VideoReport #374

Volume CCCLXXIV- The Girl With The “REO Speedwagon Forever” (That She In No Way Regrets) Tattoo

For the Week of 10/16/12

Videoport thinks that more than just 47% of you are entitled to a free movie every day. Even when we think no one is looking…

Middle Aisle Monday! Take a free rental from the Science Fiction, Horror, Incredibly Strange, Mystery/Thriller, Animation, or Staff Picks sections with any other paid rental! OR Get any three non-new releases for seven days for seven bucks!

>>> Emily S. Customer suggests Tucker and Dale Versus Evil (in Incredibly Strange.) We all know the traditional cabin-in-the-woods horror-movie opening: a troupe of pretty young college girls ‘n boys hit the road, their music blasting cheerily under their chatty exposition about the fun they’ll have once they reach so-and-so’s uncle’s cabin — or so-and-so’s family cottage, or so-and-so’s cousin’s stumbled-upon abandoned camp complex. But their smiles falter at the [gas station/general store/crossroads] when the local hicks greet their innocent request for directions with doleful warnings and boorish hostility. Witty, slapstick-y Tucker & Dale Vs. Evil turns that plot inside-out and upside-down with effortless ease as good ole boy Tucker (Alan Tyduk, Firefly, “Arrested Development”) and his best buddy, unpolished autodidact Dale (Tyler Labine, “Reaper,” “Invasion”), drive into the woods to check out Tucker’s newly purchased fixer-upper cabin. On the way, they cross paths with the obligatory gaggle of good-lookin’ college kids, whose limited experience makes them interpret smitten Dale’s tongue-tied attempts to flirt with leggy blonde Allison (Katrina Bowden, best known as Cerie, the much-admired intern on “30 Rock”) as a creepy act of aggression from a cretinous hick. And from that moment on, the perspective flips keep on comin’. But genre inversion is nothing new, especially in horror. What really keeps this film afloat is the easy chemistry between Tyduk and Labine and the fluidity of the gore-flecked slapstick as horrific mishaps pile up, one after another, and these good-hearted fellas flounder about, trying their level best to prevent any more injuries or misunderstandings.

Tough and Triassic Tuesday! Give yourself a free rental from the Action or Classics section with any other paid rental! OR Get any three non-new releases for seven days for seven bucks!

>>>Dennis gives you his 5 picks for the spookiest films in the Classics section!

I Walked With a Zombie. Produced by Val Lweton, this tale of an innocent nurse encountering voodoo while taking care of a plantation owner’s comatose wife is haunting, lyrical, and evocative.

The Black Cat. In the midst of all the silly fun of a face-off between genre icons Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi, there’s a stunning passage where the camera does a slow crawl through Karloff’s haunted mansion accompanied by Karloff’s offscreen narration about the horrors the two of them have seen. One of the most poetic sequences in 30s cinema.

The Innocents. This adaptation of Henry James’ The Turn of the Screw is an exemplary realization of the mostly-interior terrors of the tale of a governess (Deborah Kerr) convinced that her two young charges are haunted by the malevolent presence of the former groundskeeper.

Cat People. Lewton again. A lone woman walking down a shadowy street. Noises in the trees. Get ready to jump.

The Body Snatcher. In his best performance (yeah, I said it), Boris Karloff’s courtly, avuncular grave robber speaks every line with such a twinkly sense of evil that it’s practically tickling you.

Wacky and Worldly Wednesday! You’ve got a free rental coming from the Comedy or Foreign Language sections with any other paid rental! OR Get any three non-new releases for seven days for seven bucks!

>>>Emily S. Customer says, “With Halloween creeping up, it’s scary-movie season, folks. Recently a friend asked for the best horror, chillers, and thrillers of the past decade, but with one caveat: he only wanted films that are not heavily self-referential. If you’re looking for recent films that shun the winking self-reference so common in postmodern horror, here are a few of my picks”:

The Descent (in Horror.) A group of adventurous friends (all women: Freudians, enjoy the metaphor) hit the road to explore an unfamiliar system of caves. Interpersonal tensions and the sheer, instinctive dread of being underground in the dark make The Descent chilling long before anything seems to go wrong… but boy howdy, do things go wrong. The film boasts strongly drawn characters, clever filming in restricted spaces, a setting that kicks your hindbrain into a natural state of unease, and a rich cinematic vocabulary that draws on and references an encyclopedia of horror and adventure films (from Carrie to Deliverance) without trumpeting them or drawing focus from the tense story it spins.

