Thursday, October 13, 2011

My Halloween Movie of the Day: Day 13

20. Phenomena - Shortly after I watched Suspiria for the first time, I became slightly obsessed with Dario Argento. I watched several of his other movies, then managed to find a box set of five others that I hadn't seen yet for quite cheap. None of them really grabbed me in the same way, though, not even the sequels, and part of that had to do with the face that so few of them dealt with the supernatural, but were just about "normal" serial killers. I get that he makes giallo movies, and that's what they're meant to be, and while I didn't dislike his other movies, after Suspiria, it was hard not to be a little disappointed. Of all of those, Phenomena was, by far, my favorite. It still didn't quite compare, but it had enough supernatural touches to feel different from most of his other work (even if most of them don't really go anywhere, story-wise), despite still focusing quite a bit on solving the murders, which, to its credit, it does better than Suspiria. To speak some more of Suspiria, this isn't as visually impressive (though there are some very cool looking scenes here and there), and starts off feeling a little derivative of it's set-up, down to the expository voiceover and lousy acting from some of the supporting cast. It also lacks the storybook feeling that would make some of the sillier elements, like the monkey, stand out less.

21. Phantasm - This is an odd little movie (though its oddness can be explained by the twist ending, which I completely forgot about, depending on how you take it) that works largely because it really is mostly just about a kid's fear of abandonment. Sometimes a simple little concept like that is enough to elevate a movie to a higher level than it normally would reside in, and I think this is one of those cases. It also has some wonderfully strange and creepy imagery, like the surprisingly bloody silver sphere, and the Tall Man, who manages to be scary despite that hair cut. And those dream sequences... I've always been scared by the thought of hands reaching up out of graves, and the dreams are constructed well enough that it's hard to tell that's what they are until those show up. It's also interesting to look for all of the Dune references... Some of them might just be coincidence (the Hunter-Killer scene), but there's no way the scene with the hand in the box isn't intentional, considering they even go so far as to say, "Fear is the killer." I mean, they're only leaving out one word from the original text there. I'm not entirely sure what to make of them, though they could be seen as evidence to support one of the readings of the ending.

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