Film: The Last House on the Left
Director: Dennis Iliadis
Writer: Adam Alleca and Carl Ellsworth
Starring: Garret Dillahunt, Monica Potter and Tony Goldwyn
This film begins with a man in custody; he is played by Garret Dillahunt. He is being driven by Michael Bowen and Josh Coxx. Bowen is telling a long, drawn-out, dirty joke while Coxx listens. Dillahunt asks if they can stop so he can urinate. They deny and ignore his request. They have to stop for a train and while they do, they are hit by a speeding truck. From the truck emerge Dillahunt’s brother, played by Aaron Paul, and his girlfriend, Riki Lindhome. They free Dillahunt and then kill the cops.
We then meet the other family of this film. There is the daughter, played by Sara Paxton. She is a great swimmer and she is constantly training to get better. Her mother is played by Monica Potter. She is a little bit overbearing, but she is also very loving. We then meet the father and husband, played by Tony Goldwyn. He is a doctor who is completely wrapped up in his work. They are finalizing things for their summer trip out to their lake house.
Once they arrive, Paxton asks if she can stay out in the guest house. We learn that she had a brother who died, which explains why Potter is so overbearing. We get a scene where Paxton swims out to a buoy and then showers. After dressing, she asks her parents if she can see her friend who lives up this way. Potter doesn’t want her to, wanting to spend quality time together. Paxton suggests that they could have a romantic dinner without her there. Goldwyn tosses her the keys and allows her to go. She is required to call her mother though.
Paxton then meets up with her friend, played by Martha MacIsaac. She is working the cash register at a local store. We learn through their talk that Paxton used to be a little bit wilder like MacIsaac, but now that she is getting better at swimming, has toned it down. We see a young man in the store buying some things; he is played by Spencer Treat Clark. He tries to buy cigarettes, but when MacIsaac denies him, he offers to sell her marijuana in exchange. MacIsaac agrees.
The plan is for her to go in and buy the drugs, and then returned to Paxton. When this doesn’t happen, Paxton goes in to see what’s going on. She finds them smoking in the room. Paxton is convinced to join. They begin to have fun until Clark’s family comes home. Immediately the two young ladies are nervous. Paxton offers to give them the keys to her vehicle so they can go free, instead they are kidnapped. MacIsaac also tries to escape from the bathroom, but is attacked and knocked out.
The group goes on a journey where Paxton helps in hopes that they will let her go. When they drive past the driveway to her house she tries to escape. This ends up getting them into an accident, but they do not get away. There is another point where MacIsaac breaks free, but she is also caught and brought back. Dillahunt wants Clark to become a man and to rape Paxton, MacIsaac calls Dillahunt out for what he is doing. She ends up getting stabbed for what she said. Paxton is then raped by Dillahunt while everyone is watching.
Afterward, she has a hold of a rock that she hits Dillahunt in the head with. She makes her final run from the group and makes it to the lake. She tries to swim away, but right before she is out of sight, Dillahunt shoots her in the right shoulder. She can no longer swim and moves slowly. The storm that we have heard on the radio then finally hits.
Dillahunt and his crew are forced to seek refuge with Potter and Goldwyn. They give them aid. They make up a story about why they are there and everyone plays their part, expect for Clark. He feels very guilty about what has happened. He feels even worse when he learns that they are at Paxton’s house. The power goes out and they cannot get in touch with anyone in town, so it is decided that the group should stay in the guest house, since Paxton is staying in town that night.
After showing them where they can stay, Potter and Goldwyn are getting ready to settle down themselves when they hearing a banging noise. They go out on to the porch to find Paxton, dying. They bring in her and help her. While this is happening, Clark had taken Paxton’s necklace and wrapped it around the base of his cup. Potter finds it and they know who did this to their daughter.
What will Goldwyn and Potter do? Will they be able to save their daughter or will she die? Will they get their revenge or will they decide to just get away? What will Clark do? Will he protect his family or do what’s right? Can Goldwyn and Potter take out these harden criminals?
I have to say that this is one of the better remakes that you will find. I also feel that this one is a better film than the original The Last House on the Left. Don’t get me wrong, I like the original. I think this one is better, because they took out the slapstick comedy of the sheriff and deputy, plus this one focuses a lot more on the revenge sequence and that I really liked. I feel like the acting in this one is much better. I think the two young women from the original showed more terror, but Dillahunt and Goldwyn are great. I think both add more depth than the actors in the other version. This one shows much more gore and violence than the original, so the action is a lot better. I also feel that the soundtrack for this one adds to the feel of much better as well.
This is quite horrible of me to say, but I feel that ‘bad guys’ with the young women scene in the original is much more powerful, even though this one shows more of the rape and it goes on much longer as well. I also was not a big fan of Potter. I felt she played the role a little bit bland. I also do not think Lindhome was as good as the woman from the original either. She wasn’t horrible though by any means. I also do not know if the ending would work or not, the microwave scene is still great though.
I would recommend giving this one a viewing if you can handle the subject matter. Much like with the original version, this one is interesting to put yourself in their situation. What would you do if you were in this position and this happened to someone you loved? I personally really like the original, but I find this one to be a better film. I think some of the acting is better in this one, while some of it falls below though as well. I think this one gives us more in the revenge part and not having the comedy aspect makes this one better as well. A solid story, a great concept and a soundtrack that added something to the feel as well help give this version a higher rating for me. I would definitely say worth a viewing if you like revenge or a modern update of an exploitation film.
My Rating: 8 out of 10
Film: The Last House on the Left
Director: Wes Craven
Writer: Wes Craven
Starring: Sandra Peabody, Lucy Grantham and David Hess
This film begins with a mailman pulling up to a mailbox. We get that this mailbox is out in the middle of nowhere, with woods all around. He is played by Ray Edwards and he is opens his passenger door. When he does, a small dog jumps in that belongs the owners of this property. We see the last name of the Collingwood. Above the last name is a heart with an arrow through it and the name Mari. Edwards says something about Mari being good looking.
