Film: Burn, Witch, Burn
Director: Sidney Hayers
Writer: Charles Beaumont and Richard Matheson
Starring: Peter Wyngarde, Janet Blair and Margaret Johnston
This film begins at first with a narrator telling us about there being witchcraft around us and that he does an incantation to ensure that the spells that are used in this film do not affect us, the viewer.
We then shift to a classroom. The professor is played by Peter Wyngarde. He is teaching sociology and explaining that witchcraft, psychics and things to this effect are not real, but we believe them to be real and it almost creates a placebo effect. The bell goes off and he asks a student, played by Judith Scott, to collect everyone’s tests. Her boyfriend is also in the class and he blows off writing a paper for the test they just took. Wyngarde threatens to have him removed from the class and he scoffs it off.
Outside, Wyngarde walks with a co-worker, played by Colin Gordon. He is asking if they’re going to play bridge tonight now that Wyngarde’s wife is returning from their cottage by the water. He confirms this plan.
There ends up being quite a few couples at this get together. Wyngarde and his wife, played by Janet Blair, are the hosts. There is Gordon with his wife, played by Margaret Johnston. There also is Anthony Nicholls, his wife played by Kathleen Byron, and Reginald Beckwith with his wife, who is played by Jessica Dunning. There is talks that Wyngarde will become the new head of the sociology chair and there are jokes that he is doing it with hypnosis or witchcraft. This makes Blair perk up.
At the end of the night, Blair is looking for something pretty intently. Wyngarde goes up to go to bed and his drawer to his pajamas won’t open. He takes out the drawer above it to find Blair has been keeping a dried up spider. She claims it is just a souvenir. The next day though, he discovers a bunch of different things around the house used in witchcraft. She reveals that she is a witch and has been protecting him and helping to have good things happen to him. He forces her to destroy all of it. She warns him that she can’t be held responsible what happens to him now.
The next day he is accused of attacking a student and Blair starts to act funny. Was what Blair was doing really working? Was she really a witch? Is there another witch causing bad things to happen or is this all in their imaginations?
I discovered this film from the list of horror films I want to see for my research. I came in not knowing a lot about it and I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised. This film is well written and thought out. I love that Wyngarde is teaching a class on why it takes belief for witchcraft to work, but then he starts to notice patterns and he starts to believe himself, when he was the biggest critic of it. The other thing I really loved from the writing is that is film is very subjective. It makes you wonder if these rituals are actually doing something or is it like Wyngarde says in the beginning and nothing more than the placebo affect. I also love that during the climax, some crazy things happen and it makes you wonder if they are really happening or not. I will say that I wasn’t a huge fan of how it ended; it was a tad too convenient and was unnecessary.
I was pretty impressed by the acting for this film. Wyngarde was great as the skeptical professor that starts to question himself. He starts to slip into a bit of madness and it is very good. I thought Blair did well. She becomes almost hysterical when he is destroying her items. She also totters on thinking that if she kills herself, that will protect Wyngarde. It helps to raise the stakes of the film and build the tension. Johnston was also solid in her role and definitely looks the part. The rest of the cast didn’t stand out, but they need to just round out and play their roles.
This film was interesting to me with the practical effect choice they used. I love that this came from the 1960s, so they didn’t have the technology. What happens with an eagle doesn’t look the greatest, but I thought it looked real enough for me to believe it and not be bothered. The editing of the film didn’t stand out to me. The soundtrack didn’t really either, outside of the recording of Wyngarde that has been doctored with some kind of spell attached to it. I did like that myself.
Now with that said, I would recommend seeing this film. This is a well-written, slow burn witch film. What I really liked about it is that you don’t know if what is happening is real or if these people just think that is real. I enjoy things being left up to the interpretation of what you see. I thought the acting from the stars was very good and the rest of the cast rounded it out well. There wasn’t a lot of need for practical effects, but the ones we got I felt seemed much better than things you see with CGI today. The editing didn’t really stand out, but doesn’t hurt it. The same goes with the soundtrack, outside of the undertone on a recording that is used. I will warn you that this film is from 1962 and is in black-and-white. If that is an issue, then I would avoid this film. If you can get past that, I would recommend seeing this solid film.
My Rating: 7 out of 10
Film: Before I Wake
Director: Mike Flanagan
Writer: Mike Flanagan and Jeff Howard
Starring: Kate Bosworth, Thomas Jane and Jacob Tremblay
This film begins with a man entering a boy’s room while he sleeps. The man is played by Dash Mihok and the boy by Jacob Tremblay. Mihok has a gun in his hand and he hears something that startles him. He had closed the door when he entered and it is now open.
We then shift to a couple that has been approved to become foster parents. They are played by Kate Bosworth and Thomas Jane. The social worker they meet with is played by Annabeth Gish. She informs them that she has just the child for them, that he has a rough go with former foster parents, having been abandoned or brought back multiple times.
As they prepare for him to arrive, Jane puts up rails in the bathtub and we learn that this family had a son, but he died in a tragic accident. Tremblay shows up to the house and he is very polite. It takes a little bit of time to get acclimated, but everyone seems happy about this arrangement.
Tremblay has a gift though. When he dreams, it manifests in the real world. He loves butterflies and they appear to Jane and Bosworth as they are watching television. They don’t notice it though, but there is something else that comes with them. Something that Tremblay claims is always with him, the Canker Man.
