2007 in review

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Remo D
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2007 in review

Post by Remo D » Tue Jan 01, 2008 11:52 am

There will be spoilers. What a surprise.

One of the first films I saw in 2007 was, naturally, a holdover from 2006... PAN'S LABYRINTH. While it was obviously one of the best films of that (or any) year, it defied classification--while it certainly qualified in many sequences, you could never expect to get away with calling it a "horror film."

PAN'S LABYRINTH may very well be the final word in an extraordinary subset of fantasy filmmaking--tales of lost innocence in which children create monsters (or do they?)--the better to cope with reality. Many have tried, but only a few such films have succeeded so extraordinarily in my view--you need an exceptional, visionary director and the most gifted child performers--performers who can captivate without ever cloying (get annoyed with the child even once and the spell is broken). My list: THE CURSE OF THE CAT PEOPLE, THE SPIRIT OF THE BEEHIVE, THE DEVIL'S BACKBONE, I'M NOT SCARED, and now PAN'S LABYRINTH (yes, del Toro scored twice). None utterly 'horror,' but all breathtaking and relevant to the genre.

Watch them in sequence and you'll notice another trend... the films all climax with the young protagonist being placed in grave danger. And the consequences get worse as we go along. We move from the fully believable happy ending of CURSE to the shocking (if survivable) burst of gunfire in I'M NOT SCARED, until finally...

Think the movies are trying to tell you something? Something they MEAN? Well, for better or worse, if there's a unifying theme to the horror-film output of 2007, that's it. While it was once an unthinkable taboo to depict the death of children on screen, 2007 decided to go all out and let them have it on a regular basis--from the accident in GRINDHOUSE to the not-an-accident in THE MIST (both of which took place within parked cars); the remains of sacrificial victims discovered in THE REAPING (and even HOT FUZZ!), the fatally downbeat finale of THE HOST, the unapologetic chest-bursting of AvPR, Rob Zombie's HALLOWEEN (children as victims and as monsters--though JOSHUA came out earlier)... good grief, even the third PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN opened with the (non-explicit but unmistakable) hanging of a child!

It might be a good time to point out here that virtually all of 2007's confrontational output "underperformed" at the box office. A few remakes, a franchise sequel and the "nicer" of two Stephen King adaptations accounted for what success there was for horror this past year--even films expected to clean up ended up dying quietly while critics and audiences alike sought "the feel good film of the year" instead.

Too bad... 2007 was actually an excellent year filled with great movies too few people saw. Of course, that's just me talking, and I'm the guy who liked the BLACK CHRISTMAS remake. Perhaps my choices and rankings will be similarly controversial this year, perhaps not. But they're completely honest. With that in mind?

Unseen by me: BLOOD AND CHOCOLATE, SKINWALKERS, THE INVISIBLE, GHOST RIDER, FANTASTIC FOUR--RISE OF THE SILVER SURFER, TRANSFORMERS (but my son got the DVD for Christmas so that's going to change soon), DRAGON WARS, BEOWULF, HORRORFEST 2007, AWAKE, probably others that aren't coming to mind right away.

THE GOOD

Off to a great start with PERFUME: THE STORY OF A MURDERER. We can argue about its 'horror' standing, but see it for yourself. Gritty, low-budget shockers will always have their place, but lavish, sumptuously-photographed epics with supporting work from Alan Rickman and Dustin Hoffman have a lot to recommend, too! A unique and pleasantly shocking look at obsession with a finale you won't soon forget (don't look for it on commercial television anytime soon).

Nacho Cerda's THE ABANDONED was touted as the one Horrorfest 2006 entry worthy of solo theatrical release. Now that I've caught up with the rest of the batch on demand, I concur. Perhaps a TWILIGHT ZONE diehard like me can see where it's going, but it's a grisly, twisted ride all the same.

The people who made the SAW films such hits couldn't care less what James Wan and Leigh Whannell did with good old-fashioned scares in DEAD SILENCE. Their loss--ventriloquist dummies are still creepy as hell, and this one was a real treat.

HOT FUZZ was not a horror film, but you can't pass up what the SHAUN OF THE DEAD guys did here--and they included gore murders and an evil cult just for you!

A simple plot done to a crackling turn--that was the relentless VACANCY, packed with character and tension from the moment the opening titles kick in.

