2018 In Film – A Preview – January – March

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So, I never really do these preview posts. I tried doing the whole reviewing trailers things and I have a bunch of unpublished posts on those. Still, I thought I’d give this a try as I do always look forward to the new year’s movies and in the past I would send work emails around saying ‘Look, look at these movies coming out in a few months – it’s going to be EPIC’. As this could be a lengthy one (matron), I’m going to be as quick as possible (matron?) and give brief thoughts on every single film Wikipedia currently lists for a 2018 release and whether I think I’ll see it or not. Most of these entries I’ll be basing purely off the wiki entry, unless I happen to have some prior knowledge of the films (which will be unlikely in most cases).

Insidious: The Last Key

I loved the first film, the second I thought was just okay – it expanded the universe, but it became a little convoluted – the whole further stuff was the stuff I liked least in the original. You know, I don’t believe I’ve watched the third one yet, but I will, and I will get around to this eventually too. The trailer looks fine, and while I love Lin Shaye, this looks too much like it’s focusing on her character and the further, neither of which I’m too interested in. Hopefully this isn’t just a cash in, but with new director Adam Robitel (whose Deborah Logan I did like) this could be a dud.

The Strange Ones

I don’t know the Director (s) and I don’t care about the cast and wiki tells me nothing about this aside from it’s a drama – it seems unlikely I’ll see this.

Stratton

I’m not sure if this is supposed to be set in Northern Ireland, but it says it was filmed in Italy – two countries which couldn’t be more different in appearance. It also says this has already been released in the UK. Simon West can be hit and miss when it comes to action movies, but they’re generally entertaining – the cast here is okay, but no-one leaping out at me to give me the impetus to watch. I’ll see it at some point.

The Commuter

It’s Liam Neeson and Jaume Collet-Serra once again, so you know it’s going to be both great and terrible. These are always good for a laugh – my father in law went to school with Liam and they have a best friend in common (so I get to hear all the gossip) and it has become a New Year’s Eve tradition in my house to watch a Liam Neeson action movie so my father in law can comment on how ridiculous it all is. This has a great all round cast – Vera Farmiga can do no wrong and I like Patrick Wilson, Sam Neill, Banks, and McGovern. I’ll see this, though probably not until some New Year’s Eve in the future.

Proud Mary

This will probably be terrible, but it has the hallmarks of a future cult favourite with some Blaxploitation roots. I’ll see this if it gets good reviews, but that seems unlikely.

Freak Show

Some sort of teen balls and based off a book I haven’t read. I think the Young Adult bubble burst a few years ago, but they’re still churning them out. It has an interesting cast but I don’t think there’s anything here to make me watch. I should really check out the trailers for each of these or research a bit more… but what are you gonna do?

Humor Me

It’s Eliot Gould and one of those Concordes people from that show I didn’t watch. This reeks of hipster, so I’ll be avoiding it.

Vazante

A Brazilian period adventure about a cattle farmer? I think I’ll wait for reviews on this one.

Mary And The Witches Flower

You know I love the anime and this looks like an updated Kiki’s Delivery Service which I love, so you can bet I’ll see this at some point.

12 Strong

An epic war film set after 9/11 – this doesn’t have the sort of cast which screams out classy movie, but it nevertheless has Hemsworth, Pena, and the wonderful Michael Shannon. Again, I’ll wait for reviews, but don’t have high hopes.

Den Of Thieves

I don’t think there’s much more mileage in the heist movie to be fair, and the cast looks terrible. It’s Gudegast’s first movie as director, so things don’t look good.

The Leisure Seeker

A road movie about a runaway couple – fine, I usually enjoy road movies. Oh wait, it’s Donald Sutherland and Helen Mirren as the couple, and they’re running away from their kids? Didn’t The Simpsons do this already? Doesn’t seem like something I’ll be seeing.

Maze Runner: The Death Cure

I read an early proof of the first Maze Runner before it was released and touted it as the next big thing (though I thought it would suit a TV show rather than a movie). I haven’t read the other two books, I enjoyed the first movie, but haven’t seen the second. I’ll probably get to this at some point.

Arctic Justice: Thunder Squad

It’s a terrible name, firstly, and it’s not Dreamworks or Disney or Pixar. It does have a decent cast though. I’ll see it if my kids show interest.

