Tag Archives: Udo Kier

FearDotCom


FearDotCom is a thoroughly lazy, deeply awful hunk of excrement. What makes it so bad is the sheer potential of its concept, squandered on a brain-meltingly generic serial killer story that we’ve all seen hundreds of times. After a rainy prologue (the whole thing seems to take place in a perpetual monsoon) involving a short lived and painfully underused Udo Kier, we’re told that multiple victims have begun to disappear 48 hours after logging on to some freaky website called fear.com. The rest of the film could have gone a bunch of different cool and inspired ways, but nooo… instead it plods along with a Detective (Stephen Dorff) and a sanitation worker (Natasha McElhone should know better than to take a second look at scripts like this) as they hunt the proprietor of the web domain, a nasty yet ultimately boring murderer played by Neil Jordan’s thespian of choice, Stephen Rea, who also should know better than to wander into this mess. Now, all that could be forgiven, seeing as how potential is pissed away every hour in Hollywood, it’s just par for the course. But where the film really, truly shits the bed is it’s DVD art. I remember specifically avoiding the aisle that housed this flick back in the days of blockbuster, because the images on the cover were so uniquely scary. There’s a horrific looking mannequin girl, dead bodies arranged in a way that would give Dali nightmares and just a general uneasy look to the box. Thing is, none of that stuff actually shows up in the film anywhere. It’s either a con job, butchered editing or the industry’s hugest distribution error. For years I was petrified by those images, only to finally get a chance to see the thing, and go: “This?! This is the film that that wickedly memorable horror show of a cover advertised!? Weak…” All we get out of it is a dour, boring, barely conscious bottom of the barrel shocker outing that leaves no lasting impression whatsoever. You’re better off buying the DVD, whipping the disc off your balcony like a frisbee and framing the cover on the living room wall to freak your kids out. 

-Nate Hill

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Dario Argento’s Suspiria: A Review by Nate Hill 

How to describe Dario Argento’s Suspiria. A psychedelic, multicolored mood piece. Free from the bonds of rationality. Surreal and incoherent, using dream logic to disorient the viewer and lull us into a subconscious fugue state, swept away by the color and light, all shot through a prism of dazzling underworld enchantment, a fairy tale designed to shock and shake, and all the while presided over by Goblin’s rhythmic, haunting score, bewitching the proceedings even further and pushing the atmosphere of the film to elemental heights. No other horror film I’ve ever seen has had quite the same unique, spellbinding effect on me as this masterpiece. The opener still stuns, a kaleidoscope of stained glass splattered in blood, a jarring murder scene that is as beautiful as it is grotesque, setting the stage for the madness yet in store. You know those dreams where you’re making your way through some corridor, drenched in fear and awaiting some doom that’s just up around the bend, but suddenly you get there and nothing seems to make sense, circumstances are now different and all attempts to extricate yourself seem hopeless? That’s the kind of nightmare that young American ballet student Suzy Banyon (Jessica Harper) finds herself in. Arriving in Germany to a prestigious dance academy, she gets a fleeting look at some poor girl running from… something, far off in the woods. That being her introduction to the school isn’t a good sign, and it doesn’t get any better. The stern headmistress (Allida Valli would give Miss Trunchbull the creeps) is overbearing and nasty, the rest of the occupants strange and withdrawn, and something seems to live inside the walls, watching Suzy from unseen perches, with evil intent in store. Maggots, a possessed dog, witches, a serial murderer and homicidal German cooks don’t even begin to describe the gauntlet of terror she fights through. Well, they do, but the film really isn’t about those things, they’re just the walls of the gingerbread house, plain, right angled and sensibly threatening. The real horror and unease comes from atmosphere, the icing, sprinkles and decorative splendour on said house. Argento has always given more effort towards atmosphere and ambience, in favor of things like acting, story or editing. It can be silly sometimes, but in Suspiria’s case it really doesn’t matter much, because the hellish haunted house he fashions is worth every second of your attention. There seems to be a starkly colored hue pouring in through every window and behind every door, the academy itself is an ornate and impossibly detailed dark gem of architecture and artistry, the sets put together like a dizzying labyrinth funhouse of brightly lit orifices and shadowed alcoves where nothing seems to be in it’s rightful place, disorder and abstraction reigning supreme. And then there’s the score. Now one of the most iconic janglers in the horror genre, the trancelike nocturnal lullaby by Goblin is a riff that instantly stands your hairs up and sucks you right into each frame, accenting the colours, shapes and hallways with organic precision, as if the dark forces inside the academy were somehow generating this music of their own accord. I also note another track by the group that makes an appearance, a wheezy death cry called ‘Sighs’, signalling that witches are nearby and consequently upping the unease factor a few more notches. This is a film that seems to come straight from the unconscious mind, a technicolor patchwork quilt stitched together with bizarre ideas, supernatural mysteries and otherworldly hysteria, with only the briefest threads of logic woven in, almost as if to further throw us off balance, to tease us with a scenario that seems like it will play out ‘normally’, only to toss us right back into the deep end, back into bizarro world with Suzy and all the forces of the night, clamoring to get her. This is unquestionably Argento’s best, and most complete film, a maniacal masterpiece of gorgeous sights and sounds, a trip to atnother realm via our world, and a horror piece unlike any other.