John Cusack almost single-handedly made 1408 worth watching... yes, it's a PG-13 expansion of a far scarier Stephen King short story, but he really is that good. Oh, and one of the ghosts is Benny "The Jet" Urquidez, just for fun.

28 WEEKS LATER was an genuine, worthy and stylish follow-up to Danny Boyle's surprise hit--as opposed to the quickie remake we usually get in sequel-land.

Meanwhile, Boyle himself gave us SUNSHINE, which offered plenty of rich visuals and pure, character-driven science fiction (as opposed to effects-driven zippity-zap) to propel its narrative. Sure, there was everything from DARK STAR to EVENT HORIZON to salute along the way. And 28 DAYS LATER owed a page or two to Romero. Thus is the way of the world.

Go ahead and slap me for mentioning DISTURBIA here if you must, but it's an ultimate "give the devil his due" entry. WE know it's a shameless reworking of REAR WINDOW. But when classical Hitchcockian suspense becomes a huge hit with a young audience, that's YOUR opportunity to say "If you liked that, have I got a movie for you..." Oh, David Morse was a terrific bad guy in the FRIGHT NIGHT vein, too.

BUG was one of the year's very best, though people expecting a horror film about man-eating insects were 'non-plussed,' to put it mildly. William Friedkin has made a masterwork of communicable paranoia, attractive conspiracy and psychological violence... and Ashley Judd deserves an Oscar at the very least.

On first viewing, HOSTEL PART II struck me more as a museum piece than a necessary sequel. But when revisiting the films on DVD, I realized it was actually quite superior to the original--intelligently scripted, extremely well acted and, of course, necessarily horrifying when it came to the grisly details. Or maybe I'm just far more receptive to the Italian approach than I am to the Asian? One thing it's not is simple "torture porn." But more on that later.

"My name's MR. BROOKS, and I'm an addict." Kevin Costner's best role in years (but still no audience). William Hurt as the alter ego. Dane Cook as the wannabe. Trust me. Give this a chance.

JOSHUA was one of the better BAD SEED variants, though it's Sam Rockwell's show as he plays the slowly disintegrating father. And at this stage of the game, you can't say for sure that they won't go "Odessa Steps" on the baby carriage...

We got a couple of unassuming "monster movies" that succeeded on a simple "give the people what they want" level. RESIDENT EVIL: EXTINCTION made the formula more watchable than ever thanks to Milla Jovovich, who by now has claimed her role to such an extent that the series has earned mention on its own merits. And Russell Mulcahy delivered the zombie groceries with plenty of gore and action. Meanwhile, ALIENS VS. PREDATOR: REQUIEM gave us the film they miserably failed to deliver the last time around--we've finally turned the monsters loose on an unassuming human population--let the bloody chips fall where they may.

30 DAYS OF NIGHT gave us something almost unthinkable in vampire movies... originality. Oh, not all the way through in every detail, but the frozen setting was different, as was the approach taken to the ending. And along the way, Danny Huston was an excellent, creepy monster, the characters were believable and the violence was effectively tense and bloody throughout.

Unlike HOSTEL PART II, SAW IV managed to retain its core audience (though it didn't get to be the number-one horror film this year). While I was, frankly, dreading it, it surprised me by continuing to assemble a puzzle (reaching in both directions), by being utterly unmerciful to those who haven't seen the previous entries (this ain't FRIDAY THE 13TH PART 7, okay?), and by actually working to correct what I saw as shortcomings in SAW III. Guys, you can't keep it up forever, but you've still got my attention.

SWEENEY TODD: THE DEMON BARBER OF FLEET STREET bookended PERFUME beautifully with another lavish, lovingly-detailed portrait of a murderer... but this one's a Tim Burton musical as opposed to a macabre romance novel. More great work by Burton, Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter and Alan Rickman (among others)--smashing, bloody entertainment.

As for the best of the year?

I have to give out a special prize here. PLANET TERROR was not the best time I had at the movies all year. DEATH PROOF was not the best time I had at the movies all year. But there are no two ways about it--GRINDHOUSE was absolutely the best time I had at the movies in all of 2007. Not the separate DVDs--the unadulterated, trailer-laden double-feature experience. You can't sum it up as a "horror movie" (and in no WAY was DEATH PROOF a "giallo"--what were they thinking when they said that?), so I can't call it "the best horror movie of 2007" any more than I could call PAN'S LABYRINTH "the best horror film of 2006." But PLANET TERROR had every one of the best ingredients (including the chili recipe... and absolutely the greatest opening title sequence of the year), and DEATH PROOF gave us Kurt Russell as Stuntman Mike... THE best movie character of the year, bar none. To dismiss GRINDHOUSE is to forget your father's face.

