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Posts Tagged ‘haunting’

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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REVIEW – Unfriended

October 27, 2016 1 comment
UnfriendedDirected by: Leo Gabriadze
Produced by: Timur Bekmambetov, Nelson Greaves
Written by: Nelson Greaves
Edited by: Parker Laramie, Andrew Wesman
Cinematography by: Adam Sidman
Starring: Shelley Hennig, Moses Jacob, Renee Olstead, Will Peltz, Jacob Wysocki, Courtney Halverson, Heather Sossaman
Year: 2015

 

Previews for this movie had me thinking this was going to probably be one of the worst movies of 2015. Screaming teenage characters, the gimmick of having the movie confined to a single MacBook screen for the entire film in an insane twist on the “found footage” genre, a guy forcing his hand into a blender by some unseen force that was apparently getting revenge for being “unfriended”… Just… every time I saw this movie being advertised, I couldn’t help but mentally wretch at the thought of seeing it. Audiences in the theatre even seemed to agree – there was always laughter accompanying the viewing. And then… a funny thing actually happened when it finally came out. Much like how I had hilariously low expectations for the schmaltzy, gimmicky-looking, Nicholas Sparks-esque The Fault in Our Stars, this sure-to-be-awful teen horror flick with the computer screen gimmick ended up getting some solid reviews from critics – not nearly as good as The Fault in Our Stars, mind you, but horror is an acquired taste genre, so you’ve gotta grade these things on a curve sometimes. However, just like with the other movie, I had to see what the fuss was about. Read more…

REVIEW: Ghostbusters (1984)

October 30, 2015 5 comments
Ghostbusters (1984)Directed by: Ivan Reitman
Produced by: Ivan Reitman
Written by: Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis
Edited by: David E. Blewitt, Sheldno Kahn
Cinematography by: László Kovács
Music by: Elmer Bernstein, Ray Parker, Jr. (theme)
Starring: Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis, Sigourney Weaver, Ernie Hudson, Rick Moranis, Annie Potts, William Atherton, David Margulies, Slavita Jovan, Paddi Edwards (voice)
Year: 1984

 

Ghostbusters is yet another one of those cultural milestone films that I managed to somehow deprive myself from seeing for an unreasonable amount of time, particularly as someone who is really into movies. In my defense, this was largely due to the fact that I grew up in an unreasonably fundamentalist Christian environment for the early part of my life, and so films like Ghostbusters, which dealt with the supernatural without clearly making it so that everything that was happening was demonic and didn’t remind you how much you needed Jesus to save you from hell were more often than not declared to be welcoming mats for demons to enter your life. No, I’m not kidding. Luckily, we got out of that environment and are (a bit) more sane now, but I continued to avoid the film because… well, mostly it was because I just never got around to it. Eventually this became a bit more like resentment, though. At some point, it seemed like everyone was obsessed with Ghostbusters again, even from those who weren’t kids or even born yet at the time this movie came out, and you couldn’t talk about movies or reference ghosts without someone throwing out some kind of Ghostbusters reference and then talking about how brilliant the movie was. It was very annoying. This became another one of those movies that I was sick of before I even saw it. Read more…

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…

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 (September – December)

January 31, 2015 2 comments

The Skeleton Twins - Kristen Wiig, Bill Hader

I’m not going to waste too much time this year on introductions. For this third and final part of my review of films I didn’t see, we’re going through the prestige Oscar-baiting season. You know — hammy acting, controversial subjects, beautiful cinematography, politics… It’s often a mixed bag, and for every stunning masterpiece, there’s often a lot of films that misstep and come off like a cheap cheeseburger dressed up to look like prime rib. … I’m hungry.

This is by far the biggest portion of films I didn’t see, largely due to a lot of them coming out so much more recently and not being available to rent, if I missed them in theatres.

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 September to December 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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