Author Topic: Jon's Marathon of Horror! 2009  (Read 27474 times)

Najemikon

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Jon's Marathon of Horror! 2009
« on: October 03, 2009, 02:34:15 PM »
Mine will likely be fairly average amongst you lot. Not because I'm a scaredy-cat like Rich, but just for lack of time...    ;)

Najemikon

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The Hills Have Eyes (1977)
« Reply #1 on: October 03, 2009, 03:17:57 PM »
The Hills Have Eyes (1977)
4 out of 5


A family are travelling across the desert to get to California when they break down. They are soon attacked by another family. Of mutants!

Well, I’m surprised. Wes Craven directed a film that has an excellent balance between sickening, confrontational imagery and a plot that actually means something and stays coherent! Wonders never cease. The Last House On The Left, Nightmare on Elm St. and Scream all pale against this.

The violence is sickeningly brutal and can disturb because it’s so realistic. Cannibalistic mutants are pure comic book, but actually, Craven wisely has them as a family unit too, so there are key characters that can relate to and function with one another and know how to make the best of their environment. That includes the awful victimisation of their urban equivalents, a perfect, happy little family. This can’t end well. To survive, the tourists have to make some horrendous choices, stripping away their humanity to hold onto the last shred of decency: a kidnapped baby. What happens to them to bring them to this point I won’t attempt to describe. You already know if this is your sort of film.

I’ve said before I regard Craven’s earlier “The Last House On The Left” one of the worst films I have ever seen. Beyond the terrible quality of the acting and direction, I couldn’t help but feel the murders were the director playing out his fantasies, and the resultant revenge for was too absurd to be taken seriously. Here the plot is somewhat similar, but logical. The attacks the family endure are terrifying, without turning into torture porn and the survivors fight-back is believable. Both films consider what normal people are capable of and while I know Last House was trying to say something about how they resort to cold-blooded revenge, I find this films pushed-into-a-corner far better executed, especially with some of the audience friendly set-pieces. I especially loved how one of the dogs goes on her own rampage after the loss of her mate, picking two off herself!

The remake, which is very good and has one or two points up on this version, actually makes it less threatening by having more mutants, with less of a tangible relationship to one another, and it was all clearly the governments fault. That’s more ambiguous in this original, or at least pushes the idea that we are still responsible for our actions and how we react. It’s also reassuringly raw and low budget.

Offline addicted2dvd

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Re: Jon's Marathon of Horror! 2009
« Reply #2 on: October 03, 2009, 03:26:22 PM »
I know what you are going to say Jon... but I am going to say it anyway! :P

After watching the remake... I definitely want to see the original! :)
Pete

Najemikon

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Re: Jon's Marathon of Horror! 2009
« Reply #3 on: October 03, 2009, 03:43:41 PM »
Hey, not so fast! I saw the remake first and avoided this for ages because Wes Craven normally disappoints me. As it is, both versions are good... :D

Offline addicted2dvd

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Re: Jon's Marathon of Horror! 2009
« Reply #4 on: October 03, 2009, 03:59:12 PM »
Wow!... That is a shocker... I usually get a hard time for watching the remakes first!  :P
Pete

Najemikon

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Ghost Town ***
« Reply #5 on: October 03, 2009, 09:02:22 PM »
Ghost Town
3 out of 5




Ricky Gervais plays dentist Bertram Pincus, who briefly dies during a small operation. This gives him the ability to see ghosts and they, like most people, really annoy him. Especially Frank (Greg Kinnear) who wants help making sure his widow (Tea Leoni) doesn't remarry.

This is a cute film. In some ways it can't help but repeat old ground from Ghost, but there's just a hint of [British] irony to stop it being purely sentimental mushy rubbish. Though there is that too. Greg Kinnear is great as Frank, trying to right the wrongs of his life, but he would have been lost without straight-man (for the most part) Gervais. It's another miserable bastard variation for him to play, but he does very well and I'm always pleasantly surprised at the mileage he gets out of what is essentially the same routine. There's a nice twist on his usual trick of pretending not to understand a question when a Doctor does it to him, brilliantly. I'm certainly never bored by him and he has some cracking lines that made me laugh out loud, especially when he's dealing with the various ghosts begging him for help (which of course he refuses). I'm not sure his character would have been that witty, but he saves it mainly for scenes with or about Tea Leoni's character so we can easily claim she's having the effect on him as he falls for her. I enjoyed her character and the two work very well off of each other, and all three leads flesh out what could easily have been very thin roles. Leoni on particular has always had a slight unpredictability, which is essential in a film like this.

Because yes, this is fully-certified, middle-of-the-road, completely harmless rom-com, and as should be, it is very predictable. Heck, think really hard for a couple of minutes and I bet you can work out the broad plot without seeing the film! Don't do that though, it is worth seeing, because like all good rom-coms, it knows how predictable it is and generally gets on with it. I do wish the middle section had been shorter so there'd have been more time in the last act. A couple of very funny ghosts fall by the wayside, which was a shame. Still, it's occasionally moving, occasionally hilarious, if dependably obvious.

EDIT: Btw, this is worth seeing on Blu-Ray. New York looks absolutely gorgeous, especially just on the cusp of winter. And there's some nice time-lapse effects that I'm sure would have been lost a little bit on DVD.
« Last Edit: October 03, 2009, 09:11:14 PM by Jon »

Najemikon

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Re: Jon's Marathon of Horror! 2009
« Reply #6 on: October 03, 2009, 09:04:19 PM »
Ok, before any smart-arse tries to call me out on the above film, this is a Halloween marathon and it says the bloody word "Ghost" in the title. Ok? Cleared up? Gore be due soon, people!  :tease:

Hey, Richie, keep Ghost Town in mind, mate, for when you wuss out by Tuesday...  :devil:

Offline Jimmy

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Re: Jon's Marathon of Horror! 2009
« Reply #7 on: October 03, 2009, 09:32:36 PM »
Ok, before any smart-arse tries to call me out on the above film, this is a Halloween marathon and it says the bloody word "Ghost" in the title. Ok? Cleared up? Gore be due soon, people!  :tease:
You have read my mind when I was reading your review ready to post that it isn't an horror film at all :laugh:

Offline Dragonfire

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Re: Jon's Marathon of Horror! 2009
« Reply #8 on: October 03, 2009, 10:54:40 PM »
I've been wanting to see Ghost Town. 
I would probably include it this month too because of the ghost connection.  But then I like watching ghost type movies in October.

Offline goodguy

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Re: Jon's Marathon of Horror! 2009
« Reply #9 on: October 04, 2009, 11:03:12 AM »
Ok, before any smart-arse tries to call me out on the above film, this is a Halloween marathon and it says the bloody word "Ghost" in the title. Ok? Cleared up? Gore be due soon, people!  :tease:

 :hmmmm: So I could watch all my Hamlet versions as part of the Halloween marathon? Interesting idea.
Matthias

Najemikon

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Re: Jon's Marathon of Horror! 2009
« Reply #10 on: October 04, 2009, 12:29:03 PM »
Ok, before any smart-arse tries to call me out on the above film, this is a Halloween marathon and it says the bloody word "Ghost" in the title. Ok? Cleared up? Gore be due soon, people!  :tease:

 :hmmmm: So I could watch all my Hamlet versions as part of the Halloween marathon? Interesting idea.

Why not? I may even try to fit Branagh's version in, thanks for the pointer.  :thumbup:

Najemikon

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Blade ****
« Reply #11 on: October 04, 2009, 01:08:35 PM »
Blade
4 out of 5




Blade (Wesley Snipes) is a half-human, half-vampire, the "Daywalker", waging war on a secret society of vampires with help from Whistler (Kris Kristofferson). He rescues a doctor from a vampire attack and her skills with blood may help find Blade a new serum against the thirst that tortures him. Meanwhile Frost (Stephen Dorff) is trying to bring about a vampire apocalypse...

