Archive for Horror

Hide and Seek

Posted in Entertainment, Writing with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on November 7, 2016 by urbannight

notebookI seem to write all my non-move topics in my car while driving.  I then get to a computer or a notebook and I can’t remember very much about it.  It figures.  I had a lot to say about Hillary and Trump and the strangest election I’ve seen in my 46 years.  But then it made me too depressed so I ended up avoiding that topic.

I was trying to get a bunch of boxes out of my way yesterday so I re-watched a bunch of movies.  One was Hide and Seek with Robert Di Nero and Dakota Fanning.  Their acting is brilliant.  You almost never see a child actor/actress who can perform to the level of the great performers and she did so the first time she was placed in front of a camera.  Or so it seems.  Talk about precocious.  I heard a reporter talk about her as if the Twilight movies are what made her famous and I wanted to slap the reporter silly.  Okay, the reporter was very young.  But that doesn’t excuse her for not knowing that Dakota Fanning was great long before she took part in the Twilight movies.

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A Young Dakota Fanning

It is interesting re-watching this movie once you know the twist.  Dakota Fanning’s performance, which was great to begin with, becomes even more nuanced.  The writing on this film isn’t brilliant.  And it is very easy to figure out the so called ‘twist’ early on.  One, Dakota is to tiny to have killed an adult.  Two, all the flash backs are happening to her father and are of an event at which she was not present.  Three, her strange reactions when talking to her father about Charlie.

This story is that a shrink’s wife killed herself and his daughter is blaming him and acting out and she creates an imaginary friend who is responsible for all the bad things that she is doing.  ‘Charlie’ goes from fun to scary very quickly.  We actually never see the ‘fun’ Charlie and just have to the daughter’s words for it.  The attempt to make it look like the neighbor grieving over his daughter’s death might be Charlie was a very clumsy attempt.  and therefore one I was unable to buy into so I figured out who Charlie was fairly quickly.  Although, like I said before, it could have been Dakota’s excellent acting against De Niro may have been what gave it away.

I own this DVD and I’ve watched it 3 times now.  This would not be a film that one could watch this many times if anyone else played these two parts.  De Niro and Fanning really carry this film and make a predictable film turn into an entertaining movie.

Deadfall Trail (2009)

Posted in Entertainment, Movies, Writing with tags , , , , , , , , on October 15, 2016 by urbannight

I was actually going to do a short post about the view from my new apartment.  Only I got my computer set up instead of taking any photos.  Longest I’ve not had my computer turned on.  Over a month.  It will probably be another month until I can get internet access.

So that means another horror movie.

Not unless you want to hear stories about unpacking; like how it took me 3 weeks to find my cork screw so I could get into a bottle of wine and why I didn’t want to buy another one since I had bought one before moving only to find my missing one while packing and I didn’t want to buy a third one.

First warning is that there is no trail in this film.  They are doing an extreme wilderness survival trip.  They take nothing but a single bottle of water.  Paul is a bit younger and has never done this before.  That causes Julian to completely flip about that.  His over reaction makes no sense.  Eventually, there is the implication that he is suffering PTSD due to his war experience and that these trips help him deal with it.  But having someone how is just learning about this survival stuff was more than he could handle. But hey, everyone needs to learn sometime, right?

The movie isn’t a strong movie, not a lot of action but there is a lot of arguing.  It is a slow burn.  But Paul shows he

julians-meltdown

Julian’s Meltdown

has guts and a willingness to do what it takes and yet that doesn’t really help any as far as Julian is concerned.  He his blinded by the fact that Paul has no experience and can’t get past it.  They finally reach their goal location.

 

John is their mutual friend.  John is the one keeping the peace and bridging the gap.  So of course John suffers a serious injury and they have to work together.  This does not go well.  Things get much worse after John dies or is killed, depending on if you believe Paul or Julian.  I know where I stand.  Julian continues to devolve while Paul proved that he had what it takes for extreme wilderness survival.  But this was his first time and he isn’t as good as Julian.

The surprise twist at the ending really isn’t a surprise.  What is a surprise is that there are supposedly two women in the film.  John’s wife, whom I don’t remember ever seeing on screen, and Mother Earth, whom I also don’t remember ever seeing.  I’m guessing I either missed it when I was stitching on my projected and I looked down or their parts ended up on the cutting room floor.

While not a great show and sometimes a bit boring, it did keep me watching because I wanted to know who would get out of the wilderness.  I wasn’t really happy with the ending but it was what I expected. (Think Lord of the Flies.  That might be too much of a spoiler.)  The acting was better than I expected.  I didn’t think it was going to maintain my interest and it did.  So give it a try.  So long as you watch it for free.  For goodness sake, don’t pay anything for it.

 

 

Frozen in Fear, 2001, Meh

Posted in Movies, Writing with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 13, 2016 by urbannight

Another horror film I watched was this little horror film.  Turns out it was also made for t.v.  This surprises me because of the scene with nudity.  Showtime, yes, but I wouldn’t expect it on Lifetime.  Maybe because I don’t like Lifetime.  Television for women, my ass.  As a woman, I think the programs on that station are terrible.  It would seem to indication that the people who control the programing for the station think that all women want to see are horrible, depressing shows where bad things happen and there are no good resolutions or happy endings to anything.

This film is pretty typical.  Nothing new and exciting about the plot.  Mom is an artist.  Encourages ice sculpture. Young boy walks in on his mother with another man.  He runs out as Dad is coming in from fishing.  Next thing you see, Dad kills Mom.  Boy ends up being raised with his cousin, by his uncle. Boy ends up being an artist, a painter.

For the most part, the performances were sub-par.  The supporting actress, whose name I am trying to find as IMDB only list three of the cast members, gave a better performance than the lead actress, Catherine Oxenberg.  The supporting actress as Ellina McCormick.  Apparently, this movie was also called The Flying Dutchman.  That is a very strange title since there is nothing mentioned in the film about The Flying Dutchman at all.

Catherine Oxenberg’s part as the lead character came across as blah.  She phoned it in, as they say.  Ellina McCormick, who plays her best friend and business partner has far less screen time and yet manages a better performance.  The person who really shines in this, and makes it worth watching, is Eric Roberts.  He doesn’t speak for most of the film, not until the end.  So he had to deliver his dialogue through body language and expressions.  And despite the fact that he is obviously the villain, he is dang good-looking and oddly sexy with all his not talking going on.  That isn’t rally a spoiler since it is terribly obvious he is the villain and the attempts to make it look like either his cousin or uncle come off so heavy-handed as to be unbelievable.

The movie is predictable but the pacing is good and Eric’s performance is well done and that is about all that keeps you sitting through the film.  I gave it a 1.5 on Rotten Tomatoes and a 3 on IMDB.  If it weren’t for Eric Roberts, I would have given it a 1 and a 2 on each of those sites.  While typical and uninspired, the story was not a bad story, it is the acting and the direction that make this film a bad film.  Good acting and good directing could have elevated a fairly ordinary script.  The up-side is that I did watch through to the end.  It wasn’t so bad that I had to turn it off.  It is watchable and for that reason alone I can recommend it for a b-horror movie night.

The Triangle (and Ghost Ship by default) contains spoilers

Posted in Movies, Writing with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 12, 2016 by urbannight

the_triangle_filmThis movie was good, if not great, so I wondered how I never heard of it.  Turns out it was made for T.V.  I didn’t realize they were still doing that.  Even if this was from 2001.  I was 31.  It might have been right before the time I really started to watch horror movies.  I watched a few growing up, but usually only after they made it to cable.  And we never had cable consistently when I growing up.  It was not something I got my folks to take me too.  Not like R rated sci-fi films.  I could usually get my parents to take me to those.  Even if my mom didn’t seem to understand the fantasy ones.

It reminded me of Ghost Ship and it turns out that Ghost Ship was a big screen remake of this film.  Which explains a lot.  The Triangle is slightly less ‘haunted’ than Ghost Ship and certainly less gory.  Not that Ghost Ship had a lot of gore.  I don’t like gory films and it does have a few scenes that made me flinch.  The Triangle had a few flaws that were certainly overcome in the Ghost Ship.  (FYI, Ghost Ship is one of my favorite movies.  I love ghost stories.  I think I’m going to watch it again this week.)

The Triangle is about three friends who go on their yearly vacation together.  Only this year, the one wants to bring his fiancee.  Luke Perry is Stu and his Fiancee is Julie.  The actress playing Julie is the weakest acting in the movie.  Stu is trying to hide the fact that he is flat broke from everyone.  This is why they are on a broken down fishing boat instead of the one he claims he originally booked.  Their friend, Gus, played by David Hewlett, is their pal with a less than ideal life who can’t really afford this year’s fancier trip and so his friends were helping him along this year.  Well, Tommy for the most part, seeing as Stu is broke.  Tommy is played by Dan Cortese, the only actor I’m not so familiar with.  Tommy and Gus accidentally stumble onto a Voodoo ritual and Gus tries to take a selfie with it behind him.  One of the participants curses them and when Gus looks at the photo there is nothing behind him but an empty room.  Gus is the one who was also obsessed with the Bermuda Triangle and was researching a missing ship just before they left on vacation.

This curse is what sets the stage for what happens next.  It is a very weak link.  They could have done the movie without that scene and it would have been the same.  It really added nothing to the film.  If anything, it took away from it.  Gus’s interest with the Bermuda Triangle and research into it in general would have been enough.  It would have been a tighter premises.  Ghost ship has a salvage crew come across a missing derelict.  They simplified the premises and it worked far better.

