Viv and I went to see the new Willard, as one might expect from my chortling appressssiashion of the video the other day. Alas, ALAS, the film does not adopt the oddball, Lynchian Weimar cabaret setting of the video – dang it, that’s STILL a film I’d love to see.
BUT I really enjoyed it. Reviewrs to date have been offput by the lack of sympathy that Glover’s peformance provides – he’s not a real human, the characters in the film in general are caricatures, the film has no emotional center, and so on.
Does this sound familiar? It’s the grounds whereby most of Joel and Ethan Coen’s work is generally dismissed, the basis of the dismissive critique of Dan Clowes’ early work, and the single least-praised element in Chris Ware’s work.
Translation: I LOVED THIS FILM! I laughed and laughed until my sides hurt. Misanthropy does not do justice to the underlying value system, or lack thereof, in the film. Viv was occasionally embarrassed at my raucous laughter.
Here’s a sample: Willard buys some rat-and-pest control stuff at the beginning of the film, including some items branded “Tora Bora.” At the end of the film, these items are lit, like dynamite, and tossed into the basement full of rats, whose corpses are later burned.
As I recall it, I was the only one that got the joke, and I howled.
Let me assure you, it’s far from grisly, with only the smallest amount of onscreen gore.
A note should you attend: about half of the audience that attended the screening we were at were African-American, and took great pleasure at vocally interacting with the film. It’s harmless, but a surprise when you don’t generally attend what I hear they call “urban audience” oriented films.
I actually do hope more 70’s horror flicks like the original Willard get remade, number one on my list being my favorite vampire movie of all time, George Romero’s Martin. Remakes are currently underway or completed for The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (emphatically NOT what I’m interested in) and (what the HELL are they thinking) Romero’s masterpiece, Dawn of the Living Dead (you know, the shopping mall one), unfortunately without Romero’s involvement.
Martin, unlike Dawn, is not completely successful, largely because Romero was attempting to combine a radical reimagining of the vampire legend with 1970’s available-light filmic sensibilities. It’s aesthetically appropriate, but not nearly as entertaining as it could be. Where Dawn‘s satiric content is what makes it a complete success, Martin‘s extremely serious tone weighs the film down, even as the central idea – the character Martin’s adolescent sexuality expresses itself in vampirism – is not only strong but so obvious that it’s surprising how little it’s been used.