Tagged Hell

Preacher – Season 3, Episode 4: “The Tombs”

AMC’s Preacher
Season 3, Episode 4: “The Tombs”
Directed by Wayne Yip
Written by Mark Stegemann

* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “Gonna Hurt” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “The Coffin” – click here
Screen Shot 2018-07-16 at 1.17.38 AMBack to Hell, for the first time in ages! A guard goes to a cell, letting the prisoner inside know: “Its time.” Of course, you know who it is— the Saint of Killers (Graham McTavish). They head for the elevator, so he can get back to business. Hell’s quite the place, a lot of interesting architecture. Satan (Jason Douglas) is waiting in his office with the Angel of Death. Satan and the Saint have a talk. They discuss the man’s breakout, when he went back to Earth to hunt down the preacher, Jesse Custer (Dominic Cooper). Seems the Dark Lord doesn’t like what it did to his reputation, so it’ll require making “amends.” That is, a bit of torture. The Angel of Death gives the Saint of Killers a nasty whipping, though he’s not overly affected.
But it gives Satan a thrill. It’s all good, man.
In the real world, Tulip O’Hare (Ruth Negga) is busy trying to get information out of Madam Boyd (Prema Cruz). She gets trapped in Boyd territory. Luckily she’s a “crazy bitch,” and she gets herself out of there with the Madam with a bit of sheer will and gunfire.
Screen Shot 2018-07-16 at 1.18.58 AMJump to back in the day, down in the tombs, where young Jesse (Will Kindrachuk) was ringleader of the circus in the Tombs at Angelville. He was their big presenter. Jody (Jeremy Childs) was a bare knuckle staple at those events. And TC (Colin Cunningham) had all those who gave over their souls to Madam L’Angell (Betty Buckley) locked up, awaiting a chance to fight in the middle of the ring so they might get back them back.
In present day, Jesse stands in the Tombs like years ago, watching his old pal, the vampire Cassidy (Joseph Gilgun), fend off the paedophile science teacher who’s spent an eternity down there. Eventually, Cass kills his opponent. He doesn’t get any time to celebrate, though. Jesse kicks him around a bit in front of TC and Jody. A nasty situation, even if it’s all part of an ultimate plan.
Soundtrack note: Great tune, fitting the Southern atmosphere and setting of Preacher.
More of the past. We see Madam Boyd has history with Jesse. She tells Tulip, in the present, the preacher was the “worst person” she’d ever loved. We see them when they were young. They were secretly having a relationship behind the back of those at Angelville. He was continually having a problem with reconciling the L’Angell business with life. He drove her away, purposefully, to keep her from danger. This is a recurring theme in Custer’s life— pushing people away, hurting people, whether it’s Sabina, Tulip, Cassidy, in order to keep them from being hurt worse by the fallout of his horrific personal life. Such as currently, he’s chopped Cassidy into bits and he’s putting the vamp, in pieces, inside a box to ship him out of there. The vamp thinks it’s bullshit, though this is the only way Jesse knows how to do things.
Back in day again, we see Jesse doing his thing at the Tombs. Sabina’s brother turned up looking to find Jesse, attacking him in the ring. The two men went fist to fist brutally. And Jesse strangled him to death in front of everybody. Hooooly shit. Following that he went back to hosting the sick show, even going so far as to quote Gladiator. In the present, Tulip refuses to believe Madam Boyd when she tells her the story.


In the Tombs, Jesse tells people “God has left Heaven” at the latest show. They’ve also discovered the vampire’s gone— he’s also escaped his box at the shipping store. Well, the preacher is actually shutting the place down. He refuses to let it continue. That is, until the vamp returns singing “Danny Boy.” He’s back for a fight, too. Good ole Irish lad. This pits him against Jesse. The two kick the shit out of one another, using fists and weapons alike. The preacher begs his friend to take the fall. At that moment, Tulip enters to see the carnage between the two men. She witnesses Jesse renouncing God and putting a makeshift stake into Cassidy, looking like a veritable monster. Once it’s all done Cass and Tulip take off together. Although the vampire tries to stress that Jesse’s only a “product of his environment.” And on top of that, Ms. O’Hare can’t bring herself to go. She pushes the vamp away to keep him safe. That recurring theme is the same for her right now, she’s in a position where she has to hurt someone to ensure they won’t be hurt worse by her collateral damage. Only she doesn’t realise Cassidy’s being watched by the Grail, as well.
Tulip goes back to Jesse, she knows the truth and she only wants him to be honest with her. She wants to be trusted, like a proper partner. So, Jesse tells her about what happened to Sabina’s brother. In reality, the guy was trying to kill him, and he was forced to do what he did out of self defence. It all just went to bolster Jesse’s reputation amongst the fans at the Tombs, creating a sick identity for him.
In Hell, Satan tells the Saint he has a mission for him. A bit of retrieval. He needs “two someones” brought back downstairs. They’re threats. It’s got to be a less lethal excursion, so the Saint can’t use guns this time. If he gets the job done, then he gets his weapons back, and he can go back to killing, searching for his preacher. I wonder who the two are, huh?
Screen Shot 2018-07-16 at 1.46.07 AMI will forever love this series. Enough said!
“The Coffin” is next time. Gonna get more fun from here on in, though that’s par for the course at this point, I suppose. Giddy up.

