Reviews

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Dead of Night (1974)
The Atmosphere Really Sells the Story
18 December 2017
Dead of Night (1974)

*** (out of 4)

Bob Clark's somber horror tale about parents Charles and Christine Brooks (John Marley, Lynn Carlin) who learn that their son Andy (Richard Backus) was killed in Vietnam. A short time later they are shocked to see that Andy has returned home. The mother accepts her son but the father seems to think that there's something not quite right.

Clark's DEAD OF NIGHT, also known as DEATHDREAM, is one of the more unique horror films from this era because not only does it work as a horror movie but it's also quite effective as a drama. Obviously being 1974, the Vietnam war was still a hot topic and the film's screenplay by Alan Ormsby perfectly borrows from The Monkey's Paw story while also throwing in a few twists and of course there's the updating of the setting.

I think Clark deserves a lot of credit for the visual style and atmosphere that he created for the film. The film really does a great job at capturing this small town and I really loved the dark look that he gave it. Obviously this is a fairly sad story about a dead soldier returning home to his parents and Clark's direction is right on the mark. The story is told in a rather slow fashion but this too really helps build up the atmopshere and the overall look of the film.

Another thing that really works well is the drama. Seeing how this dream come true of having their son return to them turn into a nightmare as it slowly rips the family apart is perfect drama and every bit of it works. Even better is the fact that we're treated to some really fine performances including both Carlin and Backus as the mother and son. The real standout is Marley who is simply wonderful as the father who knows that the person living with them isn't really his son.

DEAD OF NIGHT certainly has some flaws as it's not the perfect movie but, considering the budget, Clark was really able to build a rather dark and twisted tale.
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Nice Documentary on Salo
17 December 2017
The End of Salo (2008)

*** (out of 4)

Production designer Dante Ferretti, screenwriter Pupi Avati as well as actors Antinisca Nemour and Paolo Bonacelli are just a few of the people who are interviewed for this forty-minute documentary that takes a look at the making of Pier Paolo Pasolini's SALO: 120 DAYS OF SODOM. This documentary covers quite a bit of ground including the subject matter and the making of the picture but also what the director was trying to do with it all. I thought the most fascinating interviews came from the two actors in the film. They both played among the victims and I thought their stories were quite interesting and especially then talking about the subject matter, the nudity and of course the scenes where the characters are fed crap.
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Salò: Fade to Black (2001 Video)
Good Documentary
17 December 2017
Salò: Fade to Black (2001)

*** (out of 4)

Mark Kermode hosts this twenty-three minute documentary that takes a look at the aftermath of SALO: THE 120 DAYS OF SODOM. We get an archival interview with Pier Paolo Pasolini as well as comments from Catherine Breillat, John Maybury and David Forgacs as they discuss the original impact of the picture as well as how it hasn't lost any of its power over the years. Fans of SALO will certainly enjoy this documentary. There's certainly nothing ground-breaking here but it is interesting to hear other's thoughts on the film, its subject matter and the message that the director was trying to send. We get clips from the movie as well as an idea of why the film has lasted as long as it has.
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Stay Away From the Nipple!
16 December 2017
Oh Deer! A Conversation with Linnea Quigley on Silent Night, Deadly Night (2017)

*** 1/2 (out of 4)

This twenty-one minute interview with Linnea Quigley discusses how she got into acting, what Christmas was like in her house as well as her religious beliefs. Once that is over we get into the making of SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT. Even though her role is rather small, there's no question that she has the best scene in the movie and we get to hear all about it here. She talks about how she got the role, where it was shot, how the effect was done and even talks about the nudity in the film. We get the questions written on the screen and then Quigley answers them and for the most part there's a lot that is covered here. We get a full detail of how her death scene was done as well as what issues there were doing it. She even gets a few comments in on the controversy surrounding the film as well as the Siskel and Ebert rant on the film.
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The Story Behind the Controversy
16 December 2017
Slay Bells Ring: The Story of Silent Night, Deadly Night (2017)

*** 1/2 (out of 4)

It's time to rejoice fans of SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT! After all these decades we've finally gotten a 45-minute documentary that takes a look at the making of this controversial film. We get interviews with star Robert Brian Wilson, writer Michael Hickey, Executive Producers Scott Schneid and Dennis Whitehead, editor Michael Spence as well as composer Perry Botkin.

If you want to know the histor behind the film then you'll certainly enjoy this documentary that has some terrific stories and especially about the pre-production. If you're familiar with the film then I'm sure you're curious how it got made and we get some pretty funny stories about the early screenplays and how certain elements got past Tri-Star. The casting of the picture is discussed as well as what everyone thought of the subject matter. Also covered is the controversy of the film including the outrage shown by Siskel and Ebert and how it actually helped sell the picture.

