Reviews written by
TheFiendsThatPlagueThee

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350 reviews in total 
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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
More fun, but less horrifying than NOTLD, 4 September 2012
7/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Dawn of the Dead is set following the period of Night of the Living Dead, and chronicles the story of two Philadelphia SWAT officers, a reporter and a television executive, as they try to survive the zombie apocalypse by holing up in a shopping mall.

Unlike its predecessor, Dawn is a much less heavy movie, based more on its action and some comedy than the pure horror of Night. While this makes it less frightening-there is not the overwhelming sense of dread and claustrophobia in the shopping mall that has the abandoned farmhouse; and there are few jump scares- nevertheless, this is an entertaining film that makes a statement on American consumerism.

Among the performances, Ken Foree's acting stand out against the rest, as he brilliantly portrays a fearless SWAT officer. The other acting is passable, but not exceptional, except that I found Gaylen Ross' performance to be somewhat wooden. However, I'm not sure if that was the fault of her acting or that of the script.

The musical score plays a larger role in this movie than in Night of the Living Dead. Sometimes, the futuristic sounding music is foreboding and ominous (as in when the party is trying to enter the mall), and at other times it brings a sense of whimsy and comic relief (as when the redneck hunting party are outside hunting zombies).

Often it sounds like circus or carnival music. The overall effect of the music though, seems to be to bring down the level of apprehension rather than to raise it.

As far as special effects and make up are concerned, Dawn of the Dead has some good, well done gore effects that, while not completely realistic, certainly portray the effect they are supposed to have and generally look good. There are a couple of nice explosions as well. But as nice as the gore is, the general make up for the zombies isn't as convincing. But I'd prefer the budget be spent on entertaining gore effects than on the baseline zombies. The zombie make up at least makes it clear who is alive and who is undead.

Overall, I have to say that I enjoyed Dawn of the Dead a lot, even if it lacked the ominous atmosphere of Night, and it relied more on action scenes than the interaction between the characters. It was quite entertaining.

0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Classic horror with a constant sense of dread, 2 September 2012
8/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

When the dead come back to life as zombies, perhaps because of the crash of a radioactive satellite, a group of people hole up in an empty farmhouse and try to survive.

This is the basic plot for Romero's classic Night of the Living Dead, which is really the father of all modern living dead zombie movies.

This movie has been considered a classic and for good reason. From the opening graveyard scene to the shocking finale, the film has a constant feeling of impending doom and a palpable ominous tone that is much more effective in creating a lasting fear than the jump scares of many modern films. The zombies are the threat, but they are just the vehicle that Romero uses for creating a continuous sense of dread. One gets the feeling that almost any other threat could have been used, because the movie really focuses on the reactions, emotions and interactions of those trapped in the farmhouse.

Being a zombie movie, it of course has some gore, but the film does not rely on the gore for its effect. The gore accents the overall mood, but is not used purely for its "gross out" value.

The acting in this film is decent, and portrays an apparently realistic presentation of ordinary people in an extraordinary and stressful situation. The roles of the characters are fairly clearly defined, almost archetypal, which assists in the storytelling aspect of this movie.

The music is quite unobtrusive in this film, but because there is a significant amount of dialog, and a large part of the impact of the film is related to these conversations, the minimalist score is not really a hindrance.

Another notable feature of this movie is the lack of focus on gore and special effects. The appearance of the zombies is somewhat shabby, but, probably because of the relatively low budget, the effects of decomposition and putrefaction are not really presented in detail. There are some scenes of gore, but they are not the movie's focus. This doesn't seem to affect the film adversely, though.

The two scenes in the movie that really stand out for me are the opening scene in the cemetery and the final scene of the film. The opening scene is effective because the real action starts so quickly and unexpectedly, and pushes the film forward. The ending is just so shocking and unexpected (at least it was to me) that the viewer is left, thinking, "Wow! Did that just happen?" So Night of the Living Dead is rightly lauded as the first of the modern zombie movies. There is a lot of social commentary in it that has had much discussion elsewhere, but for me, it works because it maintains a constant sense of dread and claustrophobia, while the zombies and and an appropriate use of gore are the vehicle that provide the threat.

