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10/17/2017 18:33

Film: Candyman: Farewell to the Flesh

Year: 1995

Director: Bill Condon

Writer: Rand Ravich and Mark Kruger

Starring: Tony Todd, Kelly Rowan and William O’Leary

 

Review:

This film begins with a man giving a talk about the book he had written about Candyman. The man is played by Michael Culkin. He doesn’t believe there is a supernatural being, but that people use the concept and that the main character from the previous film did this. There is a man standing in the back, watching the talk. He is played by William O’Leary. Culkin says the name of Candyman five times in the mirror of his book and shows that nothing happened. He does have someone rip through the projection screen with a hook as a joke. This makes O’Leary flee the building.

The two men run into each other. O’Leary is upset, thinking that his father’s death was due to bad advice from Culkin. He believes that this led to Candyman killing his father. Culkin then goes into a bar to get away from him and orders a drink. O’Leary comes in and punches him. Culkin then goes into the bathroom and when they are alone, he is killed by Candyman and his hook. He is played by Tony Todd.

O’Leary is arrested for the crime. We then meet his sister, who is played by Kelly Rowan. She goes to her mother, who is played by Veronica Cartwright. They go to the police station to talk with O’Leary. The officers in charge of the case are played by David Gianopoulos and Fay Hauser. There they also run into Rowan’s husband, played by Timothy Carhart.

Rowan speaks with O’Leary who tells her that Candyman did it. She thinks he is going crazy and wants to get him freed. The police think he committed the murders so he is being held.

Rowan is a teacher for underprivileged youth. They are terrified thinking that the Candyman is killing people around them. There is one boy, played by Joshua Gibran Mayweather, who is haunted by dreams of him. He draws them in the art class that Rowan teaches. Some of the students do not like him for this and give him a hard time. To try to prove that the Candyman isn’t real, she says his name into a mirror. A single bee does appear.

Todd does appear that night. He visits Rowan while she is in the bathroom. He wants her to join him and she is frightened. Todd then kills Carhart and this makes Rowan a suspect. The police then start to wonder if O’Leary is the killer or is he covering for his sister. Rowan tries to prove that neither of them are doing the killing. The story takes a turn though when they start to realize that Todd’s real identity, Daniel Robitaille, was born on the same plantation that was owned by Rowan’s family.

What is the connection with this family to him? Todd reveals to Rowan that she is pregnant and that the baby will be his. Why does he want the child? Is there a way to stop the Candyman?

Now I remember kind of seeing this when I was in high school on one of the movie channels. This might be the first time that I’ve sat and watched it beginning to end. What I really like about this film is that is expands on the Candyman mythology without violating what happened in the previous film. For me, story and continuity are huge. What is slightly confusing is if he was killed in New Orleans, why was he killing in Chicago in the previous film? That is a plothole I would have like explained. I do like that we get Candyman’s back-story. I don’t mind the angle of how history is repeating itself with Rowan and how they are connected to him. I also don’t really mind the way that they defeat him either. It ties back in with the painting which is a good foreshadow we get earlier in the film that is quite small. The ending wasn’t bad to me at all.

The acting in this film wasn’t as good to me as the previous one. Todd killed it as Candyman. He embodies the character. His look, voice and screen presence are amazing for it. I think Rowan for the most part was decent in this film. I love when her husband is murdered and seeing her start to slip into madness of not knowing the truth of Todd and wanting to find a way to stop him. I thought that part was good. O’Leary and Carhart I wasn’t overly impressed with. Really the only other actors I liked in this one were Bill Nunn and Mayweather. They are father/son combo and I thought they were believable.

I want to start here with the effects. I thought that the blood looked great. It looked to be all practical and I liked it. The sawing off the hand was good. Anything with the hook and the blood that comes from Todd kill was as well. Now the swarm of bees and the ending were CGI. This was fairly early CGI though and it doesn’t hold up well. It bothered me. The film does have some pacing issues as well. The film isn’t overly long, but I feel that it focuses a lot on the brother being the possible murderer for too much of it. Some of the researching into the Candyman was clunky and I found myself bored during it. Now finally the score to the film I thought was good. They used the same classic score from the previous and I thought it fit very well. It gives it an odd feeling that I thought was perfect for the film.

Now with that said, despite the issues with this film I still think it is above average. For the most part the story flows very well from the previous one, even tying in characters. It does leave it unexplained why she isn’t back, but I’ll let that slide. I like getting more back-story into Candyman and finding a way to actually defeat him. Todd did great again in his role. Some of the cast I felt was good, while others were not. The blood and death scenes looked good, but there was some bad CGI. There are some editing and pacing issues with the film. The score does help the film though and I liked it. This is a solid sequel that could be viewed without the first. Everything you need to know from that one is laid out in this film. I would say that overall this film is above average and worth a view if you are into supernatural killers/slasher films.

 

My Rating: 7 out of 10

10/12/2017 18:38

Film: Candyman

Year: 1992

Director: Bernard Rose

Writer: Bernard Rose

Starring: Virginia Madsen, Xander Berkeley and Tony Todd

 

Review:

This film begins with a woman, played by Virginia Madsen, interviewing a student. She is asking about an urban legend killer named the Candyman. We see the story as she claimed it was played out. The boy that comes over during the story is played by Ted Raimi. They say Candyman into the mirror 5 times and the girl is murdered. Madsen then meets with another woman, played by Kasi Lemmons, who is interviewing a male student who tells a similar story.

Madsen then goes to a classroom, where a man is teaching a class on urban legends; he is played by Xander Berkeley. There is a female student that won’t look Madsen in the eye and we learn that Madsen is married to Berkeley.

Madsen and Lemmons are graduate students and they are doing their thesis on urban legends as well. Madsen is upset that her husband is teaching this class, as he is ruining the freshmen they are interviewing. While Madsen is working, a janitor comes into the room and tells her she has a friend who knows about the Candyman. She goes and gets her, allowing Madsen to interview her. There was a murder in a local project called Cabrini-Green. Madsen starts to look into this.

