100 Days of Horror welcomes you to ... SATANFEST 2013

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"Y'all know me, know how I earn a livin'. I'll catch this bird for you, but it ain't gonna be easy. Bad fish! Not like going down to the pond and chasing bluegills and tommycods. This shark, swallow ya whole. Little shakin', little tenderizin', and down you go. And we gotta do it quick, that'll bring back the tourists, that'll put all your businesses on a payin' basis. But it's not gonna be pleasant! I value my neck a lot more than three thousand bucks, chief. I'll find him for three, but I'll catch him, and kill him, for ten. But you've gotta make up your minds. If you want to stay alive, then ante up. If you want to play it cheap, be on welfare the whole winter. I don't want no volunteers, I don't want no mates, there's too many captains on this island. Ten thousand dollars for me by myself. For that you get the head, the tail, the whole damn thing."

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

SatanFest 2013 - Day Four: "The Rite!"

Oy, this is difficult ...

This is going to be another twofer today, peeps - I got backed up for the last bleeding time last night. And I had to reshuffle a few things and wound up watching "The Witches of Eastwick" last night instead of "Devil."

And other crap that is seemingly pervasive in my daily life, yada yada yada ...

Frankly, this is going to be a short one - and as you read on, you'll know why.

So read on, ravers! And thank you once again for being so good to me. I love you all.

The Rite (2011): Mikael Hafstrom. Written by Michael Pertoni. Deistributed by Warner Bros. & New Line Cinema.

Starring: Sir Anthony Hopkins, Colin O'Donoghue, Alice Braga and Rutger Hauer.

That's just ... ew. 
The DL: A former mortician, bored of his profession, uses a free ride at the seminary to get a college degree. When he tries to leave before taking his final vows, his adviser sends him to Rome to research exorcisms, where he ends up witnessing the presence of evil first hand.

The Hotness: Oh my god, is this movie ever boring. Holy shit, I was struggling with consciousness the entire time, and I had a pot of damn good coffee at my disposal, too.

The main problem here is the fact that, other than the inimitable Sir Anthony Hopkins (he earned that "Sir," and you'd better damn well use it in print), there are no name actors in the lot - at least none that I know of. Sadly, Irish actor/musician Colin O'Donoghue cannot carry the movie, nor can he solicit any sympathy - hell, any interest - in this selfish, one-dimensional character.

Which is a shame; the idea of a person using the seminary for an education and then eschewing your vows at the last minute sounds like a good premise. Add the fact that his superiors subject him to things that should change his mind, and you've piqued my interest. But save for a few reasonably accurate exorcism scenes, the rest of the movie seems to flounder in a grey area between drama and horror. In fact, if you find this sucker in the "Horror" section of your local video store (they still have video stores, right?), you should object. Horror takes a back seat - more like, it's forced into the back seat with a black hood on its head - to melodrama and disappointing character development.

The one saving grace of this movie is Hopkins, whose presence fills the screen and eclipses the performances of every one around him. In the first exorcism scene, Hopkins rattles off the Latin from the Roman Ritual as if to the manner born, never breaking even as the possessed writhes and twitches under his hands. And, for you "Bram Stoker's Dracula" fans out there who pay a little too much attention, you will be rewarded when Hopkins cries out, "We are strong in the Lord, and the power of his might" - the same lines used as he tries to force the revamped Lucy back into her coffin for a proper staking/beheading. I giggled. A lot.

"How much am I getting paid for this again?!"
Unfortunately, Hopkins cannot shoulder the entire film, and even when (SPOILER) his character becomes possessed himself, and O'Donoghue has to perform the exorcism, my interest waned considerably. Because you saw this showdown coming the minute Hopkins appears on screen and sees that O'Donoghue's character will be dragged kicking and screaming into the light of redemption. You're better off picking any number of similar films that at least revel in their cheese, and don't try to hide it under poor direction and so-so acting.

The Devil You Say?: Hell no. Absolutely not. Although the movie accepts the premise that possession is real, and that we are supposed to believe the individuals being exorcised are truly possessed, as usual the Devil himself never does the possession. Satan ain't got time for that, he's got a hell dimension to run. So, in the end we find out that (SPOILER) it's actually Ba'al, which is confusing if you're an amateur occultist like myself. Ba'al is a Semetic honorific and not exactly the name of any one demon or god, especially not one in Christian demonology. The closest you'll come to finding Ba'al in that literature is "Baalbereth," who is a lesser lord that is essentially Hell's treasurer. So, do your research next time, fella. I did - I even went to an honest to goodness book to look up the name, instead of relying on the interwebs.

Cool Stuff Someone Said: "We serve the dead, but we do not talk about them. That brings bad things."

Side Notes: The movie begins with some appallingly realistic mortuary scenes that honestly disturbed me more than anything else. The thought that one day, this beautiful body of mine will be treated like so much meat, subjected to chemical processes with clinical detachment, is quite fucking disturbing. So to watch O'Donoghue slide drainage pipes into a lovely woman's inert body, glue her wounds shut, and hide stitching beneath strategically placed clothing is to know the inevitability that most of us will face. Personally, I want to be eaten by tigers at this point.