Tuesday, October 30, 2012

A review of "Deadgirl"

Confessions of a Film Junkie: A review of “Deadgirl”
By: Brian Cotnoir

     What are two key elements every horror movie need?  If you said torture & necrophilia, then you are seriously messed up in the head my friend.  Either that or you’re just a really big fan of the film I’m reviewing this week; “Deadgirl”.  I decided to check out this 2008 horror film after seeing that it’s starting to pick up quite a following for its disturbing content and graphic imagery.  So how well does the film hold up to those claims?  Pretty well, actually.  
     So “Deadgirl” is the story of two high school seniors and friends named Rickie and J.T.  Rickie & J.T. are tired of being losers-who-can’t-get-any-action and decide one day to ditch school and go exploring in an old abandoned mental hospital.  While exploring the abandoned and decrepit building they wander into a room where they find a naked mute woman chained to a hospital bed.  The boys have no idea how or what the woman was doing down there.  Instead of going to the police and make a report, J.T. decides that the woman would be better off as their personal sex slave.  J.T. appears to be the only person interested in raping the woman, while Rickie struggles with the conflict of what he thinks is the moral thing to do.  While practicing some brutal sexual acts on the women, J.T. discovers that the woman is incapable of dying and hence she is given the nickname “Deadgirl”.  This appears to be a secret that J.T. and Rickie will probably take to the grave, but with a secret that’s as horrible and shocking as theirs, word spreads quickly to others and now more and more boys at J.T. and Rickie’s school want to have a shot with the Deadgirl.
     So how does “Deadgirl” hold up as a film?  I can tell you this much; it’s probably the third Most Unpleasant film I’ve ever sat through.  The film is pretty graphic and does have some great scenes with lots of blood and gore.  As for the character’s, I really hate them all.  There is not one single character in this film that has any heroic and redeemable qualities.  The character J.T. is just a selfish and horrible human being with no redeeming factors.  J.T. is played by actor Noah Seagan, and every film I’ve seen Noah Seagan in he plays the incredible douche bag who everyone hates, so just by casting him in this film, I hate his character even more.  Even though Rickie (played by actor Shiloh Fernandez) doesn’t rape the Deadgirl, I think he’s just as horrible as J.T. because he just stands there idly while his best friend does one of the worst things a human being can do, and all he does is say it’s- probably-not-a-good-idea-to-be-doing-that.  Nothing is stopping him from turning J.T. into the police. He’s just too much of a coward with no sense of human decency.  I also feel bad for actress Jenny Spain, who plays the Deadgirl.  I wonder how difficult it is to find work as an actress when you’re first film role requires you to be completely naked and chained to a bed.  I don’t think most actresses can comeback from something like that.                
    “Deadgirl” isn’t a bad film.  I personally would give the film 3-out-of-5-Stars.  I just feel the plot could have been executed much better in the film.  So if you and a group of friends are looking for a violent and unpleasant Horror film to watch this Halloween you should check out the film “Deadgirl”.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

A review of "Thirst"

Confessions of a Film Junkie: A review of “Thirst”
By: Brian Cotnoir

     Where do I even begin to describe the South Korean film “Thirst”?  “Totally awesome” and “original” are just a couple of words that come to mind.  It is your traditional becoming a vampire and having to adjust to the new lifestyle film.  I found it similar to films like “Interview with a Vampire”, but with some more modern and original twists to it.      
     So the plot is the following (and the reasons I’m leaving the actual character names out is I do not feel like constantly checking the spelling of the names).  There’s this Catholic Priest who works at hospital and he wants to find a way to combine God and science to help heal people.  He volunteers to be a human test subject for a rare and extremely deadly disease called “the Emmanuel Virus”.  The Priest begins to show symptoms of the disease and quickly his body begins to fail.  As a last attempt effort to save his life, he is given a blood transfusion on the operating table and makes a miraculous recovery.  The priest is the only survivor of the experiment, and many begin to speculate that he has divine healing powers and many begin to seek his help.  Unbeknownst to all those people and the Priest—initially—the blood he was given was contaminated and turned him into a vampire.  The film focuses a lot on the Priest trying to adapt to his new life, and find the benefits of being a member of the undead.  There are a ton of amazing details, I want to talk about and discuss in this review, but I also don’t want to give away a lot of the story.                                  
    The film was directed and co-written by famed South Korean director Park Chan-wook; who also directed “Oldboy” and “I’m a Cyborg, but that’s okay”.  There are just so many things that Park Chan-wook did in this film that I enjoyed.  I like how the priest turned into a vampire from a blood transfusion.  In today’s world, blood transfusions are one of the riskiest medical procedures a person can go through.  Sometimes people are accidentally given blood that has been tainted with Hepatitis or HIV, so the idea that a person can accidentally become vampire from a blood transfusion in a hospital is actually very creative.  Another interesting part of the plot is that the Priest hemorrhages blood every time someone starts praying near him, and yet the blood of a clergyman doesn't make it sick at all.  To make things more interesting, the Priest has to battle the urge to steal blood from the Hospital he works at, which is a great moral conflict.  We really get to see how the Priest’s character changes over the film from a quiet and reclusive man of the Church to a suave and lustful vampire.  I think that if “vampirism” was an actual disease that this films story would be the closest thing to all the things a real person would go through as a vampire.  For example, the priest doesn’t sleep in a coffin to avoid the sunlight—like vampires in other films—he sleeps in a giant cabinet. That’s both funny and original.
    Also, I really like the Priests love interest in the film.  The girl he falls in love with is really wild and fun.  She knows how to have fun with a vampire, and I just love how awkward things get when the two have intercourse.  In many ways this is very weird and violent love story, and I enjoyed every minute of it.  The film is kind of long and I honestly think that with a few more details added to the plot this film could have easily been made into two equally good Vampire films.             
     So In Conclusion, I really enjoyed the film “Thirst”, and think that if you are a fan of the Vampire-Horror Genre then it is definitely a film you are going to want to watch.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

A review of "SUCK"

Confessions of a Film Junkie:  A review of “SUCK”
By: Brian Cotnoir

     With all the Vampire movies, television shows, and books that have came out over the last few years it’s kind of hard to ignore.  However, finding a good Vampire movie these days is very hard, especially with the literary and cinematic plague going around known as the Twilight Series.  Thanks to stories like “Twilight” and “True Blood” the vampire has been transformed from a creature that was once mysterious, terrifying, and sensual, to a bunch of overly sensitive, glamorous, sexual icons.  I know that the original vampire design (the one from Bram Stoker’s novel “Dracula”) was intended to be sexual and I like that about “Dracula”, but at the same time he was also terrifying and evil, compared to “Twilight’s” Edward Cullen who is just...a joke!  To many writers and film studios have decided to do away with the fear vampires are supposed to inflict and just focus on the raw sexuality, but every now and then a good vampire film does manage to break out, and in the past three years I’ve only seen two good vampires movies; one is “Day Breakers” and the other is the film I’m writing this review on “Suck”.   
   “Suck” tells the story of a Canadian rock band called “the Winners” who are looking for rock n roll immortality, but are always seem to come up short.  One night after a show the band’s bassist, Jennifer, goes to a party with a mysterious figure known as “Queeny”.  Queeny turns out to be a vampire and turns Jennifer into one as well.  Jennifer’s new “vampire image” starts bringing more and more fans to the show, because they think it’s a great gimmick and soon other members of the band want in and they tell Jennifer they want to be turned into vampires as well.  Eventually, the band gives in one-by-one and they are all transformed into a quick rising vampire rock band.  But later they start questioning if they made the right decision by transforming into vampires and are faced with a question; do they want rock n roll immortality as vampires or would they rather go back to the way they were?                          
    One thing I really like about “Suck” is the music.  The songs performed in the film are original works, but the scenes in the film with the songs are more like little music videos, than actual musical numbers.  Plus, they never finish a song like a traditional musical, they just start playing the song and then it eventually fades on into another scene.  The characters are very likeable and feature a slew of celebrity cameos including musicians the Burning Brides, Henry Rollins, Iggy Pop, Alice Cooper, and actor Malcolm McDowell who plays the Vampire Hunter who’s following the band, named Eddie Van Helsing.  One creative thing that I liked about the film is that for one scene when they wanted to do a flashback on part of McDowell’s character they actually used clips from one of Malcolm McDowell’s old movies (“Oh Lucky Man!”) and I must say it synched up perfectly.  I liked it a lot better than if they would have attempted to make Malcolm McDowell look younger or if they would’ve hired another actor to play a younger version of the Eddie Van Helsing.  The only character I did not like in the film was the main character, Joey, who is the leader of the band “The Winnners”,and is played by the films writer and director,
Rob Stefaniuk.  Joey’s character is anal retentive, whiny, and appears to be a control freak at points, but other than that the rest of the film is great.                                    
    “Suck” is a unique rock n roll vampire comedy and features catchy songs and slew of enjoyable characters.  On a scale of 1-10, I’d give it an 8.                                                           

