Wednesday, July 29, 2015

I have finished the film itself, and I have just a few more things to say and images to post about Jaws ('75) before I move on, but I'm glad I ran across it Monday night on AMC. AMC had played the marathon of Jaws movies not long ago, and I found myself watching a bit of the first film a couple of times, actually.



This was the special anniversary edition from 2000. That was fifteen years ago! Yikes!

Quint gets a bird's eye view in his "nest"




A visitor...be careful what you wish for.



All because action takes place on a small boat (the Orca, in the case of Jaws (’75)), doesn’t mean a director of considerable talent can’t present it all in a larger than life fashion through some nicely composed photographic choices. Case in point, above.


Then, of course, dumping all that bloody chum in the water is bound to finally appeal to a bloodthirsty Great White. I always love how this plays out. It comes unexpected. The Great White emerges while Brody’s face is turned away. This boring, monotony becomes a jarring realization that Jaws is closer than they (or us) thought.
Yep.
There was a mention elsewhere of how Quint related to Ahab in search of his Moby Dick, and this, for whatever reason (it is obvious, when one gauges some of Quint's actions, which many would consider ultimately harmful and nonsensical), hadn't necessarily dawned on me much until I was watching the last chapter of Jaws (1975) as Quint, Brody, and Hooper continue their mission to kill the Great White. When Jaws causes mechanical and structural problems to Quint's boat, the Orca, and after tricks involving harpooning yellow barrels to the shark in order to follow its movements and getting the right bead on it to shoot it fail, Brody attempts to radio the coast guard among others for possible help, the obsessive fishermen destroys it much to the chief's dismay. Then when Brody posits a question about why they don't just move the shark closer to shore away from the sea, Hooper gives him a simple look that says it all: he hints up to a busy Quint and looks back at Brody. Good acting isn't hard to come by in Jaws. I mean, Spielberg really owes much to the trio that absolutely holds our attention when the alluring photographic work of the little Orca out in the middle of the sea doesn't. Sure the film was built to greatness from a wealth of talent, from the editing process to the way the camera catches exactly what it needs to when it needs to. Like the distance shots of the barrel from the Orca, and how the camera is right where it needs to be at close up when the actors realize that their shark isn't just some dumb fish that they will easily outsmart and destroy without much difficulty. Quint, full of sure confidence at the beginning when a meeting of political minds at a town counsel trying to devise a plan to get that damned shark ruining the potential tourist season profits at the beach and in Amity that he can and will kill the Great White if paid handsomely for it, had met his match. Ahab is the perfect description of Quint. This Great White led to his destruction.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015



Quint (Robert Shaw): Japanese submarine slammed two torpedoes into our side, Chief. We was comin' back from the island of Tinian to Leyte... just delivered the bomb. The Hiroshima bomb. Eleven hundred men went into the water. Vessel went down in twelve minutes. Didn't see the first shark for about a half an hour. Tiger. Thirteen footer. You know, you know that when you're in the water, chief? You tell by lookin' from the dorsal to the tail. Well, we didn't know. 'Cause our bomb mission had been so secret, no distress signal had been sent, huh. They didn't even list us overdue for a week. Very first light, chief. The sharks come cruisin'. So we formed ourselves into tight groups. You know it's... kinda like 'ol squares in battle like uh, you see on a calendar, like the battle of Waterloo. And the idea was, the shark goes to the nearest man and then he'd start poundin' and hollerin' and screamin' and sometimes the shark would go away. Sometimes he wouldn't go away. Sometimes that shark, he looks right into you. Right into your eyes. You know the thing about a shark, he's got... lifeless eyes, black eyes, like a doll's eye. When he comes at ya, doesn't seem to be livin'. Until he bites ya and those black eyes roll over white. And then, ah then you hear that terrible high pitch screamin' and the ocean turns red and spite of all the poundin' and the hollerin' they all come in and rip you to pieces. Y'know by the end of that first dawn, lost a hundred men! I don't know how many sharks, maybe a thousand! I don't know how many men, they averaged six an hour. On Thursday mornin' chief, I bumped into a friend of mine, Herbie Robinson from Cleveland. Baseball player, Bosun's Mate. I thought he was asleep, reached over to wake him up. Bobbed up and down in the water, just like a kinda top. Up ended. Well... he'd been bitten in half below the waist. Noon the fifth day, Mr. Hooper, a Lockheed Ventura saw us, he swung in low and he saw us. He's a young pilot, a lot younger than Mr. Hooper, anyway he saw us and come in low. And three hours later a big fat PBY comes down and start to pick us up. You know that was the time I was most frightened? Waitin' for my turn. I'll never put on a lifejacket again. So, eleven hundred men went in the water, three hundred and sixteen men come out, the sharks took the rest, June the 29, 1945. Anyway, we delivered the bomb.

