Tuesday, September 17, 2013

The Omen (1976)

This review is for Stacie Ponder's Final Girl Film Club!

Now this is one of the classics! Right up there with stuff like The Exorcist, and Rosemary's Baby, The Omen is a famous and well-regarded horror film about the Damien, a child who 'isn't all he seems'.

The Omen begins on June 6th, 6:00, in Rome, where the baby son of government man Robert Thorn (Gregory Peck) has died. TO avoid his wife's despair, Thorn is offered another baby, who has no other relations, to pass off as his son. Thorn's wife Cathy (Lee Remick) is one the wiser, and they name the baby Damien.

On Damien's 5th birthday, strange things start happening. A nanny happily hangs herself in front of Damien, and a priest, Father Brennan (Patrick Troughton) tries to warn Robert that his son is the antichrist, but isn't believed. All the while, a photograher Keith Jennings (David Warner) has unwittingly stumbled upon something strange, and starts investigating the whole matter, and in the process, endangers his own life.

Things start coming to a head, as Father Brennan is killed mysteriously, and prophetic statements he made to the skepical Robert come true, and both Robert and Keith go to Italy to find out the terrifying truth about Damien Thorn...

The Omen is slow-burn horror done right! Not perfectly right, however. For the first hour, not much has happened. The film is never boring up until that point, it just feels drawn out. As for the finale, it's perfect! A great ending!

The plot is very well-written, though it really only gets properly going after an hour into the film, when Father Brennan has died and Keith has gotten in contact with Robert.

Onto the acting, Gregory Peck is great, David Warner is fine, and Lee Remick is very good. Harvey Spencer Stephens, who plays Damien, is great! His evil stares and smiles are just perfect. The best thing about him is that he doesn't overtly look evil, but rather like any other child, unlike a 'certain other film' bearing the same title as this.

Billie Whitelaw is great as Miss Baylock, the main onscreen villain (not counting Damien, considering he's an infant and all, who doesn't actually do anything), though her final scene would've been a lot better if she wasn't wearing non-threatening bright green pyjamas!

As for Patrick Troughton, many Americans know him only as 'that guy who gets impaled in a goofy way in The Omen', however as an Australian, I of course know him well from Doctor Who! He's fine as Father Brennan, though not in the movie much.

The effects are not so good. During the pole impalement, the pole is obviously behind Patrick Troughton, not in him, and the decapitation effect late in the film is terrible! It's so fake, it's hilarious! That doesn't mean the death scenes aren't memorable though. The scene with the nanny hanging herself, and Father Brennan's death are both excellent scenes, and despite the effects, the decapitation scene is still memorable too.

The music is one of the best, if not the best thing about The Omen. Ave Satani is a great, eerie orchestral theme! The rest of the score is very good too.

In closing, The Omen is definitely one of the great horror movies of its era, and of all time, and I absolutely can't recommend it enough!


Friday, September 13, 2013

The end of The Legacy: His Name Was Jason for another year!

And thus closes this year's Legacy blogathon. I definitely had fun doing it again this year, and I sure hope everyone else participating did too! Special thanks to Jenny Krueger of Memoirs of a Scream Queen for starting this blogathon!

If you're interested in reading the Friday the 13th posts by the blogathon's other participants, here are the links!

1. Jenny Krueger  5. HalloweenOverkill  9. Joseph pieri  
2. Not This Time, Nayland Smith  6. Life Between Frames  10. Real Queen of Horror  
3. Jeremy  7. Holly's Horrorland  

4. Living Dead Girl Nicole  8. Something wicKED this way comes...  

Here's hoping same time next year on this dark date! Happy Friday the 13th! Unpleasant dreams!...

Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan (1989)

The 80's? New York? A guy in a hockey mask? It's Casey Jones' darkest reboot ever! Hey, toxic waste in the sewers is involved, so this coud be in canon with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles!...

Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan is considered by most to be one of the worst entries in the series, and for good reason!

F13 Part VIII is about a group of college graduates going on a cruise heading to New York, and unbeknownst to them, unstoppable zombie serial killer Jason Voorhees was brought back to life the night before by an anchor breaking an underwater electrical cable next to his waterlogged corpse. As the cruise ship Lazarus (HAHAHAHAHAHHAHA! Real subtle, guys!) sets out, demure girl Ronnie (Jensen Daggett) starts seeing mysterious psychic visions of young Jason, while the real thing sneaks on board.

As Jason starts to covertly kill off the cruisegoers, a big storm starts brewing, and soon, there's only a handful of survivors left, and soon enough (read-an hour), Jason is all set to paint the Big Apple red!...

Ok, where do I star with this film! How about the fact that almost none of it is in New York!