Preacher – Season 1, Episode 9: “Finish the Song”

AMC’s Preacher
Season 1, Episode 9: “Finish the Song”
Directed by Michael Slovis
Written by Craig Rosenberg

* For a review of the previous episode, “El Valero” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “Call and Response” – click here
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Back in ole Ratwater, we find ourselves discovering more about The Cowboy (Graham McTavish). In a saloon the patrons all listen to a man singing. When The Cowboy arrives, returning for his vengeance, he finds the preacher (Justice Leak) with whom he recently had a run-in before the devastation of his family. The preacher tells everyone about the “Butcher of Gettysburg” a.k.a The Cowboy before them. They’re all horrified. When the holy man asks The Cowboy whether he’ll succumb to the love of Jesus Christ, the reply is not subtle whatsoever: “I love my horse. I love my wife. And I love my little girl. As for Jesus, he can join us all in Hell.” Out come a bag filled with decapitated heads, then his dual-wielded guns. The end for everyone in that saloon is not a happy one. It is bloody, merciless. It is an act of absolute hatred because of what’s happened to him and his family. Even the poor singing man from earlier gets knocked off. As does the man using the player piano. Our Cowboy, he pours himself a drink, as a massive storm bears down on Ratwater.
What a god damn opener. One of the best, if not THE best, so far in this first season. Amazing stuff. Heavy.
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Sheriff Hugo Root (W. Earl Brown) is carting Jesse (Dominic Cooper) off to jail. He’s also asking where Eugene (Ian Colletti) is, what’s happened to him. Custer only says he sent the boy to hell. Well, Hugo isn’t happy. He’s giving the preacher a little story about what happens to kid killers in jail, as if Jesse would have actually killed a young man like Eugene. Then with an “Ill see you Sunday,” Jesse tucks and rolls out of the cop car leaving Root completely stunned. There’s that old thief spirit.
In other news, the two angels, or whatever they are, DeBlanc (Anatol Yusef) and Fiore (Tom Brooke) are out for a stroll on a rainy Texas evening. They’re looking to go on a trip. “We wanna go to hell,” DeBlanc makes clear after their travel adviser suggests Nova Scotia, Canada, or maybe Tasmania. Fiore makes it clearer: “MUCH further South.” Anyway, they get it all done. Even after Fiore almost has to bang the lady out back. But the arrangements are made, all above board. Or, as above board as it can get with dudes from heaven trying to get into hell.
Over at Tulip’s (Ruth Negga) place, we find her and Emily (Lucy Griffiths) trying to take care of the ole vampire himself. Tulip lets goody two shoes Emily in on the fact Cassidy (Joseph Gilgun) is an ancient bloodsucker. Poor guy is trying to regenerate after proving himself to be a creature of the night to Custer. Taking a lot to get him back to good health. Now, Tulip tells Emily she couldn’t care less about Jesse, as he’s done enough to break her trust already. Oh, and Emily even readily admits to dating Mayor Miles Person (Ricky Mabe). Well she does a good job pretending it’s “cool.” Learning a bit from all the liars around her. Tulip? She’s gone to “kill a man in Albuquerque.” So Emily gets left to feed the starving vampire all on her own. When she gets too curious, opening the door more than a crack, Cassidy – still burnt, bloody, a hideous creature – snarls at her.
Chilling under a bridge, having breakfast and a bit of wine, Jesse hangs out with some homeless friends. One of whom is quite curious as to how Jesse plans on bringing God right to church, as he so claims.
DeBlanc and Fiore are worried about being separated, so they don’t want to call heaven and settle things that way. Then they suggest a coin toss for whether they go to heaven, or to hell. When they do a double or nothing flip they get heaven. Excited, they then find out their precious phone is missing.

 


DeBlanc: “You left a telephone with a direct line to heavens throne under the bed!”
Fiore: “I thought it was clever. Who checks under the bed anymore?”
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Miles gets a call from Emily. Turns out Cassidy got out of the room, as he cried for help. A trick? Regardless, the trusty mayor heads over to the O’Hare place. Strange noises, guinea pigs and rabbits in cages squeaking.
Then we find out Emily’s figured a way to get Miles out of her life, after watching a bit of Psycho on television and hearing Norman Bates talk about how we’re all stuck in our lives, unable to break free. This single mother has found a way to break free. That involves feeding Miles to Cassidy. Two birds with one stone: Miles isn’t creeping around Emily, forcing himself into her bed + Cassidy can heal. Also, we get a nice shot reminiscent of Kubrick’s The Shining, as Emily keeps Miles locked in the room just like Jack Torrance pressed himself against the freezer door, ranting to his terrified wife outside. And the sounds of Mayor Person meeting his nasty demise.
At the motel, Sheriff Root finds a blood spattered room. In the tub, a woman with her arms and legs cut off. “Kill me,” she begs. Looks like the angelic duo had to leave her behind. As Root contemplates helping the woman die, our awareness makes it a tragic moment. He has no idea the trouble he’s about to cause once he strangles the dying… thing… to death. She reappears behind him before leaving the room.
DeBlanc and Fiore have to leave everything behind after they get on the bus to hell. This is the exact same spot where Walt and Jesse were respectively meant to meet the extractor nearing the end of Breaking Bad.

