Category Archives: Films Released in 1979
ALIEN-United States/United Kingdom-1979
Directed by Ridley Scott
Screenplay by Dan O’Bannon
I couldn’t believe it. I checked and double-checked and still I couldn’t believe it. I’ve reviewed everything from Halloween to The Howling to Dead Hooker in a Trunk for this blog and yet there is one glaring omission.
I’ve never reviewed Alien.
But then again maybe ‘reviewed’ is too harsh a word. To say that I have never reviewed this film would perhaps indicate that I am going to tell you not only about its strengths but also about its weaknesses. Alien has no weaknesses. It is similar to its titular creature in that it is the perfect science fiction/horror film hybrid. It is even more perfect than John Carpenter’s masterpiece of xenomorphic terror, The Thing and that is a truly bold statement as that film is my favorite of all time.
You don’t believe that Alien is the perfect sci-fi/horror film? Just ask the 17 year-old boy that sat with his fingers over his eyes in that dark movie theater in South Carolina in 1979. This young man watched in horror at the screen as this huge ship with a strange name, Nostromo, and a small crew picked up a distress signal in the far reaches of space. He watched as it began with a parasite that hugged tight the man’s face and planted its seed in his stomach. We all know what happened next; so much blood and a creature that in its infancy screamed its way across a blood-soaked table and into cinematic history. I can assure you it would not stay an infant for very long. One by one like the characters in a twisted version of an Agatha Christie novel it picks off the crew of the Nostromo until only one is left alive. Oh, and don’t think I’m telling you who. There is always that remote chance that some unlucky soul has never seen this cinematic work of art and I will not be the one to spoil it for them.
It has now been 33 years since Alien made its debut. There have been three sequels and two other films that have crossed over into the mythos of another creature, the Predator. Each film has met with varying degrees of success or notoriety. None of them, and I mean absolutely none of them will ever have the impact that this first film in the series had on me all those years ago. So, no, this is not a review as you are familiar with the word; it is merely a labor of love.
Thank you, Ridley Scott. Thank you, Dan O’Bannon and Ronald Shusett. Finally, thank you Tom Skerritt, Sigourney Weaver, Veronica Cartwright, Harry Dean Stanton, John Hurt, Ian Holm and Yaphet Kotto. As much as I have always loved the movies, you made me love them even more.
Originally to be directed by Walter Hill, but he pulled out and gave the job to Ridley Scott.
The rumor that the cast, except for John Hurt, did not know what would happen during the chestburster scene is partly true. The scene had been explained for them, but they did not know specifics. For instance, Veronica Cartwright did not expect to be sprayed with blood.
H.R. Giger’s initial designs for the facehugger were held by US Customs who were alarmed at what they saw. Writer Dan O’Bannon had to go to LAX to explain to them that they were designs for a horror movie.
The screen test that bagged Sigourney Weaver the role of Ripley was her speech from her final scene.
The original title was “Star Beast”.
There is no dialog for the first 6 minutes.
- Review: “The Thing” (1982) (viewerscommentary.wordpress.com)
- Great Scene: “Alien” (gointothestory.blcklst.com)
- Happy Birthday to Sigourney Weaver & Comic Review: “Alien – The Illustrated Story” by Goodwin & Simonson (lezgetreal.com)
- Alien Anthology [Blu-ray] $29.99 (ritholtz.com)
- Ridley Scott Explains Prometheus, Is Lovably Insane (tor.com)
- Review: Alien (ch2289.wordpress.com)
- Movie Discussion: Ridley Scott’s Alien (1979) (girlmeetsfreak.com)
- Alien (1979) Macabre month of horror #11 (greencarbon2112.wordpress.com)
- Aliens: Colonial Marines Impressions — Xenomorphs At NYCC 2012 (g4tv.com)
- Maybe ‘Prometheus’ Would Have Been Better Without Any People in It (theatlantic.com)
Written and directed by Don Coscarelli
Happy 4th of July!! I have to work 12 whole hours today from 4 P.M. to 4 A.M.; so while my wife and her family are chowing down on ribs and hamburgers and hot dogs, I’m going to be slaving away at work keeping the world safe for humanity. Have you ever seen such cruelty? Somebody better bring me a plate of ribs.
Anyways, now that I got that off my chest I can get on to the task of reviewing this movie. But first of all I have a few questions. Do you expect me to believe that “Phantasm” is about two brothers that discover this weird funeral home where the ( I would imagine ) newly dead are compressed down to the size of Verne Troyer and stuffed into barrels to be sent to work as slaves in some otherworldly dimension?
Well, shit, if you say so.
Do you also expect me to believe that Angus Scrimm is this creepy Tall Man that runs the place and is hell-bent on turning the brothers, Jody and Mike, into Tattoo from “Fantasy Island” so they can be sent to be slaves in an otherworldly dimension?
Okay, I believe it. Hell, no arm twisting required here.
Finally, am I supposed to believe that the previously mentioned Tall Man is aided in his endeavors by this hot chick wearing a lavender dress who lures poor unsuspecting men to their destinies as members of the Midget Minority to be slaves in an otherworldly dimension?
What I am trying to say is that “Phantasm” is about as trippy a horror film as you’re ever likely to see. Any movie that tosses all the things our way that this movie tosses is worth a look in my book. “Phantasm” is scary fun and creepy shenanigans all rolled up into one believably unbelievable package.
All this and I haven’t even mentioned that creepy metal ball that flies around the mortuary acting like some sort of watchdog and drilling holes in people’s heads and siphoning out their blood. You don’t think that part would be too much to believe, do you?
The dwarves were played by children.
Title was changed to “The Never Dead” for Australian audiences as not to confuse it with the popular Aussie sex comedy World of Sexual Fantasy, which was also known as Fantasma.
Don Coscarelli rented all of the filming equipment used to make this movie, always on Fridays so he could use it all weekend and return it on Mondays, all the while only actually having to pay one day’s rental on the equipment.
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- William Lawes: Consorts to the Organ – review (guardian.co.uk)
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Directed by Stuart Rosenberg
Screenplay by Sandor Stern
Based on the book by Jay Anson
What is fear? Is it being scared of the unknown or is it being scared of the things we already know? Fear can grip us in ways that we never thought imaginable. Take for instance “The Amityville Horror”. Here we have a film that I’ve seen at least five times and have usually found to be sort of tedious and unremarkable; and yet this time and at this point in my life the fucking thing scared the living shit out of me. By the end of the film and after four beers I had to piss so badly and yet I waited until my teeth were floating because I just could not walk away until it was all over.
But, I digress. It is not because of the phenomenon that allegedly happened to George and Kathy Lutz and their three children that scared me. Hollywood and an author (Jay Anson) can fake glowing eyes and bleeding walls and cries of “GET OUUUUTT”; but what they cannot fake is real life. Ronald Defeo, Jr. did indeed murder his family in cold blood in that house at 112 Ocean Avenue. He did indeed shoot them in their beds while they slept. Was he possessed by a demonic force while he pulled the trigger of that .35 Martin rifle? Who the hell knows? Devil or not, what the man did was evil.
But again, I digress. We’re talking about a movie here, aren’t we? Why was I scared by “The Amityville Horror”? I’m supposed to be the big bad horror movie review guy. Stuff like this is supposed to be second nature to me. Is there something happening in my life that’s causing this fear? Am I suicidal or homicidal? I don’t think it’s any of that. What I think it is the fact that as I have grown older I have come to realize that there is indeed real evil in this world and there is not a damn thing that Hollywood can do to sugar coat it.
The outdoor scenes of the movie were not filmed in Amityville, Long Island, but rather Toms River, New Jersey. Local police and ambulance workers played extras.
Jay Anson who wrote the book “The Amityville Horror” actually wrote out a screenplay for this film only for the producers to turn it down. Eventually they found Sandor Sternand liked his take on it so he was hired for the job.
James Brolin was hesitant when he was first offered the role of George Lutz. He was told that there was no script and that he must obtain a copy of Jay Anson’s novel and read it as soon as possible. Brolin started the book one evening at seven o’clock and was still reading at two o’clock in the morning. He had hung a pair of his pants up in the room earlier and at a really “tense” part in the book, the pants fell down from wherever they had been hanging. Brolin jumped out of his chair, nearly crashing his head into the ceiling. It was then that Brolin said, “There’s something to this story.” He agreed to do the movie.
Due to all the unwanted fame the book and film had brought upon the real house in Amityville, the current owners have replaced the “evil eyes” windows with normal rectangle-shaped windows.
Margot Kidder went on record with her friends that she hated the film.
- The Amityville Horror Full Movie High Quality (uimvaua.typepad.com)
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TIME AFTER TIME-United States-1979
Directed by Nicholas Meyer
Story by Steve Hayes
Written by Nicholas Meyer
Based on the novel by Karl Alexander
H.G. Wells travels across time in pursuit of Jack the Ripper in the granddaddy of all mashups, Time After Time. Yes, I know the term applies more to computer jargon than it does to movies, but what else can you call it? A film that combines the science fiction of Wells and the true life horror of the Ripper can only be described as a mashup. What’s amazing about it is that on paper the whole thing sounds like absolute rubbish. Don’t let that fool you; Time After Time is one of the most intriguing and entertaining films, not to mention one of the most underrated.
Malcolm McDowell is brilliant as Wells, a man who wants so badly to believe in a futuristic utopian society. Wells is quite literally a man out of time as he searches for the Ripper in 1979 San Francisco. Everything is new to him, from McDonalds to taxicabs. The scene where Wells hails a taxi by mimicking the actions of the woman before him is hilarious. Wells is assisted in his quest by the always talented and lovely Mary Steenburgen. Every time I’ve watched Time After Time I become a fan of hers all over again.
Equally brilliant is David Warner in the role of John Leslie Stevenson aka ‘Jack the Ripper’. As much as Wells is completely out of place in 1979, Stevenson is more at home than he ever was in London of 1888. In the 2001 film “From Hell”, the Ripper tells Inspector Abberline that ‘men will say I gave birth to the 20th century.’ What makes that quote so amazing is that it took a science fiction/horror hybrid from 1979 to prove it right. Serial killers, war, bullying, hate crimes; Jack the Ripper truly did give birth to the 20th century.
The movie theater where Wells and Amy see the film was the same one which showed The Exorcist in an exclusive engagement. The infamous San Francisco serial killer, Zodiac, saw the film there, too.
Corey Feldman’s first film role.
Nicholas Meyer’s first choice to play the Ripper was Edward Fox. Mick Jagger also considered for the part, but Meyer couldn’t see Mick Jagger convincingly playing a Harley Street surgeon.
The tune played by Jack the Ripper’s Pocket watch is based on Chants d’Auvergne, “The Spinner”.
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Written and Directed by David Cronenberg
Oliver Reed as Dr. Hal Raglan
Samantha Eggar as Nola Carveth
Art Hindle as Frank Carveth
Cindy Hinds as Candice Carveth
The Brood is a film directed by David Cronenberg that once again exposes the monster within us and not the other way around. Nola Carveth (Samantha Eggar) is the estranged wife of Frank Carveth (Art Hindle), and the mother of Candice Carveth (Cindy Hinds). She is a patient of the psychotherapist Dr. Hal Raglan (Oliver Reed) and is undergoing a new form of therapy called ‘psychoplasmics’. The therapy encourages patients to go all the way with their negative emotions and this in turn causes their bodies to react and change as well. One with abandonment issues develops welts all over his chest and back. Another develops a lymphatic cancer because of his own self loathing.
Nola, on the other hand, is Dr, Raglans’ star patient due to the fact that when she becomes angry either consciously or sub-consciously she gives birth (parthenogenetically) to strange mutated children (the titular Brood). These children are the manifestation of her anger and attack the people that her rage is directed towards. Frank notices bruises on Candice’ back and believes that Nola did this to her during a visitation. He tries to have her barred from seeing Candice and this leads to the Brood lashing out at Nola’s parents as well as a teacher at Candice’ school whom Frank befriends. The Brood kidnaps Candice and brings her back to the institute that Nola is housed in. Frank confronts Nola and must make the choice to stop her to keep the creatures from harming their daughter. The film is not too gory but there is one scene in particular that will probably turn a few stomachs.
I found Samantha Eggar to be a good choice for the part of Nola. She is a very beautiful woman and this beauty adds a new dimension to Nola’s angrier moments that I don’t feel would have been achieved otherwise. Oliver Reed has been accused of being a ‘scenery chewer’ but I felt that he was rather subdued here. I don’t know very much about Art Hindle but I feel that he was credible in the role of Frank Carveth. Cindy Hinds was good as Candice Carveth and did not annoy me the way a lot of child actors tend to do. All in all I enjoyed the film and understand that a remake is in the works for 2013.
David Cronenberg has said that he got the idea for the film while going through a rough custody battle and divorce with his wife Margaret Hindson. He said that Nola possesses some of the same characteristics of those of his ex-wife. The film is his third horror film after Shivers and Rabid.
- New Images from David Cronenberg’s COSMOPOLIS Starring Robert Pattinson (collider.com)
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