31 Days of Halloween: All Hallow’s Eve

Halloween4Well- I didn’t achieve my goal.  That fickle bitch Sandy (and preperations before hand) threw a curve ball into the ‘movie a night’ plan for October. But no worries, all are safe and minimal damage here in my neighborhood. I hope this post finds all those who were in the path of Sandy well, and my prayers go out to those hardest hit.

However, had to post the last of my reviews come hell or high water….actually, they both came, but (double entendres aside) I had to post the review for the last one.  Saved this for Halloween night and I’m sure you’ve guessed which story it is.

Before the review, I will mention that the Word Count Podcast WILL return in November, as well as a very special post regarding an upcoming short story anthology where a story of mine will be published.  So stay tuned!  Meanwhile…

halloweenHalloween (1978 – rated R in the US for frightening and intense scenes, violence, gore, nudity and my thoughts about a young Jamie Lee Curtis)

Summary (from IMDB):

The year is 1963, the night: Halloween. Police are called to 43 Lampkin Ln. only to discover that 15 year old Judith Myers has been stabbed to death, by her 6 year-old brother, Michael. After being institutionalized for 15 years, Myers breaks out on the night before Halloween. No one knows, nor wants to find out, what will happen on October 31st 1978 besides Myers’ psychiatrist, Dr. Loomis. He knows Michael is coming back to Haddonfield, but by the time the town realizes it, it’ll be too late for many people.

This is John Carpenter at his finest. This Godfather of slasher movies was made on absolutely minimal budget (the cast wore their own clothes).  Carpenter’s use of lighting and suspense building set the bar for a generation of flicks–and he didn’t need a massive special effects budget to do it.  Lighting techniques, sounds, camera angles, moving shadows, and a haunting score.  Little touches that clue in the audience while the characters are still clueless.  Fantastic stuff.

halloween3The character of Michael Myers  is such a phenomenal monster in this movie that he inspired scores of imitators, such as Jason Vorhees (Friday the 13th), The Miner (My Bloody Valentine), and Charlie Puckett (The Night Brings Charlie), to name but a few.

The acting is surprisingly good. PJ Soles provides much of the films limited humor (and one of the best deaths), Nancy Loomis turns in a decent performance and then there is the young “queen of scream” herself, Jamie Lee Curtis. Her performance at first seems shy and un-assured, yet you quickly realize that it is perfect for the character, who is herself shy and un-assured and not at all prepared for what she is to face. And of course there is the perfectly cast Donald Pleasence as the determined (perhaps a little unstable) Dr. Sam Loomis.

This is a classic that is still imitated today, nearly 35 years later.  If you want to see an oldie, but a goodie and the one that really started the genre, then put the candy out doors for the kids, turn out the lights and enjoy.


Happy Halloween!



31 Days of Halloween: Days 24, 25 and 26

Holy crap!

Watch as RB’s Joomla skills screw up three days of posting.  Sometimes I define “enough knowledge to be dangerous.”

By the way, if there are any Joomla guru’s out there, drop me an e-mail at me@rbwood.com if you want some freelance work.

So let’s do this in reverse order, shall we?

house_on_haunted_hillDAY 26

House On Haunted Hill (1959 – Unrated in the US, but scary a get out.  DO NOT see the 1999 remake)

Summary (from IMDB):

Eccentric millionaire Fredrick Loren and his 4th wife, Annabelle, have invited 5 people to the house on Haunted Hill for a “haunted House” party. Whoever will stay in the house for one night will earn ten thousand dollars each. As the night progresses, all the guests are trapped inside the house with ghosts, murderers, and other terrors.

RB Wood’s rating (out of 5): 3.5 Campy Actors

A lot of you young folk only know Vincent Price as the voice (and laugh) at the end of the Michael Jackson hit Thriller.  And that’s a shame. The story of “House on Haunted Hill” is at its core, a new twist to the “Old Spooky House” kind of Gothic horror tales that had existed since the literary origins of the genre. Vincent Price is Frederick Loren, an eccentric multi-millionaire that decides to give a horror-themed party for his wife Annabelle (Carol Ohmart) in a very bizarre way. The strange party consist of inviting 5 strangers to an allegedly haunted house (where many murders have taken place), and to reward them with $10,000 if they manage to survive the night. As the challenge begins, strange events begin to happen and soon everyone wonders if there may be some true in the legend of the House on Haunted Hill.

house-on-haunted-hill-3Written by Robb White, the story may be clichéd, but it’s filled with excellent black comedy and has some very clever twists that give the film its very special charm. To expect a terrifying horror experience is to watch the film with the wrong attitude, as “House on Haunted Hill” moves more on the lines of subtle dark comedy with a dose of campy fun instead of graphic horror. Despite this tone, the film plays very good with the mystery that represents the House and the murders, and the ending still is one of the best surprises on film.

William Castle directs this film following the conventions of the Gothic horror to the letter, but even when may had been a businessman first, he still was an artist, and shows off a very clever use of the camera to create mood an atmosphere. Castle was a huge fan of Alfred Hitchcock, and it shows as Castle’s visual style in “House on Haunted Hill” owes a lot to Hitchcock’s inventive use of the camera to tell a story (The master of suspense would “return the favor” a year later with his very own b-movie, “Psycho”). Castle’s elegant camera-work contrasts with the dark campy humor of the story giving the film its distinct tone, favored by the classic performances of Vincent Price and Elisha Cook.


The legendary Vincent Price, who delivers an unforgettable performance with his enormous presence that makes his intentionally campy delivery even more enjoyable. Elisha Cook Jr. plays one of the guests at the party, Watson Pritchard, and his scene-stealing performance almost overshadows Price’s (not an easy feat to accomplish). The surprise comes from Carol Ohmart, who plays Annabelle Loren, being a worthy counterpart to Price’s character, as his character’s gorgeous but treacherous wife. The rest of the cast is somewhat effective, with Carolyn Craig and Richard Long playing the “heroes” of the story with good results, although some other members of the cast are pretty average when compared to the previously mentioned actors.

Yes, it’s a little dated, but it’s a lot of fun.

DAY 25

drag_me_to_hellDrag Me to Hell (2009 Rated PG-13 in the US for horror violence, terror, disturbing images and show us all what SHOULD have happened to Wall Street bankers during the Great Recession)

Summary (from IMDB):

Christine Brown is a loans officer at a bank but is worried about her lot in life. She’s in competition with a competent colleague for an assistant manager position and isn’t too sure about her status with a boyfriend. Worried that her boss will think less of her if she shows weakness, she refuses a time extension on a loan to an old woman, Mrs. Ganush, who now faces foreclosure and the loss of her house. In retaliation, the old woman place a curse on her which, she subsequently learns, will result in her being taken to hell in a few days time. With the help of a psychic, she tries to rid herself of the demon, but faces several hurdles in the attempt.

RB Wood’s rating (out of 5): 4 creepy old women

From the intense opening scene to the stellar and shocking finale, Sam Raimi has officially returned to the horror genre with vigor and spark in the year’s best horror film so far. Starring Alison Lohman in the leading role (Ellen Page was originally cast as the lead but dropped out of the project early in production), Drag Me to Hell feels like much more than your average, predictable horror popcorn flick. It’s filled with plenty of twists and turns and, like any good ride, a satisfying conclusion. And the PG-13 rating? Forget about it! You hardly notice that little factor because of how immersed you become in the story. Also starring are Justin Long, David Paymer, and Lorna Raver.

dragmetohell2Christine (Lohman), a loan officer at a bank with a lovely boyfriend (Long), is being considered for a promotion. Jumping at the opportunity, she comes across an old gypsy woman (Raver) who requests a third extension on her house. Her boss (Paymer) tells her it’s a tough decision, and its her call, so she refuses the woman’s payment. Absolutely infuriated, the woman stalks Christine after work and bestows her with a supernatural curse, one which she has only three days to overcome before the spirits drag her to hell.

Perhaps the most shocking thing about the movie is how well it’s made technically. It had all sorts of interesting shots and the real work of a master filmmaker. Having both written and directed the film, Sam Raimi more than proves his worth to the horror genre despite his long absence since Army of Darkness. In ways, this is also a sort of revival of what people with think of PG-13 horror movies. Drag Me to Hell is one of the most intense, scary horror films in quite some time, despite the PG-13 rating which many tag as already crap.


Drag Me to Hell is full of its epic shocks, and the less you go in knowing about it the better. I could go on for hours about the movie and spoil everything there is to know, but that would truly ruin some of its appeal. Which is certainly not to say that it is lost after a first viewing, just that it’s an experience unlike any other going into this movie watching virtually no clips and reading very little about it. It becomes a truly rewarding experience.

