The World of Myth Movie Reviews
Hey Boy and Girls! This is Movie Goer Grim here with all of you, for what will be the last time. But, I will cover that at the end of my column. First, I have two brand spankin’ new movies currently out in theaters that I would like to go over with you. So, let’s get to it!
First, I figured since it was our Halloween Issue, what better movie to kick things off with than Rob Zombie’s version of John Carpenter’s 1978 masterpiece with the same name. I speak of Halloween. The residents of Haddonfield don't know it yet . . . but death is coming to their small sleepy town. Sixteen years ago, a ten-year-old boy called Michael Myers brutally kills his step father, his elder sister and her boyfriend. Sixteen years later, he escapes from the mental institution and makes his way back to his hometown intent on a murderous rampage, pursued by Dr. Sam Loomis who is Michael's doctor and the only one who knows Michael's true evil.
Elsewhere a shy teenager by the name of Laurie Strode is babysitting on the night Michael comes home . . . is it pure coincidence that she and her friends are being stalked by him?
In this version the world of Michael Myers is one of deep psychosis and Freudian perversion. Rob Zombie takes this tale back to the beginning, nearing the end of Michael Myer’s adolescence and into his ‘preteen” years.
Maybe it was this part of the film that took steam away from the overall movie. Seeing Myers as a child obstructs the character’s view (especially as an adult). As a child, you want to sympathize with him. Why, you ask? Because, he was just a scared and confused boy. I wanted to help this child, help him get past his illness. Another part that weakened the flick was that Zombie showed Michael’s face. And though he was only 10 years old, it gave viewers an idea what he might look like under the mask. A large part of the ambience of this whole franchise was concealing Michael’s face; it made him less of a man and more of a monster.
The next thing I felt hurt the movie was the excessive steam of sex scenes. Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind seeing Sheri Moon Zombie dance around in almost nothing as much as the next guy, but three sex scenes in a 109 minute film – I don’t know. So for Rob Zombie’s Halloween, it was somewhat enjoyable yet close to being a poorly made film. I can only give it one and a half howls of pleasure .
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The other film that I would like to take a look at with you is also a remake, of a 1957 Western. It stars Russell Crowe and Christian Bale in 3:10 to Yuma. A rancher struggles to support his ranch and family during a long drought. Desperately needing money to build a well, he takes an assignment to transport a notorious felon, in the hands of authorities, to Yuma for imprisonment. But, once the two meets, the criminal tries to tempt him with (in exchange for allowing him to escape) an offer of much more money than the rancher ever expected, the result of hidden loot.
3:10 to Yuma is a fantastic movie, and a great western! I came into the flick only knowing it was a remake of an old Glenn Ford movie that came out fifty years and one month to the day. I truly, truly enjoyed this film. And being that this is my last movie review, I think I am going to do something that I have done only one other time in my three year tenure here at The World of Myth. So, with that being said, I am happy to award 3:10 to Yuma, Five Gun-slinging Howls of Pleasure ! It really is a wonderful film and I suggest everyone go see it.
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Well, that’s it for my movie reviews. I want to thank everyone who has come by and peeked in on us now and then. Reaper Rick and I have enjoyed being able to bring to you our thoughts and opinions about movies we saw whether they were new or old. Again, thank you! Speaking of Reaper Rick, he transferred to Horrotica.com and you can check out him starting November. For myself, well, I shall return to the astro-planes until I am needed once more.
Well, it’s been fun boys and girls. Remember, don’t take my word on these films, go out there and review them for yourselves.
So, for the last time, I remain . . .
Movie Goer Grim.
Okay, take it away Polly!
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Hello, everyone. Movie Goer Grim left me some large shoes to fill… um, not that I actually want to put Movie Goer Grim’s shoes on my feet… um… never mind. Pixilated Polly here to give you my take on the movies. There’s some interesting stuff out there… which due to lack of funds I’ve yet to see. And, since Movie Goer Grim already reviewed the new Rob Zombie flick, along with 3:10 to Yuma, I’m going to take a different route. Look, Reaper Rick left his Way Back Machine... let's use it. Ready, Mr. Peabody?
The year is 1942 and RKO Studios is in trouble. Hoping to hitch a ride on Universal Studio’s gravy train, the powers-that-be name a new head of their Horror Unit. His name? Val Lewton. Once a prolific writer now Lewton must try his hand at producing. RKO comes up with an unusual way to make movies. They give Lewton a title, and he creates a film around it.
