animation, comedy, movie, movie review, mystery

May 28th, 2018 Movie – Who Framed Roger Rabbit

who framed roger rabbit

Today’s movie has the unfortunate side effect of making me feel incredibly old recently. See, a couple of girls at my work had recently started calling out “Hi Joey” constantly whenever I walk by their area. I made a comment one day about how they reminded me of the birds from today’s movie but they said they never saw it. I was surprised honestly until I realized that the movie was 30 years old, and they hadn’t yet been born when this movie came out. That was a real “Geez I’m old” moment for me but I shook it off because this movie is still enjoyable, no matter how long ago it came out. So let’s have some laughs with today’s movie, Who Framed Roger Rabbit.

The plot: Toon superstar Roger Rabbit is filming his latest cartoon short with his costar Baby Herman, but at the very end of the movie, when a refrigerator falls on him, Roger screws up and has tweeting birds circling his head instead of stars. As Raoul, the director, calls for lunch and walks off, Roger pleads with him to give him another chance, hitting himself in the head with a hammer to show he can give him stars, and failing each time. Eddie Valiant, a down on his luck private detective, watched the filming occurred then heads up to see R.K. Maroon, head of Maroon Cartoons Studio. Maroon is upset because Roger’s mistakes are causing the latest cartoon to run over budget and he wants Eddie to help him straighten Roger out. He shows him a newspaper stating that Roger’s wife Jessica was seen with a human and he asks Eddie to get some pictures of the two of them together so he can show them to Roger, proving that she is no good for him. Eddie refuses at first, saying that he doesn’t work Toon Town anymore, but when Maroon says that she works at a club in Hollywood with a strictly human clientele, he relents and charges him $100 for the job. Maroon reluctantly agrees to the cost but only pays Eddie half, saying he will get the rest when he gets the pictures. With check in hand, Eddie heads back to his office, noticing that the Red Car trolley service had been bought by a company called Cloverleaf. Eddie heads to the bar next to the station and goes to get a drink but is stopped by his girlfriend Dolores, who is a bartender there. She tells him she needs the money she gave him or else she will be out of a job when her boss checks the books and he gives her the check. Eddie then asks to borrow her camera and she gives it to him, saying there should still be film in it as it hasn’t been developed since their vacation to Catalina. Delores asks if the check is any good and Eddie points out the scrawl, which surprises Dolores. When another customer, Angelo, pesters Eddie about which Toon he is working for, Eddie grabs him and tells him he doesn’t work for toons and as he leaves, Dolores explains that Eddie’s brother was killed by a toon, who dropped a piano on his head. Eddie heads to the club where Jessica works and encounters Marvin Acme, the gag king and owner of Toon Town, sitting by the stage. Eddie is surprised to find Betty Boop working there as a cigarette girl and is shocked to see that Jessica Rabbit is not a rabbit, but a human toon. After her seductive routine, Eddie sees Marvin Acme going into her dressing room and tries to look through the keyhole but he gets tossed out by the bouncer. Eddie then looks in through the window and takes pictures of Marvin and Jessica playing patty-cake, which he finds incredulous. After developing the pictures, Eddie heads back to Maroon Studios, where Maroon shows the pictures to Roger. Roger gets upset and Maroon and Eddie try to cheer him up but Roger grabs Eddie and tells him that he and Jessica will be happy again, before crashing through the window. Eddie returns to his office and begins looking through the rest of the pictures from the camera, smiling as he sees the pictures of him and Dolores, then getting sad when he spots the pictures with him and his brother Teddy. The next morning, Eddie is woken up by Lt. Santino, who tells him that Marvin Acme is dead and Roger is the suspected killer. Santino takes Eddie to Acme factory and as Eddie looks around, Jessica, who was being interviewed by the police when they arrived, slaps him and says she hopes he is happy with himself and the pictures he took. When a crate full of dancing shoes is knocked over and the shoes run all over the place, Eddie goes to retrieve the joy buzzer that fell from Acme’s hand when the gurney was knocked over but is stopped by Judge Doom. Doom questions Eddie briefly before saying that his men, a gang of weasels (Smartass, Greasy, Stupid, Wheezy, and Psycho), will find Roger and once they do, he will try, convict, and execute Roger, grabbing one of the shoes and lowering it in a vat of Dip (a mixture of acetone, benzene and turpentine) as an example. Eddie returns to his office to find Baby Herman waiting for him outside, who swears Roger is being framed. Herman explains that Acme was killed for his will, which promised to leave Toon Town to the toons, but nobody has ever seen the will and Eddie dismisses Herman’s story. As he gets inside, his office, Eddie notices something in the picture from the newspaper and, pulling out his own pictures, realizes that Acme did have his will with him when he was with Jessica but he decides he doesn’t want to get involved. Eddie goes to lay down to discover that Roger is in his bed and when he learns that Roger had asked several people to try and find out where Eddie lived, he tries to get rid of him. Roger explains that when he left the studio, he wanted to talk to Jessica but when she wasn’t in her dressing room, he wrote her a love letter on a blank piece of paper he found. As Eddie refuses to help Roger, Roger goes to leave only to walk into the closet and when Eddie goes to get Roger out of there, Roger handcuffs himself to Eddie. Eddie explains that he doesn’t have the keys to the cuffs just as they hear the Weasels arriving outside, and Roger begs Eddie to help him hide. When the weasels break into the office, they find Eddie washing his socks in the sink and question Eddie but he convinces them that he hasn’t seen Roger so they leave. Eddie dons a trenchcoat to hide Roger and heads over to the bar to get Dolores’s help in getting out of the handcuffs. Dolores takes them to a hideyhole from back when the bar was a speakeasy and Eddie works on sawing off the cuffs, only to learn that Roger could have slipped out of the cuffs at any time. Dolores asks Eddie what his plan is and Eddie feels that he was used as part of a plot for Maroon to get control of Toon Town but Maroon couldn’t find the will after Acme was killed. Eddie asks Dolores to check the probate court to see who was trying to buy Toon Town while he goes back to the office, leaving Roger in the hidey hole for safe keeping. At his office, Eddie is finishing changing clothes when he discovers Jessica in the office, and she tells him that he was set up to take the pictures and she would do anything to help her husband. Dolores shows up, interrupting them, and when Jessica leaves, Dolores yells at Eddie, believing he was trying to fool around with Jessica. Eddie chases after her and pleads his innocence and Dolores tells him that Cloverleaf, not Maroon, was trying to buy Toon Town and if the will doesn’t show up by midnight, they will own it. Eddie tries to figure out why Cloverleaf was trying to buy it when Dolores stops him, as she hears music playing, and they race to the bar to find Roger entertaining the customers with a song and dance routine. Eddie grabs Roger and drags him back to the hidey hole, then starts to yell at him but stops when he sees the signal light flashing in the room. Looking through the peep hole, he sees Doom and the weasels entering the bar and Doom speaks to the crowd, then offers a $500 reward for information about Roger. When the bar patrons refuse to tell him where Roger is, Doom begins knocking out “Shave & a Haircut” on the walls, which causes Roger to instinctively burst through the wall to sing out “Two Bits”. Doom grabs Roger and has the weasels bring in a vat of Dip so he can execute Roger but Eddie, remembering Roger’s violent reaction to liquor in Maroon’s office, convinces Doom to let Roger have a drink as a last request. Using Roger’s reaction as a distraction, Eddie takes out the weasels, then grabs Roger before he falls in the dip, then dumps the vat over, making Doom and the other patrons leap back to avoid being splashed by the liquid. Racing outside, Eddie and Roger start to take the weasels’ van but can’t find the keys. Hearing someone yelling from the back, Roger tells Eddie to open the back and they release Benny the cab, who gives them a lift. After avoiding the weasels and the police, Benny drops them off at a movie theater to hide and Roger asks Eddie why he is always such a grump. Eddie explains about his brother dying and how a toon robbed the First National Bank of Toon Town but he got away. Dolores meets up with them, having packed Eddie’s things and ditched the weasels after he called her. They go to leave as a news reel plays, announcing the sell of Maroon Studios to Cloverleaf and Eddie realizes what the connection to Toon Town is. Eddie goes with Roger to Maroon Studios, having called Maroon and told him that he has the will. Eddie leaves Roger outside to cover him but Jessica knocks him out with a frying pan and puts him in the trunk of her car. Inside, Maroon holds a gun on Eddie and grabs the will, only to find it is Roger’s love letter and Eddie uses the distraction to punch Maroon. Eddie then places Maroon’s tie in the film reader and uses it to threaten Maroon, who tells him that he had a chance to sell his studio but only if Acme sold out as well. When he refused, Maroon planned on using the pictures to blackmail him but he never expected anyone to die or for the toons to be destroyed. Before he can say anything else, someone shoots him and Eddie sees Jessica fleeing the scene. Chasing after her, he stops as she enters the tunnel to Toon Town but Eddie resolves himself to go after her, arming himself with a toon gun and bullets to do so. Once inside Toon Town, Eddie is distracted at first and ends up crashing into Jessica’s car but finds no sign of her. HE then spots her in a hotel room but when he heads up there, he finds it was Lena Hyena, a Toon with a similar body to Jessica’s. After managing to get away from Lena, Eddie encounters Jessica in an alleyway but instead of shooting him, she shoots the gun from Doom’s hand before he could kill Eddie. Jessica explains that she had followed Doom to Maroon Studios but was too late to stop him from killing Maroon. As they return to the street, they find that Roger had gotten out of the trunk and stolen Eddie’s car and driven off. Seeing the weasels approaching, Eddie and Jessica end up getting a ride from Benny and as they escape, Jessica reveals that Marvin had told her about Doom wanting Toon Town and given her the will for safe keeping but when she opened the envelope, it just had a blank piece of paper. As the exit the tunnel from Toon Town, the run into a puddle of Dip that Doom had spilled on the road and Benny ends up crashing, knocking himself unconscious. Doom taunts Eddie and Jessica, then has the weasels grab them and take them to Acme Factory, not noticing that Benny was awake and heard where they were going. At the factory, the weasels search Eddie and Jessica for the will but only find Roger’s love letter. Doom then reveals that at midnight, he will be the owner of Toon Town and will retire as a judge, moving into the private sector as the sole stockholder of Cloverleaf industries. He then reveals a massive vehicle filled with Dip, enough to completely destroy Toon Town, and reveals he had learned of the city’s plans to build a freeway and he decided to make it happen for his own benefit, buying the Red Car Trolley so he could shut it down. Meanwhile, Roger finds Benny, who tells him what is going on, and they head to the factory. Roger tells Benny to go for help while he tries to rescue Eddie and Jessica but before they can get away, he is knocked silly by one of the weasels, who drops a ton of bricks onto Roger. Doom orders Roger and Jessica tied up, planning on killing them with Dip before destroying Toon Town, but as he walks away, he slips and falls. Eddie tries to uses the weasels laughing to grab Smartass’s gun but Doom is able to warn him in time to stop him. Doom then leaves but Eddie, hearing Doom’s comment about the weasels laughing themselves to death, puts on a random vaudeville act that causes Greasy, Psycho, Stupid, and Wheezy to die laughing, while he kicks Smartass into the Dip. Psycho’s ghost activates the water cannon, causing the Dip to start spraying towards Roger and Jessica but Eddie is able to get it’s direction reversed. Suddenly, Doom appears and attacks Eddie and as the two fight, Eddie ends up trapped by a giant magnet and a barrel. Doom attempts to run over Eddie with a steamroller but Eddie is able to use a portable hole to escape, then continues fighting Doom. When Doom ends up getting stuck to the steamroller with industrial glue, he gets flattened while Eddie rushes over and turns off the Dip vehicle. Unbelievably, Doom survives, revealing that he is a toon and when Doom reinflates himself, it is revealed that he is the toon that killed Teddy. Doom then renews his attack on Eddie, turning the vehicle back on as well but Eddie uses a punching glove sledgehammer to hit the tank holding the Dip, causing it to be released and flood the floor of the building. Doom is melted away by the dip and Eddie is able to move Roger and Jessica out of the way of the vehicle, which crashes through the wall of the factory into Toon Town, where it is destroyed by a train. Eddie then uses the fire hydrants in the factory to rinse the Dip down the drains, the lowers Roger and Jessica to the floor and frees them. Santino, Dolores, Benny, and the police arrive, as well as the toons from Toon Town. Eddie explains to Santino what happened, as well as how Doom killed Maroon and Teddy as the toons all wonder what Doom really looked like. Dolores notices a stain on Eddie’s shirt and Eddie says that Acme had squirted him the other day and wondered why it was reappearing. Roger finds a bottle of disappearing/reappearing ink and Eddie, realizing what had happened, tells Roger to read his love letter. As Roger begins reading it, the will suddenly reappears and Roger excitedly reads that Acme left Toon Town to the toons. Roger asks Eddie if he will no longer be a sour puss anduses Acme’s joy buzzer on him and Eddie’s response is to grab Roger, then kiss him. Jessica tells Roger they should go home and they leave hand in hand, accompanied by Eddie and Dolores, as the Toons start singing in celebration while the toon police shoo them out of the building.

Who Framed Roger Rabbit was highly praised by the critics, holding a certified fresh rating of 97% on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “Who Framed Roger Rabbit is an innovative and entertaining film that features a groundbreaking mix of live action and animation, with a touching and original story to boot.” The only time that cartoon characters from both Disney and Warner Brothers would appear on screen together, Warner Brothers worked out a deal with Disney, who was producing the film, to allow the use of their biggest stars, Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck, provided that they had an equal amount of screen time with their Disney counterparts, Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck. Disney agreed and solved the problem by having the characters appear on screen together; Mickey with Bugs and Donald with Daffy. Judge Doom’s plot to dismantle the Red Car because of the freeway was based partially in fact, as private corporations did want to eliminate public transportation in the late 40’s-50’s in order to generate more demand for private automobiles. The movie was a box office success, earning$329.8 million off of a $50.6 million budget and would spawn several Roger Rabbit short cartoons, which appeared before various Disney movies afterwards, and would be selected for preservation in the National Film Registry in 2016.

This is such a great movie and a lot of laughs to boot that still holds up today. The acting was great, with Bob Hoskins doing a great job as Eddie Valiant, and his interactions with the toons, and Roger in particular, were fantastic. I also liked Christopher Lloyd’s performance, as his portrayal of Judge Doom was rather chilling and sinister. The story was great and I loved how they were able to incorporate the characters of Disney and Warner Brothers so seamlessly. I especially loved the interaction between Bugs Bunny and Mickey Mouse, as well as Donald Duck and Daffy Duck, as it was a treat that audiences have never been able to witness, or enjoy ever since. I liked the freeway angle as the for Acme and Maroon’s murders, as it gave it a real world reasoning instead of some wacky toon reasoning. The animation was really well done and the thing I liked the best is that , while they did have the traditional animation with the opening cartoon, and when they were watching the Goofy cartoons in the theater while hiding, When they had the animated characters interact with the real world humans, the toons had a more 3D look to them so you could believe there was a real difference in the toons from in front of the camera and away from it. A great movie and definitely one that can be enjoyed by everyone.

Rating: 5 out of 5

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horror, movie, movie review, mystery

May 21st, 2018 Movie – Werewolf In A Girl’s Dormitory

werewolf in a girls dormitory

Well, you can’t have one werewolf movie without having about a dozen more following after it. I’m not saying sequels necessarily, just that there are a lot of movies whose titles happen to start with the word “Werewolf”. Anyways, today’s movie is one that I actually remember seeing years ago during some channel’s Halloween marathon. I actually laughed when I saw that it was in the Chilling Classics box set and it was one of the first movies I actually watched when I bought it because I wanted to see if it was as bad as I remembered. So let me share the experience with all of you as I watch today’s movie, Werewolf In A Girl’s Dormitory.

The plot: When a new teacher, Dr. Julian Olcott, arrives at an all girls school, his arrival proves to be a bit of a distraction for the the students. As he heads to the Director’s office, one of the students, Mary, faints so she can be carried off to the infirmary, as some of the other girls discuss the fact that she faked it so she could get close to the new teacher. Julian meets with Director Swift, who goes over his duties as teacher and reminds him not to speak to the girls outside of the classroom. That night, a wolf’s howling wakes up Francine and Sandy and as they go to look out the window, they see Mary sneaking out of the infirmary. As they watch, Leonor MacDonald, Swift’s assistant, sees Mary but doesn’t stop her as she makes her way to another building and the two girls wonder why she wasn’t stopped. Mary makes her way outside the gates and encounters Walter Jeoffrey, who tries to stop her but she tells him to leave her alone or else she will spill the beans on everything he is involved in. Mary eventually meets up with Sir Alfred Whiteman, another teacher at the school whom she was having an affair with, and he tries to plead with her but she insists that he give her the money she was promised or else she will expose the affair and ruin him, saying she will hold onto the love letters as proof. As Mary heads back to school, she hears something in the bushes and attempts to run but is soon grabbed and killed by a werewolf and dumped into the nearby stream. Whiteman returns to his home, where he tries talking to his wife Sheena and when she gets upset at his actions, he tells her that he is not seeing the girl but she is blackmailing him. The next morning, Mary’s body is discovered and taken to the school, where Julian examines it. He thinks that Mary could have met with a man before her death but the police inspector feels that she just wandered outside and was attacked by wolves. When Whiteman is brought in and asked if he knows the body, he says he does but only in passing and the inspector asks if he will answer some questions as a formality for his report. Meanwhile, Priscilla was given some letters that were written for Mary and sneaks back to her dorm to read them, then tries to find Mary’s other letters but she is caught by Julian and chastised for missing class. Priscilla goes to see Swift, who is finishing up with the inspector, and talks to him about the letter Mary had received and Swift realizes that he will have to call the inspector back. As he leaves the office, Priscilla notices a letter on his desk about Julian being acquitted of a crime for lack of evidence. When the inspector returns, Mary takes them to the dorm to show them the letters only to find them missing and both the inspector and Swift think she was making the letters up. The next day, Priscilla and Sandy are discussing Julian during class and after class, Priscilla asks Julian about Mary’s body and the wounds on it. When he says he can’t say for certain about the wounds, she then asks why he came to their school, and he said he didn’t choose it, but was destined to come there. Later, Priscilla and Sandy find the letters and Priscilla says that nobody can see them, then goes to see Walter, thinking he knows about them. Walter says he knows about them and that she would need to meet him that night to learn the truth. Priscilla sneaks out of the dorm and goes to Walter’s cabin, and he takes her to where Mary met with Whiteman, unaware that they are being followed. When Priscilla arrives at the cabin, she finds Sheena waiting for her there, who tosses her some money and calls her a tart like all the others, thinking she was there to blackmail Whiteman. When Priscilla tells her she was merely there to find out who wrote the letters and thought that Whiteman was the killer, Sheena says that is impossible but tells her that Whiteman did meet with Mary but he left her alive. However, she did see someone that she feels was the killer, but won’t reveal who it was. Priscilla sees someone at the window and Sheena thinks it is probably the caretaker and tells Priscilla to keep Mary’s letter’s hidden in order to spare her memory from being tarnished. When Priscilla suggests that she could have killed Mary with her dogs, as the wounds could have been mistaken for wolves, Sheena gets offended and says she never should have confided in her. After she leaves, Priscilla quickly follows and runs into Julian, who says he was out there laying traps for the wolves. He escorts Priscilla back to school grounds but tells her he will have to write a report about her being out. Meanwhile, Sheena makes it back to her house but someone knocks her out, then injects her with a drug, killing her. Back outside, Priscilla is startled by a wolf howling in distress and Julian says that he has to leave to take care of it, as it could get free. Priscilla says that she is ok, as they are close to the school, but as she gets to the gate, she is attacked by a werwolf. Before it can kill her, Walter’s dog attacks it and bites it’s right hand while Priscilla faints at the gate. The next day, a funeral is held for Sheena, during which Walter catches Whiteman’s eye, but the exchange is noticed by Swift. At the local tavern, Whiteman meets up with Walter and asks if he found the letters but when Walter says he hasn’t, Whiteman says they must find them, as he can’t rest until they are destroyed. When one of the villagers notices Walter can’t move his hand, they accuse him of being the one to attack Priscilla. Whiteman quickly leaves while Walter tries to hold the growing mob at bay with a switchblade but just before they attack him, Swift shows up and stops them, revealing that Walter’s hand has been like that since birth and he has no scarring from a bite on it. As they leave, he asks Walter why he was meeting with Whiteman and when Walter says it was nothing, he tells him to go back to the school, as the villagers might still try to harm him. In the school’s infirmary, Priscilla is startled by the appearance of Julian in the room. They talk briefly, with Julian telling her she has to have faith in him, when Sandy bursts into the room. Sandy apologizes for interrupting them but when she touches Julian’s arm, he reacts in pain, and Priscilla starts at that. Sandy goes to see Swift and tells him she feels that Julian is the killer, saying that Mary was killed on the day of his arrival. Swift decides to question Julian and Julian talks about what killed his career and says that he had been studying lycanthropy, as he had a woman who was accused of murder but had no recollection of it. He realized that she was a werewolf and did his best to try and cure her but she overdosed on one of his trial medicines, and he was accused of murdering her but was acquitted. He admits that his arm is hurt but he didn’t attack Priscilla and Swift says he is having a hard time believing him. That night, Walter sneaks into the girl’s dorm and and tries to get the key from Sandy, holding a pillow over her mouth until she is rendered unconscious. As he goes to grab the letters, another girl spots him and screams out, alerting all of the others, and Walter runs from the room. The girls alert the dorm mother, who tells Swift and Julian as they had heard the screams, and they see Walter trying to escape through the upper levels. Julian tells him to stop or he will shoot but the panicked Walter continues to try and escape, only to fall to his death. As Julian checks on Walter, Swift notices the letters and grabs them, then tells everyone to go back to their bed. When Julian heads back to his room, Priscilla asks him what happened, he tells her that Walter killed himself after trying to kill Sandy. Priscilla thinks that Walter was the monster but Julian says that it is impossible, as Walter had a dog and dogs can’t stand the scent of werewolves. The next day, Swift calls Whiteman into his office to explain the letters and Whiteman says that he did have the affair but didn’t kill Mary, then wishes Sheena was still alive as she saw the killer. Whiteman then says that if he goes down, Swift will go down as well and Swift says he isn’t planning on sanctioning him, as the affair doesn’t need to come up again. That night, Julian and Priscilla go to see Whiteman, thinking he might be the werewolf but when they asks him to go with them to the police, he commits suicide instead. Meanwhile, Swift is shown to be the werewolf, with Leonor working with him to find a cure. Leonor admits that she killed Sheena because she must have seen him kill Mary but as she goes to try and get another sample of wolf’s blood to use for the cure, the wolf escapes it’s cage and mauls her to death, and Swift ends up killing the wolf. The next day, as a funeral is held for Walter, his dog, who Priscilla is holding, begins barking at Swift before getting loose from Priscilla and running off. As Priscilla tries to chase after him, Julian approaches Swift and tells him they need to talk in private when he gets a chance. That night, Priscilla encounters Walter’s dog, who leads her into the bushes, where it digs up Walter’s body. Priscilla screams out and encounters Swift, telling him what she saw. Swift says they must call the police but as they head into his house, Priscilla wonders who was buried in Walter’s grave but when she turns to Swift, she finds him transforming into a werewolf. As Swift goes to kill Priscilla, Julian shows up and Swift struggles with him but Julian finally manages to shoot him. As Swift stumbles into his home and changes back to human, he tells them that Leonor was buried in Walter’s grave and dies, then Julian and Priscilla leave, saying that the nightmare is finally over.

This is definitely one of those movies that is funny to watch because it is bad. Well, let me rephrase that some; the English dubbing is bad but the original Italian might have been better. The acting was ok but the dubbing really didn’t fit well with the movie, as it made the dialogue seem overly forced instead of natural. The story actually was a decent little horror/mystery, as they did try to do a good job trying to cast suspicions on several people as to who the werewolf is. The special effects were laughably bad, as the make up for the werewolf looked terrible and some of the camera work was just poorly done. It’s a terrible movie but can be fun to watch because of how bad it is.

Rating: 2 1/2 out of 5

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drama, movie, movie review, mystery, sci-fi

May 19th, 2018 Movie – Welcome To Blood City

welcome to blood city

You ever wake up in the morning and just have no motivation to get out of bed and go. That is kind of how I felt this morning. Luckily, that is an easy feeling to get over, well for me, as I simply rolled out of bed and went about my normal routine. Now today’s movie comes to us from the Sci-Fi Invasion box set but it is something I have never seen before. Only way to figure out if it actually belongs there is to give it a watch so let’s see what I am in store for with today’s movie, Welcome To Blood City.

The plot: 5 people (Lewis, Martine, Peter, and two other men ) find themselves in a desert dressed in similar clothes and with no memory as to how they got there. One of the men asks Lewis about his story, mentioning a card in the pocket of Lewis’ shirt, and as Lewis reads it, he asks how many people he killed. The others all say that their cards read that they are killers as well but Lewis chooses to rip his card up, saying not to believe everything they read. With only one canteen between the 5 of them, they start walking across the sand and eventually come to a wooded area with a river. As they start to drink some water, one of the group is shot and two men, Sarge and Webb, rise out of the bushes across the river and tell them to get on their knees. As the two men approach the group, they tell them to removie their boots, which Sarge places in a sack while Webb proceeds to rape Martine. After they leave, the group continues moving until they encounter Sheriff Friedlander, who had watched what had happened to them. Friedlander says that he knows their cards all say they are killers but says it’s ok because they are all killers there. Friedlander leads them to town and escorts them into a building, saying they will be safe there for the night and offers them some food and drink. He then explains that in the morning, the citizens will choose who they want to take and reveals that they are considered slaves. When a man named Gellor arrives with his men, he tells Friedlander that he wants Martine. Friedlander tries to argue that it isn’t the choosing time and that he gets first pick but Gellor counters that Friedlander already has a girl and Friedlander reluctantly concedes. As Gellor grabs Martine and starts examining her, one of the men tries to stop him and ends up being shot. Gellor’s man claims it was self defense but Friendlander yells at them and kicks them out. He apologizes and tells Martine having a girl like her in town is dangerous and decides to take her elsewhere so she will be safe. Meanwhile, two scientists, Katherine and Lyle, are watching some monitors, one of which says the subject is terminated and one of them comments about some people seem to look for ways to kill themselves and the other replies that that was the purpose of their experiment. Back in the town, Lewis goes to cover the body then decides to go outside and get some boots, though Peter says it is a bad idea. As Lewis wanders around town, he is followed by a group of men called the Black Guard, who laugh as he is rejected by the various store owners. Seeing a bootmaker’s shop, Lewis approaches it and the owner threatens to hit him with a hammer but Lewis dodges the attack and grabs the hammer from the man, then spares his life in exchange for the boots off his feet. With his new boots on, Lewis then heads to the gun store for a weapon but the owner kicks him out of the store. As he is leaving, Lewis is approached by a member of the Black Guard, who offers to buy him a drink, saying that he is his 9th. In the bar, Black Guard spills coffee on Lewis, hoping to get a rise out of him and when Lewis refuses to drink the second cup, the man says that Lewis insulted him and that gives him right to kill him. Lewis upends the table to avoid being shot and makes a run for it. theHe makes it to the sheriff’s office and asks Friedlander what is going on. Friedlander tells him that it is the law for a citizen to kill a new arrival that insults him, but if a new arrival kills a citizen, then he becomes a citizen and gets all of their rights. When Lewis asks Friedlander why everything revolves around killing, Friendlander has a sudden flashback of a time when he was a college professor, but shakes it off and tells Lewis it is kill or be killed there. Lewis asks for a gun to defend himself but Friedlander says it is against the law and forces Lewis to go back outside, threatening to shoot him himself if he doesn’t. When Lewis gets outside, he is soon confronted by the Black Guardsman, who goes to shoot Lewis, but a female Black Guard tosses a shotgun to the ground and Lewis quickly grabs it and shoots the man trying to kill him. The dead man’s friends reveal that they were merely working as the man’s bodyguards and that all of his possessions are now Lewis’s. As Lewis turns to thank the female Black Guard, he finds that she has suddenly disappeared. Back in the lab, Lyle says that Katherine shouldn’t have directly programmed herself into the game but Katherine says that she merely extended the options in the game. They are suddenly contacted by their supervisor, who says that they need to produce winners and Katherine argues that they are being unreasonable. After getting some new clothes, Lewis goes to see Martine and she begs for his help in helping her stay out of Gellor’s possession and Lewis tells her he will do what he can to help her. He then heads to the saloon, where he encounters the mystery woman, who is now dressed as one of the working girls. She tells him that she owns the place and she is tired of seeing the same old people every day, which is why she helped him, and the two eventually head upstairs and have sex. Back in the real world, Lyle approaches Katherine, who is attached to the simulation, and chastises her for her actions, saying it is almost like pornography. The next morning in town, Lewis is met by Peter, who tells him that Friedlander wants to see him. Lewis talks with Peter some and asks if he remembers how they got there, as Lewis starts to remember his past life. Back in the lab, alarms are sounding as the scientists rush to prevent Lewis from remembering his life and ruining their experiment. When they finally succeed, the scientists are shocked as that had never happened before and Katherine theorizes that Lewis must be more resistant to altered realities than their other subjects. Back in the town, Lewis meets with Friedlander, and discusses his options on what he can do. He then goes to see Martine, who is near hysterics over her worry about Gellor but Lewis assures her that Gellor would have to kill him first before he gets to her. Some time later, Katherine reappears in town and tries to talk Lewis out of challenging Gellor but he refuses to back down from challenging Gellor for Martine’s safety. When Gellor and his men arrive in town, Friedlander tells Gellor about Lewis’s challenge and Gellor laughs, saying that killing Lewis would make his 20th kill and make him immortal. In the lab, Katherine is upset at Lewis and he says that it looks like he is purposefully rewriting the situation so that Lewis would be killed but Lewis says it isn’t personal, he is just following the supervisor’s orders. In the town, Lewis heads to the saloon to try and reason with Gellor but Gellor want’s to go ahead and kill him. When Lewis’s bodyguards try to stop the fight, Lewis yells out about everyone in town seeming to want to be killed, while in the lab, Lyle remarks about him finally starting to figure things out. Back in the saloon, one of Gellor’s men kills one of Lewis’s bodyguards and Gellor marches Lewis out of the saloon, saying he will have Lewis watch him claim Martine, then kill Lewis in front of her. When they get outside, they learn that Friedlander has started the choosing already and an angered Gellor hurries over to the jail. They get there as the last man is auctioned off and as Gellor yells out for Martine, one of the Black Guard tells the crowd that Martine is gone. Checking for himself, Gellor accuses Friedlander of hiding her and when he threatens to kill him, Friedlander shoots Gellor. As everyone leaves, Lewis demands Friedlander tell him where Martine is but before Friedlander shoots him, Katherine says that he doesn’t know because she is the one who took her. Back in the lab, Lyle is arguing about Katherine’s continued involvement in the experiment but Katherine tells the supervisor that Lewis is a perfect candidate to become a killmaster. The Supervisor says that they have to prove it, as they are losing rapidly. Back in the town, Katherine explains she took Martine but they were ambushed by bandits, who took Martine to the old mine. Lewis asks Friedlander to go back to town and get some men while he has Katherine lead him to the mine. As they are riding along, Lewis tells Katherine that he knows they weren’t ambushed but she gave Martine to the bandits and Katherine says that she did it to save him, then rides off as Lewis is insisting on going to the mine. When Lewis gets there, he knows out the lookout, then begins firing at the bandits, killing several but he soon runs out of bullets. Before they can kill him, Katherine returns with some men and they start killing off the rest of the bandits. When the leader holds Martine hostage, Lewis yells at everyone to stop shooting but Katherine fires one last shot, killing Martine. In the lab, Lyle says that Katherine may have been right about Lewis but Katherine says that he disappointed her, as he merely played not to lose, and that he is about to be terminated. In the town, Friedlander heads to the bar and after talking to Lewis for a minute, moves to arrest him, saying he will think of a charge later. When one of the bystanders says he can’t do that, Friedlander shoots him and Lewis makes a run for it. Friedlander chases after him, constantly laughing as he shoots at him. He eventually catches up to Lewis as Lewis tries to grab a horse but instead of killing Lewis, Friedlander ends up killing himself. Lewis asks Friedlander why but when he gets no response, he walks away. As he heads to the center of town, he is met by Peter, who is wielding a shotgun, and told to stop. Lewis tries to reason with Peter, saying he is being set up just like he was, but Peter says he won’t waste his chance and when Lewis keeps moving towards him, he shoots him. In the lab, Katherine is happy to see Lewis died in the simulation but is shocked to see them reviving the real Lewis and learns it is under the supervisor’s orders. Katherine goes to see the supervisor and asks why Lewis is being revived and she is told she exceeded her authority and Lewis is exactly the kind of person they need. As they argue, Lewis regains consciousness and hears them talking about him. As he tries to figure out what is going on, he starts hitting buttons on the control panel next to his chair and opens a window that shows Martine, Gellor, Friedlander, and the other people that died in the simulation, now mindless shuffling bodies in a room. When Katherine and the supervisor return to the room, they find that Lewis had ripped up the controls for the chair and hotwired it to send him back into the simulation.

This was an interesting, albeit confusing, movie to watch. The acting was honestly a little boring, as all of the characters really seemed to be to stiff and robotic in their delivery. I will say that the end scene with Jack Palance (Friedlander) laughing like a maniac as he kept popping up and shooting at Lewis was funny, in a WTF kind of way. The story was honestly pretty confusing in the sense that they really didn’t explain what the point of the simulation was. I mean, yes, the simulation is testing them for something but you never really know why or what Lewis is expected to do for them. I did like the idea of the people being in a simulated world and the whole dying in the simulation causes you to die, well mentally die, in the real world. I feel like The Matrix borrowed quite a bit from this idea. The special effects were ok but the camera work was just terrible, as there were times that they would randomly zoom close to someone’s face when they weren’t fully in the camera shot, so you would get a great view of someone’s cheek. A for effort….well, maybe a B+ because there was definitely some room for improvement.

Rating: 3 out of 5

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crime, movie, movie review, mystery, thriller

April 13th, 2018 Movie – The Usual Suspects

the usual suspects

Some times, the best way to hear about a movie is word of mouth. If a movie gets a lot of good word of mouth among people, then their friends will be more likely to go see it. That is definitely the case with today’s movie. Everyone that I knew who had seen it had enjoyed it and I ended up seeing it myself. But that word of mouth extended even further when it came out on video, as even more people were talking about it who missed seeing it in theaters. I liked this movie and would always watch it when it came on TV, then finally decided to go ahead and get it on DVD after a while. So let’s enjoy today’s movie, The Usual Suspects.

The plot: On a freight ship docked in San Pedro, California, a badly wounded man, Dean Keaton, lights a match book and drops it to the ground, setting fire to a trail of gasoline. As the flames head towards the gas tanks, the flame is put out by a man urinating off of an upper deck. The man then approaches Keaton, who calls him “Keyser”, and the two talk briefly before Keyser shoots Keaton, then drops a lit cigarette onto the gasoline, reigniting it and causing the ship to explode as the man leaves. Some time later, Roger “Verbal” Kent, a con artist with cerebral palsey, is being interviewed by the police. Verbal tells them that the whole thing started 6 weeks ago when a shipment of guns was hijacked and while the drivers didn’t see anything, they heard one of the thieves speak. The New York Police Dept. pick up Verbal as well as Keaton, Michael McManus, Fred Fenster, and Todd Hockney, and placed in a police line up and each are made to read the line on a card before beginning to interrogate them. When they are placed in a holding cell, McManus and Hockney discuss the rumors about Keaton going straight since hooking up with a criminal defense attorney. They then all discuss why they are there and realize that they are being set up as the police have no real idea who stole the guns and  McManus wants to get back at the cops. Back in the present day, FBI Agent Jack Baer arrives at the dock and asks one of the officers if there were any survivors and learns that there were two; one who was badly burned and taken to the hospital, and one, Verbal, who was taken into custody by the police. Baer heads to the hospital and learns that the injured man had regained consciousness and as he goes in to try and speak to him, he recognizes him as Arkosh Kovash, a Hungarian Mobster. Baer makes a call to arrange for a security detail and an interpreter but as he is on the phone, Arkosh starts yelling out the name “Keyser Soze”, making Baer pause briefly before telling the person on the other phone to locate Dave Kujan. U.S. Customs Special Agent Dave Kujan has flown down to San Pedro to question Verbal but learns that he is going to be posting bail and released the next day. Kujan manages to get in to talk with Verbal before he is released and asks him what happened after the police line up in New York. Verbal explains that McManus had come up with a plan but they needed 5 men to pull it off and Verbal goes to try and convince Keaton to help them. The men all work together to rob some crooked cops that operate an illegal taxi service, robbing the recent customer of some jewels he was carrying, then torching the police car. Keaton calls in an anonymous tip and the media arrives and they end up bringing down the whole ringing, which extends all the way to the chief. McManus plans on heading to California with Fenster to meet with a fence that he knows but Hockney and the others don’t like the idea of them going alone and decide to go with him. Back in the present, Baer has his superior and the interpreter brought into the room and when he learns that Arkosh has seen Keyser Soze’s face, he has a sketch artist brought forward so they can get a sketch from Arkosh’s description. Back in the San Pedro Police Department, Kujan continues to question Verbal and Verbal tells him that after they arrived in California, they met with the fence, Redfoot, who paid them then offered another job. Keaton didn’t want to do it at first but finally relents and goes through with it. They go to steal a suitcase from a courier but unlike the police heist, this time they end up having to kill the men they were stealing from. When they open it, they find the suitcase contains heroin instead of jewels and McManus gets upset and when they meet with Redfoot, he accuses him of setting them up. Keaton calms him down and then questions Redfoot about who hired them and says he wants to meet him and Redfoot says the man has already said he wants to arrange a meeting. Back in the present, Baer heads to the station and meets with Kujan, telling him that according to Arkosh, the Hungarians were meeting with some Argentinians to buy some cocaine when Keyser Soze showed up and killed everyone. When Kujan returns back to the room and asks Verbal about Keyser Soze, he gets visibly upset. Verbal explains how they met with a lawyer named Kobayashi, who tells them he works for Keyser Soze. Kobayashi explains that Soze wants them to do a job for him, which could kill them but if they survive, they will get $91 million to split between them. When Keaton starts to refuse, Kobayashi explains that all of them have stolen from Soze at one point or another, and the only reason they are alive is because they didn’t know they were stealing from them. Soze feels this is simply making things even between them, and Kobayahsi leaves his suitcase on the table and leaves. When Keaton opens it, he finds envelopes with each of their names on them, with details of their lives contained in each one. Back in the present, Verbal tells Kujan a story he was told about how Soze was simply a low level dealer in Hungary when the mob wanted to expand into his territory. They held his wife and children hostage and killed his son in front of him, demanding he turn over his territory or else the others die. Soze proceeds to kill two of the mobsters, then kill his own family, telling the lone survivor he would rather see his family dead. After letting the man go and burying his family, Soze proceeds to go after the mob, killing their children and wives in retaliation, which led to him becoming a myth among criminals. After meeting with Kobayashi, Fenster decides to try and run but he is killed by Soze and Kobayashi tells the others where to find the body. As they argue over what to do, they bury Fenster, then decide to go after Kobayashi but he warns them against killing him, saying that their loved ones will end up dead, showing that he has brought Keaton’s girlfriend to be part of a trial and telling Keaton that the bodyguard he arranged will kill her if he turns up missing. Realizing they are trapped, Keaton and the others head out to the dock and await the meeting between the Hungarians and Argentinians. When the men show up, Keaton, McManus, and Hockney head out to deal with them, leaving Verbal, due to his disability, to cover them. The three men proceed to kill the guards outside and as Keaton and McManus head onto the boat, Hockney heads to a nearby van and finds it full of cash but ends up getting shot. Keaton and McManus make their way through the ship but find no sign of any cocaine on board. Verbal is tired of waiting and goes trying to help but when he finds Hockney’s body, he closes the van doors and goes to drive off but is unable to find the keys. Meanwhile, McManus is stabbed in the neck and as Keaton checks on him, he is shot in the back, which paralyzes him and brings us to the beginning of the movie. Back in the station, Kujan asks Verbal why he didn’t help his friends and he says he was too scared of Soze. Kujan then tells him that there were no drugs on the ship, but it was a witness who had knowledge of Soze, including who Soze really was. Kujan believes that Keaton was really Soze and tries to convince Verbal of that and turn state’s evidence but Verbal refuses and leaves, as his bail has been posted. After Verbal leaves, Kujan is talking with Sergeant Jeff Rabin about the situation and as he looks at the cork board behind Rabin, he realizes Verbal had lied to him, using names and elements from the cork board for his story. Kujan goes chasing after Verbal, just as a fax comes in from the hospital, with Verbal’s picture being listed as Keyser Soze. Outside, Verbal reveals that his disability was faked and he gets into a car that Kobayashi is driving and they drive off, leaving Kujan standing there frustrated at ebing unable to catch Verbal/Soze.

The Usual Suspects met with high praise from the critics, holding a certified fresh rating of 88% on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “Expertly shot and edited, The Usual Suspects gives the audience a simple plot and then piles on layers of deceit, twists, and violence before pulling out the rug from underneath.” The line-up scene was scripted as a serious scene, but after a full day of filming takes where the actors couldn’t keep a straight face, director Bryan Singer decided to use the funniest takes. A making-of documentary shows Singer becoming furious at the actors for the constant cracking-up. The movie was a modest hit at the box office, earning $34.4 million off of a $6 million budget and would win the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay and while Kevin Spacey would win the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor.

This is a great movie but I will admit that the ending was a little predictable. The acting was great, with Kevin Spacey, Gabriel Byrne, and Chazz Palminteri doing great jobs in the roles of Verbal/Soze, Keaton, and Kujan respectively. Stephen Baldwin, Kevin Pollack, and Benicio Del Toro were also good as McManus, Hockney, and Fenster while Pete Postlethwaite did a great job as Kobayashi. The story was interesting and I liked the concept of the mysterious puppet master pulling the strings for all of the events. However, I did think that it got predictable that Verbal was really Soze before the “big reveal”. I did like that they showed Kujan realizing that he had been played and chasing after him before the sketch of Verbal gets faxed in, as his reaction and the slow motion showing all of the names Verbal had used was revealed was definitely a good way to start the close of the movie. The drama was well choreographed and the special effects in the final fire fight and explosions were well done. This is definitely a solid thriller of a movie and one that everyone should watch at least once.

Rating: 4 1/2 out of 5

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horror, movie, movie review, mystery

April 12th, 2018 Movie – Urban Legend

urban legend

Urban Legends. Everyone has heard of at least one in their life time and probably told just as many to other people. The good thing about urban legends is that they can be the setup, and sometimes the basis, for a horror movie. Well, someone decided that why use just one urban legend when you can do a whole movie about a lot of them. Now I first heard about this movie and I will admit that my curiosity was piqued about it but I never went to see it in theaters, choosing to rent it when it came out on video. During the dying Blockbuster days, I picked up a copy on the cheap so let’s see if this was worth it as I watch today’s movie, Urban Legend.

The plot: A young woman named Michelle is driving on the highway when it starts raining. Finding herself low on gas, she stops at a run down gas station and is startled when the attendant suddenly appears at her window. Michelle hands him her credit card and after starting to pump her gas, the man looks inside her car then heads into the store. A few minutes later, the man returns and stutteringly tells her that her credit card company is on the phone and needs to speak with her. Nervous, Michelle grabs a can of mace from her purse and heads inside but when she picks up the phone, she hears the busy signal just as the attendant locks the door. The attendant tries to grab her but she fights him off, and tries to leave, macing him when he manages to grab her. Using the phone to break the window, Michelle climbs out and rushes to her car and drives off, leaving the attendant standing there screaming that someone was in her back seat. Michelle drives away, still freaked by the encounter when she sees someone rise up from her back seat and kill her with an axe. At Pendleton University, Parker Riley is telling the story of a supposed massacre that happened at Stanley Hall to Natalie Simons and Brenda Bates but their friend Paul Gardner, who works for the school newspaper, discredits the story as a hoax. Later, Brenda and Natalie walk by a hole in the wall of a dorm that supposedly is able to summon the dead and they try it only to be scared by another friend, Damon Brooks, before Natalie heads back to her dorm room. The next day, Brenda, Natalie, Parker, and Damon are attending Professor Wexler’s class on urban legends when he has Brenda and Damon come up to do a demonstration disproving the legend about pop rocks and soda. As they leave class, Brenda and Natalie see Dean Adams and security guard Reese Wilson removing all of the school newspapers in the bins due to Paul’s story about Michelle’s death. As everyone talks about Michelle’s death, Natalie appears to be especially freaked out by it but doesn’t say why. That night, Damon invites Natalie out to talk about Michelle’s death and he takes her out to the woods but apparently used it only as an excuse to try and hook up with her. Natalie punches him and tells him to take her back and he relents, stepping out of the car to use the restroom. As he is finishing up, someone sneaks up behind him and starts strangling him with a rope. As Natalie yells out for him to hurry up, she is confronted by someone wearing a hooded parka and quickly gets back in the car. As she tries to start the car, she hears something scraping on the roof, not realizing it is Damon, whose is hanging from a tree limb above her and his feet are barely touching the roof of the car. Natalie manages to start the car and drives off, unknowingly hanging Damon as the rope was tied to the car’s trailer hitch. Natalie tries to run the stranger over she finds the car can’t go forward any more due to the rope so she puts the car in reverse and ends up crashing into the tree, and Damon’s body falls onto the hood of the car. Natalie runs back to the college and tells Reese what happened but when they go back to the scene, they find the car and body missing and Reese thinks Natalie is on something. Natalie tries telling her friends but Parker says that it is probably Damon playing a practical joke like he always does. As they keep talking, Natalie realizes that Damon’s death and Michelle’s are similar to urban legends and she heads to the library to get a book on urban legends, running into Sasha, Parker’s girlfriend and campus radio DJ, as she does. Meanwhile, Natalie’s roommate Tosh is attempting to arrange a hookup only to be attacked in their room. Natalie walks in but, having turned on the lights to find Tosh having sex before, she mistakes Tosh’s muffled cries as her having sex and simply keeps the lights off before heading to bed. When she wakes up, Natalie notices a pool of blood near Tosh’s body and finds that she has been murdered and the killer had written “Aren’t you glad you didn’t turn on the lights” in her blood above Natalie’s bed, mimicking another urban legend. As the paramedics are brought in to take away the body, Dean Adams and Reese talk with Natalie and Adams tries to convince her not to say anything to the police. Paul follows her out of there and asks her what is going on and shows her a picture of Michelle’s yearbook and asks why she didn’t say she knew Michelle. Natalie tells him her theory and Paul doesn’t really believe her but decides to help her check out the truth behind the Stanley Hall Massacre. They go to look at the school records only to find the records for 1973 are missing and when they ask the janitor if he knows anything, he says to talk with Wexler. They head to Wexler’s office and getting no answer, Paul breaks in. When they start looking around, Natalie finds a secret room with a hooded parka and an axe inside but they are caught by Wexler. Natalie and Paul are taken to Adams’ office and they asks him about the massacre but he doesn’t answer, telling NAtalie she is lucky to have gotten accepted as she has a reckless endangerment charge on her record and tells Paul that he has been kicked off of the school paper. Later, Natalie goes to see Brenda at the pool when she sees a parka clad person approaching her and she tries to warn her, breaking a window before the person is revealed to be another swimmer. As Brenda tries talking with Natalie, Natalie reveals to her that she knew Michelle and that when they were in high school, they played a joke based on an urban legend and ended up accidentally killing someone. Meanwhile, Adams is preparing to leave when he is spooked by Reese, who says they should get some more security for the weekend but Adams refuses, wanting to keep everything quiet and under wraps. As Reese leaves, Adams is attacked when someone underneath his car slashes his achilles tendon, then runs him over with his own car as he tries to crawl away, impaling him on the parking deck’s security spikes. At the newspaper, Paul is cleaning out his desk when he finds an old newspaper showing that the massacre did happen and Wexler is the only survivor. Brenda convinces Natalie to come to the Stanley Hall Massacre party when she runs into Paul, who tells her she was right. Paul explains his theory about Wexler and how he might be the killer and as Natalie gets frightened, he says he won’t let anything happen to her. Paul kisses Natalie but they are caught by Brenda, who has a crush on Paul, and she calls Natalie a slut and runs outside, where she sits on the steps and cries. Paul tries to convince Parker to stop the party but when Parker mocks him, he tells Natalie he is going to go get some help. Meanwhile, Parker gets a phone call from someone saying he is going to die but when Parker checks the caller ID, he notices it is coming from Damon’s room. Thinking it is Damon playing a joke, he asks if this is the legend about the babysitter and the call is coming from upstairs but the caller says it is the legend about the old woman that dries off her dog in the microwave. Parker checks the microwave to find his dog has exploded inside and when he goes to the bathroom to throw up, the killer attacks him and force feeds him some pop rocks and drain killer to kill him. Sasha leaves the party to work her shift on the radio and as she takes a call, the killer kills her producer and attacks her while she is on air. Natalie hears Sasha screaming and heads over to the station only to see the killer kill Sasha. She heads over to Paul’s dorm to get him and tells him what happened and he says they should leave, but Natalie is starting to get suspicious of him. The two run into Brenda and they tell her Sasha is dead and they all leave in Paul’s SUV. As they drive, Natalie complains about a smell and they stop at a gas station to see if the phones work there. Paul heads inside to try the phones while Natalie and Brenda wait in the car but the two hear Wexler’s alarm and find his dead body in the back. The two girls run through the woods back towards campus but get separated and Natalie ends up getting picked up by the janitor. As they are driving, Natalie sees his parka and thinks he might be the killer and tries to get out of the car but he tells her the doors won’t open from the outside. As they keep driving, they see a car approaching with it’s lights off and the janitor flashes his high beams to alert the other car but Natalie realizes it is the killer in Paul’s car, as the car turns around and follows them, constantly flashing it’s high beams at them and eventually forcing them off the road. The janitor dies in the crash and Natalie and manages to reach the campus, where she hears Brenda screaming. Going to find her friend, Natalie heads inside the abandoned Stanley Hall, only to be attacked by Brenda. When she comes to, Natalie finds herself tied to a bed and Brenda explains that the man that Natalie and Michelle killed was her boyfriend and she was getting her revenge. Brenda starts to cut into Natalie to mimic the kidney thief legend when Reese shows up to rescue her. As Natalie frees herself, Reese starts to frisk Brenda, who pulls out a switchblade and slashes her. Reese drops her gun and Brenda and Reese struggle for it before Brenda manages to shoot Reese, then points the gun at Natalie. Paul shows up and tries to talk Brenda out of shooting Natalie but Brenda points the gun at both of them. Reese shoots Brenda in the arm, causing her to drop the gun and Natalie picks it up and shoots her, knocking her out the window. Natalie and Paul check on Reese, who is bleeding but still alive, and they leave to get help but as they are driving down the road, Brenda appears in the back seat and tries attacking them with an axe but Paul slams into the side of a bridge and goes flying out the windshield and plunges into the river below. Some time later, at another college, some students are talking about the murders when Brenda, still alive and under a new identity, says that they are telling it wrong and says she will tell them how it really went.

Urban Legend met with poor results from the critics, holding a 20% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “Elements of Scream reappear in a vastly inferior vehicle.” In keeping with the movie’s title and theme, 11 urban legends were reenacted and another 5 were referenced during the film. When Paul and Natalie walk into the hidden room in Professor William Wexler’s office, a puppet of Freddy Krueger can be seen just before they see the axe, which is a nod to Robert Englund, who plays Wexler in the movie but is most famous for playing Freddy in the Nightmare On Elm Street movies. The movie was a box office hit, earning $72.5 million off of a $14 million budget and would spawn 2 sequels.

I had high hopes for this movie but it honestly was kind of a let down. The acting was ok, with all of the main characters doing ok jobs, and I mean just that. They were ok but nobody really wowed me and in some cases, they could be embarrassingly bad. I personally liked Robert Englund as Wexler, who made for a great red herring in the movie. I also liked Loretta Devine, as her character of Security Officer Reese Wilson made for some unintentional comedic relief at times. The story was interesting and I did like how they tried using the urban legends to make unique kills instead of making it a stereotypical slasher movie. The special effects were ok, but I feel like they could have done more with some of the kills. Good idea but poor execution (no pun intended) make this just another average horror movie.

Rating: 2 1/2 out of 5

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Hitchcock, movie, movie review, mystery, thriller

February 18th, 2018 Movie – The Thirty-Nine Steps

the thirty nine steps

Sunday morning and I find myself in for a treat with today’s movie. Today I find myself watching another of Hitchcock’s early movies from the Legends Of Horror box set. Seriously, they should have just called this set “Hitchcock & Friends”, as it seems like a high percentage of movies from here are Hitchcock movies. Based on the novel by the same name, today’s movie is actually the first of several film versions and yet another Hitchcock movie that I have never seen. So let’s see if this movie is as good as most of his earlier works have been as I watch today’s movie, The 39 Steps.

The plot: At a London theater, the audience is being entertained by the act of “Mr. Memory”, a man with an exceptional talent for recall, when a fight breaks out among the crowd. As the stage manager calls for everyone to calm down, shots ring out and the crowd panics and starts to flee. Richard Hannay, a man from Canada who is in town on business, ends up leaving the theater with a young woman named Miss Smith, who asks to come back to his place. When they get there, Smith acts very nervous, staying clear of the windows and asking Hannay not to answer the phone when it rings. Making their way to the kitchen, with Smith pulling the curtains closed before allowing Hannay to turn on the lights, she tells him she is a spy named Annabella and believes that assassins were after her in the theater. She tells him that she uncovered a plot to steal British military information, with the man in charge missing the tip of one of his fingers. She tells him that she plans to leave for Scotland in the morning, as there is a man there that can help her and Hannay offers to let her stay the night. That night, Smith bursts into Hannay’s bedroom and warns him to run or he will be next, then collapses onto the bed, having been stabbed in the back. Suddenly, the phone starts ringing and Hannay moves to pick it up when, recalling Smith’s words, he checks out the window and sees a man outside at the payphone across the street. Hannay goes over to Smith’s body and takes the piece of paper she was holding, discovering it is a map of the Killin area of Scotland, with a particular farm house circled on it. Feeling paranoid that someone might try to kill him too, Hannay convinces the milkman to trade jackets and hats with him so he can slup out unnoticed, then boards a train heading for Scotland. As the train stops at a station, one of the passengers in the car Hannay is in buys a newspaper, which has a story about the murder. Hannay asks to see the paper and after reading the story, he gets off the train and attempts to talk to a police officer but when he overhears the officer saying that there was enough evidence to hang him, he changes his mind and heads back to the train. Realizing that the police might be searching the train, Hannay ducks into another compartment and kisses the woman inside as they pass, then apologizes to her, but the police return and she tells them that Hannay is who they are looking for. HAnnay manages to give the police the slip and as the train is stopped on a bridge, manages to get off and cling to one of the bridge supports in order to avoid being seen until the train starts moving again. Making his way on foot, Hannay eventually reaches a farm house and learns that there is a professor staying at the house he is heading towards. Since he still has 40 miles to travel, Hannay pays the crofter to let him stay there the night and the crofter agrees and introduces Hannay to his young wife. As the wife gets Hannay’s bed ready and starts preparing for supper, Hannay asks to read the newspaper and sees a story about his escape from the police on the bridge. The crofter has him sit down for dinner and as he says grace, his wife notices the story in the paper and stares at Hannay but he mouths to her that he is innocent. Noticing the glances between Hannay and his wife, the crofter goes outside and looks in the window to see them talking. The next morning, the crofter’s wife notices a police car approaching down the road and she sneaks downstairs to warn Hannay, as he told her the situation. Before he can leave, the crofter enters the room, suspecting his wife of cheating on him, but they argue that it isn’t the case. Hannay offers the crofter some money to stall the police but as he goes to sneak out the back, the crofter’s wife says his light colored coat will stand out in the dark and gives him the crofter’s dark coat to wear. Thanking her, Hannay slips out the back and makes his way across the hillside, putting some distance between himself and the police before they find him. With the police hot on his tail, Hannay makes his way to the home of Professor Jordan, telling the maid that answers the door that he is there on behalf of Annabella Smith. After conferring with Jordan, the maid lets him in and when the police arrive, she tells them that they have guests there but no one has entered the house in the last half hour. Inside, Jordan tells Hannay to give him a few minutes to get rid of his guests and then they prepare to talk. Hannay tells him what Smith learned and the spy ring stealing the secrets and Jordan shows that he is missing the top half of his pinky, revealing himself to be the leader of the spy ring called the 39 steps. Jordan discusses what he should do with Hannay and ends up shooting him in the chest. However, it is revealed that the crofter’s coat that Hannay was wearing contained his hymn book, which ended up stopping the bullet. After Jordan had Hannay’s body moved, Hannay escaped out the window and made his way to the local sheriff’s station to tell him what happened. The sheriff doesn’t believe him, as Jordan is his best friend, and had summoned the London police to pick up Hannay. As they start to handcuff him, Hannay manages to get away and jump out the window, hiding among a Salvation Army march in order to avoid the police. After the bulk of the police pass him, he leaves the march but is forced to duck into a building in order to avoid some stragglers. Inside, Hannay is mistaken for a introductory speaker for a political candidate. As he is giving his speech, Pamela, the woman he had kissed on the train, enters the room and, recognizing him, goes to summon the police. After giving a rousing speech, Hannay is grabbed by the police when he heads offstage and he confronts Pamela about her turning him in and bags her to place a call to warn London about the secrets being stolen but she refuses. The police ask Pamela to accompany them to the station so she can formally identify Hannay and she reluctantly agrees but as they head out of town, she voices her displeasure when they say that they have orders to take Hannay to another station 2 hours away. When they reach a crossroads and proceed to go the wrong way, Hannay gets suspicious about the police actually being police. When a flock of sheep block the car, the “police” handcuff Pamela to Hannay while they leave the car to clear the sheep from the road. Hannay drags Pamela with him as he leaves the car and carries her with him, where they hide from the police. Making their way down the road, with Hannay constantly whistling a tune that is stuck in his head, Hannay plays upon Pamela’s suspicions about him to scare her into cooperating. The soon reach an inn and get a room for the night, doing their best to hide the handcuffs around their wrists. When they get to their room, Hannay tries to accommodate Pamela to the best of his ability and they talk briefly before they both end up falling asleep. During the night, Pamela wakes up and manages to slip her hand out of the handcuffs. She sneaks downstairs and, noticing the “police” starts to call out to them but she overhears them talking and realizes that Hannay was right. After the innkeeper’s wife kicks the men out for being there after hours, Pamela heads back to the room and lays down on the sofa. When Hannay wakes up, he is shocked to find Pamela no longer handcuffed to him but she sits up from the sofa and dissuades his fears. When Hannay asks why she didn’t run away, she tells him she was originally but heard the “police” talking and realized that Hannay was telling the truth. She tells him everything she overheard, about Jordan meeting someone at the London Palladium, and Hannay heads there to catch Jordan, telling Pamela to go to the police and tell them of the theft. Pamela tells the London police but they say they called the military and learned that no papers were missing so they dismiss her story and want to question her about Hannay’s location. Pamela says she doesn’t know and leaves the station but the chief has some men follow her, believing she will lead them to Hannay. As Hannay sits in the theater, he spots Jordan sitting in a balcony just as Pamela spots him and sits next to him. As they discuss what they should do, the orchestra plays the tune for the next act and Hannay recognizes it as the act for Mr. Memory, which was the tune he had stuck in his head. Realizing that they plan on using Mr. Memory to sneak the secrets out, Hannay approaches the police to tell them but they refuse to listen. Hannay yells out to Mr. Memory to tell him what the 39 Steps are and Mr. Memory, out of reflex, says that they are a spy organization working on behalf of a Foreign Office. Before he can say which country, Jordan shoots Mr. Memory, then tries to escape but he ends up being captured by the police. Hannay approaches the dying Mr. Memory and asks him about the secret he was carrying. Mr. Memory recites the specs for a silent aircraft engine, saying that he is glad to get it off his mind, then dies. As a dance line entertains the crowd, Hannay and Pamela watch from the side of the stage and their hands move towards each other until they are holding hands.

The 39 Steps met with high praise from modern critics, holding a certified fresh rating of 98% on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “Packed with twists and turns, this essential early Alfred Hitchcock feature hints at the dazzling heights he’d reach later in his career.” Coming off the success of The Man Who Knew Too Much, the movie was just as much an international success and would cement Hitchcock as a true box office draw. Since it’s release, the movie has been listed as one of the top British films of all time, and, even though there are some changes between the two formats, it is considered one of the best book-to-film adaptations of all times.

This is such a great movie, having all of the suspense and intrigue that you have come to expect out of a Hitchcock movie. The acting was really good, with Robert Donat (Hanay) and Madeleine Carroll (Pamela) doing great jobs in their roles. The story was great, with a lot of intrigue following around Hannay from the moment a dying Smith stumbles into his bedroom, as you wonder how he will be able to escape the police while alert the authorities to Smith’s mission. The suspense and drama in the movie were incredible and really helped propel the movie forward while keeping the viewer invested in the movie. Definitely a must see movie for any fan of cinema.

Rating: 4 1/2 out of 5

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horror, movie, movie review, mystery, sci-fi

February 16th, 2018 Movie – The Thing (1982)

the thing

So I had a pretty rough night last night which is why I am getting a late start on today’s blog. So this is the second John Carpenter movie this week and I am almost certain that it has the distinction of being the first horror movie that I ever saw. This is one of those movie, that I tend to watch whenever it comes on and it would be years before I learned that it was something of a remake (which makes me wonder why I have not watched the original The Thing From Another World yet). Anyways, I bought a copy of it on on DVD as a “cheering myself up over getting a divorce” gift to myself and will pop it in anytime the mood hit’s me. Now lets have a nice dose of terror to kick off the weekend as I watch today’s movie, The Thing (1982).

