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06/01/2017 17:26

Film: Lost Boys: The Tribe

Year: 2008

Director: P.J. Pesce

Writer: Hans Rodionoff

Starring: Tad Hilgenbrink, Angus Sutherland and Autumn Reeser

 

Review:

This film begins with a group of surfers coming to a gate and jumping it. They go surfing in the ocean and the owner comes out of the house to see what the commotion is, the owner played by Tom Savini. The leader of the surfers is played by Angus Sutherland. With him are Shaun Sipos, Merwin Mondesir and Kyle Cassie. Savini yells at them for trespassing and threatens them, revealing that he is a vampire. The group also reveals themselves to be vampires and they kill Savini.

We then see a car pull up dragging a U-Haul trailer. The driver of the car is Tad Hilgenbrink. With him is his sister, she is played by Autumn Reeser. They are coming to live with their aunt, who is played by Gabrielle Rose. They are renting her guest house. Hilgenbrink used to be a pro-surfer but after their parents died; he lost his temper and lost his sponsors as well as getting kicked out of competing. He is now looking for work.

They go to a surf shop where the kid running it recognizes Hilgenbrink. He asks if they need help and he informs him they do not. Hilgenbrink wants to sculpt surfboards so the kid gives him a map to meet with a guy who does it for the shop. Reeser stands outside when a guy approaches her. He is played by Greyston Holt and he tries to be smooth, but fails. He gives Reeser his number though.

The two of them drive out to the trailer where the sculptor lives, but no one answers the door. Hilgenbrink leaves their address and phone number in hopes that he can get a job. Reeser isn’t too big on this and stays in the car. They go home.

Hilgenbrink sits out on a dock watching the sunset when he is joined by Sutherland. Hilgenbrink didn’t even hear him come up, but he does recognize Sutherland. He used to be a pro-surfer as well and just stopped what he was doing. Sutherland was Hilgenbrink’s idol when he was growing up. Sutherland leaves, but invites Hilgenbrink to a party before he does.

He doesn’t really want to go though, but Reeser tries to talk him into it. It is confirmed they are going when Rose shows up wanting to watch The Goonies with them.

They go to the party and it is crazy. Hilgenbrink wants to leave though when he sees Cassie. Cassie is an instigator and he is the reason that Hilgenbrink is no longer a pro-surfer. They got into a fight and he ruined Cassie’s knee during it, taking him out of it as well. Reeser convinces him to stay when she points out that Moneca Delain is making eyes at him. She leaves to go inside.

Holt notices her and tries to bring her a drink, but he is stopped by Sipos and Cassie, who direct him elsewhere. Sutherland then introduces himself to Reeser and they hit it off. He takes her on a tour of the house. This leads to his bedroom, where he gives her something to drink that makes her sick to her stomach. Hilgenbrink and Delain move to the shower where they start to make love, but he leaves when he thinks he hears Reeser. He is upset that she was riding on a motorcycle with Sutherland and he takes her home. She throws up in the car, which he thinks is due to her drinking too much, but she is really changing into a vampire.

Delain shows up later that night to finish what they started. She gets a little rough and Hilgenbrink pushes her off. She runs into a deer antler on the wall and she becomes stone, before disappearing. He doesn’t understand what happens. The man that he went to visit the day before shows up, played by Corey Feldman, to inform him that she was a vampire. He also tells him that his sister is changing into one, but she has to feed first.

She tries to do that by inviting Holt over. Before she can though, Hilgenbrink shows up with a cross. He tries to tell her what Sutherland did to her, but she doesn’t believe it. She has a crush on him and won’t hear it.

Sutherland also wants Hilgenbrink to join their group as well. Feldman and Hilgenbrink try to figure out where the nest is and it is decided that Hilgenbrink will pretend to join them to find it and save his sister. Can they stop these vampires before it is too late? Can they save Reeser before she changes? Or will Hilgenbrink be seduced by them?

I want to lead of stating that I really like the original film, it is a classic. This one had potential to be really good. I like Reeser, I think she is attractive and is a pretty decent actress. It is fun to see Feldman return in his role as Edgar Frog. I also liked seeing horror veteran Savini in this film as well. The final thing I will say about the acting is that I do think Sutherland and his crew were pretty decent cast as the vampires. It is really interesting that he is the half-brother of Kiefer, who was the main vampire in the original film. I like that this isn’t a remake, but took the concept of two siblings, made one of them a sister and the older one is the one that has save the day. I don’t mind sequels using similar concepts, but just tweaking it.

This film I was slightly disappointed in though. I’m not really sure why the subtitle is The Tribe. The vampires in this one aren’t much different than the previous film and at least that one had a great twist I didn’t see coming at the climax. The vampires were much more interesting in the original one as well. This film also seems to move way too fast. Reeser is seduced almost immediately and I wasn’t a huge fan of that. I can let this slide a little, since vampires have the ability to charm their victims. They also take in Hilgenbrink way too easily, even after he killed one of theirs. They might be just too stupid since they do not have someone looking over them, but it doesn’t really explain then who turned Sutherland. I just feel this plot wasn’t thought out well enough and it moves too fast.

With that said, I wouldn’t recommend this film. It had potential to be much better than what it is and it has big shoes to fill being a sequel to a classic. The acting actually isn’t all that bad, but it is hampered by poorly written story and execution. This film gets right into the action, which is a good thing, but it moves too rapidly through everything as well. I would stick to the original, but if you are interested in seeing the story continue on, then I would recommend this film. You wouldn’t be missing much though if you decided to pass.

