Delve Deeper

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Arkham Sanitarium, Soul Eater.

                         More like Lovecraft got stoned and decided he 
                                      didn't give a shit any more.

I know in advance that this review will be controversial, because on Amazon Prime Video, where I saw the movie, had four reviewers saying it was terrible, unwatchable, and don't bother. I was the only reviewer who actually liked the film.

Arkham Sanitarium: Soul Eater must not be confused with Arkham Sanitarium; a film I have not seen and cannot comment on. It was made in 2014 and stars Shannon Brown, Rinska Carrasco, Marc Edwards, and Ron Fitzgerald as Lewis Theobold. It is a found footage movie, about a Lovecraft Sex and Death Cult, set in an abandoned sanitarium. Shannon stars as Mark Chambers, an obnoxious wannabe who intends to become a star at any cost, and Rinska and Marc play Linda and Jerry Novak, who wish to beat him to the big story. Cue lots of roaming around in a dark and shadowy building, while odd noises and poltergeist activity scare the pants off of them, and attempt to scare the pants off of us. Then it gets weird.

I mean seriously weird, batshit insane in fact. Not since The Happiness of the Katakuris have I seen a film so bizarre and off the wall. It has possession, octopus puppets, torture porn, inappropriate humour, tentacle sex, unbelievably bad special effects, a man in a silly mask, and claymation. Yes, claymation. One gets the feeling that half way though making the movie they realised it wasn't going to be much good, so they decided to have as much fun as possible. And they still manage to put some genuine moments of fear in it. I think they would have made a truly terrifying movie if they had decided to take it seriously. As it is, Arkham Sanitarium: Soul Eater falls into the "so bad it's good" category.

I honestly suggest you try and see it. You may never take my verdict on movies seriously again, and you may even hate me, but I'd be lying if I didn't say I really enjoyed this movie. 

                           I wish I could show you the Claymation, 
                                        but this'll have to do.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

The Void.

I was looking forward to this movie with mingled hope and fear. Two kinds of fear in fact, the fear that it wouldn't live up to the hype, and the fear that it would.  For if The Void lived up to the hype, it would be terrifying.

Nowadays, movies are hyped up so much that disappointment is almost inevitable. The wise punter allows for this, and consequently, won't be too let down by the reality.

The reality is, this is a good movie. It has flaws, but so does everything, including some of  My favourite movies. It kept me watching right through to the end, which is a plus in itself.  I was even motivated to watch it a second time, and found it had improved on second viewing.  The first time I watched it I was in a bit of a strop about how long it took me to get it to play.  I watched it on Amazon Instant Video and it took forever to get sorted. Bloody Silverlight! Anyway. Because of said strop, I was unable to concentrate on the first half of the movie, and I missed a few things that helped the movie make sense.  I cannot tell you what, as this is a spoiler-free review.

I was not helped by the fact that the movie dragged in places in the first half.  The characters have to be introduced, their backstories have to be filled in a little, the scene has to be set.  Sadly for me the characters were totally uninteresting.  I really didn't engage with any of them except a nursing trainee: Kim, played by Ellen Wong.  Even when two rednecks broke into the hospital with violence on their minds I wasn't engaged.  Unpleasant men with violence on their minds are ten a penny in horror movies.  However, the special effects that were rationed out to us in the first half were enough to keep me watching. Monsters.  With tentacles!

The second half is where this film really picks up, there are monsters galore, mutilated humans, mutated humans, mutilated and mutated humans, and in time, The Void begins to open. There are some inspired moments that drew the breath from my body.  Some of the lines given to the main villain are wonderful, memorable. When enough people have seen the movie, I expect to see them quoted with the same frequncy as "We'll tear your soul apart!" and "Your suffering will be legendary, even in hell!"

There is a reason why Hellraiser comes to mind, and you'll see it yourself when you watch The Void. It is derivative, very derivative.  You will be reminded of Hellraiser a lot; also of Baskin, The Thing, Prince of Darkness and possibly a little of Fulci's The Beyond.

 Of course it's derivative, all movies are.  Plots don't materialise out of thin air, even when the screenwriter writes from scratch.  Even if the writer is not deliberately referencing any movie or book that has gone before, they won't be able to avoid using familiar tropes and scenarios.  This doesn't make it a bad movie, but it does commit the error of reminding the viewer of better movies than the one they are watching.

In spite of it's flaws, I enjoyed this movie, and will certainly watch it again.  It is not a great film, but I think it is a memorable one. Some images will stay with you, possibly forever. But I doubt the names of any of the protagonists will. The best thing about this movie? No CGI! It should get a gold star for that alone.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Quatermass 2

Quatermass 2 is one of the best sci-fi horror films ever made, even though it is in black and white, even though the science is dated, even though the special effects are less than perfect. It has other names: The Quatermass Xperiment, and Enemy From Space, but I prefer Quatermass 2.

It stars Brian Donlevy as Quatermass, and I am glad to say he is less obnoxious in this film than he was in the first, as well as less hairy. The cast is almost exclusively male, so it not only fails the Bechdel test, but sets fire to the paper and dances on the ashes. There are many interesting supporting characters in this film, including Sid James as a reporter, and Vera James as Sheila, the barmaid, and of course there is Michael Ripper. A Hammer film isn't a proper Hammer film unless Michael Ripper is in it.  All of them come across as real people, an asset to the film as we care about what happens to them. This is a Quatermass film, nasty things will happen to them.

It stands out because of the extreme tension that pervades the whole film. Even though we know almost from the start that there is an invasion going on. We are Lovecraft fans, we know the significance of hollow meteorites when we see them. Nevertheless, nothing is predictable here, this is not your typical invasion. Like the next movie in the sequence, the unforgettable Quatermass and the Pit, the aliens are already here before the events of the film start. A big part of he tension comes from us discovering how deep the invading force has penetrated into our society. Indeed, at the end one is left wondering if the protagonists have detected all the domes, and if all the enslaved ones have been released.

I return to the domes, because they are the true stars of the film, and that is not to devalue any of the actors in any way. It is just to emphasise how magnificent they are, and how ominous. The word I believe is lowering. They lower over the movie. We first see them from a distance, thus

And then as a model, in their intended context as part of a moonbase.

And then, we get this.

They overwhelm and they dominate, and upon seeing them we just have to ask "Just what the hell is IN those things".  Be patient, for we will find out. So will Professor Quatermass.

There are many things in this film to chill our blood, and we don't have to wait long for them. I don't want to make a list of them all, but the robotic behaviour of the plant's employees is one of them, the ominous masks worn by the guards, and perhaps worst of all, blood dripping from a pipe that is supposed to be filled with gas. And then there are the contents of those domes. How anyone can see them and still say this film isn't Lovecraftian beats me. Indeed my first call was "shoggoth!", although these things are far more complex and intriguing than any shoggoth could be. It is true that the special effects fail us a little here, but I have seen much worse CGI, many times. And so have you.