Reviews written by registered user
|56 reviews in total|
The first time I saw this movie, I knew one thing: I was very intrigued
by it, maybe even mesmerized, but I was also confused about the plot,
as I found the story construction very hard to follow. I realize now
that director Mariano Baino had no interest in making use of a
classical narrative structure to tell the story. This film gave me the
impression that someone was able to record another person's nightmare
and turn it into a movie, with some editing work on the side. The plot
presents inconsistencies, and events that are somewhat incoherent or
hard to explain. Coherence is not the strongest point of this film,
which reminded me of other horror Italian horror directors such as
Lucio Fulci or Michele Soavi, among others, whose films are powerful in
imagery and horror elements, while not putting much effort on the
consistence of the story. The effort that Mariano Baino doesn't put in
making the story all polished and tidy, he compensates it by creating a
dark, oneiric atmosphere, which makes it easy to forgive and even
appreciate illogical situations, that in other cases, one would
In "Dark Waters", a young English woman named Elizabeth travels to an old rural island in Russia, after finding out that her recently deceased father had been sending money to a convent there. At the same time, Elizabeth has been receiving letters from a friend of hers named Theresa, who also happens to live in said convent (presumably because she wants to become a nun). In these letters, Theresa tells Elizabeth that she has a special connection to the convent, which prompts her visit to the place.
Theresa is brutally murdered by a nun, after finding a hidden amulet. When Elizabeth arrives, she is told that Theresa simply left without giving explanations. The mother superior assigns a friendly young nun called Sarah as a guide during Elizabeth's visit. When Elizabeth settles in, she starts having visions about her past, dreams about the convent and herself as a little girl. At some point, Elizabeth tells Sarah that she wasn't born in England and she was actually born in the island, but doesn't remember anything from her childhood years. In the form of dreams and flashbacks, the mysteries surrounding Elizabeth's life begin to unravel, until she comes to realize that her connection with the island goes way back, to those missing years of her childhood that she can't remember.
"Dark Waters" is gifted with an undeniable Lovecraftian nature and this is not merely a coincidence, since this film was originally conceived as an adaptation of "The Shadow Over Innsmouth", with an entire town filled with mutants, instead of evil nuns and creepy villagers. Though the story was eventually changed due to budgetary reasons, the Lovecraftian elements can still be found, such as the impossibility to escape fate. Elizabeth, our young lead, finds herself traveling to a remote place, with vague reasons that simply don't quite justify her trip, but she travels anyway, because it's her destiny to be there and come across the truth about herself and those years that she can't recall. Elizabeth's presence on the island brings chaos and horrible events that are meant to occur. Another Lovecraftian element that we can find is questionable parentage, because in Lovecraft literature, it is frequent for the relatives of the main characters to be depicted as abnormal, which is something that can be found in this story as well. Also, throughout the film, Elizabeth reads different quotes from ancient books that she finds at the library inside the convent, and these passages are very reminiscent of Lovecraft, such as "She who was, and is not, and yet is". The apocalyptic nature of "Dark Waters" is also very similar to what one could find in Lovecraft's stories, in which humans are portrayed as insignificant beings that are destined to surrender to beastly and ominous creatures from a higher realm.
Though the acting is mostly plain and the dialogs are rather artificial, this actually works in favor of the narrative, as it builds a dream-like surrealistic atmosphere. Was this supposed to be intentional? I'm not so sure; this artificial dialogs and monotonous voice tone is very common in co-productions, where the actors are supposed to speak English, even though it's not their native language, which leads to effortless dubs, that sound out of place and mystifying in this particular case. The photography and the locations in this film are brilliant and one of the main reasons why the imagery seems to be taken out of someone else's nightmare. The lights and shadows are handled perfectly, giving and eerie effect to the convent and even the nuns, who seem to appear from out of nowhere. The music composed by Igor Clark is very fitting. In more than one occasion, we hear a pipe organ playing a dark melody, which I found to be very old school and Gothic.
I will most likely have to see this film more times to fully appreciate it, because it seems like "Dark Waters" is one of those stories that simply get better the more one sees it, as it probably contains a lot of things that are not too out there.
"Milo" is a film that undeniably has a lot of reasons not to take it
seriously, and would make a lot of people dismiss it after the first 30
minutes. I belong to a small crowd of people who love this movie and
accept it for what it is, leaving the flaws on the side. The budget is
low, there is technical and directing sloppiness and there are a lot of
script irregularities. All these things spell "bad movie" in capital
letters, but in some way, "Milo" works well and not in a patronizing
way. I find the story to be rather dark, as it features some genuinely
disturbing scenes, and the villain is pretty distinctive and creepy.
The story begins with a group of little girls meeting a strange boy named Milo Jeeder. The girls go to Milo's house, which is also his father's office, a sinister gynecologist who performs clandestine abortions. The strange boy is playing "the doctor" with the girls and he inexplicably stabs one of them to death.
