Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Some films I've watched lately

Films that have a supernatural bent, that is. We begin with one I should have watched a while back - I could kick myself that I missed this when it came out.

What impresses me about The Devil's Business? Well, almost everything. For a start, it's intelligently scripted. That's no small thing in low-budget horror, where the script sometimes seems to have been cobbled together at the last minute. Here the way the telling of a 'ghost story' leads into some extreme occult action is brilliantly handled. The lead performances range from fine to superb, and the effects, lighting, camerawork and soundtrack are outstanding. Oh, and there's a genuinely original (and yet entirely traditional) monster. It's rare that I finish a horror movie thinking what a splendid motion picture I've just seen, but that was how I felt with this one. Dennis Wheatley meets 

Not nearly so good, but still entertaining in many ways, is this Korean horror. 

Possessed is formulaic and has a soundtrack that bashes your brains out to underline just how shocking the not-unpredictable shocks are. But, given its genre limitations, it's still a good film. 

Firstly, it's one of the few movies that illustrates a conflict between Christianity (South Korea's majority religion) and older, shamanistic beliefs. Secondly, and this is a common factor with a lot of Asian horror, it doesn't pull any punches. Just because we have a sweet, pretty girl heroine doesn't mean she'll survive in fine Hollywood style. Thirdly, there are a few genuinely surreal, disorientating moments in the obligatory dream sequences that make you believe that this is indeed a nightmare. 

Oh, and there's the usual bunch of boorish Korean cops who are about as much use as a fart in a spacesuit when it comes to tackling a paranormal threat. 

Finally, there's this interesting contribution to the Seventies vampire genre.

I have no idea how to adequately describe Nocturna: Granndaughter of Dracula. Poor old John Carradine's aged count has false fangs. There's this bonkers bloke called Brother Theodore. The producer, writer, and star, Nai Bonet, was apparently a very popular Franco-Vietnamese belly dancer at the time. Sort of. Ms Bonet's dancing is indeed spiffing, but she delivers her lines as if she learned them phonetically while slightly concussed. The disco scenes are oddly compelling. It's all so... sparkly. And it's all on YouTube. Did you think I'd buy this? 



knobgobbler said...

The Devil's Business looks interesting. I'm always up for a smart ghost story.
I just watched 'The Possession' and thought it was very by-the-numbers. Not bad... but not memorable either.

Oh, and 'Nocturna'! I'll have to watch that... anything with Brother Theodore in it. Check out some of his old appearances on David Letterman!

valdemar said...

I made the strategic error of being sober when I tried to watch Nocturna all the way through. Very much a drunk friends 'n' pizza flick. I vaguely remember Brother Theodore, but I don't think he ever penetrated British cultural space.