OnePlusYou Quizzes and Widgets


Ravenous (1999)

 You are what you eat.

This has long been due and awaited by a select* few, and tonight I am ready once again: Whilst wallowing in footnotes of a scientific nature and working my pretty ass off about topics no single remotely sane and especially 'normal'** person is interested in, I needed to occupy my creative multitasking with some visual input in order to actually concentrate on being a frelling out-of-work penniless genius who is being thought of as a weird, nerdy retard. Pardon my French. So the search for DVDs working on this glorious excuse for a laptop*** led to 'not-really-anything-working-besides-for-a-handful-that-I-have-already-watched-extensively' - as a result, thinning out the collection to what is available on one backup drive. This is a sore topic for me, as most of my DVDs are not working anymore, and most of my backups are A)**** on non-working peripheral drives, or B) dead internal drives in inaccessible impossible casings. Add C) non-accessible drives in dead motherboards and D) non-working broken DVDs as your personal level of Schadenfreude demands. It's easily possible to add E) non-working DVD-player to that - but as of recently, I can say 'thank you' to Maynard of horrormoviediary.net, who volunteered to send me a working external DVD-player. Thank you.

Still, the final solution in this case having been the handful of movies of which I have several backups - having been blessed with technological paranoia from an early involvement with it on -, I chose Ravenous to be the movie of the... day? Weekend? Don't know, don't care, but what counts is that Ravenous is one of those movies I can actually watch, so there we go - praise Dame Necessity.

First of all:
Robert J. Carlyle. OMG. Robert J. Carlyle.
Your hostess has to admit to going all fan-girl-y over that Scottish guy. His characters are always memorable - Colqhoun / Colonel Ives in this wonderful movie, the father in 28 Weeks Later (Hallêlu:-Fresnadillo/Boyle!), Dr. Rush in SGU (only thing saving that series, besides for the distinctly Farscape-esque touch of the story and the ship Destiny... srsly), .... and most recently, effing Rumplestiltskin in faerytale-smooch-drama-series Once Upon A Time (again, only saving grace of that thing - I do see a pattern here).

So. Ravenous. *toothy grin*

This is the story of a young man of the American military, Captain John Boyd (Guy Pearce), who has been sent to Fort Spencer, located in what has to count as pretty much the remotest areas of the Sierra Nevadas, for a reason made very clear at the very start of the narrative; there, he encounters a very archaic concept coming to life, threatening all - an archaic concept made manifest as a ravenous hunger... for human flesh.

(cue in cheering, applause and enthusiastic hooting of the doubtlessly huge crowd here for effect)

Captain John Boyd is a coward at heart. He managed to take an enemy post in a battle once (ah, yes: The movie is set during the time of the Mexican-American war - complete with in-period garb, which of course impressed me positively A LOT, being the historical-accuracy-nerd that I am), but that was under ...special circumstances. That was ...different. *grins toothily*
You see, he let himself be captured by the enemy (= evil Mexicans in this case) by 'playing dead' - he could not bear witnessing the deaths of all his men, and so he thought it would be a good idea to fake being dead. Wise choice indeed, considering that he found himself on a wagon loaded with the corpses of his fellow soldiers, buried underneath them. Getting their, ehm, inside-stuff into his mouth. Heh.

When a mysterious stranger who calls himself Colqhoun arrives at Ford Spencer shortly after Boyd has, our soldier does not know yet that his life will change completely under the influence of the remnants of his own past and the needs of the present. A horror movie with engaging and truly memorable, well-crafted characters! [rasping-hissing-guttural-reptilian noises] Happy squeal.

Without going too much into the background-end of movie-narratives, Ravenous manages to make every single character in this movie into a well-defined semiotic entity - stereotyped just enough to provide a starting point, but crafted into veritable personalities from quite early on (well... needs to be from quite early on, as some people kind of die. No, not peacefully, rest assured). There is simply no possibility to mistake one character for another, as it so often happens with modern horror flicks; in case you don't know what I mean, think back to the last movie you watched involving some person killing teenagers and/or young adults appearing in friend-circle-sized groups, maybe even one in which this happens outdoors, preferrably in some woodland area. If you should suddenly find yourself thinking about, I don't know, Friday the 13th or any other slasher movie from the past decades in which you find yourself mixing up the victims because they are simply flesh to be killed off, then you got the point I was trying to make. However - this movie. Oh my gods. This movie. Oh my gods.***** The characters are awesome. All of them.

