Monday, July 21, 2008

The Toxic Avenger

I have been remiss with regard to posting recent horror movie reviews. I've been busy, and though I've been watching movies, I haven't felt compelled to review. Today though, I hope to play a wee bit of catch-up. Otherwise I fear that Bijoux will kick my ass. =)

--Reviewed by Lindy Loo

Plotline: A nerdy mop-boy at the local health-club has a prank pulled on him by obnoxious jocks that causes him to fall into a nearby vat of toxic waste. He mutates into the Toxic Avenger, taking on the bullies of the town as payback. And when he has a few minutes to spare amidst all the avenging, he romances himself a blind woman.

Scariness factor:Camp, folks. So nil.

Gross-Out Factor: There's a lot of scenes of skulls and stuff getting crushed. But they're moreso fun and campy than gross.

Complaints: This movie has ridiculously over-the-top acting, annoying characters, and complete silliness in it. I mean, it's camp. So that's to be expected. But I found myself fluctuating between finding it really quite funny and finding it really FUCKING ANNOYING. It kinda felt like it was trying too hard. So yeah. That'd be my major complaint. I've never called a movie out for being TOO campy, but if I was going to, this'd be the one. That and I SERIOUSLY could not handle the mop-boy prior to his morph into the Toxic Avenger. I know he was SUPPOSED to be annoying, but MOTHER OF GOD was he annoying.

High Points: This movie is pretty fun and silly. The acting is ridiculously over-the-top. And it's horribly 1980's, from hairdos, to clothing, to music. It's also built itself up a huge cult-following, so there's something to be said for that.

Overall: I dunno. I heart campy films, but I found myself thinking that my life wouldn't be any less fulfilling had I not ever seen this one.

Grade: C+

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Ganja & Hess

--Reviewed by Lindy Loo

Plotline: This movie's success doesn't hinge quite so much on a plot-line, but I will give you a brief synopsis anyways. Hess is an archeologist who is stabbed by an infected knife and develops a vampiric need for blood. Struggling to deal with this, he meets his late assistant's wife, and they fall in love. Soon she will learn of his insatiable bloodlust and must figure out what to do.

Scariness factor: This movie is not about the scare. But it is DEFINITELY haunting.

Gross-Out Factor: Minimal. And very 1970s. The blood is crayola red, for example.

Complaints: None. But I *CAN* tell you what some of you who rent this on my recommendation may complain about, and it's that 1) it's slow-moving and not plot-driven at all... it's moreso reliant on the power of the (sometimes disconnected) images rather than any real story, and 2) it's not jump-in-your-seat scary. But that's also not the point of it.

High Points: The back of the dvd declares that Ganja & Hess, "Hailed as one of the great artistic achievements of modern American cinema, [] was the only American film screened during Critics’ Week at the 1973 Cannes Film Festival--where it won a standing ovation. It was literally ahead of its time--so audacious and unique it was all but buried." And it's true: Ganja & Hess is a piece of cinematic history. It's a strange blend of blaxpoitation 1970's films, horror, and gothic themes. There's no horror film that I've seen that's quite like it. As I mentioned, it is not at all plot-driven. Its success is moreso contingent upon the power of its images. The movie uses the vehicle of "vampirism" to comment on addiction, fitting for the drug-soaked time-period. And it's got Duane Jones in it (the lead in Night of the Living Dead who pretty much MAKES that movie) and the woman from Night of the Cobra Woman who, if nothing else, is GORGEOUS to look at. You won't like it if you go in expecting something high-paced and horror/actiony. But if you rent it expecting to see something cinematically unique and strangely haunting, you may enjoy.

Overall: I thought it was quite haunting (and terrifying in moments). Again: it's like nothing you've ever seen. But rent it only if you're in the mood for slow, disorienting, imagistic, commentary-like horror.

Grade: A


The Invasion

--Reviewed by Lindy Loo

Plotline: In Washington, a strange epidemic seems to be spreading--perfectly sane people are becoming convinced that their friends/lovers are no longer themselves. What is happening to them? And can it be stopped?

Scariness factor: So-so.

Gross-Out Factor: Crap--I can't remember. I don't think so though. I mean, it's PG-13.

Complaints: How many more times can they remake Invasion of the Body Snatchers without it just seeming kind of ridiculous? I mean, this movie wasn't BAD. But it wasn't particularly GOOD. And, I'm sorry to say, nothing beats the creepy screams and RIDICULOUSLY creepy ending of the 1978 version (see youtube clip below--warning though: it does ruin the end of the film, so only watch if you've already seen it).

High Points: I can't really think of any. I mean, it was creepy. And white-knuckle-inducing on OCCASION. But not consistently.

Overall: Take it or leave it. Squeaky-clean Hollywood horror.

This is the end of the movie, so don't watch it if you
don't want the biggest spoiler of them all

Grade: C