And speaking of Stephen King?

Keep it safe with 1408, and you've got a hit. Take the tack that a horror movie is meant to horrify, and you've got a flop. And you've got the best horror film of 2007. Yep. THE MIST. Horrifying in its gory creature violence. Horrifying in its panicked human degeneracy. And horrifying in a way not even Stephen King planned when he wrote the story over twenty years ago. Here's horror, ladies and gentlemen. Pleasant dreams.

THE MIDDLE GROUND

HANNIBAL RISING was a sincerely-acted prequel with some undeniably grisly setpieces. It was also one of the least necessary films ever made (the desperate attempts to invoke 'the mask' in the movie and the face of Anthony Hopkins in the ad campaign speak for themselves).

Okay, get ready to slap me again. I thought THE HOST was the most over-rated film of the year. On the one hand, it features one of the very best monster rampage sequences ever made, while the dysfunctional family dynamic adds plenty of unique flavor and emotion, setting it apart from the crowd. For the first half of the film, I was in full agreement that this was a masterpiece. Then, frankly, it went on for about half-an-hour too long, with repetitious scenes of family members falling into ditches and failing to let arrows fly when they should--long after I'd gotten the point--all building up to an anything-but-rousing finale (all this just for that?). Points where points are due, but GMK isn't getting nudged off my shelf anytime soon.

I'm going crazy trying to place I KNOW WHO KILLED ME, so I'll just leave it here. The movie is SO wrong on so many levels... but good Lindsay Lohan in blue, naughty Lindsay Lohan in red, Art Bell, Corsican-twin mania, Madame Olga's strip club, a juicy hand removal just for me, and the I AM THE SECOND COMING OF MARIO BAVA--DO YOU GET IT? DO YOU GET IT? oversaturated direction made for something I will never regret seeing on the big screen. I mean--wow.

They've pulled off three (in my view) successful takes on INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS. Fourth time was not the charm. The film simply known as THE INVASION wasn't awful, but it was inefficiently removed from the mythology (spitting in the coffee is no substitute for PODS) and frankly anticlimactic (now they're curable, but is the world really any better off?). Well-acted by Nicole Kidman and Daniel Craig, of course.

Rob Zombie's long-anticipated HALLOWEEN remake finally hit, and my personal jury is still out. On the one hand, it was plenty sick and disturbing--I appreciated the fact that they didn't just simply re-tell the story of Carpenter's film (the action of which is practically confined to an afterthought), and I especially enjoyed Malcolm McDowell's take on Dr. Loomis. On the other hand, this is the sort of film in which one 'name' actor is enough--I was thoroughly distracted by the 'spot the star' approach, nor was the film ever truly SCARY.

And I AM LEGEND remains worth watching for the sake of Will Smith's performance and some fantastic visual urban devastation. Matheson's novel has yet to be done to a turn, and the on-screen meat ultimately gives you nothing more profound than what Charlton Heston and Vincent Price already gave you.

THE BAD--not too much here--I'm pleased and surprised...

The remake of THE HITCHER missed the point entirely. Scruffy Sean Bean is a convincing psychopath, but the attractiveness of John Ryder was fatally jettisoned.

You can't make a good film called THE HILLS HAVE EYES 2 (or THE HILLS HAVE EYES PART II or whichever version you're watching), so please stop trying. One or two good moments that could have been saved for a better film--that's it.

Dark Castle Entertainment betrayed its roots with THE REAPING. The spirit of William Castle is nowhere to be found in this Biblical allegory that makes the unforgivable mistake of taking itself seriously--and expecting you to do the same. (Not that the direct-to-video RETURN TO HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL was much better.)

I could barely keep my eyes open through P2. Roger can give it three stars for being a functional slasher if he wants to, but if 'formula' is really what you want, I direct you back to VACANCY.

Now, the very worst piece of trash I suffered through in 2007 was a direct-to-On-Demand crapfest called DRIVE-THRU. See, it's about a killer fast-food clown who steals Jack Nicholson's dialogue from THE SHINING as he re-enacts the plot of A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET. And Morgan Spurlock shows up for the fast-food in-joke cameo.

But we're talking theatrical releases here.

Remember when I said that HOSTEL PART II was no simple piece of "torture porn" in my book? I don't recommend films like that and the SAW entries on the basis of their torture, gore and violence--it's the way they make you keep watching even when the on-screen activity is hideous. Now, if torture and gore are all you want?

Well, if you take an original screenplay by Larry Cohen that promises to be a typically-intriguing 'mindgame' thriller... get a class-A director like Roland Joffe to helm the project... and then decide "You know what? People REALLY want to see torture and gore, so let's rethink this...?" You get CAPTIVITY. And nobody saw it. Nor should they have. The End.

THE REST

There was plenty of worthwhile and not-so-worthwhile franchise fantasy in the year, as well.

I'll take SPIDER-MAN 3 over PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: AT WORLD'S END any day. SM3 may not have been a match for SM2, but what is? It had plenty of colorful characters, humor and action, and my entire family had a great time. Can't say the same for that lumbering thud of a PIRATES finale. Cast Chow Yun-Fat and give him almost nothing to do? Great move. I could go on, but why?

HARRY POTTER AND THE ORDER OF THE PHOENIX was, as usual, as good a one-shot movie that could be made from such a complicated book, but at this point in the movie series, you really DO need those books for an anchor. Read. Repeat. READ.

Nobody really needed a RUSH HOUR 3, but it was my only chance for my son to see Jackie Chan on the big screen. It was fun, and we'll leave it at that.

Far more exciting to me personally was the return of Luc Besson to the director's chair... I thoroughly enjoyed the black-and-white fantasy ANGEL-A, while my son proved that ARTHUR AND THE INVISIBLES was perfectly entertaining for the young audience at which it was aimed (you know what? I happen to agree that LEON was better, okay? But I still enjoyed ARTHUR).

Only Luc Besson could have saved WAR, by the way. Jason Statham meets Jet Li in one of the year's hugest, messiest disappointments.

Another one of the year's biggest disappointments was THE CONDEMNED. The "deadly game show" is one of my favorite premises, and there's nothing whatsoever wrong with the performance of "Stone Cold" Steve Austin. But the film (which starts well) actually has the moxie to preach at us for the crime of watching violent entertainment! And they're amazed that the film flopped big-time... they essentially tell you not to watch it!

THE SIMPSONS MOVIE was every bit as funny as I wanted it to be--and it would have been just as funny had it debuted on TV.

ZODIAC wasn't a "horror film," but it was an excellent (and frequently frightening) procedural and character drama... Jake Gyllenhaal's fine, but Robert Downey Jr. steals it (as usual).

BLACK SNAKE MOAN not only lived up to its provocative title and ad campaign (Samuel L. Jackson chaining a scantily-clad Christina Ricci to a radiator--good grief!) but transcended the lurid material with some of the most heartfelt interaction and healing drama around... where was that on the "Feel Good Film of the Year" campaign, eh?

The don't-call-it-a-remake of SLEUTH provided plenty of surprises even for people convinced they knew this story inside and out... Michael Caine and Jude Law took the Shaffer classic to a different plane courtesy of Harold Pinter.

SOUTHLAND TALES? Well, I saw it, anyway... it may not be the next DONNIE DARKO, but I didn't want it to be, either. So many great moments in this bizarre stew, and probably the best performance yet by Dwayne Johnson (not called 'The Rock' here).

Three brutal, gripping crime dramas are all fighting for top honors this year... David Cronenberg's EASTERN PROMISES, Sidney Lumet's BEFORE THE DEVIL KNOWS YOU'RE DEAD and the Coen Brothers' NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN. Very hard to pick a winner here. Very, very hard to pick a winner... they're all astonishing, top-tier masterworks--from three generations of filmmakers, no less!

And most intriguing was the resurgence of the DEATH WISH saga.

Jodie Foster and Neil Jordan actually got away with passing THE BRAVE ONE off as something resembling an original concept, when I fully expected the title to appear on the trailer as DEATH WISH (the distaff remake, of course).

Original DEATH WISH author Brian Garfield's antidote-sequel DEATH SENTENCE was invoked as an unconnected vehicle for Kevin Bacon--another huge box office disappointment for director James Wan. Too bad--it's one of his very best--a devastating trip through vigilante hell... featuring the tour-de-force "parking garage" sequence that ranks with the year's most stunning achievements.

