Monthly Archives: June 2011
Directed by Steven Spielberg
Screenplay by David Koepp
Based on the novel by Michael Crichton
I’m going out on a limb from the word ‘go’. It may break underneath me, but that’s a chance I’m willing to take. The Lost World: Jurassic Park is, in the humble opinion of this reviewer, a better film than its predecessor, Jurassic Park. I will try to explain myself as best as possible. Maybe it’s because the acting is better. Maybe it’s because I harbor a mad crush for Julianne Moore. It could be that the story line is better and that the scenes between the dinosaurs and the humans are amped up to 10 instead of 8½. But the main reason I felt that The Lost World: Jurassic Park was a better film than the first was this: Gorgo
Read it again: Gorgo
For those of you who are unfamiliar, Gorgo is a 1961 horror film from Great Britain. It’s about a 200 foot sea creature who wreaks havoc on the city of London in search of her abducted baby, the titular character. If you saw the last (and best) forty or so minutes of TLW: JP then you pretty much saw the entire movie Gorgo. But it’s not only Gorgo that Spielberg pays homage to; it’s Godzilla and the Beast From 20,000 Fathoms and any other rampaging monster on the loose films that we grew up with in the 1950′s and ’60′s. Spielberg is letting us know with TLW: JP that you can go back to the things that you enjoyed as a child. It’s okay to play with your plastic dinosaurs and destroy your Lincoln Log cities with them. The only difference in him and us is that his dinosaurs are way bigger.
But, of course it doesn’t hurt having Julianne Moore in your movie, either. As long as she’s running in the same direction with me, I’ll let a T-Rex chase me any day.
JURASSIC PARK-United States-1993
Directed by Steven Spielberg
Based on the novel by Michael Crichton
Can you believe it’s been nearly 20 years since the release of Jurassic Park? I’m sure there are some of you out there who are saying “But, Jurassic Park isn’t horror.” I beg to differ. It has dinosaurs that do not belong in the time period in which they inhabit, therefore that makes them monsters. It has several scenes of children in grave danger of being turned into Happy Meals by said monsters. In other words,JurassicParkis typical Spielberg in ‘let’s make a summer blockbuster that won’t be soon forgotten’ mode. With this review, I’m not going to gush about the movie and tell you it’s one of the greatest movies of all time. It’s not. The acting is average and the plot of the film is a bit on the thin side. Jeff Goldblum acts like he does in every movie; he acts like Jeff Goldblum. To even things out we have Samuel L. Jackson in the film acting just like he does in virtually every movie; like Samuel L. Jackson. Throw in a couple of children played by Joseph Mazzello and Ariana Richards who are just-wait-pinch your cheeks like grandma when you read this-too ‘cutesey wootsy’ to be eaten by any bad old dinosaurs-you may let go of your cheeks now. Again, like I said, typical Spielberg.
But we didn’t go to see Jurassic Park for the acting or the story. We came to see Jurassic Park for the dinosaurs. In that area, Spielberg and crew do not disappoint. Watching the film recently, I am still in awe of just how realistic looking these creatures is. Of course, the T-Rex is the unaccredited star of the film. Its presence alone in the film is enough to make grown-ups wet their pants. How many of you weren’t secretly cheering him on when he ate the lawyer? Jurassic Park is a film about dinosaurs first and people second and that’s perfectly alright.
It seems that Spielberg has a pattern of making a summer blockbuster followed by a serious film. As long as he continues making films like Schindler’s List and Saving Private Ryan he can make all the Jurassic Parks he wants.
Directed by Bernard L. Kowalski
Written by Hal Dresner and Daniel C. Striepeke (story)
When I was a kid the movie Sssssss scared the jeepers out of me. It wasn’t the whole thing about a guy slowly turning into a King Cobra after being injected with serum by a mad ophiologist (that’s a guy who studies snakes for those of you without a dictionary handy). What scared me is the scene where the doctor’s daughter is at the Carnival Freak show and recognizes the snake-man as being the last guy that had been working with her dad on the experiments. He disappears suddenly and everyone assumes he’s left town. It scared me to think that a person can be right under your nose and still not be able to communicate with you and tell you where they are or what’s happened to them. To me, to vanish like that is worse than death itself.
Sssssss is one of those films you feel ridiculous pronouncing, but have fun watching. The main cast consists of Dirk Benedict as the hapless guinea pig to Strother Martins’ mad snake doctor. Heather Menzies is the doctor’s lovely daughter as well as the love interest to the guinea pi—I mean young man. The acting in the film teeters at the top without going completely over. The special effects are cheesy but are still believable. All in all, Sssssss is an entertaining film in the mad scientist category. If you are a fan of the horror films of the 1970′s then this should be one to watch out for when you’re searching through the discount bins at Wal-mart. That’s how I found it and I snatched it like a snake grabs a mouse. Anybody want to buy some snake oil?
Directed by Carter Smith
Screenplay by Scott B. Smith
Based on the novel by Scott Smith
The Ruins has a lot in common with Eli Roth‘s Hostel. It is a film about Americans on vacation in Mexico, who meets up with a fellow traveler who tells them of a great adventure to be had by all. The adventure in Hostel was the three backpackers going to Slovakia for a snipur hunt. In The Ruins, the guys already have girlfriends, so they’re already getting all the snipur they can handle. The adventure for the five of them, four Americans and one German, is the site of an archaeological dig in the ruins of a Mayan temple. It sounds like so much fun. Oh, sure, it’s all fun and games until the natives don’t let you leave the place because you’ve become infected by the plant life that can not only get under your skin and consume you from the inside out, it can mimic the sound of your voice and even your cell phone. Can you hear me now? Good!
Another thing The Ruins has in common with Hostel is that the token foreign guy loses a body part in a violent way. In Hostel, it was the off-screen beheading of the Icelandic Oli at the hands of his captors. In The Ruins, it’s the very gruesome and chilling amputation and cauterization of Mathias the German’s legs after they become infected by the nefarious fauna growing around them.
Hmm, you know what? From this point forward The Ruins shall be known as Hostel with Plant Life. That’s not a good thing, ladies and gentlemen. Hostel was a good film, one of my favorites, in fact. But that doesn’t mean it needs to be remade as a plants on the rampage motion picture.
The Ruins is based on a novel by Scott Smith. If you remember, Smith is also the author and screenwriter of A Simple Plan. With that film, Smith looked like he may indeed be the next big thing. With The Ruins, he leaves us wondering what the big deal was in the first place.
Even though the novel and the screenplay were written by the same person, the deaths of the characters are switched around. In the film, Stacy cuts her knee and the plants start growing inside her. She ends up killing Eric and begs for the others to kill her. In the book, it’s Eric who cuts his knee, and he kills Mathias. In the film, Mathias breaks his back and later gets his legs cut off. In the novel, this happens to Pablo (who is called Dimitri in the film). In the film, Jeff is killed by the Mayans trying to save Amy so she can escape. In the novel, Jeff is killed by the Mayans trying to escape after Amy has been killed by the plants during the night. In the novel, Stacy is the last survivor. She commits suicide in front of the ruins to warn off others who might find the ruins. But the plants make her body disappear. In the novel, Amy is the first character to die. In the film, she is the only one who survives and, unlike any of the characters in the novel, she actually manages to escape.
The graphic amputation scene was the first to be presented to studio executives for approval.
The female corpse discovered inside the temple by Amy and Stacy is intended to be the same character seen screaming for help at the very beginning of the film, but the living character and the corpse were played by different actresses.
Did you ever notice that when it comes to horror films it’s usually the mother who is the catalyst for the killing? I mean, would there have even been a Psycho if littleNormanhad a dad in his life to straighten him out? Don’t even get me started on Friday the 13th. If Jason had a dad he would have taken notice of his son’s obvious love for hockey and helped him to channel that passion into a lucrative career. Mrs. Voorhees was clearly not a hockey fan.
Then there are the ones who can’t clearly determine who their biological fathers are. Take Freddy Krueger, for instance. If you recall, they referred to him as ‘the bastard son of a hundred maniacs.’ That’s a lot of paternity tests. On the other hand, Victor Crowley knew exactly who his daddy was. He should, after all it was Dad that gave him his charming visage. There’s also the case of Rosemary Woodhouse and her little bundle of joy. There is no doubt that the devil was the daddy in this case. It certainly wasn’t John Cassavetes. Another little bastard who knew who his daddy was is Damien Thorn. In fact, it’s safe to say that Damien will follow in his father’s footsteps.
My point that I am trying to make is that fathers really don’t play that big a role in horror films. If they do, it’s usually with the word “step” in front of the word “father”. That doesn’t really count, now does it? Mother’s not only are the guiding light behind the maniacs, but they also get the name in the titles of the movies more than the fathers do. Mother’s Day, Mother of Tears, My Mom’s a Werewolf, Serial Mom and on and on. Fathers just can’t cut a break when it comes to horror movies.
Anyways, I’m going to cease my incessant prattle. I have spoken my mind and now I feel much better. So, I want to wish a happy Father’s Day to all of you dads out there who are taking the time to read this post. Here’s hoping that you all get your chance to mold the next batch of horror movie villains. Why should the moms have all the fun?
When I was 18 I went to see a movie called No Nukes. It was a concert film in which performers the likes of Jackson Browne, Graham Nash and Bonnie Raitt lent their time and their talents. On that night a young rock ‘n’ roller by the name of Bruce Springsteen came onstage and introduced a new song entitled “The River”. With that song and if I remember correctly a rousing version of Gary ‘U.S.’ Bonds “Quarter to Three“ my life would change as I knew it. I left the theater that night knowing that I had found the one artist that I would end up following for the rest of my life. I bought Springsteen’s album The River the very next day and then tracked down his earlier albums where and when I could get my hands on them. Each album was like a revelation of words and music that I could not even begin to describe. There was that sound that only Bruce Sprinsgteen and the E Street Band could achieve. It was there in “Born to Run”, “Jungleland” and countless other songs that the band recorded and performed for over forty years. That sound was the wail of the Big Man, Clarence Clemons. His saxophone could make your spirit soar to heights you could never imagine and it could come right down to your level and embrace you like an old friend.
At 7:00 P.M. tonight, June 18, 2011 Clarence Clemons passed away from the complications of a stroke that he had suffered just the week before. He was 69 years old. I hope that I speak for every fan of Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band when I say that there is no way that he can ever be replaced. Springsteen’s words and the Big Man’s saxophone provided the soundtrack of my life in so many ways that I cannot imagine the void they are feeling right now. My prayers go out to the Clemon’s family and to the surviving members of the E Street Band. Rest in peace, Big Man. Music just isn’t going to be the same without you.
Written and Directed by Mark Romanek
Let me go on record right away as saying that this is Robin Williams’ best performance in a film to date. Not Awakenings, not Mrs. Doubtfire and certainly not Patch Adams. It is certainly his bravest role; he is cast completely against type as Sy Parrish. Sy’s the guy you see all the time, but you just don’t realize it. He’s the guy that knows your life inside and out. You can’t call him a stalker or a criminal. You let him into your homes and your lives every time you see him. Sy the Photo guy. He’s the one who develops the rolls of film you drop off at the Sav-Mart or the Wal-mart or any superstore with a photo lab. Sy knows your life from the time you were born to possibly the time you die. Just ask the Yorkins, Will and Nina and their young son, Jake. They have become so much a part of Sy’s life that he feels just like Uncle Sy. The Yorkins are the perfect family to Sy, and he is determined to keep it that way, no matter what the cost.
For years, it seems, Disney cast Williams as the voice of every zany character they could think of. I have always said that if Disney had gotten their hands on The Silence of the Lambs they would have made it an animated film and cast Williams as the voice of that wacky cannibal, Hannibal Lecter. It’s a wise move to cast Williams in these roles. He’s a talented and gifted comedic actor. But after a while the roles all seem to flow together and his performances become more annoying than funny in their repetition. Williams role as Sy Parrish is so refreshingly good that one can’t help but beg him to do more roles of this same caliber. He needs roles like this to push his abilities as an actor. We need him in roles like this to keep him fresh and to not become a parody of himself. So, in closing, here is my plea to Robin Williams. Please, whenever you get a phone call or an e-mail from director Mark Romanek; please, by all means, pick up.
There is nothing more certain than death. You can’t run from it. You can’t hide from it. You know neither when, where or how it will occur, but you just know it’s going to happen sooner or later.
One thing that is for certain is that The Grim Reaper and the cinema have quite a relationship going on. Real or imagined, the movie industry has been the scene of many a memorable demise. So, here for your entertainment is a list of 18 memorable cinematic deaths. Enjoy.
Goodfellas-1990-It was revenge for Billy Batts… Batts was a made man, and Tommy wasn’t.
The death of Tommy DeVito (Joe Pesci) is one of the greatest moments of self-realiztion in the history of cinema. That “Oh, no” that Tommy utters before his death may as well have been “I’m dead” or “I’m screwed.”