Thursday, October 11, 2012

A review of "The Countess"

Confessions of a Film Junkie: A review of “The Countess”
By: Brian Cotnoir

     As a person who has a B.A. in History I find it so difficult to sit through a film that claims “Based on a True Story” because all too often when a film is, allegedly, based on a true story, important facts get lost or changed and the audience is essentially left with History that has been dumbed-down or falsified.  Now in my opinion, there is a right way and a wrong way to get away with how to tell a story that is “Based on a True Story”.  For example, James Cameron’s Oscar winning film “Titanic” told the story of a fictional couple on R.M.S. Titanic when it stuck an iceberg and sank on its maiden voyage in 1912.  This is okay because the films story was SET at a real historical event, but most of the main characters the film focuses on were made up.  So the Historical significance of the event isn’t really being tarnished (much).  The characters may be made up, but at least the event and most of its facts were not.  Now let’s look at another Award Winning Film, “The Social Network”; according to the film Mark Zuckerberg started Facebook as an attempt to win back his ex-girlfriend.  This is a bullshit idea because Hollywood is making up a story that never happened about a real person and it wasn’t even the actual reason for why he created his website.  They are taking an actual story and making stuff up to make it more interesting, which is a horrible idea.  I absolutely hate it when Hollywood studios take a Historical event, and make a film filled with half-assed facts and overly romanticize it as much as possible.  So why do I have this lesson in Historical ethics in this review?  Well it will explain why the film “The Countess” pissed me off so much.             