 

My Rating: 4 out of 10

Bug

05/30/2017 16:36

Film: Bug

Year: 1975

Director: Jeannot Szwarc

Writer: William Castle and Thomas Page

Starring: Bradford Dillman, Joanna Miles and Richard Gilliland

 

Review:

This film starts with a woman being dropped off at a church by her husband. The woman goes inside and she is played by Joanna Miles. Her husband is a local scientist and also teaches at the university, he is played by Bradford Dillman. Miles sits with a man that she has known for some time, he is played by Frederic Downs. An earthquake hits. They flee outside and Downs’ son shows up, telling them that the earthquake has ripped across their field.

They head toward it and Downs’ daughter is having a breakdown, thinking that he died at the church. She is played by Jamie Smith-Jackson and she is there with her brother, played by Jim Poyner. They see their truck coming, but before it reaches them, it overheats. It then blows up, killing the son and Downs.

Smith-Jackson is seeing Richard Gilliland, who is a student at the university. He comes across some weird cockroach like creatures that are in the field and by where the fault line is. He watches as they start a fire, burning him and killing a cat.

Gilliland seeks his former teacher, played by Dillman. He tries to tell him what these insects did, but Dillman doesn’t believe it. He changes that when he actually sees what they can do. He then takes a few specimens to get checked out. He works with his best friend and co-worker, played by Alan Fudge. Their wives are also best friends.

Dillman learns that these bugs have hitched a ride with him. He has found a way to get them into jars, but misses one of them. With Fudge, they also learn that these insects do not have eyes, are built for speed, but whatever reason, they barely move. They can start fires with a second set of antennas.

Dillman loses it when he wife is killed by one of these bugs and he decides to go into full blown researching them. His research takes a turn though he discovers they act differently when you can pressurize the air around them like it was deep underground. He also introduces a normal cockroach to see if he can get it to mate.

What will become of his research? What is the point of it? Will it solve anything or make things much worse?

This is another film that I hadn’t heard a lot about, but it was on a list of films to see. I have to say that the story had me hooked when Dillman goes off the deep-end and going all in on his research. I guess my problem with it though is that it doesn’t make sense. He figures out how to kill them, which is what I thought the original goal was. He also discovers that they will die off regardless due to the difference in pressure. You’d think that would be the end of it, almost even as a revenge for his wife. With that said though, I did find it interesting what the cockroaches do after he secludes himself and researches. The aftermath of that doesn’t make a lot of sense though either and the ending did not as well. I don’t get how it would play out that way or why they would want to. It does seem to end a little bit too convenient in this way.

The acting I felt was decent. No one really stood out to me, but no one was overly bad. I do feel that the writing of the film had a little to do with that, because we really got introduced to many of the characters and we don’t get a lot to connect with that. I think in part was due to the experiments takes up a large portion of the running time. Dillman I did feel bad for, losing his wife as he did and I understand why he’d lose grip with reality. Not sure I believe he’d end up doing what he did though because of it. It was also good to see Patty McCormack as an adult in this film. She was in film The Bad Seed, which I really enjoyed. McCormack has such a natural beauty that I’m glad she was in this film.

This film came out in 1975, so they used only practical effects, which I was a big fan of. There were live cockroaches used, so those looked great. They did freak me out, so I’ll give the film a boost there. Even the lighting up as they start fires looked good to me. The editing didn’t really stand out to me, except when they were writing messages on the walls. If you see the film, you will know what I mean. Then the soundtrack had an electronic sound when the bugs were on screen. That helped to make the film seem even creepier. Other than that, the scenes had no sound which can be effective. For this film, it didn’t really alter the scenes except when the soundtrack for the bugs was more noticeable.

Now with that said this film I’m kind of torn on. I personally enjoyed it, but felt it was slightly above average. I like the concept of an earthquake happening and it opening up a cavern for a possible creature like in this film to escape. I didn’t find the reason for Dillman’s character to do what he did halfway through and I feel the ending wasn’t great. The acting in the film was decent, but there wasn’t much there either. The use of real cockroaches and practical effects I was a fan of. There wasn’t a lot in the way of editing, but the soundtrack for the scenes with the cockroaches was good. I would say if this sounds interesting, give it a chance to see how you feel about it. I personally found the film interesting, but it had some flaws for me.

 

My Rating: 6 out of 10

05/25/2017 16:31

Film: Lord of the Flies

Year: 1963

Director: Peter Brook

Writer: Peter Brook

Starring: James Aubrey, Tom Chapin and Hugh Edwards

 

Review:

This film begins, with images of school age children, but mixing it with images of war, airplanes and showing things from wartime. They end the montage with showing an airplane, showing a storm and then finally an airplane in the water, signifying that the plane has crashed.

We are then on the island where we meet our main character, played by James Aubrey. He is going through the jungle where he meets a chubby character, played by Hugh Edwards. They go to the beach where they find a conch shell. After some tries, they get it to work like a horn.

With this other boys come from the deeper in the island to meet up together. Aubrey and Edwards try to bring order to the meeting and to learn everyone’s names. While they do this, they hear chanting/singing and a group of choir boys arrive, led by Tom Chapin.