Well, I'm exhausted.

And I'm frankly ready to skip January in its entirety.

ONE MISSED CALL? No more J-horror rehashes for me.

THE EYE? No more ASIAN-horror rehashes for me. Especially if they star Jessica Alba.

CLOVERFIELD? If you tell me it's really THAT good, I'll check it out. But not before.

IN THE NAME OF THE KING: A DUNGEON SIEGE TALE? No comment.

Happy trails,
Remo D.
My dog's breath smells like peanut butter...

...and I don't even have a dog!


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Post by DylanDog » Tue Jan 01, 2008 2:05 pm

Great wrap up as always, Remo! Thanks for the effort!

A couple things I saw this year that you didn't touch on:

If "Hot Fuzz" is included, then "Fido" has to be, too. (Yes, it premiered in 2006, but I can't exclude it because of one festival showing. This is 2007 all the way, imo.) With the gluttony of zombie movies we've been experiencing the last few years, it was nice to see something different and original, not to mention genuinely funny. And I mean well scripted, clever funny, not cheap, gross out laughs. For that, you can watch "Black Sheep", another 2006, but really 2007 film which I found to be boring, juvenile and utterly forgettable.

Somewhere in between those two, we were treated to "The Mad", a zombie film that returns Billy Zane to comedy and a great job he does. This movie was good fun from beginning to end.

The same could be said for "Plane Dead", the zombies on a plane film, although that one aimed more for the jugular than the funny bone. Which is not to say it took itself too seriously, either, as a flagrant reference to "Airplane" shows.

I'm not sure if NOTLD 3D really showed last year or if it should count towards this year, but either way, it sucked so who cares?

In the category of "I can't believe how much I enjoyed that" falls TMNT. Seriously. A great pace and a beautiful look that recalls the old school comics more than the kiddie fare of the cartoons. You'll always see the turtles for fun, but the characters were treated much more seriously here than we've seen in a long, long time. Not saying it's for everyone, but if you ever had even a slight interest in the series, this is the thing to see.

"The Last Mimzy" was an entertaining film, that could be enjoyed by the whole family. You referenced Donnie Darko and this sort of had the same mysterious feel, but in a more childlike, less dark way. Think a more mature "Explorers".

Of the two comedies I saw, "Knocked Up" was better than "Blades Of Glory", but that's not saying much.
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Post by Latte Thunder » Wed Jan 02, 2008 10:37 am

I always look forward to this post because it helps me remember what I actually saw this year.

The best for my money:
The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters - Number one with a bullet. A plus all the way. I have been singing the praises of this movie and will continue to do so until the day I die. It's the Rocky of video game documentaries. There's a great hero, a great villain and an assortment of characters that leave you reminding yourself several times over the course of the movie that it's all real. Nothing about it is fictional. If you have not seen this movie, you need to keep an eye out for the DVD release. I defy you to tell me I'm wrong. Not just the best all year. The best in years.

Pan's Labyrinth - Guillermo Del Toro always seems to do his best work when he's working in foreign markets. His Hollywood output is adequate but when he's doing his thing in Mexico or Spain, all bets are off. It's yet another exploration of the way children deal with trauma and one of the most engaging movies I saw all year.

No Country For Old Men - It had me on the edge of my seat. Javier Bardem plays one of the most effective, unstoppable villains since The Terminator and even managed to be a movie that maintained the prosaic style of Cormac McCarthy's novel. The fate of many of its characters is completely unexpected and it rolls along without even noticing or caring that the audience may be outraged by how the question of who gets the loot is resolved. Also, Stephen Root is the man of 1000 faces.

Before The Devil Knows You're Dead - Few movies make me cringe like this one did. The story was told out of order and as each blank is filled in, that sinking feeling got worse.

Hot Fuzz - I was a little underwhelmed by the results but it's hard to follow up Shaun of the Dead with something superior and I did eventually get over that hump. It uses the same winning formula as Shaun, spoofing along until the third act and then turning deadly serious and taking the feelings you've built around certain characters with it. Absolutely the funniest movie of the year and it kept me keeping tabs on Working Title to see what would be coming next. The Wright/Pegg/Frost combination wins every time. They have a good thing going.

