Wednesday, May 26, 2010
Sunday, May 9, 2010
In the credits of "The Black Cat", it claims that the film is suggested by the Edgar Allan Poe story. That was just a ploy to get people to see the picture. The film is actually an original story that has nothing to do with Poe. In fact, it has nothing to do with a black cat either. There just happens to be a black cat that shows up in a couple of scenes. Lugosi has a fear of cats and kills one of them. That's pretty much it.
Karloff and Lugosi are excellent in their first screen pairing. It truly is Frankenstein vs. Dracula. Lugosi plays the hero part and he is seeking revenge on Karloff. In World War I, Karloff was responsible for the killing of 10,000 men and the torture of Lugosi for 15 long years. To top that, Karloff has kidnapped Lugosi's wife and daughter.
Karloff is an architect and he keeps dead bodies on display in glass cases. This is just a hint to what he really is. He is a devil worshipping priest and he has plans to sacrifice a young girl who Lugosi is trying to keep safe. Lugosi finally gets his revenge on Karloff at the end of the film by chaining him up and skinning him alive. It was very frightening.
I was never a huge fan of "The Black Cat" probably because there are no monsters in it. It was too adult for me when I was a kid. Watching it now, I realize it may be the most original Universal horror film. It is way ahead of its time. It is a wonder how this film was not censored for its violence. I don't think I have seen another film from that era that involves the skinning of a man.
The sets and photography are some of the best produced by Universal in the 1930s. Karloff's house is designed in a much more modern way than things were built in the 1930s. It was very unique and original. The cinematography was excellent as well in "The Black Cat". There are several POV shots that work really well. Instead of showing Karloff and Lugosi walking through the mansion, we get their POV and their voice overs. It was also a very unique way to really show us these amazing sets. During the sacrificial ceremony, there are several shots that I just loved. There were extreme close ups of the worshipping members that were just plain eerie.
Karloff and Lugosi are perfect in the film and it is nice to see Lugosi in the "good guy" role. You really feel for Lugosi. Karloff has done everything to ruin this man's life. You can't wait to Lugosi to get his revenge! "The Black Cat" might not be as memorable as "Frankenstein" or "Dracula", but it truly is one of Universal's best.
A- I recommend it.
"The Swimmer" is a very interesting film that stars Burt Lancaster. Lancaster is on a mission. He wants to swim home. He wants to visit every house on his way home and take a swim in their pool. Sounds a bit odd, doesn't it? Well, that is what Lancaster is in this film. There is something wrong with him, but we just don't know what it is.
Every time Lancaster visits a new neighbor, more background is given to this strange man. It seems that Lancaster is living in the past. The last couple of years seem to be missing from his memory. The neighbors have grudges and attitudes toward Lancaster, but he does not know why.
When it seems that the film is just a ridiculous movie about a man swimming in pools, it becomes more than just that. He is on a mission to find out who he really is and what has happened to him these past few years. We never really find out exactly what has happened, but throughout the film, you can put the puzzle pieces together.
Lancaster was very good in this movie. His character changes so much from the beginning of the film to the end. He begins as a confident, friendly, womanizer. By the end of the film, he is a depressing old man. His character really changed drastically.
I can see how "The Swimmer" might not be for everyone though. For one thing, it is one of the corniest films I have ever seen. I love corny, however. There is one scene where Lancaster and his female companion that he has picked up for a swim are jumping over hurdles. The scene seems to last forever and is more than corny. Even the music is corny, but I really enjoyed it. When Lancaster would leap in the air, the music would stop. It would then continue as he touched the ground. I actually kind of liked that. It was fun!
"The Swimmer" is a very unique movie that does seem to be ahead of its time. Lancaster's character had everything at one point in his life, but by the end, we realize that his perfect life was long lost.
B I recommend it.
What was the point in making this remake? I don't understand why remakes are made when it is basically the exact same story and the changes that are made, make the story that much worse.
This time, like with so many other horror remakes, we get more of a back story of our villain. We see that Freddy was a pedophile in his previous mortal life. The original "Nightmare" hinted at this. We understood that Freddy had a thing for children, but they didn't make it so obvious. It just seems like filmmakers today have no idea how to be subtile.
Jackie Earle Haley plays Freddy Krueger in this remake. Haley is a good actor, but let's face it: He isn't Freddy. Robert Englund was and always will be Freddy. This version tries to make Freddy a more serious and frightening presence, but it doesn't work. The humor that Englund put into his Freddy is what made him scary. A perfect example is when Englund's Freddy cuts off his own fingers just to freak his victim out. That's what Freddy is all about.
Another problem with the remake is the overall atmosphere of the picture. In the original, it really felt like we were inside of a nightmare. I felt the filmmakers didn't really have Freddy use the opportunity of being in control of his dream world. The only thing that I thought was interesting was when a person would be awake for hours on end, they would be so tired that they would go in and out of the dream world. I thought that was a nice change that was effectively done.
My biggest problem with the remake were the main characters, especially that of Nancy. Nancy in the original was a strong female character that we liked and rooted for. This time, Nancy is a depressing, young, emo type girl. There was nothing likable about her character and I didn't care whether she lived or die.
Now let's talk about the make-up of Freddy Krueger. Freddy's make-up in the original was great. It was frightening and iconic. This time, he looks more like the half snake monster from "Sssssss" than Krueger himself. They tried to give him a more realistic burn make-up, but I don't care if it's more realistic. I want something that is scary. It didn't work at all.
"A Nightmare on Elm Street" isn't a horrible movie, but it's not a good one either. There just wasn't anything to it. There wasn't anything new or different that really made it worthy of it's remake. And like all the other horror remakes of late, we are most likely going to have endless sequels of this new Freddy, which I don't care about at all.
Saturday, May 8, 2010
When the "Nightmare on Elm Street" series seemed to be dead, Wes Craven comes back with one of the most original stories in modern horror films.
In "New Nightmare" there is a real life evil that is being held in the "Nightmare" films in the form of Freddy Krueger. Without any new "Nightmare" sequels, Freddy is now loose to set terror on all the actors from the original film. Nearly everyone from the original "Nightmare on Elm Street" are in this film and they play themselves in this picture.
Heather Langenkamp, who played Nancy in the first film, is back. Wes Craven wants her to star in a new "Nightmare" sequel, but she wants nothing to do with it. But strange things start to happen to her and her family. They are having nightmares and Freddy is becoming an actual threat.
Even though the story for "New Nightmare" is incredibly original, the film is very boring. It moves very slow and nothing really exciting happens until the final half hour. Besides that, the acting is pretty terrible. Robert Englund, who plays Freddy and himself in "New Nightmare", is put to waste in the picture. There could have been a really neat battle between Robert and Freddy, but all we get is Robert painting a portrait of Freddy, which causes him to freak out and run away.
"Wes Craven's New Nightmare" is a lost opportunity in my opinion. With a better script and better acting performances, it could have easily been the best sequel to date. Unfortunately, what we get is a good climax to a film that lost my interest early on.
Tuesday, May 4, 2010
"Escape" is a great entry in the "Planet of the Apes" series. In fact, it may be my favorite sequel.
Cornelius, Zira, and Milo have escaped the Planet of the Apes moments before it explodes and they land their spaceship in 1970s Los Angeles. The apes are greeted and when it is learned that they can speak, they become major celebrities. But one person in the White House has it in for them. He fears what their existence will do to the human race. His mission is to stop them from populating the world that will eventually become the Planet of the Apes.
Watching "Escape" you really fall in love with Cornelius and Zira. We really see how close they are with each other. Roddy McDowall and Kim Hunter were perfect in their roles.
The film is mostly light-hearted and full of wit and humor, but by the end of the film, it takes a dramatic turn. The ending is so depressing, dramatic, and shocking. The ending is really what makes this particular "Apes" film so special. It is strange to see what is basically a kid's film turn into a violent, gut-wrenching picture.
There are so many things to enjoy while watching "Escape from the Planet of the Apes". I love the montage of Cornelius and Zira touring Beverly Hills. I love the trial of Cornelius and Zira. I love the psychiatric tests being done on Zira. The list just goes on and on. Also Jerry Goldsmith's score is very 1970s, but it works perfectly. It was funky, yet fitting.
"Escape from the Planet of the Apes" is a film that has rich characters that you will come to love. Cornelius and Zira's relationship really blossoms in this film. I don't want to tell you how the film ends, but be prepared. You may need a tissue or two.
B+ I recommend it.
Monday, May 3, 2010
For the first time, I saw "Planet of the Apes" on the big screen. One word: AMAZING!
"Planet of the Apes" is an excellent movie that is thrilling from the first frame to the last. Charlton Heston is wonderful as Taylor and when he utters those famous words: "Get your stinking paws off me you damn dirty ape", you can't help but feel the urge to cheer. Heston dominated the screen. He is a larger than life actor that is awesome in everything he touches.
The supporting roles are played excellently by Roddy McDowall, Kim Hunter, and Maurice Evans. Their characterizations are very real and you really start to feel the love between Cornelius (McDowall) and Zira (Hunter).
The make-up by John Chambers is some of the best I have ever seen. Each ape is convincing and a fair amount of movement is given to the actor behind the make-up. The make-up helped make the actor's performances that much better.
The story of "Planet of the Apes" is one of the best to ever be told on the screen. Rod Serling worked on the script and gave it the "Twilight Zone" type ending. The ending is one of the most memorable in film history. If you haven't seen the film and don't know how it ends, do yourself a favor and watch it! Even though "Planet of the Apes" is a fantastic story of science fiction, it deals with real life issues including race, prejudice, enslavement, and government vs. society.
"Planet of the Apes" is one of my favorite science fiction films. The film spawned 4 sequels, a TV series, and a remake. It is a story that no one will ever forget and that's why the "Planet of the Apes" will never die.
A I recommend it.
Saturday, May 1, 2010
I decided to watch "Whip It" because of one thing. I really like Ellen Page. I think she is a terrific actress. One reason I did not want to watch it was because I am not a fan of Drew Barrymore.
To my surprise, "Whip It" was pretty good. Drew Barrymore did a very good job directing Ellen Page to get a real and emotional performance. Page is just one of the best actresses of this generation. The only problem is she has become typecast into "Juno" type roles.
"Whip It" was fun and enjoyable, but very predictable. It is just like every other sports movie you have seen. We fall in love with our main character, things are going well, she loses everything, then gets it all back. It is a formula that has been used for decades and decades of film, but there is a reason for that. It works.
"Whip It" was a very good film following the life of a young girl who finds something she truly loves. There were good acting performances by Page, Juliette Lewis, Daniel Stern, Marcia Gay Harden, and Kristen Wigg. I can't stand Wigg on "Saturday Night Live", but I enjoy her in films. "Whip It" was paced very well and for Barrymore' directorial debut, she did a bang up job.
B I recommend it.