OHC – Movie Party

October Challenge 2010 banner

On 26 and 27 October, my friends Renee (whom I’ve mentioned previously) and Matt (whom I have not) hosted their annual Halloween horror movie gathering. This year’s selections included movies that have not yet been released in the US, as well as a movie that has only been shown on the festival circuit. We’ll start with that one…

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Weaverfish (2012) – FTV
Directed by Harrison Wall

What starts as a character-driven – oh, and how – drama about a weekend camping trip to an abandoned island becomes a slow-building terror flick ending with some sick body horror and human/fish mutations. Unfortunately, the film spends too much time on building character relationships and introducing the audience to too many people that by the time it gets to the horror in the third act, it feels like too little too late. There’s a fine line between a good slow-burn horror film that creates palpable tension in the down time, and taking too long for anything to actually happen. Unfortunately, Weaverfish falls into the second category. However, when it gets to the ‘good stuff,’ as it were, it’s really good stuff.

I wouldn’t touch that if I were you.

I’m finally understanding the dilemma of reviewing first-time independent productions: on one hand, you have to be honest in your feelings on the film, but on the other hand, this is someone’s first major production and knocking it out of the park on the first try is practically impossible, so there’s definitely room for improvement. At the end of the day, Weaverfish is a decent first effort from a young director that ultimately is too unbalanced between drama and horror to work effectively as either.

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Lobos de Arga (2012, a.k.a. Game of Werewolves, Attack of the Werewolves, Party of Wolves, etc.) – FTV
Directed by Juan Martinez Moreno

A writer comes back to his childhood home and finds the community is less than welcoming, and with good reason. Tomas Marino’s family was cursed by a Gypsy woman 100 years ago, and the town has been plagued by werewolf attacks since; however, the blood of a Marino will break this curse, so the villagers capture Tomas and his agent to use in a ritual killing. But when they escape, they end up waking the beast from its slumber, setting off a chain of events that don’t exactly turn out the way you might expect – all you need to know is all hell breaks loose. If you’re looking for a horror comedy with werewolves that references the sub-genre from Paul Naschy to the original Lon Chaney Wolf Man, this is your movie.

Actually not a spoiler!

Not only was this a genuinely funny movie with some absolutely hilarious scenes – the part where Tomas’s friends come up with a possible solution to breaking the curse if he only sacrifices a pinky finger is a highlight – but there was very little CGI for the special effects. The werewolves are the traditional suit-and-makeup variety, which is both refreshing and comforting these days, and completely reminiscent of both Curse of the Werewolf and Naschy’s werewolves. Lobos de Arga only suffers in one major aspect: there are no female characters, save for one who shows up near the end as a plot device and to add a brief moment of emotional drama. That mars the film from being truly exceptional, but otherwise it stands as one of the better horror comedies since Shaun of the Dead.

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Livid (2011) – FTV
Directed by Julien Maury and Alexandre Bustillo

By most accounts, Livid is a difficult film to summarize. It starts as a haunted house film, then becomes a vampire story, then finally ends up being something like a Grimm fairy tale. For as much genre-switching as Livid does, the final product somehow works on an emotionally evocative level. The story itself is about a young woman, Lucy, training to be a home health aide who gets a tip from her trainer that there is a fortune to be found in the last house they visit, which is inhabited by the comatose ballet instructor Mrs. Jessel. When Lucy tells her boyfriend and his brother about it, they decide to break in late one night and search for this treasure. What they find there is that not only is the house haunted, Mrs. Jessel has made a life-size music box figure of her deceased daughter. As if that weren’t creepy enough, there’s also a room with no doors that one of the characters somehow finds himself in, and a tea party attended by stuffed animals – and not of the toy variety.

Warning: turning the key to this music box may be hazardous to your health

With a cast primarily comprised of women and a plot that’s all about the bonds that women make and break and build again, Livid was a nice counterpoint to Lobos de Arga. Here, the men end up being the plot devices. It should be noted that this film is directed by the guys who did Inside, another horror film about women – although this one has a far more uplifting tone by the end. Where Inside is a harrowing brutal massacre, Livid is creepy and less coherent and straightforward, which adds a dream-like quality. I’d quickly compare it to something like Suspiria; in fact, this film seems to be as polarizing as Argento’s work. People either hate it or they appreciate it. Personally, I like Suspiria, because of it’s weirdness, and I enjoyed Livid as well.

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Only a couple more blog posts left to scrape together for my Challenge views. I’ve been awfully lax about getting them written and posted in a timely manner, but think of it this way: I’m just extending October over two months. You’ll thank me for this when we get bombarded with Christmas everything in about a week. Just you wait!

In other updates, the most recent DitBH podcast is up. This one is different from the others because for the first time, the contributors were all in the same room at the same time. That in itself is rare. In addition, it’s probably our tightest podcast yet; we stayed on topic just about the entire time, and as such, the result is a densely packed treat that lasts over 90 minutes. So if you have time to spare (and if you don’t, make the time), click here and listen to me, Shelly, Christi, and Renee give our October Challenge wrap-up. We cover a lot of material, so you’re sure to find something interesting.

Views so far:
30 FTVs
16 repeat views
46 total

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