It maybe nothing more than a glint in the distance, but the end of Hooptober 6(66) is in site. And maybe it’s the chill in the air, but I’m starting to find more and more to like, whether it’s the art-heavy exploration of black identity and horror in Ganja & Hess, the finger pointing at capitalism and consumer culture in The Stuff, and even in the vampirism = art of Bliss. Those films coupled with some of the most terrifying moments I’ve witnessed in a horror film and Cujo and what so far is my film of the year for 2019, One Cut of the Dead make for some fun watching this killer season.
So enough talk. Check your pup for foamy lips and let’s get into this week’s films.
The actual plot mechanics of Ganja & Hess are pretty thin, but what Gunn is really trying to achieve is deeper than that. The film touches on black assimilation and the way their dependence on white privilege hangs like an addiction. Faith, particularly the troubled reconciliation of Christianity and more native, tribal religions are explored. But where the film really digs in is in the relationship between Ganja and Hess. It’s a marvel to see Duane Jones in his only other real starring role outside of Night of the Living Dead, and he brings a troubled guilt and weary presence to Dr. Green that makes it impossible to turn away from (full review here).
This is a Larry Cohen film through and through, and that’s a compliment. Moriarty’s introduction in the movie is equal parts absurd and brilliant: he has a weird energy that permeates the entire picture. There’s a lot that feel improvised, particularly with Morris’s character, the chocolate chip king who got pushed out of his company and wants revenge. This loose vibe manages to keep things rolling through some awkward moments, including the entirety of Danny Aiello’s cameo, which almost feels like a tacked on rehearsal, albeit a hilarious one (full review here).
…Over the years many films have tried to earn the title of true successor to Shaun of the Dead. To my mind the fault in that came from attempting to copy Wright’s unique formula and plot mechanics. One Cut of the Dead succeeds where they all failed precisely because it tries something very different, and despite its minuscule budget succeeds wildly on almost every level (full review here).
…Maybe that’s the point – the chase for the “high” of inspiration. How putting all of yourself into your art transforms you in the end, to cite the obvious ending. Done this heavy-handed I can’t see myself ever revisiting BLISS. Sure there’s some great practical gore of the kind that graced the earlier films, but the overt to the point of shouting message of BLISS is such that I got it, and don’t need to get it again (full review here).
So let’s get this out of the way: the sequence where Cujo terrorizes Dee Wallace’s Donna and her son tad in the Pinto? That might be one of the most terrifying sequences I’ve ever seen on film. Just horrific, and so much of that terro comes from how incredible Wallace and Danny Pintauro were in their roles. As soon as the movie ended I went online to see if there was anything about trauma Pintauro may have experienced post-filming (thankfully, he did not) – it was THAT convincing. Huge credit to director Lewis Teague and director of photgraphy Jan de Bont, who manage to capture some stunning images, including a whopper of a now rabid Cujo walking toward the farmhouse at dawn as well as a great tense sequence with Bill Jacoby on a fog-enshrouded morning (full review here).
Only a few more entries to go. Next week sees a lot of older films, including a doozy about shrunken zombie assassins, a classic of the giallo, yet ANOTHER Stephen King adaptation, and maybe even something featuring a large lizard…who knows?
Until then. keep it Blood Red.