Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Pet Sematary (1989) review


This disturbing horror movie from the mind of Stephen King could have been done better with its performances and execution. However, this movie still has the power to scare and stir up certain emotions.

PLOT:Louis Creed (Dale Midkiff), his wife, Rachel (Denise Crosby), and his kids decide to move into a new house a small-town area of Maine. While there, they meet their nice elder neighbor, Jud Crandall (Fred Gwynne), who knows all the history of the area and the legend behind their house: the child-constructed Pet Sematary. Deeper behind the Pet Sematary, Jud tells Lous about a sacred Indian burial ground where the dead come back to life. Jud proves himself when the family's cat, Church, gets ran over on the dangerous road in front of the house constantly traveled by fast trucks and tankers. The ground still works, but according to Jud, it's soured. The being buried in the ground isn't the same one that comes back, meaning it changes to an evil being once it comes back. Louis take note of this, but becomes tested when an accident involving his youngest child sends his family into sad hysteria. Louis may make a bad decision and test the boundaries of Jud and Victor Pascow (Brad Greenquist), the ghost of a dead patient haunting Louis and his family. It's a great plot executed decently.

ACTING:The performances in here are just okay. Dale Midkiff and Denise Crosby play near-decent roles as Louis and Rachel Creed. The best performances in this movie would have to be Fred Gwynne as Jud Crandall and Brad Greenquist as Victor Pascow, with a special cameo by Stephen King as the minister. These two put more feeling in the role and didn't feel as bland as these performances did, though they both have fine moments in the movie. The other performance I'd like to mention would probably have to be Andrew Hubatsek as Zelda, Rachel's sick sister. He did alright playing her part.

SCORE:The score in this movie was pretty okay. There's nothing I really found unique about it, but it accomplished what it set out to do.

OTHER CONTENT:This horror movie was very problematic in its execution and screenplay at certain parts. The movie doesn't stick that much to the book as it should and is very cheesy with some parts of the movie. The movie sometimes feels like a disturbing treat and sometimes feels like a cheesy horror story at others. There were some scenes I felt more like laughing and shaking my head when I was supposed to be scared. However, there were also some scenes that ran chills up my spine and freaked me out, like the scenes with Zelda and the scenes involving Gage's accident and its aftermath. This movie overall is unbalanced with its scares and comedy reliefs as well as with its accuracy. If it had been up to me, I would have left the movie as a book, the way I felt it should be.

OVERALL,an okay horror movie with a great plot, okay performances, okay score, and some very disturbing moments, but the performances seemed bland at times, the story seemed cheesy through its execution, and it seemed to unbalanced throughout.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Carrie (1976) review


This disturbing adaption of the popular Stephen King novel is a frightening and meaningful horror film under the direction of the great Brian De Palma. However, I believe the film needed a bit more back story than it had.

PLOT:Carrie (Sissy Spacek) is a young 17-year-old girl abused by the girls at school and her mother (Piper Laurie), who's an over-religious freak. After getting all of the other girls who bullied her in trouble, one of the girls convinces hotshot Tommy Ross (William Katt) to take Carrie to prom with no good intentions in mind. Meanwhile, Carrie has discovered she has telekinesis, or the ability to move and use things with her mind. Combining Carrie's telekinesis and whatever may happen at the prom, we know this won't end well. It's a great plot executed very well.

ACTING:The performances in this film were excellent. Sissy Spacek did a brilliant job of playing the over-abused teen Carrie White. I believe she did great honor to the role. Piper Laurie also did a great job of playing the over-religious mother, Margaret White. There really wasn't a bad performance in the film, for the cast was nearly all-star. The performances I would like to mention would be William Katt as Tommy Ross, John Travolta as Billy Nolan, Amy Irving as Sue Snell, Nancy Allen as Chris Hargensen, and P. J. Soles as Norma.

SCORE:The score in this film is pretty good and gets the job done right, moving from emotion to emotion well.

