This is yet another great feature film from director Brian De Palma (responsible for Scarface, Carlito’s Way, Dressed to Kill, Mission: Impossible, just to name a few. Snake Eyes is also a De Palma film, I happen to like that one although I think a lot of people think it’s no good. I’m a Nicholas Cage fan myself so, I might be biased.)
We have John Lithgow (do I really need to explain who THIS is?) playing Carter Nix, a mild mannered, well respected child psychologist. He’s middle aged, married and has a child. He has taken time out of his practice in order to be a stay-at-home Dad and test some of his new child raising theories on his own kid. (Okay, not sure I would agree to letting my kid be a “guinea pig” for child rearing experiments but, hey, I guess that’s just me.)
Then there’s Jenny, his wife, played by Lolita Davidovich. Jenny is a doctor and works at the local hospital. Jenny, though she loves her husband and her work, is starting to get concerned about the extent to which Carter is obsessing about their daughter, Amy. He wants to document every little thing, study and examine every little thing. For instance, instead of regular baby monitors around the house, Carter uses a camera to watch and listen to their daughter, it is linked to the tv in the bedroom. (Kinda creepy.)
We are also introduced to Carter’s twin, Cain and their father, Dr. Nix Sr., who also happens to be a child psychologist.
Now, Jenny is getting frustrated because Carter is majorly preoccupied with studying their daughter and the fact the he is a doctor and has decided to “play house Dad”, in her words. She also seems upset that SHE is the one that has to be out working (This just seems SO outlandish to me. Currently, about 40% of women work outside the home. Of that 40%, about 60% are the bread winners in the household. It’s totally okay to be a working woman and the father stay home).
So, needless to say, the marriage isn’t a completely happy one.
Cain, the twin, is the epitome of the total opposite of Carter. He’s an overgrown hoodlum, a thug and a bully. He had a much rougher childhood than Carter and was in and out of institutions and detention centers, etc. his whole life.
Nix Sr. is a rickety old man with an attitude. For a child psychologist, he lacks an amazing amount of compassion and understanding. He’s manipulative and cruel at his core.
Now, a lot, and I do mean A LOT, happens in this movie. I’m going to give you a VERY condensed rundown because, no matter what I write here, I can’t cover everything AND I want you all to watch this flick.
Carter and Cain are in cahoots with each other as they murder women and kidnap children for Carter’s child development research, which is work he is continuing in the footsteps of his father.
Jenny runs into an old flame, Jack. Jack met Jenny when Jack’s wife was in the hospital for cancer treatment. They had an affair and then Jack decided it was over and left Jenny. Now, he’s come back, saying that he was wrong to leave and wished he had gotten his head out of his butt sooner. (Funny how that happens, when you finally get to where you should be, the ones you crapped on along the way aren’t around anymore.) A man’s need for sex and a woman’s need for attention is all that is required to rekindle their love affair.
Carter soon finds out about this and is crushed. He tries to kill Jenny and sink her car in a local lake. He also leaves subtle clues to lure the police to Jack as their murder suspect.
Carter goes to the police to report his wife missing. He gives an act so blatantly overplayed that even the most rookie of investigators would know that something wasn’t quite right here. Meanwhile, the cops are investigating the deaths of two other women.
One is a friend of the Nix family. She has a small son who Carter plans to add to his experiment. The other woman is a babysitter that he knows. He has killed them both.
During the investigation, we meet a retired detective who hangs out at the department because he just can’t let go of the job. Once a cop, always a cop. Just like any good detective, he remembers his cases well. Some things just stick with a cop, ya know? And this particular cop recognizes not only the name Nix but, Carter looks so much like his father it’s eerie to this man.
(Let’s talk about Dr. Nix Sr. for a minute. This “doctor” was caught buying babies for his control group for his research. He was caught with five children. Once arrested he skipped bail. Carter is supposed to be continuing his father’s line of research and work. Nix Sr. is known for his work in child psychology, specifically Multiple Personality Disorder (MPD). The problem that’s encountered with research of this nature is that doctors know what happens AFTER the child’s psyche splits but, not what happens DURING the actual split and how it manifests itself. Nix was the first to find a child who developed MPD and witnessed first hand the actual splintering of the psyche and documented it in extreme detail. He also co-authored a paper on this topic, “Raising Cain: The creation and evolution of the multiple personality” with a woman, Dr. Waldheim. It was based on one of Nix’s patients. Dr. Waldheim started to question how Nix was getting such exclusive and extensive detailed information on Cain’s abusive childhood and what tortures he endured. She was never allowed to meet or speak to Cain and all of her information on the study came directly from taped sessions Nix had given her. She begins to put the pieces together and realizes that Nix is CREATING Cain, he caused the torture that made the child’s personality splinter and caused multiple personalities to emerge. She was appalled at this and quit the project. However, child known as Cain grew up.)
Now that the retired cop knows who Carter is, the investigators get in contact with Dr. Waldheim to get the background story on Nix Sr.
The police eventually arrest Carter on suspicion of murdering his wife. She didn’t die when he put her in the lake in her car. She was able to escape the car. Now, she is at the police department with Jack (he was cleared of murder when Jenny showed up alive and told the police about Carter attacking her.) Knowing his background and who his father was, they bring in Dr. Waldheim to interview Carter.
This is when it’s confirmed that Carter and Cain are the same person. They are two of the personalities our subject has. There are at least two others, an older woman who is a nanny named Margo and a shy little boy named Josh.
It is revealed that Nix Sr. tortured his own child, Cain, in order to force the split personalities to happen.
While this interview is going on all the talking is done by the Josh and Margo personalities. Then Cain appears and knocks out the good doctor, escaping his cuffs and exiting the facility in which he’s being held. He sneaks out of the building wearing Waldheim’s clothes.
Jenny, who is outside the office smoking a cigarette, sees “Dr. Waldheim” leaving and goes after her to get the scoop on what happened during the interview because Amy, the daughter study subject, is missing and only Carter and/or his personalities know where she is.
Jenny follows who she believes to be the doctor to a motel. There she finds Carter’s father, with her child and an infant (presumably the infant the babysitter had when she was murdered at the park), trying to flee the motel. She has a confrontation with him and ultimately, the children are rescued.
Carter is assumed to be gone, on the run and is not apprehended. Nix Sr. is stabbed and killed. Jack is free and he and Jenny and Amy move on with their lives.
There are a number of twists and turns in this film. A definite film that will keep any suspense/thriller fan on their toes. John Lithgow gives an excellent performance. His transitions from personality to personality are seamless. As the story progresses, so does Carter’s psychopathy, sending him through a reeling whirlwind of torment…and we get front row seats!
There are a number of sarcastic wise cracks and jokes made in the film yet, they stay on the darker tone of the movie.
The story is extremely complicated and yet, fairly easy to follow throughout. There are no holes in the plot. This would be an especially good movie for those who love psychological thrillers and mind-bending movies.
The whole film is well done and well put together but, John Lithgow REALLY makes this movie a gem for many kinds of horror fans.
I watched Ed Gein (aka In the Light of the Moon) last night. I have long known about this man but, I wanted to see what kind of movie someone would make about him, other than the usual scares (i.e. Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Silence of the Lambs, etc.).
This is the man that is supposed to be the factual basis for a number of our Horror Villain favorites like Hannibal Lector, Buffalo Bill, Leatherface and Norman Bates. Each of these characters took pieces of Gein and amplified them, making them a unique kind of villain in horror films.
When I decided to watch this movie, I expected something similar to Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003 version), something with a copious amount of blood and gore, lots of screaming and many, many deaths.
However, what I got was much more…insightful. Disturbing, nonetheless, but still, insightful.
Director Chuck Parello seemed to have a deeper vision of what kind of killer he wanted to portray. Actor Steve Railsback, who plays Gein, took us on a journey into the personal life and torments of Eddie Gein, as he is so fondly called in this movie by the townspeople.
Here we have a man, lost and lonely after the death of his beloved mother. A man who, despite true effort, just can’t seem to assimilate into the all-encompassing norms of society. This is a man who nobody really pays much attention to, nobody thinks he’s a threat or a burden. He’s quiet and shy. He keeps to himself out on the family farm. He’s not an imposing figure by any means. He’s polite when he speaks and tries his best to get along with everyone.
Yet, there is a painful awkwardness to dear, sweet Eddie. One that often goes ignored.
We find out that little Eddie was never good enough in his mother’s eyes. She was a witch of a woman, yelling and screaming at him all the time, beating him with a belt. She was a profoundly religious woman, preaching and reading from her bible every day. Her husband was also an abusive man and neither were very nice to Gein as a child.
After the deaths of his “father” and brother (we see Ed and his brother have a fight, and Ed kills his brother Henry, Ed’s life became his mother. He constantly cared for and doted on her all the way up to her death. And that was the event that truly sent him over the edge.
Living by himself he interacts very little with others. There’s a couple of boys, brothers, that he babysits. One day the youngest goes snooping around Ed’s house and finds three decomposing heads hanging on the back of Gein’s bedroom door. The youngster also finds facial skins hanging on the walls and a lamp made out of a spine. Ed catches the boy when these sights scare him and he screams. The boys are definitely shocked and tell Eddie that it seems pretty weird and that maybe their father was right and Ed shouldn’t watch them anymore. Gein obviously feels a number of emotions here and through what seems to be hurt and embarrassment, he tells the two young kids not to come back anymore.
This is a moment where we see the childlike sensitivity and fragile nature of his already damaged and demoralized self-esteem. He repeatedly acts like a confused and shy kid mixed in with a grown man and all that entails.
Ed, not being able to stand the loss of his mother and his profound loneliness, takes to digging up fresh graves at the cemetery and trying to resurrect them. (I assume to practice to resurrect Mother OR to just plumb replace Mother.)
Ed starts to have hallucinations and delusions of his mother. She tells him to kill women. Her view is similar to those that think all wrong in the world was caused by Eve eating the apple from the forbidden tree. His mother thinks women are evil, temptresses that must be struck down.
That being said, there’s a bar Ed frequents that has a female bartender, her name is Mary. She’s got a mouth like a sailor and flirts like a prostitute, everything Mother can’t stand.
One night at closing time, Ed shoots her. She doesn’t die right away and he hauls her off to his house, “to take care of her”. She dies in his home, tied to a bed.
This is the part that is the most representative of the “Leatherface” type character traits. His psychosis increasing, he begins to play with the body parts, making masks and suits to wear to change his appearance.
Then, he shoots and kidnaps Collette, a gal that works at a local store in town. She also doesn’t die immediately from her gunshot wound and he takes her back to his house where she ultimately succumbs as well.
With both of these women, Gein tries to resurrect them but, is unsuccessful.
A concerned employee, Brian, goes to Gein’s house looking for her, feeling something is wrong after seeing blood in the store and knowing the way Ed has always looked at her.
He gets to Gein’s house and is horrified and sickened by what he finds. He runs and calls the police.
Upon arrival and inspection of the house, the police (who never thought Eddie could have been capable of anything like this) found an array of jars, a human heart in a skillet with blood on the stove, bowls made out of skulls that had been eaten out of, a decomposing head under a mattress, a head in a toolbox, fingers preserved in a jar (they have red nail polish on them still), furniture made out of and decorated with human bones and finally, Mary’s facial skin on the floor in a dirty cloth.
Ed Gein is arrested and, having been diagnosed a schizophrenic, deemed unfit for trial and remanded to a psychiatric hospital. He was buried beside his mother in 1984 when he died of respiratory failure.
There were many times in this movie that it was clear that the director wanted the viewers to see Gein not only as a disturbed individual but, also as a troubled human being. However, in a truly classic fashion, every time I found myself looking at Gein, about to think he’s normal and harmless enough, that’s when they remind you, he’s not normal.
While this wasn’t so much an actual slasher type horror movie, in my opinion, it’s still interesting enough to watch at least once. It focuses more on who Gein is instead of what he does.
In this suspense thriller directed by Adam Mason, we embark on a journey through the daily lives of a typical family in the aftermath of a burglary of their home.
While on vacation, Aaron Miller (Jeremy Sisto), his wife Beth (Kate Ashfield) and their two kids Marley (Ryan Simpkins) and Max (Ty Simpkins) are all unknowingly horribly violated as an intruder, known only to us as “Hangman”, played by Eric Michael Cole, invades their home, and their privacy, and completely trashes their beautiful house, leaving no corner or surface untouched.
