How To Train Your Dragon: A Teenage Viking befriends a Dragon, and learns how to ride & tame it. Not much to say here, but it was pretty funny & an all around excellent film Dream Works strikes again, 9/10.
Part 2 is here. Again SPOILERS BEWARE OF SPOILERS!!!
As horror developed in the decades after the 30s, movies became far more intense and a lot more violent. It eventually culminated in the creation of a new sub-genre of The Slasher flicks. These movies feature iconic killers driven to murder & slay their victims in the most gruesome way imaginable. In its wake, The Slashers exploded to create a whole new spin on horror which spawned a bunch of new clichťs and many more great original ďmovie monstersĒ that endure to this day.
I watched quite a few slasher movies over the last month. There are so many to choose from and many of them spawning tons of sequels. However, I was selective in which films I watched. I opted for the slashers that I felt were the most well known when I was really young: Freddy Krugar, Jason Voorhees, Michael Myers, & Leatherface.
Institutionalized since the age of six, deeply psychotic & murderous Michael Myers escapes imprisonment & begins to stalk babysitters in his old neighborhood.
To me, this is the best slasher flick ever made. Its not as gory as any of the others on this list, but it doesnít have to be. It succeeds in its simplicity. Director John Carpenter does a great job of building tension & intrigue throughout. Myers is introduced early and is shown stalking through the neighborhood and you know its just a matter of time before he starts killing. Its actually pretty creepy & tense just watching him stalking these mostly unsuspecting victims Jamie Lee Curtis as Laurie Strode, the only babysitter with half a brain, is fun to watch as well and makes a great leading lady for this kind of film. The setting is perfectly believable as a nice & normal neighborhood that is about to have something terrible befall it. Myers himself is what you expect any slasher killer to be: Heís large, mostly silent, has his face hidden with a trademark mask, and has a trademark weapon (in this case a white Captain Kirk mask & butcher knife). He does present an inhuman presence to the film and makes a great villain. The atmosphere is perfectly set here with its music score as well which is easily one of the most recognizable in the genre. And once the killings start, the film never lets up and manages to be scary & atmospheric, and all with very little.
HALLOWEEN II (1981)
Taking place immediately after the events of the first film, Michael Myers eludes capture and tracks down Laurie Strode to the local hospital. Dr. Loomis also learns that there is more motivation behind his madness than originally thought.
This is a pretty cool sequel. I love how it picks up exactly where the first film had its cliffhanger and continues the events of the same Halloween night. It really makes it feel like both entries are two parts of the same film, much like Kill Bill 1 & 2. If you have the time (which I didnít this time around), it would probably be cool to watch them both back to back. For the second movie, the scares are still good, although they definitely raised the violence bar this time around. Also, the relationships between the three main characters (Myers, Laurie, & Loomis) are enhanced a bit as we find out that Laurie is actually Myersí brother. That makes things a bit more personal this time around, and it all culminates in an explosive climax (literally). I have to say that I also liked them running around the hospital as that change of setting adds a lot. Sure, I worked in a hospital and I canít imagine one being that empty even that late at night, but it still makes it feel like Laurie is trapped in a maze with Myers trying to sniff her out. And I also liked that Laurie is incapacitated & medicated throughout the film as that makes her situation more dire.
Now when comparing it to the first film, there are some problems. First of all, why is ďMr. SandmanĒ playing at the start & end of the film? If it were Nightmare on Elm Street I could probably get it, but here it feels like a weak attempt at trying to be funny and it only clashes with the rest of the film. Also, I liked Laurie better in the first film because she was motivated to protect the kids she was babysitting & had to react to save them & herself. Here, sheís just a straight up victim with no real development. Also, the Jimmy character has got to be the biggest idiot trying to be a hero in any slasher film. He doesnít even get killed and he gets taken out by his own clumsiness & stupidity.
But the only thing all those problems add up to is that its just not as good as the first movie. Halloween 2 is still worth checking out and is a fun follow up to the original classic.
A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET (1984)
Seeking revenge on the parents of Elm Street, dead serial killer Freddy Krueger returns to attack, torture, & murder their children in their dreams.
Freddy is the man! I just have to get that out of the way. While the first Halloween film might be my favorite slasher flick, there is no denying that the Freddy is in a class all his own when it comes to the great movie slashers. Movie slashers are usually one of two things: Either a silent lumbering tower of power that hacks everything in their path to bits (Jason, Myers, Leatherface) or a deeply disturbed psychotic (Bates, Nicholson in the Shining). Freddy borrows elements from both, but has his own unique personality to go along with it. Whenever he kills his prey in the dreams, it feels like an elaborate performance, almost like The Joker. Freddy would become known for his one liners, but that is downplayed in this film.
