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horror

Minore – Konstantinos Koutsoliotas (2023)

We follow the simple life in a rural part of Athens where a small community goes to a bar to sing Greek folksongs every night. There is one foreigner there looking for his biological father.

It takes quite a while before the film turns into the horror that usually describes it. There are strange sounds to be heard, people walk like zombies into the sea, but nobody is really alarmed until some sort of flying octopuses start to appear from the fog and eat people. When the group of familiars realise what is going on, they set up a plan to fight the monsters.

“Minore” is an alright film. It is a little weird, but nothing that you have never seen before. The typical Greek elements are nice, the horror towards the end is somewhat amusing.

Zombieland – Ruben Fleischer (2009)

A zombie film with quite a cast. Woody Harrelson, Emma Stone, Jesse Eisenberg, Bill Murray.

We start with the nerdy Columbus who so far survived the zombie apocalypse by following his strict rules. Trying to reach the town where his family lives, Columbus runs into the rugged Tallahassee.

The two decide to travel along for a bit when they run into two sisters who outsmart the men on a few occasions. Of course you get the usual zombie slasher scenes and bloody splatter horror along with crude humor and weird dialogues.

I found this film because it supposedly had comic book elements, but that is not really more than Columbus’ rules that appear on screen when he mentions them.

In any case, amusing, but it is but a zombie film.

Infinity Pool – Brandon Cronenberg (2023)

A while ago I heard that there was a new Brandon Cronenberg coming up. The date seemed to be set for halfway July, but when the date came, it appeared that the movie still was not available in my country. Just like with “Possessor” I had to get a copy abroad.

I am afraid I have to say that Cronenberg has a downward trajectory. Contrary to the IMDb.com ratings, I really like “Antiviral”, “Possessor” is alright and “Infinity Pool” is alright as well.

James is an aspiring writer with a writer’s block for his second novel. He married rich and him and his wife Em go on holidays to an exclusive resort on some tropical island. There they meet Gaby and Alban. Especially Gaby is very manipulative and uses her charms to guide James into a direction of her choosing.

The story of “Infinity Pool” is highly unlikely and very far fetched. Island authorities have ruthless methods of maintaining order and an extraordinarily odd way for rich tourists to avoid death penalty. A group of resort regulars seems to think themselves untouchable because they have the means to employ the rich tourists treatment.

James is navigated towards more and more extreme ways of making fun, while it becomes clear that is actually himself who is being made fun of. Cronenberg comes with some bloody gore, extreme violence, nudity and explicit sex, but also psychedelic scenes which make “Infinity Pool” somewhat more interesting. The music of Tim Hecker also helps some.

Again, the new Cronenberg is not your average film, but I cannot say that it is particularly good.

Brand New Cherry Flavor – Antosca & Zion (series 2021)

The strange title for a horror series caught my interest. In this 8 episodes Netflix series we follow Lisa Nova. Lisa had made a short horror film which is picked up by a one-time big film producer who wants to turn it into a feature film. The two meet up, agreements are made and Lou Burke starts to tutor Lisa in the world of movie business.

When it becomes clear that Burke gave the project to another director, Lisa is furious and she hires a witch that she met before to curse Burke. For the curse Lisa has to drink and eat the weirdest things which prove to have a bigger effect on herself than on Burke. Slowly things start to run out of hand.

Early in the series the two creators seem to have taken much inspiration from David Lynch. The atmosphere is dense, dark and weird. With a bit of a Cronenberg note, the series shift more towards more typical horror and my interested started to go down. The ending is particularly weak.

Perhaps it is only good that there are only eight episodes. There are a few good elements, but a bit too many open doors as well. It is not all that often that I get to see something weird, so I rate “Brand New Cherry Flavor” in the middle.

Renfield – Chris McKay (2023)

Robert Montague Renfield is a “codependent”. He is dependent on noone less than Dracula. If you look well to the poster on the right, you may see that Dracula is played by Nicholas Cage. How much that man loves over-acting, so he was well-casted for his colourful part.

Dracula has made Renfield his “familiar” a long time ago. It is Renfields job to provide food, while Dracula hides in the shadows. Getting caught up in normal life, visiting self-help groups, Renfield grows away from Dracula and towards the hotheaded police woman Rebecca. Of course Dracula will not have that.

We have a few story lines. Rebecca tries to be a good cop, but is thwarted by her corrupt surroundings. Then we have the almighty crime family Lobo and of course the Renfield/Dracula situation.

In a bit of a screwball style, but with a lot of very bloody fighting scenes (the horror element of the story) we see how Renfield tries to get a normal life, while Dracula plans to wreak havoc on earth.

Nothing you should watch on the big screen. The film is just amusing enough to fill a ‘Netflix’ evening some time perhaps.

Cabinet of Curiosities – Guillermo del Toro (series 2022)

A Netflix series by Guillermo del Toro! Well, he is the creator, but not the director. Too bad. Also, just as the two series that I just reviewed, “Cabinet of Curiosities” is not really a series, more of a collection of short films. So again, you have eight very different short films by different directors. The episodes are usually based on a short story and have a horror theme.

Del Toro did gather some interesting directors though. The first episode is directed by Guillermo Navarre with whom Del Toro often cooperates for his own films. Then we have Vincenzo Natali, known for “Cube”, “Cypher“, “Splice” and other films. David Prior is new to me. Next up is Ana Lily Amirpour of “Bad Batch“. Then we have Keith Thomas. After that Catherine Hardwicke of “Thirteen“. The most interesting episode is made by Panos Cosmatos of films such as “Cobra“, but who made something more akin to his caleidoscopic “Beyond The Black Rainbow“. The more dramatic closing episode is for Jennifer Kent.

A few of the episodes are based on Lovecraft stories, which says something about the type of horror that is presented. More of a Victorian mystery horror than the slasher type of horror. Some episodes are humorous, others more typical horror. It would have been nice if Del Toro had directed an episode himself. He did write the story for the last one.

Crimes Of The Future – David Cronenberg (2022)

Many decades ago Cronenberg saw the line “crimes of the future” used as an unwritten poem in a movie and thought ‘that is a movie I am going to make’. He did so in 1970. It is said that also “Existenz” (2009) originally also has this as the working title. In 2022 Cronenberg (who is almost 80 years old) made his second (or third) “Crimes Of The Future”.

It is quite a classic Cronenberg. More of the “body horror” kind than “Maps To The Stars” (2014) and “Cosmopolis” (2012). It actually reminds somewhat of “Exitenz” even though Cronenberg says the two or three “Crimes Of The Future” have nothing to do with each other.

We find ourselves again in a dystopian future. The human body appears to be rather devolving than evolving. People no longer experience pain and some people even grow new and useless (and fatal?) organs. Then there are those who have turned the public removal of these new organs into “body art”. So we find ourselves following Saul Tenser and his sensual assistent Caprice.

Cronenberg would not have been Cronenberg did he not explicitly portray deformed bodies, surgery, weird organ-like machines and of course, sex. This time “surgery is the new sex”.

You get it: dark, weird, disturbing, uneasy. In short: Cronenberg.

“Crimes Of The Future” may not be his best, but if you like the dark side of this director, do not miss out on his latest.

Archive 81 (series) – Rebecca Sonnenshine (2022)

My girlfriend read something about these new Netflix series. When I heard about involvement of the “Saw” crew, my interest dropped even further than after the initial comment that it is a horror series. But we did watch it.

In eight episodes we follow the story of Dan who restores video material. He is assigned to a job to restore material that survived the fire in an appartement building. For that job he is transferred to a remote building. So, video, a comparison to “Ringu” a remote building and a reference to “The Shining” and did somebody say “Blair Witch Project“? We all know where this is going to. Or do we?

During his restoration work, Dan becomes acquainted with Melody, a film student who goes to an appartement building to make a documentary about its inhabitants. These inhabitants are said to be a close knit group. This is pretty clear from the beginning.

Melody is actually looking for her mother and while poking around in the building and the people who live there, something uncanny starts to rise to the surface. We follow the story by Melody’s film material and Dan watching it all with a friend as backup to find background information.

As we continue, everything seems to be connected in some odd way. Dan did not get the job by accident. The material did not pop up many years after the fire by accident. The fire in the building was not an accident.

The series have an alright atmosphere. It is by far not as scary as some want us to believe. The story is worked out fairly well. The last episode is somewhat weak.

In my opinion not the instant classic that some people make of it, just an alright thriller series with some horror elements.

Titane – Julia Ducournau (2021)

It had been a while since I saw an ‘unconventional film’. So when I read about “Titane”, I figured I would go and see it.

“Titane” is not as weird as I expected. It is a difficult film to watch though. In the (French?) style of uneasy films such as those of Marina de Van (remember “Dans Ma Peau“?), Rémy Belvaux (“C’est Arrivé Près De Chez Cous” aka “Man Bites Dog”) or some of Fabrice du Welz (“Calvaire“), but mostly of films of Gaspar Noë, Ducournau comes with a heavy story, explicit ‘body horror’ and sex. You get it, not a film for the faint hearted.

We first see Alexia as a cold blooded and bored kid. We soon jump ahead with her being a strip dancer with obvious psychological problems which have turned her into a serial killer. At some point she decides to go into hiding and pretends to be the long lost son of fire brigade commander.

Alexia’s killings are already quite explicit, but the way Ducournau shows what Alexia and others do to their bodies (and those of others), will make many people turn away their eyes frequently.

Then there are some pretty weird elements to the story that not everybody will get their heads around alongside the fact that many things are left unexplained.

So, quite a masochistic kind of film to watch for sure. It is hard to say if it is really good. It sure is not a film to like. When you know your opinion about the directors and titles mentioned above, you will be able to tell of you want to watch “Titane” or not.

From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series – Robert Rodriguez (season 1 2014)

I doubt I will have seen the film more than once or twice, but I remember the 1996 movie to be amusing. Netflix has a series and since it seems to be made by Rodriguez himself, I decided to give it a try.

The first season is basically the story of the film. A family runs into the Gecko brothers who are on the run. They force the family to take them across the Mexican border. Once on the other side, they go visit a strip club.

The film had George Clooney and Quentin Tarantino as the Gecko brothers, Harvey Keitel as the father, Juliette Lewis as the daughter and let us not forget Salma Hayek as nightclub dancer Santanico Pandemonium. The series have got some interesting actors too though, most notably Don Johnson and Robert Patrick, but also a few who mostly work on my nerves.

The story can of course be stretched over way more time and details can be added, but when you know the film, you will know what the series will bring. The whole first season I thought it was alright, but not really good. Here and there there is a good episode, but overall I was not too impressed. So little even that I do not think I am going to watch season 2 and 3.