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Nemoide
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Re: Racketyboy Month of Horror 9: The Axis of Sorta Evil

by Nemoide Thu Nov 01, 2018 12:07 am

Monster on the Campus - a Universal horror movie from their 1950s "B" period. The monster in this movie is kind of like the Wolfman, only with a de-evolution angle (coincidentally, I dressed up as Devo for work today). It also has a cool sci-fi story in that the cause of transformation is RADIOACTIVE COELACANTH BLOOD, which is kind of the wildest thing I could imagine. I love coelacanth and even though the one in this movie is the fakest thing I've ever seen, it's still rad. I'd say this is pretty good Halloween fare.

Frankenstein: A Cinematic Scrapbook is largely a collection of trailers with a little narration talking about this history of Frankenstein. Put out by Rhino Video, I have a similar tape from them called Hollywood Dinosaurs, which I thought was better. This is a good tape to have on in the background of a party and I liked having it on while I was working on something else, but it's hardly must-see.

Vampire Princess Miyu - an anime that's a 4 episode OVA series that features what could be summarized as the battles between a spiritualist-for-hire, a vampire schoolgirl, and ancient god-demons. Each episode is mostly self-contained, though there is a sort of overarching story, with the final episode going into Miyu's origins. Like most horror anime, it's not exactly SCARY, but it does evoke a certain mood and a different kind of horror than most American/European traditions. I liked it and am curious to check out the TV series at some point.

And with that I'm done with horror films for October! 27 distinct features in October, plus that Frankenstein Cinematic Scrapbook and The Legend of Boggy Creek in the pre-gaming thread brings my total to 29. If you count It's the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown and Vampire Princess Miyu, then my total is 31. I personally think it's a stretch to count that way, but HEY, it KIND OF works.
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Michi
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Re: Racketyboy Month of Horror 9: The Axis of Sorta Evil

by Michi Fri Nov 02, 2018 7:55 pm

Well, I said I'd watch it, and so I did....


Final Exam
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A small group of students at al North Carolina college are knee deep in the middle of their final exams. Each one of them are busy dealing with their upcoming tests in their own way, doing everything from actually studying for the test to trying to steal the answers. But what they should really be concerned about is the psychotic killer who’s recently migrated from another local college killing spree to their own swiftly emptying campus.

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And it came so highly recommended for its lack of mass murder, too….

The first word that comes to mind when I think about Final Exam is mediocre. There’s nothing particularly memorable about it, but at the same time it doesn’t do anything sinfully abhorrent either. As far as slashers go, it’s light on all the things that typical genre fans look for: inventive kills, gore, nudity and suspense. Most of the scenes feel familiar and the characters tend to fall into typical, cookie-cutter genre tropes. The camera never shies away from giving you a full view of the nameless killer, yet at the same time tends to pull away when anything bloody transpires, causing most of the violence that the movie does have to occur just out of view. And if you’re hoping the film will make up for the lack of blood with more nudity, you will be disappointed. There is one brief scene before she briefly covers up with an iridescent sheet and that’s it. You get more nakedness out of the poor frat boy that gets hazed and covered in whipped cream. As far as slashers go, Final Exam comes across as very…. Well, tame, I think, is a good descriptor for it.

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Soak him in, ladies and gents.

The one thing that does set the movie apart from the slew of similar slashers that emerged following the Halloween and Friday the 13th craze, is immense focus on character development. Most of the characters in Final Exam may be familiar tropes (the dumb jock, the brain, the slut, the dunce, the good girl…), but by god, they are fleshed out tropes. With most other slashers the main hero gets 75% of the screen time, with the rest of the shots getting split between the killer’s perspective and the spunky sidekick, with maybe a bit of love interest thrown in for good measure if you’re lucky. But there, each victim is given their own side story and ample screen time before the bodies start piling up.

This character focus is both the film’s strength and weakness. For one, it’s rare that a slasher focus on anyone other than the main player. Most everyone else in these types of low-budget slashers usually only registers just one or two notches above a mannequin with a decent wig and occasional facial expressions as far as importance goes. But Final Exam really makes the characters the focus of the film. The movie spends a good two-thirds of its time focusing on their doubts, romances, awkwardness and hijinks. As a result, we get a good look into their lives and they become more than just 'inconsequential victims.'