 


Over at the O’Hare house, Jesse turns up. He sees Cassidy in his low, dangerous state, curled in the corner. On the floor is the corpse of Miles. We see the two friends discovering everything about each other. Will Jesse accept Cassidy once more? “Im not goinanywhere,” Jesse tells him: “You saw me too, Cassidy. The worst part of me.” He apologises for letting the man burn in front of him. “You put me out, thats what matters,” replies Cassidy. And then they’re off, getting rid of the mayor’s body. Putting all that’s right in its place.
Odin Quincannon (Jackie Earle Haley) is looking forward to seeing the preacher fail inf ront fo everybody at church on Sunday. Should be quite a show when the “greatest lie ever told” gets the rugged pulled out from under it.
The phone to heaven’s throne? Jesse has it. However, not being an angel doesn’t exactly make it easy for him to make a call. He does make a call on a regular phone, though. To Tulip. He recounts having pancakes with the homeless people, which reminded him about a story a few years ago when they were on the run from some Rodriguez Brothers; about pancakes, M&Ms, and essentially about how much he cares for her. “For me, its just youtil the end of the world,” Jesse says while Tulip sits in Albuquerque, a man tied to a chair in front of her, a meat tenderiser in her hand.
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We flash back through moments with The Cowboy. All those horrific events which led to him killing everyone in that saloon. Like going through his own personal hell.
Back at the bar, him having a drink, the storm starts to rage outside. The walls shake and everything is about to fall down around him. Yet The Cowboy drinks away.
Then we can hear footsteps coming down a dark, barely lit hallway. The feet then step onto the saloon floor, all the bodies, the bloody squishing beneath them. DeBlanc and Fiore stroll up to the bar, as our Cowboy draws his guns. “You want this to end? You want to be free of all this? We have a job for you,” DeBlanc explains to the man. Before getting a bullet in the face. Afterwards, Fiore explains they need him to kill somebody: a preacher. Ah, and things keep on coming together.
In Annville, Jesse and Cassidy dig a hole in the night, somewhere along the desert. They’re digging for angel hands from the bodies Cassidy already buried. Alongside the rest, they lay Miles to rest. So with a line to God now, is Jesse going to use those angel hands to try and convince him to come to church on Sunday? Have mercy.
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My favourite episode yet! I’ve said that a couple times, but this takes the cake. Amazing. Through and through. The mystery and suspense of the series has never been better (or paid off more) than in this chapter. Finale is titled “Call and Response” and you can be sure we’re about to see something spectacular, on all fronts.

Preacher – Season 1, Episode 7: “He Gone”

AMC’s Preacher
Season 1, Episode 7: “He Gone”
Directed by Michael Morris
Written by Mary Laws (The Neon Demon)

* For a review of the previous episode, “Sundowner” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “El Valero” – click here
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Eugene (Ian Colletti) has disappeared. After Jesse Custer (Dominic Cooper) told him to “Go to hell” it’s as if he’s literally done exactly that. Now, the preacher’s left to wonder if those powers of his might not finally have gotten out of control. For the time being he doesn’t seem to mind. Are those powers twisting the person he is into someone he would’ve never wanted to be? Either way, Cassidy (Joseph Gilgun) witnessed what happened. Can he keep that a secret? Probably not. And for a century old vampire, he’s actually got a bit of a moral compass, for some things.
But where is Eugene exactly? And are the demons in hell going to figure out that Jesse has Genesis because of this? We’ve already got heaven in the mix with DeBlanc (Anatol Yusef) and Fiore (Tom Brooke) on Earth trying to get it back.
Despite his transgressions, Jesse is starting to realise the power within him might be a bit too powerful. To accommodate his congregation the preacher has put chairs outside, a loud speaker fixed on the awning above the entrance. As his voice bellows out there, a bit of good still inside Jesse knows there’s something not right. Even worse, poor Sheriff Hugo Root (W. Earl Brown) is wandering around asking about Eugene. Won’t be easy to explain that one away.
There’s still Odin Quincannon (Jackie Earle Haley), as well. He hasn’t changed totally, other than that he’s there to do the bidding of Genesis, not God. He still listens to livestock and the creepy tapes. His Civil War model is bloody and brutal – a tree reminiscent of the one The Cowboy passed on his way into/out of Ratwater stands with someone hanging from it. Could Genesis have something to do with the revenge of The Cowboy back then? There’s some relation. Odin’s still drinking, still in a bad mindset. No telling what’s going to happen next in his little tale. Only going to get worse for Mayor Miles Person (Ricky Mabe), too.
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We flash back to a younger Jesse sitting outside the principal’s office. His father, John Custer (Nathan Darrow), is there to see why Jesse and little Tulip are in trouble. Young Donnie Schenck “lost a nipple” in the altercation. What we see is how the romantic duo of Jesse and Tulip got so close, as their childhoods were essentially intertwined. As a boy, Jesse was a religious kid. Said his prayers. Cared about being good.
In present day, Tulip O’Hare (Ruth Negga) is up to her old tricks. She runs, barefoot, through neighbourhoods holding her high heels. She pulls a kid off a bike, all to get a pair of pants. Her uncle’s – he passed out on the front steps again. Sad to seethe home life she’s been subjected to for her entire existence. Even the local mascot shakes his head walking by, seeing the uncle passed out as Tulip sits frustrated on the steps.
And Jesse, he’s meeting with Emily (Lucy Griffiths) to see what his day holds. Lots of business to take care of, naturally. Meanwhile, Eugene is still nowhere to be found. The weight of that hangs on Jesse, but I fear there’s more of him changing due to Genesis than he’d like to let on. Cassidy worries for his pal, revealing he witnessed what happened with Eugene in the church. He wants to help out. To boot, Emily hears a bit of what’s going on. Great. That’ll make things go smooth. When Tulip arrives, Cassidy antagonises her about the fact she’s staying around, cooking dinner, acting like a housewife instead of taking off to get revenge. They get into a bit of an argument over who knows Jesse best, and whether he and Cassidy are actually friends. But most of all Cassidy finds himself worrying about what Genesis might mean for any relationship Tulip has with Jesse.

