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I Don't Want to Be Born (1975)
Not to be Missed By Camp Horror Fans
Absolutely hilarious. I'll bullet point for brevity why this is a "can't miss" film for those who love unintentionally funny horror movies:
* Joan's allegedly "sexy" dance in a strip club as Esmerelda with a dwarf playing "The Hunchback of Notre Dame"
* Pre-"Political Correct" times film features a dwarf that curses a baby and a nun that does some sort of animal testing.
* Bar none the funniest exorcism I've seen on film (performed by a nun no less). The result affects a dwarf dancing on stage with showgirls. Must be seen to be believed.
* Joan gets naked in one late scene, and has a great camel toe in an earlier one.
* Like "The Love Boat" and lots of other 70's features, it shows how "sophisticated" the characters are by having them fix drinks for each other in almost every scene. Usually scotch.
* The possessed baby in question seems to be able to turn into a killer dwarf. At least that's what I think happens. Who knows?
Is there anything actually good in the film? Actually yes. There are some great shots of London, including one of Big Ben that was almost breathtaking. And there's a frustrated nanny who can't stand the baby and gets in some genuinely great lines.
Check it out!
Pet Sematary (1989)
Powerful horror that taps into adult fears
What really scares you? Killer sharks, or maybe ghosts trying to bring back a message? Maybe a chainsaw wielding psychopath?
Maybe. But those fears don't even compare to a horror which people dare not even speak of or consider--and that is the death of one's own child. "Pet Sematary" taps this base, primal adult fear, and then takes it to places that most could not bear to explore.
I've read comments about this film that include poor acting, characters making stupid decisions, etc. I disagree. The acting is actually first rate for a film like this. Maybe it is impossible for many to imagine the desperation resulting from such a scenario. But the film's events are not only logical, they may be absolutely inevitable if such a scenario were possible. This is the true horror of "Pet Sematary": It isn't that pets and people come back from the dead as evil killers who hunt with knives and scalpels, it is that anyone who has lost a child could become so desperate as to commit the crimes that Louis Creed does. Despite warning, or even past history.
The movie takes those willing to go with it to the depths of a desperate human heart. The heart of a protector trying to make up for not being able to protect. And the results are horrifying. In fact, when the film dives into slasher territory near the end, it's almost a letdown, although I believe it's perfectly logical how it got there.
I am a true horror fan, and I contend that this is one of the scariest horror films ever made. If you don't think so, see it again after you have children.
The Amityville Horror (1979)
Well-directed bad movie
First off, I have to laugh at many of the comments. For me too, The Amityville Horror was the first "R" rated movie and horror film I saw in the theatre (my parents took me when I was 8), and it terrified me. But it seems to be more than a coincidence--this film seems to be Generation X's right of passage for horror movies.
**Possible very minor Spoilers below** (as if you haven't seen it)
Watched it again and, as suspected, it's not quite the same experience. The script is awful, and the whole thing really doesn't make much sense. Much of it is incomprehensible for those who haven't read the book. Other parts are incomprehensible for everyone. And unlike the book, it has to play up the "satan/devil" angle to fit in with the 70's pre-slasher horror movie trend of the time. I challenge anyone to make sense of scenes like the one where Kathleen (Kidder) finds the newspaper clipping/picture of Defeo that looks like Lutz, or the scene in the basement where they see the face in the "red room". Speaking of, James Streisand looks great, but is AWFUL as George Lutz, the beleaguered man of the house who is slowly spiraling into madness because that's what the script tells him to do.
I've made it sound like a terrible movie, and well, I guess it kind of is. But to its credit, it has a lot of effective stuff in it. It's really well-directed, making the film as good as the script could possibly allow. Much of it is creepy, and a few scenes are absolutely chilling. The famous "Get Out" scene is effective, and the scene showing the Lutz's go through the house with the real estate agent with the flashbacks to the violence that occurred before is very unsettling. I also liked the fact that we're not bombarded with special effects and action throughout the film. The result is often quite a bit of tension.
What else is good? Margot Kidder is great in this movie. Very sexy and convincing. It's also fun to watch Steiger chew the scenery in an earnest, over the top performance that reminds me of Donald Pleasance in "Halloween." It's almost like he realizes that even Olivier couldn't pull off these ridiculous lines, so he might as well go for it and ham it up as much as possible. The scene where he's blinded is a hoot.
So I would give it 2.5 stars out of 4. Turn out all the lights, curl up,and check your brain (don't even try to analyze the plot). For a true 4 star haunted house flick, check out "The Changeling."
Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (2001)
Finally watched for the first time...
...and I really can't understand why this film is so maligned. I thought it was sexy, funny, exciting, and audibly and visually stunning. It's not a great movie, but it is a good one. And much better than most of the comments indicate. Maybe I just wasn't expecting much.
