Wednesday, April 29, 2015

The Howling(1981) Revisited

Today I watched "The Howling" again, and I was hoping I could get a better opinion on it. I was pretty neutral with it the first time, and I was hoping I would figure if I liked or disliked it this viewing. What I observed was that the movie has excellent horror scenes, makeup, and a hilarious and spoofy sense of humor. The problem that I saw was the writing at times, because it was a little too silly for me. Overall I  like the movie, but I almost feel like I have to give it another viewing in the future to understand it even more. I definitely wouldn't call it Joe Dante's best work(Piranha), but it is still pretty enjoyable, and worth a watch for sure. 

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

An Observation I Made Tonight.....

Today was the first time I had watched any "Friday the 13th" films, and I chose parts 2 and 3. 2 is always a safe pick for me, and it stands as my second favorite of the series. Part 3 has been a bitter one for me, and I had seen it as one of the lesser. Today when I watched it, I decided to try something new, and I watched it in 2D. Honestly with this change, I really saw the film in a whole different perspective, and I liked it much more. 

First off, watching this movie in a normal format made so much less of a headache for me. I didn't have to squint with the blue and red crap on the glasses, and I got to see a clear picture. This made the whole movie(especially the kills) much better looking, and it was a lot more enjoyable. I also felt that watching it in a basic way made it easier to suck up what was happening in the story, instead of only caring about the special effects. 

Overall, I feel that Part 3 is much better than I gave it credit for in the past, and I would movie it's rating up to a 7.5. It is definitely a flawed and cheesy movie, but in a way that is still entertaining. I also feel that the kills are top notch, and Jason's mask became a huge trademark because of this. I definitely recommend the movie film to you all, and I highly recommend staying away from the 3D gimmick. 

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Paranormal Activity


"Sometimes the things you regret the most are the chances you don't take.."-Unknown.

The above quote has nothing directly to do with "Paranormal Activity," but it is exactly how I felt after watching it. This 2007 film is one that I put off for years with the fear that I was going to hate it. I felt like it had been advertised too much, and that there was only a rave about it because of the whole "Bandwagon" thing. As I sat down to view this for the first time, my expectations were as low as could be. I had seen the positive reviews online, but I was not enthused at all. By the time this 88 minute experience was done, I was mesmerized. "Paranormal Activity" is a rare film, with its greatness being in the works of an extremely small budget. Oren Peli made all of the right choices with the film, including perfect scare techniques, a great cast, and awesome techniques as a director. I personally thought this was one of the finest horror movies of the 21st century. 

The story follows a young couple named Katie and Micah. The two of them are mildly concerned, because paranormal terrorizing has come back into Katie's life, and is starting to take the house over. Micah begins to tape their room at night, and they begin to see these occurrences happen. Right away, they call a specialist named Dr. Frederichs. Frederichs senses something wrong instantly, and suspects it may be a demon. He unveiled that the house isn't the problem, but Katie herself is being followed. Sadly, this practice is out of the man's field, but he recommends a demonologist named Dr. Avery. Micah is very against this, because he wants to take care of the problems by himself. As a result, the hauntings become worse and worse, until both of their lives become hell, and their fate becomes unknown.

The first thing that I loved about this film was the cast. Katie Featherston was very good in the role of Katie, because she made the anger and frustrations in her character come to life. Micah Sloat was awesome as Micah, because he really played a role that you could see being him in real life. He could portray a laid back coolness, or a freaked out hysteria in the matter of seconds. Mark Frederichs was good as Dr Frederichs, because he didn't make himself likable, which worked for the unreliable nature of his role. 

The movie was shot in found footage, and although I usually dislike that technique, it worked really well for this film. I thought that it gave more of the feel that what was happening was real, and added to the freakiness of scenes. I think the reason it worked in this movie was that it was shot at home, rather than in a less appropriate place like the woods. When the characters are asleep or doing casual actions(like in the film), it is much easy to keep a steady filming. In others where there is a lot of running in a big space, the camera becomes too shaky, which makes it annoying. 

As if watched the movie, I was trying to compare it to others in the supernatural genre to see what was good and bad. One of the film's that came up the most in comparison was "The Amityville Horror." This movie is not one I'm a fan of, and I felt that "Paranormal Activity" succeeded in everything that the former failed to do. Both films had a gradual increase with each occurrence to make it freakier, but the problem with "Amityville" was that it's peak was nothing spectacular at all, and it fell back to its happy go lucky nature in seconds. "Paranormal Activity" knew how to keep going with its increase until it completely shocked you, and it never went back down. I thought that this made the movie genuinely scary, because it made you wait a very long time for the payoff, but when it came it was something more than imagination could withhold. 

The DVD I bought for this film gave the option of watching two different endings to the movie. The theatrical one was perfect in my eyes, because it left a lot of mystery as to what was happening. The alternate one was much weaker in my opinion, because it went too far with its violence, and took away from the nature of the film's intended horror. I thought that it also took away any questioning as to what was occurring, because it was all on screen. I feel that the conclusion that was shown to the public was the right decision, and was part of the eventual success. 

Overall, this movie was really great. It was a smart, scary, and enjoyable film that will become a classic one day. I thought it was probably the greatest paranormal movie I've seen thus far, because of its fresh tactics in scares. I definitely recommend this to all horror fans, because it is dark and exciting, and something that you will never forget.  

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

From Dusk Till Dawn


"From Dusk To Dawn" is a 1996 horror/action film directed by Robert Rodriguez, and written by legend Quentin Tarantino. It has been a cult classic ever since its release, and is a notable work by both critics and horror fans. I personally love the movie for its sharp wit, crazy battle scenes, and awesome acting.

The movie begins in a gas station where a cop and cashier talk. At first the conversation is about the hot weather, but it goes to the subject of two bank robbers known as the "Gecko brothers." The cashier then shows the cop to the bathroom, and while alone, the two criminal's pop up with women they have as hostage. The men try to keep the cashier quiet, but he fails to do this so the brothers kill both men. I thought this beginning was amazing, because it set the viewer up for craziness, and it was extremely well done. 

On the other side of the story, we meet the Fuller family. The father of this family is named Jacob, and he is a former pastor that has lost his faith in God since the death of his daughter Jen. The family is then kidnapped by the Gecko brothers, and are led on the road. Everyone stops at a club, and they are exposed to vampires. The rest of the movie is the battle between these monsters, and a fight to survive. 

The thing that struck me the most about "From Dusk Till Dawn" was how diverse of a movie it was. There was moments where it was a crime/action film, with intense shootouts and heists, there were hilarious moments of comedy throughout the whole thing, and there also some terrifying scenes of horror. This really contributed to the greatness of the movie, because it made things stay interesting. 

The cast was really awesome, because there was a lot of witty performers that could also be intense. George Clooney was my personal favorite as Seth Gecko. There were moments where he had me laughing with his sharp sense of how to say a funny line, but then there were also moments that the viewer could see the pain he was feeling because of bad events. Quentin Tarantino was pretty awesome as Richard Gecko, because he really played a psycho well, and was also hilarious in doing so. Harvey Keitel was pretty neat as Jacob, because he was likable, yet stern at the same time. You could really sense the decency that he portrayed in the character, and it was very realistic when seeing him struggle with his faith. Juliette Lewis did a good job as Kate Fuller, because she was a character that was easy to be sympathetic for, yet she had a toughness about her that was good for the female lead. Ernest Liu was pretty cool as Scott Fuller, because he just gave a simple performance as a likable guy, and he did it well. I thought that the cameos were pretty awesome, including Salma Hayek in her most seductive performance ever, Tom Savini in a hilarious and heroic role, Cheech Marin as three funny characters, and Danny Trejo as a bartender. 

The special effects in this film were pretty crazy, and in the style of a classic B-Movie. The gore was plentiful; coming from both the humans and vampires. It looked very fake, but was cool regardless, and made the movie one of the bloodiest I've ever seen. The makeup of the vampires was pretty weird, and looked unlike from any I've seen before. The prosthetics were very well done, and I give major credit to the specialists. Outside of the horror effects, there were also some very nice action ones too, including humongous explosions. 

The climax of the film was really intense, with a humongous showdown between the vampires and humans. It is known by the characters that some of them won't make it, but they will stick together until the end. I loved how this showed a redemption in the character of Seth, because instead of being the ruthless criminal, he was actually starting to care for the others. In these scenes, there were a lot of shocking deaths of certain characters, and each one was painful to witness. The ending itself was very good, because it wasn't exactly what I expected, and it left the audience on a note for interpretation. 