I will never forget the first time I saw this scene. I was too young then to truly comprehend all of what Quint says, but the presentation...chilling, haunting, and delivered in a way that truly recognizes why this man does what he does. That, and the aftermath not long after--when Shaw meets his destiny in the same fashion as those who died in those chilly waters decades before his speech--lend this power that ultimately defines the irony in its effect.

Shaw's work here--arguably the best of his career in a part that is so identifiable 40 years after Jaws hit theaters--is a work of art. What he does is, much like the camera itself, draw you in. The words are chilling, but what makes it even more captivating and compelling is how Shaw tells it. It is so pure in its telling, you (or I think you would as I did) believe Shaw is reliving it all as he speaks. It is as if a reel rolls and it all plays out as it happened to him. As if he can hear the screams and see the sharks as they emerge ready to eat.

I think, though, the fate of Shaw only lends extra potency to the story he relives as it recognizes that if you pursue what once stared you right in the face, the second time may not allow you to escape. It doesn't for Quint.

I love that Jaws (and its inferior sequels; although, I really think the second film gets a raw deal due to its having to follow such an absolute summer classic) are always on during this time of year. However, I never seem to get around to watching all of the film. It seems I'm always doing something, and I come in at various points. But I always watch a scene here or a scene there. I need to get my ass in gear, though, and watch these films in their entirety. I would like to re-evaluate the third and fourth parts (although, the stench of the fourth film still stinks in my nostrils many years later after I rented it on VHS back in the mid 90s) sometime this year if I get the chance. Saying that, the first film just has a way of charming me no matter when I turn it on or pass by it while channel surfing. It is to summer what Halloween (1978) is to October.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Speaking of Jaws, I always think the first part of the film (after the awesome opening Jaws kill which I will eventually write about in the future) where Brody's usual day consists of a lot of active New England townsfolk needing favors and the general operations that accost him is often overlooked. How could your nerves not be frazzled by all these people constantly bombarding you. I hadn't really thought much about it in previous viewings, but Brody's life is just overwhelmed after the two shark attacks. All the amateur shark hunters loading boats, hoping to score a reward for the Jaws' capture. How do you manage these wannabe shark hunters, with their buckets of chum and sticks of dynamite?

I think Spielberg perfects the busy day-to-day of the locals and how important it is to keep Amity progressing. There is people all over the place, really. Conversations going on all around, people talking over each other, and just active dialogue because towns are like that. It isn't just about certain characters in a shot that we need to hear, but why not have us realize that all of these people are vividly realized individuals, most are fishermen hoping for the big score, some are just typical local townsfolk with nothing better to do that get involved in whatever is happening around the waters of Amity.

Jaws: The Ferry Conversation


I think many of us take for granted the little things. Filmmaking craft. People hate Spielberg, and I can get that sometimes. Going with the happy conclusion in War of the Worlds, or accepting an Oscar for Schindler's List.

But Jaws. This seems to be the exclusion. Thank goodness, at least this one generally escapes much criticism. But still, watching the opening prior to the little boy eaten by the shark, as Chief Brody (Scheider) hesitantly listened to the mayor and his underlings/yes men, (including a rather conflicted medical examiner, pressured into agreeing that the opening girl's death could have been by a fishing boat propeller), about *not* closing the beaches until the shark (if that is what killed the girl), I smiled about how I never really remembered the whole thing taking place on a moving ferry. All the time, the mayor (Murray Hamilton with the coat covered by boat anchor symbols, haha), thinking about the Almighty Dollar, eventually, through all his happy-go-lucky presentation, convinces a shaky Brody to change his mind on keeping people from the beaches as 4th of July was on its way. I was amused because the profit-minded mayor and his yes man are so involved in their strategy to motivate Brody away from the right decision to investigate and find the predator out in the water that the ferry ride to a completely different location in Amity escapes them. Like I said, its the little things.
The film, The Last Broadcast, also offers a video editor who was asked by the prosecution against Jim Seurd, named Clair DeForest (Mark Rublee). This is a really rather disturbing (to me) example of using specifically selected footage to implicate someone through manipulative means.

Locus on discovered footage

Rein on discovered footage

I think that is another example of what makes this film so effective. It shows you how footage can be used against someone. But as David Leigh, the documentarian and narrative voice of this film (David Beard) slowly unravels, footage can also unveil, bit by bit, potential innocence for someone implicated when certain parts are spliced together for a conviction.

Found footage has evolved over the years in a way that has decided to not follow so specifically to the rules (footage that exists which provides reasoning behind what might have happened to people unaware of the danger that truly emerges; many don't take seriously the dangers that could exist; the threat gradually envelopes those on the footage). You get where you accept that what you see is not just footage found under a log or in a delivered box at your front door by a supposed unknown party.



Cannibal Holocaust led the way to what you could do, and the next generation of found footage took its concept, pointing the way to what exists today. The Blair Witch Project set the world on fire, and perhaps CH gained further exposure and interest as horror fans clamored for anything remotely similar to the format of found footage.

With the likes of Jim Seurd's child psychologist (Dale Worstall), a web page designer (Jay MacDonald) who is asked about IRC (Internet Relay Chat) and how to find out who asked about Fact or Fiction's studying the Pine Barrens for the Jersey Devil (a significant plot point; this could very well be the killer, getting the hosts in the woods to slay them) while also offering comments on information regarding what IRC really is, a data retrieval expert (Michele Pulaski, whose death scene took a while to perfect) who could be unmasking a killer as she uses a computer program to clear up very damaged video tape, and, of course, David, there is a lot of contemplation and offered explanation of events that led to and occurred during that fateful trip to the Pine Barrens.

Shelley’s work slowly gives voices to the dead, ghosts caught on video.

 
Sections of the tape Michele tries to fix with her computer

Locus sees his killer behind Rein (with camera recording)

What Michele has to work with.

I think students of found footage owe it to themselves to seek this out as an early example of the bloated subgenre that is really only rivaled by the zombie genre today. I especially enjoyed the footage that emerges. You have what existed already, and how it was the property accumulated so that the authorities and law could build a case and conviction for a wrongfully accused man, and then a second tape that was mentioned by Locus right before he removes it from the camera. What is cool is how this footage is just mentioned, and then it turns up coincidentally at David's doorstep. It is one of those points in a film that keeps your interest from heading for the exit. It compels and says to us, "What could be on this unraveled tape? Possible evidence of the real killer?" I think seeing Locus and Rein together as Stephen vanishes once he leaves their tent to check out the surrounding area in the emerging footage further develops their personalities; they are just goofy young men who are growing tired of the nonsense of their boss' idea in these infernally cold woods. Showing the footage buried under white noise and engulfed in crippling damage lines, with Michele's work surfacing what lies underneath is one of my favorite moments.

I think it is a winner. But don't take my word for it...see what you think?

The principles:






What about the collection of characters associated in one way or another with the Fact or Fiction crew and show? I like how this develops similarly to The Blair Witch Project's companion piece, "Curse of the Blair Witch" which some believe is just as good as the product released to theaters (I think there's a good argument there, too). Both have those who had contact with the dead/missing interviewed, revealing their own thoughts and feelings about the protagonists and the predicament they found themselves.

David looks over the video tape from the box

Locus doesn't know what happened to Stephen

I like the simplicity of the chintzy/kitschy show, how it looks plagued by a piss-poor budget and offers itself as an example of something limited by its quality tech. I couldn't help but think about Shot-on-Video flicks from the 80s/early 90s which meant well but were laughers. Tom Branski (Tom Brunt) is one of those interviewed, and I think he is an important character in that he was the "technical director" of the show, Fact or Fiction. He is forthright about the show's ambitions and how Locus' co-host (and boss), Stephen Avcas (co-director, Stephen Avalos), was a bit of an egotist who saw this as a precursor to making it big. Tom is honest that he found Stephen to be oblivious to the fact that the cable access world rarely produces a success story. Technically, Tom did admit that Fact or Fiction was losing its cult audience and that the trip to the Pine Barrens was a desperate attempt to try and appeal to a hopefully returning audience, and maybe even new viewers.

