...and I've got some catching up to do. I've seen my usual assortment of WTF movies over the past week. "Pulse", which I saw on cable under the name "Octane", was a strange thriller about a single mother whose teenage daughter gets picked up by a vampiric cult while driving on the highway. The mother tries to get her back with the help of a trucker whose sister fell victim to the same cult. There is nice atmosphere in this but the camera is dizzly hyperactive and the entire thing seems creepier than it needs to be. The best thing about it is Madeline Stowe playing the mother. She is stone cold gorgeous, another beautiful, mature actress who can't get a look in from the blind, deaf and dumb slugs that run A-List Hollywood.
I had heard vague but good things about "I'm Not Scared" and they were justified. This is an Italian thriller about a young boy in a rural village who discovers a boy chained up in a hole, eventually stumbling onto a kidnapping plot that involves his entire town, including his parents. This was good stuff, the acting, the suspense, everything worked here. I'm amazed more people haven't discovered this film. There would have been plenty of raves about it if they had.
Speaking of suspense I saw the original Japanese version of the film "Ju-On: The Grudge" and it was well done but after seeing both versions of "The Ring" it had an air of been there, done that. You can only see so many crawling female ghosts before the bit gets old. Judging from this and other recent Japanese horror films I've heard about that country seems to be as hung up on revenge-seeking ghosts as our horror movies used to be on teen-killing psychos.
I'd never seen one of Claude Lelouch's films before but I'd heard they weren't so hot, mostly cloying romances that just went on too long for no good reason. I wanted to see his "And Now Ladies And Gentlemen" because I was interested in the female lead, Patricia Kaas, a French cabaret singer I like. She was beautiful and a pretty good actress but the film lived down to Lelouch's reputation, a romance involving a jewel thief and a lounge singer that was just too slow, too contrived and too bloody long. A story about two people supposedly dying from brain tumors should have been enough but he had to throw in some goofy bull about a jewel robbery that drew out the thing beyond endurance.
But talk about endurance...Hoo boy! I couldn't believe what I endured in sitting through something called "Slaves Of The Realm" last night. I didn't expect much because the lead actress was Rena Mero, better known as Sable, former WWE ring decoration and bitchy showpiece. She played a high priestess in some kind of sword and sorcery tale about beautiful young noblewomen captured and made to work in a silver mine by an evil princess who is also trying to hook up her brother, the King, with one of them to produce an heir.
This thing was shot on video in the Czech Republic and is full of beautiful Czech actresses dressed either in revealing sheaths or black leather bondage duds, no bad thing in itself but bizarrely, the movie isn't the sort of sexed up softcore Seduction Cinema sort of piece you would expect. There is a little nudity, but not nearly as much as the situation suggests and no real sex scenes. Insanely the story is played straight, this despite its obviously miniscule budget and bottom drawer acting. Worst of all it's incredibly padded with every action and plot point repeated over and over. There is endless footage of the captives working in the mines and the villainess has six (!) practice swordfights shown in full before she has the climatic one with Mero. Supposedly this bomb was only 99 minutes but I swear it felt like two hours. I wasn't that thrilled about the Super Bowl but I can't believe I missed most of it to watch this dog.