This movie is definitely worth the time of every movie buff. It is exciting, hilarious, and horrific all at the same time. I personally find this to be one of the coolest movies ever, and I promise that it will not disappoint. 

Monday, April 6, 2015

The Hitcher(2007)


"The Hitcher" is a 2007 remake of the 1986 classic with C. Thomas Howell and Rutger Hauer. It hasn't always been loved by fans of the genre, but I personally like it. There was a lot of impressive action and plot twists, and while it wasn't a masterpiece, it was a fun flick to give an adrenaline rush. 

The movie begins by introducing a teenage couple named Grace and Jim. The two are driving to New Mexico for spring break. This scene is good, because it gives the necessary meeting of the main characters, and even though they don't say a whole bunch, they have likable personalities. 

When the night comes, things get strange as a hitchhiker stands in the middle the road, and almost gets hit by their car. The duo drives away quick out of fear, and stops at a gas station. At this stop, they run into the hitcher, and apologize and give him a ride. As they drive, the man gets stranger and stranger, and he then puts a knife up to Grace. After this, the trip intended to be fun becomes a living hell, and the two have to fight for their lives. 

The main characters of this movie were all cast extremely well, because they all got into the roles so much that the viewer forgets it was a movie. Sophia Bush kicked butt as Grace, because in the beginning she gave a weak performance, but then became a very tough and awesome girl. Zachary Knighton was good as Jim, because he was a very likable guy, and he made the audience feel for him a lot. Sean Bean gave an extremely dark, and horrifying performance as "The Hitcher." He made the sadist nature of his character seem so real, and was the ultimate bad guy. He definitely did the Rutgers Hauer role it's Justice. 

The strongest part of the film for me was the action. This movie was a high octane, brutal, and gory thrill ride that sometimes made the viewer cringe. There were stabbings, slit throats, shootings, and one of the most disturbing things I have ever seen(yet I will not explain it for spoiler reasons). I loved the look of all the gore effects, because they were very realistic, unlike many films of recent times. 

The last 25 minutes of the movie were absolutely thrilling, because the chains of events that took place were insane, with a huge twist to top them off. After this scene, things went crazy as the surviving characters had the ultimate showdown with this horrible person. I thought that the ending was very good, although it was pretty predictable. 

The only weakness of the movie was some stupid plot elements. This is kind of typical for a Michael Bay movie, and they were just small little things that didn't add up. The main problem was the arresting of the couple. It could've worked, if Jim hadn't been sitting in the car trying to save the injured man. I think it was really dumb for this to happen, because no murderer would just stay with their crime. This definitely didn't hurt the movie much for me, but it was just something that made me scratch my head. 

Overall, "The Hitcher" is a really good movie. It has an energy to it that isn't found often nowadays, and for the most part it was well made too. It was also a well done remake, because it stayed true to the original, while putting some twists in too. I definitely recommend this to horror fans, because it is an underrated film that will keep you on the edge of your seat the whole time. 

Deep Red


"Deep Red" is a 1975 Giallo classic from director Dario Argento. It was definitely one of his masterpieces, because it was one of the thought provoking film's of history. Critics and audiences have loved it since its release, and now I can be added to the fan club. 

The movie begins very dark, as a shadowy stabbing is shown accompanied by screams. This particular scene was very sick, because there was classical music, and it was a quick and disturbing moment. The story then proceeded to a lecture about telepathy, where psychic Helga Ullman talks about the nature of her powers. As she speaks, she then begins to convulse, as she senses a murderer in the crowd. This scene was very creepy, because it foreshadowed a possible explanation to what was happening in the very beginning.

Sadly, Helga was correct, and she is murdered by a mysterious figure with black leather gloves. The two witnesses to this incident were a man named Marcus Daly, and his friend Carlo. Marcus is a jazz pianist, and he was actually a neighbor to this lady. He tries to run up and save her, but she was already dead. One of the things that Daly noticed was that there were paintings were missing from Ullman's wall. After this first clue, he begins to investigate this murder; while a chain of other horrific events take place. 

