WITCHING AND BITCHING

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Available on Netflix

THE QUICK & DIRTY DEETS

HONEST FILM SUBTITLE: “From Dusk Til Dawn but tighter, foreign, with witches.”

  • Status: 10/10
  • Horror Category: Dark Humor, Witches
  • Foreign Film w/English Subtitles; High CGI
  • High on Original Plot and Entertainment Value

THOTS

Witching and Bitching was great. Really, really, great. We are talking A+ material here.

At first I was a little unsure about the title because it sounded kind of trite, but then I decided “To hell with it!” It’d been a while since I checked the Netflix horror category (thanks, Shudder) and I hadn’t seen this title around before. Besides, witches? I like witches almost as much as I like haunted house movies. And almost right from the start, I was hooked.

How’s it like From Dusk Til Dawn? Well, for starters, the first half of the movie is an adventure/crime plot, and the supernatural stuff really gets going midway. That’s not a criticism; this plot choice works really well for both movies. Our criminals in both cases are trying to hop the border to avoid the law and run into trouble of a more unusual sort at border towns. Unexpected allies are made. And, of course, there’s an air of campy humor overlying some deadly serious foes.

But Witching and Bitching does some stuff better, I’d dare say, than Dusk Til Dawn (and for me, that’s saying something). One outstanding difference is the heft and strength of the enemy force: these witches are completely capable of giving our protagonists a run for their money, and the way the movie concludes is ultra-satisfying. Every victory feels true and earned. There’s also such a great wry, almost-campy but really morbid sense of humor running through the whole thing, whereas Dusk Til Dawn‘s taste veers a little more.

Witching and Bitching is a fantastic movie. I found it completely enthralling, and well worth the watch.

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SUMMER OF BLOOD (S. O. B.)

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HONEST FILM SUBTITLE: “If Christopher Moore made a movie”

Available on Amazon Prime through a Shudder add-on subscription (free trial period).

THE QUICK & DIRTY DEETS

  • Status: Meeeehhhh-commend – recommend to those who like vampires for any reason, do not recommend to those looking for bona fide horror
  • Horror Category: Humor, Vampires
  • Low on Jumps and Cheap Tricks, Low on Gore, Low on Realism
  • High on Quirky Independent Film Student-ness, High on Need For Viewer To Suspend Disbelief

THOTS

Hey. Hey, Amazon Shudder. You freakin’ lied to me, man. Oh, how? Well, Shudder, I went to you hoping to find a treasure trove of great horror movies with surprisingly okay casts, lost from years gone by as reels got pulled from cinemas and converted to VHS. I mean, aren’t there at least one or two good horror movies, with surprisingly decent, known casts, every year? It seems that way to me. Theoretically. In my perfect world. Who knows, when was the last time I even went to the movies?

What I’m trying to get at here is that S. O. B. is hardly a horror movie. It nods to its rumored existence as a horror movie, shoring up this categorization primarily with its slew of vampire characters and ostensible vampiric activities. However, just like how green clothing does not confer an Irish heritage, these supernatural creatures do not transform our movie today into a horror flick.

S. O. B. is really a quirky, independent, kind-of-rom with definite com. In and of itself, it’s not a bad movie, mind you, although a little self-satisfied and totally lacking in some parts. (I’ll get to “totally lacking” in a bit.) At least Shudder rightfully categorized it as “Comedic Horror,” but what disappoints me is that Shudder only has 8 categories. “Comedic Horror” is one. If the rest of the “comedic horror” group are anything like S. O. B., that sub-set will truly be horrific – a horrific dud. Creeps and thrills form the bare minimum of my horror needs. Lafftrax don’t.

I confess, there are some highlights to S. O. B. : the dialogue is clever, the main character one of those lovable-loser types, the vampires aren’t glamorous, the ending features a nice little turn and, as a whole, the movie veers wildly away from overtrodden or predictable ground. The romance subplot lacks a little sparkle and interest, but that’s okay because this movie is clearly about the main character, not his window-dressing romance – now I guess is a good time to point out that the MC wrote, directed, and produced S. O. B. in addition to starring in it. I suspect this self-saturation is why the movie’s self-awareness can start to seem like arrogance, especially in retrospect. All of a sudden, it becomes clear what that off-putting feeling secretly rising into tangible thought while the movie progressed was: S. O. B. is overly pleased with itself. The movie is almost smug about its degree of cleverness. Or so it came across to me – don’t let my opinions rule you, if otherwise it sounds interesting. Stop right now. Watch it, then report back.

As for the rest of you, let’s proceed.

The biggest issue I had with the film (besides its potential artistic masturbation) was how it simply dismissed certain elements of reality in order to maintain the major story-arc. For instance, the lead character, very early on, becomes a vampire. Through the course of his transformation marked physical changes occur. However, at no point during the movie does any human who knew the main character previously, as a human, comment on his changed appearance or ask about it at all. Hell, he pulls on a ski mask to talk to his landlord while simultaneously smothered in a giant blanket, and the landlord doesn’t even blink an eye. In scenes throughout the movie, characters conveniently do not observe or examine what is literally right in front of them in order to keep the movie a lighthearted comedy and scurry the plot along. I think this is the deeper flaw in S. O. B.: character realism and intelligence are eschewed in favor of hitting another fast-paced punchline. For me, as a audience, this cheapens the film severely.

THE LAST WILL AND TESTAMENT OF ROSAMUND LEIGH

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Available on Amazon Prime through a Shudder add-on subscription (free trial period).

THE QUICK & DIRTY DEETS

  • Status: Recommend
  • Stars: 7/10
  • Horror Category: Haunted House; Suspense
  • Low on Jumps and Cheap Tricks, Low on Gore, Moderate on CGI
  • High on Cinematography, Twists

THOTS

It’s actually very hard for me to sit down and write a review of the Last Will & Testament of Rosamund Leigh(henceforward, LW&T). But I’ll start at the start, and with the high points, and I guess we can break it down from there.

From the start it’s very obvious that the cinematography of this movie is both beautiful and skilled. We start the movie with tons of constantly moving shots, which cause the tension to build and keep our attention engaged even when there is no one in them. In fact, there is only one actor present during the entire movie (one could snarkily posit the rest of the budget for actors was spent on CGI instead, though let us be very honest: there is no preponderance of CGI, just a smattering which is required by the plot, not dashed on to ‘enhance’ the film because ‘Hey look we can afford magic monsters!’).

The disappointment I feel lies in the plot, which begins off very promisingly and in fact continues that way for a good 3/4 of the movie. Let me reiterate: for the first 3/4 of the movie, the plot promises, promises, and promises. Sometimes it hints, sometimes it implies, sometimes it suggests. But it never gets right the fuck out there and says.

By the time I hit the end of the plot I had come up with a half dozen explanations that were more interesting and elaborate than what the plot ended up handing over, which frankly – for me at least – was a steaming half-baked, “Huh? What happened?” In addition, all this beautiful wrought, suspenseful ambiguity ends up dragging as we see the camera pan across an elaborate angle for the 40th time or what-have-you.

TW&T is really interesting for a lot of its existence. It’s original enough, it doesn’t cheapen itself with needless jumps or CGI…but these are basic requirements I seek in most horror movies. I really wish it had done more with what it had. This doesn’t seem, as PONTYPOOL was, a case of “great original idea, nothing to back it up with,” but rather…a souffle that went too long and collapsed out of neglect, or something. Clumsy metaphor…but better than a clumsy movie, right? At least it’s two hours shorter.

Til next time.