Saturday Horror Movies :: Thale and Blast Vegas
This week our first horror movie selection came from the Red Box machine at the local grocery store. I had some free movie codes from their monthly subscription to burn, and decided to check out what jumped out to scare us, so to speak. Like hunters and gatherers, we scooped up two interesting choices (sometimes you have to let the cover art do all the work), as well as the makings for a very movie-centric, finger-food dinner fare. Our second feature exploded into our view from our filled to the brim DVR, and the old reliable SyFy Network, chalk full of all the expected pluses and minuses that we come to rely on, look forward to, or at times, cringe at. So, settle in as I share with you a little Norweigian folklore and a poorly executed SyFy original tale of disaster.
I would argue that this is not a horror movie, but more of a Supernatural Fantasy film slowly unfolding into a story about humanity, reality and how we deal with things that make us question both. This is not necessarily a unique story, we have seen this kind of thing before, rather ordinary people stumbling on something fantastical, bonding with the fantasy, defending it, and being forever changed by the experience. That said, although not a new story, it was definitely a different take on the literary/cinematic trope. The film has endearing characters, the right level of mystery and uncertainty, and a hell of a lot of heart.
The two lead characters, Leo and Elvis, are crime scene cleaners (well Leo is, Elvis is a prime candidate to never work in close proximity to death and/or gore) and good friends who happen on a strange and unusual discovery, a hulder, known in Norwegian folklore to be a woodland creature of great beauty who lure men away to madness and other unnamed bad things. Thale, as she is called, is most definitely beautiful, mute except for her single song singing, and very child-like in her behaviors and initial reactions (though when pushed, she is strong, lethal and bad-ass). She has been left abandoned by the man whose violent death has brought Leo and Elvis to her living space. She soon becomes quite attached to Elvis, who she imparts her memories to through touch, endearing them to one another.
The strength of this movie for me was in the relationships between Leo and Elvis, and eventually Thale. I also thought the filmography and soundtrack were brilliant in keeping everything both eerie and mysterious. I encourage you to watch the film in its Norwegian language with the subtitles turned on in lieu of the dubbed option, as the dubbing not only loses something in the translation, but is overly monotone, causing the film to feel flat instead of rich and emotionally complex. I loved this film, enough so that I want a copy of this film to add to my own favorite movie collection.
Silje Reinåmo gave a tremendous performance as Thale, wordless but full of wonder and layers of emotions, especially emitted through those expressive eyes of hers.
Blast Vegas (2013)
Disaster meets ridiculousness, Blast Vegas was full of both and not in a good way. I do not know which was worse here, the ridiculous writing and dialogue, or the endless continuity errors. This is not a movie to see if you have ever been to Las Vegas, much less have any knowledge about the city, at all. Stock footage is cut and pasted together haphazardly, buildings incorrectly placed, footage from differing decades weaved together into a mess that time travel could not remedy, and did I mention continuity issues? One minute an iconic attraction is rolling down the Strip or fallen over on its side, a few scenes later it is intact and standing again. Also, since when are there underground tunnels in Vegas?
The movie does deliver some of the expected elements we come to expect. Stepping in to the “where are they now” role is Frankie Munez of Malcolm in the Middle and Agent Cody Banks fame (he really has not aged at all), and the part of veteran horror films is played by the only saving grace in the entire mess, Barry Bostwick (Brad from Rocky Horror Picture Show). The stereotypes are all front and center, as well, the worst being the “nerd girl” who apparently goes to Vegas with a non-descript giant book in her arms which she carries around the pool, and who speaks in “out of a Jane Austen” book dialogue, who will, of course, know all about the convoluted, never clearly explained curse that has hit the city. It is a shame that the part is so badly written as I was excited to see that Maggie Castle of Todd and the Book of Pure Evil was in this. She could not save the role, though she seemed to have tried.
There was also an unexpected cameo at the very start of the movie by filmmakers, Joe Dante and John Landis who apparently lost a bet and had to appear in this ridiculous film. Though that bit is worth watching if only to here Dante pronounce the word “amateur” (trust me on this).
The only saving grace for me was Barry Bostwick’s delivery of equally bad lines. He had an almost Bruce Campbell way of portraying a barely defined character, giving him humor and sarcasm where there was none written. Also, one of Nelson’s (Frankie Munez) lines amused me so much that I had to push pause and write it down: “I can’t stand alliterations“, spoken after he attacks a random “bad guy” he and “nerd girl” Olive face for no real reason. True love borne out of an evil curse, a badly CGI tiger, and a bottle of sunscreen, only in Vegas, baby, or bad horror movies.
What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, right kids?