Spooktober 22, Day 20: Thirst

Alright, beasties. It’s that spooky time of year again. For this edition of Spooktober, I’m going to do a post a day but, like a great haul after trick or treating, I’m hoping to mix it up and deliver some surprises. There’ll be reviews, new or old, seen/unseen, TV or film. Depending on my wicked mood, there may also be lists, audio, or video. I hope you’ll enjoy it and remember: stay spooky.

A well-known and beloved priest Sang-hyun (Song Kang-ho) is tired of seeing people perish from a deadly virus. In turn, he volunteers for an experimental procedure to find a cure, but doesn’t live through it. However, unbeknownst to anyone, the blood used in his transfusion is different and brings him back to life. It seems like a miracle, and perhaps, hope, that a cure is in their grasp. But soon, Sang-hyun finds himself changing. At first, it’s a stronger sense of smell, then its odd cravings, and then a sensitivity to sunlight. Bumps are appearing on his skin, and he seems to be getting weaker, until, he accepts the truth he’s been avoiding: he needs to drink blood.

source: Focus Features

Sang-hyun at heart is a very giving man, and he finds that he can “sip” from a comatose patient’s I.V without causing harm to anyone, or drawing attention. He frequently visits people in the hospital for prayer, so it’s a smart plan. This suffices for a time, but soon he notices other new urges, specifically when it comes to Tae-ju (Kim Ok-bin), the wife of his childhood friend, Kang-u (Shin Ha-kyun) who is stuck in an abusive family, and the desires he feels.

Directed by Park Chan-wook and co-written by Park Chan-wook and Jeong Seo-kyeong Thirst is a beautifully designed, sensual, and yet violent affair. The chemistry between the two leads is electric, and it makes for some sultry scenes. Their lust for each other, and also for blood, makes for an intriguing psychological, emotional and physical dance. The acting is terrific, and the direction and writing slick and compelling.

My only complaint, and its minimal, is its length. There are a few periods that stretch on longer than they probably need to, but ultimately, I also can’t think of what I’d possibly cut. Thirst has ample amounts of style too, and a script that touches on heady themes of temptation, faith, love, as well as what you’re giving up with immortality. Can your soul remain pure?

Heartbreaking, funny, sexy, disturbing, and even sweet at times, Thirst manages to be an intriguing rumination on vampires that stays afloat amid an ocean of its predecessors.

Spooktober Day 22: The Lost Boys

For most of us cinephiles, we remember the first time we saw a movie, whether it be in the theater, or at home. If the film shakes you, positively or negatively, there’s a residue left that seeps into your memory and makes it challenging to let go. Well, I don’t want to- so I’m going to highlight some Kristy horror history for this wonderful, special, month of October.

I’ve covered so many different kinds of films this month, and somehow- we are already nearing the end (and I have so much left to say!) There have been a few horror comedies to slip their way through, and while there are many more I could touch on, I figured I’d exit that subgenre with one that really is its own species. This vampire horror/comedy has its issues but is a hell of a lot of fun.

The Lost Boys has an assortment of young stars at its helm. Before Twilight, this was the iconic young vampire flick (at least to me) with a lineup of 80s stars.

Joel Schumacher‘s takes us to Santa Carla (the murder capital of the world!) as brothers Michael (Jason Patric) and Sam (Corey Haim) move with their newly divorced mother Lucy (Dianne Wiest). It doesn’t take long for the brothers to get introduced to the local sites, the local myths, and of course the local gang led by David (Kiefer Sutherland). To aid in the assistance of getting to know the area, Sam mingles with the Frog brothers (Corey Feldman and Jamison Newlander) local comic-book specialists and experts on the local vampire lore, while Michael meets the beautiful, enchanting, Star (Jami Gertz). Michael’s attraction to Star leads him to David’s attention, and before he knows it, he’s made a possibly irreversible mistake

source: Warner Bros.

Part satire, part comedy, part mystery, part supernatural horror (though there’s very little actual “chills”) The Lost Boys is a staple of its time, and of culture, in a way that’s hard to replicate. I find it to be a comfort watch, no matter how many times I see it. Sometimes it makes me laugh more than it should or more than initially intended, but that is also the beauty. There’s some great makeup design, and while the plot can be thin at times, the fact that this vampire story is not alluring is admirable. By the time Michael realizes what he’s gotten himself into, he is not only horrified but does everything he can to fight it. This isn’t sexy, this isn’t appealing, this is forever young- and terrible.

“If all the corpses buried around here were to stand up all at once we’d have one hell of a population problem.”

At only 97 minutes it’s a tight film, wasting no time diving right into the gory end. It truly breezes by making it easy to commit to, and even easier to forgive its flaws. The character relationships whether it’s the bond of siblings, mother and sons, new romances, or friendships, are also at the forefront, always giving us a deeper meaning even when the story is cast in leather jackets, dazzling lights, and hilarious dialogue.

source: Warner Bros.

As if the cast wasn’t already stacked Edward Herrmann also has a memorable role. Overall, the casting is really impressive, as well as the time-capsule vibe that feels like it’s just emitting 80s every time you pop the top. It has its moments of savvy, even if it has plenty of silly too, making it an amalgamation that stems beyond just nostalgia but into pop culture icon territory. There is a liveliness to it with its colorful boardwalk, interesting vampiric lair, and costume designs that make it stand out.

The Lost Boys gives an injection of lifeblood into a tired genre that needed some resurrecting at the time. It’s an exhilarating ride, a madcap line of quips and thrills that make it a hard to forget bloody cocktail. This and Fright Night (the original) should both be experienced if one is looking for some 80s vamp flavor. Go on, get your fix.

