Pyramid Head

Yesterday I had an interesting discussion with Adam of Write Thoughts who stopped by to comment my ”Event Horizon” review, and somehow the discussion slipped to Pyramid Head.

Pyramid Head is something (somebody?) that has been running though my head for years. It’s not like I think of it regularly while having my breakfast… hell no! But it’s an image so powerful that it kept coming back during all these years since the realease of the original game (I even don’t play games anymore, huh!).

There were plenty of fan discussions and rumours of what Pyramid Head exactly represents or, at least, what he does not represent… Here’s a very interesting discussion about it (”Is Pyramid Head A Rapist?”). Most of the doubts come from this scene:

He has been an object of various cosplays too, some pretty good…

Some just disrespectful or bad…

Most are missing two elements – the muscles (this one must be tough for the cosplayers) and… fingers. It’s an element that many may have missed – Pyramid Head’s hands are not really human. Pay attention to the scene when James is shooting him.

Never mind. I’ve never been able to summarize my feelings towards the monster as sharply as Adam did.

‘I would say he represents judgement, the desire to suffer for our sins as a form of atonement, and the question “do I want to die?” It’s notable that in most encounters he’s driven off by attacks, but unlike other enemies, he never falls. In the first formal fight a siren calls him away. In later ones it’s strictly avoid or outrun him, and in the final confrontation he destroys himself. I think that shows that he is not an enemy to beat so much as one you resist, and if you resist enough you earn a reprieve. With all his strength it seems clear he could do more harm, suggesting there are unseen rules restraining him. Which, by the way, is my favorite type of monster, one with more power than a human, and greater restrictions.’

Spring (2014)

Directors: Aaron Moorhead, Justin Benson. Written by: Justin Benson.  Score: Jimmy LaValle (“The Album Leaf”). Starring: Lou Taylor Pucci, Nadia Hilker, Francesco Carnelutti. USA, 2014. Budget: unknown, but tiny. Box office: $49,970. IMDB: 6.7. RT: 88%. My rating: 4/4. Love horror deconstruction.

“Just because you haven’t seen something before, it doesn’t mean it’s supernatural.”
(Lilly De Silva from Australia)

“I also highly commend the snippets of philosophy, morality, mortality, religion and science which were sprinkled throughout the film and delivered with just the right amount of wit and depth…”
(Lilly De Silva from Australia)

“The only reason i did not turn this off was because i live in a place without wifi so had no option to download or stream anything else.”
(Nicholaus Hedman)

Okay folks, here a film praised not only by me, but by Guillermo Del Toro himself as “…one of the best horror films of this decade”. If that means something to you, keep on reading, otherwise… otherwise I guess you ended up on a wrong blog! 😲

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This scene is not as simple as it seems.

Justin Benson and Aaron Scott Moorhead continue to trick the viewers with their second film and deconstruct the movie genres, now in a very romantic and sweet way. “Spring” is irresistible from the very beginning to the last frame. Just like the main characters of the movie, it enfolds you with charming and genuine story. And like “Resolution“, their previous movie, it’s more of a mystery, than horror.

It took me a while to have enough courage to approach this movie since I really adored “Resolution”, the debut picture of Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead. After reading the interviews and the premise, I was afraid that the directors would not be at a height of their first movie and pay too much attention to the horror genre itself. Oh oh oh. I couldn’t be more wrong.  “Spring” is an incredibly refreshing romantic monsterpiece.

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I could stare at this for hours too. Easy!

The story. After losing his mother and his job, Evan (Lou Taylor Pucci – “Thumbsucker“, 2013 “Evil Dead” ), a young American guy, decides to go wild and buys a random travel destination, participating in various parties and other craziness. He is impulsive, but… he simply feels lost. Evan accidentally meets Louise (Nadia Hilker – “Allegiant“), a young Italian girl living in a small Italian city near the Amalfi coast. Soon he founds out that not everything is what it seems and there is some dark obscure truth behind Louise.

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Something creepy must be hiding this charming smile… or is it just my imagination?

The production and shooting. The script, the location and how they intertwine is truly impressive. Justin Benson wrote the script while shooting ”Resolution”, when he was still working at the restaurants. In various interviews the directors mention the difficulties they had in finding the funds even after a successful indie debut – they went to Cannes Festival covering all the expenses by themselves (normally that doesn’t work that way), then scouting the right locations in Italy and meeting some producers. The project was initially thought to be shot in Italy and you can feel it – the city is an integral part of the story and deserves a special word.

”Spring” makes you feel like you are right in the middle of an upcoming spring blossom.

What I liked. It goes without saying how gorgeous is the location (it is actually Polignano a Mare in Apulia), but what is important here is how Benson and Moorhead actually develop the characters in this ambient. The light, the nature, various life forms, the feel, the architecture and the spirit of the place  blend organically with the story.  There is some kind of sense of doom here. Some scenes of the movie were not even programmed, but were a pure luck, like, for example, a couple of dead birds. Benson and Moorhead, it seems, are keeping a secret about shooting something that may sound like a cliche on paper but turns out to be genuine and original. Like ”Resolution”, Spring” flows so naturally that you never look at the watch.

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Bloody, but not disgusting.

Benson and Moorhead approach the actual filming in a very mature way for such young directors. I read about how they both hate establishing shots, considering them waste of time (these usually wide shots show the whole location from a distance preparing the audience). So they used the drones and trying to find some unusual feel and peculiar angles. This kind of approach embraces the whole movie, without becoming an end in itself though (and many directors fall in this trap once they’ve found an original visual style).

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Polignano al Mare, the film’s main location.

The acting. Can’t praise more brilliant performance of Lou Taylor Pucci and Nadia Hilker. Amazing chemistry. They found a perfect tone for the picture, giving you a sense of watching a seed that is breaking the ground and is slowly becoming a tree, deepening its roots. If Evan is a seed, searching impulsively and painfully for something (or somebody), then Louise, with all her transformations, would be the nature – water, sun – that comes and goes as she pleases. Their increasing connection reminds that loving means growing, and growing means taking more and more layers off yourself and the other person that can be painful. I would also like to give a special mention to Francesco Carnelutti, a veteran Italian actor, who played a old farmer. His character was sharp, kind and wise. Carnelutti passed away in 2015. He did his first role in 1969.

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The dialogues often makes you wanna stop and pinch yourself. When Evan arrives in the town, continuing his somewhat of a substance-based journey, he is quickly approached by a charming stranger, Louise… and you know what would happen in most romance movies, right? Here Evan asks whether she is a prostitute.  By the way, it’s the debut film for Nadia Hilker. My standing ovation. Lou Taylor Pucci mentioned somewhere that before being actually contacted by Benson and Moorhead, he was actually searching for a love horror movie (on what his representatives said that such stories don’t exist).

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You think that airplane can’t hit his head? Then you forgot what real sci-fi is.

The music. Jimmy LaValle, a one man band (he performs as “The Album Leaf” – post-rock, indie pop, ambient; check it out if you have never heard of it) created tender and heartwarming tones for the picture. After graduating from college, Benson worked on documenting an album of “The Album Leaf”, it seems that now his past connection bring great results.

The reception. Like ”Resolution”, ”Spring” was greatly received everywhere and received various awards on indie festivals . Guillermo del Toro wrote in his Twitter, ”Just in case I wasn’t clear: Spring is one of the best horror films of this decade. And the only Lovecraftian film that has blown me away.”

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That’s it folks. I guess after reading how I drool over the film, these numbers won’t surprise you…

Spectacularity: 4/4
Acting:  4/4
Directing: 4/4
Originality: 4/4
Final vote: 4/4

Worth watching? Movies like ”Spring” make my faith in independent cinema stronger than ever. Keep in mind – it’s more of a mystery/thriller and has nothing to do with modern jumpscare horror, being a heartfelt, layered and genuine Lovecraftian film, capable of saying lots of things. Surely one of the most refreshing and picturesque love horror stories in many years, ”Spring” actually makes you feel like you are right in the middle of an upcoming spring blossom.

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What they do in the shadows…

 

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Here’s a link to the movie on Amazon – digital version / BluRay+DVD. I watched it in streaming version so can’t tell exactly how the package looks like… If someone has it, please share.

 

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Here you can read my review of Moorhead’s & Benson’s previous movie (“Resolution”, 2012) which I absolutely loved too. Their next movie, “The Endless”, must be out very soon and seems to be a spiritual sequel to “Resolution”.

Top 17 Highest Grossing Horror Movies Of All Time

 

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As I mentioned yesterday…

It” (2017) is about to become the biggest horror box office success ever, as its current box office of stands at… $666.6 million. Nice number. Just $6 mln away from beating M. Night Shyamalan’s “The Sixth Sense” (1999) with $672 mln…

…and then something clicked in my mind. Wait, was “Sixth Sense” a horror? Wow! Okay. Mojo knows better. So, given this curiousity and the upcoming Halloween, I decided to examine some other highest grossing horror movies…

  • The Exorcist” (1973) casted out $400,214,478 with dark magic and that means 3rd place.

