The Alphabet Killer (2008)
Here we have a film made by Rob Schmidt and is sort of based on true events. While there were a series of crimes committed in Rochester, NY in the early 1970s, the basic premise of the case is the fact foundation for this film.
In New York in 1971-1973, three young girls, aging 10-11 years old, were kidnapped, raped, murdered and dumped, each in a different city. Each girl had double initials, first and last name starting with the same letter and were subsequently dumped in cities where the name of the city started with the same letter of the victim’s initials. These cases were never solved. There were similar cases in California in approximately 1977. These cases were never solved as well.
We have a detective for the NYPD, Megan Paige (Eliza Dushku), who suffers a nervous breakdown after not being able to solve a case, a case that she believes is the work of a serial killer. But, she is the only one that thinks this. Her dedication and stress in trying to solve the case add to her breakdown, causing hallucinations of the victim. She requires treatment and hospitalization which, ultimately, causes the loss of her job and boyfriend/fiancé, Kenneth (Cary Elwes), who is also an investigator and is eventually asked to head the task force for the murders.
Megan is treated for her breakdown and attends group therapy, run by Richard (Timothy Hutton), who is bound to a wheelchair. She also gets a job back in the PD in an office position. After there is another murder, she convinces the department to let her participate in the investigation. Her participation is not well received by the other officers involved in the task force.
Then, as the case progresses, they make an arrest. It is a man who was detained after a domestic violence encounter. They find evidence (white cat hair) that they believe links him to the murders and they disband the task force.
Megan, still not convinced, questions the evidence linking this suspect to the murders and thinks police have planted it to relieve the stress of the investigation and close the case. Still thinking there is a killer on the loose, Megan continues her own investigation, against orders from her superior officers.
As she goes out on her own, she runs into a priest at a church that all the victims attended. The priest is really creepy and has pictures of young girls in his room. Thinking she is onto something, her stress levels skyrockets and she has another breakdown.
She is held at the hospital for fourteen days by court order. They have her sedated with Thorazine to try to prevent her from being a nuisance. This is not a good plan on their part. She escapes the hospital by breaking the arm of a hospital worker and exiting the building.
She seeks refuge at Richard’s house, her group therapy leader. She starts snooping around her new temporary place to stay and finds that Richard has a cat. A white cat. She gets suspicious and searches some more. In his home she finds a St. Michael’s church memory book. That’s the same church all three victims had attended. See opens it and finds that Richard was a Math Counselor there.
Just as she’s putting it all together, Richard catches her in his room nosing about. She confronts him about knowing the victims of her cases and never saying anything to her about it. She asks him why and he basically tells her that, if he had said anything, she would have known who the murderer was.
Then, he leaps out of the wheelchair and lunges at Megan, attacking her. He subdues her by slamming her into a wall repeatedly. While he is dragging her bound, semi-unconscious body through a parking garage, he is telling her about how he’s not going to rape her but, he is going to kill her.
He throws her into the backseat of his car to take her away to kill her. Once they get to a secluded location he tosses her to the ground and prepares a needle for injection which is supposed to render her unconscious. Then he plans on making her death look like an accident. As he’s doing this, she frees herself from her rope bindings, kicks Richard and begins to run. Richard pulls out a gun that he has on him and starts shooting at her as she flees.
Now, the chase is on.
In a very smart move on her part, Megan hides in a van nearby and when Richard is close enough, kicks the door open, nailing him right in the face. He drops his gun and the struggle ensues. She gets her hands on the gun and shoots him in the foot as he jumps over a rail into a river below. She fires multiple shots at him in the water, not knowing whether she’s hit him again or not. She runs to check and make sure he’s dead but, he’s nowhere to be found.
All of this intense interaction causes her to have a psychotic break. She’s readmitted to the hospital again. They strap her to a bed, heavily sedate her and leave her there, staring into an observation camera, crying.
Then we cut to Richard, who is still alive, at a church service taking Communion.
Megan, in her broken mental state, remains tortured by the spirits of the victims.
Richard, goes free. Megan is locked up with no apparent release date. But, she vows to get out and find Richard…and kill him.
While there are some similarities between this movie and the facts of the real cases, the movie is not a depiction of what actually happened in real life.
Now, that being said, I do believe the film makers did a good job fictionalizing this story. The drama they developed went well with the story and added good “fluff” to the film.
I know they tried really hard to give us a good twist at the end but, I guessed who the killer was at 26 minutes into the movie. I don’t know if that’s because I know of the little tricks they use to try to surprise the viewer or if it was really that obvious. And there are filming tricks they use to try to surprise you. Things like not using the actor playing the bad guy’s name in the opening credits or not showing a certain person much in a movie until the twist is revealed, etc. There are a number of them. (Maybe I’ll do a blog post about those. Let me know if you guys want something like that.)
I will say that I do enjoy watching Timothy Hutton. He’s not a bad actor and I’ve seen him in a few movies where he is a killer. He plays the part pretty well. Also, Bill Moseley (Otis from House of 1000 Corpses) has a small part in this film. I’m a fan of his too. I have a hard time sometimes with Eliza Dushku simply because every time I look at her all I see is a cheerleader from “Bring It On”. It’s disturbing…at least to me.
But, I was entertained with this film and didn’t even check to see how much time was left on it. I only checked the counter twice, once when I made my decision who the killer was and then again when Bill Moseley came on screen. That’s it. So, it definitely held my attention.
And it IS possible to surprise me. “The Killing Room” was a film that got me. But, it’s rare that it happens. So, I DO take that into consideration here.
I could recommend this to any suspense/thriller lover. It’s definitely worth watching. I don’t think it would have been worth paying to go see at the theater but, I do think it’s still worth seeing if you like the genre.
