Saturday, March 10, 2007

...and scary movies

Two recent non-horror films I've had the privilege to see - both great, and both scary as hell: Anthony Mann's Border Incident, with its insectile bandits and cutthroats and the nigh-unbearable scene of murder-by-plow. This film is a close cousin of T-MEN for a number of reasons: both films relate the story of undercover agents who spend time apart from each other while pursuing an elusive center to an unnavigable criminal structure. Both films have documentary book-ends and exhibit strong faith in the moral correctness of government law enforcement. Ricardo Montalban is the lead, his softness is not a liability, but a feature of his identity, remarked upon more than once. The cast is made strong by its supporting characters - Howard Da Silva, Arthur Hunnicutt, Sig Ruman, Arnold Moss, and James Mitchell. As for the look of the movie, well, let's just say it's not found dead-center between Mann's claustrophobia-inducing noirs and severe-angled westerns for nothing.

Raoul Ruiz's Hypothesis of the Stolen Painting, whose terrifying aspects are less direct; the film is a unique puzzler but the ending gave me a pretty decent shake. Ruiz piles on misdirection after misdirection so that when he ultimately suggests a real vector (get OUT!), the effect is cathartic. The cumulative effect of so many living, breathing (twiching!) mannequins was of strangulation.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

spook films 2007

It seems like ever since the American remake of The Ring, there's a new type of horror film, of which type we see a specimen about once a month. I'm not talking about The Hills Have Eyes and The Devil's Rejectsand other s&m fantasies, but those slight things that don't appear to have cost a lot, don't make a lot, and are gone in the blink of an eye...that is, unless you take the time to seek them out and write/talk about them. They're probably mostly awful but some look interesting. I waded through a lot of crap in 2003-2005 and it was all worthwhile when I came across The Exorcism of Emily Rose, which isn't even that great of a movie - mostly because the plot is a laugh - but which was very appealing to me for its craftsmanship and its unexpected layer of empathy (which is grudgingly revealed).

For this reason I feel like I need to log the names of these now-you-see-them,-now-you-don't spook movies (perhaps we can coin a new term: not-quite-straight-to-video) and check them out on DVD. The old-timey auteurist practice of trawling the movie theaters is too costly but the age of home video has provided a short circuit that I find welcome.