You Belong to Me

2007's You Belong to Me, is a film I had never heard of before last night.  I stumbled across it on Netflix and figured I'd give it a look-see.  Frankly, I was pleasantly surprised.  What begins like another low-budget-indie-gay-themed film quickly morphs into a creepy, claustrophobic thriller that includes elements of Misery, Rosemary's Baby and Rear Window.

When a lonely young man moves into an apartment building so that he can stalk a guy he had an unsuccessful one night stand with, he gets much more than he bargained for...and unless you want the entire surprise of this one spoiled, that's about as much of the plot as you're getting here!

Director Sam Zalutsky has crafted a film that has an honest to god, mid 70's, made-for-TV-horror film-vibe to it.  And I say that as a compliment, becuase that's what makes You Belong to Me so much fun to watch.  You don't want to come to this film expecting blood and guts (well, there is a little blood) or major shocks; but if you can surrender to the cheesy charms ( yes, cheesy charms), you will find yourself smack dab in the middle of a creepy thriller.

But a fascinating thing happens towards the film's ending when the villain reveals their motives and suddenly, the specter of the AIDS crisis swoops in and adds a rather horrific bit of shading to some of what we saw earlier in the movie.  But fear not, the cheese factor is still strong enough so that You Belong to Me never even comes close to the heart-breaking realism  of  Philadelphia or Longtime Companion.

Finally, co-star Patti D'Arbanville is the heart and soul of You Belong to Me.  The former Warhol Superstar and muse for Cat Stevens (oh yes, kids, that's a fact) is still a gorgeous woman with a considerable presence. After seeing her performance here, one can't help but imagine what she might accomplish in a big budget shocker.  Or maybe John Waters could craft something perfect for her...ah, the mind boggles at the possibilities.
Hint: if this is your landlady, RUN!


Charlie Loves Jill: Scream 4

Since there are approximately 4989598956989 reviews of Scream 4 out there, the last thing anyone needed was me waxing on about the latest installment of a film franchise that helped inspire the name of this very blog.   No need for any of that, instead, please enjoy the following observations that struck as I was watching Scream 4.

  • The opening of this film is everything I want in a Scream movie; fast, funny, scary, creative, smart and surprising.  Bravo to Wes Craven and company for giving me a brilliant ten minutes or so of twists and turns and fake outs and, finally,  gore.  Loved it!
  • I love Dewey Riley (David Arquette).  And I love how his cell phone alarm was Axel F from Beverly Hills Cop
  • Courtney Cox is actually a pretty decent comic actress.
  • Neve Campbell still looks great - what's this girl's secret?
  • Awww, it's great to see Sid, Gale and Dewey together again.
  • Damn, that second murder was pretty gruesome - disgusting in fact.  I must be getting old, seeing the victims guts spilled out on her bed made my stomach turn.
  • Wow, lots of self referential stuff going on here - very clever, but if it goes on much longer, it could get irritating.
  • It just got irritating.
  • Hayden Panettiere's lesbian-hair-cut has made her a better actress, or she's taking acting lessons, damn she's actually very good!
  • Hold on, you've got Mary McDonnell in this movie as Sid's aunt (sister of her late mother) and you're not using her back story as one of the central plot points?  What a waste.  Stay away from the mail slot Mary!!!
  • Wait, one of the characters is actually gay, but we don't find out until a second before he's dead?  What's up with that?
  • I can't figure out if Rory Culkin's eyes are beautiful, or scary, or just plain odd.  Same thing with his hair.
  • Robert Rodriquez directed Stab, who knew?
  • OK, I understand the suspension of disbelief, but when I found out who one of the killer's was, my first thought was, but it looks like a good stiff wind would knock them to the ground, how could that person take down a full grown man? 
  • Apparently, Charlie Loves Jill.
  • Much like the first ten minutes, the last fifteen minutes of Scream 4 are a blast.  From the reveal, to another character's psychotic break causing that character to physically assault themselves, to Syd proudly showing the world what a real Final Girl is all about, to the fade out of talking heads reporting the wrong information to the news media. 
Final verdict:  This one is not a classic, it really does not bring much to the table.  That said, it's a fun ride and you could do worse.  Wait for the matinee though, I wouldn't pay full price. 


    Horror Movie DILF: The Last Exorcism

    Name:  Reverend Cotton Marcus

    Location: Baton Rouge, Louisiana

    Occupation: Preacher, Faith Healer, Exorcist.

    Family:  Wife, Shanna.  Son, Justin.