This is universally rated as one of Alfred Hitchcock’s Top Ten Movies. Starring James Stewart, who stars in a number of Hitchcock’s films, this story encapsulates almost every aspect of a suspense/thriller…almost.
I’m probably going to be in the minority here but, I didn’t think this film was all that great. And I like Hitchcock movies. I love Psycho, The Birds, Lifeboat, Rear Window, North by Northwest was good. But when I watched this, I guess I may have expected too much.
Now, I think Jimmy Stewart was an incredible actor. I think this man was incredibly talented and I love and am sentimental about a number of films he’s been in. So, when I saw that he was in this, I just knew that it was going to be good. It wasn’t horrible, not even bad. But, it wasn’t as good as Psycho, The Birds or Lifeboat…and Lifeboat was an entire film that took place on a tiny little lifeboat in the middle of the ocean during WWII.
So, I didn’t think my expectations were all that high. I do see why this film would have been a big hit at the time it was released. I do always keep the era of release in mind when I am watching films because it makes an impact on what kind of content is going to be in the film. In the 50s, blood was RARELY seen on screen, if ever actually. Horror movies weren’t evolved to what we see today.
The fact that a woman jumps to her death by throwing herself into San Francisco Bay and then in the same movie we see a woman fall to her death from a church bell tower…trust me, the fact that it was a CHURCH bell tower in a horror film is not lost on me. Also, the fact that a police officer dies in the very beginning is appalling for the times. I am well aware of all of this.
But maybe it was the way that this tale was told that was more off-putting to me. Again, I know I’ll probably be in the minority here but, I just didn’t feel like the story flowed smoothly like other Hitchcock films. At the end, when everything is coming together, I just felt dejected and highly unsatisfied. I guess I felt like the ending was anti-climatic in a way.
In short, the story goes like this:
We have a former cop, Scottie, who retired due to his fear of heights and vertigo, which caused the death of a fellow police officer. He is enlisted by an old college buddy to follow his wife, whom he thinks is in danger and possibly possessed by some spirit of a woman from long ago. The husband, who wants his wife dead, hires a look-alike to be the woman Scottie follows. During his surveillance the two actually interact and fall in love. But, pretending to be buddy boy’s wife, she “jumps to her death” into the San Francisco Bay, following the mental illness and suicide plan of the husband. Then, she shows up as herself, later on. Scottie cannot shake his love for the woman he fell in love with and coaxes his “new girlfriend” (who is the same woman, unbeknownst to Scottie) to make changes to herself to look and act like the lady he fell in love with. Eventually, they fight and she runs off. She reveals to him the truth about the whole charade and he gets angry and chases her to a bell tower. As they go to embrace as she asks for forgiveness and professes her love for him, she sees a shadow, which turns out to be a nun, out of the corner of her eye that startles her so much so that she steps backward, falling from the tower and to her death.
Okay, so that’s probably a record summary for me. Very short, I know. I just couldn’t deal with all the details.
Now, with everything I said previously, don’t think that I don’t believe this movie is worth watching, because I do. It’s rare that I find a movie, especially a classic film, that is not worth seeing at least once…although it does happen. Truthfully, the only reasons I chose to watch this was because it was a Hitchcock film starring Jimmy Stewart. That alone warrants watching it. But, is it a film I will choose to watch as a first choice again? Nah, probably not. Any Hitchcock film is worth seeing at least once. This one is no exception.
The Hillside Strangler (2004)
This is a movie I absolutely HAD to pick up when I saw it on the shelf because I am a true crime buff and I am very familiar with this murderous duo. I often will watch movies that are based on true crime events. I always want to see how close Hollywood gets to the actual facts when they do these movies. So often, they embellish or just run off into a whole new realm with the story. (Sometimes, “Based on True Events” means that they took one fact from the real case and used that for the basis for a whole fictional tale. That doesn’t mean it really happened that way.)
Now, when we hear about serial killers, we often think “What made them that way? Why did they do that?” We often seem to want a nice neat answer that will explain away all of the evil we just learned of. And while a lot of the documentaries you will see will only talk about the murders themselves because, frankly, that’s what sells. We rarely get to hear about what led up to the initial murder or the one thing that put them over the edge.
In this Chuck Parello film written by Stephen Johnston, we get a closer look at the events causing these two men to become murders.
We start with Kenneth Bianchi, played by C. Thomas Howell. (Quick note, ever since I saw Howell in ‘The Hitcher’ in the late 80s, I have been a fan. He’s played a serial killer on Criminal Minds and has been in a number of horror/thriller films. He’s done other stuff like the movie ‘Side Out’ (where he is a lawyer that plays beach volleyball…I know…don’t say it) but, he really has a knack for the wicked and psychotic, I must say.) Bianchi is a young man with little marketable skill, living with his mother. Yet he is determined to be a police officer…my guess is for all the wrong reasons…which is probably why he is repeatedly turned down for the academy. (See, when you apply to be a police officer they have you fill out a bunch of paperwork. In that paperwork is a psychological questionnaire. This is used to determine whether or not you have the mental and emotional capacity to be a police officer. They ask you questions like:
You find out your mother is embezzling small amounts of money from her place of employment. She is using the money for medical care for your father. Do you report her to the authorities? Yes or No.
Now, what they are doing here is trying to find out where your moral compass is, if you have any room for judgment or if you strictly follow the rules, that kind of thing. Many government entities use this type of evaluation process. There are also portions of the “test” that are like:
I have trouble communicating when I am angry.
I find it difficult to sit still for long periods of time.
And you are to answer in the Never, Sometimes, Mostly, Always kind of answer.)
Bianchi fails this test numerous times because of his answers to particular questions. His mother, apparently sensing he needs a push, I guess in any direction, she sends him to live with his cousin Angelo Buono (Nicholas Turturro).