Charlie Wilson's War - A real late entry for the year and a killer script with great acting about how good intentions got us into the mess we're in in the middle east. I won't lie. I like Aaron Sorkin quite a bit. His comedy has a sophistication that is lost on many people and even though it's not a laugh out loud kind of movie, it's still very funny. More evidence that Phillip Seymour Hoffman is awesome in 2007.

Grindhouse - Way too much fun for one movie and I insist that that is why it failed. Fun overload. In actuality, the marketing for the movie was awful and the average film goer went in expecting a zombie movie with car chases and lap dances but wound up with two deliberately crappy flicks punctuated by trailers for shitty movies that don't exist. Am I the only person who really wants to see those movies get made? I can't be. Big fun. It's a shame we won't see a sequel.

Death Sentence - It invoked the Brian Garfield novel in name only but still managed to capture the theme better than any Death Wish sequel could have hoped for. An extraordinarily violent appraisal of the cost of the revenge that really delivers the shotgun violence.

Behind The Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon - The best slasher movie in years. Just when you think every drop of blood was squeezed out of that tired genre, someone spoofs it and winds up breathing more life into it than Scream. It plays out like a documentary, deconstructs and labels all the parts of the slasher movie and then reassembles them for an outstanding finale. Sadly unseen this year.

Hatchet - Set aside the whole old-school horror notion from the marketing. There's really nothing old-school about it. There is considerably more attention given to the characters than you might expect and the kill scenes are some of the nastiest, most inventive in years. Also, who knew Tony Todd could be so funny?

Bug - William Friedkin isn't losing any steam as the years go by. He calls it a black comedy but I'd like to know what the hell is so funny. It's a movie about insanity and the places that loneliness will take us if we let it. Marketed horribly, I'm sure many people were put off by what was only marginally a horror movie in the traditional sense. It was, hands down, one of the most intense movies I saw all year. There's a momentum that it builds and by the climax, you'll be begging for some kind of relief.

Not much to say about the stuff I didn't care for. It often sucked for obvious reasons.

Rob Zombie's Halloween remake was a fucking disaster. I don't give a shit about Michael Meyers or Rob Zombie's interpretation of what makes an unstoppable killing machine. Encapsulating the Carpenter movie into the last 45 minutes of the movie almost seemed like a point in the script writing process where Zombie realized that he had to add Laurie and Haddonfield in there somewhere, so all we get is a highlights reel of one of the best horror movies ever.

Inland Empire - I love David Lynch but this is what you get when he has carte blanche, a digital video camera and no script. Three and a half hours of madness spiraling out of control. An epic mishmash of weird ideas and stuff that you know he has wanted to put into movies in the past but never had a place to put them.
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Post by Remo D » Mon Jan 07, 2008 5:13 pm

Two responses? That's it?
My dog's breath smells like peanut butter...

...and I don't even have a dog!

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Post by Griff [Mola] » Sun Jan 13, 2008 10:18 am

Thanks for the rundown, guys.

Following up such an exhaustive overview is more than slightly intimidating - with my limited sampling of this years delights, I don't know what I could possibly add. Its a good thing I've got you guys and movie viewing log here to remind me what I was lucky (or unlucky, as the case may be) enough to catch in 2007.

First off, I'd like to nominate GRINDHOUSE as the film-viewing experience of the year. It truly recreated the experience of discovering a wild and vastly differing pair of out-there flicks you could never have dreamt up prior. And down here in Australia, this was acheived in more ways than one. Originally we were going to get it in May, a month or so after the US opening, but when it underperformed, it was suddenly withdrawn from all the local release date lists. Soon after, banners and posters were being taken down from the cinemas chains and not even they knew what was going on. The Weinstein Company ummed and ahhed about it for months before we finally got DEATH PROOF by itself in November, to little fanfare. I don't know of a single person who went a saw it. There's still no sign of PLANET TERROR (despite having already played in New Zealand) and with both titles hitting DVD here in March, its unlikely we'll be getting it at all. I think its safe to say that the Weinsteins royally fucked up their chance to make some decent money on the foreign sales for this one, assuming that because it wasn't a box office powerhouse in the US, there was something wrong with the actual movie - and that they could somehow improve it by dumping an inferior product into international territories. The built-in audience (ie. everyone that's seen a Tarantino and/or a Rodriquez flick and has the internet) knew they were getting shat on and consequently everybody stayed home in droves. So how could I regard it as the film-viewing experience of the year? This act of cinematic deprivation resulted in a bootlegging frenzy I hadn't experienced since the pre-internet 90's. Murky camcorder versions resembling 5th generation dubs swapped many, many hands and it was like sitting down to watch a couple of fabled films you'd only ever read about in some obscure fanzine and thought you'd never get a chance to see. Afterwards, when it had delivered the goods, you were elated and couldn't wait to show it to someone else. And so on and so forth. Growing up when I did, where I did, this was my version of the 'grindhouse' experience and although I would have preferred the choice of seeing this on the big screen, its nice to know that in an age of flawless video and audio presentation, a shitty bootleg can still make a roomfull of people jump up and cheer. Phew.

