Archive for Donald Pleasence

Phenomena (1985)

Posted in Horror Review with tags , , , , , , , , , on March 24, 2010 by Pass the Popcorn!

Director: Dario Argento

Writer: Dario Argento

Franco Ferrini

Tagline: Jennifer Has A Few Million Close Friends. She’s Going To Need Them All.

Plot: A young girl, with an amazing ability to communicate with insects, is transferred to an exclusive Swiss boarding school, where her unusual capability might help solve a string of murders.

Cast: Jennifer Connelly – Jennifer Corvino

Daria Nicolodi – Frau Brückner

Dalila Di Lazzaro – Headmistress

Patrick Bauchau – Inspector Rudolf Geiger

Donald Pleasence – Professor John McGregor

Review (spoilers):

I must admit I haven’t seen all Dario Argento’s movies (far from that) but some of his movies (like Profondo Rosso & Suspiria) left me simply breathless. They are genuine masterpieces. I wish I could have said that about Phenomena too. What I love most about Argento is that you don’t know what to expect of his movies, you just can’t predict the direction in which will they go. This wasn’t the case with Phenomena, because while I was watching it I wasn’t able to shake this feeling that I already seen all of it somewhere before. It was full of elements that can also be seen in Suspiria (the luminance at some parts),  Nightmare On Elm Street (the concept with troubled sleep and doctors on the operating table) & Carrie (the troubled girl with supernatural powers).  In addition to that, I haven’t found the idea of communicating with bugs to be thrilling at all. Those communications occur only 3 or 4 times during the movie and I felt like they are being used in such a wrong way. It seemed their purpose was to be used as a Deus ex machina. I was expecting that the ability of communication with bugs would move the plot around. Instead, I felt like that ability was part of some sub plot just waiting to be exposed in a grand finale at the end of the movie, and it was.  As you may conclude, the whole script writing could have been a little better.

However, don’t get the wrong idea. Phenomena is far from being a bad movie….or from being a good movie. It’s just average. The best thing in this movie was the atmosphere at some time. It was dark and even depressive from time to time….Only to be eventually ruined by a horrible soundtrack. I forgot to mention that before. The soundtrack of Phenomena is simply awful, I just combine Argento with heavy metal bands (like Iron Maiden & Motorhead) whose songs are played really too loud. Apparently there is a movie cut in which the heavy metal soundtracks are deleted. So if you are going to watch Phenomena try looking for that cut (it’s called Creepers).  Now that I’m speaking again about the bad aspects  of this movie, I just have to mention that monkey. Yes, Phenomena has a monkey in it which purpose is also being a Deus ex machina but I won’t spoil that part, al though it was…ridiculous.

Now I really have to say something good about this movie : ). It isn’t bad at all if you like watching slashers with some unnatural parts in them since the murders in Phenomena were done really good. I also liked the gore in some scenes. However, that wasn’t enough to entertain a consumer like me, just not my cup of tea. Apart from all that, I have to mention that the script isn’t a complete failure, there even were some twist that you might find interesting.

To conlude everything I must say that Phenomena is a movie you should definitely give a try, I’m not saying it’s worth it but all in all it’s an experience you won’t soon forget, despite I found it to be pretty bad.

My Rating: 5/10… I was really expecting a little more from Dario Argento.

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Halloween II (1981)

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

Director: Rick Rosenthal

Writers: John Carpenter (writer)

Debra Hill (writer)

Tagline: More Of The Night He Came Home

Plot: Laurie Strode is rushed to the hospital, while Sheriff Brackett and Dr. Loomis hunt the streets for Michael Myers, who has found Laurie at the Haddonfield Hospital.

Cast: Jamie Lee Curtis – Laurie Strode

Donald Pleasence – Dr. Sam Loomis

Charles Cyphers – Sheriff Leigh Brackett

Jeffrey Kramer – Graham

Lance Guest – Jimmy

Review (spoilers):

I reviewed the original Halloween some time ago so I think now is the perfect time for the sequel. A sequel to Halloween was a very expected thing to do because the original one was unfinished and people surely wanted to know what happens next. So Halloween 2 starts where the first ended. It’s still the same night, Michael is still trying to find & kill Laurie and Dr. Sam Loomis is still chasing him. As you can see in the short plot synopsis, almost everything is happening at the local Haddonfiield hospital. Unfortunately, Carpenter wasn’t directing this one, but he, however, did write the script, luckily for us.

