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When I first Saw this film, I wasn't as big on it as I was on the first one. This feeling went on for many years and it is reflected in an earlier review I wrote on the film back in 2002. Now, after having seen Batman Returns within the last 4 to 6 years, I have had a changed of mind on this film and consider it my favorite of the four Batman films made from 89-97. It has a feel that I connected with more recently than I did during my earlier viewings. The villains walk a blurred line between evil and pathetic and sometimes this line blurs where they are interchangeable. Sure the film has its flaws, but still I think it is well made and a little underrated. That is a sadness that hovers over the characters like a overseeing shadow. I wish they had bought back Michelle Pfeiffer's Cat Woman for another film.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Carrie(1976) opens with a moment that would set the tone for the rest of
story. Moment in the shower represents an open awareness of the main
character's sexuality and her confusion. De Palma builds and builds the
moment with an effectiveness that never quiets down. Sissy Spacek conveys
emotions of confusion and hysteria powerfully depicted by her facial
expressions. A moment when you can feel pity for Carrie White because of
the mean treatment she receives from classmates.
Before Carrie(1976), Brian De Palma was known for his forays into comedies with exception of Sisters(1973), and Obsession(1976). After Carrie(1976), De Palma started to become famous for his horror/thriller features, which displayed many homages to his fave direrctor, Alfred Hitchcock as well as Dario Argento, and Mario Bava. He may not be original when it comes to some of his storylines, but at his best makes things entertaining and interesting. The Prom massacre scene is directed with some finesse, although it does feel at times that he goes overboard with the split-screen effects. The genius of Carrie(1976) is to depict the emotional meltdown of a young woman who is tormented from all sides and fronts.
An intriquing look into the behavior and mind set of the teenager and the difficulties that comes with being one. The performances in the film are quite convincing in showing the cruel and nasty nature that teens who are outsiders go through every day of their life. Carrie White is portrayed in a sympathetic light whose hidden feelings of anger can be understandable. Chris Hargensen(played by Nancy Allen) is a character you love to hate because of her mean attitude towards Carrie White. Probably the meanest and most unpleasent character Nancy Allen has played in film.
One of the best film adaptations from a Stephen King book besides The Dead Zone(1983), and Misery(1990). Definitely introduced the world to the writings of King, and ended up making a household name out of him as a writer of horror literature. The film plays a nice homage from a moment in Deliverance(1972) during the final moments of Carrie(1976). The Prom massacre is one of the scariest moments in horror films that would be reworked into the final scene in Ms. 45(1981). A classic 1970s horror pic that hasn't lost its touch in creating something so frightening, and very much heart chilling.
An unusually restraint film for a Fulci picture made in the early 1980s. A
picturesque vision of gothic horror that's done in the style of an Italian
gothic or Hammer horror film from the 1960s. I think Fulci's attempt here
was to make a film in the manner of Hammer horror or Corman's Poe pictures,
which would involve little of the director's usual gory antics. There are
some violent scenes, and the most brutal scene in terms of gore or death is
the one involving Lillian Grayson. Il Gatto Nero/The Black Cat(1980) relies
more on atmosphere, mood, and tension, than gory set pieces, which was a
change of tune for Fulci after the bloody violence of Zombie(1979), The
Smuggler(1980), and City of the Living Dead(1980).
Its not one of his best works, but it is a beautiful looking film, with some gracious camerawork, and impressive visuals. Based loosely on the Edgar Allen Poe short story, of which this film has no direct relationship to the plot of that horror story. The closet the film comes is during the sequence that comes near the very end of the picture. The climax is an encore of the climatic moment in Sette Note in Nero/Seven Notes in Black(1977). The POV of the cat prowling around during the opening credits scene is handled with visual spectre by Sergio Salvati.
The casting of Patrick Magee as Robert Miles is one of the best parts of The Black Cat(1980). Magee gives a performance that shows why he was a master in playing eccentric and mentally troubled characters in films like A Clockwork Orange(1971), and Marat/Sade(1970). One of five or six excellent actors to have a role in a Lucio Fulci film. He portrays in his character emotions of fear, hate, and menace just by his expressions of his face and eyes, which are more effectively presented when viewing the film in widescreen. Atmospheric and eerie use of its British locales that rivals that of Jorge Grau's Let Sleeping Corpses Lie(1974).
One scene, which reaches the dreamlike style of Fulci's other gothic pics from the early 80s is the moment when the house that Jill Travels lives in shakes, and rocks around in a frenzy after the hanging Miles cat. Its an eerie sequence that is one of the best in the film. Daniela Doria once again plays a character who comes to a gruesome end(seems to be her only function in a Fulci film). David Warbeck does ok as Inspector Gorley, but his performance here is nowhere near as good as in The Beyond(1981). The Mrs. Grayson death scene borders on the effective and ridiculous without moving totally into the realm of the latter.
Mimsy Farmer gives a bland performance here that is short of the good performances given by Catriona MacColl, who was better at making a Fulci's heroine a little more dimensional. The editing is smooth looking and fluid compared to the erratic editing of City of the Living Dead(1980), which was a weakness for that film. The death of Ferguson is crafted with hand shaking suspense and a creative payoff. Fulci's director is flamboyant and yet simple in the same time. Overall, an entertaining horror film that is one of Fulci's most underrated films, and one despite its flaws is worthwhile for anyone that loves Euro-horror, Fulci horror, or just horror films in general.
Good comedy that has three thing's going for it. One, the appearence of Elizabeth Hurley who gives a performance that is both sensual and intellegent. Two, Mike Myers performace as Dr. Evil, which outweighs his performance as Austin Powers in terms of sheer comic delights. Three, its spoofing of James Bond films, which in some bizarre form manages to be more interesting than the some of the films from the series it seems to be parodying. Austin Powers:International Man of Mystery(1997) is not a classic comedy, but is fun to due to a couple of memorable scenes. Probably the best performance, Liz Hurley has given in her film career. The moments where the film becomes annoying are during the moments of the sex jokes by Austin Powers and other cast of characters. Also, the film at times becomes too stupid for its own good. Robert Wagner shows a comic side that is full of subtle humor in his role of Dr. Evil's right hand man, Number Two.
Witchfinder General(1968) is an intellegent, thoughtful, human study of
power in a powerless time. Intellectual horror that plays on the
intensity of its characters, and the brutality they are capable of
achieving. Pinnalce of British horror, which behind The Wicker Man(1974)
one of the best British horror pics ever. With an evil villain in form of
Matthew Hopkins who carries around a darkly intellectual karma amid towns
superstitious people. Effective in showing an aura of brutal evil brought
on by designs for power, superstition, and civil war.
Responsible in bringing forth a new subgenre, which dealt with the brutal violence, religious hypocrisies, and sexual debacheries of Middle age Europe, particularly the inquisition age. Witchfinder General(1968) deals with its inquisition subject in a forceful and psychological insightful manner. Later films of subgenre would rely heavily on human eroticism, and sadistic violence. The best of this subgenre besides Witchfinder General(1968) are Beatrice Cenci(1969), and The Bloody Judge(1969). The former shares a tragic quality with WG, while the latter is a portrait of intellectual evil.
Rare occasion where Vincent Price plays someone in a film without any camp or humor value. All the more scary because of Price's ability to balance between dry charm and cold blooded ruthlessness. Nothing he does in Witchfinder General(1968) is darkly comical like roles for Abominable Dr.Phibes(1972), or Theatre of Blood(1967). Closer to his portrayal of Prince Prospero in Roger Corman's Masque of the Red Death(1964) who shares similar qualities with Matthew Hopkins. Results in Vincent Price's finest performance and maximizes his acting talent to highest level.