The Orphanage [in Foreign]. Produced and championed by Guillermo del Toro (I’m Not Afraid, The Devil’s Backbone, Pan’s Labyrinth), The Orphanage was the directorial debut of J.A. Bayona — and a stunning debut it is. Starring as Laura, a woman eager to raise her own adopted son, Símon, in the rambling old orphanage where she grew up, Belén Rueda is as beautifully worn as the building she so lovingly refurbishes. At first, the film seems more mournful and elegiac than downright scary, but for my money, the creeping, dampening dread of the atmosphere — and a few utterly jaw-dropping WHAM moments — are more effective than all the slashers and stalkers in Crystal Lake Campground and Elm Street combined.

The Innkeepers (in Horror.) Director Ti West got a lot of buzz for his feature debut, House of the Devil, and rightly so: it’s an old-school slow burn that keeps ramping up anxiety (until the end, which I found a bit underplotted and disappointing). The Innkeepers delivers some of the same: solid storytelling, characters sketched out quickly and tellingly in quick conversation and intelligent visuals, and a creeping, ever-escalating sense of uncertain dread. The titular innkeepers are hotel clerks working the last few shifts before the rambling, slightly shabby Yankee Pedlar Inn shuts down for good. Both Claire Sara Paxton, Summerland) and Luke (Pat Healy, Compliance) are avid ghosthunters, at least in theory. They spend their graveyard-shift down-time working on a website documenting the inn’s supposed hauntings and trying in vain to record paranormal happenings on-site. Even more than House of the Devil, this film showcases West’s talent for quietly inserting us into a shot. There are moments in Innkeepers that feel lifted straight out of Rosemary’s Baby, not for any similarity of plot or content but for the way West uses the empty space and framing of the shot to keep us on edge. Sometimes literally: one scene had me leaning sideways as if I could peer around the edge of the screen to see what was just beyond the doorjamb.

Thrifty Thursday! Rent one, get a free rental from any other section in the store! OR Get any three non-new releases for seven days for seven bucks!

>>>Videoport customer John N. gives his pick for the scariest movie moment ever. (SPOILER!) Biggest reaction (three different movie theaters) I’ve ever seen—when the allegedly dead guy (Alan Arkin) jumps out of the kitchen at Audrey Hepburn in Wait Until Dark (in Mystery/Thriller)—audiences jumped out of their seats! Never seen it at any other movie…

Free Kids Friday! One free rental from the Kids section, no other rental necessary!

>>> Emily S. Customer gives her five childhood film moments that scared me silly:

The Wizard of Oz, take your pick: the flying monkeys, the marching Winkies, the hourglass of death, or the screeches of the melting witch. Yikes!

Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory: the boat ride. I don’t even want to talk about it.

Pee Wee’s Big Adventure: tell ’em Large Marge sent you.

Dumbo: Pink elephants on parade churns up some good ole-fashioned nightmare fuel, but the cheery racism that pervades the film is a good deal more disturbing for my money.

Snow White and the Seven Dwarves: The Queen. Like, everything about The Queen: her commanding voice, her forbidding visage, her haughty bearing, her cackling transformation into a shriveled old crone when it suits her… but mainly I’m gonna say it’s her ordering a nice-enough woodsman to CUT OUT HER STEPDAUGHTER’S HEART that gives me the creeps. Yup, that’s prob’ly it.

Having a Wild Weekend! Rent two movies, and get a third one for free from any section!

>>>For Saturday, Videoport customer Jenny A. suggests her 5 horror movie moments that scared the hell out of her:(SPOLIERS!)

-“BOY!” final scene from Phantasm.

Halloween – when Michael Myers sits up in the background.

28 Days Later – the candlelight scene freaked me out.

Poltergeist – the tree scene…one one thousand two one thousand…

Exorcist III – nurse station scene (plus it was filmed in a college building I knew!)

>>>For Sunday, Videoport customer Matt D. suggests the 5 movie moments that scared the crap out of me…

Twilight Zone: the Movie- Gremlin spotted thrashing apart plane wing

Communion– Alien peeks around corner of Christopher Walken’s wardrobe

Insidious– Shadow demon appears in corner of bedroom (scary in a theater packed full of people gasping… not sure how scary this would be if watching on alone, on video)

Making Contact– Evil ventriloquist’s dummy in old house opens eyes and growls at toy robot, then repeatedly f*cks with kid, owner of toy robot

E.T. the Extraterrestrial– Elliot’s face-to-face encounter in a field with squealing E.T.

New Releases this week at Videoport: Moonrise Kingdom (Wes Anderson is back, bringing us another of his exquisitely-crafted indie comedy dramas with his usual stunning cast [Tilda Swinton, Bill Murray, Edward Norton, Hrvey Keitel, Bob Balaban, Jason Schwartzman, Frances McDormand, Bruce Willis] in a tale about an island community thrown into turmoil when a pair of children run away), ‘Mad Men’- season 5 (Don Draper returns in this 1960s-set superlative drama series about the boozy denizens of a Madison Avenue advertising agency), Madagascar 3 (Ben Stiller, Chris Rock, Jada Pinkett-Smith, Sacha Baron Cohen, and Andy Richter among others return to voice the zoo critters set loose in Africa in this animated sequel), ‘Psych’- season 6 (James Roday and Dule Hill are back as the best, funniest buddy comedy duo on TV is this enduringly-endearing detective series about a fake psychic and his much more sensible pal), Neil Young Journeys (director Jonathan Demme continues his cinematic love affair with legendary rocker Young with this documentary about Young’s return to play a concert in his home province of Ontario), That’s My Boy (possible actual separated at birth comedians Adam Sandler and Andy Samberg team up in this comedy about a straightlaced guy forced to deal with his uncouth estranged father re-entering his life), Chernobyl Diaries (some douche-y American tourists enlist the help of a sketchy guide to give them an “extreme” tour of the site of the former Russian nuclear accident site; I’m sure everything will go fine…), Excision (horror flick about an insecure high school student whose desperate desire to go into medicine manifests itself in some seriously disturbing behavior…with scalpels), ‘The Firm’- the complete series (someone apparently thought a TV series based on the John Grisham novel of the same name was a necessary thing; hence the “complete series” part…), Marina Abramovic: The Artist Is Present (documentary about the noted performance artist whose recent installation involved her sitting in a gallery all day and just staring at the people who sat across from her), The Forgiveness of Blood (the Criterion Collection lends its imprimatur to this searing drama about an Albanian brother and sister trapped in a vicious cycle of family blood-feuds; from the director of Maria Full of Grace), Turn Me On, Dammit! (Norwegian coming [heh] of age comedy drama about a 15 year old girl whose out-of-control hormones cause her, and her long-suffering mom, no end of sexy problems), ‘Touch’- season 1 (Kiefer Sutherland stars in this thriller series about a father who discovers that his young son can predict the future), ‘Waterloo Road’- season 1 (BBC drama series about the students and staff of a troubled British school), Pina (director Wim Wenders’ documentary about the celebrated choreographer Pina Bausch; what’s that you say? This hasn’t been released in America yet? Well, Videoport’s owner Bill says the hell with that, and brings it to you anyway…), Beatles Stories (a wide variety of Beatles fans recount their encounters with the Fab Four in this documentary; including interviews with people as disparate as Ben Kingsley, Henry Winkler, Jon Voight, Smokey Robinson and Art Garfunkel), The First Grader (heartwarming documentary about an 80 year old man who decides to take advantage of a new Kenyan educational policy to join a class of 6 year olds so he can learn how to read; excuse me- I think I have something in my eye…), The Kid With A Bike [aka Le gamin au velo] (from the Dardenne Brothers [La Promesse, Rosetta, The Son] comes this typically resonant French drama about a troubled young boy’s friendship with a small town hairdresser; again, you say this hasn’t been released in America yet? Welcome to Videoport, baby- we’ve got your back…)

New Arrivals This Week At Videoport: Bartleby (1970s version of the classic Herman Melville short story about a young clerk who simply decides on day that he’d prefer not to work any more; starring Paul Scofield and John McEnery), Travels With My Aunt (Maggie Smith stars in this 1970s British comedy about an eccentric aunt who drags her straightlaced nephew along on a series of ever more oddball globetrotting adventures), Monkey Warfare (Canadian treasures Don McKellar and the late Tracy Wright [both in McKellar’s excellent Last Night] star in this dark comedy about a pair of ex-revolutionaries whose flagging enthusiasm for activism is rekindled in unpredictable ways when a younger radical comes to live with them).

New Arrivals on Blu Ray this week at Videoport: Moonrise Kingdom, That’s My Boy, Chernobyl Diaries, ‘Mad Men’- season 5, Day Watch, Hesher, Spellbound, ET: The Extraterrestrial.

Get free money at Videoport! $20 buys you $25 in rental credit, and $30 buys you $40 in rental credit. That’s what you call free money.

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