About 20 years later, one of the girls who survived the tragedy appears as an apathetic substitute teacher named Claire Mullins, who lives a very lonely life and her only "friend" is her goldfish pet (for real). Claire gets a wedding invitation from Ruth, one of her childhood friends, and she unwillingly returns to her hometown to assist the ceremony. When Claire arrives, she is informed that Ruth passed away in a car accident, but she stays in town anyway, where she gets to reconnect with her two childhood friends, Abby and Marian (sure, why the hell not?).
Though we find out that Milo supposedly drowned many years ago, Claire believes she has seen him on the street and still looking like a young boy. Abby and Marian assume that Claire is having hallucinations because she's back in her childhood town, but the truth is that Milo really is alive and out to get them. Hopeless and desperate, Claire tries to find someone who believes her, but everyone presumes that she is insane, and in the meantime, her friends start to vanish inexplicably.
My main concern with "Milo" is that there are some script irregularities that leave a bunch of things unclear, and it is evident that the lack of details to explain certain things are the result of lazy writing, rather than a deliberate attempt to leave some mystery for the benefit of the story. The idea behind "Milo" is very good, but the script is not very consistent, as there are a lot of things that don't make sense, mostly concerning the characters' nature, which are poorly written in many scenes. The dialogs are silly and artificial (which I can overlook in a slasher film), but the main problem is that the characters' actions are incomprehensible sometimes. For example: why does Milo suddenly decide to reappear after 20 years and start murdering his childhood acquaintances? Should we just assume that he is mad because one of them is getting married, which pushes him over the edge? How come the girls seem so well after their friend's death? I mean, first, we see Marian and Abby telling Claire that Ruth passed away and in the next scene, we see them laughing and remembering the old times? I didn't expect a tear-fest, but they seemed pretty okay with the idea of Ruth being dead, kind of like "Poor Ruth but we might as well just make the best of this reunion, right? Let's have a few drinks!" I don't find this very coherent, especially because these girls are otherwise portrayed as caring and sensitive characters.
"Milo" features almost no gore, since most of the murders are very subtle, and some of them are even off-screen. I don't necessarily expect gore in every horror film as a rule, but "Milo" belongs to the slasher sub-genre and in films like this, some gore is required. The lack of gore is balanced by disturbing imagery, mostly featuring Milo and his father, in their dark house, in which we get to see an antique cabinet full of jars containing fetuses and stillborns, and an embalmed body in the basement.
The acting is mostly good. The late Vincent Schiavelli gave a solid performance as Milo's dad, partly because of his physique du rol, but also because of his intentional deadness in his mannerisms and the sinister look in his eyes. As for Jennifer Jostyn, I like her a lot and even though he acting is mostly okay, a little bit more energy and strength would have been fine. What I like the most about this film is basically the character of Milo, which is an interesting villain. The fact that he looks the same throughout a period of 20 years makes us wonder what is wrong with him and though we never really get an explanation, one can only imagine that Milo's lack of growth is due to the fact that he was brought back to life by his father after his alleged death, which somehow affected his normal development. Once again, this is another reason to complain about the weak script, because honestly this should have been clearer.
I admit it, "Milo" is a faulted film, but a very entertaining one and it seems like there are a lot of people who either take it for what it is and love it, and in the same way, there's a lot of people who latch on to the obvious oversights to oust the film. I try not to let the imperfections bother me and enjoy the movie for what it is: a slasher about a weird zombie child using a yellow raincoat (even if it's not raining), who wants to kill his childhood friends and keeps their embalmed bodies and dress them in wedding gowns. I certainly don't think it deserves the 4/10 rating that it got on IMDb.
I have already seen this classic formula in horror films, in which a
group of young friends go on vacation to a far-away land, only to find
their trip cut short by a series of fortuitous and gory events,
followed by an imminent death. "Antropophagus" manages to stand out in
its own way, by offering a genuinely frightening villain, extreme
gruesome deaths and a perfect setting for the story. I have always
thought that the locations of a horror film sometimes have a greater
role than the central characters of the story. In this case, the
scenario in which the action takes place is a beautiful island in
Europe; a beautiful island indeed, but also a devastating scenario that
causes a feeling of isolation and vulnerability.
In "Antropophagus", a group of travelers go on a trip to Greece and are joined by a young woman named Julie, who asks them for a ride to an island because she wants to meet some friends. The group agrees to go to the island with Julie, except for Maggie, who stays on the boat, because she finds herself unable to walk due to an ankle injury. When the group leaves, a creepy man breaks into the boat, killing the sailor, and taking Maggie with him.
While the group explores the seemingly deserted island, they come across a rotten dead body, so they rush back to the boat, only to find it adrift. Julie suggests taking shelter at her friends' house, and when they get there, they find the family's blind daughter in an utter state of panic. The teenage girl, named Henerietta explains them that her family was killed some days ago by a lunatic. Later, the friends find out that most of the island residents were murdered by the same insane killer, a man named Nikos, who feasts on human flesh and is now out to get them.
I have seen hundreds of horror films and I can honestly say that I am not easily frightened. While I can see that certain horror villains, such as Michael Myers, are frightening and creepy looking, that's basically it; I can acknowledge their creepiness, while not necessarily being afraid of them. With this film, I was genuinely afraid of the antropophagus (performed by the surprisingly good-looking Luigi Montefiori). The cannibalistic villain appears as a gruesome man, with hideous scars all over his face, shredded clothes and most of all, a very sinister smile and crazy eyes that give the impression that he is a wicked combination between a man and a ravenous wild animal that is about to catch his prey. The antropophagus is definitely one of the most intimidating villains I have seen and his image is haunting. "Antropophagus" features some very effective chase sequences full of suspense and desperation, in which the killer unstoppably goes after his human prey with ferociousness in his eyes and a deranged smile.
The gore is plentiful and intense, which made my stomach turn once or twice, while not necessarily making this film a torture show. I admit I am easily impressed by gore and I tend to dislike extreme brutality, even when it looks ridiculously fake. However, just like I feel about "Cannibal Holocaust", sometimes gore is justified, when is not just there for the sake of seeing guts scattered all over the place. In some cases, like it happens with this film, the crudeness of the gore contribute to evoke feelings of vulnerability, despair and even anxiety.
The lead actress is Tisa Farrow (Mia's less known sister) who gave her last performance in this film, in which she accurately provided everything we expect on a lead girl from a classic horror movie: she's beautiful, but also angelic and innocent. Her character is likable and nice, but also capable of becoming a warrior towards the end and facing that horrible man that is out to get her. And speaking of the devil, the antropophagus himself is played by Italian actor Luigi Montefiori (who goes by the name of George Eastman in this film). I have never seen Montefiori in anything else, except "Antropophagus", but I honestly have to say that this is one of the scariest horror villains I have seen in basically 20 years as a horror fan. His performance should be praised, as well as the makeup artists who turned the handsome Montefiori into a horrible beast-like creature that literally gave me nightmares.
To this day, "Antropophagus" remains as one of my favorite horror films, although in all honestly, I don't see it very often, because I actually find it scary and even depressing for moments.
Although "The Evictors" can be perceived as a little bit too soft to
fit into the horror category, I acknowledge it as a very effective and
overlooked psychological horror film. I think it is a character-driven
film, in which past events acquire a lot of relevance to build the
In "The Evictors", the story takes place around the year 1942. A woman named Ruth Watkins and her husband Ben, move into a cozy house in Louisiana, in what seems to be an isolated village. There, Ruth befriends an elderly woman in a wheelchair, named Ollie Gibson, who is also the only neighbor in the area. Ruth feels very lonely, as her husband is away most of the time, and the other women from town aren't too friendly, at least not to her. One evening, Ollie invites Ruth over and tells her that many years ago; there was a gruesome murder in the house where she and her husband are currently living. Ruth becomes rather shocked by this and later, she also finds out that between the 1920s and the 1930s, there was another series of murders, which were allegedly very brutal, too.
Horrified by the events that took place in the house (and that the realtor conveniently forgot to mention), Ruth begins to suspect that the responsible for those murders is still around and he is out to get her. To make things worse, her husband is constantly away for work and poor Ruth doesn't have anyone to help her, except for Ollie Gibson, who isn't much of a protection anyway.
The story is simple, but it's filled with well developed intrigue. "The Evictors" is an unpretentious psychological horror film that mostly features Ruth's descent into a transitory state of paranoia and fear, which threatens to ruin her traditional, happy life. Ruth is a defenseless woman from the 1940s, who suddenly needs to rise up and face an outside force that threatens her very own life. Of course, before rising up, Ruth tries to get her husband to fight for her, but when she realizes that he is unavailable to do so, she comes around and ends up doing all the dirty work by herself. Although the film is from 1979, it takes place in the 1940s, a time where women weren't expected to fight back and it was unimaginable that a frail and delicate lady like Ruth would match a big, strong man in a confrontation. The fact that this film takes place in the 1940s serves the purpose of giving us a lead girl facing severe challenges, since before the 1940s, women had very little say in society and, they were unanimously expected to stay home, be good home makers, and of course, make babies. Well, in this case, Ruth seems pretty comfortable with this, as she seems happy with the idea of staying home, cooking and cleaning, while her husband is out, working. Her plan is to make lots of babies and live a happy life in that big, cozy house. Suddenly, Ruth is pushed out of her comfort zone and is forced to step up and take her husband's place, which I think is interesting, because we get to see how our lead girl is forced to drastically change from fragile woman to fighting woman in a heartbeat, throughout the film. Towards the end, we get to see an unexpected and far-fetched twist that evidences Ruth's repressed desires, which in this case is romantic lust towards another man. This gives us another reason to believe that Ruth has changed and she is no longer that fragile and subservient woman that we see at first. My main problem with the ending is that it goes out of its way to give us a surprise, when it is rather unnecessary and it comes off as an attempt to shock the audience just for the hell of it and it's not even all that shocking either. "The Evictors" uses the perfect setting, which is a big dark house, located in the middle of nowhere, where the pretty and delicate housewife spends her the time.
This film features no gore whatsoever. The PG rating is a clear indicator that "The Evictors" is free from gore or nudity and it manages to stay on the "innocent" side, while providing a bunch of on-screen murders. The absence of gore can be a somewhat disappointing, but the movie makes up for the lack of gruesomeness with elaborated suspense and greatly achieved moments of tension. One thing that bothers me about "The Evictors" is that for moments, it is seems that Charles B. Pierce went out of his way to fill an hour and thirty minutes with never ending sequences that help to build tension, but that could have easily have been shorter and just as effective. All in all, a very enjoyable psychological horror film, done with a lot of simplicity. It can be highly enjoyed if one isn't expecting brutality of any kind or in-your-face horror elements, such as: visible supernatural elements, a profuse body count, beast-like creatures or exaggerated horror music.
I have mixed feelings about this film. I like it and I've seen it
around five or six times, but there's something about "Halloween" that
I find dissatisfying.
Incorrectly regarded as the first slasher ever made, "Halloween" started a trend of low budget films about mysterious killers wearing a mask and murdering young people with no specific reasons. The truth is that "Halloween" changed horror movies for good and served as an influence for many horror films that came after. While "Black Christmas" came four years before this, and it is one of my favorite slashers, I think it is less known, because we never get to see the killer, while "Halloween" gives us a very frightening looking villain, capable of causing horror to the most experienced horror fans. Michael Myer's design is actually very modest: a white mask with black eyes, a blue overall and a big kitchen knife that make him very sinister, without having to appeal to something more brutal and explicit, like some of the slasher killers that came after him. Michael is a very well designed horror villain and he is probably one of my favorites too (keeping in mind that this isn't the only "Halloween" film). So what is it about "Halloween" that doesn't quite do it for me?
My main problem with "Halloween" is that I find it a little bit slow (there, I said it!) and I'm sure this is the main reason why other people dislike it as well, which automatically causes avid "Halloween" fans to accuse the detractors of only being capable of appreciating horror films with a lot of cheap-scares. I actually don't have a problem with slow films, but I feel like most of this film features the main character going on about her business, chatting with her silly friends about high school crushes and stuff, and we occasionally see Michael Myers appearing here and there. I do realize that this is intended to create a frightening atmosphere and it actually works well, but after a while, I find it a little bit tedious.
Those who want gory murders will have to skip this film. While I think gore is not always a requirement, I would normally expect the murders to have some kind of shock value and be disturbing, even if we don't get to see a single drop of blood (it can happen). Most of the murders are rather predictable and what we see on the screen isn't too disturbing or shocking, at least not by nowadays' standards. Fortunately, the music during the murders is so powerful and fear-provoking that it makes up for the lack of brutality. For the life of me, I can't understand how "Halloween" got an R-rating in so many countries. Not only there's barely any blood in it, but also, the nudity is very naïf and harmless.
Towards the last twenty minutes, "Halloween" displays a lot of suspense, mainly with Laurie Strode (the lead) being chased by the sinister Michael Myers. This part of the film is not only full of tension due to the fact that a merciless killer is out to get an innocent high school girl for no apparent reason, but also because two small kids are in danger and it's the lead girl's implied responsibility to protect them. The confrontation between Michael and Laurie is chilling, as the killer is apparently impossible to kill and Laurie, in all her nervousness, goes out of her way to make the worst possible choices when it comes to escaping the lunatic. While I find the night scenario and the dark in general to be fitting for a horror film about a mysterious killer, I find the excessive dark to also make it very difficult to fully appreciate what's going on at times.
The acting in "Halloween" is very solid, which is unlikely to find in slasher films, or at least the ones that came out during and after the eighties. The main three actresses are Jamie Lee Curtis (unknown back then), P. J. Soles and Nancy Loomis, while English actor Donald Pleasence plays Detective Sam Loomis. I have no complaints here, like I said, I found the acting to be rather convincing and spot-on. As for the characters, the lead is a mousy girl, named Laurie Strode, who mostly keeps to herself and behaves like a nice girl. Laurie's friend however, are nothing like her; Annie and Lynda (her two besties) are outgoing, popular and fun and yes, they have sex, they drink alcohol and smoke. Now guess which ones get killed and which ones get to live for several more sequels? Laurie is a good lead and someone the audience would normally care about. She's a very mature girl, responsible, hard working, great with kids and even though she doesn't follow her friends' life choices, she doesn't judge them either, which makes her a perfectly likable lead, which is important in a horror movie, because we are supposed to like her and root for her.
"Halloween" holds up pretty well as a solid horror film that manages to avoid the campiness or the unintentionally funny moments, which is crucial if we are hoping to see a genuinely scary horror film. There are some well created moments filled with suspense and the emblematic music (composed by Carpenter himself) intensifies the feeling of uneasiness during the climax of the film. All in all, a good horror movie that is simply not one of my favorites.
