Wes Craven's New Nightmare (1994)
Written/Directed by Wes Craven
What a great way to bring Freddy back to the fans! We always look at the Nightmare on Elm Street series as fiction (of course) but, this film brings the fiction into the real lives of the Elm Street actors.
Heather Langenkamp achieved a lot of fame and popularity because of her role as Nancy in the original Elm Street movies. She has had a successful career so far, has gotten married and lives in California with her husband Chase and their son Dylan (the kid who plays Dylan is the same kid who plays Gage in Pet Sematary). And, as in all the Nightmare on Elm Street movies, dreams are the catalyst in this monumental comeback of Freddy.
Heather isn’t the only one that’s dreaming about Freddy. Wes Craven is also dreaming about Freddy. The idea is that as long as the Nightmare on Elm Street movies are being made, “Freddy” (explanation is coming) will forever be trapped in the story of the film and cannot escape to the real world to do damage and cause harm.
See, Wes has determined that “Freddy” is not actually just some evil dead psychopath with a very fragile ego and low self-esteem seeking revenge on all his would-be oppressors for all the perceived wrongs they have committed against him. (Nice little breakdown there, yeah?) Instead, “Freddy” is an evil entity that is only confined by the bounds of the “fairytale” (the story of the movies). What Wes has found is that as long as the “fairytale” continues and movies about Freddy are being made, this entity cannot escape the fairytale and enter the real world. This being the case, Wes asks Heather to reprise her role as Nancy Thompson in order to keep the “Freddy” entity at bay. He says that the entity is now free since Freddy was finally defeated in Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare and they must make another movie to trap it in the fairytale once more.
Heather is also having dreams about Freddy. Her husband and son are in these dreams as well, of course now risking them as possible victims, making the whole situation and the idea of playing Nancy again something Heather just isn’t sure about. She’s also getting phone calls from what seems to be an obsessed fan who is taunting her with the famous nursery rhyme about Freddy, in a creepy Freddy voice no less.
So, not only do we get all this turmoil surrounding Heather, we get Wes Craven AND Robert Englund, in and out of Freddy makeup.
I thought this was a fantastic way to bring Freddy back home to his loyal fans. While I can agree that some of the Nightmare on Elm Street movies are not as good as the first, and neither is this one, but this was still fun to watch. There is a definite homage paid to the original that started everything and it invokes a rather nostalgic feeling when you watch it.
It also seems to me that Wes Craven really put forth some effort in this movie to make everything from all the films come together. I liked that he pulled aspects of the entire storyline into this film to make this film’s plot more robust and satisfying. There’s also some pretty good special effects making the film more enjoyable to watch as well.
I thought it was a genius idea to make the characters play themselves and have the Nightmare permeate their entire lives. While this was still along the lines of the normal plots we get in this series, this was a unique twist that kept it relevant to the story and allowed it to be something different than what we’ve seen so many times before.
I have to mention that the kid, Dylan (Miko Hughes) is one of the creepiest kids ever in movies. Those piercing eyes and that creepy smile fit absolutely perfectly, though it IS hard to look at him and not see Gage from Pet Sematary. He does really well in this movie though.
Overall, this was fun and entertaining to watch. It’s something I could watch again. It’s always a joy seeing Freddy Krueger in action.
Directed by William Malone
Starring: Stephen Dorff, Natascha McElhone and Stephen Rea
This was a movie that was a rollercoaster, turning from good to bad and back to good in a matter of seconds. There were a lot of parts that made sense and would have made a good horror movie.
Basically, a cop renews his chase in a serial killer that uses the internet to stream his torturous kills. In addition, anyone who logs onto this feardotCom website dies in 48 hours. That’s the part that could have totally been left out. This whole idea that energy is distributed to humans through computer usage is too far out for this particular movie. It’s like they couldn’t decide which script they wanted to film so they meshed two together…badly.
In looking at reviews online, I’m not the only one who felt the movie was disjointed and was left feeling somewhat confused as to how it all came together. Rotten Tomatoes has it at a 3% freshness. I think that’s a little harsh. There WERE good parts to the movie. If they had left out the whole dead kid wanting to possess people through the internet to get revenge thing it would have actually been a killer movie.
At the time this came out, the idea of computer networks banning together to form supercomputers and dead souls being passed through a web address…well, let’s just say we weren’t quite there yet.
And still, all these years later…the movie still wasn’t up to the task of portraying that kind of plot. I do wish they had decided on one or the other. Either plot by itself, the serial killer or the dead girl wanting revenge for being killed by the serial killer, would have been fine. But, putting them together made the movie very haphazard and disconnected. I found myself go back a lot because I thought I had missed something but, I hadn’t. It just didn’t work.
I can’t say this was a good movie. But it wasn’t as bad as a 3%. Still, be prepared to have to follow closely and be disappointed. It truly just left me shaking my head.
Written by Marcus Dunstan and Patrick Melton
Directed by John Gulager
Starring: Balthazar Getty, Henry Rollins, Navi Rawat, Judah Friedlander, Jenny Wade, Gulager's father Clu Gulager, Josh Zuckerman and Jason Mewes.
Well, once again, Rotten Tomatoes and I don’t really agree. They gave this movie a 56% freshness rating while I think it was much better than that.
They fail to recognize that sometimes horror is good not because of an astounding plot or some Oscar winning performance but, just for the simple fact that it is horror. I bet if I looked up some of the movies I just can’t stand (in general, not horror) Rotten Tomatoes would have them rated at like 97% freshness.
This is a great movie for blood and monster lovers. The only real plot is that all these people are trapped in a bar and there are monsters outside trying to get it. While there is an apparent parallel between Feast and From Dusk Till Dawn on that aspect, the rest is just pure horror, blood and gore.
We do get the obligatory sex scene required in all great horror cult classics BUT, sorry nudity lovers, no skin shown.
The thing I loved the most was the comedy. During the midst of all the death and destruction the is so much sly comedy, blatant comedy and disgusting comedy it’s sure to please horror fans everywhere. The way they introduced each character was awesome and unique, to me.
This is such a nasty film to watch. I don’t get grossed out easily but, there were some parts in here that if they hadn’t been funny, would have been wretched. I feel like this would be one of those party horror movies where you just want to be entertained with the foulest and most disgusting stuff you can find. This would go in that group.
Truly a disgustingly and revoltingly good time!
A Quiet Place (2018)
Directed by John Krasinski
Starring: Emily Blunt and John Krasinski
Ooooookay. I wanted to see this PURELY because of all the hype surrounding its release. And all the reviews by all the “esteemed” critics at Rotten Tomatoes raved on and on about it. I should have read those first.
Now, I know that I know better than to jump on the proverbial bandwagon and go ultra-mainstream nowadays but, I really thought that this might be an intensely good movie. I did warn myself that since there was so much hoopla about it and (a preemptive no offense here) because the younger generation seemed to love it, I didn’t have high hopes.
What I got was, in short, the perfect modern-age DATE MOVIE. This truly is nothing more than an emotional, feely drama for the chicks with a few (and I do mean FEW) horror images thrown in for the guys. It’s like the classic date from the 50s where the guy wants to go to a scary movie so he can use the “yawn and stretch” move to put his arm around his girl AND he has a shot that the “scary” parts will make her cuddle too.
Give. Me. A. Break.
Have we not moved beyond this? Don’t guys like chicks that play video games, like blood and gore, can build things, fix cars, get dirty and cook, clean and bake???? Or do they want them helpless and hapless as well? Oh and don’t forget always crying…always. That’s super hot. (Enter eye roll here.)
Speaking of which, the chicks in the movie, the Mom and the daughter, are in fact, badass chicks. I do wish we got to see more of that. There is one point where you really do watch the Mom and you’re just like,” Holy Hell, she’s a hell of a trooper!” The Dad is kind of inherently sexist, though I don’t think he really means to be and perhaps a little discriminatory in general.
But I’m not going to go through the whole movie. We have MAYBE ten real minutes of monsters and horror. The rest is just family drama. Not to mention that half of the movie is in subtitles. If I wanted to read the story I would have either picked up a book or watched a foreign film. The emotions invoked while watching this movie are not what I equate with watching horror. It was like watching a sinister chick flick. I was so disappointed. I am SO glad I didn’t waste money going to see this at the theater.
Don't Hang Up (2017)
Directed by Alexis Wajsbrot and Damien Macé
Written by Joe Johnson
Starring: Gregg Sulkin, Garrett Clayton, Sienna Guillory and Bella Dayne
As I look up reviews on movies I watch I always check Rotten Tomatoes…I’m starting to wonder why? Who do these people have writing for them??? Do ANY of them like ANY horror movies??? Good grief, they hardly ever have anything good to say about any horror films. DO they want everything to be all love stories and rose petals, lake houses and notebooks??? Excuse me while I go ralph…
Okay, now that THAT is all out of my system, I really liked this movie. It’s not that it’s a really original idea or anything but I think it was pretty well done. I always relish the idea of over-confident and excessively arrogant muscle-bound douchebags getting a dose of their own medicine. And boy do a couple of these guys really fit that description. Namely Brady, a guy so insecure he oozes overcompensation in EVERY way and a guy we only know as PrankMonkey69. There are so many telling things about this asshole simply by his chosen screenname (that’s @ to you younger folks). He’s obviously immature, hopelessly compensating, seriously isn’t getting enough because he feels the need to imply he IS and it is WAY too wickedly close to SpankMonkey, which implies something that I think is much more up his alley.
Sam seems to be the nicest one, often getting caught up in the “fun” of his friends’ ridiculous antics. In their free time, they make prank calls in a very calculated fashion, recording them to post on the internet, all in the hopes of course to get attention and get clicks…because, you know, that is how self-worth is defined now…by how many likes and clicks and followers you get (I still don’t understand that part of this whole social media thing).
One night, while they are making prank calls, a call gets made to them that seemingly starts out as a prank but, goes terribly wrong…and then even more wrong…and keeps going wrong.
While there are some kind of dull moments in the film they don’t last long as the movie moves at a fairly steady pace. There are a couple of good zingers from our mysterious prank caller as well that add a good small comedic value to the script.
There’s quite a bit of back and forth between Brady and Sam and the prankster, making for some good banter. There does come a point in the film where I really start feeling bad for poor Sam. He really isn’t the true asswipe in all of the shenanigans that these boys get into. However, when we finally find out why they are being pranked back…that feeling quickly shifted. And there were certainly predictable parts to the ending, I, for one, did not predict all of the ending. I’m not going to spoil it for you either.
You realize, by now, I’m not telling a lot about the movie. Only really my opinion about the movie. That’s because I feel like there’s enough that’s woven together that in order to tell you specific details and for it to make sense I’d basically have to tell the whole story and this one is good enough, you should see it for yourself.
Don’t be turned off by the short spot in the beginning of the obnoxious imbeciles acting like twelve year olds home alone on a Friday night and they just discovered *67. That will all be over soon.
I definitely thought this was a good movie. I would recommend it to any horror lover. It was totally worth watching. A real moral tale with a grip on human emotions and some blood and scare moments thrown in just for the real horror fans.
Vacancy 2: The First Cut (2008)
Directed by Eric Bross
Starring: Agnes Bruckner, Trevor Wright, Arjay Smith and David Moscow
This film is a prequel to Vacancy (2007). I liked that movie, as I said in my review of it HERE. In THIS film, we learn of the origins of the sick and demented happenings at the Meadow View Inn, a name one one the characters makes fun of, implying how “backwoods and small-town” it is…he’s right. (Trust me, I have family in one of those towns where there is only one street and it’s a dirt road, the town church is the biggest building and the grocery store and school are in the next town over. Believe me, I’m fully aware of what he’s referencing. And no. I don’t live in that small town.)
BUT, this little motel of horrors is outside a town I would think is similar to that and yet, it is no place for the weary to rest. Among the many that seek to catch some relaxation or restful sleep are some honeymooners who unwittingly play a part in a voyeur porn video. Plus, a sneaky guy that lures a girl to the room and kills her, creating a snuff film, unbeknownst to him.
The motel owners catch him and tie him up, striking a deal with him and their porn video buyer to start a new business selling snuff films and splitting the profits. I, personally, think the killer guy was already a serial killer but, that’s just me.
Their first set of victims are a trio, a young couple, Jessica and Caleb and their friend, Tanner. They are moving Jessica and Caleb to North Carolina from Chicago, Tanner is along for the ride, and to be extra muscle since Jessica is pregnant. They quickly figure out after checking into their room that they are being watched and want to leave. The serial killer decides that, after watching how scared Jessica is acting, instead of just killing them right away it would be more fun to taunt and scare them before killing them and two of them head off to scare them while the manager stays behind to watch on the television screen.
Meanwhile, Jessica and Caleb and Tanner pack their stuff and head out the door to their car to leave. Caleb tries to start the car but nothing happens. Soon they are corned by two trucks from two different directions and a game of cat and mouse ensues while one of the bad guys films the whole exchange, taunting the young victims, Caleb, calling him by his name.
As they flee from their car searching for safety, they are shot at by one of their crazy stalkers and they run back into one of the motel rooms. This is reminiscent of the first Vacancy. While they are hiding in the room Jessica realizes the bad guy knows Caleb’s name and they surmise they can be heard by their stalkers.
Caleb and Jessica quickly formulate a plan for Caleb to try to get to their moving trailer to try to get a weapon while Tanner thinks it would be better to just flee aimlessly into the wilderness (banner idea). They decide to climb out an open window in the bathroom. Caleb is the last to climb out and as he does he is grabbed and knocked out by our killers. They tie him to a chair and while Jessica and Tanner are trying to break in to free him, he is stabbed to death. Seeing this, they run in terror towards the woods and their would be killers chase after them, video camera and murder weapon in hand.
While running through the woods Tanner has a close encounter with one of the killers but is saved when Jessica knocks the masked man out with a log and they escape once again. This too is caught on film. (Maybe they should sell THAT…asshats.)
Tanner and Jessica find a house and an older couple that live inside. They tell them about these guys from the motel down the way that are trying to kill them and think the older gentleman is going to call the police to help them. Instead they find out he calls the motel manager and all three bad guys show up, kill the older couple and take Tanner and Jessica back to the motel.
Jessica wakes up gagged and tied to a chair. Tanner is apparently now dead. The two original motel film makers are now wanting out of the whole deal and the serial killer is the one doing all the killing anyways. They are thinking of getting out and pinning the whole thing on him. While they are arguing Jessica is breaking her bindings.
Now, the killer goes to the room and is toying with Jessica. He’s thinking of strangling her instead of stabbing her. But, he’s in for a surprise. While he’s telling her of one of his previous exploits she takes a knife from behind her back and stabs him in the face. She then runs free.
She hides under a porch or deck of some kind and there she finds the stash of bodies, including her boyfriend and Tanner, who isn’t actually dead yet. Tanner is gurgling and making noise, trying to talk and breathe and this causes one of the bad guys to come under the deck to look. In a genius move, Jessica hides under Caleb’s body and when the bad guy looks at it to inspect she thrusts it up at him, sending him upward, impaling his head on the bare nails hanging out of the planks out wood, killing him.
Jessica goes to get Tanner out from under the deck but, he’s dead. She grabs the bad guy’s shotgun and crawls out herself. She sees the serial killer with tissue stuffed in the hole she put in his face (hysterical to me) and runs.
Now, at the beginning when Tanner is making fun of the small-town name of the motel, he also makes fun of the fact that Jessica grew up being taught how to hunt. Now this hunting girl has a shotgun and is in fear for her life. She already knows how to hunt for FOOD mind you. And keep in mind hunters are usually patient and fairly smart.
The motel manager begins looking around for Jessica. He follows her to a little pond. He feels around in the pod with a stick until he feels what he thinks is a piece of her clothing and then takes out his knife, ready to stab her in the water. Just then, we see the barrel of the shotgun slowly come up out the water and shoot him in the back, followed by Jessica rising up and catching getting air, the shotgun in her hands. She hears the serial killer holler out for his pal and she quickly runs off.
Jessica-2 Killers-4 (As a group, this is their total so far and it’s really only the serial killer doing the killing, plus I’m not counting the serial killer’s initial kill and this DOES include the older couple) Pretty impressive since it took the killers the whole movie and her literally like five minutes so far.
She decides to hide in the moving trailer and the serial killer finds her. In the struggler she throws a flammable liquid on him and sets him on fire. This gives her the opportunity to escape.
She is picked the next day on the road. The cops are called and taken to the motel. But there are no bodies, no cameras. Nothing. Nothing except Jessica’s story and blank traumatized stare.
We then see our serial killer and the snuff film entrepreneur making a deal for the film of Tanner in a new motel, talking about when the copies can be made and when things will be up and running.
Like the first one, I enjoyed this film. I thought it wasn’t near as predictable as the first and I’m surprised it was a straight to video release. I really didn’t think that Jessica was going to survive either. I mean, I was watching the whole time thinking, “Okay, when is the pregnant chick going to bite it?” because that’s what horror movies do. But, there were some really good twists in this movie. I loved what a kind of badass Jessica turned out to be. It’s not like she’s Lara Croft or Mrs. Smith or anything like that but, she’s like the regular country girl that can totally whoop ass when messed with. The only thing that irritated me about her was that she cried and cried over Caleb dying, who frankly it wasn’t a shocker that he was the first of the trio to die, he was definitely the weakest of the group. She was a bit whiny about the whole “he’s not dead, he’s not dead” for a minute there but, thankfully, Tanner brought her silly ass back to reality really quick. Too bad he didn’t make it. Honestly, they probably would have made a better couple. Caleb seemed a little too insecure for a down home country girl like Jessica. But then again, Tanner seemed a little too “city” too so, I don’t know.
I also would have liked a little more of the taunting and scare tactics maybe. They don’t spend much time in the motel AT ALL. After the scene with the trucks and the quick playing of cat and mouse, there really isn’t much in the way of the kind of taunting that we get in the first one. It becomes more of a chase movie where the killer just runs after victims and kills.
I did like that we went through a whole array of guests though. I also caught myself thinking very early on in the film, “Wow! This is one messed up motel!” I also found myself briefly wondering how many motels I’ve stayed in where there were murders committed and microphones and cameras hidden in the rooms. That sort of weirded me out. It also made me want to remember to always check the TV channels to see if I can see my room or any other rooms as soon as I check in, JUST IN CASE.
I actually think this movie couple with the first would make a great duo for a movie night. It’s definitely something I will be watching again.
The Strangers (2008)
Directed and Written by Bryan Bertino
Starring: Liv Tyler and Scott Speedman
This movie is said to be inspired by true events yet I find no evidence of that anywhere online. It might be loosely similar to the Keddie cabin murders in California in 1981 but the claims of being based on such murders or being based on the Manson murders has not been confirmed by the writer/director. He even says it is only loosely based on a surprise visitor that came knocking at his family’s door one night when he was a kid.
The story is that of a typical slasher film. A couple of young people in a house in a secluded area being terrorized by unknown assailants wearing creepy masks.
Now, I wanted to see this film because it’s on Stephen King’s list of favorite horror films. I can see why it would make the list. However, it’s not anything that would get an Oscar.
First and foremost, and I know I’ll probably get viciously booed here, I am NOT a Liv Tyler fan. I think her Dad is killer awesome…but, I don’t think she’s a great actress. She’s always got this crying puppy look on her face. And that constant pouty lip thing is so played out already.
Although this wasn’t bad film, it was a predictable one. Some of the other reviews online don’t speak to highly of this movie but, then again, reviews of horror films usually aren’t all that great to begin with. I mean, let’s face it, it’s gotta be a banner film in order to get rave reviews in the horror genre.
However predictable it may be, there was one thing that that I found surprising and completely unsatisfying. The perpetrators take their masks off, revealing themselves to our victims at one point. Yet, we don’t get to see them…EVER!!! For me, this was a HUGE let down. I literally sat there for like five minutes (or more) waiting, practically yelling at the screen to see their faces. Now, I know that there is now another one available at Redbox and I AM going to be getting that very soon BUT, this still disappointed me.
That being said, I DID like the rest of the movie. I don’t understand why the reviews online were so critical of EVERYTHING in the film. I agree that Liv Tyler is no Jamie Lee Curtis but, she still does a fairly good job in this film. The big difference between this and the typical slasher is that this involves a COUPLE rather than a single female. So of course there is going to be a bit of a love story of sorts involved. Duh!
There are a couple of good shock and kill moments which, to me, make the film worthwhile. I think any horror fan would agree.
Black Christmas (2006)
Directed (and written) by Glen Morgan
Starring: Katie Cassidy, Michelle Trachtenberg, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Oliver Hudson, Lacey Chabert, Kristen Cloke, and Andrea Martin.
With a Rotten Tomatoes freshness rating of 15% and a rating of 4.6/10 on IMDb, I was surprised with what I got. This movie reminds me of the typical 80s slasher film. A group of sorority girls and their house mother are stalked in their house by an escaped mental patient who killed his family years ago.
The madman we are supposed to fear is Billy Lenz. He had a tortured and tormented childhood. Abused in every way by his hate-filled mother, he suffers being locked away in the attic, witnesses his father’s murder (at the hands of his mother) and even fathers a child with his mom. It is this child that becomes the true bane of his existence. He was born with a severe case of jaundice. This new baby, his daughter AND sister) doesn’t have any ailments, so mother loves her more. This eventually causes him to snap and try to kill his daughter/sister and his mother and stepfather. The only ones to survive are Billy and his daughter/sister, Agnes. Billy gets locked away in a mental institution and Agnes is sent to an orphanage.
Years later, Billy escapes when Agnes is released from the state’s care. They get together and decide to go back to their house for the Christmas holiday. The problem is, it’s now a sorority house…and almost everyone is home.
Together, Billy and Agnes move through the house leaving nothing but bodies and blood. The girls and their house mother (and a house guest) now must do their best to survive the night.
Although the general opinion of this movie seems to be an unpleasant one, I didn’t think it was bad. I thought the kills were predictable but, good. I AM aware that this is a remake of a 1974 film of the same name. I haven’t seen that version. It is said to be a groundbreaking film for the times.
I don’t understand all the negativity surrounding this film. No, the acting wasn’t A-list. No, the special effects were top notch. But, who cares??? If that’s what you are watching for, then your options are going to be very limited in this genre.
On a little side note, Michelle Christine Trachtenberg, who plays Melissa, was also in at least one Criminal Minds episode. I’m a big fan of that show.
This is not only going on my Christmas movie tradition list but, it’s something I could watch more than once.
The Prophecy (1995)
Directed by Gregory Widen
Starring: Christopher Walken, Elias Koteas, Virginia Madsen, Eric Stoltz, Viggo Mortensen
Ah yes. The age old story of good versus evil, heaven versus hell, angels versus demons. This time, the angels are waging war. Frankly, it’s against the human race AND other angels. The Arch Angel Gabriel and his band of warrior angels are jealous that God gave humans souls. It seems he feels all kinds of negative emotions about it like being loved and revered less than the humans, always being sent to do God’s work and not getting the appreciation thought to be deserved, etc. Gabriel has a REAL problem with all of the love being bestowed upon humankind. So, he decides the best course of action is to get rid of them…us…humans.
So, there’s Gabriel (Walken) and there’s Simon (Stoltz). These two are in an eternal battle, Gabe trying to kill off the human race and Simon trying to stop him. There’s also a lapsed Catholic who was once on his way to priesthood and is now a homicide detective. (Obviously life took a very drastic turn somewhere.) Then, there is Katherine and Mary. Mary is a little girl and Katherine is her teacher. Mary seems to be part of a Native American tribe and goes to school on the reservation (I think) but, Katherine is not overtly Native American so, I don’t know if she is a tribe member or not.
Now, Mary finds Simon hanging out in the school building after he got injured in a fight with Gabriel. He quickly transfers a very important soul that he is holding inside himself to Mary before Gabriel dispatches him completely, for this life. Soon, according to their conversation, it will all cycle through and Simon will be back to fight Gabriel once again.
Now that this important soul is inside Mary, Gabriel must find out who she is, where she is and get the soul out of her before our friendly Catholic cop stops him. To do so, he must not only test his faith but, use it in ways he never would have thought of.
Okay, so I know that this film is a total hit with most horror fans and I LOVE Christopher Walken but, this film isn’t going on a favorites list any time soon. Walken was great and truly the best part of the film. He’s got a few great lines and he’s the classic Walken we all love.
I expected a bunch of religious jargon when I watched this but, I truly just felt overwhelmed and beat about the head with all the religion in this movie. I personally feel they could have done the same thing with a lot less preaching. You can still get the whole “fear Gabriel” point across without all the long-windedness. However, if God were to show up I would kind of expect that but, kind of not. I mean, does he really have to drone on and on? I mean, He’s God, right? If he’s all knowing why doesn’t he know a simple way to speak. The angels talking back and forth, at times, almost sounded like gibberish to me (felt like I was back in church as a kid…ouch).
I didn’t hate the movie but, it would not be a first recommendation if someone asked for a good 90s horror movie. I can think of quite a few that were better. Nonetheless, I chose this because of Christopher Walken, I watched this because of Christopher Walken and pretty much what I liked, was Christopher Walken.
There is also a lot of low talking and whispering that made it very hard to hear and sometimes follow. But it wasn’t all bad. There were some pretty good fight scenes and like I said, there was some great sarcasm and Walken had some great lines.
They Live (1988)
Directed by John Carpenter
Starring: Roddy Piper, Keith David, Meg Foster
I have always liked this movie. I remember it fondly from my childhood. Interestingly, I never really considered this a horror movie but, nonetheless, it is. I guess the idea of mind control via subliminal messaging isn’t that scary to me seeing as how it happens on a regular basis in this country…and elsewhere. But, I’ll talk about the movie first.
Roddy Piper is a drifter looking for work. His name is John Nada. He’s been down on his luck for some time. He takes the socially appropriate steps to regain his footing and is seemingly bucked back at every turn. After leaving the employment placement office, where the lady is outrageously in a bad mood and not sympathetic at all, he finds “walk-on” construction work and befriends a fellow worker named Frank.
Frank takes him to where he’s been staying, a makeshift shanty town with a soup kitchen type food service. They have a church and showers, everything you NEED. It’s no Beverly Wilshire hotel but, that kind of extravagance is never NEEDED, and this little town meets the needs of many who are down on their luck.