The first film saves RKO from bankruptcy. The Cat People stars the beautiful Simone Simon as Irena Dubrovna, a fashion artist from Serbia who believes she’s the victim of an ancient curse. If ever she becomes “emotionally” aroused, she will turn into a panther and slaughter the man she loves. Despite the curse, Irena marries. Her husband (Kent Smith) is frustrated with her frigidity. He sends Irena to a psychiatrist (Tom Conway) to gain a cure. She becomes aroused and everyone learns the curse is not only in Irena’s head.
The Cat People is a wonderful, ground-breaking flick. Subtle, yet talented Lewton becomes famous for concentrating on atmosphere and suspense, rather than “showing” the monster. He realizes viewers’ imaginations will conjure mental terrors far more frightening than anything the camera can display. In The Cat People, he uses a technique that becomes known as the “bus”. A character walks down a dark street, followed by something. Tension mounts. Footsteps echo. Shadows loom and threaten to ambush said character. The audience perches on the edge of their seats awaiting the attack. A bus roars into the scene, brakes squeal and the door opens, startling viewers primed for something much worse.
The Cat People is famous for its pool scene. Suspense builds as a woman swims alone in a shadowy gym. She hears a noise. Hears the panting of a great cat. She calls out, but no one answers…will the panther claim another victim? The X-Files paid homage to Val Lewton by including a similar scene in Season 3’s episode “The Walk”.
In honor of Reaper Rick and Movie Goer Grim, we will continue to use the venerated howls of pleasure. Remember 5 howls of pleasure, run to the nearest theater…1 howl, run like a scalded cat in the other direction. Pixilated Polly gives The Cat People 4 howls of pleasure .
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Now let’s visit 1943. RKO’s new title for Val Lewton is I Walked with a Zombie. Lewton takes the title, gives it an exotic setting, and uses it to make a Jane Eyre type love story. Many today consider I Walked with a Zombie Lewton’s masterpiece. In the film, a young Canadian nurse (Frances Dee) comes to the West Indies to care for the wife of plantation owner Paul (Tom Conway). Mrs. Paul seems to be suffering from a “mental paralysis”, but we know better. Betsy falls in love with Paul and determines to cure his wife, even if it involves a voodoo ceremony.
I Walked with a Zombie is an intelligent movie, never condescending in its subject matter or to the black characters that populate it, unlike many Hollywood films of the time.
Pixilated Polly gives I Walked with a Zombie five howls of pleasure !
Onward to 1945… The new title RKO gives Lewton is The Body Snatcher. He comes up with a work of fiction based on fact. In The Body Snatcher, respected Dr. MacFarlane (Henry Daniell) needs cadavers for his medical school. He enlists low-life Gray (Karloff) to provide them. Idealistic student Fettes discovers this and investigates, discovering still more secrets about the Doctor and his shady friend.
The Body Snatcher is the final teaming of Lagosi and Karloff, and is worth watching just for that reason. However, it is so much more. The young street singer has a voice that will amaze you. And Karloff’s performance is chilling. Edinburgh in 1831is a gaslighted place of darkness and shadow. Medicine is primitive and it adds to the horror. A little girl must undergo an operation without anesthetic. And when the cadaver supply runs out, like Burke and Hare, Gray finds a terrible new source.
Pixilated Polly gives The Body Snatcher five howls of pleasure !
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Let’s make one last stop, Mr. Peabody. It’s 1946 and RKO says only one word to Val Lewton…“Bedlam”. Another blending of fiction and fact, Lewton takes the insane asylum once known as St. Mary’s of Bethlehem and uses it as fodder for Bedlam. Set in a time period when touring asylums was considered entertainment for the wealthy, Bedlam addresses the contrast between the lives of the classes. Aided by her Quaker friend (Richard Fraser), Nell (Anna Lee) tries to gain reform for the notorious asylum. Evil Master Sims (Karloff) wants her stopped, so he has her committed instead. The inmates, though, have the last say.
Bedlam is a good movie, the acting is well done and the inmates sympathetic. Karloff delivers another fine performance, as does Ian Wolfe as the so-called judge. If you can get past the Quaker’s usage of “thees ad thous” then watching Bedlam is a fine way to pass some time.
Pixilated Polly gives Bedlam four howls of pleasure .....
That’s it. Time to bring the Way-back Machine back to the present. And Mr. Peabody, if you want to add films of subtlety and grace to your collection, may I suggest you head to the local movie store and pick up a few DVDs produced by Val Lewton? They’re definitely worth the money.