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Halloween

Film Title: Halloween

I like that the mask ages with him.

When John Carpenter’s 1978 classic was unleashed to the masses, it revealed an underlying paranoia that evil lives and persists and can erupt at any moment, in any neighborhood. This evil is slow and calculating – more so, patient.

Halloween also succeeded in putting an expressionless face onto the boogeyman, which unfortunately also belongs to William Shatner. One aspect that we don’t often attribute to the original is this was the beginning of a horror staple: virgins live, sluts die.

Henceforth throughout horror history, the promiscuity of barely-legal women has been predictably met with horrific ends, but of course, not until at least a top is off. This sexist exploitation has plagued the horror genre for decades – but finally, the times they are a-changin’.

Forty years after the incident, we find Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) alone and well-armed: a paranoid agoraphobe who has been waiting for the day Michael Myers escapes his prison. The overt theme of this sequel is victimhood: A victim can live in fear or survive and conquer. What Halloween manages to do is make the story as much about Michael as it is about Laurie; so often do we focus on the monster, we forget to think about those who survive. Every survivor has a story.

halloween-2018-review

Karen’s definitely the “it’s immediately Christmas after Halloween”-type.

This may be bold of me, but Halloween is the kind of sequel we need right now. We already know the monster, so this is the perfect opportunity to build on some broken characters.

We establish that Laurie’s behavior has wrecked her relationship with her daughter Karen (Judy Greer), but now she has time to bond with her granddaughter Allyson (Andi Matichak), who seems to be a mirror image of Laurie at her age. Laurie herself has become more or less a menace – even referential scenes swap Laurie in the place of Michael.

By retconning the series, the film has given wiggle-room for the viewer’s suspension of disbelief. For example, in removing the notion of familicide, Michael Myers is a much more realistically terrifying presence, stalking his old hunting grounds with wild abandon (well, as wild as a murderous, slow-moving giant can be). Again, not only are his victims not screaming down the street with their boobies a-floppin’, but we also get a better grasp of who they are, or rather, were. And surprisingly, the majority of the victims were men, one of whom (arguably) asked for it.

Though not necessary, I would recommend re-watching the first Halloween before seeing this one, just for the sake of appreciation. John Carpenter gave Halloween (2018) his blessing, and with good reason.

 

 

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Enemy

As much as I love this poster...

As much as I love this poster…

It’s difficult for me to come up with a decent synopsis for Enemy that hasn’t been over-used. Basically Adam (Jake Gyllenhaal) discovers he’s got himself a doppelgänger, Anthony (also Jake Gyllenhaal). And then things get weird, like unnecessarily try-hard weird.

Okay, I’ll back up. There are some great aspects to this film, such as the thematic quality and the tonality. In fact, I cannot wait to see what else director Denis Villeneuve will have up his sleeve in the future, especially taking the only other film of his I saw, Prisoners, into consideration. This guy is fantastic with suspense. My key problem however, is that I’m not sure why the environment in Enemy is so tense to begin with.

The whole scheme is built on this yellow instagram filter and a droning score, and Adam seems unusually nervous. Then again, we don’t really much of his personality to begin with, other than he seems like a disinterested history professor who keeps pissing off his girlfriend (Mélanie Laurent) for one reason or another. Additionally, there’s a ton of tension with very little payoff – it’s kind of laughable, really.

...this one actually makes more sense.

…this one actually makes more sense.

Then when he meets the promiscuous Anthony, Adam gets even more anxious, but why? Honestly none of these characters seem like real people. There’s no explicit communication between these characters, so really everything’s up to implication.

An example would be when Anthony’s wife (Sarah Gadon) is upset after meeting Adam, and proceeds to respond to Anthony’s questions with “I think you know” – the hell does that even mean? If it seems like I’m being super vague, I apologize – but I’m pretty much giving you all the objective stuff we get to know here.

Also much like Prisoners, Enemy is speckled with themes, namely duality, identity (which ironically these characters have very little of, leading me to not really care who is who), dissatisfaction, and control. Oh, and there’s a heavy spider motif – I’ll get back to that. Of course, these themes are far from subtle, observe –

That's how professors write, right?

