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An Octoberfest of Horror Films 
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Post Re: An Octoberfest of Horror Films
Loving this Pete, just to let you know.

I'm hoping to watch The Fog with you and Mark Tre...or at least one of the films you've got listed.

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Thu Oct 11, 2012 4:57 pm
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Post Re: An Octoberfest of Horror Films
ram1312 wrote:
Loving this Pete, just to let you know.

I'm hoping to watch The Fog with you and Mark Tre...or at least one of the films you've got listed.


You should, it'll be like old times. We can pick apart the plot inconsistencies of the movie and completely ignore the movie's somewhat charming dedication to animating the kind of tale that radio made popular. We'll then, ideally, not talk about how modern horror movies are basically ripped from the pages of Ye Olde Folklorist and aren't really storytelling at all, more a Jackson Pollock of ancient influences meant to engage because the paints are all different colors and they apparently satirize something which is AWESOME but Bruce Willis should really have a scar above his ear but doesn't. The fuck?! And how'd that guy get the letters and what about his sperm? Do they travel time, too? Is it possible that Bruce and Joseph could have sex with the same girl and, because of time traveling sperm, impregnate this girl with twins that would be both FRATERNAL AND IDENTICAL??!?!???!?! FFFuuckkkjakj

I notice that, as of today, the forum is now back to where it was before the breakdown. I look forward to Pete's take on The Fog and also look forward to taking a few days off from the internet. i really need to have that break. people that dont use proper punctuation and dont like to capitalize make me believe theyre the ee cummings of reelviews who work in hollywood and keep close watch of tcm

mostly im just tired

also i get bored with reading some of the threads on how this movie coming out is gonna

suck

and how the other movie not yet released will be up


for

an

oscar

which somehow validates the movie before its release but doesnt change the fact that the oscars are irrelevant even though theyre not because the dark knight shoulda totally won oscars suck slumdog must die the innocents on tcm tomorrow morning 3am est

-ee cummings

Also I think it's cute when people complain about the MPAA than praise a movie for having the courage to be "hard r-rated". I think this forum can be just totally fucking adorable! Now let's talk about

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Fri Oct 12, 2012 12:56 am
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Post Re: An Octoberfest of Horror Films
^^^

I wish I could do that, don't you, person reading this other than he who is able to do that? That's just awesome.

ram1312 wrote:
Loving this Pete, just to let you know.

I'm hoping to watch The Fog with you and Mark Tre...or at least one of the films you've got listed.


Thanks, Rammy. And I agree with Mark - do it! It's only 90 minutes and it'll be fun to talk about something that sounds like an old ghost story. Or maybe we'll just compare it to The Mist because they both water vapors and blah blah ballsy ending blah something else more stuff.


Fri Oct 12, 2012 9:30 am
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Post Re: An Octoberfest of Horror Films
PeachyPete wrote:
^^^

I wish I could do that, don't you, person reading this other than he who is able to do that? That's just awesome.

ram1312 wrote:
Loving this Pete, just to let you know.

I'm hoping to watch The Fog with you and Mark Tre...or at least one of the films you've got listed.


Thanks, Rammy. And I agree with Mark - do it! It's only 90 minutes and it'll be fun to talk about something that sounds like an old ghost story. Or maybe we'll just compare it to The Mist because they both water vapors and blah blah ballsy ending blah something else more stuff.


The Era, or Reelviews Forum Phases I and II, has been over for a while and I've been busily acting like things are all 2009-2010 up in here. Which is embarrassing and makes for bad advertising. That said, I'd like to have some banter about some of the other movies on this list and will tune into Village of the Damned and The Orphanage to keep my fingers/horror mojo afloat through the month. Amour and Django Unchained in December. Also any movies I see will probably get a quick plus or minus in some thread or another.

FWIW, The Fog isn't a bad movie and probably looks pretty good alongside most of the horror movies that have been released in recent years.

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Sat Oct 13, 2012 2:17 am
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Post Re: An Octoberfest of Horror Films
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Laura: One of your children has posed a curious question: if the world is round, why is a frozen lake flat?
John: That's a good question.
Laura: Ah, here it says that Lake Ontario curves more than 3 degrees from its Eastern end to its Western end. So frozen water really isn't flat.
John: Nothing is what it seems.

This brief exchange in the opening minutes of Nicolas Roeg’s Don’t Look Now comes about as close as is possible to understanding one of cinema’s most difficult films. The movie, equally an existential search for understanding, an examination of grief and coping with loss, and a study of faith and doubt, is one that constantly keeps a definitive explanation at arm’s length. With its myriad of visual motifs, fluid concept of time, and fragmented style of editing, it’s a movie that encourages audiences to interpret, while at the same time resists interpretation. The movie’s ending doesn’t make any grand proclamations of intent, instead providing the audience with more confusion. Roeg has gone on record as stating, “For me, the basic premise is that in life, nothing is what it seems.” Not to get too philosophical, but at its core, it’s a movie that reflects man’s internal struggle with his world – that constant need to understand or believe, despite not being able to fully do either. It’s about trusting what you know, not necessarily what is known. The fact that all of this is infused into a tragic ghost story makes it all the more wonderful.

The film, adapted from Daphne du Maurier’s short story of the same name, ends up being one of the most literate examples of moviemaking in film history. Everything about the film – the narrative, editing, setting, imagery, score, acting, etc. – is a means to an end. The story isn’t going to provide many answers on its own, but, combined with all the other elements involved in crafting a film, it is able to create meaning. Oddly, despite being a Hollywood favorite (she had many short stories and novels adapted into movies, among them Hitchcock’s 1940 Best Picture winner, Rebecca, and his 1963 film, The Birds), du Maurier wasn’t considered an exceptionally literary author. It speaks quite a bit to Roeg’s directorial talent that he was able to mount such hefty ambitions onto what is a rather straightforward horror tale.

This is a movie that uses so much more than just a narrative to get its message across; focusing on the plot to analyze this film would leave you puzzled at best. The story concerns a couple, John and Laura Baxter (Donald Sutherland and Julie Christie), who have to deal with the death of their daughter, Christine Baxter (Sharon Williams). They temporarily relocate to Venice because John has been hired to restore a dilapidated church. In Venice, weird shit starts happening. What do all of these weird things mean? Do they mean anything at all?

What the film does impeccably is marry its story with film technique. The editing intentionally meshes and confuses time. We often see things from the past or future in shots of the present. For instance, take the sex scene between John and Laura. We have a passionate sex scene between two grief stricken parents intercut with the mundaneness of them getting dressed to go out afterwards. It blends time and two seemingly unrelated acts (intercourse and getting dressed) to show the drastic difference between each partner’s method of coping. This is a couple that’s coping with the loss of a child, yet they still have the desire to express their love for one another. However, afterwards Laura is seemingly on the path to recovery while John turns to alcohol. The meshing of time makes the point that time itself isn’t going to heal the couple’s wounds – only directly dealing with them will. There are a number of examples where the film is edited for a similar effect, all to make the point that time is illusory. Our behavior and feelings are influenced by past, present, and future, and the film attempts to condense that all into one.

The way Roeg uses symbolic imagery and motifs throughout the film is another way he adds to the narrative. Water, glass, and pictures all recur to create meaning. The film frequently shows glass breaking before something terrible happens (Christine’s death, John falling in the church, Laura fainting at dinner), which serves as a reminder of how tragedy and coping with grief can shatter even the most healthy family. The film closely associates water with death. Christine drowns at the beginning of the film, bodies are dragged from canals in Venice, even Venice itself, a city where waterways are common modes of transportation, is being ravaged by a serial killer. With water being the most essential component to sustain life, Roeg is able to turn the idea on its head in an effort to comment on the precarious link between life and death.

The recurring pictures are part of a larger doubles motif throughout the film. John, an architect, looks at pictures of the church he is restoring and the real thing. He also takes tiles from a mosaic in need of repair and attempts to differentiate between the manufactured and the authentic tiles. Part of this “doubling” involves people as well, as a handful of times throughout the film people are mistaken for someone else. In fact, the ending of the film is an example of this idea. Roeg’s point is made clearest with this motif – in a world where “nothing is what is seems” how can one tell the difference between a fake and the real thing?

Don’t Look Now
is a movie that uses everything a movie possibly can to create meaning. It’s a movie I wish happened more often, but I’ll take it when I can get it. Roeg creates an atmosphere, mood, and uses specific film techniques throughout his story to compliment it. Everything about the movie is done to convey its theme to the audience. It’s a film that demands multiple viewings, but will also likely reward them. In short, it’s a very different kind of film than audiences are used to. Still, it’s a wonderful one and is instantly among my favorite horror movies.


Sun Oct 14, 2012 6:57 pm
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Post Re: An Octoberfest of Horror Films
PeachyPete wrote:
Don’t Look Now is a movie that uses everything a movie possibly can to create meaning. It’s a movie I wish happened more often, but I’ll take it when I can get it. Roeg creates an atmosphere, mood, and uses specific film techniques throughout his story to compliment it. Everything about the movie is done to convey its theme to the audience. It’s a film that demands multiple viewings, but will also likely reward them. In short, it’s a very different kind of film than audiences are used to. Still, it’s a wonderful one and is instantly among my favorite horror movies.


Man, what a great post. You've summed up perfectly why I love this film so much (and why it was the film I chose for Berardinelli to review earlier this year). It's one of those films that demands repeat viewings and rewards the viewer in a different way each time through. Roeg has a strong batch of winners in his filmography, but it's with this film that I feel his unique vision is on the best display. From the constant red motif to the never-matched use of Venice, it's a masterfully-directed, and masterfully-edited, piece of work. I'm glad you felt the same way.

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Sun Oct 14, 2012 7:38 pm
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Post Re: An Octoberfest of Horror Films
Blonde Almond wrote:
Man, what a great post. You've summed up perfectly why I love this film so much (and why it was the film I chose for Berardinelli to review earlier this year). It's one of those films that demands repeat viewings and rewards the viewer in a different way each time through. Roeg has a strong batch of winners in his filmography, but it's with this film that I feel his unique vision is on the best display. From the constant red motif to the never-matched use of Venice, it's a masterfully-directed, and masterfully-edited, piece of work. I'm glad you felt the same way.


Thanks! It's an amazing movie. I remember you saying something along the lines of "it changed the way I watched movies". If I had seen it early in life, I can absolutely see feeling that way. It's such a rich film, both visually and in its ideas, that it's impossible to encounter something similar all that often. It's just a great, great movie.

The use of Venice might be the best use of any specific location ever put on film. Brilliant stuff.


Mon Oct 15, 2012 9:30 am
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Post Re: An Octoberfest of Horror Films
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The idea that all horror stories have already been told many times over is one that keeps recurring as I go through this little exercise. Originality in horror comes more from how stories are told than just the story itself. That “how” plays perfectly in the world of film because there’s an infinite number of ways a story can be filmed. The Orphanage, directed by J.A. Bayona, is yet another example of a good horror movie that’s good for how it’s worn story is told. The film is notable for the ideas it covers and for being genuinely suspenseful and scary. The latter is something that virtually every horror film tries to do, but success is rare. A modern movie that manages to legitimately creep out an audience, when that audience has been exposed to every kind of scare tactic imaginable, is something to be treasured.

Bayona, a first time director, infuses an old school haunted house story with quite a bit of style. He uses the camera to foreshadow later events to the audience (example: shooting from within a closet early on for what appears to be no reason), edits sharply to create tension, and uses the creepy, empty house to great effect. Creating a menacing house is essential to any haunted house story – the house should feel like its own character. In The Orphanage, the house becomes a sanctuary for children’s souls. Like Peter Pan’s Neverland, which is clearly a major influence on the film’s script, the orphanage becomes a place for lost children to remain forever, albeit in a much different way.

The picture also has the fingerprints of producer Guillermo Del Toro all over it. Made in 2007, The Orphanage came after Del Toro’s own forays into the horror genre with his Cronos (1993), The Devil’s Backbone (2001), and Pan’s Labyrinth (2006). Like The Devil’s Backbone, Bayona’s film is set at an orphanage and deals with children as ghosts. Both movies also touch on the people of science versus people of faith debate. Despite these superficial similarities, each film has drastically different aims. Del Toro’s movie has more of a political message, while Bayona’s movie takes a more humanistic approach. When it comes to what the movie is saying, The Orphanage has more in common with Del Toro’s earlier film, Cronos. Del Toro ended up co-financing The Orphanage (and doubling its budget). It’s easy to see why given how similar the movie is to his own particular style of filmmaking

The Orphanage is part cautionary tale about treating your children with honesty and respect, and part exploration of how far a parent is willing to go to protect their children. It would seem like these two ideas would be at odds with one another, but the result is an insightful statement about how children are more capable of dealing with mature, adult issues than we normally give them credit for being. Before the haunted house/ghost story portion really kicks into full gear, Bayona shows us a world where adults disregard the warnings their children give them and keep vital information from them in an effort to protect. As with any good horror story, these things end up causing the major problems within the plot. With this cause and effect dichotomy driving the narrative, the movie is able establish its theme before concentrating on the requisite scares the audience demands.

A plot summary of The Orphanage isn’t really necessary, as seeing how the movie uses the ghosts and haunted house to create an atmosphere and mood is a large part of why the movie works. The beginning and end of the film tie everything together on a thematic level, while the middle portion of the film builds on the themes are provides the scares without resorting to hackneyed “boo!” moments and corny musical cues. The final moments of the movie turn out to be the kind of creepily happy ending that the rest of the movie builds toward. The Orphanage takes an old school premise and treats it with respect and reverence. The result is a classy, fresh take on a kind of story that’s been told many times over.


Thu Oct 18, 2012 10:41 pm
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Post Re: An Octoberfest of Horror Films
I'm glad you didn't reveal much in the way of story as I have yet to watch this. It's not available via Instant though I could try to absorb it on YouTube or another, shadier streaming site. I'd hate to download this after receiving a letter some 24 hours after that whole Major Studio Gonna Get You Caught download.

Probably available on the cheap at some local retailer.

I'll find a way, surely.

In other news, the under-loved Carpenter version of Village of the Damned is on Instant. Not the original.

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I see Scarecrows is available! I'm gonna go watch that right now! That's been on my radar ever since the days of the paperback Video Movie Guide!

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Fri Oct 19, 2012 2:22 am
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Post Re: An Octoberfest of Horror Films
Mark III wrote:
I see Scarecrows is available! I'm gonna go watch that right now! That's been on my radar ever since the days of the paperback Video Movie Guide!


Well, that was 83 wasted minutes.

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Fri Oct 19, 2012 3:58 pm
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Post Re: An Octoberfest of Horror Films
Mark III wrote:
Mark III wrote:
I see Scarecrows is available! I'm gonna go watch that right now! That's been on my radar ever since the days of the paperback Video Movie Guide!


Well, that was 83 wasted minutes.

Maybe you should try watching those films you listed in the Exploitation thread.


Fri Oct 19, 2012 4:01 pm
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Post Re: An Octoberfest of Horror Films
Vexer wrote:
Mark III wrote:
Mark III wrote:
I see Scarecrows is available! I'm gonna go watch that right now! That's been on my radar ever since the days of the paperback Video Movie Guide!


Well, that was 83 wasted minutes.

Maybe you should try watching those films you listed in the Exploitation thread.


Do recall some of them have been watched and reviewed elsewhere on the site. And to quote a line from Forgetting Sarah Marshall,

Quote:
You gotta stop talking about it. It's like "the Sopranos." It's *over*.


That thread is dead, long live the hacked limbs. If there was an overwhelming interest in a reunion episode, however... maybe. I Spit On Your Grave still has a long Word file associated with it.

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Fri Oct 19, 2012 4:12 pm
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Post Re: An Octoberfest of Horror Films
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John Carpenter’s The Fog opens with a scene of a group of young boys sitting around a camp fire listening to an old man tell a ghost story. The scene amounts to an announcement of intent on the part of the filmmakers. Carpenter’s film isn’t interested in much other than telling an effective ghost story. Sure, the movie hints at a message here and there, but it ultimately takes a back seat to craftsmanship. Carpenter doesn’t completely succeed for a number of reasons, and the final result is a movie that becomes an example of pure intentions ending in disappointment.

Antonio Bay is an isolated fishing town preparing to celebrate its centennial. As the town prepares for the upcoming festivities, weird occurrences starts happening all over town. As a neon green, supernatural fog spreads throughout the town (during the witching hour, of course), we learn that the centennial the town is getting ready for isn’t quite as pure of heart as the townspeople have been led to believe. The film follows various townspeople as they all try to figure out just what exactly is going on in Antonio Bay. The narrative is constructed so that each person (or group of people) has just one piece of the puzzle. Throughout the day and into the following night, these people eventually come together to figure out what’s happening. The audience, however, knows all the details. Watching the puzzle come together makes for an interesting premise.

If the film does have a message, it’s one concerning the inescapability of the past. The movie makes it clear that the current residents of Antonio Bay are now paying for the sins of the town’s founders. Carpenter even goes so far as to ground the idea in character by having Jamie Lee Curtis’ Elizabeth roll into town as a mysterious drifter at the same time as the fog. We get the impression that’s she running from something, although it’s never made completely clear just what that something is. Her inclusion into the situation is a way to reinforce the film’s theme. That said, her character isn’t given much to do and what could have been a smart way of hashing out the theme is abandoned by the end of the film.

Carpenter is an expert at using location to his advantage. He loves setting his stories in isolated or remote locations. Whether it’s the police station in Assault on Precinct 13, the island-of-Manhattan-turned-prison in Escape from New York, or the Antarctic research station in The Thing, his stories are frequently self-contained. In films like The Fog and Halloween, he uses the small town setting as the form of containment. The tactic is a natural way to create suspense. If the characters are trapped in an area, they must face whatever horror is currently invading that area. In The Fog, Carpenter uses Antonio Bay as a battleground between the town’s citizens and the ghosts of dead pirates looking for revenge. Within the town, Carpenter uses further isolated settings for the characters. A lighthouse, church, home, and boat are all used as set pieces. Each set piece involves a person or persons being trapped inside. Being trapped in an area certainly isn’t an original concept in horror stories, but using this kind of layered approach is pretty neat. When you think about what Carpenter is doing with pieces, the structure of the movie seems pretty great. Each character or group has a piece of information the others don’t and must come together to eventually defeat the fog. The way the town is depicted is similar in that each piece, or section, of the town is its own set piece for the fog to attack and together it forms the entirety of Antonio Bay. I don’t think there’s necessarily any deeper meaning to this kind of structure, but that level of craftsmanship is appreciated.

What stops the movie from completely working is the, at times, glacial pace in which it moves. For a movie with a running time of 89 minutes it’s surprising just how little we get to see of the fog and the ghosts. Most of the first hour, save for a 5-10 minute romp with the ghosts early on, is spent going from citizen to citizen as they attempt to figure out the cause of the strange happenings from the prior evening. This decision would be fine if this time was used to actually develop the characters beyond the plain, plot moving mechanisms the ultimately function as. There’s also the ridiculously contrived late plot development where Father Malone (Hal Holbrook) realizes if he had just read a bit further in the journal he discovered detailing the truth behind Antonio Bay’s past, he could have figured out how to appease the ghosts. The poor father was too shaken but we he read to go any further. It’s one of those incredibly false, eye roll inducing movie moments that makes you question if the filmmakers just threw any old thing in there because they didn’t really know how to end their story.

