Saturday, August 27, 2011

Three Films Make A Post: Hell Hath No Fury...Like

Fieras Sin Jaula aka 2 Masks For Alexa (1971): When millionaire Ronald Marvelling's (Curd Jürgens) marriage to the much younger Alexa (Rosalba Neri) doesn't work out too well, he does the obvious - turning the bedroom in his vacation house in the Normandy into a steel cage where he commits suicide and imprisons Alexa and her lover Pietro (Juan Luis Galiardo).

Juan Logar's film may sound like a thriller or a giallo, but the whole middle part of its narrative is a long, long flashback that strictly belongs in the realm of the melodrama. Some of that is quite effective, presented with just the right sense of unreality, but there's an unpleasant tendency for moralizing finger-wagging that's never effective in an exploitation movie (see also: hypocrisy). The movie's final act then turns into a full-grown low budget delirium of sledgehammer visual metaphors, off-screen monologues, and arty ambitions that probably doesn't work like Logar wanted it to, but sure keeps things interesting enough.

And "interesting" is the word here: you'd be hard-pressed to call Fieras a good or a artistically successful movie, but interesting, it sure is.

The House In Marsh Road aka Invisible Creature (1960): It's the old chestnut about a husband trying to murder his wife for money (though the stakes here are comparatively low, financially speaking) and another woman (though the passion driving him looks not very passionate to me). To change things up a little, the heroine (Patricia Dainton) is protected by the family poltergeist.

Still, poltergeist or not, this is an exceedingly routine movie, directed by routine director Montgomery Tully, featuring routine actors, routine music and a routine script. There are certainly worse ways to spend seventy minutes, but excitement lives elsewhere.

Shirome (2010): One of the core questions of modern horror film is of course how to use the by now hoary old form of the fake documentary and still innovate. Koji Shiraishi (usually one of my favourites among the second tier of contemporary Japanese horror directors) isn't afraid of being a real innovator, and so gives us a fake documentary about the adventures of a teen idol girl group (played by a real-life teen idol girl group) in a haunted house, boldly uniting POV horror and idolsploitation. In some of his other films, Shiraishi had quite a bit of luck with using actresses and elements of idol culture (see Noroi), but those idols weren't a gaggle (or corps? a troupe? a squeal?) of teenage girls.

Not surprisingly, the movie at hand is pretty horrible, for the simple reason that, whenever it threatens to become even slightly creepy (Shiraishi, as you might know, can do "creepy" well), half a dozen teenage girls start to cry, squeak, shout, gibber, moan and play patty cake in the most headache-inducing manner and quite, quite independent of the creepiness or not-creepiness of what's happening around them, until nobody in their right minds wouldn't want these horrible, horrible girls to shut up forever (and probably die in a fire, silently).

On the positive side, at least the film's not in 3D.


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