Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Halloween Picks - Hatchet (2006) and Tesis (1996)

I had fun yesterday thinking about these Halloween picks, so why not be a little generous and sugest two movies a day instead of just one? I know, I know, I'm too cool, so here go the TWO-for-one picks of today.
Keep in mind that I'm trying to think about movies that aren't tool well known, and that's why I'm not refering the classics - I don't think anyone needs to recommend The Exorcist, The Shining or Shaun of the Dead, because everyone already knows they're brilliant. Read on!

1. Hatchet (2006)

You know, the tagline pretty much says it all. Hatchet is a movie that takes you right back to the 80's american slashers: it has a deformed, inbred gigantic and inhumanly strong killer; it has
the same teenage characters we've seen in these movies over and over again (poor sap dumped by his girlfriend and trying to forget her, drunk jocks, token black guy, slutty cheeleader types, and the one girl who knows too much) and the plot is entirely forgettable. So why am I suggesting this, you ask?

Because it actually WORKS. Hatchet knows what it is, and makes fun of itself at all times. It doesn't take itself seriously, the director knows this is not the next big thing in horror, but he wants people to have a good time watching it, and Hatchet delivers.

The plot, forgettable as it is, revolves around a group of people that go on a tour of a supposedly haunted swamp in New Orleans. That's where things go awry, after their boat crashes and they find themselves stuck in the swamps with the unwanted company of a mutant serial killer.

The cast gets picked off one by one, in a lot of different, violent, gory ways - we're talking impalement, dismemberment, blood squirting in impossible amounts, the whole deal. Interestingly enough, Hatchet features cameos by famous stars of horror movies, like Robert Englund (Nightmare in Elm Street), Kane Hodder (Friday the 13th) and Tony Todd (Candyman), providing little Easter Eggs for horror fans.
I can't say anything about this flick is fresh or original, but in my opinion, that was the whole point: poking loving fun at the slasher genre while keeping things interesting with splatter comedy and mayhem. It's a B-movie and it knows it, and it works very well as both an homage and a parody. Best watched with a group of friends you can laugh along with.

It's been successful enough to warrant a sequel: Hatchet 2 is supposed to hit screens next year.

2. Tesis (1996)

Moving on from a goofy movie to a more serious one, Tesis is my second pick of the day. Despite being more of a thriller than straight up horror, it's a great movie and deserves to be better known.

I am a big fan of spanish horror movies (the best horror movie I've seen this year was [REC], and it's spanish, as I'm sure you know), so I was pretty curious when I heard of this earlier work of Alejandro Amenábar, who more recently directed The Others - one of the best and most chilling supernatural horrors I've seen. Tesis was Amenábar's debut movie, written while he was still in college. And what a debut it was.

Tesis tells us the story of Ángela, a college student who is writing a thesis about violence in film and in the media. Helping her is Chema, a classmate who because of his obsession about horror movies and extreme films, has a massive collection of said material, that Ángela uses on her research. Meanwhile, Ángela's thesis advisor, Prof. Figueroa, discovers a snuff film where a girl is beaten and brutally murdered on camera, and he dies while watching this film. Ángela and Chema get their hands on the movie, and Chema recognizes the dead girl as a former student of their university. Together, they set out to find out about the snuff underworld and who is murdering people on camera to satisfy a sick fascination with violence.

The movie is very suspenseful and successfully keeps a mood of building tension, without resorting to extreme gore and violence (like some of the earlier picks I made). Intense directing, great cinematograpy and solid performances from the cast are a couple other reaons that make this movie stand out, in my opinion, and definitely worthy of a recommendation. Go get it.
Keep enjoying Halloween's week, and don't forget to check back tomorrow, when 2 new suggestions will be up.

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