Friday the 13th Part VIII spends an hour on the boat, and while the boat does serve a fine and somewhat refreshing change from the Crystal Lake forests, it's ludicrous that a film called Jason Takes Manhattan spends only half-an-hour in the big apple! And even when the characters do reach New York, it's just a few sound stages in Vancouver, with a tiny, tiny portion actually filmed in NY.
I really don't understand why with a FIVE MILLION dollar budget, the film's makers weren't able to move the cast and crew a few states over to New York. On five million dollars, they couldn't muster up some death effects period, let alone good ones? The film is mostly talking! It cost FIVE MILLION FUCKING DOLLARS to film a few dull characters talk on a ship for 96 goddamn minutes?! Grrrrr!... I can only imagine that the budget was used almost entirely for coke. Hey, it was the 80's, after all. And how else could you get an ending like this movie's without a crew coked out of their minds.

The gore is a total DISAPPOINTMENT! It's pathetic! The film is full of either sillhouette kills, or totally offscreen deaths! There's almost no blood at all! The only good deaths were the one where Jason grabs steaming hot sauna stones and rams them into a guy's chest, and Julius' death scene. Julius the boxer punches the crap out of Jason (to no real effect, which is hardly surprising, given he keeps punching Jason's mask! Way to break your fingers, dude!), and when he's spent, Jason throws a single punch, which decapitates Julius!

There's one particularly awful effect when the boat's captain gets his throat slit. For one, you can tell the knife doesn't actually touch his neck, two, no blood comes out of his slit throat, and three, the slit mark is obviously already on his neck before he gets his throat cut!

Jason looks cool, albeit sloppy, like he's Swamp Thing or something, but when the mask comes off...*sigh*. The effects for his face aren't good in the slightest, especially compared to previous movies in the series. It's terrible! As for kid Jason in flashbacks or hallucinations, the filmmakers sometimes remembered that he was meant to be deformed, but forgot other times. Jason is also strangely vocal in this film, with loud grunts, heavy breathing, and ethereal evil cackling.

For the first hour, the use of Jason is partially done well, and the film is almost tense in a few places. Only partially done well, because he really doesn't appear all that much. Though thankfully we don't only see his feet for 90 minutes, like in previous entries!

The plot is pretty nothing. There's almost something with Rennie's visions, but the whole movie is just Jason stalking and slashing.

The characters are quite possibly the blandest in the whole series (I say 'possibly', because I haven't seen every film in the series, namely the supposed worst, A New Beginning). In previous F13 entries, the characters had no big epic story arc or anything, but their dialogue and actions were usually still well-written enough for them to be not one-note. But in Part VIII, the dialogue is boring, the characters are largely dull and zero-note! I kinda liked the rocker chick, and I would have liked it if she was the final girl. It'd be a change from the series norm! Unfortunately she's only in the film for two minutes before Jason beats her to death with her guitar.

The acting is merely ok. There's not really any bad performances, but nothing special either. Peter Mark Richmond is fun as the requisite massive asshole, and had a somewhat satisfying death. Kelly Hu is just meh in her first ever movie role, though that's the film's fault, not hers.

As for the soundtrack, it's ok. There are also a few bits of rock songs here and there, and they're ok. Listenable, but nothing I'd ever go out of my way to hear.

The best thing about the movie is of course...Toby the dog!!!...Ok, it's Jason, but the dog is adorable enough to come in a close second. I can totally understand why Kane Hodder didn't want to have Jason kill the dog, even if I do make 'Jason-card carrying member of PETA' jokes whenever I watch the movie.

He isn't exactly in it a whole lot, but the sopping mess that is Jason is played finely once again by Kane Hodder! (It's funny that many consider Hodder to be the best Jason, but when people mention their favourite F13 films, it's usually not any of Hodder's entries!). He's pretty badass, and I love the scenes where he 1) Punches a mirror out, 2) Jumps straight through a glass door, and 3) When he kicks a bunch of punks' boom-box straight in the air. Granted, what follows that part is stupid! The angry teen punks whip out their weapons at Jason, and he turns around, flips his mask up, and the scared punks run off. That's it! Jason just walks away after that!

Onto the ending, probably the most notorious part of this movie. What happens you say? Well, survivors Rennie and Sean are in the sewers, running from Jason, and they bump into a maintanence worker, who informs the two that they have to get out of the sewers before midnight, when the New York sewers flood with toxic waste!...the fuck?!... After Jason offs the worker, Rennie and Sean run away and make it to a ladder. With a stuck entrance, and Jason grabbing Rennie's ankle, it seems like all is lost, but then a mass of toxic waste comes flooding down the sewer corridors and hits Jason. He melts, then as the statue of liberty is struck by lightning...Jason turns into a little boy, complete with boxer shorts...the fucking fuck?!...Then Rennie and Sean leave the sewers, and even though their dog was lost miles away, it finds them immediately after they leave! Also, the sun starts rising, even though it's midnight.

Then there's Jason's teleportation powers! At several points in the movie, characters run directly away from Jason, only to immediately run straight into him! It's so ridiculous and absurd that is has to be seen to be believed! Since when could Jason teleport? Did he become a magician, or learn from a clan of ninja sorcerers while dead underwater in-between this and Part VII?! Also, Rennie also has random psychic powers that make her see boy Jason every now and then, for some unexplained reason.

