Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The Woman in Black - Did the PG-13 Rating Ruin my Movie Experience?

I love going to the movie theatre because there's nothing like watching a great film on the big screen. My favorite movie experience of all time was Grindhouse - Not only was the double feature awesome, but the audience was terrific as well. It was a midnight showing where everyone wanted to be there and enjoy some Tarantino / Rodriguez action. Although there were loud outbursts of laughter, shock, and disgust, it only enhanced the movie rather than hinder it.

However, I went to a film the other day and had the exact opposite experience: Teenagers were yelling, cussing, showing off, throwing popcorn, talking on cellphones, and playing with the houselights. Majority of the audience was either exuding of hormones or dreamy-eyed over Harry Potter . Although I'm trying to isolate my viewing experience from the content of the film, The Woman in Black was a weak horror film.

Before I become even more disgusted by my fellow audience members, let's go over the premise of this film directed by James Watkins: Daniel Radcliffe is a young lawyer who recently lost his wife. Although he is filled with sadness and pain, Radcliffe must go to another village and settle the estate of a dead woman. When he visits the house, Radcliffe sees a terrifying ghost, The Woman in Black. A sighting of this evil spirit brings nothing but a dark omen - Young children of the town kill themselves. These deaths are horrific, ranging anywhere from jumping out of two-story windows, drowning themselves in the bottom of a lake, or incinerating their bodies in a blazing building. With the townspeople blaming Radcliffe for plaguing their children, will he be able to solve the Woman in Black's mystery before it's too late to save his own son?

I thought this film particularly suffered from having a weak and convoluted storyline. There was really no character development and it was never clear what loose ends Radcliffe had to tie up in the haunted house. The strongest points were the costuming, lighting, and set design. Set in Old England, the film's darkness and texture carried the presence of the old Hammer films. But despite the creepiness of the possessed toys reminiscent of Poltergeist, all of the horror relied on cheap scare shots and loud noises.

Now, this probably isn't a fair statement, but I believe I would have enjoyed this film a lot more if it was rated R. Would it have kept immature adolescents away from my presence? Yes, but I was expecting more thrill and scare. I've seen both The Ring and The Grudge (both PG-13 films) on the big screen and they both conducted enjoyable movie experiences. These films had enthralling stories and a dark ambiance to keep their audience entertained. I know I'm ranting, but with the exception of being Radcliffe's first film after Harry Potter, this movie has no elements of cult status.

So on Death List Five, The Woman in Black ranks #2.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Tarantino Comics - Issue 21

Besides not having enough time to write blog posts, I've been trying to spread out my presentation of Tarantino Comics since Convention Season always seems so far away. However, in two weeks, Mega Con will be in town and I'll be able to commission some more comic covers! So presenting an issue from 2011's Heroes Con, Tarantino Comics #21 was illustrated by Doug Dabbs.

Inspired from Inglourious Basterds, Doug depicts the darkness of Colonel Hans Landa aiming his pistol at Shosanna as she narrowly escapes from the LaPadite Dairy Farm. Over the last five years of collecting original art, the art most appealing to my eye has a dark and sketchy tone. In a similar vain to Alex Maleev or Michael Lark, Doug captures this scene as if it's coming from film noir. Doug first drew The Shadow in my Pulp Sketchbook and he knocked it out of the park. I'm glad I came back as he portrayed the essence of Landa in a cinematic manner.

Be sure to check out more of Doug's work at . In particular from Oni Press, check out his art in the original graphic novel Holliday, coming out later this year. It's a modern-day and urban telling of the O.K. Corral, so it should definitely fit the spirit of Tarantino's Django Unchained in December.

Friday, February 3, 2012

3 Extremes - A Fun Introduction to Asian Horror

So I have a confession to make - I haven't watched a lot of Japanese Horror. I admit, I'm kinda scared because some of screen shots I've seen online are quite frightening. Also, the American remakes of The Ring and The Grudge are pretty creepy, so I'm sure the original material is even worse. I'm always complaining there isn't enough scare and thrill at the movie theatres, so why not visit the foreign films I've been avoiding. And what better way than watching a little horror anthology titled 3 Extremes.

As the title suggests, this movie is composed of three stories. Now I may be cheating because only one story is Japanese, but if gives a definite cross-section of Asian horror cinema:

1. Dumplings
- This Chinese movie is directed by Fruit Chan. When you get steamed dumplings from the Chinese restaurant, they always taste so good. But have you ever wondered what kind of meat they're really stuffed with? Well, when a beautiful but aging woman is desperate for eternal youth, she's willing to try any miracle cure - Even if it means consuming dumplings filled with dead baby fetuses.

2. Cut
- This South Korean movie is directed by Chan-wook Park. You know that Green Day song, Nice Guys Finish Last? This is truly the case when an adored movie director is kept hostage in his house by one of his psychopath extras. Under the pressure of a ticking clock, the director has two choices of getting out of the situation: Strangle a little girl to death or watch his wife's fingers get chopped off one by one.

3. Box
- This Japanese movie is directed by Takashi Miike. Carnies are scary, but watching little Japanesee contortionist twins perform their act is even scarier. Haunted with memories of locking and burning her sister in tight and compact box, is the grown woman suffering from horrific nightmares or is she really being haunted by her sister's spirit?

Of the three films, my favorite was Dumplings. The story was compelling yet horrific. Watching the woman eat the dumplings was very disturbing and I cringed as her transformation came with a price.

I've previously seen Park's work in Old Boy. Although the story isn't as strong as Dumplings, seeing the decomposition of a man is one of Park's specialties. Mixed with a deranged humor, the other thing I appreciated was the set design. With disproportionate walls, checkered-tiled floors, and a demented piano death trap, it reminded me of something from a Tim Burton film.

Now the film I expected the most scare from was Takashi Miike's. Although I enjoy (yet cover my eyes in disgust) watching Ichi the Killer or Sukiyaki Western Django (featuring Tarantino), Box was my least favorite segment. Don't get me wrong, some of the scenes were pretty scary and the sounds were excruciating to the ear, but the film was more symbolic than entertaining. However, I'm still going to give Audition a try...

So on Death List Five, 3 Extremes ranks #3.