted onto a rehashing of certain themes of that infamous pic, including an approximation of the “One of us!” scene and an abridged version of the revenge piece.

rating from outer space: C+

that’s not subtle

Bride of Frankenstein (1935)

directed by james whale
universal

These old horror pictures really appreciated comic relief, particularly from strident women portraying minor characters, and they also relished lampooning petit bourgeois authority, such as this film’s burgomaster. Plus, they really enjoyed overacting to the point of buffoonery, although that can be forgiven due the transition from stage to screen. Now, with all that musing done and out of the way, it is time to allow that this production, though a bit slight, is quite accomplished. “Karloff” – that’s all he’s credited as – does wonders with his role, even under heavy prosthetics, and the script does an excellent job of playing on any variety of emotions in underscoring the plight of “the monster.” The “monster’s mate” doesn’t appear until just five minutes remain in the picture, of course, which is another thing these great old-time movie stars had going for them: pacing and suspense. Realism may be another matter entirely, but given the subject at hand, any such observation is probably misguided.

why did i watch this movie?

Johnny Ramone awarded “Bride” first place in his rankings, which overall are pretty fair. (I personally don’t think The Wolf Man and Freaks hold up well enough, but who the hell am I.)


should you watch this movie?

When the mood is right for a picture from this era, such as during Samhain, it would be quite suitable.


highlight and low point

The sequence during which the MONSTER busts out of the dungeon in which he’s been confined, evades the hunt, and tumbles into the crypts from which Pretorius and his henchmen are commandeering corpse parts is pretty memorable. Once again, the studio-lot sets are awe-inspiring, at least the interiors. (The outdoor scenes, not so much.) I could have done without the “humorous” touches and their focus on the lowbrow.

rating from outer space: a−

Dwight Frye as Karl

Antisocial (2013)

directed by cody calahan
breakthrough entertainment/black fawn films

So what you have here is a film wherein a handful of millenials have to barricade themselves in a residence as refuge from the ultraviolence burgeoning outside, and as it’s picking up steam, I’m losing interest rapidly. I mean, I’m wondering what’s with this The Purge–meets–28 Days Later–meets–Pulse–meets–every–zombie–flick–ever business, you dig. As the story finally develops, though, it redeems itself to some degree, becoming more insidious – and, actually, a lot more ironically funny – than it seemed it was going to be. Still not exactly the most original concept or execution, but credit must be given to the portrayal of social media manipulation and the ever-growing battle for constant connectivity. (The portrayal of the presumably heroic lead female role could have used a little work, though.) Ooh, hey, look! A sequel that sounds really dismal!

why did i watch this movie?

It was New Year’s Eve, and this movie is set on New Year’s Eve.

should you watch this movie?

Not a whole lot of horror pics have “New Year’s Eve” as a setting or a theme.

highlight and low point

The tensions and relationships between the five twentysomethings hoping to survive whatever the hell it is that’s going on are portrayed rather well, and the gradually encroaching understanding of what exactly is happening, and how, is skillfully handled. Once again, however, here in the world of the horror movie, we have a paucity of original ideas, even with the wicked insinuations of the latter stages of the “viral infection.” Oh, and the black guy dies first. Followed by the party girl.

rating from outer space: C+

Concepts and business entities portrayed in this motion picture are fictional. Any resemblance to actual concepts or business entities is purely coincidental.