Buono, who is already a man on the edge, talks Bianchi into starting a prostitution ring with him after he is rejected for the academy yet again, this time from the LAPD. Angelo has also been throwing women and drugs at Kenneth ever since he showed up in LA. Angelo also seems to have a deep disrespect, if not hatred, for women in general. His mother says that he raped his step-daughter and then left her to his two sons to have their turns with her…and he bragged about it. (This is not a well man. Why Bianchi’s mother EVER thought THIS was the right influence for her son is beyond me.)
Bianchi uses a ruse as a talent agent to pick up young women from all over. He then brings them to Buono’s house, saying that the modeling job has been cancelled and they need to work off the expenses for getting them there. If the girls refuse, they get beaten. Bianchi and Buono both continue this racket, raping these girls and marketing them as prostitutes. And the guys think things are going well.
Bianchi is living with his girlfriend, who is pregnant with his child. They constantly fight and eventually she leaves him.
Then, jealous that these two are moving in on their business, a bunch of guys shake down Bianchi and Buono, take all of their money and put them out of business.
Now, they got their “client list” from a prostitute that has ties to the men that stole all their money. They figure she’s the reason they got jumped so they decide to take revenge on her.
They coax her into their car one night and, after much bullying and razzing from Buono, Bianchi kills her in the backseat.
They quickly become engrossed in the feeling of power they derive from murder. Kenneth likes to impersonate a police officer while Buono simply has no patience. They both like to kill prostitutes thinking that 1) they are above these women and 2) nobody will miss such a woman if she goes missing.
They kidnap, rape and murder multiple women, their taste for killing becoming more and more insatiable. They are not only doing this for the adrenaline rush anymore or the power, they actually see it as a fun activity, like most people would go bowling or to a movie.
During this whole time, Kenneth is trying to reconcile with his girlfriend, Claire, and it is NOT going well. He has become even more unreliable and is now a perpetual liar. She has decided that she doesn’t want Ken to see their baby or have any part in the baby’s life.
Meanwhile, the heat is building up as big headlines are breaking the news. The police have fifty-five officers working full time by the discovery of their fourth victim. With all the noise surrounding their crimes, Buono thinks it’s time to cool off on the killing for a bit. Ya know, wait for things to blow over. Kenneth does not agree and wants to keep killing.
While obtaining their next victim, they have a very close call, almost getting caught with her in their arms and they have to use the fire escape of her apartment building to flee. This is what finally makes Buono crack and he says they need to stop for a while. But, Bianchi decides to go out on his own. He was even raping and killing a young woman while his baby was being born and missed her birth because of it.
Buono gets extremely angry with Bianchi and tells him to leave, basically disowning him at a very low point in his life. This causes him to start to devolve and lose control. He soon goes on his own crime spree in which he is careless and leaves evidence, leading the police right to him.
The police track the jewelry of some of the victims to Bianchi’s girlfriend, Claire. She tells them about Angelo and he is quickly arrested.
Six months later, while he is in prison, Bianchi’s new girlfriend tries to kill someone while he is incarcerated. They are hoping the “copycat” murder will free him. She is unsuccessful and her victim escapes and she is subsequently arrested.
Bianchi and Buono are both sentenced to life in prison.
This movie was pretty good at portraying the depth of disturbed and vile behavior of these two killers. It’s obvious that Bianchi has some serious insecurity issues. He is also the follower here, Buono being the leader.
The murder scenes in this movie are okay but, they are quick. There is a lot of sex in this movie so if that is something that bothers you, you’ll want to pass on this film.
They also did a great job in making this film look dated. The did an excellent job making it look like it not only took place in the 70s but, also filmed in a way that made it more old school and retro.
You really get a feel for how sick and twisted these guys really were. As I watched the movie, it just got more and more disturbing. It’s one thing to read about this stuff or watch it in a documentary but, to see it brought to life like this really makes it much more horrifying.
While I think the personalities were portrayed well, I do wish they could have found someone to play Buono that at least looked a little like him. I mean, Turturro isn’t even close. Howell kind of, sort of looks like Bianchi but, Turturro doesn’t look like Angelo at all.
All of that being said, this would be a good movie to watch if you are a serial killer buff and/or like true crime stories. They got it pretty close to the truth from what I know about the case.
Get Out (2017)
With all the hoopla that there has been about this film plus its huge showing at the Oscars, I had to watch it and see if it lived up to the hype. And with a kill less than five minutes into the movie, we were off to a good start. I had hoped that we could keep that kind of pace going for the duration of the film but, that didn’t really happen.
While this Jordan Peele film (writer/director) was good, I’m not sure that it deserved all of the accolades that were heaped upon it from the get go.
First of all, the use of a horror film as a platform for a political statement seems a little strange to me. But, that was well received. I did think that the film, though it moved steadily, still moved kind of slow.
Second, for a horror movie, there wasn’t a lot of HORROR as much as there was SUSPENSE. The events in this film tend to take place like they would in real life, leaving you constantly wondering “What the hell is going on?” It’s almost like being in a constant state of slight confusion. And then, when we do find out what the deal is, I think it is extremely poorly explained.
So basically, we have a Caucasian woman who is dates African-American men in order to take them home to her family and friends so they can bid on (now here’s what I’m not clear about) either their body or their body parts. These poor men are basically being used as harvested donors…of, I guess, anything. (The reason I am not going into the entire story like usual is because there are a lot of little twists and turns and tiny nuances that you really just need to see.)
Now, the creep factor is way up there in this film, I will admit that. Although there is no real gore or super bloody scenes or anything like that, the acting is good and everything is played just to the right amount as not to be overdone and cheesy.
The ending is the most action-packed part of the film. There are two endings…the alternate ending is actually the original ending and in today’s world, is definitely more believable on how things would have ended up. However, if you like happy (somewhat happy) endings wrapped neatly with a bow, then you’ll be delighted with this one.
However, I will also say that some things were somewhat predictable…and to me, predictable doesn’t equal and Oscar…especially in a horror film. (It’s so rare that horror gets any attention at all at the Oscars, when it does these films are usually groundbreaking and shocking.) The chick’s whole family was creepy from the very beginning. There’s obvious tension and dysfunction that goes way beyond the normal American family.
All of that being said, the film did keep me mostly interested the whole way through. The suspense in not knowing why things are happening and little being explained until the end almost forces the viewer to commit to the entire film. I only checked to see how much time was left twice, which is not bad. It did hold my attention for the most part and it did have a couple of good scares in there.
Overall, I would be able to recommend this to any horror lover and most people who may not be into the typical horror flicks too much. I will also say that I will be watching it a second time eventually in order to see if I can catch anything I may have missed the first time.
Written by Dee Snider and directed by John Pieplow, this has been one of my favorite horror/thriller films for a long time. It delves deep into the depravity of a tormented human psyche and is truly one of the only movies that has ever REALLY creeped me out.
What we have is Hollywood foreshadowing what would later become one of the easiest ways for predators to initiate contact with their victims. A story so real it could actually happen and being a true crime buff, I can assure you that there have been many similar cases throughout the country for decades.
This story takes place on the cusp of the birth of the internet. (Quick history lesson for those who have never lived without the internet: The internet wasn’t fully commercialized and made available to the public until 1995. Back then we pretty much only had AOL and there wasn’t much in the way of “searching the web”. The big craze at the beginning was chat rooms and the famous “You’ve got mail” message when you got an email. Keep in mind that this was all very brand new. Most adults in the 90s didn’t really understand the internet and the kids had no concept of predators in chat rooms. For instance, in 1998 when this movie came out, it was NOT standard procedural information to include an email address on personal information forms. That’s how new it all was. Most businesses didn’t even have websites yet. We were still getting used to the idea of everyone having cell phones and people were still using pagers in the late 90s.)
But, before I go any further, let me tell you the story.
Two girls, Genevieve and Tiana, are hanging out one night at Tiana’s house. Gen is online in a chat room, the hot thing to do to socialize while stuck in the house at the time. Gen is chatting with a screenname CaptHowdy. After a couple of messages are exchanged, he invites them to a party. They look at his profile and see that he’s a teenager, like them, he goes to a different school and he’s telling them his parents are gone for the weekend. So, they get his address and go to the party.
The next day, they don’t come home and parents get worried. Gen’s father, Mike Gage, is a local detective on the police department. He begins to investigate the girls’ disappearance.
Through the investigation Gage is alerted to Tiana’s car being found in a lake. Classic Investigation 101, check the trunk. Tiana is inside, nude, her mouth sewn shut, tortured and dead. They also find a septum spike (nose piercing spike) that is absolutely huge. The owner of this piercing can put a finger through the piercing hole for this spike, that’s how big it is. Coupling that with the kind of torture that Tiana was subjected to, they surmise that their suspect is into body art.
Furthermore, Gage’s niece enlightens him on how the girls how been using chat rooms as of late to meet guys. Now, he has his first lead. They contact the internet service provider and get account information for who his daughter was last chatting with in the chat room before she logged out. That’s when they get the name CaptHowdy and the niece looks up his member profile. Using that information, they pose as a teen, draw him out and he invites them to a party. They use this as an opportunity for sting operation but, they bust in on the wrong house. Gage, horribly dejected, sleeps in his car outside of the raid locale.
When he wakes up he gets online again to see where Howdy is. (He is able to do this by plugging his phone into his computer and using his phone line and minutes to connect to the internet. This was not widely available, if at all, at the time this movie was made. I know because even a few years later a top electronics store had nothing in stock that did such a thing and they had no idea what I was talking about.) He ends up having a conversation with CaptHowdy and through some sly deduction, finds his house.
He enters the house and finds Howdy (Dee Snider), his own daughter, who is bound in a stand-up cage with her own mouth sewn shut and multiple other teens in similar condition, all having been tortured with various body piercings and needles and such. Howdy and Gage have a brief scuffle before Howdy is handcuffed and the rescue is complete. During this arrest and rescue, Howdy rambles on and on about how he has never been afraid of anything ever because he wishes he was dead and a bunch of other ridiculous stuff. Also, during the movie up to this point, we HAVE seen Howdy and what he’s doing to these kids. He talks about a right of passage and badges of honor and spiritual awakenings all due to experiencing pain at massive levels.
After his apprehension, CaptHowdy is found to be Carlton Hendricks…and not guilty by reason by insanity. He spends about a year in a mental hospital during which time he gets treatment and put on medication. Then he is released.
There’s an entire mob that is extremely displeased about this. Two of the main people in the mob are Sunny, an overzealous religious nut and Jackson (played by Robert Englund AKA Freddy Krueger), a drunk misogynist. They all decide to break into his house and seek their own justice, even though he seems to have completely changed.
They grab Hendricks as he is watching tv and having his dinner. They throw him into the back of a car and as they do so, his medication falls out of his pocket onto the ground and they run over it as they leave, smashing Hendricks’ face into the window. Detective Gage, who is keeping his own eye on Hendricks’ after his release, see all of this and does nothing. He and Hendricks even make eye contact, still he does nothing. He lets his emotion as a father override his duty as a police officer.
The mob drives Hendricks out to a remote area, string him up by his neck from a tree branch and watch him struggle until he passes out. They leave him to hang there and die as a rainstorm begins.
But, the hanging branch isn’t strong enough and with his weight and the storm, it breaks, letting Carlton crash to the ground. He regains consciousness as his unmedicated Howdy personality and you can see vengeance burning in his eyes.