"Deep Red" was such a smart movie in all aspects. I loved that rather than being a slice and dice movie, it also added some great mystery, and a thought provoking depiction of terror. I thought the way that Marcus found the paintings of the stabbing all over was pretty brilliant, because it was a great clue for him to find, and it was also pretty disturbing. It was also very neat that there was no way of guessing who the killer was. In most films, there is at least a slight idea, but in this one, there are so many twists that there was no way of knowing until the exact revelation. The movie had so many different ways of scaring the audience. Whether it was moving dolls, creepy noises, dead bodies, or horrendous murders, it had them all. I thought that simply all of these plot aspects were things that set the film apart from many others of the time. 

The camera work in the movie was absolutely brilliant. It had a way of moving with the audience, instead of just being in one place. I thought this added to the creepiness of the atmosphere, because it always felt like someone was stalking the characters. I also loved some of the close up shots, because they were very intricately done, and were a big factor of the work being a masterpiece. 

I personally found the cast to be absolutely perfect for the film. David Hemmings was such an outstanding lead as Marcus, because he had a great way of delivering his lines, and had such an awesome sense of how to convey his emotions. I could personally believe that every single thing that happened to him was completely real. Daria Nicolodi was very good as the female lead of the movie Gianna. She did a great job of clashing with Hemmings, because they could both be very stubborn, and she was just enough to set him off. Gabriele Lavia did a pretty awesome job as Carlo, because he could be very witty with his personality, or shift to a certain darkness. I felt that he made himself such an easy person to follow, and the audience grew to love or hate him, even if he was on screen for only twenty minutes. Clara Calamai was pretty stellar as Martha, because she was a seemingly sweet old lady, but she also conveyed a different side to herself. I liked her, because she had a great way of changing herself from time to time, and doing it very realistically. 

The film has had a reputation for being one of the most graphic films of its time, and I could probably vouch for that. There were definitely some gruesome and gory scenes, and they had a brutal nature of sound effects and movements. I thought that the most horrid scene was the hot water scene, because it was so sadistic, and the aftermath was ugly as could be. Even though recent times has way more gore, this one had a balance that made things much more realistic, which made a more terrifying feeling in my opinion. 

The movie's ending was absolutely brilliant, because there was a certain person that was thought to be the killer, but the facts don't add up, so Marcus looks around more. When he actually finds the culprit, the viewer's mind is blown, because it would've never occurred in their mind that this person could do this. I personally found this to be one of the most shocking and awesome endings in history, because it made my head turn. 

"Deep Red" is definitely a movie that every fan of cinema should check out. It is shocking, interesting, and one of the technically best movies of all time. Dario Argento really out did himself with this, and once again proved that Italian horror is the best horror. 

Sunday, April 5, 2015

RIP Tom Towles

I just saw news that horror actor Tom Towles has passed away at age 65. I just recently reviewed his version of "Night of the Living Dead" two days ago, and I'm very upset at the coincidence. I wish all of my condolences to his family and friends, and all of the grieving fans. 

The Driller Killer


"The Driller Killer" was an infamous B-Movie from 1979. It was controversial at its time for its graphic and morbid violence, and was originally cut down greatly from its original form. In recent times, an unrated version has come out, and viewers got to relive the horrors that plagued society for decades. While the movie has become a sort of an obscurity with audiences, it was met with positive reviews by critics, and definitely still has some fan base. I personally loved the movie, for its crazy scenes, good acting(by the majority of the cast), and it's ruthless portrayal of urban life. 

The movie begins in a church, where two men are worshipping. One of the men named Reno approaches the other, and the other man has Reno's name and phone number on paper. Reno doesn't know what do at this point, and things become even weirder as the man grabs his hand. Reno then runs out of the church with his girlfriend Carol, and they take a ride in a limo to a club. After a night of punk music and partying, the couple goes to their apartment that they share with Pamela; Carol's other lover. Reno becomes very angry when everyone wakes up in the morning, as he looks at the multitude of money he owes in bills. I thought this beginning was all very well done, because it gave mild suspense, and some awesome character development. 

The trio begins to figure out that this financial trouble is going to put them on the streets, and they need to do something quick. Reno is an artist, and he is currently working on his best work, which at this point is the big defining piece of their standard of living. He tries to get a loan from his art dealer, but is denied, so he has to be done even faster. Tensions start to grow in his life with these troubles, and a growing anger at his new punk rocker neighbors. All of this leads for the once laid back man to become, "The Driller Killer."