Final Destination 2-2003-Death comes for Tim Carpenter
The only thing I can say about this scene is that if Tim’s mom had any sense of foresight she would have been wise to cancel his dental appointment. All that money spent and the kid gets flattened right outside the building. Yeesh.
Jurassic Park-1993-T-Rex has lawyer for lunch
I’m sure there were a lot of people secretly thanking the T-Rex for this one. In an act of cowardice, the lawyer Gennaro (Martin Ferrari) leaves the children to fend for themselves againt the Tyrannosaurus Rex. The T-rex has other plans, however.
X-Men-2000-”I think you’ve got one less person to be afraid of”-Senator Robert Kelley (Bruce Davison) to Storm(Halle Berry) before succumbing to the mutation that liquifies his body. Senator Kelley doesn’t go to a watery grave; he becomes it.
This has to be one of the coolest kills in the history of the Friday the 13th franchise. Pun intended.
Saving Private Ryan-1998-A Coward dies a thousand deaths; a hero only one
Private Upham (Jeremy Davies) is too much of a coward to save the life of his colleague, Private Mellish (Adam Goldberg). The German soldier who kills Mellish is so confident that he poses no threat that he walks right past him.
Deep Blue Sea-1999-”I have had it with these motherf**kin’ sharks in this motherf**kin’ movie”
Hey, Samuel, don’t look now, but I think the sharks feel the same way about you. Either that or they were getting tired of your ridiculous mon0logue.
This one needs no introduction. It is firmly entrenched as a classic in every sense of the word.
Bonnie and Clyde-1967-A new era for American filmmaking
Bonnie and Clyde marked the beginning of a new, more violent era in American Film. The final scene in which Bonnie Parker (Faye Dunaway) and Clyde Barrow (Warren Beatty) are gunned down by Texas Rangers plays out like a ballet of violence, blood and bullets.
The Deer Hunter-1978-”One shot.”
Michael (Robert DeNiro) desperately attempts to get his friend Nick (Christopher Walken) back home to the States. He reminds Nick of the way things were before Viet Nam. The trees. The deer. One shot. It is one of the saddest scenes in film history.
Alien-1979-In space no one can hear you scream
Another scene that needs no introduction. It is still effective over 30 years later.
The Fly (1958)-”Help me, help meeee!!”
I never understood why so many people laugh at this scene. It scared the bejeebers out of me when I was a kid. It still scares the bejeebers out of me.
Robocop-1987-Part man.Part machine. All cop.
Every superhero has an origin. Little does Alex Murphy (Peter Weller) realize, but he’s about to become a superhero.
True Romance-1993-”I haven’t killed anybody since 1984.”
Clifford Worley (Dennis Hopper) knows that he’s going to die. He’s ready for it. What he doesn’t want is to be tortured. If you listen closely as he tells Coccotti (Christopher Walken) about the origins of his Sicilian skin tone and hair color, you can hear an angelic chorus. It’s as if they’re just waiting for Coccotti to pull the trigger. Putting Hopper and Walken in a scene this strong is a work of casting genius.
American Beauty-1999-” My name is Lester Burnham. This is my neighborhood; this is my street; this is my life. I am 42 years old; in less than a year I will be dead. Of course I don’t know that yet, and in a way, I am dead already.”
Every time I see this scene I think of the quote by John Lennon. “Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans.”
The Green Mile-1999-”He killed them with their love. That’s how it is; everyday all over the world. “
A masterpiece of a motion picture from start to finish. Like The Shawshank Redemption, it is a poignant film about hope and redemption in the most difficult of times.
Sin City-2005-”He never screams. Even after the dog has its fill and his guts are hanging out, he never screams.”
All I can say is that I will never look at Elijah Wood the same way ever again after this film. I loved the graphic novels and I loved the movie.
Final Destination 3-2006
I wonder if tanning salons took a dive in business after this scene.
There you have it. The many faces of death. Faces of Death…hmm…that has potential.
TRICK ‘R TREAT-United States-2007
Trick ‘r Treat is the film which breaks the mold for anthology films. With any luck, it will be the template by which the next generation of Halloween holiday films are based. It is an entertaining, ingenious and downright fun horror film. But don’t thank Warner Brothers for it. They completely dropped the ball on getting this film a theatrical release.
Four stories, one night; Halloween night. Dylan Baker is a father teaching his son how to carve the Jack O’Lantern just right. Anna Paquin is a virginal and beautiful Little Red Riding Hood in a new twist on the old tale. A group of kids become the unwitting victims of a prank gone wrong; and Brian Cox is an old man who suffers through a bizarre home invasion. Throughout it all the tales are tied together by an impish little monstrosity with a burlap mask and a sack full of something wet and slimy. With apologies to The Beatles and Mr. Kite, a splendid time is guaranteed for all.
Never does this film follow the traditions of anthology story telling. Each story is interwoven in some way to the one before it or the one after it. People who are main characters in one story may be supporting characters in the next. Protagonists become antagonists, and vice-versa. Those who kill in one tale may be killed in another. It is a testament to Michael Dougherty’s skills as a writer and director that he is able to weave a story, or stories, of this magnitude and keep them from tripping over each other. Trick ‘r Treat is as entertaining a horror film as you are likely to see. It’s too bad Warner Brothers couldn’t see that. What a bunch of dumb-assess.
Directed by Ridley Scott
Based on the novel by Thomas Harris
Hannibalpicks up ten years from where The Silence of the Lambs leaves off. An escaped Hannibal Lecter is living a life of luxury in Florence, Italy. Agent Clarice Starling is disgraced by an incident that occurs during a high profile shoot-out. She is a pariah to her colleagues in the FBI and is considered a disgrace. In his own twisted fashion Dr. Lecter returns toAmerica to defend her honor. Can a beautiful FBI agent and a cannibalistic genius live happily ever after? Well…kind of. Goody g00dy.
Now I know that there are those of you out there who are critical of the casting of Julianne Moore as Clarice Starling. I do not join you in your sentiments. The change in casting represents two entirely different times in the life of Agent Starling. Foster’s and Moore’s Starling are two entirely different people. One was green and inexperienced while the other is now wiser and more jaded to the ways of the world she is a part of. In the first film Starling is thrown to the wolf, Lecter. In this film the very people she works for are the wolves. After watching this film I don’t know who more of a cannibal is; the FBI or Hannibal Lecter.
Giancarlo Giannini stars as Inspector Pazzi, an Italian police officer determined to capture Lecter and reap the rewards. It is hilarious to hear Lecter insult him and his heritage at every turn. Pazzi may as well be wearing a shirt that says “I tried to capture Hannibal Lecter and I met the same fate as my ancestor.” When Pazzi’s death finally occurs at the hands of Lecter, I have to admit I was secretly thanking the good doctor. Giannini’s character is a lout and a pig, obnoxious and ignorant. Of course this being Giancarlo Giannini the part is played to the highest of expectations. Ray Liotta stars as the proverbial thorn in the side of Agent Starling. His character is as corrupt as Giannini’s is loutish. Rounding out the cast are Francesca Neri, Gary Oldman and Frankie Faison; the latter whom reprises his role as Nurse Barney from TSOTL.
Under the direction of Ridley Scott,Hannibalis a near-perfect film. It’s not the great film that Silence was but that doesn’t matter. It stands on its own two feet and that is really all we ask of it.
When Jodie Foster declined to reprise the role of Clarice Starling, Julianne Moore beat Gillian Anderson, Cate Blanchett, Hilary Swank, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Heather Locklear, Angelina Jolie, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Drew Barrymore, Winona Ryder, Sarah Jessica Parker, Brooke Shields, Kristin Davis, Bridget Fonda, Calista Flockhart, Helen Hunt, Sandra Bullock, Christina Applegate, Jennifer Connelly, Meg Ryan, Shannen Doherty, Jennifer Aniston, Nicole Eggert and Teri Hatcher for the role. Anderson fell out of the running early on when it was discovered her contract to “The X Files” (1993) prohibited her from playing another FBI agent. Davis and Parker both turned down the part due to their contract to HBO’s “Sex and the City” (1998). Flockhart declined due to her contract to “Ally McBeal” (1997).
After Thomas Harris finished writing the novel, he sent copies to The Silence of the Lambs (1991) principals Jonathan Demme, Jodie Foster, Ted Tally, and Anthony Hopkins for approval. The screenplay was rewritten no less than 15 times because of dissatisfaction by Demme and Foster over new character elements. In the end, neither Demme nor Foster remained with the production.
In Florence, where part of the movie was shot, it is possible to buy a sort of tourist guide called: “Hannibal Lecter. Visit the places of the city where he was.”
Hannibal asks Pazzi about being demoted from the Il Mostro case. Il Mostro was a serial killer about whom Hannibal gives clues to Pazzi. This was a subplot that was filmed but never used as it was thought to be too complicated.