From here they decide to make Aubrey the leader by a vote, with Chapin in control of his choir. The choir though soon changes as Chapin turns them into hunters. As the film progresses, they create fire with Edwards’ glasses, but we see the breakdown of society as the hunters become more and more savage.

This film is excellent in seeing as I stated above, how quickly society breaks down in crisis. The film doesn’t last more than a few weeks, but the hunters have become a savage tribe of people. They loot, murder and are territorial. The mob mentality is also is something that is prevalent as well since even Aubrey and Edwards are sucked into their crazy dance. This is also something that is very relevant today. You see riots that get worse from the mob mentality even today. There is also the breakdown of society and doing the right thing with our political issues as well.

The problem I had with this film is we have no sense of how long passes in the film or when it changes from days either. There are a couple times we see night, but days pass between events and we don’t really know how long though. I believe the filmmaker could have intentionally done that to get us caught up in the flow of what is happening. The acting is done by all children, which isn’t the greatest since they have trouble turning in great performances, but I do believe they do well enough at capturing what the novel did.

I am adding this film to my horror film research. It is not a horror film, but the idea of this is scary. First we have a plane crashing and the only survivors are boys. They are later elementary age, so none of them are adults. It is scary to see how society breaks down and how fast this can happen. This is something that is still relevant today. It would be scary to be hunted by your peers as well.

I would recommend this film if you’ve read the book, because I do believe the adaptation does well at capturing the spirit it was going for. The acting as I stated above isn’t the greatest, but not horrible. If you want to see the degeneration of society, shown at the level of children standard on a deserted island, I would say watch this film.

 

My Rating: 7 out of 10

05/24/2017 19:47

Film: Lone Survivor

Year: 2013

Director: Peter Berg

Writer: Peter Berg

Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Taylor Kitsch and Emile Hirsch

 

Review:

This film begins with showing the rigorous training that it takes to become a Navy SEAL. They have to answer questions after holding their breath underwater and challenges of strength and endurance. We also see that a lot try out and not many get through.

The film then shifts to a small village in Afghanistan. There is a man who is part of the Taliban; he is played by Yousuf Azami. His second in command is played by Ali Suliman. They seek someone who was thought to be helping the Americans. The village does nothing as he is beheaded on a log.

We then shift to the barracks of the Navy SEALs. The leader of this unit is played by Taylor Kitsch. We learn that he is getting married and that his wife wants him to buy her a horse for her wedding gift. They communicate via e-mail. Kitsch first goes to meet with his friend, Mark Wahlberg. Wahlberg was sleeping and all he can tell him is that the horse is going to be expensive. The rest of the crew is made up of Ben Foster and Emile Hirsch. Foster is married and he chats with his wife. Hirsch and Kitsch have a foot race.

Kitsch ends up winning and we meet a newbie in the barracks, he is played by Alexander Ludwig. He wants to go on the next mission, but since he is still green, they won’t let him until he’s proven himself.

We then meet their commanding officer, played by Eric Bana. They get debriefed on their mission to take out Azami. The crew going is going to be Wahlberg, Kitsch, Hirsch and Foster. They come up with the plan of what they will do and how they will do it. They debrief the rest so they know the code words and what each one means.

They are dropped at their point and begin their hike to the village. They arrive with no issues, other than their radio is having bad reception. They get settled and await the time for them to take out Azami. Bana goes back to the other base and leaves Jerry Ferrara to man the radio and to help keep the mission going.

They have a problem though when some goat herders from the village stumble upon them. They tie them up and have to decide what to do with them. Hirsch and Foster want to kill them while Wahlberg wants them to do the right thing and let them go. Kitsch ends up agreeing with Wahlberg and they let them go. The mission has been compromised and they have to begin their trek back to their base.

The problem they run into is that one of the boys is really angry about being tied up. He and the younger one run back to the village to inform their leader what has happened. The four figured this would happen and already are at the false peak of the mountain. They still cannot get reception and they barely have been able to get through with their satellite phone.

The Taliban soldiers catch up with them and a gunfight ensues. In this first round they are hit by the gunfire. Some take it in the backside, shots to the body and Hirsch actually loses two of his fingers. They fight their way out though and slide down the side of the mountain. The soldiers are relentless though and continue on. They actually slide down more of the mountain, yet they still are under attack.

Who will survive? How much can they take? Will they be able to get in touch with their base to get evacuated? Will any of them survive and if they do, what state will they be in when they are finally found?

I have to say that this film is great first and foremost for its realism. They are shot and they keep going. Part of this is where they are hit and the armor they are wearing. These men went through a lot and this ordeal is terrifying. The story is almost too crazy to be real, but that is what makes this film great. There are some great moments in the film as well. The acting is spectacular; the battle scenes are as well. There is even a heart felt moment at the end as well as during the credits. Director Peter Berg has made another fantastic film.

I don’t have a whole lot to say negative about this film. There were some moments where I wish there would have been subtitles so I would know what the Taliban and Afghani people were saying, but I think part of that was Wahlberg doesn’t understand them, so we do not either. There are points though were we are given subtitles when two individuals are speaking together. There was a small stretch of film that drug on a little for me, but to be honest, this is just me nitpicking. This film was very well done.

