This episode of the Weekly Updates marks the first of the year 2012, which is kind of odd considering that it’s from back in August. I know I said I would catch up with these posts, but all I’ve done in the last few months is only distance myself further from getting up to date with it. It seems that this will be an even harder task than I anticipated at first. Oh well, all I can do at the moment is to keep at it and hope that things will work out in the end. That said, it’s worth noting that this week’s list holds quite a diverse set of films, and even though it’s only three of them, I think they all deserve a read through (but not necessarily a watch through as well).
Los sin nombre (1999) - 3/10
I stumbled upon Los sin nombre while searching for some obscure and lesser known Spanish horror films in hopes of discovering a gem. When I first laid my eyes on Los sin nombre it really seemed to have the potential of turning into something special, but unfortunately things went entirely in the other direction when I finally got around to seeing it. The first couple of minutes are actually quite promising, with a brutal and surprisingly disturbing opening scene. Sadly, the rest of the movie is nothing more than a downhill ride. The plot drags on and on, and the story is laid out in a way that is neither interesting nor engaging. I often found my mind wander away to matters other than the film itself, and that is never a good sign. I’m still not sure what the point of the entire story of the movie was, but all I know is that it was a complete and utter mess. At first it’s not that bad, because even though it’s boring and tedious, it is also relatively bearable – towards the end, though, things got really bad, and the finale of the film is absolutely abysmal, introducing a plot twist that made little sense and had no reason to even be there. So yes, stay away from Los sin nombre, because it’s definitely not the Spanish horror gem it may appear at first glance.
Salo, or the 120 Days of Sodom (1976) - 6/10
If there was ever a movie featured on this list that did not need an introduction, Salo, or the 120 Days of Sodom would be it; you’ve either heard of this movie or have been fortunate enough not to. The reason I decided to check Salo out, much like virtually everybody else, is because I was intrigued by it – few films, if any, can match its infamous status in the history of cinema, and that certainly says something. Due to the highly controversial and offensive material present in the film I figured that you haven’t really seen everything until you’ve seen Salo. Unfortunately – or fortunately, rather – I came to find that that wasn’t entirely the case, as Salo did not live up to my expectations. Sure, it’s controversial, and sure, few movies have managed to get away with as much as Salo did, but when all was said and done, I couldn’t help but feel that all this film tried to do was deliver as much shock value as possible. There are some interesting undertones and motifs to it, particularly regarding the dangers associated with governmental power and political corruption, but these remain in the background and are ultimately not prominent enough to make the experience worthwhile. What I was bothered the most with in Salo was not the material itself, but rather the forced, near-desperate way through which this material was communicated on-screen. In my opinion, the film tried far too hard to be controversial and disturbing – so much so that at certain points I was on the brink of laughter more than anything else. The worst parts were the story time scenes, where the old prostitute (or prostitutes, I can’t remember) would go through a series of supposedly disturbing sexual stories. Incest, pedophilia, coprophilia – it was all there, but it became rather tedious after the first few times because the stories would just repeat themselves and there was absolutely nothing to take away from them since it was so blindingly obvious that they were merely put into the film to elicit disgust and controversy while also further ‘shocking’ the viewer. Anyway, I’ve already said enough about this film, so I’ll just stop here. I guess how I would describe Salo, or the 120 Days of Sodom would be as interesting, but ultimately not a particularly good piece of cinema. Take that as you will.
Fright Night (1985) - 7/10
I’ve been meaning to watch Fright Night for quite some time. At one point I even got through the first fifteen minutes or so of it, but had to stop watching due to something intervening. However, I was so impressed by what I saw – even though it wasn’t much – that I vowed to give it another shot later on. Needless to say, it’s been sitting on my to-watch list ever since and would probably still be there if an incoming remake wouldn’t have prompted me to give the original another go in preparation for its release. So how did Fright Night turn out? Well, the rest of the film played out just as well as its promising first minutes. I haven’t seen many horror flicks that understand how to tap into the comedy element while also maintaining the thrills and scares vital to the genre, but Fright Night is most certainly one of them. It knows not to take itself too seriously, but when it sets its mind on delivering good old horror, it definitely does so. There are many memorable scenes and lines of dialogue to be had here, and plenty of classic 80s cheese to go around. Another thing worth mentioning is the make-up and special effects, which are surprisingly impressive here, delivering a few truly chilling moments, particularly one towards the end of the film (you’ll know which one I’m talking about once you see it). All in all, I had great fun with Fright Night, will probably revisit it again, and heartily recommend it to anyone who knows what they’re getting into.