Friday, 30 November 2012

“And please don't you ask me if I love you” [Trash (1970)]

From http://s3.amazonaws.com/auteurs_production/images/film/trash/w448/trash.jpg?1341486291


Dir. Paul Morrissey
USA
Part of Videotape Swapshop’s ‘The Uncut Season’

This is my fifth and final contribution to the website Videotape Swapshop’s season on controversial films within the history of the British film classification organisation the BBFC. A film I was hesitant to rewatch, and included acquiring the wrong film in Morrissey’s loose trilogy before I finally got the right one, but nonetheless one I was grateful to see again.


Wednesday, 28 November 2012

This Week... #1 (Saturday 24th November to Tuesday 27th November)

This originally was planned as another month of reviews like the Halloween 31 For 31, but instead I am deciding to combined a diary together with one of those challenges to watch 365 films each day of the year to create a weekly piece for the blog. The only rules for this feature are that –

  1. The reviews will be small and not official write-ups like the other blog posts I do. If any are good films or any worth writing about, they may (hopefully) get full length posts on them later down the line.
  2. Since I can usually watch two films per day, I will choose the one I would rather write about.
  3. If I cannot get a film (or any other work) watched for a day, it doesn’t matter.
  4. I will use this to clear through my To-Watch list, my pile of DVDs in my possession and any other lists I have. It’ll take years to clear through them, but that’s less of a concern to actually enjoying this ongoing goal.
  5. These are fluff writing, little more. As long as you the reader find something in them, it doesn’t matter if they’re not fine art.


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From 2.bp.blogspot.com/-85qmDFjcGts/T3xWDTVu_PI/
AAAAAAAACAQ/3kFSJ1kBSxc/s1600/La%2BGrande%2BIllusion.jpg

Saturday 24th November : La Grande Illusion (Jean Renoir, 1937)

During the First World War, two French soldiers are captured and imprisoned in a German POW camp. Several escape attempts follow until they are sent to a seemingly impenetrable fortress which seems impossible to escape from. (IMDB)

Pretty great drama from Renoir, another major director I’ve finally started digging into this year. The third act seemed disjointed from the rest of the film, but La Grande Illusion is a very interesting mix of humour, sadness and a reflection on how Europe changed after World War I. Seeing the bizarre experimental shorts on the disc he directed in the 1920s, it is amazing Renoir would transformed into one of the most esteemed realist directors from France.

From http://www.doctormacro.com/Images/Dietrich,%20Marlene/Annex/Annex%20-%20Dietrich,%20Marlene%20(Blue%20Angel,%20The)_02.jpg

Sunday 5th November: The Blue Angel (Josef Von Sternberg, 1930)

Immanuel Rath, an old bachelor, is a professor at the town's university. When he discovers that some of his pupils often go into a speakeasy, The Blue Angel, to visit a dancer, Lola Lola, he comes there to confront them. But he is attracted to Lola. The next night he comes again--and does not sleep at home. This causes trouble at work and his life takes a downward spiral. (IMDB)

A slow burn for me to get into, but when the main crux of the story starts to play out it starts to get very good, a very down-to-earth yet elaborately blunt story to match the titular nightclub. It is amazing to see such a young Marlene Dietrich with a much softer face and (German speaking) voice compared to her trademark drawl and commanding appearance, but her prescience makes her character far more than a mere temptress for the better of the film.


From From http://s3.amazonaws.com/auteurs_production/images/film/pain-is/w448/pain-is.jpg?1333280915

Monday 6th November: Pain Is... (Stephen Dwoskin, 1997) & Intoxicated By My Illness (Stephen Dwoskin, 2001)

Pain Is.. (1997): The film is just this kind wandering through the personal ways and whys of different kinds of pain in different kinds of people. Far from the academic and the medical, the film questions this phenomenon of pain. The film searches through the many levels of pain and finds it in its unique position between disaster and pleasure. Pain Is… thus plunges us instantly into the midst of controversy and the unknown. (MUBI.com)

Intoxicated By My Illness (2001): Intoxicated by My Illness (in which images photographed by several people are extensively superimposed) loosely and dreamily tracks a phase in Dwoskin's recent life that took him from medical examination to intensive care. (Luxonline.org.uk)

With shades similar to Sick: The Life & Death of Bob Flanagan, Supermasochist (1997), director Dwoskin, disabled by polio at a young age, tackles the concept of pain in a free flowing documentary work, an essay which puts together various types of pain within a 80 minute montage. He gives no concessions to the viewer in terms of softening the content, including scenes of body modification and sado-mascochism – including himself (?), behind a camera, being treated by a dominatrix – but through interviews, poetic scenes and pre-existing footage, puts together a complex view on a complex subject. It’s incomplete but does its best to analysis the concept.

