Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Are You Ready For Freddy? A Nightmare On Elm Street(2010)

In 1984 movie go'ers were introduced to A Nightmare On Elm Street and the film's antagonist, child killer Fred Krueger who, burned to a crisp by a mob of angry neighborhood parents, returns to stalk teenagers on Elm Street. Krueger, sporting a glove on his right hand with four razor sharp knives attached to the glove's fingers, stalks and kills his victims in their dreams: they die in their dreams and consequently die in real life as well since the subconscious mind controls the heart and other vital organs...right?

Remakes have been aplenty as of late what with horror icons "Michael Myers"( the Rob Zombie directed Halloween films) and "Jason Voorhees"( the 2009 Friday The 13th film) both getting their own respective re-starts. Why not Freddy Krueger as well?

A Nightmare On Elm Street is scheduled to open in theaters in late April of 2010 and is a reboot of the 1984 film. The remake is directed by Samuel Bayer.

I am a huge fan of Robert Englund and his marvelous portrayal of Krueger. Jackie Earle Haley takes over for Mr. Englund in the role. I like the casting of Haley to play Fred Krueger. I also like the official trailer for this "Elm Street" remake. I'm not sure I like the "post burn" makeup effects on Jackie Earle Haley, which can be seen briefly in the trailer. You can judge for yourself by watching the trailer:

Bonus: the trailer for the original 1984 classic:

Friday, September 18, 2009

In Through The Out Door: The Funhouse(1981)

Tobe Hooper has long been one of my favorite horror movie directors. He endeared himself to me with The Texas Chainsaw Massacre(1974) and then later Poltergeist(1982). In between these two horror classics Hooper also directed another horror film that I believe has ably stood the test of time. It lacks the depraved characters of "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" and the overall stand out special effects of "Poltergeist" but this movie still manages to hold its own quite well. I'm referring to The Funhouse, produced by Derek Power & Steven Bernhardt and directed by Tobe Hooper, the movie originally released to theaters in March of 1981.

The film's story: four young people(two males and two females) pay a visit to a local carnival, taking in all the entertaining and often bizarre acts and shows. The two couples, after smoking some weed behind one of the carnival tents, decide to enter "The Funhouse", one of the carnival's exhibits, and spend the night in the structure. The idea of spending the night inside the "Funhouse" seems innocent enough. The problem: there's a real monster inside the exhibit, a masked fellow who is kept of out sight most of the time by his father. After the two couples witness the monster murder another carnival performer in a fit of rage and are subsequently detected by the creature's father, the abomination begins to stalk the four young people inside the "Funhouse". Predictably, the monster, a truly grotesque, white haired humanoid in serious need of some cosmetic dentistry(and surgery), kills the members of the group until only one, a lone female, is left. The climax of the film is basically this young lady, "Amy" in a fight for survival against the monster. (no other spoilers)

Observations: the sets of the film are terrific. An actual carnival was literally moved to the shooting location of the film(in north Miami, Fl). The carnival is a visual bonanza of motley and often bizarre characters, as well as a disturbing image of what appears to be a severely disfigured fetus preserved in a large glass container. The "Funhouse" itself comes alive for our group of protagonists and the viewer of this movie: the facility, courtesy of some extensive animatronics, features skeletons, other monsters and a variety of loud audio effects including monster growls, roars and more human like shrieks and screams. This animated structure ably serves as a creepy backdrop for the struggles of the pair of young couples as they try to escape while being stalked by the monster.

The monster is played by Wayne Doba, who was employed as a professional mime when approached by the film's producer about being in The Funhouse. The monster make up effects are courtesy of Rick Baker, who has gone on to become one of Hollywood's legendary makeup artists. Doba does a good job of adding a sympathetic element to the monster through his variety of body postures and hand movements. The creature in The Funhouse reminds me a great deal of the Frankenstein monster: it's a hideous abomination to be feared but also a monster that I feel some sympathy for as well as it spends the vast majority of its life hidden away from society, and totally dependent on a single person, in this case its father(played by veteran actor Kevin Conway).

I haven't seen The Funhouse on television for as long as I can remember. I'd sure like to see this film make the rounds at AMC or on "SyFy" but that might be wishful thinking, especially regarding AMC, whose horror movie programming and its film lineup for "Fearfest"(formerly called "Monsterfest") in late October has become very predictable and redundant.

