Thursday, August 29, 2013

The Burl-X-Files

Just a quick shout-out to a live performance I saw recently.

My ladies, they are so good to me, heard that an X-Files themed burlesque show was performing in the area. They immediately thought of me and treated me to a show. LOVE THEM.

This is one of the best burlesque shows ever I've seen. It was, of course, all burlesque, but also a complete theatrical performance where every act worked together so that it was a mini X-Files marathon on my couch/itty bitty coliseum seating in a basement theater in Chinatown.

The venue was perfect, the performers magnificent, the acts wonderful, and the company perfect. More claps and feet stomping for you, fine performers and theatrical staff.

And dear readers, if you are in the Seattle area and can attend The Burl-X-Files by the end of August, then please please do so.

Note, there is a chance that you'll go home with this song in your head. It's alright, it can stay there for a while, it's happy there:

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

The ABCs of Death (2012)

I'm glad I waited to watch this film.

I'm glad I waited until I could watch it with a group of some of my most favorite ladies. I'm glad it was their idea to watch it.

If  had I chosen to watch this on my own, or have it on in the background (first time "watching") then I would, hands down, not have the same review as I do now.

This film is something else. SomeThing Else, I tell you what. I read somewhere that this was an "...ambitious..." project. I agree. It was both ambitious and a project. It had many rewards as well as WTFs, but I'm grateful for watching it in the setting that I had so I could experience the group/collective idea that it is.

This is by no means A movie. It's 26 short films by 26 different writers and directors and actors. Please keep that in mind when watching it. There is a big difference between the two expectations.

But let me step back a moment and relay the setting I was in (because I think it makes a difference). My friends invited me over for a BBQ night. My burlesque dancing queen hosted and grilled the meat, spiced zucchini, and sewed away at a dainty costume all evening, my Paris-bound friend shared her sparkling wine, cigarettes, and pictures of her youth, and my obstacle-course-mad-running-world-domination friend relayed her hilarious expertise on how to not to talk to people stories. A great time was had by all. I was so happy to be there and I was excited to see this film with them (full consensus to watch it, by the way). I share this setting because I think it is important to know that I approached this movie with a gathering of people, all with a wide spectrum of ideas, experience, and different views of the world and the horror therein.

And that made all the difference.

Some shorts in the ABCs of Death collection crossed so many lines that I found myself in an Escher painting living nightmare and wanting to throw-up. Some were so clever I wanted to pinch everyone's cheeks and high-five the TV. While others were so dark and true that we all sat in sad silent for a while. A collection was gross that we all covered eyes and ears, and yet another group was so absurd and silly that they became the bathroom break periods.

Our emotions to these little escapades were so intense that had to make a game out of it (something I highly recommend). The title of the film doesn't show up until the end of the short. So try and guess the title! You have one hint - the title begins with a letter of the alphabet. You're welcome. Don't worry, you'll catch on quick. I got 4 out of 26. I got the most and tied with another...

This film is not for everyone. It requires a lot of wise adult attention and a lot of wise adult comical relief. Absolutely do not watch with non-horror movie fans. Non-horror movie fans will simply not understand and reprimand time lost (and ultimately turn them away further from horror movies).

Highly recommended for social workers, mathematicians and scientists, good movie aficionados, those who fear the toilet and not afraid to say so, artists, and friends.

Couples well with anything related to the idea of Fall, such as the last summer BBQ, non-white shoes, cozening up with a fine wine, and warm chocolate chip cookies.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

The Ceremony (2008)

This film opens with a nice young man and near-collage graduate coming home after a good run, who immediately proceeds to do laundry, wash dishes, vacuum, talk to family, wash the car, cook dinner and even get's a job offer over the phone.

How is this horror? (says every woman out there).

And then, of all the dumb luck, he stumbles upon his roommate's book on Satanism. Why fate!? All he was trying to do was Saturday chores! Well, as we all know from any movie about Satanism, curiosity and dumb luck = eternal damnation for you.

Although at first I thought The Ceremony might have been mis-categorized and was actually a comedy-fantasy, it was quickly made apparent that this was a traditional/not traditional movie on traditional/not traditional Hell.

With a small and smart use of cast and budget, this movie did wonders for getting the heart racing, jumps jumping, and the breaths a-takin'. The dialog felt very fraternity-sorority age appropriate but it worked well for the film. The moving shadows and even moving furniture was sharp, crisp, creepy, and clean. Two thumbs up and an awkward black slap to whoever came up with my new favorite most-creative-weapon-against-demons: a Supersoaker full of bleach. I'd like to think that idea came entirely from the imagination, but I worry that perhaps it was derived from an actual college campus party gone wrong (and still talked about).

All that said, even though the movie began on a strange beat for me, it migrated to horror at a nice rate and ended with a big fat rotten cherry on top.

Excellent film for Saturday night gatherings. Will go well with beer and pizza. If possible, watch with someone who failed their religious studies course.

The Baby (1973)

I don't think a movie like this can be made in the U.S.A. anymore.

The 1970's cult classic went above and beyond what I like to call, "everyday horror" with gingerly speed and shocking blatancy.

In The Baby, the everyday horror is child abuse. Not a subject to treat lightly or portray as a source for good entertainment. That said, I feel this movie did a good job of relaying the twisted logic behind the characters' mind sets (which make this a horror movie) without disregarding the seriousness for the viewers to take home, once the movie was over.

Although it is now considered a cult classic, it's not the kind you'd want to laugh your way through. Yet, there are several jaw-dropping moments that will tickle the 'thank goodness we're not in the '70s anymore' bone - especially for the ladies. I also wasn't sure if the story line was trying to make a point of how 'insane' women got without a man in their life, or if this was a simply a movie about a collection of straight up insane people. I've not come to a firm conclusion, but there is a good party of me that still thinks this might actually be a little bit of a moralistic tale about how Women's Lib ruined 'merica.

I Could Be Wrong! But still, the feeling lingers.

This is a very good, twisted, all sorts of wrong, movie - but it's a difficult movie to watch at moments. The ending was a surprise, not exactly a pleasant one, but a surprise all the same.

Watch with friends who work in the social services field.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

The Last Will and Testament of Rosalind Leigh (2012)

Oh man!

What Just Happened?!

I'm not sure either but I'm going to have nightmares tonight - that and probably cry myself to sleep.

The Last Will and Testament of Rosalind Leigh is not getting the attention it deserves right now. I suspect it may have something to do with finding the target audience. This is a straight up scary movie that will likely make you cry, much like The Orphanage but different. It's difficult to attract the attention of movie fans with a description like "...oh yeah, it's scary alright, but it's pretty sad. Like, you'll need to call your Mom and tell her you love her while you're curled up in a corner crying kinda sad".

It seems to me that with a unique horror genre like this one, the people that will first gravitate to it will not fully appreciate the depth of the story line. They are expecting monsters, ghosts and jolts (which you get), but probably not enough of it and instead only focus on how much the sadness bored them and how little is explained directly. I'm here to help clear things up a bit.

Step aside negative nancy know-it-alls, this film is not for you, go back to Saw IV or Human Centipede (Note, I've not yet seen Saw IV or Human Centipede... I'm simply not interested yet ... let's leave it at that). If you enjoy watching a movie about the layering of interpersonal horror, the darkness of regret and loneliness, and the conflict that comes with the attempts to put pieces of a life back together then I highly recommend this film.

Also, if monsters scare you (they scare the BEEP out of me) then this film will also probably make you poop your pants a little. I'm serious. I'm leaving all the lights on tonight [washing machine hits rinse cycle in the background].

This is a gorgeous film that opens up a new level of integrating religion with horror. It also beautifully connects family drama with things that lick your face in your sleep. No joke. Licking. The. Face. The movie went there  - it's messed up and straight up horrifying.

I'm going to watch happy things for a little while now, but know that this movie is so dark and the environment so unique that you may not know your way around right away. Give it a moment. Also, before turning on the film, get yourself nestled into a nice warm, safe spot. Grab your favorite feel good beverage and food (I chose a pillowed covered couch and a dinner of white wine with pasta and salad), watch with few interruptions, and prepare yourself of a gamut of emotions.