Archive for Review

Dead Silence (2007)

Posted in Horror Review with tags , , , , , , , , , on December 16, 2010 by Pass the Popcorn!

Director: James Wan

Writers: Leigh Whannell

James Wan

Tagline: You scream. You die.

Plot: A widower returns to his hometown to search for answers to his wife’s murder, which may be linked to the ghost of a murdered ventriloquist.

Cast: Ryan Kwanten – Jamie Ashen

Amber Valletta – Ella Ashen

Donnie Wahlberg – Det. Lipton

Michael Fairman – Henry Walker

Joan Heney – Marion Walker

Review:

Well, I’m back after a few month pause so now I can (finally) continue writing reviews. Today I’m going to review Dead Silence, directed by James Wan, who also directed the first Saw movie. According to these two movies, it seems James Wan likes to incorporate dolls in his work of art. Many people are naturally afraid of dolls so they could find this movie to be genuinely scary. Besides dolls, Dead Silence also features ghosts and few nice kills. Although all of this sounds promising, Dead Silence is just your another average popcorn horror flick – which is a huge disappointment…

So anyways, this guy, Jamie Ashen, finds a mysterious package in front of his doorstep which contains a ventriloquist doll named Billy. Jamie leaves Billy with his wife Lisa, while he goes out to buy some dinner. Unfortunately for Lisa, she gets brutally killed and Jamie is taken to the police as a prime suspect – but he suspects the doll did the morbid deed. Very early in the movie, we can see a standard horror “jump scare” scene followed by great effects of a victim’s deformed face. From this point of the movie (and to the very end) my thoughts were pretty mixed up. On one hand the atmosphere wasn’t bed at all although the color that dominated through out the whole movie was “dark blue” (another irritating cliche in modern horror movies – they have to be dark blue). And on the other hand all the characters seemed pretty undeveloped, wooden and sometimes even annoying. Furthermore, as the movie progresses on, we are being introduced with more and more, often stupid and silly, informations and elements of the plot. It’s like the scriptwriters could not focus on a single plot, but had to bring up something new every now and then. In conclusion, all of this collides into one huge ending filled with all of this random shit (I couldn’t find a more proper word to describe it). The thing that saves Dead Silence from a total disaster is a very interesting twist that happens in the very last minute of the movie. But despite being great, the twist makes the whole movie seem pretty much pointless and it may leave you somewhat unsatisfied.

But, of course, if you are new to the horror genre or just a sucker for horror movies with dolls and ghost you’ll be more than satisfied with Dead Silence. However, outside those boundaries, Dead Silence offers nothing new and is just another slightly predictable, shallow and simple modern horror movie filled with uninteresting and cliched characters. Therefore, I think it’s better to avoid watching Dead Silence and watch something else instead.

My Rating: 5/10… A very strange combination of dolls and ghosts. I assume this is the kind of movie you either love or hate. Me? I didn’t like it all.

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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.

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. : )

A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010)

Posted in Horror Review, Nightmare on Elm Street week with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 11, 2010 by Pass the Popcorn!

Director: Samuel Bayer

Writers: Wesley Strick

Eric Heisserer

Tagline: Never Sleep Again

Plot: A re-imagining of the horror icon Freddy Krueger, a serial-killer who wields a glove with four blades embedded in the fingers and kills people in their dreams, resulting in their real death in reality.

Cast: Jackie Earle Haley – Freddy Krueger

Kyle Gallner – Quentin Smith

Rooney Mara – Nancy Holbrook

Katie Cassidy – Kris Fowles

Thomas Dekker – Jesse Braun

Review:

It’s time to finish our Nightmare on Elm Street week (although it lasted much longer than a week) with a review that spawned this idea. The remake of the original Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) recevied pretty mixed reviews from both critics and viewers. I didn’t like it at all due to its shallowness and unoriginality, which will be explained shortly. I think you are all familiar with the movie’s plot and concept so I don’t have to further introduce it.

