Reviews, articles, rants & ramblings on the darker side of the media fringe

Archive for June 23, 2011

Raiders of the Lost Ark

31 years ago today, (June 23, 1980) filming started in the seas off the French town of La Rochelle of what would become one of the greatest movie successes in history. Who doesn’t know this story by now?  

Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford) leads a double life as a professor of archaeology and a globetrotting adventurer. He hears about an archaeological dig for the ark of the covenant, which contains the original Ten Commandments and divine power. Indy heads off to Nepal to locate Marion (Karen Allen), who owns a vital clue to finding its resting-place. Fellow archeologist René Belloq (Paul Freeman), has been hired by the Nazis to find the Ark, so it is up to Jones, to get to it first. Working in the shadow of the German excavation, they locate the ark but lose it to Belloq. So now Indy and Marion have to stop the Nazis. But if they can, what will they find inside the Ark- divine enlightenment or divine retribution?

No review, it’s 5 stars anyway, instead here’s some Raiders trivia:  

In 1982, it was nominated for 8 and won 4 Academy awards; winning for Best Sound, Best Art Direction, Best Film Editing and Best Visual Effects. Nominated for Best Picture, Best Director – Steven Spielberg, Best Original Score – John Williams and Best Cinematography.

Indiana Jones was named for George Lucas’ malamute dog Indiana.

Harrison Ford was actually dragged behind the truck for close ups. When asked if he was worried, Ford said: “No. If it really was dangerous, they would have filmed more of the movie first.”

Indiana Jones’s kangaroo-hide bullwhip was sold in December, 1999 at Christie’s auction house in London for $43,000

Tom Selleck was Spielberg’s first choice, but the studio was could not break up the contract Selleck had for his television series Magnum P.I. Thank God for that last intervention..!

…and the movie is called ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’ NOT ‘Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark’… ridiculous.

I Spit On Your Grave (2010) **½

Jennifer Hills (Sarah Butler), a writer working on a new novel rents a riverside cabin in upstate New York. Upon arrival she inadvertently attracts the wrong kind of attention from three deadbeat locals led by Johnny (Jeff Branson), who harass her at the local gas station. They eventually attack Jennifer in her cabin and humiliate her until she escapes into the woods. She runs into the local Sheriff (Andrew Howard) who is on a hunting trip, he escorts her back to the cabin and things take a turn for the worse. The other locals reappear and the group strip her naked and encourage Matthew (Chad Lindberg), the local simpleton, to rape her. She is then repeatedly attacked and raped in turn by the rest of the group. Jennifer wanders to a nearby bridge and falls into the river below, unable to find her body the group believe her to be dead. Jennifer recovers and sets about her bloody revenge, ensuring that the punishment fits the crime…

Produced by original writer/director Meir Zarchi and directed Steven R. Monroe. Another unnecessary remake, this time of the cult rape/revenge ‘video nasty’ from 1978. I’m loathe to use the term ‘classic’ as the original is not worthy of that status, and neither is this remake. It’s not a bad film, in fact in comparison to many of the pointless remakes of classic 70’s horror that we’ve had to endure over the last few years; this is one of the better ones.      

Similar to the original; the remake differs mainly in quality, of dialogue, direction and acting, all of which are of a much higher standard than the original. There are also technological updates such as cell phones, laptops and a handycam which one of the assailants uses to document their attack which seems insane when you consider their crime, but is not so far-fetched when you look at ‘YouTube’ these days.

The addition of the sheriff to the group is pointless apart from the addition of another character to kill, and seeing as Jennifer kills her assailants in ways similar to however they defiled her, well, as the sheriff seems to like anal rape he gets his in a horrific manner. In fact the way Jennifer exacts her revenge is slightly less believable this time around, as she rigs-up methods of retribution more akin to the extravagant torture porn of the ‘Saw’ sequels.

Well made, violent, visceral, brutal, disturbing although ultimately pointless. As with the original, this movie will have its critics and fans; see it only if you have the stomach for this kind of thing.

Quality: 3 out of 5 stars

Any good: 2 out of 5 stars

I Spit On Your Grave (1978) **

Jennifer Hills (Camille Keaton), a writer working on a new novel rents a riverside cabin in upstate New York. Upon arrival she inadvertently attracts the wrong kind of attention from four deadbeat locals who harass her. They eventually attack Jennifer in the woods and strip her naked for the village idiot, Matthew (Richard Pace) to rape her. She is then repeatedly attacked and raped a further two times and left for dead. As an afterthought they send Matthew back to kill her but he’s unable to do it; he tells the guys that she’s dead and they believe him.  Jennifer recovers and sets about her bloody revenge, ensuring that the punishment fits the crime…

This was one of the movies I first saw in the early 80’s because it was banned as one of the ‘video nasties’ on the BBFC hit list. Described in less than glowing terms by Roger Ebert as “A vile bag of garbage” and “The worst film ever made” it has a reputation that is warranted. It isn’t the worst movie ever made; it is vile, repulsive and shocking, not necessarily negative terms when used to describe a movie intended to shock.

The subject matter, a violent rape and revenge has been done many times before, most notoriously in ‘Last House on the Left’ and ‘Straw Dogs’ (both 1972) although the revenge in the latter is not a reaction to  the rape. The difference with ‘I Spit on Your Grave’ (1978) is in writer/director Meir Zarchi’s refusal to cut away from the rapes, show them in locked shots without any score (taken to its natural conclusion in Gaspar Noe’s ‘Irreversible’). He then made the punishments ‘fit the crime’ so to speak. Zarchi himself has staunchly defended the film as a feminist work, and to his credit, the character of Jennifer is not a weak victim, she’s a fighter.  

I watched the original again only recently after I’d seen the remake. I didn’t particularly enjoy it the first time I saw it and was curious to see if it still warranted its reputation. It is not particularly well made, the direction is weak, the editing sloppy and Keaton apart, the acting is poor. The violence is well choreographed and although the rapes are graphic, shocking and unpleasant viewing, the revenge attacks are bloody and should satisfy most gorehounds.

The movie has its critics and its defenders. I neither love nor loathe it. It is what it is, a nasty rape/revenge flick and that’s never going to please everyone. It features an incredibly powerful poster/cover that the sequel wisely replicated.

Quality: 2 out of 5 stars

Any good: 2 out of 5 stars

Original vs. Remake

A couple of weeks ago, my friend Ben suggested that I review some of the older horror movies and their modern remakes as a series. I had planned something similar which will commence next week called ‘The Groundbreakers’ featuring articles on each of the 4 movies that I consider to be the originators and subsequent templates for the majority of horror films released over the last 30+ years. Those movies are: ‘The Night of the Living Dead’, ‘The Last House on the Left’, ‘The Texas Chainsaw Massacre’ and ‘Halloween’.

However I liked Bens idea of comparing originals with remakes so the first one will appear today. After I’ve posted a few I’ll run a poll to get some feedback and of course I’ll post the answers and take the heat! So, to begin I thought I’d start with a movie that divides audiences rather than something everyone loves. The first movie is ‘I Spit On Your Grave’, the review of the original will be posted shortly, the review of the remake will appear within an hour or so, enjoy… or not.