We have two more characters of note.  Captain Morgan (Dorian Harewood) and Charlie (Olivia d’Abo).  Captain Morgan (what a poor choice of names, everyone will think rum) has a very run down fishing boat and Charlie is the daughter of his friends who died and so he looked out for her for half her life.  She often ends up acting as his first mate when he would get charters.

The movie establishes that Tommy and Charlie have nightmares that turn out to be about the ship.  While Gus was originally obsessed with the Triangle and the ship, it turns out to be Stu who becomes obsessed about the ship and getting the treasure.  While the connection between Tommy and Charlie seems to flow and they have good chemistry, the chemistry between Stu and Julie was nonexistent.  And then the writers have Stu do some strange things.  He kills Julie because she wants him to stop looting the money on the ship and to leave the ship.  How she expects to do that when the fishing boat is gone at this point also doesn’t make any sense.  He also goes down to the engine room and kills Captain Morgan who is trying to get the ship running again.  How does he thing he can take the money anyplace where he can actually benefit from it without the ship running?  He doesn’t kill Gus.  The ghosts manage that because of his heart condition.  He then tries to kill Charlie.  The implication is that he is actually a former passenger who was mentally unstable and killed his wife before the ship disappeared.  It is also implied that Charlie is the reincarnation of the wife.  This might explain Charlie’s dreams but not Tommy’s dreams.  Tommy’s connection is never explained.

These weaknesses keep it from being a much superior film.  If the writers has been given the opportunity to tidy that up and tighten the script, this would have been a far better film.  As it is, it was entertaining and a sufficient film.  If forced to rate it, I would give it a 7 out of 10.  I started to say 6 of 10 but I think it was better than half way.  A 5 means ‘blah’ but not horrible.  It was good, just not great.  Worth the time it take to watch it.  As long as you didn’t have to pay much to do so.  (I got it on that combo pack of horror movies I got with Storm of the Century for $3.75.)  It is great for watching while working on projects.

 

 

 

The Month for Horror Movies

Posted in Movies, Movies and Theatre, Writing with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 5, 2016 by urbannight
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Storm of the Century

It is that time of year again.  I love Halloween.  I also like horror movies and I am strangely picky in some ways while being relaxed in other areas.  I read some movie blogs and sometimes post my own movie reviews and mine are not as pretty as others nor do I have a systematic format that I use.  Maybe I should think about that some day.  Not today.

The first movie I watched this October was Steven King’s Storm of the Century.  I bought it from one of those cheap movie bins for 3.75$.  It was a great find for 3.75$.  It was quite good.  I kept asking myself how I managed to miss this in 1999 and how come I never saw it since.

Tim Daly did a great job as a constable of a tiny town.  The town being so small that the town manager and equivalent of sheriff/chief of police actually don’t have enough official work to pay them full time that they have to have full time day jobs as well is kind of amusing.  Since the constable also owns the grocery, it is mighty handy that the ‘jail’ is in back of it with a joining door.  What would happen if the constable wasn’t the owner of the store as well?  Or am I the only one who thinks of these things?  And maybe I missed it but the constable was really handy with the Bible quotes and I never figured out why.

Colm Feore was really creepy as the villain.  They managed to do a great deal with minimal makeup.  Occasionally his eyes went solid black.  The animal-like teeth are particularily effective.  It wasn’t the normal vampire type monster teeth. It is what a human mouth might look like if dog teeth were set in a human jaw.  The weird steel-like coloring made it more disturbing.  The make-up to make him look ancient was pretty good.  But he was more scary with his normal looks since he had such a smooth face and even complexion.  The only thing that was odd was that it is suggested that he was ‘Legion’ from the Bible but Legion was a whole collection of demons as the man who was possessed was possessed by more than one.  Yet Feore’s character seemed to be one being that was once human and that he was a representation of something that was passed down from one person to another since the earliest times of mankind.  But he is never clearly explained.  The ‘Legion’ explanation was weak in my opinion.

The town manager really annoys me the most.  He acts like he owns the town rather than being an elected official.  He acts like he owns the town and that his word is law and that he owns the people in charge of the actual law.  The pissed me off and I thought he was the least believable character in the entire film.

The rest of the story is good, although character development is weak.  I understand that by taking so long to finally tell the people what he wants all the while scaring people by telling their secrets and controlling people to cause them to kill themselves or others helps whip the town into a fearful frenzy, I found it still unbelievable that they would agree so easily to just hand over a child.  This was the least believable part of the film.  But the aftermath voice over that tells what happens in the years after is what really makes this film.  After spending three nights with these characters and having the time between episodes to think about things, that follow up at the end of the film is perhaps the most important part.  We see some of the real fallout of the towns actions.  And I did watch it in three spaced out sessions rather than in one sitting.  More by accident that a deliberate plan.

I will watch this again.  It was good and enjoyable.  Very few horror films enter the realm of ‘great’.  So I never expect that level out of any horror movie.

 

 

 

Altar, the ending, warning, there are spoilers.

Posted in Writing with tags , , , , , , , , , on May 2, 2015 by urbannight

Altar is a Gothic haunted house movie.  It borrows heavily from other movies and is predictable.  The ending is a bit odd but I think it makes sense.

Once upon a time, a man who practiced alchemy was very much in love with his wife and while performing a Rosicrucian ritual, he kills her.  Many years later, they both haunt the house.  Although it was quiet when it was a B&B.

A family moves in to restore the place.  and once the sealed off rooms are opened the haunting start.  The ghost of Radcliffe indicates the death of his wife was an accident.  But he seems to be attempting to possess the husband and recreate the murder using the wife.

I think perhaps Mrs. Radcliffe’s death really was an accident.  As the crucial hour comes near, he is waiting and the wife is out cold and in place and the altar stone hanging above her starts slipping from the ceiling.  I think it had come loose in its sockets and slipped out and he Radcliffe never meant to murder his wife.

The children race in and save the day, pulling mom from the mural on the floor.  Mom and daughter try to get to the fire escape on the roof while the son has dropped some balls for Dad to stubble on.  The trap doesn’t work, Mom is on the roof.  Dad is looking down at the fountain in the yard.  The fountain where Radcliffe died after slipping from the roof.

Mom slams the window on Dad causing Dad to fall back just when the altar stone crashes into the floor.  Daughter tosses holy water in his face.  Mom is saved, Dad is back to normal.  No one died.  Everyone things everything is over.  They call a cab and are driving from the house.

Mom is in the back seat with the kids, Dad is up front with the driver.  Mom starts cracking her knuckles.  Just like the lady ghost did.  The children look over at her hands and see a huge, old-fashioned wedding ring of amber.  She just looks at them.  Dad looks back and puts his hand over Mom’s hands and says, I love you, Petal.  Radcliffe’s pet name for his wife.  He then just looks at the kids.  The kids look at their parents in horror and the movie ends.

HMMMM.

I think that Radcliffe was never trying to recreate the ‘murder’ of his wife.  I think he was trying to recreate the ritual and finish it without her dying.  So they could be together again.  I think that because they managed to save mom and everyone was there at the right time and no one died, that somehow the ghost succeeded.  And he and his wife would now be able to live on again, together.

Where that leaves the kids and what happens to them is an entirely different story which we will never know, since it was more amusing to end the show with them looking terrified as the taxi heads away from the house and back to London.

The movie was not bad if not brilliant.  The secondary characters were a bit of wasted space.  The contractor that has hardly any screen time before quitting and the ghost whisperer that is hardly there either.  The other secondary characters only had lines on the telephone and no screen time at all.

If you like ghost stories, it was nice to see a Gothic one done for a change.  Worth watching.  If you want more blood and guts in your horror, you probably won’t want to watch this one.

HP Lovecraft and Religion, a few thoughts as I drove to work.

Posted in Literature, Writing with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on January 22, 2015 by urbannight

HP LovecraftHPL often makes the religious most susceptible to madness in his stories. They turn into absolute wrecks when confronted with things out of the ordinary. These things are not supernatural in nature and the person’s religious actions to protect them do not work. His creatures are natural but either ancient, alien, or trans-dimensional. So he is basing his monsters/creatures on science (or science fiction) that we don’t understand. The implication is that religious people are weak minded to start with.
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Yet many times he has people who were more rational and non-religious go to religious authority figures for help when strange things start to happen to them or around them. It is like he is saying that it is human nature to turn to religion when confronted by the unknown or the unknowable. Of course, anything suggested by or provided by these religious figures always fails. HPL’s views of religious are well known.
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His stories reflect a concept that those who are religious and depend on religion to start with are weak minded individuals but even those with stronger mental fortitude will turn to religion when faced with the unknown, that it is basic human nature. But since God doesn’t really exist, religion cannot solve the strange problems caused by life forms that science was unable to identify or that came from other places. But people’s reliance on religion makes using religion an easy way to take over a community in order to control people for ulterior goals.
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In fact, as I sit here running stories through my head, I can only think of one that uses a supernatural horror instead of one that could be considered natural if unknown or unearthly. That is Dreams in the Witch House. There may be others that I would find if I sat down and flipped through more stories. That’s just an off the top of my head recall.
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The fact that his horror seldom uses magical causes actually increases the horror. The idea that the world is much bigger and stranger than we can see in our ordinary reality and those things have no care for the structure of the world as we see it and have created it for ourselves is a more terrifying concept than supernatural horrors.