Anyways, the beginning of the movie was pretty good, it felt like something that came directly from the first Halloween. It had that creepy stalking atmosphere and once again you look at the world through Michael’s eyes. But yet I somehow felt a little strange while watching it because the first murder in the movie happens a little too soon and it’s not your typical Michael. The murders in the sequel are much more violent and gory, they lost their simple but effective touch from the first movie. I’m not a die hard fan of gory scenes in slashers so I liked murders from the original Halloween more. But I have to say that the murders were far from bad, some where even pretty good but still light years away from Carpenter’s Halloween.

So…Carpenter wrote the script for this one so I had no problems with it, all in all it was pretty nice. Al though I somehow feel that the realization of that script could have been much better if someone else directed it. Despite all that, the best thing in the film was Dr. Loomi’s change of character. You can clearly see his transformation from a normal man to a desperate mad man who would even threaten a police officer to get what he wants. I would dare to say that his character even outshined Laure Strode, she was much more exposed in the original Halloween. In this one her existence felt just like a bait for Michael, nothing more.  But Jamie Lee Curtis still played her role perfectly.

The movie’s twist is a very interesting one and somehow still shocking. I wish to time travel back to the eighties to watch Halloween II in a local cinema just to have that feeling when you first time find out that Laure Strode is Michael’s sister. That should have been intriguing. Al thought it is a very interesting twist, I still think it could have been made a little better, I mean the realization of that was done too simply – just a plain dialogue (which followed a very short Laurie’s flashback).

Al though the twist is very good and the kills are also ok, Halloween II just couldn’t entertain me much. It has too much boring and slow parts and even some plot holes which made me giggle a little but it’s still worth watching. I also liked the ending in which we see Michael die….just to be revived in further sequels.

My Rating: 6/10… Surely watch it if you are a fan of Carpenter’s Halloween but don’t expect something special.

Halloween(1978)

Posted in Horror Review with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 1, 2009 by Pass the Popcorn!

halloween Director: John Carpenter

Writer: John Carpenter(screenplay)

Debra Hill(screenplay)

Tagline: The trick was to stay alive.

Plot: A psychotic murderer institutionalized since childhood escapes on a mindless rampage while his doctor chases him through the streets.

Cast: Donald Pleasence – Dr. Sam Loomis

Jamie Lee Curtis – Laurie Strode

Nancy Kyes – Annie Brackett

P.J. Soles – Lynda van der Klok

Charles Chypers  – Sheriff Leigh Brackett

Review (spoilers):

Yesterday was Halloween so I’m going to review the movie Halloween from 1978.  How cool from me, eh? Anyways this movie starts off with little Michael killing his older sisters, we don’t know why and actually we don’t care about her. The whole scene was made through Michael ‘s eyes so I found it to be very nice and creepy.  After the murder occurs he is sent to some hospital and after 15 years of treatment he escapes somehow and goes to his hometown to kill his younger sisters, his doctor chases him all the way. After that we have few dead kids, the final fight scene in which we learn that Michael is somehow undefeatable and he just escapes.

This movie is pure win.  It is directed by John Carpenter (probably my favourite director) and he had chose some of his most  trustworthy actors and actresses (Donald Pleasence & Jamie Lee Curtis) followed by a great soundtrack.  So what makes this movie so great and different from other legendary killer movies? It doesn’t rely so much on gore and blood but on psychotic terror.  The stalking in the movie was done awesome.  Michael follows around his victims all the time and even appears behind them few times but he doesn’t kill them instantly. In case of that girl ( I forgot her name ) which was stuck in that backyard building (or whatever was that), he could have killed her like 5-6 times but he didn’t and that’s what it makes a good atmosphere and suspense. Later she is killed in the “safety” of her car, I must admit I didn’t see that one coming. In all other slasher horror movies you exactly know when the kills will occur, you predict them, in this one, you don’t.

Let’s go back to Michael himself: he is scary as hell. His white mask gives me the creeps and you never know where to expect him, he just pops out few times and I’m not going to comment the scene where he is having a sheet over his head; that one was just sick. Second thing I like about him is his silence. Through almost the whole movie (expect in one part where he’s real face is shown) is not making any sounds, that was also creepy. He is perfect for being a serial killer.

I also liked the reality factor in the movie. I mean, Carpenter didn’t want to waste our time with stupid explanations and “spooky” discovers about his lunacy and invincibility (in sequels I think we got them). Michael is just a friendly neighbourhood child who suddenly went crazy, who needs more explanations? Explanations like that just kill the movie and the atmosphere, without them you may even think something like that could happen in your hometown. Why not?

What this movie makes a good movie is it’s spirit. It’s not all mindless killings and overused gore, it has a meaning of some sort, it has it’s suspense and atmosphere, that’s why it is so perfect. I recommend it to everyone.

My Rating: 10/10… Carpenter made this movie. If you need more reasons read the review once more : ]