Tuesday, July 16, 2019

HEAVENLY CREATURES (1994)

"Our main idea for the day was to murder Mother."

Loosely based on the real life 1954 Parker–Hulme murder case in Christchurch, New Zealand, HEAVENLY CREATURES starts out with the introduction of the two girls, Juliet Hulme and Pauline Parker, (played by Kate Winslet and Melanie Lynskey) to each other.  Pauline is an unkempt and homely girl who sticks to herself while Juliet is beautiful, cheerful and outgoing.  At first, it would seem that these two are complete opposites, but as Fate would have it, they take an immediate liking to each other and are soon inseparable.  They spend all of their time together having fun and making up elaborate adventure stories set in a fictional place called "the Fourth World".  It's all very innocent.  Eventually, the parents (on both sides) become concerned about the closeness of Pauline and Juliet and fear that they might be gay.  Gasp!  The parents try different things to separate the two girls, but none of it works.  It only creates stress in a situation that was completely stress-free before.  Eventually, Juliet's parents decide to remove Juliet from New Zealand altogether and move her in with a relative in South Africa!  Jesus Christ, talk about an overreaction!  Things get even worse when the girls hear about this news.  Their completely insane response is to beat Pauline's mother to death with a brick!

I was lucky enough to see HEAVENLY CREATURES in the theater when it was released in 1994 and I loved it.  It was so shocking to see such a mature and professionally crafted film from the guy who brought me BAD TASTE, MEET THE FEEBLES and DEAD ALIVE!  That said, time has definitely diminished the impact of HEAVENLY CREATURES.  Watching it again now, the "Uncut" version (which is 10 minutes longer) is too long, the special effects are dated and the ending is way too abrupt.  There's no closure to the story.  It just kinda ends and tosses some words on the screen about what happened afterwards.  I didn't find that to be a satisfactory ending at all.  It only created more questions in my handsome brain.

My minor complaints aside, HEAVENLY CREATURES is 100% worth watching.  Unique story, imaginative storytelling style, strong acting, Peter Jackson cameo, some familiar faces from other Jackson films (I smiled from ear to ear at seeing Elizabeth Moody), some funny jokes about how "hideous" Orson Welles looked, wonderful photography.

I don't know it will ever happen, but I'd love it if  Peter Jackson and company would release an extras packed edition of HEAVENLY CREATURES.  I mean, after releasing a extras packed version of DEAD ALIVE, of course.

Sunday, June 30, 2019

THE CHURCH (1989)

"This cathedral is infested with evil."

Hundreds of years ago, a group of Teutonic knights confront a woman who's been accused of witchcraft.  At first, they're all "WWJD?", then, after a few seconds of deliberation, they decide to slaughter everybody in the entire village.  Women, men, children...even the animals!  After spreading the message of Christ, they bury the bodies in a large pit and construct a church on the site to prevent the vengeful spirits of the villagers from returning.  That works out pretty well, up until the 1980's when some construction workers uncover the seal that's holding back the demons.  Not to worry though, because the quick-thinking priests immediately cover the seal back up and everybody lives happily ever after.  Yay!  The End.

Nope.  Just like in a million other horror films, our heroes simply leave the extremely dangerous object completely unprotected until somebody stupid wanders over and fucks with it.  After the seal is broken, the evil spirits explode out at a snail's pace to leisurely go about the business of possessing a few people and getting crazy.  You'd think that after being locked up for seven-, eight-, whatever-hundred years, the demons would be excited as Hell to get out, but no, they take their sweet time.  Maybe they're just gaining strength?  Whatever the excuse is, they don't do nearly as much as I had hoped for.  No...seeing a demon wash out a kid's mouth with soap is not my idea of excitement.

Jackhammer suicide, neck stabbing, demon fucking, lots of talking, typewriter button smashing, good music, cool looking filming locations, solid direction, mild violence, very mild nudity, slow pace that never pays off, totally badass demon costume that's onscreen for like 10 seconds total.  I like the idea of THE CHURCH, but it simply didn't live up to what I had pictured in my handsome brain.  For some odd reason, I was picturing a bunch of innocent tourists getting trapped in an European cathedral (THE EXTERMINATING ANGEL-style) and then being tormented by demons!  That would have been awesome!!!  Instead, things were just kind of...meh.

THE CHURCH is worth checking out, but it could have been way better.