Posts Tagged ‘horror



12
Mar
09

Movies on DVD Review: The Wicker Man

 wicker_manI won’t be looking for a missing girl anytime soon…

Stars Edward Woodward, Christopher Lee, Britt Eckland, and Britt Ekland. Directed by Robin Hardy.

Note: this is on the original 1973 version, not the 2006 remake.

Sergeant Howie (Edward Woodward) is a conservative Christian cop from the mainland (England) He’s probably the most conservative Christian in all of Great Britain. When he arrives on Summerisle, a small Scottish island community known for apple exportation, he is searching for a little girl named Rowan Morrison. The isle’s residents are far from happy to help, citing that they have never heard of the girl (including the purported mother). With pagan rituals surrounding him, he gets more and more irritated as he finds there may be a link between the upcoming May Day Festival and the little girl’s disappearance. At the end he finds that what he was investigating wasn’t what was going on at all.

My two cents: this movie is on an entirely different plane of existence.

The cover of the DVD uses the quote, “The ‘Citizen Kane’ of horror films.” That might be stretching it a little, but “The Wicker Man” is a movie that holds its own. From the opening music and dance rituals, to Britt Ekland seducing Woodward in song, to Christopher Lee’s Lord Summerisle, to the end (you know it’s coming but the how and why you have to see for yourself) this movie delivers. Haunting, mesmerizing, fantastical, horrific, and suspenseful, this is a movie I recommend seeing at least once.

The version I watched clocked in at 95 minutes. Most cuts of the film are at 88. Supposedly there is a 102 minute version available on videocassette which includes scenes prior to Howie getting to Summerisle, as well as confrontations with the people.

This DVD version (by Anchor Bay Entertainment) contains “The Wicker Man Enigma,” a documentary about the making of the film with Robin Hardy, Christopher Lee, Edward Woodward, and Roger Corman. This is worth watching for the trials and tribulations of the film getting released. Also included are TV spots, trailers, and a DVD Easter Egg of a video interview Robin Hardy and Christopher Lee by a Southern film critic during the movie’s initial theatrical run.

Of note the movie “Hot Fuzz” pays homage to this movie, as well as featuring its star Edward Woodward.

My grade: B+

 

12
Feb
09

A Salute to Anthology TV of the Eighties

Being a kid in the Eighties my TV watching consisted of Transformers, He-Man, and G.I, Joe in the afternoon, Knight Rider and maybe Alf in the evening, and then there were the scary shows, the ones I had to sneak away and watch, telling myself that my parents didn’t know I was watching them (when they probably did). Since my childhood was skewed toward sci-fi/ horror genre, so is the following:

 

“Hammer House of Horror” – Running for only one season (13 episodes) in 1980, the British Horror production company Hammer Film Productions released this foray into ghosts, demons, and the supernatural.

 

“Tales From the Darkside” – Produced by George Romero (with Stephen King writing at least 2 episodes), “Darkside” ran from 1984-1990. Each episode was 30 minutes in length and began with a normal situation that would get crazy quickly and end with a twist. Then again, there were a lot of series like this. What set “Darkside” apart from the rest was its dark sense of humor. This show has recently been released on DVD and I’m having a blast watching it. My favorite so far is the one which starred the guy from the Dunkin’ Donuts commercials from the Eighties. He has back problems and goes to see a doctor, who tells him that in order to get rid of the back pains he has to get rid of the stress in his life, which means that his wife has to be killed. After his will is killed in a car “accident” he’s summoned to the doctor to find he now has to kill someone to “pay” for his back pain “cure.”

 

“Amazing Stories” – Steven Spielberg decided to take his childhood watching of “The Twilight Zone” and reading “Amazing Stories” and helped create this series. While “middle of the road” to critics, it wasn’t bad for what it was: a family version of “The Twilight Zone,” so to speak. I remember watching the very first episode, “Ghost Train,” about an old man who, as a kid, placed a penny on a railroad track, derailing the train. The train returns to claim him as he nears death. Also, there was the episode about the cartoonist trapped in a gun turret of a Word War II Bomber, Santa being jailed, and a kid who becomes magnetic after a piece of meteorite falls in his back yard. It ran for two seasons: 1985-1987.

 

“The New Twilight Zone” – This ran on CBS from 1985-1989. CBS had what they thought was a good idea: resurrect “The Twilight Zone.” Problem was that this retreading tanked and was cancelled after two seasons. Unfortunately they had pre-sold the series into syndication and had to continue making episodes to honor the contract. Hindsight is 20/20… Trivia note: J Michael Straczynski, creator of “Babylon 5,” wrote 12 episodes for the series. I remember watching the episode where two children were taken to an amusement park and led to a tunnel with rooms, and each room had a different set of parents interested in adopting the kids. Also, the episode where the couple was caught “in between” time and blue men ran about town changing everything for the next upcoming minute.

 

 

“Freddy’s Nightmares” – Based on the “Nightmare on Elm Street” franchise, this one had Freddy himself, Robert Englund, hosting tales of evil and death occurring on Elm Street. Remind me not to live there… The series 1988-1990.

 

 

“Monsters” – As “Tales from the Darkside” was neared its end, several of the directors and writers worked on “Monsters.” “Monsters” was similar to “Darkside,” but the main difference was that each episode of the series literally dealt with a different monster. It ran from 1988-1991.

 

 

“Friday the 13th” – Unlike “The New Twilight Zone,” this show shares little with the actual movie franchise except the title. The show was about two cousins, Ryan Dallion and Micki Foster, who inherit their uncle’s antique shop. Unbeknownst to them the relics are cursed and they must retrieve them from the buyers before too much damage and harm is caused. The series ran from 1987-1990.

 

 

“Tales from the Crypt” – Finishing out the Eighties was another personal favorite, “Tales from the Crypt.” Each episode began with The Cryptkeeper, a skeleton narrator who provided kitsch humor to the episode about to be unfolded. It had great theme music and was fun to watch. The episode I remember was when the old millionaire man had a young wife. Finding a younger bodybuilder, he pays to exchange body parts piece-by-piece. At the end he has the body of the bodybuilder, but no money. Meanwhile, the bodybuilder now has the money, and the wife, of the former millionaire. The Cryptkeeper dominated HBO and syndication from 1989 until 1996.

 

“The Ray Bradbury Theater” – Hosted by scifi author and based on several of his short stories, this series ran from 1985-1986 and 1988-1992. The subjects ran from science to supernatural, from childhood memories and fears to being grown up. One of my favorite episodes was called “The Town Where No One Got Off.” In it a writer (Jeff Goldblum) exits the train at a town where the train only stops to drop off supplies. He’s followed around by a retired sheriff (Ed McNamara) who traps and confronts him about what he’s doing there. Trivia note: Larry Wilcox (Officer Jon Baker on “CHiPs”) was an executive producer on the series.

 

Some of these are available on DVD, and some are still on video.

 

Don’t stay up too late…

 

 

29
Jan
09

Remake Radar: Friday the 13th

friday_the_thirteenth2009

Welcome to the first edition of Remake Radar 2009, where we take on Hollywood’s penchant for remaking films for better or worse (which is most of the time). This month’s movie:

“Friday the 13th” (1980)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stars: Betsy Palmer, Adrienne King, and Kevin Bacon.

Director: Sean S. Cunningham

Story: In 1957 a kid named Jason Vorhees was drowned at the summer camp at Crystal Lake. In subsequent years two counselors were murdered and the camp caught fire. In the late Seventies the camp was reopened. When new murders occur and a mysterious stranger is lurking about, they find that maybe teenagers having sex can lead to death.

What do we know now?: It’s being released next month! A generation of college kids, long removed from the summer camp days of yore, travel out to the abandoned Crystal Lake summer camp for a weekend of booze, sex, and drugs. When a guy shows up looking for his missing sister the body count isn’t too far behind.

Original Trailer:

Remake Trailer:

friday_the_thirteenth1980

12
Dec
08

In Passing… Forest J. Ackerman (1916-2008)

ackerman

 

 

 

Sci-fi enthusiast, editor, agent, magazine publisher and movie memorabilia collector Forest J. Ackerman passed away on December 4, 2008 at the age of 92. Ackerman was known for having the largest collection of sci-fi, fantasy, and horror movie memorabilia; housing 300,000 items (50,000 of them books) in his 18-room house he dubbed “The Ackermansion.” In 2002, due to financial straits from court cases, he moved into a smaller home, but each Saturday would still open his home to visitors wanting to see his collection.

 

Ackerman was born in Los Angeles and by the age of 8 fell in love with science fiction which at that time was in the form of a magazine called “Amazing Stories.” As he grew up he started science fiction fan clubs, worked as a movie projectionist, and even enlisted in the Service. Upon his return he invested further interest in science fiction, notably by mentoring Ray Bradbury and introducing him to Robert A. Heinlein, Frederic Brown, and Jack Williamson. He also gave Bradbury money to start a magazine called “Futuria Fantasia.” In 1958 he started his own magazine, “Famous Monsters of Filmland,” introducing the history of sci-fi, fantasy, and horror to readers. The magazine ran until 1983.

 

Above all things, Ackerman was one of the biggest fans of science fiction and an inspiration for those in the genre including George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, Tim Burton, Stephen King, Danny Elfman, and John Landis, among others. He was also the literary agent for Ray Bradbury, Isaac Asimov, and numerous others. Lastly, he has appeared in several movies such as “Queen of Blood,” “Dracula vs. Frankenstein,” “Amazon Women on the Moon,” “Vampirella,” “Transylvania Twist,” “The Howling” and Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” video.

 

Thoughts and prayers to his friends.

 

For more information, click on the link below:

http://profile.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=user.viewprofile&friendID=67699686

29
Oct
08

Where’d HE come from? The Gill Man

You see her swimming in the water by the boat. You wanna take her home, back to your cave. What will she think of a guy with webbed feet and hands, as well as gills? And her boyfriend would probably protest, getting a bunch of guys with harpoons to hunt you down. But how did you get here?

 

Following such horror authors as Poe, Bierce, and Maupassant, there lived one Howard Phillips “H.P.” Lovecraft (1890-1937). Lovecraft is known for creating the Cthulhu mythos, as well as stories involving guilt, crimes committed by forefathers, forbidden knowledge, etc. His work has been brought to the screen with such films as “Re-Animator,” and influenced such writers as Stephen King and Neil Gaiman. To cut to the chase, it’s theorized that Gill-man, a.k.a. “The Creature,” was based off of Lovecraft’s “The Shadow Over Innsmouth.”

 

But I’m getting ahead of myself, here. The Lovecraft story was seemingly based on “The Harbor-Master,” by Robert W. Chambers, a story about the last race of amphibious humans and “Fishhead” by Irvin S. Cobb, a story about a fish-man.

 

Published in 1936, “The Shadow Over Innsmouth,” deals with a man on a secret mission to Innsmouth. He says that he’s studying the architecture and general nature of the place, but there’s more to what he’s doing. When he comes across town local Zadok Allen, he’s told of Obed Marsh, a sea captain who brought the fish-frog men to Innsmouth so they can mate. The offspring can supposedly live forever. The narrator tries getting out of the town only to have the bus he’s waiting on experience engine trouble. While trying to stay an extra night he’s accosted by the local fish-frog men and escapes to the next town. In time he finds out that he’s a descendent of Obed Marsh and that he, too, will become one of the fish-frog men.

 

The “Creature,” or “Gill Man,” came to cinematic consciousness in the 1954 film, “The Creature From the Black Lagoon.” Directed by Jack Arnold and originally filmed in 3-D, the film centered on a group of scientists traversing the Amazon River (funny how it looks like Jacksonville, Florida) for fossils when they run across an amphibious creature. They capture him; he escapes but returns and falls in love with Kay, the fiancée of one of the scientists. Kidnapping her the hunt is on for him.

 

“The Creature From the Black Lagoon,” inspired two sequels, “Revenge of the Creature” (1955) and “The Creature Walks Among Us” (1956). H has also been referenced in the TV show “The Munsters,” as well as a pinball game and other merchandise. Currently, the film is being remade by Breck Eisner.

24
Oct
08

Where’d HE come from? Freddy Krueger

You wear gloves with blades in them. A hat covers your head, giving shade to your mottled, burned skin and sinister grin. You can enter a person’s dreams, twisting and turning them as you wish and even causing death. But, how did you get here?

 

 

 

Let’s take this one back to the Greeks: everyone has heard of Morpheus, the Greek god of dreams. What some do not know is that he had two brothers: Phobetor, who creates “fearsome” dreams, and Phantasos, who creates unreal dreams. This triumvirate ruled the world of dreams.

 

 

 

With all the stories based on “bad dreams” and Morpheus taking the heat of it all it was only a matter of time before a being to control them would rise from Hollywood. In 1984, Wes Craven delivered “A Nightmare on Elm Street” to the American cinematic doorstep. Filmed for $1.8 million (and earning $25 million), “A Nightmare on Elm Street,” involved a group of teenagers who collectively are experiencing bad dreams. When cuts and bruises that happen in dreams transfer over to reality, the teen Nancy Thompson finds out that the “demon” in her dreams with the knife-finger gloves and the hat is Freddy Krueger (Robert Englund), a child murderer who had been killed a decade earlier. Devising a trap for Freddy the teens make a go of it, but Freddy wins in the end.

 

Being written and directed by Wes Craven, he claims that the character was based on a homeless man who stared at him from the street as he looked through a window in his house (the hat), and a bully at his school (the name of the character). As for Freddy wearing a bright red and forest-green striped shirt, he had read an article in Omni magazine stating that the worst combination of colors would be those two, which is why he used them. And as for the kids dying from dreaming in their sleep, that was based on an article in the L.A. Times about such an event occurring.

 

“A Nightmare on Elm Street,” went on to have 4 sequels, and Freddy himself was featured in three more films after that. Add to that a short lived TV series called, “Freddy’s Nightmares.” Oh yeah, and novels and video games, too.

28
Jul
08

Movie Review: X-Files: I Want to Believe

 

 

 

I tried to believe…

 

Starring David Duchovny, Gillian Anderson, Billy Connelly, Amanda Peet, and Alvin ‘Xzibit’ Joiner. Directed by Chris Carter

 

It hurts me to write this review.

 

Can I say how much I really, really wanted this movie to be worth the 10 bucks? Can I say how big of an “X-Files” fan I am? Would any of it matter?

 

I digress.

 

It’s been 6 years since “The X-Files” left FOX network. The movie picks up in the present. Scully (Anderson) is currently working at a Catholic Hospital, fighting to cure a child who has a practically incurable disease. Mulder lives with her in a house off the beaten path. With a giant beard and making newsclippings to post on the walls, he comes off more as the bad guys he hunted down on “X-Files” episodes than as a former “Mr. FBI.” When Scully is approached by Agent Mosley Drummy (Xzibit) she is told to pass the info onto Fox: an FBI agent is missing and all “transgressions” will be forgiven if he’ll help out on this case.

 

Why do they need him? ASAC Dakota Whitney (Peet) is consulting an ex-communicated priest (37 counts of child molestation) named Father Joe Crissman (Connelly). He’s “drawn” to the victims, helping to find the occasional lost limb packed under ice. Whitney wants Mulder to debunk the guy; prove he’s a fraud. Mulder instead finds instances where Father Joe really could be psychic, much to the dismay of Scully, Whitney, and Drummy.

 

What kills me about the movie is I liked it to a POINT. After that point, the rest of the film was inconsequential. If you know even a little bit about movies you know that most scenes are not shot in order. This is overly apparent because after the “twist” of the story occurs, I was entirely waiting for Mulder to look at Scully and say, “You know what, Scully? This was entirely f’d up.”

 

Gillan Anderson and David Duchovny do work well together; that’s never been a problem. They’ve created one of the greatest couples in television history. The only snag between them in this movie is that they don’t work TOGETHER. Yes, they are both out of the FBI and Mulder pleads with Scully to help him out, but it never fully happens. That was part of what worked in the TV series. That aside, there was nothing in regards to acting that ANYBODY did wrong. ‘Twas the story that killed the Beast.

