Cinepub


31 Days of Horror 1: In The Mouth of Madness (1994) by Jamie

It’s the most wonderful time of year, the time when killers stalk, monsters hunt and ghosts haunt. When the deep, dark fears that dwell within the collective mind of mankind are given form and allowed to roam free on our movie screens. Yes, once more ‘tis the season of Halloween. To celebrate this year, I’ve decided to engage in an activity that I’ve seen a number of people indulging in, namely watching a horror film a day for each day of the month of October or should I say Spooktober! No, my legal team have informed me that I should not, in fact, say Spooktober. Ever.

Anyway, my criteria for this 31 Days of Horror thing is rather simple. Pick a horror film I haven’t seen, watch it and then review it. Of course, this can garner a mixed bag of results. Some movies can be so painfully middle of the road that they just kind of aren’t worth reviewing. Still, I shall soldier on regardless safe in the knowledge that there’s at least a new ‘Child’s Play’ film in my future. Anyway let’s begin with John Carpenter’s Lovecraftian tale ‘In The Mouth of Madness’.

One of my biggest regrets, other than not attempting to have sex with Scarlett Johansson that one time I was in the same room as her, is the fact that I have never read any of HP Lovecraft’s works. Every now and then I’ll get it in my head to but then I look at his bibliography and the arguments about a suitable reading order online and I eventually give up. Still I have absorbed at least a passing knowledge of the Lovecraftian mythos from the general pop-culture milieu and one day I will finally settle on where to start and actually indulge. Until then, I figured that maybe ‘In The Mouth of Madness’ might be a good place to look to satisfy that longing for eldritch abominations that I seem to harbour. Sadly, it kind of wasn’t.

Not to say that I didn’t enjoy the film, I did for the most part. I just think that perhaps the pacing was a little off. Hmmm, let me begin at the beginning. The film basically follows the recollections of John Trent, insurance fraud investigator, as he tells the story of how he came to end up in an insane asylum after attempting to find out what happened to horror author/Lovecraft surrogate Sutter Cane who has vanished just before his new book ‘In The Mouth of Madness’ is due to be released causing his rabid fans to partake in a bit of rioting.

The trail of clues that Trent uncovers leads him and Cane’s editor to a town that fans of the author’s books may be familiar with. Will Trent find Cane and his new manuscript and is there any truth to the rumours that Cane’s work can turn people mad?

Now like I say, for the most part I did enjoy this film. Sam Neil plays Trent and he can play a man unsure of whether or not his sanity is slipping away with the very best whilst still managing to maintain an air of scepticism in his portrayal. The film also isn’t short on classic Carpenter style with the film bringing ‘The Thing’ to mind on more than one occasion and even reminding me of a less comedic ‘They Live’ at times.

My main problem with the film is the pacing. It just doesn’t give enough time for the tension to build properly. It feels as though there’s an attempt to make the film feel like it’s about the slow, creeping rise of insanity and the realisation that reality may not be as real as you thought but the film moves too fast for that feeling of tension to ever really build and in the end, you can’t help but feel slightly disappointed because of that. Still, this is definitely one for Carpenter fans who may have overlooked it. Three pints out of five. Sorry that this review is a bit truncated but the idea for this came late and now I must sleep to be refreshed and ready for another spooktacular review tomorrow!… What’s that? Never use the word spooktacular either. Fine. Laterz.

 

 

SPOOKTACULAR SPOOKTOBER! MWAHAHAHAHA!



Review: Piranha (1995) by Jamie

Ah, the 90s. The coke fuelled high of the 80s was over and the year 2000 was just around the corner and was full of terrifying things like millennium bugs, robot uprisings and bizarre lycra-based space fashions. Independent film came more to the forefront, largely in reaction to people becoming tired of the big, overblown films that Hollywood pumped out with disastrous regularity. Just look at the flexography of Stallone or Schwarzenegger during the 90s. The stars of the 80s were fading, their bloated corpses kept afloat by terrible film after terrible film… Well, Kindergarten Cop was fun. Still, the 90s Hollywood machine did adorn us with some awesome. Jurassic Park for example. Still, the 90s was essentially a giant come down after the decadence of the 80s with minds filled with paranoia looking towards the future. Still, the economy was pretty strong. Take that current economical situation!

Still, we’re not here to look at what the 90s was all about. We’re here to look at a made for TV remake of a 70s B-Movie! Yes, that’s right. Apparently during the 90s Roger Corman produced a number of remakes of some of his earlier films for cable television. One of those films was 1995’s remake of Piranha. I would write a plot synopsis but it’s pretty much exactly the same as original. There are a few differences such as the military not showing up this time, the story being much more anti-corporation than it is anti-military.

The film does differ in a few important ways however. For one, the film is pretty much stripped of all humour. This time Grogan is played by William Katt who has literally none of the gruff charm of Bradford Dillman. He’s just a guy who doesn’t have a particularly pronounced drinking problem and is trying to be a writer. Perhaps the biggest example of this character change is the difference between two very similar exchanges in the two films. In the first Maggie asks Grogan if he began drinking after his wife divorced him. In this film she asks if he started writing after the divorce. It’s a little thing but it kind of neuters the character a little. Also his divorce is directly related to his decision to fight against big evil corporate America and the smelting plant which would play a big part later in the film.

Speaking of the smelting plant, something occurred to me which I didn’t even consider during the original film. So the developer has built brand new water park resort on this lake and they didn’t get rid of the big smelting plant that’s just sitting there, flooded, full of industrial waste and slowly rusting away? Am I the only one who sees the problem that this kind of short-sighted thinking would inevitably lead to?

I suppose another thing that is notable about this film is that Mila Kunis stars as Grogan’s daughter and is probably gives the most convincing performance throughout the whole thing. Keep in mind that she is about eleven or twelve during this film so, yeah, that says something about the quality of this film.

So yeah, I think I’m pretty much done with this. The whole film is just a flat, boring rehash of what was a pretty entertaining film. There’s just no fun to be had here at all. Oh, and I should also mention that the land developer behind the water park resort shoots himself in the head after the piranha attack in this version whilst the camera cuts back and forth to the watchful eyes of the mounted animal heads on his wall. Subtlety is not the strong suit of this movie. Still, it is better than the crap put out by the SyFy channel and the Asylum although those things are often fun to watch because you can‘t believe someone actually wrote and filmed something so ridiculous. It also has to be said that it is better than Piranha 2: The Spawning. Ugh, fuck that film.

So to sum up quickly, Piranha 1995 gets two pints out of five. Join us tomorrow for the epic adventure that is ‘Mega Piranha’ brought to you through the combined efforts of the SyFy channel and The Asylum! Huzzah!




%d bloggers like this: