Comforting Skin is Uncomfortably Bad

Has art gone too far? Or not far enough? Comforting Skin is one of those shitty artsy film festival thrillers that try to be a lot of things and fails catastrophically at most of them. Let’s be honest here, pretentious art films are horrifying in and of themselves, but when done badly… Oh, if I hear that same set of somber piano notes one more time whilst the nude protagonist continues to look distantly contemplative in an uncomfortable sexual situation that calls for no such behavior, I may just smash something. If you’re afraid of feeling uncomfortable and/or annoyed while watching a movie, Comforting Skin will scare the unholy hell right out of you.

First and foremost, nudity. Lots of it. All the time. Are you, dear reader of reviews, at all interested in seeing Victoria Bidewell nude? Yes, no? Regardless, you will. This is an art film about living tattoos, you main-stream film inundated sheep. If there isn’t a bare breast every third cut, the material is too willingly oppressed by social taboo and is consequently rendered mundane and uninteresting to real film connoisseurs. Get it? Got it? Good.

Comforting Skin 2Koffie (Bidewell) is an attention-starved junkie loser who lives with her neurotic, antisocial composer friend Nathan (Tygh Runyan). Nathan relies on her to do most “outside” things, like going out for breakfast with him or buying his groceries, and has exactly one truly amusing moment in which he fumblingly tries to order sausages and eggs at a breakfast joint. Following that, he’s relegated to being an emotional crutch for all of Koffie’s inane bullshit. It’s a little disappointing that the film would rather show us Koffie prancing around naked than explore Nathan’s personality a little further; the fact that he has no sexual interest in her (or her promiscuous junkie friend) makes him the most complex movie persona in the universe.

Once upon a time, Koffie was out partying, and when nobody paid any attention to her, she decided to get a tattoo. And then, for some inexplicable reason, this tattoo began to speak, and proceeded to help Koffie masturbate when her intention at the time had nothing to do with masturbation whatsoever. Between the tattoo’s pseudo-surreal, whispery, annoyingly indistinct voice, its appropriately (initially) comforting discourse, and its tendency to jack her off in elevators while appealing to her self-directed toe fetish, Koffie feel deeply, deeply in love with it. If there’s any semblance of self-love and self-acceptance buried in this movie’s metric ton of frustrated sexuality, you won’t see it. Actual happiness isn’t nearly pretentious enough.

Then some shit happens and the tattoo gets jealous of Koffie’s relationship with Nathan and that plays on her fear of being alone so she goes movie crazy. Like, cliché crazy, mumbling how the tattoo is hers and she loves it and it loves her over again while ignoring everything around her. And then she cuts her toes off with a white collar machete.

Comforting Skin 3Maybe I’m wrong, though. Maybe this movie is actually art, and I’m the inundated sheep I sarcastically mentioned. All I know is that my final impression of Comforting Skin was one of irritation. I cannot stand self-important “I have a message buried in tumultuous human nature” garbage. Give it a watch, throw down a comment if I’m wrong, and please tell me why and how Comforting Skin is good. Also I’m lying, and if you actually comment that the movie is good then you really need to reevaluate your standards. “See past the nudity”, ha-gosh darn-ha.

The Bloody Disgusting review of Comforting Skin thinks that Nathan’s gay, but I think they’ve got it wrong, man. Nathan’s just not willing to subject himself to the romantic turbulence that comes with dating/screwing Koffie. But hey, whatever, it’s never explicitly stated. Or… maybe it is? I can’t remember, I was too busy wading through nearly two hours of angsty bullshit. Read the Bloody Disgusting review here, and go away. I need to watch something that doesn’t make me feel bad.

Lovely Molly, Attack of the Ghost Horse

Lovely Molly

I’ll explain the title momentarily.

Speaking of titles, Lovely Molly was originally going to be called The Possession, you know. Considering the title “The Possession” is about as original as all the Paranormal Activity spinoffs out there, I’d say Lovely Molly is a better choice. Though not intended, I interpret the title as a sort of sarcastic jab at Molly’s descent to madness throughout the film. Seriously, you’ll have a laugh too once I explain everything. Ahem!

Lovely MollyFirst of all, the real reason Molly is so “lovely” is because her insanity orbits around sex and ultraviolence. Mainly sex. You’ll see Gretchen Lodge nude often enough to wonder if the director was recovering from an overdose of Viagra while filming. It’s all part and parcel of demonic horror movies, really. Everyone knows Satan loves him some booty.

As far as backstory goes, Lovely Molly sits right on the border of interesting and meh. The premise is that Molly and Hannah were sexually abused by their scumbag father up until Hannah killed him. Not content to leave the world early, the evil in his spirit brought him back as a demon, and he haunts their family home in an attempt to exact revenge by driving them mad. Simple but effective, right?

Lovely MollyI said “Attack of the Ghost Horse” because scumbag ghost dad is a horse demon, thus clops around when he walks. Having seen pictures from Molly’s childhood that contain horses, I was under the impression that perhaps something had happened to her pet horse as a kid and it was coming back to wreak havoc. That would have been absolutely hilarious, especially when done in this movie’s dire tone. But hey, Rapey Undead Demon Dad works too. But not as well as Vengeful Ghost Horse, let’s be honest with ourselves.

Right! Now to actually explain the story! Molly and Tim are newlyweds, and they have moved into Molly’s old family home because they’re broke. Tim is a truck driver, so he doesn’t get to spend much time with his darling wife who also happens to be a recovering heroin addict. Lovely lovely! Soon, creepy things start happening, and Molly slowly begins to flip out. Most of her madness involves seduction and cannibalism, which would be much more entertaining if the malevolent entity was just a horse. Instead of all that inane would-be creepy singing, there could be whinnies and neighs. Lovely Ghost Horse made me do it, officer.

Lovely MollyIn short, the only reason you need to see this movie is to understand all the jokes I made while reviewing it. See? It’s kind of like an entrapment scheme. Now that you know my glorious sense of humor has shone light upon this horsey booby spectacle, you have no choice but to view it by whatever means are available to you. I used Netflix, just so ya know.

Ryan Turek of ShockTillYouDrop offers much tamer and less spoiler-filled review of Lovely Molly. Isn’t it a shame that you’ve already indulged in my sparkling potpourri of goofy horse oriented opinions? Read different words about the same thing right here: http://www.shocktillyoudrop.com/reviews/169235-review-lovely-molly/



American Psycho is Actually British

Christian Bale is. Did you know that? He’s very good at American accents.

American Psycho is one of those movies that I regret not seeing sooner. Along with providing a depressingly true moral lesson, Christian Bale’s performance as the brutally insane yuppie Patrick Bateman is both hilarious and disturbing. Based off a book by the same name, American Psycho is a story of the successful white businessman archetype of the 80s, only with a growing undertone of uncontrollable sadistic bloodlust throughout. To paint the proper image, envision Christian Bale being told to feed a stray cat to an ATM machine by the ATM machine, and then attempting to shoot the cat in the head after he discovers it won’t fit through the card feed. With me so far?
AMEPic2Patrick Bateman is detestable by any standards but the standards of the bigoted, self-obsessed, coke-sniffing yuppie. He has a strict (and excessive) morning routine, he’s neurotic about things like having his apartment dirtied, his clothes touched, and his business card being subjectively inferior to those of his peers. The first major murder of one of his business partners brings an investigation down on him and his work, which in turn stresses him out and makes him want to kill even more people, known as “returning some video tapes.” And yet, despite the fact that people are disappearing left and right, he gets off scott-free. Even the private investigator can’t seem to figure out that there’s something off about Patrick.

All throughout the film, he is acutely aware of his homicidal tendencies, but seems to be completely at their mercy. The narration Patrick provides reveals that the only thing causing him to hesitate before slaughtering people in cold blood is a distant sense of abstract morality. Which is to say, “I’m pretty sure this is bad but holy crap I want to.” Only once in the movie does Patrick let someone live after luring them to his home, and that only happens because a convenient interruption pops up to halt his nailgun fun.
AMEPic3American Psycho is probably darker than I’m making it out to be, but there are several humorous elements applied tastefully. Most of the humor is admittedly black comedy or satire, so… Okay, well, I suppose you need to be a little morbid to giggle at Christian Bale screaming and chopping apart businessmen with an axe after explaining why he likes Huey Louis and The News. It’s got a charm, but the prime of that charm come from Christian Bale’s contribution to Patrick Bateman’s character.

Peter Travers of Rolling Stone Reviews sheds some light on the book from which the film originated. It, um… It certainly seems like a piece of literature best taken with a grain of salt. Or perhaps an entire shaker. Or, better yet, throw it into the ocean and let it drown in salt. Something about a starving rat and a vagina. I’m sure I don’t need to add anything else to that for you to understand how grody the book is. Still, the movie softens the blow enough that it’s tolerable. Definitely not a family film, but… Heyyy, read some more here: http://www.rollingstone.com/movies/reviews/american-psycho-20000414

The Caller, Time Traveling Telephone

The Caller

From what I’ve seen, The Caller is the only horror movie I know of that implements temporal anomalies in a clever way. Though it incorporates horror elements, it seems like more of a slow-paced quasi-psychological thriller than a scary movie. You encounter some lovely scenes where events in the past immediately shape the present/future, which are the high points of the film. That, and when the main character’s ex-husband comes over and tries to mark his territory. They may seem different, but they come together in the end and really flip the psychological switch.

Mary Kee is the main character, and she’s recently moved into a crappy apartment to escape her ex-husband to be. Very early on, she is called by an older woman named Rose, who is asking for Bobby. As it is a horror movie, watchers may wonder just who or what Bobby is. Is he a ghost haunting the apartment? A stalker? A squatter? As the calls go on, however, Mary discovers that Rose believes she is calling from the past; the 1970s, to be specific. Bobby is her abusive husband.

The CallerMary is very skeptical, making an extreme effort to stop the calls, only to receive proof that there is some temporal anomaly taking place. The more proof Rose offers, the more insane her behavior becomes. She murders Bobby and builds a wall to hide him, a wall that shows up in Mary’s own apartment. At that point, Mary tries to cut off contact altogether while seeking information about Rose herself.

According to her landlord, Rose is dead. She had hung herself several years earlier. The dead time-traveling old lady doesn’t take too kindly to being ignored, though, not with such a good friend to give her life reason. She begins picking off people in Mary’s present, spontaneously altering reality to match her actions in the present/past. In fact, she even sends her surviving future self to meet Mary after a particularly unpleasant encounter. But that’s the conclusion, so you go figure out how it ends.

On the excite-o-meter, I’d rank The Caller moderate-dull. Everything between the time-traveling bits and abusive ex-husband gambit is uninteresting. I read that this film began as a 30-45 minute short, and I’m inclined to say it should have stayed that way. Further reading on the movie would reveal that all the phone call scenes were done real-time, and most of them were improvised. Still boring. What a bummer.

The CallerMichael Gingold of Fangoria reveals that several of the main actors are plucked from some vampire series called True Blood. I’m not sure if that’s relevant to you or not, but it could be nice to see one of your (“your” in a general sense) favorite fanged actor/actress. Otherwise, this alt-review is rather positive. Take a peek: http://www.fangoria.com/index.php/reviews/movies/5521-the-caller-film-review

Hellraiser: Inferno, the Burning Thorne

Hellraiser: InfernoYou know what? Each Hellraiser movie past the first (Hellraiser: Inferno included) has less and less to do with the Cenobites. They tend to focus more on the subjects, illustrating their slow descent into despair and insanity as a result of opening the Box. And how is it that EVERYONE knows how to open the box when they first see it? Rub the little golden circle on the top. If you were a detective doing cocaine and sleeping with a sleazy hooker, would you really do that? I suppose I don’t know if cocaine would make you do that, so… Whatever.

Joseph Thorne is a terrible person. He’s a detective, a married man with a daughter. He does cocaine and sleeps with hookers frequently, which he says is so he’ll keep coming back to his wife. Despite these lame excuses, he’s aloof, irritable, and generally very unpleasant. When the hooker he slept with is brutally murdered, he plants items from his partner to cover his ass. What a nice guy, huh?

Prior to this, Joseph made a terrible mistake during an investigation. A man he knew in high school is murdered brutally, with two major clues placed near his body: The Box, and a child’s finger. He begins to link things together, and discovers that an individual known as The Engineer has been organizing all the morbid crimes that Joseph encounters. Even worse, at each scene, a freshly severed child’s finger is left in plain sight; a taunt to Joseph from The Engineer himself.

Hellraiser: Inferno“If you hunt The Engineer, The Engineer will hunt you.” And oh, how he does. Joseph is quickly and thoroughly haunted by freaky looking Clive Barker demon chicks, torso imps, evil kung-fu cowboys… I guess… and a faceless creature that seems to be burning the child’s fingerprints with its black tongue. Is it The Engineer? Maybe. No. It’s one of The Engineer’s tools, and it consistently causes Joseph to freak out and attack people. It’s the stereotypical, “I’m not crazy!” movie bullshit, but this time around, it’s a little different. Nobody likes Joseph, and he neglects the only people who would.

I suppose you could call this a psychological thriller, but it’s really just Pinhead enjoying himself by screwing with an immoral cop. From the moment Joseph opens the Box, everything goes wrong. Pinhead starts showing him flashbacks of his childhood, how he was once innocent, and how he’s managed to kill every last bit of innocence left within him. Strangely enough, they’re from Joseph as a child. Each one cut represents another failure to stop the growing corruption within him, and eventually, his slowly withering goodness sends him to Hell.

Hellraiser: InfernoWhat that means, basically, is that he has to confront his demons over and over and over again until he finally understands what he’s done wrong. Since he’s a major disloyal, sneaky, conniving, obsessive asshole, he gets to stay in Hell forever until Pinhead grows bored of him and tears his soul apart. Knowing Pinhead, that won’t be for a very, very long time. After all, Hell isn’t some inferno. It’s just a repetition of his life, or rather, playing back the things he did wrong. He even shot himself in the head to escape it, but only to begin all over again.

So, overall, as the fifth Hellraiser movie… I give Inferno one “not bad.” My only issue is that it doesn’t pay so much attention to the Cenobites and demonic imagery as it does the life of Joseph Thorne and his gradually increasing insanity. It’s not one of the better Hellraisers, to say the least, but it’s good enough to be worth watching.

The Uninvited is Hard to Watch

The UninvitedI suppose that title’s more than a bit misleading because of the lack of context. “Hard to watch but easy to enjoy” would be a much more fitting description. I can warn you ahead of time that this movie has both Emily Browning and Arielle Kebbel in it constantly wearing cute outfits and constantly having the camera zoom to see what’s going on with their face. Normally that’d be annoying, but since they’re probably the most adorable actresses I know (aside from Chiaki Kuriyama), the entire movie was more than tolerable.

First thing to cover, The Uninvited is an American rendition of the Korean psychological horror film, Tale of Two Sisters. I’ve seen both of these movies, and my professional movie reviewer opinion is that The Uninvited’s plot is much easier to comprehend. Amazingly enough, it doesn’t take a hit to quality as a result of its transition, which is really quite the milestone in modern films.

Anna Rydell (Browning) is a fifteen year old girl who is returning from a mental hospital after being treated for delusional behavior and suicidal tendencies. Alex (Kebbel) is her sister and best friend, the one who’s unconditionally loving and trusting. Steven, the father, is rather aloof and cold since the death of his wife, even after he gets together with a woman named Rachel. Anna doesn’t like her much. In fact, as the movie progresses, they try to kill eachother. But more on that in a bit.

The UninvitedAs this is a horror flick, Anna is haunted by images of her dying mother (among other things). Once upon a darker time, her disabled and resented mom was kept in a boathouse with a bell tied to her wrist. Whenever she rang, Anna or Alex would come to help her. A great explosive tragedy befell her, however, taking her life. As Anna and Alex gradually delve deeper into the enigmatic past of Rachel, they begin to suspect her of murder. Not only of their mother,  but of three children as well, all of whom haunt Anna in sleep and in the waking as freaky spirit things.

It doesn’t take long for Anna’s sympathetic boyfriend to get dragged into this as well. After a set of brief encounters, he joins the ranks of the shadowy, twisted revenants Rachel has supposedly murdered. Because of the ambiguous nature of Anna and Alex’s suspicion, one can never be too sure what happened to him. The police said he fell off a sea cliff, which is simple enough. But what if he was pushed? What if the explosion that claimed there mother was the result of tinkering? And what of the pearl necklace that Rachel has? Does the fact that one just like it appears in an image related to the three dead kids mean anything?

The UninvitedBefore they can draw any conclusions, though, Rachel catches wind of their research and takes it upon herself to intervene. By the exciting conclusion, you discover that there’s much more to this movie than a murder mystery. It’s much deeper, much more confusing, infinitely more psychological. If you’ve seen Tale of Two Sisters, shut up and keep the ending to yourself. It’s an awesome twist; even I don’t want to spoil it.

The horror aspect of this movie is magnificently done. The camera techniques are something to pay special attention to, because they really catalyze the tension before the scares. Either that or Emily Browning really just pulls you in with her performance. That may be me gushing, but that doesn’t mean that The Uninvited isn’t a damned good film. See it for the scares, the nostalgia of Tale of Two Sisters, or just for two of the cutest actresses in the film industry. Whichever reason, it won’t disappoint.

Cabin Boy, Chris Elliott Gone Fancy

Cabin BoyI’m not sure just how to categorize this epic seafaring fantasy adventure. Oh wait, I think I just did. Of course, I forgot the odd comedic aspect, but you’d have figured that out eventually. Cabin Boy is a Chris Elliot movie, and by defining the movie by this particular actor, you should know that it is very silly in very strange ways, such as big, fatass floatin’ cupcakes that spit tobacco, and a half-man half-shark. But enough about that; it’s plot time.

Nathaniel Mayweather is a graduate of the Fancy-Lad Finishing School. He’s also a complete condescending prick, ready to lay down the giddily delivered hurt at a moment’s notice. Speaking of notice, he isn’t even aware that he’s such an ass. He isn’t aware of a lot of things, really, considering he’s a rich sheltered boy. If he annoys you, it’s probably for the better. He gets what’s coming to him and undergoes a very giggly set of character developments later on.

Now that’s Nathaniel’s done with school, he’s taking a limo ride to the docks, where he’ll board the Queen Catherine luxury yacht and travel to Hawaii. His father owns a chain of Hawaiian hotels, and Nathaniel is supposed to take them over and live the comfy life in the tropics. But, our dear protagonist whines and orders the driver around so much that he gets kicked out and is forced to walk to the dock. Due to an unfortunate cow incident, he winds up on the wrong dock. His condescending nature earns him some false information that leads him to the “Queen Catherine,” a ratty little fishing boat called the Filthy Whore.

Cabin BoyThere are far too many shenanigans to cover them all, so the abridged version of this incident is that he is stuck on the little boat for a while and eventually tries to convince an impossibly stupid crewman, Kenny to take him to Hawaii. It doesn’t quite work, as poor stupid Kenny falls off the boat and drowns, leaving Nathaniel to be the new cabin boy, and leaving the boat to the mercy of the fabled sea of Hell’s Bucket.

Of course, the crew hates Nathaniel to death, and tries to come up with a plan to let him die of exposure and starvation. On a little raft a few miles back, Nathaniel is supposed to be scouting for something, though he isn’t told what. All he knows is that he’s out of chocolate milk, his bread is moldy, and that cooking oil is definitely not nature’s moisturizer. In a bout of insanity, he jumps into the ocean, but is saved by none other than the half-shark man Chalky, who starts to follow their boat.

Around this time Melora Walters comes in, playing the swimmer known as Trina, whose dream is to swim around the entire world. Unfortunately, Melora isn’t exactly the most convincing actress. Some of her lines will makes you cringe and run away, particularly later on. She doesn’t really provide a lot to the plot, aside from being a girl that Nathaniel gets smitten with. The problem is, you can’t tell if she’s acting horribly because the movie has a very silly tone to it, or if she’s just bad. I vote for the latter, sadly.

Cabin BoyAnyway, she’s the one who spurs Nathaniel to climb the highest mountain on Hell’s Bucket’s only island, fiddling with an eight armed blue woman who helps him become a man. Then her giant husband comes in, gets jealous, and tries to kill everyone on the Filthy Whore, forcing Nathaniel to ride Trina like a seahorse (literally, he stands on her back with reigns while she swims. It’s really funny) over to the huge bastard and fight him to the death.

This is an underrated movie. It’s great fun with stupid humor that anyone who doesn’t have a stick of their hindquarters would adore. If for no other reason, see Cabin Boy for Chris Elliot. 1994 is the new 2012, so go get it on DVD.