Saturday, July 5, 2014

Three Films Make A Post: ON THAT DAY... WE ARE DEMON. Hopefully not ironically.

Nightmare (2012) aka 青魇: As happy as I am that Hong Kong exploitation veteran turned more mainstream director Herman Yau is still making movies, I’m not at all happy with this generically titled mix of slight headfuck movie and bland mystery. It’s all nice and glossy looking, but neither the “is this dream or is this reality?” business nor the film’s mystery are very interesting. Worse for a film like this, the solution to the mystery as well as the (boring) explanation of what’s really going on are abominably obvious, which is a bit of a problem in a film that hasn’t anything else to offer beyond a handful of rote jump scares.

Nurse 3D (2013): As regular readers know, there’s little I loathe more than films that excuse their crappiness by being “ironic”, and by “not wanting to be taken seriously”, which nearly always are codes for “we just couldn’t be arsed”. Douglas Aarniokoski’s horror comedy is no exception to the rule. It doesn’t help that I found the film’s sense of humour aggressively unfunny and obvious, its attempts at ironic sexiness and ironic exploitation (seriously, you can do neither “ironically”, that is, without committing) painful to the extreme, and Paz de la Huerta’s central “acting” “performance” (I just gotta use scare quotes here and also ask myself why the production didn’t hire an actress with basic skills and just as willing to drop her clothes, until I remember this crap is based on Huerta pin-up photos, though ironically, I presume) extremely painful yet also very very dull. The whole film is pretty much anathema to everything I want and like in a horror movie, be it a comedy or not.

Hell Commandos (1969): José Luis Merino’s Spanish-Italian Euro War movie, on the other hand, is not a very good film either, but it does at least hit the main beats of its particular genre without being ashamed of them, reaching the coveted level of filmic mastership known as “perfectly watchable”. As is typical of its sub-set of war films, the tone fluctuates between sentimentality and cynicism in awkward yet entertaining fashion, while people get killed, the Second World War is won, Nazis are pigs, American soldiers are pigs until they decide to sacrifice themselves for a good cause, and a romantic subplot is a lot like nature in Jurassic Park. From time to time, the film stumbles onto exploitation gold, clearly without noticing, when it explains how French resistance women (well, one at least) can identify American soldiers by the way they kiss, or when just inexplicably weird shit happens for no good reason at all (and definitely without ironic detachment).

There’s also, alas, a bit of a homophobic undercurrent that’s quite difficult to miss, which in its own sad way does fit the film’s romantic politics as a whole well in being deeply unpleasant and ill thought through. On the plus side, it’s not the “ironic” kind of homophobia that leaves the perpetrator an easy way out to explain it away.

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