Film: Alien: Covenant
Director: Ridley Scott
Writer: Jack Paglen and Michael Green
Starring: Michael Fassbender, Katherine Waterston and Billy Crudup
This film begins with a conversation between Michael Fassbender, who is an android and reprising his role from the previous film Prometheus. He is talking with the head of the Wayland Corporation, played by Guy Pearce. Their conversation is about Pearce being Fassbender’s creator and what the meaning of life is.
We then shift to the future. There is a ship that is full of colonists, equipment and a crew that are trying to get to a planet that is similar to Earth. They are looking to set up a new colony there. The captain of this mission is played by Billy Crudup. They are forced to wake up early when a shockwave hits them. There is damage to their ship and they need to fix it. The second in command of this mission is played by Katherine Waterston. She is depressed that her significant other passed away when they had plans for the new planet.
The pilot of this mission is played by Danny McBride. He goes out with another member of the crew to fix part of the ship so power can be restored. On his way back to the ship, he receives a scrambled transmission. Once back on board, Fassbender who plays another android as well named Walter, takes his helmet. McBride picks up from it that the person is singing ‘Country Roads’ by John Denver. Fassbender also finds the origin of the transmission is from a nearby planet. This one didn’t come up when they were searching for a new Earth, but it is much closer to ours than the one they are going to. Crudup decides against Waterston’s wishes to check this one out.
Part of the crew goes down to check it out and two members of this ingest these spore-like substance. This causes them to become violently ill and then a creature emerges from their body. Amy Seimetz is the pilot of the ship that comes to the planet as well as McBride’s wife. She panics, starts shooting at the alien and ends up blowing herself and the ship up. They’re now stranded.
There is another of these creatures that attacks when the rest of the group gets to the ship, but they are saved. Their savior turns out to be other Fassbender, David. He takes them back to where he has been living on this planet. He also takes interest in the Fassbender from this mission, Walter.
How did David arrive on this planet? What secrets is he hiding? Where did these new aliens come from? Are the Xenomorphs on this planet as well? Can they get off the planet before it is too late?
I want to lead off stating that Aliens was one of my favorite films growing up and I’ve been a big fan of the series. This one had an interesting story to me. Prometheus happens before this and is a prequel to Alien. This is a direct sequel to Prometheus. I didn’t mind the scene that started this film, as it plays a major role at the climax and helps the film make sense. What I didn’t like was that it wasn’t part of the Prometheus story. This is part of my problem at times with sequels. In order to deepen the story and enhance it, they go back to add things that were not there previously. David’s decision in the previous film seemed to be a choice made during that mission, but this one makes it seem like something more. Now I will admit, I loved David’s character and what he is doing on this planet. I thought it explained the new aliens very well. I also predicted the twist at the end, but I still liked that they did it.
The acting in this film I felt was good. I’m a big fan of Fassbender and I thought this film definitely utilized what he can do by having him play two characters. What makes it even better is that they are both android, just different models. One of them has been given special instructions that make him a mad scientist that has lost his grip with reality, while the other wants to defend his crew and help them with their mission. This is very comparable to Lance Henriksen in the earlier installments to this franchise. I really liked Waterston as well. I haven’t seen her in a lot, but I was impressed. McBride was great in that he added some comedy to this film, while still being pretty solid in my eyes. I also thought Crudup did well. He played the role of the leader who doesn’t seem to have a lot of confidence and is over compensating by being too hard. It seemed natural. The rest of the cast rounded out well in my eyes as well.
The aliens in this film were all CGI, but I wasn’t bothered by this. I thought they looked realistic enough. I thought they did enough to make the Xenomorphs look just enough different from the Neomorphs that were introduced in this film. Where the original films did more with practical effects, this one utilized computers to make them be able to do more and didn’t have to hide them in the shadows as much. Now this last part can make them scarier at times, especially in the original. This one does do some of that as well, which I liked. I didn’t see any issues with the editing; I thought that was well done. The soundtrack didn’t stand out to me, but decision on what was used fit the scenes and didn’t take me out of them. I do want to congratulate them on using Country Roads as well, as I’m a big fan of that song.
Now I have heard there were a lot of people that didn’t care for this film. I happened to enjoy it. It doesn’t rival the original or the first sequel, but I thought that it is continuing with the story from Prometheus, helping to build toward Alien while still giving the franchise room to add more films. The story of this film I happened to like as well. Felt the acting was solid around it and I had no complaints there. The aliens looked good for being CGI and the use of computers helped them to move around while still looking realistic. The editing and the soundtrack didn’t stand out, but it also didn’t take me out of it. I feel this is slightly above average and entertaining. You can come in to just see this film, as I feel it fills you in with enough that you need to know, or it can be watched as part of the series as well. I would recommend giving this film a viewing if you like sci-fi horror or alien horror films.
My Rating: 7 out of 10
Film: Lost Boys: The Thirst
Director: Dario Piana
Writer: Evan Charnov and Hans Rodionoff
Starring: Corey Feldman, Tanit Phoenix Copley and Casey B. Dolan
This film starts out in Washington D.C. A man is put into a chair by two vampires that are wearing suits. They look to be secret service agents. A man is going to be fed on by them and he is played by Matthew Dylan Roberts. One of the vampires is in a wheelchair and he needs have his false teeth put in to feed. Two men bust in. They are the Frog brothers, played by Corey Feldman and Jamison Newlander. They save Roberts and Newlander gives chase. Feldman comes in as he is given vampire blood and he turns. He flees into the night.
Feldman wakes up to pounding at his door. He lives in a trailer and we see that he is going to be evicted from it. He is behind on his payments. He goes into town to a comic book shop where he is trying to sell some of his old comics. He is getting low-balled though. A woman comes in, played by Casey B. Dolan. She has a crush on him and tells him she will try to get more from eBay for him if he wants.
When he gets home, there is a woman waiting for him there. She is a famous author played by Tanit Phoenix Copley. He invites her in to hear what she has to say. She wants to hire him to kill the Alpha master vampire and to save her younger brother from him. He declines to help her though. She leaves her card and tells him that she is staying at the local hotel.
Feldman goes to visit his brother. He tells him about the offer he got and thinks this could be a way to cure him. He doesn’t buy into it and declines to help. Newlander bares his fangs and Feldman leaves.
He meets with Copley and she strategically changes where Feldman can see her and listens to what she has to say. There have been raves going on all over Europe. There is a new designer drug called The Thirst that is being used. It is actually vampire blood. Copley’s brother was at a rave in Ibiza. He is played by Felix Mosse. The DJ is the master vampire played by Seb Castang. With him is a giant vampire played by Hennie Bosman. There are two women as well played by Tanya van Graan and Ingrida Kraus.
Feldman agrees to kill the vampire, but he expects Copley to pay for the weapons he will need to complete his mission. She also called in someone else when he didn’t agree at first. This guy is a reality star played by Steven van Niekerk. He doesn’t actually believe he will have to kill vampires, but is using this to keep up his fame. He is accompanied by his camera man played by Joe Vaz.
Before going to his weapon maker, Feldman visits the grave from a character in the first film, this was played by Corey Haim. He leaves an issue of Batman, volume 14, that Haim was looking for at his grave. When he gets back into his truck, he finds an old book about vampires that his brother has left him. He takes it to Dolan, who tells him she will look through it and see if she can give him anything to help. She is attacked by a vampire after he leaves though, but Feldman didn’t go far. They fight, but Dolan has what the vampire thinks is mace, but it is really holy water. She kills it.
Feldman decides to bring her a long to meet with Roberts. They choose the weapons that they are going to need for this mission. Before they can leave, they are attacked by vampires. Dolan points out all of the weapons are in the car, so they have to improvise with things they find around the place.
They learn that the rave is going to be taking place at a slaughter house factory on a nearby island. Feldman and Dolan meet with Niekerk, Vaz and Copley. Can they save Mosse before it is too late? Is Castang really the master vampire? Will he be able to create his army from this rave? What is really happening here with this ritual?
I have to say that I enjoyed this film better than the previous one. I liked that they followed Feldman as the main character and they tied back in Newlander. I was really confused by the end of the previous film when he showed up and I’m glad that this one explained it. I also really like the concept this film had with drug The Thirst. I’ve never been to a rave myself, but from what you hear about them, there are random drugs that go around them. I think it is an interesting thing that with the amount of people that go to these that it would be genius for a vampire to bottle his blood and use it to turn people if you want to make an army. Some of the interactions between the vampires and the people were good, even though some of the weapons they use are a little bit corny. I will give it some leeway there though. The women they cast in this film were very good looking as well so that was a plus for me. I also really liked the twist that they had at the end.
This film could have been better. There were some things that happen that I wasn’t a big fan of. An example of this was when they are trying to figure out where the nest was, they think it is the slaughter house and they just accept it as it has to be. It ends up being right and I just didn’t like that they didn’t have to figure it out more. I absolutely hated the fight scenes with Feldman and a vampire using swords. He is slow and not athletic so it didn’t look good on film. How they kill the master vampire was slightly farfetched, but I will still give them credit for thinking of it.
With that said, this film is mediocre. It is not nearly as good as the original, but it is better than the second film in the trilogy. The acting is decent, but nothing great. Feldman is solid though reprising his role as Edgar Frog. Some of the interactions with the vampires are good while a few are not so good. The story has some good concepts that I enjoyed and thought were interesting. I would recommend this one if you are out to see all the films in this series, but you can just watch the original film to get the maximum enjoyment. This one as I have said is better than the one before it, but if you want a solid vampire film, there are better ones out there.
My Rating: 5 out of 10
Film: Lost Boys: The Tribe
Director: P.J. Pesce
Writer: Hans Rodionoff
Starring: Tad Hilgenbrink, Angus Sutherland and Autumn Reeser
This film begins with a group of surfers coming to a gate and jumping it. They go surfing in the ocean and the owner comes out of the house to see what the commotion is, the owner played by Tom Savini. The leader of the surfers is played by Angus Sutherland. With him are Shaun Sipos, Merwin Mondesir and Kyle Cassie. Savini yells at them for trespassing and threatens them, revealing that he is a vampire. The group also reveals themselves to be vampires and they kill Savini.
We then see a car pull up dragging a U-Haul trailer. The driver of the car is Tad Hilgenbrink. With him is his sister, she is played by Autumn Reeser. They are coming to live with their aunt, who is played by Gabrielle Rose. They are renting her guest house. Hilgenbrink used to be a pro-surfer but after their parents died; he lost his temper and lost his sponsors as well as getting kicked out of competing. He is now looking for work.
They go to a surf shop where the kid running it recognizes Hilgenbrink. He asks if they need help and he informs him they do not. Hilgenbrink wants to sculpt surfboards so the kid gives him a map to meet with a guy who does it for the shop. Reeser stands outside when a guy approaches her. He is played by Greyston Holt and he tries to be smooth, but fails. He gives Reeser his number though.
The two of them drive out to the trailer where the sculptor lives, but no one answers the door. Hilgenbrink leaves their address and phone number in hopes that he can get a job. Reeser isn’t too big on this and stays in the car. They go home.
Hilgenbrink sits out on a dock watching the sunset when he is joined by Sutherland. Hilgenbrink didn’t even hear him come up, but he does recognize Sutherland. He used to be a pro-surfer as well and just stopped what he was doing. Sutherland was Hilgenbrink’s idol when he was growing up. Sutherland leaves, but invites Hilgenbrink to a party before he does.
He doesn’t really want to go though, but Reeser tries to talk him into it. It is confirmed they are going when Rose shows up wanting to watch The Goonies with them.
They go to the party and it is crazy. Hilgenbrink wants to leave though when he sees Cassie. Cassie is an instigator and he is the reason that Hilgenbrink is no longer a pro-surfer. They got into a fight and he ruined Cassie’s knee during it, taking him out of it as well. Reeser convinces him to stay when she points out that Moneca Delain is making eyes at him. She leaves to go inside.
Holt notices her and tries to bring her a drink, but he is stopped by Sipos and Cassie, who direct him elsewhere. Sutherland then introduces himself to Reeser and they hit it off. He takes her on a tour of the house. This leads to his bedroom, where he gives her something to drink that makes her sick to her stomach. Hilgenbrink and Delain move to the shower where they start to make love, but he leaves when he thinks he hears Reeser. He is upset that she was riding on a motorcycle with Sutherland and he takes her home. She throws up in the car, which he thinks is due to her drinking too much, but she is really changing into a vampire.
Delain shows up later that night to finish what they started. She gets a little rough and Hilgenbrink pushes her off. She runs into a deer antler on the wall and she becomes stone, before disappearing. He doesn’t understand what happens. The man that he went to visit the day before shows up, played by Corey Feldman, to inform him that she was a vampire. He also tells him that his sister is changing into one, but she has to feed first.
She tries to do that by inviting Holt over. Before she can though, Hilgenbrink shows up with a cross. He tries to tell her what Sutherland did to her, but she doesn’t believe it. She has a crush on him and won’t hear it.
Sutherland also wants Hilgenbrink to join their group as well. Feldman and Hilgenbrink try to figure out where the nest is and it is decided that Hilgenbrink will pretend to join them to find it and save his sister. Can they stop these vampires before it is too late? Can they save Reeser before she changes? Or will Hilgenbrink be seduced by them?
I want to lead of stating that I really like the original film, it is a classic. This one had potential to be really good. I like Reeser, I think she is attractive and is a pretty decent actress. It is fun to see Feldman return in his role as Edgar Frog. I also liked seeing horror veteran Savini in this film as well. The final thing I will say about the acting is that I do think Sutherland and his crew were pretty decent cast as the vampires. It is really interesting that he is the half-brother of Kiefer, who was the main vampire in the original film. I like that this isn’t a remake, but took the concept of two siblings, made one of them a sister and the older one is the one that has save the day. I don’t mind sequels using similar concepts, but just tweaking it.
This film I was slightly disappointed in though. I’m not really sure why the subtitle is The Tribe. The vampires in this one aren’t much different than the previous film and at least that one had a great twist I didn’t see coming at the climax. The vampires were much more interesting in the original one as well. This film also seems to move way too fast. Reeser is seduced almost immediately and I wasn’t a huge fan of that. I can let this slide a little, since vampires have the ability to charm their victims. They also take in Hilgenbrink way too easily, even after he killed one of theirs. They might be just too stupid since they do not have someone looking over them, but it doesn’t really explain then who turned Sutherland. I just feel this plot wasn’t thought out well enough and it moves too fast.
With that said, I wouldn’t recommend this film. It had potential to be much better than what it is and it has big shoes to fill being a sequel to a classic. The acting actually isn’t all that bad, but it is hampered by poorly written story and execution. This film gets right into the action, which is a good thing, but it moves too rapidly through everything as well. I would stick to the original, but if you are interested in seeing the story continue on, then I would recommend this film. You wouldn’t be missing much though if you decided to pass.