On the same DVD and following similar themes, Intoxicated By My Illness is worth adding as an additional piece. Split into two parts, this 40 minute piece is a tableau of images, following an older man in critical care in hospital, which blurs together sex and death and literally superimposes them on top of each other. There are no restrictions to the content even compared to Pain Is... – from surgery footage to a close-up of a penis being masturbated by another person – and the link is made explicit, nurses made into dominatrixes and dominatrixes into loving carers. Made on digital video, it is experimental filmmaking that can only appeal to a small audience but its willingness to push itself as it does could be learnt from in mainstream cinema.


From http://s3.amazonaws.com/auteurs_production/images/film/andy-warhols-bad/w448/andy-warhols-bad.jpg?1289463553

Tuesday 27th November: Andy Warhol's Bad (Jed Johnson, 1977)

Hazel runs a beauty salon out of her house, but makes extra money by providing ruthless women to do hit jobs. K.T. is a parasite, and contacts Hazel looking for work when he runs out of money. She is reluctant to use him for a hit, since she prefers using women, but decides to try him on a trial basis. Meanwhile, the local cop she pays off wants an arrest to make it look like he's actually doing his job, but she doesn't want to sacrifice any of her "associates." Several other side plots are woven in, populated with characters from the sleazy side of life. (IMDB)

A peculiar mix of Paul Morrissey’s films under the Andy Warhol name like Trash (1970) and really cult, poor taste cinema. It’s mixing of long scenes of conversation with clearly unrealistic and purposely distasteful content (especially a scene involving a baby) is very unique and something I’ve yet to see in another film. if there is a potential problem it’s that keeping to a more digestible narrative compared to Morrissey’s non-horror films, despite its content, hurts its ability to be really interesting in its fluid tangents, but if you can locate it its one of the kind in the right meaning of that term.

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Regan and The Devil [The Exorcist (1973)]

From http://hollywoodfixblog.files.wordpress.com/2012/10/the-exorcist-poster-505d50f099c79.jpg

Dir. William Friedkin
USA
Part of Videotape Swapshop’s ‘The Uncut Season’

This is my fourth contribution to the website Videotape Swapshop’s season on controversial films within the history of the British film classification organisation the BBFC. Probably one of the most famous horror films ever made, no real introduction was even needed for the film on the review itself. If you haven’t seen it, you should see it at least once in your life.

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Reader’s Choice: Salem’s Lot (1979)

From http://fwooshflix.com/files/2012/10/salems-lot-wallpaper-1024x768.jpg


Dir. Tobe Hooper
USA
[Selected by the Gentlemen’s Guide To Midnight Cinema forum. Check out the main website here - http://ggtmc.com/]

I was somewhat hesitant to view Salem’s Lot because it was a TV film. While television can be a great sequential art, the stereotype of typical television, especially the ‘TV movie’, can be such an uninteresting creation with its limited palette copied over countless creations and grinded out. Salem’s Lot in comparison to Tobe Hooper’s theatrical films is clearly a television work, but far from grinded out material it proved to be something a lot more hopeful immediately as it started. Adapted from a Stephen King novel, it follows a writer (David Soul) who goes to his hometown of Salem’s Lot for his vocation. Something is amiss with the Lot as disappearances and deaths by unknown circumstances become more apparent, while a man named Richard K. Straker (James Mason) now occupies the main house of the town, the Marsten House, which has a bloody history and for the writer is a construct of pure evil. Paradoxically a single three hour film and two feature length parts that create one single work, Salem’s Lot has to operate within the structure of television, such as the many fades-to-black that would be where the ad breaks would be, but unlike something like The Stand (1994) adaptation, which after its brilliant opening credits is all the worst aspects of a ‘TV movie’ for five hours, Salem’s Lot feels more carefully made and with a richly simplistic story. Length is not necessarily a good thing, but three hours allows the characters to be fleshed out and the sense of overwhelming tension grows as the threat to the town starts to take over. In terms of actors the general level of the cast is excellent and helps the material perfectly, not taking into account the prescience of James Mason and his distinctly gentle yet sinister vocal intonations. There’s even a small role from Elisha Cook Jr., who is synonymous with pulpy black-and-white cinema for me.

