Saturday, April 26, 2014

Three Films Make A Post: She's out to score for more of what you love her for!

Witchtrap (1989): Kevin Tenney clearly was a horror director with many faces. With Witchtrap, the face he wears is that of the purveyor of awkward crap that is highly entertaining in all the wrong ways. Visually, this reminds me of the less interesting local productions of about a decade earlier, with a smidgen more gore and Linnea Quigley's breasts added, and a slightly more moveable camera. The film's real comical high points are the dialogue and the acting though. What comes out of people's mouths is a mix of "how dumb people think educated people talk"-speak, some of the worst "sarcasm" ever to flow out of a character's mouth (James W. Quinn, I'm looking at you), hare-brained discussions of faith and disbelief, and slightly Ed-Woodian non-sequiturs pretending to be dialogue. All this the actors deliver with all the style and verve of someone reading a newspaper aloud at the coffee table, with emphasises that suggest nobody involved even understood what the sentences they were saying were supposed to mean. To make matters even more interesting, most of the dialogue seems to have been post-dubbed. It's really quite the thing to listen to for ninety minutes.

Gonger (2008): Thanks to various cultural factors too annoying to get into here, not many horror movies beyond semi-professional gore movies have been produced in Germany after the Second World War. Consequently, even a minor, totally derivative (of "J-horror" in particular) TV movie like Christian Theede's Gonger is something to cherish. It helps that the film, quite in the tradition of TV horror, may have no original idea in its body, but is decently acted, competently made and doesn't overstay its welcome. The film's biggest negative point is really that you could imagine seeing its plot, set-up and locality used in much more interesting and complex manner. But that's not how TV, and certainly not German TV, works.

Catacombs (1988): This David Schmoeller film was made during Charles Band's Italian phase, which provides the film with some fine locations, an excellent Pino Donaggio score, and an Italian co-writer who gives the film some of that thought-after Italian movie weirdness. Of course, the last element also leads to a film whose plot developments are not always logical, and whose characters are erratic to say the least. What it curiously does not lead to is an abundance of weird gore. In fact, the film's body count is relatively low, and while some of the deaths are rather strange (there are not many horror films having the theological chutzpah to have someone killed by a Jesus statue come to life), they mostly seem to be beside the point of Catacombs.

Said point seems to be an attempt to reconcile possession type horror with non-crazy Christianity, something the film mostly achieves while also being one of the few horror films that shows monks as actual human beings. It's more an interesting effort than a completely successful film, but it's certainly worth a viewing or two.

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