    Why is he a DILF ?:  Because he's a smooth talking charlatan who could charm a snake right out of his skin.  One part Elmer Gantry, one part Marjoe Gortner, the good Reverend knows how to milk a scam like nobody's business.  It does not matter if he's preaching about baking banana bread, or making a few bucks driving imaginary demons out of some country bumpkin, he does it with class and dignity. 

    Despite his penchant for trickery, Cotton is devoted to his wife and his son (who had a birth defect that lead to the child's loss of hearing).  It appears that he works so hard at fooling the masses so that he can bring in money to help with his son's therapy.
    A local sensation, Cotton jumped at the chance to be in a documentary film that would not only expose his spiritual quackery, but perhaps serve as a springboard to bigger and better (as well as more legitimate) things.
    Armed with his bag of tricks (including his smoking crucifix), Cotton and his film crew go to the home of a simple farmer and his daughter.  The farmer feels that his offspring is possessed by a demon.  Sensing that this will be his last exorcism, he pulls out all the plugs and gives the locals what they want - engages in some high tech sleight of hand, and proclaims the farmer's daughter free of evil...
    ...little did he know, however, that he had walked into something much worse than he could imagine, and soon, he finds himself in the midst of a Satanic double cross that will lead to his death.
    Let's face it, it's not hard to find this guy attractive; he's self assured, charismatic, and charming.  More than that, when the chips are down, instead of turning away and heading for safety, he tries to come to the aid of the allegedly possessed girl.    All in all, that's what makes him one sexy DILF in my book!
    Played by: Patrick Fabian.


    Son of the Daughter of the Mother of the Father of Horror Porn

    Horror porn goes meta to the nth degree.  Check out this blurb from the press release:  

    The plot: a big adult film company is producing a parody of the classic horror movie Scream when one-by-one the cast and crew are being picked off by a slasher with a grudge. Is it Ghostface himself, or someone else taking his place?

    “We have created a movie-within-a-movie that riffs on the entire porn parody craze in the same way that “Scream” deconstructed horror films,” says Braun. “Movie fans will not only love the layers of detail the spoof offers but the sex that fills the script. Eli has put together a clever, sexy movie with hot girls, uproarious fun and plenty of thrills — an excellent recipe for great entertainment.”
     This gay porn epic claims to be "critically acclaimed"; by the box cover creator no doubt.
    ...becuase the original was not outrageous enough?
    Best title: Dr. Jerkoff and Mr. Hard. Directed by Wash West (AKA Wash Westmoreland who gave the world the mainstream gay porn thriller, The Fluffer).
    Subtle, no?

    This one is slated to show sometime in October, check out the press release:

    (Chatsworth, CA) Smash Pictures invites you to take a sexual tour through Haddonfield on the most thrilling night of the year in HALLOWEEN XXX Porn Parody! Set to lens soon, HALLOWEEN XXX Porn Parody is an X-rated re-imagining of the classic film. It was thirty three years ago that one of the recognizable horror movies of all time was unleashed and the name Michael Myers became part of pop culture. Now, Smash Pictures revisits that familiar territory with an adult video parody of that iconic film. The nubile babes in danger, the voyeuristic view point of Michael, the sexual escapades of the partying young adults, all elements ripe for parody and to be explored in HALLOWEEN XXX Porn Parody.

    “We’re quite excited about this project and are going all out,” says Stuart Wall-VP of Smash Pictures. “I really believe this film will please fans of the original as well as people who want to see erotically entertaining adult movies.”

    HALLOWEEN XXX Porn Parody will begin filming in the next few months. To find a porn counterpart to John Carpenter, Smash Pictures looked to award winning veteran adult film director Jim Powers to lens this tribute. Powers has filmed well over a thousand X-rated films and has established himself as a director well-versed in premiere erotica. Powers, himself a fan of the original movie, plans to surprise viewers with the parody. “I’m really going to stay true to the source material,” Powers explained. “It’s rich with sexual overtones that we could utilize. Fans of the movie are going to be thrilled to see how we take the layers of the Carpenter film and have fun with it.”

    Casting for the parody’s version of the iconic roles made famous by Jamie Lee Curtis, Donald Pleasance, Nick Castle and P.J. Soles will take place next month. Smash Pictures is looking for talent to re-create the memorable scenes. Be it the sexually charged playfulness of Annie Brackett and Lynda Van Der Klok or the dominating presence of Myers, Smash Pictures wants to stay true to the feel of the original. There is also a standing invitation to any of the ’78 Halloween cast to cameo in HALLOWEEN XXX Porn Parody.

    The HALLOWEEN XXX Porn Parody boxcover design plays a perfect homage to the movie poster artwork, with its uniquely sexy take. A set of female silhouettes form the unmistakable pumpkin shape, while Michael’s trademark knife is present in the forefront. Even the recognizable tag line is lampooned with “The Night He Came!” The DVD will come specially packaged in a eye-catching Point Of Purchase display for video stores to capitalize on Halloween sales.

    HALLOWEEN XXX Porn Parody is slatted, fittingly, for an October release. This Halloween, be prepared for the night he came!


    Not since William Castle : INSIDIOUS

    The bad news about James Wan's Insidious is that Patrick Wilson does not remove his shirt during the course of this film...not once

    The good news about James Wan's Insidious is that it's one of the most entertaining horror films to come down the pike in a very long time.

    When a couple and their three children move into a gorgeous old home, the wife (Rose Byrne), almost immediately starts noticing that items she has unpacked are going missing, and books she neatly set on to shelves are found  later scattered on the floor.  Her eldest son (Ty Simpkins) tells her that he does not like his room, and noises seem to be coming from the attic.  Nothing very dramatic here, just enough bumps in the night to set one's nerves on edge.

    It's not until the son falls into a coma after a (seemingly) innocuous mishap, that things start getting metaphysical.

    After an episode that includes late night rapping's at the front door and ghostly intruders wandering into bedrooms, the family, quite sensibly, cuts their losses and moves into another home.  And all is well, for a few minutes, until whatever was haunting these people has found its way to their new address.

    With their son still in a coma, and the new house seemingly a welcome center for earth bound spirits, the family, in desperation contacts a medium  to set things right.  It's at this point that Insidious goes  from a creepy, spine chiller, to a balls-to-the-wall fun ride complete with wailing ghosties, astral projection, disembodied hands coming out of kitchen drawers; and a demonic being who is fond of Tiny Tim's rendition of Tip Toe through the Tulips - I am pretty sure that a kitchen sink is also featured somewhere as well.

    I've already heard some folks claim that they enjoyed the film until the final quarter claiming it was too over the top for their tastes.  That's odd, becuase I found the final quarter of Insidious a hell of a lot of fun.  From Lynn Shaye's charming portrayal of the spiritualist, to Leigh Whannell and Angus Sampson's much needed comic relief as the bumbling assistants, to the cavalcade of costumed creeps popping up in clothes closets, to the wacky seance complete with archaic cameras and gas masks -- this is the kind of fun stuff not seen since the time of William Castle (why weren't our seats rigged with buzzers, where were the ghost glasses, why no life insurance policy).  You see, that is the beauty of Insidious; what begins as a truly eerie suspense piece, eventually morphs into a seat-of-the-pants-thrill ride.  It's called showmanship, kids.  It's called entertainment!

    Yeah, this is a rave.  I loved this film.  So get up off your asses, get a ticket, leave all expectations at the door, and strap your self in for a fun ride. 

    Fun?  Remember fun?  Apparently, James Wan does.


    All of Them Witches: Häxan

    "Hide witch, hide - the good folk come to burn thee. Their keen enjoyment hid behind a gothic mask of duty."

    Danish filmmaker Benjamin Christensen's 1922  silent documentary, Häxan is the kind of movie that probably works best watched late in the evening while the viewer is under the influence of some kind of illicit drug - or very strong alcoholic beverage.

    Presented as a serious look at the ancient belief in demons and witches, and the subsequent hysteria that ensued resulting in the deaths of thousands of (mostly) females during the middle ages by pious church leaders, Häxan depicts a nightmarish world populated by hideous daemons, and equally hideous priests, monks and judges; all with one goal in common: the denigration of women.   To be sure, we witness Satan beckoning sleeping maidens from their beds, or tormenting nuns with heretical commands - while on the other hand we witness mean spirited witch hunters who seemingly take delight in the torture and execution of women accused of the black arts.   

    Filled with archaic wood cuts and statuary to illustrate the narrative (eagle eyed viewers will note, very early in the proceedings, a drawing of  The Exorcist's own, Pazuzu) and then dramatizations, Häxan seduces the viewer with its imagery.  The vignettes are hypnotic, disturbing, and deeply, darkly gorgeous - whether we are watching witches standing over a cauldron making potions, or spectral boogey men attempting to seduce a naked woman, everything works perfectly.
    What is most fascinating is how Christensen wraps up his film by explaining away the devil-madness of the past and equating it to the recent (recent for 1922) epidemic of "nervous hysteria" in women.  While his heart was probably in the right place, it all comes off  rather condescending ... but that's a very small complaint.  All in all, Häxan is a gem of a find, and if you have not seen this one, then by all means, seek it out ... and if you have some stash laying around from that Black Sabbath concert you went to back in 1974, well, roll up a fat one, sit back, and prepare to have your mind blown !