OTHER CONTENT:This film was a really good horror with a great message of anti-bullying in it. I appreciated the message and thought the plot execution set everything up well. This film may have a positive message, but it also, however, is pretty disturbing. From the panic in the opening scenes to the climax at prom, this film is loaded with disturbingly scary imagery, which makes a great horror film. I also enjoyed the way De Palma directed this film, adding in all the disturbances and scares nicely. The only problem I seemed to have with the film is that I felt there was too little character development as I felt was needed. We know Carrie's bullied, we know her mother's a religious freak, and we know Carrie's well known as an outcast with a bad mother. However, we don't have as much character development to back that up. I'm sure the novel build up more than this, but overall, this film seemed to be a bit underdeveloped in characterization.

OVERALL,it's an awesome horror film with a great plot, excellent performances, pretty good score, a great anti-bullying message, a lot of disturbing scenes, and enjoyable direction by Brian De Palma, but I felt a little more character development was necessary.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

The Man Who Laughs (1928) review


This silent horror taking place in medieval times still unnerves today with beautiful cinematography, touching performances, and a sense of being ahead of its time.

PLOT:Gwynplaine (Conrad Veidt) was kidnapped as a child because of a political fight between two royal families and sold to a notorious group of people who surgically disfigure his face, leaving it in a twisted, contorted smile. After walking a while, Gwynplaine finds a baby lying next to her deceased mother in the cold. The two wander the area until they discover a philosopher named Ursus (Cesare Gravina) who takes them in. Years later as an adult, Gwynplaine and now-grown Dea (Mary Philbin) travel with Ursus in a theater show entitled "The Man Who Laughs". However, the Duchess of this area (Olga Baclanova) may have her eye set on Gwynplaine as a lover, which could affect his life and love for Dea; not to mention, Gwynplaine is getting sick of the laughter and pressure of being a circus freak. What will this all boil down to? It's a great plot executed brilliantly.

ACTING:The performances in this film are very excellent. Conrad Veidt plays a very touching and convincing part as the forever-scarred Gwynplaine. His performance unnerved me and evoked plenty strong emotion in me, as well as Cesare Gravina as Ursus. His performance nearly made me cry near the end. Most of the performance in here were really great for a silent film. The female leads of Mary Philbin as the blind Dea and Olga Baclanova as the loose Duchess Josiana were just as good as well. The other performances I'd like to mention would be Brandon Hurst as Barkilphedro, Stuart Holmes as Lord Dirry-Moir, George Siegmann as Dr. Hardquononne, and Sam De Grasse as King James II.

SCORE:The score in here was pretty nice. Since it's a silent film, the score has to carry the main sound for the film. The score seemed to match the mood fairly well while keeping a partially-relaxed tone. It wasn't anything too special, but I appreciated it.

OTHER CONTENT:This film was a beautiful silent horror throughout. The cinematography and the way each shot was taken was just beautiful and caught the moment just right, setting the mood and tone for many certain emotions. Also, this film seemed to be actual ahead of its time. Not only was it a pretty scary and meaningful film at the time, covering the lessons of acceptance and fitting in, but it also included spoken dialogue and brief nudity in a time of silents and purity. I felt this film was a big step in breaking the barrier of silent film and the purity era. This film was just a beauty much overlooked these days by the bigger name horror silents like Nosferatu and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, as well as many others, but it's nothing to look over for a true film buff.

OVERALL,an epic horror silent with an brilliantly-done plot, excellent performances, fairly good silent film score, beautiful cinematography, the ability to still scare today, a few good common lessons, and an overall feel that the film was truly ahead of its time.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Halloween (1978) review


This horror classic is still full of suspense and creepy as ever, laying down a landmark for modern slasher films, but does it hold through the test of time?

