Archive for the modern classics Category

Modern Classics – Christine

Posted in christine, HORROR MOVIES, HORROR WRITERS, modern classics, STEPHEN KING on 09/08/2012 by vincentstark

I think I’d only ever seen this movie once before, and that would have been on VHS back in the 80’s when I was watching pretty much ever horror movie, good, bad or indifferent, that I could get my hands on. During this period the levels of gore that could be gotten convincingly on the screen had improved leaps and bounds – gone were the days when a splash of vivid red blood could get the viewer’s stomach churning and now with the relaxation of censorship rules and improvement in special effects horror was booming. Christine is not heavy on gore, in fact it’s fairly tame in those terms, but it was based on a book written by Stephen King and for a teenage horror fan King was the dogs bollocks.

My memory of the movie was that I don’t think I liked it that much, maybe I thought it was too slow and maybe I was disappointed with the lack of the gruesome stuff – hey, remember that yucky stuff matters when the viewer at a certain age. And so when I saw the film on a budget DVD, I thought I’d like to see it again. After all, I’d loved the original novel and these days, as an older film viewer, I find that story, acting and all those other little things matter to me far more than a few splatters of gore.

And you know what – I enjoyed the movie a heck of a lot more this time around.

The rock and roll soundtrack for one thing is excellent and the nuances of the movie are far clearer to me now that I watch films in a more mature way. Take Keith Gordon for a start – although the film is set in the Eighties, he transforms from a nerd into a super cool dude when he gets ownership of Christine – the cherry red Plymouth Fury that looks sleeker than any car – and when he becomes this super cool dude there is something of a Fifties vibe to the style he adopts. It’s not obvious and in your face but is a subtle hint of his possession by the car named Christine. It is also apparent now how timeless the 50’s period was – the kids dressed in the 80’s styles look incredibly dated but there is something contemporary, even now, of the way Arnie dresses and looks. The music was much better too – I’d much rather hear Chuck Berry than another 80’s power ballad.

And what a performance from Keith Gordon – Ok maybe the transformation from hopeless nerd to super cat happens a little too quickly, but when he turns nasty, being all of nine stone soaking wet, he really pulls it off and not for a moment do we doubt him. It’s an incredible performance and although the supporting cast are decent, he steals the entire show. Some of the more touching character scenes come when Arnie is alone with Christine and, although touching, these are incredibly creepy.

Director, John Carpenter really understands suspense – think of his original Halloween or Thing re-make – and he moves the movie forward at pace, dropping hints as he goes along but never allowing the viewer to get the whole picture until the end, and even then we don’t have the full picture. One thing I did miss was the ghost of Christine’s former owner – Carpenter ejects this character from the movie. The character was such an important element of the book, but when watching the movie I found myself sucked in and nothing mattered other than the story itself.

Christine then is a pretty good horror thriller – it riffs on the teenage love affair with cars and for anyone who has ever projected a personality onto a car, Christine is one sexy but scary bitch. Stephen King’s nostalgia for the 50’s which often shows up in his books, is running through the DNA of this movie, and  it’s all the better for it. The way Christine’s period radio always seems to tune to a rock and roll station really works in the framework of this picture and enhances the feel of the piece – as Christine knows, the devil’s got all the best tunes.

If you’ve never seen Christine then take her for a spin, and if you’ve seen it before then it’s maybe time for another ride.

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Trollhunter

Posted in HORROR MOVIES, modern classics, Uncategorized on 06/04/2012 by vincentstark

After this movie no one will be able to take one of those footage found in the woods type movies seriously again.

Trollhunter takes its silly premise, a tape found in the woods that depicts a hunt for Trolls in the Norwegian wilderness, and plays it dead straight and surprisingly it turns out to be both funny and genuinely scary. In fact it’s probably my favorite movie after Blair Witch in the found tape genre. One thing is certain  –  it’s a heck of a lot better than the Paranormal Activity series.

Of course the days of Blair Witch are long gone and so the viewer does not for one minute believe this movie is actually found footage, but the film presents itself in such an original and vibrant way that this is soon forgotten, and we are sucked into the movie. The first time we see a Troll is a thrilling moment, and the filmmakers have employed clever effects of night vision and shaky cameras to hide the cheapness of the limited CGI. The scene where our students are trapped in a Troll lair with maybe a dozen Trolls is truly blood chilling, which is an achievement when the sleeping Trolls look like over sized Muppets. The storyline itself is absurd and we are told that the government knows about the trolls and that there is a shadowy Troll Task Force that covers up Troll sightings. Into this mix comes fairy tale elements as we see a Troll turn to stone, while another explodes. We are given a talking head scientific answer for this when the students interview a local veterinarian.

It’s a silly movie when you analyze it but that doesn’t matter, because it understands how to tell a damn good story, – Part horror movie, part social satire, and bursting with Norway’s stunning landscapes the film is a classic of its kind.

Halloween movies – The Mist

Posted in halloween movies, HORROR MOVIES, modern classics, STEPHEN KING, The classics, the mist on 10/22/2011 by vincentstark

There are two kinds of movies based on the works of the great Stephen King. There are those that simply suck and then there are those that are brilliant and do full justice to the author’s words – The Mist is one such excellent King movie. The movie of course was directed by Frank Darabont and it’s clear to see that he is a director who likes his actors – several of the actors appearing in this movie would go onto play main roles in the TV series, The Walking Dead.

This Mist at it’s most basic is a homage to all those 1950’s/60’s sci-fi movies but filtered through Stephen King’s fertile imagination.

What King did with his original story was to re-imagine those monster on the loose stories and give them a modern twist. What Frank Darabont has done with King’s story is film it with intelligence and a great sense of suspense, resulting in a fine horror movie. The director spends more time on creating believable characters than showing the monsters which only adds effect when the beasties are on screen, and there are such a lot of creepy-crawlie beasties on offer here. The ending, far bleaker than King’s original, is truly shocking. The first time you see this ending it leaves you stunned, which is not something you can’t honestly say about a lot of movies.

This is what horror movies should be like, and for genre that currently seems obsessed with torture porn, a movie like this is all the more refreshing. Anyone can hack off a leg or tear open a stomach, but only the best can bring truly imaginative works such as this to the page or screen.

One of the very best films based on the works of Stephen King.

Modern classics – Creepshow

Posted in creepshow, george romero, horror comics, HORROR MOVIES, modern classics, salem's lot, STEPHEN KING, Uncategorized on 10/21/2011 by vincentstark

The three men had come together to discuss the possibility of making a movie version of The Stand. Stephen King, George Romero and producer Rik Rubinstein spent several weeks during the summer of 1981 talking about the pros and cons of adapting what was, up until that time, King’s most ambitious novel. George Romero had long been eager to work with King and had narrowly missed out on directing Salem’s Lot before the studio decided to pull the plug on plans for a big screen movie and go with a television mini series instead.

The three men realised that making a movie of The Stand would prove far too expensive and after looking at several other projects, it was decided to make an all original horror story based on the comic books that had influenced the young Stephen King – the project would end up being called Creepshow.

‘King was like a big kid,’ Rik Rubinstein commented during a documentary shot to accompany the special edition DVD of the movie. The author threw himself into the production and not only starred in one of the segments, as the moronic Jordy Verrill but also roped in his son Joe King (these days known as writer, Joe Hill) to play the young boy reading the Creepshow comic in the movie’s prologue.

The movie was made up of five stories plus the prologue and epilogue – two of the stories, The Lonesome Death of Jordy Verrill and The Crate were based on King stories, while the remaining three stories were written for the movie. All of the tales had something of the flavor of the old horror comics about them which was intentional although some critics seemed to misunderstand this point and found many of the performances over the top. King’s performance ( mouth agape and bulging eyes) in the Jordy Verrill story is perfect, even if the author does these days seem embarrassed by his acting. Sure it’s comic book and OTT but then the film’s meant to be that way – a celluloid version of a comic book and on that level it succeeds fully.

Creepshow is both a horror movie and an affectionate almost loving tribute to the tacky horror comics of the 50’s and 60’s. It’s not meant to be taken seriously but to be fun and it sure enough is.

The currently available two disc special edition DVD is superb. A rich clean transfer backed up by a wealth of special features, including a fascinating making of documentary as well as a commentary by George Romero himself.