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Movie Review Headcheese:: Insidious: Chapter 2, You’re Next, Stoker, Passion, Curse of Chucky, etc.

November 15th, 2013 by unkle lancifer · 16 Comments

Every once in a while the inside of my head turns into styrofoam. It’s some kind of merciful curse that insures I remain ambivalent enough not to jump off a bridge. The down side is a cluttered desktop! How is one supposed to finish a movie review when they can’t even a finish a…what are those long snake-like things that swallow words called again?…sentence! Usually I’d just sweep these dead leaves into a pile and light the delete button but today I’m making movie review headcheese! Yummy! It tastes like lethargy!

INSIDIOUS: CHAPTER 2

I can’t believe I almost didn’t see INSIDIOUS 2. What a dope I almost was. It’s just that I had warm fuzzy feelings about JAMES WAN’s last two flicks that I wanted to protect and scuttlebutt on the street was that it was shrug-worthy. Not that I ever read reviews for a film before I see it but it’s hard with the Internet not to glean the general consensus through the fine art of skimming out of the corner of your eye. Luckily I remembered that folks are harsh on horror in general and sequels in particular. Besides, WAN had only months previously ridden a wave of approval thanks to THE CONJURING and critics would likely be itching to rain on that parade as soon as possible. So I went, thinking if it did stink, what the hell, at least I’d get to hang out in a dark theater for a while.

I should thank all the braying naysayers because with my expectations in check I enjoyed every minute of it. INSIDIOUS 2 turned out to be one of the better sequels I’ve ever seen. I say that because instead of diluting the occurrences in the first film, INSIDIOUS 2 only enhances them. Both films compliment each other and yet stand on their own. I think you could even watch them in reverse if you wanted. Also whoever decided to cast HOUSE OF THE DEVIL’s JOCELIN DONAHUE as the younger version of BARBARA HERSHEY’s character deserves a meatball hoagie of some sort. Really if you liked the first film, I have no idea why you wouldn’t like the second unless you just hate the number 2. Most importantly, one scene really took me off guard and scared the crap out of me. As I look over at ROTTEN TOMATOES now, I see that although the critics kept their arms crossed, audiences responded mostly favorably so maybe it’s not just me…or maybe it is….

YOU’RE NEXT

Again, I didn’t read any reviews for this but I kept seeing high grades in magazines and hearing from folks that it was “real horror” and so original and what a tragedy that it didn’t do better at the box office and horror fans need to support scrappy films like this, etc. Basically I was guilt tripped into seeing this movie but it had to be good if my comrades were so passionate about it…right?

I didn’t get it. Was I tired that day? Was I dreaming of meatball hoagies like I sometimes do? I see there’s no number 2 in the title but how is this movie getting praise for being original? They could have called it THE STRANGERS 2 and I sure wouldn’t have noticed. Maybe I’m being paranoid, but were people receiving fruit baskets for every rube they convinced into seeing this movie? Please be honest if you’ve received a fruit basket and don’t read anymore if you don’t like spoilers…

I’m most confused by why I was repeatedly told by people that they could not explain why this movie was so incredible because that would give away its mindboggling twist… but now that I’ve seen it, I have to ask… what the hell is the twist? That the boyfriend is in on it? That’s the hoariest trick in the book. Was the twist that the female character knew how to fight? Really? Are we all still collectively pretending that is an anomaly in horror films? Ugh. Why does a genre capable of exploring the enormity of existence itself keep getting mesmerized into monotony by a subject as mundane as gender? I’m not saying “move on” I’m just asking can I play Candy Crush while everybody rates a female character’s worth based solely on how well she handles herself when being attacked? People can cry about remakes and sequels all they want but if you ask me, what’s really hobbling the genre is the insistence on stuffing it with action movie tropes and audience pandering power fantasies. A large part of my fear while watching a horror movie is derived from my concern for the character’s safety. When you take that away and make everyone a secret ninja, I’ve got nothing.

