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Prom Night (2008)
And you thought the 'Black Christmas' remake was bad
PROM NIGHT (2008)
directed by: Nelson McCormick
starring: Brittany Snow, Scott Porter, Jessica Stroup, and Dana Davis
plot: Three years ago, Donna (Brittany Snow) witnessed the death of her entire family at the hands of her teacher (Jonathan Schaech) who has a bit of a crush on her. Now, she is preparing for her senior prom with her stupid annoying friends. Once there, they start dying one by one because the killer escaped from prison and no one bothered to warn Donna because apparently her prom is too important to interrupt.
pros: I got a few good laughs out of the film due to the terrible dialog and the dumb character moves.
Everyone decides not to tell Donna that the man who is oddly obsessed with her (she doesn't seem that great) has escaped from prison. Their reason: They don't want to embarrass her in front of all her friends. LOL
cons: Let me start off by saying I'm a huge slasher fan. Usually I can have fun with even the bad ones. I even like some PG-13 horror films. TOURIST TRAP (1979), one of my favorites, was originally rated PG. I also enjoy POLTERGEIST (1982) and THE GRUDGE (2004). So the fact that this is a dumb slasher film that is rated PG-13 does not have anything to do with me not enjoying the movie.
First of all, I had a big problem with the story. I like slasher films that don't even have stories. At least they can be entertaining. This is about a teacher who falls in love with his student, so he kills her entire family. A few years later, he tries to make it up to her by ruining her prom and killing all of her friends ...? Then there were subplots that I doubt anyone cared about. Claire (Jessica Stroup) is fighting with her boyfriend, she has cramps, and I couldn't care less. This should have been a Lifetime feature, not a remake of PROM NIGHT.
And then ... this is a slasher film with terrible death scenes. I don't even care that it's not that gory, some of my favorite slashers (HALLOWEEN, CURTAINS, the original PROM NIGHT) were not that gory but they still had effective murders. Here, we have half the characters dying in the same hotel room off screen, a woman being stabbed several times with no stab wounds, and a closeup on a bad actor's face as he screams in agony. I'm sure that 10 year-old girls were terrified, but not me.
I also hated the characters. There was Donna's unrealistically sensitive boyfriend Bobby (Scott Porter) and I can almost guarantee you will never meet a boyfriend that sensitive in your life, unless you are a gay male. Then we had Donna's annoying friends Claire (Stroup) and Lisa (Dana Davis), and the token mean girl Chrissy (Brianne Davis). If you thought the characters in DEATH PROOF were annoying, try watching this movie. And don't get me started on Ronnie (Collins Pennie) and the DJ (Jay Phillips) who gave me flashbacks to Usher's performance in SHE'S ALL THAT.
Add to all that predictable plot turns, a terrible soundtrack and a big lack of respect to the original material, and you have quite a stinker.
A great start to a brilliant filmmaker's career
THE BIRD WITH THE CRYSTAL PLUMAGE (1970)
directed by: Dario Argento
starring: Tony Musante, Suzy Kendall, Enrico Maria Salerno, and Eva Renzi
plot: American writer Sam Dalmas (Tony Musante) witnesses an attempt on a woman's life (Eva Renzi) and is able to rescue her from danger. After discovering that she was attacked by the same serial killer slaughtering many beautiful young women in Rome, Sam decides to investigate the crimes along with his girlfriend (Suzy Kendall) and a detective (Enrico Maria Salerno), putting himself and those around him in great danger.
Dario Argento is my favorite director. He may not be great with plot and characterization but he makes up for that in adding to his films everything that makes a horror or thriller film entertaining, suspenseful, beautiful, and scary. His directorial debut is no exception.
He takes the basic premise we see in most of his films - an American hero, an artist, witnessing a crime scene and investigating. We have the black gloved killer, the amazingly executed death sequences, the absorbing and surprising mystery, setting it all in beautiful locations and including his stylish directing.
What's different in this film than we usually see in an Argento film is good acting. Contrary to what most people say, I don't think the actors in most of his films are terrible, they just usually lack great depth and usually have terrible dubbing which makes the actors look very bad. But in this film, actors such as Tony Musante and Suzy Kendall are great at showing their many emotions. I was with Sam all the way in his difficult and dangerous investigation. I too was obsessed with finding out what was behind it all, and every time he came to an obstacle, I felt just as frustrated and scared as he did.
We also have a pretty menacing villain. The trench-coat wearing, black gloved killer was very creepy, even if by now pretty clichéd. In the death scenes, it showed that this psychopath was a perverted, violent freak that loved toying with his victims. The creepy voices during those phone calls also helped a lot in making me fear the killer. Every death and/or stalk scene had me feeling exactly what the victim felt. Argento is amazing at this kind of thing. And yes, throughout the whole film you will be puzzled as to who is behind this trench-coat and why. When you find out, you will not be disappointed.
I'd also like to give special mention to Ennio Morricone's haunting score. We all know that rock band Goblin usually score Argento's films, and we love that. But we can't forget that Morricone was responsible for the haunting scores of this, CAT O' NINE TAILS, FOUR FLIES ON GREY VELVET (which I have yet to see), THE STENDHAL SYNDROME, and the very disappointing PHANTOM OF THE OPERA.
In conclusion, if you are an Argento fan, or a potential fan, this is definitely a film to seek out (I suggest you get Blue Underground's two-disc special edition), so you can see Argento's directorial debut and see how he was on top of the thriller genre from the get-go.
Friday the 13th (1980)
Classic beginning to a classic horror series
Friday THE 13TH (1980)
directed by: Sean S. Cunningham
starring: Betsy Palmer, Adrienne King, Jeannine Taylor, and Kevin Bacon
plot: Seven camp councilors head to Camp Crystal Lake to fix it up for the summer. Despite warnings of a dark past and a 'death curse', the teens decide to have a good time anyway, and at night indulge in sex, drugs, and strip poker. Unfortunately for them, a psycho killer is prowling the camp grounds, picking them off one by one. When only one is left, she must discover the identity of the killer and fight for her life.
my thoughts: Ever since I can remember, I've loved this film. When I was a child, it scared the crap out of me. That chilling noise playing in the stalk sequences (which has now become the most famous sound in horror films) haunted my nightmares, and some of the gore scenes were really graphic.
Viewing it now, it is no longer that scary but it is still a lot of fun. I liked how these earlier Friday films ignored the stereotypical teenage characters. There's no slut, no jock, no token anything. Every character felt really natural and for some of them, I cared when they died.
The gore scenes are great, thanks to Tom Savini. We get stabbings, decapitations, and plenty more. Gore hounds will love this. Well since every gore hound has seen this, gore hounds mostly already love this.
And then there's the two key things in making a good horror film. The directing and the music. Sean S. Cunningham is a really good director and establishes the camp setting perfectly. He adds beautiful shots of the wind blowing against the trees, the lake at sunrise, that you wouldn't find in later entries.
The music is also great. Harry Manfredini is one of my favorite composers, because he makes the chase scenes so much more exciting. The music in the final scene also works like a charm.
I forgot to mention that this film has one of the most popular and remembered horror endings of all time. And while it may have stolen from CARRIE, it works just as well here and is the cherry on top of a classic slasher film.
Final Destination (2000)
An original and scary film
FINAL DESTINATION (2000)
starring: Devon Sawa, Ali Larter, Kerr Smith, and Kristen Cloke
plot: Alex Browning (Devon Sawa) is one of many students boarding Flight 180 to Paris for their senior trip. He can not seem to shake his fear of flying, and for good reason. Alex has a premonition of the plane exploding and ends up getting himself, five other students, and a teacher kicked off. To their horror, the plane explodes on take off. But Alex does not feel as if it is all over. Soon after, the survivors begin dying in freak accidents in the order they were meant to die on the plane.
my thoughts: During a time when every horror film involved a masked killer targeting 25 year old teenagers while a virgin tries to discover his/her identity, FINAL DESTINATION was desperately needed by us horror fans.
This is a scary and original teen slasher. It has a great scary premise that really makes you think, great performances from all, a creepy music score, some pretty gory death scenes, and a cameo from Tony "Candyman" Todd.
Devon Sawa is perfect as the teenager with a gift for seeing into the future. He goes through every emotion perfectly and portrays a very layered character. Ali Larter is also pretty good as the lonely girl who feels what Alex sees. She was interesting in a way where you didn't really get to know what was up with her until towards the end, and her relationship with Alex is interesting.
Kerr Smith played a jerk off jock perfectly and made me really hate his character. Kristen Cloke is pretty good as the teacher-turned paranoid mess. Sean William Scott is great comic relief. And Tony Todd, Amanda Detmer, and Chad E. Donnella do good with their small roles.
However, I highly disliked Daniel Roebuck and Roger Guenveur Smith as the detectives that get in the way. They were annoying, pointless characters that just get in the way of an otherwise great horror movie.
This film also spawned two fun sequels and I do not see why it didn't skyrocket Devon Sawa's career.
The Fog (1980)
Classic horror film
THE FOG (1980)
directed by: John Carpenter
starring: Adrienne Barbeau, Jamie Lee Curtis, Janet Leigh, and Tom Atkins
plot: One hundred years ago, a group of pirates were stolen from and their boat was sunk. Now, the town of Antonio Bay is celebrating it's 100 year anniversary just as a thick fog rolls into town, filled with the vengeance-seeking ghosts of the murdered pirates.
my thoughts: Ever since I was a kid I've loved this atmospheric horror film.
It has all the ingredients to make a great chiller. Moody directing from John Carpenter, a creepy score (also by John Carpenter), a great cast, and a fun story. Any film to have Adrienne Barbeau, Jamie Lee Curtis, Janet Leigh, Tom Atkins, John Houseman, Charles Cyphers, Nancy Loomis, Hal Holbrook, and George Flower in one film has to be great.
The death scenes are also very effective and set up very well. In fact, the entire film is set up well. We have a creepy, subtle build up until we get to the violent climax (in a church). I love that in a horror film.
Elvira's Haunted Hills (2001)
Another fun Elvira film, just lacking some of what made her first film great
ELVIRA'S HAUNTED HILLS (2001)
directed by: Sam Irvin
starring: Cassandra Peterson, Richard O'Brien, Mary Scheer, and Scott Atkinson
plot: Elvira (Cassandra Peterson) travels with her maid Zou Zou (Mary Jo Smith) through Carpathia in 1851 on her way to a show in Paris. Along the way, they decide to take refuge at a castle belonging to Lord Vlademiere Hellsubus (Richard O'Brien) and his wife Ema (Mary Scheer). Also in the castle are Vlademiere's doctor (Scott Atkinson), niece (Heather Hopper), and stable master (Gabriel Andronache), who Elvira can not keep her hands off of. Ten years ago, Vlademiere's wife Ellura supposedly committed suicide and he believes her ghost is haunting him, but Elvira discovers that there is much more going on.
my thoughts: I could not wait to see Elvira's follow up to her first film ELVIRA, MISTRESS OF THE DARK. Elvira is definitely my favorite celebrity and she never fails to amuse me with her look and her sense of humor.
This time, instead of spoofing Roger Corman witchcraft movies, HAUNTED HILLS spoofs 50's hammer horror films, mostly starring Vincent Price and taking place in an old dark castle in England. This film does a very good job at that, making the film look cheesy yet dark and atmospheric, even though the castle looks fake.
The jokes are hilarious - we got boob jokes again, Richard O'Brien hilariously over acting, and a lot of references to modern times which are only funny because Elvira is in 1851. The Village People are among many references to the times where Elvira is really from. We also have a foreign character with very bad dubbing, on purpose of course.
The supporting cast is perfect. Richard O'Brien purposely over acts to make his character even funnier, it worked; Mary Scheer is great at playing the bitchy wife with something to hide; Scott Atkinson is very over the top and it works; Mary Jo Smith is slightly amusing as Elvira's maid but her character is kind of pointless; Heather Hopper does good as the 'catalepsy poster child'; and Gabriel Andronache's bad dubbing and funny face expressions are hilarious.
But then the final 20 minutes focuses way too much on the story over the jokes and the entire climax is way too overlong. At least we get some pit and pendulum fun and a funny little TITANIC joke.
If you're an Elvira fan, check this out. If not, don't bother. I personally love Elvira and don't see how anyone couldn't.
Elvira: Mistress of the Dark (1988)
ELVIRA, MISTRESS OF THE DARK (1988)
directed by: James Signorelli
starring: Cassandra Peterson, W. Morgan Sheppard, Daniel Greene, and Edie McClurg
plot: Elvira (Cassandra Peterson) quits her TV show and heads to the small Christian town Fallwell, Massachusettes to collect on her dead aunt's inheritance, hoping to make big bucks to open up a show in Vegas. Unfortunately for her, all she gets is a creepy old house, a poodle, and a magic cookbook. While in Fallwell, Elvira tries to make money, breathe some life into the teenagers, win the heart of a stud (Daniel Greene), avoid being burned at the stake, and keep the cookbook from her creepy uncle (W. Morgan Sheppard), who is planning to use the book to end the world.
my thoughts: I love both Cassandra Peterson and her alter-ego Elvira. She is a very successful, beautiful, and funny woman and as Elvira she's all that plus morbid and hilariously naive, not to mention she has an amazing pair of knockers. In this movie, her charms are put to good use.
I loved the whole 'fish out of water' feel to the film. You got Elvira, with her low-cut black dress, her big black hair, and her enormous 'twins', and she's in a Christian town where most of the girls aren't even allowed to wear makeup. This also makes her love story with Bob (Daniel Greene) a lot more entertaining.
W. Morgan Sheppard is equally great as Elvira's uncle/nemesis Vincent, out to steal the book to use it for evil. He has a lot of presence but still doesn't get in the way and steal scenes from Elvira.
What really makes the film is not the plot, but the many jokes. Everything from boob jokes to horror spoofing is here and makes me laugh a lot more than anything from a SCARY MOVIE sequel. I hear there are about 56 boob jokes in this film, and any fan of Roger Corman B-horror flicks will love the spoofing in this film.
If you love Elvira, you will love this flick. Also check out ELVIRA'S HAUNTED HILLS.
The Hills Have Eyes Part II (1984)
It's unoriginal and sometimes cheesy, but it's still fun!
THE HILLS HAVE EYES PART II (1985)
directed by: Wes Craven
starring: Tamara Stafford, Kevin Blair, Janus Blythe, and Michael Berryman
plot: Bobby (Robert Houston) and Ruby (Janus Blythe), now civilized and under the alias Rachel, run a motorcycle racing team and are preparing for a race in the desert. Bobby chickens out, leaving Ruby in charge. On the way, the group gets lost and must take a shortcut close to where the original horrors took place. They decide to stay for the night, which is a bad idea, because Ruby's brother Pluto (Michael Berryman) and uncle Reaper (John Bloom) roam the area, picking off the friends one by one. Soon, only a few survivors are left - including blind Cass (Tamara Stafford) and Ruby, and they must try to stay alive.
my thoughts: I've heard so many bad reviews about this film. I heard it was the worst sequel ever, and that it was mostly just a bunch of flashbacks from the original.
I finally got my hands on it and watched it with an open mind. I was not disappointed at all.
The flashbacks are only within the first 20 minutes. Bobby flashes back to his and Brenda's final battle with Jupiter, Ruby flashes back to helping Doug fight Mars and save the baby, and even the dog (Beast) flashes back to when he attacked the crap out of Pluto. Once the action begins, the flashbacks end. And the dog flash back did not bother me at all, I found it very cute.
The characters are your usual 80's teens. Some are annoying, but I did like a few - Cass (Tamara Stafford), Roy (Kevin Blair), and Hulk (John Laughlin) were very sympathetic. The others were either annoying or not interesting at all. The return of Ruby and Bobby was also a good idea. I loved watching Ruby seek redemption by saving the others, and Bobby has a small but smart part. It's nice to actually see a character that is smart and stays behind.
Michael Berryman returning as Pluto had it's pros and cons. I loved seeing his conflict with the dog Beast, but I also hated how in the original he was very menacing and creepy, here he is comic relief. At least The Reaper (John Bloom) was a big, strong, savage villain who didn't talk too much.
If you can ignore the unoriginality and the cheesiness of it all, then sit back and enjoy THE HILLS HAVE EYES PART II.
Psycho III (1986)
Good sequel with some 80's slasher elements added
PSYCHO III (1986)
directed by: Anthony Perkins
starring: Anthony Perkins, Diana Scarwid, Jeff Fahey, and Roberta Maxwell
plot: One month after the events of PSYCHO II, Norman (Anthony Perkins) is still running the Bates Motel along with "Mother". Things are going fine until Norman falls in love with a fallen nun (Diana Scarwid), takes in a greedy drifter (Jeff Fahey), a nosy reporter (Roberta Maxwell) sticks her nose where it doesn't belong and a series of murders begins once again.
my thoughts: Although not as great a sequel as PSYCHO II, this is still a good sequel. With Anthony Perkins directing himself, you can expect a good addition to the PSYCHO series.
Now, Norman Bates is dealing with a lot. He's falling in love, a reporter is poking around, and a new employee is close to discovering his secret. The mystery and atmosphere of the first two are still here but it's 1986, the middle of the 80's slasher era. More sex and violence have been added.
We have gorier kills and even Juliette Cummins (FRIDAY THE 13TH PART V: A NEW BEGINNING, SLUMBER PARTY MASSACRE II) playing a slut who is picked up at a bar by Duke (Jeff Fahey), kicked out of his room, and then murdered in the actually pretty cool payphone scene.
These 80's elements do not add much to the film, but certainly do not take away.
Perkins also does a fine job directing, and adds a lot of dark humor to the film.
Definitely check this sequel out, it's not as good as the first two but certainly better than the fourth installment and the remake.
Psycho II (1983)
A great, underrated sequel
PSYCHO II (1983)
directed by: Richard Franklin
starring: Anthony Perkins, Vera Miles, Meg Tilly, and Robert Loggia
plot: Twenty-two years after the ordeal in the first film, Norman (Anthony Perkins) is finally released from the mental hospital while Lila (Vera Miles) protests over this. He returns home and visions of his mother begin again. With the help of his doctor (Robert Loggia), he gets a job at a diner where he meets and takes in troubled young Mary (Meg Tilly), who has demons of her own. This coincides with someone leaving notes and making calls claiming to be Norman's mother and a series of murders at the motel again.
my thoughts: This sequel is, in my opinion, almost just as great as the original.
Everything that makes a great sequel is here: having the surviving characters return and go through new changes; having new, interesting characters brought in; returning the story from the original and exploring new revelations or answering unanswered questions; and not totally copying the original.
Norman is put through so much more in this film as he tries to redeem himself, but when someone else is stalking around, busting chops and Lila is trying to drive him over the edge, he begins to question his sanity again and even thinks he may still be doing the killings. Lila goes a bit loony herself trying to avenge the death of her sister.
Meg Tilly as the sympathetic young woman with her own secrets, Robert Loggia as the caring doctor, and Dennis Franz as the sleaze ball also do a lot for this film.
Richard Franklin also does a good job directing. I especially liked the opening of a flashback to the Shower Scene and then showing the Bates Mansion during the credits, how it switches from night to day with sad music playing.
Definitely check this sequel out. I know it sounds strange that the sequel to the original PSYCHO actually works, but it's true.
Creepy classic slasher film
directed by: Alfred Hitchcock
starring: Anthony Perkins, Janet Leigh, Vera Miles, and John Gavin
plot: Marion Crane (Janet Leigh) runs away from home after stealing $40,000 from her employer so she can marry her boyfriend Sam (John Gavin). One rainy night, she takes refuge in the Bates Motel, run by the kind, young Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins) who also takes care of his ill mother. This sets off a series of horrific events when Marion, Sam, Marion's sister Lila (Vera Miles) and a detective (Martin Balsam) try to discover the secrets of the Bates family.
my thoughts: There is really nothing new to say about PSYCHO that hasn't been said already. It's just the perfect thriller. It has a great script, beautiful directing, well developed characters, and much more.
The characters are greatly casted. Anthony Perkins definitely portrayed one of the horror genre's best characters in Norman Bates - a kind, handsome young man who has a lot of dark secrets to hide. Janet Leigh is a very classy actress and it works in the role of a woman who has done some pretty bad things but she is still sympathetic enough to care about. Vera Miles, Martin Balsam, and Simon Oakland also do great while John Gavin is a bit wooden. Not as bad as people say but still wooden.
The setting is also great. A simple, deserted motel with a large, dark, and creepy mansion just over the hill from it. The Bates Motel is a lot like the character of Norman himself. Seems simple and looks nice, but has terrible secrets behind it. The motel and mansion are just like characters in the film.
The music is very suspenseful. I don't think any horror score can match this other than CARRIE. The sound effects that come with the knife make the death scenes much more effective, as the same sound did 16 years later when Carrie used her powers.
Alfred Hitchcock is a great director. The shower scene, the staircase scene, and the finale in the cellar alone are reasons to see this film. I envy anyone who hasn't seen it.
Definitely check it out, it belongs in any movie fan's collection.
The Hills Have Eyes (2006)
Nicely done remake
THE HILLS HAVE EYES (2006)
directed by: Alexandre Aja
starring: Aaron Stanford, Vinessa Shaw, Emilie de Ravin, and Dan Byrd
plot: A suburban American family have their car and trailer break down in the middle of a nuclear bomb test village in the desert, which is occupied by mutated, murderous, possibly cannibal rapists, and you know the drill.
my thoughts: I was just as excited to see the remake at the Palace Theatre as I was to see the original. I knew that it's directed by Alexandre Aja and produced by Wes Craven, where can you go wrong with that?
After the opening murder, this film didn't impress me too much. It did have a very good atmosphere, as in the original. But I didn't like how almost everything was exactly the way it was in the original since I was watching them back-to-back.
But then, once the violence began, I realized this is a fun, gory remake.
The deaths are almost the same but shown with more blood and guts, we have Doug (this time played by Aaron Stanford) taking the lead while in the original he wasn't too developed.
The suspense was also great here. You never know how many things can happen to an infant. And half this movie has Doug trying to keep his baby from biting the dust.
Emilie de Ravin and Dan Byrd take the characters of Brenda and Bobby to a different level, having Ravin show more of a naughty side and Byrd show more of a bad ass side.
The only thing that really bothered me from that point on was the ending, it just didn't do it for me. At least it left it open for a sequel, which could be pretty good.
The Hills Have Eyes (1977)
Very entertaining and brutal
THE HILLS HAVE EYES (1977)
starring: Susan Lanier, Robert Houston, Martin Speer, and Dee Wallace-Stone
plot: A regular American family goes on a trip to California but have their car and trailer break down in the middle of an Air Testing range in the desert. Stranded, they are soon the target of a family of cannibals, murderers, and rapists. With three of them dead and the baby kidnapped, the three remaining survivors decide to take revenge.
my thoughts: Seeing this film was a real treat. I went to the Palace Theatre in Syracuse where they were showing both the 1977 and 2006 versions of THE HILLS HAVE EYES, and Michael Berryman was there signing autographs. I met Michael Berryman, who plays Pluto in this film. He is a great guy, I also got a free t-shirt and poster in the process. Then, I finally watched the films. I'll review the 2006 version next.
Although a bit slow-paced, this film pulled me in from the beginning. I knew with it coming from Wes Craven and starring such great actors as Michael Berryman and Dee Wallace-Stone, I was in for a treat.
There are some flaws. Robert Houston (who plays the cute teenage Bobby) has some dumb reactions to things. With some of his family dead, he could have showed some more sympathy.
The deaths are also brutal and shocking, and there is an off screen rape. Even though it was off screen, it was still pretty disturbing.
Susan Lanier is a great lead as the cute, blonde but slightly annoying Brenda, and the rest of the cast holds their own as well. Michael Berryman, in particular, was creepy as was the rest of his character's family.
It was great seeing this with Berryman there, he did some commentary but not too much. He just once in a while threw in some information and jokes.
Walk the Line (2005)
They couldn't have done it better
WALK THE LINE (2005)
directed by: James Mangold
starring: Joaquin Phoenix, Reese Witherspoon, Ginnifer Goodwin, and Robert Patrick
plot: The story of Johnny Cash (Joaquin Phoenix), his rise to fame, and the love of his life, June Carter (Reese Witherspoon).
my thoughts: I was just getting into Johnny Cash (I'm only 17) when I heard this film was coming out. I usually can't get into movies about a famous person's life, I don't know why. But this one pulled me in from the beginning.
Joaquin Phoenix is absolutely amazing as Cash. He goes through so much emotion in this film and does really well in the music scenes, especially with Witherspoon.
Reese Witherspoon was very cute as June Carter, also adequately showing her underrated talent. Her and Phoenix totally made be buy the love story, and not just because it really happened.
Ginnifer Goodwin and Robert Patrick also lend their presence as Cash's wife and father.
This film also includes other famous music stars of Cash's time such as Jerry Lee Lewis and Elvis Presley.
Definitely check this out if you are a fan of Johnny Cash or June Carter, or just great movies.
directed by: Mark Jones
starring: Warwick Davis, Jennifer Aniston, Ken Olandt, and Mark Holton
plot: Irish Daniel O'Grady (Shay Duffin) returns home claiming to have stolen a pot of gold from an evil leprechaun (Warwick Davis). The leprechaun has followed him and kills his wife, but is then trapped in a box in the basement while Daniel has a stroke. Ten years later, rich city girl Tory (Jennifer Aniston) moves into the old O'Grady house with her father and accidentally releases the evil Leprechaun, who will kill anyone in his way to get his gold back.
my thoughts: Me and my friends rented this film because I remember that it scared me when I was a kid. When I watched it, I don't know how the hell it scared me because it's either really funny or really annoying.
It's interesting enough seeing a pre-Friends Jennifer Aniston getting chased around by a wee leprechaun, but the fact that this Leprechaun is played by Warwick Davis makes it ten times better.
Davis is hilarious as the Leprechaun, although he sometimes got annoying. Same with Aniston, she could be credible in some scenes but she got whiny very often.
The deaths are OK, but it's a little upsetting that none of the main characters die, it's just background characters that are very pointless.
