Archive for Debut Week

L’uccello dalle piume di cristallo (1970)

Posted in Debut Week, Horror Review with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 7, 2010 by Pass the Popcorn!

Director: Dario Argento

Writers: Dario Argento

Fredric Brown

Tagline: A stunning portrait in psycho-terror!

Plot: A writer is stalked by a serial killer after witnessing a murder attempt on one woman’s life.

Cast: Tony Musante – Sam Dalmas

Suzy Kendall – Julia

Enrico Maria Salerno – Inspector Morosini

Eva Renzi – Monica Ranieri

Umberto Raho – Alberto Ranieri

Review:

L’uccelo dalle piume di cristallo (or The Bird with the Crystal Plummage as it’s translated in English) is the directing debut of one of the most interesting Horror directors, Dario Argento. It is also the first part of his “animal trilogy” (the other 2 movies are Il Gatto a Nove Code (1971) – The Cat o’ Nine Tails and 4 Mosche di Velluto Grigio (1971) – The Four Velvet Flies). Even very early in his carrier Argento showed a natural talent for directing horror movies so The Bird with the Crystal Plumage didn’t disappoint me at all.

The movie’s plot is a simple “Argentian” story. It is about a man who witnesses a murder attempt and now is being stalked by a serial killer. Actually, many elements you see during this movie are also present in Argento’s later masterpiece, Profondo Rosso. In both movies the protagonist is an artist, who is from (or has been to) America, who witnessed a murder/murder attempt and is trying to recall clues from his memory, in both movies there is a serial killer involved in the whole story and most important of all, the twist at the end of both movies is very similar. So if you watched any of those two first, you could find the second one to be a little “predictable”. But don’t let that back you off! Both Profondo Rosso and The Bird with the Crystal Plumage are very amusing experiences you should check out furthermore if you haven’t already.

So besides some elements I have seen before, Argento’s directing debut offers much more. First of all, it has a very decent and slightly depressive atmosphere which was accomplished by nice luminance and amazing camera angles. Some of the best camera angles from the movie were the killer’s point of view (one of Argento’s trademarks) and the point of view of a man falling down the building (which was accomplished by actually throwing the camera down the building :] ).What I particularly liked in The Bird with the Crystal Plumage was some intelligent humor now and then, a nice bonus to the movie’s overall feeling. The kills were also done very well, especially the first murder attempt which was the highlight of the movie. The interesting soundtrack, composed by Ennio Morricone, is worth mentioning too. It excellently fits the 70s Italian horror atmosphere.

Argento put in his first movie many interesting but, unfortunately, undeveloped characters played by amateur actors. Because of this I think the movie could have been even better, if it wasn’t Dario’s directing debut and if he had a bigger budget, due to the fact it had a big potential. So the bad acting and character development might be The Bird with the Crystal Plummage’s biggest flaws. Yeah, I also have to mention some parts of the movie seemed a little unnecessary and pointless (like when our protagonist is being chased by a man with the yellow jacket who is trying to kill him) but that’s not that huge of a deal. The Bird with the Crystal Plumage is far from being a classic but it surely is above average. You should give it a watch if you are interested in horror/thriller movies and especially Dario Argento.

My Rating: 7/10… Argento’s directing debut turned out to be a very good experience.

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The Last House on the Left (1972)

Posted in Debut Week, Horror Review with tags , , , , , , , , , , on June 5, 2010 by Pass the Popcorn!

Director: Wes Craven

Writer: Wes Craven

Ulla Isaksson

Tagline: To avoid fainting, keep repeating “It’s only a movie…It’s only a movie…”

Plot: A pair of teenage girls are headed to a rock concert for one’s birthday. While trying to score marijuana in the city, the girls are kidnapped by a gang of psychotic convicts.

Cast: Sandra Peabody – Mari Collingwood

Lucy Grantham – Phyllis Stone

David Hess – Krug Stillo

Fred J. Lincoln – Fred ‘Weasel’ Podowski

Jeramie Rain – Sadie

Review:

The Debut Week continues and the next movie to be reviewed is Wes Craven’s directing debut, The Last House on the Left. When this movie was released it spawned a lot of controversy because of its brutal and often explicit scenes. Furthermore, Last House on the Left easily gained a cult status over the years due to the fact it literally spawned many more movies with similar thematics. Even today a great number of people consider it to be a genre breaking classic. Despite all the fame that surrounds this movie, I found it to be barely watchable.

