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REVIEW – The Evil Dead

October 31, 2016 1 comment
The Evil DeadDirected by: Sam Raimi
Produced by: Robert Tapert
Written by: Sam Raimi
Edited by: Edna Ruth Paul
Cinematography by: Tim Philo
Music by: Joseph LoDuca
Starring: Bruce Campbell, Ellen Sandweiss, Hal Delrich (Richard DeManincor), Betsy Baker, Sarah York (Theresa Tilly)
Based on the short film Within the Woods by Sam Raimi
Year: 1981

 

“Cult classic.” That’s the best way to describe something like The Evil Dead, a low budget horror flick that’s just this side of camp, to the point that you’re not entirely certain whether it’s intentional or not. The Rocky Horror Picture Show, for instance, is obviously trying to be campy. The original version of The Last House on the Left? Not so much, but it’s got quite a bit of camp value, despite (or, more likely, because of) its disturbing subject matter. The Evil Dead has all the hallmarks of camp, and yet, because it’s so earnest, it’s also easy to believe that director Sam Raimi was, in fact, trying to make a genuinely terrifying horror film that just kind of got away from him. If you know anything about the strenuous shoot, for example, you can see where the earnestness comes in. Most of the crew was confined to the remote Tennessee cabin location for several weeks, and Raimi purposely mistreated his actors to get them into the proper mood for a horror film, for example. There’s a very good chance that The Evil Dead was, in fact, meant to be a scary horror film that instead came together in the editing as the ambiguously humorous production that it ended up being – something that its sequels and spin-off series embraced more wholeheartedly. Read more…

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Halloween Movie Month 2016

October 1, 2016 Leave a comment

 

 

Paranormal Activity - Katie Featherston, Micah Sloat

Six. This year marks the sixth time I have done a Halloween movie theme month. Not only that, it also signals that I have now been running this blog since I was 25. This year marks my 30th birthday, which also just so happens fall on Halloween. To say that Halloween 2016 is a scary one for me is an understatement. But, the reviews must go on! (Well, not really, but I enjoy writing them, even if I’m fairly certain not many people are actually reading these.) As a result, though, you would think that I might have big plans for this year. Well… I don’t. But one idea did just occur to me, and it’s actually something I intended on reviewing last year, but it completely escaped my mind: How about I review a film starring one of my former high school classmates that also just so happens to be on Netflix?

Darkroom - Kaylee DeFer

The film is called “Darkroom” and stars aforementioned classmate Kaylee DeFer, whom I went to school with until she moved. I’m not going to pretend I knew her well or anything – she was perfectly nice, but we just didn’t have the same social circles – but it’s still kinda surreal to have a former classmate who has now had roles in films shows like Gossip Girl and was even a crucial character in the string of events that led to Ted Mosby meeting his wife on How I Met Your Mother. I think the most interaction I ever had with her was our freshman year during our school’s Shakespeare week, and we were assigned to reenact the gravedigger scene from Romeo & Juliet. I sliced my hand open on the metal pole I was using as a prop and started bleeding, resulting in the scene – and my own burgeoning acting career – being cut considerably short. So… yeah, I’ll get around to doing that one, unless it’s no longer available on Netflix or some other service. (And, really, why wouldn’t it be? I only discovered it because I noticed her on the cover while browsing, and that’s probably the only way anyone has watched it.)

28 Weeks later - Infected

I do intend on reviewing some other horror classics I haven’t gotten around to, though, perhaps the original Amityville Horror, as well as perhaps some newer ones, like a certain computer-based film I actually put on my Favorite Films of 2015 list that I admittedly only saw once. (I’m curious whether it holds up, particularly by just watching it on a laptop this time.) I do think this year will be considerably more horror-heavy than previous years, if only because I’ve actually been really in the mood for them, rather than the more lighthearted stuff like It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown and Ghostbusters (take your pick which, just don’t troll my site). Perhaps it’s just the bleak impending doom of turning 30, though? [shudder] I guess, if the mood strikes, I could end up doing something more cheerful.

Regardless of what goes on though, just know that I’ve been looking forward to this month and watching some suitable movies for it. Until then, consider reading some of my previous seasonally appropriate reviews, linked below.

Happy Halloween!


The Blair Witch Project10 Cloverfield Lane

28 Days Later

28 Weeks Later

Alien

Aliens

Attack the Block

The Babadook

The Blair Witch Project

The Cabin in the Woods

Contagion

Dawn of the Dead (Unrated Director’s Cut, 2004)

Don’t Breathe (2016)

Don't BreatheThe Exorcist

Frankenweenie

Friday the 13th (1980)

Ghostbusters (1984)

Ghostbusters (2016)

Grave Encounters

Halloween (1978)

Halloween (Unrated Director’s Cut, 2007)

Hocus Pocus

It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown

Juan of the Dead

Krampus

The ExorcistThe Last House on the Left (1972)

The Last House on the Left (2009)

Let the Right One In (Låt den rätte komma in)

The Mist

The Nightmare Before Christmas

A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)

A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010)

A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge

A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors

Paranormal Activity

ParaNorman

Perfect Blue (パーフェクトブル)

Shaun of the DeadPoltergeist (1982)

Predator

Psycho (1960)