My Rating: 4 out of 10
Director: Jeannot Szwarc
Writer: William Castle and Thomas Page
Starring: Bradford Dillman, Joanna Miles and Richard Gilliland
This film starts with a woman being dropped off at a church by her husband. The woman goes inside and she is played by Joanna Miles. Her husband is a local scientist and also teaches at the university, he is played by Bradford Dillman. Miles sits with a man that she has known for some time, he is played by Frederic Downs. An earthquake hits. They flee outside and Downs’ son shows up, telling them that the earthquake has ripped across their field.
They head toward it and Downs’ daughter is having a breakdown, thinking that he died at the church. She is played by Jamie Smith-Jackson and she is there with her brother, played by Jim Poyner. They see their truck coming, but before it reaches them, it overheats. It then blows up, killing the son and Downs.
Smith-Jackson is seeing Richard Gilliland, who is a student at the university. He comes across some weird cockroach like creatures that are in the field and by where the fault line is. He watches as they start a fire, burning him and killing a cat.
Gilliland seeks his former teacher, played by Dillman. He tries to tell him what these insects did, but Dillman doesn’t believe it. He changes that when he actually sees what they can do. He then takes a few specimens to get checked out. He works with his best friend and co-worker, played by Alan Fudge. Their wives are also best friends.
Dillman learns that these bugs have hitched a ride with him. He has found a way to get them into jars, but misses one of them. With Fudge, they also learn that these insects do not have eyes, are built for speed, but whatever reason, they barely move. They can start fires with a second set of antennas.
Dillman loses it when he wife is killed by one of these bugs and he decides to go into full blown researching them. His research takes a turn though he discovers they act differently when you can pressurize the air around them like it was deep underground. He also introduces a normal cockroach to see if he can get it to mate.
What will become of his research? What is the point of it? Will it solve anything or make things much worse?
This is another film that I hadn’t heard a lot about, but it was on a list of films to see. I have to say that the story had me hooked when Dillman goes off the deep-end and going all in on his research. I guess my problem with it though is that it doesn’t make sense. He figures out how to kill them, which is what I thought the original goal was. He also discovers that they will die off regardless due to the difference in pressure. You’d think that would be the end of it, almost even as a revenge for his wife. With that said though, I did find it interesting what the cockroaches do after he secludes himself and researches. The aftermath of that doesn’t make a lot of sense though either and the ending did not as well. I don’t get how it would play out that way or why they would want to. It does seem to end a little bit too convenient in this way.
The acting I felt was decent. No one really stood out to me, but no one was overly bad. I do feel that the writing of the film had a little to do with that, because we really got introduced to many of the characters and we don’t get a lot to connect with that. I think in part was due to the experiments takes up a large portion of the running time. Dillman I did feel bad for, losing his wife as he did and I understand why he’d lose grip with reality. Not sure I believe he’d end up doing what he did though because of it. It was also good to see Patty McCormack as an adult in this film. She was in film The Bad Seed, which I really enjoyed. McCormack has such a natural beauty that I’m glad she was in this film.
This film came out in 1975, so they used only practical effects, which I was a big fan of. There were live cockroaches used, so those looked great. They did freak me out, so I’ll give the film a boost there. Even the lighting up as they start fires looked good to me. The editing didn’t really stand out to me, except when they were writing messages on the walls. If you see the film, you will know what I mean. Then the soundtrack had an electronic sound when the bugs were on screen. That helped to make the film seem even creepier. Other than that, the scenes had no sound which can be effective. For this film, it didn’t really alter the scenes except when the soundtrack for the bugs was more noticeable.
Now with that said this film I’m kind of torn on. I personally enjoyed it, but felt it was slightly above average. I like the concept of an earthquake happening and it opening up a cavern for a possible creature like in this film to escape. I didn’t find the reason for Dillman’s character to do what he did halfway through and I feel the ending wasn’t great. The acting in the film was decent, but there wasn’t much there either. The use of real cockroaches and practical effects I was a fan of. There wasn’t a lot in the way of editing, but the soundtrack for the scenes with the cockroaches was good. I would say if this sounds interesting, give it a chance to see how you feel about it. I personally found the film interesting, but it had some flaws for me.
My Rating: 6 out of 10
Film: Lord of the Flies
Director: Peter Brook
Writer: Peter Brook
Starring: James Aubrey, Tom Chapin and Hugh Edwards
This film begins, with images of school age children, but mixing it with images of war, airplanes and showing things from wartime. They end the montage with showing an airplane, showing a storm and then finally an airplane in the water, signifying that the plane has crashed.
We are then on the island where we meet our main character, played by James Aubrey. He is going through the jungle where he meets a chubby character, played by Hugh Edwards. They go to the beach where they find a conch shell. After some tries, they get it to work like a horn.
With this other boys come from the deeper in the island to meet up together. Aubrey and Edwards try to bring order to the meeting and to learn everyone’s names. While they do this, they hear chanting/singing and a group of choir boys arrive, led by Tom Chapin.