It’s possible my experience suffered from the corrosive effects of overpraise. Might I have enjoyed YOU’RE NEXT if I had stumbled across it on cable? One thing’s for sure, presented as horror’s great white hope or a bastion of innovation for me, it just doesn’t fly. Furthermore, I don’t think audiences should feel too guilty about not wanting to trudge out and spend 16 bucks to see what basically amounts to a semi more violent, semi less funny version of CLUE: THE MOVIE.

STOKER

Do you know what I find infinitely more interesting than a gal with secret ninja skills? A character with something provocative going on between their ears. Here’s a movie I wouldn’t mind rallying behind, STOKER, CHAN-WOOK PARK’s phantasmagorical spin on HITCHCOCK’s SHADOW OF A DOUBT. It’s so damn beautiful folks are bound to call it pretentious which is a fancy way to say artsy-fartsy. Go ahead and sue me but it’s been a long time since an image on the screen was enough to make my jaw drop and STOKER delivers more than a few. I didn’t make the connection with HITCH’s flick ‘til well towards the end and even then I swear there was never a moment when I felt I knew what was going to happen next. Powerfully ominous and sinisterly swoony, STOKER left me in a weird gothic trance with a sudden urge to read Victorian poetry and befriend spiders. Wrap it up, I’ll take it. It’s glorious to catch a director so obviously at the peak of his powers.

PASSION

Aw! Do you know who’s not at the peak of his powers? My beloved BRIAN DE PALMA! That’s O.K. Even B.D.’s less successful work is fascinating to me! This one is a doozie and do bring along your sense of humor or be prepared to bang your head against a wall. Essentially I believe this is the story of two non-ninja but still powerful women fighting over who gets to take the credit for inventing “the butt-cam” and of course such a dispute can only end in murder! All of you who have griped about DE PALMA emulating HITHCOCK can stop now- he’s moved on to ZALMAN KING. This movie is supposed to be based on some French flick but I swear it’s an episode of THE RED SHOE DIARIES. Although if you want to talk about the look of the movie, I’d guess 1984’s never ending venetian blind commercial THIEF OF HEARTS might have been a big inspiration.

It sounds like I’m making fun but I am fine with all of the above and God strike me dead if I ever am such a turd as to not appreciate anything that comes down the pike holding hands with a PINO DONAGGIO score. All of the film’s tone-deaf dialogue and slick artifice is okay in my book too. That’s just my buddy DE-DE doing DE-DE. The real problem is the story is bonkers and nearly every set up is a let down. Also I feel I have to implore DE PALMA’s friends and family- You people need to get together and have a “dream sequence” intervention for the guy. He’s obviously out of control and needs help. I’m not in the position to lend aid, otherwise I would.

Still, I say to love cinema is to love DE PALMA. Even when dancing backwards with a lampshade on his head, it’s clear his romance with the medium is true blue. The PASSION experience is sort of like when you go see a band you loved in college and they sound awesome and you’re having a great time and you applaud for an encore and then they come out and say those dreaded words “This is from our new album!” and everyone starts sliding ever so discretely toward the bar or the bathroom. But it’s DE PALMA and so I’m going to give it a few years. If somebody puts a montage on YouTube of every time one of the two brilliantly game leads (RACHEL McADAMS & NOOMI RAPACE) laughs like a deranged maniac within the film, PASSIONS could easily gather some camp/cult traction.

CURSE OF CHUCKY

As long as DON MANCINI is writing and directing you can just keep the CHUCKY movies coming as far as I’m concerned. I say that even while the man has made it abundantly clear he will never accept my friendship on Facebook. He’s like a hero of mine because he’s written every installment and has pushed the series into directions that go against the grain. I’m sure he’s lost a few fans by challenging their expectations and that just makes me respect him more. If you weren’t down with SEED O’ CHUCKY’s meta cartoon take on the material (I was) take heart as instead of inflating things further to the breaking point, MANCINI has done a full U-turn and made CURSE a tighter more intimately grounded affair. The guy does a beautiful job with the atmosphere and rather than the usual carnival tone, half the time I felt I was watching some early eighties Italian psychological thriller like LAMBERTA BAVA’S A BLADE IN THE DARK.

