Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Night of the Living Dead (1968) review


The zombie movie that awakened a nation.

PLOT:Barbara (Judith O'Dea) and her brother are going to their father's grave to place flowers on it; however, when they get there, a man is roaming the graveyard and her brother jokes with her saying it's going to get her. Ironically, the man attackes her, but her brother fights him and is left on the ground. She runs to a nearby farmhouse where she meets an African-American named Ben (Duane Jones) and the family that lives there, including stubborn father Harry (Karl Hardman) and eccentric Tom (Keith Wayne). They find out by TV that these things are cannibalistic corpses brought back by radiation from a satellite shot down by the army. Now they must keep them out of the house and stay alive until they acn reach a rescue station. It's a great set-up for a zombie movie, and is executed as well is it can be.

ACTING:Excellent. O'Dea and Jones steal the show as the show real fear, panic, and overall emotion. An honorable mention is Marilyn Eastman as Helen, the mom. I could see her fear when she was attacked.

SCORE:Very scary and at times hypnotic.

EFFECTS:There's just a few scenes with blood and gore, but the ones with it don't go as far as to overuse the blood. They make the effects realistic and necessary.

OTHER CONTENT:I appreciate this film for how, at the time being, it was a groundbreaking spot in horror entertainment. Zombie films had not been invented until 1968 when this came out. It does still unnerve in today's times, with its shocking ending, wandering corpses, the idea itself, and the best scene with the little girl and her mother However, it's just a bland film compared to today's zombie film. So much has been done with the zombie subgenre that this film is just seen as a bland zombie film no different from the others. Time wasn't the best to this due to many other sequels and additions. Either way, it's still a classic, distrubing zombie film that started it all. Congrats, Mr. Romero, you started something big.

OVERALL,an awesome horror film with a well-executed zombie plot, excellent acting, hypnotic and scary score, realistic effects, and the power to still unnerve today, but time wasn't real good to it.

Monday, October 29, 2012

When Good Ghouls Go Bad (2001) review


This movie is another one of my Halloween guilty pleasures. I love almost everything about this movie, even considering how bad it may be critically received.

PLOT:Danny Walker (Joe Pichler) is the strange, new kid in the town of Walker Falls who loves Halloween. His dad is the manager of the local chocolate factory that was owned earlier in life by his father, known as Uncle Fred (Christopher Lloyd) to everyone. Uncle Fred now lives at home with Danny. Halloween is now approaching, and Danny decides to put up Halloween decorations; however, he learns through the school bullies that this town is under the curse of Curtis Danko, a weird kid who went to school a long time ago in Walker Falls. Legend says that he sculpted a statue of his hero and was found in the school's kiln room the next day burnt alive with his statue covered up. Scrawled in his ashes was a message telling the people of Walker Falls never to celebrate Halloween again or he will come back. He was buried with his statue in the cemetary, for one kid who saw it claims he went blind for three days. Danny still tries to celebrate Halloween with his family to the outrage of the town, but things change when his Uncle Fred dies in a Halloween-related accident. A few days later, Uncle Fred is an undead zombie trying to bring Halloween back and warning that the curse of Curtis Danko is coming back. Now it's up to Danny, his Uncle Fred, and a few of the town's children to stop the newly-risen zombies and Curtis Danko from ruining Halloween. It's an interesting plot executed pretty well.

ACTING:The acting in here was pretty mediocre at most. The movie was lead by the performance of Christopher Lloyd as Uncle Fred, for without him, it would have been practically nothing. Joe Pichler played a decent part as young Danny Walker. With that being said, the child acting in here wasn't as bad as in other movies similar to this one (Ernest Scared Stupid). The worst performance in here would have to be from Jose Element as Mike Kankel, the town's best coach. His acting just got on my nerves and spoiled most of the movie's fun.

SCORE:The score was pretty spooky, but not that big of a deal. It simply carried the movie's theme along.

EFFECTS:The effects in this movie ranged from good to pretty bad. The make-up effects for the zombies looked like just about what you could find on any Halloween, and Curtis Danko himself looked like a Halloween decoration, but it fulfilled the spirit of the movie, which I'll get to later. The worst effects would have to be the pumpkin tower collapsing in town square; it looked very lazily done. However, most of these effects were good due to the feeling they were trying to capture.

OTHER CONTENT:Despite all of its flaws, I really love this movie. It has many flaws, but it rises up to me in many ways. Among its flaws are the script and cheesiness of some of the humor. The lines in the script were mainly all one-liners and puns, which brought on the cheesiness of the humor, but like Ernest, it makes the dialouge become memorable. The things I love the most about this movie, though, start with the feelings it evokes for me. This movie is just made for good, old-fashioned Halloween fun. It mocks that of the zombie subgenre and glorifies the Halloween decoration just to have fun with the holiday, like it should be done! This movie is just a lot of fun, but it does have a few beautiful moments that just send shivers down my spine, mainly at the end; it just leaves me loving Halloween as much as I always have.

OVERALL, a good Halloween movie with an interesting plot, mainly mediocre acting, spooky score, ranging effects, lots of Halloween fun, amd some beautiful scenes, but it has a cheesy script of humor.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Ernest Scared Stupid (1991) review


This one's kind of a guilty pleasure for me in terms of liking a "bad" movie. No matter how many times I see it, I get the same feeling. This movie's a mess, but it's a durable mess.

PLOT:A long time ago, the Worrell's were cursed by Trantor the troll before he was banished to eternal darkness. In modern times, Ernest P. Worrell (Jim Varney) works as a sanitation engineer, or garbage man, in his local town. He's made friends with a few of the local schoolkids along with his dog, Rimshot. When the school bullies knock down his kid-friends' haunted house, Ernest takes them to find a tree to build a treehouose; however, it's on wicked, old lady Hackmore's (Eartha Kitt) land. She knows of the curse and judges Ernest before it even happens. Ernest and the kids eventually find a tree, but little does he know that it's the tree that holds Trantor's prison. Due to his stupidity, he frees Trantor from his prison and now must stop him before he captures the children, turns them into little wooden dolls, and unleashes his troll army. All of this takes place Halloween and the night before. It's an good plot executed decently.

ACTING:The acting in here is pretty mediocre overall. Jim Varney does his usual wacky job as Ernest, and it's pretty good. Eartha Kitt plays a pretty memorable role as Mrs. Hackmore, but it's not spectacular. Almost all of the child actors got on my nerves, but they didn't completely ruin the movie, just the scenes without Ernest. He is actually the saving grace of his own movie!

SCORE:The score is good in some places, and cheesy in others, but mostly good. It puts out a few cool and memorable themes, such as the opening title, the eerie music at the tree, and the lighthearted version of the title theme. Everything else I believe was played for effect.

EFFECTS:The effects were decent, but had a little trouble with execution. The make-up effects used for the trolls were pretty well done; I liked the way they were detailed. The effects more played for comedy weren't executed too well, as simple as break away windows, to a troll exploding. I think this is partially editing's fault. I really liked the effects used for the likes of the ghosts; for me, they have become memorable.

OTHER CONTENT:This movie's a hot mess, but I love it. It has its own brand of pros and cons, but I'll give you the cons first. Aside from the mediocre acting, the execution and some of the humor needed help. The plot and effect execution wasn't so good under Cherry's direction, as usual. The effects were easily spotted out and edited too soon. The humor had its bad moments as well. I like slapstick humor, but there were some pretty dreadful moments here. I mainly laughed, but there were moments. There are good things about this movie though. This movie brings memories back to me, as it was an essential part of my childhood and love for Halloween. My next reason is because of my love for Halloween. All this movie needs to be is a fun movie for the kids and lovers of Halloween; it's simply a lot of fun! This one has just seemed to stick to me throughout the years.

OVERALL,an ok Halloween movie with a good plot, mainly mediocre acting, good score, decent effects, memories I have associated with this movie, and just a lot of fun, but it has lots of problems with execution and a few with humor.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Phenomena (1984) review


This is one of Argento's works that's more different from his usual style. It still has his essence in it, but it really seems to flow with its release time in here. Either way, it's still a great film.

PLOT:Jennifer (Jennifer Connelly) has just moved far away to attend a special school for girls, but she's not like other young girls. Aside from her dad being famous, she has the unusual power to control insects and also sleepwalks intensely. All of the others girls make fun of her, but a famous insect scientist, Dr. John McGregor (Donald Pleaseance). If that's not enough, there's a killer on the loose in town, slashing away at tourists and young girls. Jennifer and Dr. McGregor both find clues to the murders and think insects could lead them to the bodies, so now they must give it a try. It's a good plot executed very well.

ACTING:The performances in here were pretty great. Jennifer Connelly was never the best actress, but she played a very great part in here as the sensitive bug-telepathic, Jennifer. Donald Pleaseance also played a great part as the bug scientist, Dr. McGregor; he recited his lines very well. The other shiners would be Daria Nicolodi as Mrs. Bruckner, Dalila De Lazzaro as the Headmistress, and Patrick Bauchau as Inspector Gieger.

SCORE:The score and soundtrack was very diverse and well done with the likes of Goblin, Claudio Simonetti, Iron Maiden, and Motorhead among others. The score was very creepy and unique, as usual, and the soundtrack consisted of gritty, heavy metal to set the violent mood. For this aspect, I believe the film matches its time period of release very well.

EFFECTS:The blood splatters widely in this film of Argento's. The blood is still bright red and realistic as it's always been. There's a good bit of violence in this horror film as well. There's also credit to be given to the effects used for the insects and how all the right shots were done on camera. It makes me wonder how they did it.

OTHER CONTENT:This Argento horror film really takes the cake for his works in the '80s. Everything from the music, to the actors, and even to the mood of the film just screams '80s. However, this doesn't fully distract from Argento's style. This film was pretty scary, very suspenseful, unique, and just something new for Argento. The only flaw I can really find in this film is that it contains a few cheesy moments that the '80s is barred to hold, including the ending. The ending was pretty great overall, but the twist with the chimpanzee was pretty cheesy to me. It doesn't distract from much, though, for Argento's signature style and editing is style purified in this film.

OVERALL,a great Argento horror with a good plot, great acting, creepy score, heavy soundtrack, Argento blood effects, worthy insect effects, scary moments, lots of suspense, uniqueness, great Argento editing, and just something new for him to work with, but it's kind of cheesy, ending and all.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Tenebre (1982) review


This Argento work redeemed itself from the near-mess that Inferno left behind. It's much creepier with a better plot and vision.

PLOT:Peter Neal (Anthony Franciosa) is a best-selling author who has just release his latest work, named Tenebrae, which describes a few murders. His fame is rising steady until someone starts to murder real people influenced by his book. Now he must try and figure out who it is with his colleagues, Anne (Daria Nicolodi) and Detective Germani (Giuliano Gemma), as well as others. It's a good plot executed very well.

ACTING:The performances in here are pretty great. Anthony Franciosa played a great part as the misunderstood author, Peter Neal. I think his final scenes were the best. Daria Nicolodi also played a brilliant job; she's been in a several other of Argento's films and I can see why. Her final scenes in this film were also the best in here. The other shiners would be John Saxon as Bullmer, John Steiner as Cristiano Berti, and Christian Borromeo as Gianni.

SCORE:The score is done this time by Cladio Simonetti, and he does a great job composing creepy themes for the film. It reminds me much of Goblin and the unique score they do. I rather liked it.

EFFECTS:The blood flows freely in this Argento flick. As the body count stacks up, the blood flows further; each kill gets bloodier and bloodier. I was impressed by how violent some of the kills in this one were, but I enjoyed how he did each of them, especially the last few deaths. Argento really did pull himself up from Inferno.

OTHER CONTENT:This Argento work is actually a really good one considering it followed Inferno. This one's much creepier with its atmosphere and has a more visionistic approach to it. Some of the cutscenes/dream sequences along with the kills were very much a part of Argento's unique vision; I really appreciated it. It even kept the twist at the end that Argento usually has in each film, except this one was a lot more spread out. It still lacked in scariness and a bit of substance, but it was good overall.

OVERALL,a good Argento horror with a good plot, great acting, creepy score, impressive kill/blood effects, a creepier atmosphere, a more visionistic approach, and a set of Argento twists, but it lacks a strong scare factor and some substance.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

R. L. Stine's The Haunting Hour: Don't Think About It (2006) review


This pretty much goes through like an episode of Goosebumps, minus the nostalgia and better performances. It still had a decent entertainment factor, but it was still so much better the first couple times I saw it.

PLOT:Cassie (Emily Osment) has just moved to a new school with her parents and annoying little brother named Max (Alex Winzenread) who's scared of anything that moves. She has just moved to this school around Halloweentime and is a very different person from everyone else. On her first day, she meets a popular guy named Sean (Cody Linley), and a mean-spirited, popular girl named Priscilla (Brittany Elizabeth Curran), who is this year's Pumpkin Queen. So far, things aren't looking good for Cassie, but all changes when she discovers a Halloween store between an alley. She enters and discovers all of these cool things, but the shopkeeper (Tobin Bell) points out a certian book entitled "The Evil Thing" to her. She buys it and notices that it says "Do Not Read Aloud" on the first page. Later on, her brother angers her, so she reads it aloud it him in bed. What she doesn't know, however, is that the evil thing is real, and it's now out to get her and all those around her on this Halloween night. It's a decent plot executed almost well.

ACTING:The performances in this movie are anything but good, really bad actually. Emily Osment hardly had enough props to play the lead of gothic Cassie; I knew about a dozen others who could have played the character better. She did have her moments, but she wasn't really good. This movie is so badly acted, however, that it gets her in the spot of the shiners for this movie. The other shiners would be Tobin Bell as the stranger, Cody Linley as Sean, and Cassie's parents played by John Hawkinson and Michelle Duffy. Tobin Bell could've been the saving grace of this movie if they would have used him for more than just a cameo with a cheesy script. Two performances that really got on my nerves, though, were Brittany Elizabeth Curran as Priscilla and Alex Winzenread as Max. Everytime they were on-screen, I found the acting to be unconvincing and dreadful.

SCORE:The score was actually pretty good. It set the creepy atmosphere rather well. The soundtrack wasn't too bad either; most of them were all fitting songs recorded by independent artists, except for the now-annoying title song by Emily Osment.

EFFECTS:The effects were scattered in their quality. Some were good and some were bad. For example, I thought the effects for the slime and the monster was pretty good. Convincing to an extent, it was. However, the effects for the baby monsters were pretty lame and cheesy.

OTHER CONTENT:This movie pretty much ran like a feature length "Goosebumps" episode; it had the vision of R. L. Stine, except downgraded. The script and plot were all just as low quality as expected, and the performance were horrible. Then again, this movie did capture a good bit of creepy aspects and Halloween glory. I'm a sucker for Halloween spirit, and this did have it. I'll give it credit for putting the Halloween spirit in there along with a good, spooky ending, but this movie has some major flaws.

OVERALL,a mediocre Halloween movie with an almost decent plot, bad acting, creepy score and mainly good soundtrack, scattered effects, and a cheesy script, but it did have a good bit of Halloween spirit put into it along with a creepy ending.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Inferno (1980) review


This is the weakest of Argento's films that I have seen up to now. It's still very suspenseful with his usual style, but compared to his past, it's not as elaborate or developed.

PLOT:Two girls in both New York and Rome named Rose (Irene Miracle) and Sara (Eleonora Giorgi) both have come across and began studying a book called "The Three Mothers", which tells the story of three sisters that ruled supernaturally with power in several different parts of the world (one being the ballet school in "Suspiria"). Rose sends a letter to her brother majoring in musicology, Mark (Leigh McCloskey), to come and visit. However, when he arrives in New York, she's nowhere to be found, and now it's up to him to uncover the mystery of her disappearance and of the three sisters. It's a good plot executed kind of lazily.

ACTING:The performances in here are pretty great, I'd say. Leigh McCloskey played a pretty solid pary as Mark, our main character. It wasn't spectacular, but he did a pretty great job. Irene Miracle also played a pretty great leading part as Rose, his sister. The other shiners would be Eleonora Giorgi as Sara, Daria Nicolodi as Countess Elise, Alida Valli as Carol, Feodor Chaliapin Jr. as Varelli, Sacha Pitoeff as Kazanian, and Gabriele Lavia as Carlo.

SCORE:The score was of the usual horror goodness by Argento's favorite, Goblin. It was creepy, unnerving, and got the job done.

EFFECTS:The effects were also of Argento's standard. The blood effects looked similar to what they did in his past works, and he also used the alternating light color as he did in "Suspiria" to add creepy effect. These worked as well as they could for a film like this.

OTHER CONTENT:As I said before, this is the weakest of Argento's works that I have seen. The plot's not as developed, it jumbles up, and it's not as scary. Compared to his other works, the plot for this film is just underdeveloped. I spotted a couple minor holes and due to its development, it was also really jumbled. There was no solid plotline, so you spent most of your time confused and guessing who was who and what was going on. Also, it wasn't as scary. The creepy factor was the same, but it only had one or two good scares as compared to the likes of "Suspiria" or "Deep Red", which were abundant in them. This film does have a lot of flaws, but it's still very suspenseful and keeps true to Argento's basic style.

OVERALL,an ok Argento horror with a good plot, great acting, unnerving score, Argento effects, lots of suspense, and Argento's usual style, but the plot was underdeveloped, things got jumbled up, and it wasn't as scary as it should have been.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Magic (1978) review


This is probably the best performance you'll find of Anthony Hopkins before his "Silence of the Lambs" days. It's a very suspenseful tale.

PLOT:Corky (Anthony Hopkins) is a magician and card-trick master. After performing for the first time at a club, he bombs and is told by his mentor to get some charm. Ten years later, Corky's agent named Ben Greene a.k.a. The Postman (Burgess Meredith), brings an NBC talent scout down there to see his new act. Corky now performes his tricks with a little ventriloquist dummy named Fats (also voiced by Hopkins), and it hits with the NBC scout. However, Corky won't take his chance at fame because they demand for a medical exam, which he won't go through; he refuses to admit that there's anything wrong with him. He flees the city and takes refuge at his old school crush's place, Peggy Ann Snow (Ann-Margaret). Things start to get crazy when Fats starts to actually talk back to Corky, telling him things such as to kill. It's a decent plot executed fairly well.

ACTING:The performances in here are pretty great, I'd say. Anthony Hopkins plays a very great part as the schizo ventriloquist and magician, Corky. For a pre-Silence performance, I'd say he did very well. The other shiners would be Ann-Margaret as Peggy Ann Snow, Burgess Meredith as Ben Greene, E. J. Andre as Merlin, and Beverly Sanders as the laughing lady. I just don't think Ed Lauter did a good job as Duke, Peg's husband. His role seemed someone bland.

SCORE:The score was pretty freaky and distinct. I'd say it was pretty well done.

EFFECTS:The effects didn't really look too realistic, but they got the job done, and they got it done well enough.

OTHER CONTENT:This, of course, isn't the best horror movie out there, but it does have a few good aspects aside from it's great performances. This movie is filled with suspense from top to bottom. You could even cut it with a knife, I'd say. It was also very dark with its humor, and even very wry and clever. You could very well watch it for its humor as well as its suspense and scares. However, I could see that much more could have been done with this idea that was overlooked. This left it somewhat bland and unorganized, not to mention the editing was kind of sloppy. It's not the best horror movie, but it's worth a watch.

OVERALL,a great horror movie with a decent plot, great perfromances, freaky score, accomplishing yet unreal effects, lots of suspense, and clever dark humor, but so much more could have been done with the plot and editing.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Ghostbusters (1984) review


"Who ya gonna call?" This line has become one of the most popular taglines in movie history, and it's easy to see why. This movie is funny, creative, and just full of laughs for all senses of humor.

PLOT:Professors Peter Venkman (Bill Murray), Raymond Stantz (Dan Akyroyd), and Egon Spengler (Harold Ramis) are all leading in parapsychology. One day, they are called to the library to investigate a particular ghost siting, which sets them off into their new career. After they're kicked out of the college they teach at, the get some money and start a "ghost-busting" business made to catch ghosts and keep the city safe. After their first big job at a famous hotel, they become worldwide hits! However, things start to get dangerous when they find out that a certain apartment building is being haunted by the Sumerian god, Gozer, and its two minions. These minions head after Venkman's crush, Dana Barrett (Sigourney Weaver) and her nerdy neighbor, Louis Tully (Rick Moranis). Now it's up to our ghostbusters and their new employee, Winston Zeddmore (Ernie Hudson), to stop Gozer and save the town from a near apocalypse. It's a great plot exected very well.

ACTING:All of the performances in here are great. I think the star of the show would be Bill Murray as Dr. Peter Venkman; his sharp, dry humor propelled the movie forward and kept it more entertaining. The other shiners would be Dan Akyroyd as Raymond Stantz, Harold Ramis as Egon Spenkler, Sigourney Weaver as Dana Barrett, Rick Moranis as Louis Tully, Ernie Hudson as Winston Zeddmore, William Atherton as Walter Peck, and Slavitza Johan as Gozer. Rick Moranis did outstanding playing the character of the awkward nerd; I felt that it fit him very well. Sigourney Weaver played a very good part by playing of off Murray's sarcastic dialogue. Though Akyroyd did a good job, I don't think this was his best role, for he was very childlike.

SCORE:The score is pretty good. It's composed of some curious and creepy themes. The soundtrack is pretty great too; it contains the title track by Ray Parker, Jr. as well as some oldies and creepy-sounding songs. I'd buy it.

EFFECTS:The effects in here weren't a marvel, but they were pretty fantastic. The effects they used to make the ghosts were pretty realistic as well as ridiculous-looking. The green blob-of-a-ghost is very well known because of this. The effects of the ghost dogs, Gozer and the temple, and the "streams" all looked great as well, thanks to the typical '80s effects.

OTHER CONTENT:This movie is definitely an '80s classic among everyone. It's funny, a little freaky, and very loveable. The humor in here is very diversified; it ranges from dry and sarcastic to harsh and stereotypical and even to dirty jokes. The humor has a little something for everyone. The scenes with the dogs and Gozer also ended up being pretty freaky in the end, which, in turn, makes them seem pretty well done. One thing in particular about this movie is the fact of how its humour and entertainment value make it a loveable classic among everyone. However, the '80s cheese brings some flaws to it. Upon rewatching, I notice that the dialogue can get pretty cheesy in parts as well as certain situations. This will forever hold its '80s classic reputation due to the cheesiness. Only a few scenes come off as cheesy and jumpy, but it's overall an entertaining movie.

OVERALL,a great comedy with a great plot, great performances, creepy score and great soundtrack, fantastic effects, a variety of humor, well-crafted freaky moments, and a high entertainment factors, but the dialogue can get cheesy and the plot can get shaky in some parts.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Trick 'r Treat (2006) review


This has to be one of the best Halloween and horror films of modern times. It's scary, clever, and just well done overall.

PLOT:It's Halloween night in Warren Valley, Ohio, and everybody's celebrating, but not always in the most pleasant ways. We follow four stories in this film which are all intertwined together. The stories include that of a school prinicpal, Mr. Wilkins (Dylan Baker), who moonlights on Halloween killing schoolchildren, a group of young teenagers who revisit the site of a school bus massacre, a young, petite, 22-year-old virgin girl (Anna Paquin) who's about to get hers tonight with the help of her friends, and an old, cranky loner named Mr. Kreeg (Brian Cox) who is being haunted and hunted by a little Halloween spirit. All of these happen on the same night and are intertwined within each other in this horror anthology. It's a great plot executed brilliantly.

ACTING:The performances in here are very great. I don't think there's really a bad one in here. The best (shiners) would be Dylan Baker as Mr. Wilkins, Brian Cox as Mr. Kreeg, Anna Paquin as Laurie, Leslie Bibb as Emma, Samm Todd as Rhonda, Richard Harmon as the Vampire Kid, and Jon-Luc Bilodeau as Schrader. The most significant to me are Dylan Baker as Mr. Wilkins and Brian Cox as Mr. Kreeg. They both play their parts perfectly, matching each persona very well. As I said before, however, mostly all performances are great.

SCORE:The score in here is quite intense and creepy. I'd say it kept the film going very well. It isn't as significant a theme as The Exorcist or Halloween, but it was pretty good.

EFFECTS:The blood and gore flows freely in this horror film. The blood effects are very good and enhance the scariness of this film, from small cuts to big guts and even too puking it. It all enhances the scares. The effects were also pretty great for the werewolves, the zombies, and Sam the Halloween kid. They all kept the film's scares going.

OTHER CONTENT:This is one of the best horror films I've seen in the modern age. It's scary, campy, clever, and just an instant classic. This film piles up on scares and puts in some dark humor to add a campy feeling to it. The writer did very well incorporating all of this together. This film's scares are also disturbing enough to put a shiver of Halloween glory and madness down your spine. It's also pretty clever and suspenseful how it connects all of the scares together by one storyline with several different subplots going on. This horror film brings back the good days of classic horror, from werewolves, to creative kills, to trick-or-treat murders, and even to revengeful zombies. This is an instant horror classic due to its craftiness. However, it's missing some decently important film elements, such as character development, which in turn makes it a pretty shallow horror film to some.  Either way, Michael Dougherty, I thank you for a great time.

OVERALL,an awesome Halloween horror film with a brillaintly-executed plot, very great acting, intense score, great blood and monster effects, disturbing scares, campy dark humor, clever writing, and a feeling of a good, old horror scare, but the absence of elements like character development could make one consider it fairly shallow, or that it could have been done a different way.

Claymation Comedy of Horrors (1992) review


This is an odd special. The animation is great as ever, but it's pretty wild and wierd, even for me.

PLOT:The greedy Wilshire Pig and his shy companion, Sheldon the Snail, are trying to make money through a Halloween carnival ride until they stumble upon the diary of Frankenswine, the mad scientist. By retrieving the dairy, the two get a map to Frankenswine's castle and an opportunity to find his monster. Wilshire takes this as an opportunity to make money and drags Sheldon (who has the map on his tongue) with him to the castle. However, once they find it and get in, they should be begging to get out! A Halloween party of monsters, zombies, and non-mortals gather there every year, and now Wilshire and Sheldon must find their way out of it while searching for the monster! It's a decent plot executed fairly well.

VOICES:The voices are actually pretty annoying to me. I don't know who did the voice acting, but Wilshire Pig's voice really annoyed me, and Sheldon barely even spoke! Most of the other voices were pretty annoying as well, but I'd say I liked the voice best for Famine, one of the skeleton warriors of the apocalypse. It was pretty comedic.

SCORE:The score wasn't really important, but the theme was done in a pretty fun way. It wasn't anything spectacular, but just a fun theme with an annoying song near the end sung by Wilshire.

ANIMATION:The animation is what really sold this special for me. The animation is composed by the great Will Vinton, who gave us the same for his delightful Claymation Christmas Special and his underrated film, The Adventures of Mark Twain. The animation was very detailed and expressed emotion in every character as well as animate certain aspects of the creatures.

OTHER CONTENT:This special was actually a weird one; it just didn't seem to do the job well for me. It was a wild and fun Halloween celebration, but at the end it just came off as empty. It didn't have the true Halloween spirit that it should've had. The humor was mainly hit-or-miss in here. There were a couple of humorous moments, such as meeting the horsemen of the apocalypse and seeing the monster revealed to the audience, but a lot of it was just basic, such as "Dr. Jekyl's experiment" or the ending. I'd usually like something like this because of its wild, Halloween nature, but it just left me feeling empty at the end. It's definitely a unique feature, but it borrows so much that it can't be anything more than JUST a TV special. Also, I really didn't care for the persona of Wilshire Pig or Sheldon the Snail; they are not lovable characters! It makes me miss the Christmas special more.

OVERALL,an ok Halloween special with a decent plot, annoying voices, a fun theme, great Vinton animation, an empty feeling, hit-or-miss humor, and unlikeable characters, but it did have its moments, and it is unique.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

An American Werewolf in London (1981) review


This is one of the best and best-known werewolf movies, and it's a classic in itself with it's great make-up effects and whip-sharp humor.

PLOT:Two American friends, David Kessler (David Naughton) adn Jack Goodman (Griffin Dunne), go on a backpacking trip to northern England, around the area of London and the moors. They walk for a while (after hitching a ride with a shepherd) until they come upon an old pub named the Slaughtered Lamb, in which they find a five-point star and several warnings to stick to the roads and beware the moon. These two foolish young men disregard their advice and end up getting lost off course, which brings them face-to-face with a werewolf. David survives and is taken to the nearest hospital, but Jack and the werewolf are dead. As David recovers with the help of his nurse, Alex (Jenny Agutter), he is visited by his undead friend and warned that he is the next werewolf and must kill himself before it's too late. For a while, David ignores it and bunks with Alex at her house, but little does he know that he's going to go through a big change. It's a good plot executed pretty well.

