20/06/2009

MIRRORS (20008)

Day #1253

I sit here crushed (don't worry, not literally) and despondent. So much hope and excitement cruelly snatched from my grasp!

It all started this morning when I aspied - remarkably - a creature with a human form in the distance! I beckoned to him and he waved back!! I set forth on foot towards him and judged him to be doing the same.

My suspicions were first aroused when he sneezed at exactly the same time as I. And, not long afterwards, I noticed that he discovered his fly was undone at exactly the same time as mine...

There is no mystery here. For you see, my new companion was nothing more than a reflection. Some trick of the light bouncing off a glacier, some prism refracting... or something, what am I, a F*&&%$g scientist???!!!

I apologise. There's no need for me to take it out on you. A film will surely calm me down...



MIRRORS (2008)



My thoughts after watching Mirrors were uncannily similar to my thoughts after I had sex for the first time. I enjoyed it, but deep down I knew it didn't go as well as it could have. And the more I think about it now, the more ridiculous it seems.

Also, I wish the only attractive woman involved didn't get killed half way through.

I digress. Your experience watching Mirrors will depend on a) how much you like Kiefer Sutherland...



and b) how freaked out you are by... mirrors!



Personally, I have a lot of time for Kiefer Sutherland. And as far as mirrors go, well, from a very early age, long before my visage had been ravaged by sub-zero arctic temperatures and malevolent bumble bees, I've been more than a little wary of contemplating my reflection in detail. I can sense something lurking just beyond my peripheral vision you see...

Which reminds me - I got some valuable advice from an old fortune-teller once, shortly before she died. Never look into a mirror in a dark room at midnight she said (or croaked 'neath an increasingly crushed windpipe, rather). For those phantasms beyond your vision are real. And when you stare at your own reflection for too long, there comes a moment when it becomes aware that it is being watched. This is the point when YOU become the reflection...

And so to Mirrors the movie. The plot is all too familiar - an obvious and unimaginative cross between The Shining and The Ring. Basically, an ex-ish alcoholic gets the job of watchman in a spooky old building. Shit happens, and we go on a meandering investigation that revolves a crazed little girl in a mental institution.

An awful lot of Kiefer's screen-time is thus spent in 'research' mode. Which involves him sitting at a desk, looking through endless scraps of paper and making occasional notes. You can tell when he finds out an important piece of information because he shouts 'goddamn!' and punches the nearest wall. It's gripping stuff.

A rare foray away from Kiefer's scrap-book strewn home-office is Amy Smart's death-scene. It's the highlight of the movie, not just because we get to see her fanny (don't worry UK readers - 'fanny' means 'arse' in the U.S (note to my U.S fans - 'arse' is the English for 'ass')) but that she meets a memorably grisly end, murdered by her own reflection as it rips its jaw off, knowing that the same thing would happen to her.

My main problem with Mirrors was that I just didn't buy into the premise. I couldn't find the will to spend time trying to fill in the various plot holes, like figuring out why the demon had to threaten the security guards to get their help? Would a simple 'please get me out of this mirror' have gone amiss?

And so the film ends with our hero desperately trying to escape a burning/collapsing building. Like an awful lot of other horror films.

Ah - I almost forgot about the 'twist' ending. Without giving too much away, it falls into one of the two standard horror film twists (Standard Horror Film Twist #1 - He's actually dead. Standard Horror Film Twist #2 - His 'friend' doesn't exist. He did the murders himself). You can probably guess...

Here's some rare footage of Kiefer Sutherland being asked to do the sequel which will be set on board a pirate ship:

02/06/2009

I MARRIED A MONSTER FROM OUTER SPACE (1958)

Day #292

Dreams of escape, keep me awake, I'm never gonna get out and make it away.

The force-field is getting smaller day by day. It's now 85% of its original size according to my latest calculations. This has added to my feeling of being trapped. Of having no free will. Of being endlessly miserable with no hope of change... reminds me of the last time I was married, come to think of it.

Her name was Molly, a flighty young filly from good aristocratic stock in Weybridge. Loved the outdoors and rambling endlessly in the countryside, did Molly, and soon made an acquaintance with Giles our gamekeeper. I would often see them out riding together across the moors, Molly's face lit up with a radiant smile that I didn't recognise.

Anyway, there was a fire in the gamekeeper's cottage one fateful night. Two charred bodies were discovered, and to my sheer horror they turned out to be Giles and my faithless Molly!

A rogue candle was held to be the likely cause of the fire, and old Doc Jensen's observation that both of their necks had been broken prior to death was taken as being none other than the ramblings of a decrepit alcoholic that had no business to be still employed in the medical profession. He fell into the canal and drowned not long afterwards, drunk as a lord on the way home from the local tavern no doubt... except that Julian Fielding III, our local coroner, found no trace of alcohol in Doc Jensen's system - mind you, it was common knowledge that that the coroner was a raging opium addict, and in fact only a few days after his verdict on Doc Jensen he was found with a needle stuck in his - HALLO! I've been rambling on forever, you must forgive me. For here comes a film!


I MARRIED A MONSTER FROM OUTER SPACE (1958)



One of the many great things about watching American Sci-Fi from the 50s is that it gives you a rare glimpse of a bygone era, where things were very much different. IMAMFOS (short for 'I Married A Monster From Outer Space'. Very handy. Saves me writing out 'I Married A Monster From Outer Space' for no good reason) has a wonderful example of this...

... at her wits end for MAMFOS, Marge Farrell naturally reaches for a relaxing cigarette. But then to her horror, she discovers she can't find the lighter! Her husband Bill (the MFOS) appears and tries to reassure her by explaining that "the lighter wasn't working so I sent it to get it fixed" - but Marge quickly spots something else is wrong - "Where's your drink?" she demands.

I don't know what I love most about this scene, the thought of sending out your lighter to get it renovated, or the fact that Marge panics when she spots that her husband isn't cradling a Scotch at half past 2 in the afternoon. Sounds like my kind of time, the 50s...

... and did the place where Bill took the lighter to get fixed do anything else apart from fix lighters? Or was it solely the local 'Lighter Fixing Emporium'? This kind of stuff keeps me awake at night.

But I'm getting ahead myself and forgetting something - the title. It's become such a cliche for every review of this film to mention that the title is misleadingly flippant that now, even mentioning the fact that this is a cliche has become a cliche in itself. So I've decided it's best not to mention it all. Except of course, I already have. So I'll just add that it's a perfect title. I love titles that tell you important plot details so that there's no confusion. That's why 'Honey I Shrunk the Kids' is a perfect film title, unlike 'Twelve Monkeys', a film that I wasted good money going to see only to discover that it actually starred humans.

And so to IMAMFOS - one of the classiest 50s sci-fi movies (despite the misleadingly flippant title etc. etc.). IMAMFOS is beautifully shot and directed by Gene Fowler Jnr (who also did IWATW of course). We open with an impressive tracking shot that spans the shoreline of a lake before settling upon an approaching car that parks close enough to the camera to allow us to follow its occupants as they exit and head up the path to the local bar, stopping en-route to playfully knock on the car of a courting couple. This one shot lasts just over 59 seconds. Good start.

There's an even more memorable shot later, when we're in a busy restaurant with newlyweds Bill and Marge. The camera pans to the window for a second, and then back into the room to reveal that we're now in the young couple's bedroom, much later!!! But we don't witness any conjugal shenanigans because Bill is acting a bit strange. A bit nervous. Maybe it's something to do with the fact that a flash of lightning reveals his features to be that of a hideous alien.



Oh shit!

Marge is a rather perceptive young lady, and it's not long until she comes to the conclusion that her husband is AMFOS. This all starts when she buys him a dog for a present - Bill loves dogs you see - but alien Bill doesn't. And the dog doesn't like alien Bill. And alien Bill knows that the dog doesn't like alien Bill. And the dog... anyway, matters come to a head one night when Bill... when he... there's no easy way of breaking this to you, he kills the dog. HE KILLS THE DOG! And this was the 50s! Even now, canicide is thankfully very rare in films, so this is a truly shocking scene.

There are other memorable moments throughout IMAMFOS. Like when a rather flighty lady leaves a bar and tries propositioning a hooded gentleman outside a shop. Rather unwisely, as it turns out as the hooded gentleman turns out to be AMFOS and zaps the hapless harlot in the back.

Despite all this outrageous behaviour from the MsFOS, Bill's character actually manages to elicit a fair degree of sympathy. Tom Tryon plays the part of Bill, and he's a fine looking actor - tall, imposing, marvellously athletic. He gives a very finely judged and subtle performance, one that Keanu Reeves would fuck up royally if he starred in the remake.

Having MAMFOS, Marge wants out. She hates the idea of Bill being AMFOS, and her mind is made up. Very harsh, in my opinion. I wish that she'd have fallen for alien Bill just a little bit, instead of spending the entire film running around hysterically, harping on about the fact that she MAMFOS.



I was firmly rooting for Bill throughout, and hoped in vain that there could have been just a small spark of electricity between the star-crossed couple. Even though alien Bill was a pooch-whacker, I think he would have made a more than capable husband. Deep down, he obviously felt something for Marge, despite not being able to feel anything, which is no mean feat.

Soon Marge manages to find someone who isn't an alien, who in turn manages to raise a posse from all the men in the maternity waiting room (the aliens are impotent, you see. So it wouldn't be them waiting in there). Who wants to be hanging around waiting for your wife to have a baby when you're offered a chance to go alien hunting, eh?
So off the posse goes...

It's not long until the expectant alien hunters home in on the spaceship, whereby the alien occupants make an appearance and it all kicks off big time. The humans are getting a right zapping until dog meets alien. Don't worry, the score is evened up this time. Dog wins.

There's only enough time left for alien Bill to rather sadly die in front of Marge. But there's a happy ending when she's promptly reunited with human Bill! They're going to live happily ever after surely! Let's just hope he can hold his liquor. And that he buys her a lighter for her next birthday.