Last night I had the pleasure of seeing a fantastic lost haunted house 80’s gem from Japan called ‘Sweet Home’! I only heard great things about this one recently online while looking for obscure horror movies and just had to check it out for myself. It was never released here in the USA but luckily there’s a great site called Twisted Anger that has some excellent lost cinema you can purchase if you’re not thrilled about watching movies on Youtube (it however is indeed on Youtube).
Sweet Home has some real sweet things going for it, right from the start of the movie it’s clear some love went into the production of this one. It’s beautifully shot and filled with some stunning locations and sets peices. Writer & director Kiyoshi Kurosawa, who’s probably most well known for his 2001 horror film ‘Pulse’ does a great job here letting his spooky tale unfold on screen with tons of color and a great score to accompany it as well. We follow a TV production crew who’re making a documentary about the legendary, now deceased painter, Mamiya Ichiro. They trek out into the foggy countryside to his creepy abandoned mansion and begin exploring, discovering his strange paintings about the house. Soon they begin filming & are confronted by a deadly presence that intends to possess and destroy all who remain inside.
It’s a simplistic story that takes some nice twists and turns along the way and is filled with some colorful characters as well as some nice comedic moments thrown in for good measure. The real star of the show however is clearly the movies excellent special fx work from American master of trade Dick Smith. Smith’s got an impressive resume too as he’s well known for his work on movies like The Exorcist, Poltergeist 2, Scanners, Altered States, Taxi Driver, to name a few. The movie starts off with a quiet tone however when weird shit begins to go down Smith’s stunning fx work really pushes the movie into new territory and is a true glory to behold. The quiet little ghost story by the finale explodes into an action packed visual feast with one of the best onscreen ghostly monsters of the 1980’s. Creepy babies, melting men, monsters & with tons of that 80’s electricity I adore so much, it really contains some “why the fuck have I never seen this before” moments that if you’re a fan of that classic decade of horror you’ll truly appreciate and likely never forget.
From what I’ve read about this movie, it’s been said the director wasn’t happy with this or really most of his 80’s work. Like ‘Poltergeist’ where it’s rumored Steven Speilberg was actually the one on set with the megaphone rather than Tobe Hooper, Sweet Home’s producer was also rumored to be quite an imposing force to director Kurosawa’s final vision. Still the movie manages to be one helluva good time despite any behind the scenes squabbling and is must see for any fans of ghostly 80’s horror done right. The movie also spawned a rather hard to find Nintendo NES Capcom video game as well as being the main inspiration of ‘Resident Evil’. I recommend seeking this odd little lost treasure of flick out this halloween, the fx alone are worth the price of admission!
I checked out ‘The Conjuring’ last night, a movie I was looking forward to for quite a while amidst this season of over blown shiny rubbery looking blockbusters. My verdict? It was a helluva lot of fun and was jam packed with scares a plenty and then more scares after that! I’ve gotta say I’m really kinda liking James Wan as of late, the guy who I originally considered a hack, mainly for my loathing of movies like Saw and Death Sentence. I’ve got to admit though the guy, though not pulling out anything ultra original has pretty much mastered the Ghost Story / haunting horror genre. I was a huge fan of Insidious and this latest offering is just as good if not perhaps an even more solid haunt flick.
Based this time on the “true” story of Ed & Lorraine Warren who were demonologists back in the late 1960’s and 70’s and their most bizarre case which involved the haunting of The Perron Family in their new home in Harrisville, Rhode Island. From the get go you can tell it’s going to be one heck of a creepy ride as the films opening sequences, which involve once again a creepy ass doll (I love creepy dolls!!) foreshadow what’s yet to come later. This is a great back to basics summer horror/suspense film which doesn’t rely on explicit gore, green screens or video gamey CG to get the crowd’s blood pumping. It relies on what you don’t see(yet many times what you do!) to craft it’s chills. It had me squirming in my seat and at times wanting to cover my eyes. It’s well acted, well shot and the special effects are perfectly executed in a way that makes you feel as if you’re right there in the creepy house with the rest of the family.
It’d have been a damn near perfect viewing experience had it not been for the guy in front of us who for some reason felt like he had to narrate the scares for the whole theater, somehow feeling as if perhaps everyone in the theater had actually paid to come listen to him attempt to be a stand up comedian while a tense horror flick played alongside him. Uggh…perhaps I’ll see it again with out the annoying live commentary, however seeing it for the first time won’t ever be as good as the scares run rampant in this one and you never know exactly when the shit is yet again going to hit the fan. It certainly will make you think twice about playing hide and seek! Now however, what I really wonder is how much of this story was actually true? This film delved pretty heavily into the Catholic church and the power of religion to ward off evil spirits so hopefully the real story bares some real resemblance to what we saw onscreen and Wan wasn’t trying to convert it’s audience.
I really recommend this one if you’re looking for something different this summer. It may not be the most original idea to hit the screen but it’s easily one of the best movies out in theaters thus far this summer. Take a chance and test your nerves and if you got a loud mouth who can’t refrain from thinking he’s part of the MST3K crew make sure to creep up slowly behind his seat and scare the bejeezus out of him, then quietly tell him to shut the fuck up!
And here are a couple clips of the real Ed and Lorraine Warren!