Lady in the Water – Cinematic Lynching

Very late response to this but man has there ever been a better example of a cinematic lynching than with this movie? It seems like a lot of people had already made up their minds about Lady in the Water before it was even released. The vitriol expressed against this movie leaves me shaking my head in wonder.

MNS played right in to the mob’s hands though. He could not have picked a better lob ball to be pounded away at.

This film is a delicate soap bubble of a story. If one is willing to go along for the ride the journey is quite worth the effort. I really enjoyed this and put it up with my favourite MNS film, Unbreakable.

Giamatti was excellent in this movie.

Big thumbs up.

The Tall Man Is Back!

 

On Thursday night , Feb 15, 2007, a friend and I ventured out in the midst of an icy chill that had descended in Southern Ontario for a late night excursion.  Our destination; the Bloor Cinema in downtown Toronto .  Our EyeCraveDvd mission; attend the screening of a horror classic – Phantasm.  Anchor Bay Entertainment in conjunction with the Horror magazine Rue Morgue, presented a screening of the movie to celebrate the upcoming Anchor Bay DVD release of the movie on April 10, 2007 . < link http://www.anchorbayentertainment.com/index.asp?p=CatalogDetail&SKU=DV15081&PriCatID=3 >

 

 

An added inducement came in the form of series star, and everyone’s favourite Ice Cream truck driver, Phantasm star Reggie Bannister.  He would be present to do a Q/A after the show.  Between that and the chance to see the film in a theatrical presentation, what more could a horror fan ask for?

 

Before we made it to the theater the lure of Honest Ed’s warehouse near the subway stop was too strong so money and time were spent there.  The Bloor Cinema is one of those old theaters playing second run movies that are now a rare beast.  We arrived in time to secure the optimal central seating and settled in for the show.

 

After a quick introduction by Reggie Bannister the film started and the fun commenced.  Phantasm is one of those films I caught on late TV years ago but most of the details are forgotten.  My memories consisted of vague images of a pre-Harry Potter Snitch device which instead of being evasive, seeked out human targets.   Once successful the tennis ball sized silver sphere would affix itself to its quarry via vicious edged blades, often in the forehead, drill into the victim, and eject copious amounts of blood.  The other two indelible images I can recall were Angus Scrimm – ‘The Tall Man’ and his feral Jawa-like minions.

 

The print we saw was in bad shape.  The opening titles and scenes near the start of reel changes suffered much dirt, hair, and visible damage.  The rest of the print was in better shape but the image was faded, dull, and plagued with poor blacks.  The soundtrack was surprisingly good and in some cases, certain sound effect were too overpowering.   Like John Carpenter’s Halloween, Phantasm is blessed with an excellent score, courtesy of Fred Myrow and Malcolm Seagrave.  The synthesized strains not only carry the movie but could be argued, rescue it.

   

Phantasm has not aged well.  The movie is a collection of thin characters, thin story, obvious budgetary restrictions, and a disjointed storyline.  Many moments have now taken on an unintentional hilarity which had the audience in stitches throughout.  A lot of the dialogue has the same issue and there is a scene in the garage between the two brothers which is capped off by a statement so politically incorrect, it is priceless in its hilarity.

 

For a horror movie, such crowd reactions should be a death knell but Phantasm skirts the edge of falling into the Abyss of the Absurd.  There are moments of brilliance contained in the scenes with the sphere, the Tall Man portrayed by Angus Scrimm, and the score.  The movie has a goofy charm to it that disarms cynicism and makes it one of those good times at the movies. 

 

Director Don Coscarelli shows flashes of talent despite the limitations of special effects technology of the 1970s and the budgetary limitations under which he toiled.  Proof of Coscarelli’s talent can be found in later efforts such as Bubba Ho-Tep and the Masters of Horror episode – Incident On And Off A Mountain Road.  See this link for my review of the episode – <link – http://www.eyecravedvd.com/dvd/dvdReview.php?dvdID=954. >

 

Phantasm requires work on the viewer’s part.  If you can rein in your critical faculties for a bit there are definite payoff moments to reward a show of patience. 

 

Thanks to Sharelle Haghani of Starz Entertainment for the invite.   Additional thanks go out to Rue Morgue magazine and Starz Entertainment for hosting the event.  We had a great time!

Coolness Abounds Today – DT Comic and ReMastered ST Episodes!

Take a gander at this image from the remastered version of the original Star Trek episode – The Doomsday Machine.
Whoa!  Go to StarTrek.com to see more nifty images.

Second up the first DT comic from Marvel is out.

The artwork is beautiful and Peter David has done an excellent job capturing the flavour and tone of King’s writing.

All this and the resumption of Lost tonight.  I am in Geek heaven!

Pan’s Labryinth – A Beautiful Movie

This is a very special movie. To my mind, an instant classic. Guillermo Del Toro has crafted a fairy tale story for adults. Note the key word in the last sentence – adults. Do not mistake this as a movie suitable for children in any manner. There are many scenes of graphic violence and themes not suitable for the young minds. This is a war time story seen through the eyes of a twelve year old girl. With that caveat out of the way, the rest of us may proceed to engage ourselves in this well crafted story.

The movie takes place during the Spanish Civil War in 1944. A twelve year old girl, Ofelia, and her mother are en route to move to the countryside where her stepfather is stationed. Captain Vidal is an officer commissioned to search out rebel soldiers who oppose the right wing Franco regime. Vidal takes his commission with the utmost seriousness and his ruthlessness to accomplish his objective is shown in an unexpected scene of quick and graphic violence.

From that moment on, the tension level of the movie is cranked up and never relents. Having seen Captain Vidal’s dark side, one is left not knowing when and where he will strike out again. This moment is important on so many levels because it takes the opening moments of the film, which has tones of the Henson movie Labyrinth and dispels any notions that the fantasy world presented is going to protect or save the young protagonist of the movie, Ofelia, from the horrors of the real world she lives in. This is solidified when we enter the Labyrinth where the motivations of the denizens of that world are ambiguous.

Del Toro has created and executed a masterpiece of a film. On every level you can think of there is not one wasted or frivolous moment. Every scene, every character action, every piece of dialogue, they all serve the story and yet allow for different interpretations by viewers. This openness in the weave or texture of the story is the true sign of the brilliance of this story. Is the world of Pan’s Labyrinth real or the imagination of a twelve year old girl? Del Toro never tips his hand and leaves it up to the viewer to decide. The beauty of it is that the story is constructed in such a manner that allows both interpretations to exist.

From a technical point of view, this is a breath taking movie. From the beautiful wooded hills of the Spanish countryside to the sections of the film dealing with Pan’s Labryinth, each are photographed with grace and visually appealing flair. Mention also must go to the sound design of the movie. It surrounds the viewer with such clarity and dramatic impact that really adds to the sense of immersion.

Ultimately, the film rests on the shoulders of a very young girl, Spanish actress Ivana Baquero. She responds to the challenge magnificently. Through her performance as the book and fairy tale magic loving Ofelia, I felt and empathized with her joy at the possible beauty of the world around, the fear of the pain that it can inflict, and the love she has for her mother and yet unborn brother. Her performance carries the emotional heart of the story and she totally captivated me.

This is a film that surpasses my ability, meager as that may be, to adequately express the impact and feelings that I have carried away from my viewing. Its two days later and I am still haunted by the beauty and horror and drama and pain and hope and wonder of this movie. This is a movie that I will revisit again and again. If that is not the definition of a classic, I will never come closer to articulating what the word means.

10 out of 10