Crash (1996): Canada/United Kingdom – directed by David Cronenberg
Rated NC-17 by the MPAA – contains nudity, sex, car crashes, odd fetishes
Note: This film contains some mature content to which the review may refer.
David Cronenberg, in films reaching as far back as Stereo [review here] has revealed his fascination with sex and its role in human existence. Almost everything that he has done since has explored aspects of sexuality, from Rabid to eXistenZ. Crash is the apex of Cronenberg’s fixation and exploration with the subject.
James (James Spader) and Catherine Ballard (Deborah Kara Unger) are a couple, seemingly bored with their lives. I say this because it must be inferred from how they approach sex, and is not explicitly stated by the film. Separately they try out different partners on different surfaces (like the metallic nose of an airplane) and then report the results back their spouse. They do not abstain from sex with each other; if anything, their personal sex life is more robust as a result.
That’s not saying that anyone in the film seems to enjoy their own sexual activity. It appears that it fills a need they have, a craving or an emptiness that is difficult to sate. At times this fixation goes far beyond mere sexual activity. And this is where the cars are introduced.
Not rated by the MPAA – contains some violence and mild language, drunkenness
Cat Ballou is a comedic western in the vein of Paint Your Wagon, but with fewer musical numbers. Not that there isn’t music, it’s just that Cat Ballou’s music comes in the form of Nat ‘King’ Cole and Stubby Kaye singing a ballad describing the tale as it unfolds.
The tale that unfolds revolves around Catherine Ballou (Jane Fonda). We first meet her as she’s working on a white dress behind bars. She’s in prison, waiting for her hanging. The movie is the story of how she got where she is.
Cat Ballou started out as a fledgling school teacher, but on the train home to her father’s farm she has a run-in with a man under arrest, and the Bible-thumping, drunk preacher about to break him out of imprisonment. She believes she will have no need to ever again give them her attention.
Not rated by the MPAA – contains gore, violence, cat-eating, sex, nudity, grossness
Stuart Gordon is probably the master of the insane. His penchant for H.P. Lovecraft combined with his consistent use of Jeffrey Combs (the master portrayer of the insane) has led to some outrageous horror films over the years.
Castle Freak reunites Gordon with his two lead actors, Combs and Barbara Crampton. They both appeared in the classic Re-Animator and the not-quite-as-classic From Beyond. Here they star as the husband and wife team of John and Susan Reilly. They have arrived at a castle in Italy with their blind daughter, Rebecca (Jessica Dollarhide). Apparently John’s aunt was the owner of the castle and her recent death left the entire estate to him.
Naturally, John has no knowledge of his aunt being a duchess, but rest assured he will find out more as the movie progresses. The truth turns out to be much more ridiculous than he (or the audience) would have imagined. It involves some old relatives, a strange similarity to his own family, and a freak that has been chained and imprisoned in the castle for forty years.
Rated PG-13 by the MPAA – contains some grossness and socially unacceptable behavior
I had been somewhat interested to see this film, but my only inhibition was the PG-13 rating. I needn’t have feared, though, as Waters still manages to make a gross-out romantic comedy. Granted, the gross-out moments aren’t that bad, but they’re funny and gross enough to have that signature Waters flair.
The entire movie is pure ’50’s nostalgia, way over the top and ridiculous. Johnny Depp plays Cry-Baby. He’s a drape, a bad kid, basically a punk. He lives in a crazy place that Waters must have loved. His granny is a pretty hot not-so-old lady who steals cars and sells the parts to black kids. His sister (they’re both in high school still) already has two kids and a third on the way. This is fine because she’s played by Ricki Lake, and you might remember what she looked like back in 1990. Anyway, Johnny gets a glance of Allison (Amy Locane) in a wonderful opening sequence, and sparks fly. She thinks the same thing, especially since she’s been a goody two-shoes square her whole life and never been bad. So of course things happen and they get together and then break apart and then everything turns out okay.
Not rated by the MPAA – contains slasher violence and blood, some swearing
Cold Prey was a hit in Norway a couple years back, and for good reason. It’s a slasher film like many other slasher films, but made with enough aplomb to give Norway cause to rejoice.
The plot is very standard. Basically, a group of young friends go off somewhere, get lost, then start to die at the hands of an unknown killer. In this case there are five friends who go off skiing in some remote mountains in Norway. One of them breaks a leg so they head to a nearby lodge for shelter. Of course, the lodge is abandoned but they manage to break in, get some painkillers for the kid, find some food and alcohol, and start enjoying their night there.
Unfortunately for them (and fortunately for us, as otherwise this would be a very boring film) someone or something else has been living in the closed-up lodge, and starts attacking them. Pretty soon they’re on the run, trying to hide, trying to protect themselves. Then they try to escape by various means, some of which inevitably fail at first.