Archive for Murder

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.

young-dakota

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.

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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
give-me-what-i-want

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.

 

 

 

The Seasoning House.

Posted in Activities, Entertainment, Movies and Theatre, Writing with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 1, 2015 by urbannight

This movie is about a brothel. All the girls in it are kidnapped and drugged. They are kidnapped by a military unit. While the film is a British film, it seems to be set in some Eastern Bloc country after the fall of the USSR when there was all that fighting over there. I’m guessing the name of the brothel was The Seasoning House as it is the name of the film. I’m not sure as it is never mentioned in the movie.

I feel I should mention that one of the things that caught my eye about this film is that Sean Pertwee is in it. I didn’t think Pertwee was a terribly common name so I had to look him up. He is, indeed, the son of Jon Pertwee, the Third Doctor. He plays the commander that is using his unit to kidnap young women from the towns and take them to the brothel. In fact, the military men seem to be the primary customer base for the place.

They take a young girl who is deaf and mute. Parts of the movie are filmed with no sound other than background music and it is effective for getting into the head of the girl who will be called Angel.

For some reason, movies fall apart around biological function. Angel is def and someone drops a bucket next to her head with a loud clatter for the audience. The implication is the sound woke her but she is def. More likely she felt the vibration through the metal bed frame. But the give the impression it is sound. At another point, someone goes pst pst to her and she turns her head. There is not viable explanation to that. It isn’t like he was close to her. He was several yards away. Lastly, it looks like she is emptying slop buckets into one bucket. But the girls are tied to the bed by one hand. The slop bucket is out of reach. So how are they using it?

Angel herself is very pretty but has a very large, strawberry birth mark on one side of her face. Victor, the man who runs/owns the brothel, keeps her for himself and has her take care of the girls. He seems to treat her with a very strange sort of gentleness and kindness contrary to the rest of his actions.

This movie is dark and dirty and violent and generally horrible. Yet is has some bizarre moments of cinematic beauty. The scenes with no sound but background music, when Angel starts to wash the hand of a girl whose was killed by a soldier as he raped her, when Victor is showing Angel how to inject a girl w/ heroin.

Angel bonds with a girl who knows sign language. Her father was deaf. And through flashbacks, we learn that Angel’s own father was also a violent and abusive man. Her mother kicked him out. So Angel is upset when this girl’s pelvis is broken by a customer. The doctor is brought in and Victor implies the doctor can use her for something that is never explained. The doctor says that she is in no fit condition. Victor says some things about the past and clearly has a hold over the doctor but it isn’t explained. This becomes sort of important later.

Victor seems to be looking forward to a time when everything will be different, when he and Angel can leave and start over someplace new. He seems to think himself in love with her. Why is never really explained. Does he think that because he keeps her safe from the customers and is somehow kinder and gentler with her even though he forces himself on her that she will somehow love him for it? Does he think that because of her birthmark and her being deaf and mute that she would be grateful that someone would want her? It really makes no sense.  I have a theory that when we see evil characters trying to be good or gentle about something and not to turn it around as a trick, we are seeing a weird peek into the person they would have been, should have been, had they not ended up being a sick and twisted individual.

The people who kidnapped Angel and killed her mother (she had a sister, I’m wondering if that was the girl Victor kills in the beginning to frighten the other girls into cooperation) arrive in town again. I think this must be a military town because the commander acts like he owns the place and later acts like he own a machine shop that Angel tries to hide in. He orders everyone out and they go. Anyway, they come into the brothel and this freaks Angel out.

Time passing is hinted at as the commander implies that he is in security now. One of his men is sent in to the girl with the broken pelvis and she ends up dying. Angel now starts her killing spree. Only it isn’t a spree so much. She is really the only one she kills on purpose. The rest she kills as she is defending herself and in some cases, almost accidental. The fact that no one ‘really’ catches her is more a factor of dumb luck and her own desperation to get away.

Eventually, the last one standing is the commander dude and she is in the machine shop, (not really, I don’t know what it was so that is what I’m calling it) and she gets into the duct work and pipes to escape him. He tries to follow her and eventually gets really stuck. I mean good and stuck. The more he tries to get unstuck the worse it gets. He starts to beg her to help him. He is trying to kill her, he is responsible for her mother’s death and likely her sister as well, he kidnapped her and sent her to this brothel where the owner is raping her, and he wants her to help him. At this point, she happens to be facing him so she is able to read his lips as he does this. She produces a rag from someplace. As her clothes are pretty shredded up, it is probably cloth she ripped off. She shoved it in his mouth so he can’t talk and leaves him stuck. The implication being that he will die a slow death of starvation in the duct or pipe.