Spooktober Day 18: Let the Right One In

For most of us cinephiles, we remember the first time we saw a movie, whether it be in the theater, or at home. If the film shakes you, positively or negatively, there’s a residue left that seeps into your memory and makes it challenging to let go. Well, I don’t want to- so I’m going to highlight some Kristy horror history for this wonderful, special, month of October.

From the moment I first saw Let the Right One In, I was completely in love. The sub-genre of vampire films is one that struggles the most with originality, but also heart. Many have tried and failed (some tried and somewhat succeeded) but this is one that nails it on the head. You leave this film with such a fluttering array of emotions: fear and empathy, that it makes it really stand out. I mentioned this previously with Evil Dead, but I will say, that while I’m not going to deeply touch on it, Let Me In is one of those rare American remakes that does it justice. It maintains the best parts, while introducing some new, and also features terrific performances. While I prefer the original, I am very much on board with Let Me In, and I’d honestly suggest everyone see both. Quality films, deserve quality appreciation.

source: Sandrew Metronome

Directed by Tomas Alfredson with a sreenplay by John Ajvide Lindqvist, (based on his novel) Let the Right One in takes the cake on a variety of levels, from behind the camera, in front, and from its origins: the page.

When you’re dealing with stories about vampires it isn’t easy to be bold and new. But, if you can find a story of two children (one not truly a child- only in appearance) you get a disturbed, but also, meaningful take on friendship, and falling in love. It happens in many different ways, this is one, and while it’s not ideal, or…necessarily safe, you feel for them. Connection is, well, just that. And it should never be tossed aside. It’s rare when we find it.

Shy, Twelve year old Oskar (Kåre Hedebrant) struggles with loneliness, both at home and at school, the latter of which is where he is victim consistent bullying. When he meets his new neighbor Eli (Lina Leandersson), Oskar finds the meaningful relationship he’s been yearning for, but, Eli has some bloody secret, appetites. The what and who of Eli doesn’t matter much to Oskar, as he begins to learn more. To him, he’s found his missing piece.

Yes, I wane poetic about this film, deservedly so, but at the end of the day it’s also a wonderful horror. There are times when we are very much reminded of the “monster” that Eli can be. She isn’t a child, and she’s responsible for gruesome murders. It can be sinister, it can be lovely, and it is always enchanting. An atmosphere is built early on that never leaves you, like one can feel the cold in your bones as you watch these characters amid the wintry landscape.

source: Sandrew Metronome

There’s something truly beautiful about Let the Right One In, from the look to the moody soundtrack, to the care used when creating these characters. Isolation can be felt by all. Kids are sometimes forced to grow up too soon, deal with issues beyond their years, all while feeling inherently, alone. Coming of age isn’t easy. The film is peculiar in all the ways it should be, and it’s one that is exquisitely imagined. It feels realistic, especially the two lead’s bond, and that’s a rarity among the genre. By the time the credits roll, Let the Right One In, really sinks its fangs in, and you are happy it did.

Appreciation Review: Only Lovers Left Alive

Appreciation Review: Only Lovers Left Alive (2013)

Recently, during our #BlindspotPodcast for Film Inquiry, Jake Tropila recommended a movie I had been meaning to watch for a long time: Only Lovers Left Alive. Why had I missed this? Who knows…life, time…all of the things considered in this newfound cinematic love.

This was a movie even referred to by my co-host as a “Kristy” film, which is exactly why I am taking the time to talk about how amazing it indeed is.

A vampire film, an existential contemplation on meaning and immortality, a funny, yet intellectual foray into the minds of humans (and our supernatural counterparts)= lovely cinema. There’s a lot to adore with Jim Jarmusch’s film, in a way you may not expect. I left the film satisfied and imbued with emotion, deep in thought, and self-reflection.

How’s that for a genre piece?

Tom Hiddleston (Adam) and Tilda Swinton (Eve) are amazing as the two leads. There’s a chemistry and yet a disconnect (in the most beautiful of ways) and I mean that in the sense that these two have been apart, and yet can be reunited with instant fire; it’s magnetic. A love story for many, many, ages. When Eve discovers that Adam is having a difficult time she immediately goes to his side. They’re forever entwined.

Appreciation Review: Only Lovers Left Alive
source: Soda Pictures, Pandora Film Verleih

There are other terrific supporting roles from the likes of the tragically lost talent of Anton Yelchin to the amazing versatile Mia Wasikowska, to the incredible John Hurt. But, the real passion of this film comes from our leads and an imaginative almost lyrically profound story that is unlike anything that has come before. There’s a real appreciation for cinema, while also emphasizing on the admiration of the human experience.

Anytime someone can introduce a new facet to the “vampire“ sub-genre, I’m thrilled. It’s moody, it’s prolific, with the usual deadpan humor one can expect from this director’s cache, and Jim Jarmusch truly excels here, crafting an interesting character study that is also a blast to enjoy. While there’s a richness here within the narrative, there’s also an overall sweetness that prevails.

Jim Jarmusch weaves a lovely story here that mixes humor and sadness, highlighting intricacies while examining the simple moments of our daily existence. This is complete with music (some from Jarmusch’s band: SQURL) that truly sweep you off your feet. In fact, there are many times I felt like I was floating through this film, elevated by how artfully in tune it is. I believe this to be his best work, and it’s atmospherically encompassing. An intellectually inviting, endearing, and wonderful movie. And yes, there are vampires too.

Bonus!

What is your take? Let me know!