30 Days of Hellraiser: Hellraiser

30 Days of Hellraiser: Hellraiser

I’ll say it out front. Hellraiser lives up to its reputation. It also holds up very well, something which can’t be said for a ton of mid-80’s horror films. Clive Barker’s psychosexually violent tale of lust, sadomasochism, and infidelity is as effective in today’s torture-porn saturated landscape as it was upon its release in 1987 and if nothing else deserves praise for introducing two of horror’s most iconic images – the baroque Lament Configuration and the perverse, demonic Cenobites. The heart of the story is a thoroughly dysfunctional love triangle between nebbish Larry (Andrew Robinson), his cold, spiteful wife Julia (Clare Higgins), and Larry’s n’er-do-well brother Frank (Sean Chapman). Larry is a meek pushover whose finances seem to be the only thing keeping Julia around; on the other hand, Frank is everything Larry isn’t – virile, seductive, and forceful. It’s no surprise Frank was able to cajole Julia into a sexual tryst shortly before her wedding. Indeed – Julia still carries a torch for her brother-in-law, and when she comes across some erotic photos of Frank after moving into his and Larry’s childhood home she pockets one as a memento. But hey – good news for Julia! Frank’s disembodied spirit is hanging around the attic, where months before he was taken into some sexual hell-dimension after using a mysterious puzzle box to summon a bunch of aliens in bondage gear. After Larry injures his hand on moving day and deposits a fair amount of blood on the floor of the attic, Frank’s gradual reincarnation begins. All he needs now are a host of unwitting saps to spill more of...
Film Review: Lust in Hell

Film Review: Lust in Hell

<!– P { margin-bottom: 0.08in; } –> Lust in Hell (2009) is a misleading title. While Hell appears in the movie, and there’s plenty of lust, the lust never actually occurs in Hell. In fact, nothing really takes place in Hell. It kind of pops in and out over the course of the movie, but never really takes center stage. Honestly, such a titillating title is almost a guarantee of disappointment, and Lust in Hell is a disappointment. The film opens with Koto, a young woman, escaping from a psychiatric facility to visit the place where her parents died in a car accident a year earlier. While there she sees Shinji, whose girlfriend was killed in the same accident, getting ready to off himself by jumping into traffic. She persuades him to give up his suicide plan by telling him he won’t go to Heaven because it doesn’t exist; all that awaits those who die is Hell. This dire warning is said in a cute, squeaky voice befitting a talking guinea pig. Shinji logically decides to take this charming person home with him. They almost do it, but Shinji decides he’s not ready yet. Later that night, they both see the apparition of his dead girlfriend. It turns out that after the accident Koto gained the power to see rifts in this world that open into Hell, and her presence attracts the ghosts of those trapped there. Shinji’s friend/colleague calls him to come to a meeting with his boss. It turns out that Shinji and his boss are ex-cops, and now they kill people for a reason. Shinji’s had...
Tarsem & I: A Love/Hate Story

Tarsem & I: A Love/Hate Story

I have a weird relationship with Tarsem Singh, the movie director who is usually credited as ‘Tarsem’ because it sounds more chic. I love him occasionally, I hate him mostly, and I still get excited and hopeful when I find out he’d doing a new movie like this one. (also, ‘panopticon’ is a cool word) Tarsem started out in music videos, including the pretty neat one for R.E.M.’s “Losing My Religion”, which features lots of people with wings and Michael Stipe looking depressed. (they seem so surprised when an elderly angel falls into their house; I guess they’ve never read any South American magical realism) Then he moved on to movies, beginning with The Cell in 2000. It’s a film about a serial killer and the psychiatrist who literally moves into his head to figure out where his next victim is. It’s not a great movie, but it has some interesting visuals, some gorgeous costumes (shut up I’m a girl) and Tarsem shows us what the inside of a horse looks like, which is thoughtful of him. It helps that Vincent D’Onfrio is the bad guy and he’s completely fucking crazy anyway. All in all, The Cell was a 90-minute Nine Inch Nails video. Not surprising for a music video director, and it showed promise. The next Tarsem movie I saw was sublime. The Fall is about just that- literal and figurative falling. A movie actor who’s been paralyzed in a stunt gone wrong befriends a little girl who is healing from her own fall, and spins an epic tale for her to pass the time (and for other,...
Taking My Viewing to South Beach: Miami Vice With New Eyes

