Movie Review: Halloween (1978)

Ladies and gentlemen, we’re here. The final review in my Month of Spooks series. I’ve had fun with it, but as you know, all good things must come to an end (for this year at least, wink wink). So let’s go out with a bang by talking about the movie with the perfect title for this occasion.

Ladies and gentlemen… this is “Halloween”!

Fifteen years after he killed his sister and got sent to a mental hospital, Michael Myers manages to escape, returning to the town of Haddonfield to kill once again. So now we have our slasher plot. And I think it’s actually pretty great. While this is kind of the grandfather of slashers, setting up several of the cliches of the genre, but it also does it with a lot of subtlety, relying more on slow tension-building rather than just jumpscaring the audience every five minutes. It is a slasher… but one with nuance and subtlety as it’s primary ingredients, and that’s why the plot holds up so well here.

The characters in this are likable and interesting. First up we have Jamie Lee Curtis as Laurie Strode, a high school student who just wants to have a chill and enjoyable halloween night. But as we all know, that takes a bit of a left turn when a certain someone comes to town. She’s a nice, fairly normal, and relatively crafty young woman who I liked following, hoping she would make it. And Curtis is really good in the role. Next we have Donald Pleasence (R.I.P) as Sam Loomis, the doctor who tried helping Michael for years, but ended up giving up in more recent years when he saw that Myers was beyond helping. He knows that Myers has to be taken down, but there’s also remorse behind his eyes, as if he’s sad that he failed at helping Michael, making him a compelling character. And Pleasence is great in the role. We also get supporting performances from people like Nancy Kyes, P.J. Soles, Charles Cyphers, Nick Castle, and more, all doing well in their respective roles.

The score for the movie was composed by John Carpenter, and it’s really good. Heavily based in synth, it creates an atmosphere that just oozes suspense and uneasiness. There are a couple of the more typical horror stings that aren’t great when repeated a couple times, but for the most part the score here still holds up very well. And man, that theme is still exquisite.

As you all know, this movie was written (with the help of Debra Hill) and directed by John Carpenter, and he did a great job. Remember how I mentioned that the story relies more on subtlety than on just blatant horror bullshit? Well, that translates to Carpenter’s direction as well. It’s slow, subtle, and generally helps create an eerie vibe that absolutely creeped me out. Adding to that is the cinematography by Dean Cundey, which not only looks great, but also helps sell the almost uncanny vibe of Michael Myers’ stalking.

This movie has been very well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 95% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 81/100. Roger Ebert gave it 4/4 stars. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,8/10.

So yeah, “Halloween” is still great, 40 years after its release. It has a really good plot, good characters, great performances, really good music, and great directing/cinematography. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Halloween” is a 9,78/10. Which means it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Halloween” is now completed.

The night HE came to my blog.

My Top 20 Directors

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Yesterday I asked you guys to give me ideas for a countdown, well I thank you for the contributions even if it only was one person who did it. I got the suggestion “Top 10 Favorite Actors/Actresses”. While that is a great idea, I realized that it would be too difficult for me to make a list for that topic. So it made me think of maybe talking about my favorite directors. This would be a little easier for me to figure out. So let’s go over the rules.

Rule #1: Same as always; This is my list featuring my opinions, so no bitching allowed.

Rule #2: For a director to be abled to be featured here I have to have seen at least two of said director’s movies (And of course enjoyed them). So if you don’t see a certain director on the list, then you know why.

Rule #3: The directors have to have directed at least two movies. I will not include people who have only directed episodes of TV-shows, despite how great they are.

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you, My Top 20 Favorite Directors!

Before we officially begin, let’s do a few honorable mentions. These are director’s I still really like, but didn’t really make it into the list. J.J. Abrams, Guy Ritchie, Peter Jackson, Spike Lee, Gus Van Sant, David O. Russell, Martin McDonagh and David Ayer. Those were a lot of honorable mentions, but that’s how life is.

Number 20: Don Siegel.

Some of you probably say “Who?”. Well if the picture didn’t give it away, Don Siegel is the director of “Dirty Harry”, a classic crime/action movie. He also the directed the pretty great “Escape From Alcatraz”, also starring Clint Eastwood. Those are the only movies I have seen from him and I am impressed by him.