Oddly enough, while I consider Carpenter an excellent director (I’m a huge fan of Assault on Precinct 13), The Fog, a decidedly un-excellent movie, is fairly representative of both his strengths and weaknesses. Most of his movies feature thinly written characters, and most of them make excellent use of their location and premise. He’s also quite adept at creating a menacing, scary atmosphere, which can be largely attributed to his distinct, synthesized musical scores. The Fog is wonderful when it works, but takes too long to really get going. The pacing is all off in this one, and by the time the ghosts do come around, the atmosphere around their appearance is almost an afterthought. There just comes a point in every movie or story when the building of suspense crosses the line into boredom. It’s a balancing act that The Fog doesn’t quite get right.


Sat Oct 20, 2012 9:40 pm
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Post Re: An Octoberfest of Horror Films
There is one scene that's just wonderful: Stevie Wayne coming to work on the eve of the centenniel, setting up for the evening while a promo reel plays for several minutes. The promo is basically one brief station identification played dozens of times and it's really interesting, and creepy, how the first five or so runs through the loop don't really even register. Eventually it's oppressive, an apt lead-in for the bleeding wooden sign. That's probably the way of this small town: all kinds of stuff working just a little below the level of everyone's comprehension.

I figured I wouldn't remember the movie at all once it ended and I headed up to bed. But, you know, some of the images and feelings have stayed with me. The end was perfunctory, sure, but the bits and pieces that didn't satisfy are forgivable for those that created a sense of being trapped in a town where, despite the fact the populace is aloof, they're still in serious trouble.

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Sun Oct 21, 2012 2:12 am
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Post Re: An Octoberfest of Horror Films
Still trying to get all my forum stuff re-established after my account went kablooey, so no deep analyses here. But here's what I've seen since my last update...

Day 7 - C.H.U.D. - 4/10
Day 8 - Video Violence - 4/10
Day 9 - Hobgoblins - 3/10
Day 10 - The Hand - 5/10
Day 11 - Monster High - 4/10
Day 12 - Of Unknown Origin - 7/10
Day 13 - Transylvania 6-5000 - 4/10
Day 14 - Mystics in Bali - 7/10
Day 15 - From a Whisper to a Scream - 5/10
Day 16 - Once Bitten - 5/10
Day 17 - Scooby-Doo Meets the Boo Brothers - 4/10
Day 18 - The Dead Pit - 5/10
Day 19 - I, Madman - 5/10
Day 20 - Dead Heat (1988) - 6/10

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Last five viewings...

Kevin Hart: Let Me Explain - 5/10
Crystal Lake Memories - 8/10
Carrie (2013) - 6/10
Eve of Destruction - 7/10
Phil Spector - 5/10


Sun Oct 21, 2012 4:42 am
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Post Re: An Octoberfest of Horror Films
Mark III wrote:
I figured I wouldn't remember the movie at all once it ended and I headed up to bed. But, you know, some of the images and feelings have stayed with me. The end was perfunctory, sure, but the bits and pieces that didn't satisfy are forgivable for those that created a sense of being trapped in a town where, despite the fact the populace is aloof, they're still in serious trouble.


Knowing how much you like your sense of place in a movie, I was a bit surprised you found it so average after I watched it. You said something in the "Last movie..." thread about the movie never coming together into something worth the effort put into it and I think that's about as accurate a description as someone can give of the movie. I wrote somewhere around 1000 words to say exactly that (so, you know, thanks for making me waste my time). I wanted to get a Carpenter movie into this thing, and I'm really glad I did. His movies always interest me on some level even if they aren't all successful. I have an irrational love for his movies I guess.


Mon Oct 22, 2012 3:14 am
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Post Re: An Octoberfest of Horror Films
For about $7, this double feature:

Attachment:
money_was_spent.jpeg
money_was_spent.jpeg [ 45.77 KiB | Viewed 772 times ]


Very exciting! May one or both of these features fuck me up, fuck me up the rest of the way

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Mon Oct 22, 2012 11:56 pm
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Post Re: An Octoberfest of Horror Films
Shadow of the Vampire is a good 'un. Malkovich is a lot of fun, but Dafoe steals the whole thing with his uncanny impersonation of Schreck.

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Tue Oct 23, 2012 1:09 am
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Post Re: An Octoberfest of Horror Films
+ you get the camera as vampire, a container for immortality. It's the only fresh take on vampirism since... Dracula?

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Tue Oct 23, 2012 2:16 am
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Movies, like dreams, are often the manifestations of a person’s innermost fantasies, desires, and fears. These inner emotions tend to manifest themselves over and over again in the course of a few hours in the name of entertainment. In a way, moviemaking (and, as an extension, any sort of creative endeavor) is a brilliant way to engage in a little self therapy. Roald Dahl, the famous children’s literature author, had a unique ability to tap into those fears and write about them from the perspective of children. His eloquent tales of loss, growing up, and finding yourself in the world are no more apparent than in his 1983 book, The Witches. The 1990 film version of the story, directed by Nicholas Roeg (Don’t Look Now, but I just reviewed a Roeg movie! Womp womp!), has many differences from the novel, but retains its spirit and message.

Roeg’s film, seen as a return to form for the director despite being a box office failure, functions as a filmed version of a child’s nightmare. The plot concerns a young boy, Luke (Jasen Fisher), who has lost his parents who is then forced to live with his grandmother. When the boy turns 9 years old, his grandmother falls ill and is diagnosed with diabetes. The woman’s doctor recommends the two take a holiday. They travel to a seaside resort, but things are a bit more menacing here than they initially seem. The resort is hosting a convention for a group of witches passing themselves off as “The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children”. In the film’s world, witches hate children (partly because they smell like “dog droppings”) and kidnap them whenever they can. The majority of the movie is spent at the resort where the boy learns the witches’ plan to kill all of the children in England by turning them into mice, and then gets turned into a mouse himself.

The movie begins in a similar fashion to the last film I reviewed, John Carpenter’s The Fog. Instead of an old man telling a group of children a ghost story around a campfire, The Witches begins with the grandmother telling Luke a story about witches around a candlelit table. The opening functions as a way to set the mythology of the film’s world. It’s expository in nature, but also gives the movie a source of villainy with which it can explore Luke’s fears. As Luke readies himself for bed, he asks his grandmother to tell him another story about witches and then falls asleep. At this point, the movie takes a page directly out of the Disney playbook as we learn the next morning that Luke’s parents died in a car accident. The remainder of the film’s events deal with Luke battling witches, and aside from the tacked on happy ending (which Dahl himself called “utterly appalling”, and it is) is fairly dark stuff for a kid’s movie. I took the beginning exposition and mythology creating, followed by the boy “waking up” to tragedy to be the film’s signal that we were entering into a nightmare when we see Luke fall asleep.

As a 30 year old, it isn’t always east to appreciate stories aimed specifically at children. Ironically, that’s exactly what I did appreciate about The Witches. It’s a film that sets out to tell a children’s story with a child's sensibilities. These days, most studios try to make kid’s movies with “something for adults too” in an effort to make parents more willing to take their children to these movies. It’s refreshing to see a movie that drops all those pretenses and concentrates on crafting a movie the way it should be crafted. Roeg employs a lot of extremely sharp angles when framing events to create an exaggerated sense of reality. It’s very reminiscent of Terry Gilliam’s style. There’s also the child actor at the center of the movie, who’s the walking embodiment of an innocent, sweet kid. Even the witches, created by the renowned Jim Henson (this was the last movie he worked on personally), are scary but stop short of completely horrifying. They’re a child’s imagination of a witch.

The Witches isn’t as overly ambitious as the previous Roeg movie I analyzed, Don’t Look Now, but it is a strong example of a director crafting a film with a specific purpose. For what the movie is trying to be, it’s a success. The film wants to entertain and scare children while showing them that it’s possible to deal with life’s hardships at a young age. The latter is certainly part of the subtext and is something most children will feel rather than be able to articulate. It’s a film that’s decidedly for a younger audience, but it’s likely to affect that audience in the exact way it intends to. That’s a high compliment to give any movie, and it’s something The Witches fully earns.


Tue Oct 23, 2012 9:27 pm
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