It is important to say that remake is very similar to Freddy vs Jason (and that definitely isn’t a good thing) so it seriously lacks the 80s atmosphere, which was one of the best things in the original. Because of this, the movie looks too modern; I can’t seem to find any reason why was this movie even made besides money and “amazing” special effects.  So it’s more than obvious that this remake is clearly unnecessary. In the introduction I said that A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010) is shallow and unoriginal. What I meant by that is that offers nothing new, all of this was seen somewhere before. The several good scenes in the movie have been shamelessly copy/pasted from the original, and the rest of it was just awful. I don’t know why would anyone chose to watch the remake over the original, the cult parts of both movies are almost the same but the original also offers much more like better character development, better scriptwriting and better atmosphere. But if you do decide to watch it be ready for an unintentional laugh or two because, as it can be seen in the trailer, the remake is full with extremely cheesy dialogue like: -Oh god!- -No, just me.-; this is also similar to Freddy vs Jason. I think you are all wondering whether Jackie Earle Haley was a good replacement for Robert Englund in his role as Freddy. And the answer is: No, he wasn’t. I don’t have anything against Haley’s acting skills (I liked him in Watchmen) but the whole Freddy concept was destroyed because he was given these stupid /cheesy one liners and new looks, which were also awful and made him look like an alien. In addition to that his background was slightly changed…to worse.  So Haley isn’t good as Englund but I think that’s really not his fault. The rest of the cast are simply awful in their roles, most of them are either too static or too unbelievable, especially Rooney Mara who is a very bad choice for the role of Nancy – she isn’t special in any way, a very very bad choice for the final girl. There isn’t left much to say about this remake. All in all, it is utterly bad, even Freddy vs Jason is a slightly better movie.

It seems to me that A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010) had absolutely no potential at all. It was “doomed” from the second someone decided to make it. A lot of fans were spectical with a good reason because it is blasphemous to turn a cult movie into something like this. Almost every aspect of this remake is horrible besides the “stolen” scenes and some kills (unfortunately, the kills are good in every NoES movie, besides maybe Freddy’s revenge, so that doesn’t make this remake anything special). It is just your typical “wannabe mainstream” horror movie.

My Rating: 3/10… Don’t watch it! It is easily one of the worst movies from the Nightmare on Elm Street series.

Freddy vs Jason (2003)

Posted in Horror Review, Nightmare on Elm Street week with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 7, 2010 by Pass the Popcorn!

Director: Ronny Yu

Writers: Wes Craven

Victor Miller

Damian Shannon

Mark Swift

Tagline: The “Slicer”…The “Dicer”…And This Time, They’re Not Any “Nicer”!

Plot: Freddy Krueger and Jason Voorhees return to terrorize the teenage population. Except this time, they’re out to get each other, too.

Cast: Robert Englund – Freddy Krueger

Ken Kirzinger – Jason Voorhees

Monica Keena – Lori Campbell

Jason Ritter – Will Rollins

Kelly Rowland – Kia Waterson

Review:

A movie like Freddy vs Jason doesn’t really need a special introduction. By combining those 2 popular horror icons,  it quickly managed to achieve a cult status among the followers of both franchises.  Although I’m not a big fan of Jason or “vs” films, I decided to give it a watch. The results were horrible, Freddy vs Jason, despite all its potential, was a complete disaster. I think most of you are familiar with the movie’s plot but I’ll tell it anyways. The townsfolk of Springwood don’t fear Freddy anymore, they managed to erase all evidence about his existence so he can’t haunt the dreams of their children. However, even that can’t stop Freddy and he somehow finds/sends Jason to pay Springwood a visit so people could remember Krueger once more. But, after some time, they start to fight each other over few kills.

It is remarkable how almost every aspect of Freddy vs Jason is awful. First of all, Ronny Yu didn’t show any directing skills. As a result the movie is full of strange, unwatchable camera angles and weird luminance, which I didn’t particulary like (that neon blue lighting was really over the top). Secondly, the acting was horrible, I want to know who hired those actors due to the fact that even their appearance killed every decent moment the movie could have offered. The acting in Freddy vs Jason was even more terrible than the acting in later Nightmare on Elm Street sequels (and that is hard to top). Furthermore, the scriptwriting was possibly the worst I’ve seen in my entire life. Besides the plot summary, which does sound stupid by itself, Freddy vs Jason offers plenty more stupid things: funny and predictable dialogues full of cliche (I giggled during most of them), standard characters found in slasher movies (the lead female character who is still a virgin despite being smart and cute, her dream boy, her promiscuouse best friend, the geek, the stoner..), unexplained fears/motives/goals, random characters that suddenly appear/disappear, unimportant scenes… the list goes on and on. Moreover, the lead female character cries/whines/screams in most of the scenes where she appears. That was very…irritating. Actually, the whole concept of the movie seemed somehow wrong, Freddy vs Jason could have really been better. Even Freddy’s character couldn’t have saved the movie from a complete failure that it is now. His persona and sense of humor changed a bit, he wasn’t so likeable/funny as he used to be in NoES movies.

