Archive for the ‘Cult Classics’ Category

TOP Halloween films to watch (at least for that night)

Posted by Greg Butler On October - 30 - 2015

Around this time of year just about every website ad nausea , roll out the their top ten or twenty horror films to  join in the over crowded recommendation pile. So we at Thoughts on Cinema might as well join in. Below are eight carefully selected suggestions to binge all night long. To help in the order to watch them, there is a fear meter under :   Scary fun-frights with a few laughs,   Downright Disturbing- well done but uncomfortable subject matter,   Chiller Suspense -moments of creepiness and mystery and old school classic - refined horror at its best.

If you don’t see the usual suspects like the Exorcist or the Shining, it was left off mainly because their already “go to” favorites everywhere else online, going to try some curve balls here and there. So get ready with your Netflix or illegally favorite torrent site, get that burnt popcorn going  and see what nightmares are really made of.

 

Diabolique (1955)

Diabolique (1955) Poster

Still of Véra Clouzot and Simone Signoret in Diabolique (1955)

Forget the remake with Sharon Stone, watch the french version instead. An abused wife and neglected mistress murders husband, only to find the body missing later and peculiar occurrences plaguing both women.{ Chiller Suspense}

 

Phantasm (1979)

... to why he wanted to make a movie that dealt with Phantasm’s themesMausoleums, flying finger monsters, the tall man,  spheres that drill into your head and  killer dwarfs  from another dimensions, What does it all mean, I haven’t a clue but this is the most original horror fantasy at that time and even now. { Scary fun}

 

 

Fiend without a face (1958)

Bunch of Old Movie Posters - Special FarmThe  usual mishaps of science experiments  gone way wrong.One of the few Sci-fi with a creepy feel to it. The appearances of the creatures once invisible is especially high on the eek meter.{old school classic} 

Martyrs (2008)

Review: Martyrs (UK - BD RB) - DVDActiveChild abuse escalating  into  violent vengeance, which leads to something even worse. One of the few horror films that actually perturbed me. This is not for the squeamish.{ Downright Disturbing }

 

Carnival of Souls (1962)

CARNIVAL OF SOULS (1962). Directed by Herk Harvey. Written by John ...Forget its low budget minimalist leanings, it actually works in its favor. Woman survives a  drag racing accident that kills her friends, but the trauma has left her feeling disconnected to things and seeing strange figures that are not there. The atmosphere of unease permeates from scene to scene. { old school classic .}

 

The Descent (2005)

The Descent - IGNHow dangerous could cave expedition be, our women explorers are about to find out, Oh yeah there is something down there alright. { Scary fun}

Noroi: The Curse (2005)

Noroi The Curse 1a.jpg

The Asia Beat: NOROI: THE CURSE (2005) May Be The Greatest Found ... A found footage that actually has a story to it, this Japanese import deals with a paranormal documentarian investigating a case which in terms leads to his disappearance. The events are put together by the film evidence left behind.  After  awhile the unraveling tale creates a thick sense of dread to it. {Chiller Suspense }

From Beyond (1986)

From Beyond: Unrated Director's Cut DVD (click for larger image) Based  0n H.P. lovecraft ‘s short story.   A machine called a Resonator is made to stimulate the human pineal gland, giving the person to perceive and enter another dimension where all sorts of big and small critters lurk. When the apparatus goes out of control…. well you can see for yourself. { Scary fun}

Happy Halloween folks!!

 

 

 

 

Body Double (1984)

Posted by Greg Butler On July - 26 - 2015

still-of-melanie-griffith-and-craig-wasson-in-body-double-1984-large-picture

 

 

Subtle wouldn’t be Brian Depalma’s favorite word as he rummage through Hitchcock’s drawers for this mish-mosh update of Rear Window and Vertigo. Jake Scully (Craig Wasson) suffers from claustrophobia, fear of enclosed or crowded places. A bit actor working in a low budget vampire, looks for a place to crash, a chance meeting with another fellow actor Sam (Gregg Henry) offers him to house sit while away. Using a home telescope, he sets his peepers on negligee wearing female dancing provocatively in a neighboring window, cue the the Pino Donaggio erotic score just in case if you weren’t ĺawake. Voyeurism soon turns into pantomime drama via an open window, uncovering domestic abuse, menacing stalkers and finally her murder. Guilt ridden over the tragic event, he later stumbles across a porn commercial showing a video of actress Holly Body (an air- headed Melanie Griffith channeling Judy Holiday) using the same exact dance movements. Convinced the crime was a set up and the woman involved,  Jake enters ( double entendres are abound in writing this.) the adult entertainment as a performer, engaging in record time a role opposite the woman in question and a cameo in a Frankie goes to Hollywood Video. This is simple abc’s for this type of genre, but the camp moments are way over the top. It loses cohesiveness because its laughing at its own indulgence. Conventional cliches are being send up for sure but if the director couldn’t take it seriously why should we. However there is a thrilling scene with a street drill, realigning the balance of dark humor and violence. Unfortunately its the one decent aspect. The most awkward sequence that mars the film further is the climatic ending; interrupted by a flashback that disrupts the narrative. Uninspired; the movie plods along to a flat ending, on screen The whole thing feels lazy, maybe midway through the picture Depalma said fuck it……literally.

Somewhat a very disappointing  sex on the beach drink.

 

Island of lost souls (1932)

Posted by Greg Butler On May - 6 - 2013

 

 

In terms of black and white horror films, few come close to the visceral impact  it had in its time and still  does today. The story starts off simply, Edward (Richard Arlen) is a survivor of a ship accident  only to be picked up and stranded on a island resided by Doctor Moreau (Charles laughton). He soon learns that the good doctor has been genetically transforming animals into advanced human beings. The results as with all crazy experiments, is less than successful. The rejects are banished to a secluded side of the island to fend for themselves. To maintain a sense of order, Moreau cracks the whip (literally)commanding a repeated mantra of his demands “What is the law?!”) reminding them of the place they were borne from; “the house of pain”). In a later sequence we see an example of this as a hybrid strapped to an operation table, howls in anguish as the doctor coldly dismisses his agony as another clinical  failure.

Bela Lugosi (before Tod Brownings, Dracula) is the village sayer of the tribe, oddly not knowing enough English off screen,   the phonetic dialogue comes off  extremely alien and effective on screen.

Laughton is definitely  the treat here. Imposing in his white seersucker Congo suit, he is the epitome of what mad scientists should strive for.  Another staged entry is the heroine (Lelia Hyams) introduction. At a shipping port, she is relieved to find her husband alive via a posted notice. She walks away relieved and gratified, as the busy activities on the street divide in front, It’s serenely graceful, a prelude of terrors to come.

Jack Pierce the make up artist must be especially noted. The Rick baker , Rob  Bottin and Dick Smith of his day. The FX  applied to the creatures are restrained, something later remakes would over indulge. It wasn’t  about what the beasts were or becoming, but the results that went awry in  between.

Director  Erle Kenton ratchets up the atmosphere  with dread  before going full throttle at the memorable  end.

I give this your best  four shot Russian vodka  with a smooth wheat beer as a chaser.

American Werewolf in London

Posted by ron On October - 18 - 2010

Perhaps nothing satisfies your craving for top shelf, lowbrow humor quite like a John Landis film. From the Kentucky Fried Movie, Animal House, and the Blues Brothers, one should be prepared for sleazy, raunchy satirical fun. Yet Landis’ crude but effective tactics never failed to pay tribute to the works that inspired him. If imitation is the best form of flattery, An American Werewolf in London was a fitting 80s tribute to the 1941 classic, the Wolf man starring Lon Chaney Jr. In this re-telling of a grim tale, two NYU college kids were backpacking across the English countryside on a damp cool night until a vicious man-beast would forever change their fortunes.

Unless you’ve been living on the moon, one would find it extremely difficult not to have some preconceived knowledge of the werewolf curse. Werewolves continue to be one of the oldest folklore legends, so Landis made the executive decision not to waste any time with the origin of the curse. In the London hospital, the bitten survivor played by David Naughton literally referenced Lon Chaney Jr in the Wolf Man in order to blatantly spell out a familiar fate for our sympathetic character that conveniently shared the bed of his Florence Nightingale.

The film attempted no plot twists but Landis upgraded the main character’s guilt with visceral visuals of David’s nightmares and hallucinations generated by his subconscious. It’s a crude but inventive way to externalize, internalized thoughts. It’s also a vehicle to utilize some of the greatest special effects artists in the history of cinema that continue to be spoken about today. In the third act when David sat in the XXX movie theatre and spoke to his deceased best friend, one wondered if this later inspired a similar scene in Richard Kelly’s Donnie Darko. Horrific imagery might have undermined the actor’s ability to project a tortured soul but it fit Landis’ personality to perfection.

If you’ve seen this film before, try substituting the werewolf curse for socialized medicine and one might have some refreshing fun in a second take. An American college kid backpacked across England, jumped by hooligans, and taken to a London hospital. Now reconstitute this film with every public servant having dismissed a crazy American believing in the infectious idea of affordable healthcare but never doubting its existence before having to put him down for good.

In my trois liquor rating scale of one bourbon one Scotch and one beer, An American Werewolf in London rated a relaxing fall beer as a guilty pleasure to share with old friends during this Halloween.

Cheers,
Ron

Night of the Living Dead

Posted by ron On October - 2 - 2010


Duane Jones played the last man with a brain, literally.

After more than 40 years and thousands of movie reviews later, Night of the Living Dead continues to inspire and recycle horror fans from one generation to the next. So much has been written about this 1968 classic, any movie critic would be severely challenged to say anything that hasn’t been said before. However, this isn’t a review to challenge movie critics but rather to compliment its enjoyment for fans and critics alike. 

With the brand of visceral cruelty that modern horror films seem to favor, it’s hard to believe that in 1968 teenagers were disturbed by the violence in Night of the Living Dead. Even by today’s standards of a PG-13 rating, the method by which the violence in this film was shot seemed amateurish except for the fact that any female character slapped by a man would eventually have papers served by the end credits. Yet, this film still has some revolutionary elements today. 

Some 40+ years later horror films still haven’t really warmed up to an African American lead or minority protagonists in general. Duane Jones played such a straight arrow that any man could relate to him. As Ben he finds himself in a situation that he doesn’t understand. Ben knew he had to keep his wits about him in order to survive. Audiences who rooted for him against the overwhelming odds, felt the ending was an agitating cruel twist of fate. Jones commanded the big screen when he described the gruesome sight of body parts torn apart as he drove a truck through a crowd of zombies. At that point, the film transcended racial differences because any audience can relate to the physical and psychological struggle. Never mind Jack Johnson’s coined phrase, “the great white hope.” Ben was the America’s last hope for sanity in an insane world plagued by zombies.

Night of the Living Dead never relied solely on jump scares. The slow drawn out build of suspense was its bread and butter. Any audience was aware of what was coming because a majority of the shots placed the unaware victim in the foreground with the infectious zombie horde slowly advancing into overwhelming numbers. The pacing was so drawn out that today it might require some patience and restraint not to scream out “run goddam it”. Still the film had a design where every encounter with the undead had a subtle, calculated build up that almost caught one slightly off guard. A few zombies might not seem formidable but a claustrophobic climax with a relentless horde presented a different effect. 

Romero’s ground breaking film might never have the same theatre value with ticket prices far from the 1968 prices. However, the orchestra soundtrack will always continue to delight anyone hosting friends in their home with entertainment centres and cozy couches. Night of the Living Dead will always be the perfect conversation starter for all ages of horror fans alike because its the beginning of many good things to come.

In my homage to George Thorogood’s one bourbon, one Scotch, and one beer I rate Night of the Living Dead as a cozy bourbon on a cool autumn October evening with friends. 

Cheers,
Ron                    

Scott Pilgrim Vs the World

Posted by ron On August - 16 - 2010


More than just an exercise in T-shirt culture, Scott Pilgrim might be in over his head if he can’t find a way to defeat all of Ramona’s evil Ex-lovers.

Whether or not you are a gamer, every one can relate to love as a game. Scott Pilgrim vs the world was the 7th level of a no holds barred fight to the finish for the girl you love. Director Edgar Wright took the best elements of Bryan Lee O’Malley’s 6 book series by emphasizing the video game spoofs and clever visual language. For all intents and purposes, the adaptation worked on the cinematic stage.

In a similar set up to Shaun of the Dead, the main protagonist was a slacker, content to simply exist in his small fish bowl world until a crisis threatened to take away the one thing he desperately loved more than garlic bread. Not much of a stretch for Michael Cera to play a self absorbed amoral puppy who often took the path of least resistance when it came to his prior relationships. Cera’s comedic limitations were identified in the scene where his character was so desperate to get dumped, he resorted to racial insults. Without the right comedic timing, the delivery felt awkward. Pilgrim’s love interest played by Mary Elizabeth Winstead captured Ramona Flowers’ reserved, mysterious beauty with poker faced emotionally withdrawn expressions. Is she concealing her emotions for Scott or is she emotionally immune to his charms? The ambiguous nature of her character was necessary to convince us that a reckless young man’s pursuit to capture what was deemed unattainable seemed logical and convincing between two young people.

The more enjoyable super hero movies are attributed to great acting performances by the villains. Have no fear, the performances delivered by each evil ex exhibited their best characteristics and most fun in the film. Balancing the theatrical dialogue with the physical demands, each fight scene was brilliantly choreographed and executed. Even if the viewers didn’t catch all the homages to specific old school video games, they certainly enjoyed the vibrant colors, stunts, and camerawork.

In my never ending homage to George Thorogood’s One bourbon, one scotch, one beer I am giving Scott Pilgrim vs. the World a rating of a great tasting bourbon that provided good times, action, adventure, and a righteous score for the good guys.

Cheers,
Ron

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Thoughts on Cinema is dedicated to film reviews. An uncompromising opinion on the intellectual, artistic, and entertainment value to the consumer. With rising ticket prices, we dedicate ourselves to present to you content regarding what you should or should not be viewing. -Ronald H. Pollock Founder and Editor in Chief

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