I am adding this to the horror film research for the fact that this would be one of the scariest situations to be in. When someone is playing a first person shooter or war game, this is something we all love to do, which is going solo against an army. These men really went through it and most of them lost their lives. It is fun to do in a video game, but this is really what they did. I normally do not include war films in this research, as war is something that is scary to begin with. I am going to include in, despite not being a horror film, because this is one man’s ordeal to survive against all of the odds, which is very horror film like.

I would highly recommend giving this film a viewing. It has a great story, amazing acting and the battle scenes are top notch as well. It is a scary thing to be in an unknown land, enemy territory and it is 4 against an army. It gets even worse when they are bogged down and start to lose their friends. I would definitely say this is a powerful film that needs to be viewed at least once. It is good to honor these men and what they did.

 

My Rating: 9 out of 10

05/23/2017 16:41

Film: Lizzie Borden Took an Ax

Year: 2014

Director: Nick Gomez

Writer: Stephan Kay

Starring: Christina Ricci, Clea DuVall and Gregg Henry

 

Review:

This film begins with Christina Ricci eating a pear. She is making eyes at a man across the way. She goes into the nearby house and enters a room, finding her father dead. His face has been beaten in by something. She screams and the screen goes black.

Ricci has an older sister played by Clea DuVall. Their father is played by Stephen McHattie. He is married to their stepmother, who is played by Sara Botsford. All four of them go to church. McHattie speaks with some churchgoers and we learn that he is a tough man. McHattie makes a comment that if God loved him, he would have grandchildren.

We really get a good look at this family and how they live a simple life. It turns out that McHattie has become quite wealthy from his business endeavors. He is very tight with his money and doesn’t like to spend it. Ricci wants to be the life of the party and likes to go to social gatherings. The family does have a maid played by Hannah Anderson.

Ricci steals money from her stepmother’s purse and goes to a local store. She picks out a new dress for a party that is coming up. She tries to buy it on credit, but the woman states to her that Botsford has cut that off. She has to pay now or cannot take it. She does produce the money she stole. She also puts a hand mirror into her bag without paying for it.

DuVall comes to her room later telling her that father is upset about the mirror being stolen. He comes into the room and yells at her, telling her that she is not going to the party she wants to. Ricci tries to convince him to let her go, but he will not be swayed. There is an awkward moment where she tries to almost seduce him.

Ricci does sneak out that night and goes to the party. Her family does not learn about this. Soon after we see what we did earlier in the film. DuVall goes to visit a friend and Ricci discovers her father is dead and she screams. Anderson comes in and has a similar reaction.

A police officer played by Shawn Doyle heads the investigation. During this, it is also discovered that Botsford is dead upstairs. Doyle asks Ricci about her dress and a stain that is at the bottom of it. Ricci tells him that it is an old stain from a stew. He believes her.

The rest of the town doesn’t believe her though. Gregg Henry plays the district attorney and he is out to prove she did this. Her lawyer is played by Billy Campbell. He was on retainer with her father and that means he is Ricci’s lawyer as well. He takes on the case to prove her innocence.

DuVall stands her sister, but there are things she does that make her question that. There is a point where Henry tells Ricci he wants her to bring the dress to him that she wore that day. Ricci burns it that night. Henry then presses charges and there will be a trial.

There really is no hard evidence against Ricci, just a lot of circumstantial things that Henry needs to convince the jury of. Ricci has done some questionable things that make her look guilty, but can Henry prove it or will Campbell be able to put enough doubt in the jury?

I have to say that the best part of this film is the historical accuracy. I knew the basic story of the film, but didn’t know the specifics. I thought some of things that happened were farfetched in this film, but did some research to learn that the film is accurate to the facts. I think Ricci does a solid performance. DuVall and McHattie are solid as well. I think Henry does a great job as the DA who wants to win this case. I’m not sure how intense they were in the past about winning, but I think he plays a great adversary for Ricci, but technically he is the good guy.

My biggest problem with this film is that I think Ricci is completely miscast as Lizzie Borden. I have seen pictures of Lizzie and she is not very attractive. I don’t find Ricci to be gorgeous, but I do think she is pretty. The other big problem I had with this film is that is a Lifetime movie. As stated above, it does well at following the facts, but like most films made by them, it falls a little flat on actual entertainment value.

This film has been added to the horror film research, because this is a very real murder that took place. The ferocity of the crimes and the rage that the person who committed them had was a big reason it was included. This is film isn’t scary, but the subject matter is.

I wouldn’t recommend seeing this one, unless you are interested in the Borden murders. I would recommend this as well if you like Lifetime films. If not, then definitely avoid this one as it is somewhat boring. As stated above, Ricci does well as the title character, but personally feel she is miscast. There is some good acting, there is a good historical story, and it just is more about the facts than it is about making it enjoyable.

 

My Rating: 5 out of 10

05/22/2017 17:03

Film: Lies in Plain Sight

Year: 2010

Director: Patricia Cardoso

Writer: Teena Booth and Noa Greenberg

Starring: Martha Higareda, Chad Michael Murray and Yul Vazquez

 

Review:

This film begins at an airport. A blind woman, played by Martha Higareda, has arrived home on the west coast from Boston where she goes to school. Early in the film we learn that despite being blind, she is very independent, to the point where she pays off the worker at the airport to let her walk alone.

Her father meets her inside the airport. We get another point where we notice a bit of agitation that he came in to meet her instead of meeting her outside. She has come home because her cousin and best friend has committed suicide. At this point in the film, Higareda seems to be in shock and is searching for why it happened.

