12/12/12 (2012)

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Elizabeth

If you were unsure, let me clear up the above picture for you: that’s a guy in a pentagram getting his neck chewed to death by a devil baby.

Isn’t that sort of all you need to know about this movie? That that even happens? Here’s another one for you: shortly after his birth, the devil baby’s mother wakes up to find her devil baby performing oral sex on her. Because, you know, it’s the devil! I’m unclear why the devil has to be born and develop as a normal human, but whatever. I do know if the devil had the option of not being a baby, we wouldn’t have the great imagery of the devil baby that 12/12/12 provides us.

Oh, this isn’t a comedy by the way. Just a movie about the devil. As a baby.

Christopher

I remember next to nothing about this movie. I remember it’s about an ugly ass baby killing a bunch of people while the mom really doesn’t care? It’s kind of interesting but I think this was a good reminder that bad dramas are a lot more fun to watch rather than horror. I’ve kind of been on a horror kick recently so it might be coming to an end.

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PSYCHO (1998)

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Christopher

WWWWhaaaaaa? It’s pretty PSYCHO that this was made. It’s very good at not being scary, Vince Vaughn is obviously some psychotic nut from the moment you meet him (not sure why he turned the character into a gay guy with Asperger;s), and most of the movie makes no sense considering the era it takes place in. It was pretty wild watching these two back to back. It truly made this movie seem like a joke.

Elizabeth

Gus Van Sant’s Psycho does serve a purpose: to show the complete pointlessness of shot-by-shot remakes. It’s especially pointless when the source material is nearly 40 years old and is a cinematic classic.

Watching Van Sant’s Psycho right after watching the original lets you see just how shot-by-shot (and line-by-line) the movie is. When does something go from being a remake to just being plagiarism? Because if there was ever a line for that, Psycho crosses it. The real problem is that this remake of Psycho adds nothing. The dialogue, made for 1960, is stiff and unnatural in 1998, especially in this cast of over-actors. It’s a good cast; Viggo Mortensen, Julianne Moore, William H. Macy, (among other, less good actors), but they’re acting like they’re in some weird stage play rather than a movie that takes place in 1998. I swear a little bit of Maude Lebowski comes out in Moore’s performance.

The two worst things about Van Sant’s Psycho are definitely Anne Heche as Marion Crane and Vince Vaughn as Norman Bates. When Janet Leigh played Marion Crane, she was a smart, attractive, modern woman. She dressed well, had her own job, and even walked around in her bra sometimes! She was cool and you wanted to root for her, even when she stole $40,000 (it helps that the guy she stole from was a creep who came onto her). When Anne Heche played Marion Crane, however, she played her as a weird, vintage-obsessed pixie lady. Between her alarmingly thin frame and abrupt pixie cut, she’s less of an attractive woman and more of a weird woman-child. She only wears vintage clothing; and not the kind of vintage that Janet Leigh would have worn, but maybe more like Janet Leigh’s aunt. She totes around a fucking pink parasol for goddsakes. For someone who has just stolen $400,000, she’s anything but inconspicuous.

Then there’s the tragedy of Vince Vaughn playing Norman Bates. He plays the character as if Bates is mentally retarded rather than mentally disturbed. If you’re not sure what the difference is, juxtapose the skipping and giggling of Vaughn’s Bates to the nervous smiles of Anthony Perkins’ Bates. When Anthony Perkins’ Bates watches Marion through a hole in the wall, there’s obviously a Peeping Tom element, but there’s no overt sexuality; it’s more about Bates being so closed off that he wants to see what a woman is like alone. When Vaughn’s Bates watches Marion, there are sounds (belt buckle, wet skin) of masturbation, which takes the scene to the obvious but unnecessary and gross conclusion. Vaughn also plays Bates as being weirdly effeminate, which doesn’t make him less scary only because he’s so weird.

