Sunday, July 19, 2009

Return to Sleepaway Camp

TITLE: Return to Sleepaway Camp
SCORE: 2 out of 4

Daaamn! Issac Hayes is looking good these days. I mean, physically. His role in this movie isn't exactly a stretch: he plays "Charlie, the Chef" at a summer camp full of many types of kids: psychotic, deranged, evil, candy-assed, prepppy, homicidal... the usual range. Most of the supporting cast are really bad actors, however, and it leaves an artificial taste in the mouth. I think they even fucking overdubbed the live talking parrot.

Fortunately suspenseful deaths and mystery soon visits the otherwise obnoxious din of badly written teen dialogue. The death scenes are fairly clever and there are nice subtle touches to some shots. However the cinematography in general is lackluster and does little to conceal the constraints of the film's budget. The producers of this movie, as Hayes' character in this film would say, appear to be "tight-ass motherfuckas."

I like the obvious Satanist Teen in the popular clique. He really makes this movie for me. Although he should have been wearing an Ankh. Also weird lines like "Its weed, Shmeckel!" were interesting amusements. Schmeckel? WTF?!? No one who says things like "Lets fuckin' smoke weeeed" also uses words such as "Schmeckel," I'm pretty damned sure about that, mothafuckas.

However the film does posit a fundamental and essential question:
"How many joints can we smoke in one night?"

The world may never know...

This supposed sequel to Sleepaway Camp is hard to peg. It revolves around the camp having a major hate-on towards one, horrible wretch of a camper named Alan. Sure, it starts out with the horseplay, but soon enough -- things get serious. And that's when knives and blood make a prominent appearance into the film. I enjoyed it fairly well; time will show if it ages into cult status, but I doubt it. The lack of any actually humorous scenes generally precludes entry into the category. While most of the actors who played campers were vapid insipid cunts playing vapid insipid cunts, there were a few glimmers of real potential amongst the cast. Lindsey Hiltzi ("Toby") is especially good for a complete unknown.

Unfortunately this movie is more than just a bit lackluster. They should turn it into a franchise where Angela goes from summer camp to summer camp just knocking off bullies for a bit of the ol' revenge fantasy ultraviolence. Perhaps this film is the possible set up to that scenario...

As it stands, however, this movie feels way too long and the dialogue is just atrocious. And c'mon, the yget Issac Hayes to actually play a fucking chef and he gets like 3 minutes of screen time?! WTF?! Come back with Sleepaway camp that's not so sleepy!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

The Haunting In Connecticut

Title: The Haunting in Connecticut
Release Date: 2009
Score: 2 out of 4

This film is blighted by Hollywood necessity, brought on by a distinct choice to develop the screenplay for this too closely to the statements of the family members describing the events.

The Hollywood neccessity is to provide tractable film space in which to cram about three different films and a multitude of themes, which of course left for shoddy development of the themes, and lengths of plot and action which seem to include either "yearning/struggling" scenes far too often and in a perversely extensive length or exposition given much less time than its relative importance seemed to dictate.

It also didn't help that it was a completely modern shoot that is ostensibly a mid-80's period piece. It seems like the costuming and set design departments pegged 2007 instead of 1987.

This film is a failure on many levels, but it does deliver haunted house frights, even though they are eventually overshadowed by a bunch of dumb shit that happens, and the transmutation of the film from a haunted house flick into what is basically a "special/magic/gifted child must fight an evil no one else can face" type of movie.

Let's face it, Hollywood has no idea how to make a scary movie anymore. If they had stuck to one concept they could have had a good shot. But no, this isn't just a movie about a haunted house full of creepy thrills and jumps. It has to be a discussion of religious experience, and of course a film about the suffering of a dysfunctional family -- which never really reaches any kind of frightening heights in tension or suspense. There is, in a way, a lack of "infernal piping" that drives the dynamics of the family into insanity -- they remain sub-acute, with minor ridiculous outbursts, which rather than crackle with uncomfortable waves of mania, merely the stretch credulity of viewer.

Oh yeah and its also about alienation, loneliness, honesty. Its also a historical true crime thriller. And did I mention a commentary on the obliteration of family due to overconsumption and an economy of debt? I guess that was a huge issue in the fucking mid-80's!

Anyway, this film really has no idea what is wants to be. It is mediocre and jumbled, yet also full of tiresomely slow-moving filler which apparently are supposed to contain "pathos." It has a few cheap scares and as a fairly mind-numbing supernatural mystery adventure it isn't actually terrible, but it is not what it purports to be -- A fucking Haunted House movie!

Its certainly no Amityville Horror (the 1979 film based on the book by Jane Anson, of course). Do yourself a favor and just rent that instead.