During the car ride, we see that Higareda and her father have a strained relationship. Arriving at the house of her aunt and uncle, we learn that Higareda grew up in the house and was very close to the woman who committed suicide.

Once she arrives at the house, she begins to notice that things do not make sense to her. She learns the truth behind some of her memories and begins to investigate into her cousin’s death. No note was left and Higareda finds this to be very odd. With the help of her cousin’s boyfriend, played by Chad Michael Murray, she learns that her father has a dark secret that no one knows about and learns the truth behind her cousin’s death.

This film has a great story and I like the concept they used for it. I must point out that it was remade from an Israeli film, but this one has the bond between two girls, which I feel is stronger. With that being said Higareda does a marvelous job at playing the blind main character. The realism of her acting makes it very believable that she is really blind. With the difficulties of this disability, it also makes the investigating that much better because of the obstacles she must overcome in finding the truth.

The only downfall I find with this film was that it was a lifetime TV movie, so they are hampered with what they could. With this one though, they really did push the limits and I was impressed by that.

Now this isn’t a horror film per say, but I am adding this to the horror film research I am doing due to the secrets that the father was keeping. It is horrific that the young woman had to grow up with this. It makes it even worse that he threatens to do this to her younger sister. The father is also crazy in how far he will go to keep his secret.

I would recommend this film. It is a tale that shows we all keep secrets and is a cautionary tale to not keep them to ourselves. It is also sad in that it constantly violating the trust between characters as well as going through something no one should ever have to do. The way characters react is also highly believable. Now the film itself isn’t the best, as you will get with most Lifetime movies. I found this film to be entertaining despite what happens to this young woman.

 

My Rating: 6 out of 10

05/21/2017 11:30

Film: Let Me In

Year: 2010

Director: Matt Reeves

Writer: Matt Reeves and John Ajvide Lindqvist

Starring: Kodi Smit-McPhee, Chloë Grace Moretz and Richard Jenkins

 

Review:

This film begins with an ambulance being given a police escort to the hospital. The man in it we learn has horrible burns from acid. He is intensive care and a policeman is there, he is played by Elias Koteas. He gets a phone call and leaves the man. While he is on the phone, the man falls out of the window to his death.

We go back two weeks prior and we meet a young boy, played by Kodi Smit-McPhee. He is bullied and weird. He plays in his room where he wears a mask and wields a knife, using the same phrase he is bullied with. His mother and father are going through a divorce and he lives with her. We see that he also has a telescope that he uses to spy on his neighbors. While he does this, he catches a glimpse of a father, played by Richard Jenkins, and his daughter, played by Chloë Grace Moretz, moving in. They end up being his neighbor.

Smit-McPhee immediately takes a liking to Moretz, but she tells them they can’t be friends. She has a secret that we learn, which is she is a vampire. Jenkins goes out and gets blood for her. Slowly though Smit-McPhee and Moretz become friends, against the wishes of Jenkins. He is getting sloppy on bringing her blood and she begins to go out hunting herself.

We see who the man in the ambulance is, as it is Jenkins after he gets into a car crash. With Moretz all alone now, what will she do? They become closer and Smit-McPhee learns what she is, but he being an outcast too is not bothered by it. Will he be able to learn from her to stand up to the bullies that torment him?

This film is okay, but it is really weird. I like Moretz as an actress, even more so that she has been doing it from a young age which is impressive. The thing about this film is that they are both awkward and outcasts in different ways. Smit-McPhee has no friends and is singled out by the bullies. Moretz is a monster that can’t get close to anyone, being a monster and immortal creature. It is a great story, but the awkwardness of it can almost be unbearable. That is something that actually adds to the film, since growing up can be very hard and similar to this for many people.

The rest of the cast is good and seeing Moretz attack is different for a vampire film. They use some of the mythology behind vampires and some are kept out, but that isn’t a big issue.

If you like vampire films, I would give this one a viewing. It is different and that is definitely something I liked about it. The acting is good, as well as the story; there was just something about it that didn’t make me love it. I really don’t know what it is, but I would still say it is worth a viewing, if you are into this type of film. Also, this is actually a remake and I have heard that one is much better. I have not gotten around to seeing it yet, but I wanted you to keep that in mind while reading this.

 

My Rating: 6 out of 10

05/18/2017 16:38

Film: Last Stop on the Night Train (L’ultimo treno della notte)

Year: 1975

Director: Aldo Lado

Writer: Renato Izzo and Aldo Lado

Starring: Flavio Bucci, Macha Méril and Gianfranco De Grassi

 

Review:

This film begins in a city’s outdoor market. We meet two thugs who are mugging people are played by Flavio Bucci and Gianfranco De Grassi. They move about the world around them, causing mischief and really not contributing anything to society.

We also have two college students. Through them we realize that this film begins in Germany. One of them is a German girl played by Irene Miracle and the other is an Italian girl played by Marina Berti. They are taking a train to Italy to spend Christmas with Berti’s family.

We then get to meet her family. Her father is a professor at a hospital and he is also a doctor. We get to see him performing surgery and teaching some students what to do; he is played by Enrico Maria Salerno. His wife is a homemaker now that her daughter is away at school; she is played by Laura D’Angelo. She speaks with the woman her daughter is staying with and learns that her daughter will be taking the train that night. The woman D’Angelo speaks with tells her about the tie she bought for her Salerno and the scarf she bought for herself as well. They get on their train.