Now she gets out of the shop, continues running across more fields until she comes to an old lady working in her garden. The lady start to call for help and the doctor who tended the girls at the brothel comes out of the house. The old woman takes a sobbing Angel inside while the doctor looks both ways and then closes the door. End of film.

So, what did Victor have over the doctor? What was the doctor using girls for since all we know is that a girl with a broken pelvis was unsuitable? Did Angel just get out of the frying pan only to find herself in the fire now? We don’t know because this is where the story stops.

I find it very frustrating. I want to know how something ends. Even if it is not a happy end, I want an ending. Not a great big question mark.

The Mark of Cain. The obvious thing no one noticed….

Posted in Writing with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 23, 2014 by urbannight

The other night I was reading/watching things online.  Somehow, I ended up on an article about the various possibilities for the mark of Cain.  This is what I remember.

Cain kills Abel and God is sending him away.  But Cain is worried that everyone will know what he did and try to kill him.  So God promises to put a mark on him that will show everyone that he is protected by God.

Some of the various things that have been suggested for the Mark have been Black skin, Red hair, and Left-handedness.

Everyone seems to  be ignoring the elephant in the room.  If Cain killed Abel and they were the only children of Adam and Eve at this point, who does Cain think might kill him?  He is being sent away, so it can’t have been Adam or Eve.

Since a lot of Christians are never taught about Lilith, or her monster children, it probably isn’t any of them.

There are some writers out there advocating that genetics were still ‘pure’ back then and Cain marries an unnamed sister and, in fact, Adam and Eve had a lot more children of both genders and the world is populated by one inbred family.

Since he was worrying about being murdered before he even found a wife, I won’t really worry about that one too much.  I just had to mention that one theory because it was way out there in terms of strangeness.

Back in the day, when I was going to church, teaching Sunday school, reading the Bible through about 4 times a year, and doing a lot of study and research on the things I really thought were odd, this story was one of the oddest to me.  When there are only four people on the planet, if you believe a literal interpretation, then who did Cain think would murder him?

Either mystery people who came from someplace else or a whole tribe of brothers and sisters that are never mentioned.  The only other named son being the one born to replace Abel.

And, why in the world is God protecting a Murderer anyway?  Did no one ever think to ask this?  It seems a very bizarre course of action.  Another one of those questions where all attempts to answer it are so bizarre that you wonder why that question alone does not drive people away from Churches.

Horns, you know, that book.

Posted in Writing with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 22, 2014 by urbannight

I decided to read Horns because I had been hearing that the book was pretty good.  It would have been if I thought it was actually aimed at the YA audience instead of adults.  I am a bit let down by it.

All the characters are in their 20’s and acting like they are 10 years younger, about early High School years.   This is why I thought maybe it was supposed to be a YA book.  But it turns out it wasn’t.

I also thought it was supposed to be set in England but it isn’t.  It is in the U.S.   I didn’t come to that conclusion because Daniel Radcliffe was playing the lead character, Ig.  I came to that conclusion early in the book when Ig is thinking he needs to get some medical help with his horns.  And, more importantly, by the way the characters sound in my head.  They only make sense to me if I imagine that they are all middle to late 20 somethings who were not able to go to University and who were all on the dole because of too many people and not enough jobs to go around.  Everything makes more sense that way.

The first section of the book, Hell, has been the most enjoyable.  I really liked reading how people started telling the truth about everything to Ig and didn’t seem to be completely aware of it.  They saw the horns, know it was somehow off, and then it slipped on by and they forgot.  So far, it is the best part of the book.

Part two is Cherry, named for Cherry bombs, virginity, and I think there was a third

Official movie poster.

Official movie poster.

reason but I forget now, just like people forgetting those horns.  It tells the entire back story about the time when Ig met the love of his life, nearly drown, became friends with the guy who really kills the girl, (that is not a spoiler as the book reveals that before the start of this section), and sets up the relationships between all the characters.

I don’t remember the name of the third section.  It bounces back to the present and explores how Ig handles finding out who killed his girl, how Ig is dealing with the knowledge that his girl wanted to break up with him the night she died, and starts to explore the really bad things Ig did the night before he woke up with horns.  He also explores more of the boundaries on what he can or can not do with the new abilities the horns seem to give him.

And that is where I am at with the book.  It has been relegated to the bathroom to read when I’m stuck on the toilet.  The concept is a good one but the execution is not. Oh, the writing isn’t bad, other than the fact that I think the writer was going for an adult audience and yet the characters feel and sound like teenagers and the overall feeling of the book is Young Adult in nature, despite the language sometimes used in book.

H is for Horror and Halloween – Tell Me Something

Posted in Movies and Theatre with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on October 7, 2012 by urbannight

Tell Me Something is a 1999/2000 Korean Thriller.  (The double year is because every site says 1999 except IMDB which says 2000.  This is not the first time I have come across the duality of dates with Korean films.)


The basic plot is that bodies are being found with parts belonging to more than one person.  They have been dismembered and organs removed with great precision and skill and anatomical knowledge.  The third body is the first that enables the police to start ID’ing the bodies.  His ‘next of kin’ is an artist who is a bit shocked to discover that she knew ALL the men.  They were all former lovers of hers.

The movie itself is very dark. Many scenes are night scenes.  Day scenes are often shot in dark buildings or on cloudy days or with lighting to make the day look like it might have been cloudy.

While in color, the movie has a black and white feel as the men are almost always in black suits and the women in black slacks with white tops.  So during the night shots, this gives the impression that the men are just disembodied heads and hands.

This makes sense, stylistically, because the major theme in this movie is objectification.  Though the course of the movie, we find out that the woman,Chae Su-Yeon,  was the daughter of a famous artist.  As she was growing up, her father was obsessed with her in very inappropriate way and used her as a model for much of his art. One boyfriend had cameras installed to get images of her.  Even the police spend a lot of time viewing her through surveillance cameras.

Suspicion has been cast on her fourth boyfriend, of whom she is already tired, and she is attacked after they release.  A search of his place finds cameras hidden behind artwork and body parts in the refrigerator.  Su-yeon flees to the small family home her father keeps.  Although he has been missing for 5 years.

There is a lot of action in this movie even thought it is very quiet and the violence all occurs off-screen.  No one is frantically racing around the screen.  Dialogue is limited and to the point.  Many shots are of people sitting at desks.  But this is by no means a slow movie.  It is just very different from Hollywood fare.

We find out that Su-yeon’s friend is a doctor, a woman.  She has had several suicide attempts in the past and another one now.  But the police never get to see or speak to her because the friend keeps them away.  The fourth boyfriend is found dead and suspicion falls on the missing father.  They think he is stalking Su-yeon. She has had several suicide attempts in the past.  Detective Cho, who is trying to keeps her safe, is believed to be targeted because of his growing closeness to her as she is sent to stay with him so he can better protect her.  The relationship remains chaste.

He himself is on thin ground with the department.  He has just returned from work after a suspense for an investigation.  His mother had died after a long illness and it was thought he had been accepting bribes in order to pay for her medical care.

The relationship between Su-yeon and her doctor friend is important.  The fact that her father has been missing for 5 years is as well.  The movie is grisly, but I was able to get through it as once you really look at it, it looks somewhat fake.  But that doesn’t take away from the fact that it is a good movie and worth viewing.

So I won’t give anything else away.  Some people thought there was a twist at the end.  I don’t view it that way.  Though it may get a little confusing. There are many theories out there on what really happened.  The straight forward one I guessed at the beginning still fit with the ending.  So it will be more fun for you to watch it yourself and make up your mind.

Like most Korean films I’ve seen, not everything is clearly explained and you remain wondering a bit about what had really happened.  This one was actually clearer than most.  And perhaps that is why my initial reaction to it proved to be the correct one.  Or maybe I’m finally getting the hang of Korean movies.  But I think it is the former because it was filmed with the idea of marketing it in the West.

It is in subtitles.  Which turns some people off.   I would say, give it a try anyway.

My only complaint is that I never got the title.  I don’t know why it is called Tell Me Something.  I suppose, because I was watching parts of it through the pass-through window between the kitchen and living room as I was making dinner, I might have missed a line.  Maybe the title is just a line from the movie.  I don’t know.  Maybe the Korean words that mean Tell Me Something have more interpretations or nuances that the selected English translation.