Sunday, November 23, 2014

Everyman: Profile of a Serial Killer (1994)

Director: Nikki Stockley

Writer: ???

Composer: Glenn Keiles

Starring: Jeffrey Dahmer, Lionel Dahmer, John Kane

More info: IMDb

Plot:  This documentary looks at the crimes of serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer and how his life was shaped to become one of the most notorious serial killers in history.

My rating: 8/10

Will I watch it again? Yes.

What sets this apart from the many documentaries I've seen on Dahmer is how calming and relaxing it is.  Plus it also spends more time than most with learning of his childhood and upbringing.  We get interviews with his father and school mates which gives you an added level of depth that other docs don't.  What's more is there is a good deal of home movie footage of Dahmer that shows you how normal this guy seemed.  That's the real treat here.  What's more is that this focuses less on Dahmer's crimes and the grisly details and more with his family and the survivor's of the victims.  We get their stories which goes much farther than most docs on serial killers.  It's a British TV doc that's a short 39 minutes but you leave it feeling very satisfied.  And on a wild note, this documentary aired on 11/20/94, just 8 days before Dahmer was murdered in prison. 

The Poseidon Explosion (1973)

Original title: Explozia

Director: Mircea Dragan

Writer: Ioan Grigorescu

Composer: Theodor Grigoriu

Starring: Radu Beligan, Gheorghe Dinica, Toma Caragiu, Dem Radulescu, Jean Constantin, George Motoi, Toma Dimitriu, Colea Rautu, Draga Olteanu Matei

More info: IMDb

Plot: When a big ocean liner's cargo of fertilizer catches fire, it causes an explosion and pretty soon, the whole ship is ablaze. A helpful newlywed passing by in a canoe and a stowaway help try to fight the fire.

My rating: 6/10

Will I watch it again? No.

Based on an actual event, this isn't all that bad but the presentation (crappy VHS fullscreen print with a not-so-good English dub) keeps it from being anything too watchable.  I'm not sure if the English dubbers took liberties with the dialogue but there are odd moments of humor thrown in that don't fit with the picture.  On one hand you've got an action thriller that starts immediately and doesn't let up until the film ends and yet there's almost slapstick-y humor every once in a while that completely takes you out of it.  The shitty print never allowed me to care much but considering it's a Romanian disaster film, and my knowledge of the Romanian film industry of the 1970s is limited, I think they did a pretty good job and a major motion picture. 

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Born to Kill?: Jeffrey Dahmer (1998)

Director: Sue McGregor

Writer: ???

Composer: Illinton

Starring: Steve Furst, John Backderf, Gerald P. Boyle, Nico Claux, Pat Kennedy, E. Michael McCann, Sopakliba Princewill, Robert K. Ressler, Tony Timer

More info: IMDb

Plot:  Jeffrey Dahmer was a homosexual sexual deviant who raped, murdered and ate parts of 17 victims. Like other killers such as John Wayne Gacy, he managed to elude capture while continuing to carry out his crimes. Like every other sociopath serial killer in history he believed himself to be completely justified in his actions. Why does a Jeffrey Dahmer happen? How does a man become a serial killer, necrophiliac, cannibal and psychopath? Many of the theories would have you believe that the answers can always be found in childhood abuse, bad parenting, head trauma, foetal alcoholism and drug addiction. Perhaps in some cases these are contributing factors, but not for Jeffrey Dahmer…

My rating:  8/10

Will I watch it again? Yes.

I've seen this twice now and it's yet another great British TV documentary that wastes no time and presents the facts in a straightforward and fascinating way.  The interviews are interesting and engaging, you get to see some grisly photos including one of Dahmer's victims sliced open, the visual presentation is compelling as is the score and it's just incredible the things this man did and got away with.  Dahmer was one fucked up cat and this short film (about 45 minutes) gives you a comprehensive look into what he was and what contributed to his desire to kill and eat his victims.  Watch the whole thing starting with the video above. 

Death in the Bunker: The True Story of Hitler's Downfall (2004)

Director: Michael Kloft

Writer: Michael Kloft

Composer: ???

Starring: Bernd Freytag von Loringhoven, Traudl Junge, Armin D. Lehmann, Rochus Misch.  Narrators: Nick F. Bolton, Martin Heckmann, Corinna Sadlo

More info: IMDb

Plot: The story of Adolf Hitler's final days in the bunker in 1945.

My rating: 9/10

Will I watch it again? Yes.

The video above is a poor representation of the film.  The version I saw was without subtitles and in its original fullscreen aspect ration and not stretched as you see here.  This is an outstanding account of the final few days of Hitler and it goes to great lengths to set up and describe as many details as are known about the situation immediately above the bunker and inside, incorporating interviews with a few surviving members of those with Hitler in the closing days of the war.  It's a remarkable film with superb narration that is loaded with images and video of exactly what they're describing, some of it I've never seen before. The score (what felt like to be one cue continually repeated) is beautifully used and is probably the single most important part in conveying a sense of impending doom. I was captivated from the first moment to the last.  I highly recommend watching this, if possible, and follow it up with the excellent DOWNFALL (2004) or even precede this with BLIND SPOT. HITLER'S SECRETARY (2002).