ACTING:The performances in here are pretty great. David Naughton as David and Griffin Dunne as Jack play off each other very well and just fill their characters with personality. Each has a similar sense of humor and charisma; however, David plays the change of the werewolf, and he plays it greatly. The other shiners would be Jenny Agutter as Alex, John Woodvine as Dr. Hirsch, Brian Glover as the chess player, David Shofield as the dart player, and Frank Oz as Mr. Collins.

SCORE:The score is pretty well done. It doesn't effect the film drastically, as that of Argento's films, but it's still pretty good. The soundtrack played alongside the humor, as the songs were all based on the moon. ("Blue Moon", "Moondance", "Bad Moon Rising") I liked it.

EFFECTS:These are what made the film so good. The make-up effects in here are brilliant. The effects of the bloody corpses, fresh and rotted, along with the severed body parts and werewolf itself are all brilliantly done. Also, the werewolf change in this film has to be one of the best; it's well-acted by David Naughton and done in detail from nails to teeth to fingers to face. The film is worth watching just for the effects, if not the horror!

OTHER CONTENT:This werewolf film is definitely a horror classic. It's scary and has a sharp, campy sense of humor. The scenes of horrific suspense, just waiting for the wolf to pop up and attack everyone is scary in itself; not to mention the howling in the background makes it all the better. John Landis definitely has a knack for capturing a shot at the right time and angle. Also, he has a pretty campy sense of humor. The humor he incorporates in here is dark, sharp, and dry all to the point of campiness. The film is great fun for horror fans alike. There is one big thing I didn't really like about the film though, and that is the ending. I expected the ending to have a bit more substance instead of being so abrupt. I thought that it should have had an epilogue or at least more dialogue. It just left me wondering what was next.

OVERALL,a great werewolf film with a good plot, great performances, well done score and comedic soundtrack, brilliant make-up effects with one of the best werewolf transformations ever, scary suspense, great direction by Landis, and a campy sense of humor, but the ending just left me wanting more.

Suspiria (1977) review


This is the film that Argento seems to be most famous for, and I can see why. It's full of suspense, extreme scares, and has a compelling story.

PLOT:Suzy Bannion (Jessica Harper) has just moved from America to a big ballet school overseas. However, she has come at a pretty bad time. She sees a student (Eva Axen) running away from school and mumbling some nonsensical things, and later that night, that student is murdered gruesomely. Suzy thinks next to nothing of it, and even makes a friend named Sara (Stefania Cosini). As soon as she gets there, she notices things aren't right. From maggots falling from the ceiling to poison in here food, among a few other disappearances, things don't seem natural here at all. After a while, Suzy begins to learn that this may have been a meeting place for witches for a long time. It's a great plot executed quite well.

ACTING:The performances in this film are pretty great, I'd say. I've seen Jessica Harper in a few other movies after this (Phantom of the Paradise, Shock Treatment), but I have to say that she did pretty well for an early performance. She hasn't always been the best actress, but this role seems to have been written right for her. Other shiners would be Stefania Cosini as Sara, Eva Axen as Pat, Flavio Bucci as Daniel, Alida Valli as the Mistress, and Joan Bennet as Madame Blanc.

SCORE:The score was brilliantly done by Argento's choice band, Goblin. The score was very disturbing and enhanced the mood of each scene. It also let you know when something was about to happen. It was perfect for a horror and a suspense.

EFFECTS:The effects are traditionally that of Argento: bright, red blood after bizarre violence. The effects in here were used very well for scares, from the bloodflow to the eerie lighting; I loved the way he experimented with lighting in here by changing its colors frequently from red to blue to green. This one he really put his effects out there.

OTHER CONTENT:This Argento horror film was very good. The suspense builds up greatly and is released through either little, spooky scenes in which something is built further, or extreme, violent impulses which make this film all the more great. This one, unlike the past two I've reviewed, hasn't borrowed a lot plotwise. Suspiria exists within its own horror ecosystem and provides scares in its own way. This is truly a unique, horror landmark of the 70s. However, it also doesn't go as far out with its scares as the past two have. It does have a few extremely violent scenes, but it doesn't scare as bad as the past two have. Either way, it doesn't fall short from Argento's reputation any.

OVERALL,an awesome Argento horror film with a great plot, great performances, brilliant score by Goblin, Argento experimental effects, built-up suspese, extreme releases of horror, and a different plot build-up than the past two, but it wasn't as scary to me as that of Deep Red, etc.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Deep Red (1975) review


This chapter in Argento's collection is a very odd and complex one, but it is very scary and well-crafted. Only a few minor flaws throw it off its axis of greatness.

PLOT:Jazz pianist, Marcus Daly (David Hemmings), witnesses a murder through a window of paranormal psychic, Helga (Macha Meril), who sensed her murderer coming. Things don't seem so bad afterwards, despite the fact that he's shaky, but then strange things start to happen. The unforseen killer starts to kill any friend or aquaintance of Marc that may have a connection to this person's history or a key to the murders. Marcus then becomes enthralled by figuring it out and teams up with his drunk best friend, Carlo (Gabriele Lavia), photographer Gianna (Daria Nicolodi), and Helga's friend, Giordani (Glauco Mauri), to solve the murders and put this killer's history together. It's a good plot executed brilliantly.

ACTING:The performances in this film are pretty much outstanding overall. David Hemmings played a pretty respectable part as Marcus Daly, the main protagonist of the film, but he was not the only outstanding peformance in the film. The others, I guess I could call them shiners too, would be Gabriele Lavia as Carlo, Clara Calamai as Carlo's mother, Macha Meril as Helga, and Glauco Mauri as Giordani. I felt the passion in the parts of Helga and Giordani. The emotion the put into their parts was just brilliant. I could also feel the emotion in the other two, but it was more dramatic than outstanding. Either way, the performances this film holds are all worthy of praise.

SCORE:The score was very unique and well done by a band named Goblin. I had heard about these guys and how they helped Argento's films, and now I must say that I love their musical vision. They sound like a combination with horror score and futuristic rock, which go together rather well. Not to mention this film had a theme creepier than any other I've heard (the one with the child singing). That theme song just sends shivers down my spine. I hope to see much more good stuff from Goblin in Argento's next few films.

EFFECTS:The effects used in here were pretty great, as well as standard in Argento's style. Argento's typical bright-red blood color and harsh prop violence enhance this film's creepiness and shock, making it all the more scary.

CAMERAWORK:Dario Argento has a certain style for how he wants his films to be shot, and it is seen clearly in here through the different pans and zooms that go with the mood ever so well. He has a vision much like Kubrick with the camera.

OTHER CONTENT:This is one of the few horror films that scared me fairly well. It was very scary, well-crafted together, stylized, complex, odd, and mysterious. It was definitely like almost no other film; notice that I said almost. One of the few flaws this film has is being very similar in structure to that of his past work, The Bird With the Crystal Plumage. In both, a guy witnesses a murder and gets ensnared in the mystery, an overly important detail from the beginning comes back as a shocker to the main character and audience, a brief climax is shown before the mystery is solved, and the aquaintances of the main character are hunted and killed. It's very similar, but this film is more advanced in its plot twists and uniqueness. This one is way more of a horror than a slight thriller/horror combo. Also, I hated that the copy I had of the film shot the dialogue in both English and Italian dub, alternating at random times. That just became aggrivating after a while and along with the organization,  threw the film off of its axis of greatness.

OVERALL,an awesome Argento horror with a brillaint plot, outstanding performances, unique score by Goblin with an overtly creepy theme, classic Argento effects, Argento style camerawork, very scary moments, well-crafted plot elements, stylized aspects, complex plot twists, a good mystery, and an odd feeling, but it borrowed a bit from his past films, and the double-dubs threw the film off a miniscule bit.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

The Game Plan (2007) review


I saw this once on my birthday when I was younger. Now, I think its pretty much shallow and predictable, running on the same family movie formula as used several times before.

PLOT:Joe Kingman (Dwayne Johnson) is the famous quarterback for the Boston Rebels. He's always been the King, who never says no, and is full of himself in every aspect. However, the King's bubble is bursted when he finds out he has an 8-year-old daughter named Peyton (Madison Pettis), who has unexpectedly arrived at his doorstep to stay with him. Things immediately turn upside down from then. Things start to be more about Peyton than about Joe, and he doesn't really like it much. He clearly isn't used to being a father, considering he leaves her at a nightclub, sets up game plans of where she can go, and even disregards every word she says. However, it's possible that this young girl can warm this tough quarterback's warm heart. It's a basic plot executed in a formulaic way.

ACTING:The acting in here is ok. Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson''s part as the tough quarterback father, Joe Kingman, was mainly pretty shallow, due to his script. He was just simply ok, but he was the best performance in the movie. Madison Pettis played a pretty basic part as the young daughter Peyton. She was mainly just a regular child actor, but she did have her moments where she said a snappy line or stirred an emotional response. There aren't really any other shiners, not even Kyra Sedgewick as his cold agent, Stella. She actually did pretty awful.

SCORE:The score was mainly made up of either some cheesy inspirational schlock or some good classic rock soundtrack. I spotted songs in here from the likes of Elvis, E.L.O., and even Marvin Gaye. The soundtrack itself wasn't bad, but the score was just cheese.

OTHER CONTENT:This is just another family movie Disney made to make money, endorsing football and their new star, at the time, Madison Pettis, who played on the Disney Channel show, "Cory in the House". This movie is cheesy, shallow, and predictable for the most part. However, this movie did have some positive aspects. It did teach a good lesson with some heart-warming moments and some clever moments, but it's overall pretty formulaic. Also, the second half of the movie is way better than the first. It was less shallow and a little more cleanly edited.

OVERALL,a bad movie with a formulaic plot, ok acting, cheesy score and a good soundtrack, cheesiness, shallow execution, and predictability, but it did have its moments with its simple lesson, and it had a better, well-edited second half.