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Another flash back to John Custer and the kids. Jesse and Tulip developed a bond at a young age, promising themselves “to the end of the world” in reference to their undying friendship, and later what became an undying love. Two parts of one soul. Except that they were separated by Texas Human Services, taking Tulip away to place her in a proper home. Later that same night Jesse prayed for his father to die and be sent to hell.
Will Eugene meet Jesse’s father down there?
Back to the present, Odin heads to see the preacher. He confesses to having done a “terrible thing” – not the one you’re thinking of, but the fact he let his own family down with the business not thriving like they did once. Well, Odin wants the deed to the land they agreed upon signed over. Appears Quincannon isn’t exactly turned over to Christ. He says he isn’t saved, not at all. He wants the land. Or else – what, I’m not so sure. There might be some trouble on the road ahead. One thing’s certain: Jesse has underestimated the power, he does not understand it entirely.
Dinner between Jesse, Emily, Tulip, and Cassidy gets awkward. At least before Sheriff Root arrives. He still hasn’t found his boy. Obviously, he fears the worst. Right at that very moment the oven catches fire. Flames burst out. The perfect touch. Almost like Eugene is calling out from the fires of hell. After Jesse lies to Root about not seeing the kid, Cassidy lets the preacher have it with a fire extinguisher to his face. “We all make mistakes, dont we?” Cassidy agrees, and starts wondering what they can do to get Eugene back.


Now we discover what happened to Tracy Loach, “prom queen, queen of everything.”
Eugene confessed his love to Tracy and was rejected. Instead of letting it go, Eugene blew half her head off then tried to do the same to himself. Holy. Fucking. Shit. That is even more intense than I’d imagined on my own. Wow. Still, Jesse is not God. He can’t act like it, and that’s exactly what he’s doing right now. Cassidy knows it, we know it. Only Jesse hasn’t figured that out yet. He is all but lost in the magnificent power of Genesis. And when he finds out about Cassidy’s identity, what will he do? The old vampire takes his shirt off, stepping into the sun, and that fire extinguisher is now for more than just fighting.
More and more now, Jesse is alienating everybody around him. First it’s Cassidy, then Tulip. Poor Emily’s stuck in the middle with no clear idea of what at all is happening. He starts alienating her, too.
Then we flash back to John Custer. He tells his little boy Jesse to hide under the bed. Someone breaks into the house, cracking the preacher with baseball bats. He’s dragged out to watch his father have a pistol pointed at his head. Of course the boy blames himself, having prayed for his dad’s death. Back in present day, Jesse literally tries digging through the floor to find Eugene screaming: “Come back!”


Oh, and Quincannon is headed with a ton of men and a bulldozer, straight towards the preacher’s land. Yikes. Lots of excitement ahead of us.
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A nice chapter to follow up Eugene’s disappearance into the great below. Next episode is titled “El Valero” and we’re closing in on the end of this first, glorious, gruesome, fun season! What a series. Can’t wait for more.

Southbound is a Darker Twilight Zone for 2016

Southbound. 2015. Directors: Roxanne Benjamin, David Bruckner, Patrick Horvath & Radio Silence. Screenplay by Roxanne Benjamin, Matt Bettinelli-Olpin, David Bruckner, Susan Burke, Dallas Richard Hallam & Patrick Horvath.
Starring Chad Villella, Matt Bettinelli-Olpin, Kristina Pesic, Fabianne Therese, Nathalie Love, Hannah Marks, Dana Gould, Anessa Ramsey, Susan Burke, Davey Johnson, Mather Zickel, Karla Droege, Zoe Cooper, Justin Welborn, David Yow, Tipper Newton, Matt Peters, Maria Olsen, Tyler Tuione, & Kate Beahan. Willowbrook Regent Films.
Rated 18A. 89 minutes.
Horror/Sci-Fi/Thriller

