Category Archives: Horror

Fall 2017 Movie Preview: Horror/Thriller

You’ve most likely already seen the decorations, costumes and candy littering the shelves of stores. While we are still weeks away from October, much less the end of October, Halloween is already right in our faces. Why? Because the overhead for these items is low and the profit margins are high. Not to mention that consumers buy it up by the truck load. The opportunity to pretend to be a celebrity, superhero, or ghoul is just too good to pass up and the lure of free candy keeps kids of all ages excited about the holiday.

In the same way, Horror films are usually pretty inexpensive and quick to make and there is always a desire for them. Whether you are an adrenaline junkie out with your friends to see who flinches last at all of the jump scares and blood-curdling screams or if you are a teenager looking for a dark room and a place to sneak your arm around that special someone as they hide themselves from the perceived danger.

I’m not a huge Horror fan, but I do appreciate the art of a good scare and the psychology that goes into it. When we find those films that defy the traditional plot devices and tropes to keep the audience riveted then I am fully on board. So what delicious horrors are in store in our coming attractions? We actually have a Friday the 13th during October this year so expect that to be the epicenter for horror flicks this fall.

September

IT – 9/8

When young children in the little town Derry of Maine starts to begin to be found dead a group of seven kids find out that the killer is not a man. The killer is the evil clown Pennywise who is actually a creature that can shapeshift into the thing you are most afraid of. The kids also known as the Losers Club decide to fight and kill It. But how can you fight something who knows all your biggest fears?

I hear that it is good to face your fears head on. That’s great. I have been stuck with this irrational fear of clowns ever since I read Stephen King’s IT back when I was 10-11 years old. At some point, I dug up a copy of the 1990 TV miniseries and I’ve never looked at Tim Curry the same way again. This one looks like it is going to be much more true to the source material and people that I trust have said that it is terrifying in all the right ways. So, lets band together my Loser’s Club and we’ll get rid of our coulrophobia once and for all.

Mother! – 9/15

A couple’s relationship is tested when uninvited guests arrive at their home, disrupting their tranquil existence.

Man it’s fun to just say the name of this film with that exclamation point, but we haven’t been given much to go on with this one and I for one am totally fine with that. The trailer is frenetic and creepy and with a cast featuring Jennifer Lawrence, Javier Bardem, Ed Harris, and Michelle Pfeiffer I have no doubt that the performances will be superb. Jennifer Lawrence said that she hyperventilated and dislocated a rib during filming so it’s going to be a wild ride. If you weren’t aware, this is coming from Darren Aronofsky, the same guy that gave us Black Swan and Requiem for a Dream. He is an amazing director and I’m ready to see what this is all about.

Flatliners – 9/29

Five medical students, obsessed by the mystery of what lies beyond the confines of life, embark on a daring and dangerous experiment: by stopping their hearts for short periods of time, each triggers a near-death experience – giving them a firsthand account of the afterlife. But as their experiments become increasingly dangerous, they are each haunted by the sins of their pasts, brought on by the paranormal consequences of trespassing to the other side.

I know what you’re thinking, “Another remake of a 90’s Horror property?” Yep, but don’t count this one out yet. That first movie with Kevin Bacon, Keifer Sutherland, Julia Roberts, Oliver Platt, and Billy Baldwin is surprisingly good and I think this one has a chance as well. Ellen Page leads this cast with Diego Luna and Nina Dobrev, even Keifer Sutherland comes back for the fun. Hopefully the nostalgia gets people into the theaters and the story will take them the rest of the way. If it doesn’t, then maybe there are just some lines we’re not meant to cross.

October

Happy Death Day – 10/13

A college student (Jessica Rothe) relives the day of her murder with both its unexceptional details and terrifying end until she discovers her killer’s identity.

Imagine Groundhog Day with every day ending in your murder. It’s an interesting twist on this familiar plot device. It will be interesting to see it utilized for terrifying effects. There is no big name attached so it could either be a surprising hit or a big flop. I hope it’s good. The trailer looks solid.

The Snowman – 10/20

When an elite crime squad’s lead detective (Michael Fassbender) investigates the disappearance of a victim on the first snow of winter, he fears an elusive serial killer may be active again. With the help of a brilliant recruit (Rebecca Ferguson), the cop must connect decades-old cold cases to the brutal new one if he hopes to outwit this unthinkable evil before the next snowfall.

Based on the international best selling novel of the same name from Norwegian author Jo Nesbo, Michael Fassbender plays Harry Hole (what a horrible name for a character). I don’t know if they have struck the right tone in the trailer. It almost looks like a dark comedy with the childish drawings of snowmen. It has to be better than the only other snowman based horror film I can think of: Jack Frost. It’s rare to see the Fassbender in anything awful (except Assassin’s Creed).

November

The Killing of a Sacred Deer – 11/3

Steven, a charismatic surgeon, is forced to make an unthinkable sacrifice after his life starts to fall apart, when the behavior of a teenage boy he has taken under his wing turns sinister.

Yorgos Lanthimos is an enigmatic director who doesn’t like clean common sense plots. You might have heard of a couple of his previous films, Dogtooth and The Lobster. They are both very dark, very strange and full of a twisted masochistic humor. Lanthimos reunites with Colin Farrell who starred in The Lobster and adds Nicole Kidman and Alicia Silverstone as well as a crop of young actors with few roles under their belts. It appears to be his most accessible film to date. That doesn’t mean that he is adopting a standard narrative style. That’s not what this Greek director does. This will be a crippling psychological thriller that will not give us any clear answers and will stick with us for days.

December

Polaroid – 12/1

High school loner Bird Fitcher has no idea what dark secrets are tied to the mysterious Polaroid vintage camera she stumbles upon, but it doesn’t take long to discover that those who have their picture taken meet a tragic end.

This doesn’t look very impressive to me, but it is the only horror movie coming in the traditionally quiet month of December. It looks like a knock off of the Ring and Final Destination films.  With no a list star to get people into the theater and such competition from other films this one probably won’t do anything, but even if it only makes 20 million it will still be profitable and we might even see a sequel in coming years. That is the way horror franchises get started.

Others to Watch:

Friend Request coming on September 22nd. When a college student unfriends a mysterious girl online, she finds herself fighting a demonic presence that wants to make her lonely by killing her closest friends.

Til Death Do Us Part coming on September 29th. Michael and Madison Roland had planned to spend the rest of their lives together, until one day Michael’s controlling ways turned their perfect marriage. With the help of her best friend, Madison decides to get away. After adopting a new identity, she meets Alex Stone (Taye Diggs) and learns to love again. All is well, until Michael discovers Madison’s whereabouts, and recreates the nightmare she once lived all over again.

Leatherface coming on October 20th. A teenage Leatherface escapes from a mental hospital with three other inmates, kidnapping a young nurse and taking her on a road trip from hell while being pursued by an equally deranged lawman out for revenge. It’s the Leatherface origin story we never knew we needed.

Jigsaw coming on October 27th. Bodies are turning up around the city, each having met a uniquely gruesome demise. As the investigation proceeds, evidence points to one man: John Kramer. But how can this be? The man known as Jigsaw has been dead for over a decade. The week after we get Leatherface’s origin story, we get a deeper dive into the Jigsaw killer from Saw. Two fictional serial killers that we don’t need to see any more.

Are you looking forward to any of these films? Which one would you go to if you were trying to sneak an arm around the girl you liked? Coming up next, we’ll take a look at the Comedy/Family movies coming this fall.

Click here for the other installments of the 2017 Fall Movie Preview:

Weekend Outlook: Star Trek Beyond

What does this weekend look like for new releases? Two more sequels crash upon theaters this weekend and while they may not be total busts, both are probably going to fall short of the previous installments in their respective series. Star Trek Beyond and Ice Age: Collision Course represent the 21st and 22nd wide release sequels this year. Only four of them (Finding DoryCaptain America: Civil War, The Purge: Election Year and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice) have been able to outperform their franchise predecessor at the box office. Also opening this weekend is the new PG-13 thriller Lights Out from producer James Wan.

Star Trek Beyond

The third film in the rebooted franchise. It makes me nervous that there is no J.J. Abrams. Instead, it is being helmed by Justin Lin (Fast & Furious) although he wasn’t even the original choice. The original reboot of the series in 2009 was great and it enabled us to explore this world with a new reimagined cast. Because they had a blank slate to work with, I was a bit disappointed that Into Darkness was essentially a remake of Wrath of Khan. It was an acceptable remake, but I’m hoping we don’t see whales in Beyond. Regardless, I think it will easily end up on the top of the charts this weekend after Secret Life of Pets snuck past Ghostbusters to lead the box office for a second week in a row.

Ice Age: Collision Course

This weekend’s second sequel is likely going to fall short of second place in the weekend as it goes head to head with an original property in The Secret Life of Pets. I don’t like to hate on films, but this Ice Age series needs to go extinct. Interestingly, no Ice Age film has ever opened below $41 million. But this is the fifth in the series, sequels have not fared well so far this year, and we have had a very strong season of animation which I don’t think will help. I think it will be very close, but Pets will freeze Ice Age in 3rd place this weekend.

Lights Out

The final wide release is one that I won’t be watching unless it is a matinee showing. I’m not a huge fan of horror films but anything with James Wan’s name attached seems to have a leg up on the competition. Lights Out looks scary and with a budget of less than $5 million, I think it is safe to say that Lights Out will be in the green after one weekend in theaters. It won’t be enough to compete with Ghostbusters in its second weekend, but I think a respectable $15 million showing is very likely since it is doing well critically and there is no other genre competition right now.

How do you think these movies are going to do? My predictions are below. I’d love to hear what you are watching this weekend, even if you are just binge watching  Stranger Things on Netflix.

  • Star Trek Beyond – $60 Million
  • The Secret Life of Pets – $27 Million
  • Ice Age: Collision Course – $26 Million
  • Ghostbusters – $24 Million
  • Lights Out – $15 Million

Weekend Outlook – Independence Day, Shallows, Free State of Jones, Neon Demon

It is a very busy weekend at your local multiplex. It’s really one of those weekends that there is something for everyone. However, the battle for box office supremacy this weekend is not going to be much of a battle at all. It would be a huge upset if Finding Dory doesn’t handily take down the alien invaders.

Since its record-breaking, $135 million opening weekend, Finding Dory has continued to impress with its box office performance. Forget about comparing it to all other animated films which it has blown out of the water (no pun intended). Finding Dory‘s performance puts it in the company of films such as Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Jurassic World and The Dark Knight. I’m expecting Dory to bring in another $80 million this weekend. So let’s look at the four wide releases that will hit theaters today and find out what you should watch and what your should wait for.

Continue reading Weekend Outlook – Independence Day, Shallows, Free State of Jones, Neon Demon

Predator Sequel to Begin Filming in September

There hasn’t been a new installment in the Predator franchise since director Nimród Antal’s Predators was released back in 2010, but that changes in 2018 when The Predator arrives. The latter is a soft reboot or semi-continuation of Predator films past (in the vein of Jurassic World, Creed, and so on) that co-writer/director Shane Black is prepping to start production later this year. Black co-penned the Predator screenplay with his writing partner, Fred Dekker, and has thus far managed to keep his cards close to his chest where it concerns the movie’s storyline, beyond confirming that it takes place in the present-day (or 2018, at the time of the movie’s release).

Continue reading Predator Sequel to Begin Filming in September

Weekend Outlook – June 10, 2016

With X-Men: Apocalypse, Alice Through The Looking Glass, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows tumbling their way down the top 10,  there’s more than enough room for a couple more sequels to make waves amid another weekend stuffed with multiple new wide releases. This weekend we will see a highly anticipated follow up to one of the best horror films of the last 10 years. Second, we have a not-so-highly anticipated sequel to a mediocre mystery drama about a troupe of magicians illusionists. Finally, we see a video-game adaption from a visionary director that has been doing amazingly well in China and Russia.

The Conjuring 2

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So far, 2016 has become a graveyard for high-profile sequels as Alice Through the Looking Glass, Zoolander 2, Allegiant, Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising, and The Huntsman: Winter’s War have all under-performed. However, both cinematic continuations hitting theaters Friday look like they will bring in respectable grosses. The Conjuring 2 will almost certainly take the #1 spot this weekend after the dazzling run of its predecessor in 2013. I won’t be watching it, because I don’t like having nightmares.

The Conjuring, based on the spooky real-life dealings of paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren, grossed $41.9 million in its opening weekend nearly three years ago. Its sequel, also directed by James Wan with Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson returning, is opening on approximately 3,200 screens this weekend, and will bring the series back to No. 1 at the weekend box office. For starters, strong critical reviews for a modern horror film are almost an anomaly, but The Conjuring 2 has them, as 64 percent of critics surveyed by Metacritic have given the film a positive review.

Warcraft

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While it is expected to disappoint in North America, Warcraft, however, could put up a worthy fight for the No. 2 slot. Traditionally, video game adaptations are awful, but if anyone call pull off the impossible, it is Duncan Jones the director of two of the most original and thrilling sci-fi movies of the last 20 years in Moon and Source Code. The film hits almost 3,400 North American screens this weekend with a robust international gross already under its belt. Based on the wildly popular Blizzard Entertainment video game series with millions of active subscriber accounts.

Warcraft brought in the biggest Thursday gross ever (around $45 million) in China following a huge estimated $46 million opening on Wednesday, upping its total in the country to more than $90 million and counting. Given its low critical reviews (32 percent on Metacritic) and lack of star power among the cast, the picture is seemingly selling itself on brand alone. However, with more than 1.7 million likes on its official Facebook page, Warcraft also seems to be making a decent impact with its target demographic via their go-to medium: the internet.

Now You See Me 2

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Now You See Me 2 has big shoes to fill. Its 2013 predecessor was arguably the most unexpected runaway hit of the year, grossing $351.7 million worldwide during its run. This film has a great following and has infused some new talent into it’s cast. As I watch, I’m going to be waiting for Harry Daniel Radcliffe to pull out his wand.

The only problem for Now You See Me 2, however, is that its legs are probably nowhere near as sturdy as its forerunner’s. Critics haven’t been as kind this time around (it currently sits at 48 percent on Metacritic), though audience anticipation is strong, I think we will see a fairly warm welcome from fans, but that passion will quickly die down and Now You See Me 2 will join the graveyard of 2016 sequels.

Deadpool (2016)

It’s hard to believe that it has been two years since we saw some exciting leaked footage, and who can forget (although I wish I could) his first big screen appearance seven years ago in X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Deadpool is the first R-rated mainstream comic book film adaptation. Had the aforementioned footage not been leaked (and subsequently gone completely viral) many believe that the studios would have never had the courage to make the Deadpool movie that fans really wanted. Lots of vocal and devoted fans stepped forward to pine for this movie’s creation, the most notable being its leading man. There is now a good case to be made that this will not be the last Deadpool film, much less the last adult themed comic book adaptation: This movie is legitimately good.

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Without giving too much away, you need a simple primer on the Merc with a Mouth. According to Marvel’s info sheet, Deadpool possesses a superhuman healing factor, similar to but even greater than that of the mutant Wolverine, which allows him to regenerate damaged or destroyed areas of his cellular structure at a rate far greater than that of an ordinary human. As such, he can regrow severed limbs or vital organs. This healing factor also affords Deadpool an enhanced resistance to diseases and an extended life span. Due to the presence of this superhuman healing ability, many of Deadpool’s natural physical attributes have been enhanced, granting him superhuman levels of stamina, and his natural strength, agility and reflexes have been increased to levels that are beyond the natural limits of the human body. As if that weren’t enough, Deadpool is an extraordinary hand-to-hand combatant and is skilled in multiple unarmed combat techniques. He is a master of assassination techniques, is an excellent marksman, and is highly skilled with bladed weapons.

Say what you will about this sword-wielding, gun-toting, foul-mouthed, chimichanga-loving, fourth wall-breaking anti-hero, but Tim Miller and company absolutely nailed the character in his self-titled movie. Reynolds was always the prefect actor to play Wade Wilson as is evidenced by the brief introduction we have to his character in X-Men Origins: Wolverine before that awful transformation, but Deadpool also gave Ryan Reynolds a chance to spring back from the comic book purgatory which he landed in after his Green Lantern disappointment.

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Deadpool did so much well. I was genuinely surprised by the way that it addressed my hopes and fears and still exceeded my expectations as a fanboy. In other words, I went in hoping for something appeasing and walked away having watched a genuinely good super hero movie. Here’s what the movie did particularly well:

  • The humor was almost perfect.  I use the qualifier “almost” because there were more than a couple instances when I felt like jokes were being thrown at me simply because one had not been uttered in the last few seconds. And, while some of the pop culture references hit me as a thirtysomething, I’m sure they missed the mark of an 18-year-old who may have never heard of Wham!, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, or Faulty Towers. Criticism aside, the overwhelming majority of the jokes landed well and made sense in context. They didn’t overplay the fourth wall breaking and they managed a solid mix of witty (or obscene) one liners and hilarious physical comedy. You’ll laugh a lot, and you’ll probably feel guilty about some of the laughs, unless you’re a sociopath. But a lot of them are just good fun!
  • Origin story was told well.  The movie flip-flops between past and present with obvious transitions that did not jar the narrative flow. In fact, I think choosing to tell the story non-linearly was a great move especially given that Deadpool himself is our narrator and his mind moves as quickly as his swords. We get the great origin story and get to see the suit immediately.
  • The supporting characters are handled well.  Weasel holds his own as a character with T.J. Miller’s signature brand of comedy and gives us the origin of the Deadpool moniker. Deadpool 3Blind Al and her relationship with Wilson makes sense and makes me want to see more (no pun intended). I think more could have been done to the connection between Colossus (who feels like a big jab at Green Lantern showing that a CGI character can work) and Deadpool than the implication that they’d discussed Wade’s joining the X-Men before, but the dynamic amongst that trio including Negasonic Teenage Warhead (who they completely revamped for this movie in a good way) is fantastic and it was fun watching the two X-Men go from policing Deadpool to having his back.
  • Deadpool is an anti-hero.  You see him make selfish decisions. You see him make selfless decisions. You see him play nice with the good guys. You see him do things that the good guys definitely frown upon. In no moment is his antihero quality on display more perfectly than when he’s got his nemesis, Ajax, in his hands and Colossus intervenes. Perfect depiction, perfect ending.
  • They have fun with Deadpool’s powers.  From the obvious consequences of punching Colossus bare-fisted to exploring the speed and process of his regeneration when it comes to lost limbs, the movie uses his powers as a medium for more of Deadpool’s trademark comedy. But they also do a great job of showcasing how hard it is to slow down, significantly harm, or even kill the guy. At one point he’s got a combat knife wedged into his skull and is hardly any worse for the wear.
  • The violence, while significant, is not too much.  Deadpool definitely comes by its R rating honestly. It is not a movie for minors. Nudity and language aside, the violence element was actually well managed. It was never in your face and gratuitous; instead you saw what you would expect to see when an accomplished combatant utilizes guns and swords in the melee and Deadpool kills a lot of people in this movie.

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So here’s my final verdict. Assuming you’re at least of the legal age to watch this R-rated offering, and have an open mind about murders of revenge, hired hitmen, torture, and strippers, watch it. If you are like me, you will watch it multiple times then add it to your Blu-ray collection that stays out of the reach of your children’s fingers. All in all, as a stand-alone, origin story of a controversial but extremely popular character, they knocked this out of the park and it should be counted as one of the best of an ever growing list of great Marvel movies. I for one can’t wait to see Deadpool’s next adventure.

Alien (1979)

Ebert – Great Movies Review – 2003

Ebert – 30th Anniversary Review – 2009

Alien1In Alien we follow a seven man crew en-route to earth on board the huge space freighter “Nostromo”. The crew is in cryosleep, but the on board computer interrupts the journey when a foreign radio signal is picked up. It originates from an uninhabited planet and the crew lands to investigate. There they make contact with an alien life-form…

What makes Alien so great is the constant feel of uneasiness. Right from the beginning you have a feeling that something is wrong. The crew is not particularly friendly towards each other, and you truly feel all the in-group tension. The ship itself is a huge worn out industrial-style maze of halls and corridors, and it feels more like a prison than a place to live. It is as if not only the alien but also the ship itself is against the humans. The alien itself is the scariest monster in history because it is a ruthless, soul-less parasite completely devoid of any human or civilized traits. alien3The design of the monster is a stroke of genius. Sure it has a humanoid form, but it has no facial traits or anything else which could give away emotions or intentions. Its actions reveals no weaknesses nor civilized intelligence. The alien is more or less the opposite of everything human and civilized, plus the creature is more well-adapted to the inhumane interior of the ship than the humans who build it. To sum up, you then have a setting where the humans are caught in a web of in-group tensions, an inhospitable ship and the perfect killer which thrives in the ships intestines. You almost get the feel that the humans are the ones who are alienated to each other and to their own ship.

