Saturday, June 24, 2017

Three Films Make A Post: From a dimension beyond the living, a terror to scare you to death.

Ghoulies II (1988): The first Ghoulies us the sort of take it or leave it post-Gremlins proposition I’d rather leave than take, but this sequel, directed by producer Charles Band’s father (and veteran low budget director) Albert is rather more entertaining. It does help that it takes place on a carnival – supposed soon to be reorganized by a malevolent money man – and really puts out all the stops when it comes to the positive carny clichés. The film is full of fun (and silly) performances like the one of Phil Fondacaro as small Shakespearean thespian (at least that’s what he says) Sir Nigel Penneyweight that could be cruel and unpleasant but turn out loving and fun. Plus, there aren’t too many horror films in which the demons threatening the heroes are beaten by conjuring up a bigger (adorable) one, or the traditional “last monster nobody manages to kill” hides away in a toilet.

The Gift (2015): This small, LA-set thriller directed by Joel Edgerton (who also plays one of the main characters, together with Jason Bateman and Rebecca Hall) is pretty much a perfect example of its genre: it is clever, twisty, ambiguous and often truly disquieting without ever needing to show the worst things going on in it. Thanks to a wonderful script (also by Edgerton), acting and direction, it does manage the particularly fascinating trick of being character-driven while keeping the motivations and true nature of said characters at least partially hidden. I’d say more about it but this one of those films where telling much about anything going on in it really could spoil the first impression needlessly.

Body Parts (1991): Eric Red’s horror film about body part transplantation, mad science, pointless murders, and the question if evil (whatever that may be) sits in the serial killer arm transplanted onto psychologist Jeff Fahey is as entertaining as its basic idea is silly. For most of its running time, it even manages to treat its rather absurd set-up with the utmost seriousness, doing its best to avoid turning out like Oliver Stone’s The Hand. Fahey’s performance is a fine bit of middle class paranoia, and his descent into what we’re actually pretty sure from the outset isn’t madness works particularly well because Red does manage to actually make the family unit threatened this time around sympathetic without getting treacly about it. As a bonus, there’s a bonkers ending and Brad Dourif for once is not playing the killer.

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