Saturday, September 20, 2014

Beauty Evil Rose (1992)

Beauty Evil Rose theoretically has a plot, but it would take a mind sharper than mine to translate it into human terms.  As far as I can tell, this is a movie about an evil witch who kidnaps girls and brainwashes them into becoming female assassins and fully-clothed erotic dancers.  

The way this story is told, though, is incredibly audience-hostile.  We open with ten minutes of the softest softcore sex, scored with lite jazz from your dad's office call waiting system.  I did like the framing of these scenes, especially with tits taking precedence over Woody Allen films and rightfully so.  But, as viewers, we have no idea where this is going.

Then we get into the meat of the story, I guess. The girls are corrupted through lesbian sex which sometimes includes spankings with rubber hoses.  They also swallow gigantic worm/penis things spewed from the mouth of our evil witch.  I liked the witch, she has fine evil makeup and a pretty decent cackle.  The movie could've used more of her.

Opposing the witch are the erotic dancer's brother, a cop who loves to beat up suspects (oh, Asia!), a girlfriend/actress, and a slacker priest.  In print (or pixels), it seems easy to grasp, but the way Beauty Evil Rose conveys all this stuff is incomprehensible.  It's like listening to an overly excited kid map out Faulkner for you.  First we're watching slowly-paced sex, then we're watching a witch roast snakes over candles, then the stuff to the right happens, and we finally end up with a magic battle that looks to take place in the Tim and Eric Awesome Show universe.  Nonsense, but furious nonsense.  I don't know if this is a good movie.  I don't even know if it's a movie.  And now I'm taking a break until October, when the 31 Days thing starts again.


**3/4(?)

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Curse of Chucky (2013)

No one is more shocked than me about Nilbog Milk becoming a Child's Play discussion blog.  I was so hyped about the whole Chucky revamp concept that I waited nearly a year to get around to seeing it.  I just don't like the concept of a killer doll, the attempt at making a serious killer doll movie even less so.  I hadn't even planned to talk about Curse of Chucky if it was awful (as I feared).  But, as you can infer by this post's existence, I ate my cynical words.  This is surprisingly pretty good.


I've ignored or forgotten every Child's Play entry since the first one, so, sorry, you won't be getting a grad-level lecture in Chucky today.  I vaguely remember Bride and Seed being pretty goofy and fun and, if that's true, Curse represents a major departure from that kind of tone.  This is indeed very serious and grim, but what's even better is that original CP director Don Mancini has opted to turn this killer doll movie into a Haunting tribute.  This is exquisitely filmed in a cavernous, shadowy old house, with jittery elevators and long ominous stairways.  Even the score is weighty in a thick Hellraiser kind of way.  Basically, everything shrieks seriousness and it's all so carefully rendered that it never comes off as pompous or overdone.


Even the plotting and characterization are a step above.  Nica is wheelchair-bound and living in an old house with her troubled mom.  Shortly after a Goodguy doll arrives, we're minus one mom and Nica's sister Barb and her family/entourage show up for the funeral.  From a cursory reading, this is pretty standard stuff, but the Barb-Nica interactions and Barb-husband backstory keep this film interesting even when the killer doll is not killing.  Which happens a lot!


Mancini wisely keeps Chucky inert for most of the first half, racheting up the tension for the inevitable stabbing and slashing.  The camerawork and solid acting keep viewers piqued while we're waiting for killer doll kills.


And, when they happen, they're pretty great.  Without spoiling shit, one subplot is particular has a real mean streak and, otherwise, the kills are basically in line with what a little person could reasonably do.  Curse isn't awash in gore and builds well to the blood that is spilled.  Plus I really appreciated no few Leprechaun-style one-liners.  This film does not forget that Charles Lee Ray is a right bastard and it doesn't let you forget it, either.


I thought the cast was impressive all the way around.  Of special note is Fiona Dourif as Nica.  Dourif doesn't slack on her performance, either physically or in terms of conveying Nica as a well-rounded character.  As with a lot of things in Curse, I'm amazed that someone would put this much effort into a killer doll movie.  But I'm glad they did.


One other little thing I LOVED—the Repo Man-style INTERNET SEARCH page that Nica uses to learn more about Chucky.  You would think that the Internet would have tons of pages that reference "Chucky" and that Nica wouldn't find anything relevant right away, but she does!  Good work!


Lest all involved parties think they're beyond reproach, I should say that Curse does have its failings.  The whole concept of Chucky means that you're starting from a handicap and, while this is about as good a Chucky movie as one could expect, it's still a Chucky movie.  It's hard to buy into the concept.  I liked the mostly-Chuckyless first half a lot more than the Chuckyful second, too.  All that character stuff that I adored pretty much disappears and we get a lot of slasher stuff in its place.  But, minor gripes aside, this is a really solid piece of work.  Even people who hate this series will probably want to give this a shot.  It's a flawed concept that is elevated by pure style and effort.


***1/4

Sunday, September 7, 2014

The Ghoul (1933) + 1933 Rankings

The Ghoul's title and spooky early scenes might mislead you into considering it a serious scare piece.  Boris Karloff sears the screen as a dying Egyptologist.  He leans on his Christian butler to ensure that a whole long list of burial rites are enacted, then dies.  And the rites follow and so does an Arab who is interested in a jewel which has been interred with the Egyptologist.  All pretty standard-fare frightster stuff, but then we get a whole fat middle of old dark house-type comedy that's generally not too amusing.  Karloff shows up again at the film's end and the uptick in real horror content makes Act Three of The Ghoul a little more palatable, but ultimately not much here matters.  The generic spookshow score portends the averageness which haunts all the parts of this film.

**1/2

And that wraps up 1933, rejoice!

3. King Kong - ***1/2
4. Son of Kong - ***
5. Night of Terror - **3/4
6. Supernatural - **1/2
7. The Vampire Bat - **1/2
9. The Ghoul - **1/2