THE DEN EFFECTIVELY PROVES WHAT WE ALREADY KNOW

THE DEN-United States-81 Mins. 2013

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Melanie Papalia as Elizabeth Benton in The Den

Melanie Papalia as Elizabeth Benton in The Den

David Schlactenhaufen as Damien in The Den

David Schlactenhaufen as Damien in The Den

Adam Shapiro as Max in The Den

Adam Shapiro as Max in The Den

Directed by Zachary Donohue

Written by Zachary Donohue and Lauren Thompson

Elizabeth receives a grant that allows her to study the online activities of random people on the internet. She uses, along with her webcam, a chat hub known as The Den, a form of chat roulette. Until a person’s face, user name and location appears on screen, Elizabeth has no idea who she will be chatting with or where they are from, much less what they will be doing. There are the usual things a person might expect to see: the fellow from a foreign country who promises to send her a million dollars if she will just be his beneficiary to receive thirteen million dollars; the kid who pranks her by eliciting a frightened response from her; and also the guy who does nothing but wave his penis from side to side. In between this are the usual weirdo’s, lonely hearts and guys begging to see a female nipple here and there. Elizabeth also witnesses the alleged murder of a young girl and when she is unable to get help from the police she investigates further and discovers that while she is watching everyone else someone is watching her and this ultimately puts Elizabeth, and her friends and family, in grave danger.

The Den surprised me. The method of using webcams as a plot device has been used before, especially with films in the Paranormal Activity series, mainly the fourth installment. However with The Den I found it to be a fresh approach to the genre of found footage filmmaking. In a vague way the film also reminded me of Eli Roth’s Hostel; I think this is because Roth says he got the idea (for Hostel) from Harry Knowles at Ain’t It Cool News who showed him a website offering the opportunity, for a substantial sum, for a person to go into a room and murder another person in cold blood.

The Den is not the perfect found footage film. The beginning is monotonous and for a while I toyed with the idea of turning the movie off and going to bed. Another thing that annoyed me was the hostility that Elizabeth meets with from the online community while trying to find answers. To put it mildly, I know that the internet can be full of self-centered douchebags but everyone-I think not. I persevered through to the end and found myself disturbed enough by what I saw that when I finally did go to bed I had trouble sleeping. This is not a usual occurrence for me. The final act of The Den redeems the beginning and the entire film proves what we have known all along: that whether we believe it or not the internet is not as safe as we would assume, and that we have no idea just how evil this world can be.

NO TRIVIA

3of5

Melanie Papalia also appears in Smiley and American Pie Presents: The Book of Love.

David Schlachtenhaufen also appears in Loose Cannons: The Movie and Sal.

Adam Shapiro also appears in Now You See Me and A Single Man.

THE SEMI-DAILY HORROR MOVIE QUOTE OF THE DAY-MARCH 29, 2013

From HOSTEL:

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THE WRITTEN IN BLOOD EDITION OF DESERT ISLAND FILMS

I was asked, by my friend Tyson at Head in a Vice, if I would submit my list of eight movies, one book and one luxury item that I would want to have with me if I were stranded on a desert island. I must say that I am glad that he finally asked as I was feeling left out and would soon resort to stalking and glaring menacingly at him while cleaning my fingernails with an ice pick. Just kidding, Tyson. Maybe.

I got to thinking about what to include on the list. I’m not a professional critic; I don’t know all about the various techniques that filmmakers and actors use to make a great film. I don’t use fancy words to describe a performance or a scene. I am just a guy from California by way of South Carolina who has watched movies since he was six and knows what he likes when he sees it.

So, here’s my list. As you can guess most are horror movies but with a few non-genre films tossed in for balance. I don’t think my choices will surprise anyone; but who knows. There is no particular order to the selections.

1. The Thing (1982)-John Carpenter

Alright, I told a little white lie. There is no way that I was not going to put this movie anywhere but Number 1. The Thing is the best film of John Carpenter’s long career and is a perfect example of how hand-made special effects are far more convincing than something a four year old could do on a fucking computer. Isolation, paranoia and a creature that can assume any form; what more could you ask for in a movie?

2. The Howling (1981)-Joe Dante

Best werewolf movie ever made! Best werewolf transformation ever! These are not your daddy’s Lon Chaney Jr. werewolves. These are werewolves whose sole purpose is to keep you, me and Little Red Riding Hood in therapy for the rest of our lives. I fell in love with Dee Wallace in this movie. There was no way I could have shot her; it would have been like shooting Ole Yeller.

3. Hostel and Hostel Part II (2005 and 2007)-Eli Roth

I’m cheating quite a bit with this selection as Hostel and Hostel Part II are two entirely different movies. But then again, how different are they? Both feature dumb Americans in foreign countries who get in way over their heads. Both feature torture and gore. Even the Bubble Gum Gang makes an appearance in both movies. Why do I love these two sicko movies so much? I have no fucking idea! Best line goes to Natalya (Barbara Nedeljakova) for “I get a lot of money for you, and that makes you MY bitch.”

4. Goodfellas (1990)-Martin Scorcese

Where do I start? I take nothing away from The Godfather; but in my humble opinion Goodfellas is the definitive gangster movie. I could, and did, write an entire post on this one movie. Give me time and I could write 10 more. There are so many great scenes in this film; Henry and Karen’s first date and that masterful tracking shot, Tommy’s death and Jimmy’s heartbreaking reaction. Last but not least there’s that great scene:

Henry Hill: You’re a pistol, you’re really funny. You’re really funny.
Tommy DeVito: What do you mean I’m funny?
Henry Hill: It’s funny, you know. It’s a good story, it’s funny, you’re a funny guy.
[laughs]
Tommy DeVito: What do you mean, you mean the way I talk? What?
Henry Hill: It’s just, you know. You’re just funny, it’s… funny, the way you tell the story and everything.
Tommy DeVito: [it becomes quiet] Funny how? What’s funny about it?
Anthony Stabile: Tommy no, You got it all wrong.
Tommy DeVito: Oh, oh, Anthony. He’s a big boy, he knows what he said. What did ya say? Funny how?
Henry Hill: Jus…
Tommy DeVito: What?
Henry Hill: Just… ya know… you’re funny.
Tommy DeVito: You mean, let me understand this cause, ya know maybe it’s me, I’m a little fucked up maybe, but I’m funny how, I mean funny like I’m a clown, I amuse you? I make you laugh, I’m here to fuckin’ amuse you? What do you mean funny, funny how? How am I funny?
Henry Hill: Just… you know, how you tell the story, what?
Tommy DeVito: No, no, I don’t know, you said it. How do I know? You said I’m funny. How the fuck am I funny, what the fuck is so funny about me? Tell me, tell me what’s funny!
Henry Hill: [long pause] Get the fuck out of here, Tommy!
Tommy DeVito: [everyone laughs] Ya motherfucker! I almost had him, I almost had him. Ya stuttering prick ya. Frankie, was he shaking? I wonder about you sometimes, Henry. You may fold under questioning.

5. Taxi Driver (1976)-Martin Scorcese

Taxi Driver is one of the most perfect American movies ever made and by far the greatest performance of Robert De Niro’s career. It is a paranoid journey into the seedy heart of New York City. It is a film that the lonely can understand and that the rest of us can be awed by. The scene where Travis is pleading with Betsy over the phone is one of the most heart wrenching in movie history.

6. Role Models (2008)-David Wain

What? Did you seriously think I wouldn’t take a comedy with me? If I watched the other movies on the list without having something to laugh at I’d go insane. This goofy movie about two losers forced into community service at a Big Brother type program makes me LOL and ROFLMAO every time I see it. So take that, Reindeer Games. I know; you’re not Ben Affleck. You know something? You white, you Ben Affleck.

7. Inside aka À l’intérieur (2007)-Alexandre Bustillo and Julien Maury

I had heard that the French were making some brutal horror movies lately. I didn’t believe it at first; and then I saw Martyrs and this movie, Inside, and my eyes were opened. Brutal does not even begin to describe this movie. Beátrice Dalle is fucking terrifying in this film about a woman, her unborn child and the woman who will do anything to make it her own. Inside is intense!

8. Kill Bill: Vol. 1 and Vol. 2 (2003 and 2004)-Quentin Tarantino

The Kill Bill films are my absolute favorite Tarantino films. QT pays homage to nearly every genre that he can cram into the narrative of his tale about a vengeful bride and Bill, the son of a bitch who shot her down. You’ve never met anyone quite like The Bride, Bill and the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad.

My one book would have to be Ghoul by Michael Slade. This was Slade’s second novel and the first that I read. After that I haven’t missed one since. Slade’s books are mystery, history and bloody horror all rolled into one brilliant little package. Ghoul is a masterpiece.

As for my luxury item that would be a toothbrush. If she were with me my wife would at least want me to have healthy teeth and gums.

HOSTEL: PART III

HOSTEL: PART IIIUnited States-88 Mins. 2011

Kip Pardue as Carter McMullen

John Hensley as Justin

Sarah Habel as Kendra

Brian Hallisay as Scott

Zulay Henao as Nikki

Directed by Scott Spiegel

Written by Michael D. Weiss and Eli Roth (characters)

Guys, have you ever been standing at a urinal, just getting ready to zip up, when someone makes the comment about how if you shake it more than three times then you’re playing with it? With the first two Hostel films, Eli Roth and company shook us just enough to have a little fun. The third film in the series is just jerking us off altogether. I just watched this film and I am now completely aware of what a cheap hooker feels like. First of all, why did they have to set this one in Vegas? Was it supposed to be a pun? You know, ‘what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas’ and all that bullshit. Oh, and don’t even get me started on the kills. The first two films had some pretty damn inventive kills. These were just anemic. But you know what really pisses me off about the kills? I have the unrated version of the film. If this is the unrated version of this film then the rated version must have been produced by Walt Disney. Mufasa from The Lion King, Bambi’s mom and Ole Yeller all had scarier deaths than this film.

The other thing that I hated was how they played us along by the old cliché’ of people not being what they seem. Hello! Assholes! Been there, done that a thousand times already! Get some new material. Anyway, if you want to be played with just enough to feel nice and tingly then by all means check out the first two films in the series. If you want to be anally raped without so much as a card or flowers, then Hostel Part III is the film for you.

TRIVIA

The first film in the series to not have a theatrical release.

The first film in the series not to be directed by Eli Roth.

Barry Livingston, who portrayed Ernie Douglas on the television series “My Three Sons“, has a cameo as an Elite Hunting Club client.

NO BLOOD DROPS