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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crime, movie, movie review, mystery, thriller

December 27th, 2017 Movie – Taking Lives (2004)

taking lives

The year is almost over and I am finishing things with a new letter. Now when it comes to this movie, this one kind of falls into a category that some other movies fell into at the beginning of the century; that being movies which used Angelina Jolie as their main marketing ploy. I understand the reasoning, as most of these movies are geared towards the male audience and she is one of the more attractive females in Hollywood. Still, the tactic can only get people to consider the movie but the actual movie itself has to do it’s job in keeping the audience interested. Let’s see if that pans out with today’s movie, Taking Lives.

The plot: In St. Jovite, Canada in 1983, a teenager named Martin Asher buys a bus ticket out of town and ends up meeting another teenage drifter named Matt Soulsby. When the bus breaks down, Matt rents a car and he and Matt continue driving down the road, with Matt telling Martin why he is on the road. When the car gets a flat tire, Matt goes to change it but Martin comments on them being the same height and when Matt looks up in confusion, Martin kicks Matt into the path of an oncoming car. The car hits Matt and ends up wrecking, killing the driver, and Martin approaches Matt, who is barely alive, and proceeds to bash in his head with a rock before grabbing Matt’s belongings and walking away through the fields. 19 years later, in Montreal, a construction crew is doing some excavating on a site when they unearth a human body that was buried there. At the same time, a woman hurriedly locates a police officer and explains that she saw her son, who had been dead for 19 years. The woman is taken to the police station and she gives her statement, saying that her son is dangerous but she knows it was him. The Montreal police take her statement but are more concerned with capturing a serial killer that has been in the area. Chief Inspector Hugo Leclair calls in FBI profiler Illeana Scott to assist with the case, introducing her to detectives Joseph Paquette and Emil Duval, though Paquette is not happy with her being there. When another murder occurs, Illeana is taken to the station where James Costa, a witness to the crime, is describing what he saw. As James works on sketching a profile of the man he saw, Illeana questions him about what he saw. The police get a hit on James’ sketch and head to the suspect’s apartment, where Illeana discovers a body chained up in the rafters. Paquette gets an ID on the victim and Illeana says not to mention anything to the press, as she hopes the killer will get upset over the lack of media coverage and make a mistake. That night, Illeana is at a bar close to James’ apartment and speaks with him when he comes in. The next day, Illeana goes to speak with Rebecca Asher about her son and while there, learns that Rebecca has two sons but one of them had died and Rebecca feels that Martin killed his brother. As Illeana continues to search the house, she finds a hidden room where Martin was kept as a child but as she looks around, she is attacked by an unknown assailant, who manages to escape. As she is relaxing in a bath, Illeana gets a call from Duval about a break-in at James’ studio and as she is looking at the file, notices something about the victims. She then explains her theory to the police that the killer is Martin, who is stealing the victim’s identities and living their lives until he finds someone with a better life for him and she believes James is the Martin’s next target. They decide to fit James with a wire and try to use him as bait to lure out Martin but nothing happens and James refuses to cooperate further as he fears for his own life. Illeana finds herself being drawn closer to James and she wants to leave, telling Leclair that they have a witness and a working profile so there is no need for her to be there but Leclair convinces her to stay until they catch Martin. That night, James holds an exhibit for his paintings and while there, he sees a man staring at him. James catches Illeana’s eye and says that the man is the killer and Illeana and Paquette give chase when he runs but they end up losing him in the festival crowd that is on the streets. The next day, they go to place James into witness protection but as Duval is packing James’ things into the car, the killer appears in James’ apartment and begins attacking him, saying that James has something he wants. James tries to get away and grab a gun but the killer knocks the gun away but James is able to yell for help, sending Duval rushing back inside the apartment. Meanwhile, Illeana arrives at the apartment to say goodbye to James when she hears gunshots coming from the apartment. When she gets there, she sees Duval lying dead on the ground but no sign of James or the assailant. Hearing James yelling for help outside, she sees James being held at gunpoint and being forced to drive away and so she gets into her car and gives chase. James eventually crashes his car into a median, which sends the attacker crashing through the windshield. James crawls out and quickly grabs the gun and begins wildly firing it into the car in the hopes of killing his attacker but his shots end up catching the car on fire just as Illeana gets there and she quickly pushes him to safety so he can avoid the blast. James is taken to the hospital to get his injuries taken care of and afterwards, he heads to Illeana’s hotel room, where the two give in to their mutual attraction and end up having sex. The next morning, Illeana wakes up to find herself and James covered in blood and at first she thinks he is dead but when he rouses, they discover that his stitches had popped. Illeana takes James to the hospital to get his stitches redone and learns that Rebecca is there to identify the body so she heads down to the morgue to meet Leclair and Paquette. Rebecca looks at the body but doesn’t say that it is Martin and walks away. Illeana chases after her but is unable to catch Rebecca before she gets on the elevator and the door closes. Inside the elevator, Rebecca hears someone say “Hello, Mother” and she turns to find James in the elevator with her. Rebecca recognizes him as Martin and speaks with him, saying she isn’t afraid of him but James moves towards her and kills her. Illeana had raced down the stairs to catch Rebecca as she leaves but when the elevator doors open, she sees James ripping Rebecca’s head off and realizes that he is Martin. She is able to tell Leclair and Paquette about James before she faints but they are unable to stop him from escaping. The police search James’ studio and Paquette yells at Leclair over Illeana’s sleeping with James and slaps Illeana in his anger. Meanwhile, Martin heads to the train station and picks out his next victim, throwing him off the train as it is moving. Martin then calls Illeana and speaks with her, telling her that she didn’t fall in love with James Costa but instead, fell in love with Martin Asher. The police discover he bought a train ticket and head out to try and catch him when he reaches the station while Illeana heads back to her hotel and proceeds to cleanse herself to the point of rubbing her skin raw in an act of disgust over her actions. Illeana is fired from the FBI for her actions and she ends up moving to Carlisle, PA, where seven months have passed and she is shown to be heavily pregnant. After running some errands, she returns home and puts her things away but as she goes to pull her tea kettle off of the stove, she finds Martin in her house. She goes for a gun she had hidden only to find that Martin had found all of the guns she had hidden throughout the house and taken them. Martin talks with her some but then attacks her when she says the babies are not his, but James Costa’s. Illeana grabs a pair of scissors to try and attack Martin with but Martin grabs her and then stabs her in the stomach with the scissors. Illeana is shocked that he did that but then grabs the scissors and stabs Martin in the chest with them. As he drops to his knees in shock, Illeana explains that everything he saw was what she wanted him to see, then removes the prosthetic stomach she was wearing to simulate being pregnant. As Martin drops dead onto the floor, Illeana calls Leclair and tells him that it is over.

Taking Lives was panned by the critics, holding a 22% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “A stylish, but predictable thriller where the only thrills are offered by the sensuous Angelina Jolie.” Despite having third billing in the movie, Kiefer Sutherland only had a total of 17 lines and 3 minutes of screen time. The movie was barely a hit at the box office, earning $65.4 million off of a $45 million budget.

This was an ok thriller but it was too slow paced to really be effective. The acting was good, with Angelina Jolie and Ethan Hawke doing good jobs in their roles of Illeana and Martin respectively. The story was actually pretty interesting but, as I said earlier, the slow pacing actually kind of killed some of the tension that it had going for it. I also felt that the ending was about as cliched and predictable as you could expect it to be. The dark lighting and tones of the movie worked well together and did their job in helping to carry the story. It is predictable but still a decent movie to kill some time with.

Rating: 3 out of 5

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comedy, crime, movie, movie review, mystery

December 8th, 2017 Movie – Super Troopers

super troopers

Ahh, a fun movie to start the day with. In 2001, a movie came out that would soon become an instant classic in the comedy world. Now I honestly didn’t get a chance to see it when it came out in theaters but after hearing several friends talking about it, I decided I had to rent it. When I first watched it, I will admit that I didn’t get all of the appeal and thought it was just another in a line of stupid comedies. However, after watching it a couple of more times, as well as some of the other Broken Lizard movies, It started to grow on me so I ended up buying a copy. So let’s have a few laughs with today’s movie, Super Troopers.

The plot: Near the Canadian border of Vermont, 3 kids are smoking pot while driving down the highway when they notice a State Patrol car next to them. They quickly have one of the guys eat the pot, as well as some shrooms one guy had on him, then throw a second bag of pot out the window as they start to pull over. When the patrol car speeds by with it’s sirens flashing, the guys start laughing at their good fortune only to be shocked when the patrol car appears behind them. Trooper Arcot “Thorny” Ramathorn and rookie Trooper Robert “Rabbit” Roto exit their car and question the kids then quickly leave in their car, only to go in reverse and go back behind them. As they start to bust the three kids for possession, a car speeds by yelling at them so the two troopers throw the kids in the back of their car and take off after the man. The speeder passes by another patrol car, taking out the head of the dummy that Trooper Jeff Foster had in his car, then gets off the highway and heads into a bar. The three troopers follow after him only to realize that it was Trooper MacIntyre “Mac” Womac pulling a prank on them. Mac teases the guys for falling for his prank, then puts his disguise back on and leaves the bar, shooting his gun in the air before getting in the patrol car the three guys are in and taking off. Later that day, the troopers are informed by their C.O., Captain John O’Hagen, that their station is being under consideration to be shut down so they need to cut back on the pranks and try to get along with the local police department. Meanwhile, Trooper Rodney “Rod” Farva, is constantly trying to prank Rabbit, as he is upset that he is under suspension for getting in a fight with some school kids during a traffic stop. When a murder occurs in a winnebago on a deserted highway, the Highway Patrol and local PD get in a fist fight over who is taking the case, which causes the Highway Patrol to look even worse. As the two law enforcement agencies continue to mess with each other at a kids little league game, Foster attempts to hit on Officer Ursula Hanson, the local PD radio operator who wants to get out in the field. The next day, Mac and Foster pull over a semi when it fails to pull into the weigh station but as they head into the trailer to inspect the cargo, the driver locks them inside. They are eventually let out by Thorny and Rabbit, who discover that the truck was carrying 150 kilos of marijuana. At the station, O’Hagen asks about the driver and they tell him that he was using a fake name and that the company is also fake. Rabbit comments on how the John Chimpo sticker on the bales of marijuana is the same as a tattoo the dead woman in the winnebago had and suggest they might be related so O’Hagen says he will talk to Chief Grady about taking over the investigation but Grady mocks his theory and refuses to turn it over. The mayor shows up as the newspaper is taking photos and tells them that the governor will be stopping by the town on her way to Burlington later in the week. Thorny and Rabbit pull over a German couple driving a Porsche only to learn that it is stolen so the arrest the couple. Later that night, Rabbit decides to go for a joyride in the stolen car only to get pulled over and arrested by Mac and an off duty Farva. As a result, Farva’s suspension is lifted and he is partnered with Thorny while Rabbit is stuck on radio dispatch. Meanwhile, Foster continues hitting on Ursula and they eventually decide to have sex in the winnebago but while they do, the bed breaks and they discover some more bricks of marijuana with the John Chimpo sticker on them. Foster takes the bricks to his station and while O’Hagen doesn’t believe his story on how he found them, agrees to talk to Grady again about taking over the investigation. O’Hagen tells Mac and Foster to go check the truck stops for information but they are unable to get any info on the mystery driver. Meanwhile, Farva gets into an altercation with some fast food workers and is arrested. As the local PD haze him, Grady speaks with Farva about coming to work with him after the Highway Patrol is shut down, asking him about how their drug bust is going but Farva refuses. Later, O’Hagen gets upset at the position Farva’s incident placed them in and says they are most likely going to be shut down unless some miracle occurs. Meanwhile, Foster and Ursula are continuing to see each other in secret and Ursula comes up with a way to help Foster save the station by getting the marijuana hidden in the winnebago and bringing it to the function that the Governor will be at. Foster and Thorny go get the winnebago while Rabbit distracts the cops but when they get there, they find that Grady has shown up with the drugs while they have bags full of cardboard. Foster confronts Ursula about what happened and she denies having anything to do with the trick, then tazes him when he suggests she was sleeping with Grady. That night, O’Hagen and the other troopers all get drunk and discover that Farva was the one who ratted them out and taken a job as a local cop. The 5 troopers gang up on Farva and strip him of his uniform, then steal his patrol car and proceed to have some fun. Foster contacts Ursula over the radio to apologize and she tells him a way to get back at the guys. When they go to where Ursula said to meet them, they see the truck driver pass by them and they start to follow only to be stopped by Farva. Farva plans to arrest them all but they convince him to go with them and see what is going on. When they get there, they find the truck driver meeting with the pilot of a small plane that flew in from Canada. When they see Grady and the other officers arrive at the scene, Farva gets upset at them and heads off to meet with Grady, but after he leaves, Thorny and the others see that Grady and the officers are in on the drug smuggling. Ursula arrives and tells them she knew about the drug smuggling but couldn’t do anything about it. Using some flares and a blow-up doll from Farva’s car, the troopers cause a distraction that saves Farva life, then take down the drug dealers and crooked cops. After the dust settles, the Highway Patrol is commended for bringing down the smuggling ring but their station is still shut down. A few months later, Thorny and Rabbit deliver a keg to a house party being thrown by the three kids they harassed. As the kids mess with them, thinking they are no longer cops, they take off their delivery uniforms to reveal that they, and the others are now serving as the local Spurbury police department.

Super Troopers didn’t fare well with the critics, only scoring a 35% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “A more-miss -than-hit affair, Super Troopers will most likely appeal to those looking for something silly.” The “bullet-proof cup” scene was filmed outside an actual prison, with the prisoners pressed against the fence yelling at Steve Lemme as he was standing there in just a cup. The movie was a big hit at the box office, earning $23.1 million off of a $1.2 million budget, and after a crowdfunding effort, a sequel has been produced to be released in 2018.

This isn’t the best comedy work but it is a really funny movie. The acting was good, with all of the Broken Lizard troupe turning in a great performance, while Brian Cox (O’Hagen) was surprisingly funny with his character. The basic premise of the movie was honestly a little unoriginal, as it was the basic goofball group clashing with the “authority” regime. Wow the basic premise was unoriginal, the story was pretty good as they added their own unique twist to it. The comedy was a mixture of slapstick, play-on-words, and some general adult humor but it all blended together pretty well. I did think it was funny that the couple that Farva said “chicken fucker” too was actually Kevin Hefferman’s parents. A funny movie that is well worth watching.

Rating: 4 out of 5

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

November 29th, 2017 Movie – Strange Invaders

strange invaders

Ahh, the fun times of watching sci-fi movies. When it comes to the classic sci-fi movies, Invasion Of The Body Snatchers will always be considered one of the perennial classics. It has been remade several times but it has also been to inspiration for dozens of movies as well, including today’s movie. Now I feel like I had seen this movie at some point when I was a kid but I honestly can’t remember. Now let’s see if I can jog those memories as I watch today’s movie, Strange Invaders.

The plot: In Centerville, Illinois in 1958, a teenage couple park their car near some train tracks and begin making out, not noticing the large alien ship overhead. The ship releases a flying saucer, which lands and humanoid figures disembark and head into town. After making out for a while, the couple heads back into town, with the guy dropping off his girlfriend before heading home himself. At their respective homes, they find the places seemingly empty but as the guy tries to call the police, he is attacked by something. 25 years later, at Columbia University, Professor Charles Bigelow and his girlfriend just arrive at their apartment when they are surprised by the appearance of his ex-wife Margaret. Margaret tells Charles that her mother died and she has to go to Centerville for the funeral and asks that he look after their daughter Elizabeth while she is gone. Getting worried after not hearing from Margaret in a couple of days, Charles takes Elizabeth to his mother’s house, then heads to Centerville to try and find out what happened to Margaret. When he arrives in town, Charles checks into a hotel and speaks with the manager about Margaret but the manager claims not to know anyone by that name or her family. After getting a cabin, Charles leaves his dog Louie inside while he goes looking around but none of the people seem to know Margaret or her family. While he is gone, the hotel manager approaches the cabin and stares at Louie, who starts growling before suddenly howling in terror. Charles hears the howls and heads back to find Louie has vanished and he checks out and starts looking for him. When his car breaks down, Charles heads to a diner to wait while the mechanic fixes it but when he asks the people in the diner if they saw Louie, they all get up and leave. Charles gets nervous when he sees a crowd of townsfolk standing by his car staring at him and when he hears the sound of breaking glass, he turns his head for a second only to find that the townspeople have vanished when he looks back. Suddenly, a bolt of electricity strikes his car, causing it to explode, and Charles climbs out the back window and finds a car he can take. As he is driving away, he sees an alien figure on the street, which zaps the car as he drives away. Charles continues driving as far as he can before the car falls apart, and he is picked up by the police. The next day, two aliens, disguised as humans, make their way to New York City and check into a hotel. One of the alien orders room service but as he waits, he ends up tearing off his human face, scaring the maid who had entered the room and he quickly attacks her. Meanwhile, Charles makes it back to New York only to find his apartment has been trashed. Charles calls his mother to check in on Elizabeth, then heads over to see his friend and department head Professor Hollister. Charles tells him what happened and Hollister doesn’t quite believe him but doesn’t think Charles is crazy either. He gives Charles the phone number for a government agency that handles UFO sightings and he calls them and arranges a meeting. When he gets there, Mrs. Benjamin, the woman in charge, shows him some renderings of typical aliens that people see but Charles gets annoyed that she isn’t taking him seriously and leaves. As he buys a newspaper, he notices a tabloid with a picture of the alien he saw and quickly buys it. Charles heads over to the National Informer and speaks with Betty Walker, the reporter who wrote the article, and she admits that the photo was a photo from an old article and she had made up the story and he leaves. Betty heads to her own apartment but as she is relaxing at home, she hears a knock at her door. When she opens it, an Avon woman is there attempting to sell her stuff but Betty refuses and shuts the door. Hearing a thud from behind the door, Betty opens it again to find the woman had collapsed and asks to use the restroom and Betty lets her in. As Betty is mixing a drink in her blender, her landlord Earl startles her and she tells him about the woman in the bathroom. Earl goes to check and is zapped by the psychic lightning and when Betty goes to see what happened, she finds Earl’s body but no sign of the woman. Betty calls the cops but when they get there, Earl’s body has disappeared. Betty returns to her office to try and make sense of what happened and Charles shows up, offering to buy her a drink. The two go out and end up back at Charles’ place, where they start to make out when they are interrupted by Margaret showing up. Betty gets upset and leaves, despite Charles trying to explain things to her, and Margaret asks Charles where Elizabeth is and he tells her she is at his mother’s house and Margaret starts to explain what is going on. Meanwhile, Betty leaves Charles’ apartment building but notices some strange people watching her from a park across the street. When the woman appears, Betty rushes back inside the building, with the woman following, and heads to the elevator. Getting on the elevator, Betty thinks she is safe for the moment but the woman uses her powers to stop the elevator and bring it back down to the lobby. Unable to stop the elevator, Betty pulls a gun out of her purse and when the woman opens the doors, Betty shoots her, revealing the woman to have green blood. Betty heads up to Charles apartment and tells him what happened and Margaret asks him if there is another way out of the building. Charles says the staircase and Margaret tells them to run and she will hold them off. Charles and Betty head out the window and begin climbing down the fire escape, just as the two men enter his room. As the run from the building, a cab pulls up and Benjamin yells at them to get in and they drive off. Benjamin chastises the two of them, explaining that they had an agreement with the aliens and Betty’s article and Charles’ antics had stirred things up. Meanwhile, three aliens break into Charles’ mother’s house and kidnap Elizabeth while she is sleeping and when Charles, Betty, and Benjamin get there and find out, Charles and Betty quickly leave. Benjamin orders the airports and bridges to be locked down but dismisses the trains, which is how Charles and Betty get out of the city. As they head to Centerville, Betty suggests making a detour to see Willie Collins, the man who took the photograph of the aliens. When they get to the hospital Willie is at, Willie tells them about how he had been on a trip with his family when they stopped in Centerville. That night he saw his family transformed into strange, glowing blue orbs, and had managed to kill one of the aliens but was committed when nobody would believe his story. Charles and Betty go to leave and find that Willie snuck out of the hospital and plans to go with them. As they get close to Centerville, they find the road blocked by police and government agents. Benjamin approaches their car and says that it will all be over in an hour, as the aliens will be leaving then, but Charles pulls out a gun and holds Benjamin hostage so they can get through the roadblock. After making it to the outskirts of town, Charles and Betty head forward on foot while Willie heads back. They make their way into town and see Margaret arguing with the alien leader about leaving Elizabeth there but the leader refuses. Charles and Betty try to get Elizabeth to sneak out the window but they end up being captured. As all of the aliens gather together, the receive a communication from their home world, congratulating them on the data they collected and they are especially surprised with Elizabeth and are interested to test her. As Charles distracts the guards, Betty attempts to leave with Elizabeth but as they try to run out of town, the encounter Willie, who saves them before the leader blasts them with lightning. The leader then transforms Willie and Betty into the blue orbs before taking Elizabeth with him and the aliens all remove their human disguises, except for the leader and Margaret, and head into the ship. As the ship is about to leave, Elizabeth and Charles plead with Margaret to let them go and Margaret ends up attacking their guards. When she is restrained, Margaret tells Elizabeth to use her powers and Elizabeth is able to blast the door, stalling it from opening long enough for them to escape. As the ship leaves, it sends a blast into the church and all of the orbs emerge from the church and start transforming back into the people that the aliens captured. The original townspeople have not changed at all in the last 25 years, as Benjamin and her agents arrive to help them adjust to what has happened. Willie is reunited with his family, who are surprised to find how old he has gotten, while Charles and Elizabeth find Betty in a tree and after helping her down, the two kiss and then leave town with Elizabeth, finding Louie on the way.

Strange Invaders met with positive reviews from the critics, holding a 63% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. While there isn’t a critical consensus on the site, the critics seemed to like the script but felt it was too predictable. The financing was split between two companies; Orion Pictures, who had the rights to distribute the film to North America, and England’s EMI films, who had the rights to distribute to the rest of the world. The movie was a box office bomb, earning just over $1.3 million off of a $5.5 million budget.

This was a decent movie, but definitely could have been better. The acting was ok, with Paul Le Mat (Charles) and Nancy Allen (Betty) doing a decent job in their roles and I liked Michael Lerner (Willie) but thought that Diana Scarwid (Margaret) was a little weak and too wooden in her role. The story was pretty good but I felt like it did feel a bit inconsistent at some points. The parts with the Benjamin and her agency honestly felt like they were thrown in but in actuality, they had been toned down as the financial backers toned down that scope of the movie. The special effects were a lot of flash but didn’t really have a lot of substance to them. All in all, it was a fairly average movie that didn’t quite live up to it’s potential.

Rating: 2 1/2 out of 5

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drama, movie, movie review, mystery, thriller

November 28th, 2017 Movie – Storyville

storyville

Another day, another movie. Today I find myself watching a movie that I honestly never heard of before today. It is part of a collection of James Spader movies that my friend got me earlier in the year. So, brand new movie that I have never heard of, I am actually somewhat excited to see what I am getting into today. So let’s get right into the meat of things with today’s movie, Storyville.

The plot: Cray Fowler, a young candidate for congress, is hosting a campaign fundraiser at his family’s house in New Orleans. After speaking with his uncle Clifford for a minute, he meets with Nathan LeFleur, who talks to him about the stories concerning his family and the suicide of Cray’s father. As the party winds down, he is slipped a note from one of the waitresses, Lee, asking him to meet her at a club called Storyville later that night. Cray heads to the club and meets with Lee, who takes him back to her place, which happens to be her family’s dojo, and she briefly attacks him with Judo before seducing him and the two have sex in her hot tub, but Cray is unaware that he is being videotaped. The next day, Cray heads to the courthouse and speaks with his friend Natalie Tate, wo works in the District Attorney’s office, asking her to try and get some of the files from the federal case against his father. Briefly stopping at his campaign headquarters and speaking with his campaign manager, Cray is met by his wife Melanie, who talks to him about getting a new convertible, but Cray agrees to what she wants and leaves to go talk with LeFleur, apologizing for his reaction during the fundraiser and asking for his endorsement for congress but LeFleur doesn’t answer if he will or not. Returning to his campaign headquarters, Cray is shown a campaign ad for Avner Hollister, his congressional rival who has a 20 point lead in the race, and later decides to meet with Hollister. After going duck hunting with Clifford and his friend Pudge, he asks his mother if his dad kept any files about the case with him and she say they would be in his old desk. Cray finds the files and returns to his apartment to look at them, discovering that Hollister was one of the people in the case against his father. When Lee calls from the lobby, he invites her up but when she doesn’t show up, he finds she has been beaten and had collapsed on the stairs. Taking her back to his apartment, he starts to call an ambulance but stops when she tells him that her father had been paid to videotape them together. Lee convinces Cray to go back to her dojo, where Cray cuts his hand on the glass breaking into the place. Cray begins searching the place for her father or the videotape and ends up being attacked by her father where, after a struggle, Cray ends up being knocked out. When Cray comes too, he finds Lee’s father has been murdered, with his throat being slit, and Cray grabs the knife and quickly leaves before the cops get there. Returning back to his apartment, Cray tends to his injuries and hides the knife. The next day, Cray heads to his old law firm and pulls some strings to be assigned to defend Lee, who is being accused of killing her father. Cray goes to see Lee and asks how she is doing and what happened that night, then goes to see Natalie and tells her he is representing Lee in the case. Cray then goes to see LeFleur, showing him a list of names in the files that were supposed land owners his father cheated and tells him that they don’t seem to exist and figures that LeFleur should know about them. He then asks that LeFleur assist him in his case and LeFleur appears to accept. Later, Cray heads to a studio underneath Lee’s dojo to speak with the S&M photographer there, grabbing some photo’s of a model from his desk, but the photographer threatens Cray and tells him to leave. Cray asks his friend Fats, a local strip club owner, to see if he can find out any information about the model. When Cray returns to his apartment, he finds that someone sent him a copy of the video of him and Lee having sex. He quickly turns the tape off when he hears someone knocking on his door and finds Natalie standing outside. She comes in for a drink, revealing that they had a romantic history together, and she asks him why he is taking the Lee case. Some time later, Cray heads to St. Albans Parish, where the disputed land is in, and learns that every name on the list was actually the name of someone buried in the cemetery except for one, C. Sumter. As he is leaving, Cray is attacked by two men wearing clown masks but manages to get a look at the tattoo on one of their arms. Returning to his apartment, Cray meets with LeFleur and comes clean about how he is connected with Lee, as well as his hiding the knife and that someone sent him a copy of the tape. LeFleur is angry about what Cray has done and for dragging him into it but still agrees to help. Then LeFleur asks about the list and Cray tells him about the one name that is not found in the cemetery. At the trial, one witness says that she say Lee leaving the building in a hurry, and a few minutes later, a man left wearing a dark raincoat. When the photographer is called to testify, he says he heard arguing and he called the police to complain about the noise, then went to investigate when he saw Lee leaving. When Cray gets up to cross examine him, Cray asks about the music, as the first witness said it was loud enough to hear downstairs where she was working, and asks how he was able to hear the argument but not the sound of someone breaking into the dojo. He also asks if the photographer was alone, as he usually has the music playing when he is working, and the photographer swears he was alone. When court is recessed, LeFleur introduces Cray to his cousin, who is a police officer, and they head back out to St. Albans, where LeFleur has located C.Sumter. They speak with Sumter, who tells them that he gets $300 every month since the late 30’s, when he had signed something from someone who was supposedly from the bank. Cray asks if he could recognize the man but Sumter tells him he can barely see anything as his eyes have gotten too bad. As they are leaving, Sumter tells them that someone had asked him the same questions 3 years ago and when Cray asks who it was, Sumter tells him the man’s name was Raymond, Cray’s father. The next day in court, Cray cross examines the homicide detective that was first on the scene, asking him why they didn’t take fingerprints or investigate the matter closer as there was evidence of a break in. The detective says that he didn’t feel the need, as Lee had claimed to be responsible and showed a racists slant towards Vietnamese people, due to his experiences in the war. The next day, Lee is on stand and Cray questions her but when Natalie begins to cross examine her, Cray asks the judge for a meeting in chambers before she can say anything incriminating and the judge agrees to give Cray a short recess. Cray and LeFleur meet up with Fats, who has located the model that Cray was looking for and the model agrees to help them. Back in court, Lee is back on the stand and when Cray asks if she saw anyone in the photographer’s studio, she says she did and points out the model, which Cray had brought in. Cray then has the model take the stand and he explains that he cross dresses for photo shoots. The night of the murder, he says they heard a crash come from the dojo and Lee running downstairs. the photographer told her to wait in the studio while he went to check things out and he went to talk to the detective, who went upstairs and then came back down and the photographer gave him a switchblade. The detective yells out at the model and pulls out his gun, shooting Cray in the arm and attempts to shoot the model. A bailiff and a police officer shoot the detective, who falls and attempts to shoot Lee but hits LeFleur instead, then tries to shoot Cray before the judge kills him. Recovering in the hospital, Cray is shown a newspaper article saying that Hollister had dropped out of the race, due to his connection with the dertective, but LeFleur tells him that Hollister did not have the tape. As the results of the election comes in, Cray wins in a landslide and leaves the room, while his campaign manager shows Melanie photos of her affair and Cray’s lawyer has her sign the divorce papers. Later, Clifford returns to the family home to celebrate Cray’s victory and is shocked to see Sumter there. When Clifford enters the house, he goes to congratulate Cray but Cray stops him, knowing that not only was he the one who cheated people out of their land but that he also tried to blackmail him and killed his father to stop him from exposing him. Cray heads out to go to the victory celebration, seeing his soon to be ex-wife standing on the side of the stage before she leaves while Clifford heads out to the swamp and commits suicide. Some time later, Cray is at a bar before heading to Washington and notices Natalie at the other end of the bar, and the two stare at each other.

I have to say, this was a little confusing but a pretty decent movie all in all. The acting was good, with James Spader doing a good job in his role. The story was a little confusing, trying to tie in two different mysteries together, but they didn’t do the best job blending the stories smoothly. The drama honestly was a little weak, as the slow pacing of the movie just killed some of the tension they kept hoping to build. Worth a watch if you are a fan of James Spader but probably won’t be something everyone enjoys.

Rating: 2 1/2 out of 5

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drama, horror, movie, movie review, mystery

October 17th, 2017 Movie – Soul Survivors

soul survivors

There are plenty of times that I find myself with a movie and honestly don’t know why I bought it in the first place. That is definitely the case with today’s movie. This is something that might get my attention in watching but not necessarily wanting to buy unless it is really good. That being said, when I first watched this movie I don’t recall thinking it worth buying and yet, here it is. So let me give this another viewing and see if something might have changed my mind about Soul Survivors.

The plot: Cassie walks out of a college party and when her friend, who yells at her from a window, refuses to drive her home, she decides to walk. As she stops to light a cigarette, she notices a strange man with a scarred face following her and she quickens her pace only for a second man, wearing a clear mask, to grab her and the two drag her into an alley. After placing some duct tape over her mouth to keep her from screaming, the slit her wrist and collect the blood in a bowl. Some time earlier, Cassie is packing to go to college and her boyfriend Sean is helping her move, along with her friends Annabel and Matt, who is also her ex-boyfriend. When they get to Middleton college, they attend a frat party but Annabel tells them of a rave at an old church and convinces them to go to it. As Cassie and Annabel start dancing on the dance floor, they attract the attention of the man in the clear mask and the scarred man. The man in the mask heads to the dance floor and tries to grab Cassie but she pushes him away, then meets back up with Sean. The two head outside and after kissing for a while, start talking about their relationship and saying goodbye to each other, unaware that Matt is listening. After they say they love each other, Matt makes his presence known, pretending to be drunk, and Sean goes back in the club to get Annabel while Cassie helps Matt into the car. In the car, Matt convinces Cassie to give him one last goodbye kiss but Sean sees them and refuses to talk to Cassie as she tries to explain what happened. As they leave the club, Cassie continues to ask Sean to talk to her, not noticing a car passing them containing the scarred and masked man. When the car suddenly stops in the middle of the road, Cassie slams into it and both cars go rolling down a hill. Cassie’s next memory is of being tended too by doctors and learns that Sean did not survive the crash. Returning to school and trying to move on, Cassie falls asleep in her room only to be woken up by Annabel pounding on the door, as she is trying to get Cassie to come to a party with her. As she tries to convince Cassie to come, Annabel’s new friend Raven enters Cassies apartment and asks about the pictures of Sean. saying that he is there and saw Cassie kiss Matt. Annabel and Raven leave and Cassie decides to go for a walk but she ends up being chased by Deathmask and faints when she has a vision of Sean. After coming too, she sees Matt keeping watch over her, telling her a priest had found her fainted on the ground and carried her to the hospital. After Matt escorts her back to her room, they talk and Cassie says that it is their fault that Sean died. While taking her midterm, Cassie has a hallucination that her nose is dripping blood and she is back on the operating table from the crash and ends up rushing out of the class. As she catches her breath outside, she is approached by Father Jude and she thanks him for helping her. Cassie ends up telling Father Jude about the accident and Sean’s death and how she is having trouble dealing with it and he says she is welcome to come by the church and talk any time she needs too. Cassie sees Matt and starts to walk over to him when she notices Annabel walking with Raven and the scarred man, which makes her pause. Matt signs Cassie up for a swim meet, then takes her shopping for supplies so they can paint her apartment. When Annabel shows up, they end up goofing off and painting each other, then Cassie and Annabel go to clean up but Cassie has another vision of blood erupting from the drain. Afterwards, Annabel wants to go dancing and when Matt and Cassie don’t want to go, she gets upset when it seems like Matt is trying to get back with Cassie. That night, Cassie has a dream of Sean making love to her and wakes up to find Matt in her bed. As she confronts Matt about it, Annabel shows up and finds them in a state of undress and accuses Cassie of stealing Matt after losing Sean and Matt argues with Annabel outside the apartment. After having another hallucination, Cassie heads to the library and sees Annabel making out with Raven but when they spot her, they quickly leave. Cassie leaves the library but ends up being followed by the scarred man and she quickly runs from him and races back to her apartment. She finds Matt there and she tells him what happened but he doesn’t believe her, simply giving her her medicine that she was prescribed after the crash. Some time later, Cassie is practicing swimming for the meet when she is attacked by Deathmask, who attempts to drown her, but she manages to break free and when she surfaces, he is gone, with nobody having seen him there. Cassie heads to the gazebo and sees Sean there and they talk for a while before he leads her into the woods. When she hears someone calling out to her, Sean warns her that if she stays there she will die and she runs away, but when she returns to the gazebo, she sees Matt talking to the scarred man. She heads to the church and Father Jude invites her in and talks with her, He then gives her an amulet of St. Jude for protection and lets her rest in his bed. When Cassie wakes up, she notices the calendar in his room is from 1981 and she goes to speak to the attending priest and asks to speak with Father Jude but learns that Father Jude died in 1981 and she runs from the church. Cassie competes in the swim meet but as she is swimming, she sees Deathmask watching her, which throws her off, but then sees Sean at the finish line and quickens her pace to reach him, winning the race. Afterwards, Cassie is talking with Annabel and Matt and questions them about her seeing them with the scarred man and Deathmask and Annabel gets mad at Cassie and the two argue before Cassie slaps Annabel and Annabel storms off. Cassie goes to change clothes and is attacked by Deathmask again and she manages to stab him with a fluorescent light bulb before the both fall into the pool and she quickly gets out and leaves, running into Matt who says there is nobody there. Cassie asks Matt to take her home and he agrees but takes her to the old church, saying that he is going to get Annabel first. Cassie follows him inside but they get separated and Cassie is chased by the scarred man. She ends up in a bathroom and sees Annabel and Raven fooling around and tries to get Annabel to leave but Annabel says she likes it there and runs off. Cassie goes to follow but Raven tells her to leave them alone, as they are not her friends anymore, and that she should go be with Sean. Cassie leaves and gets back in the car only to find Matt there, wanting a final goodbye kiss. She smashes him in the head with a bottle then drags him out of the car before taking off. She heads back to campus and finds Annabel lying dying in the gazebo and Annabel accuses Cassie of having killed her. As the police and crowd move towards Cassie, Cassie backs away and ends up getting hit by a car. She sees Father Jude approaching her and has a hallucination of Sean holding her hand as she is going to the emergency room. She freaks out and races out of the emergency room, with her mind going back and forth between her being back in the club or in the hospital. As the scarred man attacks her, she finds herself in another car crash, with someone trying to rescue her. She then finds herself in a hospital bed, with Raven laying in the bed next to her. Raven tells her not to be afraid before she dies and the doctors cover her face. Cassie then sees Father Jude, who explains that she is in a dream and that she shouldn’t be afraid to be with Sean. Cassie calls out to Sean and she tells him she loves him and they kiss. Later, Cassie is her hospital room and as she goes to put her necklace back on, the scarred man and Deathmask use it to strangle her. She ends up waking up in bed with Sean, revealing that everything that happened after the original car crash was all a coma-dream, and Sean had lived but Annabel and Matt died in the crash.

Soul Survivors was completely panned by the critics, holding a 4% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “Soul Survivors‘ stock characters and utter lack of suspense gives viewers little reason to attempt deciphering the confusing plot.” James Marsden turned down the role of Sean to take part in X-Men, which lead to Casey Affleck’s taking the role, though he claims it to be one of his least favorite roles. The movie was a box office bomb, earning $4.299 million off of a $17 million budget.

This is a confusing mess of a movie and I still don’t know why I have it. The acting was ok, with nobody really standing out in their roles. The story was a confusing mess, doing a poor job of explaining what is going on and who survived the crash and who died. There wasn’t much in the way of special effects and the camera work felt pretty shoddy, which added to the confusion in the plot during the scenes where she was halucinating between two visions. Definitely not something that is worth watching unless you are really, really bored.

Rating: 1 out of 5

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fantasy, horror, movie, movie review, mystery

September 24th, 2017 Movie – Sleepy Hollow (1999)

sleepy hollow (1999)

It may not feel like it in some places, but it is Fall and that means the weather is going to, hopefully, get colder, night will come sooner, and the movies will start getting a little darker as we get closer to Halloween. One director who is somewhat synonymous with dark movies, even if they have nothing to do with Halloween, is Tim Burton. I have always liked his movies, ever since Beetlejuice, and when I heard that he was making a live action movie of “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow”, I was immediately on board and ready to see it. So lets see how good of a job he did with today’s movie, Sleepy Hollow.

The plot: In 1799 in the village of Sleepy Hollow, wealthy land owner Peter Van Garrett is writing a new will and testament and has it witnessed by Jonathan Masbath, one of his servants. Van Garrett rides off in his stage coach, driven by his son, to deliver the new will when he hears a horse pass by them followed by a strange sound. When Van Garrett looks out of the stage coach, he finds his son has been decapitated and he quickly jumps from the now out of control coach. Making his way through a field, he pauses when he comes to a scarecrow only to hear a sound and as he turns around, his head is cut off. In New York City, Constable Ichabod Crane discovers a body in the river but while Crane wants to determine the cause of death, the police chief says the cause of death is drowning and has the body burned. As Crane argues that with the new century almost upon them, they should work on using more accurate, scientific means to solve crimes, the Burgomaster decides to have him put his methods to the test. He tells Crane about Sleepy Hollow and how 3 people (the Van Garretts and the widow Emily Winship) have been killed there within the past fort night, with their heads cut off, and tells Crane to use his methods to find the killer and bring him to justice. Crane arrives in Sleepy Hollow and heads to the home of the Van Tassels, where a party is underway and Crane ends up caught up in a game where he is kissed by Katrina Van Tassel. When Katrina’s suitor, Brom van Brunt, gets jealous, Baltus Van Tassel and his wife appear to calm things down and Crane introduces himself. Lady Van Tassel invites Crane to stay at their house while he is there and after he gets settled in, Crane heads downstairs and meets with Van Tassel and the other leaders of the community; Doctor Thomas Lancaster, Reverend Steenwyck, Magistrate Samuel Phillipse, and Notary James Hardenbrook. As Crane goes over what he was told of the murders, they tell him that the heads were never recovered and Hardenbrook tells him that they were taken back to hell by the Headless Horseman. They explain that the horseman was a Hessian mercenary that fought for the British during the revolution but was killed by American soldiers and beheaded with his own sword, then buried in the Western Woods, which has since become a haunted place. Crane doesn’t believe their stories of a ghost being behind the deaths and claims a real person is responsible and he will find out who it is. That night, Jonathan Masbath is killed by the horseman and the next day, Crane makes his own examination of the body. At the funeral, Jonathan’s son, Young Masbath, approaches Crane and asks to help but Crane refuses at first until Phillipse approaches him and tells him that Masbath was the 5th victim even though there were only 4 graves, and Crane tells Young MAsbath to find a room in the servants quarters at the Van Tassel house. At dawn the next day, Crane has the bodies dug up and discovers that along with her decapitation, the widow Winship also has a sword thrust into her stomach. Crane takes her body to Dr. Lancaster’s office and performs an autopsy, which upsets Steenwyck, and discovers that the widow was pregnant when she died. That night, Brom plays a joke on Crane by pretending to be the Headless Horseman and scare him off and Crane ends up fainting after being hit in the face with a jack-o-lantern and begins dreaming of his mother. When he wakes up, he finds himself in his room and as he heads downstairs, he finds Katrina reading by herself. The two start talking and Katrina explains how her family came to be in the position they are now, then takes Crane to the remains of her childhood home. That night, Crane sees an argument between Lancaster, Steenwyck, Phillipse, and Hardenbrook and after Phillipse leaves, Crane questions him about the widow Winship’s child and who the father is when the Horseman appears and kills Phillipse and takes his head. Though cowering in fear at first, Crane has more dreams about his mother which causes him to overcome his initial fears and vow to find the Horseman’s grave and asks for volunteers to go with him into the Western Woods but only Young Masbath volunteers to go. They head into the woods and after Crane asks if his father had dealings with the Van Garretts and Young Masbath explains that his father worked for them and a week before the murders started, there was an argument between Van Garrett and his son, after which Van Garrett sent for Masbath. The two come to a cave in the woods and find a reclusive witch inside, who sends Young Masbath outside while keeping Crane inside and summons the spirit of the Horseman to tell him where the grave is. As they make their way to the grave, they see someone on a white horse ahead of them and when Crane approaches the horse, discovers it is Katrina. The three find the Tree of the Dead and as Crane cuts away some of the lower branches to clear out a hollow, he finds the missing heads. Suddenly, the Horseman and his steed emerge from within the tree and heads towards town and Crane follows after him. In the town, the Horseman enters the home of the town’s midwife and kills her, as well as her husband and child, and goes to leave. Brom, who is on watch with his friends, tries to stop him but is injured and as he moves to continue fighting, Crane tries to stop him. Crane tells him that the horseman is only fighting because Brom attacked them and is not trying to kill them but Brom refuses to listen. As Brom begins fighting again, Crane joins in but soon realizes they are outmatched and convinces Brom to run but as they move through the bridge, the Horseman catches up to them and stabs Crane in the shoulder before cutting Brom in half. As Crane deals with his injuries, he tries to explain to Van Tassel and Lancaster that the Horseman is killing specific targets which means he is being controlled by whoever took the Horseman’s skull. Katrina gives him a drink to help him sleep and he ends up dreaming about his mother again and when he wakes, he tells Katrina about her death. The next morning, after he has recovered, Crane starts going over all of his notes and tries to figure out what the secret is that Phillipse and the other town leaders were keeping and decides to head to Hardenbrook’s shop. When they get there, they find Hardenbrook hiding and Young Masbath discovers his father’s satchel and they find the new will that Van Garrett had made, as well as the marriage certificate for Van Garrett and the widow Winship. Crane realizes that the new will left everything to the widow Winship but if nobody knew about it, then it would end up going to Baltus Van Tassel. When he returns to the Van Tassel house, he finds Katrina in his room and she says her father thinks it best that Crane head back to New York, as the notes crane wrote in his ledger upset him. After she leaves, Young Masbath discovers a design on the floor underneath Crane’s bed and says that someone is casting an evil spell on him. That night, Crane follows a cloaked figure out into the woods but discovers it is Lady Van Tassell, who is having an affair with Steenwyck. When Crane returns to his room, he finds all of the evidence is missing and heads to the Van Tassel’s former house, where he finds Katrina burning it. She admits she did so to prevent Crane from accusing her father and he tells her that he has no choice but to follow where the evidence leads him and the two argue over their feelings for each other before Katrina leaves. That night, a town meeting is called in the church and as Van Tassel is waiting on his wife to finish picking some flowers, he sees the Horseman approaching behind her and quickly flees. When he arrives at the church, he tells Katrina that her step-mother is dead but Steenwyck tries to force him back outside, telling him that he is the one the Horseman wants. As Crane notices that the Horseman can’t enter the church yard because it is holy ground, he goes to tell them but Van Tassel grabs Crane’s pistol and threatens Steenwyck. Lancaster starts to tell Van Tassel the truth about the conspiracy but Steenwyck kills him, prompting Van Tassel to shoot him. As some of the townfolk approach him, Van Tassel grabs another pistol and heads up to the balcony, declaring that there is a conspiracy against him. Outside, the Horseman has grabbed some rope and a fence post, which he uses as a make shift spear, and he throws it through the window and strikes Van Tassel, then drags him outside until his head is past the church yard, allowing him to cut it off. Seeing what happened, Katrina faints and as Crane stares at her, he looks up to see the same design that was under his bed drawn on the floor in the church where Katrina had been kneeling. Crane burns all of his notes and prepares to leave, with Young Masbath questioning why he thinks Katrina was the one to control the Horseman but Crane tells him that that can never be spoken. As his coach is leaving town, Crane notices them bringing the bodies of Baltus and Lady Van Tassel to the morgue and as he suddenly looks at the book of spells and charms Katrina had given him when he first came to town and discovers the design she had drawn was one of protection. Crane tells the driver to turn around and heads to the morgue, where he discovers that the body assumed to be Lady Van Tassel is not her, as the wound on her hand was inflicted after the body was dead, as opposed to the cut he saw Lady Van Tassel give herself. At the Van Tassel house, Katrina is approached by Lady Van Tassel and faints and it is revealed that she is the one who controls the Horseman and she summons it to kill Katrina. Lady Van Tassel takes Katrina to an old windmill and explains that she and her family lived in the cottage before the Van Tassels before her father died and Van Garrett kicked them out. Their mother was a witch and taught her and her sister her ways before she died and the two girls lived in the woods, where they saw the Hessian die and Lady Van Tassel swore her soul to Satan if he would resurrect the Hessian to help her get her revenge. She then explains why she had everyone killed, while also explaining why she killed the servant and her own sister. Young Masbath, who had followed Lady Van Tassel to the windmill, tries to knock out Lady Van Tassel but she knows he is there and he and Katrina run. Crane shows up with the stage coach just as the Horseman arrives and they lure the Horseman inside, then use the windmill blades to reach the ground while Crane lights a fire to blow up the windmill in order to slow it down. As it emerges from the wreckage, Crane and the others leave and head towards the Tree of the Dead, with the Horseman chasing after them and Crane does his best to slow it down. When they get there, they find Lady Van Tassel had beaten them there and Crane tells Katrina to run but Lady Van Tassel shoots him, then grabs Katrina and holds her for the Horseman. Crane didn’t die, as the bullet was stopped by Katrina’s book, and he tackles Lady Van Tassel and after Young Masbath knocks her out, he grabs the skull and throws it to the Horseman. The Horseman puts the skull back on his body and his face is restored and he then grabs Lady Van Tassel and, with the tree suddenly opening up, he takes her back to Hell with him, as her deal with him is finished since he has her head, and the tree closes around her as she screams, with only her arm sticking out among the bramble of roots. Crane heads back to New York City with Katrina and Young Masbeth, just in time for the new century.

Sleepy Hollow met with mixed to positive reviews from the critics, holding a 67% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “Sleepy Hollow entertains with its stunning visuals and creepy atmosphere.” In October of ’99, one month before the movie was to be released, the studio launched a website that featured live interviews with the filmmakers, a short behind the scenes featurette, view photos and trailers, and was described, at the time, as “the most ambitious online launch of a motion picture to date.” The movie would be a modest hit at the box office, earning $206.1 million off of a $100 million budget.

I always enjoy watching this movie, even if it does have some faults. The acting was pretty good and Burton gathered an incredible cast of talent to take part in this movie. Johnny Depp (Crane) and Christina Ricci (Katrina) were both great and I also liked how well Michael Gambon (Van Tassel), Miranda Richardson (Lady Van Tassel), and Richard Griffiths (Phillipse) did in their roles and how they would all be part of the Harry Potter world a few years later. The story was a bit of a departure from the source material but I think those changes were honestly necessary to make for a more compelling full length movie. I did think the change of Ichabod Crane to a police officer was interesting and they had an interesting bit of “science vs supernatural/superstition” theme going there. However, the whole flashback scenes regarding Ichabod’s mother really didn’t make a whole lot of sense, even if they were meant to show that Ichabod had some experience with the supernatural before coming to Sleepy Hollow. The special effects were very well done and I loved the visuals involved in the movie, as the colors were mostly dark while even some of the brighter colors seemed a little muted except for the color red, which seemed visibly brighter most times and seemed to pop off the screen to be noticed. I also liked the bit of a running gag that seemed to occur with Crane constantly getting blood squirted in his face. While I will always have a bit of a soft spot for the original animated short, this is a fun movie to watch and definitely something for the Halloween season.

Rating: 4 out of 5

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movie, movie review, mystery, thriller

September 15th, 2017 Movie – Sisters Of Death

sisters of death

Another movie from the Chilling Classics collection. Oh Joy. Funny thing is, I had actually watched this movie a couple of years; not on any of the normal streaming sites like Netflix or Hulu, but on YouTube. I was bored one day and looking for some ways to kill time and while browsing along on YouTube, saw that the had a section for movies and saw several movies on there and decided “Why not?” Now I never got around to finish watching this movie so I don’t know how it ended but that could make it all the more exciting to watch now. Guess I will find out as I watch today’s movie, Sisters Of Death.

