What I Watched Last Week – 03/11/14 – Zane Lowe’s Radio 1 mates re-score Drive. B-b-b-but why?

Halloween was fun, eh? What did you ‘go’ as? To keep things firmly film, I ‘went’ as Dr Gonzo from Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, aka Hunter S Thompson, the author of aforementioned book – plus a dozen others – and champion consumer of alcohol, grass and psychoactive drugs. Reactions to this outfit (which I thought was decent, considering the only costly item was cigarettes) ranged from having direct quotes shouted at me (‘This is bat country’; ‘You took too much man! Too much!’ etc.) to being asked if I was Dora the Explorer. I was not. Bonfire night is up next, so have fun and don’t stand near Catherine of Alexandria circles. Here’s looking at the anniversary of Guy Fawkes’ torturous death!

Archipelago (2010) – 2/5

Director: Joanna Hogg

Cast: Tom Hiddleston, Lydia Leonard

Archipelago

Archipelago:
1. Extensive collection of islands which are grouped into a single area.
2. Archipealgo (film): An extensive and repetitive bore of a motion picture about a family who holiday in the Isles of Scilly but never have fun because the sister (Lydia Leonard) is a prude, moderately famous because it stars a very famous actor (Tom Hiddleston) whose talents are currently wasting away in a Marvel mogul’s gimp den.
The first definition may be less subjective than the second, but that’s what reviews are for. Joanna Hogg can’t be faulted for her camera handling skills; she sets up shots well, especially to capture exterior vistas, but the remote interactions between her human characters leave one feeling cold, alone and surrounded by shark infested seas. Unless you’re a diehard Hiddlestoner or a landscape painter, Archipelago is one to avoid.

Re-Animator (1985) – 4/5

Director: Stuart Gordon

Cast: Jeffrey Combs, Barbara Crampton, Mike Filloon

Re-Animator

Outrageously funny, goregasmically bloody cult horror hit from 1985, based on a satirical work of H.P Lovecraft’s. The fantasy master actually adapted his re-animator series from Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, which was in turn inspired by the tales of Burke and Hare, who were two prodigious grave robbers operating out of Edinburgh in the early 1800s. See The Body Snatcher (1945) and Burke and Hare (2010) for more on them. But I digress. Swiss medical student Herbert West (a fanatical Jeffrey Combs) comes to America when his neurology professor dies under mysterious circumstances. Plonking himself and his vast array of research equipment in the basement of a local hospital trainee, he resumes work on his corpse-revival serum. It doesn’t take long for his house mate to find out, but through clever coercion he convinces the young doctor to service him with fresh dead bodies upon which to conduct his alchemical deviancies.

As in any horror film things go wrong, terribly so in fact, but the putrid blood n guts approach – very reminiscent of early era George A Romero or the oozing prosthetic work of The Thing – makes for a gratifying departure from Possession Genre special effects and found footage jump scares. At it’s coal-black heart Re-Animator is still a Modern Prometheus tale, as West’s increasingly fascistic revivals of rotting tissue build his conviction of having defeated, or become, god. What makes Re-Animator so fantastic is the insane level of OTT violence, and of course the magnificent performing of Mike ‘Bullet Wound to Face Corpse’ Filloon.

Radio 1 Rescores: Drive (2011/2014) – 2/5

Director: Nicolas Winding Refn, Zane Lowe

Cast: Ryan Gosling, Carey Mulligan, Bryan Cranston, Christina Hendricks, Oscar Isaac

DriveRescore

BBC Radio 1 has been thriving off its own self-congratulatory fuel for years now, its vanity becoming more grossly engorged as each upload of an innuendo bingo receives in excess of 50,000 views. With the Rescores project, however, this unduly popular DJ collective have superseded mere media introspection. The act of heinous hubris in question is Zane Lowe’s catering of a brand new soundtrack for Nicolas Winding Refn’s classic crime thriller Drive. One of the best things about the pulpy vice throwback was its vibrant soundtrack, which gelled seamlessly with the glossy, steamy glow of nighttime Los Angeles. Replacing OST artists Kavinsky, College & Electric Youth and Desire are such musical prodigies as Bastille, Eric Prydz, BANKS and Foals – plus a few others of Zane Lowe’s popular pals – and the end result of their musical collaboration is a much more subdued, beat based soundtrack which, while at times interesting, definitely detracts from the original.

Danish mastermind Nicolas Winding Refn approved of the experiment ahead of time, though word has yet to emerge about what he thought of the end product of his films rehashing. Nightcall by Kavinsky was most painfully missed of all, and in general there was a little too much instrumental with not nearly enough horsepower behind it. Metal heads Bring Me the Horizon’s track is markedly out of place, but the closing credits tune, by The 1975, is a poignant wrap up, the mix of mellow steel drums and creeping synth fitting well with Drive’s unique style.

Poltergeist (1982) – 4/5

Director: Tobe Hooper

Cast: JoBeth Williams, Craig T. Nelson, Heather O’Rourke

Poltergeist

Tobe Hooper’s most well known creation, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre series, has aged very poorly indeed. At the time it was scary, but we’ve all had more skin-wearing backwoods nutjobs than we can stomach, and though his may have been the original inspiration it is by no means the best. Poltergeist, Hooper’s Steven Spielberg-funded possession horror from 1982, holds up astonishingly well next to his other movies, and also holds it own compared against other famous works in the genre. This is largely due to the performance of the innocent but spookily perceptive Heather O’ Rourke, who plays the youngest daughter of the Freeling family and the target of a vindictive spirit from the afterlife. Poltergeist summons the dread of childhood fears and worries and chills all the more because of the familiar domestic setting and unpredictability of the scares. They come from anywhere, without warning, and they don’t only come at night time either; an invisible chair stacking spirit, who strikes just after breakfast time, provides what is probably the most disturbing moment in the film, although for queasy viewers it will definitely be the ‘peeling rotten face’ nightmare.

Poltergeist is at times as mind bending as The Exorcist, and obviously the premise – little girl enraptured by evil demon – is similar, but the humour, showcased through Hooper’s bizarre shooting style and some unorthodox acting decisions, is much more in line with horror-com An American Werewolf in London, which was released the year prior. Main actress JoBeth Williams is an absolute delight as the matriarch of the haunted household, but audiences will lap up the inviting family vibe given off by the cast as a whole – you’d happily stay with them for a week or two, poltergeist or no.

If you want a little clip, iiiiiit’s hereeeee.

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