Taking My Viewing to South Beach: Miami Vice With New Eyes

There has been a massive Miami Vice shaped hole in my cultural knowledge. This was not and is not a conscious decision on my part. My father, I recall, watched the show during its run. He wasn’t a devoted follower of the series, but I can distinctly recall snippets of episodes and that iconic opening from my childhood wanderings down the hall to our living room. One in particular, an episode with Sheena Easton, is in my mind’s eye. It’s nothing seared in my memory or anything like that, but the memory of watching that one episode is there.  Maybe it’s because I always confused (and still confuse) Sheena Easton with Sheila E, even though they’re nothing alike. Sheila E, as it turns out, is way cooler than Sheena Easton, but she was never on Miami Vice. But I never revisited the show to see what the big deal was as I have with so many others. It’s not that I dislike cop shows or crime dramas; I’m not particularly drawn to them, mind you, but I enjoy enough of them that Miami Vice doesn’t repel me or anything. The show just never did it for me. As a kid, it was like watching people my dad’s age try to be cool. My dad is cool, but he wasn’t so cool in 1985 to eight year old Ian; the thought of watching guys my dad’s age wearing suit jackets with t-shirts while living on boats in Miami to New Wave soundtracks just didn’t appeal to me much at the time. Grody to the max. As an adult, the whole thing...
AnaKhouri Presents: The Top 10 Mullets of Anime

AnaKhouri Presents: The Top 10 Mullets of Anime

<!– P { margin-bottom: 0.08in; } –> So the other day I was in your typical big box store, when I saw something not so typical- not around here at least. A mullet. And not just any mullet. It was an Asian guy with the most splendid, flowing, fantastic mullet I have ever laid my eyes upon. It was shiny and fell to his waist like a silky black hair waterfall. I was transfixed by this sight, as was everyone else in the Garden Center. We gaped as he passed among us like a wraith, casting his eyes neither left or right, but with his gaze fixed upon some magnificent mullet-y vision that was invisible to our mortal eyes. This encounter got me thinking. Back in the olden times (the 1980’s-early ’90’s), mullets were as common as fleas on a dog that doesn’t have one of those special flea-killing collars. These days, I hardly see them anywhere- not even in the place you’d expect to see them, like the eastern part of my home state. Mullets are old and busted. Except in one special place. Mullets have survived- no, thrived- in anime long past their expiration date in American barber shops. In light of this realization, I present to you the Top Ten Anime Characters Who Are Business in the Front and Party in the Back. <!– P { margin-bottom: 0.08in; } –> Keith (Voltron) Apparently having a mullet makes chicks swoon unconscious into your arms.   <!– P { margin-bottom: 0.08in; } –> Kyala (Highlander: The Search for Vengeance)   <!– P { margin-bottom: 0.08in; } –> Look,...
Hey, You Guys! It’s a Movie Roundup

Hey, You Guys! It’s a Movie Roundup

<!– P { margin-bottom: 0.08in; } –> As Tears Go By ATGB is an early Wong Kar Wai film, and you can tell. It doesn’t have the slow, surreal feel of most of his movies. It’s a pretty basic Hong Kong gangster movie, but the performances are what carry it (those, and Andy Lau’s tiny, tiny shorts). Andy Lau plays a mid-level gangster who would probably have risen higher in the ranks if he wasn’t always trying to cover for his buddy, Fly. Fly is a fucking idiot who continually insults high-ranking members of other gangs, and gets his ass beat. Only the intervention of his BFF keeps him from getting murdered over and over. Everyone tells Andy Lau to dump this guy, but he and Fly have been friends for ages and he can’t seem to make himself get rid of him. It gets more complicated when Andy Lau’s cousin shows up unexpectedly. She has some vaguely-explained illness, and has come from her rural island home to Hong Kong for treatment, and expects to stay with Andy Lau. Of course they fall in love (this sounds kind of gross, but if your cousin looked like Maggie Cheung), and just when it seems Andy Lau might be able to get out of the thug life and live happily ever after, Fly gets in trouble again… ATGB is a predictable story, but it’s entertaining and not a little sad to watch Andy Lau’s hopes of a normal life spiral downward. Even the hideous 1990’s fashions they force Maggie Cheung into can’t diminish her beauty. If you don’t go into ATGB...