The main problem is that Wes Craven made a very simple and naive story with no real character development or whatsoever. The characters are very much one dimensional with stupidly predictable dialogues. Actually, the whole script writing seems a little awkward. Some parts of the movie were really overdone and overreacted like when the bad guys are talking about popular serial killers (I mean, come on…like that is a character development – it was just ridiculous) while the other parts  seemed so naive and childish – for an example;  the scene where those 2 girls meet the bad guys who torture them afterwards. So you may conclude that The Last House on the Left is a very bipolar movie with parts which are either overdone or naive. So this kind of scriptwriting, directing and editing makes the movie very hard (and boring) to watch. Unfortunately, that’s not all of it. In the middle of movie Craven put a “comedy” scene, with 2 cops and a truck full of chickens, which was just awful and painful. I think that could may be the worst scene from any movie I’ve seen lately. Furthermore, the soundtrack is just ridiculous, it’s like it was stolen from a Looney Toons cartoon. I am also disappointed with the acting, I think it could have been at least slightly better because most of it consisted of pure overreacting which was pointless.

The only positive thing about Last House on the Left was the impact it had on horror movie industry. Wes Craven dared to make a step further in filmmaking while adding all those often controversial scenes. Visually, the movie could be considered a several years ahead of its time so I give kudos to Craven for that. I was very surprised to see some scenes in the movie but, unfortunately, they couldn’t change my overall opinion. In conclusion, The Last House on the Left is all about weak scriptwriting, poor directing and editing, awful acting and soundtrack, some nice scenes and a huge “hype” surrounding it. Craven definitely had better days in his carrier.

My Rating: 3/10… Don’t have high hopes for this movie because if you do, you could find yourself to be very disappointed.

Btw, many people say that the remake is much better than the original. That says a lot about Wes Craven’s directing debut.

Night of the Living Dead (1968)

Posted in Debut Week, Horror Review with tags , , , , , , , , , , on June 3, 2010 by Pass the Popcorn!

Director: George A. Romero

Writers: John A. Russo

George A. Romero

Tagline: Pits the dead against the living in a struggle for survival!

Plot: A group of people hide from bloodthirsty zombies in a farmhouse.

Cast: Duane Jones – Ben

Judith O’Dea – Barbra

Karl Hardman – Harry

Marilyn Eastman – Helen

Keith Wayne – Tom

Review:

Now that I am back, after being away for some time, we can finally start with our Debut Week. We start this event with Night of the Living Dead, the directing debut of THE granddaddy of zombie movies, George Andrew Romero. As you may or not know, this was the first movie that turned zombies into flesh eating, slow moving masses as we know them today. Because of this (and many more things) Night of the Living Dead easily became a cult movie in the horror genre over the years. As for myself, I would dare to say this is my favourite movie made by Romero and one of my favourite black and white movies.

Night of the Living Dead was also released in color although I haven’t seen that version yet but, honestly, I don’t think that I will. The black and white colors simply fit the movie’s atmosphere perfectly and I don’t see why change something like that. Besides the tingling and depressive black and white atmosphere based mainly on emotions like helplessness and frustration, the movie offers a simple but effective script writing. The plot resolves around a group of strangers stuck in a farmhouse which is being attacked by zombies (like we haven’t seen that before) but this time is different, it is actually well written. The characters are developed enough (and what I particularly liked is that neither one character is entirely good or entirely bad; all of them have their flaws and virtues which gives the movie a whole new “realistic” dimension – even our main hero, Ben, is capable of hitting a woman and shooting another man) and the dialogues are strong and believable. The movie is also full with strange social commentary, mainly on the topic of racism but according to imdb (and the filmmakers) that was never intended. The social commentary that I have seen was that the human race is its own worst enemy, as seen in many scenes.

Even over 40 years later, Night of the Living Dead still doesn’t fail to scare, disturb or shock its viewers. It is full of parts that jut won’t leave you disinterested or apathetic. Even the movie’s ending is extremely shocking but I won’t spoil it out in case you haven’t seen it yet. The zombie make up is also very good for it’s time and the movie offers one of the most memorable zombies ever, The Cemetery Zombie. And all of this is followed by a surprisingly good soundtrack. Actually, the only flaw in this movie could be the acting which is far from perfect but still more than watchable. All in all, Night of the Living Dead, Romero’s directing debut, is an extremely good, classic and most of all genre breaking horror movie which I highly recommend to everyone.

My Rating: 10/10… An instant favourite and classic! Romero had a pretty strong start in his carrier with this movie.

Btw, this is my 50th review! Thank you all for reading me out regulary! More reviews are coming soon. : )

Debut Week

Posted in Debut Week with tags , on May 17, 2010 by Pass the Popcorn!

Drugsbunny’s Horror Reviews return with another interesting event! After a succesful Nightmare on Elm Street week, I’m planing to do a Debut Week. That means my several next posts will be reviews of directing debuts made by cult horror directors. I think you are all intersted in how their first movies looked like so check me out daily in the next few day!

Bye..for now!