Despite its structure, and being part of Stephen King’s created world, the work still exhibits a great deal that is distinct to Tobe Hooper as well. Not only is he a criminally underrated film director, usually dismissed for only contributing The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) to genre cinema, but the most intrinsic aspect of his films is a heightened intensity that is entirely his. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is legendary for this virtue but it continues on in other films in Hooper’s filmography, from the artificial sets and bleeding colours of Eaten Alive (1977) to the terrorisation of a peaceful family within Poltergeist (1982). When it builds up, Salem’s Lot shows the same intensity, not straying too far from the conventions of its main concept, but playing it up for maximum creepy effect and throwing some effective jump scenes at me without reducing itself to just repeating them. The length, put together so every scene provides something to the story and mood, allows it to grow in its horror content far more greatly than most ninety minute films, while also having a fantastical edge that is refreshing when this sort of television work, especially now, can be creatively rudimentary. It doesn’t feel like a typical ‘TV movie’ either, made with elegance in terms of look and slowed pace, richness to the look of the film even before the supernatural aspects intervene into the narrative. I was absolutely happy when Salem’s Lot was not only good but exceeded my expectations further. The hesitance with television work for me feels justified as, with the exception of televised animation from Japan, the medium is usually an excuse for copying the same lifeless creation and look ad nauseum. A work like Salem’s Lot, even if it had to still concern itself with its origins despite the advertisements that cut between it no longer existing, proves otherwise to this. Stephen King only really succeeds if the director or a key creative voice in the adaptation brings their distinct mindset to the material too. Someone like Mick Garris, who directed that adaptation of The Stand and a few others is the wrong sort of person even if he is more faithful to the source books; Brian De Palma and Stanley Kubrick are the people needed and Tobe Hooper succeeds with his adaptation too. 

From http://s4.hubimg.com/u/6342519_f520.jpg

Friday, 16 November 2012

Warm Pierced Heart [Sick: The Life & Death of Bob Flanagan, Supermasochist (1997)]

From http://s3.amazonaws.com/auteurs_production/images/film/sick-the-life-and-death-of-bob-flanagan-supermasochist/w448/sick-the-life-and-death-of-bob-flanagan-supermasochist.jpg?1289448487

Dir. Kirby Dick
USA
Part of Videotape Swapshop’s ‘The Uncut Season’

At the beginning of October, I was contacted by the website Video Swapshop to write reviews for them. This is my third contribution of a season on the site to coincide with the British Film Institution’s screening of controversial films within the history of the British film classification organisation the BBFC. This documentary was one I have wanted to see for years since hearing about it, and meant a lot to have finally done so.

Thursday, 15 November 2012

A Film Within A Film [Belly of the Beast (2003)]

From http://seagalology.com/img/movies/bellyofthebeast.jpg


Dir. Siu-Tung Ching
Canada-Hong Kong-United Kingdom

A film like this matches the erratic nature of the blog, if anyone does go on to watch it, or already have prior to reading this review, in that it proves that the least expected sources, the bad as well as good, can possess some unique marks to them if scrutinised. The story of Belly of the Beast is not that surprising, an ex-CIA agent (Steven Seagel) going to Thailand when his daughter is kidnapped and staging a one-man army against the perpetrators. Very much like many of Seagal’s straight-to-video work, if not some of the earlier cinema releases as well, an incident sets off Seagal going to an unknown country or environment and getting justice, tackling criminals, corrupt cops, terrorists and many other archetypes of evil in action cinema, a genre which is both plagued and gifted with the fact that repetition within its films can happen continually, either allowing a beautiful synchronicity between multiple films from different sources or a really dull ninety minutes or so for many of them.  The fact that made this look like it would be the former instead was the director being Siu-Tung Ching, who made A Chinese Ghost Story (1987), and as I will elaborate on later has a tonally shifting nature to all the films of his I’ve seen that is uniquely his.