Howdy goes on a bender, kidnapping various people and torturing them. Among them are Sunny, Jackson and unfortunately, Gage’s daughter Genevieve again. This time it doesn’t take long for Gage to find Howdy. Another fight ensues as the rescue of the victims takes place. Gage finally loses control and getting the upper hand on Howdy and is able to kill him, in revenge for what he did to Genevieve. Gage, having killed Howdy and leaving him in a burning building, goes to the hospital to check on his daughter.
So, one of the reasons I love this movie is because I find it to be something that could seriously really happen in real life. There are internet predators out there and they do target vulnerable teenagers. There are also some really sick individuals that kick quite a thrill out of inflicting pain on other people. Couple these things together, which is not unheard of already, and you have Captain Howdy.
The thing is that these girls are talking to a person and they have no idea who that person really is…and it doesn’t really sink in to everyone that who they say they are in their profile may not be who they are in real life.
So, you’ve got a demented soul torturing other people and a father who happens to be a cop now has to make the decision to either follow his badge and the law or follow his heart.
While there is no real GORE in this movie, there is a lot of explicit content and you will see needles and such piercing through skin. If that is something that you just cannot stomach (as some of my good friends cannot), then this may not be a movie you can handle. There is a definite gross factor to the up close and personal view we get with some of the stuff but, to me, it’s really nothing.
Also, I love Dee Snider. I love Twisted Sister. And Snider is awesomely spooky in this film. He embodies that impetuous “I don’t care, I don’t feel, I don’t hurt” attitude yet, you can see how damaged Howdy really is. This is also more a story about Hendricks/Howdy than his crimes. But, we also see how such crimes can affect all of those involved.
This is truly an unusual movie that any horror fan must see.
Riding the Bullet (2004)
Here we have a movie adaptation by Mick Garris of Stephen King’s novella Riding the Bullet, written in 2000. I happen to think that this was an interesting story however, it did not get rave reviews as it was given two and a half stars by IMDb and only one and a half by Rotten Tomatoes. Personally, I think that the lack of success with it’s limited theatrical release may have been more of a casting issue than a content issue. I happen to believe that any King movie adaptation deserves top quality A-List actors or the B-List actors that really should be A-List but for some reason just aren’t recognized as such.
So, here is what happens:
It’s 1969. Alan Parker (Jonathan Jackson) is a young and talented artist going to school at the University of Maine. But, recently he has become fixated and obsessed with death, the macabre and things of the gruesome morbid nature. His art instructor in his college course even says something after Alan turns a beautiful young lady posing for a nude portrait into some sort of terrified creature that resembles a woman dripping with decaying flesh.
He is also feeling on the outs with his girlfriend, Jessica (played by Erika Christensen). So much so that he feels that they are on the verge of breaking up.
Feeling exceptionally low on his birthday, he contemplates slitting his wrists while taking a bath. As he has the razor blade on his skin and he’s working up the courage to slice, his girlfriend barges in with all his friends, a birthday cake in her hands, all screaming “Surprise!” (Yeah, okay, first of all, I can appreciate you all wanting to throw me a party but, the party isn’t here in my bathroom. How rude to barge in on someone, backed by practically everyone they know, when they are in the tub. And second, don’t you think when he got home would have been the more appropriate time…like when he walked in the door…like normal people?)
So, this “surprise” startles his so badly that he actually does cut his wrist and has to be taken away to the hospital…on his birthday. After he gets better, his friends think that a concert might cheer him up and since John Lennon is coming to town, they convince him to go with them to the show.
While they are getting ready to leave Alan receives word that his mother, his last living relative, has suffered a stroke and is in the hospital and near death. Wanting to see his mother before she passes away, he decides to forego the concert and hitchhike the over one-hundred-mile trek to get to the hospital, hopefully before she dies. (I don’t know why he didn’t just ask a friend to drive him. Or at least to borrow a car. I mean, what kind of jerko friend is going to be like “Oh? Your mother is dying? Well, good luck with that, I’m gonna go see Lennon and get trashed. See ya!”)
So, off he goes.
Hitchhiking. (Which is just so stupid to do, I mean even back in the day, were they not making horror movies? I know my own father used to hitchhike to and from college on visits home for the holidays in the 60s. Is this not just ludicrous? And you want to know why? Here’s why…)
While he thumbs for rides, he runs into some of the weirdest people. He gets a ride from an old man that cannot keep his hands off of his own groin area. He makes it seems like he’s suffering from “something”. By the way was itching and groaning, it could be a number of things…none of which Alan wants to be near. So, he asks the man to let him out in the town they happen to come up on.
At some point, he is meandering through a graveyard in the town and is reading the headstones. One says George Staub (David Arquette). He thinks nothing of it and gets back to the road and puts his thumb in the air.
Soon, another car picks him up. (I promise you, this movie makes it seem like if you hitchhike you are guaranteed a ride.) This guy is just “off” in a way. Staub starts talking crazy, in such a way that once again, Alan wants out of the car.
Staub says no, that he wouldn’t get picked up again for miles and that it’s not safe. He starts acting even weirder when he begins driving super-fast and scaring Alan, who is now stuck with this maniac. George talking about a roller coaster at a local theme park called The Bullet. While talking about this ride, Alan flashes back to when he and his mother went. They waited in line and as their turn came up Alan chickened out. George somehow knows this and teases Alan about it.
After some ranting, (as the creepy people in movies always seem to do), he tells Alan that he must choose…either Alan dies or his mother. After much pressure and fear, Alan chooses his mother to die, rationalizing it that she is already ill and old and he has way more life left to live than she does.
However, his mother ends up living and they get three more years together. Alan, now in his forties, is strolling through the theme park he and his mother used to visit, reliving old memories. He is approached by a man in a car. The stranger, who looks a lot like George Staub, offers Alan a ride. But, he refuses and moves along.
