Sunday, April 10, 2011

"You see, Jason was my son, and today is his birthday... "

Friday the 13th (1980) Directed by Sean S. Cunningham


I enjoyed this one very much. I think that this one is the second film this semester that freaked me out! While watching the film I would predict what was going to happen but it wouldn’t happen that way! Crazy! There were many times that I just knew that the POV of the camera was the killer’s and that (spoiler!) she was going to kill someone. So just as I would pull the pillow, covering half my face, waiting for that moment, it would never come. Just as I became comfortable again and let my guard down, BAM!, the unexpected would happen. This was great! I do enjoy watching a horror film where I know what’s going to take place so that I won’t get scared. But it was refreshing to no trust the director. It made the movie watching experience so exciting!

The killer in this film was quite different from “A Nightmare on Elm Street”. Instead of some psycho dude with a liking for sharp objects we now have a crazy woman with hatred towards summer camp counselors. The director threw me off when the direct of the camp went off for about half of the film. I was almost convinced that he was the killer. So when Jason’s mom showed up, I was blown away! There was a scene in the film where she was hiding in the bushes, her hand was the camera and I immideately thought that the hand belonged to a man and not a woman. That brings up the question: When films like this are made, do we (as viewers) always assume the killer is a man? 

I'll give this a 4 out of 5 stars!  :)

Saturday, March 26, 2011

"What can be seen, can't always be proven."

Film: A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) Directed by the legendary Wes Craven.

This movie changes the game of slasher killer. Instead of having a real person going around killing people, the killer is in the character's dreams and can't be proven to be a real killer. He is in certain people's head and only they can experience him. Craven brings in the supernatural into the story by having Freddy be a literal dream killer. Doing this can make a viewer question what they are truely afraid of. Is what they are scared of real or is it all constructed in their mind. The "monsters" like the Boogyman and whatever it is that lives under the bed, don't harm us in real life; which implies that people just construct it in their minds. The character of Freddy is be believed by others, not real and that the kids made it up. Except for the part where he kills them. There is also the big question about how much of our dreams really affect our life, "If we fall off a building and die in our dream will we die also?" This film takes that question and answers with a crazy "yes". 

The special effects are awesome in this film. Freddy walks through a jail cell!!! Even for a crew in 2011, making this happen can prove to be a bit challenging. There's maggots coming out of Freddy, bugs crawling out of Tina, the carpeted stairs become gooey, and of course a load amount of blood. Even Freddy's makeup is crazy good. Compared to the trailer and pictures for the new Nigtmare, I think this Freddy is way more scarier. The burns on his face are horrific! His face seems to show what is supposed to be muscle and bone while the new Freddy's face is more like donor skin graphs were placed. There was a sheet that was moving and no one was moving it! Effects that would seem to be so simple for us were difficult in the past but sometimes (this is one of those times) they turn out to be better than the present. 

The camera work was really good also. Sometimes the viewer is Freddy, sometimes the characters are put in our face, and sometimes the viewer is placed in abstract angles and places. When Tina wakes in the beginning, she awakens suddenly to the camera. During the night when Freddy tries to break through the ceiling, the camera is also at a high angle on the same plane as the ceiling. These types of angles and placements can create suspense, the awkard placement of the viewer being the killer which would imply that the viewer is killing all these people, or can also place the viewer in a position of isolation from the characters so to make them feel like they cant get any help. There isn't a camera shot that does not work for this film. Everything from the story, effects, and camera work is done smoothly and all of it flows so well together. This is a masterpiece.

Wes Craven is brilliant! I love this movie! I will be buying this movie!!

 *Side note: When Glenn dies all that blood must have come from everyone Freddy killed cause on human being can't have that much blood in them....   :)

Monday, March 21, 2011

Film: The Omen (1976) directed by 

The Omen is a great horror story of the Antichrist being born during our time. Many interpret the book of Revelations in the Bible to say that when the end of the world comes and Jesus returns, the Antichrist will be living among us. For those that do read the book that way the idea that the son of Satan is living in as a child among us, is very terrifying. Hence, a perfect horror film. Horror films are all about playing out people's worst fears and this one without-a-doubt, is doing exactly that. When thinking of this subject, one tends to ask questions. Why is he here? What will he do while he is here? Who will be siding with him in his endeavor? The answers to these questions can be seen throughout the film as if to be the director's own opinion of what it will look like.

The imagery in this film was wonderful! At one point in the film when the photographer and Mr. Thorn are climbing a fence that I thought about The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari. It appeared to have that eerie sense among the ends of the fence poles. The eeriness of the film translates with the camera work also. There were many high angle and low angle shots and also tilts. It seemed to give the viewer a sense of being a higher being. The bird's eye view can give the viewer the sense that they are like God watching from heaven. Tilting the camera at an angle can skew what's going on especially if what is happening is something that seems to be crazy. 

I enjoyed this film alot! Many viewers are used to seeing or thinking of Satan to be in the form of a man rather than a child. We are so used to thinking about how children are so innocent and a clean slate waiting to be formed in to young people, and in this film the child does not have any innocence (just like in "Let the Right One In"). It can be really scary to think that children already have the mind of adults and think such horrible things.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Invasion of the Body Snatchers

Film: Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978) Directed by Philip Kaufman.

This movie was creepy good. Not quite what I expected it to be, which was good. The title lead me to believe that it would be about aliens but thankfully it wasn't (kinda). The actual body snatchers came from outer-space but it was the government who was in control of it all. Once again, big brother just can't keep his hands off our lives. :) 

And also the generic story of humans not being able to escape the "monster", and it's great. Not only can the characters escape from the snatchers in the town they are living in but the "disease" is also being transported on boats out of the city which implies that the government is spreading it all over the country. Nowhere to run to! At first I was a little sad when I saw that the two main characters were going to escape on a ship. But all was restored when I witnessed the crate of creepy pods were being loaded on that ship. After that moment I knew the younger looking Donald Sutherland would have to become one of the emotionless zombie people walking around (Spoiler Alert!: he did.).

I really liked how the "alien" in this film wasn't really an alien and how the government was trying to take over people. It gave a new idea to the alien type film. Instead of the aliens being hostile towards us, "Big Brother" was enlisting the help of some unknown plant to take over the world. It makes one think about how much trust to put into our government and how much we should trust them with our lives. 

Saturday, February 26, 2011

"Some yell and scream, some go quietly, some explode, some implode, but all will try to take you with them. "

Film: The Lost Boys (1987) Directed by Joel Schumacher.

I enjoyed this film so much that I also watched Lost Boys: The Thirst and Lost Boys: The Tribe. In that order too. I know, kinda backwards. 

I felt that this movie went a little too quickly at the beginning. Not long after the family moves to California David is progressing to a vampire. The way that he was changing was very different from other vampire films. Instead of biting, David drinks the blood of one of the vampires from a bottle which David believes is some alcohol. The majority of vampire films the victim has to get bitten by a vampire in order to become one. Signifying the transfer of bodily fluids, as a sexual transfer. But in this case all that was taken away. The history and interest behind vampires is dismissed into something as simple as taking a drink. Maybe it's a way to show how easy it is to fall into temptation. The spiritual side of vampires. The whole religious background to vampires is that they represent all the sin and evil in the world. Something else that I see in other vampire films is the aspect of dying. I have seen that humans become vampires once they are bitten and once they have "died". Hence, the term "undead". The humans in these films just have to make their first kill. Once they have done that, the become full vampire.  In this film the creators took out the consequences of being a vampire out. There isn't a transfer of a disease and the human doesn't have to sacrifice their life to be this "creature".

The camera work was cool in this film. At times the camera would put the viewer in the place of the vampires. Times when they were flying and chasing their victims. It made the viewer be the villian of the film at certain parts of the story. It gives more suspense to the film for the viewer to watch the movie that way. The camera makes it seem that they are the vampires. Something else I liked was that the camera would hide the vampires when they would be aggravating the humans. The vampires would be going around the house reving the engines of their motorcycles, yelling and screaming; creating chaos. All the while none of the characters could see them and neither could we. There were other times in the film when that would happen. As the viewer, I felt the chaos around the characters and it made me feel uneasy and nervous.

I enjoyed this film. Corey Feldman was hilarious in all three of them! I loved his hashed-out personality. He was so funny!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

"Well, she didn't want to tell us about the second croc 'cause she was afraid we'd blow its head off. "

Film: Lake Placid (1999) Directed by Steve Miner. 

Betty White was brilliant in this film! She was almost clueless to what was going on just as if she were a old senial woman. Her comic character brought a refreshing break to the suspense that was in the film.

