Wednesday, October 18, 2017

In the Heart of the Sea

Release year: 2015
Production company: Village Roadshow Pictures
Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Benjamin Walker, Ben Whishaw

Wanting to tell the legendary tale of the survivors of the destroyed whaling ship The Essex, Herman Melville (Whishaw) meets with one of the aged survivors (Brendan Gleeson) so he can write the story of what really happened. And Melville is treated to a story of warring shipmates (Hemsworth and Walker), of an enormous vengeful whale, a story of starvation and survival and brotherhood unlike any he expected to hear - all in the hopes of writing the great American Epic that later became Moby Dick.

This was a movie I was not anticipating liking at all - it didn't get a lot of advertising when it was in theaters, and I didn't really hear much about it at all. I was ready for subpar CGI, cheap thrills, and an overall dull movie that lasted way too long. But I was pleasantly surprised - In the Heart of the Sea was actually a stunning, action-packed movie that kept me on the edge of my seat for the entire two hours!

The story of this movie was really interesting and gripping - I thought it was literally the story of Moby Dick, but it's the story that inspired it: a whaling ship is brutally attacked by a rogue sperm whale and the surviving sailors have to fight for their lives while lost over 2000 miles out to sea! Wow! The characters were equally amazing too - Chris Hemsworth is both charming, and terrifying, as were all the rest of the actors in the movie too. I also thought it was a cool addition that Herman Melville pulled this story out of a troubled sailor who was haunted by being a survivor, it got pretty emotional at times and that was a nice touch.

This movie also went to some pretty dark places, it held a perfect
balance of being amazingly exciting and gut-wrenchingly intense!

If I have to be picky I would say that the CGI used in this movie was far from the best - but it definitely wasn't bad! The movie didn't make up for the less-than-sufficient CGI with tricky photography or shaky camerawork - it was bold-faced and honest! "Hey, these are the whales we got to work with and we are not ashamed!" But I wouldn't jump at watching this movie again - it was an awesome first time watch, and it was definitely just didn't leave a strong enough impact on me to keep it in my collection. But I'm not upset that I took the time to watch it.

For a whale of a tale, this is a great one-time watch.

In the Heart of the Sea gets a 3 OF 5 must own for those who love historical fiction movies, movies that star Chris Hemsworth, or those who love the classic tale of Moby Dick and would have interest in hearing the story that inspired that tale. At least give this movie one watch - it deserves that, if anything.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

The Body Snatcher

Release year: 1945
Production company: RKO Radio Pictures
Starring: Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi, Henry Daniell

Young Joseph (Lugosi) struggles with the unethical means in which his medical school in Edinburgh, Ireland obtains the cadavers they use for lessons - they are literally stolen from local cemeteries shortly after burial. But Joseph is a good student and wants to succeed in his lessons so he can become a good doctor. But more than the troubling cadavers used in class, Joseph becomes worried about the grave robber himself (Karloff) and his malicious attitude toward Joseph's instructor (Daniell).

Feeling like Frankenstein meets the suspense of Cat People, The Body Snatcher is a very fun watch and can hardly be thought of as generic! The cast of characters are wonderful - I actually didn't know Bela Lugosi was even in this movie until I checked out the cast list and saw his name, talk about a sneaky surprise! Definitely the best character of the whole movie is Boris Karloff's grave robber character. He is unsettling, leering, creepy...he makes you uncomfortable in the ways a great villain should! The plot of the movie is also really decent as well. I love that the movie doesn't just end at the grave robbing side, but expands into this grippingly manipulative relationship between the grave robber and the doctor characters - this movie definitely added more umph!

Boris Karloff is amazing in this movie, talk about
a perfectly wonderful creep!

Now the absolute best part for me, were the little Val Lewton touches that make me adore black and white horror so much. Rather than smacking you in the face with scares and jumps and jolts, so much of the eeriness of the movie is heavily implied so you have to use your mind to bridge the gaps. For example - there is a murder that takes place in the graveyard. You don't see the victim being killed, or who does the killing, or what exactly the murder weapon is.... you see a silhouette of the killer and the weapon, and suddenly there is silence. We don't see it happen, but we are forced to use our minds. Theater of the mind is such a powerful tool in Val Lewton's other works like I Walked With a Zombie and The Curse of the Cat People - and it makes his movies such an extra special watch!

The Body Snatcher gets a 4 OF 5 must own for fans of classic horror movies, and those who love theater-of-the-mind style horror. If you're looking for a creepy watch this month - especially with Halloween approaching! - I highly recommend getting your hands on a copy of this movie!

Check out my other posts on Cat People, The Curse of the Cat People,
and I Walked With a Zombie - Isle of the Dead and Bedlam will be coming soon!

Monday, October 16, 2017

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1

Release year: 2014
Production company: Lionsgate
Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Julianne Moore, Donald Sutherland, Josh Hutcherson

After an attack of the 75th Annual Hunger Games is slightly fumbled, Katniss Everdeen (Lawrence) wakes up to find herself in a hidden underground base in the barren District 13 which houses battalions of rebels wanting to take down The Capitol. Katniss strikes a deal with the president of the rebellion (Moore) and promises to act as the champion for the rebel and star in all their propaganda films if they will make rescuing her Hunger Games partner Peeta (Hutcherson) from The Capitol and grant him pardon for any wrongs he is forced to do against the rebellion. And while it seems that the rebellion is working it's way deeper into unhinging The Capitol, it turns out that the rebels haven't been as careful as they should have been..

If you haven't been following The Hunger Games movies then I know that this plot makes absolutely no sense to you, but for shame! The Hunger Games are actually really amazing when it comes to teen Sci-Fi/action movies, and they're so well made! Why haven't you been watching them?!? And the first Mockingjay movie is no different - this movie made my jaw drop!!

It's been several years since I watched the last film - Catching Fire - and it's probably been just as long since I read the books - but Mockingjay does a seamless job of transitioning into the next part of the story, as well as incorporating past pieces of the other movies to keep you in the loop of all the things that have been happening. You never feel lost or confused, this movie holds your hand the whole time without making you feel belittled. And with each movie, the story just gets more and more brutal and intense. There's tons of action and violence in this movie! Tons of emotional upheaval and shock! This movie is an emotional roller coaster... I did cry.

Katniss woke up and suddenly the world was at war.

The characters have grown so much in these movies, but they are still true to themselves and who they are supposed to be. We're introduced to a slew of new characters, yes, but our tried and true favorites are still there and going strong! If you're a big Josh Hutcherson fan, this movie will be tough because he's not in it nearly enough in the movie but I'm sure that's going to change in Part 2! As the others are, Mockingjay was pretty long - but these movies have been holding so true to the books that I can totally forgive it. I've never watched a movie series that holds as true to the books they're based on as The Hunger Games movies do - they can take all the time they want!

New characters, new adventurous story, Mockingjay is fantastic!!

Mockingjay - Part 1 gets a 5 OF 5 must own for fans of The Hunger Games movies, books, and those who are into Sci-Fi action movies. I can only imagine what Mockingjay - Part 2 has in store but I am DYING to get my hands on the DVD so I can see for myself!! I don't doubt that this franchise is going to end with a serious bang!

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Howard the Duck

Release year: 1986
Production company: Lucasfilm
Starring: Chip Zien, Lea Thompson, Jeffrey Jones

In a science experiment gone wrong, a humanoid duck from a humanoid duck-inhabited planet far off in space is pulled against his will to Earth! Once on Earth, the humanoid duck named Howard (voiced by Chip Zien) befriends a cute rock musician named Beverly (Thompson) and the two strike out to find a way to get Howard back to his home planet. But Howard and Beverly uncover a dangerous government experiment in the meantime that could unleash a terrible evil on Planet Earth and it's up to the unlikely twosome to save the planet!!