Now, keep in mind that, this being a King story, there’s a lot of little things that I just plumb didn’t mention. They are way better explained in the movie.
I happen to think that while David Arquette tried to play a creepy villain, it comes off as forced, over the top and more like a creepy teenager. I’m not sure if this is what’s intended as I have not yet read the novella itself. But Arquette was really kind of a turn off on this movie. I found myself rolling my eyes at his character a lot.
I do think the movie was well done for the seeming small budget. It only grossed about $135,00 at the box office which is a major flop. Still, I didn’t find myself struggling to make it through the movie, struggling to hear the dialogue or struggling to see what was on screen.
I believe, with a better cast, this movie could have been something good. But I don’t think there were many others at the time of inception that would agree with me. However, I could recommend this movie to fans of King or any hitchhiker flicks. It’s not like it was horrible.
This is a haunted house type movie. It was originally planned to be released in theaters but, went straight to DVD instead. I’m not sure why. I think it may have done alright in the theaters.
The opening credits reveal disturbing images of a mental asylum and it’s suffering patients. That right there was genius on the part of the director, David R. Ellis.
The story is basically as follows:
A group of freshman college students are fortunate enough to be the first residents in a new dorm on campus. The dorm was once an insane asylum and the doctor who practiced there was definitely a madman.
These lucky students aren’t forced to attend a freshman orientation where they meet a total jerk who, I guess, is like the dorm resident supervisor. Our cast of characters is the typical diverse stereo-type collection.
And, one by one, as they try to settle into their new rooms in the dorm, they are confronted by the spirit of the doctor. These students all have troubled pasts and are struggling in life. The maniac doctor, in his time of practice, specialized in healing the exact type of young people these students are.
With each encounter they are forced back into their world of trauma and terror, forced to confront their darkest secrets and inner demons…and the doctor.
The movie is pretty good for an idea that has already been done time and time again. The suspense wasn’t bad and the kill scenes were pretty good. The doctor was definitely a creepy character and like all horror movies, there’s always a couple of people in the group you dislike and want to die first and there’s people you like and hope they make it to the end of the movie.
I will not tell you which ones live and which ones don’t. I prefer you find out for yourself seeing as how there is a lot of explanation and twisty type things in the movie. You will need to pay more attention than if it were a plain slasher film. Things are explained throughout the whole movie.
I would say this is a movie anyone who likes horror could watch at least once. It didn’t leave me feeling cheated or dissatisfied. So, just have patience and let the movie unfold. It's also a great movie to watch if you like to warn the actors not to do things even if they can't hear you. Enjoy!
Meeting Evil (2012)
I’ll pretty much watch anything with Samuel L. Jackson in it. Which is why, when I saw this on the shelf, I grabbed it up.
This particular flick is Jackson and Luke Wilson. Now, I’m not really a fan of Luke…or Owen for that matter. I think there are some much better actors out there that are underrated in comparison to these Wilson boys. This Chris Fisher film happens to be a movie version of the book Meeting Evil by Thomas Berger in 1992.
So, the movie goes pretty much like this:
Meet John Felton (Luke Wilson). A poorly depressed soul who has just been fired from his job. To add insult to injury, the man that fired him is the ex-boyfriend of the woman John cheated on his wife with. This mistress, Tammy, broke up with boss-man boyfriend Trevor to be with John but, John decided to stay married to his wife, Joanie.
John goes home the day of his firing to find a foreclosure notice on his door and a surprise birthday party waiting for him in his house. Obviously, he’s upset multiplied by a thousand by now, so he’s not really in the socializing mood. That being the case, Joanie takes their kids to the park to give John time on his own.
In his solitude, he wanders around the house ending up in the backyard overlooking a giant hole in the ground, the beginning stages of a pool for the family. As he’s staring at the deep pit in the yard (a perfect metaphor for his current situation), he hears someone knocking at his front door.
John goes to the door and opens it to find Richie (Jackson), who is lookin’ wicked slick in his fedora. Richie explains he had car trouble and asks if John could help him push the car, a 1972 Pontiac GTO (OMG could you just die??? What a piece of automotive machinery!!!)
John, seemingly reluctant, agrees to help, walking out the door without his wallet, cell phone or keys. (Okay people, please, if you get nothing from anything I ever write please get this: nature gives you that uneasy feeling for a reason, the hair on the back of your neck stands up for a reason, it’s your own senses telling you something isn’t right. Please, don’t blow that off. Animals have the same instinct, ask a hunter. To ignore such a gift of a warning system like that is just stupid.)
Now, while John is pushing the car from the back, Richie is up front steering. As they are rolling along, Richie starts the car and it backfires, burning John’s knee. Richie stops the car and pops the trunk, walking toward John with a revolver in his hand hidden behind him, talking to John, to distract him. But then, Richie sees a little girl and instead of hurting John further, convinces him to let him drive to the hospital so John can get treatment.
The car ride turns out to be an interesting one. So much so that John starts to wonder about Richie and if he’s really an okay guy. Among other oddities, Richie is constantly whistling “Dixie”…which is just out of place and eerie to everyone. Richie decided to pull into a bar before going to the hospital, he wants to buy John a drink. John declines the drink, thanks him for the ride and walks across the street to a cell phone store to try to call his wife. The lady working at the store, however, is incredibly rude and won’t let John use the phone. And since he doesn’t have his wallet, he has no money. So he leaves the store and goes over to the bar to use the payphone and call Joanie collect to have her come pick him up (how many of you remember using payphones and being able to call collect??? I do).
In the bar, he sees Trevor, the ex-boss and Tammy, the mistress. Tammy walks up to him and starts coming on to him pretty aggressively. He tries to be polite (and a good guy) and decline. (I mean, they’ve already fooled around and his wife already know about it so, let’s not make it worse, right?)
