Pan’s Labyrinth (2006)
The visuals are wonderfully evocative, from a mysterious stone maze to a twisted old tree to an exquisitely crafted faun. The film takes some pointers from George MacDonald in that while there is a fairy world just beyond our own, it is fraught with danger and peril all its own, especially for humans improperly equipped to survive in a world run by different rules. This fact is brought frighteningly home when Ofelia, our young heroine, encounters a creature who keeps his eyes in the palms of his hands in a scene that is truly terrifying. And yet it is completely understandable that Ofelia wants to escape into the fairy world despite its dangers, since she lives in the middle of civil war torn Spain, with a cruel step father who cares less than nothing for her. As a kid I often dreamed that, even though I had nothing against my parents, I would learn that my parents were not my real parents and that my real parents were powerful, most likely supernatural, beings, and were ready to take me home to a fantasy world of wonder. This actually happens in Pan’s Labyrinth.
Jesus Christ Vampire Hunter (2001)
I’m not quite sure what I was expecting, but I was definitely not expecting an amateur production with unexciting slapstick fights, vampires preying on lesbians, Jesus joining forces with a Mexican wrestler, and the occasional musical number from out of the blue. The production values are shoddy, the script is on par with your average student film, and overall the film is more dumb than sacrilegious (which is saying something since its theology is pretty wretched).
Coming up next: two apocalyptic visions of the not-too-distant future.