As a horror film, the first entry in the Nightmare series is quite good. The dream sequences & deaths are pretty elaborate. The premise itself allows the film to have its own identity among the myriad of slasher films out there. And the idea is actually kind of scary. I mean we are at our most vulnerable when we sleep, so to create a villain that attacks in that manner is a pretty disturbing idea. Sometimes the acting is off and the ending was kind of confusing to me (apparently Wes Craven didnít want to put it in so yeah), but those problems are overshadowed by the creativity being utilized & the strength of the Freddy character.
A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 3: DREAM WARRIORS (1987)
The original survivor of Freddyís initial dream based attacks, Nancy, finds work interning at a psychiatric ward where the children being institutionalized show signs of being victimized in their dreams. Knowing that Freddy Krueger has returned, Nancy encourages the teenagers to find their inner strength to fight back in the Dream World.
After a boring and uneventful sequel, Part 3 gets the series back on track with a highly entertaining entry. The humor of Freddyís character is in effect by this point as he delivers some of his best comedic moments here (Welcome to Prime Time BITCH!). I also think this film does a much better job of connecting to the events of the first movie, namely by including Nancy and her father, and I like that bit of continuity. The teenaged ďDream WarriorsĒ themselves are a very interesting bunch as well with various quirks & personality traits that make them stand out. And where the film shines is once again in its dream sequences as they get pretty creative this time around (I especially liked using the kids veins to use him as a puppet). Some of it is kind of silly, especially when trying to explain how the kids are able to have these powers in the Dream World, but if you turn your brain off and accept it, the rest of the film works well. I also liked that we got some great details on Freddyís past, specifically his conception which was disturbing to say the least. All in all, Iíd say this one is one of the best showcases for the Freddy character and definitely one of the better Nightmare sequels.
WES CRAVENíS NEW NIGHTMARE (1994)
Following the conclusion of the Nightmare on Elm Street film series, various members of the cast & crew that worked on the original film find themselves haunted by a demonic entity that has taken the form of Freddy Kruegar. When Helen Langencamp, the actress who played Nancy, and her family are terrorized, she finds that the only way to defeat this force is to act out the event as if it were a Nightmare film and play Nancy one more time.
This is a great entry in the legacy of the Freddy Krueger character. Iím not even sure what you would call it either. Its not really a sequel as it doesnít continue where the last of the series left off, but it isnít a reboot since it acknowledges that the film series exists. Iím just going to call it a ďBreak-the-4th-Wall-QuelĒ. Yeah that works for me. Its really a creative take on the series to acknowledge that The Nightmare films are a film series and then have Freddy break out into the real world. This approach does feel most appropriate with Freddy since I feel heís the most recognizable of the Slashers & the one that is probably scariest to kids since heís all about hurting them while they sleep. Its nice to see the cast members in their every day normal lives, especially Robert Englund. The appeal though is that we get to see how the real world reacts to the influence that Horror movies have on society. And the Nightmare sequences themselves are once again pretty good. I especially like the redesign for Freddy as he does look more terrifying while also staying recognizable.
Wes Cravenís approach to this film almost feels like a precursor to Scream. Not only do we get the creepy & threatening phone calls, but a lot of the discussions about the impact of the horror genre does feel like dialogue that belongs in that film. It was nice to see Craven toy with some new ideas for the series while at the same time doing some great homages to his original classic. I also have to say that Helen Langencamp really grew as an actress by this point. Watch her in the first film and then watch this one and you can see the improvement. She comes across believably as a concerned mother & as someone dealing with the horrors surrounding her. The only real problem I have is that some of the dialogue regarding the existence of Freddy in the real world is downright confusing. But it matters very little. This movie breaks the formula of The Nightmare films and most slasher films in general and does so exceptionally well. Iíll go out on a limb and pick this as my number one favorite of the Nightmare series & Freddyís finest hour.
FRIDAY THE 13TH (1980)
While getting ready to open up the Crystal Lake Summer Camp (an area plague by stories of murder from decades earlier), a group of counselors find themselves victimized by an unseen killer.
I have to say that this film does not hold up very well at all. Re-watching it for the first time in years, I have to say that it comes off as a bad version of Halloween. In retrospect, I think the film really suffers by NOT having Jason Voorhees as the main killer. When you look and see what the series eventually became and how iconic Jason was, not having him in his fully realized glory in the first film makes it feel like there is something missing. Also problematic is how boring the teenagers are. It is a really bland bunch, so much so, that I lost track of who was who before the film was over. Normally in this films you have a group of kids that at least have some trait that makes them stand out. Not here. Its just a bunch of booze & sex hounds that fall victim to an unseen force until the end.
