Before I continue with the last ten movies viewed this year, I wonder to myself whether I mean the 'last two days' ever. I know we swore off the marathon two years back, but succumbed again this year. What will the future bring? Watch this space next year...
FrightFest Sunday kicked off for us with another Discovery viewing Takashi Miike's "Over Your Dead Body". This extremely prolific cult Japanese director always seems to have a few new tricks up his sleeve and nearly always the results are exceptional viewing. The very stylish film does not disappoint, although I would be hard-pressed to try to explain what in fact was going on. We have a famous female Kabuki actress deep into rehearsals for a new production based on a famous ghost story, casting her not-so-famous lover in a supporting role. He in turn is having it away with her stand-in and his betrayal is bloodily echoed in both reality and make-believe. I can't say I quite understood the tale, but gosh it was beautifully told.
Next up was a French movie "Road Games" which as mentioned last time (and I'll be damned if I know how this helps sales) has an English-speaking lead actor hitching across rural France. He meets up with a French gal, but the pair have little luck with lifts since everyone is afraid of the local serial killer. They end up accepting a ride from a superficially helpful driver and reluctantly agree to spend the night with him and his wife at their country mansion. Soon we are led to wonder how wise a decision this was -- could he be the feared local killer or is there a further out of left-field answer to the mystery. Naturally that's the film's kicker.
Another Discovery film at the Prince Charles (the fest's first home), was a new restoration of the 1972 giallo "Your Vice is a Locked Room and Only I Have the Key" -- now there's a mouthful and a half -- from Italian director Sergio Martin. Films of this period are always a retro treat, with their free-wheeling decadence and slaughter. The lust objects were the tasty Edwige Fenech and Anita Strindberg, scream queens of the genre, and we also meet Fenech's dead-mother obsessed husband and an Edgar Alan Poe-ish devil-cat. Unfortunately the projector broke down just before the final (but not unexpected) twist and we didn't hang about to discover if the end credits were ever reached.
"Scherzo Diablo" from Mexico was another stylish number, although I gather a number of the fest-followers didn't reckon it, possibly because of its heavy use of classical music. I thought it was more than ok, the story of a jobsworth who kidnaps his boss's teenaged daughter and keeps her enchained and I suppose abused. All the while he's wearing a grinning skeleton mask .Being a big fan of Day of the Dead iconography, that suited me fine. Things get out of hand after the gal escapes and tracks down her assailant and anyone else she blames for her torment. The logic was a little incomprehensible, but the movie held my attention right up to the final hint of horrors to come.
The last film of the day was "A Christmas Horror Story" from Canada, a patchy compilation of several spooky encounters in one small town on Christmas Eve, taking place while local radio DJ William Shatner gets progressively pie-eyed. While there is something blackly amusing about Santa's little helpers morphing into hungry zombies, I found the overall tone of the film mean-spirited -- not at all in keeping with the holiday -- and in the end saw little to recommend it.
Wow! I'm up to the final Monday and I'd better speed things along if I don't plan to be hunched over my computer all day -- so let's go to shorter summaries:
"Curve" - Bride-to-be gives a lift (against her initial good judgment) to the fellow who helped fix her broken-down car; she swerves off the road when his evil intentions become clear, finding herself trapped upside-down in the upturned vehicle. He, of course, is thrown clear, and keeps returning to torment her -- until... Yes, she escapes and wreaks havoc.
"Night Fare" - An English-speaking (of course) fellow amongst an otherwise all French cast, visits a pal in Paris. After a boozy evening, they fancy some late-night partying and run out on a taxi fare en-route. Bad move...as the apparently indestructible driver keeps the meter running and pursues them across the city, leaving a bloody path in his wake. So far so scary-ish until we segue into Manga introducing us to avengers who exist across the centuries to punish wrong-doing. Soon one of the young men must join the ranks -- or something like that.
"Nina Forever" is a UK would-be horror. Rob becomes an academic drop-out after the death of his beloved Nina, working in a supermarket, where he takes up with check-out gal Holly.
Soon they are an item, but the spirit and indeed the solid corporal body of Nina joins in their love-making, she's not about to let Rob go and begins to fancy Holly as well. Not your usual sort of menage-a-troi.
Our final Discovery movie was "Goddess of Love" written-by, produced-by, and starring one Alexis Kendra, not so much a vanity project as a labour of love. She plays a stripper called Venus who soon becomes unhinged when she is dumped by the new boyfriend, who is still mourning his recently-deceased wife. No the latter does not return a la Nina above, but we enter Miss Kendra's twisted mind as she tries to fathom her feelings of betrayal and despair. Not too bad an effort.
Finally we reach the closing film "Tales of Halloween" another holiday spin, but not like the Christmas movie above. Here we have eleven tales of varying lengths from eleven directors, including several past FrightFest faves. What we watched was very variable but generally OK; however as I admitted in my last post, we didn't stay for the whole movie. The marathon had finally taken its toll and we crept out into the night. I suppose, one of these days, I'll see it through and will discover whether I should stuck with it in the first instance.