If you like comedy/horrors, check this out, it's entertaining enough.
The Last House on the Left (1972)
Disturbing but very dramatic and kind of poetic
THE LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT (1972)
directed by: Wes Craven
starring: David Hess, Sandra Cassel, Lucy Grantham, and Marc Sheffler
plot: Mari (Sandra Cassel) goes to the big city with her fun friend Phyllis (Lucy Grantham) to see a Bloodlust concert and score some good grass. Instead, they are abducted by Krug (David Hess) and his gang of brutal rapist/murderers. The gang takes them, drugged and tied up, to the woods which is ironically just across the street from Mari's house. After putting the girls through hell, the brutal gang takes refuge in Mari's house, and when her parents discover the brutal crime they have committed, they set up the perfect revenge plot!
my thoughts: I am a fan of Wes Craven. He either makes his films nice and scary (A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET, SCREAM), or just plain fun (SUMMER OF FEAR, CURSED). I have always wanted to see his two earlier films (this and THE HILLS HAVE EYES). I was not disappointed.
The acting is great. I bought Sandra Cassel and Lucy Grantham as innocent fun loving teenagers; I bought David Hess, Fred J. Lincoln, and Jeramie Rain as brutal rapists and murders; and I bought Marc Sheffler as the conflicted, druggie son of the lead rapist. Although, I did think Gaylord St. James and Cynthia Carr could have done better as the caring parents turned into savage murderers. And the subplot with the dumb police was very pointless, it was only funny in the scene with Ada Washington.
The deaths are also brutal. This gang of scums put these two girls through absolute hell, and then the parents put the gang through absolute hell. I almost had trouble sitting through the torture of Mari and Phyllis, but when the gang gets what they deserve, I think it was very poetic.
Other high points are the atmosphere (I love horror movies taking place in the woods) and the music by David Hess ("The Road Leads to Nowhere" is the shizit).
Definitely check this out if you are a Wes Craven fan. It's interesting to see how he started out.
House on Haunted Hill (1959)
Very cool ghost film
HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL (1959)
directed by: William Castle
starring: Vincent Price, Carol Ohmart, Carolyn Craig, and Richard Long
plot: Eccentric Frederick Loren (Vincent Price) and his fourth wife Annabelle (Carol Ohmart) run a party at an abandoned and supposedly haunted prison. Frederick invites five random strangers and offers $10,000 to anyone who makes it through the night.
my thoughts: This is a very fun Vincent Price ghost film. It has a good plot, creepy music, the characters are well casted, and I love the now stereotypical setting. The dark, creepy mansion (even though it used to be a prison). Vincent Price really made this character and this is the movie that made me love the guy (I haven't seen any of his films earlier than this and THE BAT).
This is an almost flawless ghost film even though the effects and acting don't always hold up today.
The Bat (1959)
Fun murder mystery
THE BAT (1959)
directed by: Crane Wilbur
starring: Agnes Moorhead, Vincent Price, Gavin Gordon, and Lenita Lane
plot: Mystery writer Cornelia van Gorder (Agnes Moorhead) rents a creepy mansion called 'the Oaks' with her servant (Lenita Lane) in order to write another novel. Soon, she hears of the legend of serial killer 'The Bat' who is rumored to be searching for a loot of cash hidden somewhere in the mansion, and her and her maid are soon attacked by him. She seeks the help of a bat expert (Vincent Price) and a Leutenent (Gavin Gordon) to discover the killer's identity and then catch him.
my thoughts: This is a very fun 1950's Vincent Price mystery-slasher. I had fun seeing the killer dressed in a bat/burglar suit stalking around the mansion, killing victims with his claw glove.
The cast and characters fit very well in the story, and this also has a fun upbeat score that was sometimes laughable in a good way.
The mystery was also very well done. I had fun trying to guess who the killer was and his/her identity is very surprising, to me anyways.
If you like Vincent Price movies, murder mysteries or just great 50's horror films then definitely check this fun film out!
The Rage: Carrie 2 (1999)
A great, underrated horror sequel
THE RAGE: CARRIE 2 (1999) directed by: Katt Shea starring: Emily Bergl, Jason London, Amy Irving, and Dylan Bruno plot: Sue Snell (Amy Irving) now works as guidance counselor at the new Bates High, still traumatized over what happened 20 years ago. She takes interest in student Rachel Lang (Emily Bergl). Rachel is, much like Carrie, a tormented teenager. Her mother is in a mental hospital, she lives with an abusive step-father, she's picked on at school and her best friend Lisa (Mena Suvari) has just killed herself. Falling in love with Jesse (Jason London), a nice jock, brings her even more trouble and his teammates target her when she discovers their link to Lisa's suicide. As Sue discovers the chilling link between Rachel and Carrie, mean-spirited teenagers plan a cruel prank against Rachel that will unleash her secret powers of telekinesis.
my thoughts: I think this a very well done sequel that deserves more credit than it gets. It is certainly not as good as the original, but it is still a good continuation of the original.
Amy Irving returning as Sue was good to me because I loved seeing what happened to her after all she's been through in the original. When we left her, she was haunted by nightmares of the prom incident and to this day, 20 years later, she is still haunted by memories and feels guilty. So she tries to find redemption in helping Rachel, who is stronger than Carrie was because she doesn't want anyone to help her.
