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Sunday Horror-Thon

Sheitan (2006)

Vincent Cassel, isolation, France! A recipe for strange if there ever was one. A bunch of annoying club kids get thrown out of a bar and end up at new pal Eve’s country home with her strange groundskeeper/shepherd/maybe relative, played by Cassel, on Christmas Eve. Right away we have some goat milk fu, when Joseph (Cassel) squirts some fresh milk from the goat directly into Eve’s mouth. Pervy. And things haven’t even got weird yet. Yeah. So in American films, this would clearly be headed into slasher territory, but this is France and weird goes to new levels.

Everyone around seems related or at least inbred. Joseph takes special interest in Bart, the head moron and a wigga. There is also a Black guy and an Algerian girl tagging along. French club kids are apparently quite diverse, like parties in American food commercials. Anyway, Joseph doesn’t even get Bart’s name right until a third of the way into their visit. This is actually amusing and an example of some of the darkly funny moments found throughout.

After a few shenanigans and an increasing number of red flags, Joseph tells a strange tale of incest and Satanic ritual, and then it really gets weird. The last 20 minutes are so bizarre I am not completely sure quite what happens. And this is really disappointing. I like crazy and I really like crazy, secretive, familial groups. Their sense of loyalty has no bounds, they will do anything for each other. But without a clearer purpose it just sort of seems like weird for weird’s sake which has its limits.

Regardless, it’s not a mediocre film, and it’s definitely worth watching Cassel’s over the top, deranged performance.

There’s goat fu, satan fu, drunk wigga fu and doll fu. There’s boobs, death and some mutilation, crazy hallucinations and of course, satanic ritual. And there is lots and lots of maniacal laughter.

Call of Cthulu (2005)

Produced by the HPLovecraft Historical Society

Short and esoteric, this modern film done silent movie style serves Lovecraft’s tale well. I just read this story and it challenges the imagination with its wild descriptions. Most times I find movies based on Lovecraft’s stories to be silly or too focused on the bizarre depiction. The stories are definitely about the weird but also about the internal experience of things not understood, of trying to unravel a mystery that may be dangerous in its revelations. And yes, that may be metaphoric, like all great tales.

I had my doubts about this as it began, but was quickly won over by the performances and the use of old film devices and found the story rendering very true to the source. And I really, really love the stop motion monster. It had a cool, Tim Burton feel and was fun like the old Tokyo monsters.

“The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents.”

Shaun of the Dead (2004)

Funny, smart, well-written and playful. I’m pretty over the zombie theme but can watch this again and again since it’s so well done.

At first, Shaun doesn’t even notice the zombies since we all move through life like zombies anyway. When he does realize what’s going on, he finally grows up and begins to see what he really values and fights for it. He becomes a surprising champion and gets over just going through the motions of a mundane life.

Zombies, biting, survival, romance, family values and friendship. All around win.

Peeping Tom (1960)

We closed out our night by watching this classic, highly praised movie that is often compared to Psycho. It is a psychological thriller exploring voyeurism and childhood trauma. It’s smart and very well executed, to the point where I sometimes felt too much sympathy for the lead, Mark, and his Freudian demons.

But it is daring in that the whole focus of the film is exploring Mark’s internal struggles and the events that formed him. He is relatively self-realized, understanding the breadth of his obsession and his triggers. Mark is a surprisingly thoughtful killer. And since he is basically a porn photographer, the movie explores society’s dark obsessions and obsessions out of balance. He is a voyeur but so are many others.

I actually found the comparisons to Psycho to be a bit much, but then again, no one really compares to Hitchcock. And I would have liked to see more action at this late hour, there were some slow moments. But the performances were good and it’s clear why this is so acclaimed for exploring psychological trauma. 

Watch it, but not necessarily as your 4th movie of a day.


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