The movie was pretty great, because it took liberties at its time to be one of the most disgusting and shocking film up to that point. It showed a brutal and merciless look at the madness of Reno, which included some really wild murder scenes, and a lot of gore. I was honestly not expecting this at all, being the movie was made in 1979, and the surprise was very pleasant. As long as you watch the unrated cut, then you are guaranteed for one of the most craziest films of the decade. 

Another thing that was shown very well was a sad and dark look at urban life. The movie offered themes of the rough downtown area like gangs, drugs, the homeless, etc, and didn't hold back on making it harsh. One of the saddest scenes to watch is when a homeless man is sleeping on the sidewalk, and he pukes in his own sleep. I thought that what this overall theme did was get the viewer more emotionally prepared for the horrible nature of what happens in the latter half of the film. 

The motives for Reno becoming a killer were never truly explored, as it comes up between his anger between a band and his bills(without killing the band or the landlord). What I hypothesize is that all of these pressures in his life drove him to complete insanity, and he didn't care about who he killed, nor did he fully process what he was actually doing. I thought this was a pretty haunting idea, because in the beginning, Reno seemed rough around the edges, but never would I have seen him to be a murderer. 

The movie's cast was good for the most part, as it showed a lot of raw emotion.  Abel Ferrara was amazing in the lead role Reno, because he had a very rough way about him. His scenes of insane meltdowns were pretty terrifying, and his portrayal as a murderer was so real, that I would keep an eye on him in real life. Carolyn Marz was good as Carol, because she didn't overplay or underplay the role of Reno's girlfriend. There were some awesome scenes of her just flipping out, and I was extremely convinced of her feelings. I really didn't like Baybi Day as Pamela, because she was really annoying, and while I understood that she was trying to act like a person that was quite fried out from drugs, it wasn't a good job by her, and she was my least favorite cast member for sure.  Harry Schultz II was good as Dalton, because he had a very jerky way about him, which was completely necessary for the character that possibly pushed Reno over the edge. 

One of the main parts of the movie was punk music, being Reno's neighbor was a band called the Roosters. While the singers were notoriously(and hilariously) bad, I found the songs to actually be somewhat catchy. Once again, I thought that the punk style brought a lot more realism to the condition of this time, and it was a very nice addition. 

The film's ending was quite shocking, and I loved how as a surprise event happened, all of the dialogue and such were to a black screen. This made a much more haunting feel for me, because the viewer never saw what truly happened.  This was the perfect ending of the movie, rather than some cheesy conclusion, and I thought it was a very mature decision from the filmmakers. 

The only thing that could've been changed was the occasional slow pacing. It didn't bother me a whole bunch, because I found the surrounding plot lines interesting, but some viewers may be turned off by it. 

"The Driller Killer" is definitely an important film for all horror fans to watch. It was a brutal, realistic, and controversial movie that was much more important to its time than people realize. While it wasn't a high caliber masterpiece like "The Shining," it was definitely an awesome movie, and I recommend it highly. 

Friday, April 3, 2015

Night of the Living Dead(1990)


The movie began identically to the 1968 version, with siblings Barbara and Johnnie. The two are going to a cemetery to visit their mother, and Johnnie torments Barbara with jokes. While with the grave, the family sees a mysterious old man coming at them. This man, and another that suddenly appears are zombies. Johnnie is killed while trying to fight it off, but Barbara escapes. She finds an old abandoned house, and is attacked by multiple other zombies. To her luck, a man named Ben and her are able to fight them off. Personally, I loved how the intro was executed, because it had the same shock as the original, and was very well done.  

The rest of the movie showcases the battle that Ben, Barbara, Tom, Judy, and the Cooper family have with the zombies. In order to be successful, they have to learn to put their angers toward each other aside, and become a team. None of them know their fate, and this leaves the audience on the edge of their seats right up until the end. 

The first thing that I absolutely loved about this movie was the makeup by director Tom Savini. The zombies looked great, with realistic blood and prosthetics. I think that this was a huge improvement from the original, because rather than looking just like drunk guys, the zombies were pretty scary and neat. Savini had said before that he involved himself in this because he had never gotten to do the original, and he definitely did great justice in his dream.

The cast was all very awesome, and while some people were hard to like because of the original, some were also actually better. To start things off, Patricia Tallman was far better in the role of Barbara than Judith O'Dea. My reasoning for this is that rather than being the wimpy, annoying, stereotype of a woman, Tallman turned the character into a Sarah Connor of sorts, and she kicked so much butt. She was also much more likable than the other characters, because she helped other people; rather than just helping herself. Tony Todd was pretty great as Ben, and I have such a hard time of putting him and Ariane Jones up against each other that I will call them equal. I thought that the both of them were very tough guys in the role, but I loved how Todd gave a little bit more of a dark insanity in the end. Tom Towles was nowhere near Karl Hardman in the role of Harry Cooper. In the original, the character was definitely a jerk, but there was a subtlety to the character that made the character watchable. In the remake, Towles overplayed the character way too much, and turned him into a spazzy monster. While this worked out in the ending, he really annoyed me for the majority of the film.  I thought that McKee Anderson was a huge improvement in the remake for the character of Helen Cooper. My reason for believing this was that she added a lot more life to the character, instead of the bystander of the original. Even though the character of Karen Cooper really doesn't have any speaking lines, she was probably the most iconic character of the original. In the remake, her name was changed to Sarah, and she was not nearly as scary. Heather Mazur had better makeup effects in her favor, but she lacked the same demonic nature of Kyra Schon. I really liked William Butler as Tom in this film, because was much more likable, and a more prominent role too. Katie Finneran was also better as Judy in this one, because she had much depth to her acting. Finally, Bill Moseley as Johnnie was pretty awesome, because he was very satirical and creepy, even though he was only in the movie for about a minute. 

While this version lacks the graininess and black and white aspects, I felt that their was much more intensity and scary moments. This was because the zombies were much more threatening as the villains, and there was much more tension between the leads. I think that this was a good move, because even though the original was revolutionary with its content, this was a refreshing addition for the new times. 

The movie's ending was completely different than the original, and I thought this was a great move. The 1968 version probably has one my favorite conclusions ever, because of its shocking and merciless nature. This changed very much, because even though there was still a definite darkness and brutal nature, things weren't completely sad. One surprise character survived, and showed that they were strong enough to make it. Also in this sequence, a very sad message is portrayed when the viewer is shown zombies being lynched and tortured as the humans laugh and enjoy it. Even though the monsters definitely needed to be disposed of, they deserved some dignity because it wasn't their fault that they were this way. I was particularly disturbed by this, because it seemed like a social statement of not stooping to an equal or lower level as someone that has hurt you or your loved ones. The film then ended very respectfully, with the same grainy and psychedelic style of credits. I loved the nostalgia of this, because it showed that the filmmakers really had a love for the movie. 

Overall, I thought this was the best remake that has ever been made. Many critics and horror fans called it unnecessary, but I think it was a great shining moment of the genre. The original film has been in my top 5 for a very long time, so I was very skeptical on how much I would like this. In the end, it showed me how much this was needed. I love the original for what it was, but a modern remix was a great idea, because there were so many more resources to be used. In addition to that, I felt that many flaws of the original were even improved on. So definitely check out this movie before jumping on the bandwagon that it is dumb, because you will be very surprised, and not disappointed at all. 



After "Jaws" blew the minds of audiences in 1975, the movie business jumped right on to the idea of knockoffs for extra cash. Whether it was "Orca" or one of the other titles, a lot of them got a lukewarm reception. The first one to truly be loved by critics and audiences alike was the 1978 classic "Piranha." Directed by Joe Dante, and produced by legend Roger Corman, the movie has become one of the all time cult classics. I personally liked the film a lot, because of its cool story, great gore, and awesome cast. 

The movie began with a couple named David and Barbara wandering while on vacation. They find a nice body if water, and decide to go for a swim. While doing this, they begin to feel bites. At first it is thought to be a prank, but they end up being killed by piranhas. I honestly laughed really hard at this scene, because it really showed the beginning of the "Jaws" spoofing. I thought it was a very fun intro, and it worked super well. 

The movie goes forward in time as Maggie and Paul look for the two of them. The two of them find the body of water, and decide to empty it to see if their friends are in it. While trying to do this, a man panic and attacks them. Regardless, they still get the job done, and find a skeleton. As this goes on, the crazy man from before hi-jacks their jeep, and crashes it. With the fact that this man was injured badly, the two try to find some medical help for him by journeying through the area. What they never expected was what lied in the water, and the fate that they had in the near future. 

One of the great things about this movie was its tone in direction by Joe Dante. There was a good balance between darkness, and lighthearted scenes, and it kept the viewer from boredom. Even in the most gruesome scenes, there was still a little feeling of spoofiness, so even though it is pretty gross, it doesn't make one feel horrible. I thought that Dante did this very well, as he has in other films like "The Howling," and "Gremlins."

The actual piranha attacks were surprisingly well done for the B-Movie budget. Almost a copy of the "Jaws" kills, there were multiple graphic scenes of mauling by the fish, and blood filled the water. I liked this a lot, because it was giving the horror lover their gore without being unrealistically over the top. The only complaint I could make is that after seeing a couple of the kills, then you've basically seen all of them in one form. In other words, I just wish their was some more original kills that could've shocked the audience more. 

In the aspect of acting, the movie was pretty good. There were likable members in the cast, and they gave great B-Movie cheesiness in their performances. Bradford Dillman and Heather Menzies both did very well as Paul and Maggie, because they had a great connection with each other, and they were also able to do well as individuals. It was nice to see Barbara Steele in the movie, because she is one of my favorite horror actresses ever. I thought that she gave a very cool performance, and while she wasn't as crazy as usual, she gave a different vibe that really worked. One of my favorite Joe Dante regulars was in the movie, and this was Dick Miller. Miller gave a very funny performance as usual, and served as one of the really likable people throughout the film.

The film's score was mediocre at best, because there were some awesome moments, but others that were terrible. I really liked the music before the attacks, because it was very high pressure, and kind of sounded like "Halloween." It set itself apart from "Jaws," because it didn't steal the subtlety of the latter film, and they made their own thing work. The moments I didn't like we're the mellow acoustic songs, because it gave the film a very cheesy TV-Movie type of feel.  While this aspect didn't "ruin" the film, it definitely did get mildly obnoxious at times. 

The cinematography of the movie was pretty awesome, because much like "Jaws," there were some innovative shots in the water, and they gave a whole different perspective on what was happening. There were sometimes where the camera would come up from under the person, almost like the piranhas were in reality. I thought this gave a cool first-person view from the fish.  One of the overall coolest frames was when a piranha attacked one of the scuba divers. In this scene, the camera looked straight at the person's face, and the camera got closer and closer to simulate the killer fish. It was a very effective moment in my opinion, and helped the film be more technically masterful. 

About 20 minutes until the end of the movie, things become insane! The piranhas go wild, and eat every person that they can get a hold of. This is a bloody, intense, and awesome scene, and it caught me by surprise. On the other side of the story, Paul and Maggie are trying to escape, and they find an abandoned building. Paul decides to go into the water, and sneak through the bottom entrance. The ending that came in the near future had me quite shocked, and I liked it a lot for its over the top nature.

"Piranha" was a very fun, shocking, and well made movie of the 1970's. It had all of the elements needed for a horror movie, and I definitely recommend it to fans of the genre. The film was definitely better than Dante's other classic "The Howling," and it is much easier to follow. Definitely give this film a watch, because you will not be disappointed.  

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Introducing Horror to Family

Today I felt in the mood to show my brothers a good horror movie. I have shown one of them "Nightmare on Elm Street," "Texas Chainsaw Massacre," and "Alien" before, but the other is too young for any of those. I decided to find something tame to start him off, and I picked the 1958 classic "Horror of Dracula." I hope that on this day, he will start to get a growing appreciation for the genre, because it will be really fun. 

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Silence of the Lambs


"If Catherine lives, will the lambs stop screaming?"- Hannibal Lecter...

In 1991, cinema history was changed forever with a film so disturbing, and so iconic that the horror genre got a whole different mold, and the name Hannibal Lecter became a household name. "Silence of the Lambs" is a movie based off the 1988 novel of the same name.  It has been lauded by both critics and audiences since right after its release, and is still known as one of the best movies ever. I personally love it too, for its unique portrayal of scares, it's realism, and the amazing cast. 

The movie begins at a training camp for the FBI, and we see Clarice Starling running in the woods. She is then brought aside by her leader, and is told that she has her first assignment; an interview with Hannibal Lecter. According to Crawford, Hannibal is a former psychiatrist that was out away in the asylum because of his cannibalism and insanity. The reason they need Clarice to try to talk to him is that he won't cooperate with anyone else. During the interview, Clarice begins to ask Hannibal about Buffalo Bill; a serial killer that takes the skin off of his female victims. He doesn't exactly take this well, and sends her off without letting her do the test she needed. The one thing that he does do to help is give her a lead to one of his old patients so she can talk to her. This beginning was quite brilliant, because the viewer really gets to know the characters somewhat, and it was very suspenseful. 