And speaking of that, Iím going into major spoiler territory here, but I have to talk about it. Mrs. Voorhees being the killer has got to be one of the lamest reveals in the history of film. First of all, she is never established or referenced prior to her reveal within the last 15 minutes of the film. We get blasted with exposition & a new character right at the end, and it really feels forced. The only clue we have that sheís the killer is that in the POV shots of the kills, the victims initially show no signs of fear for the stranger. Thatís it. The story of Jason drowning is never referenced until the end so it doesnít even connect to an earlier part of the film. My other major problem with this: ITíS A MIDDLE AGED WOMAN!!! I donít mean to sound sexist or anything, but they expect me to believe that grandma was going around overpowering & murdering all these people? Sorry, I donít buy it. Maybe if they had established her or the Jason story earlier, it would have been easier to accept, but the fact that we get hit with it in the last 15 minutes makes it feel like it was something cooked up by Mr. M. Night. And maybe if they hadnít made Jason the main villain in future entries and he hadnít became as well known as he did, I wouldnít look back on this creative decision so harshly, but it is what it is. Part of me likes to think that Jason was helping her the whole time and we just didnít have that revealed to us.
The film isnít all bad though. The kills are pretty good and there is a nice atmosphere surrounding the film, and I like the setting of a Summer Camp. And the final scare at the end is a really good one. Iím glad that we got sequels out of this though, because the first entry wasnít very impressive.
FRIDAY THE 13TH PART 2 (1981)
Another group of counselors are preparing to open up a Summer camp near Crystal Lake, and once again the group is terrorized by a ruthless killer.
Now THIS is more like it. Jason is now the killer for the remainder of the series, and its better off for it. In many ways, this movie is almost identical to the first one. It hits most of the same action beats, the set up is the same, and even the final shock scare is near identical. However, with a better & more lively group of potential victims & Jason in the role of killer, the movie stands out a lot better than the first. Unlike the first film, we do get a nice telling of the story of Jason and how heís sort of the boogeyman in that local area, thought to be only a legend. We also get to see the killer throughout the film, including his own home in the woods which is a pretty creepy setting as its set up as a shrine to his beheaded mother. Jason is a powerful force throughout the film and the manner in which he kills his prey is pretty gruesome in places. Although I do have to applaud them for killing a guy in a wheelchair and sending him down a large flight of stairs. Pretty tacky, but hey it worked, ha ha.
This movie is just good old fashioned cheesy slasher fun. Iíd never rank it up there as one of the best, but I do feel itís a better start to the Friday series than the original film was. My one major problem is Jasonís look. He isnít in his trademark hockey mask yet, but rather looks like a farmer with a pillowcase over his head, sort of like a poor manís Leatherface. He doesnít look scary at all, but they would get the look right in the future.
FRIDAY THE 13TH PART III (1982)
While on the run after his recent rampage, Jason Voorhees finds himself on an old farmhouse with plenty of new victims at his disposal, including a girl that survived an attack from him two years earlier.
Now this one is a ton of fun. Of the three Friday films I watched, this one definitely had the most colorful group of victims. We had a biker gang, a couple of burnt out hippies, and a practical joker that earned the label of ďThe Boy Who Cried WolfĒ when Jason finally attacked him but no one believed he was in trouble. It felt like this movie really tried to make the victims stand out quite a bit, and I do appreciate that effort as like I said with part 1, blandness of the victims can really take the fun out of it.
And of course the major element of this film I have to talk about is that Jason finally gets the Hockey Mask & uses the machete more prevalently than he had before. The Hockey mask is a much better look for him than the burlap sack in the last film. This is the movie where Friday the 13th finally had its iconic killer. The look wasnít quite complete yet, but the image of Jason in the mask had become too good to drop in future films. Its amazing to think how many entries it took to get Jason to look perfect.
Aside from that, itís the same old fun stuff. The kills got pretty creative this time around and I do like that the main girl had some previous encounter with Jason as that makes their interactions here a bit more personal. The ending was a bit of a cluster and I felt they tried too hard to reenact the ending to the original film, but overall, this is the best of the first three Friday films.
THE TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE (1974)
A group of unsuspecting travelers find themselves victims of a brutal family of butchers & a chainsaw wielding lunatic.
Iíll say it right now. This movie is the ECW of horror films. It had humble beginnings, but managed to have a major impact on its genre, in both good & bad ways. It is the earliest film in the list of slasher flicks I watched for this. It predates even Halloween, which is normally credited as being the most influential film of its kind. So I could argue that it created many of the clichťs & elements of these films that would become so familiar & imitated. Leatherface is the blueprint for killers like Michael Myers & Jason Voorhees, and giving him a chainsaw as his trademark weapon seems more inhuman somehow. Its also the same basic story as all the rest. A bunch of teenagers are snooping around a place they probably shouldnít be and get killed off one by one by the psycho killer. In addition to Leatherface though, I have to say that the Hitchhiker is a frightening & memorable character as well. The last surviving member of the group is a girl, something that stayed consistent in all the other slasher flicks I covered here. So that is all really cool that this movie brought so much of what would become familiar to the genre.
