Plot Summary: A routine military exercise turns into a nightmare in the Scotland wilderness.
Director & Writer: Neil Marshall
Stars: Sean Pertwee, Kevin McKidd, Emma Cleasby
Serious Jest: (Don’t Bother) Think Predator, but with worse dialogue and much worse special effects (ironically, 15 years later). The “dog soldiers” were laughable.
It’s a shame because the plot and its twists had some real potential. Some of the actors, such as McKidd and Cleasby, were also pretty competent. Finally, it appears that the military technical advisors were pretty good, as well.
Plot Summary: Living in exile, Hannibal Lecter tries to reconnect with now-disgraced FBI agent Clarice Starling and finds himself a target for revenge from a powerful victim.
Director: Ridley Scott
Writers: Thomas Harris (novel), David Mamet (screenplay), Steven Zaillian (screenplay)
Stars: Anthony Hopkins, Julianne Moore, Gary Oldman
Serious Jest: (Must See) The sequel to The Silence of the Lambs is more creepy than thrilling, and sometimes a little hokey. Moreover, while Moore is an exceptional actress, it just feels different with her playing Starling. Furthermore, the plot is not as sophisticated as SotL.
That being said, the film is entertaining in more of a comedic-horror way. Hopkins is deliciously sinister, the supporting cast is very talented, and there is a classic scene involving the human brain that is worth adding to your pop-culture tool belt. If you’re a fan of Hannibal the Cannibal, you should set aside time to see this flick once, although you shouldn’t go into it with high expectations. If you’re not high on Hannibal, though, this movie will be more of a Worth Watching for you.
Plot Summary: A group of people hide from bloodthirsty zombies in a farmhouse.
Director: George A. Romero
Writers: John A. Russo (screenplay), Romero (screenplay)
Stars: Duane Jones, Judith O’Dea, Karl Hardman
Serious Jest: (Must See) It’s black and white, and the special effects are primitive, but this is THE seminal zombie film. Like all good horror flicks of its era, it stays compelling through suspenseful storytelling and making its viewers think they saw more gore than they actually did…although some of the cannibalism scenes were more gory than I would have expected for a film of its time.
This movie, Romero’s feature debut, was made in the true spirit of an independent film. The line between cast, crew, and producers was virtually non-existent, with actors serving as screenwriters, producers, stuntmen, makeup artists, electronic sound engineers, and still photographers. Romero manned the camera himself for some scenes, as well. According to IMDB, Romero borrowed the house in which most of the movie was filmed from an owner who was going to have it demolished anyway. However, the house did not have a true basement, so the basement scenes were filmed in the editing studio’s cellar. Romero also borrowed the car featured in the film. To simulate blood, he used…Bosco chocolate syrup.
Romero was a Carnegie-Mellon Institute graduate, and, also according to IMDB, this was the first movie filmed in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The Pittburgh police even provided personnel and equipment. The day that the final editing and voice-over dubbing was completed in Pittsburgh, Romero and Russo put the reels into the cans, threw them into the trunk of the car, and drove straight to New York City that night in hopes of having it screen at any willing theater. However, the film’s world premiere ended up taking place at the Fulton Theatre in Pittsburgh on October 1, 1968 (At 8PM, admission by invitation only). The movie was met with a standing ovation.
Per IMDB, this film became one of the most successful independent films ever made, one of the last big hits of the drive-in era, and one of the first movies added to the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress. Nonetheless, Romero saw very little profit from the film since, thanks to his lack of knowledge regarding distribution deals, the distributors walked away with practically all of the profits. Since the film makers forgot to include a then-required copyright notice in the movie, it slipped into the public domain.
This flick is also a great example for discussions concerning African Americans in film. Film historian Donald Bogle believes that most black people in 20th-century American films can be classified into one of five categories: Toms, Coons, Mulattoes, Mammies, and Bucks. However, according to IMDB, the character of Ben was originally supposed to be a crude-but-resourceful truck driver, with no specification to race. After Jones, in real-life a self-serious, erudite academic, auditioned for the part, Romero re-wrote the part to fit his performance.
Furthermore, the character of Ben was originally written as an angry person, and, upon receiving the role, Jones expressed concern that the character be rewritten to remove some of the anger – such as the scene where Ben hits Barbara – afraid of how it would be widely perceived in the United States at the time to see a black man acting in this way. The nation was plagued with high racial tensions during the late sixties, and the film was released to theaters shortly after the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. Nonetheless, Romero and most of the rest of the predominantly white crew decided against it, thinking they were being “hip” by not changing it. Years later, Romero lamented that he had not taken Jones’ concerns more into consideration, and thought that he was probably correct. Romero expressed that he wishes he could speak with the late Jones again, asking him how he felt about the film’s legendary status, and believes Jones would just say “Who knew?” and laugh.
For my part, it was pretty cool to see a black man in a 1960s film play such a confident leadership role amongst a white cast. It seemed to me that the part of Ben could have been played by an actor of any race, as long as he was good, and Jones performed very well.
Plot Summary: When a scarred ex-soldier turned contract killer is pressured into taking a new job, his world begins to unravel until fear and paranoia sending him reeling towards a horrifying point of no return.
Plot Summary: Hunger is a dark exploration into the breakdown of humanity. How far would you go to survive in the most extreme of circumstances? Five strangers awaken to find themselves trapped in an underground dungeon. They soon realize they are the subjects of one man’s sadistic experiment to test the depths of a human being’s will to survive. As the days go by with no means of escape, their hunger increases as their humanity fades away.
Director: Steven Hentges
Writer: L.D. Goffigan
Plot Summary: Urban legend-style killings begin to occur on a movie set, in this non-sequel sequel to “Urban Legend”.
Director: John Ottman
Writers: Silvio Horta (characters), Paul Harris Boardman (written by), Scott Derrickson (written by)
Stars: Jennifer Morrison, Matthew Davis, Hart Bochner
Serious Jest: (Don’t Bother) You may be flipping through your cable channels and come across this movie. Parts of it may seem entertaining, especially if you’re a fan of urban legends, like myself. If you continue about your business with this film on in the background and occasionally stop to watch a couple of scenes, you may not be disappointed…but do not waste your time by dedicating over an hour and a half to watch a collection of half-interesting urban legends executed with unconvincing special effects. While the plot twist isn’t bad, the ending is otherwise hokey and ruins what was a mediocre movie featuring some recognizable actors like Anthony Anderson, Eva Mendes, and Joseph Lawrence…and Loretta Devine, shame on you for playing this role…you know what I’m talmmbout. In sum, this flick is bad enough so that its homage to Alfred Hitchcock is a little insulting, but it’s not bad background if you keep your expectations low.
Plot Summary: United Nations employee Gerry Lane traverses the world in a race against time to stop the Zombie pandemic that is toppling armies and governments, and threatening to destroy humanity itself.
Director: Marc Forster
Writers: Matthew Michael Carnahan (screenplay & screen story), Drew Goddard (screenplay), Damon Lindelof (screenplay), J. Michael Straczynski (screen story), Max Brooks (based on the novel by)
Stars: Brad Pitt, Mireille Enos, Daniella Kertesz
Serious Jest: (Worth Watching) Anybody that knows me knows that I love zombie movies…and my favorite type of zombie is the fast zombie. I also have a great deal of respect for Pitt as an actor. So this movie was all set up to be a big winner in my book. It wasn’t bad…but it was a bit underwhelming. Like I said, I like fast, adrenaline-charged zombies, as in 28 Days Later…. But these zombies were too fast. They looked more like locusts. Also, this story is really about humanity’s fight against the Zombie pandemic, rather than about one family’s struggle to survive it, so I didn’t feel very invested in the protagonist’s survival. Don’t get me wrong, the movie was good, but I just feel that I would enjoy the book more (although I haven’t read it), because the story is more of a cerebral chess match or puzzle than the action blockbuster that the film’s producers tried to create.
Plot Summary: Nerdy college student Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg) and gun-toting, Twinkie-loving Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson) are about to stare down their most horrifying challenge yet: each other’s company. Emma Stone and Abigail Breslin co-star in this double-hitting, head-smashing comedy.
Directed by: Ruben Fleischer
Studio: Columbia Pictures
Serious Jest: (Must Own) I love zombie movies…especially “fast zombie” movies. I also love Harrelson. This flick is one of the best of both of those categories.
Be forewarned: this movie is sometimes silly and a bit of a farce. It won’t go out of its way to explain the intricacies of how the zombie apocalypse began, beyond a quick one-liner. There are also a few “yeah right” moments. You might find yourself thinking that, with a little more thought, this film could have been even more awesome.
But, in the end, none of that matters…at least not for our purposes. This film is awesome for its entertainment value, rather than for an accurate depiction of how people would react in a zombie apocalypse. If you want to see more of the latter, check out The Walking Dead. However, if you want to see a great cast kick some zombie ass in creative ways and throw hilarious quips at each other, along with some cool camera shots, an original use of Rules for surviving the zombie apocalypse, and a theatrical-money-shot ending, buy–don’t just rent–this movie…you’re going to watch it multiple times.
CraigMakk: (Must Own) I own this movie, and so should you. If you like any of the following genres, this movie is right up your alley: a) Comedies, b) Black Comedies, c) Zombie Movies, or d) movies with cool, hot chicks and Woody Harrleson in them. Especially that last one, because Woody Harrelson steals every scene he is in.
Much like my good partner already said, this movie really excels by not focusing on the “how’s” of the Zombie Apocalypse, because we’ve all seen that before….many, many times. This movie is smart enough to begin after humanity has already had it’s collective ass eaten, and survivors are doing just that: surviving. This allows you to just jump right in, get your feet wet, and not worry about (or pick apart, if you’re Mike Lock) the specifics and just watch the insanity. And I can say without spoiling anything, this movie has the single GREATEST cameo of all time. In the history of Moviedom. Seriously, you will know it when you see it, and boy, will you be on the floor when it happens.
In the end, this movie is an excellent take on the Zombie Apocolypse that you will enjoy watching over and over again. The comedy makes multiple viewings worthwhile, and the zombie aspect is different enough to bring some beautil action sequences to your home theater set-up. Either way, make sure you have a notepad nearby, because you will want to remember all of Columbus’ “Rules for Survival” when the eventual Zombie Outbreak hits us as well. Or just stock up on shotguns, beer, and video games like Left 4 Dead like I do. If what I see on the news is true, I should be able to train myself at home to be a killing machine in no time at all. When it hits, be sure and search out the Zombie-Killer that simply goes by “ManCave Studios”…just like in the studio, Rule Number Five of the Zombie Invasion is “No Real Names means No Attachments!” Now that I think about it, you’re on your own. There’s only so many Twinkies left on Earth, and they’re MINE.
Plot Summary: Four teens are in great danger one year after their car hits a stranger whose body they dump in the sea.
Director: Jim Gillespie
Writers: Lois Duncan (novel), Kevin Williamson (screenplay)
Serious Jest: (Worth Watching) Hewitt, Gellar, Hech, Phillippe, Freddie Prinze Jr., Bridgette Wilson-Sampras, and Johnny Galecki show you how entertaining a great cast can make a decent slasher script. Gellar and Phillippe were so good together, they were reunited two years later in another classic, Cruel Intentions.
This film’s general concept is cool, and I appreciate the unexpected resolution of some of the scenes, but too many of the other scenes are run-of-the-mill, some of the stunts are hokey, and some of the dialogue is cheesy. Still, I’m a fan of this cast and the hook-man urban legend, so I consider this flick a slasher classic. Your life won’t be incomplete if you never see this movie, but it’s worth watching if you ever stumble across it.
On a final note, if you’re trying to get your squeamish girlfriend to watch a horror film with you, this movie is a great set of training wheels. It is one of the mildest slasher flicks I’ve seen. I’m actually surprised it got an R rating.
CraigMakk: (Worth Watching) Okay, so bear with me here for a minute, I’ll get to my point eventually. This is a by-the-numbers horror movie in every conceivable way. There’s a: 1) secret of unmanageable shame, 2) person who wants revenge for said secret, 3) bunch of supposedly gory kills committed against those deemed responsible, and 4) a group of dumb teenagers who are literally begging to be killed. Honestly, I’d kill at least two of them just for the stupid things they say and do in the face of an unstoppable killer who is hunting them and picking them off one by one.
That all being said, this movie goes out of it’s way to prominently feature Sarah Michelle Gellar’s boobs. Keep in mind, this is 1997, so SMG is in the prime of her hotness (as noted by the Guiness Book of World Records for “Best Hooters of 1996-1997”) And while she may not get completely naked, they find ways to show her milk bombs anyway (i.e. wet t-shirts, etc). And that makes every movie better in my boob…I mean book. That was a typo. And since I’m typing this on a computer, I could’ve corrected it. But I thought it really drove home my point, so I left it in there. Long story short, her phenomenal funbags make a two mug movie a clear three. So, if you like movies with almost-bare bazookas, check this movie out. And if you can think of a way I could’ve worked in the slang term for breasts “wopbopaloobops” without sounding too contrived, you are a better person than I am..