Die Hard (1988)

Die Hard is one of my favorite movies of all time.  When someone asks me what my favorite movies are, this is one of the first couple that comes out of my mouth.  I absolutely adore this movie.  This year is the 30th anniversary of the release of Die hard.

It is clearly going to be…

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The highest rating I have.

Let’s talk about this fantastic movie a bit.

I was a huge fan of Moonlighting the television program starring Bruce Willis and Cybill Shepherd so I was excited to see Bruce move into the world of film.  I had gone to see him in Blind Date, but that was anything but one of my favorites.

Then Die Hard came along.

It is just a brilliant action movie. One of the best, if not THE best action movie in history.  There are so many perfect beats in this film.

First of all, Bruce Willis is spot on.  He is so believable in the roll of everyman cop John McClane who finds himself in impossible situations in Nakatomi Plaza in California.  he is funny, witty, smart and brave and as easy to relate to as any protagonist you are going to find.

Then, we have one of the greatest villains in cinema history as well with Hans Gruber, the film debut of the brilliant Alan Rickman.  Hans was menacing and frightening without ever being over-the-top.  He was perfectly played by Rickman in his sinister manner.

The writing of the film is astounding.  Every little detail comes back and pays off.  There is nothing that is superficial in this movie.  “Fists with your toes”- a small unimportant conversation John has on an airplane leads to him running around the building with bare feet.  An off hand remark from Ellis (Hart Bochner) about Holly’s (Bonnie Bedelia) watch comes back in the final confrontation with Hans.   Al Powell (Reginald VelJohnson) and his story of being unable to use his gun pays off in a big way.  Every little detail is there for a reason and it is a wonder to watch.

The action is amazing. The fight sequences are off the charts, as is the major knock down drag out between John and Karl (Alexander Godunov).  Although I have a hard time buying Karl surviving that final fight with John, it is worth it for the last scene with Al.

The lines are quotable as can be.  Everyone knows the iconic “yippee etc etc” line but one of my own favorites is when John is on the roof and trying to call for help on an emergency channel and the cops are not believing him.  His response to “Sir, this line is reserved for emergency calls only” is “No f#*king sh#t lady, do I sound like I’m ordering a pizza?” I lose myself laughing every time I hear that.

The ridiculousness of the other LA cops and FBI agents add into the feel that John McClane must keep going because no one else will be able to stop these terrorists.  Paul Gleason, who plays Deputy Police Chief Dwayne T. Robinson, gives his lines with such a dry delivery that he is one of the funniest parts of this movie.

Very few films have been done so well and Die Hard continues to be the class of all of the following Die Hard sequels.  It is one of the great movies of all time and will always have a place on my own top 5 list..

Copycat (1995)

Copycat

I do like serial killers.  Always have.  They fascinate me.

So with this thriller where at the heart of the story is a serial killer who was copycatting some of the most infamous serial killers inhistory, well, that film is one for me.

When you throw in the powerful casting of Sigourney Weaver and Holy Hunter into the mix, it only gets better.  Then, there is a creepy performance for the ages from Harry Connick Jr.  to make it all the more intense and suspenseful.

After being assaulted and nearly killed by obsessed killer Daryll Lee Cullem (Connick Jr), Dr. Helen Hudson (Weaver) wound up an agoraphobic.  However, Helen, a clinic psychologist specializing in serial murders, cannot stay out as she made several calls to the police, trying to give assistance on a new serial case.

Detective M.J. Monahan (Hunter) was the only one who was taking Helen’s calls seriously, and enlisted the sometimes unwilling aid of Helen to find the copycat killer (William McNamara).

The first time I saw this years ago, I was on the edge of my seat.  I will admit that I was not as filled with anxiety this time around.  Age will do that to you.  However, I still enjoyed the film and the performances of these actors.

I very much liked how Weaver’s character used her smarts to outwit the copycat killer at a point in the film.  She should be shown as intelligent and when she confronted him, Weaver showed how much of a bad ass she really could be.

Some of the other police officers did some really dumb things, which I felt was just because the plot needed them to be dumb.  That is a drawback to the writing.  Other than that, I liked Copycat very much and had a good time watching it.

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Copycat

 

The Birdcage (1996)

As the country approaches an important vote on Tuesday, I looked back at a film, where at its center, was love and acceptance of differences.

The Birdcage starred Robin Williams and Nathan Lane as a middle aged gay couple who run a drag club in Miami.  Armand (Williams) had a son Val (Dan Futterman) who had fallen in loved with a young girl (Calista Flockhart) and wanted to get married.  The problem is the girl’s parents were extremely conservative, with her father being Senator Keeley (Gene Hackman) who had co-founded an organization for the morals of the country.

Val returned to see his father and “mother” Albert (Lane) to get their help to convince the Senator that they were a typical family.

Meanwhile, Senator Keeley’s co-founder died in the bed of an underage black prostitute, creating a huge scandal.  Keeley decided to escape the press by taking his wife Louise (Dianne Wiest) to meet Val and Val’s family.

There are a lot of uncomfortable moments in The Birdcage, a film based on the French film “La Cage aux Folles,” when the characters are being forced into situations that they simply are unable to exist within.  One could argue that the selfishness of Val and Barbara are really on display here, throwing their parents’ feeling away.  Val is downright cruel to the overtly emotional and practically on fire flaming Albert, never once really considering the feelings of the man he considered a mother.  Armand had to do so much damage control, but, in that damage control, we see the real and deeply caring relationship between these two men and you understand how Armand could live with the temperamental Albert.  The scene where Williams finds Lane sitting on a bench and gives him the palimony agreement is such a beautiful scene of love between two people that it really underscores the idea of the film.

Albert and Armand are willing to do anything for Val, even what might be uncomfortable or mean, because they love him and they accept him.  Val’s learns that lesson as the film moves on and when he finally cuts through the crap, we understand that he sees what he has done and that he had the power to straighten it out.

The film is remarkably funny, with the robust scene stealer Agador (Hank Azaria) as a Guatemalan house boy dominating every scene.  Robin Williams truly anchors the wild performance of Nathan Lane and keeps everything under control.  He still has his share of laughs, but it comes from his dry wit and the situations instead of his normal hectic manner.

Gene Hackman is spot on as the conservative senator who finds himself smack dab in the middle of an unbelievable scandal.  His sweetness toward “Mother Coldman” shows that he is not a bad man, just one who may not see the same way as the others.

The film shows that there is the possibility of people of different lifestyles to come together and help one another instead of immediately entering into hatred.  The lesson that Val learns is a lesson that much of the country these days need to learn as well.  The Birdcage is a wonderfully funny, engaging film that celebrates individuality.  When Armand, Albert and even Agador tried to be what they were not, the struggles for everybody involved was obvious.

This is a great movie that is eminently rewatchable.

paragon

 

Amadeus (1984)

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This past week’s Top 10 Show’s list was music biopics and their number one film was Amadeus.  I usually do a list of my own following their show but I have been unable to find the time.  Plus, I had some noticeable omissions when I was trying to write up the list, this being one of them.  I wanted to watch this before doing my own list, but there was just no time seeing as the fact that Amadeus was a three hour movie.

Finally, Friday night, I got a chance to watch the film and it was really great.

I enjoyed the format of the film very much.  The fact that the tale is being told by a rival of Mozart (Tom Hulce), an old man version of Salieri (F. Murray Abraham) brought such an interesting spin to everything that is being said.  We have no idea if anything that Salieri said was true or even close to being true.  As a rival of Mozart, Salieri is a perfect example of an unreliable narrator, someone who sees the story through their own perspective.

F. Murray Abraham is wonderful as Salieri and Tom Hulce turns a great comedic performance as the man-child Mozart.  Both men were nominated for Academy Awards for Best Actor, with Abraham taking the prize.  The film won a ton of Academy Awards and other awards back in the 1980s and I can see the reason why.

Amadeus is very funny, but it is also able to turn on a dime and show off drama that borders on tragedy.  There is a fine line between humor and tragedy and there has not been a better film to illustrate that concept than Amadeus.

It also has a fascinating turn by Jeffrey Jones, an actor known for playing comedic villains such as Ed Rooney in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.  Jones’s portrayal of the Emperor is both funny and beguiling.  I enjoyed his work here.

I did enjoy the film, but I will say that it would not make my number one spot on a music biopic list. It would certainly be in the top 5, however.

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Hocus Pocus (1993)

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I had a chance today to catch Disney’s Hocus Pocus on the big screen for the first time since I saw it back at the drive in.  That was the last show I have seen at our local drive in.

I have to say, it was not as good as I remember.  It was still fine and I enjoyed myself for the most part, but there were a lot of scenes that just did not hold up 25 years later.

The Sanderson sisters were a group of witches who would use the life force of children to stay young.  Before they were hanged for witchcraft, they completed a curse indicating that they would be back.

When Max (Omri Katz), a new boy in town, was showing off for the pretty girl (Vinessa Shaw), he unwittingly brought the sisters back to life.  Winifred (Bette Midler), Sarah (Sarah Jessica Parker) and Mary (Kathy Najimy) picked up where they left off, trying to regain their lost youth.  Max, his young sister (Thora Birch), and a talking cat named Binx (Sean Murray) teamed up to prevent the sisters from returning forever.

There are many fun scenes in Hocus Pocus.  I still laugh like an idiot when Sarah Jessica Parker says, “Amuck, amuck, amuck, amuck.”  I always liked Omri Katz from the television program, Eerie, Indiana, and he is very easy to cheer for here.  Vanissa Shaw is beautiful and she has some nice, easy chemistry with Omri.

The musical number performed by Bette Midler, “You Put a Spell on Me” was fun and moved the story forward.  The three Sanderson sisters were great here.

The whole virgin running joke felt very 1990s and was driven into the ground hard by the movie.  There were some moments when the Sanderson sisters were confused by the new world, but other times when they made jokes about things that should have confused them as well.  It was as if they only did not know about the new world when the plot called for them not to know.  That is a weakness.

There are some scary scenes for the young viewers and a few charged moments for the adults.  Hocus Pocus is a fine movie for the Halloween time of the year.

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The Invisible Man (1933)

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I loved the Universal monster movies as a youth.  Frankenstein, The Wolf Man, Dracula, The Creature from the Black Lagoon… they were some of my all time favorites.  However, I must say that I had never seen the H.G. Wells classic The Invisible Man until this very morning.

Claude Rains starred as Dr. Jack Griffin, who, as with any great mad scientist, experiments on himself and turns himself invisible.  The chemical he uses affects his brain as well, sending the man cascading toward madness.

We are along for the ride as we “see” the man at first bad tempered before changing into a psychotic killer.

Directed by James Whale (who also directed Frankenstein and Bride of Frankenstein), The Invisible Man has many special effects that were quite amazing for the time frame.  When you realize that this film came out in 1933, what they were able to accomplish is even more impressive.

Nearly the entire cast of secondary characters are unimportant here.  Even the Gloria Stuart as Griffin’s love Flora felt unimportant to the story.  The only other character of any real repute here is Kemp, played by William Harrigan.  Kemp was Griffin’s associate and partner and the man whom Griffin approached to help him formulate the antidote.  Kemp, understandably creeped out by the slowly insane invisible man, betrays Griffin by calling the police.  The fate of Kemp was a standout moment of the movie.

This role turned Claude Rains into a star which is remarkable since it was a role that you never see his face until the very end of the movie.  It is a strong performance from Rains, who was unable to use facial expressions in his acting and had to require other means to emote what he wanted to do.

I enjoyed The Invisible Man very much although I could have done with less screeching from the inn keeper (Una O’Connor)

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Plan 9 from Outer Space (1959)

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One of the worst movies of all time, Plan 9 from Outer Space, is the next film in the October Fear Fest.  I was inspired to watch this after watching the wonderful Ed Wood movie starring Johnny Depp.  Part of that story was involving the filming of Plan 9 from Outer Space.

And while this is one of the worst films ever, it is also one of the best worst films ever. It is actually quite fun to watch it is so bad.

Ed Wood was the infamous director of this film and he was widely known as one of the worst directors ever.  He would take one shot and move along no matter what happened.  He cast his friends and people he knew.

