horror movie

The Hills Have Eyes

Year: 1977
Directed By: Wes Craven
Written By: Wes Craven

RYAN’S REVIEW

This is a classic horror film by one of the men who made a career out of making them. Like many classic horror films its name has been tarnished by a subpar remake that people are more apt to see and associate the title with these days. It’s a shame that we are in a film era where producers are more eager to simply rip off something great rather than take a chance on something new. The genre has suffered because of it. It’s time for a new breed of horror filmmakers to step up and follow in the footsteps of men like Wes Craven to bring horror films back to their full potential.

It’s been years since I saw the remake of this film. I saw it when it first came out and never went back to it. It doesn’t compare to this film and it only frustrated and disappointed me as a film fan when I saw it. This movie is absolutely terrifying and didn’t have to resort to cheap Hollywood ideas like nuclear mutated people or whatever they did in the remake. This movie is about a good old fashioned freakish family of mountain maniacs who have flourished in a place America has forgotten about. These people are much scarier because they are bloodthirsty savages motivated by the desire for food more than anything else. It just so happens they are down with eating human meat and have their eye on the delicacy the unfortunate family have on hand in the baby. Such a terrifying and unheard of prospect. Movies are much scarier when they feature the deranged who are desperate and even more willing to do anything.

This large family made the bad decision to go where they didn’t belong and that’s where real horror movie scenarios take place. They cross paths with the wrong kind and they are too far out for anybody to help them. One by one they are all subjected to horrifying deaths unless they fight to defend themselves. This family is played by good actors and I like the group as they are. The movie really holds no bars in killing them off either and you can never be quite sure who will survive this ordeal. I do love that they have a pair of badass German Shepherds and are able to rely on them for defense. I really like the younger dad who clearly doesn’t have the respect of his lawman father-in-law yet rises to the challenge when things get tough. Plus he looks kind of like Howard Wolowitz with a mustache and I like that about him.

                

These are the best pics I could find of the two. I spent the whole movie trying to figure out who this guy looked like and it wasn’t until this final shot of the film that it hit me. He looked like Howard from The Big Bang Theory. I am a big fan of the show and I specifically like Simon Helberg. The similarities between him and the character in this film mainly come from the haircut and the few times Howard has sported a mustache.

As for the maniac family I think they are as scary as they come. I like their tribal lifestyle in the mountainous desert atmosphere. I love how wild and unkempt they look because it is so intimidating. Their names are awesome and something I specifically remember not liking about the remake. It’s cool that these savages are all named after planets and I’m surprised they failed to utilize that in the remake effort. The scar across the face of Pluto is wicked and even though there are a few screw ups with it in the final cut of the film it is still cool when you see it. There are several shots in the film where the scar is obviously absent from his face, but it’s a low budget film from the 70s and such things are excusable. Michael Berryman, who plays Pluto, is as scary looking as a man can be because of his really unfortunate looking face. He has made a career out of that mug and been utilized many times in movies like this one. He brings a lot to the film with his look and is perfect for the role.

This movie isn’t for the faint of heart because it is a gritty and graphic horror film. Such films offer their own forms of excitement and this one offers plenty. It comes out of an era when scary movies had a much harder hitting impact. So much of what comes out today is intended to shock us rather than scare us. The movies that come out now are so aggressive in their efforts.  The greatest horror movies showcase a certain level of patience and build up to the terror that awaits. I appreciate a film like this one so much more because for whatever reason they just can’t do it these days. There aren’t horror movies coming out that have the same capabilities of the classics. There is always hope to be had with the future and maybe one day horror films will make a return to what they used to be.

This is a Wes Craven film and few men are as synonymous with the horror genre as he is. Wes Craven has built a legacy for himself by making scary movies and this film is part of what made him great. I love how savage this one is because that’s what you really want when you watch a movie like this. I also love that there isn’t really an end. The film just stops in the middle of a dramatic moment and leaves the rest to your imagination. There is a sequel to this film made seven years later, also by Wes Craven. I haven’t seen it and if anybody reading this has then please leave a comment and let me know how it was.

Bottom line on this one. If you want something that will make you get up and lock your doors this is the movie for you. If you want something that will scare you and make you think twice before ever detouring on a road trip through the west then see this movie. It’s great for Halloween season and it will hit the mark if you are looking to be scared.

 

 

The Cabin in the Woods

Year: 2012
Directed By: Drew Goddard
Written By: Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard

RYAN’S REVIEW

For the life of me I can’t remember what it was that prompted Amber and I to see this film for the first time. With the unoriginal crap generally hitting theaters these days from the horror genre being what they are we usually don’t waste our time with them. It must have been a really slow season for movies hitting the On Demand channel but whatever the reason we took a chance on something we otherwise never would have seen. We started watching it casually and more or less taking it for more of the same before it really started to surprise us. This movie has a rather interesting twist on the same old same old and I really liked it. I tend to like horror movie satires and this one is specifically cool because I love a scenario in which everyone dies and the whole world hangs in the balance only to fall over the edge.

Like any other typical horror movie this one is about a group of teenagers who go on an outdoorsy trip and scary things start to happen to them. Only in this one those things are happening because men for unknown reasons are manipulating the whole situation in the most interesting ways. These two interesting fellows are at the controls casually doing their jobs, on what is alluded to being a big day for them, using technology to set up the five happy college kids in terrifying situations. You don’t really understand what their job is but you know that they are controlling everything for some reason.  The mystery behind it only makes the movie more interesting and exciting when these guys start to turn up the volume.

The lead role in this very typical group of young people is the obvious jock played by Chris Hemsworth. I find it really funny that at one point he is standing at a gas pump and for absolutely no apparent reason he is holding a football. He is just such a cliché character and it comes so natural to the mighty son of Odin. I love when Thor tries his Evel Knievel move after a vaguely heartfelt speech of abandonment and simply crashes to his death against an invisible wall. His monologue is the kicker because he is promising to bring back help and all of that, but really he is just leaving them behind to escape on his own. I laughed so hard the first time I watched it when he crashes into that wall and dies so unceremoniously. It was at that moment that this movie had me, I specifically remember looking to Amber and saying “I love this.”

My favorite character in this group of obvious characters is the obvious one, being the stoner guy who plays “the fool.” Everybody is acting crazy and he is just looking at them asking, “really?” I also love that he uses his cleverly disguised bong as a weapon when faced with danger. I read that Fran Kranz, who play the fool, needed to do a lot of research in order to play this stoner character including learning how to smoke and roll joints. I find that funny too, it must have been hard putting in that kind of work for his job. In the scene where they are all jumping into the lake he isn’t participating because apparently the guy is too ripped to take his shirt off. Taking that into consideration his prep work makes sense, the ripped guys aren’t usually the pot smokers. As for the rest of the group, or the scholar, the whore, and the virgin. They were all interchangeable and nothing more than pretty faces playing their role.  I don’t think any of them were noteworthy and any actor could have been cast in each of the parts with no notable difference in the film. .

The real golden nuggets in the cast are the men playing the parts of the mysterious operators, and the woman who appears at the end as the boss behind it all. The operators are played by Richard Jenkins and Bradley Whitford and they have great chemistry working together. Their opening scene was specifically written to confuse the audience and make them think they were in the wrong theater. Richard Jenkins, playing the older of the two operators, is a flawlessly talented actor who can do a bit of everything. I specifically like him for his humor because he can be so funny. He is generally unknown by name but everyone recognizes him because he is in so many films. Bradley Whitford has been around forever but I remember him most for playing the bad guy in Billy Madison. In this film he is great playing alongside Jenkins. I specifically like how casual he is with the whole process of his job. Whether he is chit chatting on the ride to the office, firing an automatic weapon against monsters, or dying at the hands of the merman he seems so casual I find it funny. These guys are great together and the way they are portrayed keeps the movie so interesting as it progresses. I love when they think that they have accomplished their goal and they start to party. They are popping champagne and celebrating while over their shoulders Kristen Connolly, who plays “the virgin,” is being brutally beaten on the big screen.

The end of the film features Sigourney Weaver in the top dog role as the boss making a final plea to the two survivors to do what is right for the sake of mankind. I love Sigourney Weaver and her part in this movie is the cherry on top that makes everything so cool. Joss Whedon is a fanboy and all fanboys love the woman who taught us women could be badass in the role of Ripley. Also playing a significant part in another fan favorite, Ghostbusters, Signourney Weaver is near and dear to the hearts of us all.  This seems to me like her cashing in an easy paycheck but her presence gives the film credibility. As always, she brings it when she is on-screen, her performance capped off what was already a fun and exciting movie.

This movie was filmed and shelved for a few years before ever hitting theaters 2012. It just happened to hit the big screen the same year as another hit by Joss Whedon and Chris Hemsworth, The Avengers. In the time that elapsed between shooting and release Hemsworth became an actor of more notoriety. He had made his place in the Marvel superhero world in 2011 when Thor came out so when this film was released his name was in top billing. It made his unceremonious death a bit more surprising when we watched it the first time and all the funnier because it was unexpected. This was not the only film in which that happened to Hemsworth. The remake of Red Dawn was also shot and sat on the shelf for a couple of years before release. I remember that happening but can’t remember the reason. I was very much disappointed by the decision to remake that classic movie about a real conflict with whatever asinine thing happened in the new one.  I don’t know how he did in that film or what befalls his character in it because I will not waste my time watching it, those are precious hours and minutes I cannot get back and feel right about losing.

This is a fun movie from a really cool and continually up and coming filmmaker in Joss Whedon. Depending on how the next Avengers film does, which all indications are that it will be even more awesome, this guy will have his ticket punched and there is no telling what he is capable of doing. I read that he and Drew Goddard wrote this movie rather quickly. It was something he did in his downtime for fun. That says a lot about what he is capable of in the future. This movie has been a welcome addition to the collection and I think it is more than worth your time to see.  This is the time of the year for scary movies and it’s great to have a fun one to throw into the mix.

 

 

AMBER’S REVIEW

I went into this movie thinking it was your everyday scary movie about a cabin in the woods. I think it was fun to go into it like that. I was completely caught off guard with this movie, and in a good way. This is so different from the usual horror flick and that’s what makes it worth watching.

cabinI like this poster! It’s a great way to subtly introduce the movie’s plot. The coloration is great and adds an eerie feeling to the plot of the movie. The typography is not horrible, but could have been handled in a better way. Overall, I really think this poster and movie work so well. It is a refreshing take on a Halloween-esque movie.