  • The Stoner: Private Cleaves, an awesome performance by David Arquette. David Arquette! I really had not expected that.
  • The Native (I - Stoner): George, convincingly played by Joseph Running Fox. The scene which touches upon catholicism is BRILLIANT.
  • The Native (II - Female): Sheila Tousey plays Martha, sister to George the Stoner. Silent, tough.
  • The Bookish Boss: Colonel Hart - Jeffrey Jones! His performance in this flick is just all-around nifteh. Like, seriously.
  • The Aryan Übersoldier: Private Reich (lol), hilariously played by Neil McDonough. You can feel the aryan hardcore-ness emanating from the screen. Well played, Mr. McDonough, well played.
  • The Religious Shy Nutter: Private Toffler, charmingly played by Jeremy Davies.
  • The Alcoholic Doctor: Knox, portrayed by Stephen Spinella. Convincing. *nods* Convincing and funny, actually - but in this movie, the 'funny' (or should I make that 'amusing'?) kind of comes with the territory... which I fully approve of.
  • The Naive Coward: Captain John Boyd, our very own lead.
...as I said. No single fucking way to confuse these characters with one another - visuals and voice are particular to each person. This is a good thing. Whilst I dislike the overuse of stereotyping in general, I welcome it as a device for storytelling - and let's face it, movies are narratives, therefore the rules of storytelling apply in a kind of way. Mhkay? Mhkay.

All of the characters are loveable in their own way, and you will no doubt have your favourite (and one you like the least...) - mine is, as readers familiar with my rantings and ...delicate distinctions on decadence, death and dismemberment as well as desiccating husks of dead things might already have guessed, the cannibalistic character, as played by - remember the elegies at the beginning of this review? x-actly - ROBERT CARLYLE (*swoons*). No one, I swear, no one plays the calculating wendigo beyond human behavioural patterns - and yet using these to his advantage by impersonating them to those who still suffer from them - like him: The original nightmare from which the variety of anthropomorphic monsters we have in our world's myths, sagas, stories, tales and bedtime whispers have spawned, the original dread to which all these pay witness.

It's one of us. 


As for anthropomorphic monsters of movie-land - I don't know how my esteemed readers feel about this, but I personally think that there's something archaic about a human eating another human. Satisfying. Basic. Or maybe it's that 'non-monstrous-looking people doing monstrous things to one another'-theme I have going on (-- my favourite topos, really)... anyways!

[I did want to add in some deeply philosophical stuff about why the stuff witnessed in this movie can be classified as cannibalism, followed by a deeply philosophical view on why most of the stuff can't be cannibalism for purely semantic reasons; let's just state that cannibalism would be the eating of one's own kind (as Cannibal Flesh Riot! taught us so well)... and the change from human to wendigo seems to be pretty straight and without any turns back to the olden road of not eating people. There, long philosophical point made.]

When looking at the atmospheric pictures Ravenous provides the viewer with, you have to figure in the soundtrack to delve into the whole movie-experience. I'd recommend a relaxing intoxicant of your personal choice if I ever did such things or would, indeed, even assume in my child-like naiveté that this would be something people would or could do without repercussion from the righteous, just and holy Law(s) [insert the Law(s) appropriate for your geographical area, religious persuasion, social stratum, education, gender, musical taste, movie preference, political persuasion(s), favourite drink, age range and relationship to cats here] for such a heinous act of malice, evil and brooding terror.
*nods sagely*

...feel free to crack open a cold one, though.

Enjoy *grins*

So... Soundtrack. Damon Albarn and Michael Nyman truly are AMAZING composers. I was a bit disoriented the first time I heard Nyman being mentioned on the cultural radio channel over here - Ö1 for those of you who keep track******, but quickly connected the name with this movie. Seriously - the man is brilliant. Together, these two men are more than brilliant. Ravenous' soundtrack is exactly the sound you'd like to have running whilst merrily hunting down your human prey, preferrably in the mountainous and wood-covered ranges of something with only thin air left. Tenderness******* and all that.

Pacing: Comes with the soundtrack - or rather, the existence of this brilliant musical accompaniment to the narrative told here proves that the pacing is here - and it is indeed. It runs. It floats. It's natural. Sometimes, it speeds up a bit to let us cherish the rest of the story as well instead of dwelling too long on one point (as I would be wont to do, just so that you unnecessarily are aware of that); it generally can be said that the movement is fluid and follows from what has already happened how (and how fast). Natural pacing. It's rare to see that in a movie - especially in a movie about cannibalism!

By the way: Why is it that when a woman produces and directs a movie that is witty, gory, entertaining and full of suspense throughout gets called weird, but when guys do the same thing, no one says that? Oh, wait. 21st century, I nearly forgot.

Anyways! I am not writing as much and as lengthily as I would actually want to (...there's A LOT of stuff about this movie in my brain that wants to jump out at unsuspecting strangers, trust me...); this is due to me sitting here in front of the craptop, trying to go through my list of movie-reviews I have jotted down under the heading of 'to write' in order to do at least a bit of stuff that is actually really important to the world at large******** instead of just sitting around and worrying about stuff bothering me. So I ask you to forgive me this insanely short review of a movie that would deserve 30+ screens of analysis and love and hugs and kisses and kinky sex.

Hence: This movie is going to be one of the best you've ever watched, unless you seriously dislike character development, in-period-garb for actors, great and difficile acting, wonderful stereotypes used as they should be used, cognizant pacing, a beautiful soundtrack that makes you want to hunt people********* and twists and turns most people cannot foresee. I enjoy this movie immensely, whenever I have the chance to watch it. Some day, I shall make this review longer and more tedious and awesome to read...

11 / 10 holes in the ground. Like... holes. In the ground.

* Read: mad and obsessive.
** CSICON: Committee for Surrealist Investigation of Claims of the Normal: 'Finnegan's paper began with the electrifying sentence, "The average Canadian has one testicle, just like Adolph Hitler -- or, more precisely, the average Canadian has 0.96 testicles, an even sadder plight than Hitler's, if the average Anything actually existed." He then went on to demonstrate that the normal or average human lives in substandard housing in Asia, has 1.04 vaginas, cannot read or write, suffers from malnutrition and never heard of Silken Thomas Fitzgerald or Brian Boru. "The normal," he concluded "consists of a null set which nobody and nothing really fits."' 
*** Destrøyer øv t3k-N0-10gY
**** I officially and psychologically hate yellow. Hence the colour. Now delve into your Schadenfreude! 
***** Eh? Eh? EH?
****** Yes. I listen to Ö1 and love horror movies, nothing wrong with those two usually mutually exclusive things being combined into one happy package in me. :D
******* Possibly not the tenderness most people are thinking of when hearing or reading that word. Just to make this clear: There is no cuddling involved. 
******** The snark comes from realising that nothing I do is actually really important to the world at large. 
********* I don't know about you guys, but I feel like doing a Ravenous impromptu-show whenever I hear the soundtrack... *grins*

Tucker & Dale vs. Evil (2010)

Sheesh. A person turns their back onto modern horror in order to descend into madness for a career in stuff no one's interested in besides for the occasional madman or creep, only to return and see that they fucking missed a lot of cool stuff in the two years they were busy. Jeez. Give a body some rest.
Then again, I distinctly remember seeing the DVDs in a friend's preferred video store, thinking something along the lines of "this is so not going to be funny". And now, roughly 2 years later, I can come here and say 'dude, I was wrong. SO WRONG', because this, ladies and gentlemen, ghosts and ghouls, zombeasts and vamplings, is frelling hilarious. And I mean HILARIOUS.

So... let's start with WEST VIRGINIAAAAAAAA!!! Not just the home of my favourite band Blitzkid - who are going to finally split up after this tour, and damn, I shall have to run amok if I cannot manage to get to their final gig in Köln on Halloween - but also the trusty location where all horror movie nerds from around the world* know to find the evil woods that house, well, hillbillies. Murderous hillbillies. Madness, murder, slaughter, violence, death! Not necessarily in this order, though.

So yeah, the second we move into West Virginia, we know we're in for... well. A ride. I would totally offer you screenshots of the West Virginia woods scene in Tucker & Dale vs Evil and drag up my old West Virginia woods screen from Wrong Turn now, but alas, this laptop is not able to do that.

