The Changeling (Peter Medak) ***1/2 - I've often been told this is a rather scary haunted house horror film. Now, I finally saw it. It doesn't QUITE live up to the hype surrounding it but it's still a very well-crafted genuinely spooky ghost story about a musician (George C. Scott) whose wife and daughter is killed in a tragic roadside accident and moves into a house haunted by a ghost of little boy. There are genuinely chilling, creepy and disturbing moments in this one and is as usual superbly acted by George C. Scott. The mystery/plot keeps you on your toes and the pay-off is not disappointing. Highly recommended for Halloween.
Tarzan The Ape Man (W.S. Van
Dyke) *** - I've seen a lot of adaptations of the Tarzan story both in
film and TV yet I don't think I've ever seen this one which launched
Hollywood's long and on-going love affair with the Edgar Rice Burroughs
character and Johnny Weissmuller's acting career. It's no masterpiece
but there are enough set-pieces that actually holds up. Maureen
O'Sullivan is also wonderful as Jane. Pre-code so it's kind of violent
and a bit racy and it was made in the 1930's so it's also VERY
politically incorrect but once you get over that, it's fun.
Frank (Lenny Abrahamson) *** -
An aspiring musician joins an eccentric band featuring a lead vocalist
who wears a big giant paper-mache head...all the time, without ever
taking it off. Based on that premise, you can tell it's a very quirky
film. It really tows the line between annoyingly quirky and endearingly
quirky all throughout its running time. It's held together by the
fantastic performances, particularly that of Michael Fassbender who has
to act without his face throughout most of the film yet still manages to
create a wholly convincing, compelling, funny, sad character with just
his voice and body movements.
Re-Animator (Stuart Gordon)
***1/2 - This is my Halloween night movie. I have to say this movie is
sick, disturbing, disgusting and absolutely fucked up.....and I enjoyed
it! Adapted from the work of H.P. Lovecraft, this concerns two young med
students experimenting with reanimating dead bodies. I'm guessing a lot
of people will be turned off by some elements of it. One scene near the
end in particular was so gross and disgusting, I had to laugh at how
outrageous it is. One thing I have to point out is the score. It VERY
obviously heavily borrows from Bernard Herrmann's score for Psycho that I'm a bit taken aback that he wasn't credited for it. Oh, well. But still is a nice, fun, B-movie horror Halloween treat.
(Chad Strahelski) ***1/2 - There have been a lot of "revenge" movies
lately, thanks to Liam Neeson, where assassins/secret agents "with a
specific set of skills" usually played by an older actor is wronged then
pretty much kicks ass. This is the BEST among them. This is Keanu
Reeves' best work since, well, the first Matrix,
I guess as a retired assassin who is wronged by the stupid-ass son of
his former employer (played by Alfie Allen who is typecast here as a
fuck-up). The action is fantastic and the story and the world is strong
and believable with sprinklings of dark humor for good measure. It is
one of pleasant surprises of 2014. Very refreshing since it's not based
on any well-known property.
T'yanak (Peque Gallaga/Lore
Reyes) ***1/2 - This is directors Peque Gallaga and Lore Reyes' own
remake/reboot of the 1988 Filipino horror film of the same title. I
haven't seen it (though I do remember watching the trailers for it and
being kind of scared) so I can't comment on how it compares. However, as
it is, it's a pretty damn good horror movie. For those not in the know,
a "tiyanak" is a ghoul-like creature that shape-shifts in the form of a
baby. People hear its cries and when they pick it up, they pretty much
eat you. There's quite an amazing balance of dramatic heft and
self-aware camp that makes this quite a pleasure to watch. They use a
surprising amount of practical effects in this one which is to its
The Sign of the Cross (Cecil B.
DeMille) **1/2 - Don't let the title and the Christian theme fool you!
This is a violent and racy Pre-code swords-and-sandals epic set during
the time of the Roman persecution of Christians. This time it's about a
Roman official who falls in love with a Christian woman. The film is
lavishly designed and has a truly epic feel. But at two hours, it does
feel a bit bloated and the pious elements doesn't seem to jive with the
exploitative sexual and violent content (quite graphic for its time, and
there are still a few scenes here that will raise the eyebrows of a
super conservative Christian despite it being a 30's movie). Fredric
March is great as always but the film doesn't quite work.