Horror. Worldview. Faith.

I Am Second – Anne Rice

I Am Second – Anne Rice

Mar 29, 2010

Please follow and like us:

Friday the 13th – Review

Friday the 13th – Review

Mar 28, 2010

reviewed by Hallo
directed by Sean S. Cunningham, 1980
______________________

One of the goals of The Blackest Eyes is to review some of our favorite series in their entirety.  After all, what kind of horror review site would we be if we did not provide our thoughts on classic series such as Halloween, Friday the 13th, and A Nightmare on Elm Street.  The flip side of that coin is that we want to be in the business of reviewing both old and new films alike, so it may take us a little time to get through all the films of our favorite series.  Having said that, here is a review of the first film in one of the most profitable franchises in horror history, Friday the 13th.

Not surprisingly, Friday the 13th was one of the first horror movies to capture my mind and turn me toward the love for the horror genre I have today.  I can remember some of those first films so vividly, some good and some not so good.  Films like Halloween, Maniac, Pieces, Friday the 13th, Hellraiser, Nosferatu, and The Exorcist all were on my “first to watch” list.  Since those early days I have watched Friday the 13th countless times and for the most part have the script memorized.  It, like Halloween, frequently visits my dvd player and I find a strange bit of comfort just to have it playing in the background.  The film starts incredibly slow.  The first 30 minutes are pretty much pointless except to allow some town folk to speak of the curse of “Camp Blood” and to allow Crazy Ralph to make an appearance (he is worth it)!  We get to meet the ill-fated camp counselors and there is some attempt, albeit very little, to establish a report amongst a few of them.  We notice a pretty strong connection with Alice and Bill, although the former is already involved in a complicated romantic relationship with Steve Christy, the mastermind behind re-opening Camp Crystal Lake.  Jack (Kevin Bacon) and Marcie are a couple, leaving Brenda and Ned as the loners.  Officer Dorf adds a pretty good bit of humor during what is otherwise a pretty slow-moving beginning as we wait expectantly for the night to arrive.

Sure enough, counselors start dying.  However, unlike John Carpenter’s Halloween, Friday the 13th decided to actually show the deaths with a certain amount of gore.  And, when we don’t see the actual killing itself, as in the case of Ned, Brenda, and Bill, we still get to see the gruesome remains of their untimely departure at a later time in the film.  Ned is shown above Jack and Marcie on the bunk beds, Brenda is thrown through a window at the end of the film, and poor Bill is pierced to a door with multiple arrows.  The kill scenes are really not all that scary as much as they are engaging.  We can thank Friday the 13th for all the subsequent slasher films that tried to have “cooler” kill scenes.  Of course, when you keep trying to outdo the last movie, or even the last kill, ultimately you have movies that are just plain stupid.  Although Halloween certainly inspired Friday the 13th, the latter had its own bit of influence on the Halloween franchise.  Watch Halloween 2 and you will notice more Friday the 13th-esque kills.  It is interesting to note that in the original Friday the 13th there were 9 deaths.  Fast forward to Jason Takes Manhattan and there are 19 deaths.  It is indicative of what the series, and the genre to a certain degree, turned into.

There are some flat out creepy scenes in Friday the 13th.  One of the most creepy for me is when Brenda, from inside her cabin, hears the fainest of voices calling out from the woods.  As it gets louder, she notices it is a child’s voice calling for help, which is a nice foreshadowing of things to come.   So, out into the woods she goes as the voice gets louder, pleading for help.  We never hear from poor Brenda again.  But it is Betsy Palmer as Mrs. Voorhees that makes the film.  She delivers one of the most spine chilling performances in horror history, for a moment coming across as a ray of hope and safety, but quickly turning into the most horrific scare of the film.  “Jason should have been watched, every minute!”  We, like Alice, know that things are taking a turn for the worse.  We discover that this is Jason’s mom, a former camp attendee who drown in Crystal Lake while counselors were busy with other things that involve no clothing.   And the final 10 minutes of the film are worth the entire movie as Mrs. Voorhees hunts down a tired, scared, and fragile Alice.  Finally, who can ever forget the final scene of this movie?  The greatest “gotcha” of all time (rivaled only by the ending of Carrie).

Memorable moments in Friday the 13th include that whacked out song we hear more than once, both time in a cafe of sorts.  It goes something like “oh please, don’t let, your heart, belong to anyone. . .”  Of course, you have to have seen the film 3 million times to pick up on that one.  Director Sean Cunningham builds tension in a big way as we watch Alice, at the end of the film, make a cup of tea that takes what seems like 15 minutes.  She methodically pours sugar, etc, and we are the whole time aware that a crazy killer is out there, but Alice is clueless.  I love that part of the film.   No music, no nothing except Alice making tea.  Brilliant!  Henry Manfredini delivers a memorable score that stays with the series to a certain degree.

The original Friday the 13th has become a caricature of the horror genre and in many ways those concepts are unwarranted.  It is a film that is often times scoffed at for using so many “cliched horror elements.”  The problem with that way of thinking is that Friday the 13th invented those cliched elements.  You can’t fault the movie that did something so remarkable it made everyone else jump on the bandwagon.  Thus, when Friday the 13th was made, those cliched elements (such as people getting clipped off one by one in the woods) didn’t exist yet.  Also, Jason does not kill a single person in this film.  Another major fact that goes virtually unknown even by supposed horror fans.  Even my boy John Stanley who wrote “Creature Features”, the greatest horror review book, mistakenly credits Jason with the death in his review.  Thanks to the Wes Craven movie Scream, a certain generation of folks know that Jason didn’t commit the murders.  But it still goes widely unrealized.

Obviously, this movie gets a big thumbs up.  It certainly isn’t perfect and has many slow points.  But, it is a classic and a must see for anyone interested in the genre.

Please follow and like us:

The Crazies – Review

The Crazies – Review

Mar 16, 2010

reviewed by JB
directed by Breck Eisner, 2010
___________________________

First off I would like to thank my wife for attending this feature with me. She hates “my kind of movies,” so thanks baby. Now on to the presentation. The Crazies is apparently a remake of a 1973 Romero film by the same name. I myself have never heard of it, but I plan to try and rent it at a later date. I have read other written reviews of the ’73 flick and it was seemingly very politically driven ( more later ). The current version stars Timothy Olyphant as a sheriff of a small farming town. Radha Mitchell plays his doctor wife and Joe Anderson plays his loyal deputy. These are the characters the movie focuses on through the course of their perils. The opening scene shows the peaceful little town on the first day of baseball season and the town is enjoying the game when all of a sudden like five minutes into the movie the events get rolling. A man supposedly the town drunk, which we learn later, comes out of left field, literally, with a shotgun. The sheriff is forced to confront him all the while noticing that he appears drunk or not right with a crazy look in his eyes. Just like in the trailer the sheriff shoots him dead. The autopsy comes back and the guy is not drunk and the mystery begins. More people start to act ” not right ” and one man is seen by the doctor. He then proceeds to repeat himself to the doctor so she wants to send him to the closest big city (remember this) Cedar Rapids for a cat scan. This is where things start to go nuts. The man who saw the doctor indeed has problems and the first attempted scare happens. Really there are some creepy moments in this film that have you tense, but the scares are hard to come by. Which this is a zombie/infected flick and to me they are more about gore (more on this later also) and tension and the chase or escape moments than scares anyway. I suppose the genre of HORROR spans all of this and not just films with scares even though the film has several weak attempts at some. From here on out more townsfolk keep doing odd things, and out of the blue on a gut hunch the sheriff decides something isn’t right. Then some guys are out in the swamp of Ogden Marsh and find a parachute and the dead pilot submerged in the bog. The sheriff and his deputy investigate, and the deputy recalls a local hearing a big crash in the night so off they go to investigate. Turns out there was a plane crash in the marsh, and in one of the cooler visual scenes in the movie, they set out and find the plane in the murky water of the bog. This is where the movie lets you on to the big secret. The government plane had some stuff on it and it’s bad for everybody. I have read in other reviews, as mentioned before, that the original has a politically charged theme in regard to government. This is that tie in, but the 2010 version doesn’t take it that far. They let you know through the movie that big brother is watching, but it’s not an anti gov. movie. As for the comparison I will let you know when I see the original.

After the plane is found the sheriff and his deputy determine that the plane is contaminating the water that the town drinks and that is what is causing everybody to become CRAZY. The government finally comes in and tries to segregate everybody according to who has a fever. Apparently this is the first sign of the infection. Earlier on the viewer is made aware that the sheriff’s wife is pregnant, which in turn cause her to have a fever and hence she is assumed infected and taken from her husband. After this there is another one of the creepy scenes. If you watched any of the trailers you saw the person dragging the pitchfork through the hospital, well this is it. I was pretty excited to see some good gore here, but it was a little of a letdown. I was expecting a crazy dude just going off and stabbing person after person and blood oozing, guts dripping, eyeballs flying, arms loped off, brains spilling—– sorry I got a little carried away, but the point I am trying to make while the scene was well shot and kinda creepy, I expected gore. In my opinion zombie movies need some gore and this version of The Crazies didn’t have enough for me. From here on out the movie is more of a survival story where the sheriff has to save his wife and escape. The couple along with the trusty deputy run around, mainly from the government and some crazies here and there, and have a neat little run in with some crazies at a car wash. They are trying to get to the government exit point where they plan on hopping onto a bus and going happily off into the sunset. More problems arise and if this review is sounding a little redundant that is because that is how this movie goes. Find a safe place and whoa, wait it aint safe here. Anyway without spoiling the ending which isn’t all that much of a twist, the sheriff and his wife escape and the loyal deputy makes a not so dramatic-dramatic choice.

I’m not sure what that is, but see the movie and you will understand that you saw it coming. The last frame of the movie shows the sheriff and his wife walking off into the sunset and a government satellite picks up the couple heading to Cedar Rapids and declares an emergency quarantine protocol. If you see the movie you will see that that is going to be bad news.

All in all this was not a bad movie. I would have personally liked to see more gore, which I think by the reviews of the ’73 original it has more. There was nothing new or ground breaking in it either. Timothy Olyphant is one of my favorite actors with a great role in Deadwood as coincidentally the sheriff, and as agent 47 in Hitman. Here he does a pretty good job, but there wasn’t a whole lot to work with as far as script. As for the costars, all did a good job being scared, frightened, surprised, but you could have put me and my wife in the roles and the outcome could have been sufficient. I put the mediocrity of this movie on the director whose vision of the movie was different than what I would have preferred, which is kinda strange in that Romero was a producer on the film. In the end I would save this as a renter on a cold October night.

Please follow and like us:

The Burrowers – Review

The Burrowers – Review

Mar 13, 2010

reviewed by Hallo
directed by J.T. Petty, 2008
______________________

I had never heard of J.T. Petty or his 2008 movie The Burrowers.  After watching his film I will now be watching him closely because I think we have a talented director who will be given projects of greater weight and importance in the years ahead.  The Burrowers is a Lionsgate film that was destined to be a “straight-to-dvd” release before filming was ever completed.  First, the horror genre is not short of soil-inhabiting creatures who wreak havoc on unsuspecting humans.  Once Tremors was made, this genre could only go downhill.  Second, the film is shot in the 19th century Old West.  Horror blended with the Old West is an almost sure-fire way to destroy a potentially good horror movie.  With those two potential short-comings in mind, the movie succeeds on almost every level.

The movie begins by providing the setting of a love interest between Fergus Coffey (Karl Geary) and Maryanne Stewart (Jocelin Donahue).  The fairytale is quickly disrupted by a massive disturbance in the middle of the night that leaves several of the Stewart family dead and others missing.  Coffey and others, including long time Indian killers John Clay (Clancy Brown) and William Parcher (William Mapother), believe that a ruthless band of Indians have taken off with the family.  They form a posse and set out to find the guilty party.  They are joined for a while by a military campaign that demonstrates just how brutal they can be to the Native Americans when they want something from them.  It is difficult to know whether or not this is a political statement against our government for the history of violence against Indians, but it nevertheless makes the military look like the “bad guys” in this film.

Because the brutality gets out of control, the smaller posse decides to set out on their own.  They begin piecing together the truth that something other than Indians are behind the savage killings.  After a run in with some Indians, the posse discover that they are dealing with creatures who have existed for a very, very long time.  They used to live off buffalo, but since the white man pretty much destroyed all of them (another attack on the white man), the creatures turned to humans.  Their method of killing is harsh.  They poison their victims, paralyzing them, and then bury them just under the ground so their bodies will decompose, but still be living.  After the organs have softened, they creatures return for their meal.  Pretty sick.  And awesome.

Well, the story continues to build tension until Mapother, the lead man in the posse, is infected and used as bait by some Indians.  In what amounts to a pretty gruesome scene of the creatures eating Mapother alive (think of the end of Day of the Dead), Coffey discovers that sunlight is their nemesis.  Unfortunately, by the time they figure things out, the military has once again entered the picture, hung the two Indians who were in the area and still alive, and called it a victory.   The movie ends on a very depressing note with the creatures still at large.  This easily gives way to a potential sequel.

This is a beautifully shot film.  The scenes of the western landscape and 19th century atmosphere are as good as any western.  Petty takes what could be a recipe for disaster and turns it into a thought-provoking, easy on the eyes, gem of a horror movie.  The creatures, once you actually see them (which doesn’t happen until 3/4 into the film), are actually not that big of a let down, which I was certainly bracing myself for.  The action moves slowly, but still at a good pace and the method of killing is unique and fresh, especially for the typical creature under the ground movie.  The origin of the creatures is never given, which actually adds to the film, and we are given just enough information to know they have a history in the land and have been seen before.  This differs from many creature films, such as Tremors, where massive underground creatures appear and have never been seen.

Overall, I highly recommend The Burrowers.  Good acting, beautiful shooting, and unique elements make this a great watch.  If you have On Demand, take a look for it under the Free Movies section.  You will be happy you did!

Please follow and like us:

The Blackest Eyes Honors Corey Haim

The Blackest Eyes Honors Corey Haim

Mar 10, 2010

I feel a weird kind of emptiness today after learning about the death of Corey Haim.  For many of us who grew up in the 80’s, the “two Coreys” were a regular part of our lives and vocabulary.  Upon reflection about Haim’s childhood career, it seems that he was in many more hit 80’s movies than he really was.  Nevertheless, those few movies that he did create made a lasting impression and caused millions of movie goers to fall in love with the mannerisms and person of Corey Haim.

Haim is obviously most well known for his 1987 role as “Sam” in the hit movie The Lost Boys.  Regardless of your take on The Lost Boys (its a great vampire movie, but no where near the best of the genre as it is sometimes labeled), the movie teems with quotable line after quotable line.  Virtually every line in the movie is memorable.  Add to that a great soundtrack and great performances, Haim had a great hit on his hands.  I always enjoyed the relationship between Michael and Sam as brothers.  And Haim’s dog Nanook is one heck of a great name.

Fans might not be as familiar with Haim’s role in Silver Bullet (which predated The Lost Boys) and Watchers, both horror films.  So, for his work in this genre that we love so much and for being a character that we will quote for years and years to come, we say thank you.

Please follow and like us: