Archive for October 2014

The Innocents (1961) 31 Days of Horror   2 comments

innocent

Michael Redgrave hires Miss Giddens (Deborah Kerr) to act as governess to two lonely children on a sprawling estate in the English countryside. Kerr bonds instantly with the little girl, Flora (Pamela Franklin) and her strangely sophisticated brother Miles (Martin Stephens). The mansion and grounds are beautiful and Miss Giddens adores children so it’s like Mary Poppins, right? Wrong. As time goes on the loneliness of the manor and Miss Giddens’ repressed nature play tricks with her mind…or do they? Is Miss Giddens losing her grip on reality or are the images of the children’s dead governess and her lover real?

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The Innocents, based on The Turn of the Screw by Henry James and directed by Jack Clayton (Something Wicked This Way Comes, The Great Gatsby) blurs the lines between reality and imagination. Is Giddens’ repressed spinster a source of salvation or doom? Are the children innocent and imaginative or conniving and evil? Filmed by director of photography Freddie Francis (The Elephant Man, Dune) in glorious black and white, The Innocents plays with perception and perspective. Images thrust into the foreground catch your eye, then recede as a shadowy form in the background gains clarity.

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If you turned off the sound, which adds an eerie aspect as well, you could still watch and enjoy the film’s spooky atmosphere. Wonderful performances by Deborah Kerr, Franklin, an underused Michael Redgrave, and the über creepy Martin Stephens of Village of the Damned fame make this a top-notch psychological horror film on the same plane as The Haunting. The Innocents just made it onto my yearly Halloween watch list. Terrific film.

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I wrote this for the @cinemashame 31 Days of Horror Shame-a-thon. Check out @thirtyhertzrumble.com for more eerie reviews. I am @echidnabot on twitter.

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Black Sunday or The Mask of Satan (1960) 31 Days of Horror   Leave a comment

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Beautiful Barbara Steele glares at her brother. He and his pious cohorts tie Babs and her lover to stakes and plan to warm things up for the accused witches. It’s a great start to an otherwise dull film. She promises vengeance. That’s the plot based on a story by Nikolai Gogol. Many years later the spitting image of the ancient burned witch (Barbara Steele again) is in danger and faints a lot and the big strong men have to save her. Blah blah blah. I know people love this film. I just don’t get it. Mario Bava directed Black Sunday so there is blood, but not much really. The titular masks make an appearance at the beginning as they’re nailed to the witches’ faces, which is pretty cool, and again later, but I have to admit by then I didn’t care.

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I don’t believe you’re Estee Lauder at all!

The characters talked a lot and ran from room to room of their ancestral castle, but other than a large, fake bat’s attacking one of the main characters, I got nothing. Barbara Steele looks great as do her costumes and the sets look appropriately gothic, but the film bored me. Sorry, Mario.

hiiiiiii
Hi guys!

Follow @cinemashame on twitter or go to cinemashame.wordpress.com for more 31 Days of Horror reviews.
I’m @echidnabot on twitter.

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Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors (1987) 31 Days of Horror: Terror-Thon at the Somerville Theatre   1 comment

freddy

Freddy Krueger appeared first in 1984 and we still can’t get rid of the guy. I’ve never liked this Wes Craven franchise, but it was part of a mini-film festival so I endured it. Heather Langenkamp reprises her role as someone sleepy. This time she wants us to believe she’s a doctoral student so to prove it she dyes a skunk streak in her hair and wears her mother’s clothes.

heatherl
I’m a professional.

Robert Englund plays Freddy, of course and Patricia Arquette appears because at least one of the kids needs to act.

patty
My agent said if I did this film, I’d meet Christian Slater.

Craig Wasson sails through this based on the power of his star turn in Body Double. So there’s that. John Saxon also stars and has the best scene in the film. The eightiesness of Dream Warriors was the big draw, but I could have lived without it. Yeah yeah shoulder pads. Yeah yeah generic bad tunes. Anyway, they kill Freddy…again so yay! Oh crap, he’s back. Eight films and one remake of the original later, Freddy still hasn’t changed his shirt.

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I’ve been working out.

This was supposed to be funny, but aside from floating angelic John Saxon surrounded by glitter and sparkles, I didn’t laugh once.

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Really, movie?

Check out cinemashame.wordpress.com or @cinemashame on twitter.
I’m @echidnabot on twitter.

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Posted October 20, 2014 by Kerry Fristoe in 31 Days of Horror, Reviews

Let the Right One In (2008) 31 Days of Horror: Terror-Thon at the Somerville Theatre   Leave a comment

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Oskar and Eli, both outsiders, meet in the courtyard of their apartment complex near Stockholm. Bullied and lonely, Oskar welcomes any positive attention so he and Eli begin an awkward friendship/romance. Is this a charming coming of age film with a wise old grandfather and an enlightened teacher? Not quite. You see, Eli can’t go out in the daylight much or she’ll catch fire and she never knows what she looks like either since she can’t see her reflection in mirrors. Yup. Eli’s a vampire. That doesn’t sway Oskar though and the two twelve-year-olds continue to get closer despite the rising local death-toll.

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I liked this film. Director Tomas Alfredson takes time to show us the beautiful countryside and the violent attacks. He also does a lovely job showing us Oskar’s relationship with his divorced parents, his teachers, and the classmates who torment him. As brutal as the murders are, we still like Eli and Oskar. The innocence of their love for each other makes us cheer for them.