She tells her plan to Lemmons, which is to go to this project and take pictures as well as interview anyone that knows anything and will talk to them. Lemmons is against this, feeling they are exploiting the dead woman. It should be pointed out this is a rough place. The gangs run it and the police don’t tend to respond quickly. The two women find the apartment and take pictures of the building as they go. Madsen realized that her condo was made like a project they are going to and learns that there is a passageway between the bathroom mirrors due to how cheaply they are made. Madsen discovers she is right and goes through. There are holes in walls until she sees a mural painted around one of a man with an open mouth.

As the two women go to leave, they are confronted by a woman who lives on this floor. She is played by Vanessa Williams and she talks with the two women. She was one that called the police for the murdered woman. She has a young son and doesn’t like where she lives, but has to survive.

Madsen ends up going back and meets a young boy, played by DeJuan Guy. He tells her about a murder in a bathroom so she goes to check it out. While in there she finds a phrase painted everywhere, ‘Sweets to the Sweet’. She also finds a toilet filled with bees. When she goes to leave, a man comes in with a hook. He claims to be the Candyman. He hits her in the eye with his weapon and they beat her up.

She ends up going to the police who arrest this man. She tells Guy that the Candyman doesn’t exist. She is met by Lemmons who tells her that there is interest in publishing their work and that her pictures survived. She goes to get into her car and she is addressed by a man. He is played by Tony Todd. His words hypnotize her and we see that he has a hook for a hand. Madsen blacks out.

When she comes to, she is in the apartment of Williams. Madsen is in the bathroom, covered and lying in blood. She leaves to find more blood, the head of Williams’ dog and a butcher’s knife. Williams is screaming as her baby is missing and there is blood all over the crib. Williams attacks Madsen who has to use the knife to stop her.

Did Madsen kill the dog? Is the baby dead? Was Todd real or something in the mind of Madsen? Is she a dangerous killer or someone losing her grip with reality?

Now this is my second time viewing this film all the way through. I have to say that I really like this one. This film does seem to fall into the supernatural slasher category for me. This brings a bit of A Nightmare in Elm Street, in that Candyman is much like Freddy Kruger in he needs the fear of those around him to survive. What I like even more though is that this film could almost be viewed that Candyman might not be real. No one ever seems him until they are murdered, so that could be that Madsen is actually doing the killing. We see her slipping into madness and blacking out, two things that could point to her actually being the killer. The ending might need to be disregarded for this reading, but it is a horror film, it comes with the genre. I think the story is great that it can be read as a supernatural killer or a woman with a psychotic break.

The acting in this film is really good which I think helps it a lot. Madsen is amazing in her role. She is so sure and in control of herself in the beginning. The moment she meets Todd though, she loses that and we see her slowly slipping into madness. Something that goes with it, she is pushed to try to prove she isn’t crazy and the lengths she goes is believable. Todd doesn’t get a lot of screen time until about the middle of the film, but his screen presence is great. He is perfect for this role. Berkeley from the beginning makes you wonder about his commitment to Madsen and if he is telling the truth. She accuses him multiple times of being unfaithful so we see the start of her losing her grip, bringing in if she is reading into things or not early into the film. I also thought that Lemmons, Williams and Guy were solid in their supporting roles as well.

Now I have to say that the effects in this film were good. Everything looked to be practical which if you know me, I love. The blood looked good. I thought the hook and Todd’s chest looked real. The bees that cover him and Madsen were real, which is not only creepy, but great. The editing of the film was well done. We really get some surreal feelings as Madsen is descending into madness which was a good touch to the film. I also thought the score to the film was great. The film has a clean feel in the school and Madsen’s condo, but then we get a real gritty feel dealing with the project. The score is much more gothic which keeps the project an even creepier feel, matching it almost to the castles of Europe in a way.

Now with that said, I would recommend this film. It is a supernatural slasher film, but I feel it is much more than that. I feel it could almost be read as a woman who is losing her mind, murdering people yet believing it is a man who is haunting her with visions. The acting of the film is good, which helps to build this feeling. The effects of the film were also well done. The editing and the score also helped for this film to have not only a creepy, but a surreal feel. Candyman is a solid entry into the horror genre, putting him comparable to Freddy Krueger in that the fears in those around him are needed to survive. This is a really good film and worth a viewing.

 

My Rating: 8 out of 10

10/11/2017 17:32

Film: The Call of Cthulhu

Year: 2005

Director: Andrew Leman

Writer: Sean Branney

Starring: Matt Foyer, John Bolen and Ralph Lucas

 

Review:

This film begins with a man trying to put a puzzle together; he is played by Matt Foyer. There is another man who is listening to him as he tells the story that has brought him there, this other man played by John Bolen. Foyer discovered upon his Great Uncle’s death, research he had been doing into strange occurrences that had been happening in the world.

His Great-Uncle is played by Ralph Lucas and he met a man who was having strange dreams, this man played by Chad Fifer. Lucas asked Fifer that every time he had a dream to write it down and come to him with what happened. This ends though when the man is in a fever dream and awakes to not remembering anything.

Foyer also learns from the research that Lucas along with four other professors, played by John Klemantaski, Jason Owens, D. Grigsby Poland and Barry Lynch, encountered a police inspector, played by David Mersault, that had a run-in with a cult of people in the swamp worshiping the old Gods, including Cthulhu. One of the professors had a similar encounter with a cult during an expedition as well.

Foyer decides to continue to the research. His goes cold until there is an account in a stray newspaper about a crew of a ship, the Emma, finds an abandoned fishing vessel, the Alert, and a strange statue that was found on board. He goes searching for more information, but it appears the lone survivor discovered a city in the middle of the South Pacific that worshipped Cthulhu as well.

Will Foyer find the answers he is looking for? Or will he go mad like the rest that have tried? Or will he abandoned it before it is too late?

Now I heard about this film from the list of horror films to see that I compiled to start this research. I have heard of Cthulhu through knowing that H.P. Lovecraft is a horror great writer from the past and he influenced a lot of writers even today. Now I personally have not read any of his works, but it is something that I have been meaning to do. I do not recall if I have seen any films based on his work or not as well, but I know that he is a surreal feel to it and the old Gods are a staple of it.