There are a lot of really good stories told here and it was certainly great fun getting to hear from Robert Brian Wilson who of course played the killer Claus.
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Good Documentary Short on Kramer
16 December 2017
Stanley Kramer: A Man's Search for Truth (2008)

*** (out of 4)

This here is a pretty good tribute to director Stanley Kramer who is discussed as someone who used his talents and the artform to try and deal with various social messages. We get interviews with Alec Baldwin, Taylor Hackford, Dennis Hopper, Garry Marshall, Norman Jewison and several others as they discuss what made the director so great and why he wanted to try and tackle various serious issues that were important to him. If you're familiar with the work of Kramer then you'll certainly enjoy this piece even though you probably won't learn anything new. The interviews were certainly very good and you also got some nice interview clips from Kramer himself on a 1978 television show. The only downside is that the featurette focuses on the films that he did with Columbia so there are some missing titles not discussed here.
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A Special Kind of Love (2008 Video)
Touching Tribute to Spencer Tracy
16 December 2017
A Special Kind of Love (2008) *** 1/2 (out of 4)

This seventeen-minute featurette is a follow-up to A LOVE STORY OF TODAY and takes a look at Spencer Tracy's involvement in GUESS WHO'S COMING TO DINNER, which of course turned out to be his final movie. Katharine Houghton, Karen Sharpe, Salome Thomas-El and Joe Morgenstern are just some of the people who pay tribute to the actor who passed away seventeen days after completing his work on the movie. If you're a fan of Tracy then you'll certainly want to check this out as it really works well as a tribute to the actor. They talk about how sick he was on the production and the fact that everyone knew he was dying. The on-set relationship between him and Katharine Hepburn is also discussed.
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A Love Story of Today (2008 Video)
Very Good Featurette
16 December 2017
A Love Story of Today (2008)

*** 1/2 (out of 4)

Katharine Houghton, Martin Baum, Louis Gossett, Jr., Norman Jewison, Garry Marshall, Karen Sharpe and Salome Thomas-El are just a few of the people who are interviewed for this 29-minute featurette that takes a look at the production of GUESS WHO'S COMING TO DINNER. That film was highly controversial at the time that it was made and this featurette takes a look at the pre-production issues as well as goes into the actual production of the movie. The highlight of all the interviews is the fact that Houghton is interviewed since she played a very big part in the movie. She talks about how she got involved and also discusses the various death threats that she got because of the role. The rest of the players do a fine job at talking about the importance of the story, the characters and the various reactions that people had to it. Fans of the film will certainly enjoy the stories and the behind-the-scenes look at the production.
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Everything You Could Possibly Want
15 December 2017
Crystal Lake Memories: The Complete History of Friday the 13th (2013)

**** (out of 4)

Honestly, what can you say about a documentary that clocks in at six hours and forty-minutes? This look at the FRIDAY THE 13TH series is without question a dream come true for fans of the horror series since, for the longest time, Paramount really didn't do too much in regards to special features for the series.

Although Paramount finally came around and delivered some extras, this here is basically all you F13 fans will need when it comes to details about the series. I eman, the first two hours are devoted to the first four films so that tells you how much detail is given to each one of them. What's so great about this series is the fact that it looked at all of the films and even the television series and thankfully most of the cast members and directors are here.

I'm not going to list all of the actors and directors that were interviewed but lets just say that Steve Miner is the only one that really stands out as being missing. Oh yeah, Kevin Bacon too but did we really expect him to talk about the film? The interviews are rather priceless because you're hearing from a lot of the actors for the very first time unless you were able to catch them at a convention. All of them are obviously happy about getting to discuss the films, their work in them and what it means to be involved in the series.

We get great stories about all aspects of the production. We learn about ideas that weren't used. We learn about the box office take as well as the various issues with MPAA. We learn about alternate endings as well as scenes that were shot but deleted or other scenes that were never shot. All of these stories are just what F13 fans have wanted and to have them in one film, all together is just wonderful.

CRYSTAL LAKE MEMORIES is a very long documentary but the second time I watched it I watched it in on sitting and I must admit that I loved every second of it and wished it had been twice as long. If you're not a "fan" of the series then you might just want to watch this film-by-film. In all honesty, if you are a fan I really don't see what you'd complain about here.
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Biography: Clint Eastwood: The Man from Malpaso (1994)
Season Unknown, Episode Unknown
Entertaining Documentary
14 December 2017
Clint Eastwood: The Man from Malpaso (1994)

This episode of the Biography show takes a look at the career of Clint Eastwood, which has had many high peaks. We start off taking a look at his early days in Hollywood and how he shot off to Italy, which would end up making him a star. From here we cover several of his films including PLAY MISTY FOR ME, DIRTY HARRY, HEARTBREAK RIDGE, WHITE HUNTER BLACK HEART, HONKEYTONK MAN, PALE RIDER and UNFORGIVEN.

Throughout the documentary we get comments from Eastwood who talks about working as an actor as well as a director. Also interviewed are Ted Post, Jessica Walker, Gene Hackman, Forest Whitaker and Frances Fisher among many others. If you're a fan of Eastwood then I doubt you're going to learn anything new here. At the same time if you're unfamliar with his work then you'll get a good understanding of what he's like as well as get several good recommendations. The interviews are certainly a major plus as well.

What's really amazing about Eastwood is that this documentary ends with UNFORGIVEN and it's crazy to think what he has done since then.

Episode: A-
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