1941 (1979)
Not bad, but really should have been better, 4 June 2012
5/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

In the days following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, a panicked California populace prepares for a Japanese attack on the American mainland. At the same time, a Japanese submarine commander, jealous of the Air Arm of the Navy for having already attacked the United States, plans his attack on Hollywood. The misadventures of both of these groups form the basis for this screwball, high budget, big name cast comedy.

The premise sounds like it has a lot of potential, and there are a lot of big names in the cast to help with the execution - John Belushi, Dan Aykroyd, John Candy, Christopher Lee, Toshiro Mifune, among others - as well as director Steven Spielberg and writer Robert Zemeckis. The writing is quite clever with some parodies and nods to various other movies. This should make 1941 a really funny and entertaining film.

But it doesn't. It's silly enough, and clever enough, but for some reason, it just wasn't humorous enough. Don't get me wrong-it had its moments, and it was fun to see Toshiro Mifune and Christopher Lee, especially, in comical roles, but overall, I wasn't blown away.

It's not a bad movie, and it's kind of fun, but it only ranks about an average 5/10 in my books.

300 (2006)
2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
Too cartoon-ish and soap opera like for my tastes, 4 June 2012
4/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

300 is a fictionalized account of the Battle of Thermopylae, in which 300 Spartans (and a few others) under the leadership of King Leonidas held off a vast Persian army led by King Xerxes I, and ended up being slaughtered in the end. Their heroism in the face of an unstoppable force could certainly make for a good story.

But from its melodramatic opening scene to the almost cartoon like picture to its historical epic drama wrapped in an soap opera package, I cannot say that I a big fan of this movie. It is true that it is visually impressive, but in a cartoon-ish way that takes itself too seriously. I didn't find any of the characters likable, nor were they well developed, and I found the dialog to be over the top in its melodrama.

It is a quick paced, action packed film with one fight scene after another, which at least makes it so it doesn't crawl along. The acting is reasonable for the style of film, and I could see this movie being attractive to some people. It's not a bad movie...just one that does not appeal to my tastes at all.

(1963)
Fascinating, 4 June 2012
7/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Guido is a burnt out film director who is being hassled by everyone about his next film to follow the success of his previous one. The trouble is that he is suffering from a creative block and can't come up with any ideas. As he faces doubts and eons from the outside and from within, he retreats into dreams, fantasies and memories.

Said to be a semi-autobiographical picture of the director, 8 1/2 is a fascinating picture of an harried life, a need for escape and a strange surrealism in which the boundary between the real and the unreal is blurred. In fact, this blurring is done well enough that it is sometimes difficult for the viewer to distinguish reality in this film's universe, perhaps reflecting Guido's own confusion and delusions, and this is one of the things that I like best about it.

Reasonably acted, nicely filmed, and with the lovely Barbara Steele playing a supportive role, I have enjoyed this on each occasion on which I have viewed it.

Evilution (2008)
1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
"i'm sort of in hiding...from life", 2 June 2012
3/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Military research into some alien goo results in the infection and zombification of soldiers, but that quickly spreads to others. People are infected, possessed by alien intelligence and zombified. An ex-military scientist with a conscience has to save the day, battling the military, the zombies and his neighbors.

This is a pretty standard low budget zombie movie with a few small twists thrown in for an attempt at originality. But it doesn't have either the sense of fun and self-deprecating humor, nor effective enough scares and sense of dread, nor over the top gore, that can make a zombie movie entertaining. The movie opens with a fast paced, acrobatic action scene in which there is hope for a gore fest action film, but everything slows down after that and the viewer is left thinking he's seen this before and previously done better.