This turned out to be the final film of Bela Legosi’s career and, in fact, he died before filming was over.  So, Ed Wood replaced him with his girlfriend’s chiropractor who bared a slight passing resemblance to Legosi.  He would have the chiropractor cover his face with the cape whenever he was on screen.

Former pro wrestler Tor Johnson was given something that he should never be given in a film…lines.  The early lines spoken by Tor were some of the worst delivered lines in the history of movies, right up there with “solar panels” by Alan Bagh in Birdemic: Shock and Terror.

Stock footage is used regularly and one scene of Bela Legosi is literally re-used five times during the film, if not more.

The film is just horrible, but it can provide a solid unintentional laugh if you understand what kind of film this is.  Like The Room, Plan 9 from Outer Space has a cult following that elevates the movie to something more than just a terribly created B-movie.

Again, watch the Tim Burton directed Ed Wood before you watch this travesty and it will provide you with more respect for the film than it probably deserves.  It is a terrible film, but it may end up on a list of best worst films ever.  I’ll do that list some day.

Until then…

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Plan 9 from Outer Space Poster

Ed Wood (1994)

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The October Fear Fest continues here at EYG with a movie that may not be specifically a horror movie, but a film that tells the story of the creation of horror movies… or horrible movies.  I find it fascinating how the movies that are about the making of the worst movies of all time turn out to be so memorable and wonderful.  We recently had The Disaster Artist, the amazing tale of the making of The Room with Tommy Wiseau and this film is Ed Wood, who made one of the worst films of all time in Plan 9 from Outer Space.

The fact is that these movies are so good because they are not about the actual movie they made, but because they focus on the characters that were involved in them, and Ed Wood features the story of the ever eccentric and always energetic Edward Wood Jr (Johnny Depp).  A young director, inspired by Orson Welles’ Citizen Kane, made movies his own way. Quick.  Without a bunch of costly reshoots or second takes.  And he filled the films with his friends.

One friend in particular was Bela Legosi (Martin Landau), the star of Universal Pictures’ Dracula.  Legosi had fallen on hard times later in his life when he met Wood, who was a huge fan.  Legosi was broke, addicted to morphine and living alone with his dogs.  Wood did not see this in the former star.  He saw the man he remembered and he did what he could to return Legosi to prominence.

The Oscar winning performance of Martin Landau as Bela Legosi is one of the best parts of Ed Wood.  Landau completely engulfs the Dracula star that you would probably wonder if this was actually Legosi himself.   The relationship between Legosi and Wood carries a chunk of this movie and every time Legosi called up Wood and said, “Help me, Eddie,” you get a lump in your throat.

Johnny Depp is so full of energy and brings a remarkable comedic performance as the cross-dressing director who was seemingly oblivious to his shortcomings as a director.  As ridiculous as he could be, Depp brought such a humanity to Wood, a man who cared for the people around him and just wanted to create something wonderful.

The film is just as funny as it is touching.  There are so many great scenes where you have to laugh.  The baptism scene where Bunny (Bill Murray), in response to the question of “Will you reject Satan” says “Sure” is just a riot.

There are many great performances here besides the aforementioned Depp, Landau and Murray.  Sarah Jessica Parker plays Ed Wood’s first girlfriend, a rotten woman who is really just in it for her own career.  Vincent D’Onofrio is brilliant in a cameo as Wood’s inspiration Orson Welles.  Professional wrestler George “The Animal” Steele plays Wood’s infamous actor Tor Johnson.  Patricia Arquette plays Kathy, the woman who becomes the second Mrs. Wood and stays at the side of Ed under all circumstances.  Their side plot of a love story is heart warming among the chaos surrounding them.

Directed by Tim Burton, Ed Wood is a love letter to the idea of film making, no matter how poorly those films are made.  The film is packed full with amazing performances from the talented cast, led by the tragic life of Bela Legosi through the eyes of Martin Landau.  This is one of my favorite performances from Johnny Depp as well.

The choice to film this biopic in black and white created such a perfect mood that the film carried through every scene.  It was beautiful to watch and a joy to experience.

I was inspired to rewatch this after the Top 10 Show episode about Movies set in LA and I am very glad I did.  I had not seen this in a long time, and I remembered liking it the first time, but now after this viewing, I find this to be a near masterpiece.  It is so good that it has inspired me to go watch Plan 9 from Outer Space…and not just the RiffTrax version of it either.  Now that is the power of a film.

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Ed Wood

The Wolf Man (1941)

The October Fear Fest rolls on with one of the Universal monsters, The Wolf Man.  The original film starring Lon Chaney in his iconic role of Larry Talbot,a man who returned to his home only to be attacked and bitten by a werewolf.

The story is simple and works well because of it.  There is not an attempt to make this more than what it is.  Larry is bitten (by Bela Legosi of all people) and, slowly begins to believe the legend being told him by the gypsies in the area.

There are some interesting ideas here, in particular how the mind can cause people to believe anything, including that they are being turned into a wolf.  This is a little more literal than just a mind trip, but the idea is solid.

The look of the Wolf Man is pretty good considering it is 1941.  The film keeps the use of the Wolf to a limited amount, wisely preventing the need for too much overuse.

“Even a man who is pure of heart, and says his prayers by night, may become a wolf when the wolfbane blooms, and the autumn moon is bright.”

This is repeated several times throughout the movie and works very well to help create the mood of the film.  It also is well constructed in ways of mood.

The Wolf Man is an excellent film that introduces an iconic monster to the world.  It is a lot of fun.

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The Mighty (1998)

The Mighty (1998)

I teach 7th grade literacy and we read the novel by Rodman Philbrick, Freak the Mighty.  So every year, after we finish the book, we watch the movie from 1998 based on the book, The Mighty.

This week, I watched it five times.

Once for each class.  So I figured I may as well add it to the Doc’s Classics Movies Reviewed section and take a break from the October Fear Fest.

I very much enjoy the film.  Some kids asked me about having to watch it with each class and I told them that there were enough scenes that I enjoyed that helped me get through.

Truthfully, a lot of this movie is cheesy.  It is nowhere near as good as the book, but the movie has one big thing going for it and that is a tremendous cast of actors.  Henry Dean Stanton and Gena Rowlands are the grandparents and they bring the goods in their scenes together.  One in particular really highlighted their skills as actors.

The Mighty tells the story of an unlikely friendship between Max (Elden Hensen, who I found out just now also plays Foggy Nelson in Netflix’s Daredevil.  MIND BLOWN!!!), and Kevin (Kieran Culkin).  Kevin has a disease that affects his ability to walk and grow properly and Max, the big and strong son of a convicted murderer, carries Kevin around on his shoulders as they go on adventures, “slaying dragons and saving damsels.”

Both boys do a great job in The Mighty.  Any time a movie has kids as its main leads takes a huge chance.  If those kids do not work, the film does not work.  Fortunately, Max and Kevin work very well.

The cast also has James Gandolfini as Max’s father Kenny Kane, Gillian Anderson (of X-Files fame) as Loretta Lee, and Meat Loaf as Iggy Lee.  All of these actors get a chance to shine and show exactly what they can do.

Then, Sharon Stone plays Gwen Dillon, Kevin’s doting mother who is dealing with the struggles of raising a child with a debilitating disease.  Sharon Stone is effervescent here and brought so much humanity to the Fair Gwen.

There were several scenes that were cheesy (most of which were added to the film and not included in the book), but none of the scenes stretched credibility enough to take me out of the film.  And there is some real emotion shown in the film, without feeling as if they are trying to manipulate the audience.

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The Mighty (1998)

An American Werewolf in London (1981)

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The Horror Binge-a-thon during the October Fear Fest continued with the John Landis film, An American Werewolf in London.  I have to say, I was not as impressed with this movie as I thought I would be.

I remember watching this years ago, but I wonder if I hadn’t watched the whole thing (or had seen an edited version on TV) because much of what was here was unfamiliar.

While trekking through the Moors of England, David (David Naughton) and Jack (Griffin Dunne) wind up being attacked by a werewolf.  Jack was killed, but David survived.  After several weeks in the hospital, David receives a surprise visit from the still deceased Jack who has some uncomfortable news. David is a werewolf and must kill himself to end the blood line of the wolf.

David believes that he is dreaming and meets up with a nurse(Jenny Agutter) from the hospital who lets him stay at her flat.  Unfortunately, time is running out as the moon is due to be full the next night.

I found this to be pretty disappointing.  The tones of the film vary wildly from scene to scene and I just never thought that the film found its footing.

When David is transforming into the werewolf, however, the film is frighteningly solid.  The transformation is painful, harsh and scary.  You feel for David at the time, wishing his pain would end.  The people he kill are all just glorified extras that you have no emotional connection to so their deaths do not overcome the feeling of connection you have for David.  Because of that, the end results feels empty.

The relationship with David and nurse Alex is strange and sudden.  There are a lot of feelings of rushing here as the film does not take its time on any major point.  The whole part with the Slaughtered Lamb and the patrons who refuse to say anything makes no sense whatsoever.  Why are they so secretive?  Why is it such a big issue when one tries to talk to the doctor?  It makes no sense.

Much of the plot is thin and does not pay off.  The film looks great, especially the part where the werewolf transformation is taking place.  I just did not buy the blend of horror and humor in this case.

overrated

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The House of Usher (1960)

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Next up in the October Fear Fest and the Horror binge-a-thon is a film based on the story written by one of my all-time favorite authors, EYG Hall of Famer Edgar Allan Poe.

House of Usher is based on the story “The Fall of the House of Usher,” one of Poe’s classic tales of Gothic horror and macabre.

After a long trip from Boston, Phillip (Mark Damon) arrives at the House of Usher to see his fiance Madeline (Myrna Fahey) but he is met at the door by the loyal servant of the Usher family, Bristol (Harry Ellerbe).  The servant attempts to sway Phillip into leaving, but he would have none of it, demanding to see Madeline and her brother Roderick (Vincent Price).  Phillip intends to take Madeline with him back to Boston.  Roderick insists that Madeline is sick and that the evil of the lineage of the House of Usher would not, could not continue. In fact, all of the Usher family has gone crazy and died horrible deaths and there is nothing that could be done about it.

How much the two remaining Usher family members were doomed to a curse compared to making this a self-fulfilling prophecy is a fascinating study here.  You feel for the plight of poor Madeline and you believe that Roderick truly believed the insanity was unavoidable.

Vincent Price is the horror-filled goodness here as this marked the first time he and director Roger Cormen teamed up for an Edgar Allan Poe tale.  They were really able to distinguish the tone of the story and made the terrors real.  I was rooting for Madeline and Phillip, even though I knew that Poe’s works never come to a happy end.

I love Edgar Allan Poe and his work very much.  I had not read “The Fall of the House of Usher” before this, but the film is supposedly one of the more faithful adaptations of his work.

For the time (1960) and the low reported budget, House of Usher looks great.  The look of the film adds to the overall creepy feel of the film.  The House itself brings a great deal of character to the film as well.

House of Usher works so well that you are disturbed and unhinged by what happens to the characters, despite the expectations that things would not go well.

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Scream 2 (1997)

More meta for the sequel which, as Randy says, is never as good as the original.

Scream 2 is very solid however, as the story takes a bit of a divergence while keeping the familiar beats that made the first Scream such a fun return to slasher movies.

Sydney (Neve Campbell) has moved on with her life after the events the year prior.  She has gone to college and she has a new boyfriend (Jerry O’Connell).  However, with the release of the movie based on Gail Weathers’ (Courteneny Cox) novel about the murders, the craziness starts up again with an apparent copycat killer once again stalking Sydney and her friends.

Scream 2 had a lot of fun playing with the suspects list, actually verbalizing every possible suspect from Deputy Dewey (David Arquette) to Randy (Jami Kennedy).

The sequel was also not afraid to push boundaries a great deal as they wind up killing off Randy inside the news van in a graphic and bloody manner.  This showed that anyone was in danger and there were major stakes to be had.  I mean, if the rules guy himself could bit it, then any of our favorite survivors could be next.

Wes Craven returned only one year after Scream opened to create this effective sequel.  It makes one believe that he must have had the idea already in place for them to crank this out as quickly as they did.

There was a welcome addition to the cast here with Liev Schreiber as Cotton Weary, the man who Sydney had incorrectly accused of her mother’s murder originally.  Cotton spent a year in jail only to be exonerated by Gail’s book.  Cotton, however, was looking to cash in on his fifteen minutes of fame and he wanted Sydney to help him do that.  She was not exactly jumping for joy over the chance.  Schreiber brought a different vibe to the film with Cotton and play an important piece in the overall narrative.

So as I continue the October Fear Fest and the Horror Binge-a-thon today, Scream 2 is an excellent sequel that captures what everyone liked about the first one with some well deserved twists and unexpected plot points to keep even the biggest horror fans guessing.

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Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007)

What’s better to fit into the horror genre than a musical?

Wait…I didn’t mean it like that.

The next film in the October Fear Fest and the horror binge-a-thon is the stage play Sweeney Todd, which was adapted for the big screen starring Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter as two of the worst protagonists to ever grace the cinema world.

After being banished by an evil judge, Benjamin Barker returns to London under the name Sweeney Todd (Johnny Depp) to reunite with his lost love and daughter.  When the truth of the situation confronts him, he quickly changes his plan from reunion to revenge.  Meeting up with Ms. Lovett (Helena Bonham Carter), the pair concoct a plan for Todd to get his revenge on the people of London, to murder the evil Judge Turpin (Alan Rickman) and to hide their bloody rampage inside Ms. Lovett’s meat pies.

Directed by the stylish Tim Burton with songs from Stephen Sondheim, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street is a blood-soaked good time.

The most interesting thought experiment is trying to decide exactly which of these characters are the worst.  Sweeney Todd has the tragic background and you are meant to identify with him as the hero, but he is anything but.  His descent into madness had happened well before he had returned to London and he has basically become a serial killer.  Judge Turpin was a horrendous man who abused the power of his position for his own whims, taking Lucy (Laura Michelle Kelly) from Benjamin and raping her.  He also took the Barkers’ daughter as his own ward.  If that is not enough, we get a scene of him sentencing a young boy to hang from the neck for the crime of stealing.  Ms. Lovett manipulated Sweeney Todd into what she wanted to aid in her own success with her meat pies.  She did not blink at all when the dead bodies started falling into her bake shop.

Ms. Lovett did show some feelings for Toby (Ed Sanders), the boy who was working for the Italian barber Pirelli (Sacha Baron Cohen).  However, once Toby started asking questions, she locked him in the cellar and brought Sweeney Todd down to, supposedly, get rid of him.

These rotten people all have extremely satisfying endings as Burton spared no scene of horror.  Ms. Lovett, in particular, gets a gruesome finale.

The music is wonderful.  I love the songs and the performances, even by the so-so singers, are perfect.  The song, “Little Priest” is one of my favorite songs of the whole piece.

Sweeney Todd is dark and comedic.  It is brutal and violent.  It blends all of this together seamlessly and creates a visually and thoroughly engaging film.  Depp and Carter are wonderful as the criminal duo and Alan Rickman is as fantastic as always with his dirtbag judge.

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The Mothman of Point Pleasant (2017)

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The next film for the October Fear Fest during the horror binge-a-thon is the documentary by Seth Breedlove and Lyle Blackburn of the Small Town Monsters crew that deals with the story of the Mothman.

Back in the 1960s, there were multiple sightings of a strange, birdman like creature in the town and surrounding areas of Point Pleasant, West Virginia.  There were sightings on a regular basis for 13 months, which included plenty of unidentified flying objects and strange lights in the sky as well.  The legend of the sightings included some who claimed the Mothman as a prophet of doom, even going as far as saying that it was seen perched on the Silver Bridge, which collapsed soon after in 1967.

The documentary was well done, specifically in the way of creating a mood in the viewer.  The music, the stylish manner, the coincidences really do a fine job of setting the feeling for the viewer.  Many of the re-enactments of certain major events were well done and helped to make the film creepy.  However, there is not a really deep investigation into the mystery though.  It basically gives the information of the eye-witnesses and tells the story.  There is little to no counter points shown to balance the story.  It takes the assumption that this was something weird and goes from there.

It was an interesting documentary to watch, but it did not truly provide much real substantiated material from anyone other than a town that holds Mothman festivals.

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Image result for the mothman of point pleasant movie poster