The plot: Two pledges, Judy and Liz, are undertaking the final test to enter an all girl secret society known as The Sisters, the Test of Courage. The “Initiator” steps behind them and loads a blank into a small pistol, then points it at the first girl and pulls the trigger. When she doesn’t scream or move, she places a locket around her neck, indicating that she passed. When the “Initiator” repeats the process for the second girl, something goes wrong and the girls ends up being shot in the head, causing everyone there to scream. 7 years later, Judy receives an envelope inviting her to a reunion of The Sisters and $500 to pay for travel. Judy calls Sylvia, another Sister, to see if she had sent out the invitations but Sylvia thought that Judy had sent them, as she is the only one of the group with enough money to afford to do something like that, so Judy asks Sylvia to meet with her to discuss this. Elsewhere, Penny is talking to her spiritual guru and questioning whether she should go and revisit her past while Diana is hitchhiking to where the reunion is supposed to take place, while trying to keep the driver’s hands off of her. The final member of the group, Francie, is pulled over for speeding while trying to reach Paso Robles, where the reunion is supposed to take place, but manages to talk the cop out of giving her a ticket. Judy and Sylvia arrive at the the Paso Robles Inn and are soon joined by by the others, unaware that the group were being observed by two men. When all 5 girls are there, the two men get out of their car and introduce themselves to the girls as Joe and Mark and say they are there to drive them to their destination. The girls are confused but agree to go with them, although Penny is reluctant to do so and has to be coaxed into going by the others. After an hour of driving, they arrive at their destination and Joe and Mark help the girls get their bags out of their car and then leave. The girls head inside, with Penny still being reluctant to do so, and they find a table with food and drinks by a pool and go have a drink, unaware of the gate they drove through automatically closing and locking them inside the grounds. Meanwhile, Joe and Mark had pulled over and Joe convinces Mark that they should crash the reunion in order to try and hook up with some of the girls. They see the fence and Mark thinks they should turn back but Joe shows that it is not electrified and they climb over it and head towards the house. Meanwhile, Sylvia decides to rest by the pool while the other girls start exploring the house and figuring out where they will stay. During the course of their explorations, they find the upper levels of the house have been sealed off but there are plenty of rooms on the lower floor for them to sleep in. Judy goes to change into a bikini but she is unaware that she is being watched by someone, who is moving around inside the walls of the house. Back outside, Joe and Mark approach Sylvia, who is upset that they are there, but they manage to convince her to let them have one drink and as they are about to leave, the other girls return and allow them to stay. The mysterious man sees that the men have returned and arms the electrical fence. As night falls, Joe and Mark are too drunk to drive and end up falling asleep on the deck chairs by the pool, with Diane bringing them some blankets and telling them to be quiet or Sylvia will call the cops on them. The next morning, the girls wake up and all find pictures of Liz in their bedrooms, which upsets Sylvia and, as the five girls gather around a table, she accuses them of messing with her and plans on leaving. When she turns around, she finds the man there and he introduces himself as Liz’s father, Edmond Clybourn. Edmond says that one of them murdered Liz and they all try to tell him that it was an accident and was ruled as such but Edmond insist that one of them hated Liz and had her murdered with a live round. Hearing this, Penny freaks out and runs screaming from the house, waking Joe and Mark, who try to stop her but she pushes them aside. When Mark sees that the electric fence is on, he quickly rushes out and throws Penny back, then throws a piece of metal to show that it is electrified, causing Penny to faint. As the girls all start screaming and crying, Mark heads inside to try and call for help but is stopped by Edmond, who tells him the phone is dead. Edmond says he should kill Mark and Joe for not following his instructions, but he won’t because Liz wouldn’t like that. When Mark asks who Liz is, Judy, who had followed him in the house, tells him and explains that Edmond believes one of them murdered her but her death was an accident. When Edmond says that he has a witness, as one of the girls had seen someone switch out the bullets, Judy asks why that person didn’t come forward and then asks who the witness was but Edmond says everyone will know everything tomorrow. When Judy tries to force him to tell her, he shoves her down, then shoots a nearby bust, telling her that is his last warning. Joe and the other girls run inside and Mark explains to Joe what is going on and they decide to try and turn off the power to the fence. Convincing the girls to work together with them, they split up, with Joe taking Diana and Francie while Mark goes with Judy, Sylvia, and Penny. As they all leave to look for a cellar door, hoping a fuse box is down there, Penny ends up staying in the living room and staring at the picture of Liz. As Judy, Mark, and Sylvia search the rooms, Sylvia sees a tarantula in one room and screams, then says she is too shaken up by what happened to be of much use so Sylvia says she should go check on Penny. Judy heads back to the living room only to find Penny gone but hears her chanting and praying outside and looks outside but doesn’t see her as she is on the other side of a wall. Edmond sees Penny from his window upstairs but after closing the window, someone approaches Penny and chokes her with her own necklace. Meanwhile, Joe finds a hidden staircase to the cellar and after finding a fuse panel, starts flicking all the switches and then runs back up the stairs. Joe and the others race outside only to find the fence is still live when Judy screams and they find her kneeling over Penny’s body. As Mark and Joe carry off Penny’s body, Judy cries that she looked for Judy and didn’t find her and Sylvia comforts her and helps her join the others. After Mark and Joe return, Mark tells the others about what Edmond had said and says that there is a possibility that one of them is working with Edmond. Joe speaks with Mark privately and says that they better figure out a way out of there before it gets dark, as he feels that Edmond will have an easier time of picking the girls off one by one. That night, Mark and Joe decide to stand guard in the hallway outside the girls’ rooms while the girls themselves all fret about whether Edmond might try something that night. Diana is scared and goes into Francie’s room and as they talk, Francie decides to take a shower, though Diana thinks that is a bad idea. Sylvia goes to sleep but when she feels something crawling on her, wakes up to find a tarantula on her stomach and starts screaming. Mark and Joe race into her room and Joe is able to swat the tarantula off her and squash it. They head out into the living room, where they are joined by Diana, and Mark decides to get the others but when Diana and Joe go to get Francie, they find she has been stabbed with a pair of scissors. They 5 survivors head outside and try coming up with ideas on how to get out of there. Seeing some water from a drainage pipe running under the fence, Mark thinks they might be able to dig under the fence and escape and goes to find a shovel. Meanwhile, Joe had come up with an idea to make an S.O.S. sign to signal an aircraft that might fly overhead and Diana has an idea on how to make it so they head back to the house. Mark enters the cellar to try and get a shovel but finds a rattlesnake in there and is forced to leave. Returning to Judy and Sylvia, Mark asks them to help him but when Sylvia starts walking, she falls and twists her ankle so Judy has her sit down while she helps Mark dig by hand. Meanwhile, Diana and Joe cut up the welcome banner from the party to make their sign, then head out to the yard to find a spot to lay it out. As Joe sends Diana to find some rocks to weigh the sign down with, he finds the hidden power source for the fence and tells Diana to go get Mark. Mark and Judy discover a concrete base underneath the fence and are forced to stop digging but when they turn around, they find that Sylvia is gone. Judy runs up to the house to look for her and Mark is about to follow her but Diana stops him and tells him that Joe needs him so he tells Diana to go get Judy while he goes to Mark. Meanwhile, Edmond had seen Joe discover the power source and sends his German Shepherd to attack him and as Joe runs from the dog, he ends up running into the fence and electrocuting himself. Diana goes looking for Judy and Sylvia and, seeing the cellar door open, she heads down there but someone locks her in and as she tries to get out, she is bitten by the rattlesnake and killed. Inside the house, Edmond confronts Judy, grabbing her when she faints, and when Mark tries to stop him, he shoots at him before sending his dog to attack him. Edmond takes Judy upstairs and dresses her in her pledge robe before tying her to a chair. He then slaps her awake and Sylvia enters in her Initiator dress, revealing that she had been working with Edmond. Mark manages to lock the dog in a room and then goes to save Judy but he is knocked unconscious by Edmond. When Judy asks why, Sylvia explains that she was racked with guilt over Liz’s death, as she was the one who pulled the trigger, and had contemplated suicide when Edmond found her and convinced her that someone else was responsible. Sylvia then says that she knew that Judy hated Liz because she was prettier and better than Judy so Judy asked Sylvia about the ritual and learned of the bullets. Sylvia explains that she did that because Liz wanted to know and wanted to commit suicide. Sylvia says she is lying and then Edmond reveals a gatling gun and Sylvia explains that Edmond had made bullets, with some being fake and some being real. They begin firing around Judy but Mark comes too and manages to knock out Edmond. Sylvia goes to shoot Judy with Edmond’s pistol but Mark stops her, frees Judy, and then grabs a barrel of explosives as he and Judy run. Sylvia tries to stop them but she is shot by Edmond by accident and Edmond then attempts to shoot Judy and Mark as they head for the fence. Mark hands Judy the pistol and she uses it to shoot Edmond while Mark throws the explosive at the fence, blowing open the gate. Judy and Mark leave and head to the car and Mark says that they made it but Judy tells him that she made it, then points the gun at Mark and shoots him, indicating that she was the one that killed the other girls as well as Liz.

There were times that this felt like a poor imitation of an Agatha Christie movie but on the whole, this wasn’t that bad of a thriller. The acting was ok, with Claudia Jennings (Judy) and Arthur Franz (Edmond) putting on really good performances. The basic plot, centering on Liz’s death and Edmond’s twisted desire for revenge, was pretty good but the way that it would keep jumping around between the characters throughout the movie made things a little more confusing than it needed to be. I also felt like they could have done a better job in setting up the ending and laying out Judy’s motivation, though I did think how they explained Sylvia’s helping Edmond was great. The way the film was set up felt weird at times, with it felling like some scenes were cut out that could have explained what was going on a bit better, but otherwise, this is a decent movie and worth giving a chance.

Rating: 3 out of 5

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horror, movie, movie review, mystery, thriller

September 2nd, 2017 Movie – Silent Night, Bloody Night

silent night bloody night (1972)

So back in the day (and if I am being completely honest, it still occasionally occurs today), there would be times where I get movies confused. I mean, I would see part of a movie and when I would go try to find it at the video store, I would get something that sounded similar to what I had seen, only to find out as I watched it that I got the wrong movie. The reason I bring this up is because it somewhat pertains to today’s movie. See, I remember watching a movie involving a killer Santa Claus and at first, I thought it was one of the Silent Night, Deadly Night! movies, but that wasn’t it. Then I thought it was today’s movie, but it wasn’t it either. I eventually found out that the movie I was remembering was the original Tales From The Crypt movie, but that is a story for another day. Today, let’s focus on today’s movie, Silent Night, Bloody Night.

The plot: In 1971, Diana Adams is walking around the former home of Wilfred Butler and taking one last look at the grounds before it is bulldozed and thinking about the history of the place. Wilfred Butler had built the house but never lived in it until Christmas Eve of 1950, when he suddenly burst from the house, his body on fire, and collapses to the ground. The house was left to his grandson Jeffrey, and he left it vacant for 20 years, in accordance to Wilfred’s will. After 20 years, rumors start spreading about it being sold. John Carter, the lawyer in charge of the sale, and his assistant, Ingrid, head over to the house to look things over before the interested parties arrive. Meanwhile, Diane Adams is driving down the road and as the news comes on the radio concerning a warehouse fire and an escaped inmate, she sees a strange man on the side of the road holding a tire iron. Though the man seems to need help, Diane feels uncomfortable and chooses to drive on and after she passes him, she sees the man smashing the windshield of the car he was next too. Back in town, Carter heads to town hall and meets with Mayor Adams, Charlie Towman (the publisher of the town newspaper), Tess Howard (the telephone switchboard operator), and Sheriff Bill Mason. As Carter discusses the sell of the house and the offer the 4 of them have made, someone is seen breaking into the house and killing the guard dog. Back in town, Carter finishes his sales pitch to the town leaders and says he will get back with them tomorrow to see if they want to buy the mansion, then leaves with Ingrid to spend the night at the mansion. As they have dinner and talk, they are unaware that someone is in the house and creeps down the stairs to listen to them. After receiving a phone call from Tess, who was checking up on them for Bill, Carter and Ingrid head to bed and start having sex, only for the stranger to kill them both with an axe. Afterwards, the stranger calls Bill, pretending to be someone named Marianne, and says that Carter’s car is there but he is gone and asks that Bill come there right away. Bill agrees and after he hangs up, Tess, who was listening in, tries speaking to the caller and the caller says she is waiting in her father’s house, frightening Tess. Tess tries calling Mayor Adams, Towman, and Bill but they all don’t answer their phones so she calls her assistant Maggie and has her start her shift early so she can head out to the house. Meanwhile, the stranger that Diane saw earlier arrives at the house and, seeing Carter’s keys in his car, hops in and drives off in it. The stranger drives to Mayor Adam’s house, where Diane is wrapping presents, and when she sees him pull up, she grabs a gun, then tells the man to come in. The man asks to see the mayor and when Diane says he isn’t here and threatens to call the police, the stranger says that he drove by the station and nobody was there. He then introduces himself as Jeffrey Butler and asks about Towman and Diane tells him where he might be. Meanwhile, Bill is on his way to the mansion but stops when he notices a light at the cemetery. When he investigates, he finds that the grave of Wilfred Butler has been dug up and the body missing . As he examines Wilfred’s diary, which was lying on the ground, he is struck with a shovel and killed, then tossed into the grave. Jeffrey goes back to the Adams’ house and talks some more with Diane and they decide to go to the mansion but on the way, they see the sheriff’s car at the cemetery and pull over. The look around for the sheriff but see no sign of him but his sunglasses. They head over to see Towman to try and figure out what is going on and learn that Tess has gone as well Towman goes to Tess’ house with Jeffrey to see if she is there and when they don’t see her, Jeffrey figures she might have gone to the mansion, just as the mayor did when he got a call earlier that night. Towman appears upset and quickly leaves and Jeffrey approaches one of Tess’ birdcages and grabs the bird inside. Meanwhile, Diane waits at Towman’s office and receives a call from “Marianne”, which starts to unnerve her when she says that she is waiting at the house for everyone. Tess arrives at the mansion and heads inside to look around only to end up being attacked and killed. Back at Towman’s office, Diane is reading through old newspaper articles and learns that after Butler’s wife died, his daughter Marianne was raped and eventually gave birth to Jeffrey. Years later, the mansion was turned into an asylum and Butler had Marianne committed there, but all further stories had been cut out. Jeffrey returns to the office, startling Diane, and tells her about Tess’ house. Diane asks Jeffrey about his mother, who he says died at childbirth, and she tells him about the person calling with the same name and that she might be alive and waiting at the house. Jeffrey says they should head out there but as they do, they pass Towman’s car, which is on fire. Continuing on, they see Towman on the side of the road waving his arms and Jeffrey accidentally hits him with the car. They quickly stop and Jeffrey goes down to check on him but says that Towman is dead. Diane is upset that Jeffrey killed Towman but he says they should keep going and continue to the house. As they reach the house, Jeffrey decides to head in alone, leaving Diane in the car. Meanwhile, Marianne calls Mayor Adams and tells him to come to the house and after he hangs up the phone, he grabs a rifle and heads out. Jeffrey finds Butler’s old diary and as he reads it, he learns that Butler had an affair with his own daughter Marianne and Jeffrey was the result of that affair. After committing his daughter, Butler started to feel remorse and made plans to try and get her out of the asylum. On Christmas Eve of 1935, as the doctors were all having a celebration dinner and getting drunk, Butler goes to see Marianne and free her, then lets all of the inmates out to cover his releasing her. The inmates head into the house and proceed to kill all of the doctors, but as Butler went to get the car, the inmates killed Marianne as well. Most of the inmates ended up fleeing the town but 4 of them remained in town; Mayor Adams, Tess, Towman, and Bill. Diane enters the house to see if Jeffrey is all right and he tells her that his grandfather is still alive, having faked his death. He then tells her about the massacre at the asylum and how her father was one of the men who killed his mother. Mayor Adams arrives at the house and heads inside and finds Jeffrey standing there pointing a pistol at him. The two men both fire and end up killing each other, as Diane cries out and runs to her father’s body. Suddenly, Diane hears Marianne’s voice and realizes it is actually Butler himself, who has gone mad and mistakes Diane for his daughter Marianne. As he approaches Diane, she tries to escape and when she can’t open the door, she grabs the pistol and shoots Butler, then manages to make it outside and spends the night crying out in grief. As the bulldozers approach to tear down the house, Diane leaves, knowing that her memories of what happened will never be erased.

SSSSLLLLOOOOWWWW. If there is one word to describe this movie, that would be it. This movie was unbearably slow, which made it almost impossible for me to enjoy it. In fact, I actually had to stop watching, go do something else for a while so I wouldn’t fall asleep, then start back into it…..TWICE. The acting was bad, with Mary Woronov (Diane) being the only decent performance in the bunch. The story was a confusing mess that kept bouncing back and forth between different scenes until you had no idea what was going on. The camera work and special effects were pretty lousy and did nothing to help this story at all. The title sounded good but definitely a let down of a movie.

Rating: 1 out of 5

Standard