★★★★1/2
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Anthology films, especially those of the horror variety, can either end up being extraordinary, or very mediocre. The V/H/S films (sharing several of the same producers as this film), in my opinion, are pretty damn good; for the most part. Some thought they were a mixed bag. I actually loved the third one, Viral, most of all, even though so many thought it was terrible. Either way, there’s always a gamble inherent in putting different stories, no matter their genre, together into one whole anthology. You can divide people easily that way.
But fans of The Twilight Zone and other similar horror/science fiction might appreciate Southbound in the same sense I did. There really is something for everyone. That is, for everyone interested in the dark, macabre corners of the imagination. I’ve seen reviews dubbing this as a mixed bag. Not sure how they felt that way, but it’s all subjective. Me? I found myself dropping jaw several times, loving each scene and simultaneously wanting the current segment to end just so I could see what would happen next. As a lover of both horror and science fiction, the cross between the two genres is subtle, though, it is clearly evident. Maybe it’s not even science fiction, but rather a supernatural aspect. Either way it’s got that Twilight Zone vibe, as I said, and in a way that does not come off as a copy of anything from the series or movie. I’m not even sure if the filmmakers even intended to make this feel that way. Yet it has an amazing sense of homage without ever really trying to reference The Twilight Zone or any other films in particular. Mostly, the directors and writers come together to present us with one of the best anthology movies out there. Period.
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Instead of attempting to briefly describe any plots, I’ll forego the usual format. Instead I want to focus on the impressive elements of each segment, without spoiling anything too much, or if possible at all.
“The Way Out” has an excellent monster, or whatever you want to call it. Super neat! Unique, too. Not saying there’s never been a drawing like it before, probably there has been. But as far as horror movies, even science fiction go, I’ve not seen a creepy creature like this in a long time. It’s part skeleton, part demon-ghost, part smog. Definitely a fun addition, and one that looks unsettling, especially when it stands (floats?) off in the distance like some supernatural Michael Myers waiting at the end of the street.
Overall, I dig the opener. It is an eerie sci-fi romp with bits of horror. Plus, I like that we’re not given a ton of exposition here to try and explain all we’re seeing. It fits and works perfectly for an anthology film with a bunch of shorts together, as you get just enough then walk away wondering: what sort of place is this? Added to that, it’s a killer way to start off an anthology. Really throws you off balance, in a proper way.
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Second short – “Siren” – isn’t overly unique, nor are there any impressive effects really. That being said, I dig the relationship between the female characters at the center of the plot. And I also think less is more, in certain cases. Again, like how the first introduced some interesting things then left them fairly open, this one gives us a taste of the main characters and their lives, who they are, but it’s only a slice. We don’t get everything, and it’s one of the big reasons why I thought, despite its shortcomings, this segment works so well. There is a lot of creepiness happening and the build up to the reveal of what’s going on is definitely tense, at times darkly comic, as well as the fact we get Dana Gould playing a super weird dude.
Then there’s the connection between each short. Everything happens out on the highway, a desolate stretch of road where it seems nothing but terror happens. I especially like how the second and third connect, as it involves one of the women from the second in an absolutely mortifying sense. The writing in most of these segments is pretty fun and dark as hell.
In this third one, “The Accident”, there is some truly gory, gruesome work in the practical effects department, and I am ALWAYS a sucker for well executed blood in a horror. Although I found the second segment lacking in awesome effects, going more for lackluster work, this one makes up for that big time. “The Accident”, for me, is most similar to the vein of many great Twilight Zone episodes, and the movie, as well. It has a truly unsettling vibe from beginning to end. And who doesn’t find abandoned hospitals a creep-out?
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“Jailbreak” gets really out there, too. If the point of being in Hell hasn’t come across strong enough yet, boy, oh boy – does director Patrick Horvath ever hammer it home in this short! Horvath and Dallas Hallam wrote this, and they directed/wrote the fascinating slow burn Entrance from 2011; a movie that, to this day, has not yet washed off me. Here, though, there’s a much more wild, supernatural, nasty angle to the story they tell. I won’t spoil it because there are a couple truly WTF moments you need to see going in blind. On top of everything else, the practical effects in this segment are outrageous; in the best fucking way.
My favourite out of this anthology is the final segment, “The Way In”. Above all else, the way this connects to the other segments is absolutely spectacular. Truly, it is wonderful and dark and weird. I wasn’t expecting this finisher to connect everything so perfectly, as if cauterizing the plot and its various threads. The build up in this segment I enjoyed incredibly, which then devolves into madness after everything breaks. Finally, it’s the very last few moments that reconnect the beginning and end of the entire anthology. I can’t say too much about this one, for fear of spoilers. I will say this – the beginning of this short lulls us into a real everyday type of crime feel, as if we’re about to see a typical thriller that we’ve seen a hundred times, and from there propels us through a vicious, quick and adrenaline-fueled segment which caps things off with the right touch.
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Absolutely a 4.5 star film. Like I said: a favourite anthology of mine. This will be going up on the Blu ray shelf once it’s out, but for now you can snatch it up via iTunes. There’s really a lot of good stuff here and anybody who says it’s uneven may just not be into the style of this entire movie. Everything connects so well, as if a tiny thread runs through every segment to tie it all up, sewn nicely and stitched at the seams. Hopefully the team behind Southbound and V/H/S continue to do these anthologies, as I feel they’re really getting better at them all the time. Plus, different directors and writers come in, so the blood is fresh. This one contains a good deal of talent, heaps of the damn stuff.
Southbound, and movies like it, are the reason why I adore genre films.

