Due to having several projects in the queue, most of my thoughts on the movies I’ve watched lately will be brief. Hopefully there’s enough here to stir (or dispel) your interest. If you missed it, here’s Part I of what I’ve watched in October so far. And here’s more…
October is off to a good start with some classic horror titles, a rewatch of a 70s horror classic, a bit of film noir, and the movie everyone’s talking about. Read on…
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) (2x)
Directed by Tobe Hooper
Produced by Kim Henkel, Tobe Hooper, Jay Parsley, Richard Saenz
Written by Kim Henkel, Tobe Hooper
Cinematography by Daniel Pearl
Edited by Larry Carroll, Sallye Richardson
Music by Wayne Bell, Tobe Hooper
I was 12 years old when The Texas Chainsaw Massacre was released and my friends and I knew we somehow had to see it. The title alone was enough to scare the crap out of us. I grew up in the South where we all knew what a chainsaw was capable of doing. I am convinced most of our fourth grade vocabularies didn’t contain the word “massacre” before hearing about this movie. Although we were too young to see the film, we couldn’t escape it. Newspaper ads claimed “By far the most horrifying film ever made!” Radio and TV ads were brief, containing voiceover narration such as “What happened was true,” and “the most bizarre and brutal series of crimes in America,” followed by lots and lots of screaming. The film was highly controversial and was (at least for a time) banned in at least 11 countries. As far as I know, it never came to my hometown theater, which meant I’d have to travel to Jackson, Mississippi (about 35 miles away) to have any chance of seeing it. Although those chances were slim, I was both excited and terrified by the possibility of one day watching The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.
Kill List (2011)
Directed by Ben Wheatley
Produced by Claire Jones, Andy Starke
Written by Ben Wheatley, Amy Jump
Cinematography by Laurie Rose
DVD – interlibrary loan (1:35)
For its first fifteen or so minutes, Kill List looks and feels like a domestic drama. It soon turns into something else, then goes in another direction that catches you totally by surprise – or maybe not, if you’ve been paying close attention. During the final fifteen minutes of the film, nothing short of an earthquake is going to pull you away from the screen.
Jug Face (2013)
Written and directed by Chad Crawford Kinkle
Produced by Andrew van den Houten, Robert Tonino
Cinematography by Chris Heinrich
DVD – interlibrary loan (1:21)
I’m not sure where or how I heard about Jug Face. I think it popped up as I was researching something else, but I was intrigued enough to request it through interlibrary loan. You have to understand that I’m not a huge horror fan, so when I looked at the cast on the movie’s DVD cover, I thought I recognized the name Larry Fessenden, but I couldn’t think of any of his films. (I later saw that Fessenden has made many films, including an astounding 26 movies since Jug Face, to say nothing of his work in short films and television.) I did recognize Sean Young’s name, but I figured it was some other Sean Young. To be honest, I got so caught up in the film, I didn’t even recognize her until the film was over. That’s because Jug Face is a film that’s so good it’s easy to get caught up in it.
Directed by Park Chan-wook
Produced by Ridley Scott, Tony Scott, Michael Costigan
Written by Wentworth Miller
Cinematography by Chung-hoon Chung
DVD – library (1:39)
Another recommendation from the guys at Pure Cinema Podcast, Stoker is the first English-language film from South Korean filmmaker Park Chan-wook, whose previous films include the Vengeance trilogy (Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance, Oldboy, Lady Vengeance) and who later made Snowpiercer (2013) and The Handmaiden (2016). If you know Chan-wook’s earlier work, Stoker will seem quite toned-down, but for this particular story, a quieter, more serene atmosphere serves to heighten the tension rather than reduce it.