Monday, October 1, 2007

The Cinema - How To Get Your French-Canadian Girlfriend's Psychotic Dead Sister To Turn Into a Scottish Werewolf and Kill Lots of People in California

Now that the New York Mets have completed their astonishing collapse and baseball is now a matter for detached, professional observation, I have returned to the couch in the darkened room to watch more of the World's Worst Movies (So You Don't Have To).

A trifecta of tripe today:

Zodiac (2007) is a well-meaning but ultimately tedious exercise, kinda like the book that inspired the film, if something so sluggish can be said to contain inspiration.

A geek cartoonist at the San Francisco Chronicle gets interested, then obsessed, with finding the identity of the Zodiac serial killer, even after the cops retire or fade away and the lead writer on the story for the paper drinks himself to death. There's some decent police stuff, a visit to a suspicious and disgusting trailer home that made me glad I don't keep squirrels, and a fine creepy scene in a basement.

But otherwise it's just endless crap: well-produced, mind you, but absolutely Snooze City. Half a coil.

Brian De Palma's Sisters (1973) is a fun (and blatant) Hitchcock hommage, but what really makes it a horror movie is Margot Kidder's having to keep up an atrocious French accent through the entire thing (a la John Cleese in
Monty Python and the Holy Grail).

A French-Canadian model, Danielle, meets a groovy black guy and takes him home. After a night of passion, he decides to buy her a birthday cake, but she stabs him with the knife. Or is it her crazy sister, Dominique?

(This split-screen scene would not have pleased Hitchcock, but it was 1973 and, ergo, groovy.)

A nosy reporter for a crummy little Staten Island paper happens to look out the window over her Selectric and see this happen. She calls the cops but they're too busy complaining about her articles to be of much use.

There's a lot of plot that gets in the way of the story, and a lot of Hitchcockian gimmickry: body hidden in more or less plain sight (Rope); private eye with dubious sense (Pyscho) is almost caught in the bad girl's apartment while heroine watches from across the way (Rear Window); ostensible star is killed off early in picture (Psycho); and so on.

We also get a look at the young Margot Kidder mostly nekkid, which doesn't hurt.

Stabbings. Body hidden in foldaway couch. Charles Durning in a jump suit. Bad French accent. French shrink. Evil mansion. Staten Island. Margot Kidder's gazongas. Three coils.

Neil Marshall's Dog Soldiers (2002) is a tight and extremely gory werewolf movie. The heroes are British Army reservists on a training exercise; they run into werewolves who are well-organized and very large and mean.

Eventually holing up in a farmhouse, they defend themselves until morning. Or at least that's the plan. It's a set-up very similar to that of the besieged citizens in
Night of the Living Dead.

And like that film, only one guy makes it.

Gallons of blood. Gobs of guts. Dog pulling on someone's guts, while that someone is still using them. Really mean werewolves. Evil Special Forces jerk. Dead cow. Cute girl who turns into a werewolf at the worst possible moment, thereby dashing any remaining hopes of a gazonga sighting in this movie.

Great special effects, in the sense that they are completely convincing without jumping up and announcing themselves.

Three and a half coils.


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