Feeling like Masters of the Universe meets Mom and Dad Save the World meets Earth Girls Are Easy, Howard the Duck was a movie I was definitely dreading watching. I've literally never heard anyone say they liked it, and it's hailed as one of the worst movies of all time. But within the first 5 minutes, I fell head over heels in love with Howard the Duck! This was the absolute best movie for a trashy 80's movie fan like me, and I am totally ready to watch it again!!

Hands down, the best thing about Howard the Duck was the execution of the practical effects - there is nothing better than a real person in a real duck suit playing Howard the Duck, real special effects make up to transform Jeffrey Jones into a human-possessed-by-an-alien, real explosions and totaled cars and bangs and booms and all over excitement!! I love it!! The plot of the movie is also silly and fun - a space duck acting like a human and needing to go back to his home planet with the help of a teenage rock girl. It wouldn't work in any other decade!

Howard and Beverly - they're the best!!

The characters are zany and fun, Howard and Beverly are now my new favorite dynamic duo. There is a bit of a weird inter-species romance that blossoms which was awkward, but I'll allow it. Now, I did hear that this movie doesn't hold true to the comics at all and that's a major deterrent for people...I think they're being prejudice and silly. Howard the Duck, even if it doesn't hold true to the comics, was a wild, whacky, crazy cute movie!

Excuse the pun just this once: HOWARD THE DUCK ROCKS!!

Howard the Duck gets a 5 OF 5 must own for fans of zany, 80's Sci-Fi/rom-coms! This movie was a total win! It's trashy and cheesy and adorable and so much fun! And for as awesome as all the Star Wars movies are... I've officially found my favorite George Lucas movie. And it stars a duck.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

House on Haunted Hill

Release year: 1959
Production company: William Castle Productions
Starring: Vincent Price, Carol Ohmart, Richard Long, Alan Marshal, Carolyn Craig, Elisha Cook Jr.

A creepy millionaire (Price) and his wife (Ohmart) invite a group of strangers to come spend an evening in a supposed haunted mansion with them. In exchange for making it the entire night in the locked mansion, each participant will be rewarded $10,000...but it quickly becomes apparent that it's not just ghosts and spirits that are haunting the halls of this haunted house!

Feeling like 13 Ghosts meets The Haunting, House on Haunted Hill is such a fun watch!! Since we're well into the month of October, now is the best time to visit horror movies and this one is an absolute classic and a must-see!! Now, I've never seen the 1999 remake but I'm pretty positive that it comes nowhere near to doing this movie justice. And when you pair an incredible script like this with the fantastic horror effects of classic horror mastermind William Castle, you're in for a real treat!

The scares, the production value, the characters, the plot -
this entire movie is fantastic!!

The whole movie has a very creepy but quirky vibe to it. You're on edge, waiting for the scares to come - and they do! But you're just as scared of these mystery characters as you are of what's lurking in the dark and behind the closed doors of the house! It's like Clue but with murderous ghosts! I also loved the quirky special effects that are used in this movie - which are similar to the effects used in William Castle's 13 Ghosts. Meaning that they are innocent enough scares, but man do they make you jump! I'm sure you're familiar with the infamous lady ghoul floating in a creepy-comedic manor across a room, well she came from this movie!

There she goes!!

House on Haunted Hill gets a 5 OF 5 must own for fans of classic horror movies who love their horror with a tinge of silliness. I cannot recommend this movie highly enough, of all the horror movies out there and all the Vincent Price movies out there to see this is the one that MUST be watched. It's a Halloween essential, I stand by that!

