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Tag: Stephen King

The Shining

by on Oct.30, 2010, under Daily Review

It’s difficult to say anything about this one and it’s so unfair on all the other films I’ve sweated over this year. It should really never have been included in the list as how can you compare this with any other horror film that’s ever been made. Stanley Kubrick is the finest director that ever graced film and could work within any chosen genre, sandal, space or horror. He was a story teller but knew the industry inside out and it shows. The Shining is a perfect film from start to finish. Superb set sequences using every technique in the book and what a stunning cast. The whole thing is the mastermind of Kubrick who shows just how to make a horror film. Adapted from Stephen King’s original novel, Kubrick takes the tale and recreates with his own medium.

Let’s break the plot down a little. Jack (Nicholson) gets a job as a caretaker for a huge hotel whilst it’s closed during the winter months. Taking his wife (Shelly Duvall) and young son Danny (Danny Lloyd) with him, they are isolated for 5 months during snow storms and frost, but the weather outside is the least of their problems as they soon discover the hotel holds some dark secrets and isolation can do some very strange things to the mind.

This is the basics. As a viewer, it’s easy to look far deeper as the plot is outstanding with connotations, sub plots, diversions and imagery all over the place. Danny is possessed with an invisible friend who seems to offer a form of protection and vision of the past and future whilst Jack tacks a conflicting possession, one which is tied with the house which hints at a reoccurrence of personalities over the years, bringing them back and pushing them to extremes. But the marriage is far from healthy to start with and conflict is evident from the very first scenes.

The film is flawless in look and feel and great to experience. It’s an example of a merging of perfect novel with a master of the cinema creating a truly haunting film. Performances from Nicholson, Duvall and Lloyd are about as good as it gets. For me, the highlight is the scene between Danny and Dick the cook; a magical moment which pushes the difficulty of how to express danger to a child who you know could be in danger but you also know that he’s gonna be facing this on his own for the next 5 months. You don’t exactly want to scare the poor kid. The other highlight is between Jack and Delbert in the men’s room, a stunning scene which shows an intriguing reversal of roles with Delbert playing the humble waiter and Jack, the cocky punter, soon reverse with Delbert taking the upper hand and voice of the house, Jack the humble servant. Stunning acting.

I could talk for hours about this one. Perfection.

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Carrie

by on Oct.18, 2010, under Daily Review

Never has there been better casting for a role in a movie than Sissy Spacek in the lead here. All due credit to Brian De Palma for casting the young actress as she holds the film up and makes it exactly what it is. There isn’t much in the way of plot, it’s simple and I’m actually surprised Stephen King could get a whole novel out of this, but that just shows what a great author he is.

After being tormented in the showers at school, following an innocent misunderstanding over her first time of the month, a young Carrie White (Sissy Spacek) is the focus. Chris (Nancy Allen) is out for revenge with her heart throb boyfriend Billy (John Travolta) whilst one of the other girls, Sue (Amy Irving) feels guilty and persuades her own heartthrob Tommy (William Katt) to ask young Carrie to the Prom. Meanwhile. Carries mother (Piper Laurie) is a religious freak with serious issues. To top things off finally, Carrie has the magical ability to move things with her mind.

Basically, King starts us off with the basics, an underdog who gets teased. What if we tease her to the brink of absolute humiliation? Then, what if we give the underdog, looks that kill? What about if she’s really sweet but we still make the viewer support her in her massacre? What if she kills everyone, even her mother?

The film is gorgeous to watch, it’s well paced and super enjoyable. As with most films which follow the underdog, we are totally in support but Carrie is like no other. She’s ridiculously sweet, naive and innocent which conflicts with the flip side when she turns all psycho.

De Palma shoots a great film. Loads of stunning technical genius on show here. From the opening soft focus dreamy shower scene, the amazing spinning dance scene, the gym/workout scene to the masterful swooping crane shot which follows the wire along the trap during the ball presentation. Finally, beautiful use of split screen glorified with red gels.

Lastly, the back story which knits the plot together, gives reason for Carrie’s actions and character, is one of religious insanity. When the mother says ‘the sin never dies’ it echo’s through the viewers mind. The torture she endures her young daughter, and it’s this which creates the true horror here. The evil comes from the mother, allowing the character of Carrie, submissive for the most part in her presence, moments of teenage rebellion are lapped up by the audience.

The film stands the test of time, even though it looks super 70’s, it’s a historical document which is east to sit through but will seep deep into your mind.

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Salem’s Lot

by on Oct.13, 2010, under Daily Review

Some films have such a reputation, a pedestal so high, impossible to climb down from. Not only amongst vampire films, this Salem’s Lot is recognized as one of the creepiest and greatest horror films ever made. As a young lad, many of my friends would talk about this one, famous scenes but for some reason, I never got to see it as a kid and ever since, it’s just passed me by. So here we are and this is the primary reason for the project, to watch all the greats I never got around to and revisit those I remember being great.

Ben Mears (David Soul) a horror novelist seeks inspiration in a small New England town, he soon finds he’ll have more than enough material for his next release as it becomes more and more apparent that vampires have moved in to an old house on the outskirts. Slowly, the residents become victims.

Simple plot, based on the novel by Stephen King, this tale focus’ on the small American town and all the inhabitants, something Kings revisits over and over in his work. His eye for small detail and interesting quirky characters is exceptional and works on any level, be it Zombies in the town, Martians or Vampires. It’s always how these characters react to a threat of something different and how they learn to believe in the fantastical. So, what better a director to take on this movie than the king of small town America, Tobe Hooper. Once again, Hooper takes on a film with a small group of antisocial villains who prey out of sight on the locals of the town, same as Chainsaw, same as Fun House, same as Eaten Alive.

Does it work and does it deserve it’s reputation? I’m not convinced. Maybe it had a bigger impact back then, but watching it today is not an easy task. It’s long and steady and builds plenty of character; we get to know pretty much everyone in the town, but the scares are few and far between and the overall plot is pretty common. Maybe it’s just become common. I don’t know really.

Saying this, it’s not bad though. The cast are great. Soul is perfect in the lead. James Mason is a brilliant addition to any cast. Bonnie Bedelia is a great love interest and with George Dzundza and Ed Flanders in support. The script works well as expected, but the overall length could have done with cutting down slightly. Hooper adds some great direction, some classic camera work too. Highlights for me are Ben standing over the grave as the camera sits in low, POV; very nice. I love the vampire too, non of this beast inside business, here the vampire is a monster and very spooky looking. The legendary floating kid at the window is also genius and brilliantly done. One of my other fave moments is when Ben is staking the vamp, unstoppable, monstrous and crazy, questioning just what is going on inside the novelists mind. The scene goes on and on and he just keeps swinging that hammer, then it becomes apparent that more vamps, turned victims are crawling along the corridor in the distance. Very nice. Lastly, great ending.

So, overall, is this worth the reputation? I’m still not sure. Of cause it has some great scenes, great cast, great script and brilliant direction, but a great film should still stand up against today’s standards, should landmark and break barriers and have something to say. This one is entertaining, but feels dated and doesn’t really do anything different with the vampire genre. I know hundreds of vampire films never both with anything new, but this one is basically the same plot as Dracula but in America. Is it worth watching? I’d say yes, purely to make up your own decision and to experience the floating kid.

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