American Horror Story – Coven, Episode 12: “Go to Hell”

FX’s American Horror Story
Season 3, Episode 12: “Go to Hell”
Directed by Alfonso Gomez-Rejon
Written by Jessica Sharzer

* For a review of the previous episode, “Protect the Coven” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “The Seven Wonders” – click here

 


“Go to Hell” begins with a nice opening concerning The Seven Wonders. Filmed in black-and-white, looking like a genuine silent film including title cards in between scenes. Such an excellent sequence, which gives us background into the whole Seven Wonders ceremony and what it entails. It’s also a little creepy, too. Even if nothing weird is actually happening. Just a very good homage to the silent film era. On top of it all, one of my favourite classical piano pieces by Frédéric Chopin plays throughout – Nocturne in E Flat Major, Op. 9, No. 2. A great piece of music to have accompanying this sequence. As well, Fiona (Jessica Lange) comes in near the end via voice-over.
Then we’re back with her talking to Queenie (Gabourey Sidibe). But Queenie knows what the older witch is up to, that she only wants to figure out the new Supreme in order to kill her. I don’t think that has changed, at all. Best of all, Fiona calls Papa Legba a “halfbaked Beetlejuice“. I laughed aloud at this line. Such a good one from writer Jessica Sharzer. But even more fun, Fiona announces to Queenie that this coming Saturday she will perform The Seven Wonders, “or die trying“. Looks like a true competition of powers is going to go down eventually between the remaining young witches at the academy. Will Misty Day (Lily Rabe) somehow return to compete? Or will it be Queenie, Madison (Emma Roberts) and Zoe (Taissa Farmiga) in a trio head-to-head?
Cordelia (Sarah Paulson) is trying to find out about Misty. She tries to touch Madison, to make use of her second sight. However, out of nowhere Madison teleports from one side of the room to the other. Manifesting new powers, huh? Well, Cordelia tells her not to “read too much” into all that. Finally, after a bunch of back and forth, Cordelia lays a hand on Madison. But nothing comes. We know the truth, so is Madison manifesting more powers giving her the ability to block thoughts, to control the thoughts of others?
Down in the basement, Queenie is looking for Marie. She can’t seem to find Laveau anywhere, though. Then she’s back upstairs with a creepy voodo book, on its front is the symbol of Papa Legba (Lance Reddick). She lies back on the bed and chants in a foreign tongue. She finds herself back at Chubbie’s Chicken serving food again, as if gone back in time literally, not just in thought. Outside there’s a seemingly never ending lineup of people around the building, inside. And at the front? Legba himself. This isn’t hell, though. Not “the hell“, he says, but “your hell.”
I love the conversation between Queenie and Legba. It’s sinister, but also pretty damn darkly comical. Reddick and Sidibe are both talented in their own respects, and this brief scene is a lot of fun. When she makes it out of the chicken shack hell, Legba is waiting. He explains all about Marie Laveau and the immortality of both her and LaLaurie; turns out Delphine chopped Marie into pieces to toss around New Orleans. Yowzah. Always a nasty, rough customer, that Delphine.

 

Papa Legba: “Time moves differently in hell

Picture 8Perhaps a favourite scene of mine takes us back to the old stomping grounds of Madame LaLaurie, where now Delphine herself is a guide. She has a different haircut, she wears a green suit jacket and black pants looking very modern. And hilariously, Delphine is now trying to rewrite her own history and past through touring people around the house and setting people straight on the true events; though, all she does is lie. We get a nice flashback to when Delphine has a confrontation with the former tour guide – a superbly eerie moment, as LaLaurie picks up a proper tool and bashes the woman in the head; plus, a little lick of her tongue to clean some of the blood that splashes her face. I mean, what an excellent and gruesome scene! Kathy Bates is a class act and I love seeing her do horror, it’s a true treat. I always thought her performance in Misery was perfect, now she gets lots of true and disturbing horror to work with in this series.
An even better sequence happens when Queenie talks to Delphine about repentance. There’s an inclusion of lots of popular culture controversies, as Delphine is seen watching television with the likes of Paula Deen and others crawling across the screen. Awesome writing.
Then Queenie stabs LaLaurie, who starts bleeding out profusely. What happens next? The formerly immortal Delphine may finally see death, now that she doesn’t want to die anymore.
Fiona’s having her portrait painted for the academy wall. Then her nose starts to bleed out of nowhere, either from the cancer, or the cocaine. Or the cancer and the cocaine in equal amounts, who knows. She continually laments her own face, the way she looks. She’s nearing the end and all she worries about is whether or not she looks youthful. And it’s driving her towards being hateful. Only she and Cordelia have a nice little chat, which shows how much she does care about her daughter. Though, it can’t make up for a lifetime of neglect and hatefulness.
Regardless, Fiona gives her mother’s necklace to Cordelia, as a way of “saying goodbye.” Once it goes around her neck and Fiona touches her, Cordelia’s second sight returns. Only it shows her the thoughts in Fiona’s mind, the intentions – we see a massacre in the academy house, all the young witches dead, impaled, blood everywhere, even Misty returned and murdered. It’s a shocking sight, out of the blue. Even Cordelia is dead in the vision, bullet hole in her head, and Fiona is seen snatching the necklace from her neck. Returning to the light, Cordelia is now aware of what is inside Fiona, what she is really aiming at. Funny how, with the strength Fiona instilled in this scene early on, Cordelia eventually was able to realise her powers once again; all in order to figure out what her mother was actually up to. Love the irony.

 

But Cordelia has plans herself. She goes to see the Axeman (Danny Huston). She warns him about loving Fiona, how dangerous it can be for those who fall into the trap. Cordelia also saw more than just the massacre in Fiona’s head, she saw her plan to the Axeman behind, too. He is only a pawn to her, someone she can use to do her bidding, to get the dirty work done. “She used you,” Cordelia tells him bluntly. Will she try and use the Axeman to do away with Fiona once and for all?
At the same time, Cordelia’s also trying to track Misty down, unaware of her fate at the hands of Madison. Poor girl is still stuck down in that casket, singing to herself, over in the cemetery. So Cordelia takes Queenie out to the mausoleum, and the latter proves to have some more impressive powers. She hauls the coffin right out of the bricks. Yet Misty isn’t breathing. No worries: Queenie’s got this, baby. She also can resurrect the dead, it seems. Her voodoo game is strong.

When the rest of the world sees a wall, we see a window.”

 


So Misty being back doesn’t spell much good for Madison, though, the young sassy lady is not worried too much. Then out of nowhere, Zoe and Kyle show up again. Clearly not in Florida anymore. On their way they had a confrontation with some homeless guy, which ended with Kyle snapping the guy nearly in half. Most of all, they came back because Zoe displayed a new power of her own: more resurgence. Now they all seem to be able to do intense things with their powers. Better yet, Misty shows up throwing fists at Madison, ready for a real fight. They wrestle around a little while the others watch; mostly, Misty kicks the shit out of Madison.
The Axeman shows up trying to swing his axe at everyone, pissed off and threatening to kill them all. The witches send him flying. But then notice he’s covered in blood already: Fiona’s blood. In a step backwards, we see the Axeman in his apartment with her. He’s on to her now, after his visit from Cordelia. She appears completely unaware until he mentions it. And eventually it comes – the death of Fiona Goode by the hand of her jilted lover, the Axeman.
Back at the academy with the girls, the Axeman has to be punished. His original death at the hands of the academy witches is recreated, and he dies a second, horrible, bloody death. Fitting, no?

 


Then we see both Madame LaLaurie and Marie Laveau in their own hell, each bound together in their eternity in the darkness. A truly awful, disturbing end for them both. They’re forever spending time with Papa Legba in hell. The two immortals are now dead – released from the chains of life, only to serve Legba for eternity in the same room. Day after day, over and over.
After Fiona’s portrait is hung on the wall, Myrtle alerts the girls: they will all perform, as I guessed, The Seven Wonders that Sunday at dawn. The next Supreme will be revealed, for better or for worse. And some of the others will certainly die.
Stay tuned for the next episode, the finale of Coven, fittingly titled “The Seven Wonders“.

 

Beetlejuice: The Afterlife and Raunchy Ghosts

Beetlejuice. 1988. Directed by Tim Burton. Screenplay by Michael McDowell & Warren Skaaren.
Starring Alec Baldwin, Geena Davis, Michael Keaton, Catherine O’Hara, Jeffrey Jones, Winona Ryder, Annie McEnroe, Glenn Shadix, Patrice Martinez, Sylvia Sidney, Robert Goulet, Dick Cavett, and Susan Kellermann. The Geffen Company. PG. 92 minutes.
Comedy/Fantasy/Horror

★★★★1/2
beetlejuice-posterTim Burton doesn’t always appeal to everyone. His style, as far as I’m concerned, makes him an auteur. Even in his less cartoony, gothic-styled films, there is always an ever present sense of Burton and his unflinching vision of the stories he tells. Most of his movies I do enjoy, though, some I’m not huge on. Either way I can’t help deny my major love for a few of his movies.
One such title is the 1988 fantasy, quasi-horror, full-on comedy Beetlejuice, which later toned down into the 1989-1991 cartoon series of the same name. This is one strange piece of work, at the same time it’s amazingly near perfect in other ways. With a refreshingly innovative take on the afterlife, hauntings, the “life” of ghosts on the other side and tons of fun Burton-like imagery and makeup effects, this is one hell of a fun film. Beetlejuice has a bit of everything: death, suicide, laughs, calypso music and dancing, and Micheal Keaton.
beetlejuice-beetlejuice-the-movie-30941820-1920-1080After a tragic car accident, Adam and Barbara Maitland (Alec Baldwin/Geena Davis) find themselves back at their house… only a little removed from reality. They find a book in their attic – The Handbook for the Recently Deceased – and then eventually discover a way into the waiting room of the afterlife, where a case worker named Juno (Sylvia Sidney) explains they’ve died and are contracted to remain in their old home for many, many years. Tasked with scaring out the new owners – Charles and Delia Deetz (Jeffrey Jones/Catherine O’Hara) along with their young daughter Lydia (Winona Ryder) – Adam and Barbara eventually come across an unethical ghost named Betelgeuse (Michael Keaton) who would much rather kill the new owners than just scare them out. And once Betelgeuse sets his sight on Lydia to be his wife, the newly deceased couple have to decide whether they’re ready to give up their home, or give up the life of an innocent young girl.
tumblr_npbu2xlhfu1uq538fo9_1280So much to enjoy about this slice of Burton work.
One of my favourite sequences of the film happens early on when Adam (Baldwin) and Barbara (Davis) try to scare the new owners, before they’re initiated into the world of being dead. First, Barbara hangs herself in the closet, then rips the skin off her skull when Otho (Shadix) and Delia Deetz (O’Hara) look inside, yet to no avail. Then, Barbara stands – knife in hand – with Adam’s bloody, decapitated head in the other, trying to look sinister. Nothing works! But the kicker is when Adam tries to run up and lock the attic door, with no head, and he’s banging into things, bumping every object nearby. Riot, love it. Awesome few scenes here, especially in terms of makeup effects and horror imagery; the skin off skull bit is nasty and cool.
The waiting room scene is another perfect bit. We see the various dead people sitting around until their name is called: one man is a hunter of sorts, his head shrunken to a prune; another merely charred remains of a man smoking a cigarette; a guy who choked to death, chicken bone still sticking through both sides of his neck; an attendant showing patients in whose body is hung on strings, flattened out from tire tracks; and a man hung by the neck, on the same track as the other attendant, passing files off to a secretary while he’s carted about the office building. What a great and also tragic sequence. This is also part of why I’m so in love with Beetlejuice; because of its unique charm in the face of death.
winona-ryder-beetlejuice-2Lydia: “My whole life is a dark room; one… big… dark… room.
BEETLEJUICEWhat I dig most about Beetlejuice overall is its take on the afterlife. On one hand, you’ve got all the “regular” ghosts who are merely regular people moving onto another plane. On the other hand, there’s Beetlejuice himself. But it’s the little handbook, for the recently deceased, the waiting room, the giant sandworms, and so on, which intrigues me. Such a neatly cartoonish and macabre world for Burton to play around in. At the same time, I find the way it portrays ghosts pretty unique. So underneath all Beetlejuice’s gnarly exterior and vulgarity, beneath the story of a haunting, there’s a genuine attempt here to dissect what a true afterlife might be – instead of the idealized heaven or hell, Burton’s film taps into a more satirical approach to being dead and trying to move on. Plus, seeing things from the side of the deceased doesn’t hurt either. While we’re right alongside the Deetz family, even in the scarier moments after the Juice runs loose, much of our perspective comes from Adam and Barbara, as well as later a similar yet different perspective from the still-living Lydia. All in all, the way this movie presents death and the afterlife is both hilarious and fresh.
vlcsnap-2013-11-14-04h25m48s120 391ccd14f69e49feacc3502aa1857b63 393689There’s plenty of creepy horror stuff going on, but the dark and sometimes raunchy comedy is very much happening here. For instance, even in the morbid scene where Lydia (Ryder) contemplates her suicide writing a note for her family to find later, there’s a downright funny, laugh out loud moment as she rearranges the words, choosing better ones to put in place to make the note sound more appealing. The whole character of Lydia is fun and funny at once. She’s simultaneously deep and gothic while also playfully satirizing the whole goth lifestyle.
When it comes to comedy, though, obviously Michael Keaton as Beetlejuice is the centrepiece of this entire thing. Clearly, right? Even more than you think. For those who don’t remember properly, Beetlejuice is a dirty dude, both physically and in his speech. In the original screenplay, the character was much darker and more violent; he wanted to rape Lydia, here it’s toned down slightly to a creepy crush. But the darkness all around, from his actions to his comedy, is still quite present. Keaton brings Beetlejuice to life from one moment to the next. He’s mostly hilarious, yet always with the chilling side directly under the surface, every now and then coming out into the open fully. Some of my favourite bits are when Beetlejuice is still stuck in the tiny model town, in its cemetery; Keaton did a nice bit of improvisation, if I’m not mistaken, which is awesome because he did a great job with the character.
BeetlejuiceBeetlejuice: “I’m the ghost with the most, babe.

Even with the changes inflicted upon the original screenplay, the toning down, the film’s finale remains pretty dark. Regardless of the cartoon-ish, at times, quality Burton gives the story and its visuals, there are equal amounts of very macabre and eerie sequences. When Beetlejuice is called back into reality by Lydia the final time, in order to try and save Adam/Barbara, the movie turns into a dark carnival. This section starts out in a sort of lighthearted horror-comedy way. Then, slowly, it moves towards treacherous territory, as Beetlejuice attempts to take Lydia as his bride. I mean, it’s sketchy! Very creepy, unsettling stuff. Delia’s sculptures come alive to hold the witnesses in place for their impromptu ceremony, which are super weird and gothic through Burton’s eyes. Just cannot get enough of this effective finale. Also, the very last couple scenes are a whole ton of fun capping things off on a more lighthearted ghost story note.
lbf-bettlejuice-jambeTotally a 4.5 out of 5 star film for me. Always loved this and truly feel it’s an effectively dark comedy using shades of horror in the best way. Plus, it’s a satirical look at the traditional ghost, which makes the comedy work that much better. Combining the eccentric talent of Tim Burton with a couple of great performances, namely Michael Keaton as the titular ghost with the most, Beetlejuice elevates itself from just another comedy to something near legendary.
I’m beyond excited there’s going to, hopefully, be a sequel with Burton, Keaton, and Ryder all supposedly onboard for the ride! With that team, as well as the spirit of the original at heart, I bet a sequel could be almost as spectacular this time around as it was the first. Watch this for Halloween; great to put on any time, but even better around the fall season as the 31st approaches on the calendar.