Elements of the plot itself don’t make sense in 1998, like when Marion stops at the Bates Motel and Norman tells her she’s 14 miles from her destination. Why wouldn’t you just keep driving the 14 miles to your boyfriend’s? Especially once it stops raining, which it does almost as soon as she stops. And I could see a woman in 1960 maybe being trusting of a 1960 Anthony Perkins, because he’s got that boyish charm thing going on and is rather unsuspecting. But in 1998, if a woman traveling alone to a motel where she’s the only guest actually accepted the creepy owner’s invitation to eat sandwiches alone with him . . . well you still wouldn’t deserve to get murdered, but it would definitely make a murder not seem so surprising.

And, of course, because it’s a shot-by-shot remake, the whole psychiatrist’s explanation is still there in the end. It’s even stupider in a modern version. Why bother making a remake when you don’t even re-imagine it at all? Watching Van Sant’s Psycho might really be the most pointless remake ever.

PSYCHO (1960)

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Elizabeth

I was lucky enough when I first saw Psycho that I didn’t know the ending (I was maybe 9 or so). I didn’t even know much about it at all. I think it’s next to impossible for an adult to see this for the first time now and not know all about it, but it’s still really cool to see it that way.

Psycho might be the best example of shifting the plot completely after the movie’s already started. Usually I hate this because it’s usually done so badly, and because of a lack of direction rather than a conscious choice. But this is Hitchock, so he knew what he was doing. It goes from a thriller about a woman stealing $40,000 so she can pay off her boyfriend’s debts and be with him to a horror movie about a psychotic killer. And it does so pretty beautifully and seamlessly.

Obviously, Anthony Perkins is the real star here. He was 28 when this was made and he definitely looks like someone who is easily in his early to mid 20’s. He’s lanky and boyishly good-looking, making him all the more trustworthy. But one of the things so great about his performance is how when he’s alone, he acts with much more confidence than when he’s around other people, showing just how closed off he is. It’s really subtle, and Janet Leigh plays her role subtly, too. There’s a lot of shots of just her face driving along with voiceovers of her thoughts. When you think about it, it really does take a lot of skill to have the camera on your face that much without overacting or being boring.

The one thing that I don’t like about Psycho is the recap at the end done by the psychiatrist who evaluates Norman Bates. He comes out and tells the rest of the cast Bates’ whole backstory and why he dresses up as his mother and kills people. Maybe things were different in 1960, but I truly think the audience would have completely understood everything that happened without this added part. The very end scene is a cop bringing Bates a blanket, and then an internal monologue done by Bates. I really think it would have been more effective to cut out the psychiatrist’s speech and go straight to Bates. But, then again . . . I’m no Hitchcock.

Christopher

It’s pretty sad that it took me this long to see this movie. I’m not sure why I never got around to it but I’m glad I finally did. I think the closest I ever got to this movie was going to Universal Studios. I think there is some kind of Psycho ride or walkthrough or something? Anyway, this movie was so scary! It’s easily up there in my favorite horror/thriller movies now. Everything about it works so well and is so horrifying. It also makes so much sense for the time, in my mind. It’s not like I lived back then but it makes so much more sense that this would happen at some tucked-away motel. The only thing about this movie that’s off is how they explain everything in the end. That was really unnecessary and pretty insulting to the audience. But maybe there is some story behind why that’s there.

SHROOMS (2007)

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Christopher

A good horror movie if you don’t really want to watch and don’t think about it at all. The movie takes place in Ireland for some reason, it looks like northern California, and some college kids decide to eat shrooms and trip in a forest occupied by inbred Irish folk, who can’t speak and eat road kill for dinner. There is a trick ending though so watch out but I will say if you think you know what’s going on, it’s quite possible you won’t because none of the movie makes sense, and you know how it’s going to end.

Maybe a must watch? But watching Scream or something would probably a better use of your time.

Elizabeth (spoilers! – not that you should care)

I wonder what the motivation behind making Shrooms was for everyone involved. Especially Jack Huston. I mean, I know everyone needs work and this was pre-Boardwalk Empire . . . but still. I also really hope that this isn’t supposed to be a PSA-ish anti-drug movie. Because if it is, it’s much more on the level of Reefer Madness than Requiem for a Dream.

Lindsay Haun plays Tara (who is also in True Blood occasionally), a girl on a trip to Ireland with a group of asshole friends. I was actually shocked to discover in the end that Shrooms was actually filmed in Ireland, and not Canada or the northwestern United States. The colors are so awful that it doesn’t look like any real specific landscape, but certainly not Ireland. Anyway, Jack Huston plays Jake, who is taking all of the friends to the woods to trip on shrooms for the first time. Going to a foreign country, to foreign woods, to do a hallucinogen that you’ve never done before sounds completely horrifying, but whatever. Jake neglects to inform everyone while they’re looking for the shrooms that there’s a special kind of shroom, that looks almost identical to what they want, that will cause you to have premonitions and then almost immediate death. Because of his insane oversight in not telling anyone, Tara eats the bad shrooms and has visions of everyone’s deaths, which, one by one come true. In the end, we discover it was actually Tara who killed everyone while on a shroom-fueled rampage. It’s sort of weird when you realize that the “twist” is so overplayed and cliche that it doesn’t even seem like a twist anymore.

There’s other weird stuff, like how one of the characters sees an abandoned car in the woods and when he approaches it, the window rolls down slightly so he puts his penis in the window for a blowjob. His penis gets cut/bitten off, of course, as one might expect, because he’s completely insane for doing that.

It’s just crazy how not scary this movie makes the actual drug seem if you know the least bit about shrooms’ effects. But don’t do drugs!

UNCONDITIONAL (2012)

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Elizabeth

Unconditional stars a girl who dies early on in the first season of True Blood and a guy who has appeared in such fine films as Think Like A Man and For Colored Girls. I’m pointing this out to demonstrate the caliber we’re working with here (don’t get me wrong – I love True Blood, but this girl is one of the first to die in the whole series). So Lynn Collins plays Samantha, whose husband was murdered by an anonymous black mechanic – his mechanic status given away by the red rag at the scene, and only mechanics can have red rags. Michael Ealy plays Joe Bradford, aka “Papa Joe,” this super weird guy who has to use dialysis for a wound he got in a prison fight and whose ambiguous occupation appears to be to hang out with elementary school kids. It’s super weird, but no one thinks it’s weird, like when Joe and Samantha take all these kids on a field trip to Samantha’s ranch, and then end up sleeping there, like it’s no big thing.

Samantha and Joe surprising don’t fall in love, because Samantha is a good Christian and although she’s a widow, she’s still married (or something). In the end, Samantha tracks down her husband’s killer (Anthony Jones – a really easy name to follow up on), only to find that he’s not the killer, just a random guy her husband creepily befriended right before he died. Her husband was killed by an anonymous white homeless man – whom she never tries to find. She gets the biggest break in her quest to find her husband’s killer, and as soon as she finds out he’s a white homeless guy, she drops it completely. What the fuck?

There’s also a horse subplot. About a horse helping a girl learn to speak, or some shit. I hate horses, the end.

Christopher

This movie was pretty scary. The main character’s job is to watch children in some kind of city program . . . maybe? What his movie was really about was a man, and a bus driver, kidnapping children who come from homes that won’t miss them and take them on sleepovers. While this is going on a woman is trying to find out who killed her husband. She sees a man with a red handkerchief, which she saw at the crime scene, and assumes it’s the same person . . . and somehow it is? BUT he didn’t kill her husband, he was just there. He tells the widow that some white crackhead killed her husband aaaaaand she doesn’t care anymore?

DIRTY DANCING (1987)

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Christopher

I kind of had no idea what this movie was about. I kept on expecting tons of fights to break out but I think I was confusing this with Road House. I was also not sure how I would view Patrick Swayze. The movie I generally think of him in is To Wong Fu. So I feel like I enjoyed Dirty Dancing but Swayze will always be Vida to me. What made this movie great was an appearance by Kelly Bishop, famously known for her role in Gilmore Girls. This was the first time I had ever seen her in anything else and she definitely looks pretty good in it.

Elizabeth

At this point I’m not entirely sure how many times I’ve seen Dirty Dancing but it just really never gets old. Obviously, some of it is pretty corny, especially when Johnny (Patrick Swayze) says stuff along the lines of “I’m from the streets! I ain’t nothin’!” But, really, it’s okay that it’s cheesy because it’s just enjoyable anyway. And the dancing is great.

One thing I love about Dirty Dancing is just how dirty the dancing is. It’s dirty now in 2013, was dirty when the movie came out in 1987, and would have been really dirty at the time the movie was supposed to take place, in 1963. The first time Baby (Jennifer Grey) enters the clubhouse with the staff of the resort her family is staying at sweatily grinding against each other, it cuts to Baby’s face, staring with her mouth open. And even now, it’s sort of hard not to have a similar reaction watching the movie. Despite the title, up until that scene, the movie is pretty innocent: women wear early 60’s style dresses, men wear jackets, families have lunch together. The scene of teenagers dry humping on a dancefloor kind of comes as a shock. But it’s not just the dirty dancing that’s great, it’s the dancing in general. I really do love a good montage (but when they’re bad . . . they’re so bad), and Dirty Dancing nails the dancing montages. It’s great. And, of course, the music is so fabulous. Most of the 80s stuff is forgettable (especially “She’s Like The Wind” sung by Patrick Swayze . . .), but then “Hungry Eyes” is also in there, so it’s still pretty good.

THE CABIN IN THE WOODS (2012)

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Elizabeth (spoilers!)

The Cabin in the Woods is legitimately scary, but in a way that not many horror movies are. It’s also legitimately funny, which, again, not a lot of horror movies are. It also actually succeeds in being a pretty original story, rather than just trying to be original. So, basically, I think The Cabin the Woods is an all-around success.

People get murdered in The Cabin in the Woods, and those scenes are really gruesome and scary, but what’s scarier is why they’re being murdered. We know early on that the whole thing is orchestrated by some kind of secret governmental sect. But it’s slowly revealed throughout the movie that they take so much pleasure in successfully torturing and killing these kids because doing so is necessary to save the world. The last two survivors, Dana (Kristen Connolly) and Marty (Fran Kranz) catch on that someone (besides the zombies chasing them around) is actually doing this to them. Once they find this out, the movie goes from an interesting, horror-movie-with-a-twist to a supernatural gorefest. In the end, it turns out that they have unwillingly been part of an ancient ritual to sacrifice them to evil gods who used to rule earth. Without these sacrifices done in a specific order, the gods will rise up and kill everyone on earth. Various other countries have failed in their attempts to get it right, and the US is the last one standing before time runs out. It ends up being up to Dana; if she kills Marty (as he has to die first and her death is optional as long as she suffers), the world is safe. But, in the end, she doesn’t kill him, and the two friends sit together and share a joint, realizing that if this is how humans rule the world, maybe we shouldn’t.

It probably sounds cornier on paper, but it’s just a really interesting concept. And the movie causes interesting feelings; you’re scared at first because of scenes like the one where a couple is interrupted during sex by zombies, after which the zombies hold down the girl and decapitate her in front of her boyfriend. But in the end, you’re scared because the whole bigger picture is really creepy and you can’t help but think of the old question regarding the importance of one life against the lives of many. It’s also nice that the reveal is done slowly; there’s no surprise twist at the very end, nothing to pop out for one last scare. It successfully plays with horror cliches while still coming out as original in the end.

Christopher

This movie really did scare me. The killing scenes were so intense. But that being said I loved this movie! I’ve been wanting to watch a horror movie lately and this looks to be one of the best from the past few years.

I was really hoping though that Chris Hemsworth was going to pull out a giant hammer and start killing everyone though!