Reviews written by registered user
|706 reviews in total|
You'd think prison would be hard enough without being haunted by a
vengeful spirit. They tried this with the ultra cheesy, but fun
'Slaughterhouse Rock.' It wasn't exactly a hit, but did introduce a new
kind of horror film. The following year Charles Band and his group
would use the setting for a new genre flick. The result isn't a
classic, but a fun and rather chilling effort. It's a case of the right
ingredients coming together at the right time.
Pros: Solid performances. Stylish direction. Moody cinematography. Eerie score. Awesome effects. Creative deaths. Fast paced. Feeling of doom.
Cons: Not much of a plot. Muddled third act. Rushed ending.
Final thoughts: After watching this, it's easy to see why Renny Harlin got to direct 'A Nightmare on Elm Street 4.' The film looks good, is well acted and paced. It also proved he could work very well with little money. More than 20 years old, 'Prison' is an above average spookshow with heart.
My rating: 3.5/5
There are no stories as unusual as that of the 'Poltergeist' series.
From the "feud" between Steven Spielberg and Tobe Hopper, to the
untimely deaths of some series stars, people still debate about it to
this day. The first film was a big hit and is considered to be one of
the best Horror films of all time. The first sequel too did well at the
Box Office, but critical reception was mixed. MGM was eager to keep
things going, but there would be a number of changes. Some original
cast members not returning, a new composer for the score and a new
environment were among these changes.
For many reasons, 'Poltergeist III' looked like a win-win situation. You had talented actors, an interesting new setting, and a director with some genre experience. There were some mishaps during production, but otherwise it sounds like things went well. Sadly, young star Heather O'Rourke passed before the film was complete. A new ending was created and the film released on the set date. It was a flop at the time, but some like myself feel it's been unfairly maligned.
Pros: Excellent performances. Quite good, at times spooky score. Great new setting. Nice job on the effects. Stakes have been raised. Some suspense. A few chilling sequences. Brings some interesting new things to the table. Flows at a good pace.
Cons: Dated due to certain things, like clothes and make-up. The ending is anticlimactic and contradicts the point of it's predecessors.
Final thoughts: Many fans really dislike this one and choose to forget it. Everyone's entitled to their own opinion, but this film does have some supporters. Like II, it feels different and the filmmakers tried new things instead of rehashing the past. As for that ending, blame the studio for that one. It was rushed when cast and crew should've been allowed to go through the grieving process, then work out a satisfying new ending. All things considered, this is a truly underrated and chilling end to the saga.
My rating: 4.5/5
Monsters like Dracula are scary, but only in our imaginations. There is
no such thing as zombies or werewolves, making it easy for one to sleep
at night. In some literature and films though, the monsters are much
closer to reality. Rather than feature people torn apart by inhuman
creatures, they're about man taken over by his brother. I'm sure most
would agree that our freedoms getting taken away from us is far scarier
than getting beheaded by Jason. Based on the book of the same name,
'The Hunger Games' is a modern day take on this concept. There are
better examples of it, but it holds it's own.
Pros: Awesome performances, particularly by Jennifer Lawrence and Woody Harrelson. Solid directing job. Powerful score. Some great biting satire. Fabulous costume and production designs. Well done effects. Some unexpected turns. Good pacing.
Cons: Some characters, like Gale, are way underutilized. Could have been more edgy. Less shaky cam would've been nice.
Final thoughts: There have been a number of films dealing with this very subject. 'The Hunger Games' isn't a completely original work, but it is a well crafted one. If you're tired of mindless, heartless fare like the latest 'Fast and the Furious,' then give this a whirl. It's got it's share of flash, but plenty of heart and intelligence too.
My rating: 4/5
It doesn't get much better than going to the movies. It's been one of
man's favorite pass times for decades. There have even been films
paying tribute to this experience, like Joe Dante's 'Matinee.' Two
years earlier, a low budget Horror film similar to that one was
released, but flopped. There are some signs of the troubles during
production, but the end result is hardly a failure. Instead, it's a fun
and occasionally scary romp that pays homage to cinema.
Pros: Dynamite concept. Well acted. Eerie score. Provides a few chuckles. Superb effects. Full of neat ideas. A few really chilling scenes. Quick paced.
Cons: Some of the characters are too underdeveloped. Concept not taken to full potential. Tone a tad uneven.
Final thoughts: It's a shame this film wasn't a bigger success. It's not perfect, but it is a small gem. You can tell the people in front of and behind the camera were into their jobs. Lovers of Horror and film in general should give it a shot.
My rating: 3.5/5
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
In 1999, audiences around the world were scared out of their wits by a
film made for around $25,000. It became a real phenomenon, helped in
part by the website that offered even more info. A sequel was announced
soon after and it too was a financial success. Critical reception from
critics and fans however was mixed. Some didn't care for the film's
acting as if the original was just a movie. Many also didn't like that
it was ambiguous like it's predecessor. The film is definitely not
perfect, but is a rather interesting and non-traditional sequel.
Pros: Most of the performances are good. Great concept. Strong feature debut for Joe Berlinger. Gorgeous scenery. Suspenseful. A few eerie sequences. Decent pace. Some nice twists and turns. Does a nice job of homaging and poking fun at the original.
Cons: Poor acting by the sheriff and his colleagues. Forgettable score. Lacking scares and tension. Awkward structure.
Final thoughts: Like many others who saw the film upon it's release, I didn't care much for it. Seeing it all these years later, I have a different perspective. Rather than take the easy route, the filmmakers wanted to keep us on our toes. It's not very scary, but it is unnerving and pretty twisted. Could've been even better had Artisan not reworked the film, but as is it's a worthwhile viewing experience.
My rating: 3.5/5
There's a saying that goes, "Less is more." Another way of putting it
is that it's best to leave it up to the imagination. Not that this is
always the way to go, but it often times works. There are many Horror
films that use this technique really effectively. Classics like 'The
Haunting' and 'Halloween' are a true testament of this. It's something
that had been lacking in the genre for some time. Then in 1999, the
world was rocked by a super low budget flick that used this approach.
The film was a massive hit and reminds us that the unknown can be
Pros: Excellent performances by all involved. Brilliant direction, making the film look like an actual documentary. Fresh spin on an old concept. Beautiful scenery. Eerie imagery. Suspenseful. A few good jolts. Well paced. Unforgettable finale.
Cons: It's nice the filmmakers wanted to be so ambiguous, but perhaps they went too far. The bickering gets a bit old after a while.
Final thoughts: 'Blair Witch' may not be the first found footage movie, but it's certainly one of the better ones. Unlike some imitators that came in it's wake, it's not some rushed, lifeless cash grab. The cast and crew wanted to scare the audience and make something that felt real, and they succeeded.
My rating: 4/5
It's really frustrating when a studio butchers a film. Why hire great
talent and invest all that money then? A number of films have suffered
this fate, sometimes never to be seen the way the filmmakers intended.
There are however a lucky few directors who've been given the chance to
get their version to the public. For nearly two decades, the only cut
of Ridley Scott's 'Legend' most saw was the heavily edited theatrical
cut. The film still gained a cult following, which likely had something
to do with the release of this longer, not to mention superior version.
Pros: Great performances across the board. Top notch direction. Beautiful score. Rich cinematography. Incredible make-up and visual effects. Stunning production and costumes designs. Several memorable sequences. Steady pace.
Cons: Plot and characters could've used more fleshing out. Story told before and better.
Final thoughts: Though still not perfect, this cut of the film is a more satisfying experience. And unlike some other effects heavy films of the time, it's held up beautifully. It's also more coherent and gives the viewer more room to breathe. A shame that Scott hasn't returned to the Fantasy genre, because this isn't a bad first foray into it.
My rating: 4/5
There was a time when news of a great director's latest project was
exciting. Flipping through the pages of a magazine to read interviews
and see photos from the upcoming film was such a treat. This is how it
was for directors like John Carpenter, George Romero, Wes Craven and
Dario Argento. Throughout the 1970s and 80s, they gave us some of the
best the Horror genre has to offer. So why is it that these days their
output is so blah? Even Argento, a director who changed the face of
Horror years ago, has put out some clunkers. This, his version of Bram
Stoker's novel, shouldn't have been one of them.
Pros: Some of the actors come out of this alright. Sumptuous score. Gorgeous scenery and locations. Nicely done practical effects. First and third acts moves at a decent pace.
Cons: Some performances are wooden or over the top. Awful dialogue. Some lousy dubbing. Woefully unnatural lighting in many scenes. Almost nothing new brought to the table. Laughable CGI. Dull middle act.
Final thoughts: Though it's not all bad, this is ultimately a sad effort. Hard to believe this is from the same man who gave us 'Suspiria' and 'Phenomena.' I'm not saying he should give us films exactly like those, but surely he should have the same passion. There are so many things here that scream amateur. Only see if you're bored and a fan of the director.
My rating: 2/5
Some films should absolutely never be remade. There is no way anyone
could top 'Gone With the Wind' or 'Raiders of the Lost Ark.' However,
some films have been redone and rather well. Some stories are timeless,
making it possible to tell them again in a different place and time.
Stephen King's novel 'Carrie' takes place in early 1970s, as does the
film based on it. That piece of celluloid was a hit and is considered
to be one of the greatest Horror films.
The first film based on a King book to get remade was 'The Shining' in 1997. It was done for TV, allowing for a more faithful adaptation. Some like it, but it is still overshadowed by it's predecessor. Five years later, someone decided to do the same with the story of Carrie White. Both it and the mediocre 'The Rage: Carrie 2' were quickly forgotten. After being apprehensive about this second update, the result is beyond better than expected.
Pros: Phenomenal performances. Impressive show by Kimberly Pierce, who balances the drama and horror very well. Beautifully scored. Rich cinematography. Well paced. Some pretty powerful sequences, big and small. Some great nods to the 1976 film, as well as the novel. Startling effects.
Cons: Some scenes lifted from the original feel forced and rushed.
Final thoughts: Remaking 'Carrie' for the digital age was a pretty smart idea. Bullying has been in the news more than ever, making this film a good way to raise awareness. Fortunately, it's more than someone standing on a soap box. Kimberly Pierce and Co. have crafted a compelling and frightening retelling of a great story. It pays homage to the first film, while having a voice all it's own.
My rating: 4.5/5
Perhaps the greatest fear for mankind is the unknown. What exists
beyond this life? Is there a God? Is there a Devil? There is no firm
answer, but in movies and literature we come up with our own. Imagine
your spouse taking a new job in a new town. It's isolated, the people
behave oddly and you start seeing things. What is the secret of this
place and it's people? Largely forgotten, 'Necromancy' a.k.a. 'The
Witching,' is a film about an innocent going into the unknown. It's
hardly a lost classic, but more interesting than a lot of schlock we
Pros: Quite good performances. Director Bert I. Gordon get some great shots. Some interesting ideas. At times intrusive, but effective score. Eerie atmosphere. Some frightening and surreal imagery. Steady pace.
Cons: Lacks suspense. Some choppy editing. Derivative, particularly of 'Rosemary's Baby.' Dated visual effects.
Final thoughts: This little oddity had the potential to be a real sleeper. Trouble is that it borrows too much from other films and sorely needs subtlety. That's not to say it's not worth a view, because it certainly is. It's an attack on the senses that would make great nighttime viewing, especially for Halloween.
My rating: 3/5
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