Bucci and Grassi rob a woman with some money and rip her fur coat. The police chase after them and they sneak on the train before it leaves.

While on the train we meet another person. There is a woman who is sitting in a car with some intellectual types, the woman played by Macha Méril. They speak about different topics. There is a man sitting next to this woman that helps her when she drops her purse. Her things fall out and among it is a pornographic picture we get a quick view of. We realize there is something up about her.

Miracle and Berti had stolen some cigarettes before getting on the train and they start to smoke them. They are being loud and lewd with their talk, drawing some looks from the other passengers. They end up meeting the hoodlums who are being rude as well. They end up hanging out for a little bit, even with Miracle and Berti helping them dodge the ticket checkers.

Their opinion changes of Bucci and Grassi when Bucci ends up meeting Méril. He follows her into the bathroom and she at first wants him out. He feels up her and puts his hand up her dress. They end up having sex in the bathroom. This is what we learn is up with her, she is a nymphomaniac.

The train stops and is checked. Everyone on board needs to stay on, show their passports, have their tickets checked as well as their luggage. Miracle and Berti get off by convincing one of the guards that they need to call Berti’s parents to let them know about the delay. When they get off and do this, they learn there is a one-way train from this station. They decide to get on it.

They don’t realize that Bucci, Grassi and Méril also get off the train. They get on this same one. Berti and Miracle are having a small meal when they are barged in upon by the deviant group. This is where the nightmare starts.

There is another passenger who ends up accidently breaking the handle to get into this train car; this passenger is played by Franco Fabrizi. He tries to fix it, but fails. Inside the cabin, sexual perversion happens. There are inappropriate questions asked and asking the women to strip. Bucci and Méril have sex again. Grassi uses drugs and wants to have sex with Miracle, but she kicks him in the groin and he beats her up. Méril notices Fabrizi watching and he gets drug into the cabin. He is told to have sex with Miracle. He flees when the train stops hiding his face as he escapes.

This all comes to a head when Grassi and Méril target Berti. She is a virgin and Grassi cannot get inside of her. He decides to use his knife to help her out, which we learn that something similar was done to Méril. She encourages him on. They end up killing Berti. When this happens, Miracle escapes. She is chased into the bathroom and she jumps out of the window. The deviants decide to clean up by throwing Berti, out of the window, along with all of their stuff. What makes these scenes even more disturbing is their use of editing to match this up with Salerno and D’Angelo having a dinner party while these attacks are happening next to it. The talk at dinner involves youth being violent, which is fitting.

Salerno and D’Angelo go to pick up the girls at the train station. When they don’t get off, they ask the man at the station if there was a delay. He tells them he will look into. The couple does meet the deviant group though. Will they realize what this trio has done or will they get away? There was a message given to a friend of Berti, will this ever get back to her parents? Grassi puts on the tie that was supposed to go to Salerno, will that be their downfall? Or will it be the scarf that Méril is now wearing?

This film is an Italian version of The Virgin Spring or the Last House on the Left. While this version is enjoyable, I found it a little bit boring. I think once it gets to the action, it is solid. I do like that in this version, it does have the same crew as the Last House on the Left has, but in a different way. We have the two thugs, but the woman they meet is not part of their group, yet she is still sexually deviant. She joins them and I thought that was an interesting take. I think the scenes of action are solid as well. I will point out they are disturbing though, not as graphic as the American version. It shows less, but it still bothered me. I also thought there was some really good editing in this one.

What I didn’t like was there was a lot of the movie where we don’t get much going on. I think there is a lot of down time that tries to build more of the story and I don’t think it does what it is really trying to do. I found this to be the most boring version of this story that I have seen. It doesn’t ruin the film completely, but it doesn’t stir up the feelings of rage as well as the other versions. I found it a little bit unrealistic how Salerno found out what this trio did to their daughter. I didn’t like what they did with Méril at the end though.

I thought this is a solid version of the parent’s getting revenge for what happened to their child films. It is not as exciting as some of the other versions, but it is still disturbing. Which in a film like this, you really need. The acting is okay, but nothing that really blew me away. The story is okay as well; it just had too many scenes that I found to be unnecessary and slowed it down. With that said, still is a solid version of The Virgin Spring. I would give it a viewing if you liked it or if you liked the American version, The Last House on the Left. Not better than them, but still worth your viewing if you liked them.

 

My Rating: 6 out of 10

05/17/2017 16:38

Film: The Last House on the Left

Year: 2009

Director: Dennis Iliadis

Writer: Adam Alleca and Carl Ellsworth

Starring: Garret Dillahunt, Monica Potter and Tony Goldwyn

 

Review:

This film begins with a man in custody; he is played by Garret Dillahunt. He is being driven by Michael Bowen and Josh Coxx. Bowen is telling a long, drawn-out, dirty joke while Coxx listens. Dillahunt asks if they can stop so he can urinate. They deny and ignore his request. They have to stop for a train and while they do, they are hit by a speeding truck. From the truck emerge Dillahunt’s brother, played by Aaron Paul, and his girlfriend, Riki Lindhome. They free Dillahunt and then kill the cops.

We then meet the other family of this film. There is the daughter, played by Sara Paxton. She is a great swimmer and she is constantly training to get better. Her mother is played by Monica Potter. She is a little bit overbearing, but she is also very loving. We then meet the father and husband, played by Tony Goldwyn. He is a doctor who is completely wrapped up in his work. They are finalizing things for their summer trip out to their lake house.