We then see the young woman Mari who is played by Sandra Peabody. She is in the shower and we get a glimpse of her through frosted glass. Her mother yells something to her and she gets out of the shower. She goes into the living room with her parents, who are played by Richard Towers and Cynthia Carr. Peabody has just turned 18 and she is going into New York to see a rock concert for a violent band. Her parents scold her for what she is wearing and Peabody wants to show she is a woman and is defiant. She is also a little bit naïve. Before she leaves, her parents give her a gift, which is a peace sign necklace.
Her friend that is going with her is played by Lucy Grantham. She has lived a rougher life and is wilder. She makes an off color joke to Towers. Peabody and Grantham then hang out in the woods before going into the city. Grantham pulls out a bottle of alcohol and they talk about different things. As the young women drive into the city, they hear a report about two dangerous criminals escaping from prison.
As we hear more about this report, we then shift to the leader of this group. He is played by David Hess. With him is his illegitimate son Marc Sheffler. The report states that Hess has gotten Sheffler addicted to heroin to control him. They go back to their seedy hideout. In the room is violent man who attacks women, played by Fred J. Lincoln. In the bathtub is a wild woman played by Jeramie Rain.
Hess and Lincoln try to get Rain to fool around with them while Sheffler tells them to listen to what she is saying. Rain tells them that they will not get any action until they get a couple of more girls. She is quite defiant and is just as ruthless as they are. Sheffler is kicked out of the room.
Peabody and Grantham have made it into the city and they are keeping busy until the concert starts. Both of them want some marijuana and they see Sheffler standing outside of the building. Grantham asks if he is selling or if he knows where she can score some. He tells her no, but then remembers what was said in the room. He tells them that he has some good Colombian marijuana in his room that he will sell at $20 an ounce. They agree and follow him up.
Upon entering, they realize this was a bad idea. Hess and Lincoln lead a party where they are hitting them, hurting them mentally and Hess rapes Grantham in front of Peabody. This is even more powerful because Peabody’s birthday is the following day and this film syncs this with her parents preparing for her party.
The next morning, Hess and Lincoln load up the two young ladies into the trunk of the car and make a run to get out of the city. Towers and Carr are worried that she is not home yet. They called to see when the concert ended. They also get the sheriff, played by Marshall Anker, and the deputy, Martin Kove, in the area they live involved. They haven’t heard anything though.
The gang drives into the country with a weird scene of Hess and Rain having sex while Sheffler drives. The whole time though, Lincoln is asking them weird questions. Their car breaks down right in front of Peabody’s house. She realizes this, but cannot do anything as they are forced into the woods. When Anker and Kove leave, they see the broke down car, but do not pay it much attention.
From here, we get more of Hess leading the two young ladies to do more depraved things. This includes having Grantham urinate her pants, they want her to beat-up Peabody, but then it turns to having them get naked and make love to each other when Sheffler begs his group to stop hurting them. He doesn’t like the violence as it really bothers him, plus he doesn’t want anyone to die.
Anker and Kove make it back to the station, where they hear a report that matched the vehicle outside of the Collingwood’s house to Hess and his group. They try to make it back, but they run out of gas. Will they be able to make it back to the families’ house in time? Will Peabody and Grantham make it out of this ordeal alive? Will Hess and his gang get away with this? In the end, they seek refuge with Peabody’s parents. They notice different signs through the night, but it is when Carr notices Sheffler wearing her daughter’s necklace and they find her pants in one of their bags that they know for sure what has happened. What will they do for revenge?
First off, I have to say that for an early Wes Craven film, you can see what he would become as a horror film director. This one truly is very good for what little is done. The scenes are violent, but he does a great job at cutting away and allowing the audience to fill it what happens. The acting from the stars in this one is superb. The young ladies seemed terrified; the bad guys are callused and horrible people. I want to point out Sheffler especially. He doesn’t want to be a part of this, but as a junkie he has a bleak outlook of life that Hess uses to control him. I think this is a solid adaptation of The Virgin Spring to modern times as well. I can’t give Craven too much on the writing, since it is a technically a remake, but I think he adapted it very well. I also thought the mirroring of the gang humiliating and hurting the young women was done with Towers and Carr preparing for a partying. You get the parallels, but with one being joyous and the other depraved. It can be said that for sick individuals, it causes them to enjoy it though as well.
There are a couple issues I have with this film though. I really disliked how Craven made the sheriff and deputy bumbling buffoons. I guess by doing this, it makes the revenge sequence needed more. It almost feels like he is saying that Towers and Carr have to take matters into their hands, because if not Anker and Kove will drop the ball. I also did have some issues with the revenge sequence as well. First off, I want to say that I do like that it happens, because if you are in that position, you would want to harm those that have harmed those you love, probably in similar ways as well. My issue with it though was that it felt low-budget and the sequence is just not acted out well. Those are really my only two issues.
I would recommend seeing this one if you can handle the subject matter. This film is great in the revenge film genre. This film makes you think of what you would do if you were in this situation. It has a good story, some solid acting and scenes that will make you cringe. Now if you are used to violent films, this one might be as bad as Craven does a great job at editing for the viewer to fill in what is happening. He does some other things with editing that bring up issues to think about as well. It can be a little cheesy at times, but still a solid 70s exploitation film. If you liked the remake or The Virgin Spring, I would give this one a viewing. If you like Craven, I would also say view this as it is one of his earlier films. As long as you can take the subject and what happens on screen, then it is worth watching.
My Rating: 7 out of 10
Film: Fatal Attraction
Director: Adrian Lyne
Writer: James Dearden
Starring: Michael Douglas, Glenn Close and Anne Archer
This film follows a family of three. The father is played by Michael Douglas, his wife by Anne Archer and their daughter by Ellen Latzen. Douglas and Archer have a party to go to and a babysitter is coming over to watch Latzen.
They go to the party where they meet up with another married couple. These friends are played by Stuart Pankin and Ellen Foley. Douglas is a lawyer for a firm that works with a book publisher. At the party Douglas and Pankin see a blonde woman. Pankin makes a comment to her and she gives him a dirty look. Douglas goes to the bar and ends up next to her. They hit it off.
Archer and Latzen go out to the country to visit her parents as well as look at house. Douglas and Archer are thinking of moving out of New York City if they could find the right place. At work, he runs into Close. They are both at a meeting about a client and a book she wrote. It is raining outside when he goes to leave. His umbrella doesn’t open and she joins him on the sidewalk. They try to get a cab and when they can’t, he suggests they get dinner until it stops.
She flirts with him at dinner and they go home together. They have a weekend affair. She is clearly more interested in him and he tries to break it off. She doesn’t get the hint and becomes crazier. Douglas has to decide to keep it a secret and find a way to get her to leave him alone, or to tell his wife. The problem is though, will Close allow him to leave her? How far will she go?
The first time I watched this film was when I was in college. I watched it again today and I have to say that it wasn’t as good as I remember it being. I still liked this film though, but this what I took away from it. Since story and writing are my favorite things about a film, I have to say this film is good in that department. The concept of this film is something that we could see today. People are having affairs still and this most definitely could happen. The film does hold up in that respect. It is dated in some portions of it coming from 1987 and the technology they are using.
From here I will move to the acting. I think the cast was great. Douglas is interesting in my opinion. He loves his wife and family. He is tempted by the forbidden fruit though when he is given the opportunity. What makes him really interesting though is that the farther he is pushed we see that he will do whatever it takes to protect what he has. He is selfish like Close calls him, wanting his cake and eat it too. The other thing that struck me about him though was that he breaks into Close’s apartment and does things that she could hold against him if the police are involved. She on the other hand, does things that he cannot prove. That shows me that he isn’t crazy and when he goes into a rage, he is sloppy.
From there I want to move to Close. She did a great job. I think the role she played was very tough. What I really found interesting about her was that she said in an interview that knowing what we do now, she would have played it differently. She cited the reason being that the character clearly has a mental illness and it could be hurtful to those that are really afflicted with them. I personally am glad that she portrayed the role that she did. It felt like she could really be that character. It is really scary that the more she is ignored, the worse she gets and the things she does get even more terrifying.
I did want to commend Archer and Latzen. Archer had a tough role too in that she is in the dark as to what is happening for most of the film. She is faced with a difficult decision of staying with her husband when she learns what he did or keeping the family together. She loses it with Close after the things she does. Latzen was pretty good being that she is a child and that can be something hard to do to show the emotions she had to portray.
The editing of the film was good to me as well. The tension builds as the film goes on, which is what you want from it. I really liked a sequence where Close takes Latzen to an amusement park and takes her on a rollercoaster. Archer is trying to find her. The editing shows the two on the rollercoaster, moving fast along the tracks and have it is synced up with Archer driving and going fast, trying to find her daughter. It was well done. The soundtrack didn’t really stand out to me, but it also didn’t take me out of the film. The only time that really did was when Close and Douglas go out to dance. It was upbeat, Hispanic music and the scene is paced that way as well.
I have added this film to the horror film research due to the fact of how psychotic Close’s character is. She does have a mental illness, but she puts Douglas’ life through hell. Douglas is not innocent in this and I felt I needed to point that out. The fear and tension continues to build throughout the film. She does some very horrible things, especially around the climax of this film.
With that said, I would recommend giving this film a viewing. The story is one that is still relevant today. Parts of the film are outdated, being that this film came from 1987. The acting is good and they do well to build the tension of the film. I thought the editing was solid for the most part. We get parts where the tension is up, we then think that it is over and then Close will do something else. The soundtrack outside of one scene didn’t stand out, but it also didn’t hurt the film. There are films that are more modern retelling of this film, but some of the iconic scenes in this film are worth giving a viewing. I would say to give this film a viewing if you get a chance.
My Rating: 7 out of 10
Film: The Last Exorcism
Director: Daniel Stamm
Writer: Huck Botko and Andrew Gurland
Starring: Patrick Fabian, Ashley Bell and Iris Bahr
This film follows a pastor played by Patrick Fabian. We see his home life with his wife, played by Shanna Forrestall, and his son played by Justin Shafer. We learn that Fabian’s father was the pastor at a church; he is played by John Wright Jr. It is revealed that Wright has groomed Fabian to be a pastor since he was a child. We see that Fabian is really good at what he does and is a showman. He also has a great home life. We do learn that Shafer is deaf.
Wright opens up his safe and takes a book from it that is very old. We learn that it contains all of the names of the demons that were cast out of heaven with Satan. It also turns out that Fabian has lost his faith. He is an exorcist and he was shaken when he saw a failed exorcism that killed a young boy. The camera crew following him, making a documentary about his last exorcism, is led by Iris Bahr who is the sound woman. The camera man is played by Adam Grimes.
Fabian opens a letter from a backwoods town in Louisiana. Along with the crew, they leave Baton Rouge to meet with the family. They first stop off at a gas station. Fabian tells them that a town like this is prime for thoughts of possession, because there is a lot of illiteracy and put a lot into their faith. There are a lot of churches in the area. They actually interview citizens who all know someone who was possessed and even one lady talks about a temple in the area to evil spirits.
They then go to the farm where the possessed person is. On the way they pass a truck and both stop. A young man get out of the truck, he is played by Caleb Landry Jones. He wants them to turn out and go back to where they came. He then throws rocks at them. They come up to a large house and are met by the father of the family, played by Louis Herthum. It turns out that Jones is his son. Herthum is not happy about the cameras, but is convinced by Fabian to allow them to film. There is also a daughter and she is the one possessed.
Fabian is not happy about this since he doesn’t like to perform exorcisms on children. The daughter is played by Ashley Bell. She is a plain girl that comes off as nervous. Fabian hits it off with her and starts to figure out if she is possessed. All they have to go from at the moment is that animals are turning up dead and there is blood all over clothes. She doesn’t remember doing any of it. Jones asks him if he will perform one and he tells him that doesn’t know yet. We know that he is going to perform one and we see things he sets up to make them believe there is a demon involved. Fabian tells him it is named Abalam. This demon prays on the innocence. He convinces Herthum that he can drive it out.
Jones knows that Fabian is faking this and he is okay with him doing it. He goes through with the exorcism and gets paid. The crew goes back to a hotel before going home the next day. Something is up though when Bell comes to Fabian’s hotel room. She is starting to act funny and then throws up. They take her to the hospital.
We then learn there is something more to the story. A doctor leaves a message stating that Bell is pregnant. Immediately Bahr believes that Herthum is molesting his daughter. Jones is attacked by his sister with a knife, as she cuts his face. Fabian tries to convince her father that she now needs psychiatric and medical care. Fabian tries to get the local pastor involved Tony Bentley. Is Bell possessed or is this something in her head? Is she pregnant? Who is the father? We see Bell kill a cat with a camera and there are three violent drawings she made. Will they all come true?
I have to say that when I first saw this, I didn’t know what to expect. I really liked it the from the beginning. What makes it really great to me is that the first part we see that Fabian doesn’t believe in his faith anymore and only does it because he is good at it. He wants to show that exorcisms are a fraud to ensure that no other children die due to having one performed. The second part of the film makes you question though if Bell is really possessed or if there is something else happening. The acting is pretty good, no one was going to win awards, but I definitely felt they were very believable. I like how the story progressed. I also really liked the ending as well. I also liked that this is filmed as a faux documentary and done with hand-held cameras. It really makes it feel more realistic. I also like that as the film starts to get more suspenseful, the filming becomes more erratic as well.
I will say that I liked the acting, but quite a bit of the actors do not have a lot of experience at the time of being in this film. I have seen Bell and Jones go on to do other things and they are pretty good in roles in this film. At times it can be hard to hear some of what is going on or see some of the things in the film, due to the filming style. The film isn’t overly long and we don’t get a lot of information about the ending, which I would have liked to know more, as I am really interested in the back-story and getting all of the history. This doesn’t ruin the film, but something that helps me to enjoy more when I view something.
With that said, I would recommend this film if you like found footage films or if you like films about demonic possession. I feel the acting is good enough for this film and the story progresses very nice. There isn’t in the much of subplots or back-story of the cult in it. This film is made like a faux documentary and does have some parts that will make cringe as well as jump. If you do not like handicam films, please keep that in mind, because it can be shaking which I know some people dislike. If you can get past that, this film is worth a viewing to try to piece together what is really happening.
My Rating: 7 out of 10
Film: Land of the Dead
Director: George A. Romero
Writer: George A. Romero
Starring: John Leguizamo, Asia Argento and Simon Baker
This film begins with filling in the history of what has happened. We know that the world has been overrun with zombies. We then learn that people have created safe places to live. This film revolves around Pittsburgh that is now known by the high-rise where all of the rich live, called Fiddler’s Green.
We then shift to the leader of a unit that goes out to collect supplies and bring it back to the city. He is played by Simon Baker. He is joined by his friend, Robert Joy. Joy was burned in a fire and half of his face shows the results of it. He is a crack shot though. They are scouting a town for supplies. They see zombies, but one of them draws Baker’s attention. He is a former gas station attendant, played by Eugene Clark. Some zombies step on the bell that announces a car is there. Clark comes out to gas it up, but finds there is nothing there. Clark looks in the direction of Baker and Joy. He moans and zombies turn in that direction and head toward them. Baker believes they are thinking and communicating.
Baker’s second in command is played by John Leguizamo. He is dumping trash and we notice that there are bodies in it. He does the dirty work for the big boss and is trying to buy his way into Fiddler’s Green.
They have a large truck that is mounted with guns, missiles and has a launcher to shoot fireworks called Dead Reckoning. The fireworks are used to distract the zombies; they cannot take their eyes off of them. They go into the town to get supplies and we learn that this is Baker’s last day on the job. Leguizamo states it is his as well. There is a young guy that is learning the ropes and Leguizamo takes him along with his crew. It should be pointed out that Clark is not distracted by the fireworks and he tries to break the others from them. When the fireworks launcher jams, Baker tells them to call it a night. Leguizamo goes to a liquor store to help make some side money. The young man gets bit on his hand before they leave. He takes his own life.
Back in the city, Baker goes to the shop for his car and finds it gone. He goes searching out a local gangster. Leguizamo goes to see the big boss, played by Dennis Hopper. Leguizamo states that he has enough money to move into Fiddler’s Green, but Hopper informs him that he will not be able to live there. He calls for a security guard to take care of him, but Leguizamo gets away.
Clark has his zombies heading for Fiddler’s Green. They come to a plywood wall and he has a zombie that is with him that is carrying a butcher’s knife to make a hole. Clark looks through to see that there are zombies hanging with targets connected to them. They continue to head toward the city. We learn that the city is surrounded on three sides with water and the only land way in has fences that are electrified. A guard there states that it seems the zombies have learned not to come that way.
Baker seeks out Phil Fondacaro. He asks him where his car is and learns that it wasn’t Fondacaro that took it, it came from the top. Baker sees a game they are playing and betting on. There is a woman trying to get away from two zombies in a cage fight, she is played by Asia Argento. Baker shoots the zombies and Joy takes care of Fondacaro. They are taken to jail when the police arrive.
Leguiazmo seeks out Tony Nappo, his second in command, as well as the crew to Dead Reckoning. They are going to take it by force, but Clark and his army show up. They overrun the outpost and continue toward the city. Leguizamo and his crew take advantage and escape the city.
Baker is then brought to Hopper. He informs him that Leguizamo has Dead Reckoning and he needs it back. He states that if Leguizamo doesn’t get 2 million dollars, he is going to blow up Fiddler’s Green. Baker agrees only if he gets to bring Joy and Argento as well as get a vehicle to head north after this has been resolved. Hopper reluctantly agrees.
The city thought that the water surrounding their city would keep the zombies out. Clark and his army jump in and walk across the river. They are now past the defenses and those in the slums have no way to fight them off.
Will Baker be able to stop Leguizamo from blowing up Fiddler’s Green and save those in the slums? Will there be anyone to save in the slums? Will Hopper hold up his end of the bargain or will the soldiers he sent along take care of him? Will Baker’s crew survive this?
This is actually the first film in George A. Romero’s Dead series that came out with me being alive. I saw this in theaters and I have to say that I loved it the first time around. After watching it a few times, I still think it is really good addition to the series. Thus far, this is the last one to happen, since the ones after take place at the beginning of the zombie outbreak. I like to see that this film shows as humans we try to rebuild society, the problem is that greed, corruption and tyranny comes with it. I think the acting is great; everyone seems to be cast in the perfect role for them. I think the story is really good; the concept of Dead Reckoning is great. The best part for me though is that Romero finally took the chance to make the zombies actually learn. This does make his zombies even scarier. I also love that it has the typical ending to his film with everything falling apart.
A major issue I have with this film is some continuity issues that Romero seems to overlook. In the original Night of the Living Dead, zombies eat mice and worms that they find. In this one, in the gambling den, a man asks what the zombies will be fighting over and he asks about two animals. In the Survival of the Dead, their goal is to get zombies to eat animals so they can possible co-exist. This doesn’t necessarily ruin this film, but something that hit me while watching it today. Another thing is that everyone seems to be a crack shot, until everything goes bad, then no one can seem to hit the zombies in the head. This is plausible, because they are panicking and everything is falling apart around them.
Now with all that said, I would highly recommend this film. If you like Romero’s zombie series, then give this one a viewing. If you like zombies, I would give this one a viewing. This is a really good horror film. The acting is good, the story and concept is great. The action between people and zombies is solid. Plus you have Romero’s graphic endings which is very enjoyable. I would say to give this one a viewing at least once.
My Rating: 8 out of 10
Film: Knock Knock
Director: Eli Roth
Writer: Eli Roth, Nicolás López and Guillermo Amoedo
Starring: Keanu Reeves, Lorenza Izzo and Ana de Armas
This film follows a man played by Keanu Reeves. He is an architect and a former DJ. He is married to Ignacia Allamand who is an artist that does sculptures and paintings. They have two children played by Dan Baily and Megan Baily. Allamand and both children are going to the beach to stay for the weekend. Reeves cannot because he has to finish his project. We also meet the agent for Allamand, he is played by Aaron Burns. It is also Father’s Day.
This family is close as they Facetime with Reeves that night. It should also be pointed out that Reeves hurt his shoulder and it is still in the process of healing. He doesn’t do his physical therapy as he should though.
It rains that night and Reeves is working late. The doorbell rings after midnight. Reeves isn’t sure that is what he hears and goes to the door. He finds two young women outside, soaking wet. One of them is played by Lorenza Izzo and the other is Ana de Armas. They tell him that no one seems to be home, but him and ask if he knows the house they are looking for. He states that he doesn’t. Izzo’s phone has died due to getting wet and Armas didn’t bring hers. Reeves tells them that they can use his phone to figure out where to go. Izzo tells him they don’t know the number as it is saved in her phone, but asks if she can use his computer. He agrees and allows them to enter.
He gives them towels, robes and they undress. He puts their clothes into the dryer. They figure out where the party really is and then he requests an Uber for them. While they wait, they ask questions about him and he gets to know them as well. The more they talk, the more the women come onto Reeves.
The driver arrives, but Izzo is in the bathroom. Armas goes in to get her. Reeves then goes in to see what is holding up them and finds them both naked. They then go down on him and perform fellatio. He then makes love to both of them.
He sleeps in and wakes up to multiple missed calls and texts from his wife. He doesn’t find either of the young women. He then goes into the kitchen and hears commotion. They have made a big mess and are eating breakfast. Reeves is shocked. His wife then calls on Facetime and he goes outside to answer it. The women call after him, flashing him while he talks to her.
After he gets off the phone, he is angry and tells them both to get dressed. Before he can get them out of the house, his physical therapist shows up, she is played by Colleen Camp. Izzo comes out and comes on to Reeves in front of her. She is irate and leaves in disgust. He then takes them to where they claim to live and drops them off.
Reeves goes home and cleans up. He then goes back to work. He then hears something and he goes to check it out. Izzo comes up behind him and knocks him out. Reeves wakes up and he is tied up. Izzo and Armas are back. They are claiming that they are underage and that they are going to punish him for what he did to them and his family.
Can Reeves get away and survive this? What will they do to him? What forms of torture do they have in mind? Is there anyone that will come to his aid?
I want to lead of stating that this film has a great concept. I am not condoning that he cheated on his wife, but it would be extremely hard to not do what he does. In that respect I feel bad for him, but then again, he does some questionable things that progress the situation much farther than it should have. These women also become quite psychopathic in what they do and make it quite scary. What makes it even worse is that they really do not have a rhyme or reason why they do it, as they give a few different reasons as the film progresses. They are also both nude in this film, which was pretty amazing to see. I will also say that both of them use their sexuality very well and they are very convincing with it.
Now this film was not as good as it should have been. First off, I am not a big fan of Reeves in general. I think he is perfect for some roles, but this one required him to show some emotions and he doesn’t do it. He is bland. The only reason that I felt bad for him was that he made a mistake that most men would make and he is being punished for it. The film also does get a little bit boring as it drags on. I also hated the very last image. I didn’t mind the ending, until the very last scene which came off as cheesy.
This film did have a great concept, beautiful women and could have been great. It falls flat for me though. Part of that was that Reeves was miscast in this film. His lack of emotion ruins a film like this. The film is also boring, which is a surprise for a film that comes from Eli Roth. The film does have some good scenes, it did frustrate me as I felt equally bad and felt he deserved what he got. It was also nice to see both of these women nude as well, if you are into that type of thing. Outside of that though, this film wasn’t as nearly good as it should have been. There are other films from this genre that are much better than this one.
My Rating: 5 out of 10
Film: Kiss of the Damned
Director: Xan Cassavetes
Writer: Xan Cassavetes
Starring: Joséphine de La Baume, Milo Ventimiglia and Roxane Mesquida
This film begins with a woman watching a movie on a laptop computer; she is played by Joséphine de La Baume. We then see her outside with blood all over her face.
The film then shifts to the following morning. The cleaning lady for the house enters and she is played by Ching Valdes-Aran. There is a small pool of dark liquid on the tile. She stops and wipes it up. There is a phone call that she answers, but tells them that the person they are trying to reach is unavailable.
Baume gets up and finds a note from Valdes-Aran telling her that her movies are due back tonight. She goes to the store, drops them off and looks for more. A man enters the video store; he is played by Milo Ventimiglia. When Baume sees him, she flees. He follows her out.
They decide to have a drink together and they have chemistry from the beginning. He is a screenwriter that is in the area to finish his screenplay. She reveals to him that she has a skin condition where she cannot go into the sunlight. She invites him back and they watch a movie together. They then move into the kitchen where they kiss. They start to get hot and heavy, but she stops this and forces him to leave. He tells her he will call her the next day, but she tells him not to.
He tries all day and night to get in touch with her, but she ignores him. He goes out the same place they got drinks at and he gets hit on by the bartender. He decides to go to Baume’s house. We see that she is attracted to him as they kiss through the door with the chain secured. She ends up biting his tongue and then telling him to go.
The next night he calls her and tells her that he is coming over. She allows this and when he is there, she reveals to him that she is a vampire. She chains herself to the bed to show him that she is serious. He is turned on by her, even after she changes. He releases her and they begin to make love. In the heat of ecstasy, she bites his neck.
Now that he is a vampire, she begins to get him acclimated to the new lifestyle. They do not drink the blood of humans, but of animals. This is mostly in part so they do not get discovered. The problem is Baume’s sister shows up soon after, she is played by Roxane Mesquida. We learn that she causes problems everywhere she goes and she is fleeing from her previous place because of this. The two sisters do not get along.
We learn that there is a vampire society and the one who runs the area is played by Anna Mouglalis. Baume calls her to tell her about Mesquida and we learn that she already knew. Mesquida was telling the truth that she would only be there for a week until her ‘rehab’ in Phoenix is ready for her.
Mesquida and Baume use binoculars and watch people outside. Mesquida uses this time to scold her older sister for turning Ventimiglia, telling her that she has cursed him. That night Mesquida goes out to a bar where she finds a guy she finds cute. They make love outside and she bites his neck, killing him.
As Ventimiglia is introduced more into the society and meets other vampires, Mesquida begins to wreck even more havoc in the area. Baume tries to tell Mouglalis, but she doesn’t believe her, especially with no proof. She gets a rude awakening soon after. It should also be mentioned that Ventimiglia’s agent is played by Michael Rapaport and he comes to visit to check on the progress of the screenplay. He doesn’t make it out alive.
Will Mouglalis believe Baume before it is too late? How far will Mesquida go? Will she ruin everyone and everything before she is stopped? Can she be stopped?
I have to say that I came into this one with low expectations and actually ended up liking it. I love that this is a tragic love story of vampires. I think a lot of films and vampire things in general make them out to be such elegant creatures with a dark side. This film really brings out that they are cursed and despite the appearance they give, they are actually kind of miserable. I love Mesquida’s character in this. She just seems to know how to get away with everything and just takes their perfect world and ruins in such a short time. She and Baume were very nice to look at as well, with both being nude at one point or another.
This film does have its issues. My biggest though was with Mesquida and what happens to her at the end. It ends up being kind of funny, but I thought it was kind of a weak punishment. In retrospect, it does go along with the film and it does make it easier to deal with. The film is also not that exciting. It focuses primarily on the love story between Baume and Ventimiglia as well as the destructive lifestyle of Mesquida. Baume really doesn’t have much of a character arch either.
With that said, I would actually recommend giving this film a viewing if you are fan of vampire films. It doesn’t have the greatest cast, but I think they all do a fine job in their roles. The story is a little bit lacking, but I will say that I love Mesquida and what she does. This is a lower budget film, but it doesn’t really have that feel. Don’t come in expecting a lot and just enjoy this one, I think you will have a similar reaction to me if you are into these types of films.
My Rating: 6 out of 10
Film: Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Director: Fran Rubel Kuzui
Writer: Joss Whedon
Starring: Kristy Swanson, Donald Sutherland and Paul Reubens
This film starts informing us that there is a slayer that is born every generation. She is a woman and does battle with vampires. She has a mole that is the mark of this. We get images of this from the Middle Ages and she is played by Kristy Swanson.
We then shift to what the film calls the Lite Ages. Swanson is a popular cheerleader. She hangs out with Michele Abrams, Hilary Swank and Paris Vaughan. Swanson is dating a popular guy played by Randall Batinkoff. He is best friends with Andrew Lowery and Sasha Jenson. They are on the basketball team together. Jenson goes off on his own and he is attacked by Paul Reubens. He is a vampire. There are other deaths that are happening that are vampire related and the bodies disappear.
The girls go to the mall where they run into Donald Sutherland. He freaks them out as he stares at Swanson. They go to a movie where we meet Luke Perry and David Arquette. They are bothered that they are talking throughout the film. Afterwards, Swanson and Batinkoff go back to her place. Her parents are going out of town and he is going to stay over. That night, she has a nightmare about someone who looks like her fighting vampires in the past. There is a master vampire that shows up, played by Rutger Hauer. She cannot defeat him.
These two groups of friends run into each other at a local shop. They are rude back and forth before they separate. Perry and Arquette are walking along a road when Reubens attacks Arquette. Sutherland arrives and takes Perry home.
Sutherland visits Swanson after cheerleading practice. She is struggling with history and is supposed to study with a friend, played by Natasha Gregson Wagner. He arrives and tells her that she needs to come train with him as she is the chosen one. She doesn’t believe it though. He brings up a dream that she has had and she is shocked because she hasn’t told anyone about them. She does go to the cemetery with her and waits for someone who was killed by a vampire to come back to life. He does as well as a woman. She ends up killing both with a stakes. He tells her that the following day she needs to actually start her training.
She doesn’t and he meets with her in the girl’s locker room. He throws a knife at her head and she catches it. He did this to prove that she is the one. She doesn’t want it though. She wants to continue living her life and stabs the knife into a bench between his legs. She follows this up with a punch to his face. She realizes that she is stronger than most and more athletic. She goes to start training with him.
Perry is visited by Arquette and this freaks him out. Perry’s room is on the second floor and Arquette floats outside of his window. He decides to fix up his van and skip town. The night that he tries it, he is attacked by Reubens and two other vampires. Reubens ends up losing an arm when he tries to get to Perry while he is driving. Perry crashes his van and gets out to fight them. Swanson and Sutherland show up to dispatch the other two as Reubens fled.
Reubens is trying is raise an army for Hauer. He is upset that Reubens would leave the two new vampires to fight the slayer. Reubens is bothered that he lost an arm. Hauer needs to defeat the slayer, which he has done throughout the ages. They are trying to figure out who she is as well to lure her to them.
Can she be the one to defeat Hauer? Even though she hasn’t had the amount of training as the ones in the past? Will Perry leave town or will he stay around to help Swanson? Will she realize that he is the one for her?
I used to watch this film a lot when I was growing up and it is kind of funny to watch it now as an adult. I found it interesting that Joss Whedon wrote this film; as he would go on to do the first Avenger film and other blockbusters like that. I personally felt that this film is definitely a satire on how life was at the time this was made. Swanson herself realizes that wasn’t doing anything important until she became a slayer, but she is still torn between saving the world from the vampires or just living her normal life. You get the high school drama of being superficial and things to this effect. The film does have the message of not judging a book by its cover, with her ending up with Perry. He is slightly unbelievable in the role he plays in this film, but I won’t knock that too much. I found Hauer’s character to be great as he is a solid horror film actor. He did tame himself or this film though. I also wanted to bring up Reubens, who I thought was absolutely hilarious. It is also interesting to see all of the cameos by people who go on to be very famous actors like Swank and Ben Affleck.
This film is hampered by being a comedy though. It is a comedy with horror elements so the tone is as such. I do think that this could have taken a darker feel, but I don’t know how it would have played out. I am curious to see how it would have. This film feels similar to that of Scream, in that this one is mocking teenagers and society where that one is mocking the slasher genre. That one is darker though and it played well. This film does suspend disbelief as well. You have people killing the vampires and they just accept it. I do think that they realize during the climax that they really are monsters so that does explain a bit, but I still don’t know if it would be accepted on the level that it is.
With that said, I would recommend seeing this film. It is a fun, teenage vampire film. It doesn’t stand up that great to the times and I will admit that. If you are into films from this era, you will definitely like this one. The acting is good, but is slightly over the top. The writing of the film is well done and gives a satirical look at the time period. The vampires look good and it is fun to watch a cheerleader take them out. Not the best vampire film out there, but it is entertaining and worth a viewing.
My Rating: 7 out of 10
Film: The Night Circus
Director: Eskild Krogh
Writer: Mads Zaar Rissberg
Starring: Kim Sønderholm, Eske Skafsgaard Hjorth and Camilla Fynbo
This film begins showing a man wake up and pop his head out of a car window, he is played by Kim Sønderholm. He has a stern look on his face and goes back inside.
We then shift to a blurry room where someone holds up a card. It states at the top ‘The Night Circus’ and their motto about calling them and they will take care of it.
Sønderholm arrives in a car with an associate, played by Eske Skafsgaard Hjorth, to what looks to be outside of the city and by a barn. Hjorth takes what looks to be a rug from the trunk. It appears that there is something inside of it though. Sønderholm goes to a hole in the ground that is covered with wood. He opens it and removes a bucket that has calcium oxide in it.
The two men then go out into the woods. They remove a body wrapped in carpet and plastic. It is drug away from the car and Sønderholm produces a book. There is light rain starting to drop. Did the thing in plastic move or is it the rain hitting the plastic?
I have to say that I was given the chance to watch this short when Kim Sønderholm reached out to me on my Horror Review page on Facebook. I can say that I’m definitely glad that he did, I enjoyed the opportunity to view this short film. The first thing that struck me was the scene that is blurring. I like that the title of this short is the same as the business that Sønderholm and Hjorth run. I felt that scene was good enough to be the title card for the short itself actually. The film is given an eerie feel from that scene and gets amplified since there is very little dialogue in general. It makes it easier since this film is Danish produced, but personally I enjoy viewing foreign films with subtitles on. I feel that if the filmmakers wanted, this could be extended to a longer short or even a feature film. I want to know more about the ending and what happened.
There isn’t really much negative I have to say about this short. I did feel that the title card was not really needed and personally thought the person holding up the card was more effective. I can see why they would want to, as the film has something in the background out of focus so not everyone would focus on the card itself. This film has me wanting more, which is a good and bad thing because there are questions that are outstanding. I will give this short credit for that.