Forever My Girl

First off, it’s called Forever My Girl. Secondly, it’s a romance. Thirdly, it’s based around Country music. Finally, I don’t care about the cast. If there was a ever a film I was never likely to see, this is it.

The Insult

I have no idea.

God Particle

It’s the next movie in the Cloverfield series, now they’ve decided to expand that universe. I loved the other two movies, so hopefully this will be good too. I know nothing of the director, but the cast seems good.

A Fantastic Woman

This has already been critically acclaimed, but sounds like something I’d never be interested in.

Winchester: The House That Ghosts Built

It’s another film with an awful name – why are there so many of these? Based on the life of Sarah Winchester who built that wacky house with wacky rooms and stairs, this a a Helen Mirren horror movie. As you don’t get too many of those, I’ll be giving this a shot, though I can’t imagine it’ll be very good.

Armed

An action movie starring and directed by Mario Van Peebles and also featuring a bunch of other familiar faces. This looks like straight to DVD/VOD so I’ll listen for reviews, but I tend to enjoy these for what they are.

The 15:17 to Paris

It’s directed by Clint, so yeah… maybe? However, this has flag waving wank squirted all over it so I hope it doesn’t go down that road. Interestingly, it stars the three guys who were involved in stopping the actual attack, so I guess that’s cool too. I’m not sure why you would ever want to revisit something like that, but fine. It’s rare I don’t have high hopes for a Clint movie, but this looks dubious. Again, terrible name.

Fifty Shades Freed

How many of these books were there? They are all unequivocally terrible and I have no interest in seeing any of the films. Boobies! Cocks! Soft core bumming! I’ll stick with Shannon Tweed, cheers.

Peter Rabbit

My neice and nephew love the show, but my girls aren’t interested. Neither am I. Is this based off the series or a separate entity going back to the book? No idea.

Permission

A romantic comedy, so I’m instantly out unless it has an interesting director or performer. Hall, Stevens, Gershon… fine, but again this looks like something I’ll never want to see.

Monster Family

It’s an animation with some people I like (Emily Watson, Nick Frost) and some I don’t (Catherine Tate). I’ve no idea what it’s about.

Black Panther

I’ve seen maybe… six Marvel movies so far? I don’t know, they’re all basically the same film over and over again, with a new goodie and a new baddie. They’re all fairly boring and generic too. I don’t know much about the character, but I have started watching (or planned to start watching) the MCU movies in order, so I’ll get to this one day.

Early Man

It’s an Aardman Animation, so I’ll see this at some point. I don’t love them like some people do, but they’re always enjoyable.

Loveless

Leviathan was great, this is Andrei Zvyagintsev’s follow up. It has already received acclaim at Cannes and I can see it getting an Academy nod. It doesn’t sound great on paper, but I’ll be giving it a go.

The Party

Another 2017 release, WTF Wikipedia. I haven’t seen it yet anyway. I’m usually not a fan of British film comedies, but this could be an effective political satire. I probably won’t see it, but we’ll see.

Nostalgia

It’s a great cast and I’ve liked some of the director’s previous work, but on the surface this sounds like standard naff indie fare.

Samson

A weird cast makes me think this is going to be a low budget streaming affair, which is strange given everyone’s love for bad Biblical epics – studios tend to throw millions at these things, even though they’re almost never good.

Game Night

This has a cool poster, but… what is it. Wikipedia says it’s an Action Comedy Crime Horror Mystery Thriller movie, so that narrows it down. At least it’s not a fucking musical. The cast is hit and miss for me – more miss than hit to be honest, and I’m not convinced by the writers and directors. If reviews are good I’ll give it a go.

Annihilation

Alex Garland, Natalie Portman, Jennifer Jason Leigh in a sci-fi action horror mess? Yes please. I haven’t read the book, but the trailer looks like a female only Predator mixed with some sort of inter-dimensional balls. I’ll give this a shot.

Every Day

It’s YA time again, but this one sounds particularly bad and none of the cast or crew interest me.

The War With Grandpa

How many films is De Niro going to make like this? Have any been good yet? I liked Grudge Match, but that was a little different. Great cast, but it sounds like Home Alone where the burglar is your own grandfather.

Hannah

It stars Charlotte Rampling… that’s all I know… but sometimes that’s all you need to know.

The Lodgers

A rural horror set in early 20th Century Ireland – so far, so interesting. They’ll lose me if they try to bring in politics, but this seems interesting and the director’s Let Us Prey was decent.