I also loved Emily Bergl as Rachel because she was a very different character than Carrie. Sure, she is picked on at school, she has a psycho religious mother and she has telekinesis. But her story is so much different. She actually has friends, her mother does not want to hurt her and when she moves things with her mind, she doesn't accept this and just thinks she's going crazy like her mother did. Also, her romance with Jesse is a lot more focused on than the relationship between Carrie and Tommy.
The rest of the cast also does fine. Dylan Bruno, Zachery Ty Bryan, Rachel Blanchard, Charlotte Ayanna, Justin Urich, and Elijah Craig all play one-dimensional mean kids but who cares, they had awesome deaths. J. Smith-Cameron is very different from Piper Laurie as the psycho religious nut, while Margaret used her religion as a weapon against Carrie, Barbara used her religion as a shield keeping outside forces from corrupting Rachel. I also enjoyed Mena Suvari as Rachel's friend, Eddie Kaye Thomas as the comic relief nerd and Clint Jordan as the sheriff who may or may not be a survivor of Carrie's massacre.
Katt Shea is a great director. I love her work in POISON IVY (also about an emotionally abused teenage girl who turns into a murderer) and I love her work here. I especially loved how when Rachel's powers are used, the film switches from color to black and white. She also did good with the flashbacks to the original Carrie.
The party climax is like the club scene in HELLRAISER III, very gory and fun to watch. Gore hounds will totally love it.
So, even though this isn't as good as the original, it's still a nice drama/horror sequel.
My favorite horror film of all time
CARRIE (1976) directed by: Brian De Palma starring: Sissy Spacek, Piper Laurie, Amy Irving, and John Travolta plot: Carrie White (Sissy Spacek) is a haunted teenage girl. At school she is constantly tormented by her peers and at home she is abused by her fanatically religious mother (Piper Laurie). One day in the girls showers, Carrie has her first period. Having no knowledge of this important event, she freaks out, thinking she is dying, and the girls have no sympathy, they just laugh, chant and throw tampons. While pretty Sue Snell (Amy Irving) feels guilty and has her boyfriend (William Katt) take Carrie to the prom, mean-spirited Chris Hargenson (Nancy Allen) conspires with her boyfriend Billy (John Travolta) to make Carrie the target of a horrible prank on prom night. What everyone doesn't know is that Carrie was born with the ability to move objects with her mind, and she is pushed too far on her one special night.
my thoughts: I love this horror film, and it is my favorite. The story, the directing, the cast, and the score all meld together to make the perfect horror film.
The acting is perfect. Sissy Spacek made me really feel sorry for Carrie. She showed us that Carrie was smart, creative and sweet deep down inside and she was actually very pretty. Piper Laurie scared me as Margaret White, very crazy and over-the-top in a scary way. Her dialog at the end was perfect and she was a very interesting character. Amy Irving is great as the popular girl who actually shows some sympathy for Carrie, and even gives up her prom ticket and date for the girl. Irving plays the character very sympathetic yet very naive. William Katt was also very sympathetic as the brave Tommy Ross, the most popular guy in school taking the least popular girl in school to the prom. The guy also has great hair lol. Betty Buckley did good as the gym teacher who understands both Carrie and the mean girls. Nancy Allen, John Travolta and P.J. Soles were great mean kids. Nancy Allen was pretty and whiny, John Travolta was goofy, and P.J. Soles was annoying in a hot way.
Brian De Palma is one of my favorite directors and his work was especially great here. I loved every shot he put in this movie, the only complaint is that his work in the opening locker room scene make him seem very peeping tom-ish, a theme he puts in a lot of his films. His camera-work mostly shined in the prom scene.
Pino Donnagio provides one of the greatest horror scores ever. It changes mood with the film. It can be scary, suspenseful, beautiful or sad.
So if you want a great dramatic horror film with perfect acting, directing, writing and music, then definitely check out CARRIE.
In my opinion, the greatest musical of all time
THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW (1975) directed by: Jim Sharman starring: Tim Curry, Susan Sarandon, Barry Bostwick, and Richard O'Brien plot: On a dark and stormy night, Brad (Barry Bostwick) and Janet (Susan Sarandon) take a road to announce to their scientist friend (Jonathan Adams) that they are getting married. Before they make it, however, their car breaks down and they try to find help. They find a mysterious castle and enter, to meet Dr. Frank-N-Furter (Tim Curry), a transvestite who has created a beautiful man (Peter Hinwood) out of lifeless body parts, his servants (Richard O'Brien and Patricia Quinn) who have a dark secret to hide, and his quirky guests (Little Nell and Meatloaf).
my thoughts: This is my favorite musical of all time, for many reasons.
The performances are perfect. No one can beat Tim Curry as the transvestite version of Dr. Frankenstein, Susan Sarandon and Barry Bostwick are great as the suburban virginal couple, while Richard O'Brien, Patricia Quinn, Little Nell, Peter Hinwood, and Meatloaf perfectly portray quirky characters and Jonathan Adams and Charles Gray lend their professional presences as older but equally great characters.
I also love the music. The classic 'Science Fiction Double Feature', the fun 'Time Warp' and the entire 'Floor Show' sequence happen to be my favorite songs, while the rest are great as well. They all provide to the campy nature of the film.
The plot is also a great tribute to horror and science fiction movies, which mixing musical and transsexual elements into the mix. Perfect.
While some people may prefer GREASE, I think nothing can beat THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW as the greatest musical of all time.