In "Unhinged", three college friends named Terry, Nancy and Gloria go
to a music festival in Pinewood, but during a dreadful storm, their car
falls into a steep ravine and the girls are rescued by a man named
Norman, who takes them to a nearby mansion. The owner of the place is a
woman named Marion Penrose, who lives with her crippled mother. Marion
advices the girls not to go out again during the storm, and offers them
to stay for as long as they need.
For dinner, Marion introduces the girls to her mother, Mrs. Edith Penrose, who turns out to be a delusional, uptight harpy. Mrs. Penrose ruins dinner for everyone by making awkward comments, accusing Marion of being a tramp and going off on a rant on how awful men are, especially her ex-husband, who cheated on her. Later that night, Terry and Nancy talk about what a horrible time they're having and both agree that they want to leave as soon as possible. Also, Terry tells Nancy that she thinks there's someone lurking outside the house, watching them, but her friend doesn't believe her. Things keep getting more and more tense between Marion and her mother and Terri can't wait to get the hell out of there, not only because she knows that there is someone watching her, but also because she can't tolerate the weird mother-daughter relationship.
For some reason, "Unhinged" was banned in the UK, which is something that is proudly mentioned on the DVD cover. Honestly, I don't get it; the film isn't that violent. We see a few murders on screen and they are gory too, but it's nothing so vile that we need to look away from the screen. I am a horror fan, but I dislike extreme gore and I can honestly say that I wasn't freaked out by this at all. It is perfectly endurable and I can't understand why this film was banned at all. It can't be the nudity either, since it is something very innocent (we only see the girls showering). Could it be that the movie was banned due to the offensively bad acting instead? That I can believe!
"Unhinged" was filmed in Portland, Oregon and director Don Gronquist decided to cast Portland locals with little or no acting experience and it becomes evident as we see the film. To my surprise, Virginia Settle, who plays Mrs. Edith Penrose, was actually a stage actress. Mrs. Settle is probably one of the highest points of this film due to her over-the-top acting that gives this film an undeniable campy nature. The way she yells and gesticulates, while she's accusing her daughter of being a whore is simply hilarious. The high-pitched voice, the eyes wide open and the whole refined and snobbish aristocrat stereotype makes Mrs. Penrose a very memorable character, but I would have never guessed that she was actually a trained actress. Perhaps the declamatory acting is part of her theatrical training. Janet Penner, who plays Marion Penrose was probably the more decent actress on this film and thank god for that, because even though Terry is the main character, she is pretty forgettable as a lead and the actress, Laurel Munson is very unskilled. Marion is a more interesting character; Penner gives a solid performance throughout the entire film and during the last minutes, she displays a lot more strength and histrionics, while managing to stay serious and avoiding the campiness. The ending is campy by itself, but Penner doesn't make it more bizarre. The two other girls were awful; Sara Ansley, who portrayed Nancy, was a model whom Gronquist had found through a talent agency and maybe she was an excellent model, but as an actress, she was terrible.
The filming locations are probably one of the best things about "Unhinged", since most of the action takes place at the Pittock Mansion, which is the perfect scenario for a horror film. The place is beautiful for sure, but it's also eerie and it gives a feeling of uneasiness, since the girls seem to be lost and trapped in that isolated location.
Throughout the entire film, we hear a weird synthesizer music that doesn't really fit for a horror movie that is supposed to be serious and creepy, but somehow, it works well in this film.
While this film doesn't really offer anything that special to the horror genre, I found the twist in the end to be rather interesting and fun. I have read other reviews stating that the twist was predictable and unoriginal, but I myself don't feel the same way and it's one of the reasons why I love this film so much. The thing about "Unhinged" is that, clearly, it is a less than perfect movie, but there's just something about it that makes a lot of people love it, without being able to explain why and I am one of those. I love this film and I regard it as one of my all time favorite slasher flicks, even though I also understand that it isn't all that great either.
In "American Gothic", the story revolves around Cynthia, a young woman
mourning the death of her baby daughter, for which blames herself (and
she really should!). Following her psychiatrist's advice, Cynthia and
her husband, Jeff, go on a trip with some friends, but their trip is
cut short when they find themselves stranded in a deserted island.
During a walk around the woods, the group finds a wooden cottage and
they decide to break in (of course they do!). While the guys and girls
are snooping around the place, going through the drawers and even
dancing the Charleston like complete imbeciles, the owners of the house
arrive. The householders are an elderly couple who call themselves "Ma"
and "Pa". Jeff apologizes for the intrusion, but Ma tells him not to
worry and invites them to stay for as long as they need. Later, we find
out that Ma and Pa have a "child" named Fanny, a middle-aged woman who
thinks she's 11-years-old. Fanny has two brothers, who are also
middle-aged and behave like children.
Up until this point, we assume that this is only a very peculiar family, but the truth is that Ma and Pa are religious fundamentalist who condemn and punish everything that is disapproved by the Bible, and they have trained their "children" to be that way too. As it is expected, the young friends and their modern lifestyle don't quite fit with the family's traditional values and it doesn't take long for the carnage to begin.
"American Gothic" is one of those films where it's very hard not to like the killers more than the victims. The family members are judgmental and self-righteous, which are two qualities that many people dislike, but it is also evident that they simply don't know any better as a consequence of living in seclusion and having been trained to strictly obey the Bible. At first, Ma and Pa actually seem to mean well, since they offer shelter without expecting anything in return. However, this so-called act of kindness could also be explained through the Bible, which they seem to follow unconditionally ("Share your food with the hungry, and give shelter to the homeless"). It is uncertain whether Ma and Pa were being nice out of kindness or if they were only obeying the book, but regardless of their primary motives, they help the young friends nonetheless. On the other side, these ungrateful bastards show no respect, they laugh at the family's lifestyle, make fun of the obviously mentally ill "children" and expect the family to adjust to their lifestyle, so in the end, one sort of expects them to die horribly. Even though the modern audience would most likely relate to the young friends, at the same time, it is easy to understand why the family members were out to get them. It is evident that the family doesn't kill just to please the Lord, they also get pleasure from it but they are immune from prosecution due to insanity and still less offensive than the young group. The other reason to like the family of lunatics more than the young friends, is that the family members are actually funny and likable due to their hilarious insanity. Crazy characters tend to be more appealing, at least compared to these nasty and generic young characters. I wouldn't exclusively blame "American Gothic" for providing unlikeable victims, as this is a common thing in slasher films. Perhaps, in some cases, it is intentional and we are supposed to root for the bad guys or even take these films as a cautionary tale with some kind of moral, like in this case "Don't be a disrespectful jerk to those who have different values" or "don't barge in and expect the others to adjust to your own ways".
"American Gothic" provides a few funny moments and lines, which in some cases seem intentional and in other cases not. For instance: I think the family members, especially Fanny, are supposed to be somewhat humorous. I refuse to believe that these over-the-top characters were not deliberately written to provide a few laughs. The acting on the other hand, is one of the things that had me chuckling once or twice and I don't think this was supposed to happen. The beautiful Yvonne De Carlo plays the part of Ma and she does it very well. Rod Steiger on the other hand, mostly gave a solid performance, but I also found his acting to be over the top sometimes, which provides this film with a nice campy nature. Actress Janet Wright basically steals the show with her performance of Fanny, the daughter. Not only she manages to be deliberately funny, she also portrays a character that is somehow likable in a condescending way (sort of like a mental patient claiming to be Napoleon, maybe?).
As for the gore, there really isn't much and towards the last minutes, we get a lot of murders in a very short period of time, but it seems rushed and it is hard to appreciate them. I think this is a little bit disappointing, as gore and creative murders are usually expected in films like this. The low amount of gore doesn't ruin an otherwise entertaining film, but it sure gives the feeling that something is missing.
This film goes to a safe place by using the classic formula of a group of moronic friends becoming stranded in a deserted place and ending up dead. "American Gothic" goes out of its way to avoid being too generic and makes a noble effort to stand out, by offering a very colorful family of villains and it works pretty good, even if it's unintentionally funny for moments. We also get a far-fetch twist towards the end, which I won't spoil, but I will say that I found it a little bit unnecessary and rushed, although not enough to ruin a film that is mostly fun and respectable.
In "Dagon", Paul and his girlfriend, Barbara, go on a trip to Spain,
but after suffering an accident with their boat, they end up stranded
in a gloomy harbor port called Imboca. After a series of incidents,
Paul becomes separated from his girlfriend, so he goes on a search all
around the town to find her. For some reason, the villagers from Imboca
are out to get Paul, but he manages to escape the angry horde. Through
the story of a homeless guy named Ezequiel, Paul learns that several
years ago, there was a fish shortage in the town of Imboca, which
caused a lot of despair among the villagers. One day, an evil sailor
introduced the townspeople to a new god called Dagon and forced them to
abandon their catholic religion. Dagon eventually brought a lot of
wealth to the town, but in return, he demanded live sacrifices and
women to breed with him. Progressively, Imboca became a dark and
isolated place, inhabited by fish-like creatures, which live to worship
their beastly god. During Paul's search, he comes across a strange
"girl" named Uxia, who is also the high priestess of the Order of Dagon
and she seems to be in love with him. Paul decides to continue with his
search, unaware of the fact that the townspeople, led by Uxia, want to
offer Barbra as a sacrifice to Dagon.
Director Stuart Gordon offers a dark and even depressing atmosphere in this film that deals with the classic theme of innocent people stranded in a deserted place, where they meet a gruesome fate. While the story is simple, as it mostly features Paul escaping from the angry villagers, it manages to provide an hour and a half of genuine horror with dignity, avoiding never ending fillers that lead to nothing. In some way, I suppose "Dagon" may sound similar to a zombie flick, but in this case, it seems like the angry horde actually has something personal against Paul, which makes the whole thing more intriguing, since we don't get to know why, until the very end. Paul's quest becomes exciting, as we get to see the mysteries surrounding Imboca slowly unraveling.
My main satisfaction with this film is due to the perfect location, because I believe that the filming locations are very relevant in these types of horror films, where the setting usually works as another character that interacts with the rest. The fictional town of Imboca (which is actually called Combarro) makes the perfect horror scenery for this nightmare-like story; it looks frightening, even depressing, and it is always raining heavily throughout the entire film, which makes things even more difficult for the main character. Aside from the Combarro landscapes, we see a decaying hotel that seems to have been deserted for a long time, which gives a feeling of uneasiness and discomfort. Abandoned places always seem to provoke distress, because they give the feeling that they are cut out from the rest of society, the modern civilized word and its false securities. The Spanish architecture of the houses and mansions are somehow more unpolished and rustic than the architecture that we normally see in American horror films, and I find this rusticity to be also frightening, as it gives me the idea that the people from this place have some kind of a ferocious nature and aren't exactly tamed.
As for the bizarre villains, which in this case are mostly the townspeople, I thought this was a great achievement; the idea of merging humans and sea creatures as the main antagonists is perfect. These characters hardly ever talk, they mostly make strange noises, they walk around in a weird animalistic way, and most of them cover their pale fish-like faces with scarves and the rest of their bodies with black hooded raincoats. In a way, it reminded me of a zombie film, since these villagers move together in a horde without a mind, chasing the only humans in the town, because they want something from them. Of course, I have seen my share of zombie films and while I can enjoy them from time to time, I found these strange fish-like creatures to be more interesting and scary. The music in "Dagon", composed by Carl Cases is also very fitting. We mostly get to hear the same music throughout the entire film, in which a woman and a chorus of men chant a darkly appealing melody that helps to create a mystical and depressing atmosphere.
Of course, I don't think "Dagon" is the perfect film. My main problem with this film is the bad CGI; not only because it looks extremely cheap and amateurish, but also, because it is completely unnecessary. This film could have been much better without this horrible CGI, and while I cannot say that this ruined the movie for me, it cheapens it considerably. I have another criticism concerning the dialogs. Though "Dagon" mostly doesn't provide humor, unlike some of Gordon's previous horror films, I'm sure some of the dialogs in this film are supposed to be intentionally funny, and while I chuckled like it was intended, I find the humor to be out of place in a film like this.
Based on "The Shadow over Innsmouth", this film is mostly regarded by Lovecraft fans as a noble effort that actually remains true to the atmosphere and structure of his story. In any case, Dennis Paoli, who writes most of the scripts for Gordon, deserves recognition as well, since "Dagon" doesn't take everything directly from Lovecraft's story. The film deals with a few recurring Lovecraftian elements, such as the impossibility to escape fate, religion and non-human influences on humanity, among others.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I can't say that I'm surprised by the unpopularity of this film, but I
think "Amok Train" is lots of fun and though a lot of people may
disagree, I actually think it has a few genuinely eerie moments and it
is worth watching.
The story goes something like this: A group of American "teenagers" go on a school trip to a rural town in Serbia called Ufir, to witness an ancient ritual. One of the class mates is a mousy girl named Beverly Putnic, who is of Serbian ancestry, but she is not very excited about visiting her ancestors' native lands, because she doesn't get along with anyone. What Beverly doesn't know is that this trip is actually all about her, because many years ago, a cult of Serbian satanists chose her to become the Devil's wife and now that she is a woman, she is ready to meet her future husband.
When the class mates arrive to Ufir, they are welcomed by a local man, known as Professor Andromolek, who is also the cult leader (which is evident, since he uses a silver cane, a black cape, and he has a Satan-like goatee). On the first night, two of the cult members set one of the cabins on fire, where the class mates are sleeping and one of the boys is burned to death. The young students leave immediately and ask around for help, but the creepy locals don't seem to care one bit (after all, they are the ones who caused the fire in the first place). The desperate and confused teenagers decide to run away and jump into a moving train, which leads to a series of chaotic and gory murders that nobody can explain.
I may be a part of a really, really small crowd here, but I actually like this film and not in a patronizing way. Sure, there are a lot of ridiculous parts, but I actually think director Jeff Kwitny builds up a very eerie atmosphere. I find the Serbian landscapes to be very frightening and intimidating in a beautiful way. The elderly actors who play the cult members look very threatening with their zombie-like attitude, their black clothes, the sinister look in their eyes and the fact that they always appear out of nowhere from the trees, giving the impression that they're all together up to something horrible. The death scenes are very creative; some of them look outrageous due the lack of budget or maybe the lack of common sense, but overall, I found the deaths to be very original and enjoyable.