 

And what else can I tell you about the story that turned me off from it? The “twist” of it all involves organ transplants, kidnapping, homosexuality, “Frankenstein,” and all the rest of the above. I was enjoying the movie up until that PART. If you choose to watch this, you’ll know what I mean.

 

Some other reviewers have said this is a “long” version of the TV show. I’ve watched several movies in my life and can’t say that this did or didn’t feel like an overly long episode. I can say that if it had been an episode, it would’ve been a forgettable one.

 

I can’t recommend going to see this in a theatre. It’s not that I wish I hadn’t, it’s more along the lines of I wouldn’t pay to see it again. If you are an X-Phile (you know who you are) and you want to see it, go for it. It’s probably the last chance to see Mulder and Scully on the silver screen. BTW, watch for a cameo appearance by another fave character.

 

My grade: C

25
Jul
08

Scully, looks like an X-Phile: Top Fifteen X-Files Episodes (5-1)

Another fun day here at Chasfilm/ Film Guys Online Office of Television Research and Observance. In honor of the upcoming ‘X-Files’ movie, “I Want to Believe,” I present to you our

 

Top Fifteen X-Files Episodes

 

Part Three

 

5. “Agua Mala” (Air date: February 21, 1999 ) – X-Files “founder” Arthur Dales (Darren McGavin) calls the agents down to a trailer park in Florida where a family has disappeared. With an impending hurricane closing in, the agents become trapped in with residents and find out that something is in the water.

Trivia: Darren McGavin starred in a TV show called, “Kolchak: The Night Stalker,” which Chris Carter cited as an influence on “The X-Files.”

 

4. “Pilot” (Air date: September 10, 1993 ) – In the episode that started it all, Special Agent Dana Scully is sent to report on the findings of one Agent Fox ‘Spooky’ Mulder, a leading FBI psychologist who has taken on a “pet project” of going through the agencies “unknown cause” files, hence, the “X-Files.” They immediately fly up to Oregon to investigate the deaths of high school students, which Mulder believes is related to alien abuction.

Trivia: Scully had a boyfriend named Ethan Minette. His scenes were cut before broadcast.

 

 

 

3. “The Host” (Air date: September 23, 1994 ) – Assistant Director Skinner gives a “grunt work” assignment to Mulder as “punishment”: go down to Newark and investigate a body washed up in the New Jersey sewer. Mulder and Scully investigate, finding the “Flukeman.”

Trivia: The “Flukeman” was played by Darin Morgan, who would later become a writer on the show.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2. “Darkness Falls” (Air date: April 15, 1994 ) – A group of loggers disappearing in Washington State National Forest reminds Mulder of a similar case 50 years prior, and both agents go to investigate. They soon find themselves trapped in a cabin trying to ward off ancient flesh-eating insects that only come out at night.

Trivia: This episode was honored at the Environmental Media Awards.

 

 

 

 

 

1. “Home” (Air date: October 11, 1996 ) – A baby is found in shallow ground and the agents travel to Home, Pennsylvania to investigate and meet a sheriff named Andy Taylor (Tucker Smallwood), his deputy Barney Paster (Sebastian Spence), and a family that has been inbreeding for generations.

Trivia: This is the only episode of the “X-Files” to be banned from airplay. It would take another 5 years for FOX Network to show it again.

 

24
Jul
08

Scully, looks like an X-Phile: Top Fifteen X-Files Episodes (10-6)

Another fun day here at Chasfilm/ Film Guys Online Office of Television Research and Observance. In honor of the upcoming ‘X-Files’ movie, “I Want to Believe,” I present to you our

 

Top Fifteen X-Files Episodes

 

Part Two

 

10. “Hell Money” (Air date: March 29, 1996) – A string of Chinese immigrants are found dead, with various internal organs missing. Scully and Mulder team-up with Detective Paul Wong (Wiry Man) and find that the investigation leads to “hell money;” Chinese immigrants selling their organs for a chance at a jackpot of money.

Trivia: James Hong and Lucy Liu appear in this episode.

 

 

 

 

 

 

9. “Pusher” (Air date: February 23, 1996 ) – Robert Patrick Modell (Robert Wisden) has the ability to manipulate minds. He finds a worthy adversary in Agent Mulder, taking him into a dangerous battle of mind over matter.

