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Showing posts from January, 2014

Visiting Hours


Look, Michael Ironside may once again be saddled in the cast roster at like #3, but he’s the star of this film. He was an overwhelming presence in Scanners and here in Visiting Hours he’s a force of absolute fear. Ironside has been stuck in B-movies almost his entire career, but that fierce intensity and, when the role often required, ruthless aggression (he is a damn good tight-ass, too) are unmatched when he’s sharing the screen with others. No offense to Stephen Lack, but when he is onscreen with Ironside, the poor guy gets his ass kicked. I don’t think it is any real surprise that Ironside could fulfill the role of a monstrous stalking psychopath with the chilling ability to torment and terrorize. Visiting Hours seems tailor made for his brand of performance.

30 Days of Night--In Conclusion

Concluding this weekly write-up on 30 Days of Night, I wanted to finish with some final thoughts and images from the film.
The plot works in the estrangement of husband and wife, Eben and Stella (Melissa George). Stella plans to leave Barrow for good and Eben anguishes about it. Of course the plot won’t allow the two to split apart without being forced to join together to face the vampires raiding Barrow. Again, this isn’t something that hasn’t been used in time past, but Hartnett (to me, he was a bit of a victim to his heartthrob looks and Hollywood’s obsession at the time for force-feeding him to us) and George are capable enough to elicit sympathy for where their relationship is at and the demands upon them to stop a global threat right in their own "back yard."

A thought did cross my mind that Hartnett does appear to be a bit young and fresh-faced for this sheriff of such a blue-collar, rough-weather town. The gruff and tough of such a cold-weather Alaskan town where beards are the norm and skin chaffs at low temperature days seem to contrast quite a bit with Hartnett and George who do look a…
My favorite scene (or at least the scene that delivered the most impact with me) in 30 Days of Night is the overhead shot of the township of Barrow as it falls to the slaughter of the vampires. The screams and the monstrous onslaught tells us that the attack and carnage are epic. The powerless inability to stop is well documented by what we see transpire through that overhead shot.
I think if there is a particular critique against the film, it might be the less-than-complex plot. This is a vampire movie. It will obviously feature blood-letting and carnivorous activity. The citizens of Barrow will be bled dry and fed from. A small band of survivors will try and eliminate the threat, and a heavy price will be paid in the process.

To make things interesting, sunlight is removed from the equation, placing even greater peril upon those who have the misfortune of living in Barrow. That’s the draw and what the movie hung its nightmare on. One of the chief weaknesses of the bloodsucker is those death rays of the sun; so with Alaska not having that, this provides vampires (led by a ferocious and damned scary Danny Huston) with a distinct advantage (if they didn’t have enough advantages already, right?) further complicating matters for the humans.

What is a nice surprise is how these vampires aren’t from Twilight or of the usual Gothic variety. They’re hungry and unhinged, …

I have to admit, that The Thing (1982) undeniably comes to my mind when I watch this although the similarities are minimum. The murdered dogs and the cold isolation of the location, the seemingly inescapable situation that presents itself to humans with no place it seems to flee to, and the curse of a predatory creature (in this case creatures) that deteriorates the numbers until there are few left. Again, the similarities are few, but so many films (like, say, Whiteout (2009)) face the same sort of relation. The Thing just seems to have that, doesn't it?
Regardless of what I might or might not think of the movie, 30 Days of Night (2007) has some striking imagery that leaves me quite in awe. It might fall prey to the bug directors caught with shooting faces up close and the oxymoron “steadi-cam” method, but when the film is good, I think it’s really good. The opening shots such an example, as well as, the symbolism of Eben and Billy (Josh Hartnett and Manu Bennett) looking out at the sun as it goes down—the harbinger of doom that is indicative of what will soon befall their town—providing us with that wealth of image that well presented to the viewer.

This comes after the finding of cell phones burned to black ash, found by Eben and Billy who are a bit befuddled by this “camp fire”. Ben Foster’s grizzled face, full of wounded trauma and haunted torment, is the very first image echoing to us what will soon happen to Barrow, Alaska. He looks at the distant ship which brought him to Alaska, and he knows what he must do (not that he won’t …

The Iron Rose


Essentially, I would say The Iron Rose (1973)is about a guy and girl locking eyes at some insignificant party (well, not to those who were married, but to the plot itself it is just a place where they encounter each other), are passionately in lust with each other, decide to take off, find a place to have a picnic after some necking, and fall victim to the location of said picnic. Well, the guy is okay for the most part, although fucking a girl in a pit of skeleton bones does call into question his taste (although, she’s a feast for the eyes, so maybe you get lost in the moment…), but the girl “loses herself to the place”. She basically somehow falls victim to the cemetery, and its imprint is left on her to the point that the decadence and representation of death that it entails is poetically important to her psyche. I try to explain her “descent” (or in her mania, an “ascent”) and reading this I kind of understand why The Iron Rose would be considered a bit of 80 minute lu…
I can recall those little HBO guides back when I was a child over my grandmother’s house in the late 80s (prior to Rueben’s unfortunate arrest for indecent exposure) reading about a small review of Pee Wee’s Big Adventure in one of them. In these guides, the articles (more like just your basic synopsis with accompanying parenthesis featuring what these films contain (MV for Mild Violence, in the case of this film)) are really not all that significant and you still see a form of them in hotel rooms that carry HBO. But I saw the review for Pee Wee and decided to watch the film. What still resonates with me is the idea that here is a child fantasy brought to life in the form of an adult (using the term loosely) with a home, front yard, back yard, and bicycle fashioned in the way that seemed so fantastic when viewed through the lens of an 8-year old. Then the ensuing trip to the Alamo (told to the child-man through the made-up-on-the-spot charlatan, crystal ball posted on the table, the c…
Sometimes I don’t know what to expect from a movie. I never thought I would see I Spit on Your Grave at Walmart (the original) for dvd (this never seemed like a film you would see side by side with a mainstream movie), but when I was watching Embrace of the Vampire, I certainly didn’t think I would see some erotic lesbian action. I just don’t know what else the vampire genre has to offer, to be honest. I believe I had mentioned this in Kiss of the Damned, not long ago. So we resign to just watch these films and expect the expected. Embrace of the Vampire is about seduction. These movies, vampires and erotica, often feature seduction of an “innocent”, and the blood drains and bodies moan. This scene in Embrace of the Vampire is a fantasy sequence that touches on sexual awakening and the oncoming vampirism, the convergence of seduction and the bite.