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REVIEW: Poltergeist (1982)

October 31, 2014 4 comments
PoltergeistDirected by: Tobe Hooper
Produced by: Steven Spielberg, Frank Marshall
Written by: Steven Spielberg (screenplay & story), Michael Grais, Mark Victor (screenplay)
Edited by: Steven Spielberg, Michael Kahn
Cinematography by: Matthew F. Leonetti
Music by: Jerry Goldsmith
Starring: Craig T. Nelson, JoBeth Williams, Beatrice Straight, Heather O’Rourke, Oliver Robins, Dominique Dunne, Richard Lawson, Zelda Rubinstein, Martin Casella, James Karen
Year: 1982

 

Poltergeist and the films that followed it have become some of the most fabled films in Hollywood history. Seemingly everyone knows about “Poltergeist curse” that was often been attributed to the ironic fact that the first film used real human skeletons as props in one pivotal scene and was rumored to have afflicted many people who worked on the films throughout the trilogy, ranging from small incidents on the set to the deaths of many of the films’ stars during that time. Producer Steven Spielberg was also the subject of much Hollywood scrutiny over his role in the first film’s creation, as he had a contract with Universal to not direct another film while he worked on E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial for them, but many who worked on the film claim that Spielberg had, in fact, taken over a lot of the directing duties on the set from its credited director, Tobe Hooper, likely in order to avoid any legal ramifications. Content wise, the film was also one of the most controversial films of its time, initially being issued an R-rating from the MPAA before Spielberg and Hooper talked them down to a PG, thus making it perfectly acceptable for younger audiences to see this scary movie without adult supervision if they so wished. Though it wouldn’t be the final straw that broke the camel’s back, it would be just one of the many that would convince the MPAA that a rating between the two was needed and eventually lead to the creation of the now ubiquitous PG-13 rating. Read more…

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REVIEW: Grave Encounters

October 30, 2014 3 comments
Grave EncountersDirected by: The Vicious Brothers (Collin Minihan, Stuart Ortiz)
Produced by: Twin Engine Films, Digital Interference Productions, Shawn Angelski, Michael Karlin
Written by: The Vicious Brothers
Edited by: The Vicious Brothers
Cinematography by: Tony Mirza
Music by: Quynne Craddock
Starring: Sean Rogerson, Ashleigh Gryzko, Mackenzie Gray, Juan Riedinger, Merwin Mondesir, Matthew K. McBride, Ben Wilkinson
Year: 2011

 

I didn’t really count on doing a found footage film this year, but my friend offered this up as a solid horror film the other day, and, in return I said I’d do a review of it. For the record, this is the same guy who suggested I watch the 1991 Sylvester Stallone movie Oscar, the also horrific Thomas and the Magical Railroad (which was his joke suggestion last year for a horror movie review), and the unexpected suggestion of Albert Nobbs. If anything, though I haven’t very much always enjoyed his suggestions, they have definitely given my reviews more variety, and so I think I’ll give him a pass on this cliché subgenre recommendation – and if he takes issue with my condescending tone here regarding his movie suggestions and taste, then he totally knows it’s intentional… and totally sincere. t(-.-t) to you and your suggestions, dude. I had heard of the film before, but it was only in passing on various websites’ comments sections and such. It also popped up recently on Netflix’s streaming service recommendations for me, so when he watched it and then made the recommendation himself, I figured it was just meant to be. Read more…

REVIEW: Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007)

October 22, 2014 3 comments
Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet StreetDirected by: Tim Burton
Produced by: Richard D. Zanuck, John Logan, Walter F. Parkes, Laurie MacDonald
Written by: John Logan (screenplay)
Edited by: Chris Lebenzon
Cinematography by: Dariusz Wolksi
Music by: Stephen Sondheim
Starring: Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, Alan Rickman, Timothy Spall, Ed Sanders, Jayne Wisener, Jamie Campbell
Bower, Laura Michelle Kelly, Sacha Baron Cohen
Based on the stage musical by Stephen Sondheim and Hugh Wheeler and characters created by James Malcolm Rymer and Thomas Peckett Prest
Year: 2007

 

I haven’t seen it myself, but, given its large fanbase, I’d say that it’s a surprise that it took nearly 30 years for Stephen Sondheim and Hugh Wheeler’s 1979 musical to see a film adaptation released. Of course, considering that most of those years were pretty lacking in any non-animated musicals, this would have definitely been a misguided notion. And even if musicals were not considered the box office poison they were considered to be throughout the 80s and 90s (again, provided that you were not animated), then no doubt the very nature of Sweeney Todd would be enough to hold it back. It’s a grim, macabre musical that dares to shock audiences with its rampant and bloody violence, songs with swear words in them, and even a dark sense of humor largely built around some sneaky cannibalism on the main characters’ part. This is some dark material, and any adaptation during that time would have no doubt led to the film bombing and further sullying the idea that musical films have their place in this world. Luckily, fortune smiled upon musical film fans, as not only did the early 2000s provide studios with an unexpected small boom in that very market, with Moulin Rouge! and Chicago gaining both popular and critical acclaim (not to mention money), but the 80s and 90s also saw the rise in popularity in the one director who could conceivably adapt the play for film faithfully and still not have it bomb based solely on name recognition alone. I’m talking, of course, about Tim Burton. Read more…

REVIEW: Hocus Pocus

October 16, 2014 3 comments
Hocus PocusDirected by: Kenny Ortega
Produced by: David Kirschner, Steven Haft
Written by: Mick Garris, Neil Cuthbert (screenplay), David Kirschner, Mick Garris (story)
Edited by: Peter E. Berger
Cinematography by: Hiro Narita
Music by: John Debney
Starring: Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker, Kathy Najimy, Omri Katz, Thora Birch, Vinessa Shaw, Jason Marsden, Doug Jones, Sean Murray, Charles Rocket, Stephanie Faracy, Larry Bagby, Tobias Jelinek, Jodie Rivera
Year: 1993

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Despite my love for this film as a kid, it’d been quite some time since I ever actually saw this movie from beginning to end. A few scenes here and there on ABC Family, sure, but the viewing was always interrupted by something else. Perhaps it’s just because the end of September is the beginning of a very busy month for my family – a close family friend’s birthday is at the end of September, and then there’s my stepdad’s and then my own birthday, and then you get into the “holiday season” along with two more birthdays thrown in for good measure, and it’s just rare that you sit down to watch anything you either have seen before, that is, unless it’s mandatory viewing – kinda like Shaun of the Dead or the Scream films are for me. However, for many, I do know that this is the movie they look forward to seeing every time this year, and, you know, I can’t really blame them. It’s a really fun flick. Read more…

REVIEW: Halloween (Unrated Director’s Cut, 2007)

October 9, 2014 4 comments
Halloween (2007)Directed by: Rob Zombie
Produced by: Malek Akkad, Rob Zombie, Andy Gould
Written by: Rob Zombie
Edited by: Glenn Garland
Cinematography by: Phil Parmet
Music by: Tyler Bates
Starring: Malcolm McDowell, Scout Taylor-Compton, Tyler Mane, Sheri Moon Zombie, Daeg Faerch, Danielle Harris, Brad Dourif, William Forsythe, Kristina Klebe, Hanna R. Hall, Bill Moseley, Dee Wallace, Pat Skipper, Daryl Sabara, Skyler Gisondo, Jenny Gregg Stewart, Danny Trejo
Based on characters created by John Carpenter and Debra Hill
Year: 2007

 

Good grief. I knew this movie was going to be bad just by virtue of being one of the many films from the last decade to be a remake of a classic horror film, but this was ridiculous. Yes, after eight films – one of those being a reboot, and the final being a sequel to that reboot – Hollywood saw fit to throw the Halloween series under the bus and give it the straight up remake treatment with none other than Rob Zombie at the helm. Normally, it would be cause for concern if you had heard that a musician was taking over directing duties for a film franchise, but I’d heard that Rob Zombie had an admirable enough talent for directing horror films with The Devil’s Rejects, and so it wasn’t exactly as illogical as it may initially have sounded when he was hired to write and direct this movie. That being said, however, whatever talent he may have displayed there is noticeably absent from his remake of Halloween. Read more…

REVIEW: A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge

October 4, 2014 3 comments
A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy's RevengeDirected by: Jack Sholder
Produced by: Robert Shaye
Written by: David Chaskin
Edited by: Bob Brady, Arline Garson
Cinematography by: Jacques Haitkin, Christopher Tufty
Music by: Christopher Young
Starring: Mark Patton, Kim Myers, Robert Englund, Robert Rusler, Clu Gulager, Hope Lange, Christie Clark, Marshall Bell, Melinda O. Fee, Tom McFadden, Sydney Walsh
Year: 1985

 

A long time ago, back in 2011, I angered quite a few fans of the Elm Street series by taking a disliking to the original film. These fans had accused me of a great number of things, mostly for being ignorant, comparing it to Friday the 13th, and/or making errors regarding the number of movies in the film series. It may well have been fair, but it seemed like most of this was stemmed from the fact that, in the end, I did not like it. I gave it a 2 out of 5 score and even called the score “charitable.” Them’s fighin’ words, they thought, and so they slammed me on their forum. Justified or not in their anger (and they kind of were in some respects), a few allowed me to engage them in discussion, and we even came to a sort of understanding. Some of them urged me on and recommended two of the sequels: the third, which saw the return of the one beloved survivor of the original heading up a task force of troubled youths against the series’ baddie, Freddy Krueger, and the seventh, which was a sort of meta extension of the series that saw the actors dealing with Freddy in the real world, in their own lives. And, to be honest, I actually kind of enjoyed them. They weren’t masterpieces or anything, but, for what they were, they were certainly a lot more entertaining and whimsical than what I had perceived as a sort of ridiculous, self-serious franchise with the first film. Read more…

Halloween Movie Month 2014 & The Viewer’s Commentary Fourth Anniversary!

October 1, 2014 Leave a comment

Lucy Davis, Kate Ashfield, Dylan Moran, Simon Pegg, Penelope Wilton, and Nick Frost

Well, it’s been just a little over four years since I started this blog, and can only mean one thing: It’s time to start reviewing Halloween movies! This theme month, formerly known as Scary Movie Month, was once a time when I begrudgingly made myself watch a bunch of scary movies in order to better understand a genre I did not typically enjoy.

Funny enough, however, in the few years I’ve actually been doing this, I’ve actually grown pretty fond of this month and of the movies I watch in the process of figuring out which ones to review. Are they all good? Not by a long shot, but it’s still entertaining since horror is still not a genre I’d typically find myself in the mood for if not for the oncoming Halloween holiday.

As always, October will be a month of reviewing nothing but Halloween-appropriate movies — not just the scary ones, but also the funny ones, the sad ones, the weird ones, the ones meant for family, and, yeah, even the musical ones (hence why I moved away from the “Scary Movie Month” monicker).

Nightmare on Elm Street 2 - Roberg Englund

This year, in particular, I plan on returning to a series or two that I’d reviewed previously. One that I know for sure that I’ll be doing is A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge, particularly because the series was responsible for The Viewer’s Commentary getting its first spike in views thanks to a group of fans flocking to the site to gawk at my not-well-received review of the first film. The exchange we had on their forums encouraged me to explore other areas of the Elm Street series and surprised me in how, in the right mindset, yeah, these movies could be pretty entertaining. Freddy’s Revenge is, unfortunately, nowhere near as good as Dream Warriors or New Nightmare or even the original, which I honestly did not care for the first time around. But, hey, it has an interesting subtext to explore thanks to the switch up in the lead character’s gender,  and at least it’s not the terrible remake, right? Speaking of remakes, I also hope to get around to reviewing Rob Zombie’s remake of John Carpenter’s slasher classic Halloween. Why not the original movie’s sequel, you ask? Because I watched the remake out of morbid curiosity recently when I saw it on Amazon Prime, and I’ll be damned if I’m going to let that experience go to waste, dammit!

The Cabin in the Woods - Horror has a new iconic weapon

And so, as always, I leave you with a list of previous Halloween-appropriate films I’ve reviewed since September 2011. The list is only going to get longer, so I don’t know how much longer I can continue to do this, but here they are all together for at least one more time! And, as always, enjoy a free movie, the public domain zombie film that started it all, Night of the Living Dead below that!

Alien28 Days Later

28 Weeks Later

Alien

Aliens

Attack the Block

The Blair Witch Project

The Cabin in the Woods

Contagion

Dawn of the Dead: Director’s Cut (2004)

Frankenweenie

Friday the 13th (1980)

Halloween (1978)

It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown

Juan of the Dead

It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown - The Sincerest Pumpkin PatchThe Last House on the Left (1972)

The Last House on the Left (2009)

The Mist

The Nightmare Before Christmas

A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)

A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010)

A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors

ParaNorman

Perfect Blue

Psycho

The Purge

The Rocky Horror Picture ShowThe Rocky Horror Picture Show

Saw

Scream

Shaun of the Dead

The Sixth Sense

Sleepy Hollow

Slither

The Thing (1982)

This Is the End

The Twilight Saga

Under the Skin (2014)

Wes Craven’s New Nightmare

The World’s End

Zombieland

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