Now the bad part. Well the film isnít as violent by todayís standards. Iím sure back then it was absolutely gruesome, but compared to these days, they really donít show that much (which in some ways is probably more effective). However, I do kind of feel like this film started the appeal in the ďtorture pornĒ style of horror movies that keep popping up every now and then. When Sally is taken hostage by the family, the last 20 minutes before the final chase is all about being as abusive to the main character as possible rather than playing to atmosphere & actually trying to be scary. I donít really hold it against this particular film, but you can definitely see how this film could have probably influenced something as abusive and unpleasant as something like The Human Centipede Part 2.
All of that said, this film still delivers the goods after all these years. For its intensity & everlasting effect on the genre (for better or worse), this film gets a thumbs up from me.
Obviously there were many more iconic movie slashers like Chucky, Pinhead, Ghostface, and the original, Norman Bates. But I felt like I touched up on some of the true heavy hitters in the sub genre. As far as the other films these characters have been a part of, Iím sort of all over the board there. When it comes to Freddy & Jason, Iíve seen most if not all of the films with them attached to it (minus their remakes). Like I said, Freddy is my favorite of the slasher characters, so I checked out every single movie he was in. There are some bad Nightmare films out there and the films got increasingly ridiculous as they continued (with 6 being little more than a straight up comedy). But good or bad, pretty much every Nightmare film was worth checking out just to see Freddy in action. Heís just such a fun character that could be scary, funny, & and everything in between. Now I never saw the Nightmare TV show, but I doubt it packed the same punch as the movies did. As for why I picked the films that I did to watch & review, I wanted to pick out these killers in their best appearances. In most cases, that involved sticking to the earlier entries, but Freddy required a little more jumping around. I felt like I truly picked the 3 best with Freddy & I recommend those films. The rest are hit & miss, but Iíd say 2 & 6 are the worst while 4 & 5 are at best, OK, but mostly forgettable. As for the remake, I haven't seen it, but I did see what Freddy looked like...why does he have a chipmunk face?
Iím pretty sure I had seen all the Friday films as well, but there are so many of them they sort of run together in my mind. 4 was originally supposed to be the end with 5 being a copy cat killer in Jasonís place. But he rose from the grave and did all kinds of things including a trip to Manhattan & even Outer Space. I donít remember disliking any of the sequels except for Jason X which featured a Sci Fi/Horror blend so striking, it just became silly. I remember really liking IX which, again, was supposed to be the final film and I wish I had covered that one instead of the first one. And of course I HAVE to talk a little bit about Freddy Vs. Jason which, to me, might be the best crossover ever done. The movie isnít perfect, but its exactly what you would want when interacting these two characters. I havenít seen it since it first came out, but it was a blast upon first viewing. Lets call that one the 4th Best Nightmare film at least. As for Friday's remake, I actually want to check that one out and I'd be willing to bet that it might be better than the original first film.
Now the Halloween & Chainsaw series, Iím actually mostly in the dark about both of them. I have seen Halloweenís 3 & 4 with 3 being completely disconnected from the Michael Myers story & 4 being an unnecessary sequel. I like the approach to the 3rd film and apparently the original idea with the series was to do an anthology series with a different Halloween story with each film with no connection between them. Unfortunately, once they did the 2nd one with Michael Myers, they probably should have nixed that idea entirely. Speaking of 2, part of the reason Iíve avoided most of this series is that I felt 2 was the perfect way to end it. Loomis takes his own life to take down Myers in a massive explosion. That should be the end. I canít imagine any other film being able to follow up on that, and the 4th one certainly didnít (how did Loomis survive?!?!). Maybe Iíll give the other entries a shot someday though.
As for Chainsaw, again, I felt the original ending is good enough to stand on its own. That one is more open ended and allows for sequels, sure, but the image of Leatherface swinging around his chain saw in anger as his victim gets away is such a powerful image, that I donít want to have it tainted by future sequels. Maybe Iíll get around to seeing its sequels, prequel, and the remake (and all the other remakes Iíve missed for these films), but for now, I like to think of this one as a stand alone classic.
But here I am talking about all of these character decades after their creation. For better or worse, these characters have endured and remain an inspiration for horror films the world over today.
WEEKDAY WARRIORS OF WRESTLING NEW WEBSITE
I guess this category sore of serves as a miscellaneous of my giant list of reviews. But so far Iíve covered iconic movie monsters, yet most of the films here feature some element or phenomenon that escapes logical explanation and in some cases results in an antagonist that is largely unseen. Ghosts & Demons are unseen terrors that cause anarchy while Zombies & Aliens from origins unknown turn the world upside down. They rule these films. In some cases the origins of the phenomenon are unexplained and in some cases they manage to reek havoc while remaining invisible to those they torment.
