Still watching the horror movies. I have a pretty big pile now and people keep giving me more recommendations. Last night's really wasn't remarkable enough for a whole entry--1973's Theatre of Blood starring Vincent Price as a stage actor taking bloody revenge on all the critics who called his acting over the top. Which turns out to have been quite a few critics and judging from the broad way Price delivers all his many Shakespearean quotes in the film his character really earned the bad reviews.
The movie has a rather impressive cast, including Diana Rigg as Price's daughter and accomplice. They kill off the critics one by one in ways imitating Shakespeare plays and it's all mild, campy fun.
Diana Dors has a small role as the wife of one of the critics whom Price gives the Othello treatment. He pretends to be a masseuse and gives Dors massages until her husband is tipped off to show up at a strategic time one day. It's nice to see she was allowed to be kind of sexy in the brief part.
The night before last, I watched Three . . . Extremes, an anthology film featuring three stories, the first by Chinese director Fruit Chan, the second by South Korean director Park Chan-wook, and the third by Japanese director Takashi Miike. Miike's is the only one that's really any good, though Chan-wook's has some cool visuals, set mostly in this room;
I would love to live in this room and blue is my least favourite colour. Just look at those chess knight statues;
Fruit Chan's film had Bai Ling and was about a woman who cooks aborted foetuses into dumplings for women who eat them in an effort to preserve or resurrect their youthful looks. This is the concept, I think--each story had to be "extreme." The macabre humour at play isn't dissimilar to Theatre of Blood though I wonder if Vincent Price wouldn't baulk at a story about eating human foetuses. I can take just about anything in fiction form but I think a lot of people would find it in unbearably bad taste especially since it serves only a very superficial story. Chan-wook's short is also pretty thin, being a Saw style thought exercise about a madman holding captives who have to decide whether they're willing to kill each other to live. And like Saw, it's not half as profound as it thinks it is. I've seen a few of Chan-wook's films and so far Oldboy is the only one that really succeeds and it is strikingly different from the others. Largely because of its sense of humour which I don't think is necessary to humanise characters and make them appreciably complex but that's exactly what it does in Oldboy's case. His other films in his "Vengeance Trilogy" feel sort of one note and puerile in comparison, the humour and action in Oldboy are the ingredients needed to make the grimness of Chan-wook's ideas really work.
Anyway, Miike's short film, "Box", works from within its characters rather than forcing the characters awkwardly into some thought exercise. One feels a sense of relief just from its opening shots of a man burying something in the snow next to an enormous tree.
We don't know what he's burying or why but we're soon after introduced to Kyoko (Kyoko Hasegawa), the main character, and the short film consists of her jumbled memories and dreams of a twin sister with whom she performed as a child in a magic show.
The short film ends up being a sort of mysterious and beautiful rumination on how connexions work between people, guilt and resentment and the way the two feelings can never be properly answered with logic.