Because that’s how professors write, right?

If anything, it can be argued that the film has far more to do with awareness than any of these things, but seems to throw the audience off with all of this other stuff in the meantime. Which brings me to the spider thing. Upon first viewing, I’ll admit I had no idea what to make of all that, especially the ending, which is a shame because I’m pretty keen about picking up on this sort of stuff. I was compelled to do some googling, and found this incredibly useful article, which is wracked with spoilers. I applaud this man’s theory on the symbolism here, and if his theory is correct, then Enemy could very easily be one of the better sci-fi thrillers I’ve seen in a while – that is, if it wasn’t for the overwhelming buildup, poor character quality, and overdone nature of everything else.

Enemy is a definite try-hard enigma that simply oozes “WHAT DOES IT MEAN” out of every scene and conversation. The trouble is, it didn’t have to be that way.

Final Grade: C+

 

 

 

Netfix: Antiviral

Brandon Cronenberg, son of the one and only David Cronenberg, has finally (okay, two years ago) made his full-length directorial debut, Antiviral.

In a society obsessed with celebrity culture, adoring fans have no resorted to paying for infectious diseases, in order to bring themselves one step closer to those they admire. Syd March (Caleb Landry Jones) acts as a disease-mule who works at the only clinic that offers ailments straight from starlet Hannah Geist (Sarah Gadon). When Hannah suddenly dies, Syd is cast into his own personal hell, caught between devotion and survival.

Personally, I think that the trailer was better than the movie.

Stylistically, this film’s golden. The choices of light and composition clearly reflect a materialistic world with an eerie underbelly. The visuals (and physical props) are admirably grotesque, but made me yearn for more.  Additionally, given the pleasure of at least one fever-dream sequence, but not much else.

They went for a gaze/spectacle motif, but unfortunately overshot so far they missed the mark.

They went for a gaze/spectacle motif, but unfortunately overshot so far they missed the mark.

At first glance, the grim celeb-obsessed future plot seems kind of interesting, but it doesn’t carry the story at all. In fact, there’s very little story to be had. I can’t even describe the protagonist that well. He’s a creepy ginger fellow…and Jones does a great job at faking sick.

His obsessions are only acknowledged in dream-form, and even then we’re not given much more to work with. Maybe that was the point – people are so obsessed with other people that there’s literally no individual personality left in the world? The character design would seem to suggest this, but it just comes off as kind of lame and misguided.

The Good
Like I said, gorgeous composition. I really wanted to know more about this world and how society and science took this perverted turn. I loved the grotesque visuals and sci-fi involved here – more of that, please.

The Bad
Unfortunately, when you have a story that is about obsession and only obsession, it gets old kind of quickly. It’s clear that the plot/ending was only going to turn into a gory shock-factor, and that’s really a dirty shame.

The Ugly
Antiviral had the oomph, only to flop over as a one-trick pony.

Netfix: Berberian Sound Studio

When I first saw this trailer for Berberian Sound Studio, I was completely enthralled. I waited and waited, then procrastinated a bit, and finally caught it on Netflix. I think it’s fair to say that I was not disappointed.

Built on the mythos of 1970s Italian giallo films and the visceral nature of sound, Berberian Sound Studio conveys a beautifully nightmarish atmosphere, blending the lines between fiction and reality by playing with elements such as entrapment and gradual disillusionment of time. The audience also never actually sees any footage from the film itself – much like Pontypool, it’s what you don’t see that frightens you.

In addition, we also witness a fantastic transformation of character, considering what we have to work with. I say this because we really don’t know much about Gilderoy (Toby Jones) to begin with, other than he’s meek, polite, lives with his mom, and is a fantastic sound engineer (or at least good enough to be brought in by an enthusiastic director). Suddenly he is brought in to a completely foreign environment, working on a genre he’s never approached before. Despite being disturbed by the content of the film, he finds solace in his work – until he’s forced to take part in the foley work. From this point on things get increasingly hostile, as well as bizarre. As foretold in the synopsis, fiction and reality intertwine, and Gilderoy is thrust into his own private hell – inevitably mutating from witness to perpetrator.

There will be produce.

There will be produce.

The meta nature of Berberian Sound Studio is something to admire. Perhaps it’s because I really enjoy films about filmmaking, but this one particularly struck my fancy when it came to audience immersion. We’re trapped with Gilderoy in his reality, or lack thereof – so are these people really as rude as they seem to be? Considering some of the actresses’ woes, yes, probably, but it leaves Gilderoy’s interactions up to interpretation for the most part.

With its seamless editing and intangibly stirring qualities, Berberian Sound Studio is a film you simply have to experience.

The Good
Finally, a movie about sound design and engineering that is entirely enthralling!

The Bad
I really wish the footage we do get to see didn’t look like it was shot hi-def with an added film-grain.

The Ugly
This is a film that speaks solely in subjective terms, therefore, we’re only dealing with pure human nastiness.

WYSHW: Red State

The Westboro Baptist Church has been the subject of much anger and controversy – duly so, considering these pious cretins have gone to the point of brainwashing children in order to protest funerals in the name of “God hates Fags.” This fascinating bunch is also the subject of many-a documentary and exclusive interview, not to mention inspiration for fictional backlash.

Enter chatterbox, filmmaker and all-around groovy cat Kevin Smith, a man not unfamiliar with religious satire. Inspired by leader Fred Phelps’ fanaticism, Smith drafted Red State, a tale in which a group of horny teens get caught up with some dastardly fundamentalists. Shenanigans most brutal ensue as the boys try to escape this backwoods fortress.

Pictured: shenanigans.

Pictured: shenanigans.

Red State is a pretty wicked experience. And an impressive one at that, considering that no one wanted to touch this picture. Of course, with controversial topics comes much well, controversy, so needless to say opinions on this flick were mixed. Filmmakers such as Quentin Tarantino and Ben Affleck hailed the film, whereas many-a-critic were felt that they were either bored, grossed out, or didn’t care for being preached at. As for me? Well obviously I think it’s worth at least checking out.

Showtime.

Showtime.

Frankly, I really dug this story. Perhaps I got a little caught up in the topical nature of figuratively attacking groups such as the Westboros (or in this case, the Five Points Trinity Church), but there’s something primally satisfying about a bloodbath of a showdown. And considering we’re dealing with a story of escape and survival – complete with sudden, heat of the moment turns – that just makes the situation all the more captivating.

I think my favorite aspect of this film, other than the concept itself, is the performances. Veteran actor Michael Parks nails this role as Abin Cooper – a man of charisma and tyranny. Personally, my favorite kind of villain is one I can love to hate, and Parks does not disappoint. Likewise, John Goodman and Melissa Leo give solid performances as the good-guy agent and the lady you want to punch in the face, respectively.

Intense, gritty, with a bit of dark humor tossed in there – Red State is worth a go if you’re in the mood for a decent shoot-em-up horror. Personally, I would have liked to see how the original ending would have turned out, but I think what they went with does the job nicely. Next time on What You Should Have Watched ….mmm Tom Hardy.

We Are What We Are

Yes, yes, another American remake of a recent foreign film – except in this case, I haven’t seen the original so no need to open that cinematic wound (from what it looks like, drastic changes were made). In case you are not familiar with the story, We Are What We Are is the tale of a secluded family with strange customs. Not a spoiler: it’s cannibalism.

"That's a rather tender subject - another slice, anyone?"

“That’s a rather tender subject – another slice, anyone?”

Meet the Parkers, your reclusive family whose lives are governed by their religious customs. When the matriarch suddenly passes away, it is up to the eldest daughter, Iris (Ambyr Childers) to take on her mother’s responsibilities, as governed by papa bear Frank (Bill Sage). Tensions rise as the children doubt their tradition, whilst townsfolk discover findings that may lead to the Parkers’ dirty little secret.

Compared to other cannibal flicks, We Are What We Are is pleasantly subdued. Met with an ideal color palate and tonal shifts, you have yourself a near perfect modern thriller, almost with it the potential to be this generation’s Silence of the Lambs. Director Jim Mickle also makes an applaudable use of overtonal montage in order to heighten suspense. Now if only the payoff was as good.

we-are-what-we-are-header

…What?

As mentioned, tension is a key dimension in this film – so when the climax hits, it ought to be good, right? For me, I felt that it was more ridiculous than shocking. When the first action hits, it’s excellent – then it kind of continues and feels silly and a little awkward. I mean, I get that this moment is supposed to be grotesque and raw, but it ultimately came off as a tad absurd.

Regardless, the turn (I hesitate to call it a “twist”) left some lingering thoughts, mainly about the construct of tradition versus choice – but as the title suggests, some things are just inevitable, and that is what makes this movie haunting.

We Are What We Are is a pleasantly simple little horror film. Perhaps I desired a bit more umph, or maybe more on the tradition than the just the origin – because really, how would a family like this create future generations in the modern age? There may not be that much depth, but it certainly leaves enough to the imagination.

Final Grade: B-

Prisoners

God-fearing survivalist suits him.

God-fearing survivalist suits him.

During a Thanksgiving outing, two young girls, Joy Birch and Anna Dover, go missing from their quiet suburb. As days go by, the police are forced to release the only suspect due to a lack of evidence. The resulting demand for answers forces the family members to descend into their own private hells. Desperate for resolve, Keller Dover (Hugh Jackman) takes it upon himself to do the unthinkable in order to find his daughter. Meanwhile, Detective Loki (Jake Gyllenhaal) also breaks to the point of obsession as he faces the guilt wrought by these suffering families.

Prisoners is simply a solid, visceral film. The labyrinth motif makes its way through every facet of the story, to the point where it almost makes you want to throw up. Almost, considering how the concepts transcends through the literal and internal. And I think it’s fair to say that it’s not just mazes for the sake of mazes: we’re talking about some twisted psyches here – which leads me to the presentation of the film.

Dano plays this character with both sympathy and malice. Dude's underrated.

Dano plays this character with in a manner which earns both sympathy and malice. Dude’s underrated.

I found the plot structure admirable, considering that it does not play out like the average kidnapping suspense. The pace is slow (sometimes a little too slow), building and calculative, and you essentially only get the story from Loki or Duller’s perspective (okay, except for this one time), which better draws the viewer into this descent.

I found the story (as well as its finer details) not only to be original, but also believable. For instance, when Keller tortures suspect Alex Jones (Paul Dano), the torture is sloppy, brutal, and honestly frightening. Keller is practically a living portrait of desperation. Furthermore, we’re met with a new breed of killer – not just a rehashing of real life horrors.

Gripping and unapologetic, Prisoners is a fantastic suspense feature. And though the payoff isn’t as explosive as the usual American thriller (I just wanted a bit more exposition – maybe I’m just greedy),  the original mythos and the momentum of the piece is something truly admirable.

Final Grade: A

That Movie People Don’t Like To Think About

Oh how cryptic, what could it possibly be?  Deadgirl? Antichrist?  Perhaps another time.  Today I’m going to bring to light probably one of the most intriguingly disturbing films to ever grace my eyeballs,  A Serbian Film.  I’m serious.  If you know of/seen this movie you’ll know what I’m talking about – if not, well, this isn’t the sort of movie you recommend to people, hence why I made this a Kool-aid feature (because I honestly believe this movie could hit cult standards with a little time, effort and therapy) instead of a What You Should Have Watched.  I’ll probably lose some readers over this, but I’m over it.  This movie is fantastic.

Taboos, Taboos, Taboos!

Let me get you folks up to speed here: A Serbian Film is well, a Serbian horror film from 2010 directed by Srđan Spasojević (no, I have no idea how to pronounce that).  The film stars a semi-retired porn star named Miloš, a man who has settled with a wife and child but has issues keeping food on the table.  One day Miloš is approached by an old co-star who has a proposition for him: meet with a mysterious director and he will be paid copious amounts of money for a project.

Be thankful her face is out of view.

Intrigued, Miloš travels with her to meet this director, an “artist” named Vukmir.  Vukmir offers Miloš a contract, but the catch is he cannot know what the project is or what it requires, lest it ruin his performance.  Miloš begrudgingly agrees, but immediately regrets his decision when he discovers a project of unimaginable consequences to which he has no escape.

This movie has absolutely every taboo imaginable: pornography, violence, child abuse, rape, necrophilia – the list goes on and on.  To say this film is “pretty graphic” is like saying Hitler was “kinda grumpy.”  Within the first five minutes, you’re already subjected to some pretty crazy stuff – and then without apology this movie quickly snowballs to capture some of the most heinous actions imaginable.  Some so despicably disgusting, there are reaction videos on YouTube.  (Here’s a hint, it involves an infant.)  This is the kind of movie that proves there’s no God and then rubs salt in your paper cuts while murdering your parents.  Too much?

“The Victim”

To film atrocity for attention’s sake is just obnoxious – not to mention, completely uncalled for.  I would not waste your time if this was indeed the case.   When Miloš learns the truth about this production, he immediately asks Vukmir why him, why a porn star?

Not pornography, but life itself! That’s life of a victim. Love, art, blood… flesh and soul of a victim. Transmitted live to the world who has lost all that and now is paying to watch that from the comfort of an armchair. … Victim sells, Miloš. Victim is the priciest sell in this world. The victim feels the most and suffers the best. We are a victim, Miloš. You, me, this whole nation is a victim.

If you haven’t taken a peek at the wiki entry yet, you’ll learn that Spasojević’s main concept behind this film was a parody and critique Serbian film culture, being that it is ran by means of foreign funds and is now a comical shadow of its foreign self.  Thus Spasojević decided to focus on the extremes…extreme extremes.  I’m paraphrasing of course, but that’s what the hyperlink’s for.  Personally, I found the quote far more interesting than the political stuff.

This image is cropped for your sanity’s sake.

It seems that these days the victim is the new hero.  What makes the hero so relatable most of the time is that they are victimized in some way or form, and from this victimization comes passion for justice (this occurs on various scales, the “revenge-flick” being the most obvious).  Then immediately after Vukmir says this, he tells Miloš that he is the only one in the film who is not a victim.  This presents an interesting argument:

Vukmir presents the idea of an inborn need to see people get revenge – usually this is the reflection of the political/economic times (in Serbia’s case, capitalizing on suffering by destroying the film industry with run-of-the-mill fluff) – but Vukmir’s film has no revenge in it whatsoever, it is merely Miloš doing the victimizing.  Now from a meta standpoint, we want Miloš to get out of this because we can sympathize – he has a family and just needed some extra money, and he didn’t know what he was bargaining with.  At the same time, Miloš did sign a contract and has an obligation to uphold (not that we as viewers want him to, but these guys have atrocious methods of persuasion – you do not want to piss them off).  Such a glorious paradox, ironically presented in a pornographic snuff film.

Sweet dreams.

A Serbian Film is absolutely wretched but you cannot look away, mostly because you can’t believe what’s going on.  It’s also hard to gauge which is worse: the fact that this was filmed or the fact that it was greenlit.  I’d be lying if I said this didn’t disturb me, but man this film is just so darn interesting!  This is why it’s impossible to recommend because you don’t want to look like an absolute monster, but the conversation that can occur and the analysis – it just tickles my brain just thinking about it.  Or I could just be a perverted psychopath, you never know.

 

WYSHW: Some Guy Who Kills People

Alright, you got me. I’ll check it out.

With a title like this, how can you resist a peek?  When I came across it, my mind was screaming, “Just how self aware is this movie?  Does he get caught?  Do I care?  Barry Bostwick!?  Aw yeah!”  Overall, I was pleased – hence why I am sharing this with you all.