Trivia: Nirvana drummer and Foo Fighters member David Grohl and his wife, Jennifer Youngblood-Grohl, can be seen in the background as Modell enters the foyer of the FBI building.

 

 

 

 

 

 

8. “Syzygy” (Air date: January 26, 1996 ) – Mulder and Scully investigate a series of deaths of high school kids, thought to be committed by a Satanic cult. When people begin changing and their internal personalities come to the forefront (Mulder drinks, Scully smokes) the agents find that the “changes” are brought about due to a rare astrological occurrence and two girls who were born at the exact same moment in time.

Trivia: The name of the episode, “Syzygy”, is an astronomical term for an alignment of three bodies of the solar system along a straight or nearly straight line.

 

 

 

7. “Clyde Buckman’s Final Repose” (Air date: October 13, 1995) – A killer is offing fortune tellers and it’s up to Mulder and Scully to stop him. His latest target is Clyde Bruckman (Peter Boyle) who can see how people are going to die.

Trivia: Peter Boyle won an Emmy for this episode.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

6. “Jose Chung’s ‘From Outer Space’” (Air date: April 12, 1996) – Author Jose Chung (Charles Nelson Reilly) is researching a book on alien abduction and enlists the help of Agent Scully, who admits to loving the author’s work. As the story progresses everyone has a different “take” on what really happened, even the “alien abductors” themselves.

Trivia: Wrestler Jesse Ventura and game show host Alex Trebek played “Men in Black.”

 

Tomorrow: 5-1!

 

24
Jul
08

Scully, looks like an X-Phile: Top Fifteen X-Files Episodes (15-11)

Another fun day here at Chasfilm/ Film Guys Online Office of Television Research and Observance. In honor of the upcoming ‘X-Files’ movie, “I Want to Believe,” I present to you our

 

Top Fifteen X-Files Episodes

 

In three parts, nonetheless. Here we go:

 

15. “Hollywood A.D.” (Air date: April 30, 2000) – Agents Mulder and Scully investigate a bombing at a Christ Church and Scully finds a bowl that, after being acoustically analyzed, has an unearthly sound to it. Is it the sound of Jesus’ voice or really an incantation to raise the dead? Meanwhile, Skinner is talking with a Hollywood friend. It seems that a movie is being based on the ‘X-Files’ and Scully will be played by Tea Leoni, Mulder will be played by Garry Shandling, and Skinner will be played by Richard Gere.

Trivia: David Duchovny wrote and directed this episode as a “thank you” to the cast and crew of the show.

 

14. “X-Cops” (Air date: February 20, 2000) – Agents Mulder and Scully are investigating a monster that feeds on fear while an episode of “COPS” is being filmed. Mulder eats up the spotlight while Scully cringes from it.

Trivia: This episode was shot by the same cameraman from the “COPS” TV series.

 

 

 

 

13. “How the Ghosts Stole Christmas” (Air date: December 12, 1998 ) – Mulder convinces Scully to investigate a supposed “haunted house” on Christmas Eve where a couple (played by Ed Asner and Lily Tomlin) made a lovers suicide pact years previous. What follows is trickery by the ghosts themselves.

Trivia: The role played by Ed Asner was originally written for Bob Newhart, who turned it down.

 

 

 

12. “Gender Bender” (Air date: January 21, 1994) – Mulder and Scully investigate a series of murders which are identical and sexually-motivated. The killers appear to be male and female. They are led to the small town of Stevenston, Massachusetts where an Amish-like group called The Kindred whose members have the ability to change sex.

Trivia: Nicholas Lea plays a hospitalized victim in this episode. Producers and fans liked him so much that he would later return as Agent Alex Krycek.

 

 

 

 

11. “Beyond the Sea” (Air date: January 7, 1994) – Scully’s father (played by the late Don S. Davis) passes away. While Mulder interrogates prisoner Luther Boggs (Brad Dourif), Boggs displays a psychic connection to Scully’s father. Mulder is skeptical and believes Boggs is just buying time.

Trivia: This was the first episode in which Mulder was shot.

 

Tomorrow: 10-6!