like many others, i’m trying to watch 1 horror film a day this month. one of my favorites, HOUSE OF THE DEVIL (2009) was my 10/1 choice. this is a poster my very talented friend trevor dunt designed so check out his other work.
WE’VE MADE A HUGE MISTAKE, and we spend this episode talking about it. (You can grab the mp3 here if you like.)
Namely, we watched Prophecy: Uprising and Prophecy: Forsaken, two direct-to-video sequels to the previously-reviewed Prophecy trilogy starring Christopher Walken. These two? No Christopher Walken, which is a problem for a franchise that had going for it not much other than Christopher Walken.
And boy did we miss him.
There are some familiar face, though: Kari Wuhrer from Hellraiser: Deader plays the main character in both these films, and Doug Bradley takes a break from Pinheading to play a mild-mannered Romanian cop who (spoiler alert) gets possessed by the demon Belial and chews some scenery for a while in the first film. (And Doctor Who’s son, Sean Pertwee, plays a corrupt cop!)
Originally we thought these films might be interesting by virtue of being siblings of Hellraiser: Deader and Hellraiser: Hellworld, all four being shot at about the same time in Bucharest by substantially the same crew, and there are a few moments we discuss that are sort of fun as odd echoes of those films (this was definitely Kari Wuhrer’s “wandering around Bucharest with terrible wounds but somehow not dying” period) but even that weird bit of trivia can’t help these things out.
They’re really bad, guys. They’re really dull, forgettable, blech films. The second one, Forsaken, feels, as Josh says at one point, like DLC for the first film, so insubstantial and underplotted even compared with Uprising. Most of the things we watch we recommend as at least worth looking at as a curiosity, but if you haven’t already, just skip watching these and listen to the podcast, you won’t miss anything.
Back in a fortnight with, oh, god, anything but these.
Hello horror fans! We’re on episode 15 this week, and we bookend last month’s discussion of Don Coscarelli’s first film Phantasm, with his latest film, John Dies at the End. The film on a novel written by David Wong, the pen name of Jason Pargin, who currently writes for cracked and originally serialized the novel on his website Poiintless Waste of Time. As the story goes, Coscarelli was browsing Amazon for horror novels, found John Dies at the End, decided it would make a good movie, bought the writes, adapted it to the screen himself and this is the result.
You can download the mp3 here, if that’s how you’d like to consume. The movie is also on Netflix and Amazon Prime free streaming if you’d to hear it first.
The movie is a bit of a mess, but in an enjoyable way akin to Big Trouble in Little China. The third act is a bit rough, but the original novel was episodic and something was necessarily lost in translation to the big screen. In the two hours we devote to the film, we discuss the numerous stylistic overlaps with Phantasm, the constant stoner-quality philosophical asides and Clancy Brown’s ethnically-inappropriate accent. We also gush about the delightful practical effects (and lambast the unexceptional CGI) and theorize to the only-hinted-at true conflict behind the scenes. And, of course, just how much of the film is just Dave’s projected hallucination.
Next fortnight, we’ll be covering Prophecies 4 and 5, the Walken-less straight-to-video sequels that neither of us had any idea existed until we decided to do the Prophecy films. They’re both available on Netflix.
Episode 14! And we took on an extra helping in our very first double feature podcast, looking at Prophecies 2 and III. Chris Walken is back, some of the other actors are back depending on the film, several actors are not back even when their characters are, and a lot of metaphysical things happen or don’t-quite-happen that don’t seem to make a whole lot of narrative sense!
And boy, what a couple of films! They’re not great, but they’re trying, and Josh at least is basically happy with anything that involves Walken being on camera. We talk about the war in heaven (which ends, apparently, on fairly inexplicable terms at the end of 2) and about the out-of-nowhere big bad in III, and theorize how much or how little planning there was for this end to the trilogy when the first film got made; we also try and figure out what the deal is with Eden in the third act of 2, and puzzle over both the geography and chronology of the set of films.
Also: what’s with angels and windows? A theory emerges: they’re constantly flying through windows not because they really like flying through windows, but because they are literally birds and do not understand glass. IT MAKES AS MUCH SENSE AS ANYTHING IN THE MOVIES.
We also talk a bunch about structural and narrative and thematic parallels between this pair of films and Terminators 1 & 2 — e.g. mother-of-world-changer-fate-baby conceived by through-the-rift guardian in film 1 is chased by superpowered murdervillain, who becomes protector of now-young-adult fate baby in film 2, plus a lot of nattering on about the nature of choice in our lives — but somehow fail to realize during recording just how obviously true it is that the real parallel is to Bill & Ted:
Also, Josh mentioned the “It’s not a can’t thing, it’s a won’t thing” cross-stitch that piratebowling from Metafilter made for him a few years, so here it is:
And, well, gosh, we discuss a million other things but that’s what the podcast is for so I’ll let our talking do the talking.
We’ll be back in three weeks (aka “a baker’s fortnight”), as life is a little extra busy right now what with Yakov actually straight up getting hitched in the interim. Until then, happy horroring.
Hey folks, it is episode lucky thirteen and we discuss the film Phantasm by acclaimed director Jon Distheaghn Don Coscarelli. (You can grab the MP3 directly here.)
Now, this movie isn’t available on Netflix or Amazon Prime, so you may have some difficulty tracking it down, but it’s worth it. It’s a labor of love, written, directed, photographed and edited by a 25-year-old Coscarelli and starring non-professional actors. Of course, at times it feels like a lot more labor than love but hey.
We cover the bizarre ingenuity of 13-year-old creepin’ kid Mike, the stilted mannerisms and yacht rock noodling of his older brother and guardian Jody, and their horrible-parent buddy Reggie, who may very well be the true villain of the film. Then there’s the hilariously ineffectual, conspicuously absent police department who attribute a pantsless stabbing to suicide, a theory that the film’s antagonist, known only as the Tall Man, is avoiding early retirement, and a serious discussion of trans-dimensional supply chains.
Also there’s a scene cribbed directly and entirely from Dune, except instead of a script it seems the actors ad-libbed from a hazily-recalled second-hand summary.
Anyhow, there’s plenty to enjoy about this episode, and literally no guitar playing which is one up on the actual film.
There’s five films in the franchise; after this, II and III feature Walken reprising his role as the Archangel Gabriel (though it’s not totally clear at the end of this film how he can be back for another outing, but, hey, angels!), but then the franchise takes an extremely-direct-to-video turn sans Walken for a pair of sequels shot in Romania circa 2004, basically simultaneously along with Hellraisers 7 and 8 and featuring some of the same cast and substantially the same production crew.
But that’s future stuff, we’ll get there down the line. At the start, The Prophecy is very much its own odd little flawed gem of a theological horror flick, and we talk about what works, what doesn’t, what sense we can make of the film’s approach to cosplaying an apocryphal 23rd chapter of the Book of Revelation, how good some of the cast is (spoiler: there’s a lot of good character actors in this!), how bad some of the rest of the cast (spoiler: child actors are kind of bad at acting!), and, given the numerous casting overlaps with Pulp Fiction, briefly wonder whether e.g. Virgina Madsen’s role in this is proof that this is secretly an off-brand Tarantino tie-in film with her character being John “Vincent Vega” Travolta and Michael “Vic Vega” Madsen’s sister-by-a-different name.
We also chew on whether it’s a Catholic horror flick, specifically, or just happens to use Roman Catholic trappings out of aesthetic convenience, and talk about that dilemma for films in general — that, say, since if you want to sell Big Western Christianity it’s a lot easier to go with some flashy sacramental gilding and liturgical choir stuff than to explain that a plain room with some chairs is actually an understated non-denominational church in rural Wisconsin or whatever.
Also also: we talk about parallels between a Gabriel-interrogates-Simon scene in this film with another Walken-as-menacing-interrogator scene, his role as Sicilian mob boss Vincenzo Coccotti grilling Dennis Hopper’s estranged-father character in 1993’s True Romance (written by Tarantino! The puzzle box is opening!). Check it out:
Menacing! Helper goons! A little bit of violence right off the bat! Ends very poorly for the interrogated party but with the antagonist denied and unsatisfied!
And in the spirit of keeping everything somehow tied to Hellraiser, we talk in bits and pieces about the comparative style and motivations and theological motivations of Walken’s Gabriel and Doug Bradley’s Pinhead, and briefly consider the idea of a remake of My Dinner With Andre featuring the two.
Aaaand that’s it for this post; we’ll tackle more Prophecy down the line, but as a lesson learned from the hardship of too much Hellraiser all in a row, we’ll be mixing it up in between installments. Next fortnight we’ll be sitting down to Phantasm, a film Yakov has seen and I haven’t, which will make a nice inversion of our respective relationships with this film.
Drop by our facebook page if you’ve got a question or a comment or are just in the mood for conversation with other We Have Suchers; do give us a rating and maybe a review over on iTunes if you haven’t already, since that helps with podcast visibility.
The movie, if you can recall from 1997, is not great. Born of (misplaced) faith in Anderson’s directing ability after Mortal Kombat made back ten times its budget, a pitch that included no plot whatsoever, and an uncredited re-write, it’s a fantastic example of a movie you have to really strain yourself to care about.
Effectively, it’s a patchwork of other, better films; a non-exhaustive list would include Alien, The Shining, 2001, and Hellraiser and just for good measure: Back to the Future. Not even kidding, yo. We follow the inconsistent and confusing hallucinations (…or are they?) of the crew of the U.S.A.C. Lois Lewis & Clark as they get into zany misadventures on the poorly-named dimension-hopping Event Horizon. Also a descendant of Dr. Alan Grant from Jurassic Park goes bonkers and gets ill-defined superpowers.
And then there’s the damn engine room straight out of out a mid-90s industrial music video:
In this edition of We Have Such FIlms to Show YouFilm School, we explain the dolly zoom. It’s a camera technique you’ve seen a thousand times, but may have never put a name to it. It’s a whole lot easier to show than tell, so here’s one of the most classic examples of the technique from Jaws.
Finally, if you’re wondering how we’re continuing with the podcast: next episode is the much-anticipated Prophecy, starring Christopher Walken. For the four sequels, we’re going to tackle two an episode, every other episode. Hopefully this will cut down on franchise fatigue, which the tail …half of our Hellraiser run so clearly demonstrated.
And oh, what a strange experience this was, to watch and discuss a film that was just unambiguously good and well made! CitW is a funny, clever love letter to American horror films from a guy (Joss Whedon, as it happens) who knows just what’s wrong with so many of them but can’t help giving them a big hug anyway.
We talk about what the film does right (spoiler: lots and lots of stuff), and a few little things one or the other of us didn’t think completely stuck the landing for whatever reason (e.g. that final couple seconds, the big red button, the failure to use/develop Holden as well as the rest of the kids).
We also take a few minutes to discuss the references the film makes to (along with so many other horror tropes/franchises) the Hellraiser films; the cameo by an off-brand Cenobite with sawblades in his head and a spherical puzzle box, some familiar-feeling chains, and the references to the cultish glory of pain all ring some familiar bells.
And there’s some big questions we chew on late in the podcast: do horror films exist in this film universe? Lovecraft vs. greek mythology as organizing principle for the film’s theology? Has the totemic sexual-transgression-as-totemic-marking-of-a-woman-as-to-be-killed in any horror film ever consisted solely/primarily of a woman receiving oral pleasure? Did the kids end up in two different parts of the basement, or did the basement itself change? Is this a post-apocalyptic scenario dressed up as normalcy?
Also, Josh burps a couple of times.
See you in a fortnight, when we watch…A FILM NOT YET DETERMINED.