Number 19: John Carpenter.
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The strange thing about Carpenter is that it’s only recently that I have begun to really appreciate him as a director. Sure, when I was younger I watched both “Halloween” and “Christine” and enjoyed them both, but it’s not until now that I really feel like I can say that I like him as a director. You know, thanks to movies like “The Thing”, “Escape From New York” and “They Live”.

Number 18: Joel and Ethan Coen.
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Some would call this cheating, but film buffs would know that what I am doing is perfectly correct. I mean, these two always direct movies together, that is kind of their thing. But at the same time it might be a little controversial putting them on this spot on the list considering how beloved they are. But they are still on the list for a reason; some great fucking movies. The ones I am mainly talking about are “O, Brothers Where Art Thou”, “The Big Lebowski”, “True Grit” and “No Country For Old Men”. The last one I should probably rewatch because it has been a few years since last time.

Number 17: James Cameron.
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This is a director who once upon a time was known as one of the greatest. Now I feel like he might be losing his mind… but only a little bit. What the hell do I mean? well he has plans to direct a bunch of sequels to “Avatar” over the coming years. “Avatar” is not a bad movie, it’s just that a bunch of sequels feels unnecessary. But at least we still have a ton of Cameron classics like “The Terminator”, “Aliens”, “Terminator 2”, “True Lies” and “Titanic”.

Number 16: Hayao Miyazaki.
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The amount of creative and visually amazing animated movies this man has made is incredible. He has been making animated movies for so long and has retired and un-retired so many times that you never know when he actually will retire fully. Well, at least we know he has given us a ton of amazing animated features such as “Spirited Away”, “Howl’s Moving Castle” and “Princess Mononoke”.

Number 15: Michael Mann.
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This is a director who has made some pretty cool thrillers. He also makes some of the best shootouts in all of cinema. That’s right, Michael Mann comes in at number 15 because he has made some pretty great movies (in my opinion). Like I said, the shootouts in his movies are awesome, but the overall shots in his movies look amazing. Let me give you a few examples of great movies by him; “Heat”, “The Insider” and “Collateral”.

Number 14: Ben Affleck.
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Though he has only directed three movies he still fits perfectly into this list. Why? Because the movies he have directed are pretty fucking awesome. Not only are they very dark in nature, but they also feel realistic and plausible, something a lot of directors might struggle with. Make fun of his past however much you want, but his present is something to simply applaud. Thank you Mr. Affleck for your amazing movies “Gone Baby Gone”, “The Town” and “Argo”.

Number 13: Richard Donner.
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Not enough people give this man the love he deserves. He has come out with some pretty good movies that people actually admit to loving… but they never give any credit to the man who truly brought them to life. Maybe you’ll appreciate him more if I tell you that he is the man who gave us “Superman” in 1978. He is also the man behind the “Lethal Weapon” movies, which you should know I really like.

Number 12: Denis Villeneuve.
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Despite only having seen two of his movies, I am still incredibly impressed by him. Not only has he shown great promise as a director, but the movies themselves are two movies that I have really grown to absolutely adore. This has led me to be more than hyped to see his new/coming movies “Sicario”. But I still love his two movies “Prisoners” and “Enemy”.

Number 11: Clint Eastwood.
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You’d probably assume I’d put this man, myth and legend higher on the list. But remember, this list is for directing, not acting. So while I like a fair amount of movies he has directed, there are directors I enjoy more than him. But with that said, I still love him as a director thanks to movies like “Unforgiven”, “The Outlaw Josey Wales”, “Gran Torino”, “Mystic River” and “American Sniper”.

Number 10: Ridley Scott.
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One of the most influential film makers of the past 50 years, Ridley Scott is an obvious addition to this list. Sure, in recent years he have had some misfires, but I still think he is a great director who has created some truly great movies. Which is why I am looking forward to his new movie “The Martian”. But until then I will have to settle with movies like “Alien”, “Blade Runner”, “Gladiator”, “American Gangster” and “Prometheus” (Yes, I liked “Prometheus”, deal with it).