The boy also starts to dream of Bosworth and Jane’s deceased son, who is played by Antonio Evan Romero. Bosworth decides to use Tremblay, by telling stories of Romero and showing home videos, in order to relive these experiences with him. The problem though is that Tremblay doesn’t want to sleep. He is scared of the Canker Man and what he can do.
It is extremely unhealthy to stay awake for days on end and Tremblay gets to the point where he starts to dream even when he is awake. This Canker Man comes and makes people disappear. Can Bosworth learn the truth behind this creature before it is too late? Can the boy be stopped before more people disappear and he is taken away from this house?
Now I heard about this film from horror film podcasts that I listen to. When I heard that it was directed and written by Mike Flanagan, I was very interested, because everything that I have seen by him I have enjoyed. This is an interesting film to me. Now I read that Flanagan didn’t really want this film to be portrayed as a horror film and I agree with him slightly there. The creature in this film is pretty creepy looking. I loved the twist and the reveal of what the Canker Man really is. It made complete sense and is something that is very believable. I also love that the manifestations in this film are incorrect, because they are done by a child. They are highly impressionable and the more that he learns and sees, he incorporates into it. The older he gets, the better they become as well from what we learn. The progression of the story was great to me as well and led up to a solid ending. It is a good combination of happy, pretty heavy on the emotions and a tinge of sadness.
I felt that the acting was pretty solid overall as well. Bosworth is an interesting character. Part of me felt for her as she is dealing with the grief of her dead child, but I also disliked her in that she was using this boy for his talent to help her cope. Tremblay is eager to please his new foster parents and I felt that a lot of it was just that. I like her character arch though from this point. Jane wasn’t bad in support and he actually does try to make her see the error of her ways. I also thought that Tremblay was pretty solid for being a child actor. I have problems at times with them and I don’t like to judge them too hard, because sometimes I feel that they are asked to do something that is beyond them. The rest of the cast rounds this film out nicely to me.
Normally I have issues with some films when they show the monster too much in it. This film I wasn’t too bothered by it. At first we get glimpses of it, which freak me out. As the film moves along, we see more and more of it. There are times that it is computer generated, but oddly I wasn’t bothered because it still seemed to look real for me. Outside of that, they seemed to go practical effects with it and I think that’s a great decision. The butterflies and flying creatures in the manifestations are also computer generated, but they actually looked good as well. I felt that the editing of this film was good. There are some flashbacks as well as cutting away from scenes at the right time. It was well done for me. The soundtrack didn’t really stick out, but it also didn’t make me pause either, which works perfectly fine.
Now with that said, I really enjoyed this film. I am becoming a big fan of Flanagan and have enjoyed everything that I’ve seen from him thus far. I liked the idea of this story and the concept of it as well. I thought that acting was good throughout. The creature looked good whether it was done with computers or practical effects. The editing of the film was well done and the soundtrack, even though it didn’t stand out, didn’t hurt the film to me. I wouldn’t come in expecting to be terrified. There were some parts that got my heart going and few scary parts, but this film is really about Tremblay and what is causing his nightmares that are manifesting to hurt those around him. I would recommend giving this film a viewing, whether you like horror films or not.
My Rating: 8 out of 10
Film: It Comes at Night
Director: Trey Edward Shults
Writer: Trey Edward Shults
Starring: Joel Edgerton, Christopher Abbott and Carmen Ejogo
This film begins with an old man, played by David Pendleton, in a room with two others. They are wearing gloves and gasmasks. Pendleton is covered in sores and not doing too well. He is taken in a wheelbarrow out into the woods where he is killed by one of the men. A pillow and a gun are used to silence it. Pendleton is then pushed into a shallow grave, set on fire and then buried.
Back at the house, we see that this is a family. Pendleton was the father of Carmen Ejogo. She is married to Joel Edgerton, the man who shot her father. Their son is played by Kelvin Harrison Jr. There seems to be some sort of disease that is going around so they are careful not to get it.
Harrison is plagued by nightmares that we see throughout the film. They are of Pendleton and others with the infection. They open their mouth and blood pours out of it. He has trouble sleeping because of these dreams.
One night someone starts to pound on their inner door. Edgerton and Harrison check it out. The person kicks the door in and he is played by Christopher Abbott. He is then knocked out by Edgerton. The man is tied up and the next day he is tied to a tree. His mouth is taped shut and Edgerton checks his hands for infection. The second day he goes out and talks him, demanding the truth. It is revealed that he is searching for water for his wife and child. They are staying at his brother’s house and have food to trade. Edgerton believes him and decides to go with him to get his family to trade, possible to allow them to stay with them as well.
On the way there they are attacked by someone. One of their tire is shot out and then the window. The two men fight back and kill the two men that are attacking them. They have to change the tire, but then they get Abbott’s family. His wife is played by Riley Keough and their son by Griffin Robert Faulkner. They settle into a life with some kind of normalcy, but Harrison still can’t sleep and there is a night where the back door is open. Who opened it? Is this another family free of infection as they say? Or are they sick with whatever is killing everyone?
Now I want to lead off with this review about the film to say that I think a lot of people might dislike it due to what the trailer portrayed it to be. This is not a creature horror film, which is what I thought it might be coming in. This film really plays up the paranoia that human nature causes when things scare us. I think this film did a great job at that. We can see parallels between Edgerton and his family being afraid of getting sick and fearful of anyone who is an outsider carrying this disease. This is not unlike people being afraid of those of Muslim faith or being from the Middle East and assuming they are terrorist, just because we do not know them. This feeling causes the crazy ending of the film which I love. This film does not pull any punches in that respect for sure. The film really has a basic story that plays out, which I didn’t mind as this is character driven. This one is also pretty ambiguous which many people might not like as well.