    TE8

    She floats, too.

  • A solid death grip guaranteed 4th place  Spielberg’s “Jaws” (1975) and impressive $470,653,000.
  • On 5th place we see again that M. Night Shyamalan was still showing some signs of life in 2002… with $408,247,917.
  • On 6th place “Hannibal” (2001) is chewing his $350,100,280 with a glass of Chianti (1991 “Silence of the Lambs” had $275,726,716 and that means 11th place).
  • The Conjuring” and “The Conjuring 2” were indeed good at conjuring an impressive amount of cash out of the horror-loving public – $318,000,141 and $311,270,008 respectively, so that would count as 7th and 8th.
  • Then, things get rough. Various sources cite “Se7en”, “Ghostbusters”, “Shutter Island”, “Van Helsing”, “Sex in the City” come on, guys, these aren’t really horrors. Even “Hannibal” is hard for me to consider a horror movie (but it had Anthony Hopkins whose smile is already scary by itself). But Bill Murray?
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This is a true horror film. Just look at their faces. Holy shit. That’s Bill-motherfuckin-ghostbuster-Murray! (This was a quote. I didn’t invent it. Jim Jarmusch and RZA did.)

  • Bill Murray is not scary.
  • Obviously I would love to skip all these “Resident Evil” remakes and prefer to do a Halloween costume for a hamster plus I love “Event Horizon” but…tumblr_nc0hmrFAU11tuzl74o1_500
  • …but “Resident Evil: The Final Chapter” (2017) grossed $312,242,626 and “Resident Evil: Afterlife” (2010) – $300,228,084. Now I’m curious, how many years will pass till they reboot the franchise? 2? Whatever. 9th and 10th places are theirs. Resident Evil: Retribution” (2012) had $240,004,424, by the way, which guarantees 17th place.
  • Lets move on. “Annabelle: Creation” (2017) is the only horror sequel more successful than the original with astonishing $291,100,361, that is 11th place. The first film, “Annabelle, has the privelege of being the only horror movie on the list with a sweet name and $256,873,813. That counts as 13th place (don’t ask me where is the 12th, because it means you weren’t reading carefully and I’ll cancel you from the subscription lists).tenor.gif
  • Ah, almost forgot. In the old times, when Harrison Ford wasn’t only rebooting all kind of franchises (sorry, old joke) and Robert Zemeckis was an interesting director to follow, there was a film called “What Lies Beneath” (2000). It had  $291,420,351. I didn’t watch it because my parents didn’t allow me to look at Michelle Pfeiffer…

    …at the age of 11, so if anyone thinks it is a horror… that would be 10½th place.

  • The Village” is supposed to come 14th with an impressive $256,697,520 but since it’s not nice to have 3 M. Night Shyamalan movies on the list lets move on. But it was a scary film. I watched it when I was 15 years old on a big screen. So not sure how scary it would be now. But it made a long-lasting impression.P_XViOz6Fo49-I8SqW50GuystPc
  • Get Out” was creepy, but it wasn’t really a horror. A good tense thriller? Yes. As Jay said, “…Peele isn’t exactly trying to horrify you; he’s trying to unsettle you. And he’s doing that exceedingly well.” I love the film and it was a nice debut, so lets just mention it had $252,434,250 which is a lot for a film like that.ezgif-2-e893f6dbbf
  • The American remake of the classic Japanese horror “Ringu” grossed $249,348,933 in 2002 and could have taken 15th place… but that was a remake. By the way, guess which movie was the first on the list of the scariest eyes in horror?
  • I would like to admit that I deliberately skipped “Prometheus” with its impressive $403,354,469 (potential 3rd place) and “Alien: Covenant” with $238,862,031 (potential 18th place – yes, they call it a box office flop now) because I don’t think they were horror movies although some may consider them such. The 1979 “Alien” was a horror movie. The rest was just tense science fiction.
  • To end things on a positive, hm, note… “Blair Witch Project” takes 16th place with $248,639,099.
  • And the winner is… “Paranormal Activity” with its $15,000 budget and $193 mln box office.  But it’s not in the top since we weren’t discussing most profitable horror movies which is what really matters, not the box office.

End of line.

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Almost forgot. Since it’s Halloween, I must admit that I’ve always been rather indifferent to this holiday (and it’s not celebrated so much here in Europe), but seeing  many fellow bloggers dedicating the whole month to horror movies, trashy costumes, DIY-s, beautiful Halloween cupcakes and soul cakes (soul cake…beautiful name) makes me love a little bit more.