Friday, August 12, 2011

150 Days of Halloween: The Fly, Dawn of the Dead, The Ninth Gate, The Crazies

Still going crazy and falling behind at everything I do! Hooray for that?

Anyway, lets bang out some poorly written reviews while I have the clarity of mind, shall we? Short and sweet today, whatever I manage to have tumble out of my head.
Gotta love this movie.
The Fly is a classic science fiction story, the man who goes too far and suffers the consequences. One of the quintessential horrors of science stories. A scientist who develops a teleporter, a device that would change everything we know about travel and supply lines, decides to test the device on himself. Of course any safety precautions are ignored entirely and a fly winds up in the system with him, and the two merge tragically. Then you hand that story to David Cronenberg and everything just gets all kinds of extra weird with a bit of creepy sexuality tossed in. Its how he rolls, afterall.

Forgoing the classic, "heeeelp meeee," line for hefty doses of grotesque prosthetics and stomach acid, he certainly puts his own twist on the story. Our scientist, Dr. Brundle, shows his device to a reporter and promises her exclusive coverage in exchange for secrecy. His social awkwardness endears her, and soon they are happily together exploring the frontiers of science together, her physical affection helping him to conquer the problem of his device turning things inside out. All is well and good until his own social awkwardness makes him jealous and impulsive and he teleports himself, with that fly along for the ride of course.
An example of a Brundlefly.
Slowly he transforms into Brundlefly, losing more and more of his humanity and his mind as he pukes acid on food and people to feed. Once over the edge he decides the only solution is to merge himself with another human, the love interest of course, to reclaim some humanity. Instead he gets to merge with some lovely bits of metal and get shot by a weeping lover. If you love Cronenberg then you don't need me to tell you this is a wonderful movie with all of his usual... um... charms. The effects are suitably moist and gross, the acting is all pitch perfect with just a hint of 80's camp, and its just a fun sci-fi horror romp.
SUCH a good poster.
Dawn of the Dead is the second chapter in Romero's classic zombie story, and is an improvement in almost all ways. Having proved himself with Night, he now has a bigger budget, a bigger story, and all around better assets to tell his story with. It follows survivors in an increasingly deteriorating society that is crumbling under the shambling steps of the undead. A lucky few manage to find a mall, and make themselves at home, indulging in a consumerist cultures wet dream and for a few, reveling in the ability to kill the undead with impunity.

Its a Romero film, so of course the zombies are nothing more then an environmental hazard, its the people that matter. The ugly, stupid, and base humans who enjoy the surroundings despite the dangers. The consumerism angle is, surprisingly, better explored in the re-make, but this one still does a fine job all the same. What the re-make left out however, is the roving gang of violent bikers who believe might makes right. Humans are the real monsters only works as an angle when you have some real assholes to wreck shit after all.
The oldest zombie.
Come for the zombies, stay for people being terrible to one another and the tragic lives that sputter out like candles in a sharp breeze.

The Ninth Gate is yet another Roman Polanski movie on this here list. What can I say, I like the guys work. This is another movie that despite some mystical elements is really all about how people are, ultimately, dicks.
Books. Never been so exciting.
Depp is a antisocial rare books dealer who lies and manipulates his way to the top of the trade. He is respected for his ruthless tactics by the rich and despised by honest appraisers who don't have the stomach to rob grieving families. This being a horror movie, we of course need more then rare books and snarky comments out of Depp to keep the story moving along. One of those rich clients of his makes him an incredible offer to travel the globe and compare one copy of an incredibly rare book on the devil against the only other two remaining copies.

The trip soon turns deadly as it becomes apparent that he isn't the only one interested in these books. Whenever he comes into contact with one, the owner dies and Depp is attacked. Soon enough he is less interested in the money and more interested in the mystery behind the books and the pages in each supposedly created by Satan himself. He of course wants it for himself by the end.
"Yep. That's a book alright."
This is a flawed movie, but its a damn fun one besides the flaws. Depp always delivers, and the tension surrounding the mouldering books that are so feared and revered makes for a truly engaging movie. It makes the book trade seem as intense as Indiana Jones did for archeology, which is no small feat. Its an enjoyable mystery movie, so you should check it out if your ever bored and want to see something a bit different.

Lastly we have The Crazies, Romero's original version as opposed to the remake. I won't go into the remake too much, as it will get its own review, but I will touch on two key differences. The remake is visceral and intense, with characters often in danger and the insane people of the town along with the deadly determined military are always uncomfortably close. Its much more brutal and effective as a scary movie. The original, on the other hand, is a Romero movie, which means it came here with a message first and scares second. Unlike the remake this one spends equal time with the survivors looking to escape as it does with the military trying to fix the mess, making for a very different kind of movie from its remake.
Because you poisoned them. Also shot them.
This split focus makes it much more about the evils of bureaucracy, military control, and government cover ups. People are just inconvenient statistics to the government, where lives mean nothing in the face of the bottom line. Watching people who genuinely want to help get hampered by people more interested in protecting the status quot is, in many ways, a more tense and engaging experience then watching the survivors wander around. They rarely find themselves confronted by the crazies of the town, and even less often with the military, generally just sitting around in houses or sneaking through woods.

I quickly found myself waiting for the survivor sections to end, which were predictable for the most part, in favor of watching a scientist attempt to find a cure despite the governments stupid rules slowing him down. To see a sympathetic general forced to carry out terrible orders and make hard decisions, for it to all tragically crumble under its own cumbersome weight. Way more interesting then one sane guy trying to corral his insane girl friend and best friend out of the quarantine just because they don't trust the government.
"Should we do something interesting?" "No."
The remake and the original are two very different movies, and they are both flawed in different ways. Romero's version at least has some ideas running the show, while the remake is fun for a gory splatter-fest. Both have merits in the horror spectrum.

Alright! Now to try and do this again sooner rather then later. Preferably tomorrow instead of in a few days. One day my mind will stop melting and I'll be on top of this again. Oh, here is that link I always post to the full list. The 150 Days of Halloween.
"Hey. How you doin?"

11 comments:

  1. Good reviews, I have The Fly in my netflix instant and have been looking for a reason to watch it.

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  2. Love Halloween! Great picks, +Follow

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  3. A great movie collection. Good taste.

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  4. I'm a big fan of all things David Cronnenberg! Love the Fly!

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  5. Enjoyed the ninth gate, can barely remember watching the fly was so long ago. Was alright though.

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  6. I need to see The Fly, everyone recommends it.

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  7. jeff goldblum in the fly is a classic :D

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