So, with the elephant in the room finally addressed once and for all, what else did I enjoy?

PAN'S LABYRINTH - Del Toro's best yet.
THE ABANDONED - Wow, this one really puts those Japanese ghost movie remakes to shame. And not a single attractive cast member to be seen! More Nacho, please!
HOT FUZZ - Hilarious. And who would have thought this would turn out even more violent than SHAUN?
BLACK BOOK - Verhoeven's triumpant return to his native Holland.
28 WEEKS LATER - I was getting sick of the all the action-orientated zombie stuff and this exercise in tension and horror was just what the doctor ordered.
EASTERN PROMISES - Cronenberg can't put a foot wrong.
HOSTEL PART II - An unnecessary sequel that turned out great, richly rewarding fans of the first. The MPAA approved that ending???!!!

THE HOST, BLACK SNAKE MOAN, ZODIAC, VACANCY, FLIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD (aka PLANE DEAD), FIDO, SPIDEY 3 and HATCHET all had their moments for me, some of them utterly brilliant and some of them just mildly amusing, but failed to live up to them as a whole. Nice try and better luck next time.

Films that made me wanna smash crockery:

I AM LEGEND - spent so much time establishing how alone Will Smith was, it forgot that it was supposed to be developing a fucking story.
TURISTAS - This one was HOSTEL played totally straight but without the skill or conviction to pull it off.
THE HITCHHIKER remake - A disgrace. I'll give Sean Bean a 10 minute headstart but everyone else dies now.
DEAD SILENCE - An interesting idea but Wan's style just feels stilted and unnatural to me, kinda like watching a movie within a movie. Let someone else develope your ideas.
Rob Zombie's HALLOWEEN - Embarassing.
THE HILLS HAVE EYES remake part 2 - Absolute fucking dog shit.

So that's me. Let's see some more contributions you lazy bastards, even if its just a top 5 list.

P.S. I'm with you, Remo, on the BLACK CHRISTMAS remake. What a romp!


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DylanDog
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Post by DylanDog » Sun Jan 13, 2008 11:27 am

Wasn't "Turistas" 2006 or did you just get it late down there? Either way, I liked that much more than I thought I would for some reason. Some about the operating room scenes gave me a "Zombie Holocaust" vibe.

I watched "Joshua" the other day and loved it. It's about time one of these evil kids gets what's coming to him/her. I'm not condoning child abuse here, but man, there was some moments when his dad just cracked me up with how poorly he treated his kid. Did this even play in theaters? The first time I heard of it was when I saw it's listing on bit torrent so I assumed it was just some straight to video garbage. Far from it.

Oh yeah, for those who didn't see it on LT's blog or elsewhere, Grindhouse is getting a massive 6disc release in Japan in March, with the full theatrical cut included. :)
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Griff [Mola]
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Post by Griff [Mola] » Sun Jan 13, 2008 11:03 pm

TURISTAS might have been a December 2006 release but I'm sure only Remo managed to catch it before the year was out. I dunno, I just think that if you're gonna try and craft a serious and suspenseful horror movie, you'd better have the chops to pull it off because there's nothing duller than suffering through the mechanics of a movie that thinks its achieving something when it actually isn't. Unless its unintentionally hilarious, of course, in which case: thumbs up!

But that wasn't the case with TURISTAS. It was just dull.

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Kimberly
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Post by Kimberly » Wed Jan 16, 2008 9:36 am

Remo D wrote:Two responses? That's it?

There's nothing to say... I love reading your year end review! You sum it up nicely... :devildoll
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