From what I come to understand, the story of this film is pretty faithful to the source material. Some things have been changed to help the story on the film flow, but there wasn’t a lot that was. I am fascinated by the idea that there could be old Gods that are asleep and waiting their time to take back the world. It is a scary idea and some films that I’m a huge fan of introduced this idea. It is definitely something that is terrifying if it is true. We don’t really know the true history of our world or how it started, so why couldn’t it be? I am a person that likes to research things that I’m interested in, so I can feel the plight of characters in this. They want to know the truth and I feel that is something I would do if I was in this position. I loved the climax of the film, seeing the island and the city that is on it. The ending isn’t overly a surprise, but it fits the film.

The acting is interesting to me since the film is placed back in the 1920s. Keeping with the realism, the film is done in black and white as well as in silence. The actors do very well in pretending to be people from the era and acting that way. What you get in silent films is overacting, because you couldn’t hear them so they didn’t have to do dramatics with what they say but with their bodies. Keeping with this as well, some of the action and fight scenes we get in the film are blocky, which keeps with the realism of films from the era.

As stated above, the film is made to be a silent, black and white from the 1920s. They do a great job in mimicking it. It is funny as the film is made to look grainy and scratchy, like the films from the era are, but you can clearly see that it is done with the digital technology since it was really made in 2005. I am actually highly impressed with how great it ends up looking. I also love the sets looking like they would be made back in the era. The effects in this film that I noticed are green screen for some of it, which I could tell was that, but doesn’t overly bother me. There is also Cthulhu that we get glimpses of. It looks to be digital, but the way it is done was pretty solid as well. Finally the score of the film I am a big fan of. At times I don’t notice it so the music goes so well with scene to set the tone. Other times, it is building the tension and helping the scene which I thought was great. This is very important for a film that doesn’t allow the actors to speak.

Now with that said, this is a film that I didn’t know a lot about going in and was surprised in a good way with what I saw. The story of the film is based on a H.P. Lovecraft story and from what I gathered, it is very faithful adaptation. The story is told by a character to another person so we do get moments of a flashback within a flashback. I do like how it ends up and the idea of these cults is creepy. I thought the acting was solid in trying to mimic the silent film era. The film is done to look like it as well, even though we can still see the technology of today used to record what is happening. What little effects used in the film were well done in my opinion. If you are a Lovecraft fan, then I would highly recommend seeing this film. It is interesting even if you aren’t, but keep in mind how it is done. If you are not into the silent films, you probably will not like this one.

 

My Rating: 8 out of 10

10/10/2017 17:37

Film: The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (Das Cabinet des Dr. Caligari)

Year: 1920

Director: Robert Wiene

Writer: Carl Mayer and Hans Janowitz

Starring: Werner Krauss, Conrad Veidt and Friedrich Feher

 

Review:

This film begins with two men in a garden. One man is telling how he has been haunted by spirits to the point where he has had to flee his home and family. We then see a woman in white walk through, she is played by Lil Dagover. The younger man, played by Friedrich Feher, tells how that is his fiancé and that they’ve gone through a lot as well.

We then learn that a fair is coming to this town. A man, played by Werner Krauss, goes to see the clerk about getting a permit so he can display at this fair. We learn that Krauss is actually a doctor and that he has a somnambulist. We learn that this is someone who sleeps all the time, but Krauss can wake his up to tell the past and predict the future. The clerk is in a bad mood and treating everyone poorly. That night, he is murdered by being stabbed in the side.

Feher and his friend, played by Hans Heinrich von Twardowski go to this fair and end up in the tent that Krauss has set-up. Krauss wakes up the somnambulist, who is played by Conrad Veidt. Feher and Twardowski rush the stage to ask a question. Twardowski asks when he will die to which, Veidt answers the following morning before dawn.

The two men walk home and they see a poster about the murder from the previous night. That night, Twardowski is murdered just as Veidt predicted. When Feher learns of this, he goes to the police about the prediction that Veidt made. They start to investigate into this, but they cannot get Veidt to wake up and Krauss will not help.

Dagover is the daughter of a doctor and she goes searching for her father. She ends up at Krauss’ tent as well. Feher starts to follow Krauss to find out more about him and we learn that he is actually the director of the local insane asylum. Krauss’ name isn’t really Dr. Caligari like he has been stating during his fair show.

Is Veidt the killer or is it someone else? Is he doing this of his own freewill? Or is there something more to this? Who is Dr. Caligari then? What is the truth behind all of this? Will Dagover be the next victim?

Now the first time I ever heard about this film was my freshman year of college when I was required to take a visual or performing arts class so I took Intro to World Cinema. Back then I was a still hard-headed and didn’t care for this film. The older I got and the more I started to study film did I realize how great this film actually is. This film had a lot of influence on Hollywood and how film stories are told now. I actually took German as my foreign language in college as well and to pass my final class for that requirement, I had to do a presentation completely in German so I chose German Expressionism movement, which this film is. Now those of you reading this might not realize that you’ve seen the influence of this movement if you’ve ever watched a Tim Burton film, especially A Nightmare Before Christmas, Corpse Bride or Beetlejuice. I felt that to open up this review, I had to bring this up.

Since story is what draws me in the most, I will touch on that now. Being the 1920s and the early stages of film, the story is extremely straight forward. This sometimes is a problem for me due to low running times, but for this film, it doesn’t bother. I could be wrong, but this concept of a somnambulist being controlled to commit crimes is something we don’t see a lot of in today’s stories and I like it. Krauss is obsessed with Dr. Caligari. I’m not sure if this is a real story or something made up for the film, but I find that part of it very interesting. The twist at the end of the film is something we see a lot today, but for this time period to be when it started highly impressed me.

Acting is harder to really judge during the silent film era. They have to overact and act much like you would see in a stage play due to the fact that you cannot hear them. I will say that thanks to the high quality of the restoration I saw, you really can see how well the make-up is done on them. Krauss was solid and looked menacing. Veidt has a creepy introduction and his make-up was also well done. I also thought that as the film goes on, Feher looks more and more troubled which I liked. Dagover doesn’t get a lot of screen time, but when she does she is comparable to Feher.

For this section, I really want to talk about the setting. It is filmed on a stage, almost as you would for a play. The background is drawn, but what makes it great is that it is distorted. There are no straight lines and it doesn’t look real. This adds to the atmosphere of the film, even more so when you get to the ending. They use a light and dark filter to simulate day and night, which didn’t bother me. They will use the camera iris to focus your attention on something or if someone is looking through a tighter space. Since the film is silent, they have to use title cards for exposition and even those are distorted to help build the tension of the film. The score to the film, though I’m not sure if it is original, was definitely well done. At times it is ominous and then when it is a more tension filled scene, it ramps that up and definitely is a plus.

Now with that said, this film is great. I am combining the film and its historical significance in my final rating. This film and the movement it had a huge part in changing Hollywood and films we see today. The story itself isn’t complex and the film has a low running time, but it doesn’t hurt it for me. The acting is solid for the era. The backgrounds are wonderful as well as the score to the film. I will warn you, the film is from Germany, but that doesn’t affect it nearly as much being a silent film. You have to read the title cards anyway. It is from the 1920s and in black and white. I would recommend this if you are diehard horror fan who wants to see more of the history of the genre. If not, then this probably won’t be for you.

 

My Rating: 10 out of 10

10/09/2017 15:48

Film: Cabin Fever

Year: 2002

Director: Eli Roth

Writer: Eli Roth and Randy Pearlstein

Starring: Jordan Ladd, Rider Strong and James DeBello

 

Review:

This film begins with a man who has a rabbit. The man is played by Arie Verveen. He tells his dog to come with him to get dinner. He pokes his dog and it isn’t moving. He grabs its arm and pulls it. The dog’s chest is open and there’s blood everywhere.

We then shift to a group of college students going to a cabin in the woods to party for the weekend. They are going in a truck that belongs to Joey Kern. Sitting next to him is his girlfriend played by Cerina Vincent. The backseat is actually in the bed and open. Sitting back there is Jordan Ladd, Rider Strong and James DeBello.

They stop off at a general store before they head to the cabin. Strong sits down on a swinging bench seat next to a boy. The boy is played by Matthew Helms. He doesn’t answer any of Strong’s questions, but freaks out and takes a bite out of his hand. The boy’s father, played by Hal Courtney, and he scolds Strong for sitting there. Strong states he should put up a sign. Strong goes to a creek around back, but doesn’t think it is sanitary to wash it there. The rest of the group goes inside the store where they meet the eccentric owner, played by Robert Harris. He makes a racist comment and they get their supplies and leave.

The group arrives at the cabin and settles in. Kern and Vincent go to have sex, getting interrupted by DiBello and Strong to start. DeBello brought a gun and he decides to go squirrel hunting. Strong and Ladd go to the lake to swim and he is trying to tell her he has a crush on her. They do kiss, but Strong is trying to figure out what that means.

DeBello sees something that is moving in a small ravine and shoots at it. It lets out a call when he does and he realizes that it is a person. It turns out he shot Verveen. This man is now sick and asks if that is DeBello’s cabin. He tells him no and then attacks him. Verveen flees.

The group parties at a bonfire while Strong tells a story about murders at a bowling alley. While they are talking, a man shows up with marijuana and he is played by Eli Roth. Roth is a skateboarder who goes by Grim. Ladd takes a liking to him and we see she isn’t as innocent as we thought. This bothers Strong how she is acting. They hear thunder and Roth has to go so the rain doesn’t ruin his stuff. The group goes inside and there is a knock at the door. It is Verveen and he recognizes DeBello. He shuts the door in the man’s face and he starts to mess with Kern’s truck. He turns it on and the group tries to get him out. DeBello shoots it with the rifle. Kern has a fire poker and Strong a baseball bat. All the while, Verveen is vomiting blood. They end up setting him on fire and he flees into the woods.

The next day, we see that Verveen put the fire out in a lake. The lake has a pipe that runs to the cabin. Ladd and Strong want to go home, but they need a mechanic to fix the truck. Kern and DeBello go to look for help. Vincent does the same thing, but by herself.

Kern and DeBello do find a woman, but she related to Verveen, so they flee. Strong does meet a deputy who is supposed to send a tow truck, the deputy played by Giuseppe Andrews. As they start to contract the flesh eating disease that Verveen have, the fear of each other starts to grow. Ladd is the first to get it and she is kept in the shed. Will they be able to fix the truck and escape? Will they realize what is spreading it? Is there a cure?

This film I originally saw in the theater and this is the first film from Roth. I really liked it the first time and still like it even after this watch. What makes a film like this great is the setting and the fear of contracting the disease. The setting is great, because they are out in the middle of nowhere and the vehicle is disabled so they are trapped. Isolation is great for horror films. The other part is that they don’t know who is sick, what is causing it and how they can get it, so it makes you fearful of your fellow man. That is another aspect that makes the tension ramp up. This film does have some weird dream-like sequences. They don’t make sense, but they are surreal. I like that they are in there though, because when you are feverous, you can have delusion, vivid dreams like this. The film though does have a little too much comedy for my liking and how some things play out I’m not sure I buy completely. The ending I really liked and it comes full circle.

I thought the acting for this film was solid. Ladd wants to do the right thing and we think she is innocent. She played that well, but I thought her turn that she has a wild side was solid. Strong was good as the lead and what makes him great is that he seems weak to start. Coming from Boy Meets World helps to establish that, so his turn at the end is solid. DeBello is funny and an idiot, but he is great in that role. His physical size makes his turn to action believable. Vincent is nude a few times, but she really isn’t much there as a character. She does have one of the grossest scenes with her shaving in the bathtub, which is great. Kern also doesn’t bring a lot to the film either. I think the rest of the cast aren’t bad in their supporting roles. I did think that Roth was pretty funny.

The best thing about this film is the practical effects. Roth is a horror fan so finally helming his first film, he went that route and it was great. I thought the images we get of the rotting flesh were solid. The vomiting of blood is done off screen a lot and we see the aftereffects, but when it is shown, it looks real which is great. Seeing the outcome of the dog attacks, gunshots and attacks was solid as well. I thought the editing was solid as well. The film is pretty tight and builds tension to the end. Even the surreal scenes are put together well. The soundtrack didn’t really stand out to me, but it also doesn’t hurt the film.

Now with that said, I would recommend this film. The concept of the film is great being that this group of kids is trapped in the woods and the fear of knowing who is infected and who isn’t. The ending is fitting which I really liked. The acting for the most part is good. The practical effects are solid, but I will warn that some are really gross and one scene in particular is really cringe worthy. The editing was well done and helps build the tension to the end. The soundtrack doesn’t add or hurt the film for me. Now there was a little bit too much comedy for me, but it doesn’t ruin the film. I think this film is good and deserves a viewing if you can handle seeing what a flesh eating disease does to the body and how people handle the fear of catching it.

 

My Rating: 7 out of 10

10/08/2017 12:45

Film: Gerald’s Game

Year: 2017

Director: Mike Flanagan

Writer: Mike Flanagan and Jeff Howard

Starring: Carla Gugino, Bruce Greenwood and Henry Thomas

 

Review:

This film begins showing someone packing a bag and they put handcuffs into it. We then cut to a car ride where we have a married couple. The wife is played by Carla Gugino and her husband is Bruce Greenwood. He is trying to show her affection and she kind of halts it. He isn’t paying attention and almost hits a dog. Gugino has to alert him and he stops short of hitting it.

They are going to their lake house to have a romantic getaway. They go outside of the normal season so none of their neighbors are around. The refrigerator has been stocked for them. We see that Gugino has a good heart and she takes out some steak to feed to the dog. This annoys Greenwood, as it is Kobe beef and very expensive. He does relent and commends her.

The couple then goes into the bedroom. Greenwood takes a Viagra and reveals what he wants to do. Gugino is in a new nightgown and takes the tag off. Greenwood comes out with handcuffs and secures them to the posts of the bed. Gugino is leery of this, but goes along. She changes her tune when Greenwood is trying to play out a rape fantasy and she demands that he let her go. They get into an argument where we realize that their marriage is in trouble. He is older than she is and she has intimacy issues.

There is a problem though; he has a heart attack during their argument. He slumps down onto Gugino and she pushes him off of her. He does stand up and starts to talk to her. We then realize though, he is actually dead and she is starting to lose her mind the longer that she is stuck in this position. She tries to figure a way out of this and even starts to see herself, uncuffed and talking to her.

The dog that she saw outside makes its way into the house and starts to eat her husband. She also sees a strange looking man in the room that night, but is he real or a figment of her imagination?

Gugino won’t last long and someone might not come out to check on the house for some time. There is a glass of water on a shelf above her as well as a cellphone on the nightstand next to her. Her reach is restricted by the handcuffs and its chain. She has to face a traumatic event from her childhood that she will need to finally overcome in order to escape her situation.

Can she do what she needs to get out? Or will she die in this situation?

Now I need to lead of stating that the Stephen King novel this is based on is one of my favorites. The novel has an unsettling feeling that director and co-writer Mike Flanagan did a great job of capturing. The story seems very basic and it really is. For the most part it all takes place in one location. We do get to see Gugino as a young teen, being played by Chiara Aurelia. It bothered me seeing what happened to her back then and how it has influenced the rest of her life. I bring this up with the story for the fact that it is great that is plays a role in the situation she is in currently. I personally could have done without the ending of the film, but I didn’t mind it either. It does explain everything.

The acting of this film was really good. Gugino played a solid role. She is handcuffed to the bed for a majority of it, but she also gets to play a version of herself that is inside her head that is free. I love seeing her reason with herself and try to figure a way out of her situation. Greenwood is also good as her older husband who is harboring a secret, one that Gugino ignored for awhile. I also really wanted to commend Aurelia. She has a very tough role to play. It is disturbing and the things her father says to her, he is played by Henry Thomas, really bothered me. I also liked seeing Carel Struycken and how creepy he looks. It would be terrifying to see him in the dark.

This film was edited very well. The film runs 105 minutes or so, but it doesn’t feel like it. The tension continues to build as the time goes on. You fear for night coming and you also see the stages of accepting the situation come over Gugino. It would be hard to not panic, but she comes to terms that if she does, it could end her life. Cutting to her reliving that experience was done seamlessly and it makes a lot of sense. There aren’t a lot of effects in the film, but the ones that are done look great. There is one that looked very realistic and made me cringe. I was impressed by that. The score of the film really only stood out in a few scenes, but I thought the song choice was well done. It ties back into the story.

Now with that said, I would highly recommend seeing this film. I’m bias as a King fan, but the story to this film is great. How Gugino’s current situation is tied back into something that happened when she was younger was great to me. The acting of the film was good. The editing of the film was very well done, building tension and was paced well. There isn’t a lot in the way of effects, but the ones that are in this film were well done. The score didn’t stand out to me for the most part, but the scenes were it does is important. This film isn’t a horror film the sense that it is scary. The situation she is in would be terrifying. This film was quite unsettling. I would recommend this film to everyone, even if you aren’t a horror film. I thought it was that good.

 

My Rating: 9 out of 10

09/28/2017 15:40

Film: C.H.U.D. II: Bud the Chud

Year: 1989

Director: David Irving

Writer: Ed Naha

Starring: Brian Robbins, Bill Calvert and Tricia Leigh Fisher

 

Review:

This film begins with a doctor walking down the hallway of a building. He turns off into a room where there is a C.H.U.D. that is in captivity, the creature played by Gerrit Graham. A C.H.U.D. is a cannibalistic humanoid underground dweller, which are zombie like creatures with fangs. The building we are in is a government installation where they are deciding the fate of the C.H.U.D. program. Robert Vaughn is a colonel who is in favor of it. With him is a doctor played by Larry Cedar. The funding is cut after what happened in New York. Graham goes crazy, kills the doctor. Vaughn has him frozen so they can bring him back to study when the funding is returned to the program. The brain just needs a little electricity to turn it back on.