Red Sparrow

It’s not another Marvel movie, is it? Francis Lawrence directs… I hated Constantine, I Am Legend was fine but I have ill feelings towards it given it’s my favourite book of all time, and The Hunger Games movies are okay, but bloated. Jennifer Lawrence stars as a Russian Spy (because Russia doesn’t have any actresses?) who falls for a CIA guy. Decent cast, guessing this will be generic.

Pickings

Neo-noir? Yes please, and the fact that I know nothing of the cast or the director gives me hope this could be a new and original piece.

Death Wish

Eli Roth has never lived up to his potential. His movies tend to have good ideas but are each very flawed and usually fall away in their second half. The world is nicely set up for a new Death Wish but I’m not sure Eli Roth is the right man to takes things forwards. Based on what I’ve seen this doesn’t look or sound good, but we’ll see.

Foxtrot

An Israeli movie which shows the life an death of a soldier, generating some controversy about it possibly criticizing the military. Yeah, it’s not like their army hasn’t committed atrocities – just like every other army. Admit it, own it.

Alpha

This sounds interesting, a boy and a wolf roaming the wilderness is usually the sort of thing where you can let your imagination run wild and make for stunning cinematography. Easy to slip up here though.

Gnome Alone

Wasn’t there another (or other) Gnome animations recently? Is this related? Sounds like a straight to streaming movie.

A Wrinkle In Time

This will either be a beast, or a monstrous flop. I like the idea, even if it’s been done a hundred times, but the cast has me worried – no-one exciting here. Directed by Ava DuVernay, always good, and written by Jennifer Lee of Frozen fame, based off a book I haven’t read. I hope it’s good and I hope it’s successful, but I probably won’t see it for a while.

The Upside

Bryan Cranston is rich and crippled, and Kevin Hart is Kevin Hart. A buddy movie, a remake of a massive French success story, but I can’t see this being any good. There’s fodder for laughs, but seriously….

Gringo

A renowned stuntman turns director of this action comedy… potential to be good from someone who understands the business. Good cast too, but I know nothing else about it.

Thoroughbreds

There’s a likeable cast here, but I have no clue what this is about. From the name and the poster… something about rich white people being better than the rest of us, or slavery or sexy slavery?

The Hurricane Heist

Rob Cohen makes average action movies, generally a step above straight to DVD stuff, though some have been better that that. The budget for what appears to be a disaster movie is relatively small, which doesn’t inspire confidence, and the cast are okay but not A-Listers. Likely bad.

The Strangers: Prey At Night

I never saw The Strangers. Why would I when I’ve seen Ils? Don’t tell me The Strangers isn’t a remake, when it clearly is. The horror community does seem to like The Strangers so I’ll get to it at some point, this one has a new cast and director, so doesn’t sound like it will be any good.

Tomb Raider

I was never a fan of the games, the boobs, and I never saw the other two movies. All that being said it doesn’t seem like I’ll see this any time soon. By all accounts it looks like they’ll be taking a gritty approach.

I Can Only Imagine

A film based around the song of the same name, which is apparently the most played Christian song of all time – can’t say I’ve ever heard of it. It stars Dennis Quaid and Cloris Leachman – yes, she’s still alive. This will be bad.

Love, Simon

Another YA entry about a kid trying to balance his life as a gay kid, with school, friends, family etc. Some notable names, but nothing I’ll ever see.

Entebbe

Daniel Bruhl seems to be getting plenty of work in 2018 – good, as I’ve always liked him. This is a retelling of a hostage crisis by Jose Padilha, so is sure to have some authentic tense moments – could be good, but doesn’t leap out at me.

What They Had

Doesn’t sound like my sort of thing, but it does have a terrific cast so I may get around to this if it gets good reviews.

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They haven’t gone wrong yet, so whatever this is, I’m down for it. And up for it.

Flower

The Fonze’s son directs another film – I haven’t seen his first. Based entirely on the poster and synopsis this screams indie and hipster, but once again I’ll wait for reviews.

Pacific Rim: Uprising

I haven’t seen the original, but given that Del Toro isn’t Director here I’ll assume this will be a step down. Then again, Steven DeKnight has worked on some good shows, including my beloved Buffy, and the cast is filled with likeable people, so we’ll see. Naturally, I need to watch the first one before I’ll see this.

Isle Of Dogs

Wes Anderson stop motion. I enjoyed Fantastic Mr Fox and this seems like it will be similar. I’m not as much of an Anderson fan as most people, but he hasn’t made anything I haven’t liked yet. As expected, there’s a great cast and the fact it is set in Japan increases my  interest.

Sherlock Gnomes

Wait a second… didn’t we already do this? So we have two animated gnome movies coming out this year. Apparently this one is a sequel, continuing our recurring theme I haven’t seen the first one. Despite the cast, I don’t see me getting to this any time soon.

Unsane

I was about to rip this one for having such a terrible name, but then I saw it was directed by Steven Soderbergh who tends to not make bad movies. It’s a horror movie with Amy Irving and Juno Temple too, so I’m curious about how this will go. The single line plot synopsis sounds like a hundred other horror thrillers – The Ward, Shutter Island etc, but I’m optimistic.

Final Portrait

I don’t believe I’ve seen any of Stanley Tucci’s other films as a director, but I’ve liked him as an actor. He’s written this one too, concerning a painter I’m not familiar with and his final work, taking on board an old critic friend to act as a model. On the surface it doesn’t sound like anything I’d be interested in, but there’s a lot of talent involved and room for interesting character study.

Midnight Sun

Well, this sounds terrible. It’s a romance involving some teen with a weird disease and the hipster things she gets up to. Bella Thorne seems to be in everything these days, but I don’t think I’ve actually seen her in anything, and Patrick Schwarzenegger needs to buff up those arms and get into the jungle for some Predator hunting before I’ll ever care about him. The director has made movies about kids and dancing. Also, there is a character called Katie Price. I will never see this.

Paul, Apostle Of Christ

This doesn’t have a page on Wikipedia, but there’s a fair amount of talent in the cast. I can’t be arsed going to IMDB to investigate further, but wasn’t Jim Caviezel killed off in his last outing to Biblical times, in rather violent scenes?

Ready Player One

It’s Spielberg, so you know you and I will both see it. The trailer looks buck nuts, but I don’t know anything about the source material. I’m happy to see Spielberg return to what appears to be fantasy/standard entertainment as he’s had a few films now based entirely in the real world.

Mary Magdalene

It’s yet another Biblical epic. How many of these do we need? Oh, I’m still waiting for a proper re-telling of the entire Troy saga – The Illiad, The Odyssey, and The Aeneid. A trilogy for each. Someone, get on that. It’s Garth Davis and a terrific cast including Rooney Mara and Joaquin Phoenix but it screams Oscar bait. Also, it’s Weinstein Oscar bait which was mysteriously pushed back from 2017 to 2018 in the midst of Harvey’s antics. This will release once that has all hushed down… by the way, don’t let that EVER hush down.

Tyler Perry’s Acrimony

I haven’t seen a single Tyler Perry thing. The fact that this has some Medusa creature on the poster and is listed as a psychological thriller may make this my first Tyler Perry thing.

Lean On Pete

Andrew Haigh seems to be have been sniffing on the door of great success for a while now – his previous films all critically acclaimed. This one looks set to be another critical success, but I can’t see it doing much business. Props to making films and subject matter which most people don’t go near, and doing it with dignity and respect – I have no doubt this will be great.

God’s Not Dead: A Light In The Darkness

What is this? There’s three of these things? And look how much money they made!? I assume 100% of the takings were in the US. I won’t be seeing this.

That’s January – March sorted. Next time I’ll look at April – June. Let us know in the comments which movies you’re looking forward too!

 

 

 

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Nowhere To Run

*Originally written in 2003

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Van Damme was on a roll in the late eighties and early nineties, making some of the most fun, simple action movies of the era. His ability to get a laugh while being renowned for his nice-guy qualities have ensured his continued success, even if most of his movies now are straight-to-DVD capers.

In Nowhere to Run, a mid echelon movie in terms of his output, he stars with an established cast as another misunderstood nice guy – an escaped convict who decides to help a young widow and her family who are struggling against a local developer who is forcing them out of their home. There is plenty of action, some strong performances, and some very funny moments. Van Damme plays Sam, a mysterious convict who has escaped from prison. He sleeps in a tent outside a small town where two local young kids find and befriend him. Eventually their mother Clydie, played by Rosanna Arquette, finds out and invites him into their home cautiously. Of course they fall for each other, much to the distaste of local Sheriff and love interest Lonnie, who decides to look into Sam’s background. Franklin Hale, played with typical malevolent relish by Joss Ackland, is the main bad guy, but his side-arm Levine is the main threat. Sam helps the family, foiling Hale at every turn, but all the while his own unspoken past is catching up to him…

Arquette, Culkin, Levine, and Taubman as the daughter are particularly good, and the story tries to be light-hearted yet moral. It’s another attempt to achieve a wider audience for Van Damme, and it is definitely one of his most accessible thanks to the good cast and humour. The various discussions on Van Damme’s naked body are always humorous. Overall another good Van Damme film which will please fans, and may interest a few others.

Let us know in the comments what you think of Nowhere To Run! 

Academy Awards 1972 – An Introduction

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The 45th Academy Awards were marred by multiple controversies – The Godfather having it’s nomination for Best Score removed, Brando boycotting the whole thing, and Cabaret getting the most nominations without winning Best Picture. It was another year where lessons from past years were seemingly forgotten, with strange nominations in the face more obvious and deserving choices. There were even some strange choices for the wins. Both of the two aforementioned led the way for wins and nominations meaning other films were unrepresented, especially in the wins category. Edward G Robinson and Charles S Boren received Honorary Awards.

Carol Burnett, Charlton Heston, Michael Caine, and Rock Hudson hosted the show, which also saw James Coburn, Billy Dee Williams, Julie Andrew, John Wayne and other presenting. Meanwhile, Michael Jackson, John Williams, and a host of Disney Characters all performed music.

At least one of the two big winners will also be a big winner in my picks while the other may be sorely disappointed. There will be plenty of surprise nominations in some of the major categories and the usual mix of personal favourites popping up. Join us in the next few weeks to see what makes the cut!

Lionheart/AWOL

*Originally written in 2001

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Another of Van Damme’s best before he hit the big time, AWOL features a story written by the man himself. Again we have a revenge plot, but this time there is more depth as Van Damme’s character Lyon is trying to help his brother, and his brother’s wife and daughter from eviction. When he hears of his brother’s problems he flees the Foreign Legion, a rather large crime, and goes to America to help. Of course, the Legion sends some tough guys after him who he must constantly evade. In order to earn money for his new family he becomes an underground fighter, managed by a likable bum called Joshua. Lyon and Joshua become close friends and Lyon gains recognition as a talented fighter, rising through the underground ranks. The money is never enough though, and he keeps his way of income a secret. Before long, a rich promoter called Cynthia has noticed his talents and decides to take arrange fights for him, meaning his money increases. Cynthia is ,of course, evil and only in the game for her herself. She pits Lyon against Atilla, the most fierce fighter there is, but she fixes the fight so that all bets will go to her. Lyon must defeat Atilla, but he may lose all his money in doing so.

The fights here are good, well staged and filmed, and there are some good performances. Van Damme is his usual self, but Harrison Page and Deborah Rennard add some skill to the proceedings, raising it above the average 80s martial arts movie. Lisa Pelikan gets our sympathy as the young wife, and Ashley Johnson is okay as the daughter. There are enough simple twists to keep us involved and the plot has its cheesy charm. There is also some good dialogue which will get a few laughs. Another must for Van Damme fans, this one will appeal to a wider action movie audience, but it’s never going to win any awards.

Enjoying my older reviews? Me neither! Let us know in the comments what you thought of Lionheart/AWOL!

Perdita Durango

*Originally written in 2003

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Based on Barry Gifford’s novel, Perdita Durango follows the exploits of the mysterious, dark, sexual creature of the same name- a woman with a violent and criminal past (who incidentally pops up for a few scenes in Wild At Heart, played by Isabella Rossillini). Full of unlikable characters, violence, voodoo, and sex, Perdita Durango is an intriguing film which attempts to say something about the state of the modern, vapid, white American whose lives are defined by the shows they watch, and the kids who have no real opinions of their own. Unfortunately, we must sympathize with this group as they have been kidnapped by the malevolent Perdita and her lover Romeo – even more despicable, yet charismatic people. The kids here are very annoying and it’s difficult to feel much sympathy for them, and just when we think we are disgusted by Perdita and Romeo, we find ourselves rooting for them. It is a strange film, messing with our conceptions of good and evil, and by the end we have the feeling that there is no good or evil, only stupid and lucky.