Ace Ventura: Pet Detective: A Review by Nate Hill 

Ace Ventura: Pet Detective shouldn’t really be as funny as it is. It’s random, head scratching and just deeply juvenile, and happens to be one of the funniest films ever made. Why? Jim Carrey. The man is spun gold on camera, and he sells every outlandish minute of this gonzo Looney Toons goofball of a flick. It really wouldn’t work without him. I mean, could you imagine, say, Dustin Hoffman, or John Travolta trying to pull of this kind of malarkey? Ok, I did just laugh really hard picturing that, so it would be funny, but only in an embarrassing way. No, it had to be Carrey, and he’s an engine of unbridled comic mania the entire way through. One acting technique involves basing your performance off of the mannerisms of an animal, and I’ve heard that he chose a cockatoo as the blueprint for Ace. The head bobs, squirrelly movements and that epic, instantly recognizable ocean crest of a hairdo. Makes sense, and I couldn’t unsee it after hearing that. Ace is probably the most eccentric, beloved character Carrey has ever fashioned, and for good reason. He’s like a cannon loaded with jokes, quips, pop culture references, personal space invading antics, a complete lack of inhibitions, a treasure trove of rubber faced muckery and a deep love for any and all creatures of the animal kingdom. Those are pretty much all of the qualities one should look for in a human being. I say that now, but I feel like after spending ten minutes with the guy I’d look for the nearest exit. Ace is on the case, when he’s not goofing off, which is always. Somehow he finds time to search for the missing mascot of the Miami Dolphins, an actual dolphin named Snowflake. The story dimly unfolds in the background of all his tomfoolery, and includes Dan Marino, a suspicious billionaire (Udo Kier, whose exasperation at Carrey’s behaviour looks very un-faked), and an ice queen of a Police Chief played by Sean Young, with an arc that  goes to some pretty disturbing places for this kind of light fare. He also finds time to have hot jungle love with Courtney Cox,  and speak to people through his asshole like a deranged Muppet, among many other things that will have you questioning why you’re watching it, only to realize it’s like your twentieth viewing and you have no plans to ever stop. It’s Carrey’s show, and he takes it into orbit, never letting the mania subside for a nanosecond. He’s borderline certifiable, which comes in handy when he has to infiltrate a mental facility, because the guy halfway to belonging there anyway. There’s just so many cherished little moments, mannerisms and scenes that don’t ever get old, for those of us that love this character. Carrey shaped the landscape of comedy a lot during this portion of his career, and the mile markers that he released stand tall and undiminished to this day, bringing hilarity to all. The sequel is genius too, and one of those rare follow ups that is just as solid as the first.