Many of the things previously said about it are true: it's silly, very unrealistic, and doesn't always make a lot of sense. But come on! Do we require so much realism that we can't accept a film on its own terms? Isn't that very essence of "suspension of disbelief?" So, yes, she fights a robot while "raiding" a tomb in the beginning. A more than unlikely scenario. But if you need archaeological realism, than you should watch a special on the History or Discovery channel.
Speaking of archaeologists, everyone is making comparisons between Lara Croft and Indiana Jones, but Lara and Indy are only alike in their trade only. Structure wise, the film is much more in line with the James Bond movies. Although it's not a spy flick, it has that same kind of cartoon action scenes, sensual stars and attitudes, exotic locales and over-the-top set pieces, with the addition of a little mysticism and possibly supernatural elements. It's really a lot of fun. I skipped the sequel at the cinema because I hadn't seen the first one, and read all the bad reviews. But now I'm looking forward to catching the DVD.
Regarding the a/v, I watched this DVD (R1 Dolby Digital NTSC) at reference level (system calibrated at 75 db on all channels), and was stunned by the sound activity all around. It's a great sounding and looking disc.
Spy Kids (2001)
Near Perfect Fantasy Film
First off, this film is under the wrong category. Although there are action elements, it is indeed a FANTASY. I mean, it's set in a fantasy world, it includes fantasy characters, and has fantasy ideas.
Some of the other user comments for this movie are just stunning. Plot twists not realistic? Logic gaps? Come on! The movie is about 10 year old spies with rocket packs, includes characters made of thumbs, voice command toilets, and has freeze dried Big Mac value meals. Is this the kind of movie where you fault it for lack of realistic elements?
Sometimes I wonder if we as adults have just been spoon fed so much unoriginal, formulaic drivel that when we see something like Spy Kids with true creativity and imagination, it's just too much for the senses and we reject it--we think we're too "mature" for it.
Accept the film on its own terms. It's a great ride--and true cinematic art. It's going to be appreciated for years to come.
Amazing Technical Achievement that Somehow Left me Cold
LOTR: FOTR is one of the most astonishing films ever made. A technical masterpiece with a blend of outstanding special effects, cinematography, direction, sound, and acting.
But as I sat in the theatre, amazed by what I was watching, I kept on asking myself "Why am I not enjoying this more?" While I was always engaged by the visuals on the screen, I found it so joyless and...dare I say...a tad boring. Admittedly, I haven't read the book. So I thought I should see it again because I surely missed something since people are so fanatical about it. But no. Even after the second viewing, I felt the same way.
From what I understand, the book contains nuances and social commentary, none of which comes through on the screen. What does come through seems more like a video game where the good guys face a set of challenges and puzzles, overcomes them with a big "boss" fight, and then advances on to the next round of fighting.
So do I recommend it? Absolutely. To miss it would be to miss perhaps the greatest visuals ever put on celluloid. But ask yourself honestly when it's over, "was I really entertained? Moved?" And trust your feelings. Because there's really not as much there on the screen as the visuals suggest.
The Prince of Egypt (1998)
Film History's Most Underrated Animated Film
One of the most moving animated films ever produced. More a story about the tragic fall of the loving relationship of two brothers than a retelling of the biblical story. I've read complaints about the story's inaccuracies compared to what's in the Bible, and all I can say is "so what?" From the beginning we're told that artistic licenses were taken with the story. I first saw it two years ago, and after the first viewing, it sent me scrambling for a Bible to read the actual story in Exodus, which I had never read. Whether you're religious or not, this telling of the story has many powerful messages.
I don't mean to make it sound dour or boring. In addition to the dramatic elements, the film is lively, funny, and technically astonishing. The color palette is extraordinary, there is good use (but not overuse) of CGI, and it has a haunting musical score. Voice acting is first rate, and it also should be noted that as far as the songs are concerned, there is NO FILLER--all the songs are noteworthy.
For those interested, this is also a reference quality DVD as far as video is concerned. The clarity of the anamorphic widescreen presentation rivals that of Pixar's DVD's, including Monster's Inc. and A Bug's Life, two of my favorites for judging video quality. The audio includes an excellent 5.1 Dolby Digital track which, although not a Dolby Digital EX or DTS ES track like many newer DVDs, is lush throughout and bone rattling when it's supposed to be. It definitely will show off any HT system.
Blank Check (1994)
Your cynical, money-grubbing children will LOVE it!
Don't waste your kids' time with movies about dreams, building relationships with family, overcoming life's obstacles with the help of best friends, or how they can improve themselves through scholarship or sport!
Instead, show your little future corporate CEO or CFO this film and teach them the important values of:
* how fun it is to have valuable toys and possessions, including a go-kart track in the back yard, and your own personal waterslide!
* how money gets people to do anything you want!
* how stealing money's OK, as long as it's from the bad guys!
* a fool and his gold are soon parted (and you don't want to lose your money, do you?)
* be wary of gold digging women!
* you CAN get away with it by lying!
An official selection at the Future Corporate Leaders Film Festival, this movie will be one your kids will always cherish.