Archive for Italian movies

Movie night: Creatures from the Abyss vs Ace Attorney

Posted in Crime, Horror, Movies with tags , on March 16, 2014 by Cara Marie

Our last movie night featured what is possibly the worst movie I have ever sat all the way through. Creatures from the Abyss is a really awful Italian exploitation film, brought along by H of course.  He has promised to vet the films more thoroughly in the future.

Creatures from the Abyss is kind of like Alien if Alien were set on a scientific research yacht with mutant fish instead of aliens, and with the sex scene from Prometheus, if halfway through the sex scene the guy had turned into an alien mutant fish instead of only impregnating the woman with alien mutant fish babies. Except worse than that description makes it sound.

Also none of the characters are likable, the editing is near-incoherent, there is no budget, and really I don’t know why anyone would inflict this monstrosity on the universe.

Thankfully one of the other films H brought along was Ace Attorney, which restored my faith in film-making/humanity. Such a good movie! I enjoyed it, without ever having played the games (we were a Playstation family, okay!), and H enjoyed it, having played the games; and I think L enjoyed it too although he got quite worked up about how ridiculous the court system was.

I think the best comparison I have in terms of adaptations is to Scott Pilgrim vs the World – it takes some of the very stylised elements of the source medium and replicates them entertainingly. I mean, you have to respect this level of dedication to replicating cartoon hairstyles:

Phoenix Wright has his trademark pointy hair, despite not being a cartoon.

Unlike Scott Pilgrim vs the World, though, Ace Attorney is actually a successful movie. (Apologies to anyone who likes the Scott Pilgrim movie.) It’s not a serious movie. But it also doesn’t make fun of its source material. It takes the characters’ emotional arcs seriously.

Not stalagmite, stalactite

Posted in Action/adventure, Middle fiction, Movies, Science fiction with tags , on January 17, 2011 by Cara Marie

Belated write-up of our last movie night. I don’t know why I am more inclined to write up movies than books – maybe because with movies I’ve had more of a chance to discuss them and formulate an opinion in the first place?

Starcrash is an Italian film that apparently is meant to be a Star Wars rip-off, only no-one involved has seen Star Wars. And they didn’t have the budget. It’s awful. S really enjoyed it, but I sometimes fear he is turning into a parody of himself.

Acting-wise, there was the outrageously OTT villainy; there was the guy with fewer expressions than Castiel and no excuse; there was Christopher Plummer and his quiet dignity who was completely out of place, poor man. Also David Hasselhoff, who was the love interest, but the woman honestly had more chemistry with the robot.

‘The’ woman because there is only one. Also the line, “it’s time for some robot chauvinism”.

I felt like crying after that. They had threatened me with more Roger Corman films, see. To explain why that is so terrible, it includes films like Humanoids from the Deep, which has the tagline: ‘They’re not human. But they hunt human women. Not for killing. For mating.’

But thankfully S took pity on me and we watched Cliffhanger instead. He might have awful taste himself, but he is actually pretty good at picking what I will like. Cliffhanger is a Sylvester Stallone movie set in the mountains! So it is an action movie with lots of nice rocks to look out. I may have done some geeking. (And I’m pleased to see I was correct in picking there were actually two different mountain ranges involved.)

The movie starts with equipment failure on a rock-climbing expedition, which is a pretty good way to get my attention. It’s a nail-biting scene, that doesn’t end well for the hero. The movie proper starts a year later. Stallone has run away, abandoning his wife (but don’t worry, they’ll be reconciled!) and his job, and when he returns, the one thing he doesn’t intend to do is go mountaineering. Too bad there’s these people that need rescuing after their aeroplane crashed …

Too bad they’re actually all criminals!

Something I found amazing was just how often bullets hit their targets in this movie. Movies these days make gunfire just seem not that dangerous. It was refreshing. After all, isn’t it more satisfying when our hero can succeed despite their enemies being decent shots?

There are some excellent set pieces (impaled on a stalactite! hanging off a helicopter hanging off a cliff!) and it’s just a really well-constructed action movie. I do recommend it.

Spoilery observation: (skip) There’s a scene where there are only three baddies left, and one of them is about to renege on the plan. Head villain wants to get out of this alive, so he kills the [female] pilot so that he’s the only one left to fly them out. S pointed out that this was actually a clever way of getting rid of her without tainting Stallone’s character. Because apparently it’s not done to have the hero brutally kill a woman.

L went on to wonder how come it wasn’t okay to kill women in an action movie when they did it all the time in horror. I wish it had been a rhetorical question but I don’t think it was. L should really know better.

After that I quickly suggested we watch Gremlins, least they get any more unsavoury ideas. And fell asleep during all the gremlin-y hijinks (we had a late start, on account of spending like an hour looking through all S’s DVDs … that’s a lot of DVDs). It was duller than I expected, or possibly there was just too much set-up for two in the morning.

One terrible movie out of three is … not that bad, really.

Achievement: bad movies

Posted in Action/adventure, Comedy, Horror, Movies with tags , , , on November 23, 2010 by Cara Marie

It is a bad sign when you have a movie night and the most entertaining movie you see is called Frankenhooker. And after that we were really too drained by the awfulness of it all to go on. Too bad: I actually fancied seeing Calamari Wrestler and Yo-yo Girl Cop.

