The Wicker Man (1973)

DailyView: Day 173, Movie 255

Earlier this year in the DailyView, I watched the 2006 remake of this movie that starred Nicolas Cage. It was one of the worst films that I have seen during the DailyView. Although it does share some story parts in common, the original 1973 version is considerably different in tone and execution.

Sergeant Neil Howie (Edward Woodward), a puritan police officer, received an anonymous letter begging for help in finding a missing 12-year old girl on the island of Summerisle off the coast of Scotland. When he arrived on the island, Sgt. Howie encountered a group of people preparing for their May Day celebration. Sgt. Howie was obstructed, lied to and misled about the whereabouts or the fate of the girl Rowan,

Howie discovered the grave of Rowan, he had to receive the permission of Lord Summerisle (Christopher Lee) to exhume the casket. Sgt. Howie’s Christian beliefs were at odds with much of what he saw happening on the island, and he felt that it was vitally important to find Rowan before it was too late.

This The Wicker Man is much more about Christianity vs. Paganism than the Nic Cage version.

The 1973 movie made these people on the island feel much more cult-like than the more recent film. The songs that they sang were about as creepy as you are ever going to hear.

While the endings were pretty similar, this version’s ending was a hundred times better, with the fright factor being much higher and making the entire thing serious whereas the Cage version was ridiculous from the start. Watching the island people sway back and forth singing as the Wicker Man burned would have been a frightful surprise if I had not seen the other version already. Even with the knowledge of what was going to happen, The Wicker Man 1973 was so much more effective in creating a mood of fear and uneasiness.

The final shot of the 1973 film is an amazing shot of the sunset and it is simply a beautifully constructed image.

It really is amazing that one of the best British horror movies ever made was remade into one of the worst movies ever made.

The Haunted Mansion (2003)

DailyView: Day 172, Movie 254

Disney has been trying to make their amusement park rides into feature film franchises for years. Their most successful attempt at this was The Pirates of the Caribbean franchise. They have had a box office success with their 2021 Jungle Cruise movie with The Rock and Emily Blunt. They had less success with Mission to Mars and Tomorrowland.

One of their most infamous flops was The Haunted Mansion, a 2003 film starring Eddie Murphy. I’ve always enjoyed Eddie Murphy, but the negative reviews and word of mouth of this movie chased me away. After the Muppet Haunted Mansion special last week, I thought that I would give the film a try. It was on Disney +, which makes it easy streaming.

While it is not a very good movie, I don’t think it was as bad as everybody has said. Perhaps it is one of those movies that if you approach it with low expectations, you enjoy it more.

There are moments that are good. The special effects are excellent. Eddie Murphy is pretty good with his hectic performance, although there are several times when his performance was too manic. Wallace Shawn, who played the butler Ezra, is always a delight.

While the story is simplistic and messy, I did think the third act conclusion was pretty decent.

Real estate agent Jim Evers (Eddie Murphy) is a workaholic and, without realizing it, puts his work ahead of his wife Sara (Marsha Thomason), daughter Megan (Aree Davis) and son Michael (Marc John Jefferies). When he tries to make up for his shortcomings by taking his family away for a weekend, Jim sidetracks the trip to check out a potential house he could sell. When his family arrived at the Haunted mansion, they are trapped inside by a terrible storm and discover that the sidetrip was all a set up from the ghosts that exist inside the mansion, attempting to break a long standing curse.

Terence Stamp played the butler Ramsley, one of the spirits that inhabited the mansion. He worked for his master Gracey (Nathaniel Parker), whose wife Elizabeth had died by her own hands years before, leaving him alone and miserable.

Part of the problem was that the film’s story was all over the place and was there simply to get as many special effects into play as they could possible get. Most of the characters were basic and some were one note. Madame Leota (Jennifer Tilly) was a gypsy spirit inside a crystal ball, but that character was one of my least favorite, most annoying parts of the film.

The themes of the movie were muddled and did not work well together. Some were just touched upon while others were pounded on like a sledge hammer. Inconsistencies raged through the entire movie and coincidences were everywhere.

This movie does not have a lot of funny moments, nor does it have a lot of scares. It’s more like a Goonies-type action movie with a bunch of special effects. There is not enough of either comedy or horror to stand out from the other, and it does not blend well . Had the movie embraced either the comedy or the horror more, I think this would have been more successful.

Still, I liked the ending and the rest of the movie was not the worst thing I have seen. It could have been much better, but looking at it with lower expectations helped me like it more.

Dracula: Dead and Loving It (1995)

DailyView: Day 171, Movie 253

Spoof movies are generally a hit and miss proposition. Unfortunately, the Mel Brooks comedy, Dracula: Dead and Loving It is more of a miss than it is a hit.

Leslie Nielsen, who had become one of the prime spoof movie stars with his work in Airplane and Police Squad, starred as the iconic vampire Count Dracula. The film itself does a parody of the original 1931 Dracula with Bela Legosi.

The film starred Peter MacNicol as Renfield, Steven Weber as Jonathan Harker, Amy Yasbeck as Mina Seward, Lysette Anthony as Lucy, Harvey Korman as Dr. Seward, and Mel Brooks himself as Professor Van Helsing.

The comedic cast was strong. I was particularly a fan of Harvey Korman and Peter MacNicol, who played their characters with a massive gusto, framing every laugh that they could wring out of the script. A scene between the pair where MacNicol kept eating insect is one of the film’s highlights.

There was also some great dancing scenes between Dracula and Mina. The choreography of those scenes were some top notch work and Leslie Nielsen’s stunt double was amazing.

However, most of the jokes fell flat or were so low grade humor that they were only funny to some. I understand that humor is truly subjective, so if you found most of the film funny, I am glad for you.

I prefer Leslie Nielsen in other spoof films, but I will say he made a decent Dracula. He played everything straight and that made the balance off.

Dracula: Dead and Loving It was not horrible, but it was not that funny either.

Copshop

Copshop came available on Vudu this weekend. It was a film that I had not seen that was in the theaters only and I had heard good word of mouth on. I have never been a big fan of Gerard Butler, but I definitely liked his last film, Greenland, so I was willing to give it a go.

A con-man, Teddy (Frank Grillo), on the run from people who wanted him dead, assaults a rookie police officer Valerie Young (Alexis Louder), as a way of being arrested and, thus, protected from those after him. However, when hitman Bob Viddick (Gerard Butler) wound up in the cell across from Teddy, fireworks began to explode.

There is no doubt that I absolutely loved the character of Valerie Young, and how Alexis Louder brought this bad ass woman to life. She easily stood out among the rest of the male dominant cast as one of the most interesting and capable characters on screen.

The interactions between Teddy, Valerie and Bob were some of the best scenes in the film. You were never sure which of the two men could be trusted and we got a chance to see both of them reveal their true character.

The arrival of Anthony Lamb (Toby Huss) threw a real monkey wrench into the deal. Lamb was a real psychopath and he was bloodthirsty and dedicated to completing his task. He was dark and extremely entertaining, at least as entertaining as a brutal killer can be.

The story does stretch credibility quite a bit and requires some coincidental actions happening for it to work, but that is something that most action/adventures movies has and none of those affect my enjoyment of the show.

Copshop was a lot of fun and it is sad that there was not more people going to it while it was in the theaters. With it now on streaming, hopefully more people will get a chance to see it.

3.6 stars

Prom Night (1980)

DailyView: Day 171, Movie 252

It is Peacocktober on Peacock right now and I found a horror movie that I had not seen before while looking through the streaming service’s list. It was 1980’s Prom Night and that will be the next movie in the DailyView binge.

What a load of crap this was.

Prom Night did feature Jamie Lee Curtis as Kimberly Hammond, a girl whose sister was killed several years before in an accident. We saw the incident occur and, like much of the movie, it made no sense. Four kids were playing a warped version of hide and seek in an abandoned convent, where the seeker pretended to be the killer. However, when Kim’s sister Robin showed up, all four of the kids turned on her and chased her around. It led to Robin falling from a window and dying. The four kids promised to never speak of the accident again.

The four kids grew up and were preparing for prom when someone began stalking them and started killing them off.

The writing on this was just terrible. The dialogue was bad. The mystery was poorly constructed. There was only one or maybe two people the killer could possibly be, but when we saw the masked figure, it really limited the choices.

One major problem with Prom Night for me was that I was rooting for the masked killer. The little kids who tormented Robin and left her for dead were so unlikable that I wanted to see them all pay for their selfishness and their cruelty. When they were near adults, they were not any less obnoxious than they were as youths.

Then, some of this was laugh out loud funny instead of scary. I nearly busted a gut in the scene at the prom just before the Prom King was going to be announced.

There were no characters developed at all. Leslie Nielson was here as Kim’s father, but his role was so underwhelming that he felt like a waste. Antoinette Bower was used even less than Nielson was. I hope they got a nice payday out of it.

Prom Night was a sad rip off of Carrie and was a terrible movie. I did not like anything in this one.

Halloween Kills

I was really looking forward to the new Halloween movie. I have enjoyed the trailers and what I had seen up to this point. Michael Meyers is an iconic villain and monster. This new version of Michael Meyers ignored a lot of the previous films and came as a direct sequel to the first Halloween movie.

However, I was terribly disappointed with the new movie. Halloween Kills tries to give a message about the state of human affairs in face of horror, but it is so painfully apparent what they are trying to do that it lacks all subtlety.

The film picks up after the last Halloween movie ended, with Michael trapped inside a burning house and Laurie (Jamie Lee Curits) being rushed to the hospital by her daughter Karen (Judy Greer) and granddaughter Allyson (Andi Matichak). There were flashbacks setting up some of the other characters that were going to be involved in the vigilante mob.

Vigilante mob? Oh yeah, there is one of those.

I’ll get back to that. Halloween Kills takes Michael Meyers and makes him kill a bunch of secondary characters as he moved toward his childhood home. Not sure why he went inside some of those houses to kill these random people who were not doing anything. It was like a murder road trip. These kills seemed to be so random that it lessoned what Michael Meyers was.

When Michael Meyers was inside the car, well that was probably the most ridiculous part.

Meanwhile at the hospital, all of Michael’s victims were joining up, being egged on by Tommy (Anthony Michael Hall), the kid who Laurie was babysitting in the original Halloween movie. Tommy seemed to be really crazed on the “Evil must die tonight” bandwagon that was creating a mob. Tommy spearheaded the mob to chase after a short, fat guy whom they believed was Michael. I did not understand any of this since there was no way this guy matched the body type of Michael Meyers. That did not stop us though. Of course the analogy was being made that Michael had turned these normal people into monsters too. That message was bashing us over the head and was even verbalized by Judy Greer. This whole side story did not work at all.

Laurie, who had already jabbed a syringe filled with painkiller in her butt to be able to go fight Michael, wind up in a philosophical discussion with Will Patton’s Officer Hawkins. Laurie is not a major part of this movie despite the use of her in the promotional materials. Don’t be fooled by the trailers, Laurie is sidelined.

This movie felt as if its only purpose is to set up the sequel. There is not a story being told in this movie. It is just biding its time until the eventual finale with Michael vs. Laurie in next year’s Halloween Ends. The film had some ideas but they did not work and were some of the worst parts for me. Michael Meyers was too much of a cartoon to be scary and the excess blood and gore did not make these kills better.

Halloween killed here, but not in the way they may have wanted.

2.3 stars

Re-Animator (1985)

DailyView: Day 170, Movie 251

Based loosely on the H.P. Lovecraft 1922 serial novelette, “Herbert West- Re-Animator”, Re-Animator is a classic horror/comedy from the mid-1980s that is full of gore and bizarre horror that was directed by Stuart Gordon.

Mad scientists always seems to be mucking around with life and death and it never turns out well.

Herbert West (Jeffrey Combs) arrived in New England after a horrific incident in Switzerland. He has an experiment that he is continuing which will attempt to reanimate dead tissue. West recruits Dan Cain (Bruce Abbott) into joining his project. Cain’s fiancé Megan (Barbara Crampton) was the daughter of the Dean of the college they were working at and offered some unexpected advantages.

When Dr. Carl Hill (David Gale) discovered the results of West’s serum, used to reanimate corpses, he went to blackmail West into giving up his research. Dr. Hill did not quite see what was going to happen as he wound up carrying his own decapitated head.

The movie is wild and shockingly gory. The story itself is simplistic and straight forward. Mad scientists never work out well. However, it is clear that all of the doctors/scientists involved here have motives that are not exactly what is best for the patients. None of the victims come back better than before they died. It turns into a horrible monster movie with zombie-like creature all over the place.

I could see how this could become a fast cult classic. It has that late night crowd feel to it. I’m not sure 100% why, but I was getting a Rocky Horror Picture Show vibe to this.

This is one of the most successful adaptations of any of H.P. Lovecraft’s works. It was followed by several sequels and a rebooted film.

The Dark Old House (1932)

DailyView: Day 169, Movie 250

Todays DailyView is heading all the way back to 1932 for a horror/comedy featuring the iconic Boris Karloff, hot off of his work as Frankenstein’s Monster. In fact, the film ran a disclaimer telling the audience that the actor was indeed Karloff, to avoid any debates. It was an odd disclaimer, but kicked off the film on a strange note.

The movie tells the story of a group of travelers who had to take shelter in an old mansion in the mountains because of a terrific storm. The house was inhabited by the Femm family, though it was not give immediately. The family Femm was hiding some dark secrets, including the strange butler Morgan (Boris Karloff) and his potentially dangerous behaviors.

Soon, the ensemble realized that there was more to be concerned about than just Morgan as the Femm family curse was revealed to the group.

The film had a great deal of tone that created a lot of suspense. The eeriness of the Femm family kept everyone uneasy and uncertain about what they were trying to do.

The cast of the film included such notable actors as Melvyn Douglas, Charles Loughton, Gloria Stuart, Lilian Bond, Brember Wills, Raymond Massey, Eva Moore, Ernest Thesiger, and Elspeth Dudgeon.

The film is fun to watch and has some enjoyable moments. It is definitely a 1930s film. I liked watching this.

Hellraiser (1987)

DailyView: Day 168, Movie 249

This October, the DailyView has been doing a series of horror/thriller movies in honor of the upcoming Halloween. However, most of the films have been little known horror movies from the Shudder channel. Tonight, I pulled up one of the classic horror movies from one of the most iconic writer/director of the genre, Clive Barker. The film, which spawned nine sequels, is called Hellraiser.

Hellraiser introduced into the world of horror monsters the character of Pinhead (Doug Bradley), although that nomenclature would not come into existence until the sequel.

Synopsis from Rotten Tomatoes: “Sexual deviant Frank (Sean Chapman) inadvertently opens a portal to hell when he tinkers with a box he bought while abroad. The act unleashes gruesome beings called Cenobites, who tear Frank’s body apart. When Frank’s brother Larry (Andrew Robinson) and his wife, Julia (Clare Higgins), move into Frank’s old house, they accidentally bring what is left of Frank back to life. Frank then convinces Julia, his one-time lover, to lure men back to the house so he can use their blood to reconstruct himself.

Although Pinhead would be the breakout character, he does not make too many appearances in Hellraiser. Our main villain is Frank and he is very freaky. When he began to wander around the house preying on the men lured into the trap by Julia, Frank becomes a true monster and is as frightening as any of the Cenobites.

The practical effects of the film are very effective, making it feel even more horrific than it would be with CGI. However, the third act horror-fest is a bit much to take.

I was not impressed with the acting of Hellraiser. Ashley Laurence, who played Larry’s daughter Kirsty, is so over-the-top that you do not buy her fear at all. All her facial expressions and screams did not make me feel fright for her. It nearly elicited laughter.

Certainly, the presence of Frank and the Cenobites are the stand out reasons to watch this movie. I was extremely engaged by these villainous monsters much more than I ever cared about Kristy.

Julia, on the other hand, and Larry were a fascinating pair and did carry their own in Hellraiser. Julia was confused and uncertain about what she was doing, but you could tell that she wanted to keep doing it. She was one of the most rotten characters in the film.

I can see where this movie could go to heights with the Pinhead character and the other Cenobites. Overall, Hellraiser was fine, weak acting, but solid scares and some A+ villains.

Prevenge (2016)

DailyView: Day 167, Movie 248

The October horror movie extravaganza continues during the DailyView as I returned to Shudder on Amazon Prime for a dark comedy called Prevenge.

Pregnant woman Ruth (Alice Rowe) has been recently widowed in a climbing accident. Carrying on conversations with her unborn baby which verbally pushes her to keep going, Ruth starts a mission of brutal murders against those people she holds responsible for her husband’s death.

The voice of the “baby” was so very creepy, especially when she was compelling Ruth on to continue her vicious slasher mission. I have not been able to find the actress who voiced the baby, but she was very effective (I saw one review that said the baby sounded like Moaning Myrtle from the Harry Potter films).

Alice Rowe wrote, directed and starred in Prevege while she was actually pregnant. In fact, she gave birth during the making of the movie and her actual baby daughter was able to play her on screen child.

Rowe does a tremendous job carrying this film. The dark comedy has a very British humor feel to it, and, there may be a time or two where the tone does not match. However, the feeling of creepiness outweighed any potential tone issues.

This was an entertaining film that was very dark and funny, with a character whose mental issues may be too much to overcome. Shudder has definitely a deep catalogue of engaging horror films.

The Boy Behind the Door (2020)

DailyView: Day 166, Movie 247

I am continuing to search through Shudder in this October horror section of the DailyView, and there are just a ton of horror movies that I have never seen. Tonight, I came across a film called The Boy Behind the Door from last year.

Bobby (Lonnie Chavis) and Kevin (Ezra Dewey) were best friends. They would swear to be best friends until the end. Then, the boys are abducted and thrown into the trunk of a car. When they arrive at their destination, Kevin is taken out of the trunk and locked in a room in the isolated house. Bobby is able to get out of the trunk, but he would not leave his friend.

I loved this movie. The two boys did an amazing job in the film. Their friendship is at the very heart of the movie and is so strong that it was the distinct characteristic of these characters.

The debut of filmmakers David Charbonier and Justin Powell, The Boy Behind the Door truly amps up the anxiety and tension of the simple story of an abduction. I found myself yelling at the screen a few times when Bobby or Kevin would do something to survive.

I was so ready to have Kristin Bauer van Straten, one of the kidnappers of the film, get her comeuppance. The film was extremely satisfying in this manner. She brought a lot of menace and viciousness to the role.

The film is well paced and really gets you rooting for these boys to survive their encounter with these evil people. It is a well done horror movie that is totally entertaining.

Bingo Hell

Last week I watched an Amazon Prime exclusive, Black as Night, which was in the Welcome to Blumhouse series. There was a second film in that series and it was called Bingo Hell. I liked this one much more than I did Black as Night.

From IMDB: “In the Barrio of Oak Springs live a strong and stubborn group of elderly friends who refuse to be gentrified. Their leader, Lupita (Adriana Barraza) , keeps them together as a community, a family. But little did they know, their beloved Bingo hall is about to be sold to a much more powerful force than money itself.”

This movie is carried on the backs of some of the most likeable characters you are going to find. Lupita may be a bit of a Latina stereotype, but you can’t help but root for her. Then L. Scott Caldwell (the ever wonderful Rose from LOST) is here too as Dolores. They make a great pair.

The story has several themes inside it, from gentrification to community coming together. They may not be covered too deeply, but the ideas are here and the film puts it out into the world.

Richard Brake played Mr. Big and does a fantastic job of going over the top and being the face of the evil trying to tempt the older people of Oak Springs into easy money.

The conclusion of Bingo Hell is full out thrilling and exciting and brings our heroes to the forefront in a satisfying result.

Bingo Hell is a much more fun film than last week’s Black as Night and it feels as if it will maintain the score over time.

3.5 stars

Premonition (2007)

DailyView: Day 165, Movie 246

I knew what kind of movie this was going to be when Julian McMahon’s head rolled out of his casket and it wasn’t supposed to be funny.

Sandra Bullock was Linda Hanson, a wife and mother of two whose life was uprooted when her husband Jim (Julian McMahon) was killed in a car crash. However, the next day, Linda awoke from her sleep to find Jim alive and well. The film then played with time and showed the events of the week out of order as Linda tried to figure out what exactly had happened.

There are so many silly things going on in this movie that it really undercuts the potentially interesting premise. The way the story is told narratively makes the tragic circumstances almost ridiculous. The melodrama here is cranked up to a huge level.

Sandra Bullock overacts like crazy, and, the end of the movie makes no sense. I can’t discuss it without spoiling, but let’s just say that her memory must make everything good.

She blocked out certain things during the week, but many of them are just not important. Her oldest daughter got hurt, but why does she block that out when it does not have anything to do with Jim’s accident. I can understand why she blocks out Jim’s accident, but looking back, she seems far more crazy than she is shown to be.

Best part about this movie is the cool movie poster.

Just a dumb movie that leaves Netflix on Oct. 31st. Not a day too soon.

No Time to Die

The final Daniel Craig appearance as James Bond has finally come out after being delayed several times due to COVID-19. It is the official 25th film in the Bond franchise (though there are a few others that typically are not considered part of the franchise).

The Daniel Craig series of Bond films are very up and down. They have a couple of films that have to be considered top five/ten of all time with Skyfall and Casino Royale, but also has some of the lesser Bond films, such as Quantum of Solace.

No Time to Die picks up where the previous film had left Bond, retired and living with his love Madeleine (Léa Seydoux). However, when some shenanigans from Spectre occur and Bond is approached by his old friend from the CIA, Felix Leiter (Jeffrey Wright), James finds himself back in the action.

This time, the villain is Lyutsifer Safin (Rami Malek), who has stolen a new and deadly weapon that allows the user to target specific individuals’ DNA for destruction. Safin has a past connection with Madeleine that he will exploit for his dirty deals.

There is a lot going on in this movie, and because of that, it feels as if Rami Malek got short changed in his role. As a villain, he does not stand out despite being visually appealing and having a potential back story that could make him one of the upper echelon Bond bad guys. There was just so much packed into the film that, even at 2 hours and 43 minutes, the screen time for Malek was at a minimum.

The action is beautifully directed by Cary Joji Fukunaga and the cinematography was excellent once again. The action is full out thrilling, from several cool car chases to the invasion of an island base (as much of a staple of a Bond film as you are going to find).

I’ve heard some people complain about the length, but I distinctly remember feeling that the film was flying by and I was never bored. There may be a few scenes here and there that could be cut for time, but I do not think there was anything obviously needing to go. I was fully engaged in the film all the way through.

Daniel Craig ends his run as James Bond in exceptional fashion. Although some of the Bond films may not be as strong as the others, Daniel Craig always gave his all every time. This one is no exception. He is the one actor playing Bond to create a feeling of anguish or melancholy in the super spy.

The great side cast continues to be awesome, with Ralph Fiennes as M, Ben Whishaw as Q, Naomie Harris as Moneypenny, Christoph Waltz as Blofeld, Jeffrey Wright as Felix, Lashana Lynch as Nomi, and Rory Kinnear as Tanner. There was also the debut of Ana de Armas as CIA operative Paloma.

The ending did become too much of a gunfight for my taste, but it was rescued by some real emotion in the final few scenes, unlike most Bond films before it.

While this movie may not reach the heights of Skyfall and Casino Royale, it is only a few steps behind. If Rami Malek was used better, you might be looking at one of the tops in the franchise. Still, it is a great watch and was certainly worth the extra wait.

4.5 stars

Session 9 (2001)

DailyView: Day 164, Movie 245

Continuing the run of horror/thriller movies in the DailyView, October edition, I found a film called Session 9, a film that depends on mood and imagery to build the feelings of the audience. At that level, the film does a decent job. However, the film does not reach on too many other levels.

An asbestos abatement crew wins a contract to work on an old, abandoned mental institution that had a frightening past. When things from the past seem to start coming back and affecting the crew, troubles mount and dangers arrive.

This movie just never grabbed me the way it hoped. I was bored by the early part of the movie and the third act felt very forced and threw a twist into the story that did not make much sense.

The cast was decent, led by David Caruso. It also included Josh Lucas, Stephen Gevedon, Peter Mullan, Brendan Sexton III, and Paul Guilfoyle.

Part of the plot included one of the crew playing a tape from a session in the past of a person with multiple personalities, with the dominant, possible alter, “Simon.” While that sounds creepy, one of the problems is that some of the voices on the tape sounded so cartoonish that it negatively affected the mood they were trying to go for in the scene.

I had a lot of problems with the film, from its lack of characterization in many of the characters to the out of nowhere ending. While it does create a certain mood, Session 9 just cannot sustain that across the entire film.