A familyís home is terrorized by supernatural forces & as efforts are made to calm down the haunting, the youngest child disappears as a result.
This movie is really hard to explain. Its more of a family based horror film so its not exceedingly violent most of the time (those the face ripping scene was pretty intense) & nobody dies. At the same time though, it does have some great freak out moments & fantastic spooky atmosphere. Spielberg had his hand in this and you really get some top notch production out of this. When the scares happen and the film kicks into high octane, its really good. The images are creepy, and all of it looks great. And I have to say that I do like the family in this movie. They do feel like a real family unit and making the drama over trying to save the little girl, while somewhat childish compared to the other horror films IĎve covered, did feel legitimate. I also have to throw some credit to the final shot of the film where the father rolls the TV out of the hotel room following their escape from the house. It got a nice chuckle out of me.
Is the film perfect? Well, not really. First of all, I dare anyone to tell me that the munchkin voiced ladyís speeches made any sense at all. Rewatching this film a couple weeks ago, I honestly sat there, heard what she said and immediately replayed it just to try and catch it again. Iíve honestly heard Star Trek techno babble that makes more sense. Not to mention her voice & delivery are so ridiculous I felt it took away from the film more than helped it. I think they were going for a female Yoda with her, but it didnít click. And there is some hammy acting here and there, especially from the mother. Those problems aside, the movie is a pretty good ghost story & a fine ghost story film.
PARANORMAL ACTIVITY (2009)
A young couple, Katie & Micah, document their haunting by an unknown & unseen presence within their home using video cameras around the house.
If youíre wondering why Iím covering the PA films instead of something a bit more iconic like Psycho or The Shinning, I have been limited with my time this month and I had never seen this films before, so I wanted to check them out. Paranormal Activity has kind of become the new hotness as far as horror franchises go and I wanted to see what all the fuss was about. I like the premise & the set up. Its basically Blair Witch meets Poltergeist. Sometimes mixing that handheld camera style of shooting a film can be really interesting (Cloverfield really made it work). So was it worth it?
Well to be honest, I thought the film was kind of boring at first. Again, I like the premise, but unlike something like Blair Witch, I didnít feel like the tension had been built up all that well throughout. I understand they wanted to start small and build their way up, but the small stuff wasnít even that great. In Halloween, nothing really happens until about half way through the movie, but Myerís presence is felt throughout and that sense of tension & build up is never lost. But here, footprints show up in flour & a door slightly moved at 3am. Oh and the demon possessed the girl and had her go sit outside. Big deal.
That said, once the film goes into the final 20 minutes, my attitude towards it completely changed. The last portion of the film is completely worth it. Once it starts getting a little more intense, then it becomes legit scary. The dragging scene I thought was particularly good. I canít imagine a more disturbing wake up call, can you? And then of course, the final scene in the movie is one of the best Money Shot scary endings to any horror film Iíve ever seen. Yeah, I jumped. Iíll admit it. So the first PA is kind of a slow ride, but the ending packs a wallop and makes the film worth checking out. It might bore you at first, but stay with it and you wonít regret it.
PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 2 (2010)
Taking place shortly before the events of the first film, Katieís sister Kristi and her family find themselves victimized by an other worldly force whose actions are captured via security cameras around the house.
This one was kind of a step forward and two steps back from the original. I liked that they used security cameras as the excuse to document all of this since them walking around the house with handhelds would get increasingly silly with each sequel. I also liked that they used a full family in this film. Two parents, teenaged daughter, & a baby son. It feels more traditional and creates the same appeal that Poltergeist had as itís a tight family being tested by supernatural forces. I also like how they tied it all in the first film. Its not truly a sequel or even really a prequel, but a nice companion piece that can be interwoven into the events of the first film. Some questions were answered while others may or may not be addressed in future films. Also, I liked the character of Ally who I see becoming the main protagonist in a potential fourth film. We shall see.
All of that said, the major problem I had with PA 2 is that it wasnít scary! The first film at least had a couple of good scares, especially towards the end. This one really didnít. Like the first film, this one also had a dragging scene & a money shot ending. To compare the two, the dragging scene in this film was downright silly. Watch the mom get dragged down those stairs & tell me the Benny Hill theme wouldnít fit perfectly. And the ending I thought was a pretty lame effort to recreate the ending to the first film.
So there was a lot of good here and a chance for improvement on the first film, but it wasnít fully capitalized on which is a shame.
Now like I said, I didnít see these films when they first came out. So when I relayed my problems with them to my friends, the first thing out of their mouths were ďDude, you needed to see them with an audience. Its all about the group experience with theseĒ. Well that led me to deciding to check outÖ
PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 3 (2011)
In a distant prequel to the first two films, Katie & Kristiís childhood is captured on video in 1988 as we see their first encounters with the demonic entity that followed them into adulthood.