The characters are rather generic and one dimensional, which is basically mandatory in these types of films. We have the shy and innocent girl (the leading role), the handsome athlete, the nice guy, the dumb one, the beautiful, popular girl and the list goes on. To my pleasant surprise, during the train ride, the class mates come across a local girl named Sava (Savina Gersak), who is not only a tough girl, she is also a thief and she refers to herself in the third person too! ("Don't mess with Sava", "Sava is a thief, not a murderer!"). The acting is mostly plain, except for Bo Svenson and Victoria Zinny (who only appears for a few minutes), it is obvious that the rest of the actors don't have a lot of acting experience and that's forgivable.
The film reaches its peak during the well awaited ritual, in which Beverly is offered to the Devil to be his wife. By this point, it seems like poor Beverly is somehow willing to accept her destiny, and she even looks eager to finally meet her future hubby. I don't want to spoil the whole scene but I will say this: we actually get to see the Devil for a brief moment and it's not bad at all! I have seen my decent share of b-horror movies from the 80s to say that the Devil's appearance actually looks surprisingly decent. I think it would have been better to keep the Devil off-screen to make him more mysterious and intimidating, but apparently, director Jeff Kwitny didn't feel the same way and he took the risk of showing him. The whole ritual scene is over the top and bizarre, which is mostly what one would expect from a b-horror flick like this, so there's no disappointment there.
"Amok Train" deals with the premise of being stranded in a foreign land, where nobody can understand or help the characters, which is something that I enjoy. There are several scenes where we only see the Serbian actors talking to each other and there are no subtitles, which alienates the audience too. I think the whole idea of being lost and helpless in a foreign country is terrifying, especially if the place is half as scary like the fictional town of Ufir that we see in this film.
"Amok Train" is definitely a fun ride and anyone who can appreciate b-horror movies from the 80s should be able to enjoy this film. I know I was pleasantly surprised myself.
These types of shows about traditional families, usually offer
something very similar when it comes to family dynamic and characters.
For example, we usually get: an overprotective and intrusive mother, an
easily-irritated dad who watches TV in his underwear, with a can of
beer, an attractive and popular daughter, an unpopular son who thinks
he is cool... and the list goes on. In a way, we can say that "The
Goldbergs " doesn't really offer anything particularly special, except
for the fact that the creator of the show , Adam F. Goldberg, wrote
this sitcom based on his own life. Of course, a few things were changed
for the benefit of the show (like, Eric Goldberg turned into Erica
Goldberg). But the innovation is not only the fact that the creator has
taken life events from his personal childhood to turn them into a
family sitcom, the actual "catch" is that at the end of several
episodes, we get to see a real footage of the actual Goldbergs and I
must say, that although the characters we see in the show may seem
stereotyped for some, they seem awfully similar to the real life
I think the nostalgic aspect plays a crucial role in the fact that "The Goldbergs " works so well. Although there are always fussy people pointing out the many inconsistencies everywhere, the truth is that "The Golbergs" is really not supposed to be very accurate to begin with, since it is based on the imprecise memories of Adam F. Goldbergs. In the end, with its inconsistencies and what not, the show is very evocative of the 80s nonetheless. It manages to capture the spirit of the shows that were broadcast back then, by using the classic elements and characters, and even the same story lines in each episode. For example : the episode in which one of the sons has to work with his father to buy a very expensive pair of basketball shoes, the episode in which the loser son becomes popular for a short period of time, or the episode in which the meddling mother embarrasses one of her kids by confronting the school principal for a trivial reason.
What I like the most about this show is the characters. As I said, most of the characters have been seen before, with some variations. I like the characters because I always appreciate classic characters and the actors are all great, with no exception. I had never seen any of these actors before, except maybe for George Segal and Wendi McLendon-Covey, who appeared on a few episodes of "Modern Family", other than that, they were unknown to me. Although some people consider that the older son and the dad are "too loud", I really cannot complain about any of the actors. Sean Giambrone, the young actor who plays Adam F. Goldberg, is actually very likable as a character, which is crucial, since he is the one who gets everything on tape, and we basically see the story through his eyes. Also, there's Patton Oswalt who never appears on the show, but we get to hear him as a narrator, playing Adam F. Goldberg nowadays and he is also likable as a current version of Adam. If I had to choose a favorite character, I would probably choose Beverly, the always noisy and overprotective mother, with the most outrageous and flashy sweaters, and the overly done hair and make up. While this character may become a little bit repetitive at times, I enjoy seeing Bev meddling in her kids' life all the time.
I honestly didn't expect much from this sitcom at first. I thought it would be another plain generic family oriented show, but I was pleasantly surprised by this. Even more surprised by the fact that, even though I don't usually enjoy emotional moments on sitcoms or comedies in general, I found that "The Goldbergs" usually ends with an emotional conclusion... but not too emotional. Just the right amount to avoid ending up overly sweet and corny.
I think most people who grew up in the 80s or were born back then will appreciate this show a lot.
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