A Bunch of Silly Tales About Glen's Surreal Adventures and Perspective of Life!

Monday, March 14, 2005

I bet you fellow readers out there have seen many dreadful B-movies of the 40s, the 50s, the 80s and so on, including the classic Ed Wood films which have created a cult of its own inside the Western community. In fact, there also lie the horrors of awful filmmaking outside the US shores (you can probably find some of them on the Internet, if you are lucky) which are mostly underrated, under appreciated and overlooked by common public of the world. Perhaps, you would like to dig deep into the mass markets of the East where filmmaking is never a common practice among creative Asian people, especially in a country called Malaysia (they only know how to sing and sing and sing, dangnabbit). Anyway, let us see what I have in my sleeves. But before we begin, I would like to ask you an honest question: have you seen any of the films produced and released in Malaysia? No? I know you don't. But what you don't know is that most of the films (especially the new ones. I myself respect the ancient filmmakers who made some quality films if not all of them. One of the finest is P.Ramlee, pioneer of Malaysian filmmaking. Never heard of him? Just check him out on the Internet.) are utter and complete crap. So crappy they have no idea how to develop the characters. They don't even know how to take tasty shots (flat out 1D pictures between two, three people, that's it), how to make decent sound effects (they simply repeat the same punching sound again and again, even if it is not loud, they tend to make it loud), how to compose their own soundtrack (they simply steal some tracks from The Lord of the Rings, JFK, Titanic, etc), how to make a decent script (the actors sound as if they are reading a text book), how to do cinematography (obviously they simply put the lights on and shoot them without question), how to direct the actors (they are only told to scream like chickens without expressing any real emotions), bla bla bla! That sounds like a common practice among amateurs but I am not talking about America or Britain or Japan or any places in the world. I am talking about Malaysia and you will expect the same awful quality in every film it makes! What surprises me is that most Malaysians have at least one unique talent and that is singing! No matter how old they are, you can expect a 9-year-old kid to imitate the singing voice of Mariah Carey, Britney Spears or whoever weirdoes you can think of. If they know how to sing a good song, why on earth can't they make a single, decent movie like most produced by acclaimed directors like Akira Kurosawa, Steven Spielberg, David Lynch, Jean-Pierre Jeunet and others we have heard on media? My guess is that they only know how to make money, quantity and anything fancy out of the output, not quality.

If you loathe the concept of direct-to-videos, maybe you should loathe them more. This has become a usual practice in Malaysia (they always have a nasty habit of stealing other people’s idea and using it as their own) and that still doesn’t improve the movie industry. Many bad titles in VCD format (very crappy video quality with pixels and lower resolutions compared to DVDs. Many movies are sliced up into 2,3 discs and shown in full frame. That ruins the viewing atmosphere. Also, following the trend of pirated copies, some idiots have included English and Malay subtitles and there is no way to turn them off! Why don't they just shift to the DVD format anyway?) are left untouched in the shelves. Perhaps, the customers know which movies are worth the money they hold in their hands and which ones are not. If you think movies such as Starship Troopers 2, George of the Jungle 2 and any sequels to the Disney classics are barely watchable, think again.

Take a good look at one of the direct-to-videos released exclusively in Malaysia. Based on the true accounts of witnesses who visit a town called Kota Belud in Sabah (one of the 14 states of Malaysia) and have actually experienced horrible encounters with the ghosts that roam at night. It has usually got to do with sucking the blood out of their victims and even flying heads (my mum tells me that most of these incidents are real but I still deny the fact anyway). The only way to scare away these ghosts is to use the lime fruits as your special shield (similar characteristic to garlic to fend off Dracula). Basically, that's the entire concept of this truly inept and dire movie (entitled Misteri Balan-Balan or Mysteries of the Dark Creatures or something) about a reporter, a bunch of villagers, some truly unnecessarily irritating characters, a frogman and (do not even try to gasp at this one) a flying head. If you don't still believe me, take a glimpse at the pics I apply from the CD in my PC, posted down after this review. You will not believe what you see in front of your eyes. Depression is all you will get as you watch along.

Right, back to the review. Aside from bad acting and amateurish special effects (so few and yet so bad), the whole movie feels scattered at best due to the fact that some of the scenes are left unexplained and they don't seem to have connections with each other (what is the point of having a flying head when it does nothing more than just flying around the garden? Why is everyone flying like Superman in the middle of the movie? What is the other importance of these whiny students who are supposed to write a thesis on ghosts, aside from being a catalyst to this whole fear factor? And what has the dead baby bird got to do with the WHOLE MOVIE AFTER ALL?!!). Like most horror movies made in Asia (they have been imitated countless times for generations), none of these sequences make any sense unless you are too dumb to appreciate good movies and decide to watch it anyway. The script, like the characters themselves, is just plain dull while linear editing only tends to confuse the audiences further rather than giving them the chills they deserve. Because censorship is so strict in Malaysia, the producers actually play it safe by excluding all sorts of inappropriate elements such as blood, suggestive themes and of course, very disturbing images. This is a horror movie, for heaven's sake!

Perhaps, you will definitely be surprised with this trivia: this movie claims to have won the prestigious Oscar PPFM awards for Best Art Director, Best Special Effect, Best Cameraman and A Participation Festival Film Foreign 2004, according to the front package! This is hardly believable! Truly inconceivable! Oh, wait a minute! Some dudes who write such claims forget that the Academy Awards is only for motion pictures, documentary and short animation, not direct-to-videos! Also, there are some mistakes within these claims: there is no such thing as Best Cameraman, the Oscar actually goes to The Return of the King for Best Special Effect in 2004, Art Director is supposed to be called Art Direction and the words 'Festival Film Foreign' doesn't even sound right (that's Foreign Film, moron). And what the heck is PPFM? Does anyone know that the Academy itself is joining forces with the Malaysian film industry to create their own movie festival? Unfortunately, I just buy this awful VCD to check out if whatever claims they make are correct. I am afraid I have made the wrong impressions after all. No doubt they just simply make them up to ensure major big bucks, no matter how many lies they can make. The only best way to make a decent movie, in my own experience, is to watch tons of good movies, understand the principles of filmmaking and create your very own personality! It is quite simple as that!

If you are still not completely convinced, check out 15 screenshots of pure agony below as proof! (Unfortunately, the video quality is very bad so they all look very dark and pixilated)

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