Saturday, October 24, 2009

Day 24

Here are reviews of two recent horror films released on DVD. If you've not seen "Zombieland" so far, go today! It's a funny, very human and occasionally scary film

Fear[s] of the Dark

This French animated feature bring to the screen several short films based on the work on some well known graphic artists and, largely, the film is capable of being truly eerie if not disturbing.

Its problem is one of structure. One of the stories, based on the work of French cartoonist Blutch, loses much of its impact by being broken up into chapters. The other short films are separated by an inane and pretentious bridging segment in which an animated shape arbitrarily changes form while a woman drones on about what frightens her.

The segments are quite well done with the look and animation style changing with the story. American artist Charles Burns contributes a creepy vignette concerning love, revenge and very large insects. Marie Caillous and Romain Slocombe's tale of Japanese ghosts is very disturbing as is the story of a child confronting an unknown beast by Lorenzo Mattotti and Jerry Kramsky.

I really liked a story told in pantomime and in stark black and white of a man who breaks into an abandoned home to stay warm and enters a world he could not have expected. This work by Michel Pirus and Richard McGuire end the film on an artistic high note.

Animation fans who want something adult and involving should add this film to their Netflix list.

Blood: The Last Vampire

I always find it interesting when an animated property is adapted to live action and when live action films or television shows are made into cartoons, because seldom is the translation very successful.

This new action/horror film by director Chris Nahon is based on the successful anime series "Blood+." That animated series is a long and intricate story -- 50 episodes -- of a schoolgirl named Saya who has to awoken to the fact that she is really a very old vampire who develops into a hunter of demonic creatures for a secret organization.

Nahon and writer Chris Chow opt to provide viewers very little background and stage the movie around the climax of Saya facing the most powerful demon. The result is a stylish action film that plays out like a video game -- plenty of eye candy but with annoying holes in the story.

The action sequences staged by Cory Yuen -- one of the best stunt coordinators working today -- are pretty thrilling and Korean actress Gianna has the right degree of intensity for the lead role. I was happy to see the demons depicted on screen in old-fashioned stop motion animation, instead of computer animation. The process gives the monsters a weight and character often lacking in low budget CGI.

If you're looking for a mindless action film, "Blood: The Last Vampire" is not a bad choice. If you want to see an epic anime and more developed story, hunt down "Blood+."

© 2009 by G. Michael Dobbs

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