Ridley Scott tells the story with a perfectly synchronized blend of visuals and sounds. The actors do a superb job, portraying their characters in a subtle but very realistic way. The seven man crew is not a bunch of Hollywood heroes. They are ordinary people with strengths and weaknesses, likes and dislikes. In this way they all seem so fragile when confronted with the enemy.

alien6As mentioned the ship is very claustrophobic and Ridley Scott adds to the eeriness by using camera movement, lights and shadows in an effective way. The living quarters are bright and should be comfortable to the crew, but there is something sterile about it all. The rest of the ship is basically a huge basement. The music by Jerry Goldsmith underlines the eeriness so well, and the movie wouldn’t have worked without his score. Combined with the sounds of the ship it all adds to the uneasiness.

alien4This is not a story about heroic people who boldly teams up against evil. It’s a story about ordinary people facing true fear, which is the fear without a face. The fear we can’t understand and can’t negotiate with, because its only goal is to survive on the expense of us. It’s a story where some people bravely fight back whilst others are destroyed by the terror. It’s a story where people are killed in a completely random way. There is no higher-order justice behind who gets to live and who dies. All seven characters are just part of a race where the fittest – not necessarily the most righteous – will prevail, and all seven characters start the race on an equal footing. None of them are true heroes, and none of them are true villains.

alien5All the above makes Alien so great as a horror movie. The terror isn’t just the Alien itself, it’s the entire atmosphere which gets so effectively under your skin, that you just can’t shrug it off after the end credits like you can with so many other Hollywood horror movies. The title “Alien” doesn’t just refer to the monster, it is the theme of the movie and it is the feeling you have during and after the movie.

John Carpenter’s The Thing (1982)

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Any horror fan worth his salt has a deep respect for John Carpenter. Although most of his recent efforts have lacked originality and quality, we have to give him his due. His filmography is impressive to say the least. I know that my generation can credit Mr. Carpenter with a few soiled Fruit of the Looms because of the likes of Halloween, Christine, In the Mouth of Madness, They Live, and The Fog. But horror is not his only instrument. He also directed, Big Trouble in Little China, Starman, Escape from New York, and Escape from L.A.. However, I would count his 1982 classic, The Thing, as the film that encapsulates Carpenter’s style and ability above all his other works. This film, over 30 years old, still watches very well. The pulsing suspense and gory visuals are still effective even to my eyes which have now seen “superior” computer generated effects. It isn’t nearly as scary to me as it was when I first saw this film at 14 or 15 without my parents permission. In fact, I probably owe some of my dislike for dogs to this film, but it is a worthwhile film nonetheless.

This story of a small group of researchers braving an Antarctic winter at a remote research outpost is brilliant. After the seemingly deranged man with the rifle blows up his helicopter and shoots one of the researchers as he continues to hunt this seemingly innocuous canine, he is quickly taken out by a sharpshooter with a pistol. The men quickly put two and two together and determine that the men in the helicopter were part of a Norwegian research outpost some miles away. Radio communications are failing and even with a blizzard rolling in, MacReady and his team decides to go and investigate. They arrive to find a disturbing bloodbath.

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The corpses of the Norwegian outpost members are strewn across the site, and several of them are grotesquely (and inexplicably) deformed. Much of the outpost has been torched in Kerosene as well, leaving some of these “bodies” burned. The initial scope of the Norwegians investigation is not known because all of their research is in another language, however after a little more probing, it’s revealed that the Norwegians had discovered the site of an ancient Antarctic crash, and they managed to excavate some sort of extra-terrestrial relic.There’s really no other word to describe it. The plot is refreshingly simple: R.J. MacReady (played by Kurt Russell) and his colleagues are startled one afternoon as a dog comes running across the frozen wasteland that surrounds their station. What catches their attention about this particular situation, though, is that the aforementioned husky is being pursued by a helicopter. A man with a rifle is leaning from the open door of the helicopter, trying desperately to kill the dog. MacReady and company emerge as the helicopter lands, and they try to make sense of the situation.

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Carpenter has built some suspense as we see the damage that this creature could cause and we know that the Norwegian camp was destroyed. However no one knows what this alien relic might be and many of the team are skeptical about the existence of any alien life forms. Especially those which are able to kill and copy any organism they encounter. However, our thirst for gore is quickly satisfied after returning from the abandoned site. Some of the bodies were taken for examination and the sweet and friendly puppy which has been roaming all over the facility is put to bed with the other dogs in a kennel. We soon become privy to a disgusting transformation as this dog’s face blows off and begins splitting open, snarling, sprouting tentacles and devouring the other dogs in the kennel. The commotion is stopped as MacReady calls for a blowtorch and the freaky scene comes to a relatively peaceful end. However, this gives the scientist, played by my favorite diabetic Wilford Brimley, enough information to connect the dots and calculate with his impressive 80’s computer that there’s a 75% chance that one ore more of their party members is, in fact, the alien, and if this alien were to make it to the mainland all mankind would be infected in 3 years time.

