Did I Watch Too Many Scary Movies Last Week?

Hell,  I don’t know. You know what, though? Either way, I probably wouldn’t change a thing, because I saw some got-damn AMAZING movies!

Last Sunday evening, I went to our pantry because I needed a decent flashlight to look for a spider that may or may not have been in my walk-in closet. Thinking– the second that I arrived in there and thumbed the ON switch– well, this is where I shine my flashlight on a Thai ghost’s hovering, dead feet or on a homicidal maniac’s face.

The day after that, I dropped a Vitamin D tablet on a hardwood floor, walked a few steps over to where it had skittered and bounced, bent down to pick it up, then right before I stood up, thought if this were a horror movie, when the camera follows me as I lean down then slowly straighten up again, there’d be a reveal right now where someone or some thing scary is now standing/hanging behind me for a cheap ‘jump scene’.

…the week of Friday May 25th to Friday June 1st, I had a little downtime. Headaches, temporary technical difficulties with my laptop, and insomnia –the kind where about all I could focus on was a movie. I ended up seeing seventeen entire genre movies in seven days.

Five minutes after I’d finished watching one of the last supernatural movies (I’m not saying which one, it’d be a huge spoiler), and was following my daily routine, I had a half-formed idea about my life being a version of ‘maybe I’m dead and don’t know it’. Uh, please note that I didn’t actually believe this or find this plausible at all for a second, but I felt like if I really focused, I could shake out an idea for a short horror story (which, if I write now, will have to be under a pen name, since anyone that reads it would probably be same ten or so that follow this blog).

So, yeah. This might not happen again for a while– I’d probably have to really apply myself– but the week of Friday May 25th to Friday June 1st, I had a little downtime. Headaches, temporary technical difficulties with my laptop, and insomnia* –the kind where about all I could focus on was a movie. Long story a little shorter, I ended up seeing 17 entire genre movies in seven days. At some point after I started watching, things picked up momentum, and I watched a couple back-to-back. Hey, they were there in the house, except for one case where my very thoughtful husband offered to look for one of three movies on my ‘want list’ while he stopped at Scarecrow Video while he was out,  I went for it and thanks to him, watched one of the 10/10-rated on my list, The Loved Ones. Some I (finally) found on You Tube for the first time, some had showed up from Netflix after a wait**, some were On Demand. I only actually purchased one, a $7.99 rental charge for the HD (and 2D) version of Piranha 3DD. Some blew me away enough that I watched them twice …especially one with the kind of twist/reveal ending that makes you want to see the entire movie again as soon as the credits roll.

Here they are, in no particular order, and I’ll write at the very least, a capsule (100-word) review. For now, I’m going with the IMDB grading scale of 1-10 stars, though I may change it to the Entertainment Weekly (A+ to F) grading system, and maybe a 1-10 star scare level, and gore level (because gory doesn’t always mean scary, does it, Saw: The Final Chapter)? I added will add links to the IMDB pages, in case anyone who knows it’ll take me more than a couple of weeks to get reviews posted for all of them and just has to know more. Plus, I’ll post trailers along the way for a few (trailers that don’t give too much away, because plenty of them did). My review for the creepy Korean movie on the list, Cinderella will probably be up first, so keep an eye out! An asterisk means I’d seen them before and had an urge for a re-watch, a possible exception being Natural Born Killers, since I hadn’t seen the Director’s Cut yet. I also put the year of release down if there’s been a remake, or more than one version of the movie, to clarify which one I watched last week…

Screen at Kamchanod 5/10
The Road  6.5/10
The Woman in Black (2011) 9/10
The Eye* (2002) 9/10
Rabies 9/10
The Unseeable 10/10
Devil 8.5/10
Phobia 2* 8/10 (Final segment is a rock-solid 10/10)
The Loved Ones 10/10
Shutter* (2004) 10/10
Piranha 3DD 5.5/10
Colic 6/10
Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory (2011) 10/10
The Haunted Drum 5/10
Natural Born Killers – Extended Director’s Cut* 7.5/10
Cinderella* 7/10
Ghost Mother 5/10

Until I have more time (and before I forget) here’s a dozen random facts that I learned via watching the above movies:

