BOO! A Quick Horror Round Up.

In which we jump out from behind the couch and quickly assess a selection of old and new horror films.

Funny how? Like a clown?
Let's start with zombies. Zombieland
(Ruben Fleischer, 2009)
is a silly, but funny horror-comedy starring Jesse Eisenberg and Woody Harrelson as a bickering duo navigating a land populated by, well, zombies. Shaun of the Dead did it
better, but there's some good laughs, an enjoyable surprise cameo and the subtitles are a good gimmick. In low-key Canadian film Pontypool(Bruce McDonald, 2009), a radio DJ begins to suspect that a virus is spreading through language, with the use of certain words contagious, which turn people into flesh-eating zombies (is there any other kind?). It's a really nice premise, but it doesn't really explore the idea enough to be truly satisfying or engaging, although there are some unsettling touches here and there.

"That's a terrible joke"
Moving on to vampires, we have Nosferatu The Vampyre (Werner Herzog, 1979), a remake of the 1922 Nosferatu, although it can't really match the classic original (you could say it can't really escape the Shadow of the Vampire. Guffaw! If you get that little in-joke, award yourself 10 points. And get out more). Nonetheless, it's a credible update and a fairly good Dracula film in it's own right, with Klaus Kinski delivering a memorable Count. The distinctly eerie footage of mummified corpses during the opening credits is also worth a mention. Less impressive is Dracula, Prince of Darkess (Terence Fisher, 1966), a poor entry in the Hammer Dracula series. Whenever Christopher Lee turns up, it's good. Sadly, those moments are few and far between.

Here be monsters. The Host (Bong Joon-ho, 2006) is a South Korean horror-comedy which I found rather disappointing, given it has had good word-of-mouth and was a monster hit in its own country. Basically, the horror isn't scary enough and the comedy isn't funny enough, but the monster design is pretty cool, though. Splice (Vicenzo Natali, 2009) is a modern-day Frankenstein tale in which the perils of tinkering with the genetic code are laid bare. Sometimes very bare, as it turns out. Some interesting moral and ethics themes attempt to sneak into the story, but these are quickly nipped in the bud in an disappointingly straightforward and predictable show. Meanwhile, Razorback (Russell Mulcahy, 1984) attempts to be Jaws in the Australian outback and is probably the best giant killer pig movie ever made. Take from that what you will.

Finally, some old-fashioned good-and-evil fare. The Exorcist III (William Peter Blatty, 1990) rightly ignores the execrable Exorcist II and proclaims itself as a 'proper' sequel to the classic original. There's a great scene in a hospital corridor and a couple of good shocks, but it lacks the cohesion and intelligence of the original. Maybe there exists somewhere the version which Blatty intended, but this ain't it. In Drag Me to Hell(Sam Raimi, 2009) Alison Lohman is cursed by a gypsy and has 3 days to live before - you guessed it - she's dragged off to Hell. Nothing here you haven't seen before, but it has some good laughs and good scares, put together with confident ease. The Prophecy (Gregory Widen, 1995), on the other hand, wastes a good cast (including Christopher Walken as Archangel Gabriel and Viggo Mortensen as Lucifer) in a confused affair about the Angel War. It's not very good. Widen never directed anything since, so presumably he was dragged off to Hell by fallen angels for making it.

That's your lot. I'm off down to the cellar to investigate that strange noise. I'll be right back....

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