When they return, though shocked and completely unsettled, they clean up the mess, call for a security system, change locks on windows and doors and try to move on living a normal life.
What they don’t know, is while they were gone, and mister wonderful is rummaging through their house, he has put little spy cams all over, in every room…bedrooms, bathrooms, living room, kitchen…everywhere. Not only that, he has taken refuge in their attic and made quite the little home for himself up there. He has a whole video system set up so he can view his cameras and watch their every move.
He comes downstairs during the day when they are gone, either at work or school. He eats their food, watches their movies, even the home movies. He uses their toothbrushes.
He even comes down from the attic in the middle of the night, which the attic entrance is in the master bedroom closet so when he comes out he’s right there in the master bedroom. He watches the parents sleep…in the creepiest way I might add.
Then he really starts trying to toy with these people. He leaves juice out on the counter overnight, trying to get the son in trouble (he drinks straight from the jug and spits back into it, we later see the family drinking from the jug, it’s just disgusting), he steals a houseguest’s lipstick and perfume to put it on the husband’s shirt to frame him for an affair, he indirectly rats out the daughter for a bad report card. But, the worst one is that he drugs the mom and then it’s implied that he rapes her while she’s incapacitated. That’s just horrific.
Eventually, he makes noise and they finally notice. (Finally!!)
He kills the parents in a very anti-climactic way and then leaves.
At the end, we see him at the airport, waiting as a family exits their vehicle.
Now, this is how he has been finding his victims. These people park their cars, he waits until they leave, breaks into the vehicle, gets their home address from their car’s GPS and then goes to their house and sets up his playground. Once he’s had his fun he kills and moves one.
And he doesn’t get caught.
So, I thought the whole handy cam filming idea went out the window with The Blair Witch Project in 1998 but apparently, we tried to revive it in 2015. Now, you’re either going to really like this movie or really hate it. I can’t put it any other way.
While the whole handheld filming thing can tend to give me motion sickness (I had a real hard time with Blair Witch) this one wasn’t too bad. Most of the film is like watching surveillance footage. There is a little of our killer holding his own camera and filming himself but, that adds something to the film being that we are seeing everything from his point of view.
The interesting thing about this film is that we are forced to become the villain in a very personal way. WE invade these people WITH him. It gives a very creepy, disgusting feeling to watching the film. I almost felt like I was doing something wrong while watching this.
We get a glimpse into the demented mind of not really so much a killer but, more of a narcissist and the ultimate turmoil of insecurity thrusting its need for control upon other living things. There’s a need for power that slowly starts to emerge from our perpetrator just as there is a growing need for thrill seeking as he becomes more and more brazen, engaging in more risky behavior as time goes on.
This movie can also leave you thinking about things like…who has access to your car say, when you valet park or who has access to your privacy when you let service men into your home. It makes you wonder how secure your privacy really is? I mean, with all the technology nowadays and all the satellites roaming about in space and expert hackers everywhere you turn and IT computer experts in almost every company building, is anything private anymore? I mean, even your basic information on your job application now gets sent or stored over a computer, online…it’s digital somehow most likely…that’s not very secure. And you hear about company breeches all the time, especially at the holidays, people’s bank accounts get stolen because of hacking RFIDs…I know of cases where people make fake keypads and card readers for ATMs and install cameras to record PINs. This guy just took all that into a family’s house…and he was clever as all get out about where to hide these spy cams.
Now, I am a VERY observant person when it comes to my surroundings, especially my own house. I know, without a doubt, if something has been moved (yes, I am a little OCD…Okay, okay, maybe a tad more than a little). The fact that NONE of the members of this family questioned ANY of the weirdness in the house CREEPS ME OUT. I notice if the remote on the table gets bumped by the dog while I’m out of the room. And they don’t notice as huge loogie in their OJ??? Am I the only person that looks at what I eat and drink BEFORE I put it in my mouth???
So, anyways, the voyeuristic value in the film definitely gave it the creepy suspense factor however, there weren’t any real scares or terror moments, nothing that I thought WOW! at, and unfortunately the ending left me feeling a little disappointed. I would have liked more killing in the movie if they were going to let the killer get away and move on to another family. The anticlimactic ending just made all of what we just witnessed seem so pointless, almost like it wasn’t even worth him doing it.
So, to be honest, I watch a lot of true crime. I also have an education in psychology and criminology. I can usually understand why a criminal or killer does what they do, even if, to society, it just seems wicked out there. This guy, I just couldn’t quite get all the way there. I found bits and pieces of reasoning but, it just didn’t all come together really well for me.
I can’t say I would watch this movie again. If it was on TV and there was nothing better on I MIGHT watch it, unless there were commercials, then it’s totally not worth it. Likewise, it’s hard for me to give a real recommendation on this one because of how it was made…it’s difficult to say whether someone would enjoy this or not. I leave you with this review and to your own devices on this one.
Seeing as I just posted my review of the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre not too long ago, I’m not going to go through the whole story again. I’m just going to jump right in here.
This was much more of what I was expecting from this title. This remake gave me so much more of the Leatherface I had envisioned from the hype and previews surrounding the original film, which left me feeling sorely unsatisfied.
However, in updating the story here, there are a few differences. None of them make a real negative difference in comparison to the original and in fact, actually make the story more fluid, in my opinion.
For instance, the five teens are on their way to a Lynyrd Skynyrd concert. This is so much more believable than the idea that they are checking on grave robbings or going to see an old family home.
Also, our crazed-out hitchhiker from the original has been changed to a hysterical surviving victim that has escaped the evil clutches of Leatherface and his demonic cohorts. That’s a nice foreshadowing effect that’s been added.
Plus, none of the teens are related and the one dude isn’t in a wheelchair making their movements through the movie much more acceptable and believable to the viewer. And, a big reason that Leatherface and his family are killing people is because his mother wants to "protect her boy" and is angry that everyone thinks they are too good for him.
They have changed all of the character names (except Leatherface, though he's not referred to by that in the movie) and even though the events still take place in 1973, the wardrobing in this remake fell a little short in some areas, I suspect they were trying to appeal to the younger generations but, I don’t think there were a lot of cargo pants being worn in the early 70s. I’m also pretty sure chicks weren’t wearing their tank tops like Jessica Biel does in this film but, hey, whatever gets the viewers, right?
The kills are a lot better in this movie, the screams are better, the scares are there (as much as they can be), the chase scenes are decent, there’s thrill, suspense and anticipation, which was terribly lacking in the original, and even though it is somewhat predictable, it is still a fun movie to watch.
I would definitely say that if someone wanted to see a Texas Chainsaw Massacre movie (not a sequel, mind you) THIS is the one I would have to recommend at the moment. This was what I was hoping for out of the original. It just took Hollywood thirty years to get it to us.
Today we have a movie that is regarded as yet another classic. Truth be told, it may be the first on screen version of “I Know What You Did Last Summer” although, I will probably have to do some research to confirm that.
There really wasn’t a whole lot of substance to this movie though. I did think that because it was starring Jamie Lee Curtis, the ULTIMATE SCREAM QUEEN in my opinion, that we would get more of her being scared and traumatized but, it just didn’t happen that way.
Let’s begin at the beginning, shall we?
We start in 1974 with four kids playing some twisted version of hide and seek called ‘The Killer Is Gonna Get You’ (or something close to that, we aren’t told the name of this child’s play so, I’m guessing). They are chasing each other around an abandoned building (as I’ve said before, kids are SO SMART in horror movies, insert massive eye roll here). There’s Wendy (the apparent spawn of Satan wrapped in the guise of a little girl, who also happens to be the apparent leader of the group of friends, Jude, Nick and Kelly (who all appear to be regular average kids, well, except for this game they choose to play).
These eleven-year-old children are enjoying their play when ten-year-old Robin Hammond and her two siblings, Alex (brother) and Kim (sister) walk by and Robin wanders into the building and tries to join in. Unfortunately, all alone because her siblings continued walking, she quickly succumbs to relentless bullying and while trying to flee from her tormentors, falls out of a window to her death.
Instead of calling the police or an adult, these geniuses decide to make a pact between the four of them to never mention the incident to anyone ever…and move on with their lives. They leave the scene thinking that no one knows what has happened but, WE see a shadow over little Robin’s body, letting us know someone knows the truth.
Fast forward six years to 1980. These kids are all in high school now. It’s the day of the prom. During the day and the events of getting ready for the prom, these four teens (Wendy, Jude, Nick and Kelly) get taunting phone calls from someone with a sad attempt at a creepy voice, warning them that something will happen to them on prom night. All of them get the call and somewhat blow if off except for Nick, he’s not home when the call comes in. (For you younger folks, this was a time when there were no cell phones.)
We finally get to prom. Wendy is all pissed off at Kim (Jamie Lee Curtis) because she is going to prom with Nick (Wendy’s ex-boyfriend) and they are Prom King and Queen together. (Wendy has a major attitude problem…with everyone.)
Everyone has a date to the prom. While the event is going on, Jude and her date are killed in his van after having sex and smoking pot (rule breakers!). Kelly and her boyfriend Drew are in the gym changing room making out during the dance and when she refuses to go all the way through with sex he storms out and she gets attacked and killed.
So now, the only ones left from the original group are Nick and Wendy. Wendy has decided to go to the prom with the school douchebag and they are plotting a revenge to embarrass Kim and Nick as they get crowned. Wendy takes a break from the festivities to go to the ladies’ room to touch up her makeup (which I will say, happens way more than it should in this movie, all these chicks do is apply makeup).
While in the bathroom, Wendy is confronted by the killer and is chased through the school and eventually killed after finding her friend, Kelly, deceased and stashed in a storage room that she chooses to hide in (again, dumb).
Now it’s just Nick. He and Kim are getting ready for their crowning as King and Queen when the school douchebag whacks Nick over the head and knocks him out while the couple is separated, waiting on opposite sides of the stage for the processional.
Then, our killer, who mistakes King douchebag for Nick, approaches him and chops his head off with an axe and jerk boy’s head goes rolling down the stage into the crowd, causing horrified teens and teachers to run panicked everywhere.
Here is when Kim finds Nick and helps him to “freedom” …but it’s not freedom. The killer finds them on the dance floor and attacks Nick…the last of the four from the childhood incident. Kim, who is incredibly in love with Nick, runs to his aid and wallops the killer on the head with his own axe, which has been thrown aside in the scuffle. Kim and the killer lock eyes and Kim instantly recognizes that she knows this person.
The killer flees and runs outside to where the police are waiting. They have guns drawn and Kim, running out after this perpetrator, screams out not to shoot the killer. She kneels down next to them, removes their mask and we see her brother Alex, dying from the head wound she inflicted upon him.
He explains that they were all guilty and that he was trying to avenge his little sister’s death. He then screams her name, Robin, and dies. Kim is heartbroken at the loss of another sibling and cries.
Whew. Okay. So, really the only redeemable quality about this movie was the chase scene between the killer and Wendy. This killer is one acrobatic runner, I’m talking like a very basic version of Parkour. This guy can jump and twist and leap and avoid so much. It truly was the most entertaining part of the movie.
There is a horrible (and I do mean horrible) disco dance scene with Jamie Lee Curtis and her prom date…thank goodness disco died. That is something no one will ever be able to unsee. And it seemed to go on forever. I didn’t realize songs were that long. Come to find out, Curtis wanted this movie, so I am inclined to believe she CHOSE to do that dance scene…OUCH.
They give top billing to names such as Leslie Nielsen and Jamie Lee Curtis but, we see very little of them in the movie. I expected so much more of Curtis, the kind of screaming we got in Halloween maybe. But, she isn’t even a target in this movie. Even in Scream in 1998 when they gave Drew Barrymore a part in the beginning of the movie, it’s true we didn’t see a lot of her but, they KILLED HER in the first ten minutes. So, really, come on…this is a scream queen…and we get nothing.
Furthermore, these taunting phone calls…please (another eye roll). There are so many scarier things to say to a teenager than what is said in this movie. It all seemed so PG. I don’t watch horror movies for a PG rating. This stuff is supposed to have more mature content than that (and I don’t mean just nudity, which is a staple in a lot of classic 80s horror movies). Give me rated R at least.
The kids at the beginning playing their sicko little game was creepy. I’ll give them that. Any time you have a group of children with angry looks of contempt on their faces gathered around a smaller child who is obviously engulfed in fear and they are yelling “Kill! Kill! Kill!” ...yeah, that’s gonna be unsettling.
Still, this isn’t a movie I will be watching again…unless it’s to show an example of what a PG-13 horror movie would be like. (I only say PG-13 because there is some nudity.) The reveal of the killer was something I called in the first minutes of the movie, seeing the incident and how it took place. There were no good shocks, scares or surprises and it was overall just a flat movie.
This is Rob Zombie’s remake of the classic 1978 horror film, then directed by John Carpenter. And in true Rob Zombie fashion, Sheri Moon Zombie stars in this movie.
Sheri Moon Zombie plays Michael Myers’ mother. (I swear, would this woman even have an acting career if it wasn’t for her husband?)
The original story of Halloween is very simple. Young Michael Myers’, at the age of six, stabs his older sister to death on Halloween night. He is subsequently housed in a mental facility under the care of Dr. Loomis, a child psychiatrist, until he breaks free fifteen years later, only to return to his hometown and begin stalking babysitters. After committing multiple murders, terrorizing young Laurie Strode and being shot six times by Dr. Loomis, Michael disappears into the darkness, leaving an aftermath of horror and confusion in his wake.
Now, the remake we have here has been re-written and directed by Zombie to be his own movie, at the behest of Carpenter himself. So, while a lot of the details from the original movie still stand firm, in this version we get more of a history on Michael Myers himself.
We get to see that, at age ten (not six), Michael murders his stepfather (an unemployed abusive alcoholic) and his sister and her boyfriend, all on Halloween night, initially wearing a child’s clown mask (like the creepy clown in Poltergeist in the boy’s room) and later finds the famous face we all know in his sister’s just before her murder. Only his mother and his baby sister, Angel, are spared. In the original, we get just a short snippet on this event and we are TOLD about Michael from Dr. Loomis. Here, we get to witness the entire buildup of Michael’s frustrations and his eventual emotional overload and explosion into murder.
The stepfather is just a miserable waste of a human being, preying on anyone who dares to enter his field of fire. The sister is a foul-mouthed promiscuous teen who chooses to have sex with her boyfriend instead of taking Michael trick-or-treating, as their mother told her to as she left for work that night.
We also find out that Michael’s mom (Sheri Moon Zombie) is a stripper and THAT is the ONLY means of income at the time for the family. This is also a fact that is well known around town and thus, Michael is severely harassed at school. Let’s also just point out that this woman is not going to be winning the “Mother of the Year” award any time soon. While we witness her cooking breakfast and, although foul enough to make a sailor blush, trying to make things family oriented, it’s obvious that she has no control over this dysfunctional household.
Rob Zombie not only uses the original storyline but, also the sequel’s story, creating a mesh of a remake and a prequel (of sorts) to give a more rounded explanation of the whole situation.
We walk with Michael and Dr. Loomis through their years together at Smith’s Grove Sanitarium. Michael progresses from not being able to remember the murders and a seemingly pleasant boy to a big, bulky childlike shell of a man, silent and only focusing on his obsession with masks, a fascination he’s had since he was a boy.
While at the mental hospital, as you can imagine, over the course of the years eventually people retire and move on. This is true not only for Dr. Loomis but, for the gentleman that takes care of “Mikey” as well. As we see this man, played by Danny Trejo, training his replacement, we see the torment that this new guy intends to put Michael through.
While most of the chase scenes are on the blah side, the best one is Michael stalking our new Laurie (who turns out to be Michael’s little sister Angel, she was adopted out after the murders) as she runs through a house.
The final battle between Laurie and Michael is a good one with Laurie finally killing Michael, shooting him in the face.
The kills in this movie were good, just as you would expect from Rob Zombie. I thought Paul’s death (Annie’s boyfriend) and the hospital guard that harasses Michael were the best.
But, I will say also, that there were a few things that seemed just plain unnecessary in this film.
First, we have the final kill, that of Michael himself. Laurie, after she shoots him, is sitting on his chest, drenched in blood and screams her head off.
In the original, we see original Laurie broken down, worn out, almost catatonic from the terrifying ordeal she’s just been through. To me, THAT is much more impactful that some chick screaming like a raving lunatic.
Also, and this is just a testament to the twisted world of Zombie himself, while at the mental hospital, our replacement guard decides to grab one of the female patients and sexually assault her in Michael’s cell/room. (This is the scene when Michael escapes.) This is a brutal attack and is pretty disturbing. Now, my issue is not with the fact that sex is included is this story because, that’s almost a given in horror films but, in that this entire scene could have taken place without the assault on the girl.
Basically, this new guard wants to harass Michael, shake him up. See, this guard thinks he’s a tough guy and can take this brutal killing machine on by himself so, he talks a big game. And, I guess to prove his power, he takes this poor girl into Michael’s room (which is next to hers) and rapes her in front of Michael, with another guy acting as his aid. Now, remember, I said earlier in the movie we see this guy already picking on Michael. We know he’s going to be a problem. He could have easily gone into that room with his cohort and jacked with Mikey without ever so much as even knowing this girl was in the room next door. It just seemed like an unnecessary act of ultimate brutality and it definitely didn’t add anything to the story.
We also lose our friend Dr. Loomis is this film. I don’t mind that but, again, it really wasn’t necessary.
I do think that one of the coolest things about this movie is the repeated inclusion of Michael’s family home. By the time he gets back to Haddonfield, his childhood home is a party and make out pad for Laurie’s friends and will soon be sold by Laurie’s father. I think this gives us more of an understanding of why he kills THESE people, instead of it seeming like a more random decision or just death by association with Laurie.
Overall, I thought this was a pretty good remake. I like that it melded parts of the sequel into the original story and gave us a more complete overview of our characters and their involvement in the tale. I will say that I would recommend this to people to watch. It’s a good way to get the whole story of Michael Myers, even if you haven’t seen any of the originals.
Oh boy! The original!!!
Those were the words flowing through my brain as I popped this classic slasher flick into the machine to watch it. And then…it started.
Talk about a letdown. While there were good points and I will definitely address those, I have to get my criticisms out of the way.
Basically, we have five teenagers (so morons, because frankly, teens are always morons in horror films, it’s like a rule), two couples and a wheelchair bound brother of one of the girls…so three men, two women. There’s Sally (Marilyn Burns) and her guy Jerry (Allen Danziger), Sally’s brother Franklin (Paul A. Partain) who is in a wheelchair, and their friends Kirk (William Vail) and Pam (Teri McMinn).
After hearing news of grave robbing in the cemetery where their Grandfather is buried, Sally and Franklin enlist their friends to go with them on a trek to check on their loved one’s grave. They are all taking the road trip in a van, in the summer, with no air conditioning. Plus, they pick up this crazy hitchhiker (I don’t know why they picked this guy up. Even though hitching was still fairly common in the 70s this guy would have been a flashing neon sign for “DO NOT STOP” …but again, morons). Anyways, this dude is talking about working at a slaughterhouse and cuts himself on the hand with Franklin’s pocketknife and really all kinds of just out there stuff. So, they kick him out of the van. After they stop and check the gravesite, they make their way to a creepy gas station out in the middle of nowhere…where they have BBQ…but no gas. (Hmmm… and nobody questions this at all? Nope. They just pack up some BBQ and head out.)
They move on to this old house that belongs to the family. This place is in tatters. It hasn’t been tended to for decades. Now, remember they’ve got this poor guy in a wheelchair, out in the boonies and they go to this extremely old house and leave this poor fella on the ground floor, outside even, while they all go upstairs and goof around. So, Franklin is left alone, just sitting there in his wheelchair until Kirk and Pam come down and ask where the swimming hole is and head off. Franklin is alone…again. (By now in the movie, we have been fairly well introduced to these characters and our buddy Franklin here, well, frankly he’s a crybaby. He’s way too sensitive and gets all worked up over nothing all the time. Pam and Kirk just want to have sex and Sally and Jerry well, they seem fairly normal…fairly.)
So now our five teens have all split off. We get to follow Kirk and Pam. (Oh yay.) We see them struggle down this ravine of sorts and apparently get to the pond or whatever but, we never see the water. At all.
Then they hear a sound, like a loud lawnmower. Of course, they go investigate, believing someone lives close by and they can maybe obtain some gasoline THAT way.
They come upon a house and find the noise, it’s a generator. They go to the door and knock. Nobody answers. Kirk puts his towel (or blanket, this piece of material is huge) on the railing of the front porch and proceeds to venture into the house. (Now, how rude is that? These teens just randomly walk into a house out in the middle of no man’s land. Is that their house? No. I mean, come on. Aren’t you just asking to get murdered if you do that? I mean, just a little bit, perhaps?)
While Kirk explores the front entryway, which looks like something out of House of 1000 Corpses meets an archeological dig storage facility, Pam makes herself comfortable on a swing outside in the yard.
This is where we meet Leatherface (Gunnar Hansen) and truly one of the moments I was ultimately waiting for. He pops out and grabs Kirk and hits him over the head...hard. Then Pam, who gets tired of waiting for Kirk, goes looking inside the house for him. Leatherface grabs her too. She gets hung up on a meat hook like a side of beef. Both die.
Then, back at our creepy family home, Jerry decides to go look for their now dead friends. He finds the same house and hears noises inside through the front door plus, he sees Kirk’s towel/blanket on the railing. And, in classic “don’t do it” horror film fashion, he goes inside to investigate. (For the love of all that is good and holy, please people, stop investigating!) Leatherface kills him too.
Then Sally and Franklin go on an absolutely ridiculous and unbelievable trek (I’m not buying this at all.) through the woods, down that ravine and all the way up to this murder house. (Really??? Have you seen Marilyn Burns? What about this guy that plays Franklin??? He’s like twice her size! And wheelchairs are NOT light, okay. There’s absolutely no way in hell, or on Earth, they made it all that way with HER pushing HIM in a WHEELCHAIR. There. I said it.) And, in doing this, Franklin dies as well.
Sally is now running for her life and makes her way back to the weirdo gas station (which honestly seemed like a heck of a drive, so I don’t know how far she ran but, it’s a ways.) There, the creepy old man that is the owner, and the same man that offered BBQ, reveals that he is part of this murderous plot and puts her in his truck to take her back to death central. On the way, they pick up our friendly freaky hitchhiker and find out that he too is in with the killing crew.
Back at the house, they end up strapping Sally to a chair and a whole family of sorts is there. We have the gas station owner, the hitchhiker, Leatherface and a mostly dead Grandpa who apparently, with no explanation, feeds on blood but yet, can’t function.
The station owner is, I guess, the leader and yells at Leatherface, who cowers like a frightened child (hardly the killer type it seems). The hitchhiker and Leatherface do the killing and Grandpa, well, I guess he’s retired.
Sally eventually breaks free because these fools give a hammer to the dead guy (Grandpa) and try to let him bash her over the head but, because he is practically dead, he has no grip and keeps dropping the hammer, thus, she squirms free and flees like a cockroach when the lights come on.
Now, the chase is on. And it’s a bad one. Leatherface and the hitchhiker are running, VERY SLOWLY, after Sally, who seems to be running at an equal or lesser rate of speed. She breaks through the brush and timber to find herself on the highway. A truck smacks the hitchhiker and flattens him. Leatherface is now on her tail. But, not for long. Another trucker comes by, stops and comes to her aid. He gets chased by Leatherface and while he doesn’t die, we never see him again. This is also the scene where Leatherface saws his own leg…which was really short but, really cool. Sally jumps into the bed of yet another truck and he drives off, taking her to freedom.
Okay, so yes, I put some of my “two cents” in there as I told the story. The rest of it is this…
I understand that this was the 70s. I understand that slasher films were still really kind of in their infancy. I also understand the idea of trying to create terror without blood and gore. However, I have seen plenty (and I do mean PLENTY) of movies from the 70s and I know there were good actors available at the time. Truly, Gunnar Hansen was the best actor and he didn’t even talk!! We don’t even see his face!! I also expected the Leatherface mask to be so much more…so much scarier. This character was inspired by Ed Gein, a serial killer of infamous proportions, and it doesn’t really convey that much, at all.
Leatherface is also supposed to be a cold-hearted murdering psycho and yet, he cowers when some old man yells at??? He even whimpers people…whimpers. How am I supposed to be terrified by someone who misuses power tools and whimpers? I just can’t.
And the whole Grandpa thing…doesn’t fit. How is he still alive? Why is he still alive? IF he’s alive, why can he not function at all on his own?
Plus, whatever happened to our hero trucker??? But for him, Sally would be dead. And yet, he's in the wind.
I expected more out of the kills, although the hanging Pam on a meat hook was pretty good.
I will say that I really liked the way they did the intro for this movie. It’s a narrator reading what’s scrolling on the screen but, he’s got a great voice for it.
With all the hoopla that has gone on over the decades about this being a “Frightening classic” that will “truly horrify” and “terrorize”, I was expecting a lot more, even for the era.
The screams are pretty good and Marilyn Burns has a great wide-eyed scared look but, she’s not the best actress at all. (She also played Linda Kasabian, the Charles Manson whistle blower, in Helter Skelter. She was better in that and it was only two years later that that movie was made.)
The best parts of this movie would have to be the dinner scene with the psycho family and the end of the chase scene where Sally ends up on the highway.
I am planning to watch the remake. I have hope that it will be better. At least scarier.
Again, I do understand that this movie changed horror films and paved the way for future horror artists and directors. I am not knocking that at all. I am purely looking at it from a true horror, scare and entertainment value. And so, while I get that this is a pioneer movie in the genre, it’s just not good enough to me for me to watch again.
Although not what would be classified as a typical horror movie, 1408, though definitely a thriller, still would qualify as a horror and thriller film, in my opinion. I’ll get to why in a minute.
In this movie adaptation of Stephen King’s short story, Mike Enslin (John Cusack), a writer about the world’s greatest haunts, gets a post card baiting him to The Dolphin Hotel, a hotel that forbids any guests to check into s particular room, Room 1408. As a true skeptic and non-believer of ghosts and the paranormal, he is compelled to go to the hotel and stay in this room.
Once he gets to the hotel, the manager, Mr. Olin, played by Samuel L. Jackson, implores him to reconsider his stay in the room. Mike has already done research on the history of the room and is not phased by any of the horrible deaths that have occurred there (merely coincidences I guess?). But, Mr. Olin educates him further by providing him with a leather book bound file on every death that has occurred in Room 1408 over a span of 68 years, after which, Olin had the room closed to guests for good for safety reasons.
Still not deterred, and after much pleading from Mr. Olin plus a warning that nobody lasts longer than an hour in there (and an unsuccessful bribe with a bottle of very expensive liquor), Mike is given the key and enters the room.
At first nothing is out of the ordinary. In fact, the room is disgustingly ordinary. Or so it seems. Then he starts to look closer and notices that the bedroom doesn’t have a window, which IS odd for a hotel (even if the window doesn’t open, it’s usually still there).
And that’s when things start happening. The alarm clock sounds without him having set it. Now, true this could have been done by housekeeping or even the manager, Mr. Olin, so, as anyone would do, he tries to rationalize it…and moves on. Then the alarm clock plays music on its own…”We’ve Only Just Begun” (which will now be a forever creepy song to me). As this stuff starts to happen, the clock starts a countdown timer by itself…sixty minutes…”Nobody lasts more than an hour” (this alarm clock, I tell ya…).
Then he starts seeing images…images if the people who stayed in the room before him and died there, people who killed themselves in the room, even people who are from his own personal past. He sees his dead daughter. He sees his father (and we are led to believe that was not a, shall we say healthy, relationship).
The room becomes more and more of his own personal hell, spinning him into a realm of utter torment and ultimate terror, a realm that is well beyond his control.
Eventually, as he lays in the room, now trashed and in ruins, thinking he’s about to die, he calls his ex-wife on video chat, who happens to live in the same city as the hotel. While he’s trying to explain to her what is going on he looks at the clock…his time is almost out. In the midst of the conversation with his ex the room takes over his call and coaxes her to come to the hotel.
It’s at this time he decides to check out…but can’t. And his time runs out. Everything erupts into complete chaos and he thinks it’s the end. Yet, he wakes up on the floor, in the room…his timer on the alarm clock starting over from sixty minutes again.
This is the point that Mike decides to fight back. After all he’s endured, he decides that if he’s gonna die then he’s gonna burn the room and take it down with him. In doing so, he eliminates whatever evil traps him in the room and when Fire and Rescue show up, they are able to pull him out to safety.
Afterwards, Mike decides to give up writing (once he heals from his injuries). His ex-wife doesn’t really believe his story about what happened to him in the room however, while she is helping Mike pack up his stuff and get rid of some things, they find a box of items he had kept from the stay in Room 1408. They are nasty and smell like smoke. He tells her she can pitch everything but his little handheld voice recorder. And as he hits play and the recording of his notes on his stay start playing back, his ex-wife hears his encounter with his daughter, she hears them speaking to each other and she is shocked and drops the box in absolute amazement as she stares at Mike, realizing he was telling her the truth the whole time.
Okay, so, there’s a lot that happens in this movie. I couldn’t cover all of it. Although Samuel L. Jackson has what seems like a relatively small part, he is truly effective, as he always seems to be. Both actors, Cusack and Jackson, do a superb job of expressing the dread of Room 1408, the sinister things that have happened there and the chaos it brings to the human mind and soul. The fact that woven into the happenings of the past are his own demons and past torments really makes for an excruciating, hellish existence.
I thought this was a pretty good thriller. It says on the cover that it’s as good as The Shining, which I certainly CANNOT endorse but, still a good thriller flick for movie night. I didn’t feel let down. The special effects were decent. The acting was decent. So, while it’s not something I would recommend right off the bat, if someone were to ask me if it’s worth watching, I’d say yes.
Ahhh, a true psychological thriller is upon us. Found in the depths of the DVD vault, The Killing Room has been discovered by yours truly. And it's an excellent find.