This is a story about a guy named Ken Boyd (Kevin Corrigan), a man who’s straight out of a loony bin with a troubled past.  Living with his harping mother and working in an ice cream shop, Ken is your typical movie looser.  Ken’s life soon takes a hard 180 when not only does he discover he has a daughter, but also the guys who tormented him in high school have been popping up dead all over his quiet little town.  Ken might think that he has it made, but his mom’s boyfriend, Sheriff Walt Fuller (Barry Bostwick), is beginning to get suspicious.

“I have a splitting headache.”

Some Guy sets up like a slasher spoof, but delivers an odd sort of sincerity and a legitimate twist.  The twist isn’t terribly shocking, but it certainly was a relief – you actually get a feel for the main character, which was also unexpected.

I think just “unexpected” is a great term to sum up everything about this movie.  For instance, when we meet the sheriff and his deputy, they come off like a pair of screwball cops straight out of the ’70s – but then in a very well-written manner, the tone completely shifts, creating an incredibly entertaining experience.  The film is self-aware but only to a certain point, so it’s nothing like every other spoof out there.

Surprising and enjoyable, Some Guy Who Kills People is worth checking out sometime, whenever you’re in the mood for some revenge and stuff.  Next time on What You Should Have Watched, I’m going to break down an over-looked scifi romance.

You Are What You Eat

Musicals and cannibalism.  You wouldn’t have imaged it but nothing seems to go together better – like barbeque chips and white cheddar popcorn or garlic bread and vanilla ice cream.  Hey, don’t knock it ’til you’ve tried it.  Segue: just like movies such as Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street or the lesser-known Cannibal! The Musical – a medium that seems only for the happiest of stories can be just as easily applied to the twisted and macabre.  Let’s start out with the more familiar title.

Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

He seldom laughed but he often smiled. Okay not really – that’s just how the “Ballad” goes. No wonder they dropped it.

Brief history: After years of penny dreadfuls and silent film adaptations, Sweeney Todd as a musical was written by Broadway great Stephen Sondheim back in 1979 and originally starred Angela Lansbury and Len Cariou in the title role.  It has since been adapted on and off Broadway numerous times until finally becoming a feature film in 2007.

This popular tale surrounds a humble barber named Benjamin Barker.  Barker ran a successful business atop Mrs. Lovett’s meat pie shop for years until the insidious Judge Turpin arrested him and had him locked away for 15 years, simply so he could get at Barker’s wife, Lucy.  Now Barker has returned under the name Sweeney Todd and seeks revenge for the man who wrecked his life – a rage which has only exacerbated now that he learns from Mrs. Lovett that not only did the judge rape his wife but in her misery poisoned herself, and now Turpin is the sole guardian of Todd’s daughter, Johanna.  His plot of revenge soon turns to obsession as he begins to pick off innocent men who pop into his shop – it’s a good thing there’s Mrs. Lovett downstairs, or else all those bodies would be hard to hide.

“These are my friends.”

Now I was/am one of those weird kids who was raised on musicals, so I was fairly familiar with the story and proceeded to fangasm all over the place once I learned that it was not only going to be adapted by Tim Burton, but it was also going to star Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter as the leads (no surprise), and the icing on the cake, Alan Rickman as Judge Turpin.  I was mostly stoked to see what these people sounded like, being that none of these people had ever sung in a production before.

As a result, the final product isn’t that bad at all.  In fact, it’s really quite  remarkable on some levels – enough for Depp to be nominated for an Oscar that year.  Though there are some changes between the original story and this movie (some fairly substantial in terms of character development), I don’t believe it’s fair to play Pong with comparisons.  I realize that many people found this movie more annoyingly angst-ridden than expected (or weren’t expecting an actual musical…I do not compute), but I honestly believe that the visual elements (well, it did win the Oscar for set design) as well as the performances are fantastic and well-worth noting.