I've seen worse, but there is really nothing special here.

1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Brings back some memories, 1 June 2012
6/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

When Casey's Shadow was initially released, I was a kid with a newspaper route, and my employer set up a contest offering a free ticket to this movie for the carrier who sold the most new subscriptions. I won the ticket (probably the first time I won anything), and went to the movie alone (also a first for the 10 year old that I was at that time). Anyway, I had also spent quite a bit of time riding over the previous few years (not racing) and liked horses a lot at that time. So a movie about an underdog kid (who was about my age) and his horse, in the theater on my own seemed like the perfect afternoon to me back then. The fond memory of that day has stuck with me over the years, so it was with some delight that I saw this on TCM today some 34 years after my initial viewing.

The story bears some resemblance to the movie Seabiscuit, but tells more of the story of a father struggling to raise his three kids and raise a champion horse in adverse circumstances. Walter Matthau performs wonderfully, and the rest of the cast does well too. The whole feeling of this movie is a 1970's one, though, but that doesn't necessarily detract from it, as the story itself is timeless.

Those who liked Seabiscuit, or other horse movies will probably find this one entertaining. For me, it was a nostalgic trip down a lane of fond memories, and still reasonably entertaining.

1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Oh, my, my! That IS a gruesome sight., 30 May 2012
6/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

A group of teenagers decides to spend the night in the Fun House at the local carnival after it closes, only to be stalked and killed one by one by a frightening masked figure. This premise for Tobe Hooper's The Funhouse is not a terribly unique one, nor are there any real variations from the standard slasher plot line in this movie.

That said, it is a good example of 1980's slasher fare, with some over the top acting, a stereotypical storyline, and the inevitable silly/stupid teenagers (catering to the target audience, no doubt).

But The Funhouse never takes itself too seriously, and it has a great, colorful setting and an excellent use of light and darkness and a quick pace that make it very entertaining.

Certainly as much fun as Poltergeist, though clearly on a much lower budget, The Funhouse is one that I come back to on about an annual basis.

Recommended.

2 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
Simply Beautiful, 30 May 2012
7/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Agnes Varda's first film is the story of life in a small fishing village-relationships, sickness, death, day to day life, told from a couple of different perspectives.

This is the fourth of Agnes Varda's films that I have seen, and though it is not my favorite, it still has the beauty and stunning visuals of her others. Both the mundane and the dramatic events of life are brought to life through the wonderful cinematography, and Varda manages to pull the viewer in to the film to empathize and sympathize with the characters.

The scenes of the relationship between the couple are wonderful. Dance. Poetry. Perfectly framed, perfectly paced and perfectly scripted, the interplay between the couple is fascinating.

Simply beautiful.

2 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
Good fun, 29 May 2012
6/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

When K is killed by an escaped alien prisoner and an alien invasion threatens the very existence of Earth, J is sent back in time to correct the situation.

That is the basic premise of Men in Black III, and while there are some plot holes and some questions about the paradoxes involved with time travel, the story seems to work pretty well if the viewer doesn't take it too seriously (and it seems to me that none of the MIB films should be taken too seriously-just enjoyed). Some of the characters from the other movies are missing in this one, which may disappoint some viewers, but there are a few new ones introduced.

The action and comedy in this third installment are as good as in any of the others, and the plot is as entertaining. I should, I suppose, mention here that I liked both of the previous films. There were some touching moments and a few answers to some questions raised in this and the previous movies.

Tommy Lee Jones doesn't get much screen time in this one, but Josh Brolin does a fantastic portrayal of a younger K-he gets his mannerisms, voice inflection and personality perfectly. The relationship between J and the young K here is also on par with that found in the earlier films. Jemaine Clement played the villain Boris well (though for some reason I thought he was Tim Curry until seeing the end credits).

Overall, I quite liked this entry to the franchise. Decent fun, which my teenage children also liked.


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