The DVD of The Funhouse(1981) is available on Region 1 DVD, the releases presenting this movie in its original 2:35.1 widescreen aspect ratio. To see the DVD of this movie for sale at Amazon click the DVD covert image above.

The trailer:

Hooked For Life: Candyman(1992)

Horror movie iconic characters like Freddy Krueger, Leatherface, Michael Myers, Jason Voorhees and Pinhead may always get the majority of attention and props among "slasher" horror film fans but I also think there's something to be said for a fellow named Daniel Robitaille, aka "The Candyman". This character first appeared in Candyman(1992), a horror movie directed by Bernard Rose and based on a story written by Clive Barker. The "Candyman" is ably portrayed by veteran actor Tony Todd.

In this film, set in Chicago, Illinois a college student, "Helen Lyle"(played by Virginia Madsen), while accumulating content for a research paper, investigates a local urban legend that thrives in a section of Chicago suburbia called Cabrini Green. This legend, a fellow named "Candyman", is a shadowy, hulking menace who sports a huge hook in place of his absent right hand and, turns out, isn't afraid to use it. Is he real? And is it true that if you recite "Candyman" aloud five times this fellow will appear?

The film itself is a moody, grim feature with lots of use of shadows and often sudden, graphic scenes of violence in which the "Candyman" employs his hook on some very unfortunate victims. Take a look at the trailer:

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Food For Thought: Soylent Green(1973)

(The late) Charlton Heston has always been one of my favorite actors. I have many films on DVD starring this great actor. His portrayal of astronaut "George Taylor" in 1968's Planet Of The Apes is terrific and helped cement this actor's lasting fame among fans of Heston and classic sci-fi movies. While Heston's portrayal of "Taylor" will always be a favorite I also recently watched Heston at work in another sci-fi movie on DVD, a film that is also something of a mystery and suspense thriller. I'm referring to Soylent Green, directed by Richard Fleischer and first released theatrically back in 1973 by MGM.

The film's story: in the year 2022 the world has degenerated into a miserable, polluted and over populated cesspool of mostly unemployed and malnourished humanity. In New York City the population has swelled to forty million, pollution hangs over the metropolis like a cloudy haze and mostly unemployed citizens live in squalor, packed in like cattle among the dilapidated and run down neighborhoods. Helmeted riot police patrol the city and, to subdue those who riot, employ trucks equipped with large buckets to scoop up rioters and dispose of them as if they were garbage.

A lone, cube shaped consumable called "Soylent Green" is mass produced and distributed to the masses to prevent their starvation. Meanwhile, Detective-Sergeant Thorn(Charlton Heston) is assigned to investigate the murder of a high ranking member of the Soylent Corporation, manufacturer of the substance "Soylent Green". The murder victim is named "Simonson"(Joseph Cotten). Thorn's investigation, aided by his own personal and human library from the past, "Sol"(Edward G. Robinson), leads him to a disturbing revelation about the origins of "Soylent Green", which also and subsequently jeopardizes Thorn's own life. (no other spoilers)

The sets used to portray the squalid and miserable living conditions in NYC are marvelous. The city's suburbia and downtown areas are effectively made to look like one huge run down shanty in the film. Charlton Heston brings his typical on screen presence and deliberate, often urgent mannerisms to the character of Police Detective "Thorn". Edward G. Robinson is also quite good, albeit a tragic figure for me, a man who is greatly despondent at what he has seen as the entire city gradually degenerates before his eyes, and over the decades, into little more than a human septic tank.

The cast for this film: Charlton Heston, Edward G. Robinson, Chuck Connors, Joseph Cotten, Brock Peters & Leigh Taylor Young.

The Region 1 DVD of Soylent Green, released by Warner Home Video, can be bought online at Amazon(click the title of this blog entry to see it for sale at Amazon). Click the DVD cover art image above to see the DVD for sale also.

The trailer for Soylent Green(1973):

Friday, September 4, 2009

Go With The Flow: The Blob(1988)

The decade of the 1980's is a great source for many of my favorite sci-fi and horror films. I'm not generally enamored with remakes but in August of 1988 a film directed by Chuck Russell was released in theaters called The Blob, a horror movie about a predatory, monstrous sized gelatinous organism that preys on and devours locals of a small town. This film is in many ways like the 1958 film of the same name, which starred a very young up and coming actor named Steve McQueen.

The special effects in The Blob(1988) are quite good. Many of the character interactions are often humorous. Woe to anyone unfortunate enough to be swallowed up by the pink, throbbing and ravenous "blob".

The film's trailer: