Saturday, October 4, 2014

The MONTH of HORROR - Day 4: Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

If I told you that the bloodiest movie in my list for this year's "Month of Horror" was a musical, would you believe me? Bludgeonings, beatings, cannibalism, burning alive, and, oh yes, throat slashings--does this sound like West Side Story to you?

Nearly every word of dialogue in 'Sweeney Todd' is sung by its incredibly talented, and very game cast which includes Johnny Depp as the title psychopath, Helena Bonham Carter, Sasha Baron Cohen, and Alan Rickman. I'm not sure if they're all classically trained vocalists but they sure are convincing, even though Depp does at times struggle with the higher notes, and occasionally exudes a bit too much of a "rock n roll" swagger for the time period. The singing is very often juxtaposed with horrific, and bloody violence which certainly sets it apart from your run-of-the-mill musical, one that maybe you shouldn't show to grandma, unless she's cool, and twisted.

Based on the Stephen Sondheim musical, 'Sweeney Todd' tells the story of a barber exacting vengeance on an evil judge who, many years earlier, sentenced him to prison for a crime he did not commit, all so that the judge could make a move on Todd's attractive young wife. Alan Rickman plays the judge, and any time Rickman appears in a film as the central villain, you know you're in for a good time. The fact that he sings about his despicable nature really only makes him more charming--Hans Gruber can belt it out, even when he's gargling on his own blood!

The songs themselves aren't incredibly memorable although they are quite fun--my favourite tune being one where Depp, and Carter are singing about which type of random people might be the best to cook up and eat in meat pies. It's deranged, and it's very amusing. I believe that also sums up the movie as a whole. Yes, it is dark, both in terms of content and cinematography but amid all of the gallons of blood being spilled, you can't help but smile at the ludicrous craft on display. It's beautiful, even when it's being disgusting. And those sound effects as the bodies fall into the basement, snapping their necks on impact with the concrete floor? Masterful!

If you hate musicals though, you're still not going to dig this one, even with all of the awesome killings. Lots, and lots of singing going on here however if you can appreciate that kind of thing, as I can, then this is one sick and entertaining ride.

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