Monthly Archives: September 2013

Speed Grapher

Speed-grapher
It took me almost a year to finish this. It’s not bad, but it is unbelievably hard to sit through. Speed Grapher takes a look at a city that is overrun by corruption, greed, and sexual depravity. There’s also a bit of a supernatural aspect. The Goddess (a 16 year old named Kagura) grants powers to those that kiss her that are part of the Roppongi Club. The powers are an amplified version of that person’s desire, and is often used for murder or manipulation.

The premise is original and daring, but the execution is oftentimes graphic and depressing. There’s also a strange dynamic between Kagura and her rescuer, Saiga. Saiga is in his 30s or 40s. In other words he’s a little too old to have such a bond with a teenager. It’s heavily implied their relationship is more that platonic. It makes the whole thing a little weird considering he’s supposed to be the hero. Every other episode also has the trend of someone wanting to rape Kagura. Long story very short, this anime is about messed up people, and what happens when they have even the tiniest amount of power.

It’s really dark, gross, and a good chunk of it seems like it’s done for shock. But, when I was able to stomach it, it held my attention and I wanted to know what was going to happen next. I give it a 3 out of 5. I love the plot, but it loses points for violence against young children, rape, pedophilia, human trafficking, and for having a lot of characters that need some serious psychological help. If you can stomach bottomless pits of depravity, I say watch it at least once. If you want to maintain some faith in humanity, pass on this.

Inside

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Yet another movie that makes me not want to interact with people, ever. Inside is about a pregnant woman named Sarah (Alysson Paradis) who loses her husband in a bad car accident. The night before she’s supposed to give birth, she is attacked by who could be considered the craziest bitch in France (Béatrice Dalle) that wants her baby by any means necessary. Yes, this is a French film, and it is glorious. It’s gory, scary as hell, and truly a masterpiece. I first heard about this back when Dimension started releasing movies on their Extreme branch. Then I saw the DVD art, and it took me almost 6 years to gain the courage to watch it. There’s just something about seeing rusty, bloody scissors dangerously close to a pregnant woman’s belly that is very unsettling.

But I’m glad I finally did. Even if you took away the blood and guts, Dalle is still terrifying. You discover the reason why she’s psychotic, and it does make sense. The only problem is she’s freaking brutal in her methods, and then you don’t feel as much sympathy toward her. Speaking of her methods, I have to commend the special effects makeup/visual effects team on this movie. It’s one thing to do great makeup, but when the camera actually zooms in on the damage and you have to remind yourself this isn’t a snuff film? That is some bad ass makeup.

We also have a case of fiction not being far from fact. That’s right, this is also based on actual events (thanks to Milos for the tip). While the real story doesn’t have as high a body count as the movie, it’s still chilling: A mentally unstable woman lies to her friends and family about being pregnant. When it comes time to give birth, she puts out an online ad seeking a pregnant friend. Whoever had a due date that was close to the one she made up became her victim. Yes, she performed a forced c-section, and it is as bloody and disgusting as it sounds.

I think the fact that this is based on a real story just adds to horror. When you know a plot is just made up, it makes it easier to deal with. If there’s extreme gore and mayhem, you can rest easy and tell yourself it’s only a movie. But what if you know some of the images you saw actually happened? I don’t know about you, but that scares the shit out of me. You can’t rest easy knowing there was or is someone screwed up enough that can commit such acts. And people wonder why I don’t like leaving my house…

Compliance

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WARNING
 
This film is based on true events, and will make you not want to leave your house ever again.

 

As I’ve said before, I’ve seen some truly messed up shit. I thought A Serbian Film and Antichrist were at the top of the heap, and nothing could surpass them. Oh, how I hate being wrong. Compliance is about a prank caller that calls a local restaurant pretending to be a police officer. He tells the manager that one of their employees has stolen from a customer, and needs help conducting an investigation. Now, that right there should raise a red flag for anyone with common sense. But that is not the case here. Management then subjects the poor girl to humiliation and even rape. This goes on for hours until the maintenance man discovers what’s going on and finally talks some sense into everyone. At first glace, this seems like a terrifying tale of being in the right place at the wrong time. But…a little bit of digging reveals this ACTUALLY HAPPENED.

This tale of the shift from hell is based on a series of crimes that occurred for almost 10 years. Some random sick bastard got his jollies from calling fast food restaurants or stores, giving a very vague description of an employee, and then accusing them of a crime. Management actually provided the name of whatever victim. The movie is almost a play by play of what happened to Louise Ogborn. What she had to endure is senseless and downright disgusting. I think the same can be said of her manager who actually agreed to what could arguably be called torture. There’s a video floating around of her manager being interviewed by 20/20. In it, she has the nerve to say she’s just as much a victim as Ogborn. I call bullshit.

Not once did this idiot stop and think: “Hey, a complete stranger is telling me to strip my employee and hold her against her will. Something just isn’t right here.” Call me mean, but I don’t get how a person could be that damn stupid.  I realize I haven’t said much about the actual film. It is incredible. I actually give it 5/5. The acting is amazing, and it is a true psychological thriller. The only flaw I could find was the portrayal of Ogborn. Her equivalent seems annoyed at the things she has to do. In reality, she was understandably terrified and in hysterics. Other than that, this is an outstanding movie. But I feel like something could also be learned from this story. The best I can come up with is a quote from unrealitymag.com: “This is an ugly film about ugly people doing ugly things in an ugly world”.

American Mary

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I first read about this in a recent issue of Fangoria magazine. It sounded so weird, but original: Katharine Isabelle (Freddy vs. Jason, Ginger Snaps) plays a med student named Mary. Her bills are quickly piling up with no way to pay them. Eventually she decides to resort to stripping, but on her first night she ends up performing surgery on a bouncer with a nasty eye injury. She also receives $5,000 for her troubles. Word gets out that Mary is able to do surgeries that might be considered unconventional, and she ends up dropping out of med school and making a business out of body modification surgeries.

Mary’s luck does turn around, but she seems to go through a psychological change as well. At first you feel bad for her. Then she goes from hero to villain in a short time. But it does make sense. Without spoiling anything, Mary goes through a very traumatic event at the hands of someone she trusted. So by the last 30-40 minutes of the film, she basically snaps because of it. She becomes this tragic figure, but it’s done in such a great way. We see that Mary wasn’t able to choose how her life went at certain points, but she’s still bound and determined that things end up in her favor.

I should mention there are two writers: The Soska Sisters. These are the ladies responsible for Dead Hooker in a Trunk and See No Evil 2. While their first two films are questionable in taste, American Mary is actually a solid effort from them. I give it a 4 out of 5. It’s different and interesting, funny, and Isabelle shines as Mary.  I say go out and buy it. It would be a great movie to have in any collection.

High School of the Dead

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WARNING

This anime contains enough panty and side boob shots to be soft core porn. Once you get past all of that, it’s actually a brilliant show. The plot isn’t original: high school kids surviving a zombie outbreak. But the interesting part is how each episode carefully examines each character, and how they’ve adapted to what is basically the end of the world. The show basically asks this question: If the world were to end, who would rise to the occasion? Would it be who you expected, or the one you ignored?

We also see how morals and standards go out the window: families killing their children so they don’t become infected, theft and rape are now the norm, and it gets to the point where you’re not sure who’s more evil: the zombies, or those still living. In the midst of all the madness, we have 5 teens that have to quickly grow up and band together. I think this show is amazing. It’s not just sex and mindless violence. It really is an in depth look at how any personality type could potentially deal with an apocalyptic situation.

I give it 5 out of 5. This what zombie movies should aim to be like. It’s awesome to see something zombie related that’s more than head-shots and sex. While I do love those, they become quite boring and repetitive after a while.  If it’s not your cup of tea, and least watch it for Monica Rial. She’s the ditzy nurse that joins up with the teens. She’s also… “blessed” when it comes to her bra size, and that leads to some great comedic scenes that break up all the tension perfectly. It’s on Netflix and Hulu, and it’s only 12 episodes. You’ll be glad you watched it.

Night Raid 1931

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This marks my first anime review. And I’m a little disappointed. The premise sounds awesome: a secret spy organization in Shanghai, China tries to prevent terrorist attacks. The main agents, however, have been gifted with powerful psychic abilities. I thought I was going to see a lot of action and intrigue. What I got was a slow, jumbled, hot mess. It’s just confusing, and creates more questions instead of answering them.

The only positive are two characters named Aoi and Feng Lan. Aoi is one of the agents. While his powers are arguably the most powerful, their duration has a time limit. He’s also impulsive, but that usually works in the team’s favor. Feng Lan works at a local restaurant, and nags Aoi into buying food. The interaction between the two is hilarious. Unfortunately that seems to be the only genuine interaction in the whole show. Dialog between other characters seems so forced and lacking any emotion. That’s surprising considering the cast has Andrew Love, Luci Christian, Chris Patton, and many others who I think are some of the most talented voice actors around.

For an original premise, great voice actors, and interesting characters I give this a 3 out of 5. It’s not completely horrible, but I think more questions should’ve been answered and there didn’t need to be so many filler episodes. It probably would’ve helped if there had been more back story for all of the characters instead of just one. If you want to see mystery and espionage done right, check out Ergo Proxy or Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex.

Antiviral

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I’m going to warn you now that this review requires some back story. This is the debut film from Brandon Cronenberg. Does the last name seem very familiar? It should because his dad is David Cronenberg, master of body horror movies. Body horror plays on the fears of infection or mutations that can happen to us. While I commend his son for wanting to follow in his father’s footsteps, I wish his first effort was stronger and not as mindbogglingly weird.

Antiviral takes an unflinching look at celebrity obsessed culture. We follow Syd March, a salesman for the Lucas Clinic. The clinic specializes in selling diseased or infection-ridden samples from celebrities. Anything from herpes, the flu and even HIV can be purchased by people that are desperate to have a physical connection with their favorite actor or actress. But, Syd also uses his body as an incubator to sell the same samples on the black market. You can guess where this is going. He obtains a sample of a cold from the actress du jour Hannah Geist, but it’s not just any cold. He basically injects a new strain of bubonic plague into his body. The movie is mainly spent watching him slowly die from hallucinations, internal hemorrhaging, and brain melting fever.

Ultimately he lives…by making a deal with the Lucas Clinic since they created the virus that killed Hannah Geist. Why would they want to kill their cash cow? To make an even bigger profit from her death. What is the point of all this? The best guess I have is that this is the direction our society is heading in if we encourage such unhealthy obsessions with the rich and famous. Or it could be the writer/director just wanted to fill almost 2 hours of screen time with blood and steaks made from human skin cells. I wish I was making the human steaks part up.

This just wasn’t very good. The plot is very interesting, but once again the actual delivery is what kills it. Plus Syd is a dishonest, unlikable, whiny brat. Also he’s creepy. The very last scene we see him cut into the regenerated skin of Hannah, and suck out the blood. I was willing to give this a pass until I saw that. So for a too long run time, annoying characters, and visuals that made my head hurt, this gets a 1 out of 5. It doesn’t always pay to focus on visuals instead of plot. If you want to see body horror done right, look for Videodrome or The Thing.