Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Let Sleeping Corpses Lie (1974)

A Spanish/Italian production shot in England, this film follows the travails of a hippie (Ray Lovelock) and his chance traveling companion (Christine Galbo) who become suspects in a series of murders committed by the living dead. They are relentlessly pursued by the zombies and by The Man, primarily a relentless police inspector played by Arthur Kennedy. The zombies are a product of a new agricultural device to kill insects, a nice idea which may have been produced by the burgeoning environmental consciousness of the time.

Director Jorge Grau borrows somewhat from Night of the Living Dead, but also creates realistically creepy zombies and novel scares, with harrowing sequences in a mortuary basement and a hospital.  Darkly atmospheric and full of nicely-done grue, it's well worth seeing.  

Note:  This is a zombie film of many names.  Besides Let Sleeping Corpses Lie, it's also been titled Don't Open the Window and The Living Dead at Manchester Morgue, among others.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Hidden Floor: Another Asian Hair Ghost Movie

Hidden Floor  (2006) is a Korean production which, while enjoyable, breaks no new ground in the genre of vengeful Asian female ghosts with long black hair covering their faces (onryō).  Apparently, the wild-haired nature of these ghosts comes from the fact that traditionally, Japanese women only let their hair down when being buried.  Hence, long hair, and usually a white funeral shroud, became synonymous with frightening spirits...  like this one:

 However, many Asian horror viewers have called for a little more variety after seeing onryō in Ju-on, the American remakeDark Water, the American remake of that, Ringu, the American remake of that, and numerous others. 

Hidden FloorAnyway, on to the film in question.  Hidden Floor is the story of single mother Min-young (Seo-hyeong Kim) and her six year old daughter Juhee (Yoo-jung Kim), who move into a new apartment in a recently renovated but underpopulated apartment building.  Juhee remarks that there is no fourth floor button in the elevator, and her mother explains that "four" sounds like "death" in Chinese; hence there is no fourth floor.  Or... is there?

Soon, strange noises from beneath the floor, the crazy-eyed neighbor with a bagful of syringes, mysterious deaths, and the onryō's appearance start wearing on Min-young's nerves.  Juhee, on the other hand, starts getting weird and proclaims that she never wants to leave.  One of the nice touches of the film is that it plays not only on traditional fears, but also the fears of working parents: child neglect, untrustworthy babysitters, and so on.

The concept of a hidden floor is also a nice one, and there are a few good scares.  There are also too many "boo!" moments, but the film does manage to sustain an atmosphere of dread for a while.  Some of the scenes and plot devices are a little reminiscent of The Shining, and the apartment building's florescent lights serve to make the shadows more scary.  However, the film turns into a typical vengeful ghost story, in which the hidden floor isn't really necessary.  It ends up being entertaining, but could easily be confused with many other films in the onryō genre.    

Friday, July 9, 2010

Let Me In: Distributor Problems?

According to this article from today's LA Times, Let Me In's distributor, Overture, is undergoing financial difficulties and restructuring, which could potential limit the number of theaters in which Let Me In is released.  The article also has a good quote from producer Donna Gigliotti in response to those bemoaning the remake of Let The Right One In:  "We're incredibly admiring of the original, but... that picture grossed $2 million.  It's not like we're remaking "Lawrence of Arabia."   

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Let Me In: Hammer’s Let the Right One In Remake

Releasing October 1st, and written and directed by Matt Reeves (Cloverfield), Let Me In is a remake of the excellent 2008 Swedish film Let The Right One In, which was in turn based on the 2004 Swedish novel Lat den Ratte Komma In (Let the Right One In) by John Ajvide Lindqvist.

When interviewed back in 2008, the director of the original was understandably not happy.  Lindqvist was also interviewed and gave a sort of non-opinion on the remake and some insight into the story.  It's an interesting interview.

For Lindqvist, the story was a very personal one, and this is what makes it so good, in a world of fairly generic vampire stories. Poignant and tender, it captures a certain mood at a certain age, and it’s really more about being a lonely outsider desperately waiting for someone than it is about vampires.

I could rant about remakes, but instead I’ll just say that I’ve already seen the original, so I don’t need to see the English-language version. The remake might be good, but I doubt it will capture the delicate and understated nature of the original.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Hammer Films Rises from the Dead

After years of suspended animation, Hammer Films has returned to life.  Their first feature film in 30 years is Wake Wood, a sort of pagan horror movie filmed in Ireland.  It will soon be released in the U.K.  More interestingly, Hammer veteran Christopher Lee (above) and Hillary Swank are starring in The Resident, a thriller opening in late 2010.  Even more interestingly, a Hammer remake of the Swedish vampire movie Let The Right One In will be opening in October.  An interview with the head Hammer person is here.  I've only seen a smattering of Hammer's classic productions, and I have to say that with the exception of Captain Kronos - Vampire Hunter, I wasn't entirely impressed.  Maybe it was just the luck of the draw - I do want to get around to seeing The Vampire Lovers and the rest of the Karnstein Trilogy.  I'll have to check out The Resident (trailer here), but I won't be seeing Let Me In.  More on this later.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

A New Contender for "Worst Horror Novel I've Read"

City Of The Dead
Please stay away from Brian Keene.  I'd never heard of him, but had some store credit to burn at the Other Used Book Store (the one with higher prices and that one woman behind the counter who always looks at me like I'm there to steal something).  I noticed City Of The Dead.  It had zombies, so I grabbed it.  This was a big mistake. 

Keene, who apparently won a Stoker Award for his first zombie book, The Rising, appears to be trying to channel bad zombie movies into print.  It doesn't work, at least not with his writing.  It's awful.  The characters are cardboard, with dialogue so atrocious I'm not sure Keene has ever heard another human being speak.  An entire book that's just one extended "flee/fight the zombies" scene would get boring even in capable hands.  In Keene's world, the zombies are a result of demonic possession, which isn't a bad idea, but you can't really take them seriously because they talk (with Keene's cheesy dialogue), sing, burn down houses (and even sing while burning down houses:  "the roof, the roof, the roof is on fire"), and are led by a demon who calls himself "Ob of the Obots".  Keene exercises the most creativity in going for the gross-out, with necrophilia and maggot-filled zombie testicles.  Oh, and everybody dies in the end.

The only silver lining in this frankly stupid book is for budding horror authors, who will realize after reading it that you really can get anything published (at least, if it's about zombies or vampires).