Number 9: Edgar Wright.
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Is this a surprise? A director who has made some of the most hilarious and awesome movies of the past 15 years? It shouldn’t be a surprise because you should all know that he’s great. Thank you “Shaun of the Dead”, “Hot Fuzz”, “The World’s End” and “Scott Pilgrim vs. The World”.

Number 8: Martin Scorsese.
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Martin Scorsese is a director who has been making movies since the late 60’s and is still going strong. Some would argue stronger than ever. Known for his unapologetic and give-no-shit style of film making, he has made a lot of movies you probably shouldn’t see with your grandma. Unless your grandma is a fucking badass, then go ahead and show her movies like “Taxi Driver”, “The Departed”, “Wolf of Wall Street” and “Shutter Island”.

Number 7: Bryan Singer.
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The man who has directed more “X-Men” movies than anyone else makes it onto the number 7 spot on my list. Hell, with “X-Men: Apocalypse” coming out next year he has made four movies in the series (which isn’t bad at all). But we must not forget his early masterpiece “The Usual Suspects”, since that is what gave us Mr. Singer.

Number 6: Quentin Tarantino.
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What? You think I’d forget about this guy? Not in a million years! In fact, his give-no-fuck style of film making is so unique and strong that it has burnt itself into my head. He not only has skills as a director, but he is also an amazing screenwriter. I mean, the reason people watch his movies is to listen to the amazingly entertaining dialogue. Anyway, I don’t think anyone would be able to forget him thanks to his awesome movies, such as “Pulp Fiction”, “Inglourious Basterds” and “Reservoir Dogs”.

Number 5: Duncan Jones.
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Almost there guys. At number five we see director Duncan Jones (Sidenote: Son of David Bowie). Sure he has only directed two movies, but those two have had such an impact on me that they take up as much space as seven movies. The two movies in question are “Moon” and “Source Code”. Also, he is currently directing the “Warcraft” movie which will come out summer 2016 and I’m not gonna lie… I am actually a little excited thanks to his great track record.

Number 4: Steven Spielberg.
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I don’t think I have to explain why Mr. Spielberg is on this list, you all know why he is here. I also don’t really have to mention any of his movies because you all know at least a bunch of his movies that you like/love. But I can at least say that my favorite of his movies is “Catch Me If You Can”.

Number 3: Christopher Nolan.
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Whether it’s the confusing nature of “Memento” or the complex space stuff of “Interstellar” or the dark action of “The Dark Knight” trilogy, Nolan always finds a way to captivate audiences which is why he is on my list. He has made some movies that I truly love. I mean, “Inception” is one of my Top 10 movies of all time. And I love his “Batman” movies a lot. And “Interstellar” was my msot anticipated movie of 2014, so you know that he had to be on  this list.

Number 2: Sergio Leone.
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At second place we find the Italian director of some of the greatest, if not the greatest, western films of all time. I mean, as soon as I saw that they had released a new DVD pack featuring his “Man With No Name” trilogy, I immediately knew I had to buy it. This is a director who have made a ton of great movies and the ones I have seen are movies I constantly want to return to even though I haven’t done that yet. His movies has had such an impact on me and I simply adore the man. Rest in peace, signore Leone.

NUMBER 1: DAVID FINCHER!
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You should’ve figured this out when you started reading this post. Time and time again I have stated how much I absolutely love this guy as a director. Not only does he show that he has perfect control over his actors and everything else on set, but his movies are all so refreshing to see since they aren’t your typical studio movies. His movies are dark, yet accessible. He have also made some of my favorite movies of all tiem such as “Gone Girl” and “Se7en” (se-seven-en). He also made my all time favorite movie “Fight Club”. This is a man who I have an incredible amount of respect for and he is my favorite director.

So that was my list. Did you enjoy it? Who is your favorite director? Maybe like this post, maybe not, it’s up to you. Anyway, I’m done here.

Have a good one.

 

 

Movie Review: They Live (1988)

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Anyone else that the tought that we are subconsciously being controlled by everything in our environment? Okay to be fair, I don’t think it’s that bad, but it is an interesting thought.

Ladies and gentlemen… “They Live”.

We follow a drifter named Nada (Roddy Piper, R.I.P) who comes to Los Angeles for food, shelter and work. And while he actually finds that and even a new friend named Frank (Keith David), he also stumbles upon a pair of sunglasses that let’s him see that the earth has been taken over by aliens. He sees that some people actually are aliens in disguise and he sees that signs that to the naked eye look like normal advertisements, actually subconsciously tells us what we should do. I’m not gonna lie, it’s actually really clever. With the setup it could have been incredibly cheesy and even bad, but they pulled it off. It is a clever satire on society combined with an alien invasion movie. I’m not gonna lie, I kinda loved that.

Having a professional wrestler star in your movie is a pretty risky move, but here they actually managed to pull it off. Roddy Piper (Again, R.I.P) is actually really good in the movie. Sure, he’s not Mr. Oscar Worthy, but he’s actually pretty great considering he’s a wrestler. I think a lot of that comes from his overall charm because in this movie he seems like the type of guy you’d want as your friend. Keith David also has a pretty important role in the movie and he’s great. There’s really nothing else to say, he’s Keith David, he’s always great. I also have to mention that those two have pretty good chemistry, not really Mel Gibson/Danny Glover level of chemistry, but still good chemistry.

The score for the movie was done by director John Carpenter and composer Alan Howarth. They have collaborated before on other movies like in “Escape From New York”. And while one might call it cheesy, I still really enjoyed it. It is a strange mish-mash of rock, blues, sci-fi (A.K.A. typical sci-fi music) and synth. Some might call that an awful combination, but I call it awesome.

Like I said, this movie was directed by John Carpenter (Sidenote: For some reason I have watched a fair amount of movies by him recently). And he did a great job, the shots look great and the camera work overall is really solid.  I especially love the shots in black and white which if you didn’t know, are the shots we see when Nada puts on the sunglasses. Those shots I just simply love. And the action in the movie is pretty good too.

This movie has been pretty well-received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has an 83% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 52/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,3/10.

“They Live” is a surprisingly clever movie with a story featuring great social commentary. The characters/performances are really good too, the music is really good and the directing is great. Time for my final score. *Cough*. My final score for “They Live” is a 9,88/10. It gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.
Seal of Approval

“They Live” is now reviewed.

I have come here to chew bubblegum and kick ass… And I’m all out of bubblegum.

 

Movie Review: Escape from New York (1981)

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Raise your hand if you like 1980’s/1990’s action. Okay, now let’s all sit down and relax… good. And while you sit down and relax, let me review a 1980’s action movie.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Escape from New York”.

The year is 1997 (Hey, the year I was born!) and the USA has gone to shit. Because of ultra high crime-rates, the entire city of New York has been turned into a maximum security prison. Then one night, the US president (Donald Pleasence) crashes into the giant city and gets captured by crazy people. So then a police chief named Hauk (Lee Van Cleef, R.I.P) decides to send in criminal & manly-man Snake Plissken (Kurt Russell) into the city to go in and save the president. The idea I personally think is great, turning a familiar environment into a hostile and dark place for the sake of entertainment… genius. Problem is that for some reason I never really felt invested in it. Don’t get me wrong, I love the idea and the pacing was very good, but I jsut didn’t feel that invested into it. So let me put it like this, the plot was good, but I didn’t enjoy it as much as I should’ve.

The characters in the movie are colorful, entertaining and Kurt Russell decided to try to do his best Clint Eastwood impression. And you know what? All those factors come together so well that I can’t really criticize it. Sure, it’s cheesy but it is also incredibly fun and entertaining. Kurt Russell in this movie is really good in this movie as the macho manly-man Snake Plissken. Is he cheesy with the Clint Eastwood voice? Yes, but I still enjoyed it a lot. And I can’t help it, whenever I see Lee Van Cleef on screen in a movie I just have to smile… I love that guy. And Ernest Borgnine is a million flavors of fun in this movie as well. Every character in this movie is entertaining and every actor does a great job.

Fun fact: the score for the movie was done by none other than the director, John Carpenter. And it is the typical synth-based sci-fi/thriller soundtrack that you would maybe expect at the time. Not that it’s a bad thing, I did rather enjoy the music in the movie. It fit in very well and was used to really good effect.

