Monday, November 15, 2010

Misnomer Monday

I'd like to take this opportunity to thank Sean Cunningham and all the good folk responsible for the Friday The 13th series of films. Without your fine work Misnomer Monday simply wouldn't be possible. So, I thank you from the bottom of my pile of thank yous.

As we all know Jason takes a boat ride to Manhattan in the eighth Friday The 13th installment, but never really "takes Manhattan". Apologies to anyone who hasn't seen this fine film for that sock knocking spoiler.

So, to that question: what should it have been called?

Friday The 13th Part VIII: All Aboard The S.S. Voorhees?
Jason Vs The Boat People?

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Final Girl Film Club: The Funhouse (1981) Review

The idea of going to the carnival is always way more appealing than the reality of actually going. Carnivals look like big clown mouths full of fun, but they invariably turn out to be an expensive way of mingling with people who don't shower enough and experiencing attractions that are sadly lacking a decent preventative maintenance schedule. So it shouldn't have come as a surprise that a horror movie set at a carnival, whilst sounding like a really cool idea, like most carnivals, turns out to be a bit of a let down.

The Funhouse begins with Amy (Elizabeth Berridge, looking spookily like Alyson Hannigan) getting ready to go out on a double date to the carnival that's in town. Her loving father strongly urges Amy not to go to the carnival because, according to the clunky expository script from which he is reading, two girls were murdered in the last town that this particular carnival visited.

Ominous, no?

In what is the first indication that this movie is 30 years old, Amy actually respects her parents and decides to try to convince her date, Buzz (Cooper Huckabee), to go to the movies instead of the carnival (seriously, when was the last time a young character in a horror movie showed their parents any respect?). Of course, Buzz is a douche (that's more like it) and insists on going to the carnival. After picking up the other fast and free couple, Ritchie (Miles Chapin) and Liz (Largo Woodruff), our four thrill seekers arrive at the carnival and do stuff that you do at a carnival. Tobe Hooper films all of it, seemingly in real time. It's not until well into the film that, for reasons that don't make a lot of sense, our party of four decide to spend the night in the Funhouse and things, predictably, start to go horribly wrong.

You can well image the genesis of The Funhouse. Some bright spark thought it would cool to make a horror movie set in a carnival because, let's face it, they can be creepy places, and decided Tope Hooper would be the man to direct it because The Texas Chainsaw Massacre was ace, man. Beyond that they had nothing, so the result is a well directed film of a seriously underdeveloped script.

For far too long, nothing really happens in The Funhouse. I'm a patient man and I appreciate films that take time to establish character and mood, but that's not what happens the first hour of The Funhouse. What we get are nicely shot scenes of four kids we hardly know visiting a carnival, and a pointless sub-plot involving Amy's brother following her to the carnival.

When The Funhouse does finally get going in the final act there are some suspenseful moments and the film always looks good. Hooper really does the best he can with the underdeveloped narrative. So I guess if you have a nostalgic penchant for carnivals, these elements, combined with your nostalgia, might be enough to make The Funhouse appealing to you. Sadly, for me, this film just served as an unnecessary reminder of how crap carnivals are.

Related Links:
Final Girl Film Club
Final Girl

Friday, November 5, 2010

Quick BIQ Review: Apocalypto (2006)

If you were to cross Ten Canoes with any one of the many revenge-fantasy flicks that Mel Gibson has been involved with over the years (I’m thinking Ransom, Payback, Mad Max, Paparazzi, and even the original Lethal Weapon) you would end up with something approximating Apocalypto.

The marketing, and even the title, of this film hint that it is about the downfall of the Mayan civilisation. It's not. I knew nothing about Mayan society before watching Apocalypto and I now know next to nothing about it after watching Apocalypto. That’s not a criticism of the film, it's merely an observation.

Apocalypto is principally about one man's struggle to protect his family and save his own skin from a brutal regime. It is an engrossing, violent, adventure. However, the 500 year old setting and use of subtitles don't really disguise what amounts to yet another film where Gibson explores his favourite theme of violent retribution as a solution to injustice.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Quick BIQ Review: Cabin Fever (2002)

Cabin Fever was obviously an attempt to emulate the early 80's horror cult classic Evil Dead. The problem is that Evil Dead was a genuinely scary movie for it's time and has only become a cheesy cult classic since. Cabin Fever feels like it's setting out to be a cheesy cult classic from day one, and doesn't really work.

Five teenagers head out into the middle of the woods to stay in an isolated cabin. Sound familiar? It sure looks familiar. Everything from the woods to the tool shed and, of course, the cabin itself, look like they've been dusted off from the old Evil Dead set. Once there, a nasty virus/disease is let loose amongst the happy campers by a strange man that stumbles across their cabin.

The biggest problem with Cabin Fever is that it is never really scary and never terribly funny. Contrivances are stacked on top of contrivances to keep the campers stuck at the cabin while the virus threatens to kill them all, but it’s all to no avail. Incidental characters drop in and out undermining any tension that may have been created by the campers isolation, and the virus itself is a fairly innocuous threat in horror movie terms. To make this ineffective horror movie even less effective it’s ending is positively up-beat and really lacks that final punch that is the staple of so many successful horror movies.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Misnomer Monday

Apparently Debbie doesn't actually do Dallas... or, uhm, so I've heard.

Any suggestions for what it should have been called?