DAY 24

Lost1The Lost Boys (1987 – Rated R in the US for bloody horror violence including disturbing images, language and Kiefer Sutherland’s hair cut)

Summary (from IMDB):

A mother and her two sons move to a small coast town in California. The town is plagued by bikers and some mysterious deaths. The younger boy makes friends with two other boys who claim to be vampire hunters while the older boy is drawn into the gang of bikers by a beautiful girl. The older boy starts sleeping days and staying out all night while the younger boy starts getting into trouble because of his friends’ obsession.

RB Wood’s rating (out of 5): 4 annoying little brothers

The best element of this movie is that fact that it doesn’t take itself very seriously, but in no way does that effect the relative creepiness of the main storyline. The makeup is top notch, as are the special effects and the acting is a perfect fit to the context of the film. Yeah, Corey Haim may not be a Dean or Brando, but he is pitch perfect as the annoying little brother who talks big and runs fast in the face of trouble. Jason Patrick is as good as an actor could possibly be in a role that requires very little character development but the big star here is Kiefer Sutherland who channels his “scary bad boy” look into a character who is as fun to watch as he is frightening. Rounding out the rest of the cast is Dianne Wiest as the sweet mother, Corey Haim and Edward Hermann as the vampire killing duo Edgar and Alan (a cute Poe reference) Frog and 80’s movie staple Jamie Gertz as the gypsy-esque Star.

lost2The film has many memorable scenes including the vampire initiation and the scene where Patrick first approaches his brother in vampire form. Though the 80’s fashion and music are powerful throughout they borderline overdone and are still enjoyable. Plotwise the set up is acceptable: Wiest and her two sons(Patrick and Haim) move into her father’s house in Santa Carla, California, a quaint little beach side town that has been suffering from a high homicide rate. While mom looks for a job the boys look for something to do, Patrick setting his sights on the alluring Star and Haim settling into the local comic den, both fail to notice the ridiculous amount of “MISSING” posters on the walls. Patrick is led astray by a group of youths who like to drag race and hang out in a cave, eventually peer pressure rears its ugly head and soon enough Patrick is one of them. Then he finds out exactly why they only hang out after dark.


Full of great one liners and comedic performances (Barnard Hughes is great as the eccentric taxidermist/grandfather) “The Lost Boys” is a film showcased by the small touches: we still have the usual vampire yarn, but the youthful overtones create a different effect. Yes its 80’s but its damn fun to watch. Schumacher creates a film that is not only a fun take on vampires but a creative take on teenagers and their neverending trek to belong.
Reccommended to those who have a sense of humor and enjoy vampire films.







31 Days of Halloween: Day Twenty Three

28_days128 Days Later (Rated R in the US for strong violence, gore, language, nudity and because Cillian Murphy is FREAKY-looking)

Summary (from IMDB):

Animal activists invade a laboratory with the intention of releasing chimpanzees that are undergoing experimentation, infected by a virus -a virus that causes rage. The naive activists ignore the pleas of a scientist to keep the cages locked, with disastrous results. Twenty-eight days later, our protagonist, Jim, wakes up from a coma, alone, in an abandoned hospital. He begins to seek out anyone else to find London is deserted, apparently without a living soul. After finding a church, which had become inhabited by zombie like humans intent on his demise, he runs for his life. Selena and Mark rescue him from the horde and bring him up to date on the mass carnage and horror as all of London tore itself apart. This is a tale of survival and ultimately, heroics, with nice subtext about mankind’s savage nature.

RB Wood’s Rating (out of 5): 4.5 British character actors

Yes, it’s another zombie flick (of sorts).  But this one is different. The other films focus too much on extensive, special-effects-controlled, gory action sequences between infected and normals, with heavy background music. But here there’s always a tinge of sadness, emptyness, helplessness. Consider that empty London scene with that background music. We found out there’s much else to show than just electrifying action or gore to describe the picture of life in this condition that these movies talk about.

28_Days_2Twenty-eight days after being hit by a car, Jim, a bike courier and our film’s hero, wakes up to find London deserted. He eventually meets two other survivors and then encounters another two. After picking up a radio broadcast that calls all uninfected people to Manchester, the survivors fight off the infected and make their way to what seems like the promised land. Complications follow is all I’ll say.

Some have compared this film to George Romero’s “Night of the Living Dead,” giving some people the wrong impression that this is the British take on the zombie flick. Wrong. The infected aren’t zombies– but they are terrifying. They can be killed and the director doesn’t gross us out by showing the infected feasting on human flesh. (All in all, “28 Days” isn’t visually disgusting. It’s the thought of what’s going on that bothers you.)

The acting in this film is really first rate, with Cillian Murphy giving an emotionally compelling performance. As in most Boyle films, the camera work also is exceptional and in the first part we are shown some phenomenal long shots of an evacuted London with a soundtrack devoid of sound. The effect is gooseflesh raising. Boyle also adds in other nice touches, like a bunch of goldfish swimming in about five inches of water. (Symbolism?) And a scene with wild horses is another fine moment.


The story too goes beyond what we might expect. We get the jumps associated with zombie films – they come out of no where and travel in packs – and yet the heroes don’t come off too much better. One character suggests that the virus, by killing off humankind, returns things to normalcy. Christopher Eccleston, a terrific actor, retorts that before the virus man killed man and now he’s still doing it. So what’s changed? The film also suggests that to save yourself, you would have to kill anyone – child, adult; family member, stranger. And these characters do. But what’s noteworthy is we see how having to make those sorts of decisions affects them, particularly Jim.

Like Lord of the Flies, the film strips away the civility we all think we possess and demonstrates that we, too, are bound by the laws of the animal kingdom – it’s survival of the fittest and to have a future we need to reproduce.

Tomorrow: Vampires done RIGHT.


31 Days of Halloween: Day Twenty Two

turistasTuristas (2006 Rated R in the US for strong graphic violence and disturbing content, sexuality, nudity, drug use and language. All in all, a good Halloween college party)

Summary (from IMDB):

While traveling on vacation through the country of Northeastern of Brazil by bus, the American Alex Trubituan, his sister Bea Tribituan and their friend Amy Harrington meet the also foreigners Pru Stagler, Finn Davies and Liam Kuller after an accident with their bus. They follow a track through the woods and find a hidden paradisiacal beach. They decide to stay in the place drinking beer and dancing funk and parting with the locals and they meet the amicable Brazilian teenager Kiko. They are drugged with “Boa Noite, Cinderela” (Ruffies, literal translation: “Good Night, Cinderella” – a trick used by smalltime crooks to steal naive people) and when they wake up, they are practically naked, with all their belongings, clothes, money, jewels, passports, backpacks etc. stolen. They walk to a small village trying to find a police station, they get into trouble with the dwellers and they are helped by their acquaintance Kiko…

turistas2RB Wood’s Rating (Out of 5): 3.5 Carnival scantily-clad women

This really isn’t a bad picture, despite some of the reviews out there.  In fact, I’d say the only disappointing aspect is the ending which, for me, feel flat.  The Tension-building and setup are superb, and the acting much better than I’d expected–even upon last night’s repeat viewing. John Stockwell’s “Turistas” mines territory explored by “Hostel”, but it substitutes Brazil for Europe. A bunch of young tourists from Australia, the UK, and the US, are left high and dry when the bus they are traveling in is destroyed and their personal effects are stolen. There are no points for guessing what happens next. There are elements of “Dr. Butcher MD” in this beautifully shot horror pic that lavishes attention on the hot bodies of its female stars. It is not  violent or as gory,but director Stockwell (who played Arnie’s best friend in “Christine”) does a great job of building the suspense by intercutting the situation the turistas are facing with what the bad guys are up to. There is one gory scene in which a stomach is cut open in graphic detail and organs are removed, but as an avid CSI watcher, this has less impact now than it did back in 2006. Some of the underwater material is gorgeous to look at, recalling the mood of Argento’s “Inferno”, and the jungle setting is unsettling. Although the film runs out of steam towards the end and spends a bit too much time underwater, it is, nevertheless, a very decent horror pic set in an exotic milieu and enhanced by some gruesome, realistic scenes of violence.


Tomorrow: “Plans are pointless. Staying alive’s as good as it gets.”


31 Days of Halloween: Day Twenty One

Omen1The Omen (1976 – Rated R in the US for disturbing images, gore and violence.  Oh, and the antichrist shows up)

Summary (from IMDB):

Robert and Katherine Thorn seem to have it all. They are happily married and he is the US Ambassador to Great Britain, but they want more than to have children. When Katharine has a stillborn child, Robert is approached by a priest at the hospital who suggests that they take a healthy newborn whose mother has just died in childbirth. Without telling his wife he agrees. After relocating to London, strange events – and the ominous warnings of a priest – lead him to believe that the child he took from that Italian hospital is evil incarnate.

Between Jerry Goldsmith’s award-winning score and the masterful direction of Richard Donner, this movie is frightening for what is implied more that the violence shown on screen. From the claustrophic feel of the ancient tombs to the gray skies over London, the tone of this film has dread woven into it from the opening credits.

Born into the world of politics and wealth, little Damien Thorn (Harvey Stephens) is the darling of the beautiful and privileged Robert (Gregory Peck) and Katherine Thorn (Lee Remick). Mysterious accidents and the overall feeling of death begin to shadow their lives until the horrifying truth of Damien’s birth is uncovered millions of miles away in a grave in a decaying pagan cemetery in Italy. Gregory Peck gives a fine performance as ambitious politico Robert Thorn, a man who slowly Omen2discovers that his fate is interlinked in ancient biblical prophecy. With escalating horror, he uncovers a grand design that’s unfolding under the unsuspecting eyes of the entire world – and he and his perfect family are at the centre of it. His search for the truth is one of the best in films, taking him to the farthest reaches of the globe and climaxing in an exciting and bizarre confrontation between himself and the face of evil.

Lee Remick is ethereal as his beautiful and tragic wife. The rest of the cast – Billie Whitelaw as the creepy Mrs. Baylock, David Warner as the doomed Jennings and Leo McKern as the mysterious archaeologist Bugenhagen – give the movie its singular dark and moody quality. The Omen has a few disturbing moments that shock rather than disgust, but the film is loaded with memorable scenes that are ingenious. It’s the ‘feeling’ that the film incites that makes this movie unique. The haunted performances of the actors, the creepy-crawly musical score, the insinuation that doom is slowly creeping into the world with the birth of one lone child, all succeed in making The Omen one of the truest horror films.

Sometimes it’s the knowing that something is going to happen that is more frightening than actually seeing it happen.


I also need to mention the weird ‘curse’ that followed the cast and crew through post-production, making the film that much more creepy:

  • Star Gregory Peck and screenwriter David Seltzer took separate planes to the UK…yet BOTH planes were struck by lightning.
  • While producer Harvey Bernhard was in Rome, lightning just missed him.
  • Rottweilers hired for the film attacked their trainers.
  • A hotel at which director Richard Donner was staying got bombed by the IRA and he was also struck by a car.
  • After Peck canceled another flight, to Israel, the plane he would have chartered crashed…killing all on board.
  • On day one of the shoot, several principal members of the crew survived a head-on car crash.
  • Special effects artist John Richardson was injured and his girlfriend beheaded in an accident.

Scary Shit.

Tomorrow: Turistas are in trouble…


31 Days of Halloween: Day Twenty

6sense1The Sixth Sense (1999 – Rated PG-13 in the US for a freaky kid, wine dringing Bruce Willis and seing dead people)

Summary (from IMDB):

Malcolm Crowe is a child psychologist who receives an award on the same night that he is visited by a very unhappy ex-patient. After this encounter, Crowe takes on the task of curing a young boy with the same ills as the ex-patient. This boy “sees dead people”. Crowe spends a lot of time with the boy (Cole) much to the dismay of his wife. Cole’s mom is at her wit’s end with what to do about her son’s increasing problems. Crowe is the boy’s only hope.

RB Wood’s Rating (out of 5): 4 ghosts

Okay, it’s looking more and more like M. Night Shyamalan is a one hit wonder, and this is his one hit. Haley Joel Osment is brilliant in his first real role as Cole Sear, a child with a special gift.  Bruce willis plays Malcolm Crowe, an man who survives an attack in his home by his expatient.  His next client, Cole Sear, has the same issues as the man who tried to kill the psychologist, so Willis’ character redoubles his efforts to try and cure the troubled child.

6sense2Osment’s portrayal of the young boy who sees the dead…not only sees them but is like a beacon for them to visit, is brilliant.  The creep factor is enhanced by Willis trying to hold his life together while his marriage falls apart.  His wife seemingly won’t speak to him after the attack.  The chilling scenes with the ghosts Osment sees are well done and are still scary even upon multiple viewings.  The twist, of course (SPOILER) is that Willis’ Crowe never survived the attack in the beginning of the movie.  While trying to help Osment, he ends up being helped by the child in turn.  While Osment can finally admit his problem to his mother, Crowe’s unfinished business rectifying his failure to understand his attacker is finally complete. Recalling Cole’s advice, Crowe speaks to his sleeping wife and fulfills the second reason he returned, saying she was “never second,” and that he loves her. Releasing her to move on with her own life, he is free to leave behind the world of the living.


The direction and soundtrack are spot on and the acting all around is well worth it this holiday season.  Trust me, you’ll see dead people.


Tomorrow: “Look at me, Damien! It’s all for you!”


31 Days of Halloween: Day Nineteen

GhostbustersGhostbusters (1984 – Rated PG in the US for spookiness, wackiness and the stay puft marshmallow man)

Summary (from IMDB):

Three odd-ball scientists get kicked out of their cushy positions at a university in New York City where they studied the occult. They decide to set up shop in an old firehouse and become Ghostbusters, trapping pesky ghosts, spirits, haunts, and poltergeists for money. They wise-crack their way through the city, and stumble upon a gateway to another dimension, one which will release untold evil upon the city. The Ghostbusters are called on to save the Big Apple.

RB Wood’s rating (out of 5) 4.5 doogs and cats living together

No movie on this list will have more quotable lines than this flick.  No so much a horror flick, but a horror spoof.  Sure there are wonderful scary moments like when Dana Barrett (Sigourney Weaver) is yanked into her fridge by the key master and the gate keeper, but this film is just a boat load of fun.  Three scientist of the paranormal studies department of NYU, Dr. Peter Venkman (Bill Murry), Dr. Raymond Stantz (Dan Aykroyd) and Dr. Egon Spengler (Harold Ramis) are tossed out of their cushy tenured Ghostbusters3positions for being frauds. Venkman certainly sees his career as a dodge, but Stanz and Spengler are serious scientists who have developed a series of inventions to help– not only to prove the existance of ghosts, but to capture and contain them.  With a third mortgage on Stanz’s family home, they fund a business to rid New York City of ghosts–the Ghostbusters.

Evil is afoot in the Big Apple, when an occultist designed tower in the city (where Barret and Rick Moranis’ Louis Tully reside) opens up a portale to another world allowing the dead to float around the city causing mayhem.

This is comedic genius written by Aykroyd, Ramis and the uncredited Moranis.  Although the effects are a bit dated, the story works and is an absolute riot from Venkman’s experiment to pick up a hot co-ed in the beginning to the attack of the stay puft marshmallow man at the end.  I still laugh out loud at the many one liners and site gags ever present in this movie and the cast plays their parts perfectly.  I still, to this day, see people dressed as the Ghostbusters for Halloween and I encourage you to give it a viewing this season.  And I’ll bet real money that Ray Parker Jr.’s famous didy popped into your head while reading this.


Tomorrow: I see dead people


31 Days of Halloween: Day Eighteen

invasionbodysnatchers78Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978 – Rated PG in the US for body invading aliens and spooky shit)

Summary (from IMDB):

The first remake of the paranoid infiltration classic moves the setting for the invasion from a small town to the city of San Fransisco and starts as Matthew Bennell notices that several of his friends are complaining that their close relatives are in some way different. When questioned later they themselves seem changed as they deny everything or make lame excuses. As the invaders increase in number they become more open and Bennell, who has by now witnessed an attempted “replacement” realises that he and his friends must escape or suffer the same fate. But who can he trust to help him and who has already been snatched?

RB Wood’s Rating (out of 5): 4 pods

Yes, this is a remake.  But it’s the first version I saw and I was happy to revisit it last night.  Director Philip Kaufman does a wonderful job building the low to high level paranoia and suspense through-out this nail-bitting film.  What I liked most Invasion2about this most recent viewing is the almost total lack of gore and violence, yet the fear factor is on par with some of the more fightiening films on my 31 films of Halloween list.  I’ve since seen the 1956 original based on Jack Finney’s classic novel, and I was of two minds whether to review the original or this remake.  But this 1978 version is better–much better–for all around acting, story-telling and the creep factor which is critical for this most spooky of seasons.

Matthew Bennell (Donald Sutherland) is a field investigator for the Department of Public Health, and when Elizabeth Driscoll (Brooke Adams) tells him that her boyfriend is not the same person he was, Matthew suggests that Elizabeth visit Dr. David Kibner (Leonard Nimoy) for emotional counseling.  More people seem to be having the same issue, and when Matthew’s friends (Nancy (Veronica Cartwright) and Jack Bellicec (Jeff Goldblum)) find a clone of Jack in their medical business, the four investigate only to find emotionless clones of others replaced by plants who attack at night.


All in all, a great scary movie for the family (as long as the kids are 13 and older).  Brilliant casting and the cameos by Don Siegel and Kevin McCarthy (from the original) is a nice touch.

Tomorrow: Let’s have a little fun. And when someone asks if you’re a god, you say YES.


31 Days of Halloween: Day Seventeen

Psycho_1960_thumbPsycho (1960 Rated PGish in the US for suspence and Hitchcock camera angles)

Summary (from IMDB):

Phoenix officeworker Marion Crane is fed up with the way life has treated her. She has to meet her lover Sam in lunch breaks and they cannot get married because Sam has to give most of his money away in alimony. One Friday Marion is trusted to bank $40,000 by her employer. Seeing the opportunity to take the money and start a new life, Marion leaves town and heads towards Sam’s California store. Tired after the long drive and caught in a storm, she gets off the main highway and pulls into The Bates Motel. The motel is managed by a quiet young man called Norman who seems to be dominated by his mother.

RB Wood’s Rating (out of 5): 4.5 Knife wielding wig wearers

The Bates motel.  Scenic location of pure terror. The image of Janet Leigh in the shower is one of the most masterful scenes ever filmed in a horror movie.  The shear sexuality and horror of the scene is so well done that to this day people swear they saw Janet Leigh completely naked.  Norman Bates (played to perfection by Anthony Perkins) is an introverted, mother dominated soul who runs the hotel that bares the family name.  This film isn’t the gore-fest of movies that followed.  Often cited, repeatedly parodied this classic of classics is the movie that broke holiwood away from the horror=monster genre.  Although Norman is his own monster, isn’t he?


It’s not just the imfamous shower scene that makes this film a classic.  It’s all the little touches and scenes that builds to the final plot twist.  A few examples:

  • The depiction of 1950’s/1960’s America in the begining
  • The scene with Marion (Leigh) and the cop
  • Conversations between Norman and Marion/Norman and Arbogast (Martin Balsam)

psychoREX0105_468x461And so many others.  If you haven’t scene this before, you owe it to yourself to rent/stream a copy.  It’s Hitchcock at his best.

Tomorrow: Check the basement for pods


31 Days of Halloween: Day Sixteen

nightmare_on_elm_streetA Nightmare on Elm Street (1984 – Rated R in the US for Gore, Violence, sexual humor and a bad Wolverine impression)

Summary (from IMDB):

On Elm Street, Nancy Thompson and a group of her friends including Tina Gray, Rod Lane and Glen Lantz are being tormented by a clawed killer in their dreams named Freddy Krueger. Nancy must think quickly, as Freddy tries to pick off his victims one by one. When he has you in your sleep, who is there to save you?

RB Wood’s Rating (Out of 5): 3.5 metal fingers

Ah, Freddie Krueger.  Before the character so brilliantly premiered and played by Robert Englund became a parody of itself, there was this original which is bloody, violent and scary as hell.  But upon watching this for the first time since 1984, I find the movie much diminished due to the obscene number of sequels and remakes.  I took a full star off for that, as scenes in this original that were once scary now seem a bit laughable.

I say this because this film (along with the original Halloween and Friday the 13th) brought back the suspense thriller in horror form.  A throw back to the old Hitchcock films of yesteryear. The film opens with a child Nightmare2molester being burned to death by the parents of the children he abused (Krueger).  Years later, the monster reappears in the nightmares of the ‘modern day’ teenagers living on Elm Street.  Believe it or not, the idea for this Wes Craven tale was inspired by real-life stories of people dying in their sleep.

Unfortunately, this is Nancy’s (Heather Langenkamp) story.  I say unfortunately because her acting in this us sub-par.  Even Johnny Depp (who in his movie debut plays Glen Lantz) is wooden.  It’s a fun little flick for the season, just don’t pick up the sequels.

Tomorrow: “Mother!”