Not only is this box office bypassing sequel visually dark and broody, gone for the most part our Chucky’s trademark winky quips and in their place are uncomfortable existential bon mots like “There is no God” and “Life’s a bitch and then you die bleeding like a stuck pig.” FIONA DOURIF (daughter of the series’ spine BRAD DOURIF) is a natural and a welcome breath of fresh air as Nica, a heroine with a (SCREAM OF FEAR inspired?) physical hurdle (she requires a wheelchair) but more than enough mental determination to become one of Chuck’s most formidable adversaries. I must admit I wasn’t fully satisfied with every revelation uncovered, but for the most part, it’s obvious that an effort was made to reward those who have been loyal to the series total (i.e. stay through the closing credits). I think this release is a hopeful sign of the future for straight-to-home releases. If bypassing box office approval and some advertising costs means directors can have more control over the finished product then that can only be a good thing in my book.

WHITE NOISE 2

Speaking of straight-to-video sequels, has anyone seen this one? I barely remember the first film it’s barely based on, but I found it for $1.50 in a used bin and took a chance because it had (sci-fi dream couple) NATHAN FILLION and KATEE SACKHOFF in it and was directed by MY BLOODY VALENTINE (2009)’s PATRICK LUSSIER. It could have just as easily have been released as a (far less bloody) FINAL DESTINATION installment and even though I’m convinced my mom would have liked it even more than me, I must say I enjoyed it. In fact, I’m know I’m going to watch it again. I definitely liked it better than the first flick and those charismatic leads should be cast together more often.

KISS OF THE DAMNED

Hey, check it out! Apparently there is no end to JOHN CASSAVETES & GENA ROWLAND’s contribution to film. Who knew they also kindly gifted us with talented daughter XAN CASSAVETES and she’s just getting started! KISS is XAN’s first feature film and yay, it is chuck full of vampires! XAN doesn’t seem too interested in taking the undead down the bigger, louder, faster road to nowhere. This lyrical flick pays homage to a time when people had attention spans and vampire movies didn’t…(you know it’s going to happen)…suck. Are you a fan of DAUGHTERS OF DARKNESS (1971)? Where you noticeably the only person not bored by VAMPYRES (1974) when you watched it at a group sleepover? Would you push your grandmother into traffic for saying an unkind word about THE HUNGER (1983)? This movie is for you (and me)! It’s got lovely cinematography and a gets-under-your-skin score and if there’s absolutely nothing warm beneath its polished surface, welcome to the world of vampires. Sure I’m sad that if it cunningly builds up to what might be a magnificent showdown only to peter out with a whimper! Then again, what better way to salute the artsy fartsy European fang flicks of yesterday?

GHOULIES 3 and 4

I watched and was entertained by GHOULIES 3 and 4 recently so take that into consideration when reading anything I might say. These movies are of course terrible and I have no excuse except that I can’t resist the enjoyable VHS flavored bubble they are able to trap me in (even though I watched them on cheap DVD compilations). I have nothing much to say about either except, the cast for part 3 is astounding (JASON SCOTT LEE, MATHEW LILLARD, DOLLSSTEPHEN LEE, SUMMER SCHOOL’s PATRICK LABYORTEAUX, APRIL FOOL’S DAY’s GRIFFIN O’NEAL, KEVIN McCARTHY, MARCIA (R.I.P.) WALLACE!!!) and that notably in part 4 the Ghoulies cease being puppets and start being costumed dwarves (TONY COX!!). Also part 4 was directed by the guy who did CHOPPING MALL and both films have the power to change lives. Hey, Judgey Mcjudgeystein, I can’t always find something agreeable on Netflix Streaming…

MANIAC

Thank God I didn’t break down and rent MANIAC on demand because lo and behold it finally did appear on Netflix! I almost passed it by because the image they are using to represent it looks surprisingly bland compared to all of the cool poster art I’ve seen floating around. As I expressed HERE I’ve had a long and varied history with WILLIAM LUSTIG’s original. My first viewing left me shell-shocked and that feeling over the years somehow transformed into the type of adoring affection usually reserved for kittens. I’m also on record HERE for supporting remakes and their potential to be worthwhile every now and then. While this particular effort is never going to push the original off the throne in my heart, it did at least capture’s the original’s sense of impending dread. For all its questionable moves, I did find myself properly agitated and worried about how far into the abyss it might go.

My first takeaway is the idea that it’s too bad that ELIJAH WOOD was not old enough to play Norman Bates in the PSYCHO remake as it would have certainly have been less of a disaster. He’s very good in this, even while some of his performance is buried beneath the movie’s too gimmicky POV stance. The POV thing works fine enough and I understand the detached coldness that results was probably what the director was going for but I would have rather it had been used more sparingly as it got in the way of me connecting with the characters. Ultimately this is a no foul, no harm tribute that has a few worthwhile ideas of its own. Plus I have to give points for the retro synth score, hipster baiting though it may be at times. On the other hand, the use of SILENCE OF THE LAMB’s “Goodbye Horses” was just a little too obvious and heavy handed for my taste. Which brings me to…

THE CALL

I laughed at the trailer for this one when I first saw it but when I learned it was directed by SESSION 9’s BRAD ANDERSON I had to give a shot. Guess who had the last laugh? HALLE BERRY of course! THE CALL is a mostly straightforward, surprisingly suspenseful throw back to seventies-era woman in peril thrillers. Its tone and barebones structure make it feel like a TV movie and yeah, that’s a compliment. I think what may have ruined the film for some is that it goes ridiculously off the rails in the third act, BUT I embraced the lunacy and let it flow.

BERRY plays a 911 operator with a history of screwing things up who gets a chance to redeem herself when she gets a call from a girl trapped in the trunk of a car. Eventually, due to the police being incompetent, she must go to the crazy killer’s underground lair(!) to rescue the poor girl herself. Yeah, it’s a little over the top. But I’ll give it this; when the scalping killer begins to go about his torturous business in this movie, he doesn’t play the obvious “Goodbye Horses” instead his tuneage of choice is CULTURE CLUB’s KARMA CHAMELEON. I decree this is a stroke of genius.

I can’t stop thinking about it. On one level, it’s simply funny in an ironic way as the song is about as happy, toe-tappy and benign as they come. Underneath that candy coating though the frightening truth is that KARMA CHAMELEON is also maddeningly nonsensical and ruthlessly repetitive. It is a trickster anthem sung by a Pan-possessed rag doll! Look behind its false mirth camouflage and you will find a chilling condemnation and a call for moral anarchy! Its catchy earworm powers are so evil that they register at levels usually reserved for commercial jingles. Folks of a certain age have had this chant that mocks all that is sane engrained into the deepest level of their psyches where only sleeper agent instructions are meant to be stored. As soon as you hear the first familiar beat from that song it becomes all too hideously clear that all matter of hell is about to break loose!

So now I have a final question for you guys. I babbled on so much today that there’s no way I’m preparing a funhouse so instead, I’ll introduce a new interactive feature entitle The KINDERTRAUMA QUESTIONNAIRE!!!! (Trumpets)

KINDERTRAUMA QUESTIONNAIRE QUESTION #1: What 3 songs would you least like to hear a murderer play while he or she is killing you?

My Answers are…

3. Ce’st La Vie” by Robbie Nevil- because that’s just rude to play that. I wouldn’t want somebody so insensitive to my feelings taking my life.

2. “Ain’t Nothing Gonna Break My Stride” by Mathew Wilder. I wouldn’t like to hear this song while I was being murdered because I think I’d read the killer’s selection of it as a reflection of his or her alarming determination to accomplish their goals.

1. “Somebody’s Knockin’” by Terri Gibbs. Holy shit, if somebody played this insanely scary song right before they murdered me I would never forgive them. I would damn them to hell forever for making my last moments on Earth such a miserable and harrowing experience! Who would do that? What kind of sick in the head monster plays Terri fucking Gibbs before they kill somebody? It’s like some twisted record executive said, “Can someone please make a song that’s scarier than WING’s “Let ‘em In?” and Terri was all like “Sure, I’ll do it!” and the record guy was like, “Wait, what are you a man or a woman? I can’t even tell.” And Terri was like “What?! What are you blind? I’m a woman you moron! Just for that I’m going to make the song ten times scarier!”

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Tags: General Horror · I Have No Idea What This Is · Movie Review Headcheese




16 responses so far ↓

  • 1 shweeshweeNo Gravatar // Nov 15, 2013 at 12:18 pm

    Answers to your Questionnaire:

    “Piano Concerto No. 1-Allegro non troppo” by Tchiakovsky

    “Songbird” by Kenny G

    “If You’re Happy And You Know It Clap Your Hands”

  • 2 TaylorNo Gravatar // Nov 15, 2013 at 12:28 pm

    Of all of these reviews, the only movie I’ve seen is You’re Next…and I agree completely. If I’d never heard of it and it popped up on HBO in the middle of the night I might have gotten into it, but as it is it felt like kind of a waste of a trip to the theater after all of the hype.

  • 3 DustinNo Gravatar // Nov 15, 2013 at 1:27 pm

    Three theeme songs I would not like for my theoretical murder:

    1. “1812 Overture”, by Tchaikovsky
    2. “Low Spark of High Heeled Boys”, by Traffic
    3. “Touch of Grey”, by Grateful Dead

  • 4 unkle lanciferNo Gravatar // Nov 15, 2013 at 2:56 pm

    Shwwshwee,

    1. Piano Concerto No. 1-Allegro non troppo would drive me insane.

    2. Kenny G is inhuman cruelty.

    3. “If your happy and you know it” is unthinkable.

    The only thing worse I can think of Pia Zadora’s “clapping song”

    Taylor,

    Thank you. I was beginning to feel like Veronica Cartwright in “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” with that one. I guess it’s probably a serviceable rental but I’m more surprised that it actually got to play in a theater than I am that it didn’t take the country by storm.

    Dustin,

    That Traffic song goes on and on forever. Any murderer who would play that would have to be crazy.

  • 5 Dylan Donnie-DukeNo Gravatar // Nov 15, 2013 at 2:57 pm

    First things first, the souse loaf\head cheese pic at the top is delightfully disgusting.
    Next, for the first time I find myself in disagreement with an Unk review. Insidious 2 might be the worst film that I have seen this year. If there is someone with a large enough gun to coerce me into seeing Anchorman 2, then it will likely take the top spot. I hated it soooo much… well, you already made the Madeline Kahn reference.
    Finally, songs:
    1.) “Rhinestone Cowboy”-Glen Campbell
    2.) “Sunshine, Lollipops”- Leslie Gore
    3.) “Lara’s Theme”- from Dr. Zhivago
    Actually, any of these would be okay if I was being murdered by a hipster who was using them ironically. Chances of a hipster murdering me are surprisingly high.

  • 6 unkle lanciferNo Gravatar // Nov 15, 2013 at 3:15 pm

    DDD,

    Haha- Insidious 2 made flames come out of the side of your face? I’m sorry to hear that. I really liked it! I love possessed Patrick Wilson and that thing that jumped out of the bureau freaked me out!
    Oh well we had to disagree sometime…

    Just for that I’m going to disagree with you! “Sunshines, Lollipops” by Lesley Gore is the best song to be murdered to. If somebody killed me to that song I’d like be “Bless you kind sir!”

    Haha. No, you’re right. I wouldn’t want to be killed to any Leslie Gore song not even “It’s my party and I’ll cry if I want to.” – oh wait, that might not be too bad…

    Lara’s theme is a horror show. I wouldn’t want to die to Rhinestone Cowboy either. You’re right.

    THE IMPORTANT NEWS- is that I have FOUND the song I WOULD most like to be murdered to!

    Love’s theme by Barry White!

    I could slip comfortably into eternity while being scapled if this was playing….

  • 7 micksterNo Gravatar // Nov 16, 2013 at 12:05 pm

    Okay, here are my three choices…
    #1-“Mickey” by Toni Basil because that would just be rude. How dare they kill me to “my” song!

    #2-“Sexual Healing” by Marvin Gaye because that song just freaks me out anyway as I shared in a traumafession several years ago, and it would just be spiteful to taunt me that way.

    #3-“Xanadu” by Olivia Newton-John and ELO because I love the song and movie SO much it would just be cruel to associate murder with something that makes me so happy.

    Thanks, Unkle! You always come up with creative things that make me think!

