But first, I’ve noticed the presence of yellowish-orange sedans on local streets in the past couple of weeks. I know that any self-conscious man probably wouldn’t drive one of these tar-pit buggies, but la couleur est trop jolie! It’s such a lovely color. They look something like this (with a spritz more yellow):
If you’d like to know more about this particular Pontiac, click here.
Right, now on to the films that I watched this weekend.
Hellboy II: The Golden Army (Guillermo del Toro, 200eight) was Friday night; La Terza Madre/The Mother of Tears (Dario Argento, 2007) was Saturday night; Ghost Story (John Irvin, 1981) was also Saturday night.
I saw the first Hellboy film willingly but not out of intense anticipation. I was intrigued by the creature designs and receptively along for the ride. I enjoyed it very much. With Hellboy II, on the other hand, I was ridiculously excited about and looking forward to seeing it.
Despite the fact that I nodded off a couple of times (not due to the film itself but I was tired and I was in a darkened room–it happens) and that there was a headache mounting, Hellboy II adequately entertained me. The lovey-dovey talk (thematically significant) tickled my gag reflex. Ron Perlman’s performance (as Hellboy) was nearly deadpan enough for the romantic cheese to be bearable.
Film Threat‘s Pete Vonder Haar went coocoo for cocoa puffs about this film. While my reaction was much more subdued, I liked what he said about the imagery: Del Toro teams up with cinematographer Guillermo Navarro to create a series of fantastical set pieces, crammed with more bizarre creatures and offhand weirdness than you can possibly process in one viewing.
Read his review here.
Click here for more Hellboy 2 pictures.
I was possibly even more excited to see giallo-maker extraordinaire Dario Argento’s newest film.
Argento had contributed two films to the Masters of Horror series in 2005 and 2006: Jenifer and Pelts. Prior to these two compounds of debatable quality, Argento made The Card Player (2004), which was an overall departure from his auteurist tendencies of yesteryear.
One of the professors I had as an undergrad and then a graduate student at Emory University shared with me a love of most if not all things Dario Argento. When I first started grad school in 2005, she and I had a short conversation about Argento’s theatrical style. On the way home, I started thinking more about exactly why I loved his work.
The first time I ever saw his name or any images of his work was in a book in the library when I was work-studying in the Government Documents department. I was a sophomore and was walking from one part of the work space to another when I passed the shelves where foreign language books-to-be-processed or catalogued were kept. The book was about poster art of Italian films or something to that effect, and it caught my eye. I started flipping through it and saw pictures from Suspiria. Inexplicably, those imaged looked very familiar. During the rest of my sophomore year and junior year, I watched every Argento film i could get my hands on–from Emory’s music & media library–or that I could buy from Borders, Tower Records, and from Amazon.com.
Since I’m not ludicrously keen on the human species, I have no problems watching people die horrible deaths on film. But, it has to be a certain type of death and depicted in a certain way. The reason I don’t watch all the war films I can get my hands on is because the death that goes on in war films doesn’t lend itself to a cathartic viewing experience–at least not for me. Slasher films, giallo, certain kinds of horror films, on the
other hand, are more likely to depict stylized death scenes. I appreciate the aesthetic quality of such images, especially the giallo style. The Argento style.
I still haven’t been able to watch the ending of Suspiria without partly covering my eyes, though, because it’s actually kinda scary.
Along with Suspiria and Inferno, The Mother of Tears compose the Three Mothers trilogy’s three witches. The Mother of Sighs (Suspiria) and the Mother of Darkness (Inferno) inflicted much chaos and destruction upon poor, unfortunate mortals. Dario Argento’s daughter Asia, who starred in a number of her father’s films, is focus of La Terza Madre, which introduces the Mother of Tears to the world. The most aesthetically pleasing of the lot (can we say zero lawn and foliage), she’s also the most cruel and is intent on ushering in a new wave of witches. The only person strong enough or even eligible to prevent it is Sarah Mandy (Asia Argento)–she has inherited certain powers from her mother and must learn how to use them before it’s too late.
Like any decent apocalyptic-mix-in-occult horror film, an artifact–in this case a casket and a box of ancient, magical goodies–is unearthed and triggers the beginning of the alleged end. Oh yes, and Udo Kier make an appearance in the film. There is plenty of corn and cheese in The Mother of Tears,* some of which is fantastically campy. With respect to the Argento look and sound of things, I’m glad the theatrical colors and lighting and foreboding music are back. I was reminded of The Stendhal Syndrome in some moments (though not as grainy). On the violence and gore end, I was satisfied and sufficiently stimulated cognitively and hypothalamusly. “That had to hurt! Oh man! Dayam! Ah!”
Take a bite here.
Is the body trauma superfluous? Gratuitous? Excessive? Maybe so, maybe not. Through the giallo lens, not at all. I liked the eye violation portions in particular.**
I’m definitely going to purchase this film when it’s released on DVD.
Click here for the Mother of Tears trailer.
Read more about Dario Argento at Senses of Cinema.
*What the heck is up with the ending?! Major spoilage ahead, highlight relevant terms at your own discretion:
Sarah didn’t have to use any magic to defeat Mater Lachrymarum. All she had to do was burn that red tunic. Quoi? Nandesuka? How silly! I might have been laughing as well but I certainly didn’t want the characters to be engaged in riotous giggles when they crawled out of the earth. Aish.
**There are two examples of eye violation (again, highlight relevant words at your own discretion):
In the first incident, a Japanese witch that has been following Sarah Mandy in a train station gets her head whonked in the door way of a train toilet. The bashing continues until one of her eyes pops out. In the second incident, one of Mater Lachrymarum’s henchmen uses a small pitchfork-esque tool to impale the eyes of an unsuspecting woman. Two very Lucio Fulci moments indeed.
Now as for Ghost Story, I’m not going to analyze it very much.
The version that I purchased can be seen here. The reason I bought it was because it stars Fred Astaire, Melvyn Douglas, and Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. Fred Astaire in a horror film? Where do I sign up? He was so adorable in it too. No tap-dancing; more enjoyable than The Towering Inferno. And, quite frightening. It’s not nearly as “gross” as non-ghostly horror films, and thus supposedly less exciting (on the body temperature and heart-beat levels), but I yelped many more times during Ghost Story than I did at The Mother of Tears.
The DVD’s back cover summarizes the film as: Put together a gloomy New England house, a dark night and four of America’s legendary leading men and you have all the ingredients for the classic Ghost Story, a spellbinding motion picture based on the bestseller by Peter Straub. Co-starring Patricia Neal, Ghost Story is about the Members of the Chowder Society: Fred Astaire, Melvyn Douglas, Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. and John Houseman, who get together each week to share tales of horror. Soon, however, a secret terror invades the group, and one by one, they die mysteriously because of a real life ghost story that is part of their past.
FYI: There’s also a set of twin sons and the “one by one, they die mysteriously” is a bit misleading.
Alice Krige also plays a significant character in the film and she has always given me the creeps.
Click here for clip.
Ghost Story brings to mind The Changeling.