From http://www.imfdb.org/images/thumb/3/39/Belly_of_the_Beast-Carbine-1.jpg/600px-Belly_of_the_Beast-Carbine-1.jpg
For the first half of the film, Belly of the Beast is pretty generic and tedious. Seagal is an unfortunate case of someone who, even if I want to avoid laughing at him, has ended up swallowing his own hype without realising that his professional work have lost the punch that would have backed up his ego and made him king of straight-to-video action section of cinema, maybe even giving him roles in films that go theatrically again beyond a small performance in Machete (2010). Many of them effectively end up as the continuations of Seagal’s sole directorial effect On Deadly Ground (1994), centring himself in the core of the film, instead of merely being the protagonist, without the visceral or charismatic factor that would be needed, and he possessed, to make it work; the problem with the straight-to-DVD films is that at least Seagal was trying to make a sincere message film in On Deadly Ground, putting his heart into it, even if it was horribly sanctimonious. Belly of the Beast – such a cruel choice of title considering the jokes made at the expense of Seagal’s age over the years – suffers from what most Western martial art films enforce to their own detriment despite a Chinese director who also does the fight choreography. Having to contend with Seagal’s decreased agility, the film has to push forward even more the terrible tendency of filtering fight scenes through techniques such as slow motion and rapid editing. Hong Kong cinema in its heyday used techniques like this heavily too, but it was to amplify the fighting as it was depicted, usually shown with the camera back, in full takes, to show the movements instead of close-up and cut into multiple images. The breaking up of scenes, not just those involving combat, in Belly of the Beast, not taking into account the flashbacks to scenes from earlier in the film to remind you of what happened, smooths the movie to the point it exhibits little to stand out and be visible. It leaves you with the plodding clichés of the script which cannot sustain itself.

From http://i1121.photobucket.com/albums/l519/holymannn/2part/01/Belly-of-the-Beast-caps-3.png

The second half, even if the film is still bad, shows what could have been though. While the strands are introduced in the beginning and were probably contributed by the scriptwriter, the director in the few films of his I have seen, even when he is co-directing with Johnnie To, has a tendency to create movies which have drastically changing tangents that are unexplained or jolt from what was before. A Chinese Ghost Story is full of them be manages to wrangle them into a consistent whole that is very successful. Belly of the Beast however feels as if Siu-Tung was bored with the first half and leapt on the supernatural and lurid aspects that came crashing in the plot as it progresses. He tries his best to make Seagal a full blown onscreen juggernaut, with extensive use of wire-fu techniques and body doubles, but attempting to make him a full blown character from a Hong Kong film fails because of his physical limits and the straightjacket that the more Western directorial style creates around itself. Then, with Buddhism and black magic involved on the good and bad sides as if I’ve ended up in the same world as The Boxer’s Omen (1983) again, and the vague potential of a kinky sexual edge that dies when it goes back to its 15 certificate action scenes, it shifts to the more ridiculous. It’s befuddling, as it mismatches the nu-metal scored tone of the rest of the film, the comfortable yet redundant world of Seagal’s straight-to-video work briefly assaulted by the skirmish of something that would have been fare better if it was allowed full control over the material. Sadly another problem with some of the Seagal films is that rewatches diminish their quality; I liked On Deadly Ground until I rewatched it, and after three viewings within these two years of Belly of the Beast, it’s gotten worse, its erratic nature devoured by the lameness of the tone of the whole film set in the first half. It doesn’t have the ridiculous eighties/early nineties tone of Hard To Kill (1990), which did survive a rewatch, or the grime of Out For Justice (1991) which may get a lot better on a second viewing. I still want to watch more of Seagal’s work but even his theatrically released work losses it charm on multiple viewings, Seagal not really the kind of action hero who really provokes any passion to him except those rare cases where everything works. Belly of the Beast was prolonged for me to write about and make available online in some way or so because it was an example where the comfortably lazy type of Seagal film was rebelled against, briefly twisted the conventions he always brings with him in these films. It sadly didn’t succeed, but the markings in the film were fascinating to ponder about even if Belly of the Beast will never been actively viewed again.

It also enforces the fact that I prefer Jean-Claude Van Damme, although that is a topic for another day to look into.

From http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-mBvfVNpPbBo/TlB8leyfJRI/AAAAAAAAAr4/ZdU7_smGXyQ/s1600/Belly-of-the-Beast-2003-4.jpg

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Chilled Monkey Brains [Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984)]

From http://www.scenicreflections.com/ithumbs/
Indiana%20Jones%20and%20the%20Temple%20of%20Doom%20Wallpaper%202.jpg

Dir. Steven Spielberg
USA
Part of Videotape Swapshop’s ‘The Uncut Season’

At the beginning of October, I was contacted by the website Video Swapshop to write reviews for them. This is my second contribution of a season on the site to coincide with the British Film Institution’s screening of controversial films within the history of the British film classification organisation the BBFC. It’s also the most mainstream film I’ve written about so far, which changed how I usually write in a very interesting way for me.

