This is Balcony Betty, and after hanging around Movie Goer Grim and Reaper Rick so much my boss made me take some time off, to get away from it all. Mental health days, my big toe! Anyway, I have returned to the wonderful chaos know as civilization and am here to force my thoughts on the unsuspecting public at large, and based on Movie Goer Grim’s reviews from March I have been forced to add a couple of unplanned rebuttal reviews to this month’s issue.
First, I’ll start with “The Fog.” I have never seen the original version, but I thought the movie was well done and the effects were great. The story line was thought out: having been mistreated during their lives, ghosts return to a sea port town and haunt the descendants of the men who brutally murdered them. In the end everything is set right and a lost soul finds her way home. I gave “The Fog” 3 howls of pleasure .
Next on my list of rebuttals is Jodie Foster’s latest movie, “Flightplan.” I found this to be an intellectual action flick. You have to think about it because you begin to wonder if Foster’s character has snapped a mental fuse after all. I found this to be a believable movie and I say to Grim, “You watch a movie to be entertained and as such I do not care if a couple of mechanical aspects are wrong.” I gave “Flightplan” 3 and a half howls of pleasure .
When I saw previews for the latest Viggo Mortensen movie, “History of Violence,” I was excited to see it and thought the idea was good. Unfortunately it failed to live up to my expectations. Some of the movie seemed to be purposefully overdone and to top things off, the movie ended so abruptly, leaving issues unresolved, that you are waiting for the next scene until the credits roll. As such I could only give this movie 2 howls of pleasure .
Being a fan of C. S. Lewis’ Narnia series of stories, I have seen a couple of attempts at turning it into movie form. I must say last falls release of “Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe” is one of the best versions to date, if not the best. The special effects the production staff employed were marvelously done and were truly believable, plus this version remained true to Lewis’ book. I like this version so much that I am awaiting its sequel, “Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian,” projected to be released in 2007 with great anticipation. I gave “Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe” four howls of pleasure .
The last movie I’m reviewing this month is “Memoirs of a Geisha.” While some viewers will not enjoy it, their opinions based solely on the type of movie this is, the majority of people will. If you didn’t like “Hero,” “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon,” or others in that genre, don’t watch “Memoirs” you probably won’t like it. As with “History” I sat down to watch this movie with some ideas about it firmly in place: I thought that “Memoirs” was going to be about a Japanese prostitute trying break out of that role. Boy was I wrong, but pleasantly so. Even though this movie was basically a biography I found it to be surprisingly entertaining and well filmed. I gave it three and a half howls of pleasure .
Well, that concludes my opinions for this issue. If I can keep the powers that be from sending me on another mental health retreat, again, I’ll be back next time. Until then this is Balcony Betty saying just because I associate will less than “sane” people doesn’t make me nuts. Oh yeah, and stay out of my balcony seat, or you’ll be sorry. Take it away Rick.
Hey, gang, it's Reaper Rick, back at ya with another batch of movie
reviews. In keeping with this month's theme--supernatural oddities,
horror and May Day--I'm climbing aboard my own 'Way Back' machine to look
at a few obscure, older flicks that fit into these categories.
First off, to help celebrate May Day, I'm going to look at "The Wicker
Man." Made in 1973 and starring Christopher Lee, Britt Ekland and Edward
Woodward (later, star of the British TV show, "The Equalizer"), this
British production has a Police Sergeant (Woodward) investigating the
disappearance of a young girl on a remote Scottish island. At first, the
locals deny the missing girl even existed, but as Woodward digs deeper
(sometimes literally) he discovers a sinister cover up--it seems the girl
may, in fact, be dead, perhaps sacrificed to the pagan gods the islanders
appear to worship. He finally finds out that Rowan (the missing girl) is
actually alive, but is going to be sacrificed after all, on May Day, to
ensure a bountiful harvest. As Woodward gets closer to the truth, he
discovers the young girl is not the true sacrifice after all--but who is
going to die?
While not the best acting I've ever seen--they used a lot of actual local
islanders in the movie--Woodward and Lee (as Lord Summerisle, owner and
ruler of the island) put in stellar performances, and Britt Ekland stands
out during a great naked dance scene (if you can find the unrated
edition), but the main attraction of this movie is the portrayal of pagan
ceremonies and practices which may still take place in such remote areas
(although you must remember that the movie was made over 30 years ago).
There is a nicely done surprise twist at the end--something we always
like to see--and Cinefantastique called this movie, "The 'Citizen Kane'
of horror films." I highly recommend this flick for any who enjoy the
'offbeat' in horror, and give "The Wicker Man" Three and a Half Howls of
Next, I look at a movie which is not really obscure, but is frequently
forgotten about when discussing 'weird' horror. "Angel Heart" is from
1986 and stars Mickey Rourke, Robert Deniro, Charlotte Rampling and Lisa
Bonet (from "The Cosby Show"). Rourke plays Harry Angel, a two-bit, down
on his luck private dick in 1955 New York, who is living peacefully, day
to day, when he is approached by a mysterious client who wants him to
find a man who has been missing for 12 years. No problem, right?
His unusual quest takes Rourke from seedy Harlem nightclubs to the Voodoo
laced bayous of New Orleans, and drops him into the middle of a nightmare
he can not awaken from. Everyone he talks to about the missing man ends
up dead, each one in a more horrific fashion, and Rourke begins to
suspect that he is also a target of this deranged killer. Symbolism
abounds in this movie, and I suggest you not take your eyes from the
screen, else you may miss an important clue. If you like twisted,
surprise endings, this movie will turn you inside out, then jump up and
down on your exposed guts.
It is not for the squeamish, however, as blood and gore are everywhere,
and if you find an uncut edition, there is a sex scene in this movie that
will have you gripping the edge of your chair, wondering just what will
happen, next. The whole flick is in fact gripping, intense, and
suspenseful--a real nail biter--and I give "Angel Heart" a rousing, Four
and a Half Howls of Intense Pleasure .
And last, but certainly not least on my list of 'weird' horror flicks, is
the gothic inspired horror, entitled, "Gothic." This movie, also from
1986 tells the tale of five people who spend a weekend in a villa in
Switzerland. The time is 1816 and the group in question are the poets
Lord Byron, Percy Shelley, his fiancee Mary Godwin, her stepsister Claire
Clairemont and Byron's friend, Doctor John Polidori. Sound familiar?
Well, it was a dark and stormy night...but, wait--I'm getting ahead of
Directed by Ken Russell, "Gothic" stars Gabriel Byrne, Julian Sands and
Natasha Richardson. On a stormy night, the friends are comforted by
liberal doses of Laudanum (liquid opium), and begin to tell ghost
stories. Not satisfied with such tame entertainment, Byron suggests they
each invent their own ghost story. To get themselves in the proper mood,
they attempt to invoke the spirit of a dead monk, using the man's skull
as a focal point of their energies. Little do they know--at first--how
successful they really are.
This is a classic tale of horror, madness, sex, blood and death, as the
entire party relive their own personal terrors, including incest,
premature burial and vampirism, while attempting to return the deadly
spirit they conjured back to its grave. Some good does come out of the
weekend, however, as Doctor Polidori eventually penned "The Vampyre,"
thought to be the origin of Bram Stoker's "Dracula," and Mary Shelley
wrote her own tale of creation--brought about by death--the classic
"Gothic" is filmed magnificently, with scenes alternating from huge, high
ceiling rooms, to close ups of people going mad. Stark, nearly black and
white scenes give way to garish color, and images of death are
everywhere. Again, this movie is not for the squeamish or faint of
heart, but if you enjoy a good horror flick that uses real images to
frighten, rather than special effects, you should see this movie.
"Gothic" is high on my list of 'weird' horror, and I give it Four Howls
of ghoulish Pleasure .
All right, my lovelies, that's it for this month. Don't just sit
there--get out and see some 'Good' movies. 'Til next time, it's Reaper
Rick, saying, AARRGGHHhhhh......