The acting is something that I really need to touch on. Edgerton is great. He has the toughest position. He is the father of this family and everything falls on him to keep them safe. He ends up liking the other family he finds, but he is distrustful of them always, because again, it is all about his family and keeping them safe. I thought Ejogo was good as his support and she doesn’t question his decisions. They are a unit on the same page. Abbott is not unlike Edgerton, so I really liked his role in the film as well. What is interesting to me was the relationship that develops between Keough and Harrison. There is an odd scene where they talk late at night and I was wondering if an affair would occur between them. There was definitely something between them. I felt the acting was a bright spot and drove the film.
The editing of the film I thought was good. For the most part, it doesn’t stand out, except for Harrison and his dreams. They are cut at first where we know that he is dreaming, but as the film goes on, it takes on a surreal feel where we don’t know what he is seeing is real or if it is fake. The soundtrack isn’t a lot of music, but the quiet of the woods can be a creepy thing. I noticed that there is some bird and insect sounds, but not a lot of them. It is almost like a lot of the animals have died off. It added a touch to the creepiness of the film for me.
Now with that said, this film is not for everyone. As I stated in the beginning of my review of the film, this one is hurt by the trailer. It played it up to be almost like there was creatures in the woods that they are hiding from at night, or at least that is what I thought they were going for, but that’s not this film at all. The story was good to me about a man and his family trying to survive this outbreak and the paranoia that comes with not knowing if others around you are infected or not. The acting of this film really drives it and I thought everyone in the film did a great job. The editing of the dream sequences were good to keep you guessing and the soundtrack helped to make the film have that creepy feel. The ending is ambiguous which many might not like. I personally loved how it played out, I didn’t see it happening as it did and for that, I enjoyed it. If this sounds interesting, I would ask you to give it a shot. I thought it was an above average film personally.
My Rating: 7 out of 10
Film: The Lords of Salem
Director: Rob Zombie
Writer: Rob Zombie
Starring: Sheri Moon Zombie, Meg Foster and Bruce Davison
This film begins in the 1600s; a reverend is writing in his diary about a coven of witches, he is played by Andrew Pine. We also see the coven he is referring to as they are performing a ceremony. They are led by Meg Foster.
We jump to present day and wake up in the apartment of Sheri Moon Zombie. She goes about her morning routine with her dog. She goes out into the hallway to get her newspaper and sees someone in the previously vacate apartment 5. She tries to say hello to her, but they go inside and slam the door.
Zombie goes to leave for work and sees her landlord, who is played by Judy Geeson. They talk about the apartment and Zombie learns that it is still does not have tenant. This confuses her.
She goes into work where she is part of a trio that is the best radio hosts in Salem. She works alongside Jeff Daniel Phillips, who has a crush on her, and Ken Foree. They do a show where they listen to heavy metal music, interview people and use funny sound effects to go along with what they say.
At the end of the shift, Zombie finds a package has been delivered to her at the station. It is a wooden case with a record from a group called ‘The Lords’. Phillips and Zombie go back to her place to have dinner and hang out. They decide near the end of the night to listen to the record and at first it will not catch. When it does, the music has a weird effect on Zombie.
Her life begins to fall apart after listening to it. There are apparitions that are following her around. We learn that she is a recovering addict, so her life is hanging on the edge in general. The next day they interview Bruce Davison, who has just written a book about the witch trials of Salem. When he listens to the record of the Lords, something about it does not feel right.
Davison learns that the music that is played has something to do with the coven that Pine burned back in the 1600s. He also learns that there was a curse placed on the women of Salem by Foster. Can he figure this out before it is too late? Zombie holds a secret in her past that makes her the target, can she hold her grip on reality or will her curse take her as well.
First off, this film does a few things that I liked. The song that ‘The Lords of Salem’ plays is really creepy and that gives a great feel to the film. The different apparitions and dream like sequences this film uses also add to that. The mystery builds and things become weirder and weirder, this all helps the mood of the film. I also thought the twist that involves Zombie was good, as well as the mystery of the film. I definitely kept wanting to learn more.
Now the problem that I had with this one is that director Rob Zombie loses what he wants to do in building a mystery of what is going on. I think he has too many elements and does not combine them to create enough suspense. I predicted a lot of what was going to happen and there really are no twists in it, outside of the one I brought up above. We all can see what is going to happen and when it does, it leaves us wanting more and we do not get it. I think the story was boring with different story elements that lack their tie back in to make this a solid film.
I do not think this one is a horrible film; it just lacks things to make it a really good film. It is creepier than many horror films and does do a lot to back this up. The story really holds it back for me and that is what keeps it from being good. I would still say to give it a viewing if you are a fan of Rob Zombie and judge this one for yourself. I do think this is the worst film of the ones he has done, but the sad thing is that it had a lot of potential that was not realized.
My Rating: 5 out of 10
Director: Neil Kinsella
Writer: Peter Beckwith
Starring: Vincent Spano, Alexandra Paul and Lucas Elliot Eberl
This film begins with a man arriving at new condo complex. He is played by Vincent Spano. He runs into Mia Cottet, who is throwing a baby shower for her best friend. We see that there is construction going on nearby and they have explosions going off. The film alludes to that the ground isn’t that steady by the power lines and the structure holding them up shakes.
The man that is running this project is played by Jay Pickett. We see him meet with his boss, played by Robert Pine. Pine informs him that he knows he has been cutting corners and that his reputation is on the line. He tells Pickett that after this job is over, he is fired. Pine is then joined by Amy Van Nostrand. They have a meeting with the mayor soon.
On the construction site, the man that is running it is played by Jaime Gomez. His wife is the one that is pregnant. He asks questions of the man that ran the tests on the geology of this mountain; he is played by Scott Alan Smith. Smith seems to be a little bit apprehensive and not telling the whole truth. They are also using explosives that are much stronger than they need.
Spano is there to meet his wife. They are separated and thinking of divorce. She is played by Alexandra Paul. She is living here with their son, played by Lucas Elliot Eberl. Paul is the daughter of Pine and Spano meets with him first to find out where her condo is. He then visits with her and we see their relationship is strained. She has to go to the store and leaves Spano in the condo waiting for Eberl. We see the teenage boy as he walks down the hall. He runs into Keith Oney, who is stealing from the vacate condos. It turns out later that he is the brother of Nostrand.
More of the explosives are set off and it causes a landslide. It hits the condo building, trapping the people inside of it. Spano and Eberl in Paul’s apartment, Pine and Nostrand in the room they are in, Cottet and Kathryne Dora Brown in her and Gomez’s apartment and Oney in the hallway. It destroys a lot of the building as well. There are snakes that were sleeping inside of the mountain that is now inside and leaking gas. Brown also goes into labor. Pickett’s idea is to cover up what he’s done by blowing the rest of the mountain, stating it will prevent another landslide that could hit the town. His plan is to burying the condos even farther, killing Pine.
Will he succeed or will Paul convince those around her to find a way into the building? Can those inside get out before it is too late?
I heard about this film from a horror film encyclopedia that I own. This is loosely considered horror to me, but one of those that has elements from it. I think any time that you have a natural disaster like this film has, even though this one is man caused, it is a scary thing since it is real. This film was made for television and you can feel it the whole way. I did like the premise of the film, because I could see what Pickett does really happening out there. I liked that the people are trapped inside of this building, being buried under all of that dirt. The original title was Buried Alive makes a lot of sense. I’ll admit that I did think the snakes could be a bigger part to the story than what they were, but I like what they did with them to build tension. The film didn’t build enough tension though and that made it feel boring for me unfortunately. Ending was a little bit too Hollywood as well.
The acting wasn’t very good either. I thought everyone was very robotic during the build up. Spano does redeem himself when he is trying to be the hero. Pine does have some great advice that I liked. Pickett seemed way too cartoon, over the top bad guy for me. I will admit though that I liked Oney. I only did because he is full of useless facts and that would be me if I was caught in a situation like this.
My biggest issue with this film was the CGI of the landslide. When doing a film like this can be tough, because you need to show this as it is very important to the story. The problem though is the cheapest way to do it is CGI and you could tell. It looked very cheesy and I immediately was taken out of the film after that. When the dirt is piled up on the building, it was fine. I do think the editing of the film was done well, as it had to jump between each group to ensure that we are constantly updated on what each one is doing until they slowly come together. The soundtrack didn’t stand out to me, so I was indifferent to it.
Now with that said, I would not recommend this film. The acting to start out with is not very good. It does get better during the attempt to escape, but not enough to save this film. The story has a good concept, but with poor writing it doesn’t become what it could have. It never builds the tension that it needed and I feel there were some ideas that they could have used, but abandoned a little too early. The use of CGI in this film hurt it for me. The editing wasn’t bad and the soundtrack didn’t stand out. I feel this is a below average disaster film and I would avoid this one. There are much better films out there in this genre.
My Rating: 4 out of 10
Film: The Fly
Director: David Cronenberg
Writer: Charles Edward Pogue and David Cronenberg
Starring: Jeff Goldblum, Geena Davis and John Getz
This film begins with Jeff Goldblum meeting Geena Davis at a party. He is a scientist and he is telling her that he has found the next major discovery in science. He tries to entice her to come back to his lab to see it, but she is reluctant at first. He does finally get her to come over.
Goldblum has created two chambers that will allow him to teleport inanimate objects from one to the other. He does an experiment with one of her stockings. She is impressed and decides to record their conversation, as she is a reporter. The tape runs out so she goes to change to a new one and he realizes what she’s doing. He informs her that she cannot write about this and asks for the tape. She refuses and leaves.
Davis works for John Getz, who is also her former boyfriend. He doesn’t believe her about what she wants to write about. He is also shocked when Goldblum shows up to the place their offices are located. Goldblum asks her to follow his work, to document it, but not for an article. He wants her to do it as a book. She starts to stay over and films everything with a video camera.
He shows her the aftermath of what happens when he teleports anything that is living, when he tries with a baboon. It turns out to be a bloody mess. The two of them make love and Davis says something that hits home to Goldblum and might be the missing part. There is also a scene where an electronic piece is jammed into Goldblum’s back and it has cut him.
Goldblum realizes the computer running the experiment is interpreting flesh and how to put things together, not just teleporting them. He alters the program and then successfully teleports a baboon. Davis realizes that Getz is jealous and is going to run her original article out of spite. She leaves to talk to him. This upsets Goldblum and he drunken teleports himself. He doesn’t realize that a fly got into the pod with him when he did.
He comes to realize that he now has much more strength and feels better than ever. Davis notices some weird hairs growing out of the scratches on his back. Goldblum goes through some other changes as well and realizes that he has been fused with the fly. Can Goldblum find a way to stop what is happening, or does he even want to? Davis also learns later that she is pregnant, will she keep the baby or will the thought of it becoming a monster force her to abort it?
This will mark the first time I’ve seen this film all the way through. When I was growing up, I caught this film a couple of times on one of the movie channels, but never saw the whole thing. I was really intrigued back then and I’m glad I finally got to see the whole film. I have seen the original and that one is a classic, but this concept was perfect for director and writer David Cronenberg to tackle. I love the concept of teleportation and how the pods work. It is funny that when this film was made, the computer is outdated compared to what we have now. Goldblum has to tell the computer what to do and that is why teleporting living things haven’t worked. It would make sense that the computer would do what it did when he gets transported with the fly inside the pod with him. I have read some darker things that Cronenberg wanted to add to the film, but didn’t and it makes a lot of sense. The mad scientist in Goldblum also increases the horror for this one as well. I like that Cronenberg can add allegories to his horror films, especially coupled with the creepy out factor that he is great with. For this film, it really mirrors to what a disease that is incurable can do to the human body. This film was very well written.
The acting in this film was great. I feel that Goldblum was the best choice for the role. He looks highly intelligent and his humor matches that. I would envision someone of his caliber would have to use sarcasm and as someone who is highly sarcastic as well, it is great to see. I also love seeing the struggle with him giving up when he thinks he is dying and then go back to thinking he is God-like due to the changes his body is going through. I also thought that Davis was a solid choice as the female lead. Seeing her breakdown as Goldblum changes was great. It raises the tension and her moral dilemma is a tough one. I also thought Getz was good as the ex-boyfriend. You see that he still cares for Davis, but she wants him to move on and let her live her life. He is vindictive and will do what he can to ruin Goldblum, even if he knows it won’t get her back.
I couldn’t do this review without touching on the practical effects. This is something that makes Cronenberg so great to me. He really turns Goldblum into a giant fly and it looks so realistic. It is great that they even have him start to eat in the way that a fly does, by vomiting an enzyme on what they are eating to break it down before putting it into their body. He makes Goldblum look so disgusting that it is amazing. The editing of the film didn’t necessarily stand out, but they do use some great camera angles, especially when Goldblum is able to attach to any surface like a fly. The soundtrack didn’t really stand out to me, but that tells me good choices were made as it doesn’t hurt the film.
Now with that said, I would highly recommend seeing this film. The concept has just enough science to not scare you away and it gets quite crazy. The acting is great. You are torn rooting for Goldblum who steadily becomes a monster while his girlfriend Davis is breaking down at the inability to help him. The other side of this is Getz is a jerk, but you steadily see that Davis may need his help to deal with Goldblum. The practical effects are amazing. They are worth the price of admission alone. It is a little bit disgusting, but if you can handle that I would say to give this film a viewing.
My Rating: 9 out of 10
Film: The Final Girls
Director: Todd Strauss-Schulson
Writer: M.A. Fortin and Joshua John Miller
Starring: Taissa Farmiga, Malin Akerman and Adam Devine
This film begins with showing us a trailer for an 80’s slasher film called Camp Blood. We see that the person watching the trailer is Taissa Farmiga. She is waiting in the car and we see that on the floor in front of her are headshots for her mother, who is played by Malin Akerman. Akerman starred in this awesomely bad slasher film and she is currently auditioning for a role. Having played in this film though, it has followed her for her whole career. Farmiga is worried about the bills that haven’t been paid and Akerman tries to get her to not worry. They end up getting in an accident that kills Akerman.
Farmiga is struggling with what has happened. She is struggling in school. Her best friend, who is played by Alia Shawkat, wants her to try to keep her mind off of it and go study with a cute boy. This guy is played by Alexander Ludwig. He studies with both Farmiga and Shawkat, when Shawkat’s half-brother comes into the diner. He is played by Thomas Middleditch. He is a big fan of Camp Blood and wants Farmiga to come to the showing of it and its sequel to represent her mother. The one year anniversary is the same day as the showing, but she doesn’t want to do it. He convinces her by doing her homework for the rest of the school year so she can graduate.
She goes with Shawkat and they end up running into Ludwig. He clearly has a thing for Farmiga and he is there for support. The problem is his ex-girlfriend also shows up to the showing, she is played by Nina Dobrev. She clearly wants him back so she is doing everything she can. Dobrev and Farmiga also used to be best friends.
They go into the theater and the film starts to play. Farmiga at first is happy to see her mother on the big screen. There are a few things that happen in the film that happen in the audience watching it. A fire then breaks out, blocking the exits. Farmiga comes up with the idea to cut the screen, because there should be an exit behind it. They go through it.
The problem is that they come out into the film. The Volkswagen van pulls with Adam Devine driving and Angela Trimbur riding shotgun. They allow them to drive off a couple times, but 92 minutes later, the van comes back through. This is the exact running time of the film. The third time they decide to get in the van.
This group has to follow what the film does and this leads them to the first kill of the film. Middleditch thinks that they are not part of it and are safe when the masked killer, Billy doesn’t react to him. This is proven to be false when he is killed.
They must now fight for their lives and try to get out of the film. They have an advantage knowing what happens in the movie. Can they get out of it before Billy claims them all or will they all be picked off one by one? Farmiga sees a chance to bring her mother out of the film, will that work? Can she be made into a final girl?
Now I want to lead off with this review saying that I’ve heard a lot about this film from the podcasts that I listen to. I decided to finally check it out and I have to say that I’m very glad I did. This film is amazing to me. This is one of those meta films that knows what it is doing and it pokes fun at the genre. I love that the writing of Camp Blood is very bad, as many of the slashers from the time were. This film is interesting to me as well because it is parodying Friday the 13th, Halloween and The Burning. It does a great job as well as sticking to the rules of the slasher film as well as ruining how the film was supposed to go. I was quite impressed with the writing of this film. I will say that I’m not a huge fan of the killer in the film; I thought his mask looked stupid, but I think that the film was trying to make him overly outrageous, so it makes sense to me. Plus we give the legend of the killer, but not really much about him other than that. The ending was okay to me, it has a decent twist, but I think it is more powerful what happens right before it. It is even more to learn that the writer of this film wrote this as his father, who was Father Karras from the Exorcist, passed away and he wrote this to get over the grieving of him.
The acting was superb to me. Farmiga I have seen in American Horror Story and she really does great at horror. I really hope she does more, because she could definitely become a great scream queen. I’m also a big fan of Akerman and I felt that the emotion she brings at the climax was great. It had me tear up a bit. Dobrev and Trimbur I found to be great looking as well as playing the roles they are supposed to perfect. Shawkat and Middleditch were hilarious. I also really liked Ludwig in the role that he played. It is interesting, because I watch him in Vikings and it is good to see that despite his size, he can tone the character down as well.
As for the editing of this film, I feel they did a great job with it. I’m going to combine this with the look as well. When they are in the present, it looks great. When they show the trailer, the film itself and when the characters go into the film, it looks a little grainier. This being that it is supposed to be film and the 80’s. The world also has bright colors that make it feel a little bit more surreal. Then when they go into a flashback, I like the effect they use and making the world go black and white. The characters even see it as black and white when they are in it. I love the music choices for this film as well. I did have an issue with the car accident scene as it was done by computers. I won’t hold it against the film too much, because it did look great. If you know me though, I prefer practically effects.
Now with that said, I would recommend this film. If you love slashers, especially the ones from the heyday in the 80’s I think you’ll really enjoy this film. Now it isn’t as bloody and actually has a PG-13 rating. I would have liked to see it at an R, but despite that it is solid. This film is meta and pokes fun at the genre, while itself turning into a solid slasher film. The film’s writing was great. The acting was as well. I liked the look of the film, as you could tell they consciously made it look different from the real world to the film world. The soundtrack was great as well. This film is definitely worth at least a viewing.
My Rating: 8 out of 10
Film: The Lost World
Director: Irwin Allen
Writer: Charles Bennett and Irwin Allen
Starring: Michael Rennie, Jill St. John and David Hedison
This film begins at the airport. A professor is getting off an airplane and it is said that he has made a discovery that will change everything; he is played by Claude Rains. Rains is annoyed that reporters are preventing him from getting off the airplane. One of them is played by David Hedison. When they do not move, Rains hits Hedison in the head with his umbrella. He is helped up by Jill St. John. We learn that she is a rich woman; her father owns the paper that Hedison works for. They both are going to the talk that Rains is going to be giving that day.
At this talk we meet the rest of the important characters. St. John talks with Michael Rennie, who we learn shortly is an explorer and a big game hunter. We also meet the professor who is trying to discredit Rains, he is played by Richard Haydn. Rains claims that he has found a lost world that have dinosaurs and other things that time forgot living on it. No one there believes him. It is decided that a team will be sent to prove if Rains is telling the truth. This team is made up of Rennie, Hedison, Rains and Haydn. St. John wants to join, but being a woman, Rains is against it. Hedison is only coming, because St. John’s father, played by John Graham, will pay for part of the expedition.
They arrive in South America and we meet the other members of this group. There is Jay Novello, who has gotten things around in South America and he is kind of shifty. The helicopter pilot who will take them to this plateau is played by Fernando Lamas. We also learn that St. John and her younger brother, played by Ray Stricklyn, have gotten down here. Rains tries to prevent them from coming, but he and Hedison end up agreeing reluctantly.
They land on the plateau and set up camp. It doesn’t take long until they encounter their first dinosaur, which is nothing more than a monitor lizard with something around its neck. This dinosaur ends up destroying their helicopter and their only way off the plateau. They also didn’t get a good look at it, so Haydn doesn’t believe that is what it is.
We learn more about the characters as well. Hedison has a crush on St. John, but she wants to marry Rennie, for his title. Lamas seems to be looking for something and is hiding a secret. Rennie is also hiding one as well. We see more dinosaurs, another lizard with horns and an alligator with things on its back. These ones fight each other and almost kill St. John and Hedison. They also meet a giant spider and a native girl; she is played by Vitina Marcus. It appears that this plateau is inhabited by a native tribe.
They end up finding a journal that gives them more information. An explorer was here three years previous and there is a connection with Rennie. How is he connected? What is Lamas looking for? Will St. John realize that Hedison is better for her? There is talk about diamonds being somewhere on this plateau, will Novello find them? Will they survive and find a way off this plateau?
I have to say that this film is really limited by the budget and the technology of the day. I like the story and this is actually the first version of this story that was made in sound. I think the cast is really good. You have Rennie and Rains who are solid. St. John isn’t bad looking for the time, but Marcus is definitely better. Hedison and Stricklyn are your typical heroes from films like this from the era.