On the journey to find Moffatt, Clarice goes to an old storage facility that is allegedly hers. In this place, many strange objects are found, including mannequins, and an abandoned car. Much to her surprise, this person is fake, and the garage was rented by Hannibal. This was revealed when a head of a man in heavy makeup is seen. Hannibal tells her that this man was a patient of his, and a cross dresser. Benjamin had been murdered, but not by Hannibal. Lecter then offers a psychological examination of Buffalo Bill, on the condition that Clarice gets her moved. Times get desperate as more another murder took place, and they grant the offer to Hannibal. In the rest of the movie, the journey to catch Buffalo Bill heightens, as he strikes again with a woman. Will they be able to save her? Or will it be too late. 

"Silence of the Lambs" has a lot of amazing things about it, but the most striking quality in its favor was how gritty and realistic it was.  Every scene had this, and it made me feel like I was actually there. This worked very well, because it made me more engaged, and I cared for the characters more. One of the scenes(without giving away spoilers to a more important scene) that show this well is the autopsy. In it, you can almost smell the dead body because of how bad it reeked for the officers, and you can feel the pain and anguish that Clarice goes through as she analyzes what happened. The way that these scenes played with the sense was just brilliant, because it gave a whole dimension of viewing, and is why the movie is still considered one of the best ever. 

The next amazing part of the film(that won two Oscars) was the casting. To begin with, Jodie Foster gave a very strong and likable performance as Clarice. Watching her, you could tell that she had at least some connection to the character, because her emotions were on point, and she molded into a whole different person. She was a perfect person too, because she is tougher in real life, and that was the absolute essential for the character. Her Oscar was definitely deserved, because you could tell that she put every drop of sweat, blood, and tears into the portrayal. The other Academy Award winner was Anthony Hopkins as Hannibal. Hopkins did such a perfect job, because he really let himself become the psychopath, and he had the ability of going from a kind man to a complete monster. His delivery of lines was absolutely flawless too, as he gave a feeling of brilliance in every word. The last reason why he was awesome as the deathly look he could give with his eyes, because it was extremely terrifying, and has become a staple to the film's possibility since. One of the most underrated actors in the film for me was Ted Levine as Buffalo Bill. His performance as the killer was the scariest of the film, because he had such a mocking way about him to torture the souls of his victim. It was really neat how you could see Levine convey the pain that Bill had from his past abuse from others, especially in the scene where his dog "Precious" was injured. He really showed that this elevated the insanity even more, and it was heartbreaking to watch. Scott Glenn was pretty good in the role of Crawford, because he made sure that he gave a likable feel to the character, yet could also be stern too. I thought that Brooke Smith was pretty great as Catherine, because even though she was the victim, Smith made it hard to feel sympathy for her, because of her horrible personality. I thought this was a smart twist to the typical storyline, because even though we want her to live, no one truly loves the character. 

 Surprisingly, this film was barely violent at all(except two scenes with blood).  Regardless, this movie has different ways of being scary. The first is a true suspense of not knowing what is going to happen. Right up until the end, there is the potential of danger in every character's life, and it really does get freaky. The next thing is just simply the subject matter. Even though none of these things are shown on screen, the ideas of cannibalism, skinning, and insanity give a much tenser feel, and almost a smidgen of disgust. This wasn't my first viewing of the movie, and honestly it gets more intense every time. 

The climax was pretty amazing in my opinion, as time grew shorter for saving Catherine. Things become very high-octane, and the final result is not expectable at all. The best part of the last twenty minutes is the night-vision goggle scene, which like the closet part in "Halloween" has gone down in history as one of the best horror moments ever. The ending itself was shocking in its own way too, because it leaves the viewer with a very dark foreshadowing of the future. I thought that while it was simple, it was 100% appropriate for the storyline. 

Overall, "Silence of the Lambs" is one of the best movies I've ever seen. It is extremely intense, well acted, and masterfully made. It deserved every Oscar it got, and maybe even deserved more. Every fan of cinema needs to see this film, because it is one of the greatest installments in the psychological horror genre.