Thursday, April 23, 2015

William Castle and Europa Report

Europa Report: written by Philip Gelatt; directed by Sebastian Cordero; starring Daniel Wu (William Xu), Sharlto Copley (Jame Corrigan), Christian Camargo (Daniel Luxembourg), Karolina Wydra (Katya Petrovna), Michael Nyqvist (Andrei Blok), Anamaria Marinca (Rosa Dasque), and Embeth Davidtz (Dr. Unger) (2013): Found-footage horror movie, or at least marketed as such. It's really a found-footage science-fiction movie about a privately financed mission to Europa, that moon of Jupiter that may have an ocean of water (and thus perhaps life) hidden under an icy crust. Despite its low budget, there are some nice visuals and tense moments. Horrible things happen to people, but they're mainly a product of bad luck. Though how anything is getting through several miles of ice to the surface of Europa is a question best left unasked. Lightly recommended.

Spine Tingler! The William Castle Story: directed by Jeffrey Schwarz; featuring comments by Terry Castle, Donald F. Glut, John Landis, John Waters, Stuart Gordon, Joe Dante, Leonard Maltin, Marcel Marceau, and others (2007): As someone who hasn't watched a lot of William Castle's gimmicky horror movies, I still found this genial documentary to be enjoyable. It's an interesting look at the sort of showman who simply can't exist in today's movie landscape, about how and why he came up with gimmicks, and how those gimmicks made his low-budget thrillers wildly popular. Also, the clips of Vincent Price from The Tingler are priceless. So, too, Castle's late-career attempt at a serious art-house film, Shanks, which starred mime Marcel Marceau. Stories of Joan Crawford's behaviour on the set of Strait-jacket also fascinate. Recommended.

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