Month: September 2020

  • ๐Ÿ“‚

    Watching Ratched S01E01 โ€” Pilot

    Ratched tv series poster

  • ๐Ÿ“‚

    Start of the Dayโ€™s playlist for 28th September 2020

    Start of playlist 28-09-20

    Start of the Dayโ€™s playlist for 28th September 2020.


  • ๐Ÿ“‚

    The New York Ripper — My Thoughts

    The New York Ripper has been one of the most challenging films I’ve watched in recent times. It’s violence and sexuality are off the charts — all in all a cracking Giallo thriller.

    New York is being terrorised by a serial killer who seems hell-bent on cutting up young women, seemingly for some kind of sadistic sexual pleasure. And these acts of violence are put front and centre in your face. Every. Single. Time.

    The opening credits consisted only of the still image of the dog with the severed hand in his mouth that he’s just found in a bush. With this and the funky 70s television flavour soundtrack, it felt almost like a black comedy of sorts.

    I don’t know why I kept getting the vibes of a black comedy in this film. Perhaps it is the super over-the-top depictions of killing and the fact that the killer pretended to be a duck whilst murdering people.

    Screaming

    Quack quack quack

    Ducks… Yer… So, the killer begins quacking like a duck as they begin violently cutting open their victims. Stay with me though. At first it was kind of funny and a complete juxtaposition to what was going on on-screen.

    Quack quack…

    CUT — SLICE

    Quack quack quack…

    HACK — CHOP

    But as the film went on, that sound became bloody terrifying to me. Like a razor sharp shriek cutting straight into my brain. Walking down the canal feeding the ducks with my lady will never be the same again…

    I liked how there is actually a reason for that duck sound too (no — the killer is not a duck) and it is actually more of a grounded reason than I was thinking it would be.

    And when it comes to the identity of the killer, I found myself guessing right up until the point at which one of the characters clocked it. Yes I am a bit slow, but I think that Fulci did a great job at dropping red herrings here and there.

    Beauty in the killing

    Only after I wrote that heading did I realise how mental it sounds. Oh well, it’s staying. haha.

    I don’t often find any sort of pleasure out of people being killed in films — unless they have it coming of course — but I can appreciate a really stunning piece of cinematography from the violence. And this film has those throughout — and not always in relation to a death scene.

    Despite many of the scenes being so graphic — in both sex and violence — the director, Lucio Fulci, has created some incredible-looking sequences throughout his film, that just beg to be looked at again and again.

    The way in which he uses colour alone is incredible — most notably a scene with live sex performer Eva, as she is returning to her dressing room.

    I loved this section so much that I have included five none-spoiler screenshots of it here:

    Eva’s scene reminded me of Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo. Specifically a hotel room scene in which a character is bathed in the neon green light of the hotel sign outside the window. This isn’t the first time I am reminded of Hitchcock’s work in a Giallo film either.

    Some of the scenes in New York Ripper reminded me heavily of a more modern film I’ve seen too — The Neon Demon. No doubt the director of that film, Nicolas Winding Refn, took heavy inspiration from the Giallo genre — something I am only just uncovering for myself in my new obsession.

    This scene from Fay’s train ride had some great set pieces in it too. The train itself and shortly after, the cinema:

    Fay rides the train

    Conclusion

    If you are feint of heart please do not watch The New York Ripper. It uses extreme close-ups of killings like my partner uses Ketchup: in large doses.

    However, if you dig over-the-top violent scenes with elements of beauty in films, then this could be right up your street.

    Despite my constant mention of violence and sex in this film, it does have a good story. A story quite typical in the world of slasher / giallo films I think: detective tries to track down violent serial killer as more killings unfold in more beautiful and dramatic ways.

    And although it shares so many Giallo characteristics, it is uniquely memorable in so many ways.


  • ๐Ÿ“‚

    No better feeling than to create

    There is no better feeling than that of creating. Yes, that is a super vague statement but I wanted to write something — anything — and this post is it.

    I have spent too much time tonight just clicking around reading articles and watching videos around the world pandemic and the complete fucking cretins governing the people through it.

    As breaks from the sadistic act of reading about this country’s disease* and Covid-19, I have been continuing my reading of Stephen King’s book Duma Key. I’m really enjoying it.

    For some reason the notion of the feeling of creation being one of the best struck me. Whether the creation of an original work, or the the creation of connections with others. Or the creation of pictures in your mind’s eye from reading great works of fiction.

    Bit of a short random ramble, this one, but there you have it.

    *The Conservative Party


  • ๐Ÿ“‚

    Thoughts on Phenomena

    The next film in my Giallo journey was Dario Argento’s Phenomena — arguably one of his best. Although, to be fair, I haven’t seen a bad Argento film yet.

    From it’s wide open start amongst the Swiss countryside — where a student girl misses her bus — to the claustrophopic, insane ending, this film had me hooked and anxious throughout.

    I thought that with Jennifer Connelly as the main star, along side Donald Pleasence, I would feel relatively safer than I have with previous GIallo films. I knew her mainly for the film she did the year following Phenomena: The Labyrinth. But how wrong I was.

    Phenomena — synopsis

    The film is about a young girl, Jennifer, who is sent to a Swiss girls school by her father. She already knew that she had an affinity with insects, but it is during her short stay at this school where her affinity grows stronger and stronger.

    In the area there is a serial killer who seems to be picking off the girls from the school. And after Jennifer witnesses something she shouldn’t have whilst sleep walking, she fears that she is next.

    In her travels she meets a local scientist — one who specialises in insects (very apt) — who she teams up with to try and track down this killer on the loose.

    The Soundtrack

    Phenomena’s soundtrack was partly done by Goblin, as with other films of Argentos’. And it is as awesome as you can imagine, (if you’ve seen films like Deep Red or Suspiria before). If you haven’t, then you are in for a real treat in experimental music.

    Joining Goblin, and some others, on this kick-ass soundtrack, is none other than Iron Maiden. Namely the song “Flash of the Blade” from their 1984 album “Powerslave”. One of my favourite Iron Maiden albums, and the first album of theirs that I bought coincidentally.

    The soundtrack does wonders for this film’s pacing. At one point I was anxious and nervous following these characters. But then when that crazy opening to “Flash of the Blade” came on, a huge smile took over my face. I found myself simultaneously foot-tapping to a great song i’d forgotten about, and worried for a woman’s life as she ran from a merciless killer.

    Jennifer from Phenomena

    Reminiscent of Hitchcock

    Alfred Hitchcock is a huge influence on so many film makers, especially the ones worth their salt in my opinion. Some directors make this more obvious than others in some of their films (and I don’t mean that negatively). One good example that springs to mind is the look and feel of Martin Scorsese’s Cape Fear. I remember feeling that if Hitchcock was alive and made that film, it would be very similar aesthetically*. This was aided in no small way by employing Hitchcocks long-standing music maestro Bernard Herrmann.

    *Disclaimer: I’m not a film student so am probably talking absolute crap ๐Ÿ˜€

    Anyway, there is a scene in Phenomena where Jennifer is trying to track down the killers hideout using a very unconventional method — I’ll let you discover the method. But method aside, the entire bus ride she takes from the town centre out to the rolling swiss countryside hills was a complete callback for me to Torn Curtain — Hitchcock’s lesser-known, but no less incredible, political thriller film from 1966.

    Vera Brandt misses her bus

    In Summary

    This feels like the most accessible of Argento’s films I’ve watched up till this point. I mean, they have all been on Amazon Prime, but due to the use of more western actors who I’d known from previous films, this film felt that bit more familiar to me. Of course this is only from my own perspective. Also I often prefer not knowing any actors in these Giallo films — it somehow makes them feel more dangerous.

    That said, I thoroughly enjoyed Phenomena for every single moment of its almost-two-hour run time. One thing I’m noticing from Argento is that I am finding myself remembering so much from his films — due to so many of his scenes feeling so iconic.

    The violent pane-smashing opening, the unconventional vat of… stuff, and of course that scene with the chimpanzee (spoiler: the chimpanzee survives this crazy story**).

    **If I thought a Chimpanzee was going to be killed I probably wouldn’t watch it, so wanted to put your mind at ease there. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Some stills from Phenomena


  • ๐Ÿ“‚

    When the random music mix gives you a row of killer songs. ๐Ÿค˜


  • ๐Ÿ“‚

    Watching Phenomena

    Initial thoughts

    What a fucking incredible film. From start to finish I was gripped. Jennifer Connelly is great; Dario Argento is at the top of his game; and Donald Pleasance was a joy to watch as always.

    The film was violent, creative and awe-inspiring in equal measure.

    And that ending. That vile ending that just kept me second guessing myself until the credits rolled.

    Thank you once again, Argento you crazy beautiful film maker.


  • ๐Ÿ“‚

    Welcome to Hanwell — first impressions

    I picked up Welcome to Hanwell for a few quid in a recent PlayStation Store sale. On first playing it has a good creep factor. Waking up in a morgue and taking your first steps in the dark, dank blood-splattered underground is a great introduction to any horror game.

    The opening had me walking through a couple of corridors into the adjoining rooms and office, as it taught me the basic game controls and mechanics. One of these mechanics was looking behind you as you run — this can only mean bad things ahead.

    I love the atmosphere of the game so far — despite having been unable to escape this basement area for about 45 minutes or so. The idea of an open-world horror game does tickle my fancy somewhat, so I really hope I can get past this first challenge.

    And no — I’m not going to spoil what that challenge is. ๐Ÿ˜€

    One draw back for me

    I have to mention one thing that has me a bit miffed. I can not find any option to invert the Y axis. ๐Ÿ™ . This may seem like a petty thing, but I find it super jaring to play any game without the inverted Y axis. I think this can only be due to the many many hours I spent playing Ace Combat 2 on the PlayStation as a youth.

    I have tweeted the developers in the hope that it could perhaps get added in an update. Not sure if this will happen, but if you don’t ask you don’t get.