Burton has mentioned many times that he wanted Sweeney Todd to be a tribute to classic horror, and it is played out as such: the lighting/scenery, the makeup and costume design, down to the very gestures of the characters.  Ironically enough, he thought by using “The Ballad of Sweeney Todd” would be far too theatrical for this production – like I said, I don’t want to do comparisons but  I just thought that was odd – I digress.  The set design almost mimics the stage of a one-act play: a little chaotic at times but still sets the mood perfectly.

Stay off the crack honey.

I know many die-hard Sondheim fans were disappointed in Bonham Carter’s performance as Lovett, however, she did not get the part simply because she’s sleeping with the director – she actually auditioned in front of Sondheim himself.  Though her singing voice may be a little too soft at times, I appreciated her performance none the less: Lovett had always been the mastermind behind Sweeney’s madness and I feel that Bonham Carter portrayed this character in a way that allowed her to be wicked and conniving but still had a lingering desperation and sadness in her performance.

Now Johnny Depp on the other hand, I really just wanted to see more.  This version of Sweeney was more somber and brooding.  He expressed himself through his actions and would only on occasion raise his voice.  Don’t get me wrong, I really dig his performance, and the fact that he sounds like an angsty David Bowie when he sings, but I just feel that this sort of reserved performance in combination with such a theatrical setting almost spoke to the wrong audience.  You can take so many liberties with this character and I feel that he missed out on some great opportunities, but whatever – he’s still a joy to watch each time.

And as much as Johnny Depp and Alan Rickman’s duet makes me swoon, the performance that really knocked my socks off was Sasha Baron Cohen as Signor Pirelli:

Who knew that the man known as Borat could sing so well?  This man needs to be in more random dramatic bit parts.

Overall, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street is a pretty cool flick slasher-flick.  I’m not sure if I could call it “underrated,” but I do think it’s worth checking out – so what it’s a musical?  Big deal!  It’s a sad story that’s artfully told, with plenty of tongue-and-cheek humor (not to mention cheeky puns) to boot.  Moving on…

Cannibal! The Musical

Cannibal! is a start contrast from Sweeney Todd to say the least.  Created by Trey Parker and Matt Stone of South Park fame, Cannibal! is a dark comedy loosely based off of the true story of Alfred Packer, a man convicted for manslaughter and accused of cannibalism in 1873.

This movie.  I think I enjoyed it far more than I should have.  What makes it so great is that it totally mocks Oklahoma! as well as every other Rogers and Hammerstein film ever made – and they do it well.  Just take a look at this clip of the first song:

Not only does it parody a very popular Broadway staple, but it’s also just as catchy and has a made-up word.  Okay, that’s a dumb reason for claiming something’s better than something else, but it made me laugh – and the whole movie’s just as absurd as it is incredibly entertaining.

Not to mention their run in with the “Nihonjin” tribe.

As I mentioned, this film does an impeccable job at mocking your standard Rogers and Hammerstein musical, and I feel this is most evident with the characters.  Told retrospectively by Packer after his arrest, the tale follows a group of miners on their way to Colorado Territory.  Each of them as happy and optimistic as can be (except for the brooding butcher, of course) with dreams of what they plan to spend all of their gold on.  If you couldn’t guess, they begin to lose hope as their leader, Packer, gets them hopelessly lost and they begrudgingly turn to cannibalism as their only hope of survival.

I don’t want to corner Parker and Stone and say you won’t like this if you don’t like South Park, because I honestly don’t think that’s the case.  This movie is legitimately funny with humor ranging from the silly and absurd to actually really dark and twisted (which I also appreciated).  And though I have less to say about Cannibal! than Sweeney Todd, well it’s not only apples and oranges, but this movie is really so much simpler (and there wasn’t an actual theatrical release or anything).  It’s fairly well-written and these guys look like they just had a great time filming it.  Do yourselves a favor and find this movie on Netflix or something and check it out.

Wowee that was a long Don’t Quit Your Day Job.  Next time I think I’ll touch on a famous little cult film (which briefly touches on cannibalism oddly enough) and extend my horizons and focus on what makes cult films so cultastic.  I’m stoked, guys.