The Thing

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The Thing (2011)

Director: Matthijs van Heijningen Jr.

Cast: Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Joel Edgerton, Ulrich Thomsen, Eric Christian Olsen, Trond Espen Seim

Synopsis: Paleontologist Kate Lloyd (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) has traveled to Antarctica for a mysterious expedition at the request of Dr. Sander Halverson (Ulrich Thomsen) who was recommended by Halverson’s assistant Adam (Eric Christian Olsen). Once they arrive they join a Norwegian scientific team led by Dr. Edvard Wolner (Tond Espen Seim) that has stumbled across an extraterrestrial ship buried in the ice, they also discovers an organism that seems to have died in the crash eons ago. When a simple experiment frees the alien from its frozen prison, Kate must join the crew’s pilot, Carter (Joel Edgerton), to keep it from killing them off one at a time. And in this vast, intense land, a parasite that can make a perfect copy of anything it touches will pit human against human as it tries to survive and flourish.

Trivia: The red axe that ‘Joel Edgerton’ uses and eventually sticks into the wall can be seen still stuck in the wall when the Americans visit the Norwegian camp in the original John Carpenter version. In order to not try to compete with Kurt Russell’s portrayal of the 1982 film’s protagonist, R.J. MacReady, the character of Kate Lloyd was designed to have traits in common with the character Ellen Ripley from the Alien film series. The song Kate is listening to on her headphones is “Who Can It Be Now?”, a song by Australian band Men at Work from their 1981 debut album, “Business as Usual”. The lyrics tell of a paranoid man who hears knocking at his house door and wishes to be left in solitude. This foreshadows the paranoia of the scientists later in the film.

How scary is this really?: If this movie sounds familiar that’s because this is a premake of John Carpenter’s The Thing a much better take on the same premise. While considering this is a prequel the film plays out almost the same way. That being said this is still a nerve wracking film to watch because even a lesser version of the thing is still freaky. While I and almost everyone else prefers Carpenter’s version this is still quite an effective version.

Gremlins

Gremlins (1984)

Director: Joe Dante

Cast: Zach Galligan, Hoyt Axton, Phoebe Cates and Howie Mandel

Synopsis: Inventor Randall Peltzer (Hoyt Axton) is on a business trip and is searching for a last minute Christmas present for his son Billy (Zach Galligan) when he is brought to an antique Chinese store. In the store he tries to sell one of his inventions when he hears a faint singing and he offers to buy the creature singing. After he is refused sale of the animal the grandson of the store owner secretly sells it too him but tells him there are three rules he must follow keep it away from light sunlight can kill it, don’t get water on it and don’t feed it after midnight. We discover that the animal is a Mogwai which the family names Gizmo (voiced by Howie Mandel). It is not long however before they spill water on Gizmo which makes more Mogwai’s. It’s not long before they are fed after midnight turning them into small monsters that wreak havoc on the town and it’s people. Now Billy must rush to save the town and Kate (Phoebe Cates) a girl from work he has a crush on before the gremlins destroy to much of the town.

Trivia: Generally credited (along with Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom) to influence the MPAA to create the PG-13 rating, as many felt the scenes of violence in both movies were too much for a PG rating, but not enough for an R rating. Hoyt Axton was always the foremost choice for Rand Peltzer. Pat Harrington Jr. was also considered. Pat Hingle was said to have delivered the best screen test, but was passed on because it was feared Rand’s character would take over the picture as a result of Hingle’s excellent performance.

How scary is this really?: This movie is quite notorious because it was one of the films that created the necessity of a PG-13 rating. I have always loved this movie and while an overly scary movie is terrified me as a kid but I still couldn’t help but love it. If it wasn’t the fact that they can turn into gremlins I really wish the Mogwai was a pet you could actually have because they are beyond adorable. Although it is set around Christmas I still feel as though this is also a Halloween movie.

Shaun of the Dead

Shaun of the Dead (2004)

Director: Edgar Wright

Cast: Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Kate Ashfield, Penelope Wilton and Bill Nighy

Synopsis: Shaun (Simon Pegg), works at a dead-end job and keeps going to the same pub The Winchester night after night and never seems to get anywhere in life. When his girlfriend Liz (Kate Ashfield) dumps him he decides to get his life in order with the help of his foul-mouthed best friend Ed (Nick Frost). To make matters worse this is also the day when the dead have risen from their graves and are feeding on the brains of the living. Now Shaun must save Liz and his mother (Penelope Wilton) and his step father Philip (Bill Nighy) whom he doesn’t care too much for. After saving everyone Shaun decides the best course of action is to hold up at The Winchester while this all blows over. This proves troublesome as The Winchester has one of the largest concentration of zombies around it in London. Shaun creates a diversion so they can get in without being followed but once they are in the pub the real fun begins as the group begins to fight with each other. Now they must wait to see if someone will come to help them before the zombies realize where they are.

Trivia: Frequent references are made to Big Al’s claim that dogs can’t look up. This is a reference to the commentary to the second series of Spaced in which Simon Pegg (Shaun) and Edgar Wright talk about Nick Frost (Ed)’s claim that the difficulty in shooting a scene with a dog was due to the fact that dogs can’t look up. Shaun berates Ed for calling the creatures zombies (which they are, of course). This may be referring to the fact that many zombie movies (including Night of the Living Dead and Resident Evil) never mention the word “zombie” at all. More likely this is a reference to Danny Boyle, director of 28 Days Later…, and his insistence that it isn’t a zombie movie.

How scary is this really?: This movie is reasonably scary the first time through but it’s more gross than anything only because of how disgusting zombies can look. They do a couple of really cool zombie kills in the film but this is mainly a comedy and the delivers big time on that front. I really enjoy the duo of Simon Pegg and Nick Frost to me they are one of the funniest comedic duos out there. This is a great film to watch for Halloween.

Beetlejuice

Beetlejuice (1988)

Director: Tim Burton

Cast: Alec Baldwin, Geena Davis, Winona Ryder, Jeffrey Jones, Catherine O’Hara and Michael Keaton

Synopsis: Adam and Barbara Maitland (Alec Baldwin and Geena Davis), have been involved in an accident where they have drowned and died. Unaware that they have died the Maitlands, return home but don’t have any memory of how they got home Adam decides to go outside to retrace their steps, but instead, finds himself on a strange desert planet, inhabited by striped sand worms. When he returns to the house, Barbara says he was gone for 2 hours, and shows him a book that she found on a table, titled “Handbook for the Recently Deceased.” While accepting they have died they also must deal with the house being sold to Charles (Jeffrey Jones) and Delia (Catherine O’Hara) Deetz, who also bring their daughter Lydia (Winona Ryder). Lydia is the only living person who can see the Maitlands and she forms a bond with them. In a desperate attempt to get the elder Deetz family members out of the house Adam and Barbara hire Betelgeuse (Michael Keaton), a bio-exorcist, to scare them out. Betelgeuse goes too far which forces Adam and Barbara to protect the Deetz family and get Betelgeuse out of their house.

Trivia: Michael Keaton spent only two weeks filming his part in the film, which lasts 17.5 minutes out of the 92-minute running time. It is Keaton’s favorite film of his own. The title character of Beetlejuice is named for a bright red star in the constellation of Orion, Betelgeuse. The studio disliked the title and wanted to call the film “House Ghosts”. As a joke, Tim Burton suggested the name “Scared Sheetless” and was horrified when the studio actually considered using it.

How scary is this really?: I love Beetlejuice it is one of my all time favourite films and Michael Keaton is wonderful as the titular character. Jeffrey Jones is pretty hilarious in the film as well as Catherine O’Hara. This is the movie that introduced me to Alec Baldwin who has recently become one of my favourite actors working today (mainly from his work on 30 Rock). This isn’t a very scary movie but that’s OK it is super entertaining and makes for another good October movie.

The Lost Boys

The Lost Boys (1987)

Director: Joel Schumacher

Cast: Jason Patric, Corey Haim, Dianne Wiest, Corey Feldman, Barnard Hughes, Jami Gertz and Kiefer Sutherland