Strangely enough, Jason manages to tail the survivors, who are sailing to New York on a lifeboat, and when they reach the city, he not only finds them, but tracks exclusively them down! He only kills a couple of street thugs about to rape Rennie, and a cop helping the survivors. Aside from them, Jason only ever pushes people out of his way as he chases down Rennie and Sean. And of course, the film is full of 'realistic' character reactions, what with New Yorkers being completely emotionless and uncaring about two people being chased by a maniac with a machete!

There are also a few other nonsensical things. For one, if this big storm has been definitively forecast, why is a graduation cruise being taken?! Also, there are tons of people seen on the Lazarus the first time we see it, and in the boxing scene, but they all seem to vanish, and we're just left with a skeleton cast. Also, no one ever notices the absence of their friends, or hear the shrieks and shattering glass of the kills!

The film is very well shot, for the most part. There is a terrible bit of direction at one point though. When Kelly Hu runs into a disco room, the camera shifts around like crazy! I get that a disco room would be a tad disorienting, but not to this damn point!

For the first hour, the film is never boring, but once the remaining survivors leave the boat and get to New York, the pace slows down like crazy! It was so boring!

In closing, I don't recommend Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan at all! While it's largely not boring, it's hardly a good movie by any means!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

The Legacy: His Name Was Jason-Part Deux-Electric Boogaloo

Sorry, sorry, I couldn't resist that joke!...

It's that time of year again-Friday the 13th is coming up! It really is the best time of the year next to Halloween that I'm able to easily sacrifice virgins and bathe in their blood.

Jenny Krueger of Memoirs of a Scream Queen is one again hosting The Legacy: His Name Was Jason, where the objective is to make a post relating somehow to the Friday the 13th movie series. Last year, I did a triple-review of Friday the 13th Parts II to IV. I can't believe it was only a year ago!...No, really, I can't at all! It feels like it was at least two! Trippy as hell!

Since I only own one other Friday the 13th movie, it'll be a smaller post than last year's, but that's no matter.

So, come back on Friday the 13th (or 12th, or 14th, depending on time zones) to see me reviewing the so-called 'worst' movie in the franchise-Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan!...

Monday, September 9, 2013

Liquid Sky (1982)

I try to find as many odd films as I can. If there's one thing I enjoy, it's films about Santa becoming the Macedonian God and destroying the earth, Greek Molly Ringwald and her incestuous mother constantly talking to the audience as they torture a detective, a young girl with magical earrings being terrorized by a vampire who turns out to be her dad, or Robocop fighting Japanese Freddy Krueger while a ninja fights hulk zombies with exploding footprints, etc.

And that's exactly what I heard 1982 punk subculture movie Liquid Sky was, with its plot of aliens who disintegrate people having sex in order to feed on their ogasms.

LS focuses on fashion model Margaret (Anne Carlisle), and her steadily worsening life (in due part to rapists, and to aliens), and Johann (Otto von Wernherr), a German scientist investigating the recently-landed aliens.

As more and more people die around Margaret, she starts to lose it, and the investigative Johann may be the next one in danger...

Liquid Sky is a kinda-kooky film, with a nifty portayal of the 80's punk/new wave* subculture (Well, nifty minus the drug pushers and addicts, and the rapists)

*I guess. I really don't know what New Wave is. Does it involve wearing tons of make-up and silly hats?  *shrugs shoulders* I've read in places that Liquid Sky portays New-Wave, so I gues I'll just take their word for it for now.

With its strange synthesizer scoring, the whole film is an assualt on the ears, but in a good way. There isn't much music, but that isn't to say that the movie is sparse of it, as what there is is repeated a LOT! Thankfully not enough to be annoying, though.

The acting is mostly fine. Anne Carlisle is very good in her dual role of Margaret and Jimmy. Carslisle looks great as Jimmy. She actually looks like a convincing guy in the role! Her voice as Jimmy though? It sounded like a woman with a bad smoker's voice! Carlisle also delivers a cool monologue near the end.

I also definitely liked Paula E. Sheppard as Adrian!

The direction is good, and the editing is all over the place in parts, to disorienting effect, which I think is the intent.

The make-up and costuming is all great stuff! Partly in the respect that most of it looks hilarious! But its still good, regardless. As for the aliens, they never appear on camera-we just see their 2001: A Space Odyssey vision.

Liquid Sky is what Rock 'n' Roll Cowboys should have been! That was a movie focusing on the rock scene, with odball bizarro stuff going on (An insane psycho fundamentalist from the apocalyptic future, along with a horde of yellow-clad Hazmat guys with spiky musical synthesizer balls that make people go crazy, tries to destroy 'sinful' rock music in order to save the future), but in that movie, nothing happened in the first hour, then EVERYTHING happened in the last half-hour, and it was a MESS! Liquid Sky may be a slow-moving movie, but it's never boring, or overstuffed, and I didn't mind too much that the aliens aren't in it much.

In closing, I recommend Liquid Sky. It may not be for everybody, but I found it a decent enough watch! And hey, it's not Begotten, so I'll always give it that!...