Friday, November 21, 2014

The Riverman (2004)

Director: Bill Eagles

Writers: Tom Towler, Robert D. Keppel, William J. Birnes

Composer: Jeff Rona

Starring: Bruce Greenwood, Cary Elwes, Sam Jaeger, sarah Manninen, Kathleen Quinlan, David Brown, Jeremy Akerman, Cindy Sampson, Richard Blackburn, Mark Graham, John Dunsworth, Sherry Smith, Lee J. Campbell, Leah Ostry

More info: IMDb

Tagline: To catch a killer. You must understand evil. Or be evil.

Plot: A series of interviews are conducted with convicted serial killer Ted Bundy in hopes of gaining insight into the Green River Killer who is terrorizing Seattle.

My rating: 8/10

Will I watch it again? Yes.

This is not your typical serial killer movie.  There's more talking, discussion and conversation going on than what you're used to and that's refreshing.  The script is very good but it's the performances and direction that keep it from becoming just another serial killer movie. Greenwood and Elwes are top notch.  There's no boogeyman in Elwes' Bundy.  He's a charismatic, regular guy.  Yeah, he's got some serious fucking issues but he's not presented as a monster.  I think it's more frightening that someone like this could be anyone you or I know without being aware of the horrors they create. Greenwood keeps his Keppel in check by holding back and being as calm as he can be.  He's calculating and intelligent without being emotional and telegraphing his thoughts to the obvious.  He keeps what he's thinking in check but he's still able to give such a nuanced performance that you know what's going on inside his head.  I don't know how much liberty the film makers took with this picture regarding the facts but they've made an excellent film that needs to be added to your list if you're interested in this sort of thing.  John Dunsworth (Lahey from the TRAILER PARK BOYS show and movies) is in this but I wasn't looking for him and didn't know he was in it until after I saw the film.  This guy is popping up in a lot of movies I've been watching lately.  One neat tidbit is that this true story partly served as inspiration for Thomas Harris' novel and later film, THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS (1991).

Savage Man...Savage Beast (1975)

Original title: Ultime Grida dalla Savana

Directors: Antonio Climati, Mario Morra

Writers: Antonio Climati, Mario Morra

Composer: Carlo Savina

Starring: Alberto Moravia

More info: IMDb

Tagline: Horrific violence, filmed as it happened!

Plot: A notorious mondo film depicting unbelievable and bizarre rituals, animal killing and cruelty, and people being killed and eaten, all by either animals or humans against each other or themselves.

My rating: 6/10

Will I watch it again? No.

The picture opens with our narrator talking about how we shouldn't feel sorry for the giant stag we see him stalk, kill and behead.  Then it's off to Cape Cod for a peace demonstration for the rights of animals.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Raving Maniacs (2005)

Director: Richard Griffin

Writers: Richard Griffin, Trent Haaga, Christine Peltier, Scott Phillips, Billy Garberina, Randy Marquis

Composer: Daniel Hildreth

Starring: Patrick Cohen, Emily Morettini, Andrew Vellenoweth, Christine, Peltier, Ryan Patrick Kenny, Jennifer Zigler, V. Orion Delwaterman, Edwin Cottle, Patrick Pitu, William DeCoff, Salvatore Marchese, Caleb Emerson

More info: IMDb

Tagline: Their agony is your ecstasy

Plot: There s a rave going on. It s gonna be great. Tuesday and her boyfriend J.T., and their friend Katie, and Katie s brother, are going out partying to the biggest rave in Providence, Rhode Island. Of course, the reckless kids become part of an alien plot to distribute some strange drugs among the ravers at the party.

My rating: 4/10

Will I watch it again? No.

If you've seen any prior posts of Richard Griffin's movies you'll know that I'm out to watch everything he's made simply because his NUN OF THAT (2009) is so fucking awesome.  A lot of these movies are pretty bad but I keep hoping to find another one that comes close to the greatness of NoT.  I'll keep looking. This is another low budget, indie horror that's got a thin plot, a little nudity and gore, some bad action, broad (mostly unfunny) humor and a synth score that doesn't work.  Like all of these, I watched it with friends and we tried to enjoy it on a base level but some scenes are hard to get through because they ran too long or the actors take too much time to deliver their lines.  It's like they only had enough time to get one take on some scenes because there's more than a few scenes where the actors take forever to get through their lines.  Cutting out one or two seconds by cutting to another actor or something would have done wonders to tighten this thing up.  As it is, it does have a few laughs and some skin to help you get through it but the drag is enough to get you reaching for the remote.  The Brain Damage DVD has a fullscreen print of the film.  The few extras include a photo reel, which is nothing more than still images taken from the film, a commentary with the writer/director Griffin and lead actor Cohen, and 14 trailers for Brain Dead indie horror releases.  Would it have killed them to have a 'play all' feature for these?  Geez.  I'm going to hold onto the DVD because I would like to hear the commentary and get some tips on making a movie, you know, the one that I keep saying I'm going to make but never get around to?