We then shift to a high school. In science class we have a group of friends. The clown is played by Brian Robbins. His best friend is a nerd played by Bill Calvert. They have a girl played by Tricia Leigh Fisher as well. Robbins is talking and asked to conduct an experiment with their frog. He claims that it doesn’t have the use of his back legs and electricity will fix it. Instead he causes a fire and the three are afraid they are going to fail. The class is supposed to see a cadaver be cut open the following day. Robbins and Calvert are cleaning up the storage room he is in and accidently bump the body. It rolls out of the building and down the road. They give chase, but it moves too fast and it gets away. They decide to try to find another body to replace it.

They end up at the center of disease control in their small town. They sneak in and steal the body of Graham. They take it home and have to sneak it in without Robbins’ parents knowing, they are played by Jack Riley and Sandra Kerns. Robbins ends up with him upstairs while Calvert distracts Robbins’ parents. Robbins’ sister wakes up. She asks what he is doing and he scares her, stating it is a nightmare. They go into the bathroom and Calvert joins him. Kerns had a bath drawn and wants to get in before dinner. Robbins accidently drops a hair dryer into the water and this wakes up Graham. The two get him in the basement and leave him there. They leave to meet up with Fisher.

Graham escapes and starts to look for meat. His first victim is the family dog, which also becomes a C.H.U.D. He then claims others in the neighborhood. Vaughn and Cedar come to the town with back-up looking for Graham and the group of teens. They want to bring him back. Graham though finds a picture of Fisher and falls in love. His goal is to find her and make her his mate.

Can the C.H.U.D.s be stopped before it is too late? Or will the city and possible the world be overrun with them? Is there a way to stop them? Will Graham end up getting Fisher?

Now I came into this film expecting much like the first one and let me tell you, if you decide to check this film out, don’t do that. This one is a comedy. We don’t get any of the monsters that we did in the first where they were much more animal like. This one is definitely more zombie like. These ones can talk and think somewhat. They do make them harder to kill than regular zombies though and the heroes have to get creative. We get that the events of the first one happened, which I liked so there is continuity. This one is just really silly though and it hurt it for me. There are times that the C.H.U.D.s could just bite someone and they don’t. It is clearly for the story to proceed, but I didn’t care for that aspect. Especially since I really like the first one and this one did disappoint me.

The acting I wasn’t too impressed with. Robbins is the dumb class clown, which he didn’t do too badly. I just feel that he was written way over the top. Calvert looks like the nerd, but also was slightly too good looking for it as well. Fisher wasn’t bad for an 80’s babe. I did like that she was pretty strong willed which was solid. She wasn’t pressured into seeing either of the characters, which was good to see. Graham did well as Bud the C.H.U.D. He had to walk exaggerated and perform some simple comedy, but I have seen him deliver in comedic roles. Vaughn is the same way; he plays the general way over the top. The rest of the cast was decent. I did want to give a shout-out to June Lockhart, who was in Troll, a film that is a staple of my childhood.

Next I had major issues with the editing. Every death in this film, except for the C.H.U.D.s themselves is off-camera. That annoyed me beyond belief. All we get is them being chased into bushes or showing their feet, we get the sound of a bite, some chewing and then the creature has a little blood that trickles by their mouth. A film like this, I really want to see blood or some actual scenes like this which disappointed me. That leads me to the next part; the film used all practical effects because they used make-up to make their skin look off and then fake teeth. It is hard for me to give them credit for this. The band at the dance was really 80’s and it wasn’t too bad. I kind of like that. The soundtrack didn’t really stand out to me aside from that.

Now with that said, I wouldn’t recommend this film to be viewed. I liked the original and this one failed to live up to that one. This one went way too heavy with the comedy and didn’t blend it with the horror or sci-fi enough for me. I tried to make my mindset as just watching this film as a stand alone, but it is hard to do with all of the references. This film to me couldn’t stand alone. The acting was a little iffy across the board for the most part. The editing was bad due to all the deaths being off-screen. There wasn’t much in the way of practical effects aside how the C.H.U.D.s look and the deaths of them. The soundtrack doesn’t really stand out aside from the time at the dance for me. This is an attempt at a zombie comedy, but there are much better ones out there worth your time.

 

My Rating: 4 out of 10

09/27/2017 15:50

Film: C.H.U.D.

Year: 1984

Director: Douglas Cheek

Writer: Parnell Hall

Starring: John Heard, Daniel Stern and Christopher Curry

 

Review:

This film begins with a woman walking her dog down the street in New York City; she is played by Laure Mattos. Something comes out of a manhole and pulls her in.

We then shift to a guy looking out of his window; he is played by John Heard. His phone is ringing and the answering machine picks it up. The voice over it is a reporter that he worked with. Heard is a photographer and the voice needs a photo of a bag lady for an article about the homeless people living underneath the ground in the subway tunnels. Heard has a live-in girlfriend played by Kim Greist. She is a model and they have a photo shoot later that day.

The film then shifts to a local police precinct. There is a captain that is played by Christopher Curry. There is an unusually high number of missing persons. One of them is Curry’s wife, who is Mattos. We see him make a call to his chief, played by Eddie Jones. There is a cover-up that is going on and Curry knows about it. Curry does notice that all of these disappearances are within a small area. Before Curry heads out to check on a homeless man who vanished, he talks to a freelance reporter who is played by J.C. Quinn who is trying to get a story.

This leads him to a reverend that runs a local soup kitchen. This man is played by Daniel Stern. He isn’t happy that Curry shows up, but he knows something is up when they send him instead of a normal officer. During this visit, he meets with a crazed man played by Graham Beckel. He pulls a knife and Curry asks why he has it. Stern states that homeless people are arming themselves for some reason.

At the photo shoot, Heard gets agitated. He takes some time to call his answering machine when he hears a message from the bag lady he photographed. She is played by Ruth Maleczech. She has been arrested for trying to steal a police officer’s gun. He goes to bail her out and then walks her home. The problem is that she lives in the subway tunnels with her brother and his friend. Her brother is played by Bill Raymond and he is hurt. He has a nasty wound on his leg. What could have caused it?

