Can I just first state that I’m a little pissed that Disney pops up with a fun family princess film by this same title, about a year and a half or so after Adam Green released this thriller? I hate that these things are inevitably going to be confused, and the way that the Disney frozen really grabs that name in eclipses Adam Green’s Frozen. This is actually the first film of Green’s that I ever saw, it came on the strong recommendation from the late and lamented Horror et cetera podcast. It’s the story of three people on a ski weekend who get stuck on a chairlift, as the ski resort shut down for the week. It’s such a simple yet terrifying premise and it’s a great departure from the Hatchet films that Green was getting known for. Its a chance to show what else he can do. Even though it’s locked into the category, this is not really horror, not to me anyhow. This is thriller territory. There are no monsters here, unless you count the wolves that are very active below them. No, in this case the situation itself is the villain – and the interpersonal relationships take center stage. It is squirm inducing, and uncomfortable. It is the sort of movie that will stay with you, long after the film is over.
I mentioned earlier that this is a departure from the style of the Hatchet series, and that’s intentional – Green didn’t want to necessarily be pigeonholed into the horror genre, and really – this is the kind of thing where he shines. You have to remember that he started, writing comedy, particularly romantic comedy – and characters are really his strong points. While his romcom type work hasn’t gotten nearly as much exposure as the horror stuff, it’s where his skill sets begins. The emphasis on characters and relationships is what makes Frozen work. You genuinely care about these people, you emphasize and sympathize with them and that’s absolutely what this film needs to be able to tear apart your heart. That’s what Frozen is about really, to break your heart and to chill your soul – no jump scares, just suspense. This is absolutely a must see, although for me it doesn’t have a lot of repeat value. I don’t think I’m going to be a visiting it, but I’ve got a say – definitely watch it, even if its only once.
The idea here was to kind of combine Cheetara from Thundercats and Scarlett from G.I. Joe. Possibly one of the strangest mixtures I’ve ever tried. I’m not sure if she’s a hero or villian, but I definitely went into it with a distinctively villainous attitude.
I’m at a complete loss to figure out what the filmmakers were trying to accomplish with this one. It’s obviously a throwback movie, and there are heavy influences from Fulchi’s Zombie and Wes Craven’s The Hills Have Eyes here (I hear people say Cannibal Holocaust, but I really don’t see it….I think they’re reading too much into the title), with the setting, and the dubbing but beyond that I’m not sure what they were doing. If they were going for horror, they failed. It’s not scary in any real way. If they were going for parody, they also failed there too – it’s not funny or clever. It’s not really an exploitation film. At best it’s a hollow imitation of a grindhouse movie, but without the exploitation elements that keep those interesting.
A group of tourists on a boat end up on a deserted island. Sometimes there are cannibal natives (The whitest, most Caucasian looking barbarians this side of Iowa). One of the natives takes a shine to one of our characters and about halfway though it turns into a weird cannibal lifetime channel movie… Yes, I realize, this sounds inconceivable. Imagine my disbelief as I watched. Especially when the undead zombies arrive in the last ten minuets.
There’s no character development, and these people don’t really even have the substance of caricatures. The kills are uninspired and uninteresting. I’ve seen student films do far better with far less.
Perhaps the title should have warned me, but I’ve seen plenty of good movies with dumb titles. This isn’t one of them. I’m going to say just flat out skip this one.
As we look to the different video game documentaries, there’s been elements that are prevalent in each one. Chasing Ghosts reminds us of our love of video games, but it’s King of Kong that really makes us fall in love with the old system. The Tetris Masters brings us back in the competition and reminds us how hard it is to become a master. The King of Arcades reminds us that the communal arcades experience is an important one.
This is The story of Richie Knuckles.
Richie’s focus and intent is in bringing the arcade experience back by building one of his own. What’s really striking about Richie in these stories is how much he loves the games themselves – the time that he spends tracking down old arcade cabinets and rebuilding them. The amount of time that he spends loving the genre, and obsessing over the idea of the video games. There is a desperate attempt to recapture something that we really have lost in this age of online multiplayer. It’s omething about that communal experience, that commonality, that gathering place where we come to play but also come to be… Come to hang out. It’s an important thing. It’s an important place, it’s the mystique that rolls around these games in this era – I totally get it. That’s what makes this film so compelling – we get it, we share that same passion for these games, for this place, for this thing. Now, perhaps Richie Knuckles takes this to an extreme, but that’s really the purpose of film – that others live a life that we can experience vicariously through them. The ending is bittersweet, and in many ways we are just wondering if it’s really worth it… But one look at Richie knuckles face and you could see – yes it absolutely is. Of all the video game documentaries out there, this is absolutely one of my favourites. It’s right up there on par with the King of Kong in terms of sheer relatability and passion. This is another absolute must have if you love the genre and you love all video games.
We got into some creepier characters this time around. This guy was originally envisioned as a Spawn influence, but I wanted more diabolical influences. I like the blades at the end of the chains -a difficult decision, wasn’t sure how to top those appendages off…
I wrote to Julie Newmar ages ago and had a plan. You see, I bump into Sid Haig every now and then on the convention circuit, and I know he did an episode of buck Rogers with her. So in addition to the requisite Catwoman pic, I also enclosed this still (a screenshot I grabbed directly off my DVD) from Buck Rogers and she was nice enough to sign it as well. Suddenly Sid fell ill and wasn’t doing cons for a while It actually took a couple of years, but I finally got him on it as well!
It shouldn’t work, but then again, we don’t watch horror movies for the Oscar worthy performances do we? The wrestlers give a serviceable showing in their roles and are joined by some Romero alumni. I recognized the late Bill Hinzman’s name in the credits ( he was the very first zombie in Night of the Living Dead) and quickly recognized Dawn of the Dead Alumni Joe Shelby and Nick Tallo. We even get a shot of the old crypt and the graveyard from Night of the Living Dead.
I’m surprised at how much I like this. It’s a nightime movie about a group of wrongfully lynched hicks who return – bearing more of a resemblance to ghosts than zombies. Whatever they are, the monsters have a great look to them and the carnage they wreak is bloody, gory and enormous fun. The film manages to create a spooky atmosphere, very reminsant of the Fog with the monsters reminding me a great deal of the Blind Dead. It’s that kind of movie. The killing and the gore start almost immediately, and it didnt take long before I was totally on board.
River of Darkness was one of the more pleasant discoveries on this box set and a perfect example of why I still buy these things!