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Cabin Fever (2002)
More intelectual than you thought...
Aside from making some great references to other horror movies (Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Evil Dead), It also has a social subtext. Perhaps I was looking too deep for meaning, but the whole thing reminded me of the AIDS outbreak in the 80's. The way that the virus eats away at flesh, akin to AIDS eating at one's immune system. And also, the way that those in town deal with a character's presence with the line "If you're sick, that's your problem. But if my son is sick, that makes it my problem. We need to stop the problem!" This akin to the way many straight people handled the exspantion of AIDS outside the Homosexual comunity. Granted, I could be looking at the film too in-depth, but even without that subtext, it's one hell of a movie.
Hellraiser: Bloodline (1996)
Not the worst...
After reading reviews that slapped this film around, I have to say something good about the picture. Bruce Ramsay has done an outstanding acting job. Yes, you're dealing with Pinhead in space, but it's not as pittiful as Jason or the Leprechaun in space. And Angelique is the best cenobite since Pinhead. The thing that always strikes me is Peter Atkins' ability to write for pinhead. The vocabulary is inconsistant, but overall the energy is right.
I found the plot well paced, and made a lot more sense than 'Hell On Earth' After watching that, this is an outstanding improvement.
Arguably the Worst Nightmare Ever
This instalment was probably the reason Wes Craven wanted to make one more. This film honestly trys to make a good Nightmare, but it gets bogged down trying to establish characters and excuses to use 3-D glasses.
The plot really attempts complexity, but is about as thick as water. The deaths seam almost boring; either you don't care about the victim, or the elaborateness of, say Nightmare 5, has been trivialised to getting a cue tip through the ear. The deapth is that you get to see Freddy's past, how he grew up, in an attempt to delve further into the Freddy mythos. But because of the extra hour it takes to get there, you don't really care. And all the references to the "dream people" were too corny to take seriously. All in all, an effort that might have been good earlier in the series, now just seems redundant.
No Justice in Hell
Hellraiser III is a big departure from the previous two films (although it was written be Pete Atkins, who wrote Hellbound). The beginning of the film presents us with lighting and locales that just seemed too representative of the early nineties time period. A lot of the film doesn't make sense for the first hour, which is punctuated by dreams, and a few killings which just chalk it up to `slasher' status. Events are too formulatic, which cheats us out the novelty of Hellraiser I and II. Things start to make sense after about fourty-five minutes, when we learn that Pin-head's human form has been split from his Cenobite persona, which has taken refuse in a statue, that talks to its owner.
The dialogue from Pin-head is a lot less all-knowing resident of Hell, and a lot more devil-on-your-left-shoulder. But at least his vocabulary stays intact. This doesn't save him from being degraded down to Freddy-status as just another evil voice in the shadows. After being released from the statue, Pin-head goes out on a rampage, and making himself so damn public. Because everyone has seen him (not to mention an earlier hospital scene), the movie seems a lot less personal, and looses traction for it. The up side of this sequence is the end where you watch a closed door seep out blood with hook noises coming from inside for a length of time that just makes one feel slightly uncomfortable. In the final moments, Pin-head creates his own Cenobites, which lessens their mystique. The last four were truely creatures of hell, but these guys just look like a make-up designer's wet dream. All in all I thought it made a good horror film, but its desire to stay with a more conventional formula makes it a bad choice to carry the title Hellraiser.
The Punisher (1989)
Looks good, sounds bad
This movie was probably the comedy hit of 1989. Dolph Lundrin's only direction in this move was probably "You don't care about anything." He looks great in action sequences, but the minute he opens his mouth, it comes out sounding like Brenden Fraiser on drugs. On the plus side, Lewis Gosset Jr. does a fantastic performance as Frank Castle's old partner. Any scene with him has an instant amount of gravity, which unfortunately cannot hold up the rest of the movie.
Phantom of the Paradise (1974)
More Mental Than Rocky
This film has often been compared to Rocky Horror. I find that the key difference between Phantom and Rocky is the fact that Rocky is the product of a sexual revelution, almost a comentary on the times. Phantom seems to be more of an actuall story, focusing on the psychological effects of characters' decisions. Phantom is grounded in a more real universe than Rocky. This helps the film have more leverage on the imaginations of its audience. All the songs are usually sung onstage, but still reflect an aspect of story telling. Rocky is truely a musical, which stops the show for five to ten minutes at a time to sing a song about something that could be sumed up in a 30 second monolague. I have to say that this film, for as outlandish as it comes off at times, is about passion, where as Rocky is about lust. Passion can last for ages, where as lust is a suge of desire that fades away as quickly as it comes on.
The Crow: Salvation (2000)
New Life in the Series
This movie has the worst history since Rob Zombie's 'House of a Thousand Corpses'. The film was ready for a year or more, waiting to hit theaters, and in the end went straight to video. Salvation gets points for being a fresh attempt at the Crow series. It starts out with the main character alive, setting up the cirmustances. It also saves time; we can watch his death as it happens, as opposed to a flash back. The real beauty of the whole thing is that unlike 'City of Angels', it was not trying to be exactly like the first film. Although the "mystery plot" is anorexally thin, and the sad truth that the generalized plot follows the same formula as the last one, the journey of Alex Corvis (Eric Mabius) is different. Instead of immitating Brandon Lee's chracter, Mabius' Corvus is pro-active, and feels things differently than Lee's Eric Draven. This film was a great move on the part of all involved, but the pussy-footing of the distribution is a shame. It was better than a lot movies in theaters at the time, and is thusly under rated. (8/10)
Dare to have fun
The thing that was truly great about Daredevil is its montages of motion. Thanks to CGI being where it's at, Daredevil (similar to Spider-man) can now accurately portray the 'urban trapeze' act. The story is your basic origin story, but for some reason its incredibly fun to watch this little Matt Murdoc run around in the beginning.
Fans of the books all love little nods to writers and artists of the comic book series (a list of boxers in the flashback sequence has many of these names). Also, a few shots in the picture are taken directly from the comic pages.
Ben Affleck goes a little beyond being Affleck in the picture, most notably in the end fight sequence.
The humor in the film is good nature, and walks the fine line of between comic relief and parody. (Does anyone remember what happened to the Batman movies?) This film really packed a lot of punch in its action, gritty atmosphere, but some of the line deliveries could ruin the picture for some. Aside from that this is a great comic book movie, and is sorely needed in a time where Batman films are more campy than they 60's TV series.