The Purge

Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale

The Rocky Horror Picture Show

Saw

Scream

Shaun of the Dead

The Sixth Sense

Sleepy Hollow

Slither (2006)

ZombeaversSweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007)

The Thing (1982)

This Is the End

Tucker & Dale vs. Evil

The Twilight Saga

Under the Skin (2013)

The Visit

Wes Craven’s New Nightmare

The World’s End

Zombeavers

Zombieland

REVIEW: Paranormal Activity

October 10, 2015 2 comments
Paranormal ActivityDirected by: Oren Peli
Produced by: Oren Peli, Jason Blum
Written by: Oren Peli
Edited by: Oren Peli
Cinematography by: Oren Peli
Starring: Katie Featherston, Micah Sloat, Mark Fredrichs, Amber Armstrong, Ashley Palmer
Year: 2007/2009

 

It’s kind of obligatory to address this issue when reviewing this film, so I’ll just get it over with – It could easily be said that found footage has worn out its welcome, particularly since it hardly seems like filmmakers care that much about actually conforming to the handheld style beyond characters addressing the camera and someone in the movie supposedly holding the camera, even though it makes absolutely no sense for them to continue filming, particularly at the angles they hold the camera (Hello, The Visit…). I wouldn’t exactly refute the claim that found footage itself has gotten tiresome, but it’s not exactly because the style is necessarily overdone – it’s that it is too often being done poorly, oftentimes just as a gimmick. However, a few films still manage to use the style to their advantage and actually do it well. Chronicle comes to mind as being a fairly decent one. I still love Cloverfield, complaints about motion sickness be damned. And the anthology film V/H/S 2 managed to one-up its mediocre predecessor with some truly entertaining and effectively terrifying short subjects within the format. But even these owe a great debt to Paranormal Activity, the film that reignited the found footage craze after a virtual post-Blair Witch lull. Read more…

REVIEW: The Exorcist

October 6, 2015 5 comments
The ExorcistDirected by: William Friedkin
Produced by: William Peter Blatty
Screenplay by: William Peter Blatty
Edited by: Jordan Leondopoulos, Evan Lottman, Norman Gay
Cinematography by: Owen Roizman
Music by: Various; Theme by Mike Oldfield
Starring: Ellen Burstyn, Jason Miller, Max von Sydow, Linda Blair, Lee J. Cobb, Mercedes McCambridge, Kitty Winn, Jack MacGowran, Father William O’Malley, Vasiliki Maliaros
Based on the novel by William Peter Blatty
Year: 1973

 

The Exorcist is yet another movie on my list of movies that I don’t know how I managed to not watch until recently. Unlike, say, The Godfather (put your pitchforks down, I saw them all years ago, but still after a while) or Braveheart, however, the reasons for not seeing it wasn’t simply because I was tired of hearing people talk about how great it was, but rather due to the fact that the subject matter and reputation The Exorcist had for being one of the most terrifying horror films of all time really freaked me out. As some of you may know, I was never really a horror film fan in the first place until I started writing this blog and forced myself to watch films from the genre for the month of October, and while this was partly because I thought less of the genre than I should have, I’d be lying if there was some part of me that was genuinely terrified of certain movies – and chief among them was The Exorcist.

Read more…

2014 IN REVIEW: Everything in Between That I’ve Seen

February 7, 2015 1 comment

Under the Skin - Eye

Finally, we come to the films that I actually did see! As with the films I didn’t see, these films will come at you in three parts: the films that were just somewhere in the middle in terms of quality, the films I greatly disliked, and the films I really enjoyed.

I use those qualitative terms just to avoid confusion over what I’m ranking here. The films in this section range from generally bad to generally quite good, but never elevating to excellence or making me fall in love with them or making me hate them with a passion. That being said, I didn’t expect to like some of the films here as much as I ended up liking them, and, of course, I was letdown by others I actually was kind of looking forward to.

If you don’t see the movie here and didn’t see it in the list of films I didn’t see, then you can almost certainly be guaranteed to find them on one of my next two lists, as this is just a portion of the 121 total films I ended up seeing from 2014 as of this writing, whether in theatres, on DVD/Blu-Ray, or through streaming. Read more…

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2014 IN REVIEW: The Films I Didn’t See (May – August)

January 24, 2015 1 comment

Maleficent - Angelina Jolie

I’m not going to waste too much time this year on introductions. For this second part of my review of films I didn’t see, we’re going through the summer blockbuster season, which is typically where a lot of hopeful franchises and big, loud, action-packed spectacles are typically placed. That doesn’t mean that they’re stupid or anything, as some of them look quite good, but don’t expect too many of them to be all that deep or groundbreaking.

Yes, 2014 may have been a record year for me seeing the most movies from that year, but there were still movies I never got around to or never even had the ability to see due to either foreign or limited release. I still like going over them, however, as this process often leads  to me finding some unexpected gems that I might enjoy. Some of these I might become so interested in that I see them before I even get to the films I did see, so there is actually a possibility you might see these films reappear in this 2014 in Review series if that becomes the case.

Anyway, here are many of the films from May to August 2014 that I didn’t see, for one reason or another. It’s by no means complete, but that’s what you get when you’re using Wikipedia and Best of/Worst of lists from other sites. Read more…

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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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