Stephen is the only one whose body was never recovered. The documentary asks if it was possible he presented a stunt, but that would be ludicrous cause what would he ultimately get out of it? I like that he was never found. What did happen to him?



I had a chance to kind of dwell on The Last Broadcast some today. I knew I wasn't done writing about it, but I wanted to begin right after watching it with some thoughts and then return to the film with further thoughts later.

Jim Seurd

What I like especially about this is the work to provide a number of talking heads surrounding the case of the arrested and convicted Jim Seurd. At the beginning they really build him as one creepy guy. The stunt with the burned date on his arm and the odd behavior in the Pine Barrens. And as further evidence and revealing footage indicates, his carrying out the murders seems to be a bit clouded, until the twist implicates someone else. I love the idea of a mystery being gradually unpackaged. Little by little the film posits that what seemed like a sure guilt in Jim, documentarian David Leigh offers questionable and circumstantial evidence that he might not have. First, through the revelation of newly developed footage it is shown that the timeline for which the murders of cable access show co-host of Fact or Fiction, Locus Wheeler (co-director Lance Weiler) and audio tech Rein Clacker (Rein Clabbers) wasn't what the local authorities insisted.

Locus and Stephen of Fact and Fiction

I like the idea that we never quite know what Jim Seurd died of while in prison, and because he is a little "odd" that being so makes him a psycho. One moment discovered on footage shows Rein asking Jim if is "psychic or psycho", which (rightfully so) enrages the guy. The footage of him speaking certainly doesn't proclaim Jim as the most normal guy in the world, but being weird isn't always indicative of a murderer surfacing. Last Broadcast presents him in different chapters, and found footage in this film I think lives up to the subgenre's moniker more than most that came afterward.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

The Last Broadcast: A Starting Point



I just got done with this found footage/mockumentary from way back in 1998, right before The Blair Witch Project made the subgenre something horror would capitalize on that continues today. This was the first time I have seen this in probably 13 or so years. It was a fresh experience. I don't even remember it being this good. I was pleasantly surprised of how much I liked this. I like it a hell of a lot, and it has cannon-balled up in my favorites list of found footage. What I think this does extremely well is it not only features the footage but has a documentary filmmaker and narrator lay out its history, using raw footage and a wide variety of news footage, interviews, reports, and particularly dedicates substantially to the footage taken on the fateful night of the "last broadcast". Laid out in chapters, with the narrator/filmmaker commenting on his own feelings regarding three murders (two found dead, another missing with only a blood trail and his toboggan hat left behind) that sent a young man (a recluse who spent a lot of time in an apartment learning magic and chatting on the IRC (Internet Chat Relay)) to jail,  questioning the case brought against the only person who walked out of the Pine Barrens of New Jersey (notorious for possibly being home to the folklore boogey-creature, the New Jersey Devil) alive, Jim Seurd (Jim Seward, actually discovered in a video store by the directors of this film!). Seurd, claiming to be psychic, is brought on to "guide" hosts of a fledgling cable access show (and a hired audio tech) into the Pine Barrens for the most perfect camp site, his "vibes" counted on by them for the spot that will secure them the goods regarding a "creature in the woods".

I can write about this, but I recommend renting this and re-watching it. It breaks the fourth wall at the very end (last ten or so minutes) by going "cinematic", abandoning the found footage/documentary format by having the filmmaker "filmed" himself. A horrible (very realistic to the point I was awestruck and had a hard time not turning away) asphyxiation through the use of plastic wrap as the killer holds a female victim underneath, sucking for air and struggling for life is especially hard to watch and shocking. It is a doozy of a twist. However, I can imagine it ruins the experience for some found footage/mockumentary purists. But I understand it.