Like I said, this movie was directed by John Carpenter who delivered a very well-directed and tense style to the movie. However I feel like the movie could be a little brighter because a large amount of the time it was difficult to see. I’m not saying that it should be really bright and happy and colorful and such, I am just asking for it to be a little brighter so I can see the action going on. That is anotehr thing, the action… it’s fine. Nothing special, it’s fine action.

This movie has been pretty well-received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has an 84% positive rating. On Metacritic it doesn’t exist. Roger Ebert never made a review of it. But it does exist on imdb.com at least and has a score of 7,2/10. Weird, the movie only exists on two of my regular sites…

“Escape from New York” is a decent action movie with a pretty good plot even though I wasn’t very invested in it, it had fun characters, good music and good direction despite being a bit too dark. Time for my final score. *Cough* My final score for “Escape from New York” is an 8,88/10. It is worth buying.
Worth buying

Review of “Escape from New York” is completed.

If you look closely at the plot, you’ll notice that this movie definitely inspired parts of the game “Batman: Arkham City”.

Movie Review: The Thing (1982)

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You know what’s weird? Ever since I saw “The Shining” about a week ago, I feel more open to watching horror movies. I guess it is because since I finally saw a good horror movie I have hope in finding more ones. So let’s review a horror movie that has been on my watchlist for quite some time.

Things… “The Thing”.

In this movie we follow a bunch of scientists that work on a research station in the Antarctic. But then on one day, something strange happens. And by strange I mean a murderous alien that can shapeshift into any person/animal invades the place and they will have to stop it. What I like about this plot is that you never know who the “Thing” is. It is a detail that keeps you guessing as to who it is through the entire movie. It will also keep you on the edge of your seat because of how scary that shit is. Come on, not knowing who the monster is… that is terrifying. And I like that!

The characters are pretty entertaining. Sure, they aren’t that fleshed out, but they at least keep you entertained. What is pretty great here though is the acting. I couldn’t find any weak performance. And in my opinion, I don’t think Kurt Russell has ever been this good in anything (in anything that I’ve seen at least). Wilford Brimley (before his diabeetus) is also great in the movie. And I was glad to see Keith David in the movie, I just love that guy. And I swear, this movie contains the single greatest dog performance ever. That’s right, Lassie ain’t got shit on the dog here! As a matter of fact, every actor was great in the movie. And I think some of it came from the fact that the set was chilled down to 40 degrees fahrenheit to actually make it seem like a cold place.

Here is one of the most surprising things about the movie, the score was done by none other than Ennio Morricone. You know, the same guy that has done the music for about EVERY WESTERN EVER! Okay, not EVERY western, but a lot. But while I was surprised to see his name attached to this movie, I thought the score for the movie was pretty great. it helped hold the already excellent suspense, but it also helped raise the tension of any more (in lack of better words) action-y situation. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised since this is the same man that made a five minute staredown epic and suspenseful… hmm.

This movie was directed by John Carpenter who also directed the original “Halloween” which is the only movie of his I had seen before this. I have also not seen “Halloween” in a few years, probably should. Anyway, getting off topic, uhm… oh yeah, “The Thing”. Yeah, John Carpenter directed this movie and he did such a great job with it. The shots look great and the cuts are magnificently edited in. And this movie has some of the best creature effects/prosthetics I have ever laid eyes on. Not that I would want to lay my eyes on them because these effects are some of the most disgusting ever… still great though! Also, did I mention that this movie is terrifying? Because it is.

This movie when first released wasn’t that well-received. But over the years people have opened up more and more to it. On Rotten Tomatoes it has an 80% positive rating with a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it doesn’t even exist. Roger Ebert gave the movie 2,5/4 stars. And on imdb.com it got an 8,2/10 and is ranked #164 on the “Top 250” list.

Guys, “The Thing” is a disgusting movie… but it is pretty awesome with a suspenseful and scary story, great performances (yes, even the dog), excellent music, terrific direction and some fantastic visual effects. Time for my final score. Jeff! Envelope now! Thank you! *Jeff flips Markus off*. Yeah, fuck you too! My final score for “The Thing” is a 9,86/10. It definitely gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.
Seal of Approval

Review of “The Thing” is completed.

“The Thing”, “The Stuff”, what’ll they think of next?