My biggest question for this film is; What's the difference between Jurassic Park (action/adventure), Jaws (thriller), and Lake Placid (horror)? For I would have probably categorize them all the same as thriller. They each have the suspense that follows the anxiety of a creature going around following its instincts. In all three there is something that is trying to feed it’s hunger as a predator. In Jurassic Park there is the T-Rex, in Jaws there is the shark, and in Lake Placid it’s the ridiculously large crocodile. Another would be the amount of deaths in the films. In Wolfman, Survival of the Dead, and in Scream the amount of deaths is astronautical while in Lake Placid only two people died. For me, for a film to be horror there needs to be some kind of blood bath. People need to die! :) That's what makes horror so horrifying. For something other than mother nature being able to take one's life so quickly scares people; scares me. 

There was a major dose of suspense in this film. I found myself jumping a few times throughout the viewing. The knowing of what is to come and the music behind the feeling brought tension that had me hanging on for every second. Even though I knew the scuba guy in the beginning was about die but there was suspense or tension about when it would happen. That is how it was for the other killings. As the viewer I knew that they were going to die but I didn't know how long I had to wait for it to happen.

I found the script to be a little bland. The dialogue did not captivate me and the story line was kinda boring. Unlike Jurassic Park, Survival of the Dead, and Scream all of the characters could have gotten away if they had just left the area. Though it is seem that they have a moral conscious, the park rangers and police officers, they are characters of a film and the writers made it too easy for them to not get killed. In Jurassic Park the characters were on a distant island constantly surrounded by killer dinosaurs and in Survival of the Dead the characters were once again on some island surround by zombies trying to eat them. Not to say that it only works when the characters are on some island surrounded something that wants to kill them but both of those have the characters in some situation where they literally can not escape from the horror they are going to experience. In Lake Placid, the characters are in the mountains having to deal with 2 just 2 crocodiles.  

The croc in this film was ridiculously big and that was awesome! I would totally categorize this under thriller rather than horror.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

"That's the last hitchhiker I ever pick up."

Film: The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974), directed by Tobe Hooper.

According to Box Office Mojo this film was rated number 3 in 1974 with a gross of almost 31 million dollars. Continually for years now I have heard how this movie was amazing in all aspects and something that sits on the pedestal of horror films. I fear that I must disagree with that thinking. 

This film, for me, lacked many things that I feel should be in a horror film; timing, suspense, lighting, etc. Without such things, made me bored and tired. I almost fell asleep a few times! The disappointment I feel towards this movie has much to do with the low budget and lack of technology compared to now. Not that horror films require the technology we have now but because I have grown with the technology around me, it makes it hard for me to enjoy films that others have found to be so awesome.

“Observe due measure, for right timing is in all things the most important factor.” -Hesiod

One of the things lacking in this film was timing. It first started off very slow, went very quickly about half way through the movie, and then slowed down for the last part of the film. This timing made the film seem disjoint and choppy. It didn't flow smoothly from act to act. Though an upside to this disjoint makes it very easy for the viewer to identify all 3 acts of the film. For the first 35 minutes of the film nothing really happens except the kids on the trip pick up and then drop off a hitch-hiker. Then for another maybe 20-30 minutes four of the five kids are killed off almost back to back. Then that leaves about another 30 minutes of so for Leatherface to chase the remaining kid around the property until he either kills her or she gets away. The timing for this film wasn't put together quite right for my tastes.


Lighting...Oh the lighting. Another major turn-off for me towards this film was the lighting. I couldn't grab the suspense that I wanted to feel because I couldn't see anything going on. The sets were lighted so poorly that it was hard to tell what was going on in the film. Franklin, a major character who was a subject to his wheelchair, hurt himself somehow once the kids reached the house but I'm not sure what really happened cause the area he was at was almost black. I am for certain that the reason this film was not lighted properly was because of the budget they lacked, but because it was not lighted correctly I did not enjoy as I know I should have.

So far in this semester I have come to realize that there is a fine line for making a good horror film and it is very difficult walking this line. Too much blood and gore and the film becomes distasteful and disgusting (which I know some directors want that). Not enough substance in the plot and the film becomes boring and predictable. It is hard constructing a good horror film that everyone will appreciate. I guess that is why the "classics" are so few and rare.


Next week: Creatures--> The Blob and Lake Placid 


P.S. I CANT BELIEVE THEY LIED TO ME!! I trusted them and they betrayed me!! :)