Friday, August 14, 2009

Los Cronocrímenes

Not too long ago, I was listening to one of my favorite podcasts, Horror Etc, and one of the hosts, Kingstown Ted, went over a movie he had just seen called Los cronocrímenes—or, the English name for it, Timecrimes. I was intrigued by how much he liked the movie and even further fascinated by the story. Right away, I went online to my Netflix account, looked up the movie and placed it in my movie queue.

Reading about the movie and plot on, I had taken note that none of the names of the cast were ones I had ever heard of. Even the name of the director wasn’t familiar to me. What clicked was that the movie was categorized as a foreign film and after reading more into it, I discovered it was a Spanish movie.

In the past, I’ve turned my back on foreign films and always hated having to read subtitles. But not too long ago a film class I took in college really taught me to embrace some of these foreign films and that’s what I’m trying to do more and more. Because if anything foreign films have taught me is that these movies are quickly surpassing the movies that are being made in Hollywood. Let’s face it, all American films, as of late, are nothing but rehashed remakes with no new ideas whatsoever.

Los cronocrímenes is a perfect example of original story telling.

I went into it, thinking it was a horror movie, because when you look at the DVD artwork, it seems that it will be. The picture on the cover shows a masked character carrying a pair of scissors and he looks very creepy. So I was encouraged to watch this just by looking at that.

It opens with Héctor coming home to his wife, Clara, at their vacation house that they’re working on remodeling. Clara is working on her garden so Héctor goes upstairs for a nap. He doesn’t get to sleep because he receives a mysterious phone call with a little breathing on the phone, then hanging up. He calls it back with *69 or whatever they use in Spain to do that, but only reaches an answering machine.

A little while later, Héctor notices something in the distant field and goes to retrieve a pair of binoculars. He uses them to look out there and sees something red in a bush or something. Héctor becomes interested and goes downstairs to his yard and positions a lawn chair to sit and study the area further. He then notices a young woman looking mysterious with her face hidden by her hair. She slowly takes her shirt off, revealing her breasts and just stands there. Héctor’s wife interrupts him and he lowers his binoculars as she mentions she’s going into town for a while. He gives the keys to the car and she leaves. When he returns his sights to the area the girl was, she’s nowhere to be found.

Héctor decides to walk over to the area to have a look around, walking a hundred yards or so away from his house and into the field to where he saw the girl. He makes it to the clearing that she was at and finds her clothes. Stepping further in, he sees her body lying against a rock, seemingly dead or unconscious—he doesn’t know which. Apprehensively, he approaches her and sees that she is, in fact, breathing. Suddenly, we see an arm raise that is holding a pair of scissors, and it lashes down, stabbing Héctor in the arm. Startled and confused, he runs away and the chase begins.

From then on, we go on a great mind-fuck of a ride with Héctor and the confusing dilemmas he faces. It seems to start off as a horror movie, and then suddenly we’re thrown into a science fiction type of story. Explanations are unraveled that are evident at first, then confusing, then straight right back to the obvious...but keeps you watching all the way through.

I have to say that this story was very intelligently written and is one of the best foreign films I’ve seen in the sci-fi/horror genre. It used to be that America had the best movies, but that time has come to an end. If Hollywood keeps on shitting out these remakes like they’ve been doing for the last few years, American film is going to end up digging their own celluloid grave by the end of the decade. It’s a little novel to see what these remakes will look like, but all-in-all, the American audience wants to see something original in these popular genres.

So what is my final “bit” on Los cronocrímenes?

Captivating from start to finish with pretty good acting, yet it was a simple story that didn’t need much in the special effects department. A few nice set pieces were all it took to make the science fiction portions believable and the great story just nailed it as an enthralling movie. I can’t say enough about this film…it was a nice treat for me to see something original that didn’t have teeny-boppers gum up the dialogue with the latest lingo and popular styles. It was a straight to the point movie.

You need to see it!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

The Prowler

I watched this little gem a few days ago after remembering that it made that “100 Scariest Moments” show on TV not too long ago. Another reason I wanted to view this flick was because the special effects were done by the master himself, Tom Savini.

Mr. Savini has worked on a lot of classics, both behind the camera and in front of the camera—sometimes both.

On George Romero’s Dawn of the Dead, Tom Savini created and supervised the creation of all the gore effects and makeup of the zombies. He’s also included in the film as a character—one of the bikers that come into the mall. As most of you know, Mr. Savini did the makeup and gore effects for Friday the 13TH and Friday the 13TH: The Final Chapter. He’s also directed the remake of Night of the Living Dead in 1990 ad has had bit parts in Tarantino films and the remake of Dawn of the Dead.

Anyway, I’d always heard of The Prowler and wanted to see it just for Mr. Savini’s showcased effects.

So, about a year ago I looked up the film on the Netflix web site and to my surprise, the film showed up on the non-released column of the queue. It stayed there for almost a year—I don’t know why. But like I said, a few days ago it showed up in the mail and I waited until dark to get the full effect of the film. Basically, I tried to get into the great 1980s horror film mood.

I was impressed with it.

A few scenes were kind of cheesy, especially the dance hall scenes complete with an early ‘80s rock band playing some songs that I’ve never heard of before.

The killer’s garb was pretty original and memorable, the heroine was your typical 1980s horror movie female protagonist as she followed the rules to survive a horror movie ordeal (being a virgin and no sex or drugs), the girls were your average slutty girls that took their clothes off easily, you had the strange guy that worked at the local store, the quiet old man that lives across from the college dorm (for girls)…and just the feel of the community is your typical scenic ‘80s town.

Anyhoot, the story starts with scenes of our boys in the military coming back from overseas during World War II, complete with a radio announcer explaining everything. We then see a letter that was written to someone in the military from a girl that’s basically breaking up with the guy.

The film then cuts to the graduation dance of 1945 and we see a lot of GI’s with their girls, attending the festivities. One such couple breaks off and goes to a nearby makeout point only to be killed by a military clothed individual, using a long knife. We can’t see this guy’s face because he wears some chemical warfare mask that hides his face…which makes this horror movie killer one of the coolest looking ones during that time. Remember, this film was made before Friday the 13TH Part 2 so Jason Voorhees wasn’t even running around with his potato sack yet.

Well, the movie then fades to present day (circa 1980) and we see that the college dance hall is getting decorated for that year’s graduation dance. Seems that the locals think it’s a bad idea seeing that it’s the first time they’ve had a graduation dance since the murders in 1945.

As luck turns out, there was a robbery the next town over that ended up with someone getting butchered and the local sheriff and young deputy are making sure they keep a lookout for this maniac on the loose. As an added bonus, this is the day that the sheriff goes on his weekend fishing trip and he has to leave the deputy in charge of the small town.

Lo and behold, the killer does show up and commits a few murders in stunning fashion, thanks to the wizardry of the aforementioned Tom Savini. The effects still hold up and look pretty real and gruesome to this day.

Like I said, it’s an entertaining 1980s horror film and it’s a pretty good story with above average acting for its ilk. The film was actually directed by Joseph Zito who had directed Friday the 13TH: The Final Chapter just a mere 4 years later. And the music score is pretty similar to Harry Manfredini’s score of Friday the 13TH, but it’s composed by a different music writer.

So back to the film…

Most people can guess who the killer is before he’s revealed and it’s because of all the movies that followed this film way back when, so we became accustomed to the formula that these films follow. Still, the flick is a good time.

My final “bit” on The Prowler? If you want to relive a little 1980s nostalgia and be reminded of how entertaining the horror films of that time were, I’d pick this baby up at the local Blockbuster, Hollywood Video, Red Box or Netflix and pop it in. If not…you’re loss.