31 DAYS OF SPOOKY STUFF – Day 22 (Journal #81) – Hell to Pay

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The pits of Hell are bubbling over in today’s Journal! 31 Days of Spooky Stuff continues with three demonic flicks, including THE CONJURING, HELLBENDERS and the naughty curio THE JOYS OF JEZEBEL.

 

RATING SYSTEM

The Best – Reserved for the absolute cream of the crop.
Highly Recommended – Very good. Far better than your typical film and one that I will remember for some time.
Recommended – Just what it says. This is a good film and earns a recommendation. Don’t think that because it’s not one of the top two categories that these films aren’t worth your time. The “recommended” tag is a winner and nothing to sneer at.
Barely Recommended – The middle of the road. Those films where I didn’t feel it was a complete waste of time, but it didn’t set my world on fire either. Not bad, but leaves me feeling bored and/or apathetic.
Disappointing – Close but no cigar. Does a few things right but is ultimately a whole lot of wasted potential. Not recommended.
Awful – A bad movie. Pure and simple. Not worth your time.
The Worst – The Britta Perry of ratings, though not as entertaining. The bottom of the barrel.

CRITERIA

What was the film trying to accomplish and how well did it meet those goals?
In addition to (or sometimes despite) that, how does the film hold up on sheer entertainment value?

 

FILM GEEK JOURNAL – ENTRY 81

(31 DAYS OF SPOOKY STUFF – DAY 22 – OCT. 22, 2013)

 

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joys-of-jezebelTHE JOYS OF JEZEBEL (1970) – Joshua wants to bring his kingdom together with Jeremiah’s and offers the hand of Jezebel as the prize to cement the deal. When news of Jezebel’s sexual dalliances is revealed, the deal goes south and Jezebel is put to death, thanks to the king’s sister Ruth. The hand of the virginal Rachel is offered in exchange. But Rachel is troubled, because she does not love Jeremiah. Jezebel is now in Hell, where everyone is horny all the time, particularly Satan himself. The devil offers Jezebel a chance to briefly return to Earth and get revenge on the people responsible for her death. In order to do this, she inhabits the body of Rachel, who is only too happy to help out her beloved Jezebel and avoid her fate with Jeremiah. Meanwhile, Rachel is in Hell and Satan is looking for her so he can get his rocks off (there are apparently few virgins in Hell). Rachel runs around, spying all the other humping that’s going on amongst the many Biblical figures like Eve and is starting to feel a little hot to trot herself.

THE JOYS OF JEZEBEL is one of those old grindhouse flicks. Around the time this was released, roughies were still in vogue and hardcore was just about to explode. This one is very light and playful however, which personally came as a relief to yours truly. It enjoys wearing its blasphemy on its sleeve, whether due to the crass nature of the horny devil or the casting of Old Testament figures in sexual tableaux. The sex is similar to many films of its type, with lots of close-ups of skin and rolling around. But this one is sexier than most and the characters, inhabited by actors which range from good to hilarious, make this one stand out from the pack.

I have provided the first couple minutes of this film to give you an idea of what it entails. This is also the only moment of the film not to have naked people running around. Recommended.

 

 

THE CONJURING

 

conjuring_ver2THE CONJURING (2013) – Based on an allegedly true case, James Wan’s film describes the experiences of the Perron family, who experienced demonic hauntings after moving into a rural house with a bloody history. The film balances of the family with that of Ed and Lorraine Warren, a husband and wife team known as the foremost demonologists in the world. THE CONJURING does an incredible job creating a believable dynamic between the two families, setting this apart from your standard haunted house film. An excellent cast has been assembled, including Lilli Taylor, Patrick Wilson, Vera Farmiga, Ron Livingston and Joey King. Everyone does a great job here.

The best thing about THE CONJURING though? It’s scary as hell! I watch a lot of horror films – several a week and recently at least one a day. But this one even got under my skin. One particular jump scare took me so much by surprise that I jumped in my seat and found it hard to calm down immediately afterwards. Every light in the house when on when this one was over.

James Wan has been on the scene a while now. He started out with SAW, which was a good film but the frantic MTV-like direction I thought distracted from what could have been an even more unsettling experience. He has grown into a more disciplined and skilled director since then. This is easily the best work he’s done, the camera focuses on the people, creating a sense of intimacy. He sets up the eerie scenes and gradually builds up to an almost unbearable feeling of tension. Other sequences feature the camera gliding fluidly through the elaborate sequences.

The only possible problems exist in a couple of scenes which might be just a little too precious for their own good. But make no mistake. This is grade A horror all the way, the best spookshow of the year.  Highly Recommended.

 

 

hellbenders-movie

hellbendersHELLBENDERS (2013) – The Augustine Interfaith Order of Hellbound Saints is a group that doesn’t officially exist on the Vatican books. They are called in to exorcise demons and handle other sorts of hellish invasions. In order to insure their success, they exist in a perpetual state of sin. The idea is that they want to make sure they are going to Hell themselves. If the demons cannot be exorcised they will try to get themselves possessed and take the demons back to Hell with them. This means that instead of saying their “Hail Mary”’s and giving money to the poor, they have sex, curse like truck drivers and engage in petty theft. One member of the Order (Robyn Rikoon – COLD WEATHER) is unable to kill herself and gets possessed by an ancient demon who threatens to unleash Hell on Earth. Now, facing a deadline and eviction by the local diocese, the remaining Hellbenders have to keep the portals of Hell from opening.

J.T. Petty (SOFT FOR DIGGING, THE BURROWERS) directs this film, based on his own graphic novel. It stars Clancy Brown as the head of the Order, who constantly shouts and behaves like a crazed, profane prophet. Clifton Collins, Jr. is also in the cast as someone torn by his duty to the Order and his loyalty to his wife. All of this should be a lot more fun than it is.

I suppose that even with all the sinning going on, the film seems like it doesn’t go far enough. And yet, it seems to expect us to be shocked by the behavior on display. Brown is a great character actor and his role should be a highlight. But simply saying “cock” several dozen times and threatening people over and over again makes him more tiresome than the antisocial hero he should come off as. Collins is unusually inadequate here, oftentimes coming off as your standard Brooklyn stereotype when there should be more. The characters just don’t feel altogether there like they should.

It’s a shame, because this one has lots of crazy stuff going on and should have been a great horror comedy in the spirit of THE FRIGHTENERS or Alex de la Iglesia’s DAY OF THE BEAST. Instead, it feels like another film that just tries too hard without getting anywhere.  Disappointing.

 

 

Number of films covered in the Journal so far: 331

Miss any of the previous Journal entries? Check them out here!

And tune into my new web series, Moviocrity!



Categories: 31 Days of Spooky Stuff, Scott W. Davis, Scott's Film Geek Journal

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