Synopsis: Following the divorce of their parents, Micheal (Jason Patric) and Sam (Corey Haim) Emerson, along with their mother Lucy (Dianne Wiest), move to Santa Carla, California to live with their Grandpa (Barnard Hughes). On the back of the the sign welcoming people to Santa Carla states that the town is the Murder Capital of the World. On their first night out to check out the local sights Sam and Michael head to a concert and Lucy meets Max (Edward Herrmann) a movie store owner who offers her a job. Michael and Sam split up and Sam meets the Edgar and Alan Frog (Corey Feldman and Jamison Newlander) who claim to be vampire hunters.  Meanwhile, Michael becomes enthralled by the mysterious and beautiful Star (Jami Gertz), who happens to be with David (Kiefer Sutherland). David and his gang take Michael to their hideout, which is the remnants of an old hotel that collapsed during an earthquake. While there, Michael inadvertently drinks David’s blood, thinking it is wine. Michael starts to develop some side effects – including sensitivity to sounds, a lack of reflection, and even flying. Sam accuses Michael of being a vampire but Michael convinces Sam that he can figure out how to fix it. Lucy begins to date Max who Sam is also suspicious of being a vampire. Sam enlists the Frog brothers who tell Michael that as long as they kill the head vampire then he will no longer be a vampire. A final confrontation between David and Michael reveals who the true head vampire really is.

Trivia: This movie invented the phrase “vamp out”, which has passed into common usage on Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The movie didn’t originally end on a joke. After the scene with Grandpa at the refrigerator, it was supposed to cut to the surviving Lost Boys regrouping in the sunken hotel. The last shot was of a mural on the wall, made in the early 1900s, with Max in it – looking exactly the same as he did today. All of this appeared in an early draft of the script, but ultimately was never filmed.

How scary is this really?: Not very but it is a whole hell of a lot of fun. I love this movie it is very much an 80’s movie but that doesn’t bother me the only real bummer is that it never got a decent sequel. Kiefer Sutherland is a total badass in his breakout role and Jason Patric does a great job as Michael. This is Corey Haim’s show though and the young actor carries this film on his shoulders. The best line in the entire film comes from Haim when his character discovers his brother is a vampire “Look at your reflection in the mirror. You’re a creature of the night Michael, just like out of a comic book! You’re a vampire Michael! My own brother, a goddamn, shit-sucking vampire. You wait ’till mom finds out, buddy!”. This a great move to watch around Halloween.

The Mummy

The Mummy (1999)

Director: Stephen Sommers

Cast: Brendan Fraser, Rachel Weisz, John Hannah, Oded Fehr and Arnold Vosloo

Synopsis: In ancient Egypt, high priest Imhotep (Arnold Vosloo) started a forbidden relationship with Anck Su Namun, Pharaoh Seti’s Mistress. When Seti finds out about their betrayal, Imhotep and Anck Su Namun kill him, but can’t escape the trustworthy guards: Anck Su Namun chooses to commit suicide while Imhotep is bestowed with the Hom-Dai, the most feared curse of all: He is mummified alive in Hamunaptra, the city of the Dead. Now in 1923, adventurer Rick O’Connoll (Brendan Fraser) leads Librarian Evelyn Carnahan (Rachel Weisz) and her brother Jonathan (John Hannah) to Hamunaptra the city of the dead. While Jonathan is keen on finding the legendary Egyptian treasures, Evelyn wants to search for the Book of the Living, which would clarify a lot in historical knowledge about the ancient Egyptians. There is another compteing group of American diggers who are being led by an old friend of Rick’s. While digging the Americans open a chest containing the organs of Imhotep and they also find the black Book of the Dead. After Evelyn steals the Book of he Dead from one of the Americans and begins to read through it and accidently awakens Imhotep. Now the creature will bring forth the ten plagues of Egypt and find those who opened the chest and drain the life from them until he becomes fully generated and will become Immortal. To make matters worse Imhotep wants to resurrect Anck Su Namun by using Evelyn’s body and together they will rule the world for all time. Only Rick can stop him with the help of a modern day Medjai named Ardeth Bay (Oded Fehr) before he sacrifices Evelyn.

Trivia: Ardath Bey, an anagram of Death By Ra, is the name of a sworn protector of mankind from the mummy Imhotep. However, in The Mummy, Ardath Bey is the alter-ego of the mummy Imhotep (played by Boris Karloff) when he attempts to pass for a modern Egyptian. According to director Stephen Sommers, Universal phoned him the morning after this movie was released and said, “We need another one.”