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John Ajvide Lindqvist wrote the novel and screenplay and he does the show, don’t tell thing rather well. His characters don’t say much. Their actions speak for them. The mostly Swedish cast all acquit themselves well here and the production design and costumes defined the characters as well.

guy
No kidding, pal.

This film was a happy surprise. I knew almost nothing about it ahead of time and I really enjoyed it. It had an odd atmosphere for a horror film with suburban Stockholm standing in for Transylvania or London. Kåre Hedebrant was sweet and vulnerable as Oskar and Lina Leandersson did the emo pre-teens proud as Eli. The film also touched on sexual identity, but didn’t make a big thing of it. That made sense since the two leads are children who loved each other. Their sex didn’t matter to them so why should it to us? Of course the main characters do murder people and a sad future awaits so there is darkness at the edge of Stockholm. I liked it anyway. Let the Right One In was a thoughtful and different take on the vampire myth.

ohhi
Oh hi.

Check out cinemashame.wordpress.com or @cinemashame on twitter.
I’m @echidnabot on twitter.

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The Thing (1982) 31 Days of Horror: Terror-Thon at the Somerville Theatre   Leave a comment

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The men at a remote arctic outpost have a stranger in their midst. Based on John W. Campbell’s 1938 novella Who Goes There?, The Thing shows how this stranger affects the men and how they deal with it. The simple plot works because of its cast of talented character actors and skillful direction by John Carpenter. Starring Kurt Russell, Keith David, Wilford Brimley, Richard Masur, David Clennon, Richard Dysart among others, the film has a fast pace and crackling dialogue thanks to screenwriter Bill Lancaster and we get to know each man in only a few lines. The set-up reminds me of Alien with Antarctica standing in for the Nostromo.

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Howling winds and music by Ennio Morricone add to the eerie atmosphere and the special effects rule. Rob Bottin and his crew made most of the creatures with Stan Winston doing some fantastic work on the dog. The film is unpredictable and scary. You really get a sense of paranoia. My heart was racing for two hours and I’d seen it before. This is definitely one of those films in which you want to yell, “Look behind you!” The overall quality of the acting, writing, and effects make this one of the best horror films of the 1980s. I’m glad I got to see this on film in the theatre.

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Trivia: Kurt Russell plays computer chess with the lone female (voice only) in the cast. She is actress Adrienne Barbeau, director John Carpenter’s wife at the time.

Check out cinemashame.wordpress.com or @cinemashame on twitter.
I’m @echidnabot on twitter.

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Wait Until Dark (1967) 31 Days of Horror: Terror-Thon at the Somerville Theatre   Leave a comment

wait poster

A trio of con men try to trick a blind woman into giving them a doll stuffed with heroin. The simplicity of the plot allows writers Frederick Knott, Robert Carrington, and Jane-Howard Carrington to embellish their characters which makes for an entertaining and thrilling film. Audrey Hepburn stars as the woman in peril who has a lot more on the ball than the bad guys think. The three bad guys, Richard Crenna, a wonderfully evil Alan Arkin, and Jack Weston play different parts in an elaborate scheme to get their drugs from the beleaguered Hepburn. Wait Until Dark looks more like a play than a film. Knott wrote it for the stage. Because of that, you get a real sense that Hepburn has to outsmart the trio. She has no way out and therefore no choice.

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I’ve never been a Hepburn fan, but she plays her part beautifully. It could easily have played with a lot of flailing and “Why me?”, but it wasn’t and for that reason it really works. Alan Arkin does the most with his part as the demented Roat. He’s a sociopath who delights in torture and a truly scary guy. After seeing this film, I’m even more impressed by Arkin’s acting talent. Within three years he made The Russians Are Coming, the Russians Are Coming, Wait Until Dark, and The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter. The man has range. Directed by Terence Young (Dr. No, From Russia With Love) Wait Until Dark had tight direction, a Henry Mancini score, a talented cast, and a wonderful script. It also looked great in the theatre. Don’t miss this one.

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Roat introduces us to

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October 20, 2014

The Creature From the Black Lagoon 3D (1954) 31 Days of Horror   Leave a comment

gillyyyyyy

I love me some Gill-man. I’ve seen it many times, but never on the big screen and never in 3D. Jack Arnold (The Incredible Shrinking Man, It Came From Outer Space) directed a terrific film about a bunch of asshats who come to Gilly’s (I call him Gilly. We’re close.) home in the Black Lagoon and screw everything up. What starts out as an archaeological dig ends up as all out war as the team of scientists led by Mark (Richard Denning) and David (Richard Carlson) compete for Kay (Julie Adams) or themselves. It’s hard to tell. While Mark and David keep busy rattling each other’s sabers, Gilly decides Kay looks pretty good and launches a campaign of his own.

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Hey baby, come see my grotto. I got the idea from Hef.

The humans take umbrage and before Jim Morrisson can sing The End, all hell breaks loose and we have a panic on the 4th of July. Wait. That’s wrong. Anyway, I love the film and root like hell for Gilly to waste the mean dudes every time. The 3D effects were fun too. Fish swim at you and the claw scene at the beginning is a trip. The music stands out too. Henry Mancini, Hans Salter, and Herman Stein are all listed as uncredited composers.(?) The main musical effect works and they must have thought so too because they use it over and over throughout the film. I liked it anyway. If you haven’t seen The Creature From the Black Lagoon, you really should. If you can see it in the theatre, please do!

wanna
I just want to be loved. Is that so wrong?

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