Scarily relatable, surprisingly humorous, undeniably intriguing, Eric Ford Holevinski’s indie film “The Restaurant” has it all—from moments every food industry worker will understand to startling, jump-out-of-your-seat scares. As his first endeavor in filmmaking, Ford seems to have found subject material that draws from personal and universal experiences, while maintaining both humorous and horrifying themes. “The Restaurant,” a comedy-horror centered around a fast-paced New York City Italian restaurant, leads viewers into a spiral of scares and laughs as the busboy discovers a dark secret the manager is keeping. The secret? A customer-hungry entity in the basement that must be fed for the rave reviews to keep flooding in. Being his first foray into the indie film industry, Ford explained the motivations, developments and experiences of his career in the film industry in a Q&A.
The Amityville Horror is a classic in the world of horror, both on the page and on the screen. After the ordeal the Lutz family went through their story made national headlines. It drew the attention of paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren, now famous because of the Conjuring and Conjuring 2, also based on cases they investigated. Within a year a book had been written (Jay Anson, 1977) that was an instant national best seller, and two years later the film (dir. Stuart Rosenberg, 1979) was released which quickly became the biggest indie hit to date. James Brolin was reading the book when some clothes that were hung on his closet door and scared him witless for a moment; at that point he said he knew there was something to this story. Clearly, it is a story worth the time to both read and watch, assuming you enjoy both claustrophobia and dread.
The movie is a very faithful adaptation of the book. From the grand incidents, like Jody, to the little incidents or details, like the missing money or the mirrors in the bedroom, the movie knows and respects the source material.
This post introduces a new theme in addition to page to screen adaptations. That is: things you may have missed. In case you don’t know, Bubba Ho-tep is a movie, and a short story, where neither Elvis nor JFK are dead. They are both in a Texas rest home and have been robbed of their identities by fate and the powers that be. To make matters worse, an Egyptian mummy has started to raid the home and steal the soles of residents. Elvis and Jack are the only ones who know and therefore the only ones who can do anything about it. You can watch the trailer here, though it doesn’t do the movie justice.
I think a lot of people view this movie as a silly B-movie send up, and I had a similar opinion before I watched it. Now, it might just be my lifelong affection for Bruce Campbell, but from my first viewing I was in love. Sure, it has a ridiculous premise and outlandish characters, but I have only ever seen a beautiful portrayal of aging and the struggle to maintain one’s identity and dignity. Why else would the cast feature such American icons as Elvis, JFK, and the Lone Ranger? When I found out the movie was based on an existing story I was the most excited to see more of the world.
This adaptation was interesting because I have more experience with novels being adapted into films and this was a short story. As such it means the expansion of the world as opposed to the reduction. The film allowed for more time with the characters and the introduction of the funeral home workers who pick up the bodies of residents. They, in particular, brought the “youth” perspective of the plight of the rest home residents and the lack of empathy and interest the rest of the world have for them.
That’s my immediate response to the title “Perfect Blue.” Granted, there are plenty of things to like about the 1997 release from directors Hideki Hamazumm and Satoshi Kon. It gives us a great, thrilling story, following our protagonist Mina, a popstar who is forced to drop her career and pursue an acting gig to remain relevant. Though the plot goes much deeper than that, because Mima’s sudden retirement upsets a devoted fan and she begins receiving threats, obscene calls, and things take a set of extremely upsetting turns.
This film is great in the ways of mastering suspense and using very human issues to do so, dealing with the pressures of fame and the horror of cultivating an identity that someone else loves or desires to emulate to the point of self-harm or harming others. The animation is gorgeous and uncomfortable, and I mean that in the best way. Unlike “Cat Soup,” where the visual can be stunning but often nonsensical and use that to create an air of uneasiness, Perfect Blue doesn’t dance around the issue. This is one of the first on-point animation films I’ve seen that deal with horror in a great way and use every facet to its advantage. We are meant to be shifting nervously while watching this. Facial expressions are extremely distorted at points, the line between reality and fiction is hard – even for the viewer – to follow. The film features a rape scene (though one done as a recording for a television show) and it pulls no punches. It made me uncomfortable. It would make anyone uncomfortable. And it should. For these things, I’m glad that Perfect Blue exists; it pushed the genre, and it opened animated films up in ways that were dark, complex, and very gritty and real.
But for all those good things that are built up in the first three-fourths of the film, the end just throws it all out. I won’t give away the ending by any means (because it’s a great twist that I really enjoy), but the very end shows this intense progress by our main character that seems incredibly hokey when it’s all said and done. It seems like the film has built up all this sadness, all this mental instability, but they felt required to stabilize things by the end. It just felt like a cop-out, and maybe when you check it out, you’ll know what I’m referring to.
But when the rubber hits the road, Perfect Blue did a lot more good than bad for the animated world. It’s a great thriller, paced very well and using a lot of symbolism to get the job done. I would offer the small critique of it being a little over-stylized, but I would say that judgment is a tick-tack one, if anything. I would say that I genuinely enjoy this movie because of the emotions it makes you feel. Are they good ones? Absolutely not. But I can remember getting the same feeling when I watched “Requiem for a Dream,” a film that is, by design, meant to make you feel unwanted emotions. And to know that film, especially animated film, is powerful enough to accomplish that, it can do wonders for the medium and the audience that watches.
If you’d like to check out Perfect Blue for yourself, the easiest way to get a hold of it is through Netflix’s order system. But it’s also available on Amazon and even in major retail chains like Best Buy. So, if you’re looking for an anime staple to add to your collection that really packs a punch, give this film a go. It’s not perfect, but that doesn’t mean it’s not pretty darn close.
Before reading this, you should all “exorcise caution.” Ha! Well, I wish I could take credit for that pun, but it’s the tagline for this week’s trailer. And I didn’t just choose it because I was a very hard-working (unpaid) PA on the film! For you horror buffs, this one actually has a tinge of originality to it.
If the title didn’t tell you enough already, here we have yet another found-footage demonic ghost story. However, this one seems to have a bit of a human twist to it.
From the opening sequence, we wouldn’t expect what we are seeing to necessarily be a horror film. A family holds an intervention for their daughter Carson. They go around and tell her that they love her and that they are concerned for the downward spiral she is on with drug use. She definitely does not respond well, physically attacks her best friend. Cut to some strange, haunting music as Carson moves into a rehabilitation center followed by a camera crew. A young crewmember appears to develop some personal feelings for Carson. He discovers that she may actually be suffering from demonic possession and has been using the drugs to subdue the “inner demons.” As Carson’s sponsor and other supporters try to help her get sober, they simply end up letting the demons take control by taking her off the drugs. Which doesn’t seem to end well for many of the cast members as the trailer ends with a series of shots, including bloody fighting, stabbing, running and screaming. All the makings for an entertaining demonic thriller!
I’m not a huge fan of the music choice for this trailer and the editing could definitely use some fine-tuning. I personally prefer fast-paced action-type thrillers (see the trailers for “Scream” or the “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” 2003 remake). However, I do like this element of drug addiction that hasn’t been done before, which looks like it could offer up some great thrills. With a totally unknown cast and an up-and-coming director, this could easily be one of the indie horror films that accrues a cult following.
Curious if you’ll be one to jump on the bandwagon? Well, head over to amazon.com and you can watch it right this very moment on Amazon Instant!
Why not both?
Filmmaker Eli Roth has a new entry into the world of horror and “torture porn” due out in theaters this September. Judging by the newly released trailer, The Green Inferno looks to be an uncomfortable gore-fest that will most likely have legs going into the Halloween season. Horror has been, is, and will continue to be one the most successful film genres. These films can be made on relatively small budgets and rarely need a big name attached. As long as you promise to scare the crap out of audiences, and mount an aggressive marketing campaign, you are almost guaranteed to make back your film’s budget in opening weekend. The first Saw film was made for under $2 million dollars and made $18 million it’s opening weekend and spawned 6 sequels and countless imitators. Eli Roth’s first film Cabin Fever was also produced for under $2 million and raked in $8 million it’s first weekend. If you’ve got some talent and a good story, making a horror film is a no-brainer. So is it also any wonder that some filmmakers routinely use Horror films as a way to influence our culture and reinforce certain narratives? While I haven’t seen Roth’s The Green Inferno yet – and at the risk of painting Eli Roth in a light undeserved – judging by the trailer it looks to be no different.
Audiences go into these films knowing they are gonna be half bored for about 15-20 minutes until
everything goes to hell and the fun & mayhem begins. Whatever discussions or topics the characters happen to be engaging in has no real consequence on the horrific fate they are headed for. This is where filmmakers get to feel good about their work and sneak in their own opinions to mold the culture.
As depicted in the trailer, the protagonists of the film are headed to South America to assist in helping the locals – and in turn the world – by fighting back against the evil anti-environmental interests of some western conglomerate hell-bent on tearing up the Amazon jungle because… energy, fascism, greed, ‘merica, whatever. What difference does it make? The point is old white men are destroying the Amazon and it’s up to a young white female (and her male suitors) to stop them or else global warming, climate change, weather reassignment… whatever. Of course, since this is a horror film – when the do-gooders do arrive they are eventually pursued, hunted and cooked for breakfast by a local cannibalistic tribe.
Being a Global Warming Apologist, a Climate Change Denier or just someone who cares deeply about Amazon jungle tribes, doesn’t matter when you sit down to watch this film. You just want the gore. If you are a GWA, the reason for the mission simply reinforces the narrative you and your friends hold. If you are a CCD, then you simply shake your head or roll your eyes and just hold out for the splatter fest to commence. If you have no opinion or aren’t familiar with the debate, then you most likely are to assume that the ideology being presented is the obvious position and, who cares I just want blood.
Hopefully human-freedom loving filmmakers out there reading this will recognize the template. When it comes to smash cutting the culture, you must do so in the language of the masses. Your film can’t be about liberty. It has to be about “A” looking for “B”. A filmmaker with a personal passion for liberty and free-market ideas could basically have the same premise of The Green Inferno, and swap the environmentalists for free-market fanatics. I’d cast Jessica Biel as a young Friedrich Hayek loving grad student from George Mason University who travels to South America to teach local tribes the fundamentals of free-trade and capitalism. When these do-gooders arrive they are eventually pursued, hunted and cooked for breakfast by a local cannibalistic tribe. Can you imagine the effect on some weekend city teenager’s mind who heads to the local multiplex and hears Jessica Biel on screen quoting Friedman while on the road to terror?
Hollywood pioneer Samuel Goldwyn famously said “Pictures were made to entertain; if you want to send a message, call Western Union.” He’s absolutely right. But that doesn’t mean your characters can’t be champions for liberty and human freedom. As long as your female lead is acting out revenge with a machete, torn tank top and sweaty abs, Jessica Biel can quote Friedman all she wants leading up to it.