The Loved Ones, directed by Sean Byrne, 2009
I missed The Loved Ones when it played at SXSW, and was excited to catch it when it recently came to the Dallas International Film Festival. I knew next to nothing about the film before sitting down for it, and don't want to spoil anything for people who are in the same boat that I was in (especially since this is the type of movie that you easily could end up watching without ever having seen a trailer). I will say, however, that I thought The Loved Ones was a great horror flick (or black comedy, depending on your perspective) that perfectly fits Howard Hawks' "good movie" rule (i.e., "three great scenes and no bad ones.") It starts strong and stays the course, and I highly recommend you track it down once it gets released.
If you're looking for more information about the film's plot or a fuller discussion of its merits, check out Luke's great review from SXSW here.
Taxidermia, directed by György Pálfi, 2006
Taxidermia looks at three generation of men using what essentially is a trio of interconnecting short stories. Each of the three men has some sort of perversion. The first is a sexual deviant. He gets naked a lot and I didn't find his story particularly interesting. Man #2 is an obese food-obsessed competitive eater, and his segment is perhaps the most "normal" of the three. The final man is a taxidermist, and his particular perversion isn't obvious until late in the film. Thanks in large part to actor Marc Bischoff's queasily creepy blank stare, the final third of the film was by far my favorite. Incidentally, check out these pictures of Bischoff and consider what a great Krueger he would have made.
Taxidermia is getting a reputation for being an extreme Euro-shocker, but looking back (and ignoring the two or three sexually graphic scenes in the film's first segment), I really didn't find much ultra-shocking about it. I'm also still struggling with deciding what I think the film is trying to say. My money is on it being a critique of social conditions in Hungary, a "sins of the father" morality tale, or a combination of the two.
Despite the fact that the movie didn't add up to much for me from a plot perspective, I enjoyed the prolonged palpable sense of dread it invoked. I found my mind lingering on Taxidermia for several days, which is unusual for me.
The Unborn II, directed by Rick Jacobson, 1994
I have a friend in Austin (@btsjunkie) who has been hosting a weekly Horror Movie Night for years now. In 2010, a group of us in the DFW area started following along with his picks. In early March, we watched The Unborn (1991). After a few weeks of watching other evil-children movies, we returned to the franchise to watch The Unborn II. And apart from the fact that both are about genetically modified evil babies, the two films could not be more different. The Unborn had a slow build, an effective (and mostly believable) troubled husband/wife relationship, and an unhinged final act. The Unborn II, on the other hand, eschews any sort of realistic relationships and opens with a completely jaw-dropping opening scene that I won't spoil for those of you that haven't seen it. From there the film progresses into any number of ridiculous adult-on-child acts of violence, including a fantastic shootout in a maternity ward.
There are two female leads in The Unborn II. One is a gun-toting woman who seeks to rid the world of the genetically modified babies we first met in The Unborn, and the other is a mother of one such baby. As the film unfolded I truly was confused about who I was supposed to be rooting for (if anyone). I'm pretty sure the gun-toter was morally correct in her actions, but to get fully behind her I had to support the murder of a baby (who really was more of a potential danger than an actual danger for most of the film) in front of his caring (and super-nice) mother. What a dilemma! Fun flick, especially if you're into killer kid movies.