Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Nightmare Castle

--Reviewed by Lindy Loo

Plotline: The wife of a mad scientist is caught cheating on him. He tortures and kills both her and her lover, but not before she swears to come back and haunt him. When he remarries her stepsister in order to keep his hands on their fortune, he quickly comes to see that her threats were not empty ones.

Scariness factor: There are a few very 1960's-esque creepy moments, but nothing much scary per see.

Gross-Out Factor: If horrendous flashing-light special fx gross you out, then you're screwed. Otherwise, you should be ok.

Complaints: Major complaint was the boringness of the plotline. Obviously there are lots of ghost stories out there, so if you're gonna do one, at least make it unique and/or interesting. This one was not so much.

High Points: If you like inexplicable and incessant maniacal laughter, this is the movie for you! There is a lot of maniacal laughter in it, particularly near the end. It has its good moments--there is a quite interestingly-filmed dream sequence, for example. And there is a moment towards the end that was kinda cool as well. The acting is not terrible, though it *IS* overacted, like a lot of 1960s horror films. And interestingly, I found myself wondering whether Nightmare Castle might be the first instance of a long lineage of creepy female hauntees who lurch around with their long black hair scarily curtaining their face from plain view. I'd entertain the thought that perhaps Barbara Steele's character in this movie could in fact be an inspiration for the likes of Ringu and The Grudge (or even A Tale of Two Sisters) if perhaps this movie were a bit more interesting. But given the fact that it's not, I'd find it a bit of a stretch to believe it could possibly be that inspiring.

Overall: I could really take or leave this movie. It had a couple of good moments, in more campy types of ways. But overall, I found myself keeping my eye on the clock to see how much longer I had to go.

(You can read Patrick's review (which actually made me wanna give this movie a bit more credit than I just did) HERE as well)

Grade: C


Thursday, November 16, 2006

Family Portraits: A Trilogy of America

--Reviewed by Lindy Loo

Plotline: Three shorts compiled into a full-length movie... A wife goes to desperate lengths to get her husband to notice her. A husband takes his father's patriarchal lead to extremes. A young paralyzed woman with hooks for hands returns to her hometown to confront her past.

Scariness factor: Not so much scary as horrifying and haunting.

Gross-Out Factor: Scissors and lips are involved at one point, so yes--really quite high on the gore-factor.

Complaints: I still can't quite pinpoint whether or not I thought this movie was a success. The acting was quite stilted and terrible in the first short, but perhaps this was deliberate. And the movie itself seemed as though it was (in many ways) being shocking just for the sake of being shocking. But perhaps Buck intended more than that.

High Points: I don't know if this is technically a "horror" film--most places have it listed as drama--so I wasn't sure if I should review it here or not, but the horrificness of the events involved seem to warrant at least a nod in its direction. You will ultimately need to be the one to decide whether you'd consider it a true horror film. But whether it is or not, the content of the movie is horrific and terrifying and haunting, no doubt. I was disturbed and angry after I watched it. It made me mad that I was forced to see the world and the American family as being so damn ugly. And yet, at the same time, in many ways it was effective in getting its point across, despite the fact that I may find myself angry and disagreeing with the point it was trying to make. Just know, it will leave you deeply disturbed, particularly the first short, above and beyond the typical "horror" movie.

Overall: I dunno--I can't quite decide ultimately what I think of this film. It was effective in many ways. And yet, at times it seemed to be shocking for the sake of being shocking. And it was dark and disturbing in a way that I don't think I'd want to indulge in again. So I'm going to give it a strange variety of grades below and let you decide for yourself.

Grade: A-/D