While snooping around, John finds a church on the site. It’s not just the regular old kind of church. This church is a front for a secret location for an “anti-alien” movement. Their main way of protecting themselves from the aliens and their mind control is to wear these special sunglasses that they have created. John takes a box of the shades, keeping a pair of the glasses for himself and hides the box with the rest in a dumpster in an alley. Then, he gets on his way.
Now, let’s talk about this “mind control” for a minute. What these aliens have done is they have taken over a television station, Cable 54, and they are sending out a signal that basically blinds humans to the reality of the world, now under alien control. Their goal is to deplete our planet of its resources and destroy it, then moving on to another planet to do it all over again. Their “messages” are everywhere. What we would normally see as a billboard for, say, beauty products ACTUALLY has a hidden message we can’t see that reads “Marry and Reproduce”. Storefront signage actually reads “Consume”, “Obey”, “Stay Asleep” …effectively lulling the human race into mindless cogs in the ever-moving machine of alien control and destruction.
So, after finding these sunglasses and learning the truth, John gets into a little trouble with some of the aliens, who are aware that he can see them. He escapes and take a woman hostage, Holly Thompson, played by Meg Foster. (Can I just say that this woman has some of the creepiest, coldest frost blue eyes I have EVER seen. Honestly, SHE is the scary thing in this movie.) They go to her place where he intends to hide out but, after a brief scuffle, Holly pushes John out the window. He falls to the ground and loses his sunglasses in the process.
John retrieves the box of shades from the dumpster and grabs another pair. Frank runs into him there, trying to give John his paycheck. John tries to explain what is going on but, frank doesn’t want to hear it. A great fight scene ensues and after many kicks and punches, John gets Frank to put on the glasses. (This is one of the best fight scenes of the 80s, truly.) Finding out the truth for himself, Frank joins John and they both go into hiding.
Eventually, they attend a secret meeting of all the activists against the aliens. Holly also finds the meeting, apologizing to John for the window incident. Their meeting is crashed through and a huge battle ensues. Holly gets separated from Frank and John.
John and Frank use a stolen alien wristwatch that allows them to escape the chaos through a portal. This portal leads to a very extravagant dinner party where tons of aliens are attending. One of the attendees, a new recruit so-to-speak, gives them a tour of the entire building. They find an entrance to Cable 54 through a basement and start looking for Holly. Once they find Holly, thy all head to the roof to destroy the satellite which is the alien signal transmitter. Holly ends up coming clean about being an alien herself and kills Frank before trying to stop John from stopping the signal. He kills her and destroys the signal, getting shot by an alien helicopter that is flying next to the building. As he is on the ground, the signal is finally destroyed and everyone everywhere sees the truth of what is reality.
I think the idea behind this movie, minus the alien takeover, is completely plausible. Whether you are aware of it or not, there are subliminal suggestions in things we see every day. From the McDonald’s famous golden arches to the FedEx logo, Pirates of the Caribbean, soda commercials, food commercials, magazines…it’s truly an enormous list (considering that in many countries, such things are illegal). The thought that one frame in a commercial or movie would hold a completely unrelated image meant purely to tap into the subconscious of the brain is NOT, in my opinion, far-fetched at all. If you look it up on the internet, there are tons of examples.
I also love that it’s regular, black 80s sunglasses that are the key to knowledge in this movie. I am entirely grateful they didn’t go with the whole aviator look (thank you Top Gun), which I think would have been a horrible choice.
Roddy Piper is classic in this movie, uttering a number of phrases form the cult classic that are now commonplace. The most famous, I think, would be, “I have come here to chew bubblegum and kick ass. And I’m all out of bubblegum.” There is most assuredly a comedic aspect to this movie and there is no gore. There is violence (the news is more violent, in my opinion) and there is profanity but, in this day and age…who cares?
This is truly a great retro cult classic that will not leave you disappointed.