Monday, 12 November 2012

Cold Steel Flesh [Crash (1996)]

From http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-qKzcnlRZU_s/UHHZd1R2trI/AAAAAAAADB0/yCGWemPyTdc/s1600/crash_1996.jpg

Dir. David Cronenberg
Canada-United Kingdom
Part of Videotape Swapshop’s ‘The Uncut Season’

At the beginning of October, I was contacted by the website Video Swapshop to write reviews for them. This film is part of a season for this month to coincide with the British Film Institution’s screening of controversial films within the history of the British film classification organisation the BBFC. Along with reviews written by me, there will be others by one of the site’s other writers Rich, so I recommend keeping an eye on the Swapshop page regularly this month as well.

Thursday, 8 November 2012

“See how they fly like Lucy in the Sky, see how they run.” [Magical Mystery Tour (1967)]

From http://cdn2-b.examiner.com/sites/default/files/styles/image_content_width/hash/cc/0e/cc0e0802f6c02210c34bf18c3afccb97.jpg

Dirs. Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Ringo Starr, John Lennon and Bernard Knowles                             
United Kingdom

From http://pavementart.files.wordpress.com/2012/10/magical-mystery-tour.jpg

My knowledge of The Beatles is slight, yet to hear all of their key albums and songs, but even to a layman the drastic change Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967) was for a band who came to stardom for songs like I Want To Hold Your Hand is obvious. Reviled by many when it was shown on Boxing Day 1967, Magical Mystery Tour would have made it even more obvious what The Beatles’ shift in musical experimentation and psychedelia would lead to. Taking the form of an hour long combination of fictional travelogue, fairy tale narration by Paul McCartney, bizarre sketches, surreal combinations and proto-music videos, the film is a catalogue of vignettes following a tour through alternative England and seaside done in good honest English fun.

As a short television work it is desperately erratic, a jumble of ideas that vaguely resembles a Monty Python sketch or two at times but with a whimsical and naive tone that only has a few bites to it – the vehicle race where its shown vicars are cheats and poor sportsmen, to a striptease performed alongside The Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band. It is the kind of quaint weirdness the English are well known for if a lot more ramshackle in tone, everything from scenes of The Beatles as wizards with high voices to a predecessor of Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life (1983) and Mr. Creosote with a restaurant sequence of spaghetti being shovelled onto a dining table (made even odder by half the reoccurring cast being in their underwear only) feeling as it is was heavily improvised and a lark for those involved. That it is as much a celebration of traditional British culture too, from the footage inside the tour bus  to the end sequence set to Your Mother Should Know, matched to this nose tweaking manages to show a contradicting but peculiar aspect common in Britain, turning our culture upside down yet still being reverential to it.

From http://everyrecordtellsastory.files.wordpress.com/2012/08/beatles-in-tuxedos-magical-mystery-tour-inside-ep-7822.jpg?w=500&h=500

It is as much about the music too. It has great soundtrack with iconic songs, and while Magical Mystery Tour is a flawed piece in the career of the band, it does feed into the development of the music video as well. Blue Jay Way is the closest to this, almost coming off as an attempted replication of a Kenneth Anger short in its superimposition and abstract images; it’s not as rigorous as an Anger short, and is far more closer to music videos that bombard the viewer with random but striking images, but it adds a background that must have influenced music videos later on. The music sequence that works the best though, shown on the EP album and all the promotional material for the film, is the only existing performance of I Am The Walrus that, while not as technically complicated, manages to suit the song perfectly. Intentionally written as gibberish by John Lennon, the song’s interpretation is fittingly barking in its strangeness, if not for Lennon and the band in animal costumes, or for the egghead capped men walking onscreen in a white yoke costume together, but for four policemen high above in the corner of the screen, shuffling side-to-side in unison on the same spot, the most subversive image of the whole project and far more effective than anything else in Magical Mystery Tour.

It is a film for fans of The Beatles and the curious only. Even in its short length it will not have the attraction some viewers need to engage with it unless they enjoy the music and silliness of it all. It doesn’t completely work, and the hostile reactions to it from that first screening are completely understandable, but to think a major musical band like The Beatles made this is fascinating. It is certainly as much of a lark for the viewer as it was for those who created it if you are willing to forgive its inherent flaws.

