Month: October 2015


Year: 1998
Directed By: Joe Chappelle
Written By: Dean Koontz, novel and screenplay


This is also a movie I had the privilege of seeing on the big screen in the years I spent wandering from movie to movie in the theaters I grew up in. Just so happens I had read the book this movie was adapted from and that made it more special. This was a movie that I saw at a young age and it provided one of my first opportunities to compare a story in terms of film vs. book. It taught me a valuable lesson that would always remind me why reading books was always more fulfilling than watching films if you have the patience to do it.

First things first with this movie. I do and always have loved Rose McGowan as an actress and enjoy any opportunity to see her. Since Scream I have had a thing for the chick that would go on to be Cherry Darling. I love that she is in this movie and for me at least that makes it better. Her notoriety unfortunately came more from her personal life than it did her acting career but I was a fan long before she became the heroine in one of my favorite movies. In this movie she is nothing more than the moody teenage hot girl but it’s a part she was well suited for in 1998. There are more important parts to the cast, but almost twenty years later she is still the only one I really think about when it comes to this movie.

That is unjust however as it goes to the other actors. I am sure plenty have heard all about how “[Ben] Affleck was the bomb in Phantoms yo!” This was early in the game for Affleck, who would go on to have a career of many ups and downs. Currently on an up in his career it would be proper to simply concur with the notion that he “was the bomb” in this movie. Liev Schreiber played a really eerie and pervy side character/sort of villain. I think Schreiber is a good actor but it has always been hard for me to separate him from the character I saw him play in this movie. I was like 14 when I saw this movie and even younger when I read the book. Necrophilia was something I was innocently unaware of and the image of him touching the dead body left an uncomfortable impression on me. It’s a shame because he has achieved so much but no matter what I see him in my mind brings back that sick feeling he gave me in this movie.

Of course, the most important actor in this movie is Peter O’Toole. He played a significant and interesting part in the movie. A great actor notable for being nominated for the Best Actor award multiple times yet never winning. He was terrific in this movie, bringing all, if any, credibility this movie had as a film.

It’s been twenty years, or near enough to not matter, since I read the book this movie was based on. I remember that it was rather interesting and actually scared me despite myself. I didn’t like the movie as much, obviously, and there were casting issues I had problems with but don’t remember. That happens with all adaptations for readers though, sometimes we can’t separate from the characters we create in our minds. What I remember the most is simply how much more to the story there was in the book. I realized when I watched this for the first time that had I not read the book I may not have understood much of this as the story got started. There was a defining substance missing from this movie as it got started and as the scenes progressed. Like watching cliff notes to a larger story. It was interesting to see certain scenes on screen but far too much of the story was rushed through with no substance behind it. I remember how I felt after watching this movie and it’s a lesson that left an impression on me.

No movie, regardless how well done, can ever serve as a true adaptation to a book. Even when the greatest of efforts are made there is no way to simply convey the same kind of emotional impact you receive from letting the story build within your own mind. It takes patience to read, but patience can be the most rewarding thing there is when you apply it appropriately. I can’t remember much about the book this movie was based on after so long but I remember that it told a much more fulfilling story than the one I saw when I watched the adaptation on screen.

I meant to just write about a horror film when I sat down to do this post, it is Halloween season after all, but here I find myself doing something different all together. Now, what I mainly want to get across is the importance of reading and how film adaptations never measure up. The only exception I will accept is The Godfather (present your argument if you please), otherwise a book offers more than any movie can ever hope to. The Godfather was an incredible adaptation and one of my favorite books and movies of all time. Nevertheless even in that circumstance the book was much better than the film.

Reading is an art that has evolved and changed over the years. I for one still enjoy it the old fashion way, with either newspaper or physical book in hand. When you read the news you have to loudly flip those pages into place, the feeling of that is part of it. Same thing with a book, for me at least, the feeling of holding a book and turning those pages makes all the difference. Not to mention that by reading it you dive so much deeper into the story, and achieve such a higher level of understanding from different points of view.

I’m going to call this a so-so horror film, one that you really don’t appreciate unless you read the book. Otherwise it requires patience to get in to and then to follow through with. Affleck may be “the bomb yo” but this movie is still a rushed through version of a larger story. I want to note that there was a time I liked this movie despite the current mentality wherein which it has become a catalyst for my opportunity to push reading on people. That being said:

Read more books people. Do it the old fashioned way. Buy a book at a bookstore and use your imagination to let an author take you on a ride you will never forget. There are great movies based on books, but not a one of them can ever match up to what was put in print. I love movies most off all but I always try to make time for reading no matter the content. Be it A Brief History of Time or Game of Thrones, there are lessons to be learned and I prefer to learn them with book in hand and my mind building the story as I go. It’s a physical thing that drives the lesson or entertainment home. If you have made it this far you obviously aren’t opposed to reading. You should be spending this time with a real author. A writer who can make you question yourself and teach you something all in the same sentence. They are out there, and they are waiting to inspire you.

This movie offers some good scenes here and there but more or less doesn’t measure up to what it was based on. I think if you are looking for something scary during this Halloween weekend you can definitely do better than this one.

Tales From the Crypt: Demon Knight

Year: 1995
Directed By: Ernest R Dickerson
Written By: Ethan Reiff, Cyrus Voris, and Mark Bishop


I snuck into this movie at the theater when I was eleven years old and I loved it. I have mentioned many times throughout this blog that I saw HBO on television many times as a kid. I had never actually seen Tales From the Crypt but I saw plenty of commercials for it over time and always wanted to watch it. When I found an opportunity in 95 to just casually slip into the theater it was playing in I took full advantage. I was young and this movie dazzled me. I connected with it through fear, an unexpected opportunity to see nudity, and the feeling of doing something I wasn’t supposed to. I distinctly remember watching the scene with Uncle Willie and all the topless ladies; knowing what I was doing was against the rules but loving it nonetheless.

For me, at the age of eleven in 1995, the Crypt Keeper was an interesting icon. Not unlike Joe Camel in that he was really cool yet represented something that I wasn’t old enough for. I thought they were both so cool and I was instantly hooked into this movie I wasn’t supposed to be watching when he was on screen introducing it. He called this one, Demon Knight, and I was sucked in from the very get go because of what he represented to me at such a young age.

I think this movie offers a fun and unique story that is good for the horror genre albeit more silly than scary. Nostalgic quality or not, I always find myself enjoying this one. I never saw the other Tales From the Crypt theatrical release, Bordello of Blood, but I have never heard any reason to either. If anybody out there thinks it’s worth my time let me know. I would have no doubt seen it at some point over the years but have never been a fan of Dennis Miller. It must have bombed at the box office severely because sadly there have never been any more Tales From the Crypt movies.

I really like Billy Zane in the part of the main villain. He is cunning and cool as he tries to pick apart the people unlucky enough to be at this boarding house when he came. He seems so official in the beginning in his duster and cowboy hat. So much so that the cops simply go along with him because he is so convincing. When he finally reveals himself I love how he monologues as he splatters his blood everywhere to summon demons. The unique ways in which he manipulates his way into the people inside the hotel is awesome. My favorite is when he brings CCH Pounder her arm on a platter and she uses her stump to “give him the finger.” Throughout the entire movie Zane is both witty and cool as the upper level demon but in the end his penchant for monologuing gets him.

I always thought Jada Pinkett was hot in this movie with the short bleached blonde hair, back in the days before she was Jada Pinkett Smith. She has accomplished plenty in her career and she is a very beautiful woman but I have never seen anything from her that seriously impressed me. In this movie she bugs me now and again as the hardened tough guy but she’s cute enough to excuse that and her character overcomes in the end to be the chosen one.

There are some other notable actors on hand for this movie that should be mentioned. Thomas Haden Church is on board as a real asshole type of character. CCH Pounder also has a notable part and an awesome final scene. I have to mention her as Amber and I share a longtime joke about her name where any chance we get we say it phonetically. Ca-CH Pounder, we were real big fans of The Shield so we have been doing that one forever. William Sadler plays the long suffering hero carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders. I am not a big fan of Sadler but I think he handles this role very well.

I like how his characters story develops and goes back to biblical times with the blood of Christ as the only weapon against these demons. Sadler is more than a simple guy but a certified keymaster for God! The lone protector of the only object that protects us all from darkness. He’s just looking for his successor and it just so happens to be one of these unlikely people grouped at the hotel. It is significant that Pinkett mentions earlier in the film that she was a thief as the first protector of the key was also a thief. Why a thief is entrusted with anything of value is beyond me but with a movie like this you just go with the flow.

This is a fun movie but not all that scary in truth. Yeah when I was eleven years old the demons scared me a bit but at that young and tender age the Candyman had forced me to sleep with a night light for a couple months. Of course, nothing in this film can produce fear quite like Tony Todd. As a Tales from the Crypt movie I think it is intended to be more fun than scary anyway. I like how that series fused horror with humor and sexuality. It’s a shame the show doesn’t live on in any capacity because it was a lot of fun while it lasted. Just as this movie itself is, a lot of fun. With the spooky month of October rolling on there are certainly scarier films you can watch but few that will be as much fun as this one.


The Ring

Year: 2002
Directed By: Gore Verbinski
Witten By: Ehren Kruger (screenplay) Koji Suzuki (Novel)


I was young when this movie came out and remember watching it with Amber while we were dating. Despite all my fearless pride I had to admit after seeing it that it had scared me. This is an effective movie and that is the impression it has always left on me. I was disappointed to find out it was a remake of a Japanese film because even in 2002 I was disappointed with the lack of quality horror films being released. Here was a good one and it wasn’t even original but simply an Americanized version of a foreign film that was probably better. That’s all beside the point because as I sit down to watch this again now I find myself jumping at the intended moments. This movie may have not been an original idea from Hollywood but it is a scary and effective movie nonetheless and I like that about it.

Another thing I have always found distinctly impressive about this film was that I had a preconceived idea about it before watching it that was overcome by the fact that the film was so good. This movie is rated PG-13 and at the age of 18 I couldn’t imagine that a horror movie suitable enough for a 13 year old could be scary at all. I went in with my newly acquired graduation from high school and unrealistic sense of adulthood thinking I was above such a movie. I learned something about myself when I realized I was wrong. This movie did scare me, and it wasn’t even rated R!!!! This movie didn’t need excessive profanity, or nudity, or gore to be scary. While I tend to enjoy all those things in horror films I admire this one all the more for not needing it.

This movie is interesting to see now as it features a technology we have passed over entirely today. Back in 2002 casette tapes were just beginning to start fading out and at that time most people still had VCRs. Something I love to do these days is ask, “what’s a V..C..R..??” whenever the opportunity arises. It is such a quickly forgotten technology that some of the younger kids I work with are actually entirely unaware of it’s existence. It’s interesting to a see a movie like this made only 13 years ago that reminds me it wasn’t that long ago that things were so different.

I always had my eye on up and coming directors in 2002 and I remember noting the name Gore Verbinski after seeing this film. I expected big things from him and really enjoyed another one of his films, The Weather Man, a couple of years later. Unfortunately in all the years since he was seemingly gobbled up by Disney and responsible for many Johnny Depp make-up fests at their behest. I am referring to the Pirate films as well as The Lone Ranger and I was never a fan. Of course I haven’t seen the later but the tales of the eye-liner swashbuckler made me develop a severe dislike for an actor I was once very fond of. Nevertheless I still think what he did with this film was very impressive and I enjoy it.

The climax in this film is very scary as it brings us into the resolution of the mystery. It explains what happens to the evil girl if not exactly what makes the evil girl evil. A little bit of mystery left over for us to puzzle out isn’t a bad thing however. The best part about this movie is that when you find yourself fulfilled with understanding and think it is all said and done you are sorely mistaken. The most fearful scene in the movie is left for last and it sends you walking away thoroughly shaken. As is exactly what a good horror film should do.

