Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Wednesday Horror: I Sell the Dead

Film: I Sell the Dead
Format: DVD from Mokena Community Public Library on laptop.

I think horror comedy is probably not that easy to do well. To make a good horror comedy, you have to do more than just have a horror movie with some jokes in it. I Sell the Dead is a movie that is clearly aware of this. It wants to have a real horror connection here, but also doesn’t want to take itself that seriously. It would be easy to call it a throwback to more classic horror films, but that would be selling I Sell the Dead short. It’s not a throwback to older movies; instead it feels very much like a cinematic homage to old EC comics like The Vault of Horror.

This is going to be a film told in flashback. A man named Willy Grimes (Larry Fesenenden) is led to the guillotine and has his head neatly removed. We switch to a cell in the prison where Arthur Blake (Dominic Monaghan) is awaiting his own slicey end. Before he is lead to his execution, he is visited by Father Duffy (Ron Perlman) to provide something like a confession that can be used as a cautionary tale for others who might want to take up his life of crime.

Saturday, August 17, 2019

Off Script: The Devil's Advocate

Film: The Devil’s Advocate
Format: DVD from Lasalle Public Library through interlibrary loan on laptop.

I went into The Devil’s Advocate having seen it before, but not really remembering a lot beyond the basic plot and the fact that it starred Keanu Reeves and Al Pacino. I had forgotten or never realized that Charlize Theron, Tamara Tunie, Jeffrey Jones, and Craig T. Nelson were in this as well. The plot is one that, upon hearing it, I wondered why it hadn’t been done this fully before, or at least done to this extent. Put simply, a lawyer discovers that the guy he is working for is literally Satan. This is a big reveal at the end of the film, but I honestly don’t feel bad putting that in the opening paragraph here. First of all, the movie is called The Devil’s Advocate, and second, if you don’t realize this pretty quickly, you’re not really paying attention to the movie.

Kevin Lomax (Keanu Reeves) is a high-priced criminal lawyer currently working a case where a middle school teacher has been accused of sexual abuse of one of his students. While the young girl is on the stand giving testimony, Kevin notices his client more or less jerking off, and in this moment, he realizes that the man he is defending is guilty. He asks for a short recess and retreats to the bathroom, where we learn that this might well be the first case that he ever loses. But no, despite the horror of his client and the clear guilt, Kevin goes back into the courtroom and gets the man cleared of charges. He’s just that good.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Off Script: Scary Movie

Film: Scary Movie
Format: DVD from Cortland Public Library on rockin’ flatscreen.

It will come as no surprise to anyone who comes to this website that I haven’t really been that into putting up reviews lately. This is despite the fact that I have probably six dozen or so written and just waiting to be posted. My heart hasn’t been in it lately, and it’s been a struggle to even put up the Oscar posts on Monday and Friday. Don’t worry—I’m not shuttering the blog. In fact, I’m going to try to do the opposite and posting regularly again. It’s been a tough few months, and I want to feel like this is important to me again. That being the case, a mostly-comedy horror comedy like Scary Movie, a genre that is more often miss than hit, was probably not the best idea. But it was better than a 150-minute epic tonight. Baby steps, right?

Scary Movie is obviously a parody, mainly of Scream, but also of films like I Know What You Did Last Summer, Urban Legend, The Sixth Sense, and similar hacky-slashy teen horror films. There are going to be direct references to films like The Blair Witch Project as well as more classic horror films like Halloween throughout. Also, because this was made in 2000, there’s going to be a reference to The Matrix, specifically the bullet time sequence.