Little Shop of Horrors, Russian Style
By Oleg Liakhovich The Moscow News
On the heels of the XXVI Moscow International Film Festival came an event even more pompous and widely publicized – the premiere of a movie meant to spark a revival of Russia’s popular cinema while giving Hollywood a battle royale on its own terms
Night Watch (Nochnoy Dozor in original Russian) depicts the on-going struggle between the magical forces of good and evil in present-day Moscow. The movie was eagerly awaited by fans and became an object of an intense advertising campaign in all media. Its US $3mln budget – an incredible sum for a local movie – and plentiful special effects, also a novelty for Russian cinema with its established traditions of inexpensive quality dramas and solid adaptations of literary classics, were to make Night Watch Russia’s equivalent of an American summer blockbuster. The producers actually went as far as officially calling it “the first Russian blockbuster” long before it had the chance to appear on screen. Even Russia’s own Oscar winner and self-styled national sage director Nikita Mikhalkov, while admitting that the film “wasn’t his thing”, said that it was “cool” and called it Russia’s “answer to Quentin Tarantino”. Serious praise indeed – after all, only a dirty mind would suspect Mikhalkov of still being sore at old Quentin for “stealing” his Palme d’Or in Cannes back in 1994.
Lightsaber, Anyone? Continue reading
This Russian film adaptation of Nikolai Gogol’s story was for a long time the only horror film made in the Soviet Union. Khoma (Leonid Kuravlev), a young novice, travels across the countryside and stays for a night in a barn that belongs to an ugly old woman. When she attacks him at night and takes him for a broom ride, the scared novice fatally wounds her, and before she dies, she turns into a beautiful young noblewoman (Natalya Varley). The latter leaves a will, according to which Khoma should pray for her for three nights in the chapel until her body is buried. At night, the witch rises from the coffin and tries to catch Khoma. She flies around but she can’t reach him or see him because he stays inside the circle that he has drawn around himself. During the third and last night, the witch makes the last attempt to scare him out of the circle, and she calls all sorts of ugly creatures to help her… Gogol wrote several stories based on Ukrainian folklore, many of them dealing with the Devil and the supernatural. ~ Yuri German, All Movie Guide Continue reading
Excellent new horror movie, 27 November 2008
Author: Rocket-Pictures from United Kingdom
Saw a preview of this. Was worried that it would be a bit cheesy but it had me and my girlfriend on the edge of our seats. Really gripping and uses psychological rather than gore to scare. Very good for a British horror and has a kind of style and gloss that you usually associate with American films. Lead girl (the one from Hollyoaks) is fantastic and very cute and there are good turns from some excellent upcoming British actors. Jeremy Sheffield (the handsome one from Holby City) is excellent I’m surprised he has not been a leading man before. Story pitch is about a couple of middle class families with issues who meet up for Chistmas together. One of the kids seems to have a virus and over the holiday gradually the behaviour of the children starts to change as they become wild and feral and turn on their over anxious parents. For people with kids it’s pretty uncomfortable and creepy, but if you’ve ever got fed up of those overly protective middle class parents who let their kids do whatever they want and can’t control them, then this is good fun. I notice it’s from the same director as WAZ, which was also a good film so it seems like he knows what he is doing and is one to watch in future. Continue reading
Plot Synopsis from AMG
It was “The Night HE Came Home,” warned the posters for John Carpenter’s career-making horror smash. In Haddonfield, Ilinois, on Halloween night 1963, 6-year-old Michael Myers inexplicably slaughters his teenage sister. His psychiatrist Dr. Loomis (Donald Pleasence) can’t penetrate Michael’s psyche after years of institutionalization, but he knows that, when Myers escapes before Halloween in 1978, there is going to be hell to pay in Haddonfield. While Loomis heads to Haddonfield to alert police, Myers spots bookish teenager Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) and follows her, constantly appearing and vanishing as Laurie and her looser friends Lynda (P.J. Soles) and Annie (Nancy Loomis) make their Halloween plans. By nightfall, the responsible Laurie is doing her own and Annie’s babysitting jobs, while Annie and Lynda frolic in the parent-free house across the street. But Annie and Lynda are not answering the phone, and suspicious Laurie heads across the street to the darkened house to see what is going on .
Lucia Bozzola Continue reading
Banned by the Soviet authorities, Vecher nakanune Ivana Kupala (The Eve of Ivan Kupalo) is widely held to be one of the masterpieces of Ukrainian Poetic Cinema. Adapted from a short story of Gogol, which had its roots in Ukrainian folklore, the film depicts an almost Faustian pact, in which Piotr makes an unholy deal with Bassaruv in order that he may win the hand of Pidorka from her father. The director Yuri Ilyenko brings the same rich, vivid imagery that he lent to Parajanov’s Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors where he worked as the cinematographer. The film often makes difficult first viewing for unaccustomed viewers due to its hallucinatory nature, but its lucid tapestry renders it a mandatory experience. Continue reading
Reviewed by Tim Merrill
To say that fans of modern genre cinema are a discerning lot is like saying Platinum Dunes puts out sub-par films. There’s no doubt that cinephiles in North America have been forced to look abroad to new directors and movies that provide that ever-elusive boot to the throat.
You’d have to be hard pressed to ignore the transgressive wave of cinema that has come out of France in the last six years. With films like Marina De Van’s In My Skin, Gaspar Noe’s Irreversible, and last year’s gut punch Inside, the French have unapologetically set out to carve new boundaries in entertainment that will hold the timid at bay and scar those willing to bear witness. While many considered Inside to set new standards in extremities in French cinema, the release of Pascal Laugier’s Martyrs has just wiped the slate clean.
Although Martyrs will undoubtedly be compared to Inside in terms of its intensity, the film is a bastard unto itself that manages to surpass its comparisons on all levels. Director Laugier has presented an experience that is both cinematically stunning, yet emotionally devastating, and with all the subtleties of a barbed wire enema. Continue reading
A landmark in fantasy cinema, this lyrical ghost story is set in medieval Japan amid a bloody conflict between rival fiefdoms. While the warrior Kichi’s impoverished wife (Jitsuko Yoshimura) and mother (Nobuko Otowa) wait for his return from battle, they maintain a humble existence by luring lost soldiers into the surrounding fields of tall grass and murdering them in order to sell their armor and weapons for food; the bodies are then disposed of in a deep cavern. After learning that her son has been killed in battle, Otowa begins to concoct a scheme to frighten her daughter-in-law into staying at home with her indefinitely. After killing a soldier clad in a hideous demon mask — which hides his grotesque, scarred face — the mother dons the mask and succeeds in frightening Yoshimura away from her new lover’s house. To her own horror, the mother quickly discovers that the mask is now securely stuck to her face, and her attempts to remove it culminate in the greatest horror of all. Fraught with sexual tension, nefarious schemes, and Freudian symbolism, this compelling masterpiece, by turns hypnotically beautiful and shockingly brutal, represents the finest in horror filmmaking, driven by powerful imagery and aided by sumptuous black-and-white photography.
(Cavett Binion on All Movie Guide)