A group of four regular people sign up to be voluntary lab rats in a psychological research study. This is something they believe will be like pretty much any other voluntary testing procedure that people enlist in when they need money. (These things seem to prey upon the financially disenfranchised, ya know?)
So, we have four people; Kerry (Clea DuVall), a young woman, blonde, looking completely stressed out; Paul (Nick Cannon), a young man, average, dark hair and eyes, quiet and shy, seems a couple sandwiches short of a picnic; Crawford (Timothy Hutton), roughly middle aged, dark hair, wears a beanie, seems to know his way around the block; Tony (Shea Whigham), a high strung man probably in his late twenties or early thirties, anger issues, doesn’t seem overly bright.
They are brought into this all white room, one by one. It looks like a cross between something highly intuitional, like from a psych ward, and a police interrogation room. There is a window at the top of the room, near the ceiling, that appears to be a two-way mirror type of thing.
As they are brought into this room they are given a clipboard with a mountain of paperwork on it that they are supposed to fill out. It has bizarre questions on it like,
You and a bunch of friends are on a boat and it’s sinking. Who do you save first?
Then we have a doctor, Dr. Phillips (Peter Stormare), who comes in and explains that there are four phases to the experiment and one participant will be eliminated after each phase. However, regardless of what phase they are eliminated at, they will each be paid $250 for their participation in said experiment.
Now, along with the good doctor, is what we’ll call an Observer. Her name is Emily (Chloe Sevigny). She is a master in all kinds of psychology and was specially chosen to observe THIS experiment because of her particular skill set.
As soon as the doctor finishes explaining the goings on and what’s to happen, he nears Kerry and asks her for her name. As she smiles and tells him, BAM! gunshot to the forehead, right between the eyes. She drops dead to the floor and our friend the doctor informs the rest of the participants that the experiment is on…and leaves.
Now, the three men that are left are locked, trapped, in this room and there’s a friggin’ dead chick on the floor. They are also swiftly realizing that this is not just some regular psychological experiment. And they are NOT going to be just walking out of there when they are done.
As things progress, they are given questions to answer. The person farthest from the correct answer will be the next eliminated. They also notice names, dates and prayers etched into the white walls but have been painted over. They are even given a gun with one bullet at one point and “discuss” how that one bullet should be expended.
Their anxiety levels are skyrocketing and things get more and more tense as people die.
The Observer, Emily, sits behind the two-way mirror and watches the participants behavior, analyzing each of them and reporting her findings to the doctor, who sits there with her. This is sort of like her test run to see if she is ready to be a part of what they do there.
And that’s the burning question. What are they doing??? It’s a program called MK-Ultra. It’s an experiment in the breaking point of the human psyche. What are regular civilians with little to no training actually capable of? That’s what they want to find out.
And Emily, she’s not sure if she wants to be a part of this or not. Three Presidents have banned this program and yet it still exists in the shadows of the world, beyond the military, beyond the government, beyond our control.
Aaannnnndddd…that’s where I am going to stop with the details. I am not going to give anything else away.
I thought this was an excellent movie. It moved at a great, steady pace. It kept me interested the whole way through and I was left feeling entirely satisfied. I thought the acting was very adequate even though I am so not a fan of Nick Cannon, I can’t stand him. But they were all good in this movie.
There was no real gore and not a lot of blood in this movie for it being a horror/thriller, however, the mental anguish and psychological torment our subjects feel is very apparent and portrayed well on screen. This would be a great movie for someone who like conspiracy theories too. The idea that there is an organization out there somewhere conducting mind experiments on unsuspecting, hapless citizens without the approval or knowledge of the government could be rather unsettling to some.
In conclusion, I finished this movie with a smile and would recommend it to any thriller fan!
RATING 4/5 Stars
Here we have a story of a journalist, one who’s career has been lagging over the last eight months or so. Our journalist, Nelson Keece, played by Gary Busey, is an interesting type of writer, a truth teller from a unique perspective, like a method actor. He puts himself in the shoes, literally, of the subject of his writing. He’s done everything from become a full-blown alcoholic to portraying himself as a transvestite in order to construct an accurate portrayal of his subjects.
It just so happens that one night, he stumbles upon a guy chatting a chick up in an alley. Recognizing the man as Stefan, a gentleman from the transvestite bar the night before and being a journalist, always having his little handheld tape recorder on him (this was the 90’s guys, so gimme a break), anyways, Nelson decides to stealthily record this seemingly tawdry encounter.
The encounter swiftly turns from a guy trying to get his groove on to an angry rebuffed man murdering a poor, unsuspecting woman and Stefan sees Nelson running from the scene.
Now, Nelson, trying to do the right thing, attempts to get the attention of the homicide detective, a Mr. Haynes, enter Michael Madsen. However, our killer Stefan is right behind Nelson in the crowd and prevents him from making contact.
At this point, the two of them strike a deal. Stefan wants Nelson to interview him and well, Nelson wants to live so, it’s mutually beneficial for them to collaborate on this project. Plus, Nelson sees it as a surefire way to get back on top in his profession again.
So, in the beginning Nelson tries a couple more times to contact the police until he realizes it’s futile. He then asks Stefan to stop killing while they are working together. Stephan just simply can’t do that and continues to fuel his passion for murder.
Eventually, Stefan tricks Nelson into actually taking part in a murder himself before ultimately being forced to kill Stefan personally in order to end his spree of bloodshed.
The best part of this movie is Michael Madsen. He’s really the only reason for watching. His never ending wise cracks and sarcasm were all that made this movie bearable. I originally picked it because of Michael Madsen AND Gary Busey. Madsen has always been a favorite of mine and Busey was awesome in Lethal Weapon. But Busey really let me down in this movie.
And Stephan, played by Arnold Vosloo, he’s just blah. A monotone actor all the way around. Rarely did this man’s facial expression or voice or anything ever really change. It made for a fairly dull serial killer. The only time he seemed to get into character was when he actually murdered the victims and even then, he made it appear to be such an erotic thing to him it was just weird and out of context with the rest of the movie, even though that is often a real motivator for such crimes.
Overall, the movie was slow and uneventful. I can’t say that I recommend it for any real reason unless you just have to watch it for the Michael Madsen value.
RATING 2/5 Stars
***Note*** This movie is also known under the name Rough Draft.