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Only the poor schmucks on lover’s lane are granted that distinction.

However, this also turns the movie into very much of a slow burn. When I said the first two-thirds of the movie focus on the characters, I wasn’t kidding. With the exception of the couple that ends up getting killed within the first five minutes, the next body doesn’t drop until a good 45-minutes later. Everything between that feels like a very different film, one filled with basic college student drama mixed in with frat boy hijinks that would have made even some of the members of Animal House think they’d gone too far.

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Of course, today I expect they’d all be expelled on the spot.

As for the characters themselves, the results are kind of variable. Of course, all the frat members come off as assholes in some form or another, even the one you’re supposed to feel bad for. And even some of the ‘good’ kids end up delivering some questionable lines. Geeky Radish for example (I’m not sure if that’s a nickname or if his parents hated him), seems to have an unhealthy fascination with real-life crime, becoming excited when relaying news of the murders of the students at the nearby college and praising the skills of sniper Walt Whitman. On the other hand, he’s also polite, respectful to all the woman he comes in contact with and also seems to be the only character genuinely concerned with the safety of the people around him. I’m a bit torn on my feelings about him, quite honestly. Then again, he also has the walls of his room covered in horror movie posters, so I guess I’ll chalk up some of those lines to awkwardness and leave it at that.

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Though that doesn’t explain jersey-boy grabbing him by the pants like that...Then again, jersey-boy does a lot of other questionable things with
the males he comes in contact with.


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Like, seriously dude, what are you doing to his neck? I think you’re even more confused than you look.

Predictability and sexual confusion aside, one of the saving graces of Final Exam is how pretty the whole thing looks. Not only does it benefit by being shot on a quaint little college campus, but it also has some gorgeously framed and well lighted shots. That’s not to say that the movie looks perfect, mind you. There are some noticeable scratches and dust marks and it’s clear that the movie was made on a very tight budget, but even considering all that it’s still a very aesthetically shot movie.

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So, in the end Final Exam winds up being very predictable. The film looks nice, but there’s nothing here that really makes it memorable. The characters are familiar, the set up is familiar and, hell, even the killer is familiar. What sets this movie apart from it’s contemporaries is its dedicated focus on the lives of its characters. Yet at the same time, this same dedication really wrecks havoc with the pacing of the film, likely turning off a lot of dedicated slasher fans. Most people don’t care to wait 45-50 minutes in between kills and the viewer’s enjoyment of the film is going to hinge on how much they care about the daily lives of a bunch of college kids. Still, that focus does set the movie apart from similar fare, so I must give them credit for doing something different. So if you’re looking for an atypical slasher, give Final Exam a try. But if you’re a gore and/or nudity hound, this is not the film for you.

Final Exam is currently streaming on Amazon Prime.


Well, that about wraps it up on my end. I hope you all had a fun month and a spooky Halloween. As always, I enjoyed reading everyone's thoughts and comments. Hope to see ya'll again next year :)
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prfsnl_gmr
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Re: Racketyboy Month of Horror 9: The Axis of Sorta Evil

by prfsnl_gmr Tue Nov 06, 2018 2:01 pm

I’m bringing the rotting corpse of this long-deceased thread back from the dead to post some quick thoughts on the rest of the horror movies I watched last month...

WISE FWOM YO GWAVE!

Your Vice Is a Locked Room and Only I Have the Key (1972) is a solid giallo with an amazing title. It starts out as more of a slasher film, but the murderer is apprehended off screen about halfway through the movie. It then turns into an interesting Poe adaptation. Also, there are a lot of “tastefully filmed” love scenes. They could have gone with “The Sexytime Murders” if the title wasn’t already so good.

What Have You Done to Solange (1972) is an OK giallo that is more of a murder mystery than a horror film. In it, an Italian professor at an English boarding school hooks up with students and tracks a killer. It is OK, but not very memorable.

Dark Water (2002) is a pretty-great Japanese ghost movie that is drastically better than its American remake. Great atmosphere, great acting, and a grim ending that differs significantly from the American version make this worth viewing even if you have already seen the just-OK remake. It is also one of those incredibly hard-to-find movies that is available for streaming on Amazon Prime Video; so, if you have the service and are a fan of the genre, you should seek it out.

In The Strangers (2008), an annoying, ineffectual dude-bro and his completely helpless girlfriend are menaced by masked thrill-killers. It starts out OK, but the characters were so annoying we were rooting for their tormentors by the end of the film. It is a crime that this movie is held in such high regard while almost no one has seen the drastically superior Arch Hall, Jr. film The Sadist (1963).

The Sadist (1963) and The Perfume of the Lady in Black (1974) were the break out hits for me this year. Both are streaming on Amazon Prime Video, and both are great.

.....

prfsnl_gmr’s Petrifying September Pre-Game of Putresence
1. The Killer Bats (1940) - :)
2. Under the Skin (2014) - :)
3. Burn Witch, Burn! (a/k/a Night of the Eagle) (1960) - :D


prfsnl_gmr’s Horrifyingly Haunted October Horror House
1. Scream 4 (2011) - :D
2. Dog Soldiers (2002) - :)
3. Play Misty for Me (1971) - :)
4. The Sadist (1963) - :D
5. Duel (1971) - :)
6. The Perfume of the Lady in Black (1974) - :D
7. Apostle (2018) - :)
8. The Fall of the House of Usher (1950) - :(
9. Your Vice Is a Locked Room and Only I Have the Key (1972) - :)
10. What Have You Done to Solange (1972) - :|
11. Dark Water (2002) - :D
12. The Strangers (2008) - :|
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Re: Racketyboy Month of Horror 9: The Axis of Sorta Evil

by Ack Tue Nov 06, 2018 2:22 pm

How does The Sadist compare to Funny Games?

Also, I need to see the Japanese original Dark Water.
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Michi
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Re: Racketyboy Month of Horror 9: The Axis of Sorta Evil

by Michi Tue Nov 06, 2018 3:30 pm

prfsnl_gmr wrote:The Sadist (1963) and The Perfume of the Lady in Black (1974) were the break out hits for me this year. Both are streaming on Amazon Prime Video, and both are great.

I have put The Perfume of the Lady in Black on my watch-list due to your high praise. I'll be sure to give it and Blow Out a watch once I de-saturate from all the horror goodness of October.

Also, I'm pleased someone else liked The Sadist. The name Arch Hall Jr. doesn't inspire much confidence, but I'll be damned if I wasn't impressed with it when I saw it back in....*checks*... 2013? Damn.
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prfsnl_gmr
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Re: Racketyboy Month of Horror 9: The Axis of Sorta Evil

by prfsnl_gmr Tue Nov 06, 2018 4:13 pm

Ack wrote:How does The Sadist compare to Funny Games?


It’s very different. The Sadist doesn’t actually contain that much sadism. (Arch Hall, Jr. doesn’t mess around. He’ll just shoot you as soon as you stop being useful.) Rather, it is just a very well-made thriller with a great villain and relatable protagonists. Some characters aren’t as brave or tough as they think they are...until they are. I also found myself really sympathizing with the characters as they attempted or thought about attempting an escape. Unlike the protagonists in The Strangers, the protagonists in The Sadist are by no means helpless, and they (mostly) make good decisions. I mostly could not formulate a better fight-or-flight strategy than the characters in the movie, a fact that, I’m my opinion, really added to the suspense. (Again, the characters in The Strangers could have survived their attack with relative ease if they had taken some common sense steps...like putting on shoes...or calling the police...or looking for their dead friend’s phone...They wouldn’t have lasted 10 minutes against Arch Hall, Jr.!)

Michi wrote:
prfsnl_gmr wrote:The Sadist (1963) and The Perfume of the Lady in Black (1974) were the break out hits for me this year. Both are streaming on Amazon Prime Video, and both are great.

I have put The Perfume of the Lady in Black on my watch-list due to your high praise.


Its. It particularly scary...at all. It is wild, however, and really fun...and remarkably well-made. The fashion and Italian modern furniture are highlights. I hope you enjoy it!
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