  • No matter how many times you watch Shutter, it never gets any less scary. You may even notice subtle details you missed before that freak you out even more.
  • The animated version of the new Hammer Production logo before The Woman in Black* is one of the coolest goddamned logos I’ve ever seen (kind of like the Marvel logo, but with painted/comic-book images for horror fans)!
  • “Pee” in Thai  (with a special accent mark over the first “e” that is not available on my keyboard) means “spirit” or “ghost” in English
  • Tommy Lee Jones had to have a head cast made for the scene in Natural Born Killers when the rioting inmates put his head on a stick and wave it around like a trophy
  • M. Night Shyamalan did not write or direct Devil, only his production company was involved (and if I’d been clear on that, I wouldn’t have waited this long to see it)
  • A TV movie of The Woman in Black (from the 1980s) ended with a giant tree suddenly falling on a boat and killing all the surviving characters
  • Piranha 3DD has a listed running time of 82 minutes (theatrical/VOD release). The actual movie runs approximately 10 minutes less than the running time (possibly more than 10 minutes). The remaining time consists of what IMDB calls “crazy credits’.***
  • The male lead in Colic strongly resembles the male lead in Shutter, but they are in fact two different actors
  •  Rabies is a Israeli horror movie re-titled for the US release.  The title is actually  Kalalvet. It meansrage(and sometimes, “rabid)” in Hebrew. which would have been a more appropriate title, but I suppose they figured there’s already more than one US horror movie titled Rage, and Rabid is the (awesome) Cronenberg movie from the 70s.
  • The Unseeable takes place in Siam in the 1930s
  • A little of David Hasselhoff playing himself and winking at the audience goes a long, long way
  • One of the more seasoned, unflappable lead actors in the Aussie shocker/drama/horror movie The Loved Ones began to have nightmares during the shooting for the first time in his acting career.

So that’s seventeen total, sixteen if you don’t count the documentary in the list because it’s not fictional (though show me one person who doesn’t agree there are strong elements of horror in Paradise Lost, and I’ll show you either a liar, someone who was confused and thought you were discussing a different movie, or a stone-cold sociopath), and twelve if you also don’t count the ones that weren’t first viewings. I haven’t sat through the entire original version of the Pang brother’s The Eye since 2008, though, only re-watched a couple of clips –mainly to post here.

A whopping eight are from Thailand (even for me, that’s a lot of Thai ghost movies to see in a week). Hell, only five of them are officially US productions (four of them if you don’t count The Woman in Black, shot in the UK with a mainly UK cast, director, and writer).

Step right up!

Here’s the trailer for The Unseeable. It’s all in Thai, but trust me, you don’t need subtitles to be impressed or make the temperature in the room drop 20 degrees (which I swear on every pair of my go-go boots actually seemed to spontaneously occur the first time I watched this same trailer on You Tube in 2008.) . I don’t know what the hell they’re saying, but it could be spoiler-ish, so really, you’re better off this way. This one is definitely going on my upcoming ’10 More Trailers To Keep You Awake’ list. The sound alone is creepy. Oh, here go hell come!

The trailer might look as though it gives too much away. It doesn’t. I saw one that did, an international trailer, but I prefer this one. If you can find a copy of The Unseeable to watch online (which you may need to do because so far, no US Region Two hard copy seems to exist) I recommend it. To do it justice, though, make sure it’s got good picture quality; as I’m sure you can tell from the trailer, the period sets and warm color palette are drop-dead gorgeous (so to speak). I dream of seeing it in a theater with a big fun crowd one day. If you’re feeling brave and are watching it after dark, turn off the lights… yes, I really am daring you!

*The insomnia was not related to any of the movies. It was just that kind of week.

**If you do rent The Woman in Black (I think it’s worth a watch) and have the option for DVD or Blu Ray, go for the Blu Ray.  The production design, immaculate attention to detail, and rich color pallets are nothing short of beautiful, and the film-makers took pains to shoot on Yorkshire, Essex, Oxforshire, and even the Osea Island Causeway. It’s kind of sad when shooting on location and production scouts being used are the exception rather than the rule. When I listened to the commentary and found out that almost none of the exteriors are CGI, especially the long shot of the causeway (that had to be painstakingly timed with the tide), that bumped my grade up from an 8.5 to a 9. I’ll gush more when I write a piece on it.

…and this shot doesn’t even do the Causeway and the large surrounding marsh (to the fictional Eel Marsh house) justice. When the tide comes in, it seeps up through the marsh itself–not unlike quicksand– rather than roll in like a regular tide. Would YOU want to take that ride?

***I submitted a “Crazy Credits” description to IMDB for Piranha 3DD, which they are still deciding whether to post or not. My guess is not, because even though I tried to just list what the kar-razy kar-redits consisted of, I couldn’t resist adding that David Hasselhoff “appears to be inebriated.”.  I was still being tactful, he was fucking HAMMERED.   His lines really aren’t that complex and he flubs the repeated line, “Little moron ginger!”  Three words, and I swear there’s 10 takes of him saying, “Little ginger …moron?” (prompted from someone off camera, “It’s ‘little moron ginger’.”) “Oh. Little ginger moron.” (prompted: “Little moron ginger.”) DH: “Little ginger what, now?”  Also there’s some out-takes where he’s standing on a bed in his bathrobe with a drink in his hand (to be fair, I’m 99% sure that the drink and bathrobe were scripted, he didn’t just show up in his limo for shooting like that) and you can hear someone tiredly asking him, “Uh, can you come down now? Uh, David?” At first it’s funny, but after a couple of minutes it’s just kind of sad. He looks like he’s getting a big kick out himself, though. OK, here’s my submission, minus spoilers. I couldn’t really get creative, so don’t expect fireworks: The final 10 minutes of the running time consists of more “crazy credits” than actual traditional credits. They include a mock music video of David Hasselhoff on a beach in his red swim trunks singing, “Fish Hunter” a modified version of the song he is ‘composing’ during his first scene in the movie, while dancing around waving a plastic trident. The remaining credits are interspersed with bloopers, out-takes, ‘behind the scenes’ shots being set up, David Koechner improvising quite a bit of alternate dialogue for the water-park commercial scene early in the movie,  and black-and-white scenes of Gulager directing the final scene. Most of the blooper footage consists of Hasselhoff flubbing his lines and breaking character. He appears to be inebriated during these clips. Also included are some scenes of female nudity, as well as “gross-out moments” that didn’t make the final cut (as well as a couple of the ‘gross-out moments’ that were in the movie). They also show set-up and prep for some of the gorier scenes. Also included during ‘crazy credits’: when the film has a very gruesome, bloody (Deleted due to spoiler of one of the few really satisfying scenes) title cards come up, there’s quite a bit of black-and-white footage shot of (Deleted, blah spoiler blah-blah) still twitching slightly at intervals. The last ‘crazy credit’ is a short scene included in the TV spots/trailers, but not included of the final cut with Hasslehoff’s comment about “natural selection at its finest”).

Ten Trailers to Keep You Awake #8 – The Eye 10 (2005) AKA Gin Gwai 10 + Review!

 

The Eye 10, also known as The Eye 3 and The Eye Infinity*, isn’t the 10th installment in te series (this might be why some American releases titled it The Eye 3, God forbid anyone doesn’t see it because they think they’d have to see the original and nine other sequels). All it has in common is that characters begin to see ghosts, and after a bad scare (the first in a series of many, many bad scares) really, really wish they could stop.  Fun fact:  the original Thai title for The Eye and the others in the series is Gin gwai 10, which I was told means Seeing Ghosts in Cantonese.

I went into this not really expecting much (I hadn’t seen the below trailer), and became very frightened as soon as the first method of seeing ghosts worked, and stayed that way until the Pang brothers were done playfully kicking my central nervous system around the room. I also stupidly watched it at 1 or 2AM, the only light in the room coming from the TV. I had two kittens and my husband asleep next to me, so I’d hate to see how freaked out I would have gotten if I’d watched the movie alone with all the lights off. Not that I would have done it; I’ve gotten more than I bargained for with a horror movie many times, but I’m not a total imbecile. I’m well aware that would be about as smart a way to treat my insomnia as taking an entire box of No-Doz.

When this movie sets out to scare you, be ready to feel your heart leap to your throat the way it would during that first huge drop on the coaster, because you’re in for one fucking scary, memorable ride!

The official plotline is this:  While visiting their friend Chong Kwai (Ray MacDonald) in Thailand, cousins Ted (Bo-lin Chen) and May (Kate Yeung), May’s friend April (Isabella Leong), and April’s boyfriend Kofei (Yu Gu) are introduced to The Ten Encounters, a Thai book (called, I believe, “The Ten Encounters”) detailing ten ways to see ghosts.  For fun,** they try out some of the easier methods and get sucked deeper and deeper into the game until it becomes tragic, even after Ted and May return to Hong Kong.