Our two heroes are Tucker and Dale. Tucker (Alan Tudyk) is one of the nifteh guys from Firefly in case you think you remember that face; in this movie, the eponymous Tucker is one of two 'hillbillies' on their way to their vacation in their dilapidated cabin in the woods; he is a simple yet philosophically skilled man who understands the truths of the world as it presents itself to us (and, according to Dale, also quite the man with the ladies, which I feel compelled to believe him). Dale - played by Tyler Labine - is the sweet-natured, slightly bigger guy. To be honest, I felt eerily reminded of Cannibal Flesh Riot! and the comedic trope of the tall, thin, clever guy teamed up with the beer-belly, bigger, less clever guy; the slight Cannibal Flesh Riot! - feeling probably comes from the fact that both movies subvert the trope successfully.

Tucker & Dale vs Evil is something that will probably be funny to most people, but only hilariously funny to those of us who have watched a few too many horror flicks. Every single stereotype is there, magnificently enhanced by the movie's joy to take the genre-specifics that all make us groan and just run with them; there's no need to pretend that the victims are not picked out for our viewing pleasure, that what happens is actually happening due to circumstances and not because it's what happens in horror flicks, that people get hilariously killed in extremely funny ways not because this is a horror flick but because this is, you know, serious business.

Generally speaking, this movie did everything right.

I particularly want to praise how writer** and director Eli Craig made it really easy for the viewer to see the two sides of the story - the hapless Dale and the a-bit-less-hapless Tucker (reminding at least me not just a little of his Firefly-character Wash) with all the weird stuff that happens around them, seriously confused by what they experience: perfectly contrasted with the young college people (I freely assume they are being young college people as actors of that age and dressed like that in such movies are always college people) and their preconceptions about what kind of people Tucker and Dale might possibly be.
As someone who is fascinated with the differences that make up each of our realities due to inferring that the world is the way we see it, I find this movie to be simply AWESOME - funny and awesome. It is hilarious, but at the same time, I could easily make a comparison between our college youths and Nazi Germany - but alas, I will refrain from doing that***.

The faithful horror fan will enjoy the scenes presented in Tucker & Dale vs Evil so much more than a non-horror viewer - although I have to admit I do not think too many people without at least a slight penchant for horror would watch it. Then again, I have no idea what normal people who are not into horror actually watch...

Old horror movie key-scenes and tropes have been used in such a fucking ingenious way that I feel it would be unfair to rob you of them by talking about them. Let's just say that the scenes are nearly flawless.

Oh, and I want to state that the free use of beer is awesome in this movie. Beer is an important part of civilisation, and these two proud men know it. Tucker and Dale are on the case!

Seriously though: Serious message (do not assume that people are what you think they are just because of their looks and your preconceived notions of stereotypes), hilarious flick. Along with the fun, the brain-stuff, the subtle social undertones we also get some really heart-warming scenes about friendship and acceptance (and cute romance). As I said, in my opinion, this has pretty much everything and has been done very, very, very very well. :D

The acting is pretty solid throughout - our two male leads and the female lead (Katrina Bowden as Allison) are obvious in this regard, but the college kids are also... more believable than their non-funny-horror-flick-with-hillbillies-counterparts on which they have been modelled. Then again, overacting such a part is way easier than trying to act believably - I mean come on. Would you be able to act in a believable way if you were to be cannon fodder for a woods-slasher-movie? I know I probably wouldn't.

The dialogue, too, is one of the most hilarious things ever, especially if you're watching this with the horror stereotypes we all know and love in mind. To be honest: Writing a review for this is a bit weird for me because I am giggling most of the time if not laughing out loud due to the hilarity of it all.


Highly recommended to everyone!

9.5 / 10 creepy college kids hurling themselves to their premature death ("...Grab a leg!")

* Including females with hardly any idea about the geography of the world today who are nonetheless still able to split hairs about how much distance can be calculated to be lying between two ancient sites that have been ancient and dead for more than 4,000 years, obviously.
** Together with Morgan Jurgenson.
*** Take the superstitions the college kids have towards our friendly heroes and how that enrages them to act further and further, drowning down the spiral of pointless violence, under the aegis of a leader, and simply compare mentally with how the Germans and Austrians had these weird superstitions towards the Jewish people and how that enraged them to act further and further, drowning down the spiral of pointless violence under the aegis of a Führer... damn, I did it! ><