Once they arrive, Paxton asks if she can stay out in the guest house. We learn that she had a brother who died, which explains why Potter is so overbearing. We get a scene where Paxton swims out to a buoy and then showers. After dressing, she asks her parents if she can see her friend who lives up this way. Potter doesn’t want her to, wanting to spend quality time together. Paxton suggests that they could have a romantic dinner without her there. Goldwyn tosses her the keys and allows her to go. She is required to call her mother though.

Paxton then meets up with her friend, played by Martha MacIsaac. She is working the cash register at a local store. We learn through their talk that Paxton used to be a little bit wilder like MacIsaac, but now that she is getting better at swimming, has toned it down. We see a young man in the store buying some things; he is played by Spencer Treat Clark. He tries to buy cigarettes, but when MacIsaac denies him, he offers to sell her marijuana in exchange. MacIsaac agrees.

The plan is for her to go in and buy the drugs, and then returned to Paxton. When this doesn’t happen, Paxton goes in to see what’s going on. She finds them smoking in the room. Paxton is convinced to join. They begin to have fun until Clark’s family comes home. Immediately the two young ladies are nervous. Paxton offers to give them the keys to her vehicle so they can go free, instead they are kidnapped. MacIsaac also tries to escape from the bathroom, but is attacked and knocked out.

The group goes on a journey where Paxton helps in hopes that they will let her go. When they drive past the driveway to her house she tries to escape. This ends up getting them into an accident, but they do not get away. There is another point where MacIsaac breaks free, but she is also caught and brought back. Dillahunt wants Clark to become a man and to rape Paxton, MacIsaac calls Dillahunt out for what he is doing. She ends up getting stabbed for what she said. Paxton is then raped by Dillahunt while everyone is watching.

Afterward, she has a hold of a rock that she hits Dillahunt in the head with. She makes her final run from the group and makes it to the lake. She tries to swim away, but right before she is out of sight, Dillahunt shoots her in the right shoulder. She can no longer swim and moves slowly. The storm that we have heard on the radio then finally hits.

Dillahunt and his crew are forced to seek refuge with Potter and Goldwyn. They give them aid. They make up a story about why they are there and everyone plays their part, expect for Clark. He feels very guilty about what has happened. He feels even worse when he learns that they are at Paxton’s house. The power goes out and they cannot get in touch with anyone in town, so it is decided that the group should stay in the guest house, since Paxton is staying in town that night.

After showing them where they can stay, Potter and Goldwyn are getting ready to settle down themselves when they hearing a banging noise. They go out on to the porch to find Paxton, dying. They bring in her and help her. While this is happening, Clark had taken Paxton’s necklace and wrapped it around the base of his cup. Potter finds it and they know who did this to their daughter.

What will Goldwyn and Potter do? Will they be able to save their daughter or will she die? Will they get their revenge or will they decide to just get away? What will Clark do? Will he protect his family or do what’s right? Can Goldwyn and Potter take out these harden criminals?

I have to say that this is one of the better remakes that you will find. I also feel that this one is a better film than the original The Last House on the Left. Don’t get me wrong, I like the original. I think this one is better, because they took out the slapstick comedy of the sheriff and deputy, plus this one focuses a lot more on the revenge sequence and that I really liked. I feel like the acting in this one is much better. I think the two young women from the original showed more terror, but Dillahunt and Goldwyn are great. I think both add more depth than the actors in the other version. This one shows much more gore and violence than the original, so the action is a lot better. I also feel that the soundtrack for this one adds to the feel of much better as well.

This is quite horrible of me to say, but I feel that ‘bad guys’ with the young women scene in the original is much more powerful, even though this one shows more of the rape and it goes on much longer as well. I also was not a big fan of Potter. I felt she played the role a little bit bland. I also do not think Lindhome was as good as the woman from the original either. She wasn’t horrible though by any means. I also do not know if the ending would work or not, the microwave scene is still great though.

I would recommend giving this one a viewing if you can handle the subject matter. Much like with the original version, this one is interesting to put yourself in their situation. What would you do if you were in this position and this happened to someone you loved? I personally really like the original, but I find this one to be a better film. I think some of the acting is better in this one, while some of it falls below though as well. I think this one gives us more in the revenge part and not having the comedy aspect makes this one better as well. A solid story, a great concept and a soundtrack that added something to the feel as well help give this version a higher rating for me. I would definitely say worth a viewing if you like revenge or a modern update of an exploitation film.

 

My Rating: 8 out of 10

05/16/2017 16:52

Film: The Last House on the Left

Year: 1972

Director: Wes Craven

Writer: Wes Craven

Starring: Sandra Peabody, Lucy Grantham and David Hess

 

Review:

This film begins with a mailman pulling up to a mailbox. We get that this mailbox is out in the middle of nowhere, with woods all around. He is played by Ray Edwards and he is opens his passenger door. When he does, a small dog jumps in that belongs the owners of this property. We see the last name of the Collingwood. Above the last name is a heart with an arrow through it and the name Mari. Edwards says something about Mari being good looking.