Perdita, played by Rosie Perez, meets the mysterious and deadly Romeo (Javier Bardem) who is planning to hijack a truck load of fetuses and bring them over the boarder from Mexico to N. America. They team up and have a fiery partnership which eventually leads to lots of dark sex and some semblance of love. Before they can do the job, Romeo needs human victims to sacrifice to his Gods so they will give him favourable odds. They kidnap two typical naive American teens, Duanne and Estelle, and begin their journey. As they travel, they pseudo-bond, but each time you think they will become friendly and the kids might be saved, the two Mexicans soon show their dark sides again. On their tails are some DEA agents, (including James Gandolfini), the girl’s obsessive but stupid father, and a couple of groups from Romeo’s past who want him dead. Things are looking bleak for all concerned, and perhaps not even Romeo’s Gods can intervene.

Banned and cut to shreds in many countries for its violence, nudity and use of other shows and films, you may find it a challenge to find a copy of this. It is dark, there is quite a lot of violence and sex and drug-use, but there is a wry sense of humour throughout, and everything is so fantastical and bizarre that it is difficult to take any of it seriously. The performances of Perez and Bardem are both extremely good, full-bodied,  so we are drawn to them more than any other character, they seem so frantic and their faith is so strong that we cannot help to enjoy a few scenes they have. Gandolfini and Alex Cox are also good in smaller, comic roles, the two kids do everything they can, but are just there to annoy the viewer. There are many bizarre and funny moments – Estelle’s father’s final scene is one of the best moments. Definitely a film for those willing to see something out of the ordinary, it is rewarding and has some strong performances, good action, dark humour and an insane plot.

Have you seen Perdita Durango? Let us know in the comments!

TTT – Top 10 Horror Movies

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Greetings, Glancers! It’s been an age and a half since I did one of these Top Ten Tuesdays lists, and that is simply unacceptable. As it’s the season of ghouls and murder I’m going to throw my head into the ring and let you know my Top Ten favourite Horror Movies of all time. Now, I haven’t put a lot of thought into this – I’ve just gone back to my old, faithful, never updated since created Top 250 IMDB favourite movies list and picked the highest ranking horror films. The lowest ranking movie in this Top Ten comes in at 40th in my IMDB list – so you know how much I love horror when 10 movies appear in my top 40 favourite films of all time.

Yes, I’ve loved horror all my life, and I’ve always been the morbid kid. One of my first Primary School stories came back with a note from the teacher saying I had a keen interest in the macabre. I had no clue what that meant, or how to pronounce it. Most of my stories and the games I imagined up to play with my friends involved monsters and gruesome mayhem. And ninjas – it was the 80s after all. I’ve probably mentioned it before – how I was always drawn to the horror section of the VHS store – and I don’t really know where it comes from. I think some of us are just born the right kind of wrong. That’s a good thing too, otherwise we would have never had many wonderful works of fiction and film.

I’m not saying any or all of the below films are wonderful, or masterpieces, or anything like that – just that they represent a decent picture of what I love from the genre (however some of them are genuine masterpieces). I don’t think this list will be too different from any horror fan’s list but maybe there will be a few surprises. If I went back to my Top 250 there would be some definite changes, not just to the ordering but additions, removals, and not just from the horror genre. Enough warbling though. The below ten films are as good an introduction to Horror Movies as any, and they have provided me with a lifetime of entertainment and insight. Scares? Yeah, scares too.

10. Interview With The Vampire

This is probably the most controversial and least loved film on my list. I’m actually surprised I had it so high on my Top 250 too, but there you go. I do love the film, and it’s a great adaptation of one of my favourite books. The cast is top notch, it looks gorgeous, it’s sexy, bloody, and in Claudia we have one of my favourite tragic figures.

9. The Lost Boys

The ultimate MTV generation movie. One of the coolest movies ever too, but you had to be there around the time of release to see that, because watching today it looks either cheesy as hell or a product of another world. It’s vampires again, but rather than mopey, sorry figures, these guys are perma-teens of the cool kids club – sleeping all day, partying all night, pouting in leather and denim. Again there’s a great cast, everyone is ultra-hot, it’s hilarious, quotable, and endlessly entertaining.

8. Night Of The Living Dead

Probably the most important film on the list, this is where modern horror truly kicked off – Psycho started things rolling, but this brought realism where Psycho still felt like a movie. I’m going to go out on a limb and say this is the film where zombies feel most plausible and most scary. Other films use their zombies for sheer shocks and gore, Romero included, but here they are at their most chilling – we don’t know where they’ve come from, they look like our loved ones, and they just keep coming.