From http://s3.amazonaws.com/auteurs_production/images/film/magical-mystery-tour/w448/magical-mystery-tour.jpg?1289439967

Friday, 2 November 2012

Halloween 31 For 31: Directory of Film Reviews


The following are all the pieces of the Halloween 31 For 31 project for October 2012:

Halloween 31 For 31: The Introduction link here

Film #1 (Monday 1st October) – Footprints On The Moon
Film #2 (Tuesday 2nd October)  Them
Film #3 (Wednesday 3rd October)  The Guyver: Dark Hero
Film #4 (Thursday 4th October)  The Fall of the House of Usher
Film #5 (Friday 5th October)  Bad Taste
Film #6 (Saturday 6th October)  Igodo: The Land of the Living Dead
Film #7 (Sunday 7th October)  Kill List
Film #8 (Monday 8th October)  Detention
Film #9 (Tuesday 9th October)  Halloween III: Season of the Witch
Film #10 (Wednesday 10th October)  Tokyo Zombie
Film #11 (Thursday 11th October)  Night of the Bloody Apes
Film #12 (Friday 12th October) - [Review Will Be Added FInally At Some Point]
Film #13 (Saturday 13th October)  Little Otik
Film #14 (Sunday 14th October)  The Hands of Orlac
Film #15 (Monday 15th October)  Ginger Snaps
Film #16 (Tuesday 16th October)  Perfect Blue
Film #17 (Wednesday 17th October)  Inauguration of the Pleasure Dome
Film #18 (Thursday 18th October)  Vampyr
Film #19 (Friday 19th October)  The Boxer’s Omen
Film #20 (Saturday 20th October)  Body Melt
Film #21 (Sunday 21st October)  The Fall of the House of Usher
Film #22 (Monday 22nd October)  StageFright: Aquarius
Film #23 (Tuesday 23rd October)  Corpse Bride
Film #24 (Wednesday 24th October)  Blood Feast
Film #25 (Thursday 25th October)  The Living Dead Girl
Films #26 a) and b) (Friday 26th October)  Godzilla Vs. Megalon & Godzilla Vs. Hedoran
Film #27 (Saturday 27th October)  Central Bazaar
Film #28 (Sunday 28th October)  Dreams That Money Can Buy
Work #29 (Monday 29th October)  Hellsing
Film #30 (Tuesday 30th October)  Ravenous
Film #31 (Wednesday 31st October)  Halloween



Halloween 31 For 31: Epilogue and the Hangover Afterwards



Instead of a grand closing statement – the final review of Halloween (1978) pretty much capped off the series with the appropriate tone – it is better, partially burnt out but exhilarated by the whole 31 day project, to look back at the original goals for the introductory post and see what took place, and hypothesise improved rules for a Halloween 31 For 31 2012 edition if it ever comes to pass.

1) Even though I have talked about horror films I want to step out of the genre and include films which are still appropriate...
I eventually dropped the subconscious rule of horror and genre films only to include experimental work that felt appropriate for the season. Access to certain films or lack thereof, if I’m to be honest, effected the selections but it came apparent that I cannot just watch any horror film now, unlike in my adolescence, unless there is an incentive of being great, memorable or memorably bad. The issues detailed in the Halloween review about the amount of terrible films in existence emphasises this issue.

It also came apparent that the intrinsic belief that horror films are more appropriate for Halloween was brittle and broken down the moment the Kenneth Anger short Inauguration of the Pleasure Dome (1954) was added. Horror as a concept is not the intrinsic aspect of Halloween as a season, so why devote the 31 days to horror films only? Jean Cocteau’s Beauty and the Beast (1946), which I also watched in October, should have been reviewed for the project in hindsight; it became obvious that whole swathes of experimental, dream-like and fantasy films were appropriate for the month as horror cinema was. That may seem to be a cop-out, since I am drawn to this sort of cinema more and write about it predominantly in my amateur writing, but a film like Dreams That Money Can Buy (1948) have a specific mood to them over other abstract and fantastical films more appropriate for other times of the year. As I have stated in the Dreams... review, Halloween is the season where reality is undermined just by dressing up as ghouls and ghosts, so abstractness and unreality can make perfect bedfellows with the month. And of course, with the review of Them (1954), I allowed myself to pull in science fiction, which would allow a vast number of choices for a second season.

2) Real life is more important than this project.
As stated in the Halloween review, I found the project far too fun to put it on a backburner at any point, but there was never any important things that needed to take priority, excluding working on a few applications as an unemployed young male, to concern myself with. As for the film I planned to watch at the cinema, that I was concerned that in getting to the nearest cinema would prevent me from seeing any other films that day, it did not affect the project at all. Whether the film, Leos Carax’s Holy Motors (2012), would be appropriate for a review, compared to something like Dreams That Money Can Buy, is a debate that thankfully didn’t come up for me to worry about.