The great beginning to a great horror series
HELLRAISER (1987) directed by: Clive Barker starring: Andrew Robinson, Clare Higgins, Ashley Laurence, and Sean Chapman plot: Frank Cotton (Sean Chapman) is a man who seeks the greatest pleasures of life. He comes across the Lament Configuration, believed to open the doors of heaven or hell, he opens hell and is taken there and tortured by the Cenobites, Hell's minions. Later on, Frank's brother Larry (Andrew Robinson) and his wife Julia (Clare Higgins) move into the house. Julia had a secret affair with Frank and misses the night of passion she shared with him. One day, Larry is injured and his blood seeps through the cracks in the attic floors, and the blood brings Frank back to life as a skinless zombie. Julia helps Frank gain his figure back by bringing men from bars into the house to feed on. Soon, the Cenobites discover that Frank has escaped their grasp and Larry's daughter Kirsty (Ashley Laurence) is caught in the mix.
my thoughts: This is one of the most original and shocking horror films out there. It is a family saga and a gory horror movie in one.
I loved the characters and the actors portraying them. Especially Clare Higgins as the cold and conniving Julia, Ashley Laurence as the cute innocent Kirsty, and Doug Bradley as the Lead Cenobite Pinhead, who is one of the most popular horror movie monsters ever created.
I loved how in this film, the Cenobites were left lurking in the shadows while the movie mainly focused on the Cotton family. Loss, love affairs and hints of past incest are what makes this a very provocative drama/horror film. I also loved some of the directing techniques - mainly going back and forth to Kirsty solving the puzzle and a rose blooming on the television. Christopher Young also provided one of my favorite horror scores, which is tied with Pino Donnagio's work on CARRIE.
This film isn't without flaws though - the subplot with Kirsty's boyfriend brought nothing good to the film, especially since he can't act surprised. I mean, he comes to his girlfriend's father's house to find her battling demons with a puzzle box - and still there is no expression on his face. The special effects also show that the film is on a low budget.
Still, this is one of the greatest horror films of all time and they do not make them like this anymore!
The Wolf Man (1941)
Great werewolf classic
THE WOLF MAN (1941) directed by: George Waggner starring: Lon Chaney, Jr., Claude Rains, Evelyn Ankers, and Warren William plot: Larry Talbot (Lon Chaney, Jr.) moves in with his father (Claude Rains) in his castle in Wales. There, he meets and falls in love with the beautiful Gwen (Evelyn Ankers), and later escorts her to a local carnival where a gypsy fortune teller (Bela Lugosi) warns Gwen's friend Jenny (Fay Helm) of the dangers that await her. Later on, Jenny is murdered by a wolf and Larry is injured, and things get weird when Larry sees that after killing the wolf, it turns into the fortune teller. Things go from bad to worse when Larry becomes a wolf himself by night, preying on innocent victims.
my thoughts: This is the film that made werewolf movies famous and launched Lon Chaney, Jr.'s career in horror films. The acting, the dream-like atmosphere and the music all make this a great horror classic which is one of my favorite Universal classic horror films. I am surprised, and happy, that this has never been remade.
The Wizard of Oz (1939)
My favorite movie as a child, and it still holds up today!
THE WIZARD OF OZ (1939)
directed by: Victor Fleming
starring: Judy Garland, Frank Morgan, Billie Burke, and Margaret Hamilton.
plot: Dororthy Gale (Judy Garland) is a country girl living a boring life, hoping for something exciting to happen to her. One fateful day, she runs away from home and a twister sweeps her away to a magical land called Oz. There, she accidentally kills a witch and the witch's sister, the Wicked Witch of the West (Margaret Hamilton) is after her for revenge. Glinda (Billie Burke), a good witch, gives Dorothy a pale of ruby slippers which can help her in an unknown way. When she finally becomes homesick, she goes on a quest to find the Wizard of Oz (Frank Morgan), the one man who she believes can help her return home, while she makes some friends along the way.
thoughts: Spending my first six years in Chittenango, New York (the birth place of L. Frank Baum, the author of the novel), I grew to love the movie THE WIZARD OF OZ, since it was advertised all over the town, and there is still yellow painting on the sidewalks (although it is sadly fading away). Now that I am 17, I viewed this film again, and I still love it.
It has a great cast that really knows how to act, dance and sing. It has a great director behind the camera. It has great music. It has a great story. And I love the idea of mixing black and white (the Kansas scenes) and color (the Oz scenes).
Even though this film is almost 70 years old, it still has no flaws (to me, anyway) and every parent should introduce this film to their children.
Bride of Frankenstein (1935)
In my opinion, the best of the Universal classic monster films
THE BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN (1935)
directed by: James Whale
starring: Boris Karloff, Colin Clive, Valerie Hobson, and Ernest Thesiger
plot: Mary Shelley (Elsa Lanchester) reveals to her friends that The Monster (Boris Karloff) and Dr. Frankenstein (Colin Clive) survived the fire, and continues on with the story. As the Monster learns to speak and begins another murder spree, Dr. Frankenstein, with the help of an even more ambitious scientist (Ernest Thesiger), creates a Bride (also Elsa Lanchester) for his creation, which puts his wife Elizabeth (Valerie Hobson) in danger.
thoughts: This is my favorite of the Universal classic monster films. This has a great cast of characters, moody and chilling directing from James Whale, beautiful music and a great finale that will leave you in tears.