From here they decide to make Aubrey the leader by a vote, with Chapin in control of his choir. The choir though soon changes as Chapin turns them into hunters. As the film progresses, they create fire with Edwards’ glasses, but we see the breakdown of society as the hunters become more and more savage.
This film is excellent in seeing as I stated above, how quickly society breaks down in crisis. The film doesn’t last more than a few weeks, but the hunters have become a savage tribe of people. They loot, murder and are territorial. The mob mentality is also is something that is prevalent as well since even Aubrey and Edwards are sucked into their crazy dance. This is also something that is very relevant today. You see riots that get worse from the mob mentality even today. There is also the breakdown of society and doing the right thing with our political issues as well.
The problem I had with this film is we have no sense of how long passes in the film or when it changes from days either. There are a couple times we see night, but days pass between events and we don’t really know how long though. I believe the filmmaker could have intentionally done that to get us caught up in the flow of what is happening. The acting is done by all children, which isn’t the greatest since they have trouble turning in great performances, but I do believe they do well enough at capturing what the novel did.
I am adding this film to my horror film research. It is not a horror film, but the idea of this is scary. First we have a plane crashing and the only survivors are boys. They are later elementary age, so none of them are adults. It is scary to see how society breaks down and how fast this can happen. This is something that is still relevant today. It would be scary to be hunted by your peers as well.
I would recommend this film if you’ve read the book, because I do believe the adaptation does well at capturing the spirit it was going for. The acting as I stated above isn’t the greatest, but not horrible. If you want to see the degeneration of society, shown at the level of children standard on a deserted island, I would say watch this film.
My Rating: 7 out of 10
Film: Lone Survivor
Director: Peter Berg
Writer: Peter Berg
Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Taylor Kitsch and Emile Hirsch
This film begins with showing the rigorous training that it takes to become a Navy SEAL. They have to answer questions after holding their breath underwater and challenges of strength and endurance. We also see that a lot try out and not many get through.
The film then shifts to a small village in Afghanistan. There is a man who is part of the Taliban; he is played by Yousuf Azami. His second in command is played by Ali Suliman. They seek someone who was thought to be helping the Americans. The village does nothing as he is beheaded on a log.
We then shift to the barracks of the Navy SEALs. The leader of this unit is played by Taylor Kitsch. We learn that he is getting married and that his wife wants him to buy her a horse for her wedding gift. They communicate via e-mail. Kitsch first goes to meet with his friend, Mark Wahlberg. Wahlberg was sleeping and all he can tell him is that the horse is going to be expensive. The rest of the crew is made up of Ben Foster and Emile Hirsch. Foster is married and he chats with his wife. Hirsch and Kitsch have a foot race.
Kitsch ends up winning and we meet a newbie in the barracks, he is played by Alexander Ludwig. He wants to go on the next mission, but since he is still green, they won’t let him until he’s proven himself.
We then meet their commanding officer, played by Eric Bana. They get debriefed on their mission to take out Azami. The crew going is going to be Wahlberg, Kitsch, Hirsch and Foster. They come up with the plan of what they will do and how they will do it. They debrief the rest so they know the code words and what each one means.
They are dropped at their point and begin their hike to the village. They arrive with no issues, other than their radio is having bad reception. They get settled and await the time for them to take out Azami. Bana goes back to the other base and leaves Jerry Ferrara to man the radio and to help keep the mission going.
They have a problem though when some goat herders from the village stumble upon them. They tie them up and have to decide what to do with them. Hirsch and Foster want to kill them while Wahlberg wants them to do the right thing and let them go. Kitsch ends up agreeing with Wahlberg and they let them go. The mission has been compromised and they have to begin their trek back to their base.
The problem they run into is that one of the boys is really angry about being tied up. He and the younger one run back to the village to inform their leader what has happened. The four figured this would happen and already are at the false peak of the mountain. They still cannot get reception and they barely have been able to get through with their satellite phone.
The Taliban soldiers catch up with them and a gunfight ensues. In this first round they are hit by the gunfire. Some take it in the backside, shots to the body and Hirsch actually loses two of his fingers. They fight their way out though and slide down the side of the mountain. The soldiers are relentless though and continue on. They actually slide down more of the mountain, yet they still are under attack.
Who will survive? How much can they take? Will they be able to get in touch with their base to get evacuated? Will any of them survive and if they do, what state will they be in when they are finally found?
I have to say that this film is great first and foremost for its realism. They are shot and they keep going. Part of this is where they are hit and the armor they are wearing. These men went through a lot and this ordeal is terrifying. The story is almost too crazy to be real, but that is what makes this film great. There are some great moments in the film as well. The acting is spectacular; the battle scenes are as well. There is even a heart felt moment at the end as well as during the credits. Director Peter Berg has made another fantastic film.
I don’t have a whole lot to say negative about this film. There were some moments where I wish there would have been subtitles so I would know what the Taliban and Afghani people were saying, but I think part of that was Wahlberg doesn’t understand them, so we do not either. There are points though were we are given subtitles when two individuals are speaking together. There was a small stretch of film that drug on a little for me, but to be honest, this is just me nitpicking. This film was very well done.
I am adding this to the horror film research for the fact that this would be one of the scariest situations to be in. When someone is playing a first person shooter or war game, this is something we all love to do, which is going solo against an army. These men really went through it and most of them lost their lives. It is fun to do in a video game, but this is really what they did. I normally do not include war films in this research, as war is something that is scary to begin with. I am going to include in, despite not being a horror film, because this is one man’s ordeal to survive against all of the odds, which is very horror film like.
I would highly recommend giving this film a viewing. It has a great story, amazing acting and the battle scenes are top notch as well. It is a scary thing to be in an unknown land, enemy territory and it is 4 against an army. It gets even worse when they are bogged down and start to lose their friends. I would definitely say this is a powerful film that needs to be viewed at least once. It is good to honor these men and what they did.
My Rating: 9 out of 10
Film: Lizzie Borden Took an Ax
Director: Nick Gomez
Writer: Stephan Kay
Starring: Christina Ricci, Clea DuVall and Gregg Henry
This film begins with Christina Ricci eating a pear. She is making eyes at a man across the way. She goes into the nearby house and enters a room, finding her father dead. His face has been beaten in by something. She screams and the screen goes black.
Ricci has an older sister played by Clea DuVall. Their father is played by Stephen McHattie. He is married to their stepmother, who is played by Sara Botsford. All four of them go to church. McHattie speaks with some churchgoers and we learn that he is a tough man. McHattie makes a comment that if God loved him, he would have grandchildren.
We really get a good look at this family and how they live a simple life. It turns out that McHattie has become quite wealthy from his business endeavors. He is very tight with his money and doesn’t like to spend it. Ricci wants to be the life of the party and likes to go to social gatherings. The family does have a maid played by Hannah Anderson.
Ricci steals money from her stepmother’s purse and goes to a local store. She picks out a new dress for a party that is coming up. She tries to buy it on credit, but the woman states to her that Botsford has cut that off. She has to pay now or cannot take it. She does produce the money she stole. She also puts a hand mirror into her bag without paying for it.
DuVall comes to her room later telling her that father is upset about the mirror being stolen. He comes into the room and yells at her, telling her that she is not going to the party she wants to. Ricci tries to convince him to let her go, but he will not be swayed. There is an awkward moment where she tries to almost seduce him.
Ricci does sneak out that night and goes to the party. Her family does not learn about this. Soon after we see what we did earlier in the film. DuVall goes to visit a friend and Ricci discovers her father is dead and she screams. Anderson comes in and has a similar reaction.
A police officer played by Shawn Doyle heads the investigation. During this, it is also discovered that Botsford is dead upstairs. Doyle asks Ricci about her dress and a stain that is at the bottom of it. Ricci tells him that it is an old stain from a stew. He believes her.
The rest of the town doesn’t believe her though. Gregg Henry plays the district attorney and he is out to prove she did this. Her lawyer is played by Billy Campbell. He was on retainer with her father and that means he is Ricci’s lawyer as well. He takes on the case to prove her innocence.
DuVall stands her sister, but there are things she does that make her question that. There is a point where Henry tells Ricci he wants her to bring the dress to him that she wore that day. Ricci burns it that night. Henry then presses charges and there will be a trial.
There really is no hard evidence against Ricci, just a lot of circumstantial things that Henry needs to convince the jury of. Ricci has done some questionable things that make her look guilty, but can Henry prove it or will Campbell be able to put enough doubt in the jury?
I have to say that the best part of this film is the historical accuracy. I knew the basic story of the film, but didn’t know the specifics. I thought some of things that happened were farfetched in this film, but did some research to learn that the film is accurate to the facts. I think Ricci does a solid performance. DuVall and McHattie are solid as well. I think Henry does a great job as the DA who wants to win this case. I’m not sure how intense they were in the past about winning, but I think he plays a great adversary for Ricci, but technically he is the good guy.
My biggest problem with this film is that I think Ricci is completely miscast as Lizzie Borden. I have seen pictures of Lizzie and she is not very attractive. I don’t find Ricci to be gorgeous, but I do think she is pretty. The other big problem I had with this film is that is a Lifetime movie. As stated above, it does well at following the facts, but like most films made by them, it falls a little flat on actual entertainment value.
This film has been added to the horror film research, because this is a very real murder that took place. The ferocity of the crimes and the rage that the person who committed them had was a big reason it was included. This is film isn’t scary, but the subject matter is.
I wouldn’t recommend seeing this one, unless you are interested in the Borden murders. I would recommend this as well if you like Lifetime films. If not, then definitely avoid this one as it is somewhat boring. As stated above, Ricci does well as the title character, but personally feel she is miscast. There is some good acting, there is a good historical story, and it just is more about the facts than it is about making it enjoyable.
My Rating: 5 out of 10
Film: Lies in Plain Sight
Director: Patricia Cardoso
Writer: Teena Booth and Noa Greenberg
Starring: Martha Higareda, Chad Michael Murray and Yul Vazquez
This film begins at an airport. A blind woman, played by Martha Higareda, has arrived home on the west coast from Boston where she goes to school. Early in the film we learn that despite being blind, she is very independent, to the point where she pays off the worker at the airport to let her walk alone.
Her father meets her inside the airport. We get another point where we notice a bit of agitation that he came in to meet her instead of meeting her outside. She has come home because her cousin and best friend has committed suicide. At this point in the film, Higareda seems to be in shock and is searching for why it happened.
During the car ride, we see that Higareda and her father have a strained relationship. Arriving at the house of her aunt and uncle, we learn that Higareda grew up in the house and was very close to the woman who committed suicide.
Once she arrives at the house, she begins to notice that things do not make sense to her. She learns the truth behind some of her memories and begins to investigate into her cousin’s death. No note was left and Higareda finds this to be very odd. With the help of her cousin’s boyfriend, played by Chad Michael Murray, she learns that her father has a dark secret that no one knows about and learns the truth behind her cousin’s death.
This film has a great story and I like the concept they used for it. I must point out that it was remade from an Israeli film, but this one has the bond between two girls, which I feel is stronger. With that being said Higareda does a marvelous job at playing the blind main character. The realism of her acting makes it very believable that she is really blind. With the difficulties of this disability, it also makes the investigating that much better because of the obstacles she must overcome in finding the truth.
The only downfall I find with this film was that it was a lifetime TV movie, so they are hampered with what they could. With this one though, they really did push the limits and I was impressed by that.
Now this isn’t a horror film per say, but I am adding this to the horror film research I am doing due to the secrets that the father was keeping. It is horrific that the young woman had to grow up with this. It makes it even worse that he threatens to do this to her younger sister. The father is also crazy in how far he will go to keep his secret.
I would recommend this film. It is a tale that shows we all keep secrets and is a cautionary tale to not keep them to ourselves. It is also sad in that it constantly violating the trust between characters as well as going through something no one should ever have to do. The way characters react is also highly believable. Now the film itself isn’t the best, as you will get with most Lifetime movies. I found this film to be entertaining despite what happens to this young woman.
My Rating: 6 out of 10
Film: Let Me In
Director: Matt Reeves
Writer: Matt Reeves and John Ajvide Lindqvist
Starring: Kodi Smit-McPhee, Chloë Grace Moretz and Richard Jenkins
This film begins with an ambulance being given a police escort to the hospital. The man in it we learn has horrible burns from acid. He is intensive care and a policeman is there, he is played by Elias Koteas. He gets a phone call and leaves the man. While he is on the phone, the man falls out of the window to his death.
We go back two weeks prior and we meet a young boy, played by Kodi Smit-McPhee. He is bullied and weird. He plays in his room where he wears a mask and wields a knife, using the same phrase he is bullied with. His mother and father are going through a divorce and he lives with her. We see that he also has a telescope that he uses to spy on his neighbors. While he does this, he catches a glimpse of a father, played by Richard Jenkins, and his daughter, played by Chloë Grace Moretz, moving in. They end up being his neighbor.
Smit-McPhee immediately takes a liking to Moretz, but she tells them they can’t be friends. She has a secret that we learn, which is she is a vampire. Jenkins goes out and gets blood for her. Slowly though Smit-McPhee and Moretz become friends, against the wishes of Jenkins. He is getting sloppy on bringing her blood and she begins to go out hunting herself.
We see who the man in the ambulance is, as it is Jenkins after he gets into a car crash. With Moretz all alone now, what will she do? They become closer and Smit-McPhee learns what she is, but he being an outcast too is not bothered by it. Will he be able to learn from her to stand up to the bullies that torment him?
This film is okay, but it is really weird. I like Moretz as an actress, even more so that she has been doing it from a young age which is impressive. The thing about this film is that they are both awkward and outcasts in different ways. Smit-McPhee has no friends and is singled out by the bullies. Moretz is a monster that can’t get close to anyone, being a monster and immortal creature. It is a great story, but the awkwardness of it can almost be unbearable. That is something that actually adds to the film, since growing up can be very hard and similar to this for many people.
The rest of the cast is good and seeing Moretz attack is different for a vampire film. They use some of the mythology behind vampires and some are kept out, but that isn’t a big issue.
If you like vampire films, I would give this one a viewing. It is different and that is definitely something I liked about it. The acting is good, as well as the story; there was just something about it that didn’t make me love it. I really don’t know what it is, but I would still say it is worth a viewing, if you are into this type of film. Also, this is actually a remake and I have heard that one is much better. I have not gotten around to seeing it yet, but I wanted you to keep that in mind while reading this.
My Rating: 6 out of 10
Film: Last Stop on the Night Train (L’ultimo treno della notte)
Director: Aldo Lado
Writer: Renato Izzo and Aldo Lado
Starring: Flavio Bucci, Macha Méril and Gianfranco De Grassi
This film begins in a city’s outdoor market. We meet two thugs who are mugging people are played by Flavio Bucci and Gianfranco De Grassi. They move about the world around them, causing mischief and really not contributing anything to society.
We also have two college students. Through them we realize that this film begins in Germany. One of them is a German girl played by Irene Miracle and the other is an Italian girl played by Marina Berti. They are taking a train to Italy to spend Christmas with Berti’s family.
We then get to meet her family. Her father is a professor at a hospital and he is also a doctor. We get to see him performing surgery and teaching some students what to do; he is played by Enrico Maria Salerno. His wife is a homemaker now that her daughter is away at school; she is played by Laura D’Angelo. She speaks with the woman her daughter is staying with and learns that her daughter will be taking the train that night. The woman D’Angelo speaks with tells her about the tie she bought for her Salerno and the scarf she bought for herself as well. They get on their train.
Bucci and Grassi rob a woman with some money and rip her fur coat. The police chase after them and they sneak on the train before it leaves.
While on the train we meet another person. There is a woman who is sitting in a car with some intellectual types, the woman played by Macha Méril. They speak about different topics. There is a man sitting next to this woman that helps her when she drops her purse. Her things fall out and among it is a pornographic picture we get a quick view of. We realize there is something up about her.
Miracle and Berti had stolen some cigarettes before getting on the train and they start to smoke them. They are being loud and lewd with their talk, drawing some looks from the other passengers. They end up meeting the hoodlums who are being rude as well. They end up hanging out for a little bit, even with Miracle and Berti helping them dodge the ticket checkers.
Their opinion changes of Bucci and Grassi when Bucci ends up meeting Méril. He follows her into the bathroom and she at first wants him out. He feels up her and puts his hand up her dress. They end up having sex in the bathroom. This is what we learn is up with her, she is a nymphomaniac.
The train stops and is checked. Everyone on board needs to stay on, show their passports, have their tickets checked as well as their luggage. Miracle and Berti get off by convincing one of the guards that they need to call Berti’s parents to let them know about the delay. When they get off and do this, they learn there is a one-way train from this station. They decide to get on it.
They don’t realize that Bucci, Grassi and Méril also get off the train. They get on this same one. Berti and Miracle are having a small meal when they are barged in upon by the deviant group. This is where the nightmare starts.
There is another passenger who ends up accidently breaking the handle to get into this train car; this passenger is played by Franco Fabrizi. He tries to fix it, but fails. Inside the cabin, sexual perversion happens. There are inappropriate questions asked and asking the women to strip. Bucci and Méril have sex again. Grassi uses drugs and wants to have sex with Miracle, but she kicks him in the groin and he beats her up. Méril notices Fabrizi watching and he gets drug into the cabin. He is told to have sex with Miracle. He flees when the train stops hiding his face as he escapes.
This all comes to a head when Grassi and Méril target Berti. She is a virgin and Grassi cannot get inside of her. He decides to use his knife to help her out, which we learn that something similar was done to Méril. She encourages him on. They end up killing Berti. When this happens, Miracle escapes. She is chased into the bathroom and she jumps out of the window. The deviants decide to clean up by throwing Berti, out of the window, along with all of their stuff. What makes these scenes even more disturbing is their use of editing to match this up with Salerno and D’Angelo having a dinner party while these attacks are happening next to it. The talk at dinner involves youth being violent, which is fitting.
Salerno and D’Angelo go to pick up the girls at the train station. When they don’t get off, they ask the man at the station if there was a delay. He tells them he will look into. The couple does meet the deviant group though. Will they realize what this trio has done or will they get away? There was a message given to a friend of Berti, will this ever get back to her parents? Grassi puts on the tie that was supposed to go to Salerno, will that be their downfall? Or will it be the scarf that Méril is now wearing?
This film is an Italian version of The Virgin Spring or the Last House on the Left. While this version is enjoyable, I found it a little bit boring. I think once it gets to the action, it is solid. I do like that in this version, it does have the same crew as the Last House on the Left has, but in a different way. We have the two thugs, but the woman they meet is not part of their group, yet she is still sexually deviant. She joins them and I thought that was an interesting take. I think the scenes of action are solid as well. I will point out they are disturbing though, not as graphic as the American version. It shows less, but it still bothered me. I also thought there was some really good editing in this one.
What I didn’t like was there was a lot of the movie where we don’t get much going on. I think there is a lot of down time that tries to build more of the story and I don’t think it does what it is really trying to do. I found this to be the most boring version of this story that I have seen. It doesn’t ruin the film completely, but it doesn’t stir up the feelings of rage as well as the other versions. I found it a little bit unrealistic how Salerno found out what this trio did to their daughter. I didn’t like what they did with Méril at the end though.
I thought this is a solid version of the parent’s getting revenge for what happened to their child films. It is not as exciting as some of the other versions, but it is still disturbing. Which in a film like this, you really need. The acting is okay, but nothing that really blew me away. The story is okay as well; it just had too many scenes that I found to be unnecessary and slowed it down. With that said, still is a solid version of The Virgin Spring. I would give it a viewing if you liked it or if you liked the American version, The Last House on the Left. Not better than them, but still worth your viewing if you liked them.
My Rating: 6 out of 10