In Theaters. It’s Halloween week, and while the supposed big offering is last week’s dismal Ouija, there are still a couple of treats to be found among tricks — along with one dubious idea, two art/indie titles, and a pair of unknown mainstreamers. Since it is a seasonal week, let’s look at the […]
In Theaters. We get two mainstream titles of largely unknown quality this week and two art titles of known and pretty darn high quality — and of far broader appeal than last week’s lone (and already leaving) documentary. Before breaking out the crystal ball to look at the unseen mainstream offerings, let’s take some time […]
In Theaters. I think the big hope this week is simply that it will be better than last week — and that shouldn’t be that hard to accomplish. I say that even with a Nicholas Sparks adaptation looming on the horizon. That’s to say that last week was pretty grim. We have three mainstream titles, […]
The Story: A man suspected of murdering his girlfriend awakes to find that he’s sprouted Satanic-looking horns that give him strange powers. The Lowdown: Wildly inventive, genre-spanning film that is by turns horrific, satirical and deeply tragic. It’s easily the best Halloween offering out there, but be prepared for something different.
The Story: A retired hit man heads out for revenge after his car is stolen and his dog is murdered. The Lowdown: Occasionally exceptional for being a simple, straightforward action picture, the film can’t sustain for its full running time, eventually unraveling into tedium.
The Story: A man under investigation for a crime we aren’t apprised of for a long time gives his version of the events. The Lowdown: As an exercise in formal filmmaking, The Blue Room is hard to criticize, but the story, the film’s detached attitude, the overriding ambiguity and the lack of tension are another matter.
In Brief: The Asheville Film Society is having a special Halloween Budget Big Screen Showing of Brian De Palma's horror classic Carrie (1976) on Wednesday, Oct. 29, at 7:30 p.m. at The Carolina. Actually, the AFS attempted to do this last year, but there was a moratorium on the film so that it couldn't compete with that lousy remake that was then in theaters. This, however, is the real thing — the ground-breaking, Oscar-nominated original being presented in all its glory from a new DCP remastered print. It is that rarest of things — a great horror movie that so transcends its genre that it's simply a great film. But it is unmistakably a horror film with everything that implies — and it's one that redefined much about the genre by presenting things in a manner no other film had. If you've never seen Carrie, it's high time you did. If you've never seen it in a theater with an audience, that's as good a reason, because it's a completely different experience.
The Asheville Film Society is showing Carrie Wednesday, Oct. 29, at 7:30 p.m. in at The Carolina Asheville as part of the Budget Big Screen series. Admission is $6 for AFS members and $8 for the general public. Xpress movie critics Ken Hanke and Justin Souther will introduce the film.
In Brief: This marks the fifth time I’ve been called on to write about this film, and fan that I am, I’m pretty much out of things to add, so I’m mostly going with a review from 2007. I will, however, say that watching the film again, I was struck by how much better Guillermo del Toro’s Spanish-language films are than his Hollywood endeavors. Cronos marks his first feature film — and is one of the more audacious debut works you’re likely to find. It’s a rethinking of the vampire film — and unlike most rethinkings, this one really brings something new to the table. The film boasts all the horror tropes — and adds some new ones — but it’s also bitterly funny and finally quite touching. There’s really nothing out there quite like it.
Classic World Cinema by Courtyard Gallery will present Cronos Friday, Oct. 31, at 8 p.m. at Phil Mechanic Studios, 109 Roberts St., River Arts District (upstairs in the Railroad Library). Info: 273-3332, www.ashevillecourtyard.com
In Brief: This is a makeup screening for one that was scheduled in July and had to be canceled due to technical problems. What follows is a reprint of that review. Harry Lachman’s Dante’s Inferno (1935) may be more of a curio than anything else, but what a curio it is. It was an expensive production, with most of the money being spent on an elaborate vision of the title Inferno (based on Gustave Doré’s engravings) — and the film would be worth seeing for this sequence alone. The story itself is still pretty solid, with Spencer Tracy (just before his move to MGM) as an unscrupulous carnival barker turned promoter, whose view of the Inferno attraction is to “put hell on a paying basis.” He also has a tendency to cut corners and ignore safety standards — and thereby hangs much of the drama.
The Hendersonville Film Society will show Dante’s Inferno Sunday, Nov. 2, at 2 p.m. in the Smoky Mountain Theater at Lake Pointe Landing Retirement Community (behind Epic Cinemas), 333 Thompson St., Hendersonville.
In Brief: David Lynch’s first foray into the world of — more or less — mainstream film, The Elephant Man (1980), is still his most accessible work and probably his most all-around popular. At the same time, its relative normalcy only goes so far. Oh, sure, it garnered a whopping eight Oscar nominations, but you’ll notice it took home exactly zero awards. (This was the year that Robert Redford’s ultra-white-bread Ordinary People was the big winner.) Its story may have been appealing and sentimental enough (some say it’s too sentimental), but it lost points for deliberately not being an adaptation of the then-popular play. But more, it had too much Eraserhead (1977) clinging to it with its nightmarish imagery of Industrial Revolution London. Worse, it puts the audience in the same boat as the freakshow gawkers in the film by keeping the title character from being clearly seen, building our curiosity to get a good look at him. In the text of the film, we’re really no better than the Victorians. The film was a bid for mainstream acceptance without pandering. A bold, brilliant move for a movie that can be fairly called “uplifting,” but one that perhaps cost it its awards — and left Lynch something of an outsider.
The Asheville Film Society will screen The Elephant Man Tuesday, Nov. 4, at 8 p.m. in Theater Six at The Carolina Asheville and will be hosted by Xpress movie critics Ken Hanke and Justin Souther.
In Brief: Though he started out pretty respectably at Universal in 1931, director Edward L. Cahn quickly gravitated to the land of the B-picture and by the 1950s was firmly entrenched in making exploitation trash, westerns and horror movies. These are what his reputation — such as it is — rests on. Some of it is actually pretty good and nearly all of it is entertaining. Near the top of the list is The Four Skulls of Jonathan Drake (1959), a thoroughly absurd story about a vengeful — and 200-plus-year-old — specialist in the occult (and headshrinking) who is out to get every descendant of the Drake line. Why? Well, that’s never entirely clear — and the last minute revelation of the origins of this literal headshrinker doesn’t really clear matters up. Maybe it’s the mere fact that he’s played with world-class ennui by the inimitably supercilious Henry Daniell. Giving away his identity is no big deal, since the film quickly makes it apparent who’s behind the grisly business. It’s efficiently done — though it does look more like a TV show than a movie — but its main claim to fame, apart from Daniell’s villainy, is that it’s genuinely creepy and surprisingly gruesome for a 1950s horror film. It’s not great, but it’s good and a staple of the genre of its time.
The Thursday Horror Picture Show will screen The Four Skulls of Jonathan Drake Thursday, Oct. 30, at 8 p.m. in Theater Six at The Carolina Asheville and will be hosted by Xpress movie critics Ken Hanke and Justin Souther.