Opens with a crackpot on a TV talk show discussing the events of the previous film, not a good sign. Also not good that Devon has been killed offscreen in the interval. But I got the one thing I asked for: more Coroner Tony Todd, and now he’s even got a character name (Mr. Bludworth). Trying to avoid looking up how many more sequels he’ll be in. David R. Ellis had previously made Homeward Bound II, how’d he get this gig?

Cop and Kim:

Ellis acquits himself capably right from the start of the action – I knew this was the movie with the log truck, but thought that’d be a single-car accident, not this awesome super-fatal setpiece. Rewind to Kim (AJ Cook, a Virgin Suicides sister) seeing it happen and blocking the entrance ramp, saving herself and a bunch of strangers (not her friends, who still get killed a minute later, haha). The action remains good, but script is clunky, and each survivor is allowed one character trait: Pregnant Lady, Mom & Kid, Firebird Guy, Businesswoman (“my career is at a peak,” she will later tell us), and so on. Before they all die a la the first movie, Kim and Cop and Ali Larter (who checked herself into an asylum between movies to hide from death) are gonna have to solve the same ol’ mysteries.

Ali’s asylum wall:

It’s too late for Firebird Guy (David Paetkau of the second Alien vs. Predator) who gets the funniest death scene of the movie, everything in his kitchen trying to kill him all at once as he carelessly cooks fish sticks, until he escapes and gets his head smashed by the fire escape. Every survivor hears of his death that night on the TV evening news (everyone in 2003 watched the news). They repeat the trick with Kid (James Kirk, Iceman’s brother in an X-Men sequel), who survives a chain of dentist office catastrophes only to leave unharmed and be smooshed by falling construction equipment. I’m detecting references to Poltergeist (Kim’s room at night) and Hellraiser (“get them off me” in asylum).

Ali and Businesswoman after the elevator incident:

It’s decided that if Pregnant Lady (Justina Machado of a Purge sequel) gives birth then New Life will derail Death’s Plan, so Cop and Kim scheme to rescue her from Kim’s flashforward deathdreams. Meanwhile, Mom (Lynda Boyd of The V Word) gets beheaded by a elevator, Ali Larter and Verbose Black Guy (TC Carson of a Rob Lowe prison murder mystery) get fried in an explosion. They are so, so quick to proclaim that they’ve cheated death, should really know better. Half the movie was mega-death setpieces with spinning camera, so I’m happy and am gonna have to keep watching these.

Dev Patel’s finest role, in a pleasingly confounding movie. Mostly grey-brown tale of a knight trying to prove himself by journeying to fulfill a bargain with an immortal. I didn’t realize how much of the movie would be the journey, since you only hear about the bookending scenes.

Dev P.

There’s silver plate photography, giants, a digital-ass fox. The king and queen are played by Prometheus costars Sean Harris and Kate Dickle, and his witchy mum is Mississippi Masala star Sarita Choudhury. Barry Keoghan ambushes him and steals his horse. There’s a whole ending where Dev becomes king, but he also died earlier, so I lost track of what’s real.

Barry K.

Adam Nayman in The Ringer calls out “its self-aggrandizing style and prepackaged gravitas.”

Lowery’s fable about a half-human, half-arboreal creature patiently cultivating a lethal debt against a crumbling civilization vibrates with a certain apocalyptic anxiety, one that’s been color-coded for maximum effect. Stoic, implacable, and only resigned to defeat in Round 1 because he knows his revenge is impending, the Green Knight … terrifies as a figure out of a woodcut … but he’s also an avatar of climate change.

50 sword deaths in first couple minutes, a good sign, as unstoppable mustache man slays all his rivals then returns home to slay his hot girlfriend. He turns out to be our narrator Kageyama’s boss. We know he’s gonna gradually introduce K to his elite life, glimpsed when the two visit the boss’s bar, where the blood bartender runs a basement prison forcibly teaching captured yakuza to abandon their tough-guy ways – but the boss comes to an untimely end when a cowboy-hat coffin-backpack outsider shoots him with a chintzy lightning gun then kickboxer Kyoken beheads him.

The badly wounded K is revived by a bite from his vampire boss’s severed head, and not knowing how his new hunger works, he bites a townsperson which quickly unleashes a vampire plague on the town – the vamps act like yakuza and band together to torment (but not bite) the mortal yakuza. Meanwhile, kickboxer and coffin-backpack are joined by a kappa goblin and a frog furry with its own theme song. This is one of Miike’s high-energy crazypants movies, and it’s extremely fun, up there with Blade of the Immortal and Zebraman 2.

Let’s see… there’s also a tough woman named Captain whose head fills with water… K loves a hospitalized blind girl who turns out not to be blind… a sad kid whose father died turns into an enraged revenge-vampire… and there’s a bloody showdown between K and the kickboxer at the end as the frog furry grows city-sized and threatens to destroy the world.

K is Hayato Ichihara, lead/bullied boy in All About Lily Chou-Chou, has grown up to have a cool, severe face. The unblind Riko Narumi was a teen in The Great Yokai War, is also in notably bonkers movies Why Don’t You Play In Hell and Labyrinth of Cinema. The late boss has starred in a few Kore-eda films and Tsukamoto’s Fires on the Plain. The kickboxer is from Java, and The Raid movies.

Part one was the masterpiece that I remembered, and part two… well, it’s a sequel, it’s fine. Maybe losing Stuart Gordon (who was filming Robot Jox instead) was a real problem, or maybe it’s just sequelitis, or I should relax, since this is still quite good.

Dan has no self-respect, is still palling around with the clearly mad Herbert, who is doing gruesome experiments in an unsupervised warzone before returning to the hospital of part one, where he claims he’s doing important work but mostly fucks around reanimating whimsically-joined body parts.

Curious Dr. Graves (Mel Stewart of Shirley Clarke’s Cool World) awakens the evil psychic head of Dr. Hill. As before, emotionally fragile Dan tries to have a love life (Fabiana Udenio of the second Austin Powers) and West accidentally kills someone (this time a cop!) whom he has to resurrect to get out of trouble. And sure as shit, they go the full Frankenstein, making a Bride out of stolen body parts, causing a love-triangle problem for Dan, who chooses life, so the new creature tears her own heart out.

“Everything’s shit. The only thing that’s not shitty is sleep”

I’ve apparently seen this before, under its Cemetery Man title, in some 90s VHS horror binge-watch, but remembered nothing of its greatness. Hard to believe that after the cool The Church, then the excellent The Sect, Soavi made a great English-language (with proper sync!) horror-comedy, as crazy as his others and just consistently high-quality in every department.

“Go away, I haven’t got time for the living.”

Gaunt Rupert Everett is our cemetery man, disaffected as he blasts the heads off the reanimated bodies of townspeople he buried the week before, living in a split shack with his assistant Nagi (Francois Hadji-Lazaro of City of Lost Children), keeping things pretty quiet and off the grid until Nagi falls for the mayor’s daughter, who goes riding with her biker boyfriend’s gang and gets into a wreck with a bus full of boyscouts, which brings public and government attention to the cemetery, along with a busload of new zombies. Rupert falls in love with a Mysterious Woman who keeps reappearing, sometimes as a zombie and sometimes as a whole new character.

An American movie might’ve kept this story going and lead to a conventional climax, but Soavi has to go bigger and weirder – after the grim reaper tells him to stop killing the dead, Rupert wheels into town and mass-murders the living – or somebody does, but even though we see him committing these crimes, the cops refuse to treat him as a suspect. “Somebody’s stolen my crimes.” Nagi digs up his beloved’s head, which can move on its own and takes up residence in his broken television. Rupert tries to make himself surgically impotent so the new mayor’s hot secretary (the Mysterious Woman again) will stay with him… he sleeps with a student then sets her on fire… then he and Nagi flee town and discover the rest of the world doesn’t exist.

Right after watching Henry V, here’s another play adapted into a movie in which the play is performed before an audience. In this case, the audience is Wilde himself, whose new Salome play has been banned so his favorite brothel treats him to a surprise performance of it. So the makeup and costumes and performances are all over the top, and every actor in this is worth at least ten of the Henry V actors. “What our production lacks in stagecraft we hope to make up in enthusiasm.”

Salome introduces herself to Wilde:

Ken Russell is what happens when a master of cinema technique is also a very silly goose. The great Glenda Jackson (Women in Love) played the queen, Stratford Johns (Lair of the White Worm) the king, Nickolas Grace (jerky guest in Sleepwalker) as Wilde, and John the Baptist was the proprietor of Black Museum. The lead actress, so good in this, never appeared in another film due to illness, but according to a Guardian article her health improved.

Locarno 2015 included a Peckinpah retrospective, so I’m closing out LNKarno by catching up with one of his most acclaimed films. Warren Oates plays a southern-border scumbag offered $10k to find A.G. by the middlemen who’ve heard that the dad of the girl Garcia knocked up is paying a million. Oates takes his ex who knows the late A.G.’s whereabouts (Isela Vega of Sam Fuller’s Deadly Trackers and a hundred Mexican films) on a road trip, and it turns out everyone along the way is a bigger scumbag than he is.

good times:

bad times:

They start by fighting off would-be-rapist Kris Kristofferson, then when they locate A.G.’s grave, the guys tailing them kill the girl and take the head. Oates liked that girl quite a lot (so did I), goes on to kill those guys, the next couple of murderous guys, the guys who hired him, and finally the boss man himself. It’s a Western with fast cars and big sunglasses, and I am into it.

Intersection of a Japanese gang, a Chinese gang, a drug-addicted girl who sees ghosts, a crooked cop, a traitorous thief, a gangster’s girl out for revenge, and a floppy-haired boxer who wrongfully believes he has a fatal brain tumor, on one crazy night. Not as crazily awesome as I was led to believe, just a solid gangster action flick with one especially successful performance (the traitor).

Julie/Becky:

Traitor/villain Kase is Shota Sometani (tortured to death with a soldering iron in Lesson of Evil, maybe the narrator in Tokyo Tribe). Boxer Leo is Masataka Kubota of 13 Assassins. Revenge-girl Julie is “Becky” of a trio of Pokemon movies, and her late boyfriend Yazu is Takahiro Miura of Harmonium. The crooked cop: Nao Omori (Ichi the Killer himself, star of R100).

Leo with his girl Monica, freaking out on the subway:

Another well-made, scary horror movie that oughtta make everyone’s decade-in-horror lists. Great cast led by Toni Collette and her son Alex Wolff (he played The Rock in flashback in a Jumanji sequel), with Gabriel Byrne as the only family member with one foot in reality, Milly Shapiro as the creepy daughter, and Ann Dowd (The Leftovers) as Toni’s grief counseling buddy.

I can’t complain about a well-acted horror that ends with the apocalyptic rise of a demon cult – that is one of my very favorite things – but it seemed while watching that the movie’s themes/intentions didn’t come together. Toni’s dollhouse models and the way Aster shoots the proper house as if it were a model are cool… and the ghosts/seances angle is neat… and Toni’s love/hate thing with her own children is fascinating… then Alex is set up to host his little sister’s spirit and/or the spirit of an ancient king, per the cult which Toni’s late mom and Ann Dowd were in together. Presumably the cult left the signs and words scratched onto walls and posts, but there’s no way the cult arranged the little sister’s complicated death (Alex swerves to avoid a dead thing in the road just as she sticks her head out the window, gasping for air because of an allergic reaction, and is beheaded by a telephone pole), and the cult’s final assault on the family makes Toni’s sleepwalk-firestarting and miscarriage attempts and other psychological eccentricities feel like false leads. I’m not extremely clear how the title factors in, since each of the family women seems to have her own unique set of problems, unless they’ve “inherited” the attention from the late gramma’s cult. I turned to letterboxd for answers and instead found Mike D’Angelo calling it “frustratingly muddled,” so we’ll call it a solid debut with script problems.

Besides the dollhouses (actually they are Important Art Projects) and the phone pole, there’s the daughter scissoring the head off a dead bird, Byrne burning, dead relatives who are not dead, nudity and dug-up corpses in the attic, ants, Alex slamming his own face into his school desk Nightmare on Elm Street-style, and most horribly, a possessed Toni floating up in a corner merrily garroting herself to death. I thought someone on twitter saying this movie is derivative of Kill List would be a spoiler – it was not, but the shot in the trailer and promo stills of Toni watching a burning family member sure was.