As stated, there are some big issues. They use a monitor lizard to be a baby Tyrannosaur Rex. The dinosaurs all walk on four legs and they do not resemble the ones that Rains claims are supposed to be. This was due to budget, because originally it was supposed to be claymation, which would allow them to do more. The action was pretty boring to be honest and it a little bit too much talking. I also feel like due to being from the era it is, everything happens too conveniently and people change their mind on an instant. It just wasn’t realistic in their decision making.
This is also being added to the horror film research due to having people trapped in a dangerous situation. The dinosaurs are giant monsters which also contribute to this being added to the research as well.
With that said, if you can overlook the flaws, this isn’t a bad film. The acting is okay, the action is a bit weak, but the story is a classic. There are some really good actors, some pretty good looking women and your typical heroes. This is the best faithful version of this story I have seen. The sequel to Jurassic Park is much more exciting, but the 1920’s version at least uses the correct dinosaurs. If you can get past the dated feel of it, this is a decent film.
My Rating: 6 out of 10
Film: Lost in Space
Director: Stephen Hopkins
Writer: Akiva Goldsman
Starring: Gary Oldman, William Hurt and Matt LeBlanc
This film takes place in the year 2058. Earth and its people have used up all of the natural resources and a new planet is needed for the human race to continue on. There is a mission for a ship to go to a planet named Alpha Prime. By Earth they are making a gateway and the commander of the Jupiter 2 mission will create another one by this new planet. This is so ships can use a hyper-drive and end up exactly where they are supposed to.
We learn that there is a terrorist group that doesn’t want them to ruin another planet and wants to get there first. We get two fighter pilots that are trying to protect the hyper-gate from enemies. One is Matt LeBlanc and Lennie James. LeBlanc is the better of two, but we see that he has issues with authority. James destroys the second enemy fighter, but loses his ship. LeBlanc is told to back off and let the rescue ships save him. LeBlanc knows they won’t get there in time and violates what they tell him. He does save James.
Then we meet the Robinson family that will all go on this mission. The father is played by William Hurt. He is completely absorbed in his work and all, but ignores his family. His wife is Mimi Rogers and she is in charge of the life systems for the mission. They have a daughter that doesn’t want to go and leave her life on Earth behind; she is played by Lacey Chabert. She will be the video expert. Their youngest is played by Jack Johnson, he is the robot expert. He acts out because Hurt ignores him. He has won the science fair for a few years in a row and has plans for making a machine for time travel.
LeBlanc is called in to meet Mark Goddard, who plays the general, and Hurt. He is told the truth that the Earth is dying; the recycling efforts started too late and are failing. He is also informed that the original pilot for Jupiter 2 isn’t sick, but was murdered. LeBlanc is made the new pilot.
We then meet the one that is the spy and saboteur; he is played by Gary Oldman. He is supposed to get paid for letting the terrorist in to kill the pilot. Oldman is informed that they have found a replacement. He is then told that he needs to ensure this mission fails.
Oldman is actually helping to make the Jupiter 2 flight ready as well. He does what he is supposed to, but then sneaks in. He messes with the robot that is supposed to help the Robinson family. As he is trying to get away, the device he used to change the robot turns on. A large face tells him something and then it malfunctions. It burns his hand and then he’s knocked out.
We then meet the final member of this team; she is the medical officer and played by Heather Graham. LeBlanc immediately begins to hit on her, but then he learns that she is the eldest child of Hurt. Graham ensures that the sleeping pods are working to their top performance. The family then goes to sleep, LeBlanc sets their destination and then he goes to sleep.
Oldman wakes up. His hand has a burn on it and he realizes that he still aboard the ship. The robot then wakes up and goes about destroying the systems and trying to kill the Robinson family. He can’t stop it though. The family wakes up as well as their pilot. Hurt and LeBlanc try to stop the robot. He finally succeeds when LeBlanc can rip cords out of its neck.
Graham doesn’t wake up though. LeBlanc realizes that Oldman has caused this and he attacks him. Oldman tells him that he is the only one who can save Graham. Hurt tells him to let him do it. They have another problem; they are heading directly toward the Sun. LeBlanc uses the idea of using the hyperdrive that sends them directly through, saving them, but they are sent out into space. They are lost.
They are flying aimlessly. They go through a rip in space to find a ship. While they are looking at it, they realize that it is from Earth. Johnson has reprogrammed the robot and it is decided the ship will be investigated. The robot, controlled by Johnson, Hurt, LeBlanc, Graham and Oldman are all a part of this team. They soon learn that the ship is abandoned, or so they think. They learn that this was a rescue ship looking for them. James was piloting this mission, but something happened. They find an alien-monkey like creature. It is friendly. They then learn what happened to this ship. They are attacked by space spiders. They fight them off and get back to the ship, losing the robot in the process.
Rogers learns that the spiders are attracted to fire and heat, so LeBlanc comes up with a plan to get them from getting into their ship. He ends up blowing up the ship they have infested, against what Hurt says. The explosion sends them crashing onto a planet. They do not have enough power to clear the planet’s gravitational pull, but there is another time rift bubble right by where they have crashed. It is decided that Hurt and LeBlanc will investigate. Johnson is upset by this and has started to rebuild his robot to make himself feel better.
Will they find this power source they are looking for in the time bubble? What is causing this time bubble? Is it natural or man-made? Will they get off the planet or will they be stuck here forever?