We then see the young woman Mari who is played by Sandra Peabody. She is in the shower and we get a glimpse of her through frosted glass. Her mother yells something to her and she gets out of the shower. She goes into the living room with her parents, who are played by Richard Towers and Cynthia Carr. Peabody has just turned 18 and she is going into New York to see a rock concert for a violent band. Her parents scold her for what she is wearing and Peabody wants to show she is a woman and is defiant. She is also a little bit naïve. Before she leaves, her parents give her a gift, which is a peace sign necklace.

Her friend that is going with her is played by Lucy Grantham. She has lived a rougher life and is wilder. She makes an off color joke to Towers. Peabody and Grantham then hang out in the woods before going into the city. Grantham pulls out a bottle of alcohol and they talk about different things. As the young women drive into the city, they hear a report about two dangerous criminals escaping from prison.

As we hear more about this report, we then shift to the leader of this group. He is played by David Hess. With him is his illegitimate son Marc Sheffler. The report states that Hess has gotten Sheffler addicted to heroin to control him. They go back to their seedy hideout. In the room is violent man who attacks women, played by Fred J. Lincoln. In the bathtub is a wild woman played by Jeramie Rain.

Hess and Lincoln try to get Rain to fool around with them while Sheffler tells them to listen to what she is saying. Rain tells them that they will not get any action until they get a couple of more girls. She is quite defiant and is just as ruthless as they are. Sheffler is kicked out of the room.

Peabody and Grantham have made it into the city and they are keeping busy until the concert starts. Both of them want some marijuana and they see Sheffler standing outside of the building. Grantham asks if he is selling or if he knows where she can score some. He tells her no, but then remembers what was said in the room. He tells them that he has some good Colombian marijuana in his room that he will sell at $20 an ounce. They agree and follow him up.

Upon entering, they realize this was a bad idea. Hess and Lincoln lead a party where they are hitting them, hurting them mentally and Hess rapes Grantham in front of Peabody. This is even more powerful because Peabody’s birthday is the following day and this film syncs this with her parents preparing for her party.

The next morning, Hess and Lincoln load up the two young ladies into the trunk of the car and make a run to get out of the city. Towers and Carr are worried that she is not home yet. They called to see when the concert ended. They also get the sheriff, played by Marshall Anker, and the deputy, Martin Kove, in the area they live involved. They haven’t heard anything though.

The gang drives into the country with a weird scene of Hess and Rain having sex while Sheffler drives. The whole time though, Lincoln is asking them weird questions. Their car breaks down right in front of Peabody’s house. She realizes this, but cannot do anything as they are forced into the woods. When Anker and Kove leave, they see the broke down car, but do not pay it much attention.

From here, we get more of Hess leading the two young ladies to do more depraved things. This includes having Grantham urinate her pants, they want her to beat-up Peabody, but then it turns to having them get naked and make love to each other when Sheffler begs his group to stop hurting them. He doesn’t like the violence as it really bothers him, plus he doesn’t want anyone to die.

Anker and Kove make it back to the station, where they hear a report that matched the vehicle outside of the Collingwood’s house to Hess and his group. They try to make it back, but they run out of gas. Will they be able to make it back to the families’ house in time? Will Peabody and Grantham make it out of this ordeal alive? Will Hess and his gang get away with this? In the end, they seek refuge with Peabody’s parents. They notice different signs through the night, but it is when Carr notices Sheffler wearing her daughter’s necklace and they find her pants in one of their bags that they know for sure what has happened. What will they do for revenge?

First off, I have to say that for an early Wes Craven film, you can see what he would become as a horror film director. This one truly is very good for what little is done. The scenes are violent, but he does a great job at cutting away and allowing the audience to fill it what happens. The acting from the stars in this one is superb. The young ladies seemed terrified; the bad guys are callused and horrible people. I want to point out Sheffler especially. He doesn’t want to be a part of this, but as a junkie he has a bleak outlook of life that Hess uses to control him. I think this is a solid adaptation of The Virgin Spring to modern times as well. I can’t give Craven too much on the writing, since it is a technically a remake, but I think he adapted it very well. I also thought the mirroring of the gang humiliating and hurting the young women was done with Towers and Carr preparing for a partying. You get the parallels, but with one being joyous and the other depraved. It can be said that for sick individuals, it causes them to enjoy it though as well.

There are a couple issues I have with this film though. I really disliked how Craven made the sheriff and deputy bumbling buffoons. I guess by doing this, it makes the revenge sequence needed more. It almost feels like he is saying that Towers and Carr have to take matters into their hands, because if not Anker and Kove will drop the ball. I also did have some issues with the revenge sequence as well. First off, I want to say that I do like that it happens, because if you are in that position, you would want to harm those that have harmed those you love, probably in similar ways as well. My issue with it though was that it felt low-budget and the sequence is just not acted out well. Those are really my only two issues.

I would recommend seeing this one if you can handle the subject matter. This film is great in the revenge film genre. This film makes you think of what you would do if you were in this situation. It has a good story, some solid acting and scenes that will make you cringe. Now if you are used to violent films, this one might be as bad as Craven does a great job at editing for the viewer to fill in what is happening. He does some other things with editing that bring up issues to think about as well. It can be a little cheesy at times, but still a solid 70s exploitation film. If you liked the remake or The Virgin Spring, I would give this one a viewing. If you like Craven, I would also say view this as it is one of his earlier films. As long as you can take the subject and what happens on screen, then it is worth watching.

 

My Rating: 7 out of 10

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