V/H/S/2 Review: It had a lot of potential.

image-VHS-2

When the first V/H/S released, it got a lot of praise from critics because of its low budget and original interesting stories. While it did have some minor problems, people still enjoyed. Now that V/H/S/2 has been released, does it follow its originals footsteps or has it gotten lost in the mist of everything?

Like the original, V/H/S/2 is an anthology horror movie. It has one main plot which is called Tape 49. The main plot involves two private investigators who have been given the job of investigating the disappearance of a young man who is in college. As they arrive at his house, where he lives. They enter and find numerous VHS tapes by a TV. As one of the investigators called Larry goes and searches the rest of the house, the other investigator Ayesha sits down to watch the tapes. This is our main plot, and also where the short stories begin.

The first story is called “Phase I Clinical Trails” and its plot is that a middle aged man who was in a car accident loses some of his vision. The story then starts off with our main character in hospital and regaining his vision because his old eye was replaced with a new one. The trick is that the new eye is actually recording everything from the mans point of view, and this is where the ‘found footage’ aspect of it plays in. The story then progresses on, and the man begins to see things. 

If I’m honest, the whole idea of how we are viewing what is going on (through his new which has a recording functionality) is actually really cool and innovative. But that is the extent of cool and innovation in this story. I was actually guessing what was going to happen before they did, which is never good. The story just never does anything interesting, and then half-way through a new character gets added which is totally irrelevant. She introduces herself as Clarissa and says she understands what is going with our main character. But if you took her out of the story, we would miss nothing at all. Simply because all she adds is nudity which seems to be more important in horror films these days than the actual plot. The ending of the story is average, nothing too good or too bad. Just very ‘meh’. Overall, the story just isn’t interesting and charts the same ground hundreds of horror movies have before.

The next story up is “A Ride in the Park” and it starts off with our main character going on a cycle in (surprise!) a park while filming it all with a ‘Go Pro’ camera. At first it’s kind of hard to see where the film is going, but then it quickly takes a turn where our main character is stopped by a woman who is covered in blood in the park. A few seconds pass and then, she takes a big chunk out of our main character. She’s a zombie. And now our main character is too. This is the ‘twist’, it’s a found footage movie taken from the point of view of a zombie. And while the idea hasn’t been done before, it is for a reason, because it isn’t the slight bit interesting. Most people who watch this movie know what zombies do…they eat people. They aren’t smart, which brings me to a problem with the movie. I can’t really discuss it because it is a spoiler, but throughout the movie the zombies are stupid and can barely do anything but eat people (that’s okay), but then at the end of the movie somehow the zombies can actually think and do things.

The opening scene to "A Ride in the Park".

The opening scene to “A Ride in the Park”.

This story is boring, and that is the main problem with it. Everyone knows what zombies do, they are an interesting factor when our main characters are trying to escape or defeat them. But when we are on their side, and seeing from their view, it’s nothing but boring. And that is probably why we don’t see a lot of found footage movies that are taken from a zombie perspective.

Our third story is “Safe Haven” and easily one of the most entertaining and gory stories out of the entire lot. The plot is based around this cult, and more so the leader of the cult. A documentary crew is interviewing the leader of the cult at a restaurant at the beginning of the story, and they ask could they interview him back at his house where the cult lives. Although the plot doesn’t seem too interesting at first, it actually does something smart. It doesn’t show all its cards straight away. The movie still has more story to add, which will change it drastically. The movie is just super gory by the end and keeps surprising you which more and more outrageous stuff. Overall, a very entertaining and gory story.

The leader of the cult in the story, "Safe Haven".

The leader of the cult in the story, “Safe Haven”.

The final story of the film is “Slumber Party Alien Abduction” and what is it about? Well, it is exactly what the title suggests. The parents of a girl who is in her teenage years and a boy who is around 10 or so, leave the two home alone as they go away for the weekend. What starts off as playful messing between the siblings, ends up being interrupted by aliens who try to abduct them. While we’ve all seen alien abduction movies, this one is still very fun. It’s more lighthearted and has a bit more comedy to it while most of the others are serious. So, it is nice to have that break. Also, the way the story is shot is a bit all over the place, it goes from just someone just holding the camera to putting the camera on a dogs head and we are seeing what it sees. While I don’t mind it switching too much, I think just sticking with one or the other would have been better. The story is fun, and that is the best way to describe it. It’s just fun.

A scene from "Slumber Party Alien Abduction".

A scene from “Slumber Party Alien Abduction”.

One of my main concerns going into this film at first was that I was scared that it was going to feel rushed. And I’m afraid I do think that has something to do with the overall value. And there is word on the internet that the film was “rushed late into production in 2012” which only makes me believe more, if more time was given we could of had a better movie. Because V/H/S/2 isn’t a good movie, unlike the original which is. I wanted to like it so much, being a big fan of the original. But when you have an ‘okay’ main plot, two really bad stories and another two decent stories that still aren’t anywhere as good as ones from the first movie? Overall, it just doesn’t add up to a good movie.

Rating: 4/10

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A Look Back At: Psycho IV: The Beginning

"You've met Norman...now meet mother!"

“You’ve met Norman…now meet mother!”

The fourth film in a franchise, that is when people begin thinking the series, characters, and stories are all getting old and most of all, milked. But is that true with Psycho IV: The Beginning ? Lets find out, as we take a look back at it.

Psycho IV is the Psycho film that takes the bravest risks in the entirety of the series, it takes its lead Anthony Perkins as Norman and casts him in a sub-role, making him the narrator of the story we will be seeing. The story behind the main flashbacks to Norman’s childhood is that Norman has finally been let back out into society and now has a wife and lives with her. He hears the topic of a radio show being about matricide, and calls to give his opinion on it. This is where the real story starts.

The story focuses on Norman’s childhood and teenage years with his mother, with Henry Thomas playing young Norman Bates. And Henry really does a stellar job of being a young Norman, he has that ‘weird crazy’ vibe that Perkins brought into the role with earlier Psycho’s. The story starts just as Norman’s father dies, and goes up to where Norman kills both his mother and her new boyfriend. The story is very interesting, and we get to know how Norman became the killer that he did.

We also get to know Norman’s mother, “Norma” who is played by Olivia Hussey and does an outstanding job. She is a believable person, and you can begin to see where Norman gets this sick and twisted way of life from. It’s brilliant seeing her on screen. But Olivia didn’t even have to audition for the part as Norman’s mother, she was directly offered the role and accepted it immediately.

Though Psycho IV’s plot focuses on Norman’s early life, it wasn’t always planned to be about that. Anthony Perkins and the screenwriter for Psycho III Charles Edward Pogue, had originally pitched a plot that had Norman escape from a mental asylum with a ‘mute patient’. When Norman gets back to the Bates Motel, it has been changed into a tourist attraction for horror weekends. Then the actor that is suppose to play Norman Bates at the attraction ends up quitting, and actual Norman Bates gets the job and plays himself. Psycho III writer Pogue, said before that it was planned to be a black comedy but Universal didn’t like the idea.

[Norman was asked what is his name] Fran Ambrose (Radio host): "Well, we have to call you something..." Norman Bates: "You can call me Ed."

[Norman is asked what is his name]                        Fran Ambrose (Radio host): “Well, we have to call you something…”
Norman Bates: “You can call me Ed.”

At the beginning of the movie where Norman phones into the radio show and says his name is ‘Ed’, it is widely known that the original book ‘Psycho’ written by Robert Bloch, based the character Norman Bates on the real life serial killer ‘Ed Gein’.

One of the many things that is noticed in Psycho IV is that the film doesn’t follow the story from the second or third movie which involves Mrs. Spool. Joseph Stefano who you may have heard of before, was the writer for Psycho IV. But Stefano was also the writer for the original Psycho as well, and this is why he ignores the two other sequels. He wanted to use the original film as the source material and make Psycho IV: The Beginning a sort of ‘direct sequel’.

Something that both the original Psycho and Psycho IV have in common is that they both wanted to have the ending as a secret. With the original film, Hitchcock had all of Bloch’s Psycho books bought so that people couldn’t read the book and figure out what the ending was (hence one of the taglines for the film “Don’t give away the ending – it’s the only one we have!”).

But Psycho IV took the same care for the ending as Hitchcock did with the original. In the first broadcast of the film, Janet Leigh explained that several different endings were shot so that if one of the endings were spoiled and it was released to the public, they could scrap that one and use a different (already shot) one.

After Psycho IV did first air, rumors started going around of a fifth film. One of the biggest rumors was that in the next film Anthony Perkins would be absent and that his new born son would be the ‘star’ of the film. And it was even said that the film was already in development. But this turned out  false and the next film to release would be Gus Van Sant’s remake that cast Vince Vaughn as Norman Bates.

Though Psycho IV: The Beginning isn’t the best of the sequels, it still brings in a original and interesting plot by taking us back in time to when Norman wasn’t like any other teenager. Though at points it relives some of its past films glory and plays it safe in areas, it is still a good film to be seen and there’s worse Psycho films you could see (the remake).

Questions you may ask:

Should you watch this?
It really depends, if you have a fondness for the franchise then I’d say yes you should see the fourth film as it still is a good sequel and holds up to the name. But if you dislike the sequels and like the original film, I’d say give it a chance to be honest since the writer of the original wrote this. Anthony Perkins also said when he first saw the film that it was “the best out of all the Psycho sequels”. If you never liked any of the movies, then no, don’t waste your time on this.

Is the rest of the franchise worth watching?
Without a doubt I think it is. For me, it is one of the best horror franchises that has actually stayed true to its original and told interesting tales. Of course the original is normally known as the best film of the lot, but I do think Psycho II is up there with it. It focuses a whole lot more on Norman as an actual person and you get to know him more. Psycho III is a direct sequel to II and is also good, but unfortunately not as good as it could of been. But yes, the whole franchise is worth a watch and it holds up unlike many other old horror franchises wouldn’t.

Is there any other movies like this I may like, that are similar to this?
Yes, and there is such a wide range of options too that I possibly couldn’t even begin to list. You have your classic slasher horror movies that all took influence from Psycho in one way or another. You have your Friday the 13th’s, Halloween’s, Texas Chainsaw Massacre’s (which are also loosely based on Ed Gein like Psycho) and such. There is no shortage of slasher films out there.

 

Still if you have any questions, comments, or opinions, please leave a comment below or contact me directly at ‘andyaylesbury@hotmail.co.uk’.

Thank you for reading!

A Look Back At: Man Bites Dog

“Once I buried two Arabs in a wall over there… Facing Mecca, of course.”  – Benoit Poelvoorde

Ben, in between thoughts.

Ben, in between thoughts.

The serial killer we follow (Benoit Poelvoorde, aka. Ben) in Man Bites Dog isn’t our everyday normal serial killer, he is a very funny and at moments, a light hearted fellow. One word that describes the movie well is ‘bizarre’, because it truly is. The movie will quickly shoot from Ben joking around, to him suffocating a child with a pillow. Some people see it as a black comedy, but there is much more here than just jokes.
The plot in Man Bites Dog is as simple as you will get, we (us the viewers) follow Ben, a man who kills people for a living and also for pleasure. Rémy and André are filming Ben, and that’s the view point we get, so before you ask, yes, it’s a ‘found footage’ type of film. But the film doesn’t ever use camera tricks that found footage movies now would, instead, it focuses on the most important person which is Ben. At first Rémy and André are just shooting what Ben does, but as the film goes on, the line between shooting what he is doing and actually helping him in his killings becomes blurred.
The actual film makers who are Rémy Belvaux and André Bonzel (who play themselves in the movie) at the time the movie was shot, were relativity new to the movie industry. They had little money and limited resources, so they shot with what they could. In actual fact, the movie took over a year to make due to how little budget they had. Both Rémy and André ran out of money several times during the shooting and had to postpone it until they got some more. But a lot of friends and family of the two did contribute to the film so it could be made.

The main star of the show here is obviously, Ben. The man is so…weird. At times in the movie you can genuinely like him, as he shows a nice and loving side. In one scene he is playing with two small children and joking around with them, and you can’t help but smile at how nice he is. In other scenes, he is with his family and laughing, joking, hugging others, and just seeming a very nice person. So yes, he is a hard person to dislike at times.

In fact, in one essay André wrote that had information about Man Bites Dog, he said that Ben’s family did not have one clue about the actual plot of the movie. His family believed that him (André) and Rémy were just shooting footage of Ben that would be used elsewhere, but didn’t know it would be used in a film which Ben was a serial killer. Supposedly Ben’s mother was shocked after finding out.

But then we have the other side of Ben, this cold-hearted killer who doesn’t have any limits. He doesn’t have or show any sympathy to any of his victims. He just does what he has to, and it is crazy to think this is the same man who can play with children and be so nice. It’s almost like he is two different people. But deep down, he has no remorse for anything he does.
Ben clearly knows what he is doing too, at many different points in the film he teaches Rémy and André how to hide a body in a river by weighing it down, and by how much. And then quizzes them on it later in the movie. So, you can see that he is crafting them into the people he wants. Not just guys who are filming him, but people to actually help him. But even in the most tense moments, either when Ben is chasing someone down or killing someone, he continues to crack jokes.

[Ben is currently looking for a man that is hiding]
Ben: Remy, do you smell that?
Remy: No, what is it?
Ben: Chickenshit.

One scene in particular is a gang rape scene. After a night out at a local pub, Ben, Rémy and André all are walking around the city/town they live in, and Ben walks into an apartment complex and kicks down a random door to find a couple having sex. Ben holds a gun to the mans head, while Rémy and André take turns raping the woman.
This scene tends to be one of the most conversational of the movie, and in actual fact, it was a hard scene for the film makers (Rémy and André) to shoot. Both were very nervous about shooting the scene, more so Rémy. But Sylviane Godé who supported the movie let both film makers shoot the rape scene involving her. This comforted Rémy, as he was very shy about being nude in the scene.

In hindsight, Man Bites Dog such an original movie and shows that twisted people such as Ben can quietly fit into society and be himself, but then at times, lose his mind almost and do unspeakable things. I would delve deeper into the movie but I don’t discuss spoilers in these ‘A Look Back at:’ as that would take away things from people who have yet to see the movie and will do at some point. Man Bites Dog is a brilliant movie that had basically no budget and no big stars, but proved you can still do great things without both of them.

Ben, giving Remy some vital advice.

Ben, giving Remy some vital advice.

Questions you may ask:
Should you watch this?
Yes, if you haven’t seen Man Bites Dog yet and find it the slight bit interesting, then it is a must-see. It is hard to watch at times because of some killings, but its dark humor and fantastic life of Ben is enough of a reason to watch.

Does it hold up to this day?
It’s not all that old anyway, the movie was released in 1992 so it’s not that much of a problem to begin with. But yes, it does hold up to this day and like I said above, it’s worth your time if you find it interesting.

Is there any other movies like this I may like?
There isn’t a whole lot of movies like Man Bites Dog, but you could like Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer which is kind of like it but I’d still call Man Bites Dog a much better movie. Another movie you may like is Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon which released in 2006 and follows Man Bites Dog heavily. It obviously got a lot of influence from it, so it is like it but is a bit more light hearted and cheesy all around. Nonetheless, still a movie you may enjoy.

Still if you have any questions, comments, or opinions, please leave a comment below or contact me directly at ‘andyaylesbury@hotmail.co.uk’.

Thank you for reading!