One thing that occurred to me while I was watching this movie struck me as kind of silly. As scary as the notion of being thrown in a well and left to die may be I find myself wondering how practical that is. Granted you kill and dispose of the demon in one motion but wouldn’t this just soil the fresh water in which they probably rely on living on an island? I have been drinking quite a bit of coffee as I finish this movie this morning and caffeine can spark odd thoughts in my head. It may be foolish to leave your murdered demon spawn to decay in the well of drinking water you rely on to live, but The Ring turning out to be the Sun’s outline on a closed well is still really cool and scary. The ring is the last thing the little demon girl saw before she died, and it’s the last thing you will see before you die too!

I think this movie is worth your time and I think that even with a PG-13 rating it is capable of scaring anyone. If you are looking for a scary movie this Halloween then you can’t go wrong with this one. Despite that I don’t really feel like this movie is right for the season. I jumped ahead and the alphabetical order on the rack to do it during the Halloween season but it doesn’t have the holiday vibe to it at all. The coloring is a bluish gray which is great for the tone of the film but far from the orange and black of All Hallow’s Eve. The whole point of the horror film festivals of the season though is to find something scary and in that case this one qualifies. If you haven’t seen it then you have missed out on something scary.


The People Under the Stairs

Year: 1991
Directed By: Wes Craven
Written By: Wes Craven


I don’t really think this is a good movie but I think it is undeniably creepy and thus a good horror movie. The movie falls short with a weak story that just really rubs me the wrong way. I can’t love a movie about a young child wants to grow up to be a doctor but is instead “taught the trade” of breaking and entering. Nevertheless the scares come relentlessly in this one and they are unique. A good horror movie from a master of horror Wes Craven.

The story in this movie isn’t a good one per say, but it serves as a means for getting victims into this terrifying home. A home that is seemingly inescapable once entered and features a prowling carnivorous Rottweiler, a moaning ghoulish guy hiding in the walls, booby traps around every corner, and a basement full of cannibals. The owners of the house also manage to rival Leatherface’s people as possibly the scariest family of all time. There is no woman scarier than Kathy Bates in Miserybut Wendy Robie is a close second as the woman in this film.

Listed in the credits simply as “woman”, Robie is fearsome in the part. The mild mannered look she has to go along with her sudden ferocity is terrifying. She had a short lived career in film but if nothing else she deserves plenty of credit for this role. It is virtually impossible to predict what she will do no matter the circumstances she is in on screen, and when she does make a move it is enough to make your blood turn cold. Along side her brother, “daddy,” she is even scarier. Played by Everitt McGill, the man is so violent and intimidating. When he is running around the house in a gimp suit blasting a shotgun into the walls it’s scary as hell. He approaches the opportunity for cruelty with an excitement that reminds me of Jethro on the Beverly Hillbillies. It’s the childish enthusiasm to violence that makes him even scarier beyond his appearance.

I think this is a scary movie but it leaves me with a bad feeling inside. I guess that is what a good horror movie does but this one doesn’t do it right. It’s scary yeah but the story is altogether just off putting and I don’t care for it. The kid that plays the star is quick to be a badass but I just can’t get past my frustration that he is discouraged from achievement and turned so quickly toward crime. He’s literally intimidated into compliance by Ving Rhames, who plays a real ass.

I think this movie is cool for the season but otherwise I’d leave it alone. I had only seen this movie once before and found it impressive because it had so many unique horror elements and I thought it was scary. I had looked forward to seeing it a second time to review it for the blog but found the experience and overall disappointment. It’s good if you are looking for something scary but falls short of you want entertainment to go with it.


Year: 1990
Directed By: Rob Reiner
Written By: Stephen King (novel) William Goldman (screenplay)


Has there ever been a scarier movie? These days when I asked people if they’ve seen it; if they say no I just give them a look. I shake my head and explain to them that they just don’t know. If you’ve haven’t seen this movie then you really just don’t know anything about horror. Some might categorize this as a thriller as opposed to horror but I disagree. This movie is one of the most terrifying films you can come across and if you haven’t seen it then this is the perfect time to see it.