Okay, so there's a murder to conceal a truth regarding who was responsible for the deaths in the Pine Barrens as a specialist in "data retrieval"tries to uncover damaged footage on video tape sent to the documentary filmmaker of The Last Broadcast, David Leigh. Right away, the major question is who sent that video tape (dumped in a box outside of a video tape in bunches) to Leigh, and how was it known that he should be the one that receives it? Suspicious much? So why not go outside the confines of found footage to tell us why the murderer wouldn't be revealed and document who it is and how he would keep his secret? So there is a purpose behind the walls' break.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

One Missed Call: Final


**½


 I had no plans to post this on the blog. It was meant for my imdb user account instead. Too long. For a film that will probably not stay on my mind much afterward, the words kept flowing. So I will have to truncate this into something quite less bloated for the imdb account. But here's what spilled from the ole noggin.

Bless Manabu Asô’s heart. So he probably inherits a third film in the rather okay One Missed Call franchise, with little to no money, and must try and craft something entertaining out of it. I admit that I have a soft spot for “revenge ghost girl” movies where a type of Yūrei uses human bodies for various reasons (most of the time to guide a host to the truth behind their demise). 

Final is a different cat, and I was rather pleasantly surprised that there wasn’t an angle for the ghost other than to create mischief and wreak hell on bullies in a school. I think this film will get a few bumps by me just because it inflicts harm on *some* of the bullies who tormented one (and later, we learn, two) very pretty Japanese girls; a bit of a cathartic thrill I cop to enjoying seeing this horrible kids get what’s coming to them. Look, no I don’t condone using violence against people who used a form of harassment to torment innocent people. But cinema/film has a way of doing that: we get to live vicariously through the unleashing of vengeance on those deserved of something bad towards them.


 While I acknowledge that I had some rather nasty thoughts about how bad of damage could be forwarded to those that bullied me when I was a kid who could barely defend himself, I only fought back when I was pushed too far. In the case of Final, Asuka (Maki Horikita) hangs herself at the beginning of the movie after enduring a lot of vicious, cruel bullying by kids in her class (guys and girls, both equally as heinous). Those very kids go on a trip to South Korea from Japan on a tour with two faculty members (the male teacher is quite a pushy, assertive jerk). Asuka’s not dead, however, and while in a coma, it appears “she” is occupying her computer at home…or is Mimiko’s curse doing so?

 Mimiko, a little girl, died from asthma as a child. Her curse is known to motivate terrifying supernatural horrors to bad folks. Fueled by how Asuka was abused, the curse works through the cell phone, forewarning those receiving a message that if they don’t want to die they had better forward it to someone else. So you have the kids turning on each other, begging each other not to send that death message to them. Seeing these rotten kids trying to save their own necks by pretty much killing each other (that’s what friends are for, right?), it is hard not to feel a bit excited. But realizing that if “you do the same to those that torment you that had been afflicted on you, does that make you any different from them?” kind of brings us back down to earth.

Still, the film has a rather regular slasher-style supernatural body count. The first victim is hung like Asuka did to herself, pulled into place by a force we don’t see. The second victim (this had me giggling like a school girl) is hung by an electrical cord from a power line. Other deaths include a poor guy with his fingers broken backwards and his face turning white as his glasses crack (his friends love him so much they force him into a closet and hold the doors closed as he begs for release), one victim chokes while spitting out feathers (?!?!), and another is found in a washing machine.

 You see the ugly side of human nature and personal survival. Like when one nerd gets the call, forwards it to the main bully behind the pack of hyenas that bullied Asuka, and laughs in his face while that dirtbag gags. Or how friends of a girl who gets the call beckon her to forward the message to someone that isn’t in her immediate inner circle. We see how the gang packs up on the one who receives the call trying to keep him or her from forwarding it to anyone else. Essentially you see the high school pal unit collapse, with them all exposed for who they really are and how little they truly care for one another. 

A key moment to me has a girl receiving the call questioning if one of the friends begging her to forward it to someone she isn’t all that buddy-buddy with if she would sacrifice her own life for her friends? This girl asked such a question can’t answer because she is only concerned for her own welfare. Survival, when a person is faced with doom on the horizon, brings out the worst. Here, in Final, we see that once again exemplified in how the kids act when faced with such a possibility as death. 