PLOT:In Haddonfield, IL on Halloween 1963, young Michael Myers stabs his older sister to death for no apparent reason. Years later as an adult, Michael (Tony Moran) breaks out of the mental institution that has held him up for years on none other than Halloween night. From there he begins slaughtering unsuspecting teens, mainly targeting unwary young Laurie (Jamie Lee Curtis). There's only one true person bent on going after Michael to stop him, and that is his psychiatrist, Dr. Loomis (Donald Pleasence). Will Myers be contained this Halloween night? It's a good plot executed very well.

ACTING:The performances in this film were very great. Jamie Lee Curtis played a very convincing role as Laurie. For her first film, she really became the part. I find her to be the best performance in the film, along with the great Donald Pleasence as Dr. Loomis. Both were really great in their parts. There really wasn't a bad performance in the bunch. The other performances I'd like to mention would be Nancy Loomis as Annie, P.J. Soles as Lynda, and Sandy Johnson as Judith Myers.

SCORE:The score in here is one of the most memorable and iconic things about the film. John Carpenter really did a great job at creating a unique and creepy theme. It's beautiful and haunting yet frightening and simple all the same time. I really enjoyed it.

OTHER CONTENT:This film is a really great slasher horror film. The film is packed with suspense, superb direction, a smart script, and a lot of creepy moments. I really enjoyed the metaphor of comparing Michael to almost that of fear itself. It's really creepy and cool. This film is also a really good film to watch around Halloween season, for not just the title but the atmosphere overall. However, I have a small problem with the film that most might find disagreeable. The film was packed with many well-directed, creepy moments, but I don't believe the film is as scary now as it was back then. It just doesn't scare me. The film overall is packed with a huge release of suspense, a bunch of creepy atmosphere, and great direction, but I just don't find it truly scary.

OVERALL,an awesome horror film with a very well executed plot, very great performances, memorable and iconic score, a lot of suspense, superb direction, a smart script, a bunch of creepy moments, a Halloween atmosphere, and a cool metaphor, but it's not as scary today as it was then arguably.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Lady In White (1988) review


This 80's horror flick was a pretty creepy little tale, but nothing to get too excited about. There were a few key moments that stood out from the rest. The movie wasn't bad, but just kind of bland.

PLOT:Frankie Scarlatti (Lukas Haas) is a strange student at his school. One Halloween night, a couple of boys lock him in the coat closet at school where he witnesses a ghost girl reenact the way she was murdered before Frankie himself is encountered by a violent being. After this night, strange things start happening to Frankie, including visits by the ghost girl and clues left by her to help him solve the mystery of her murder. Frankie, now interested by the mystery of the girl, starts to try and find her killer and the connection with her and the ghost of the mysterious lady in white. It's a pretty good plot executed decently.

ACTING:The performances in here weren't too good. They weren't completely terrible, but at times the acting seemed near laughable. Lukas Haas did a decent job of young Frankie Scarlatti, as did Angelo Bertolini and Renata Vanni as Papa Charlie and Mama Assunta. Not all the performances were too well done, like that of Len Cariou as Phil. His acting wasn't too convincing to me, for his facial expressions didn't seem to accurately match his emotions. There really weren't any really good performances, but the other shiners would have to be Joelle Jacob as Melissa and Frank LaLoggia as adult Frankie.

SCORE:The score in this movie was actually pretty generic horror score, but it got the job done and added a bit of a distinct theme to the movie itself.

EFFECTS:The effects were about as cheap and cheesy as any effects were in the eighties. However, the effects seemed to add more color and they made the ghosts look a bit more realistic than they do nowadays. I appreciate that much about ghost movies in the past; the effects look decently realistic.

OTHER CONTENT:This movie wasn't too well made, but it wasn't terrible either. Aside from the acting, this movie overall was just cheesy and predictable. I saw most of the twists coming. However, this movie did have a few key scenes that were either shot well or actually fairly unpredictable. There were only a few of these scenes that gave me a bit of admiration for this movie. There were a few scares that did manage to appear creepy or catch me off guard. This movie could have been so much better, but it was done well to at least a minimalist point.

OVERALL,a neutral horror movie with a decent plot, unconvincing acting, generic horror score, cheap but sort of realistic effects, cheesiness and predictability, and a few key scenes shot well with decent scares.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974) review


This original horror classic tops almost all horror films I've seen to date. The emotions captured in this film are amazingly shown with amazing performances and visionary horror direction by Tobe Hooper.

PLOT:A group of friends, including brother and sister Sally (Marilyn Burns) and Franklin (Paul A. Partain), go on a road trip through Texas to visit Sally and Franklin's deceased grandfather's old house. However, weird and disturbing things start happening, including picking up a freaky hitchhiker that looks a lot like Dracula (Edwin Neal). Things get even stranger, especially with the news of graves being robbed and "artwork" of decomposing bodies is being made close by. After their encounter with the strange hitchhiker, the group stop at the house for a while and spot another house out in the distance, which is believed to have gasoline for their van. Upon visiting the house, however, the group finds that the residents aren't your typical neighbors, specifically a psychotic killer brandishing a chainsaw (Gunner Hansen). Now the group must get away or fall victim to the chainsaw. It's a great horror plot executed brilliantly.

ACTING:The acting in this film is excellent. I could see the fear and insanity in each person's eyes during the horrific scenes. The best performances I could mention would be Marilyn Burns as Sally and Gunner Hansen as Leatherface, or the chainsaw killer. I could see perfect horror and insanity in her eyes and actions that it seemed real. Hansen's iconic performance of  Leatherface was just brutal and frightening with beauty in its own ways. Every performance was great because emotion and insanity itself was captured perfectly. The other performances I'd like to mention would be Allen Danziger as Jerry, Paul A. Partain as Franklin, William Vail as Kirk, Teri McMinn as Pam, and Edwin Neal as the hitchhiker.

SCORE:There wasn't much background score in the film except for the music on the radio, which was mainly southern-type. The one memorable theme with the scraping sound effect, however, was very creepy and good in its minimalism. The sound effects worked above everything else because they were insane.

EFFECTS:The effects here were really good for being low-budget in the seventies. The make-up and prop effects for Leatherface and the house were very creepy and well done. The blood effects for the kills and cuts we see are also quite realistic in itself, while not being too brutal.

OTHER CONTENT:This horror film is one of the king's of all horror films. This film captures the feeling of insanity above anything. For more than a couple scenes in the film, I was actually scared due to the scary silences and horrific portrayals of the characters. It takes a lot for a film to really scare me, and this one did just that. I was very convinced. Also, this film is shot so artfully for a horror film, even with some of its flaws. Hooper knew what he was doing going into this boat by angling the camera just right from the beginning to the end. Every thing I believe Hooper wanted to capture was truly captured. Even all of the flaws this film may have make it even better.

OVERALL,an epic horror film with a brilliantly-executed plot, excellent acting, creepy sound-effect score, well done effects, a thundering feeling of insanity that it even scared me, and artful capturing of the film itself.

Rosemary's Baby (1968) review


This great Satanic horror film was a great scare in its time and is still creepy today, as well as being brilliantly shot by Polanski and acted by Mia Farrow.

PLOT:Rosemary Woodhouse (Mia Farrow) and her husband, actor Guy Woodhouse (John Cassavetes), have just moved into the Bramford, a fancy apartment bulding in New York with a bad past behind it. Right from when they start to socialize, they meet a nice young lady who lives with an old couple, Minnie (Ruth Gordon) and Roman (Sidney Blackmer) Castevet, who seem overly nice for their type. One night, Minnie makes the couple a dessert that puts Rosemary to sleep, where she dreams of an inhuman being raping her around her acquaintances. She wakes up with questions, but everything seems to fade away. One day, as she has wished, Rosemary has become pregnant, seemingly by her husband. However, the baby causes her daily pain and everyone from the neighbors to the doctors that try to help seem to make it worse. She starts to get paranoid and reads certain books on the medicines they've given her and stumbles upon a strange connection to the Castavets with witchcraft. It's a brilliant plot executed very greatly.

ACTING:The performances in this film were very great and on-point with their character types. Mia Farrow does a brilliant job of performing the nice then paranoid Rosemary Woodhouse. The emotions she cast in her part were convincing and extremely believable. Everyone else did a great job, but she shined out the most. The other performances worth mentioning would be John Cassavetes as Guy Woodhouse, Ruth Gordon as Minnie Castevet, Sidney Blackmer as Roman Castevet, Maurice Evans as Hutch, and Ralph Bellamy as Dr. Sapirstein.

SCORE:The score in this film was really good. The main theme of the film was very spooky and haunting yet light and relaxing at the same time. I really enjoyed it.

OTHER CONTENT:This film was very good at dragging you into the story and keeping you right up to emotion with Rosemary. When she felt paranoid, you did too. When she was horrified, you were too. Polanski makes this film so that these connections can be felt. This film was also extremely well shot. Each frame, from the "dream" scene to the first night in the house and even to the ending climax was shot with such precision and visionary direction that it came of as a very artful form. The only problem I had was that it took a really long time for suspense to build so that it really boiled on the story for a while, or didn't get anywhere too fast. It covered all aspects of the story and Rosemary's trouble quite accurately though. I also didn't like the ending in terms that we didn't get to see the final outcome of Rosemary's child. I'm sure that made audiences everywhere mad at the time.

OVERALL,an awesome Satanic horror with a brilliant plot, very great acting, haunting score, emotional connections, and very well shot moments, but the suspense was really slow to build and it felt a little overlong.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

The Wicker Man (1973) review


This psychological horror was a very intellectual scare through the brain of my faith, acted through very well and executed with brilliant precision.

PLOT:Sgt. Neil Howie (Edward Woodward) comes to an island in Scotland named Summerisle to search for a missing young girl named Rowan Morrison. Neil is a very pious man and doesn't tend to be swayed easily by anything, so when he starts to find out about the bizarre religious practices of this island's residents, he sticks to his Christianity with suspicion of fowl play in the disappearance of Rowan. Visiting with the leader, Lord Summerisle (Christopher Lee), Neil finds out the island is populated by pagans with old ways that could be deadly to him and the missing girl. It's a brilliant plot executed excellently.

ACTING:The acting in this film is excellent as well, with very convincing and serious parts played by Edward Woodward and Christopher Lee as Sgt. Neil and Lord Summerisle, as well as a well done performance by Britt Ekland as Willow, the landlord's daughter. Every performance in this film was done in greatness by the actors and actresses. The other shiners would have to be Dian Cilento as Miss Rose, Irene Summers as May Morrison, and Ingrid Pitt as the librarian, as well as others.

SCORE:The score in here is beautiful and very well done by Magnet and arranged by Paul Giovanni. The music itself was very folk-like and the sung lyrics sounded beautiful and rather Celtic altogether. I really loved the soundtrack, as it was actually very full of song.

OTHER CONTENT:This film is a horror for the intellectuals who believe deeply in God and Christianity, as it involves a martyr being put forth as a possible sacrifice in a pagan-ruled area. I found the film not only a psychologically scary treat but also very well shot with beauty in the cinematography. Even the most crude shots in the film were shot with such precision that it seemed attractive to the eye, from Willow's dance to the burning of the wicker man itself. I felt this was a film that gave the audience something to think about in terms of religion, whether it be a test of faith or scare in itself. The film itself wasn't too scary, but it messed with your mind enough to inspire a shock and come-to-realism in what you are actually watching.

OVERALL,an awesome psychological horror with a brilliant plot, excellent acting, beautiful score, an intellectual scare of a treat, beauty in cinematography, and scares for believers, but the scares are more psychological than easy to spot, so it's thought process and disturbing thoughts aren't for everyone.