Curry goes back later that night to meet with Stern and he takes him down into a tunnel by his soup kitchen. He shows him some things he found that were abandoned down there which are nearby his place. They find things used in nuclear power plants and even a Geiger counter. When they turn it on, something moves past in the distance that registers the highest number, before shutting down. They then hear a roar.

What made this sound? Is it what attacked Raymond? Are there more? What are the government people trying to cover up?

This viewing was the first time that I’ve actually watched it all the way through. I caught it about halfway through a while ago when it was on Chiller. This is really a fun, toxic monster/zombie film to me. I like that they brought in the realism that there are homeless people living in a city like New York that don’t have anywhere to go so they live in the old subway tunnels for shelter. This came out in the era where toxic waste was something that scared people and they didn’t know what the side effects of it. I love that C.H.U.D. is an acronym for two things, Cannibalistic Humanoid Underground Dweller or Contamination Hazard Urban Disposal. This does have a good social commentary as well about the government doing illegal things and it having side effects that are dangerous. This is something that we see even today.

The acting in this film is surprisingly good, mostly by people I’m assuming weren’t big, but would go on to do big things. Heard is solid as the successful photographer who wants to do something that is worthwhile. You see that from getting angry at the perfume photo shoot as well as when he talks to Quinn. Stern is in a more serious role here, but he is naturally funny and that shows. I think that actually makes me enjoy him in the film even more. Curry is solid as the main cop. I was questioning why he wasn’t more upset about his wife being missing, but when it is revealed to what happened to her, he makes up for it. I’ve seen Greist in Manhunter, but this film she really doesn’t do much. I think a lot of is due to lack of screen time. I do like the sequence when she is attacked in the apartment though. I also want to point out that Sam McMurray, John Goodman, Quinn, Frankie Faison and Jon Polito all make appearances in this film. They all have had successful careers in acting and fun to see them in such minor roles in this film.

Next I have to talk about the creatures. The name implies that they are people who have been mutated. To me I’d say they are mutated monster zombies. I really like that this film used practical effects to make them. At times you can tell it is someone in a rubber suit, but they still look scary. I love that the have adapted to their environment with their glowing eyes and animal like features. The editing of the film helps this, because early on we just get glimpses, but as the tension has been built we see them more and more. I enjoyed the score for the film as well. One scene that really stood out to me was when Greist is attacked in her apartment. It has an electronic sound to it and makes it tenser.

Now with that said, this film comes in with a bit of a cheesy, camp feel to it and I really enjoyed it. This is a film that actually has an underlying message, but is above average creature feature. The story progresses and builds tension. The acting actually has some solid actors who have gone on to have good careers for the most part. I think the monsters, whatever they officially are, look good. The editing of the film I think was good and the score was solid for what they needed. If you are a horror fan, I think that you will enjoy this film. Don’t come into watching it with high expectations and just enjoy what is on the screen.

 

My Rating: 7 out of 10

09/26/2017 16:14

Film: Apt Pupil

Year: 1998

Director: Bryan Singer

Writer: Brandon Boyce

Starring: Ian McKellen, Brad Renfro and Joshua Jackson

 

Review:

This film begins with a voice-over of a classroom that is learning about the Holocaust. There is a student who seems really interested in the subject, played by Brad Renfro. He takes the teacher’s advice and goes to a local library to learn more about the subject. We then see that he is on a public bus and it is a raining. An old man gets on and draws Renfro’s attention. We learn that the year is 1984.

Renfro is a high school student and he is best friends with Joshua Jackson. Jackson is your normal teen and Renfro seems to be distracted. After school Renfro goes to an older looking house. He picks up the newspaper and knocks. A man answers the door with a thick German accent; he is played by Ian McKellen. McKellen doesn’t want him there, but Renfro convinces the old man to let him in.

As they talk it turns out that McKellen is a former Nazi who ran a death camp and experiments. He denies it at first but Renfro had been following him for some time. He dusted his mailbox for fingerprints and it is an overwhelming match. Renfro states that he wants to hear the stories from McKellen and what he did during the war. The teen then blackmails him stating that if anything happens to Renfro, he has all of the information that will incriminate McKellen hidden and will be revealed.

Renfro starts to spend a lot of time over with McKellen. They even grow to be friends somewhat. Renfro invites McKellen over for dinner with his family even. It is under the guise that Renfro reads to him due to the old man’s failing eye sight. Renfro’s parents are played by Ann Dowd and Bruce Davison and his grandparents by James Karen and Marjorie Lovett. Everyone seems to like McKellen.

These stories start to corrupt Renfro though. He is on pace to be number one in his class, but his grades start to slip. He has trouble sleeping and keeps dreaming of what he has been told by McKellen. He starts to become angry and violent in nature. McKellen is forced to wear a SS uniform that Renfro purchases. Retelling these stories awakens something in McKellen as well.

Renfro’s guidance counselor is played by David Schwimmer. He is concerned with the decline in his grades and requests to see Renfro’s parents. Renfro goes to McKellen with this. We see Renfro as he practices forging his father’s signature. McKellen asks some questions about the guidance counselor. He decides to visit him, pretending to be Renfro’s grandfather. McKellen gets him out of telling his parents, but there is a daunting task to get back on track. McKellen also reveals that he has a hold over Renfro.

Things become even more complicated when a homeless man, played by Elias Kotas, sees McKellen in his SS uniform. Will Renfro be able to complete his task and not have to tell his parents about his slipping grades? Can he get from McKellen what is being held? Or will all of this be revealed, ruining both of them?

I have to say that I saw this film awhile ago and have read the novella by Stephen King previously. This does follow the concept very closely, but the endings are much different. I prefer the ending that King wrote to the one in this film, but that is a personal preference. Now the story of this film is great. You have a normal, great student and athlete in high school. He is interested in the holocaust, which isn’t abnormal. What is though is that he discovers a Nazi war criminal lives in his town and instead of turning him in; he wants all the horrible details. I love that we see the effect it has on him as he starts to descend into madness. This film does have a happier ending, but we also see that what Renfro went through has its change on him. Without spoiling it, the title does make a lot of sense in regards to the ending.

