Tag Archives: Witty

THE LAST KNOCK presents: GET OUT (2017)

The Last Knock

Get Out has captured the minds of many, and even non-horror fans are discussing the themes and message of Jordan Peele’s debut as writer/director. We’ll take a look at the entire film, which means one big time spoiler alert looms on the horizon. Has Get Out lived up to the hype? Maybe it has, maybe it’s one of the most socially conscientious films ever in the horror genre – or maybe it’s just another movie. Check in, listen to our break down of themes, imagery, and so much more, and find out for yourself…

This episode’s SCREAM OUTS from Twitter: 

@JordanPeele @LifeofComics @DanielKaluuya_ @RegalMovies @TraCee_tr @LilRel4 @jamiebernadett @FYFCStudios @RonGizmo @DreadCentral @VicsMovieDen @Talk2Cleo @IndieWire @PromoteHorror @GetOutMovie @LoudGreenBird

Let us know what you think of this show, the last show, and the one before that. Hell, we have nearly 250 to choose from…

Crash Discussion: We Take a Bite Out of Vampires, Episode 17

PodcastimageVampires are cool, sexy, and immortal, but that isn’t enough to explain the love of bloodsuckers. Billy Crash and Jonny Numb traverse the Gothic landscape to unravel why vampires are so beloved and indulge in discussing some of the best films the subgenre has to offer.

Check us out on iTunes, and if you like us, leave a review!

Crash Discussion: Episode 6, Mad Scientist Movie Mayhem

PodcastimageFrom the 1930s to today, the mad scientist subgenre has captivated moviegoers, regardless of farfetched storytelling. Billy Crash and Jonny Numb explore the truly mad from the mundane, investigate the subgenres themes, and discuss why mad scientist films may make a big comeback.

Listen in, and leave us your review on iTunes!

Crash Analysis: EXCISION (2012)

See it – NOW!

The disintegration of a troubled teenager

First time writer/director Richard Bates Jr. must have impressed some quality people and their hefty wallets with his short film, Excision back in 2008. Not only does he bring a full-blown production to the screen because of his creative effort, but the cast includes the likes of Traci Lords, Roger Bart, AnnaLynne McCourt, Ariel Winter, “Twin Peaks” alum Ray Wise, and Malcolm McDowell, as a high school teacher, no less – and John Waters as a deadpan minister. Wow.

Okay, that’s all hype. We’ve seen movies bottom out regardless of the phenomenal cast because story is king (or queen), and without a great tale to tell, the rest doesn’t matter (add your James Cameron movie of choice here), because style only trumps substance in the minds of fools who hold special effects or seemingly cool characters without depth over a vibrant yarn. With story as foundation, the actors that inhabit films through their characters can better enhance the narrative, and remarkable special effects will help sell the story as well. Excision has all of these elements in place, and then some.

If you love the “quirky” comedic horror, such as Canada’s Ginger Snaps (2000) and Lucky McKee’s amazing May (2002), you should find Bates’s tale more than satisfying. The story revolves around the enigmatic troubled teen, Pauline, brilliantly portrayed by McCourt, and her dysfunctional family: passive-aggressive and not-all-there dad (Bart), her younger cystic fibrosis plagued sister Grace (Winter), and the matriarch in control, a demanding mother who cherishes Grace among all things (Lords – who will amaze). With Pauline, we can make comparisons to her adult counterpart in the film May, where she doesn’t fit in among the masses. However, where May wants to belong to the world at large, Pauline has other pursuits in mind. What these are can only come from indulging in the film where she has discussions with God while performing rebellious deeds with one thematic prize in mind. Theme is the crux of the tale, which is full of Pauline’s horrific, bloodlust laden fantasies, and her penchant for setting everyone on edge whether at home or in school. Although one would think she’d despise her ill sister, there is a sort of camaraderie there, much like Ginger and Brigitte in Ginger Snaps. Right from the beginning, however, with all its quirkiness and black comedy, we know all too well that something really awful is coming, and Bates does not disappoint thanks to a sub-layer of tension that permeates the movie. Even better, thanks to excellent writing, loaded with exemplary dialogue, we are delivered a full blown upper cut in thematic subtlety (yes, I know that’s a contradiction), that seems to become lost on many viewers who simply despise the movie – see my point about those choosing style over substance.

But the film does have style, and lots of it. Itay Gross, who was the cinematographer for the original short, brought his skills to the feature. Relying on solid lighting to enhance every detail, he did so without creating a perfectly sterile environment, and kept us off-kilter with often straight on wide shots that deceptively mimicked a “wonderful world” of sunshine and warm colors. In the dream sequences, he amped up the lighting to create a heavenly glow in contrast to the blood and carnage, which mirrored the conflict in Pauline’s ravaged mind, leaving us in a beautiful domain with sumptuous people drenched in muck and gore. Yet, when Pauline talks to God, the camera shines down on her in the dark, revealing only her white face and folded hands as she peers upward, which is in direct opposition to her visions of fashionable blood and butchery. Once again, the disconnect in Pauline’s mind is made clear through exceptional imagery. Pauline peers up from the darkness because she sees her life as Hell, an abyss, while the blood-soaked images of beautiful and alluring people are set against a clean, white, virginal world. Gross’s achievement further enhanced Armen Ra’s production design, which again mislead us with seemingly generic venues both innocuous and comfortable, and as inviting as the gingerbread house in the old Hansel and Gretel story or a “Brady Bunch” episode. Then again, isn’t this why Bates deceived us with the comedy element? In this regard, he’s reminiscent of Tarantino who misdirects us with fun and games until someone is brutally killed (think of the opening “royale with cheese” scene in Pulp Fiction before the carnage), as if he had coaxed us into his realm with candy before bludgeoning us with a hammer. As for the rest of the behind-the-scenes crew, no one missed a beat and collectively delivered one extremely unsettling film.

It’s not hard for one to see that Pauline has much in common with Carol (Catherine Deneuve) from Polanski’s dramatic horror Repulsion (UK, 1965). Like May and Carol, Pauline is in crisis, though unlike the others, she knows it, and like the others, does her best to bend reality to her crazed will. All of these women are creators by nature, yet in order to right the perceived wrongs done to them, they become “the destructor” to bring about change and the inner growth they think will lead to solace, even at the highest of prices. One can easily make comparison to goddesses like Kali, who is both creator and destructor, but these women lack the wisdom of a deity due to the over-whelming pressure of their human frailties. Although we see May and Carol on their own, eighteen-year-old Pauline cannot escape the family unit. At least her mother, anyway, who lays down the law (or tries to) while Pauline fights back with wit and a bit of lunacy to maintain a sense of autonomy.

Don’t think this is some cliché-ridden tale with the typical family dynamics we’ve come to loathe from other movies, or the stock bullies one finds at Hollywood movie high schools. Bates constantly adds little touches to keep things askew, and delivers the best and worst of each character in subdued ways. Like Paul Solet’s completely under-appreciated Grace (2009), it’s hard to find “evil” in a character when they are simply doing what they think is right – only to have some major realizations come calling by film’s end.

Pauline’s journey is an intriguing and disturbing venture sure to connect with many, while others may not grasp the nuances of Bates’s artistry and guile. I certainly hope to indulge in more of Bates and his work – much sooner than later – for Excision is the best horror I’ve seen in quite some time. The film’s certainly worthy of a rental, though it should find a home in every horror fan’s personal collection. Did I mention John Waters as a minister?

4.5 out of 5 stars

RED VICTORIA (2008)

Witty, low budget, horror/comedy splendor Red Victoria

A reluctant horror writer finds his deadly muse.

Not another movie about a writer… Well, get over it (In fact, this is the 237 such film: http://christinakatz.com/free/236-movies-about-writers/). This one’s different. And I mean that. In fact, Tony Brownrigg’s venture is so good, the clichéd notion of the premise proved irrelevant.

As one of the best opening credits roll, the audience may get the idea this movie is going to be a real nightmare. Not in the thrills and chills sense, but because Brownrigg is the star, screenwriter, director, visual effects supervisor, cinematographer and producer. Usually, when one sees this, unless Alfred Hitchcock’s at the helm, the movie normally disintegrates into a garbage heap of bad acting, bad direction, bad writing – and everything else. Thankfully, Brownrigg kept an open mind and had faith in his cast to bring it all together. Better still, he thrust his own ego aside and listened to his stars. Smart man.

In RED VICTORIA, Jim’s (Brownrigg) a fledgling screenwriter looking for the big sale. Since he writes sappy, existential work, there’s no awesome payday any time in his future. But his agent, Peter (Joshua Morris), insists Jim write a horror for a quick sale. Besides not wanting to take part in such drivel, Jim never gets scared because he’s close to being a real-life, emotionless Vulcan. Of course, he needs the money, so he does what he can to get in the right frame of mind, but snooty Blake (Christian Taylor) and horrorgeek Carl (Edward Landers) can’t help their friend. Then, one day, as Jim’s desperation grows more intense, dead girl/demon/muse/dark fantasy maiden Victoria (Arianne Martin), ends up a bloody and decaying mess in his bed. And she’ll do her damnedest to help Jim embrace his dark side, though one wonders if he realizes his soul may actually be up for grabs.

This may seem like the foundation to a romantic comedy, but Brownrigg’s writing skirts around all the pitfalls of the banal and jejune. Yes, he consistently flaunts with the tired and mundane, but the wit, comedy, drama and surprises certainly reveal that the man is more of a dancer than a writer. In fact, Jim’s constantly calling out the cliché’s that undermine horror cinema right before the viewing audience is steered in another direction.

The comedy element is wonderful here because Brownrigg and company do not go overboard with schlock and third-rate, low-brow stupidity. Even in the film’s funniest moments, the dialogue and situations are sharp and inviting. RED VICTORIA is far removed from the likes of hokey horrors and pathetic pretentiousness as REFLECTIONS OF EVIL (2002) and ZOMBIE STRIPPERS (2008) – where that element of being pretentious comes from filmmakers who think they are doing something cool for the genre when they’re doing nothing but undermining it even more. Satire reigns in RED VICTORIA, and instead pretention, its more like a close examination of the genre. Most important, the comedy assists in establishing theme: How far will one go to make something happen for himself or herself, even at the expense of strangers and loved ones.

The cast is wonderful and everyone hits their marks. Martin stands out because of her coolness, and how well she can mix comedy and drama while remaining Jim’s beautiful siren. Regardless, all the characters are intriguing and well developed, including the Receptionist (Mary Ann McCarty) and Wolfgang (John Phelan) who have but a few moments of screen time.

Evil John Mays’ special effects makeup is quite solid, as well as Brownrigg’s visual effects. Both aspects conspire to remind us that this story isn’t all fun and games, and several scenes may give the viewer pause as the tale marches towards the heart of the matter.

Brownrigg proves once again that you can create something magical, intelligent and fabulous with a mere five grand. Sure, naysayers seem to attack this film right off the bat, but I can not recommend this one enough for the horror fan that wants a movie with something to say while having a little fun along the way. For my money, this is one of the best low budget horrors – and definitely one of the very best comedy horrors – I have ever seen. Happy Halloween and enjoy!

Other great horror comedies to consider: VAMP (1986), DEAD ALIVE (New Zealand, 1992), TREMORS (1995), BUBBA HO-TEP (2002), SLITHER (2006), MURDER PARTY (2007), SUCK (Canada, 2009) and TUCKER AND DALE VS EVIL (Canada/USA, 2010).

4.5 out of 5 stars