Hopkins was the product of a system, where anything away from the norm political or religious wise were causes for condemnation as a witch. Powerful display on the chaotic effects war has on a country against itself. Director, Michael Reeves depicts a situation when justice and law are performed by those who prey on the weak and the powerless for personal gain. English Civil War lended to Hopkins having a type of power due to lack of a semblence of order. Interesting how horrible human acts are at their worst during times of chaos and war.
Matthew Hopkins was not the only known witchfinder general of his time, but is one of the most infamous and notorious of the witchfinders in that era. Very little is known about his life except for his days as a witchfinder, which makes him into an enigmatic figure shrouded in mystery. Hopkins in his day was the equivalent of a bounty hunter in era of American Wild West. What I find fascinating about Hopkins are the different sources concerning his death with one implying by natural causes, and another by execution as a witch. Price plays Hopkins with a chilling and cold hearted demeanor that only he could pull off in convincing fashion.
Judging by the effectiveness in film's direction and execution, Michael Reeves might have turned out to be one of British horror's best had he lived a little longer. He is the James Dean of film directors due to amount of excellence done in so little a time. Reeves shows his skills off in developing characters who are not plain good or evil but people who are capable of both. One style for whom Reeves is akin to is Lucio Fulci from his late 60s/early 70s period with similar themes of social consciousness. Scenes of horror are honestly and powerfully depicted by Reeves.
The fabulous cinematography of this film must have made an impression on Sam Peckinpah when he hired John Coquillon to do the cinematography for Straw Dogs(1971). In fact, there are many moments, which I feel influenced the ideas on the primal side of human being for Straw Dogs(1971). One, some of the characterizations of the film's hero would creep up a little into the personality of Dustin Hoffman's math professor. Two, the brooding and fercious mood of the cinematography here is also apparent in Straw Dogs(1971). The cinematography of this film is one of many aspects that gives it a powerhouse emotion.
Its American title is called Conqueror Worm even though it has nothing to do with the excellent Edgar Allen Poe poem. Donald Pleasence was the director's choice for Matthew Hopkins, but was declined by AIP in favor of the more marketable Vincent Price. Although Pleasence might have been good in the role, Price brings certain qualities as Matthew Hopkins that Pleasence might not have been able to give. The relationship between Price(actor) and Reeves(director) was one that was a love-hate one. Acting is very good with Price leading the way to give a brilliant performance.
Film's erotic elements are a mixture of the implicit and slightly explicit. Story's revenge angle ends with some kind of consequence for the main chracters involved. Robert Russell does a good job in playing Hopkin's assistent as sleezy, and sadistic. The strong and dry acting of Vincent Price was inspired by his frustations with the director about his role. A non Corman AIP classic that is deserving of a Special Edition DVD release.
The final scene packs a big punch with emotional and psychological intensity. Disturbing and mind shattering scene, which hasn't lost its ability to distress the psyche. The screams of Sara are enough to stay in one's memory following the sight of the last credit at the end of the film. Reminds me in a way of the final frame of Dario Argento's Tenebre(1982) where the main heroine is seen screaming against a backdrop of death and horror. A moment when none of the main characters come unscratched, and ends up with some psychological scar, which will affect for the rest of a lifetime.
Classic televison, which was inspired by Jules Dassin's spoof of his own French masterpiece, Rififi, from the mid 1960s. One of its best elements were the famous guest stars that appeared in the show, which added more interest to the already interesting storylines. Unlike the film adaptations, Mission:Impossible(1966) is an excellent crafted tv show that was ahead of its time in some areas of special effects. My favorite actors from the show were Leonard Nimoy, Martin Landau, and Peter Graves.
Very good action yarn made during the same year as the more intellegent and
superior Badham film, WarGames(1983). Still an entertaining action thriller
with three major set pieces. One, the chase among helicopters in the same
area as the chase in Terminator 2(1991). Two, the climatic battlescene
while at times seems ruthless is nevertheless cheorgraphed with some
impressive effects for its time. Three, the final conflict chase between
Roy Scheider and Malcolm McDowell.
Acting leads includes Peckinpah actor, Warren Oates whose performance is very good in what was one of his final film roles before his death. He is justly at home in his role of the head of his Police department, and gives us his patterned hard edged cynical with a slight humor mannerisms. Blue Thunder(1983) is one of the five best films from a director in John Badham whose career has been full of ups and downs. I feel his output from the early to mid 1980s are his most successful times as a filmmaker. Roy Scheider is professional and tough in his role of the film's protagonist.
Malcolm McDowell gives another demented performance as Scheider's former mentor, and now chief nemisis. When channeling the right key, McDowell can be one convincing menacing villain. Badham's late 1990s Hitchcockian type thriller, Nick of Time(1996) used many of the same ideas on action and suspense as his earlier film, Blue Thunder(1983). That film even has a similarly sinister mentor/student relationship as this film. While not a classic is certainly something that can be watched when one has little to do, or wants to be entertained.
While not as good as the first film, Batman Return(1992) is way better than
the last two when the series became dumb and dumber. Deals with childhood
traumas, and adult angst that results from feelings of alienination during
childhood years. Not one of the main characters were blessed with happy
memories of their childhood, and each has their own alter-ego to fight this
traumatic pain. The opening scene is an example of this idea, and one which
leads to the main theme of the movie.
Michael Keaton as Bruce Wayne/Batman becomes more melencoly, more saddened by unhappy childhood memories, and saddled with a feeling of loneliness. Danny Devito is a disappointing followup as a villain after the flamboyant performance of Jack Nicholson in Batman(1989). Michelle Pfeiffer is both sexy and hard edged in the role of Catwoman, which is her most complex and ambiouous. When Tim Burton did the Batman films they were very good, and had some provocative ideas about childhood memories, and the feelings of being an outsider.
I would have to see a director's cut of this sequel as I feel that some scenes look as if they were trimmed, and maybe there were good scenes cut from the film to fit a PG-13 rating. Scenes, which feels trimmed are the erotic games of cat and mouse between Batman and Catwoman. Films based on comics are more interesting when good and evil become a grey matter where nothing is certain, and the architecture stands with a moody broodish quality. Christopher Walken plays his usual sarcastic evil villain, and plays it with a dark coldness that is a trademark of a Walken villain.
One of the three worst films that Steven Seagal has done, Marked for
Death(1990) feels like something that could have been done by Chuck Norris
during the 1980s. Heck, it even reminds me of the plotlines of many Chuck
Norris films from late 1970s/early 1980s, and some of those films were even
better than this. A cross between voodoo horror and samurai action, a
combo, which doesn't mix well. Only bright spot is opening action sequence,
and cameo appearence of Jimmy Cliff.
Marked for Death(1990) feels bored and looks bored, especially after looking at performances giving by main actors. Steven Seagal's attempts at dry humor are always a mix bag in his films, and here they half work, and half not work. Talented actress, Joanna Pacula is given little to work with here, thus her role is a very wasteful and insignifcant one. Another bright spot is the early appearence of Danielle Harris whose presence makes it in some degrees tolerable to watch.
An average horror film that tries to think hard on certain ideas, but fails in giving anything provocative or scary. Has the same types of faults, which plague later Oliver Stone films such as Natural Born Killers(1994), and U-Turn(1997). Michael Caine transcends the story and gives a performance that foreshadows his dark humorous one in A Shock to the System(1990). Its a difficult prospect for a director to balance between the horrific and philosophical, and Stone has some trouble doing this. Stone's films work when the ideas presented are not overburdened with pretension as in some of his films. Oliver Stone would recover from this disaster to make his first masterpiece, Salvador(1984). Recommanded only for hardcore Michael Caine or Oliver Stone fans.
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