CATCHING UP WITH FILM - THE QUEST FOR A PERSONAL CANON

 

Recent Posts

Archive

Tags

Horror Becomes Her - After.Life (2009)

Horror and films directed by women are both big blind spots for me, so I am taking this deep dive into some of the more outre films I have come across in my movie watching. Director Agnieszka Wojtowicz-Vosloo was able to get After.Life on the strength of the screenplay, even though she had never made a feature-length film before. Indeed, the story and concept of After.Life is a bendy narrative full of twists and delightful ambiguity. Anna (Christina Ricci) is in a car accident after an altercation with her boyfriend (Justin Long). She wakes up in a mortuary where the mortician (Liam Neeson) is somehow talking to her even though he claims that she is dead. He claims to have a special gift of

Horror Becomes Her - In My Skin (2002)

Horror and films directed by women are both big blind spots for me, so I am taking this deep dive into some of the more outre films I have come across in my movie watching. Out of all the films that I have seen so far in this illuminating marathon, In My Skin has to be the most visceral. I will admit that I have often picked at dead skin and scabs and admired it even as it made slightly queasy to enjoy the minor catharsis mixed with pain that accompanies every pick. In My Skin takes this sentiment to the extreme, as it becomes about addiction to self-mutilation. The cause of Esther’s (played by director Marina de Van) self-mutilation is never made completely aware. Is she just mentally ill?

Horror Becomes Her - Trouble Every Day (2001)

Horror and films directed by women are both big blind spots for me, so I am taking this deep dive into some of the more outre films I have come across in my movie watching. Though I have seen many films directed by Claire Denis, she is someone whose work I grapple with and I want to continue to grapple with. I didn’t get Beau Travail the first time I watched it, or the second time, or even the third time, but I knew that I wanted to keep engaging with her work because the ways that she presents certain images and themes are so different from other directors that I almost have no sign post to point me in the right direction with her. Trouble Every Day is filmed so dispassionately that it coul

Horror Becomes Her - Office Killer (1997)

Horror and films directed by women are both big blind spots for me, so I am taking this deep dive into some of the more outre films I have come across in my movie watching. Clearly, Office Killer was going for a certain indie pedigree of well-shot genre pictures with interesting twists. Famous producer Christine Vachon is attached to this movie who made the careers of famous queer auteurs like Todd Haynes and Kimberly Pierce. The cast has some recognizable faces even if none of them were big stars (Molly Ringwald, Jeanne Tripplehorn, Carol Kane). Perhaps they thought this movie could have a Pulp Fiction like effect in reviving their somewhat stalled careers at this point. It’s too bad that t

Horror Becomes Her - Blood & Donuts (1995)

Horror and films directed by women are both big blind spots for me, so I am taking this deep dive into some of the more outre films I have come across in my movie watching. I didn’t quite know what to expect with Blood & Donuts, but what I got was a strong Jim Jarmusch sensibility. When I think of Jarmusch, I tend to think of filming largely at night (check), working-class characters (check), anachronistic songs like Screamin’ Jay Hawkins “I Put a Spell On You” (huge check). The similarities were almost distracting enough that I wanted to dismiss this movie, but Blood & Donuts has other merits. Probably its most unique aspect is its main character, a gentle vampire named Boya (Gordon Currie)

Horror Becomes Her - Boxing Helena (1993)

Horror and films directed by women are both big blind spots for me, so I am taking this deep dive into some of the more outre films I have come across in my movie watching. I’m not sure if I’ve ever heard of a movie that caused such a fuss that has been so profoundly forgotten by the public at large. Apparently both Madonna and Kim Basinger were attached to play the titular role that eventually went to Sherilyn Fenn of Twin Peaks fame. Basinger went into bankruptcy when she was sued for breach of contract. The concept sounds interesting enough. Dr. Nick Cavanaugh (Julian Sands), a surgeon with the mother of all Oedipus complexes is obsessed with the beautiful Helena, a narcissistic opportuni

Horror Becomes Her - Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1992)

Horror and films directed by women are both big blind spots for me, so I am taking this deep dive into some of the more outre films I have come across in my movie watching. I have yet to watch the Buffy the Vampire Slayer TV series, the popular and perhaps most iconic and sneakily influential TV show of the 90’s. I know enough about the show that the subversiveness of its narrative and the complex relationships between the characters are largely absent from this Disney Channel movie, even if it shares that basic premise. This movie suffers from the trappings of the late 80’s early 90’s with Buffy fitting very squarely into the Valley Girl stereotype. I almost wanted to turn the movie off aft

Horror Becomes Her - Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare (1991)

Horror and films directed by women are both big blind spots for me, so I am taking this deep dive into some of the more outre films I have come across in my movie watching. I had only seen the original Nightmare on Elm Street and had only heard in passing about how the series became more comic and self-aware in tone and so did Freddy. So it would make sense that Freddy’s Dead almost completely fails as a horror movie. There’s way too much pandering to young audiences with the clearly adult actors trying to act “hip to the kids” and “down with the lingo.” The fact that it was presented partly in 3-D and there’s even a scene that signals to the audience to put on their 3-D glasses is just par

Horror Becomes Her - Mirror Mirror (1990)

Horror and films directed by women are both big blind spots for me, so I am taking this deep dive into some of the more outre films I have come across in my movie watching. My first thought when I saw Rainbow Harvest in this movie was “Lydia Deetz!” She looks so much like the main character in Beetlejuice that I was almost sure that this movie was copying her. In fact, the plot of Mirror Mirror isn’t too dissimilar to that movie. Megan moves into a new house with her mother where an old mirror from the previous mirror has been left behind. It turns out that the mirror is possessed of some serious dark magic and soon Megan starts to use the mirror to take revenge on the teenagers who torture

