Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Capital Celluloid - Day 216: Saturday August 6

Gremlins (Dante, 1984); Troll Hunter (Ovredal, 2010) and Tremors (Underwood, 1989)
Somerset House Monster Triple Bill: Film 4 Summer Screen, 9.15pm

Outdoor screenings are dominating the repertory scene in London right now and this is one of the best of this summer's line-ups, a triple bill of cult monster movies.

Chicago Reader Gremlins review:


'E.T. with the lid off (1984). At the center of this horror comedy is a tidy family parable of the kind so dear to the heart of producer Steven Spielberg: the cute little whatzits who turn into marauding monsters when they pass through puberty (here gooily envisioned as “the larval stage”) are clearly metaphors for children, and the teenager (Zach Galligan) whose lapse of responsibility unleashes the onslaught is a stand-in for the immature parents of the 80s (Poltergeist). But Spielberg's finger wagging is overwhelmed by Joe Dante's roaring, undisciplined direction, which (sometimes through sheer sloppiness) pushes the imagery to unforeseen, untidy, and ultimately disturbing extremes. Dante is perhaps the first filmmaker since Frank Tashlin to base his style on the formal free-for-all of animated cartoons; he is also utterly heartless. With Phoebe Cates, Hoyt Axton, and more movie-buff in-jokes than Carter has pills.'
All is not well in Perfection, Nevada, a remote desert town. Itinerant cowpokes Val (Bacon) and Earl (Ward) are all set to up sticks when they happen across a corpse perched incongruously atop a telegraph pole...and then another, apparently swallowed up by the earth. Huge, carnivorous, worm-like creatures, capable of tunnelling at incredible speeds in response to seismic vibrations, are literally undermining Perfection. With a tip of the hat towards its '50s forefathers, this canny genre entry exploits its novel subterranean threat to the max, the ingenious situations being orchestrated with considerable skill by first-time director Underwood. Bacon and Ward project a wonderful low-key rapport, based initially on jokey ignorance before giving way to terse apprehension. It's great to hear authentic B movie talk again, especially when the cast takes it upon itself to name the monsters, only to come up with 'graboids' by default, and to debate their probable origin: 'One thing's for sure...them ain't local boys'. This is what a monster movie is supposed to be like, and it's terrific.

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