3) I will limit the amount of rewatches I have.
Narrowly, I had more first watches than rewatches. This could lead to a lot of opinions that could drastically change on another viewing, but considering many professional critics (especially the late Pauline Kael) had to write first opinions of the films they watch, the concept of snap judgements in cinematic critiques could be a problem that effects it all. With few exceptions outside of analytical papers, the most dedicated when, after panning 2001 A Space Odyssey (1968), Andrew Sarris re-evaluated the film under the influence of 'a smoked substance...somewhat stronger and more authentic than oregano...', most writers are not allowed to go back to their original opinions and do not make up the legwork to do so.

4) I must be as varied as possible.
I wanted to have at least one film from every continent except for the Antarctica – North and South America, Europe, Asia, Africa and Oceania – every era between the 1920s to the present, and certain genres, and for the most part I succeeded even if I had to improvise. My only regret is the lack of Indian or West Asian horror which I planned to have on a sketchy list of areas I wanted to cover. Potential candidates were the Bollywood version of A Nightmare On Elm Street (1984) and Hell’s Ground (2007), the first and only Pakistani splatter film, but absent mindedness and inability to get a certain disc in time prevented this. I did get my first Nollywood film in proudly, but I wish I can get many more countries involved if I do this again; the only problem is that many countries’ genre cinema are not available, which would require me hypothetically to do a lot of work to get them. Genre categories would just require careful planning and pure luck in terms of accessing the films in time and in whether they’re actually good or can provide material to write about. The complete lack of female directors excluding one was directly scrutinised in the review of Antonia Bird’s Ravenous (1999), and may be the case of gambling on my half just so I don’t feel guilt over my over-male director choices. I could go as far as point out the lack of films tackling gay or transgender themes, but one can dangerously sound like a patronising, insipid liberal rather than someone generally interested and really wants to improve society even in the littlest ways; such a mollycoddling sentence by itself could already feel patronising for gay directors or anyone tackling these topics from people like me. Considering I even pondered about horror or supernatural related porn  – God help me in trying to write about continuous sequences of anal sex and blowjobs in extreme close-up for a whole review – then maybe one day the gay porn parody of the American version of The Ring (2002), called The Hole (2003), as a heterosexual male, could appear if there was any adult store in my access that stocked something that wasn’t just cheaply put together to jack off to.

5) Even though I will mostly stick to feature films, I would like to at least have one thing that is from a different format.
This rule was set up to finally rewatch the anime series Hellsing (2001-2002) after all these years, but it feels appropriate to continue it. When TV is segregated from film when in reality – the dismissive term ‘looks like something made for TV’ should be used to denote a regurgitated style synonymous with most television rather than the form the work is originally made for – they are both motion arts of the same medium. The only difficulty in doing more than one television work is length; even the thirteen episodes of Hellsing, split over four days of viewing for the four disc box set I own, take a large chunk of time to view them. One short series or a mini-series would be enough in the future. I covered a short film as well; originally I wanted to add Treevenge (2008) Jason Eisene’s killer Christmas tree short, but I went with Kenneth Anger instead. There are plenty of short works available, and as they are unbelievably neglected by a bias for feature length films, someone like me should attempt to cover them even if the reviews might be difficult to write.

6) I will not attempt to do ‘proper’ reviews.
If I had a full time job, I may have had more of a time crunch in terms of getting the reviews done. My tendency to write and write, to the point I have had to edit out whole paragraphs and pages that I felt were pointless tangents to tighten the structures, does leave me with a lot of work, but at the same time many professionally written reviews for me are completely characterless and offer nothing to chew on, making my wrenching out of personal thoughts more important than a strict word count.

7) As with the case with most film fans, if there is free time, and you don’t concentrate on another hobby or task instead, you will end up watching as many films as possible depending on your preferences... If there is something that is worth a word or so about though I will add an additional note about it in the reviews depending on what films get prioritised for coverage.
Because of the project, I did end up planning my nights so I limited my horror film viewing to those that were potential reviews. Some films for me, including major ones, were scrapped for better choices and because some disappointed me to the point it was difficult for me to consider what to write about them. The idea to include additional notes was not done, and frankly could be scrapped if another season of the project was to take place. The only real exception was Robin Hardy’s The Wicker Tree (2011), a film that has been mostly dismissed but I really liked a lot. I realised as the end credits rolled, since I had watched my film to review that night before The Wicker Tree, that I missed a potentially fun review to have. If I ever cover the film in the future, it will be an interesting piece let me assure you though.