How scary is this really?: This movie scared the crap out of me the first time I saw it although I was only 12 but it was also so much fun to watch and 13 years later it is still just as much fun to watch. Brendan Fraser is great as Rick O’Connoll the best adventurer since Indiana Jones and Rachel Weisz is great in her breakout role. Arnold Vosloo is great as Imhotep reinforcing the belief that the less you talk the more intimidating you can be. All around a great adventure film but not the scariest thing by any means.

Prometheus: Film Review

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Prometheus (2012)

Director: Ridley Scott

Cast: Noomi Rapace, Michael Fassbender, Charlize Theron, Logan Marshall-Green, Idris Elba, Guy Pearce

Synopsis: In the year 2089, archaeologists Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace) and her partner Charlie Holloway (Logan Marshall-Green) discover a star map among the remnants of several otherwise unconnected ancient cultures. They interpret this as an invitation from humanity’s forerunners. Peter Weyland (Guy Pearce), the elderly founder and CEO of the Weyland Corporation, funds the creation of the scientific deep space research vessel called the USS Prometheus to follow the map to the distant moon of LV-223 several light years from Earth. The ship’s crew travels in stasis at light speed while the android David (Michael Fassbender) stays awake at the pilot control to monitor their voyage. In 2093, the ship arrives in the orbit around LV-223. After being awakened from hibernation, the crew are informed of their mission to find the ancient aliens, called “Engineers” whom may be the original humans. But the crew of the Prometheus is not prepared for what awaits them on LV-223 a terror beyond anything they could have imagined.

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Review: I am huge fan of the Alien franchise and when this was originally touted as a direct prequel I was admittedly worried until it was later revealed this would be a semi-prequel with only a few things tying it into the Alien franchise but clearly a part of the Alien universe. Part of why I love going to the theaters is no matter what your expectations are for a film it is highly unlikely that will meet all the expectations you have for it which I feel annoys most viewers. I have a feeling that the reason this film is not getting rave reviews from critics is because it is a thinking man’s sci-fi film which usually falls flat with U.S. audiences (no offense meant). You need to be patient with this film but I have no doubt this movie will be considered a classic in the years to come. Michael Fassbender steals that show as the android David, he is so good it is hard to believe that is a real person playing the character. Noomi Rapace was very good in her first starring role in a major Hollywood picture and Idris Elba was great as usual as the ship captain. The only complaints I had were that Charlize Theron seemed out of place as the cold and calculating Vickers and Guy Pearce is totally wasted in his small role as the elderly Weyland that makeup wasn’t as bad as I has heard but it probably would have been more effective to just bring back Lance Henriksen. I did not see it in 3D so you can bet that I will be going to see this a second time hopefully in Imax 3D. I had a lot of fun and this is definitely worth seeing especially since this is Ridley Scott’s first sci-fi film in 30 years. A

Films to See Before You Die: #57 No Country for Old Men

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No Country for Old Men (2007)

Directors: Ethan Coen, Joel Coen

Cast: Josh Brolin, Tommy Lee Jones, Kelly Macdonald, Javier Bardem

Synopsis: While hunting Llewellyn Moss (Josh Brolin), stumbles upon a group of dead Mexicans and a lot of Heroin, he follows a trail of blood and finds a satchel with 2 million dollars in it which he decides to take. He decides to go back later that evening and he is attacked by two men and is forced to leave his truck. When he gets back home he tells his wife Carla Jean (Kelly Macdonald) to pack up her things to go stay with her mom for a while until he can sort this whole situation out. Enter Anton Chigurgh (Javier Bardem), who the money was originally supposed to go to and now he is after Llewellyn for the money. Sheriff Ed Tom Bell (Tommy Lee Jones), after realizing who they are dealing with in Chigurgh tries to get Carla Jean to tell her where Llewellyn is so he can help him. Now Llewellyn is in for the fight of his life as the seemingly unstoppable Chigurgh seeks to claim what is his and kill him for the inconvenience.

Trivia: Anton Chigurgh and Llewellyn Moss (played by Javier Bardem and Josh Brolin respectively) are seen dressing injuries a total of five times in the movie. Five is also the number of locks that Anton breaks in the movie.  Josh Brolin was making Grindhouse when he was turned on to role of Moss. He asked the film’s director Robert Rodriguez if he could borrow a video camera for his audition tape, and he ended up having his audition elaborately shot with the theatrical camera they were using, directed by Quentin Tarantino, and with Marley Shelton as Carla Jean. When the Coens saw Brolin’s tape, their response was that they loved the lighting.

Why I think you should see this: I really love the Coen Brother’s as I stated earlier and this is the best film that the two officially directed together and it also netted them Best Director Oscars. Josh Brolin is pretty awesome in his star turning role and Tommy Lee Jones is his usual solid self. This film is owned by Javier Bardem who turns in one of the best villainous portrayals in years. Definitely the Best Picture of 2007. This movie is a great film and I suggest you check it out sometime.

Films to See Before You Die: #58 Toy Story

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Toy Story (1995)

Director: John Lasseter

Cast: Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, John Morris, Don Rickles

Synopsis: A young boy named Andy (John Morris), likes to play with his toys especially his favourite Woody (Tom Hanks). He is having an early Birthday party because the family is moving Andy gets a new Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen) toy,who does not believe that he is a toy, that essentially replaces Woody as his favourite toy. When Andy is allowed only one toy to bring with him to dinner Woody, tries to get Buzz stuck down the side of his desk but accidentally knocks him out the bedroom window when the other toys find out Mr. Potato Head (Don Rickles) accuses Woody of trying to kill Buzz. While waiting in the car for Andy and his Mom to pump gas Woody realizes that Buzz is still alive and he is happy because he can prove to the other toys he is still alive. While fighting they get separated from Andy and end up with toy killer Sid Phillips. Now they must find a way out of Sid’s house and get back to Andy before he moves without them.

Trivia: Woody and Buzz Lightyear are inspired by director John Lasseter’s own childhood toys. He based Woody on his own pull-string Casper doll, and once he grew out of Casper he moved on to a G.I Joe, a flashy toy at the time of his childhood. Mr. Potato-Head’s line “What are you looking at, ya hockey puck?” is one of actor/comedian Don Rickles’ catchphrases.

Why I think you should see this: Toy Story is a very important movie in my opinion because it is the first full-length computer animated film. The voice acting is top notch and would set the example for every Pixar film that followed. Tim Allen and Tom Hanks are sublime as Buzz and Woody. I urge you to watch the entire trilogy because they are all just amazing but this will always be my favourite. Check this one out you won’t be disappointed.

Films to See Before You Die: #59 Beetlejuice

beetlejuice

Beetlejuice (1988)

Director: Tim Burton

Cast: Alec Baldwin, Geena Davis, Winona Ryder, Michael Keaton, Jeffrey Jones, Catherine O’Hara

Synopsis: Adam (Alec Baldwin) and Barbara (Geena Davis) Maitland, have been involved in an accident where they have drowned and died. Unaware that they have died the Maitlands, return home but don’t have any memory of how they got home Adam decides to go outside to retrace their steps, but instead, finds himself on a strange desert planet, inhabited by striped sandworms. When he returns to the house, Barbara says he was gone for 2 hours, and shows him a book that she found on a table, titled “Handbook for the Recently Deceased.” While accepting they have died they also must deal with the house being sold to Charles (Jeffrey Jones) and Delia (Catherine O’Hara) Deetz, who also bring their daughter Lydia (Winona Ryder). Lydia is the only living person who can see the Maitlands and she forms a bond with them. In a desperate attempt to get the elder Deetz family members out of the house Adam and Barbara hire Betelgeuse (Michael Keaton), a bio-exorcist, to scare them out. Betelgeuse goes too far which forces Adam and Barbara to protect the Deetz family and get Betelgeuse out of their house.

Trivia: Betelgeuse reveals a hideous (albeit unseen) face to Adam and Barbara. Originally, Betelgeuse’s “scary face” was going to be seen, and an elaborate makeup effect was created to that end, but ultimately went unused. The number 3 is used ‘3’ times: The number of times to say commands (“Betelgeuse”, “home”), the number of times to knock on the door to get to the other side, and the number of first class intersessions allotted.

Why I think you should see this: Tim Burton has always been a favourite of mine although I prefer his older stuff to his newer movies. This is the most fun you will ever have watching Michael Keaton and he is absolutely amazing as the wacky bio-exorcist Betelgeuse. This is also a chance to see a young and very slim Alec Baldwin as well as a young Winona Ryder. Jeffrey Jones is also hysterical in the few scenes he has in the film. I love Tim Burton and couldn’t recommend this film enough check it out!