 

Fun? For FUN? Jesus Christ, HOW BORED would you have to be to resort to that? They can’t, I don’t know, get high and go to a park and play Frisbee? Go see a movie about ghosts? Plenty of those to pick from over in Thailand! Great ones, too! Have a beer, maybe even smoke a joint, and go see 4Bia or Taai Hong, Death Place with all your ‘bored’ buddies together at a midnight showing.  Or go and rent a couple of them, hell, rent and watch  Jackass: The Movie.  Even if there’s no Cantonese subtitles, they’d still be rolling on the floor laughing. Go find and chew some “bozo leaf”–whup, sorry, wrong movie, that’s Bedeviled from South Korea I’m thinking of.*** Trying hard drugs would probably be safer than fiddling with this book. Not that I recommend trying hard drugs, I’m just pointing out that it’s about as smart and safe of an idea as following the methods described in an ancient book (especially one that just kind of showed up in a store out of the blue one night, rather than having to go out of your way to be able to locate and purchase it) that not only appears to have certain illustrations of some kids who look almost just like you, but also that you were warned strongly against fucking with by several very wise, elderly people who had personal experience with the supernatural. Come on, what’s the worst thing that could happen? All you have to do on one of the first ones is dig up a dead body to prepare for the ritual!

Anyway, apparently,  the book says once you start the first method, you have to go through all ten of them or something horrible will happen (worse than getting in an elevator crowded full of hideously burned ghosts that appear and hover around you the second the doors close, or vividly hallucinating that your entire eyeball suddenly fell out of the socket and is resting in your hand, I guess). As far as I recall, no-one bothers to tell them this key piece of info until after they finish one of the rituals.  They mention, rather vaguely, in the trailer that once the game is started, it must be finished, but that’s not really specific enough. Which of the games? Oh, when you said ‘the game’ you meant all ten of them? Thanks for not waiting until it was way too late and we’re too terrified to leave our apartments, or sleep. No, it’s cool.

You don’t need to have seen the classic original (or The Eye 2, which I thought was definitely the weakest of the series and was glad I watched on Netflix Steaming rather that waste a disc rental on) to make sense of this (though you should see the original regardless). There’s about a two-second nod and a very brief clip of the first two films during a montage, that’s it. Like The Eye, it’s really a pretty simple concept that the Pang brothers just fucking go to town with. There’s a couple of awesome and even clever in-jokes, as well as nods for viewers of the first movie, however, (“Have you seen my report card?”) so I recommend seeing The Eye first, if you haven’t already. After I finally caved and bought this movie, there’s a featurette with the Pang brothers. They said they wanted this final installment to be akin to a roller-coaster ride with scares and fun, and I think they definitely made that movie. There’s more comic relief (intentionally) in this installment, not the least of which are a few of the character’s reactions to having seen ghosts (if you saw the trailer, you get the idea). On that first badly-timed 2AM viewing, I recall watching with the blankets almost pulled up to my nose after only 15 minutes or so, but I remember being surprised by laughing more than twice.  It only came out as a nervous semi-muffled heh heh at the time, but I also knew I was in the hands of someone with a genuine sense of humor as well as horror. When this movie sets out to scare you though, be ready to feel your heart leap to your throat the way it would during the first huge drop on that roller-coaster, because you’re in for one very fucking scary and memorable ride! Strap in. And if Thai ghost movies already scare you? Then you really might not want to watch it alone.

Finally, I included a clip of one of the most memorable and frightening set-pieces (as I like to call it, “Fuck it, I’ll Take the Stairs”) from the original 2002 The Eye …just in case you still feel sleepy. You can count on the Pang Brothers to keep your ass awake!  This scene should be shown in film scools to illustrate an example of how to build a mood of suspense, tension, and utter terror without using one drop of blood. If you haven’t seen the 2002 film, this will probably help you decide whether or not it’s too creepy for you to handle after dark. Feeling a little off-filter/jumpy at the moment? Save this to watch when you’re not alone…

*In more than one case, I’ve even seen it titled The Eye …Infinity.

**Rather than putting away the book in an extremely speedy manner and walking away as fast as possible, then immediately pretending the book never even existed, something I would have probably excelled at doing, I’ve found that upon occasion, I can surprise myself with pretty decent compartmentalization skills).

*** Though if I lived in the small community that Bedeviled takes place in, I’d be chewing ‘bozo leaf’ 24/7 just to escape the completely wretched reality of being female while stuck there for life. Then I’d probably take a dive off the cliff if I saw the bozo leaf supply was about to run out. I doubt any other women who have seen the movie will disagree with me on that.