From the desk of The Movie Snob.
A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night (B-). Somehow I missed this 2014 black & white foreign-language vampire flick during its original release, but happily a friend invited me to a special showing last night at the Alamo Drafthouse. (Actually I tried to talk her into seeing Logan instead, but she wasn’t having it. She’s been a big vampire fan ever since New Moon.) It’s a weird movie, but interesting. Our hero is some ordinary guy living in a bleak industrial town called Bad City. His father is a junkie, and a drug dealer takes our hero’s beloved car because dad can’t pay his debts. Then the drug dealer abuses a prostitute who works for him. This draws the ire of our vampire (Sheila Vand, Argo), an ordinary-seeming woman who ghosts around town at night and can sprout fangs in a jiffy. Later she menaces a little boy and takes his skateboard. After that she meets our hero after he has gone to a costume party (as Dracula!), and instead of making a meal out of him she actually seems to start liking him. But you’re never really sure if she’s eventually going to chomp on him or not; her affect is pretty flat. More stuff happens after that, in a slow, moody, artsy kind of way. It held my interest.
(I’m categorizing it as a foreign film because it’s in Farsi, but I have read that it was actually shot in California. The director, Ana Lily Amirpour, is Iranian-American.)
This was my first trip to an Alamo Drafthouse, and it was a pretty interesting experience. We got to our theater pretty early, and before getting to the real previews they showed a bunch of film clips and trailers from cheesy old horror movies back-to-back. It was fine to set the mood, I guess, but it made conversation difficult. I got food, which I seldom do at movie theaters, and got a mediocre Royale Burger with Cheese and some cold fries out of the deal. The seats were comfy, though.
From the desk of The Movie Snob.
What We Do in the Shadows (C-). It’s not every day that you get a chance to see a mockumentary about a quartet of vampires sharing a flat in modern-day Wellington, New Zealand. The most outgoing vampire, a foppish dandy named Viago, is our guide to the the blood-suckers’ trials and tribulations. For example, flatmate Deacon hasn’t done the blood-stained dishes in several years, and they are really starting to pile up. The most venerable vampire, Petyr, is an 8000-year-old freak who apparently seldom leaves his massive crypt in the basement. (So Viago kindly brings him a chicken from time to time.) And when the dark, moody Vladislav isn’t brooding over a centuries-old defeat by a creature called The Beast, he’s wondering why they don’t just get some slaves to do the housework, like in the old days. It’s mildly amusing, but I really thought it would be funnier than it was. It probably didn’t help that there were only about 4 of us in the theater, so the laughs didn’t have much synergy to work with. On the plus side, it’s only 86 minutes long.
A new review from The Movie Snob.
Only Lovers Left Alive (C). Here’s a new take on the vampire genre. In this film directed by Jim Jarmusch (Broken Flowers), the vampires are fairly traditional: they seem to be basically immortal, but they require human blood to survive, and they are vulnerable to sunlight and wooden stakes through the coronary region. Otherwise, they seem reasonably human in personality (although they rather insultingly refer to human beings as “zombies”), and they can make their way through human society when need be (at night, of course). The film focuses on a married couple of vamps, Adam and Eve (played by Tom Hiddleston, The Avengers, and the amazingly pallid Tilda Swinton, The Grand Budapest Hotel). They’ve been separated for a long while, and Adam, a musician, is getting pretty depressed in his ramshackle house in the ramshackle city of Detroit. Eve figures out that her hubby is really bad off, so she takes a night flight out of Tangiers to join him and cheer him up. The movie is rather slow and talky; don’t go expecting a lot of gore (although there is a little) or hot werewolf-versus-vampire action (there is none). Indeed, Adam and Eve are so civilized they prefer to do their grocery shopping on the medical black market rather than harvest their sustenance straight from the source. Things perk up a little bit when Eve’s troublemaking little sister Ava (Mia Wasikowska, Stoker) shows up uninvited, but otherwise this is a pretty low key and meditative sort of movie.
DVD review from The Movie Snob.
The Last Man on Earth (D+). When I bought this DVD for a dollar, I did not realize I was buying the first film adaptation of the 1954 novel I Am Legend, which was later turned into the rather more famous films The Omega Man starring Charlton Heston and I Am Legend starring Will Smith. In this 1964 black-and-white film, Vincent Price (House of Wax) stars as the titular character–the only survivor of an apocalyptic plague that turned everyone else into creatures that he calls vampires but that act more like zombies. Indeed, according to IMDB.com, this movie was an inspiration for George Romero’s Night of the Living Dead, the godfather of all subsequent zombie movies. Unfortunately, this film is not very good. The acting is poor, and the long flashback to show how Price’s character got where he is now just isn’t very compelling. There’s only one fairly creepy scene, and it is short. Otherwise, pretty forgettable stuff. At least it’s short (86 minutes).
A new review from The Bleacher Bum.
True Blood, Season 4 was too much, too fast, too many people, and too many storylines. Generally, HBO shows know how to pace itself. Often the first couple of episodes of a new season of an HBO show are so slow that some viewers get bored. This slow, ramping up pace is done deliberately for proper story development. The first three seasons of True Blood followed this model to the letter; however, Season 4 did not.
This season introduced more characters and each character has a special talent of their own. I think we are up to eight different forms of the supernatural since the show began. Vampires are the least of our worries these days. True Blood also went very soap opera this season with lots of relationship drama. Of course, Sookie was in the middle of all it, solving as many problems as she created. To date, Season 4 is my least favorite season of True Blood, but there is a payoff at the end that sorta makes it all worth it. Sorta. Grade: B-.
The Movie Snob gives you fair warning.
Dark Shadows (D). Who would have thought that a joint enterprise by director Tim Burton (Alice in Wonderland) and actor Johnny Depp (the same) could turn out to be so deathly dull? Depp plays Barnabas Collins, a wealthy fellow in colonial Maine who gets turned into a vampire and buried in a chained-up coffin by a wicked witch (Eva Green, Casino Royale). Fast forward 200 years to the early 1970s. BC is set free and makes his way back to his ancestral mansion where the last few members of the Collins family live in a state of advanced aristocratic decay. Oh, and the witch is still hanging around the area causing trouble for the Collinses. Previews suggested that the film was a comedy, but it is not funny. (Gags involving BC’s encounters with “modern” phenomena like lava lamps and the Carpenters inevitably fall flat.) Nor is it exciting, scary, romantic, dramatic, or anything else that might make it the slightest bit interesting. Avoid it unless you have 2 hours you really need to waste.
Nick at Nite favors us with a DVD review
Ordinarily, I am drawn towards all things Vampire, Zombie, etc … As such, one would expect that I would devour Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight series. That said, I have not read the books, and I did not camp out to see the movies. Frankly, I am just not that interested in reading a book or seeing a movie based on any teenage love story – even if it involves Vampires (isn’t this every episode of an afterschool special with a little horror mixed in?). So, I will admit that I was shocked when my wife rented this movie and it turned out to be good. My wife loved it. Of course, she had read the book. As a non-believer (in the movie, not Vampires), I was ultimately swayed by a new twist on an old tale. These Vampires – all impossibly young – are vegetarians. They only eat animal flesh. Mostly, I appreciate the complicated back story that my wife was explaining to me during the movie. I give Meyer credit for her creativity, and I say check it out. Also, I was surprised to learn that sunlight does not kill Vampires and that they don’t sleep in coffins.