Horror Becomes Her - Pet Sematary (1989)

Horror and films directed by women are both big blind spots for me, so I am taking this deep dive into some of the more outre films I have come across in my movie watching. Stephen King needs to be kept as far away as possible from his film adaptations. King famously decried Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining for straying too far from his book and even directed his own inferior version for television years later. His only directorial credit is the hilariously terrible Maximum Overdrive in which inanimate objects come to life and attack people. I did not read Pet Sematary so I do not know how faithful an adaptation this movie is of that book, but since King adapted it himself, I would imagine it w

Horror Becomes Her - Stripped to Kill (1987)

Horror and films directed by women are both big blind spots for me, so I am taking this deep dive into some of the more outre films I have come across in my movie watching. Just from the poster of this movie and seeing Roger Corman’s name in the opening credits, I was ready to cringe at a movie meant solely for heterosexual males to perv out to. Indeed, most of this movie is composed of strippers performing their acts and the plot is kind of just meant to be connective tissue. So color me surprised when this movie turned out to be much less male gaze-y than I had anticipated. Just because a woman is in charge of directing a movie featuring nude female doesn’t mean that it can’t be gross. But

Horror Becomes Her - Blood Diner (1987)

Horror and films directed by women are both big blind spots for me, so I am taking this deep dive into some of the more outre films I have come across in my movie watching. I am not entirely sure how much intentionality to ascribe to this film simply because of how ridiculous most of Blood Diner is. One of the main villains is a rather foul-mouthed cursed pair of eyeballs and a brain floating in water. The rival restaurant owner has a puppet that he practices ventriloquism on. As to whether he’s aware of that fact is highly debatable. A woman gets her head fried like a huge hush puppy and that’s not even the most bizarre death that occurs in this movie. I do think the movie works as a fairly

Horror Becomes Her - Sorority House Massacre (1986)

Horror and films directed by women are both big blind spots for me, so I am taking this deep dive into some of the more outre films I have come across in my movie watching. I certainly could not have been alone to expect that this was some sort of sequel to the similarly Slumber Party Massacre. And the movies are similar in many superficial ways. They’re both slashers in which the (mostly) female victims are picked off one by one. And that’s where the resemblance ends. The cheesy title belies how much this movie actually tries to delve into the main theme of trauma that the main character Beth (Angela O’Neill) is experiencing. It doesn’t necessarily go beyond a surface level of analysis, bu

Horror Becomes Her - A Night to Dismember (1983)

Horror and films directed by women are both big blind spots for me, so I am taking this deep dive into some of the more outre films I have come across in my movie watching. Doris Wishman was known mainly for making erotic films and not particularly good ones at that. So I was a bit surprised to watch A Night to Dismember on the worst “print” (actually a VHS rip) and see a really bizarre, stylish movie. It’s not good by any means. The story is borderline nonsensical, focusing on a series of murders from one family that take place constantly and receive no real recrimination. Also, it is clear that Wishman had never done a horror movie before (and never did one again). There’s a ridiculous voi

Horror Becomes Her - Slumber Party Massacre (1982)

Horror and films directed by women are both big blind spots for me, so I am taking this deep dive into some of the more outre films I have come across in my movie watching. When I first watched Wes Craven’s Scream, I knew theoretically that Craven was parodying horror movies and their tropes, but I wasn’t familiar enough with the movies he was parodying to fully appreciate it. Slumber Party Massacre feels like it would have been the prime target for Scream. There are the silly “teenage” girls making unwise decisions, the constant fakeouts, the unstoppable killer that is able to take perfect advantage of the stupidity of its protagonists, etc. Also, the ogling of these women who are clearly i

Horror Becomes Her - Humanoids from the Deep (1980)

Horror and films directed by women are both big blind spots for me, so I am taking this deep dive into some of the more outre films I have come across in my movie watching. Humanoids from the Deep was notably one of the victims of Roger Corman’s interference. Before Corman insisted on changes, the movie certainly had the signs of being a solid thriller about a female scientist Dr. Susan Drake (Ann Turkel) trying to get to the bottom of a mysterious series of deaths at an ocean town, even if it felt very much like a rip off of Jaws. It even had an interesting arc where Dr. Drake turns out to have been indirectly responsible for the creation of the monsters and that she is trying to make up fo

Horror Becomes Her - The Mafu Cage (1978)

Horror and films directed by women are both big blind spots for me, so I am taking this deep dive into some of the more outre films I have come across in my movie watching. Even though The Mafu Cage was based on a play, it feels like an intensely personal work. Director Karen Arthur impressively scraped together one million to film what is essentially one (albeit fascinating) location, an old mansion below the Griffith Observatory, which we see in the background of one shot. Lee Grant and Carol Kane play sisters Ellen and Cissy. Ellen has been tasked by her deceased father to look after Cissy, who has some sort of mental condition. Cissy confines herself to the mansion, which clearly no one

Horror Becomes Her - The Velvet Vampire (1971)

Horror and films directed by women are both big blind spots for me, so I am taking this deep dive for all 31 days of October. The Velvet Vampire is on the verge of a movie that’s so bad it’s good. It mostly takes place in one location, a ranch in the desert, primarily because of the film’s low budget. The film also avoids most gestures towards traditional vampire mythology, such as vampires fearing sunlight, which may have been innovative, but honestly, if Stephanie Rothman could have shot this in a Gothic castle, she probably would have. The acting is also amateurish, and the one special effect is the most obviously fake bat that I have ever seen. Also, the characters inevitably have horror

 
 
 

©2018 BY CATCHING UP WITH FILM. PROUDLY CREATED WITH WIX.COM