Now THIS is what I wanted the first movie to be. Now to throw some kudos to my friends, they were right. The live theater experience definitely added to the experience and it was fun to be with a lively crowd that reacted to everything. Besides that part of it, I felt like the 3rd movie did a much better job of taking advantage of the premise than the other two films did. Its not boring at any point. My one knock is that there are a few too many fake scares, but overall, it does a very good job of keeping the tension high throughout and when the real scares come, they are very good and very memorable.
The new gimmick that this film added that I really liked the was slow swiveling camera that moved between the living room & the kitchen. After a while, the idea of all this activity being recorded runs out of steam, but that idea really brought a new dimension to the whole thing. It was a great tool that toyed with expectations and raised the fear levels. Two of the best scares in the film came from the use of that moving camera & it was great. And then of course there is the ending sequence. That final 7 minutes or so was scarier than the first two films combined, topping even the great closer the original had. It was just one shock after another. Try to imagine going through one of those haunted houses set up in a fair except everything inside it was real. Thatís kind of what happened here.
Getting into spoiler territory, I do have some questions regarding how it plays into the events of the first two films. Do the two girls just donít remember being brought into a Coven by their grandmother? Also, if the tapes were stolen from Kristiís house during the events of 2, then who has them now? Who was watching the tapes to begin with? I mean the first two films indicated that the footage was police evidence recovered at the scene, edited together, and made into a film. Here, weíre told the tapes were stolen, but not by whom or how they are being viewed. I think it would have been better to just tell us that Ally, the only survivor left in the family following the events of all three films, has the tapes and was using them as research to find clues on locating her baby brother. Whatever the case is, I do feel like theyíve left plenty of room for a fourth movie that ties up all the loose ends left by the first three.
So the Paranormal Activity franchise really came through in the most recent installment. Iíd say its worth the time to go see it (its pretty short too) and definitely maximizes the potential of the premise more so than the previous two films.
THE THING (1982)
A group of researchers in the Antarctic are invaded by an alien force that can disguise itself as the organisms it attacks. Paranoia & mistrust run high as attempts are made to find out who is truly human & who is a murderous shape shifter.
The only remake Iím reviewing for this and what a great one it is. John Carpenter was obviously a huge fan of the original film (he even incorporated it into Halloween), so it was obvious that he wanted to put his best foot forward here. He did justice to the material while also putting his own stamp on it to truly make this remake better than its original.
The Thing itself is one of my all time favorite movie monsters. Number one, it doesnít have a defined look. We see it shape shift & stay in mid transformation or reveal itself out of its disguises, always taking another form or splitting up into several different forms. And at no point in the film does it look like the typical man in a suit as its created using some pretty nifty stop motion & practical effects. The amount of creativity that was put into bringing this monster to the screen is truly something to behold and is a major achievement in special effects. (Keep in mind this was made in 1982).
But the true heart & soul of the film comes from its characters. 12 man trapped in a research facility on the South Pole and once they figure out they are threatened by The Thing, they donít know who to trust. The rising tension & paranoia between the characters is what really drives the story and makes it so much fun to watch. Is The Thing going to kill everyone or are they going to tear each other apart themselves? The characters themselves are great too, particularly Kurt Russell as MacReady. I donít like the open ending, so I just like to assume that neither Mac or Childs is The Thing & they both die in the snow together. But everything else is great. Great movie. Great & superior remake, and a fun time for all.
DAWN OF THE DEAD (1978)
Following the events of ďNight of the Living DeadĒ the Zombie epidemic has swept across the entire world and four survivors take refuge in an abandoned shopping mall.
Of the Romero Zombie films, I had only seen Night of the Living Dead & its remake, both of which I really liked. Dawn of the Dead seemed to be the most popular though so I decided to finally check that one out. After watching it, I have to say that I prefer Night just because I think its scarier. The atmosphere & terror that is captured in the original film was just so well done. Dawn doesnít even really feel like a horror movie. It feels more like a bad ass action flick, and apparently Romero was going for a more comic book feel with this one and it shows.
Iím not bashing it through. Because of those qualities, Dawn of the Dead is a very fun film to watch. I got the feeling that everyone involved just had a blast making it, and as a continuation of Night, I like the set up. The first film was all about an immediate reaction to the zombie apocalypse and the short term solutions to just get through the night. Here, we see characters that are more immersed in the world of zombies and are looking for long term living solutions, and that is fascinating. I love the idea of them taking shelter in a shopping mall and trying to make the arrangement as permanent as possible. And of course the movie utilizes zombies well. I wasnít a fan of the blue skin color they gave them, but other than that, itís the gore & good stuff you expect from a zombie movie. The scenes where the main characters have to evade the zombies are pretty creative as well. And the climax where a massive biker gang breaks into the mall and does battle with the zombies is pretty wild & very cool.
What the movie lacks in scares, it more than makes up for in great characters, over the top fun, & kick ass action sequences. It is a very cool flick.
THE EXORCIST (1973)
A young girl is possessed by a demonic force and when science fails to cure her affliction, the Catholic Church approves an Exorcism as the last chance of her salvation.
Its my favorite horror movie of all time. I donít even know what to say that hasnít already been said. I mean I heavily doubt there is anybody of adult age who hasnít at least seen the big scenes from this movie. For a movie as iconic as this, its hard to put it into words that hasnít already been said, but Iíll give it a shot.
First of all, what makes the movie work so well to me is how real it feels compared to most other horror movies. Its not about a bunch of teenagers doing dumb things & making themselves victims in ridiculous situations. There are no paranormal investigators or psychics. The movie is set in a completely realistic world with people that feel real and react to the bizarre occurrences as real people might. We donít even get to see the Religious institution get involved until both medical science & psychology have completely failed. The doctors are constantly trying to come up with a logical explanation for everything that is happening and even when Exorcism is recommended, it is done so only as a form of psychological therapy rather than any kind of belief in the divine power of the practice.
I think grounding the movie in such realism makes the big scares even more effective. Any and all horror clichťs are thrown out the window because none of those situations present themselves here. I also think making the movie so realistic makes the underlying message of Faith in a greater good all the more challenging. And with all its scares, thatís what the movie is about.
Now is the movie scary? Uh yeah! I think so! I can honestly say that I have never seen a horror movie that sticks with me like this one does. When I watch this film, I know I am not going to sleep all that well that night. The frightening images, the chilling atmosphere, & the intense nature of the scenes involving the more repulsive actions of the demon are really quite striking. And the fact that itís a little girl that this is all happening to makes it all the more disturbing. I also must compliment the spectacular make up job done on Linda Blair for these scenes as some of the best monster make up I have ever seen in any film. The image still haunts people today (whose face is it on all those prank mazes floating around the internet?).
The Exorcist is my favorite horror film of all time and deserves any and all recognition it receives.
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OK last part of my massive list of Horror Movie that I watched this month.
Again BEWARE OF FUCKING SPOILERS!!!!
Halloween is all about having fun, is it not? Well I like to laugh as much as the next guy and there are plenty of great comedies that fit perfectly with the Halloween season. Some of them are great parodies of the films Iíve already mentioned and they all provide laughs in spades as they honor the monsters & movies they are referencing. For the great funny films covered here, I felt like I picked the best of the best.
In the wake of the zombie apocalypse, four survivors band together to find their way in the scary new world.
This film was awesome. I guess one could view it as sort of an American approach to Shaun of the Dead, but I like to think of it as a modern day Ghostbusters too (which the film references in one of the funniest scenes). It combines so many elements & genres from comedy, horror, & action films and combines all of it together to make for a really fun movie going experience.
A major part of the appeal is the world itself. While it obviously borrows a lot of other zombie films, the film makers wisely chose to incorporate some elements that gives this universe its own identity. First of all, the zombie survival rule book that Columbus has is great. It brings us into the world & gives some level of structure to a world of anarchy, while also providing some great laughs along the way. I also love that all of the characters are named by locations rather than their true proper names. Again, its one of those aspects that sort of immerses the audience into the world. Also, the film largely just sits back & has fun with itself, so itís a nice & easy ride from start to finish.
The four main characters are fortunately quite enjoyable it is nice to see them clash & eventually bond as the film goes on. Woody Harrelson is fantastic as Tallahassee. Almost every zombie movie seems to have that one psycho zombie killer that loves his work, and heís just amazing. Jesse Eisenberg, Emma Stone, & Abigail Breslin are all fun too & add their own quirks to the experience. And I have to say that this movie includes one of the greatest celebrity cameos Iíve ever seen.
If I have one complaint about the film, its that it doesnít have the same drama & suspense that Ghostbusters & Shaun of the Dead have. I know itís a comedy, but those films did a good job of keeping the action tense in between the laughs, but I really didnít fear for the charactersí safety until maybe the very end. But it is a minor complaint of an otherwise highly enjoyable film.
YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN (1974)
In a parody of the classic horror films of the 30s, the grandson of Dr. Frankenstein carries on the family legacy and creates a new creature of reanimated dead body parts.
What can you say about the genius of Mel Brooks? I mean that man is/was the master of parody. It was always obvious that he had a love & appreciation for whatever it was he was ripping on, so it all came off as good hearted fun with a cast of talents that felt like a tight nit family having a ball. And while I donít think Young Frankenstein is Melís absolute best work, it is definitely high up there. The cast is fantastically over the top. The gags are great. The movie is endlessly quotable. The homages to the classic 1930s horror films are great for providing atmosphere and great laughs. Iím not sure there is anything I can say about this classic that hasnít already been said.
So many of the characters are memorable. My personal favorite is Kenneth Mars as Inspector Kemp. They got a lot of laughs out of a wacky inspector with a weird accent & a wooden arm. Marty Feldman as Igor (pronounced EYE-Gor that is) wonderfully cartoony. Madeline Kahn, for her small role, gets some great lines in there as well. Teri Garrís over the top German accent gives her character a lot of life. Peter Boyle as the Monster was great. Gene Hackman as the blind hermit resulted in one of the funniest scenes of the movie. And I have to give major props to the energetic performance of Gene Wilder who seemed as if he was going to scream his head off at several points. There are so many great characters & performers here that there was no way this movie wasnít going to work.
Iíve got ďPuttiní on the RitzĒ stuck in my head right now, and I couldnít be happier. This film is fantastic through & through.
SHAUN OF THE DEAD (2004)
Shaunís slacker lifestyle is turned upside down when the zombie apocalypse hits and he has to help his friends & family get to safety.
Director Edgar Wright is at a stage in his career where he can do no wrong. This isnít even his best work. For that, go check out ďHot FuzzĒ, but this film is so good, Iíll go as far to say that it might even be my favorite Zombie movie period. Wright knows how to make his films funny, and this movie has comedy in spades. Its fun to quote and there are so many great wacky moments. I love the interactions between the characters (Shaun & Ed in particular), and hardly a scene goes by where Iím not laughing at something. And the relationships are so strong that its tense when they are in trouble & even sad when the characters die.
But like I said, its also a great Zombie flick. The film obviously borrows a ton from the work of Romeroís Dead series (even music from the original Dawn of the Dead is used in places). I felt like Zombieland wanted to create its own Zombie universe, but this film, like Young Frankenstein, fully embraced itself as a parody & maximized all of what was familiar about Zombies from the Romero films. All the clichťs are there. The film is very gory, and itís the same basic story of people having to work together just to survive the apocalypse with break downs in cooperation causing their downfall. With all of its laughs, we get a very good addition to the Zombie subgenre as well and that is greatly appreciated. It always helps to be a fan of what youíre parodying or referencing, and its obvious that those involved in making this film just loved what they were doing.
A group of bungling paranormal investigators have their hands full as a destructive deity threatens to bring about the end of the world.
One of the most entertaining films ever made. What else can I say? This magic was lightning in a bottle captured at the perfect time with the perfect cast, perfect writing, and all the right parts in place to make a classic. Films like this appeal to me because of how many elements they are able to successfully combine. I talked about it with Shaun and the Dead, but Ghostbusters isnít just a comedy. Its action/adventure, its sci-fi, its horror, and all of it is done so perfectly and meshed together so well that it creates a wild & fun movie viewing experience.
The film is about as quotable as nay film can be and always funny to watch, but for whatís supposed to be a family film, Iím surprised at how much of it is even successfully scary for younger audiences(There is no Dana, only Zuul!). And I love how the film basically invents its own science with all these great gadgets & weapons used to trap the ghosts. On its face, this film is a tribute to The Marx Brothers with such a silly gang of heroes, but its offers much more than that too and as a child of the 80s, I can honestly say that few things around at the time were quite as remarkable as Ghostbusters.
What really makes the film though is its superb cast. Bill Murray steals the show as he usually does, but I have to give it up for Dan Akroyd, Harold Ramis, Sigourney Weaver, Rick Moranis, & even ďdick-lessĒ himself Will Atherton. All of the interactions are great & provide some of the best comedic moments Iíve ever seen in a movie. Its just great to witness even to this day.
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A bunch of people get trapped in a house while zombies surround them. Then a bunch of rednecks come along and save the day. The end. Great movie, and the original started the whole zombie craze. Yes, there were zombies back in the 30s, but they didnt eat brains.
Nice reviews there Triple G. Can't believe you only gave Texas a 7.5 but whatever horses for courses.
People invade the house horror flick. Very unsettling french film with quality set pieces and pacing, the ending in particular dealing a real kick to the groin which is oddly satisfying in its cruelty. The use of music and visuals were a lot stronger in the hollywood remake but everything else is handled much better in an original which is far more content to be silent and slow. The final two shots are simply amazing, nailbiting tension followed up by quite the thought provoking twist.
Great thriller, which due to technological advances looks very dated now-a-days. Still as a sci-fi movie, its bloody entertaining! Broderick is a great actor IMO, and he really delivers here, his reactions are believable for the most part. Cant wait to see him in Tower heist.
I'm a big fan of Jim Carrey. I believe he makes a movie atleast watchable. Recently, besides the brilliant I love you phillip morris, his been playing it a bit safe. It continues like that here. I went in expecting a safe family flick, and i wasnt disappointed. Had some good funny moments, and just a good feel to it.
Still i wish Carrey would release more serious films, Truman Showis near perfect.