I do have to say that this film isn’t horrible, but it is a family friendly sci-fi film. I really like Hurt and Oldman in this one. Johnson and Chabert aren’t bad, but as child/teens they are kind of annoying and nagging. Graham is good looking, but a little bit miscast in her role. The story is really interesting to me though. I love films that use time travel and the anomalies that arise from it. I also like the idea of the transformation of Oldman’s character. It really fits his character’s demeanor.
One of my issues with this is the fact that it is family friendly. The show that it is based off of was made for families and that really limits this. It is hard to knock this film for that though. I also do not like the CGI used in this one. Being from 1998, the technology was limited and you can really tell. Those are really my only issues though.
This is being included in the horror film research, because this film really has a feel of a family-friendly horror film. There are quite a few elements that are from horror. You have the menacing aliens, the saboteur who is trying to kill them, what he becomes through his transformation and there are few other parts where they ramp up the tension of things going on. It always works out for the good, as they do in a family film, but still gets the fear going even if it is on the lower end.
I would recommend this film if you liked the original series and want to enjoy a modern update that isn’t too bad. The film is for families, so do not come in for a great sci-fi adventure. I would say there is one is definitely not horrible, but there are better in the genre than this one. It does have a good story; it has some good acting mixed in with some decent acting. The use of CGI is limited, but not all that good. I would say if this sounds interesting, I would give it a chance.
My Rating: 5 out of 10
Film: The Diary of Ellen Rimbauer
Director: Craig R. Baxley
Writer: Ridley Pearson
Starring: Lisa Brenner, Steven Brand and Kate Burton
This film begins with a group of people around a table during a séance. It is being led by Tsai Chin. Around the table are Lisa Brenner, Steven Brand, Kate Burton and Brad Greenquist. Standing behind Brenner is Tsidii Leloka.
We go back before this happened to Brenner talking with Burton. The richest bachelor in Seattle has his eyes on Brenner, this bachelor is Brand. They meet with friends, one of them being Deirdre Quinn. Quinn keeps making snide remarks. She used to be a lover of Brand and he has moved on from her. Brenner doesn’t pay her much attention.
Brand seems to have fallen for Brenner. He takes her the site of the house he is building. It is going to be a giant mansion that will be named Rose Red. The man who is overseeing the building of this building is Greenquist, who is married to Burton. While they are close by, we see an argument amongst the workers where a man pulls out a shotgun. Brenner and Brand hear it go off and Greenquist will look into it.
Brenner and Brand get married and they spend their honeymoon with a year long trip around the world. This takes them to Africa where we really get a sense of what type of man Brand really is. He gets drunk and is entranced by an African woman who is dancing before him. Leloka is there, looking at Brenner. By the end of the night we see that Brenner, Brand and the African end up in bed together.
Brenner becomes pregnant during this trip and she also becomes ill. Leloka tells her that this is due to Brand infidelity. Brenner asks if she will die and Leloka confirms she won’t, but what Brand has is known to cause madness.
They return to Seattle where Brenner has a son, Adam. The disappearances start during this time. One of them is Quinn. Brenner also starts to see that the women that disappear are all ones that Brand has an affair with. She wants to have a séance to see what is causing this, but Brand won’t hear of it.
Brenner finds out some more information about her husband and uses it against Brand, convincing him to have the séance that we saw in the beginning. What will Brenner find out? What does the house want? Can it be appeased? Or will it take everyone as its victim?
This film is interesting, because it was written by writer of the teleplay for this television movie. It should also be noted that this is the first time that another writer has wrote a prequel to a Stephen King work. This film is a prequel to Rose Red that King wrote and tells the back-story to the Rimbauers, the creators of the mansion. This film took some of the historical points that was in the original film and incorporates it into this one. It also does change some things that happen, which I’m not a big fan. An example of this is the suicide that happens in Rose Red, where the man has a cowboy hat on and tosses it to Adam Rimbauer. It doesn’t happen in this film. Rose Red is also a ghost story where the house is a major character, we see the beginnings of that, but Brenner and Leloka acknowledge that the house is alive, but do not seem to concern themselves really with the ghosts that are already in it. It seemed odd to me since that was the major theme of the first one. It is possible that since it is really early on in the history of the house that is why.
The acting was decent at best. I didn’t like that they couldn’t get the same actors to play Ellen or John Rimbauer. Brenner was pretty good, speaking I’ve only seen her in The Patriot outside of this. She did a solid job as this main character. Brand was okay as the angry John. I will give him credit that as the film goes on; we do see him descend into madness and anger. I was happy to see Leloka reprise her role, she had a lot more screen time in this film. The rest of the cast was mediocre and no one really stood out to me.
The film’s pacing was really slow. For a film that is not overly long, it drug for the most of it for me. The film being a prequel it has certain things it had to do, but it never really got exciting to me. I did find this one to be boring. The film’s editing was also hampered by it being a TV movie. It has to do cuts to go to commercials which take you out of the film, even when the commercials themselves are removed from it. I also didn’t notice the soundtrack to the film, so to me it didn’t hurt or help the film.
Now with that said, I wouldn’t view this film unless you really enjoyed Rose Red. This is a prequel to the film and is nothing more as a filler piece if you are interested in knowing more about the origins of the house and the family that built it, the Rimbauers. The acting was decent, but no one stood out. The story does follow most all of the major plot points we learned in the previous film. The pacing was a little too slow for me and never built the tension this film needed. The editing and soundtrack really don’t add much to the film either. I wouldn’t view this by itself as it doesn’t carry enough to be enjoyable. As a companion piece to Rose Red, it works if you want to know more.
My Rating: 5 out of 10