The plot: Centuries ago, a flying saucer crash lands in Antarctica and ends up being buried underneath the snow and ice. In 1982, a helicopter piloted by two members of a Norwegian expedition is chasing after a Malamute, attempting to shoot it as it makes it’s way across the snow. Their chase leads them to a US research station, and the Norwegians attempt to use explosives to keep the dog away. from there. The commotion bring out several of the American researchers and as the helicopter lands, the dog runs up to one of the men. One of the Norwegians grabs another grenade but accidentally drops it in the snow and as he tries to dig it out, he ends up dying when it explodes, taking out the helicopter as well. The other Norwegian fires his rifle at the dog, hitting Bennings in the leg. As the Norwegian continues after the dog, he is eventually shot and killed by Garry, the base commander. After tending to Benning’s leg, Dr. Copper wants to go check on the Norwegian camp, as they have been unable to raise them and they are the closest people to them if there is an emergency. Taking advantage of the slight break in the weather, Copper convinces their helicopter pilot R.J. Macready to use their helicopter to head to the Norwegian camp. While they are gone, the Malamute wanders around the station and eventually heads into a room with a single occupant inside. MacReady and Copper arrive at the Norwegian camp to find it has been burned and the rest of the team killed. Exploring further into the ruins, they find a hole where something had been dug out of the ice but find no signs of it. Heading back outside, they soon find the body of something that had been burnt and take it back to the station, where Copper orders Blair to perform an autopsy on it. As Blair performs the autopsy, he discovers that the strange body has a normal set of human organs inside it. As night falls, Bennings has Clark place the Malamute in the kennel with the other sled dogs but once he leaves, the Malamute transforms into a strange creature and begins attacking the other dogs, absorbing them into it’s body. Clark hears the dogs barking and goes to check on them and after opening the door, he gets knocked down by two dogs that quickly run away before seeing the creature and quickly slamming the kennel door shut. MacReady hears the commotion and sounds the fire alarm to alert everyone else in the station, then grabs a shotgun and heads to the kennel. Seeing the creature, he yells for Childs to grab the flamethrower, then he and Garry begin firing at the creature before Childs arrives and finally burns it. The next morning, Blair works on performing an autopsy on the creature and discovers that it is perfectly able to mimic any creature. As he goes with Clark to check on the other dogs, he is surprised to learn that the Malamute had free reign of the camp all day and had only been placed in a kennel that night. Meanwhile, MacReady, Norris, Garry, and Copper are going over the Norwegian data Copper brought back and determine that the Norwegians had been focusing on a site a few miles north of their camp. MacReady, Norris, and Garry fly out to the site and discover the Norwegians have unearthed a flying saucer and apparently dug something up that had been buried nearby. Returning to the station, MacReady explains what they saw to everyone and theorizes that something had crawled out of the crashed saucer and been frozen in the ice, which was what the Norwegian’s had dug up. It somehow was thawed out and began to attack the Norwegians before turning into the Malamute and running from the survivors when they tried to kill it. Blair conducts some tests of the alien’s blood and cells and theorizes that if the alien creature got to a civilized area, then humanity would be completely overrun by the creature in a matter of months, with the whole planet being assimilated within a few years. Bennings and Windows move the creature’s body into storage chamber and Windows leaves while Bennings stays behind to gather a few supplies. Meanwhile, Fuchs asks to speak with MacReady in private and voices his concerns about Blair, saying he locked himself in his room. Fuchs then says he found Blair’s notes and reads some of them to MacReady, noting that the creature has to be in close proximity to it’s prey and strikes when it is alone, and that it’s cells are not dead within the body. Meanwhile, Windows returns to the room to see what is keeping Bennings only to find him being absorbed by the creature. Windows goes and gets MacReady and Fuchs and when they return, they find Bennings had escaped out the window. Macready sounds the alarm and they chase after him and as everyone gathers around him, they see he is really one of the creatures. MacReady dumps a nearby barrel of fuel onto Bennings and sets him on fire, then has everyone gather the other bodies and pour fuel on them before he sets them on fire with the flamethrower. As they watch the bodies burn, Garry asks where Blair is and Fuchs goes to look for him while Windows tries calling for help on the radio. MacReady notices Blair leaving his helicopter and when he checks it, finds that Blair has destroyed the console. Suddenly, a shot rings out and MacReady heads inside the nearby building to find Blair trashing the radio and computers, shooting at anyone that tries to stop him. MacReady and the others eventually subdue him and learn that he also disabled the other vehicles and killed the remaining sled dogs. The group lock him in the tool shed and as MacReady talks to him, Blair says he doesn’t know who to trust and warns MacReady to watch Clark, as he was alone with the dog for quite a while. Outside, MacReady talks with Childs, Garry, Copper, and Fuchs and ask if there is any way to determine who is human. Copper suggests taking a blood sample and comparing it to old samples they have in storage but when they go to get the old blood, they find that it is all ruined. Tempers start flaring, with Garry and Copper arguing as they were the only ones who had the key to the storage fridge, and Garry ends up stepping down as leader so MacReady takes over. MacReady has Garry, Copper, and Clark shot up with Morphine and isolated from the others, with Childs and Norris keeping watch. MacReady makes a recording detailing what is happening, which he plans to hide so that there is a record of events in case none of them make it, then goes to check on Fuchs, who is trying to come up with a new test to determine who is human and who might be a creature. After MacReady leaves, the lights suddenly goes out in the lab and as Fuchs lights a candle so he can see, he sees someone move past the doorway. Leaving the lab and walking outside, Fuchs calls out to see if anyone is there, then discovers a ripped jacket with MacReady’s name on it. Inside the rec room, MacReady tells the others that Fuchs is missing and they decide to split up and go looking for him, with MacReady, Windows, and Nauls checking on Blair outside while Palmer and Childs check inside. MacReady speaks with Blair, who asks to be brought back inside and promises that he wont hurt anyone but Macready leaves him in the shed. They then discover Fuchs burned body and theorize that he was attacked and tried to burn the creature with a flare, or killed himself to avoid being assimilated. MacReady sends Windows back inside to tell the others about Fuchs while he and Nauls check his cabin, as he had turned the lights off when he left the day before but they are suddenly on now. After 40 minutes with no sign of MacReady or Nauls, Childs and the others start boarding up the windows and doors when Norris sees someone coming back. Nauls enters the building and tells them he cut the tow line, leaving MacReady outside to freeze to death, after he found a ripped up jacket with MacReady’s name on it, believing that he is one of those things. As they all argue on whether MacReady really is one of those things, they hear him break into the supply room. Childs breaks down the door to discover MacReady holding a bundle of dynamite and threatening to blow them all up. Nauls and Norris attempt to jump MacReady but he throws them aside and Norris collapses to the ground, appearing to have a heart attack. MacReady has Windows untie Copper and bring him in there to tend to Norris but as he goes to use the defibrillator, Norris’ stomach opens up and transforms into a mouth, biting off Copper’s hands. As Copper dies from shock and blood loss, MacReady burns Norris’ body with the blow torch but the see his head separate and move attempt to get away so he burns it too. Clark attempts to stab MacReady, who shoots him, then he has Windows tie everyone up, then draw a sample of blood from them. MacReady then heats up a wire and begins poking it into the blood, figuring that if they were one of the aliens, their blood would react and attempt get away from the fire. MacReady tests Windows first, who is proven to be human, then has him grab another flamethrower while he checks his own blood, then Copper and Clark, proving that they are all humans. When MacReady tests Palmer’s blood, it reacts and Palmer transforms into a creature and breaks free of it’s bonds, then kills Windows before MacReady is able to set him on fire. Palmer smashes through a wall and collapses to the ground and MacReady lights a stick of dynamite and throws it at him, blowing up the body to ensure he is dead. MacReady then burns Windows’ body, then begins testing the others blood and determines that they are all human. Realizing the only person left to check is Blair, MacReady, Nauls, and Garry head to the tool shed only to find that the door is open and when they check inside, they find a tunnel underneath the shed. Following the tunnel, they find that Blair had been working on building himself a spaceship in secret. Making there way back to the shed, Nauls sees someone moving around outside just as the generators go out, plunging the base into darkness. Realizing that the creature knows there is no way out now and is trying to freeze itself and wait for a rescue team, MacReady tells the others that they aren’t going to survive so they might as well ensure that the creature doesn’t as well. Blowing up the shed, and the alien ship, they then make their way to the main building and begin blowing up all of the rooms. Reaching the generator room, they head inside to look for the creature and discover the generator is gone. They start planting more dynamite in the room but Blair appears and secretly kills Garry, then kills Nauls when he goes to check on him. MacReady asks if they are set and discovers they are missing and as he moves to check, something begins burrowing through the ground and grabs the detonator. The creature then emerges from the ground but MacReady grabs a stick of dynamite and throws it at him. The dynamite ignites the rest of the dynamite and the creature explodes, destroying the room as well. As MacReady recovers from the blast, Childs approaches, saying he though he had seen Blair moving around outside and had gone to check but gotten lost in the storm. Realizing that there is no point in distrusting each other, the two men sit back and watch the fires burn as they pass a bottle of scotch between them and wait to freeze to death.

The Thing (1982) met with mostly negative reviews from the critics when it first came out but has since gained more positive remarks from the critics, holding a certified fresh rating of 83% on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “Grimmer and more terrifying than the 1950’s take, John Carpenter’s The Thing is a tense sci-fi thriller rife with compelling tension and some remarkable make-up effects.” The movie was unfortunately a disappointment at the box office, only earning $19.6 million at the box office in North America off of a $15 million budget but would gain more views and a cult following once it was released on home media, with critics and fans alike reappraising it and considering it to be one of the best sci-fi/horror films of all time. John Carpenter has stated that this movie was his favorite of all his films and he took it’s failure at the box office, and the criticism about the gory effects and bleak tone particularly hard.

Yes, this is a bit graphic, but this is a fantastic movie to watch. The acting was really good, with Kurt Russell doing a great job as MacReady. I also liked Keith David (Childs), Donald Moffat (Garry), Thomas G. Waites (Windows), and Richard Dysart (Copper), but the biggest surprise was Wilford Brimley, as the lack of his famous mustache actually made his paranoia seem even more disturbing. The story was great, playing up the alien invasion aspect to a new level while making the focus more on the paranoia that people faced trying to figure out who was human and who was alien. The end scene was especially powerful, as you really had no idea if MacReady or Childs were human or alien, and they knew it as well and knew that there was nothing to do to stop them if they were so they might as well just wait to freeze to death. The special effects were incredible, especially considering the year this was made and can match up, and even top, a lot of modern movies in how well they were done. Definitely a must see movie for sci-fi and horror fans alike and one that deserves every bit of praise it received.

Rating: 5 out of 5

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