While I thought the film was rather cheesy in its construction (particularly the special effects) and how the ghost is “culled” (I can’t really say killed as she never is quite done away with) through the use of a “power of positivity” directed by numerous people in the Korean city of the film and many in Japan by forming a message sent to Asuka’s computer, with the sole purpose of shutting the ghost down. 

After each murder, Mimiko, in the manifested form of Asuka (we soon come to realize; how could she be in her room and in a coma on a hospital bed at the same time?), warps the faces of victims on a school photograph. The film really gets rather crazy down the stretch. The whole Mimiko addition, the computer and cell phone technology used as plot device tools, and the loopy murders caused by her does really challenges us not to roll our eyes at the whole development of all of this.

 I still think the film’s best bits feature Asuka’s friend, Emiri (Meisa Kuroki) and her deaf boyfriend, Ahn Jin-wo (Geun-seok Jang). They are out trying to figure out what is going on and how to stop it while the other kids fall apart. It was easy for me to see why the two protagonists get more running time while the kids are shown mostly during moments of hysteria or terror. The care is devoted to Jin-wo and Emiri, while the kids are meat for the grinder. It all ends with a sacrifice but the violent bits (all of them) are so silly in their delivery (the final victim contorts with the sound of bones cracking and blood spots indicating internal hemorrhage) it is hard to take this whole movie as seriously as it hopes we will.

Still, I thought its heart was in the right place regarding its use of bullying and its effects. It puts a spotlight on how it infests and destroys. Film, particularly horror film, has a way of using whatever tools are available to tell a story about how this causes irreparable harm sometimes. A twist regarding Emiri and Asuka's friendship--how one is bullied and when defended efforts of the loyal friend costs her, and instead of coming to the rescue, the one once bullied doesn't help the loyal friend who did--adds a wrinkle in the ongoing plot. It indicts Emiri on not helping Asuka as she was once helped, and the death phone scenario provides a way out for her to make amends for not doing so. Oh, and there's the candy that re-emerges. Good ole candy ball.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

God, Tumblr is awesome.

http://realmmsc89.tumblr.com/post/124886229356/vintagegal-you-unlock-this-door-with-the-key
As of now, I'm kind of on a "retreat", as I have been on my customary July week vacation. I still have a few slashers for the summer series, but that will be finished in mid August and I will probably more than likely take a break. I think most of those who do this not for a living but out of love for the genre need to relax their brains and devote time to other things. I have a few slasher films I'd like to include this year ("The Initiation", "Sorority House Massacre" and "Camp Fear" are three I have on the mind anyway) before it ends in August, but I'm thinking after this week is over, after a nice delay, my creative energies and enthusiasm will be back on track. I do this because I love horror/cult/sci-fi/fantasy, not out of any obligation. I learned sometime back when I was writing on this blog, that if it becomes a chore, I needed to step back and let the joy of writing return.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Exeter




**

Are you okay?

Are you fucking kidding me, am I okay? I almost got shot by the local junkman. I caught a face full of his brain and skull. We performed an exorcism! I just got stabbed in the fucking knee with a spoon! And I just got prison shanked by a psycho demon bitch! Aside from that…sweet fucking party! Let’s do it again next week!


"Mother fucker. All I wanted was a couple of beers and a fucking blow job. And I get stuck in this bullshit." Nice line of rich dialogue from the film certain to leave you contemplating its depth of meaning.

You know the drill: a small group of young adults that hang around after a drugs-and-booze party disbands are ready-made victims for a summoned evil (demon?). The location is the ruins of a church/hospital, the perfect place to throw a shindig which involved lots of liquor, pills, weed, and other party drugs. 

Father Conway (Stephen Lang in a throwaway performance) helped “troubled youths”, and there’s a notoriety for how this church was a place for them to come and “talk it out” regarding their difficulties in this life. Patrick (Kelly Blatz) has been working at the church as a volunteer, with his younger brother, Rory (Michael Ormsby) quite the tag-along. During the party, Patrick catches his eye on the alluring “Reign” (Brittany Curran). Encouraged by his foul-mouthed friend, Brad (Brett Dier) to bone Reign, Patrick instead acts cordially towards her, interested in her for more than an easy lay. Also among the gang is the nerdy Brian (Nick Nicotera), with his handy dandy touchscreen laptop, Brad’s skank, Amber (Gage Golightly), and dopehead guitarist, Greer (Kevin Chapman). None of them are capable of handling a possession that takes control of little Rory.

 Even a “junkman” who is known to prowl the area comes to intrude upon these kids, knowing that they shouldn’t be trespassing and committing their “reckless acts”. Rory will snap his neck like a twig when he has to see what that noise upstairs is (they never learn), as Patrick had to bind the poor kid, who was entrapped with an evil, seemingly after a ritualistic levitation goes awry. The entity can pass from one body to the next after its current host is destroyed (the group dwindles as each possessed kid attacks the others). It seems, though, that Rory was the lucky kid who didn’t have to suffer death for the entity to leave him. The others in the party aren’t so lucky.

Marcus Nispel (director of the remakes for Friday the 13th and Texas Chainsaw Massacre) offers a film that doesn’t take the name of something recognizable but the content in Exeter is derivative and formulaic.

There’s nothing you haven’t seen before, and this doesn’t have one single original bone in its body. Because of his experience, the film has style. The location is rotting on the inside with the rooms just littered with garbage and the furnishings carry the weight of abandonment (as are the windows and doors, the floors and hallways; there’s one scene that shows a toilet turned over in a hall!). This is a type of a decadent eye candy. The setting, if it looks the part of a place left to die a methodical death with age its parasite, can be a help no matter how lackluster or shopworn the plot within it is. 

Night of the Demons (1988) was what this film reminded me of. Well, except for Lang’s priest who is used just enough for a bit of exposition at the end. He has this funny scene (well the cartoonish expression on his face helps bring this on) where Lang goes through a windshield, with his head literally falling into Golightly’s lap when Brett hits him with their vehicle. Contemplating chopping him up, they are interrupted by the whole possessed kid upstairs who isn’t about to sit idle.

Primarily the majority of the film is spent with the gang trying to survive, with each falling one by one [natch] to the demon (or whatever it is) that moves from body to body with an intention to hurt, maim, and obliterate. There’s violence to spare, with a particular scene showing half of a possessed character’s face sliced off, with the eye of the hacked piece looking up! There’s a severed finger, here, and a ripped tongue, there. And even the typical exorcism [natch] has Rory’s demon withstanding a heavy amateur version of the real thing, but this bunch isn’t exactly the most pious or saintly. In fact they use a “how to” internet “easy steps” guide for exorcisms with artistic renditions of each step for visual reference! This is absurd to watch, and intentionally so. These kids have no reason to performing anything like this and Brian speaks for the audience when he recognizes this. 

The demonic presence closes all the windows and doors that could let them out (or that is hinted at, although there are places not “spiritually secured”), and the “demon-taking-the-bodies-of-those-in-attendance-due-to-messing-around-with-spiritual-mumbo-jumbo-they-should-leave-the-hell-alone” both take me back to Night/Demons. Father Conway’s “celibate slip” yielding a child does factor significantly in the final results and the twist at the end. The character of Devon is mentioned throughout, as his file is conveniently found and read by the leads. Kept in a box by Conway, his (her?) desire for revenge makes sense.

Run-of-the-mill, average, mediocre, and “same ole, same ole” could be used to describe “Exeter”. In the days of my rental store youth, movies would either have a brief theatrical life or go almost directly to video/DVD, and now you will often see the likes of Exeter pop up on ‘DirecTv cinema’ in some commercials that call attention to them. That’s how I sometimes learn about them. Just last year, Fright Night II, a sequel to remake popped up in October and quickly vanished. If a movie doesn’t emerge and make an impact of some sort, it fades into semi-obscurity. These days, as the brick and mortar rents are becoming extinct, it will be even harder for horror films to peek out of the curtains of obscurity and gain exposure. Word of mouth helps, though, and even if years accumulate, certain films can attain a status or rep that keeps them relevant. Will that be the case for Exeter? I highly doubt it.



















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The Boogens - Intro

While I must admit that as a monster movie, The Boogens (1981) doesn’t quite measure up (its monsters aren’t particularly menacing ...