    “The Countess” is a “biographic” film that is loosely based off the life and crimes of the 16th Century Hungarian Monarch Elizabeth Bathory.  Bathory is known most notoriously for having hundreds of virgin peasant girls drained of their blood so she could bathe in it because she believed that virgin blood kept her young.  Now, since Elizabeth Bathory has such a notorious and infamous life many Historians’ find it difficult to separate the facts from the myths.  Many Historians agree that she had an abusive childhood—some of her family had a long history of pedophilia and incest—and although it has not been 100% confirmed many Historians believe her to be a lesbian and also claim that she was known to practice witchcraft.               
    But now more importantly how did the film do with her portrayal? In my opinion this film did a horrible job representing Bathory.  One thing that annoys me about this film is that the story is told by a character who is a “former lover” of Bathory.  First of all, I don’t give a flying French Fuck about this uninteresting fool or what he has to say.  Secondly, the story is told at an extremely fast pace.  Bathory’s childhood is hardly touched upon, and they make almost no attempt to show the abuses and cruelties she went through as a child that led her to become a vicious and merciless killer.  Instead of portraying her as cruel, tyrannical, and sadistic she played as weak and down-trotten for most of the film.  The films story comes off as if it’s trying to make you feel sorry for Elizabeth Bathory. 
   Most of the films focus is on Bathory trying to win the back the heart of her young lover (the films “Narrator”) and her quest to make herself look younger.  She seems more like modern day cougar going through a midlife crisis because the 18-year-old neighbor boy doesn’t want to screw her anymore, rather than a high class noble.  The story about her practicing witchcraft and possibly being a lesbian are really played down in the film.  The film makes it appear that the woman playing the witch is the bad person who only promises to help Bathory in exchange for sexual favors.  Also they make it seem as if she does not care much for harming people and that a lot of the pain she is inflicting is for Sadomasochism, which is horribly inaccurate.  Many Historians today claim that Bathory enjoyed inflicting pain on others and got her own sexual gratification from inflicting pain on others, unlike the films portrayal where she is shown as not really caring all that much for harming others.  I couldn’t believe that they were actually portraying Bathory as a victim and a devout Christian in this film, because it was just so ridiculous.  Her sadistic side is horribly played down in the film.  I think the over-Romanization of the film has a lot to do with her positive portrayal.             
      Also the casting in this film wasn’t all that great.  Many of the actors in the film look way too young.  A lot of the cast looks like they were picked off from some college theatre group.  As a result actress Julie Delpy, who plays Bathory, looks much older in this film. The ending to the film was just insulting and I just found that there was absolutely nothing I could enjoy about this film.                                               
     I actually watched three films about Elizabeth Bathory (the others were “Bathory” & “The Blood Countess”) and I didn’t enjoy any of them, but out of the three films I watched about her I found that I hated this one the most.  A film that portrays one of history’s most notorious killers as weak and merciful should never be seen by anyone.  This is a terrible film and you should not watch it.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

A review of "Dracula" (1931)

Confessions of a Film Junkie: A Review of “Dracula” (1931)
By: Brian Cotnoir

     Regarded as one of the best horror films of all-time, Bela Lugosi plays the alluring and mysterious Count Dracula in the 1931 classic film “Dracula”.  One unique thing about this film is even though it is based on the novel by Bram Stoker, the film focuses more on the relationship between Count Dracula and the attorney Renfield, rather than Counts relationship with Jonathan Harker, Mina, or Doctor Van Helsing.  If anything those parts are played down in this film. 

     The name of the person who plays Renfield—a British attorney turned psychotic slave by Count Dracula—is Dwight Frye.  Frye’s performance sent chills through my body; he was that good.  Unlike the other films I’ve seen based off the novel, Frye’s, Renfield is definitely the best I’ve seen.  You really feel the sincerity that he’s been transformed from a proper English gentleman to an insect eating mad man.  I actually believe that Dwight Frye is the real star of this film and not Bela Lugosi.  Don’t get me wrong, I am a huge fan of Bela Lugosi and his films, but his character is very boring compared to the other Dracula’s I’ve seen.  He barely speaks in the film and when he is on camera they mostly show him doing poses and glaring.                                   

     Another great thing about this film is the setting.  Dracula’s castle in this film actually looks like the kind of castle Dracula would live in.  Compared to the 1992 remake, the Castle in the 1931 version is dark, decrepit, dirty, dusty, and looks very uninviting.  The castle in the 1992 version, though marvelous in its appearance, doesn’t really say, “I-live-here-alone-with-my-vampire-brides-and-we-don’t-have-any-servants”; the castle is just simply too neat and modern to be the real Dracula’s castle. There is one question, though, I feel must be asked by anyone who has seen this film and that is; why where there armadillo’s living in Dracula’s castle?                     

     The original Dracula film is also very short; running time is around 75 minutes.  Also, this film doesn’t show any violence, like Dracula attacking his victims or Van Helsing driving the stake through Dracula’s heart.  That stuff you have to leave up to your imagination.  Nonetheless, “Dracula” is a film classic and it is quite enjoyable.  If you’re looking for a classic horror film to watch this Halloween, you really can’t go wrong with the one-the-original “Dracula”.