This movie almost starts off like a feel good story but takes such a dramatic twist so soon. Kathy Bates in the role of the Florence Nightingale-like Annie Wilkes is one of the most terrifying characters I have ever seen. I have never found another guy who has seen this movie when asked “have you seen Misery?” didn’t have that look of understanding on his face. This is a terrifying movie and it scares men most of all because deep down we, as men, are all afraid of women. Especially the kind of woman who seems so nice at first then gets so crazy, and like all women she has all the power.

To be at the mercy of an Annie Wilkes is the thing that all men fear more than anything. She’s a woman and she’s mad, it doesn’t matter if you did it or not because she is looking at you with that look! Under the scenario we see in this movie she is  not only giving you that look but she has complete control over you. Kathy Bates, with her gentle attitude peppered in the persona of a violent and aggressive woman is just terrifying in a way words cannot describe. She has such an innocent appearance with her turtlenecks and he cross hanging around her neck, but if you look into her eyes you can see the steel. She is as ruthless as she is unpredictable; turn your back on her and there is no telling what’s in store for you.

Something I find really interesting is the fact that Kathy Bates won an Academy Award for this film. I cannot recall any other actor or actress every being nominated for a horror film, much less a low budget Stephen King adaptation. The Green Mile got nominated sure but that was a Tom Hanks movie in the 90s which changes everything. For Kathy Bates to win with this role is a true accomplishment and I think she stands head and shoulders above her peers as an actress.

I’ll never forget how terrified I was the first time I saw this movie when Paul first got out of his room and into Annie Wilkes’ house. I was like 11 maybe and I was so scared of what would happen if he was caught. Annie Wilkes was scarier than Michael Myers, Jason Vorhees, and Freddy Kruger all rolled into one. When she starts flipping out on him, casually splashes him with gasoline, and then later throws that paper on his broken legs she trumps all fearsome others. Those guys, I could see even at 11, were just make believe but Annie Wilkes was real. I had seen that look she gets in her eyes in the eyes of my own mother a time or two and was thus predestined to fear it. What would Annie Wilkes possibly do when she found out he was out and about in her home? I was watching this with a group of older guys who were friends of my brother and I remember yelling out during that scene for him to “get back!” One of my brother’s friends turned and gave me a chuckle but no one else moved or made a sound. When I looked at the chuckler I could see in his eyes that he was just as afraid as I was and merely looking for an escape from it.

Kathy Bates had scared him too and to this day we still talk and I occasionally remind him of it. In this film Kathy Bates not only put herself on the map but she defied expectations in every conceivable way. I admire Bates as an actress so much because she is a true talent. Too often in the business of Hollywood a pretty face is chosen over real talent for the sake of making money. I think this is a mistake that not only gives girls an unrealistic idea of what they should be but takes away from the potential of any film. Over time Kathy Bates has proven to be more than simply a woman who can be scary as hell but a true bonafide actress with art and capability to do anything.

James Caan is so easily overshadowed in this movie by his co-star but he is just as good in the movie if truth be told. He fits the part perfectly and carries the role well. I have always been a fan of the man who brought Sonny Corleone to life and I always enjoy a chance to see him on screen. I am vaguely familiar with an unfortunate turn of events in his personal life and that is a shame. I think he is a terrific actor and would much prefer to always see him on top as a successful man in his sunset years.

As I mentioned in the intro, this movie is classified as a thriller by some but I challenge anybody to sit through this movie and back that up. If you sit through this movie and at the end claim to be thrilled as opposed to horrified I will call you a liar. This movie is scary plain and simple and it takes place in a scenario that could so easily really happen to someone. This book was written by Stephen King specifically after his prior book was criticized for being too away from his own genre. King is capable of writing anything but people know him most for horror. This movie is a horror film and I won’t accept any other genre because a movie so scary can only be classified in one way.

I bought this movie specifically for this month of horror that we do on the blog and I chose it specifically to be the first of the movies to be published because it sets the tone right. This is a scary movie with performances that are worth seeing. If you are looking for something this Halloween that will keep you on the edge of your seat and make you fear the nice looking person you pass on the street but don’t really know then this is the one to see. I think it is a great movie and undoubtedly a scary horror film.