Good morning, readers. I’m back to give you the weekly update on U.S. horror releases. We have a much more impressive selection this week in both the theater and DVD. Let’s get started.
Theater Releases, November 12th
Skyline is an indie science-fiction thriller, directed by Colin and Greg Strause, about a frightening alien invasion. The Brothers Strause are primarily known for their Visual FX work for big-budget action flicks including Avatar, many of the Marvel comic adaptations and 300. Their directing track record, however, is less impressive. Their only other full-feature film, at this point, is AVPR: Aliens vs Predator- Requiem. Will Skyline be better? The cast includes Eric Balfour (Texas Chainsaw Massacre remake) and David Zayas (Dexter).
Other than my certainty that it will look pretty, I don’t know what to expect from this film. The image of thousands of people screaming and flying through the air toward the ships is certainly terrifying and I’m delighted to see giant Cloverfield-style monsters in this second trailer. In addition, it’s very impressive to see what they were able to do with a $10 mil budget compared to say… Michael Bay‘s horrendous $200 mil monstrosity, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. But will it be good science-fiction horror? Or will it be this year’s Independence Day?
DVD Releases, November 9th
The surreal horror film by Lars von Trier about grief, depression, psychiatry and misogyny finally comes to the States on DVD and BluRay tomorrow via The Criterion Collection. (Although it has been available via Netflix Watch Instantly since the spring)
This film makes the feminist in me ask questions. Do you separate the piece of art from the artist? If you’ll forgive an awkward sentence; does a film made by an accused misogynist about misogyny necessarily have to be misogynistic? Anyone spending a lot of time focusing on social issues knows that intent is not as important as the end result and I think that goes both ways. A sincere exploration of his struggles with depression and fear of women, this is a beautiful horrible film.
The visuals are breathtaking and the atmosphere is thick with dread. It’s an upsetting watch and I wouldn’t recommend it to many, but I’ve grown to love it over time. Not recommended if art-house sensibilities aren’t your thing. Or if you don’t want to be disturbed by occasional graphic violence and sex, child mortality and/or upsetting animal imagery. (I had trouble with the animal parts myself.)
I’d give it 5 out of 5 stars. A contender for my best U.S. horror release of 2010. If anyone is interested in a more in-depth review of this film, please let us know. I think we’d have a lot more to say.
The Brazen Bull
Trailer contains some light gore.
Michael Madsen is known for excellent performances in films like Reservoir Dogs, Kill Bill and Sin City. What happens to this man and his career when Tarentino or Rodriguez aren’t at the helm? He’s banished to straight-to-video B-movies trying to capitalize on his name and this “torture-porn”* flick is no exception. He plays a brutal madman known as “The Brazen Bull” who terrorizes an unsuspecting couple trapped in an abandoned warehouse. (Just reading about the historical torture device, the Brazen Bull, is enough to bring you nightmares. This bad movie not so much.) Reviews are terrible. Avoid this unless you simply must get your Madsen fix.
Damned by Dawn
A supernatural horror film from Australia about the Irish legend, the Banshee. After a young girl ignores her dying grandmother’s warning about meddling with the entity coming to collect her soul, the piercing cry of the “lady of Sorrows” raises the dead. The matriarch’s family must then fight malevolent forces to save their lives. And their souls. Clearly taking cues from Sam Raimi on the title alone, the director aims to provide an Evil Dead-style experience. Reviews applaud the creepy mood and practical effects, but warn of terrible CGI and weak story-telling.
Mark of the Damned
Luchadores, robots and Papier-mâché monsters. Filmed in black & white, this is a goofy low-budget homage to the classic El Santo films from the 50’s-80’s.
Zombie Girl the Movie
This is an adorable documentary following Emily Hagins, a twelve-year old girl, as she directs a her first feature-length film, a zombie movie called Pathogen. Emily is still directing. Keep an eye out for My Sucky Teenage Romance, a film where real vampires infiltrate Twilight culture to find easy prey. And check out her website to buy DVDs and to get the latest project news.
My pick this week?
I would pick AntiChrist for genre fans looking to have a genuinely horrific experience, but that’s not most people. For people just looking to have fun, I would have to go with Skyline or Zombie Girl.
*Torture-Porn, as most horror fans would agree, is a problematic term. It’s insulting and unnecessary. Unfortunately, this has become the easiest way to classify certain films and we begrudgingly use it when we have to. Note to self: I think this is an excellent subject to explore in a future article. Anyone interested?