8) I will watch Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982).
The early review of this completed this goal so early that I realised I missed the chance to have it as the 31st entry to end the whole project fittingly. If I can do a second version of Halloween 31 For 31 or further on than that, I will keep the eighth rule in to push me to well regarded and cult horror films every year that I have someone taken for granted and not watched.

Aside from that, all of this went well. I may not do another project that lasts for a month in a long, long while – although I have been tempted next year to do 30-31 reviews of animated films for a whole month, which would lead to some fascinating and unconventional choices – but it was worth it. The only thing left to do is to continue something I do regularly for my month records of the films I watch on MUBI.com and include a little awards ceremony to celebrate the month passing. The winners for this special Halloween 31 For 31 version will not get any prizes except thin air, pride or with the negative prizes imaginary rotten tomatoes thrown at them, but it will also help you the reader have a list of films from the season to go out and locate or avoid.

So with that...
Halloween 31 For 31 Awards

Best Film of the Month – Perfect Blue (Satoshi Kon, 1997/Japan)
Runners' Up:
2) Vampyr (1932)
3) Central Bazaar (1976)
4) Halloween (1978)
5) Footprints On The Moon (1975)

From http://www.cinemaontheroad.com/Dwoskin/Dwoskin_CB.png
Biggest Surprise of the Month – Central Bazaar (1976)
Runners' Up:
2) Footprints On The Moon (1975)
3) Detention (2011)
4) Igodo: The Land of the Living Dead (1999)
5) The Living Dead Girl (1982)

From http://s3.amazonaws.com/auteurs_production/images/film/central-bazaar/w448/central-bazaar.jpg?1289467444
Discovery of the Month – Central Bazaar (1976)
Runners' Up:
2) Footprints On The Moon (1975)
3) Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982)
4) Detention (2011)
5) The Hands of Orlac (1924)

From http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-Wt-LAXvEWns/Ty3a2ajdgKI/AAAAAAAABWM/ULuomosuGYk/s1600/PleasureDome2.jpg
Biggest Change of Opinion – Inauguration of the Pleasure Dome (1954)
Runners' Up:
2) Body Melt (1993)
3) Little Otik (2000)

From http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_cZ56q7pCO20/S64rb-P2GLI/AAAAAAAAAfw/Y1YWpyDWu2o/s1600/chutede1005005xr3.jpg
Most Divisive Film of the Month – The Fall of the House of Usher (1928)

From http://www.bloodygoodhorror.com/bgh/files/reviews/caps/tokyo%20zombie%20teaser.jpg
Biggest Disappointment of the Month – Tokyo Zombie (2005)
Runner Up: Kill List (2011)

From http://www.filmsquish.com/guts/files/images/BLOOD%20FEAST.JPG
(Non) Guilty Pleasure of the Month – Blood Feast (1963)
Runners' Up:
2) Godzilla Vs. Megalon (1973)
3)  Body Melt (1993)
4) The Guyver: Dark Hero (1994)

From 1.bp.blogspot.com/-EEKqFhAlXSE/UB6AqdqDpnI/AAAAAAAACDI/objXyBfX5EA/s1600/
detention+2011+photo+ione+quotes+stalker.jpg
The Para-Bizarre Film/Scene/Work of the Month – Film-Within-A-Film-Within-A-Film-Within-A-Film from Detention (2011)
Runners' Up
2) Psychedelic Skulls from Godzilla Vs. Hedoran (1971)
3) The outer space sections of Footprints On The Moon (1975)

From http://img5.visualizeus.com/thumbs/61/12/retro-6112ad60244f9e17644ccef7df90c756_h.jpg
Worst Film of the Month – Night of the Bloody Apes (1969)
Runners' Up:
2) A Cat In The Brain (1990) [Review Yet To Be Added]
3) Kill List (2011)
4) Tokyo Zombie (2005)

From http://brightlightsfilm.com/44/44_images/BLOOD_FEAST-2.jpg
The Steven Seagal Award For Best Worst Scene – Any scenes of crying in Blood Feast (1963)
Runner Up: The paint coloured wall scene transitions from Night of the Bloody Apes (1969)


32 Works Watched For Halloween 31 For 31 2012
13 Rewatched Works
19 New Works Seen

Thank you all who are reading this for following the project. I will continue to write more reviews for the blog and the site Videotape Swapshop, which I will include links to on this. The blog posts will preferably be one a week though so I can concentrate on other activities, but the review choices will be even more eclectic without the restrictions of a theme month to work under. Keep an eye out on the site within November onwards to see...