It isn’t hard to conclude that Freddy vs Jason is a mindless film that focuses mainly on action sequences and kills done by our “heroes”. This aspect of the movie satisfies me a lot since the number of kills is a great one and both Freddy and Jason don”t spare each other in their fights. It was nice to see both of them in a single movie, despite how bad that movie actually was. I would recommend Freddy vs Jason only to people who are fans of either franchise and even then they might not like it.

Btw, Freddy > Jason

My Rating: 3/10… Everything sucks except the action sequences. It’s not worth your time.

New Nightmare (1994)

Posted in Horror Review, Nightmare on Elm Street week with tags , , , , , , , , , , on May 4, 2010 by Pass the Popcorn!

Director: Wes Craven

Writer: Wes Craven

Tagline: This time, staying awake won’t save you.

Plot: A demonic force has chosen Freddy Krueger as its portal to the real world. Can Heather play the part of Nancy one last time and trap the evil trying to enter our world?

Cast: Robert Englund – Himself / Freddy Krueger

Heather Langenkamp – Herself / Nancy Thompson

Miko Hughes – Dylan Porter

David Newsom – Chase Porter

Tracy Middendorf – Julie

Review:

I was very interested in seeing New Nightmare because, as you may know, it is the only movie from the series, besides the first one, to be directed by Wes Craven. I was told that it was one of the best sequels in the whole series and that it is almost as scary as the first one. Well, those stories couldn’t be more wrong because New Nightmare came as a horrible disappointment. I, personally, find Wes Craven responsible for screwing it up so badly. This time, Freddy enters real world to haunt the dreams of actress Heath Langenkamp who now has to reprise the role of Nancy that made her popular.

In theory this plot synopsis may work perfectly (actually, I find it to be a good idea) but in practice, mister Craven made a too complex story. It is full of unnecessary scenes, parts that make no sense and plot holes. New Nightmare is, basically, a movie inside a movie, and was made a little too complicated so it can easily confuse the average viewer. Besides that, I think that Wes Craven was under a huge influence of The Shining (1980) when he wrote the script because influences are more than obvious: a disturbed child “apprehending” evil, the child having “episodes”, a similar mother – son relationship. While all those elements work perfectly in a horror classic like The Shining, they are completely useless in a movie from A Nightmare on Elm Street series. I think Craven put this child, Dylan, in the script to gain some dramatic and horror atmosphere (as all horror elements are somehow revolving around him), which turns out to be completely ridiculous. I suppose that the movie would have been much better without his irritating (and useless) character. It’s like Craven used his character just because he wanted to make another movie from Nightmare on Elm Street series, which would break into mainstream. Moreover, New Nightmare is the longest movie from the whole series, it lasts about 2 hours. Because of its “surprising” length it can get very boring from time to time due to the shallow script writing. Freddy’s personality also changed – he became more evil, dark and sinister with a new face and glove that make him look stupid. He still uses his one liners that are trying to sound funny but, in a movie like this, they just seem kinda overused. Number of kills in New Nightmare is really small and they are not original anymore like in previous sequels.

Maybe the only thing I enjoyed in New Nightmare was seeing the cast from the original Nightmare on one place. However, I really wanted Robert Englund to have more cameo time without his mask on but, unfortunately, he wasn’t a really important character. I fear there are no positive things to say about New Nightmare besides that. Al though I think this movie could have been much better I still prefer it over Freddy’s Revenge and Freddy’s Dead.

My Rating: 4/10… New Nightmare had much potential but it turned out to be one of the worst movies from the series.