Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Halloween Picks - Braindead (1992) and Dead End (2003)

As you may have noticed, I've been a little absent from the blogging world lately, and while that has happened before for reasons connected to my rampant lazyness, this time it's nothing like that: my computer had to go to the PC Doctor a couple of weeks ago, and I still haven't got it back, and that's pretty much a pain in the ass (it's delaying about half a dozen works I should have ready by now).

So I've been computerless, but this is HALLOWEEN week, and I had to find a way to post on this baby and give you guys some movie recommendations for your Halloween night. Hopefully you'll find some movies you haven't heard of here, and have a good scare at their expense.
I'll post two today, because I meant to have started the list yesterday and keep it up at one suggestion a day until Halloween.
1. Peter Jackson's Braindead (1992) (also known as Dead Alive in the USA).

That's right. Before Peter Jackson gave us the best epic fantasy movie trilogy ever, he made movies with far less elves, and much more zombies. Braindead was his 3rd movie. It became a cult favorite, and gained fame as the goriest movie ever made, and to this day, it holds its own as one of the funniest splatter-fests of all time.

Braindead tells us the story of young man Lionel, who lives with his smothering, controlling mother. In his attempt to have something that resembled a normal life, Lionel starts dating Paquita, much to the grief of his mother. When he takes Paquita out for a walk in the local zoo, his mother decides to follow them, and gets bit by a strange creature called the Sumatran Rat Monkey. The bite causes her to start falling apart and, eventually, die, but that's not the last we see of her, as she comes back to life as controlling and obnoxious as always, but this time with a taste for human flesh. It's up to Lionel to try and stop his mother from spreading the undead infection, while maintaining a normal household as much as possible - unfortunatelly he doesn't really succeed, and next thing we now, that little kiwi town is overrun with blood thirsty zombies, and the fun starts!

The gore in this movie is something I guarantee you've never seen before. Literally gallons of bloods and guts of all sort keep flying around the screen, and the corpses decompose in a miriad of disgusting ways. In the final scene of the movie, over 300 liters of fake blood were used. 300 liters. That is a shitload of blood, and if that's not awesome, I don't know what is.

It borrows a lot of the splastick seen on movies like Evil Dead 2: Dead by Dawn and exagerates it even further, to levels I never thought possible. Zombie sex, zombie babies, a nazi veterinarian, a kung-fu priest and body parts with a mind of their own are only a few of the things you can expect to see in this crazy, over-the-top gorefest. It's hilarious, it's bloody, it's violent, it blew my mind away when I first watched it and it continues to do so. I couldn't recommend it more.

2. Dead End (2003)

Directed by unknowns Jean-Baptiste Andrea and Fabrice Canepa, Dead End is a pretty straightforward movie about a family on their way to a Christmas dinner at their grandmother's house. There's a little tension going on, and the dad, anxious to shorten the drive there, takes a shortcut, something he had never done in 20 years. We soon learn he would have done better to keep with the traditional road, because the new shortcut is apparently never ending, and filled with unexplainable forces, out to cause the family harm.

The set-up is pretty simple, and I think that's why it ends up working so well, since it helps to keep the focus on the characters and the situation. The atmosphere of the movie is great, very dark, very bleak and eerie, and as the movie develops, you get the feeling of hopelessness of that family, as they realize they won't make it out of the shortcut. That was my favorite thing about Dead End, because scarewise I can't say it scared my pants off or anything (most of the times, when something happened, you could see it coming a few minutes in advance), but there was such a dark mood that I was unsettled for most of the movie, even getting a few old-fashioned chills, the kind that make the hairs on your arms stand up. Don't expect much gore, because most of the horror is actually unseen - being, in my opinion, all the more effective. It really lets you use your imagination and doesn't spoon-feed your brain.
There are some moments of deep weirdness and even humor, as the family turns out to be a little more dysfunctional then you thought they would be, with the humor actually providing a welcome balance, at times. The cast works very well here, and the dialogue is witty and above average for a horror movie. I have to say the ending failed to captivate me, but I definitely enjoyed the ride and I forgive the less than perfect ending.
I confess: after seeing this movie, I was creeped out when I saw a black car on the road at night, and if you give this a try, I think you might be too.
These are the suggestions for today, stay tuned for a brand new one tomorrow!

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