When great comic book based movies are discussed, somehow Blade always gets forgotten. And it really isn't fair because it still holds up as one of the best. The story format of a martial artist vigilante with cool weapons and a faithful (if foul-mouthed!) assistant could be seen as a Batman clone and the style is very much like Nolan's two films. In fact, Christian Bale could do worse than throw in a couple of Blade's lines, because the tone is no less serious, but the dialogue certainly lightens it. And interesting that it came out a year before The Matrix. It matches that film for coolness and bares comparison with the plot (chosen one, prophecy). They certainly go to the same tailor, all black leather and sunglasses, and buy similar CDs, but surely a year is too tight to accuse the Wachowski's of ripping it off? But the likeness is uncanny, especially when Blade tells Karen the world she knows is a "sugar-coated topping" hiding the "real world". Actually, no, if they did copy it, The Matrix would have been far more entertaining with less po-faced exposition... ;)

Because Blade is coldly lit, sombre and dark, but very entertaining with solid action throughout. The ending is silly and stretches the CGi past breaking point, but up to that point the plot produces some wonderful set-pieces and Norrington has a great eye for imagery; the "Blood Bath" opening, the freaky oracle vampire, the library, etc. You can see why it would attract Guillermo Del Toro to the sequel. Some criticise the villain, but I though Stephen Dorff did a good enough job and he is at least supported by a gang straight out of an 80s action thriller (and that's no bad thing). All the characters are memorable, especially Kristofferson's cranky old Whistler. The fights and lightly used gore also make this one of the last properly successful comic book films for adults.

Stephen Norrington really couldn't have done much better and I find it odd that he would go on to direct the pathetic League of Extraordinary Gentlemen which doesn't have any subtlety at all, and was such a bad experience he exiled himself. He is apparently working on a new version of The Crow and on this evidence it's an excellent idea. I look forward to smacking people in the face with my Blade DVD when they make the inevitable accusations that he's ripping off The Dark Knight!

Najemikon

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Deliverance *****
« Reply #12 on: October 06, 2009, 09:53:15 PM »
Deliverance
5 out of 5




Four friends set off an a canoe trip down a Georgia river to experience the incredible wilderness before it's destroyed. They get far more than they bargained for and the experience will change them forever... 

Deliverance is an astonishing achievement, all the more so for its modesty. It's powerful yet it delivers in an even tone that feels authentic and consistent. While not a horror as such, there is suspense, there is fear, yet those scenes (and one so famous you probably know it anyway) don't feel in any way exaggerated. Which just adds to the spell.

All the elements are perfect. John Boorman is a master technician and a poet, who took a very fine screenplay written with James Dickey (author of the novel), four brilliant actors and then filmed them on a beautiful yet unpredictable river. The gorgeous cinematography of Vilmos Zsigmond ranges from picture postcard to dark violence and there is an ever-present sense of foreboding from at least the night camp when some of their confidence has given way to suspicion. There's a fantastic shot that should stick out like a sore thumb, yet like an earlier moment (passing under a bridge), it feels organic. Boorman never does anything just for the sake of it.

The cast couldn't be better; two theatre players (Ned Beatty and Ronny Cox), a method actor (Jon Voight) and a movie star (Burt Reynolds) all fit their parts like a glove. When Reynolds was being serious there were few to touch him, but here he outdoes himself. Some of his lines are like poetry, yet he sells them every time. They all have their moments and give raw performances (Beatty especially) while the story unfolds in a surprising way.

It's a story about nature and about men. You could write pages (don't worry, I won't!) exploring the relationship between the two. Suffice to say, they bite off more than they can chew and after a brief morality play, have to deal with the consequences of awful violence. Boorman makes you feel it as well. Every grimy moment.

It's a superb film that epitomises the freedom of the 70s while filmmakers were still mavericks, yet it will likely never date, because it's subject is timeless and it should stand forever as a testament to what film can do and what it can mean. To be honest, this has been a hard review to write and I'm sure I haven't come close to capturing the essence of it. So do me a favour; if you have any interest in cinema, just watch it. And if you don't like it, watch it again.  ;)

Offline Achim

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Re: Jon's Marathon of Horror! 2009
« Reply #13 on: October 07, 2009, 12:39:16 PM »
Deliverance is an awesome film that should not be missed!

richierich

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Re: Jon's Marathon of Horror! 2009
« Reply #14 on: October 07, 2009, 01:20:11 PM »
Deliverance is an awesome film that should not be missed!

+1  :thumbup: