The Clovehitch Killer

Horror Movie Review: The Clovehitch Killer (2018) - Games, Brrraaains & A Head-Banging Life

Society has always had this bizarre obsession with serial killers, with murder in general. Is it some primal curiosity or survival instinct – we’re happy we were not the ones involved, or we want to get close enough to the fire without getting burned? Is it more morbid than that – do we want to understand how and why these people exist and if they live next door? Or do we want to feel sympathy for the victims and those left behind? Whatever the reason, TV, Books, Music, and Movies have shared and perpetuated this obsession from day 1 and I am not susceptible from going down this rabbit hole on occasion, especially if presented as an engaging and interesting story.

The Clovehitch Killer is viewed from the eyes of a teenager called Tyler, a typical kid in a typical Christian American town where the hierarchy of life roughly follows God>Church>Father>Family>Work>Guns>everything else. The town harbours a dark past – the mystery of the Clovehitch Killer who murdered 10 women in living memory and was never caught. In his father’s truck on a perfect innocent date, the girl Tyler is interested in finds a violent bondage photograph and accuses him of being a weirdo, a fetishist, an other who must be shamed and ignored. This quickly spreads through church and town and Tyler finds himself a pariah, with only his family to support him even as they have their own questions. Tyler has questions too, knowing the photograph isn’t his but not knowing why it was in his dad’s truck, his dad the respected community leader and All American Scout Dude.

Tyler teams up with another teen outcast called Kassi to investigate the history of the Clovehitch Killer and the fact that he may still be lurking in the town, waiting to strike again, or to prove that he never went away at all and has simply been better at covering his tracks. All evidence points towards Tyler’s dad, but could he too be an innocent victim?

The film isn’t as gory or exploitative as some, instead focusing on the teen crime-fighting elements and on the different characters of the town which may look familiar to anyone who doesn’t live in a big city. The film racks up the tension in the final act, and although it is light on twists and the truth is revealed well before the end, it’s how we tie up the loose ends (pun intended) which holds our interest. It’s always a treat for me to see Samantha Mathis in anything, and both Charlie Plummer and Madisen Beaty are good as Tyler and Kassi. But it’s Dylan McDermott’s film, giving a performance which veers between perfect dad, to creepy, to hilarious fluidly. It’s not a film with anything big to say about the nature of killers or small town society, but it’s a worthy addition to the canon of both themes and is worth anyone’s time when you fancy a taste of morbid curiosity.

Let us know in the comments what you think of The Clovehitch Killer!

Nightman’s Least Favourite Movies Of 1985!

Legend (1985) — The Forgetful Film Critic

Ewoks: Battle For Endor

I quite enjoyed this one when I was young – Jedi was always my favourite Star Wars movie and this was another furry adventure. Watching it as an adult now, it’s pretty bad.

Friday The 13th: A New Beginning

The Friday The 13th series was never my thing growing up – I was more into Elm Street and Halloween. As part of an October marathon a few years ago, I finally went back to watch all the sequels and none of them are especially good. There’s barely a unique idea between them and each boils down to knifey knifey stab time. At least a few of the sequels went for some continuity, including this one which continues the Tommy Jarvis story – the survivor of a previous massacre now in an asylum of some sort. It’s not bad, it’s just by the numbers, cheap slasher fun – worth seeing once and instantly forgetting.

Legend

This is a bit of a cult favourite for many, presumably due to Tim Curry and that crazy make-up. But it doesn’t make a lick of sense, most of the performances are bad, and it seems to be Ridley Scott channelling Michael Mann via Michael Bay. A genuinely poor film all around.

Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome

The weakest of the original trilogy, and of the entire series, Thunderdome feels at once too commercial and too empty. It has that same sense of barrenness as the first film, but there’s no emotional core of genuine weirdness. It’s more like a glossy approximation of weirdness. Still, it has some swinging about inside a big dome, but it’s a huge step down from The Road Warrior. 

A Nightmare On Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge

A strange one because it’s both one of the more interesting sequels in the franchise, but also one of the worst. I like what the story tries to do, but it’s very cheap, the acting isn’t of the highest calibre, and it’s as camp as a charred sausage on a five dollar portable bbq. No scares and some of the most unintentionally hilarious scenes ever witnessed in horror.

Pee Wee’s Big Adventure

I get that this is some sort of American export or hero or whatever, but for those of us who were not weened on such shite, this is barely more than an abomination of Babylon standards. An embarrassment for all involved.

Prizzi’s Honour

A hugely talented director and an impressive cast at the top of their game – somehow come together to make one of the more dull mafia/comedy movies of the era. I’ll be in the minority on this one, but I couldn’t wait for it to be over.

Red Sonja

It’s Conan, but not really. It seems, sort of, like a brave move to make a female led sword and fantasy movie in a time when all action movies were highly masculine and muscle-bound affairs. So it’s got that going for it. Sadly, the execution is a failure and the result is on par with Conan The Destroyer as a forgettable slice of sword-swinging nonsense. Arnie and Sandahl Bergman are reunited, but they’re secondary to Brigitte Nielsen in a case of amateur acting and attempts use the English language. That’s fine – what isn’t is the lack of action and mayhem, a very watered down vision of a world where magic and might are supposed to be master.

A Room With A View

I can’t stand any of these Merchant Ivory movies – they’re all equally dreary and overwrought, with the same kinds of stories played out with the same dull tone by the same kinds of actors. Stick with the source material any time you see Merchant or Ivory attached to a film, and avoid at all costs unless you’re a fan of slowly observing your life ebbing away.

Let us know in the comments what your least favourite movies of 1985 are!

I’m Not A Serial Killer

I Am Not a Serial Killer' Has a Refreshing Moral Center | Cinema Faith

A delightful little movie which came from nowhere and remains underseen and under valued even six years after its release, I’m Not A Serial Killer is an adaptation of the first book in the John Cleaver series by Dan Wells, and follows a teenager with sociopathic tendencies who is self-aware enough to understand that he holds many of the same traits of the serial killers he is obsessed with as he battles his own demons and investigates a series of murders in his hometown. It’s like Dexter, if Dexter was interesting.

Max Records is fantastic in the lead role of John, an atypical disaffected youth who lives with his mother in a funeral home which he uses to both live out and restrain himself from his growing urges. After witnessing some weird shit at a murder scene and learning about an identical murder shortly after, John suspects the town is housing a serial killer and believes this killer to be his elderly neighbour Bill Crowley, played with relish by Christopher Lloyd. As John becomes more obsessed he begins to infiltrate Crowley’s life more, and the line between killer and hunter is blurred.

There’s a lot to enjoy and unpack in I’m Not A Serial Killer, beyond its performances and central idea. The film takes on an unexpected supernatural slant early on which some people may be put off by, but while it may be unnecessary it personally enhanced an already gripping premise. It’s a film which chews on its contradictions and doesn’t mind where your allegiances lie. Both John and Crowley are fascinating characters and you get the impression that their story could just as effectively been developed over the course of a six episode series as in a sub 2 hour movie. It’s self aware, funny, and suitably tense and grim. It doesn’t take the subject matter lightly, yet doesn’t treat things as anything other than thought-provoking entertainment. It’s a shame the film hasn’t done as well as it deserves, it’s a shame that it did not grow into a series considering the number of books there are, and it’s a shame that Max Records gives a star-making performance but hasn’t made another film since.

Let us know in the comments what you think of I’m Not A Serial Killer!

Carnival Of Souls – Get Rekt!

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Greetings, Glancers! Today I run a more critical eye over my tenth favourite movie of the year 1962, seeking to ignore my bias and provide a fair score based on the 20 criteria I feel are most important in the creation of a film. Today’s movie is Herk Hervey’s hypnotic and haunting Carnival Of Souls, the story of a woman struggling to fit in with her new town after she survives a car crash.

Sales: 3. A tricky one for older movies, but especially tricky for a movie like this. First off, it failed to make any real business upon release, but has since seen many versions released and re-releases in certain regions for Halloween. Second, it was super low budget and therefor didn’t require much business to make a profit. Depending on how you define sales and performance, you could go with anything here. I’ll go down the middle, erring on positive due to the fact that it still makes some money today and it’s miniscule budget.

Critical Consensus: 4. As above, the film went largely unnoticed upon release. It wasn’t until the film made more of an impact in Europe, until it repeated on Television, and until new filmmakers who saw it as kids were old enough to cite it as an influence that critics began to revaluate it. Since then it has been praised as a classic. I’m not sure we can go with a 5 here due to its dismissal early on, and due to it still not being universally praised due to its amateur, low budget qualities.

Director: 4. It’s a 3 or 4 – you can tell there are a few decisions which were due to this being a first time director and possibly the film would have been stronger had he already made a few features. However, as a first time attempt and with the monetary constraints, Harvey still managed to make an incredibly effective and influential horror movie.

Performances: 3. This is where I can expect people to go lower. Hilligoss is good and everyone else is by the by.

Characters: 3. Again, it’s all about Mary, the main character. The side characters exist to serve her story, literally, and even ‘The Man’ and others are just spooks. 2 is fine here.

Cinematography: 4. Restricted by a lack of funds, necessity became the prime directive, and the results are impressive and memorable.

Writing: 3. A few memorable quotes but nothing outside of the ordinary.

Plot: 3. I’d like to go with a 4, but around this time so many stories were being filmed with similar premises and endings – The Twilight Zone and Alfred Hitchcock Presents for starters. The result has more of an artistic lilt and there’s more time to build up character and suspense, but it’s not too different from the aforementioned shows.

Wardrobe: 3. Sure.

Editing: 3. Yes.

Make up and Hair: 4. I’ll go 4 here because of the high impact of the less is more approach.

Effects: 3. Nothing we would consider today as effects, more tricks of the cinematographer.

Art and Set: 3. Mostly location, and mostly filming without permits, which is always nice.

Sound And Music: 4. Music is a major part of the movie, more of a character than many of the characters, and the sound design is pretty great too all things considered, with screams, splashes, and hums to chilling effect. The organ music may lack fully defined and memorable melodies, but instead creates a barrage of mood.

Cultural Significance: 4. It went on to become influential with many directors citing it as a personal favourite and it garnered a remake. I’m sure another remake will be on the cards. While it’s not a Rocky Horror style constant revival, it does frequently play each October either on small or big screen.

Accomplishment: 4. For the money, for lacking a star, for it disappearing and returning in such a way, I think 3 is the baseline and 4 seems correct. I could respect a 5.

Stunts: 3. One of the key moments of the film involves a car race and crash – by today’s standards it’s not the most exciting and even in the time it was released there were much bigger and elaborate stunts. Still, it’s brief and more importantly integral to everything which follows.

Originality: 3. I’ll go down the middle because while there are twists a modern viewer can see where the story is going, yet it deals with a number of philosophical concepts in an interesting, artistic way.

Miscellaneous: 4. I still love the fact that such a low budget, clever film was made, ignored, and eventually found fame – going on to influence some of the biggest names inside and outside of horror for the rest of the century.

Personal: 4. It’s not perfect, but it is seminal. Most importantly, it’s still creepy and haunting.

Total Score: 69/100.

It doesn’t quite reach the coveted 70 score, but that’s still a respectable score for a movie so few outside of the dedicated horror family will have seen. Let us know what you think of Carnival of Souls in the comments!

She Dies Tomorrow

She Dies Tomorrow (2020) - Projected Figures

I try to watch as many Indie/under the wire horror movies as I can get my hands on as that’s often where the most innovation and passion can be found. The Evil Dead? Halloween? Night Of The Living Dead? I have faith that the next classic could be right around the corner, being made by some unknown team. Trawling through a load of Indie films also comes with its risks – many of them are absolute dreck, badly made, badly acted, and with an unfortunate focus on bad special effects and make-up. Those are of course the extreme edges of the spectrum, with the vast majority of the films I’ve seen lurking somewhere in between, mainly ranging from inoffensively forgettable to great ideas lacking in the final execution. She Dies Tomorrow falls squarely in the middle of this category.

There is a great idea at the centre of She Dies Tomorrow – that of a woman who suddenly acquires the crystal clarity knowledge that she is absolutely going to die tomorrow. The kicker is that, when you express this knowledge to someone you pass it on to them. It has loose connotations to Rimgu, It Follows, and Pontypool. It’s a great group to be part of, and it’s a great idea with a hundred different ways to possible tell that story. The problem is, we take a decidedly arthouse approach and don’t really tell any sort of story. It’s not a horror movie by any stretch and instead revels in a stasis of naval gazing and half monotonous adventures. It’s partly amusing to see these generally irritating characters’ non interactions, the ‘disease’ being passed on, and their reactions. But it serves little purpose, not from a plot perspective and seemingly not from any wider social context. At a stretch you could argue it’s about mental health – but what’s the message? Talking about your depression makes others depressed? That everything is pointless? That we shouldn’t worry so much? That death is horrible? That filmmakers shouldn’t be left to their own devices if this is the end result?

It’s certainly a slow watch, and right or wrong the film is being promoted as something it’s not to an audience who will likely despise it both for what it is and for this trick of marketing. It’s worth a watch for those who like to ponder, and there are a few laughs and decent performances, but it’s so hollow that you think it’s the sort of film that anybody could have made with any set of actors – there’s no voice in front or behind the camera discernible through the thoughtless-provoking meandering.

Let us know in the comments what you thought of She Dies Tomorrow!

Flesh And Fury – Get Rekt!

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Greetings, Glancers! Today I run a more critical eye over my tenth favourite movie of the year 2001, seeking to ignore my bias and provide a fair score based on the 20 criteria I feel are most important in the creation of a film. Today’s movie is Flesh And Fury Joseph Pevney’s Boxing drama featuring Tony Curtis as a deaf boxer caught in a web of exploitation.

Sales: 3. I couldn’t find much online with regards to Box Office performance – not especially strange when we go back this far. It wasn’t in the Top 10 grossers for the year, and it doesn’t seem to have been a bomb. Given Tony Curtis was involved, you can assume it did fair business. So it’s either a 2 or a 3.

Critical Consensus: 3. Same as above. It’s barely spoken above any more, and there are few contemporary or modern critical reviews. So again, doing a 2 or a 3.

Director: 3. Pevney was incredibly proficient as a director, making over 30 movies in 16 years as well as many popular TV show episodes. On one hand Flesh & Fury is just another Noir movie, hitting all of the tropes we expect of the genre today, but on the other it’s one of the best least known examples.

Performances: 4. The central quartet of Tony Curtis, Jan Sterling, Mona Freeman, Wallace Ford are great as the boxer, the blonde femme fatale, the honest love interest reporter, and the reluctant trainer.

Characters: 3. By the time we get to 1952, the Noir genre was old hat. It was still popular, but there wasn’t a lot of innovation. We have trope characters even at this point, as seen in the category above, but setting these characters in the world of sports gives a twist.

Cinematography: 3. Fine. It’s not as stylized as many of the most famous entries in the genre, but it’s fine.

Writing: 3. Again, fine, few obvious quotes or epic speeches like we sometimes found in the era, but it’s perfectly serviceable.

Plot: 3. I love the story, but I admit it’s not the most original or ground-breaking tale. It’s the little things – the deaf angle, the sporting angle, the dual love interest, the sort of progressive nature of acceptance.

Wardrobe: 3. Some of Jan Sterling’s outfits are pretty racy, but outside of that it seems to be your standard fare.

Editing: 3. Does the job. I realise for many of these standard scores you could drop to 2 – I don’t think you can give anything other than 2 or 3. The climatic boxing match is the highlight, with plenty of shots outside the ring, inside the ring, and jumping to crowd reactions, including those of our side characters.

Make up and Hair: 3. Good for the time, nothing severe with respect to cuts and bruises.

Effects: 2. Not applicable – given the other threes, I’ll go 2 here.

Art and Set: 3. All good.

Sound And Music: 4. It’s a low 4 – the music is standard forgettable 50s fare, but the sound landscape is interesting, cutting in and out to express what Curtis’ character is feeling and hearing, and at other times hissing and increasing in intensity.

Cultural Significance: 2. I’d love to say it was a major influence on Rocky, but it doesn’t seem to have been; it’s not the only boxing movie out there, but it does paint a more sympathetic picture for fighters than you see elsewhere. It was one of the first films to push Tony Curtis into more serious roles, but beyond his involvement it seems to be an all but forgotten movie.

Accomplishment: 3. It’s an accomplishment to bring some awareness to the hard of hearing community in the 1950s, in a respectful way, and making it an integral part of the story.

Stunts: 3. Solid boxing bouts.

Originality: 3. I don’t think you can go 2 here, but it may depend on your experience with the genre. It’s a noir, but it’s low on your typical crime elements and instead spends its time in the world of boxing. But, femme fatale, shady deals, scheming – everything else is by the numbers.

Miscellaneous: 3. Not much to say – 2 or 3.

Personal: 3. I was going to go with a 4 here, but given the 3s I’d already handed out when there equally could have been a 2, it only seems fair to stick with a 3 here. It’s not a film I love as much as those in later top 10s, but I’d still prefer it the majority of what hits the big screen and streaming sites these days.

Total Score: 60/100. That’s a fair representation about the film, and my feelings as a whole. It’s worth seeing for any fans of Classic Cinema, Noir, or Tony Curtis, but it isn’t going to change your life or make you fan of any of those things if you’re not already.

Signs

Why Signs is the ultimate alien invasion film for the Trump era - Little White Lies

Greetings, Glancers! I’m confused; I know M. Night Shyamalan is a bit of a meme – his movies are typically horror, they typically have a twist, his career has gone down the shitter multiple times due to some apparently awful films and decisions. I’m confused because I’d always believed that Signs was one of the movies he made before he became the meme, before his career went down the shitter only to bounce back with Split. I knew The Sixth Sense was both a major commercial and critical success – I liked it. I knew Unbreakable was more of a sleeper success – I love it. I believed Signs was seen as a return to horror and was generally better received than Unbreakable, and that many people had heralded it for its scares, for devastating emotional beats and an unnerving atmosphere. But I’m confused; It’s…. it’s clearly, clearly a comedy, right? This is absolutely, 100% not a Horror movie. It can’t be. Can it?

As of 2021, I had never seen Signs. As of 2022, I now have. I had already seen The Sixth Sense and Unbreakable at release. I saw Split when it came out. I saw The Happening a couple of years after its release. I’ve seen The Visit. I have not yet seen The Village, The Lady In The Lake, Glass, or Old. Or After Earth. Signs was free on streaming, so I thought I would plug that gap and at the very least enjoy an alien movie with hopefully a few chills, maybe a couple of good scares. Instead what I got was basically a precursor to The Happening – a movie rightly ripped for its weird tone, camp performances, and lack of horror. Look, I enjoyed The Happening. It was clear it was a nonsense – that was clearly the point. Signs is clearly too trying to be a joke, but for whatever reason critics and fans have entirely missed this and somehow believe it is a straight Sci Fi Horror for reasons I am entirely unable to fathom.

So I cam in expecting a horror, but instead I got nonsensical asides to faith and believe, a twist which amounts to ‘ah ha! God set all this up all along’ while ignoring the logical extrapolation that suggest such a God must be a psychotic maniac to kill your wife, make you lose your faith, have a clearly troubling relationship with the remainder of your family, launch an alien invasion, make your son a future right wing conspiracy theorist nutbag, make your daughter have undiagnosed psychological trauma highlighted by a fear of germs – setting up all of these things in order just so a preacher can regain the faith which you caused him to lose in the first place? What. The. Fuck.

Beyond that nonsense, beyond the horrible CG, beyond the bizarre comedy tone and dialogue and camera panning, beyond the hammy performances, it’s simply not scary. There’s a famous jump scare which is basically a piece of found footage. The scare happened – I was unaware and thought the actual scare was leading up to a genuine unexpected jump scare – and the movie went on. The scare amounts to an alien walking past a bush. I assumed something cool was going to happen, like that was the set up scare, something like the kids scream after seeing the alien, turn around to run away and the same alien is standing in the room with them. A light scare followed by a biggie. No…. no, that was the biggie. And that’s the whole movie. There’s a bit with a shadow on a roof, a bit with clicky noises in the corn fields, a bit with a hand under a door, in a basement, reflection on a TV, but these were equally non eventual. It’s not that I am trying to make a point that this scary movie didn’t scare me – I’m a horror fan and I love to be scared. I simply, genuinely do not see how any of this can claimed to be scary, how the movie can be claimed to be anything other than a parody. It’s not a film about God, or family, or grief, or guilt. It’s a joke. It is, without a doubt, a comedy – a Shyamalan experiment to see how gullible the audience is. Unfortunately, the conclusion of that experiment was already written in the stars and there is no twist ending – you are gullible. You fell for it.

Let us know what you think of Signs in the comments!

Pyewacket

FrightFest Glasgow review – Pyewacket | The Kim Newman Web Site

Greetings, Glancers! I’ve come to understand something, a duality of sorts, a conundrum even. Films involving Witches and Witchcraft are rarely my favourites and in the Horror genre I’ll reach for zombies, vampires, general splatter, slashers, and the paranormal before I ever go for witches. However! I find witch movies to be the ones which most frequently creep me out, genuinely get under my skin, and chill and haunt me like other sub genres do not.

What does this mean? Why do I feel this way? I honestly don’t know. It’s not because I find these films to be better made, acted, directed. It’s not because of some spiritual reason like ‘ooh, this could be real’, given that I’m atheist to the extent of simply not caring in any concept of a God or afterlife. Is it because Witches are untapped when viewed alongside the other monsters I’ve mentioned, and when a good movie comes along it seems more effective? Is it because, when I’m alone at night (and admittedly this goes back to childhood), and I’m heading up the stairs in the dark by myself if I happen to imagine a hand reaching out to grab me by the ankle and drag me into the void, or imagine something chasing me up the stairs with murderous intent, it’s not some masked killer or fanged beast or flesh-horny undead fiend I envisage, no; it’s always, always a wizened old crone, screeching with increasing pitch and volume. Am I… am I scared of women?

Pyewacket is mostly a story about women. It’s about grief too, and witchcraft, but mostly it’s about the relationship between a mother (Laurie Holden) and daughter (Nicole Munoz) in the aftermath of daddy dying. It likely would have been a step too trope trodden to have made Mummy a Step-Mummy instead, but that’s the vibe we get from the film. Things are not great between them – there is distance, distrust, and bubbling anger fuelled on either side by booze, hormones, absence, and resentment. Daughter Leah is enamoured with the dark arts, but it seems to be more than justice your typical adolescent rebellious phase nonsense. Her mother forces her to upend to her life and move to a cabin in the woods. It’s remote, she doesn’t know anyone, and her friends are left behind. After a particularly heated argument, Leah packs her bag, heads into the woods behind her new home, and performs a ritual to summon a demon/witch/familiar called Pyewacket, and requests that it kills her mother. Two minutes later, Leah and her mum make up and begin fixing their relationship – but the creature begins to stir. Oopsy. Seeing signs that this thing is coming for her mother, Leah tries to undo the ritual before it’s too late.

As you may have guessed, there are a few narrative issues with the film. Namely, the relationship between mother and daughter never feels too strained. If things were so bad that you would wish death, genuinely wish death on someone, I assume a hug and a cupcake would not miraculously improve matters. That’s no fault of Munoz or Holden – both are committed to their roles and are believable. I don’t think this was a case of making the ritual out to being some adolescent over reaction and exposing how seriously teens can take trivial matters; this is a family who is meant to be grieving, not coping, and that side of the story is not explored with enough clarity and purpose. It would be more believable if we spent more time on how daddy’s death affected everyone, how mum and daughter were irreconcilable but still loved each other, and then show Pyewacket’s power earlier in the movie motivating Leah to realise that the ritual was a step too far. The beats are there, they’re simply out of time and not loud enough.

The film is evenly paced, but horror fans are likely to say it’s a slow burn. It is, and the scares feel left entirely until the closing parts of the movie. It’s a low budget movie, but there could have been earlier and more frequent pay-offs for the atmosphere which is admirably built. Once the scares do come – I suspect they won’t be as effective to others as they were for me, after all, I’m apparently scared of women. But the notion of this thing stalking you, taking on different forms, relentless in its thirst, that’s the stuff I respond to. It’s just a pity there wasn’t much of it.

Finally, and I’m hoping to avoid as many spoilers as I can, but the film ends with what I think was supposed to be a shock ending or a twist of sorts? Doesn’t work. Not for me at least, because it seemed so obvious to me what was happening. As the final act of violence occurs, I had to shake my head and say ‘that’s not the direction they decided to go, seriously?’. There are so many alternative, more satisfying ways this story could have ended – and could have still ended with a twist, but they went for the one that is least believable. It’s set up well in advance and is telegraphed, but still I can’t believe that certain characters would have behaved the way they do.

Still, as a whole I enjoyed the movie. There’s a sense of lore, I enjoyed the atmosphere and the dedication to making things otherworldly. I think the director has a clear voice, the film looks great, the performances are solid, and the handful of scares are well executed and creepy. More witch movies, please!

Let us know in the comments what you thought of Pyewacket!

Nightman’s Updated Favourite Movies Of 1985

10: A View To A Kill (UK)

A generally maligned Bond entry, with many citing Roger Moore’s age and Tanya Roberts’ involvement as significant negatives. Stacey Sutton does screech a lot in the movie and doesn’t come across as the most progressive or three dimensional character, and Moore is clearly getting on a bit, but when you counter that with the character of May Day, the performance of Christopher Walken, the greatness of the theme song, and some of the best action in the Moore era, it more than evens out. It’s always been a personal favourite, but then it’s the Moore era I grew up with.

9: Return To Oz (US/UK)

There’s just something eternally enticing about Return To Oz – I loved it growing up, and now my kids love it too. It’s just creepy and dark enough to be fun and scary without being traumatic (debatable), and I love the idea of showing an Oz in ruins, corrupted, the various psychological angles in the story, the special effects, and the lead performances from the always underrated Fairuza Balk and Jean Marsh.

8: Brewster’s Millions (US)

I go back and forth on what my favourite Wilder/Pryor movie is, and that’s before you factor in their solo efforts. This is my favourite Pryor led movie, a remake directed with trademark bounce by Walter Hill, even if it is a deliberate cash in (pun intended) on both Trading Places and the Wall Street/Reagan/money is awesome vibe of the time. If there has ever been an actor who cold sell complete bewilderment, it’s Richard Pryor, and here he’s the small time loser who finds out he’s the sole hair of a 300 million dollar fortune. There’s a catch; in order to get that lump sum he needs to overcome a challenge – to spend 30 million in 30 days. That seems easy, but there are various rules involved, such as he can’t just give it away. If he succeeds, he gets all the money, but if he loses the money gets absorbed back into the nefarious hands of your typical big business boardroom boys. Alternatively, he can accept 1 million and let the bad boys have the rest.

It’s a fast paced, light-hearted movie with surprisingly plenty to say on the subject of Capitalism, morality, and politics. Plus it stars John Candy as Brewster’s well meaning loser best pal.

7: Rocky IV (US)

The movie which taught real men to cry, even as Rocky III threatened. This time around, Rocky must avenge long time best bud Apollo’s death when he is killed in the middle of an exhibition match between Russia’s latest 0% fat killing machine. Balboa demands a fight against Ivan Drago, but has to but his World Title up for grabs and agree to hold the fight in Russia. Cue montages and power ballads. It’s basically the same movie as the other three, but with the 80sness pumped up to fifteen, and as such may be the best of the bunch.

6: Police Academy 2 (US)

After graduating inexplicably from the Police Academy, Mahoney and his crew are sent to work to help Lassard’s brother’s struggling, crime ridden precinct. Regularly terrorized by roving gangs, and with the threat of the scheming Lieutenant Mowser never far, Brother Lassard now must contend with Hightower, Jones, Fackler, Tackleberry, Hooks, and Mahoney. This is the first time we meet series favourites Zed and Proctor too, and as always we get the usual mixture of vignette silliness and slapstick humour which no-one in their right mind besides me could ever enjoy. It’s great.

5: First Blood Part 2 (US)

It’s in my Top Movies Of The Decade post.

4: Day Of The Dead (US)

It’s in my Top Movies Of The Decade post.

3: The Goonies (US)

It’s in my Top Movies Of The Decade post.

2: Back To The Future (US)

It’s in my Top Movies Of The Decade post.

1:  Commando (US)

It’s in my Top Movies Of The Decade post.

The Majestic – Get Rekt!

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Greetings, Glancers! Today I run a more critical eye over my tenth favourite movie of the year 2001, seeking to ignore my bias and provide a fair score based on the 20 criteria I feel are most important in the creation of a film. Today’s movie is Frank Darabont’s much maligned The Majestic, a film about a Hollywood Script Writer in the 1950s who loses his memory and is taken in by a small town community who mistake him for a War Hero presumed dead.

Sales: 1. Yeesh. 1s and 2s are reserved for films which don’t make back their budget. While The Majestic made around 40 million, it cost around 70 million. Go 2 if you want, but that’s a big loss for me.

Critical Consensus: 2. I’m still waiting for the day when this is re-evaluated. It was poorly received almost universally – with critics giving it less than average scores without saying it was terrible. I think 1 is reserved for films which are actively disliked, while this was more ‘meh, too sentimental’.

Director: 3. It’s overlong, but short by Frank Darabont standards. Darabont makes good period pieces – eras not quite lost to time, but on the brink, and he evokes that US ideal which I can only assume was a dream rather than an actuality, and he handles both the material and the cast (of Darabont regulars) well.

Performances: 4. Carrey was breaking out from his manic comfort zone in this period, and this is one of the finest examples of him playing it straight. We get an always excellent Martin Landau, and a host of Darabont favourites and classic Hollywood faces – Laurie Holden, Jeffrey DeMunn, James Whitmore, Bob Balaban, and Hal Holbrook. You also have cameos by Matt Damon, Cliff Curtis, Bruce Campbell, Rob Reiner, Carl Reiner, Earl Boen, Sydney Pollack etc.

Characters: 3. It’s mainly about Carrey’s Peter as he loses his livelihood, his memory, his friends, and gradually comes back to normality thanks to his love of film and the respect of his new found community. That community is peppered with homely patrons you instantly latch on to as friends, even if they’re not going to rock your world.

Cinematography: 4. Expectedly warm and beautiful from David Tattersall.

Writing: 3. I love the central idea and it never becomes too political even as it does become sentimental.

Wardrobe: 3. My usual score.

Editing: 3. My usual score.

Make up and Hair: 3. My usual score.

Effects: 2. Not really applicable here so a 2 or a 3.

Art and Set: 4. It’s named after an old school Film Theatre, and the Theatre itself becomes gorgeous. The town is white picket fence perfection.

Sound And Music: 3. Mark Isham is a little known composer outside of the big hitters – yet he’s Oscar nominated and has contributed to The Hitcher, The Black Dahlia, Crash, Blade, Timecop, Point Break, and Once Upon A Time. Like most of those movies, the score is respectable but lacks a truly memorable motif.

Cultural Significance: 2. Sometimes a film will perform so poorly that it becomes culturally significant. This was just a miss and quickly faded from memory. You could argue that Carrey’s performance was significant in his own career, and I’m sure you could argue that the film is a worthwhile part of the whole Red Scare sub-genre. I don’t think any of that is enough to get it to a 3, considering so few people saw it or talk about it these days, but you can’t go higher than 3.

Accomplishment: 3. Its evoking of a time which may or may not have genuinely existed as shown is enough to get a 3 for me.

Stunts: 3. There’s a car crash near the start and some movie within a movie stuff, but nothing to shout about.

Originality: 3. I’d like to go 4 here, but I don’t think it’s that original – memory loss stories have been a staple in Hollywood since day 1. Placing it in the time period and cultural context certainly makes a difference – this is a 2 or a 3 in all honesty.

Miscellaneous: 3. It’s the third of only four films which Darabont has made, and it’s the sweetest and least offensive of them all – which somehow made it his most offensive film. I think all four of Darabont’s films are in my Top 10/20 lists of the year. I don’t know – I’m giving it a 3.

Personal: 5. I love it. Based on all of the above, there’s probably no solid reason for me to give a 5, but I enjoy the sentimentality and Carrey is always good – there’s something cosy about it which helps me forget how horrible the world can be for a couple of hours.

Total Score: 57/100. Anything below 60 isn’t great, but if it weren’t for the crap box office returns and critical consensus, this would have landed in the standard mid-60s. Let us know your thoughts in the comments!