It’s been a fairly slow month with regards to my usual gluttony of films. I’ve lacked significant time to just lay back and watch some good movies, and Netflix seems to have misplaced my top ten choices for the past month and a half so I’m mostly getting movies that I only sort of want to watch. I just don’t have the energy, at the end of the day, to stay up late and watch a couple of flicks in a row.. I’ve been falling asleep to Caillou, Kipper the Dog, and various other “Sprout” shows for the past three weeks with my son and that leaves out a lot of zombie smashing goodness that I might normally lounge back to watch. I have to wait for my four year old to fall asleep before I even think about throwing on a fright flick, and the Samurai films can get fairly risqué as well. Ah well… so goes the life of a family man, I suppose.
But I am the Mad Mark and I do watch a lot of crap, so here go my reviews for the week. From Victorian horror to grindhouse chambara, the Mad Mark runs the gauntlet and flips a few hours from the clock.
I Sell The Dead:
This beautifully macabre film recounts the adventures of two grave robbers sentenced to the Guillotine in some unspecified time before modern technology. Apprenticed at a young age, Dominic Monahan headlines the film as he learns the tricks of the trade and sparks a lifelong friendship with his partner, whom we see beheaded in the opening moments of the film. Convicted of grave-robbing and murder, the young man recounts his life story to a curious monk played by Ron Perlman; a life story that includes grave robbing, thieving the body of a relative, blackmail from an insidious doctor, and an eventual series of confrontations with the blatantly supernatural. The stories are delivered with a morbid humor and self deprecation, endearing us to the decidedly un-wholesome duo around which the film revolves. Both men lack courage, decency, tact, and reasonable sense. But they have a fondness for one another that is very brotherly, occasionally even paternal as the older man continues to look after his young charge.
We have vampires, zombies, ghouls, violent criminals, some “otherworldly” threats and experiences wrapped in the context of what is wholly a satisfying romp. Monahan is fantastic in his flippant manner and total disregard for social niceties. Though Perlman only plays a small role, his characters’ transformation allows the story to propel itself toward a climactic conclusion that wraps many loose ends and builds to a satisfying twist that may seem a little too obvious at times. And that’s really where the only problem with this film lies… there are a few welcome surprises, but the film becomes largely predictable and you see several twists coming before the characters start to turn the corner. At times, this becomes amusing as you can see the set up for a good number of punch lines but the characters come off as woefully inept and dense. This actually feeds into the humor at several points, but a less accepting audience might find the film a little too cliché for their own tastes. I loved it, though.
4 out of 5.
Quick Draw Okatsu
Slashing a bloody path of vengeance, Quick Draw Okatsu is typical chambara fanfare with corrupt officials forced to come eye to eye with the deadly blade of a former victim. Okatsu is the adopted daughter of a Samurai sword instructor, her father’s greatest pupil and the towns’ local beauty. When her brother shirks his duty and decides to run off with his commoner girlfriend, Okatsu attempts to atone for his numerous mistakes when he’s tricked into losing money at the local gambling house. Her brother is killed, his pregnant girlfriend sold to a brothel, her father betrayed and murdered by a former student, and all of these events orchestrated by a corrupt official who also brutally takes her virtue… someone done messed up, and Okatsu is going to deliver the whoopings to the left and too the right with a few dozen slashes from her deadly blade.
3.5 out of 5.