Colin Timothy Gagnon (sacredspud) wrote,
Colin Timothy Gagnon

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Trashy movies, specifically Constantine and Dr. Phibes Rises Again

I borrowed Constantine from RJ and watched it last night... Certainly not the worst movie I've ever seen, but totally forgettable and unrewarding. Keanu Reeves seems to be channeling Caleb Rentpayer in all of his dialogue. Also, apparently the Spear of Longinus is the only Judeo-Christian artifact Hollywood can think of. I don't have a whole lot more to say about Constantine because Roger Ebert (whom I read to get angry) sums it all up very nicely in the first paragraph of his review:
No, "Constantine" is not part of a trilogy including "Troy" and "Alexander." It's not about the emperor at all, but about a man who can see the world behind the world, and is waging war against the scavengers of the damned. There was a nice documentary about emperor penguins, however, at Sundance this year. The males sit on the eggs all winter long in like 60 degrees below zero.
This afternoon I watched Dr. Phibes Rises Again, which I enjoyed much more than Constantine.

Sometime last year I watched The Abominable Dr. Phibes. I can't find the entry in which I talked about it, but I think I said it was fun but nothing too special. Now that I've seen the sequel, I'd like to watch the first one again. They're incredibly campy, British horror-thrillers from the early '70s, starring Vincent Price as a mustache-twirling titular character. He keeps himself alive by artificial means and drinks champagne through a hole in the back of his neck. He's suave and debonair and parades around in a cape and plays a pipe organ while being accompanied by a clockwork jazz-combo. Oh, and he kills people for revenge. It's really weird, and Mr. Price's performance owes a lot to the fact that he clearly knows he's making a silly movie, and is enjoying the hell out of it.

The Phibes films remind me a lot of horror pictures from the 1930s. Even if you were rooting for the good guys, the bad guy was usually cool, and his character was more about his entertainingly psychotic personality than the crimes he committed. Skeletor from Masters of the Universe was like that, and Phibes is the same way ('cept less frivolous). George Lucas raised the Saturday matinee serial to epic status by adding sincerity to their whimy. The Phibes films do the same thing, except that they revel in ridiculousness, and they do it with a straight face. It's not that they're not deliberately over-the-top -- they are -- but they're not trying to be ironic or tongue-in-cheek.

In The Abominable Dr. Phibes, he gets his revenge on those connected to the death of his wife by committing murders inspired by the ten plagues of Egypt. The sequel takes the Indiana Jones approach, with Phibes in Egypt, competing against an archeologist to find the secret that will grant one of them eternal life. Both movies are pure, trashy entertainment, but unlike Constantine (also pure, trashy entertainment), the Phibes films have the value of rewatchability. Anyway, if anybody's ever curious about the films, I'd love to share them.
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