7. Jaws

I’m going to assume everyone has seen this. It’s the ultimate gateway horror film, and one its best to see in your youth. Its scares range from jump-shocks, dread, tension, gore, but at its core it’s a story of man versus monster with universal characters and a simple, entertaining story.

6. Scream

Horror in the 90s was in a downward spiral – Scream almost single-handedly brought it back to relevance, making a tonne of money and getting praise from critics and fans new and old. As much as it nods, winks, and plays with tropes, it’s still an emotive story with a great heroine, tonnes of memorable dialogue and iconic scenes, and plenty of violence, laughs, and scares.

5. The Stand

I could get a lot of stick for this, but I don’t care – I love The Stand. It’s probably my favourite or second favourite book ever, and Mick Garris does it justice. Sure, some of the acting is painful in places and its age and budget are showing now, but the opening scenes and the following collapse of society were shamelessly stolen by The Walking Dead and yet are still effective. There are jump scares, there is violence, nihilism, hope, but it’s the ultimate battle of good versus evil. The soundtrack is also on regular rotation in my car/pocket. As much as I love it, I think an updated version could be epic.

4. The Thing

Now, these top four films – every one of them is a masterpiece – that can’t be disputed – and there isn’t much between how much I love, respect, and appreciate them. The Thing transcends horror – it’s one of the best movies of all time. It’s one of those movies I can’t really fault… the only thing I would say is, as great as the cast is, maybe we don’t spend enough time in the early moments with certain characters, and it can be difficult to differentiate between them. Regardless, it’s a perfect film.

3. Dawn Of The Dead

I can find fault with Dawn Of The Dead, and yet I love it just as much, if not more. The Thing is bad-ass, but Dawn Of The Dead was life-changing. I already loved horror, I already loved zombies, but this opened up a whole new world – it’s one of those movies that feels like something I would make or write. You know when you’re starting out as a writer or performer or artist – and I’m speaking to those of us who started young – as children – you get an idea and you begin tossing it around your juvenile mind, working out the plot and intricacies, and then one day you find out that someone else has already done it. They got there before you, and did it better than you ever could – suddenly you see your dream or nightmare on screen before you, but rather than being bitter, you love it. Someone else gets it. That’s Dawn Of The Dead, and it’s mind-blowing every time.

2. Ringu

This one was also life-changing. I already love foreign movies, Japanese movies, but my experience of Asian Horror was fairly limited. When I first saw Ringu around 1999 I had never seen anything like it. It was modern, beautifully shot, paced to perfection, and holy heavens did it scare my soul away. I couldn’t buy it anywhere, but once it came to TV a year or two later I recorded it and must have watched it every day for a week, showing it to my brother, sister, friends, and loving it every time. I don’t think I’ve had a horror film which has made me do that before or since. Sure I have recommended films to people and have sat people down and forced them to watch some movies, but no movie felt so necessary – I had to see and feel their reactions and I had to be part of that world again. I love the sequels, I love the books, but this is where it started. I was picking up every single Asian horror film I could find after this.

1. A Nightmare On Elm Street

I don’t want to say this is where it all began – the first true horror film I remember seeing was Salem’s Lot – but really this is where it all began, and where it’s still at. Those VHS stores I mentioned –  the Elm Street movie VHS covers were the ones which most caught my eye. Sometimes there would be a poster or cardboard cutout of Freddy there and I’d look at it cautiously, waiting for it to come to life. Who was this guy? What was that glove about? What happened his face, what was he doing? Somehow – credit to the wonderful powers of childhood imagination – somehow, though reading the backs of the videos, looking at the pictures, and splicing together rumours, by the time I was 6 or 7 I kind of had the whole thing worked out. I knew Krueger’s name, I knew the 1, 2, Freddy’s coming for you song, I knew that he got you in your sleep, and yet I didn’t see any movie until years later.

I somehow caught the last minute or so of the movie once, and that stayed in my head for years, even after I finally watched the whole thing. The same goes for snippets of other films in the series – something about the characters crept inside me on a personal level to the extent that I credit Krueger, Craven, and the series as being my true doorway to horror cinema. That idea of not being safe in your sleep is something chilling for all of us, but I think it’s something kids are especially susceptible too. We’re supposed to go to sleep, dream sweet dreams, and wake knowing we are safe and warm and loved. Craven turns that upside down and inside out, and goes further, exploring that idea that it’s the fault of the protector, the parent, that we are put in this mess. That idea is explored in many of his films – the mistakes of the parent coming back to haunt the child, but it’s perfected here. I still have a crush on Langenkamp, and while the film doesn’t remotely scare me any more, I can still put it on and love the imagination, the characters, the nostalgia, the story, and all of the more artistic and technical elements.

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So there you have it, my very own favourite horror movies. What are your’s? Let us know in the comments! Before I go though, as a bonus, I have other genre crossover movies which some would consider horror or as having horror elements that I rate just as highly, if not higher than some of the above (in other words, they are not lower than 40 on my Top 250 list):

The Terminator

Firmly placed in the action genre – it’s essentially a chase movie – nevertheless The Terminator has a lot in common with the slasher genre. There’s a final girl, an unstoppable killer, tonnes of violence, and plenty of kills.

Predator

Unstoppable killer, violence kills, sort of a final girl, but a bunch of bad-ass marines kicking ass. Predator is a horror icon, even though this is more entrenched in the sci-fi genre.

Aliens

Unstoppable killer, violence kills, a definite final girl, but a bunch of bad-ass marines kicking ass. The Alien is a horror icon, even though this is more entrenched in the sci-fi genre.

Battle Royale

It’s questionable that anyone should include this in the Horror genre… but if it’s not, then what the hell is it? Drama, action, satire, and horror elements – kids forced to kill each other. Regardless, I still say it’s the best film of the 21st Century.

The Crow

Is comic book adaptation its own genre? There are loose connections to horror here, with the unstoppable killer being the hero. The dark visuals and the origin plot are horror.

Assault On Precinct 13

Like many (most?) of Carpenter’s movies, this is a siege film. There isn’t anything supernatural, but it features hordes of faceless gang members attacking relentlessly – Night Of The Living Dead anyone? Also – ice cream.

Jurassic Park

It’s lighter and more family friendly than Jaws, but it’s still Spielbergian horror. Kids under threat from dinosaurs, huge unstoppable monsters, nowhere to run – good stuff.

Happy October everyone – Happy Halloween, Happy Horror Watching, and don’t forget to share your comments and memories!

Macbeth

*Originally written in 2004 – I actually included this version of Macbeth in some of my University work on Shakespeare on film, along with Throne Of Blood… that work was probably better than this post

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Famous for going through several cuts, budget and time problems, and for being slammed by critics at the time for its strange imagery and dark and foreboding tone, Welles’s Macbeth has now been recognised as a good, if not great adaptation made even more admirable by the constraints which constantly surrounded it.

The story of Macbeth is simple and well-known: Macbeth, proud soldier and follower of his King Duncan, stumbles upon a Witches’ Haven one night with his partner Banquo. The Witches give their prophecy that Macbeth will eventually become King, and that the sons of Banquo will also reign. This worries both men, but they decide to discuss it later. On hearing the prophecy, the ambitious Lady Macbeth inspires Macbeth to murder Duncan and usurp the throne, which he does. Soon guilt sinks in along with deep paranoia and Macbeth believes that everyone is out to get him.

Welles keeps fairly close to Shakespeare’s dark work in dialogue and plot, and certainly gives his film the same feel which the play itself gives. The setting is dark, rocky, full of shadows and isolated, and the choice of Black and White filming adds greatly to the tone. Welles shows he is a master of lighting, shadow, and contrast, and uses this ability to its fullest. As Macbeth’s paranoia grows, the imagery becomes more surreal and ominous – hangman’s trees stooping in the background; long takes to emphasize the growing worries in his mind. Overall, Welles captures the play’s atmosphere perfectly. His portrayal of Macbeth as a man not in control of his own fate is good, and of course his acting is fine. The rest of the cast is also strong, including big names like Mcdowall, Herhily, and Napier. Much has been said about the heavy accents but it’s something I personally overlooked. The final scenes, full of religious imagery, are very good although Macbeth’s death has been done better and it seemed that the Holy Father character was only included so that Macbeth could end on…well, I won’t spoil it. Not as good as Kurosawa’s, take but a very different film with a very different style.

Let us know in the comments what you thought of this version of The Scottish Play!