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The remainder of the movie is admittedly a bit of a mess both literally and narratively. As many of the researchers are attacked and infected paranoia abounds as the group starts to become suspicious of one another. Carpenter does an absolutely flawless job of building the tension between each of the characters, and the audience is never really sure about who’s human and who isn’t For those seeking answers this can be frustrating and disappointing. However, the real “monsters,” in many ways, are the people themselves. Many of them are willing to resort to murder to ensure that they don’t become infected. The setting plays a great role here too, as a blizzard sets in that causes a massive whiteout. They characters are surrounded and trapped not only by the oppressing elements but also by uncertainty and terror. It makes for a chilling atmosphere that constantly keeps you on the edge of your seat.

In addition to all of that clever storytelling, The Thing boasts some of the best special effects I’ve ever seen. Again, this was filmed in 1982, and, in my opinion, everything looks more realistic than the CGI-splatter fests that we see in so many horror movies today. When the alien life-form is taking over something, it’s an extraordinarily gory process—it almost makes you want to puke. It’s one of those movies where you can tell that everyone involved was simultaneously taking it seriously and having fun with it. Despite it’s over the top nature, though, it feels necessary; we, as an audience, believe that the transformation would be a gruesome process. I’m certainly not going to post any clips from the film although there are plenty out there to showcase the gore even more than these pictures have. However without the rest of the film, it all seems to be simply pointless blood and death.

Thing 5

It is surprising to me that this out of all of Carpenter’s films is the only one currently in the IMDb Top 250. However this could be due to the recent release of the prequel which isn’t even worth the pixels I might use to review it. The Thing was not well received when it was released. It debuted at 8th and never improved. It received praise for it’s technical achievements but overall lackluster reviews. It only lasted 4 weeks in the theater. Though, in it’s defense, it was competing against Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner. And two other much more family friendly alien movies which were released two weeks prior: E.T.: Extra-Terrestrial and Star Trek II: Wrath of Khan. John Carpenter considered The Thing one of his biggest failures saying, “I take every failure hard. The one I took the hardest was The Thing. My career would have been different if that had been a big hit…The movie was hated. Even by science-fiction fans. They thought that I had betrayed some kind of trust, and the piling on was insane.”

While I would not encourage everyone to see this film, if you are a fan of the horror genre or are just in the mood for a good cringe, The Thing, is well worth the few dollars it will cost you to snag the DVD. You can also check it out on Blu-Ray, but I would encourage you to have a vomit bag ready because I don’t know if you can handle all that high definition carnage. It will become a regular especially when Halloween, or that winter blizzard, comes around. Have you seen The Thing? What do you think about it? Want to praise Kurt Russell for rocking one of the silver screen’s best beards? Let me know in a comment below or on Twitter or Facebook.

Day 14 – 30 Day Movie Challenge

A Movie That No One Would Expect You To Love

I was interested in this topic from the first time I read the challenge because of the way it is worded. It is asking for a movie that no one would expect you to love. This doesn’t imply that you actually do love that movie. It forces you to put yourself in the shoes of those that know you. You have to inspect your own preferences. If the challenge was asking for a film that you actually liked, then it would say, “A movie that people would be surprised to find that you loved.”

I am running short on time because this weekend is my son’s 8th birthday and my aunt and uncle just came into town tonight so I have been entertaining this afternoon. But I must not neglect in my duty to the challenge. I think that people would be surprised to know that I actually like The Rocky Horror Picture Show. I think it is a lot of fun, and the musical numbers will be stuck in your head for days. Tim Curry as the transvestite from the planet of Transylvania is funny, creepy, and campy all at once. This is my favorite movie to watch on Halloween.

But I don’t think that anyone would expect me to like just about anything in the horror genre. I don’t particularly enjoy being scared. I only watch horror movies on my own terms. I can think of a few enjoyable horror movies that I’ve seen in the past few years, namely The Strangers and Insidious. But there is no way I would ever be caught dead watching the latest incarnation of the Saw franchise, Saw V. I actually loved the first Saw movie. I thought the twist at the end was fabulous and I didn’t see it coming at all.

So what about you? What do you hate so much that everybody knows it and what would people be shocked to know that you love? I want to share in your love and hatred of cinema. Leave me a message in the comments below or on Twitter or Facebook.

Day 07 – 30 Day Movie Challenge

The Most Surprising Plot Twist Or Ending

This is a really fun topic to think about. On the other hand, it is an extremely hard one to write about. I want to tell you about all these films that have an excellent plot twist but I don’t want to give away what that twist is just in case someone hasn’t seen it. So, consider this your warning. There will be tons of spoilers ahead. I could not choose just one film without giving some honorable mentions. So I will give you my top-5 plot twists or endings. I hope you will join in the discussion and let me know your favorites in the comments below.

5) The Sixth Sense (1999)
This film has the most talked about twist of all time. I doubt that there is anyone reading that doesn’t already know about the twist that gave director M. Night Shyamalan his trademark. There are almost no clues in the film, showing us that Bruce Willis’ character is actually dead from the start, besides the alienation with his wife. The Sixth Sense was a tremendous crowd-pleaser, and that was its real success. Looking back over ten years later, I can’t overlook the plot holes, like how he entered houses and other metaphysical questions. That being said, this movie was extremely entertaining and helped to reinvent a whole genre.
4) The Others (2001)
This movie combines the right direction, script, editing and performances, all for the sake of the final twist. It borrowed some elements from The Sixth Sense, and it sets you up right from the very beginning. It seems like a simple plot that we’ve seen countless times, the haunted mansion, the children seeing ghosts. And it lulls the audience into a sense of complacency with the film. But as the film marches to the end, everything gets flipped on its head, and the ending is a total shock. And afterwards you think, why didn’t I see that coming? This movie is based on a main concept we’d never seen before. We saw things from a ghost’s point of view.
3) The Usual Suspects (1995)
What can I say about this movie that hasn’t already been said. It has a tremendously well-written script and Kevin Spacey is remarkable as Verbal Kint. But could he be Keyser Soze? Was the whole thing made up just to get the police off their tail? The plot makes you want to see the movie again and again to look for clues. After several times however, some revealing plot holes open up. But all that does is provide more fodder for discussion with all your fellow movie watching friends. Because they can all be interpreted differently by each viewer. But that’s the magic of the movie. It’s not just the final twist, but that final twist is great to the point that I want to buy this minimalist movie poster made in honor of the film.
2) Fight Club (1999)
Just how twisted and disturbed is the Narrator? When we finally realize that Tyler Durden is just a figment of his fractured imagination, an alter ego that personified all the qualities he lacked, you can’t help but admire the way all the events where presented to us. And upon a second or hundredth viewing, there are clues dropped throughout the movie. The single frame shots of Tyler that appear as his personality starts kicking in, the long, and gorgeously written, monologues of the Narrator, the attitude of Marla and other supporting characters. This movie almost completely failed at the box office. I was a junior is High School when it came out and I never heard of it. It was labeled as a product of a violent culture that leads kids in trench coats to bring guns into their schools and kill innocent people. Fight Club is a disturbing movie, but it is honest and real. This twist has an actual meaning unlike most films that just entertain, this one leaves you thinking. I couldn’t bring myself to make it number 1 because of the quality of that champion and because this one will appear again in my 30 day challenge and I was determined not to have any repeats.
1) Psycho (1960)
When you look up “Horror Film” in the dictionary, this picture of Janet Leigh screaming should appear next to it. I believe that Psycho is the greatest horror film ever made. It’s hard to find anything wrong with it. When watching an older movie, you have to put yourself in the mindset of someone from that period. One of the reasons the shower scene became so notorious was that the elements of sexuality and murder were ground breaking. In 1960, seeing a nude women being murdered in a shower was something that no-one had experienced yet. Nowadays, seeing Jason double-spearing two lovers having sex is nothing uncommon. Also, because Janet Leigh was the headliner of the film, no one expected to see her die so early on. After that scene, then the real movie began, and we get a glimpse into the disturbing world of Norman Bates, a man who loved his mother a bit too much. I envy those who experienced Psycho in 1960… in the theater… they experienced the full terror of Psycho.

Well, there it is. Oh yeah, I had a few others that ended up just outside the top 5. I think of A Beautiful Mind, Memento, The Prestige, and Saw. Do you agree? Disagree? Let me know. This is way more fun when you talk back. Leave your comments below or on Twitter or Facebook.