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...
Quick Review: Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame

Quick Review: Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame

The other night the Husband and I watched a movie called Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame. This title sounds like a middle-grade kids’ novel, but it’s actually a 2010 Tsui Hark film starring Andy Lau as the titular Detective Dee. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZeMLCCws5m8 Now, this isn’t great cinema, but if you’ve seen Hark’s films before you know what to expect: very, very loose historical setting, fantasy elements and ass-kicking. Detective Dee has all of these. The movie is set way back when, as the Empress Regent is about to be crowned honest-to-god Just Empress, because she is so awesome even her son, who is now old enough to be the rightful Emperor, wants her to take over. Eight years before Detective Dee protested her taking the regency, and was summarily locked up in jail for eight years. But now the Empress-to-be wants him to come out and help her, because he’s a fucking awesome detective and a couple of her state officials have mysteriously caught fire and burned to death. Which is a problem because it’s right before her coronation and she doesn’t need this shit. Detective Dee gets on the case. Along the way we get to see CSI: Ancient China, Tony Leung Ka-Fai, dudes catching fire, the spectacular collapse of a monstrous statue of the Buddha, Andy Lau kung fu fighting a fucking deer, and a guy named (I am not making this up) Donkey Wang. The movie is about 30 minutes too long and while Lau is a decent martial artist, he’s nothing particularly special (Sammo Hung’s action direction helps with that). Even with...
Movie Review – Dredd 3D

Movie Review – Dredd 3D

10 years from now, fandom’s failure to support Dredd 3D will be seen as a cock-up of Firefly-level proportions. Coming out of the theater I was acutely aware of the film’s dismal box office performance and profoundly sad that I had likely seen the one and only shot Karl Urban will get at filling Judge Joe Dredd’s voluminous boots. Dredd 3D is a mighty accomplishment, meeting and perhaps surpassing Marvel’s billion-dollar juggernaut The Avengers for sheer tenacity. Which is not to discount Whedon’s film – it’s everything you want out of a big Summer superhero flick…but for sheer balls, Dredd 3D has my vote for comic book film of the year. Think of it this way: The Avengers Dredd 3D You see what I’m getting at there? The genius of Pete Travis’ adaptation of the popular 2000AD strip is the white-knuckle constraint of screenwriter Alex Garland’s script. Instead of a sprawling travelogue of Dredd’s universe (which was used to poor effect in the 1995 Stallone-fronted disaster), Dredd 3D locks the titular Judge and his charge, psychic rookie Judge Anderson (Olivia Thirlby) into a 200-story concrete gauntlet of death oxymoronically called Peach Trees. For nearly the film’s entire 120-minute running time, Dredd and Anderson are immersed in a pitched battle against Ma Ma (Lena Headly), a vicious drug-lord who runs Peach Trees block like her own private city-state, and her seemingly endless supply of drug-addled henchmen. It’s a perfect throwback to 70’s era exploitation films like John Carpenter’s Assault on Precinct 13. It’s a siege film in which the heroes are doing the besieging. Karl Urban’s Dredd is pitch perfect...
February Review Blitz: Forest of Death

February Review Blitz: Forest of Death

[wdgkt_img source=”http://geekyandgenki.imaginaryexercise.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/3/2011/02/Forest-of-Death-e1354979558989.jpg” thumb=”http://geekyandgenki.imaginaryexercise.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/3/2011/02/Forest-of-Death-e1354979558989-210×300.jpg” align=”right” width=”210″ height=”300″ alttext=”Forest of Death Poster”] [/wdgkt_img] So I decided to give the Pang Brothers a third chance. They’ve made so many movies, after all, they can’t all be as flawed as The Eye and Re:Cycle, right? But…three strikes and you’re out, boys. Sorry. Forest of Death is even worse than either of their other films I watched. Somewhere unspecified in China, there is a vast, deep forest where people like to go to off themselves, for whatever reason. The number of suicides there is tabloid fodder, but it gets even more sensational when a woman turns up dead in the forest…only she didn’t kill himself (though not for lack of trying), she was raped and murdered. The cops are pretty sure they have the right guy in Patrick Wong, a slimy fellow who wears his Oxford shirt buttoned all the way up (a sure sign of a psycho killer if there ever was one; that should be evidence admissible in court), but there’s no physical evidence against him. Detective CC Ha, the only female detective in her precinct, has been assigned to wrap up the case before her boss retires. She’s stumped, until she sees a botanist on TV explaining his pseudo-scientific BS theory about how plants are sentient and can communicate with humans through magnetic waves or some shit. Anyway, Detective CC Ha (I am going to use her full title and name because it looks funny typed out) calls up Dr. Shum Shu-Hoi (played by Ekin Cheng, who has grown from Pretty Boy to Foxy Man, although maturity has done nothing to...
February Review Blitz: The Great Happiness Space

February Review Blitz: The Great Happiness Space

The Great Happiness Space takes its title from a bit of Engrish advertising for an Osaka host club, Stylish Club Rakkyo. Being a host at a Japanese host club seems like the easiest job ever; all you have to do is sweet talk some lonely chicks, get them to buy a ton of expensive champagne and make some cash. Simple, yes? Harmless, flirty fun. No. The dynamics of a host club are complicated, emotional, and sometimes heartbreaking. There’s no narration here; the film relies on interviews with Rakkyo’s hosts and their clients and footage of the club in action to tell its story. The first set of clips feature various hosts praising Rakkyo’s number one host, Issei, a painfully stylish young man in a sharp suit. Interviews with Issei’s regular clients introduce the first bit of discomfort; without exception they all declare themselves to be in love with him; one woman even says she broke off her engagement after falling for Issei.  They then move on to the details of hosting, and what makes a good host; the concensus being that the most important skill is to lie, and lie well. Footage from the club shows their skills in action. The hosts are variously sensitive, kind, affectionate, big-brotherly, sweet, raucous, lecherous…whatever their particular client wants. Their chameleonic abilities are actually unnerving to watch, but not half as unnerving as the string of women declaring their love for a man who’s actively playing them. Being a host is a complex job; in one scene the hosts are shown picking up business on the street, halfway between animals hunting and prostitute...