The acting in this film is pretty good. McKellen is great in his role. I read that he had trouble mastering the accent, but I thought he did an excellent job. I believed it completely. I love how evil the character he is portraying is as well. He does it so well that I still kind of feel bad for him in the end. Renfro did a pretty solid job as well. I think the film should have played up more in the beginning of him being normal, because the baseline for him is too close so the change isn’t as noticeable. I do love when he becomes powerless and the effect it has in the end when he does get it back. Jackson did fine in his role, even though it is quite small. I felt the film tried to play a little more with the father, Davison, but we don’t get enough of it.

Editing of the film was something else that I really wanted to touch on. I felt the pacing of the film was fine. It does run a tad long and does have some issues at the climax for me. I don’t know if enough tension was built. I will say though that I loved how they showed Renfro and his nightmares of the stories he is hearing. We do see that he is being haunted by the visions. There wasn’t much need for effects and what was used looked good. The score of the film didn’t really stand out, except for a few scenes. We see that McKellen uses a victrola to play records. It gives it an older feel, which I liked. There is also a German song played over Renfro’s studying montage and it is used at the ending during. I thought that was a good touch as well.

Now with that said, I would recommend seeing this film. It is an interesting film of two people vying for power and the corruption of youth. We see that the stories of the atrocities that are committed and the effect it has. Both characters are flawed and I liked that concept. The acting of the film was good. The editing was well done for the most part. I thought the score stands out with the scenes when it needed to. I feel that this is a very good film and deserves a viewing whether you are a fan of horror or not.

 

My Rating: 8 out of 10

09/12/2017 16:39

Film: The Babadook

Year: 2014

Director: Jennifer Kent

Writer: Jennifer Kent

Starring: Essie Davis, Noah Wiseman and Daniel Henshall

 

Review:

This film begins filling us in on what happened through a nightmare. We have a woman, who is played by Essie Davis. She was in a car accident with her husband while she was pregnant. The husband was killed and the son was born that day. The son is played by Noah Wiseman. He comes into his mother’s room telling her that he had a nightmare. She goes into his room to check for a monster and afterwards, he sleeps in bed with her. We see that keeps her from getting sleep herself.

Davis works a nurse in a retirement home. She is struggling with being tired. A co-worker shows interest in her, he is played by Daniel Henshall. Davis is informed that her son’s school is calling her. Wiseman makes weapons and is into magic. He brought a make-shift gun that shoots darts to school. They want to put the boy in a special class by himself. Davis won’t have this and pulls him out of school.

That night, Davis allows Wiseman to pick out the book she will read him to go to bed. The one he chooses is one she hasn’t seen before called The Bababook. It is a pop-up book with pull slides in it. The book though is quite scary and it ends up upsetting Wiseman. There is another sleepless night for Davis.

Davis’ sister is played by Hayley McElhinney. The two of them go to a park with their kids and we start to get that the McElhinney and her daughter do not care for Wiseman. He is quite needy, loud and unruly. McElhinney does allow the boy to come over during the day since he isn’t in school. Davis tells him not to speak of the Bababook and that he isn’t real.

Davis goes to work and is having a rough day. She is caught being rude to the residents. Henshall does tell her that he will cover for her to go home. She decides to go and have a relaxing day to herself. When she checks her phone though, she has ten missed calls from her sister. Davis goes to her house to find her son by himself in the yard. He was talking to something and it freaked McElhinney out.

Davis continually tries to convince Wiseman that the Bababook is not real and that it is something in his head. He has a seizure while they are driving home and he is taken to the doctor. Davis begs the doctor to give her something for him to sleep. He is reluctant, but does write her a script.

She starts to see things herself though. The book she had hid on top of her bureau and somehow Wiseman got it back. She then threw it away, ripping all the pages out of it. There is knocking at the door and she finds the book on her doorstep. The pages are taped back together and there is more to the story this time. There are images of the mother killing their dog, son and herself. She starts to see images of the creature from the book on television as well as thinking she sees it in person.

Is this creature real? Or is she losing her mind? Can she figure this out before it is too late or will the book come true that the Bababook can’t be stopped?

Now I really wanted to see this film when it first came out and hadn’t had a chance. I heard from horror podcasts that I listen to as well that this film was good, so I was intrigued. I do have to say that I agree with them, this film is really good. The story of this was interesting to me. I like the idea of this book that is about the creature, but it doesn’t give really much background. It is creepier seeing the images and it being geared toward children. I love that the mother doesn’t think it is real, but she isn’t sleeping. She slowly descends into madness and it makes you start to wonder, is the creature real or has she lost it. The concept of the Bababook getting inside of her helps to make it ambiguous as well. I will say though that I was disappointed by the ending. I didn’t like how it played out.

I will say that for the acting, it was good. Davis does a great job. I feel horrible for her and know that when you aren’t sleeping how irritable and how hard it would be to function. The longer it goes on, the worse she got and it is quite believable. Wiseman was extremely annoying and got on my nerves. I almost wanted his character to get murdered by how bad he was, but his acting was good. He was supposed to play the character this way and he did an excellent job of it. The rest of the cast doesn’t really have a lot to do in this film, but they round it out just fine.

Next I want to talk about the creature in this film. I think he looks great. We don’t get to see him a lot, it is only glimpses and I love that. It makes it that much scarier. I did find it interesting as well that he was modeled after Lon Chaney from London After Midnight. There aren’t a lot of effects really in the film, but the ones that are done look good so I have no issues there. The editing of this film is really good as well. They incorporated a lot of cartoons and edited the creature into things on television. Some of these were really creepy to me and I liked it. The score didn’t stand out to me, but there were some scenes that it did and it really helped the mood of the scene.

Now with that said, I would recommend this film. The story and concept of the film are well done. I did have issues with the ending though. The acting is very good. The editing of the film was well done. The creature looked really good and the score doesn’t always stand out, but when it does, it makes the scenes that much creepier. I would say that this is a very good film overall and definitely worth a viewing.

 

My Rating: 8 out of 10

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