He makes his way to the phone in the back of the bar only to find Richie sitting at a table with his feet up and drinking. They exchange a few words and then seem to go their separate ways, sort of.
Tammy snags John again and offers him a ride home. He knows this probably isn’t a good idea but he takes her up on it anyway. As they are discussing things, they hear sirens. Richie pops up out of nowhere and suggests that it’s time to leave since the cops are on the way.
They all pile into Tammy’s car and take off driving. A little later while they are driving through no man’s land a trucker starts following them and harassing them, forcing them to pull over.
This trucker is apparently the boyfriend of the rude cell store worker…and she is dead. The trucker is certain that John did it and they both get out of their vehicles to confront each other. Instead, as the trucker gets near, Richie hits him with the car, killing him.
This begins the tragic results of encountering someone like Richie. Everywhere he goes, people die. The cops are thinking the killer is John because everywhere John goes, Richie goes. During the mayhem Tammy escapes and runs away. John tries to escape but, instead, has to convince Richie to let him go and that results in Richie threatening to harm John’s wife and kids.
John ends up getting picked up by the police. He tries to explain to the police about Richie and what is going on, that Richie is a killer and a psycho. However, the police don’t believe him and continue to hold him. While he is in custody more murders take place, proving he’s not the killer, plus Tammy shows up and corroborates everything John says.
Now, the diner murders are, of course, Richie’s doing and during the commission of the crimes, it is believed that Richie is shot and killed. But that is a mistake.
Richie returns to the Feltons, forcing himself into their home, forcing them to have dinner with him, expecting to get the same hospitality as any WANTED guest would get, even though no one wants him there at all.
Richie just so happens to be a talker, quite the conversationalist. He likes to play word games and try to puzzle the mind, just psychological kind of stuff. In all his talking, he starts to reveal things. Like how he happened to show up on John’s door that day, how he knew he’d be alone, how he knew to coax John outside…John’s wife.
Richie explains that Joanie has also been having an affair and has actually hired Richie, a hitman, to kill John so she can be with her lover and run off with the life insurance money. Joanie emphatically denies this but, as Richie continues to talk, one can’t help but think it’s entirely possible.
As tension rises, everyone is now yelling and no one is listening. John is pissed. Richie is laughing. Joanie is pissed as all get out. She lunges at John trying to stab him (maybe she thinks she can make it look like Richie did it in a staged crime scene) but, John takes the knife from her and begins to come at her. Instead though, he stabs Richie and Joanie starts whacking at Richie with one of John’s golf clubs. Now they are giving this guy one hell of a beating and yet, Richie is still strong enough to pull John with him as they crash through a large window out into the backyard. They land in the hole for the pool, which is a muddy miniature lake due to pouring rain, and the struggle continues.
The cops, finally figuring it all out, show up at the Felton’s just in time for one of the officers to shoot Richie, actually killing him this time.
The Feltons go to bed that night, together, in the house all this happened in. Joanie asks if everything is going to be okay, John doesn’t answer. They turn out their side table lights as John is whistling “Dixie”, just like Richie.
Now, I originally got this just because of Jackson. And his character was good, he definitely made the movie. I just don’t find Luke Wilson that talented of an actor. He just seems so monotone and bland. And that’s what he was like in this movie. I would have liked a little more of the suspense/thriller feeling. There isn’t a whole lot of build up to a whole lot of anything. And the wife hiring a hitman wasn’t that tight of a twist because when she’s announcing to John she’s taking the kids to the park, she almost lets the secret out before the movie even gets started. She is just suspicious about how she does that whole scene. Now, I don’t know if they are trying to make us suspicious or if she just didn’t play it well but, she should definitely not be a professional poker player.
So, on the back of the box cover it says “Samuel L. Jackson has never been this terrifying.”, said by Ryan McLelland from Ain’t It Cool News. I have to say that while he was good, as always, I don’t think he was terrifying. He plays a great off the wall character but, in all honesty, he’s more terrifying in Pulp Fiction. It’s that calm conversation he has with “Ringo” in the diner that makes him so intimidating. When people act crazy, although that can be a deterrent to wanting to be in their company, it’s not always scary. That whole “I’m gonna talk real soft and clam and slow so you can tell that I am about to wipe your existence from the face of the earth” voice, well, truthfully, it reminds me of my mother when she used to get really mad when I was a kid. You always knew you were in it deep when Mom was calm like that. And the calmer she was, the worse things were going to be for you.
So, all that being said, I did think this was a good flick. I mean, Jackson was what you would expect and Wilson is tolerable. The action scenes are decent and the movie moves quickly, not bogging you down with useless palaver. Samuel L. Jackson fans should like this movie. Though I don’t think it’s a movie for just any horror lover. You gotta be willing to not have an abundance of any of the horror tactics we so often see in the genre. Other than that, I thought it was good.
Since the original Halloween movie is one of my all-time favorite horror films, I chose this to see what else was done with the idea of Michael Myers.
Boy, did I make a mistake. Not that this film was absolutely horrible but, Joe Chappelle is no John Carpenter. (Sorry Joe.) They did use the Carpenter music which at least made it a little better.
The big plotline in this movie was genealogy, Michael Myers’ bloodline. It’s an interesting thought but, it wasn’t developed very well in this flick.
Paul Rudd plays Tommy Doyle. Do you remember little Tommy Doyle? He was the one that Laurie Strode was babysitting the night Michael escaped and came back to Haddonfield. We have the same Dr. Loomis (Donald Pleasence) but, the good doctor is NOT in good shape.
The short SHORT version is this:
There is still one person in the Myers bloodline alive. It’s a little baby boy, the son of Michael’s niece Jamie. (This was my first problem right at the very beginning. Apparently, Michael and his niece were abducted from the Haddonfield Police Station. That’s where we open…HOW? Am I supposed to have seen every single Halloween movie to know who these people are? I haven’t, by the way. Oh, and how they got to where they are now? Give me a break.) Also, I guess Michael won’t stop killing until all his relatives are dead. (Nice guy.)
Tommy Doyle is now grown and lives in a boarding house across the street from the Myers’ house. Relatives of the Strode’s live in the house now. And they are clueless at to who’s house that originally was.
Tommy gets ahold of this baby and finds Dr. Loomis. They are both convinced (very easily, I might add) that Michael has come home…and he wants this baby.
The rest of it is truly filler around that basic premise and the murders that Michael commits. While there are some inventive kills, this truly isn’t the Michael Myers that we know. The Michael in this movie walks way too fast to be our Myers we all know and love. One of the things that always made Michael so scary was that no matter how fast these people ran and no matter how much distance they put between them and him or what the threw in his way, he always ALWAYS caught up with them and he was walking as if he was out for a Sunday stroll in the park! I mean, seriously! This man is walking at the pace of someone window shopping and his victims are running at their full adrenaline enhanced speed and yet, nobody can ever shake this guy. Now, that, my friends, is freakishly creepy and gives the sense of overwhelming defeat. The Michael in THIS film, however, walks at a quick pace and I’m sorry, Michael just isn’t supposed to be in a hurry…he’s the villain. He knows he’s going to catch these fools.
And Dr. Loomis is like a man who has lost his will to live in this movie. I mean truly. He just doesn’t have to the passion and fire that we saw in the original.
I’d say the only reason to watch this film would be for the kills. Those are some pretty good scenes. Other than that, I could have passed on this one.
My Bloody Valentine (1981)
I watched this a couple weeks ago, in the belated spirit of Valentine’s Day. With the opening scene being what it was, I thought this was going to be a pretty killer movie. I was a little let down.
In this Canadian slasher film directed by George Mihalka, we start with two miners, a male and a female, down in a mine and they are apparently on break because they are getting it on in the mine shaft. As they get ready to take off their clothes, the male picks up the female and thrusts her into the wall where a pick axe is lodged, impaling her and killing her. The male is wearing a gas mask of sorts and we never see his face.
The rest of the movie is about a small mining town that, after twenty years, decides to reinstate the Valentine’s Day Dance tradition that had been canceled after a horrible mining accident.
The accident happened twenty years prior in 1960 on the night of the dance on Valentine’s Day. A team of miners were left in the mines to attend the dance that night. While the dance was going on the team of miners got buried alive in the mines due to a methane explosion. Harry Warden was the only survivor and accomplished living until he was rescued by turning into a cannibal and eating his friends while trapped. This caused him to go insane and after getting out of the mine, he killed the supervisors that left them unattended and was committed to a mental hospital. He vowed to kill more people if they ever host a Valentine’s Day dance again.
Now, jump forward twenty years to Thursday February 12, 1980. They’ve decided to have the dance again and there are a number of young people excited about it. The Mayor gets a valentine, a bloody human heart, and it warns him not to go ahead with the dance or there will be bloodshed.
They go ahead and keep the dance scheduled until people start getting hacked up by a murderer in mining gear. Once this starts to happen, the town sheriff orders the town hall closed and the dance canceled.
This upsets the younger town crowd and of course, they rebel and schedule their own gathering at the mines. (How stupid are we, kids? Teens, in my opinion, have a very slim chance of surviving horror movies.) One of these younger folks just so happens to be the son of one of the supervisors that was murdered in 1960 by Harry Warden. The officials also discover that the mental hospital has no record of ever housing Warden…ever. (So, NOW, where is he??)
Naturally, as the party progresses on the night of Valentine’s, people begin to get murdered left and right. The murderer chases everyone through the mines and is eventually revealed to be the slain supervisor’s son. He escapes the clutches of the police, further into the mine, screaming in insanity about revenge and bloody valentines.
Okay, so here we have the foundation for what could be a great horror flick. I actually looked some things up about this movie and I found that there was a HUGE censorship conflict over the gore content of this film in the process of its UK release and also when releasing in the United States. However, I struggle to see what the big debate was over. Apparently, what got released originally in the US was considered to be super gory but, frankly, it’s no worse than A Nightmare on Elm St. or An American Werewolf in London. But hey, that’s just my opinion. I will say that later in 2009, they re-released it with more of the intended scenes that were cut out due to censorship and the director has put his seal of approval on THIS 2009 version, pressing that it is more how the movie was intended to be viewed. (I’d like to see this version. Although it can’t include too much more, it’d still be nice to see what the director’s original vision was before it got cut to pieces by oversensitive people who don’t realize this is truly just fiction.
As for the actors, which I admit I did not name characters and actors because I didn’t feel the movie was good enough to warrant that kind of detailed review, they weren’t horrible but, they weren’t our favorites either.
The movie was watchable and the kill scene at the very beginning is probably the best scene in my opinion. I do think putting that at the beginning set the bar a little high for the rest of the movie and they really just couldn’t measure up to that kind of scene. It really did get me excited for the movie and then, as the movie went on, I actually checked the time counter to see how long it had left. Also, it is kind of poorly lit in a lot of scenes, in my opinion. I do recognize that they are underground scenes however, I have seen many movies overcome the same hurdle.
Now, while I wouldn’t just come out and recommend this movie to anyone, if they were a slasher movie fan and had run out of things to watch and they were looking for something new that they had never seen, I would tell them to watch this. But, I would pre-empt the viewing with something to the effect of “Don’t have really high expectations for this movie.” Still, it didn’t put me to sleep and I could follow the story so, I do believe that’s a plus.