  • 8 unkle lanciferNo Gravatar // Nov 16, 2013 at 12:52 pm

    Mickster,

    1. If someone had the gall to murder you to the tune of “Mickey” I would be personally outraged. Even if that person was Robey herself, I’d feel compelled to track her down and make sure justice was paid.

    2. Aw! I remember your Marvin Gaye traumafession! That was a good one!

    http://www.kindertrauma.com/?p=551

    3. I think we should reach an agreement with all psychopathic killers that the complete XANADU soundtrack is off limits while conducting their crimes. Nobody has the right to mess with anybody’s fond memories of Xanadu.

  • 9 unkle lanciferNo Gravatar // Nov 16, 2013 at 12:57 pm

    I don’t mean to tell maniacs how to conduct their business but if I was a murderer I think I’d choose to kill people to Frida’s “I know there’s something going on”…

  • 10 micksterNo Gravatar // Nov 17, 2013 at 11:33 am

    Thanks Unkle L! I knew you would support me on this!
    “I know there’s something going on” is a good song for confrontations in other areas as well.

  • 11 Ben SNo Gravatar // Nov 17, 2013 at 7:39 pm

    I’m SO glad that you liked INSIDIOUS 2, because I really liked it. I actually liked it even more than the original.

    I’m not going to answer your questionnaire because I fear that if I do it will actually happen. Superstitious/paranoid.

  • 12 ApocalypsejunkieNo Gravatar // Nov 18, 2013 at 3:43 pm

    Knowing my luck, I would get murdered to that gawd awful tinky tink Music Box Dancer song. Come to think, I want to murder myself whenever I hear that horror.

  • 13 Matt SunshineNo Gravatar // Nov 18, 2013 at 7:32 pm

    Thanks for the reviews Lance, I’m a DePalma fan and was planning to see all of these except for the Ghoulies movies.

    I don’t know if everyone has moved on from this post but I’ll answer anyway.

    Just off the top of my head, I would not want to be murdered to the songs:

    1) Evening Of Light by Nico – a very eerie and sinister song, not to mention the video made for it.
    2) What A Wonderful World by Louis Armstrong – to me, this would be extremely cruel
    3) Tourist Trap opening titles by Pino Donaggio – not sure how to explain this, it’s so hokey, irritating even, it would seem a killer choosing this would be mocking your very death, as if your pain and murder were nothing but a huge joke.

  • 14 unkle lanciferNo Gravatar // Nov 19, 2013 at 12:49 pm

    Ben S,

    Yeah, I can see liking Insidious 2 better than the first. I’m sad that the TIny Tim song din’t make a come back in the end but I did like that it had a wider scope than the first.

    I just dig the whole shebang and the score gets me too.

    Apocalypse,

    Haha! I remember that song being on a commercial that was shown all the time back n the 80’s and it drove me nuts too!

    Matt Sunshne,

    Probably a good idea to stay away from those Ghoulies!

    PASSION is not De Palma’s best but it’s not his worst either. It’s worth it for the two leads alone I think even though I now realize that it is basically a big screen adaption of Laura Branigan’s “Self Control” video.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p8-pP4VboBk

    I am amazed that you mentioned PINO’s TOURIST TRAP theme!!!

    I know exactly what you mean!

    I fell asleep watching TOURIST TRAP one night and woke up to that theme playing in a loop on the menu screen!

    It was easily enough to drive a person insane.

    and ack! Nico will scare anybody!

    btw – Rob Zombie used her voice to frightening effect in LORDS OF SALEM !

  • 15 Matt SunshineNo Gravatar // Nov 20, 2013 at 5:42 pm

    Oh cool…thanks Unk. I’m not much of an RZ fan and wasn’t planning on checking out anything he ever did again. Though I’m curious and interested now to see Lords Of Salem.

    Geez, I can just picture that. While I wouldn’t say I hate the Tourist Trap theme, I can imagine how annoying it would be to wake up to.

  • 16 unkle lanciferNo Gravatar // Nov 20, 2013 at 6:03 pm

    MS,

    He uses “All tomorrow’s Parties” by VU in it. It’s pretty cool.

    Yea “Tourist Trap” theme is awesome- just not in a loop!

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