We first watched a Thai movie, Spirited Killer 2: Awakened Zombie Battles (actually about the fifth in a series). It’s a martial arts horror comedy … I think. Plot? Let me try and figure it out …

Movies which may or may not be weirder than usual

Posted in Action/adventure, Horror, Movies, Science fiction with tags , , on March 14, 2010 by Cara Marie

The theme for our latest movie night was ‘weird movies’, although whether or not they were any weirder than usual is debatable. And it’s probably noteworthy that we watched a bunch of the short films we made in high school, and they were entirely fitting.

The first film we watched was Resiklo, which is a Phillipine post-apocalyptic alien invasion story. With giant mecha. And people developing psychic powers. And BMX action sequences. What more could you ask for? It was a lot of fun – maybe not good exactly, but fun. And a lot of the times when the plot seemed random it was just that you had to have been paying a lot of attention.

Surprising things:

  • It was a ‘family movie’. You can tell because it had small children in it who they actually let do stuff (except for the youngest one who was meant to be adorable but was rather just creepy).
  • It was set up for a sequel – the love interest character (who I hadn’t actually realised was going to be the love interest on account of her being my age and the main character being in his forties…) turns out to be the daughter of one of the alien collaborators and ends up being taken when the bad guys flee at the end, willingly or not.
  • The bookending device was to talk about Christmas, and whether or not people were open to the Christmas spirit (more so after the aliens got run off!) I just don’t expect religion in my giant robot films.
  • The patriotism. Maybe that’s a New Zealand self-deprecation thing – people expressing pride in their country is just so unexpected!

Also, someone on the movie liked the Matrix a lot. It was in the costume designs for the bad guys (the good guys were more The Tribe), and the reveal for the aliens’ evil plot.

The second movie we watched right through was Trolls 2. Which doesn’t actually have any trolls in it – it’s about goblins. Goblins who want to eat people, except that they first have to turn them into vegetable matter. Because meat is abhorrent. So people get turned into trees, or just into green sludge, and there’s an ominous zoom when the protagonist’s father reads a vegetarian cookbook.

It is an awful movie. The best actor is the child protagonist (I’m not damning with faint praise, he was actually good). The goblin queen is decent, and her ridiculousness is deliberate – everyone else is just bad.

It is an awful movie, but it is hilarious. You will never want to eat anything with green food colouring, and you will never ever look at a corncob the same way again.

The third movie is always the one where I doze off for ten minutes and then wake up wondering why everyone’s blowing each other up all of a sudden. Bury Me High is an action flick about feng shui – the key to defeating the villain is to destroy his ancestor’s burial site. And we learn holding up a sword in a lightning storm is a bad idea.

It’s quite funny, and the fights are good, but apparently the climax didn’t make any more sense even if you were awake for the build-up.

Resiklo and Bury Me High both taught me that if someone wears sunglasses, they are probably evil. Trolls 2 taught me that if someone is a vegetarian, they are also evil. And probably a goblin in disguise. These are both useful pieces of information that I am sure will apply in my everyday life.

Actually, Facebook, I see my friends in person. We watch movies.

Posted in Movies with tags , , , on March 7, 2010 by Cara Marie

It’s funny how Facebook will tell me to ‘reconnect’ with somebody I was only just hanging out with. In real life OMG. I would quite like to just get rid of Facebook but there are some people who will only invite you to things over it, and I would miss out. /rant

Polyytech has been keeping me well busy, but it is so much more satisfying than university ever was. Classrooms are just so much better than lecture halls. It probably helps that I actually want to work in book publishing, whereas while I found geology interesting, I never had any intention of being a scientist. So it’s easier to feel fully engaged. And my degree was a comparatively practical one!

It does mean getting up in the mornings though. Obviously that’s why I have to go to movie marathons and stay up till 5 in the morning, to make up for all the early nights. Last night was spaghetti western night. It’s interesting how differently things can come across in a different context – we watched The Great Silence, which is apparently famously bleak. So if you’re coming from a background of spaghetti westerns, and expecting your heroes to get kicked around but to ultimately prevail, it’s quite shocking to have the bad guys win (and so thoroughly!) Whereas I’d only seen The Good, the Bad and the Ugly before last night, so it’s not challenging any genre conventions that I’m aware of.

Or maybe I’m just a nihilist who expects that kind of thing.

The other one we watched was A Bullet for the General, which surprised me with how slashy it was. ‘Nino’ and Chuncho are instantly BFFs, and Nino gets questioned so many times as to whether or not he actually likes women, and the ending. Kind of tragic for the ‘romance’, but strangely upbeat at the same time.

It was also quite a political film, being set during the Mexican revolution, and deals quite a lot with class. As does The Great Silence on that latter note – I don’t know that this is actually typical of spaghetti westerns. I was told that we were watching some of the more sophisticated ones.

So after that we had to be thoroughly unsophisticated and watch The Story of Ricky, which is a splatter film from Hong Kong. So, lots of punching people’s stomachs open and use of meat grinders, but also a strangely charming David vs Goliath story. It’s the kind of over-the-top violence that is more hilarious than anything else. I do recommend it – for when it’s two in the morning and you need something ridiculous.

Now, isn’t that so much better than ‘reconnecting’ with someone over Facebook?