Now with that said, this is an 8 minute short film that was very well done. I give the two main actors a lot of credit, because neither of them have dialogue so all of their acting is based on facial expressions. They conveyed the scene using just this. I like the concept. I felt that the music helped to give a creepy feel to the scenes. This did leave me wanting more, which is good. It also leaves me questions, but if they decide to make this a longer short film or even feature length, they have left themselves with that option. If you get a chance, I definitely recommend giving this a viewing.
My Rating: 8 out of 10
Film: The Bird with the Crystal Plumage (L’uccello dalle piume di cristallo)
Director: Dario Argento
Writer: Dario Argento
Starring: Tony Musante, Suzy Kendall and Enrico Maria Salerno
This film follows an American writer who is living in Italy. He is played by Tony Musante. He came here because he was having trouble writing and a friend recommended it would be good for him. Since coming he has published a book and will be returning to the United States with his girlfriend. He is given his final check from his friend, played by Renato Romano.
On his way home he is passing an art gallery and he happens to look over. He sees a struggle between a woman in a white outfit and a man in a black coat and hat. There is a knife in involved and we watches as the man stabs her. Musante crosses the street and tries to get into the gallery. The man flees, but he hits a control locking Musante out of the gallery, but also preventing him from leaving with another glass door. The woman is played by Eva Renzi. She is bleeding out. Musante does get a man who can barely hear him to call the police.
The inspector in charge of the investigation is played by Enrico Maria Salerno. He seems suspicious of Musante to begin with. Their initial interrogation is done at the gallery. Renzi has survived as it was just a flesh wound. Her husband shows up and he is distraught at what happened, he is played by Umberto Raho. He states that she came up to do the books on the gallery and he was coming to pick her up. Salerno finds a leather glove that belonged to the killer.
Musante is taken to the police station where the interrogation continues, but they come to the conclusion that he didn’t stab Renzi. There have been three other attacks and it is a pattern. Salerno believes there is part of what he saw that he is not remembering. Salerno takes his passport away to get his help in this investigation. Musante has to cancel his flight back to America.
He is released and it is foggy out. He hasn’t slept and he turns the corner to walk down another sidewalk. An old woman screams for him to watch out and Musante ducks. He is being followed and the person tried to decapitate him with a large knife. He chases after the killer, but he disappears in the fog. When the woman asks if he is okay, he plays it off, but he is shaken.
Musante gets home to his girlfriend who is played by Suzy Kendall. He breaks to her what happened and that he can’t leave at the moment due to Salerno. Together, they gather up evidence on the case. Raho is visited at home with Musante and Salerno as well.
We see that the killer isn’t done yet either. The killer stalks another young woman, played by Rosita Torosh. They attack her in her room as she is getting ready for bed. She is stabbed to death.
Salerno allows Musante to conduct his own investigation, with police help. He seeks out where the first victim was working and talks to the antique dealer, who is played by Werner Peters. It appears that the night she died, she sold a painting that was somewhat macabre. Peters has a picture of what the painting looked like. It was of a woman being attacked in a snowy field with a knife. Peters allows Musante to take the picture home.
Both Musante and Salerno receive phone calls from the killer. Musante’s tells him to stop what he is doing or Kendall will be murdered. Musante is also chased and attacked by someone while he is walking home with Kendall. Will he stop his investigation and go back to America? Salerno gives back his passport to allow this, but will he do it? Kendall wants them to just leave. Who is this killer and can they be stopped?
I have to say that I had never heard of this film, but sought it out due to liking the writer and director Dario Argento. Growing up I knew his name due to him being part of two of my favorite horror films, the original Dawn of the Dead and Demons. This is actually is his first solo directed film and even early in his career I can see why he is considered the master of Italian horror. This film blends a great mystery with the horror of the slasher/giallo film. I thought the acting was good for the most part. I wasn’t blown away by anyone, but no one did anything to ruin the film. The mystery of who the killer was is great. I thought I had it figured out at one point and then there are a couple of twists which made me enjoy this film even more. I love Argento’s use of color in this film, which becomes even more prevalent in later films he has done. The other thing that was absolutely amazing was the soundtrack. He chose such eerie sounding songs that makes those scenes that much creepier. What the images on the film are showing are great, but it sets such a different feel to the scene with it. He also likes to use close-ups that help build the tension of the scene, like in this one there are a lot of hands. During one of the killer scenes, it focuses on her open mouth/tongue. Coupling this with quick takes, it gets the adrenaline of fear going.
There were some issues that came up for me with this film. The first issue that struck me, I don’t know if I can fully buy in that the police would help Musante conduct his own investigation. Now this film takes place in Italy and in 1970, so I cannot assume to know how they run their police force. I could see them taking any information that he knows, but actually having a citizen conduct their own investigation didn’t seem real to me. I also hate how the killer acts at the end of the film. There is a cat and mouse instead of the killer just finishing it. This is something that you see in a lot of films. I will give it credit that it did build tension, as you are hoping the police or someone will save Musante, but again in real life, I don’t think killers would do that. This doesn’t ruin the film, but something that loses some of the realism. I also felt that the meeting Musante has with the painter didn’t contribute much to the overall story. Now it did get him away from Kendall to have the killer come after her and make them miss their flight, but aside from that it felt slightly out of place.
Now with that said though, I really liked this film. Argento did a great job in his solo directorial debut and you can see his potential to make films that have followed this one up. The acting is good. The story is solid and I really liked the twists at the end of it. Argento’s use of color and soundtrack definitely add something to this film. It does come with some issues, but nothing really ruins it. I wanted to warn you that this film is from Italy and West Germany, so my copy was dubbed over. I’m not sure if there are versions out there in the actual way it was produced, but if you can find it with subtitles I would recommend that as personally I feel that is a better experience. This film is also from 1970 so keep that in mind when coming in. I would highly recommend this one though if you can get past those issues, as I felt this is a great early giallo film.
My Rating: 8 out of 10