Friday, October 13, 2017

House of Wax

Release year: 1953
Production company: Bryan Foy Productions
Starring: Vincent Price, Frank Lovejoy, Phyllis Kirk, Carolyn Jones

Henry Jarrod (Price) and his business partner Matthew Burke (Roy Roberts) own and operate a house of wax sculptures where Henry creates life-like wax pieces that represent different heroes and heroines from history. But Burke finds himself in a tight spot with money, he asks Henry is they should start gearing their wax museum toward more horrific displays to draw in bigger crowds...but Henry refuses. Much to his own dismay. Wanting to collect insurance money on the building, Burke sets fire to the whole place with Henry still inside! Months after the accident, Henry resurfaces with a new wax museum where his pieces focus more on horror and cheap scares...but the proprietors don't know that there is a dark secret lurking behind Henry's return to the world of wax...

As much as I was expecting to enjoy this movie, I felt so let down by House of Wax. I love creepy, older movies like Cat People and The Fly but there was something about House of Wax that really seemed to be lacking. It was probably because the plot took a long time to start developing, and once it did the movie became more of a mixture of Darkman and Phantom of the Opera circa 1925..not something you were expecting probably! Now, if you're a fan of Vincent Price this is definitely a great movie as far as he goes - but I'm one of the very people in this world who can take him or leave him so I wasn't too hung up on his mere presence to carry the movie. Really, I feel like House of Wax is a pretty generic horror movie being that it's not terrible but it's not great.

If you really want to see Vincent Price as a burn victim, then
this is totally your movie!

House of Wax gets a 3 OF 5 must own for classic horror and Vincent Price movie fans. If you need something to fill time, then I definitely recommend it! But I'm not going to demand that you see it either. You can also skip out on the 2005 House of Wax remake too....Paris Hilton doesn't get killed off nearly quick enough in my opinion and it totally ruined the whole entire movie.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Hellraiser: Hellworld

Release year: 2005
Production company: Dimension Films
Starring: Lance Henriksen, Henry Cavill, Katheryn Winnick, Christopher Jacot

A group of teens obsessed with playing an online game based on the myth of the Cenobites all manage to beat the game and get an invitation to a secret Cenobite party!! Once at the party, the teens are introduced to their creepy host (Henriksen) who has a vast collection of Cenobites murder memorabilia...and a desire to unleash the dormant Cenobites on his unsuspecting teenage guests!!

IT HAPPENED!! HELLRAISER REDEEMED ITSELF!! Apparently there are tons of people out there who hate Hellworld, but I firmly believe they are not fun people. Hellworld was literally the Freddy vs Jason of the Hellraiser franchise, and I mean that for all the best reasons! This movie was hilarious, cheesy, so early 00's, predictably silly and fun, but mixed in with some mediocre CGI and mild horror elements. Some would say this movie wasn't great, but I think it was the most fun I've had watching a Hellraiser movie since Inferno.

Don't lose your head sweetie, this Hellworld is fun!

I loved that Hellworld wasn't trying to be something it wasn't - it knew it wasn't going to be an epically terrorizing horror movie, but it didn't shy away from that fact. This movie basically says "We may be going down in flames, but we're going to have fun while it happens!" There are some decent kills in the movie, the characters are all stereotypical 2000's kids - slutty girls and bro-y guys - and the pacing of this movie was plenty fun and engaging! But the biggest highlight for me was that Lance Henriksen was in this movie! How weird is that!! He's been hanging out with Aliens, Predators, Terminators, and now apparently Cenobites have been thrown into the mix too! He's such a fun actor and he was a major highlight in this movie!

Hellraiser: Hellworld gets a 4 OF 5 must own for those who love early 2000's horror movies and have been waiting for something decent to finally happen in the Hellraiser franchise! Well, here it is!! Hellworld is the answer to your prayers!! So, there is one final movie out there - Hellraiser: Revelations - but because I don't own a copy of it I won't be watching it yet. I've been warned that it is total garbage but I plan on seeing it someday just to round out the franchise.

Oh, and good news kids! Hellraiser: Judgement will be coming out later this year. That's right. Another installment in the franchise. If you've seen Judgement or plan on checking it out, let me know in the comments below! Until then, we're putting Hellraiser movies on the shelf for a while and watching ANYTHING else! Thanks for sticking around!

9 movies has not become 10...has this gone too far? Probably.
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