[31 Days of Horror Part VI: Jason Lives] Day 25 – The Fog (1980)

Director: John Carpenter

Cast: Adrienne Barbeau, Jamie Lee Curtis, John Houseman, Janet Leigh, Hal Holbrook, Tom Atkins, Nancy Loomis

Screenplay: John Carpenter, Debra Hill

89 mins. Rated R.

 

This one does for fog what Jaws did for the water.

There’s a fog rolling into Antonio Bay on the eve of its 100th anniversary, and as soon as the clock strikes midnight, people start seeing strange things in it. Father Malone (Hal Holbrook, Into the Wild, Blackway) discovers an old journal in his church that tells him a terrible secret from the town’s inception, one that involves an old ship called the Elizabeth Dane and its captain, Blake. Now, the Elizabeth Dane has rolled into town on the fog, and its captain is out for vengeance. Radio DJ and lighthouse keeper Stevie Wayne (Adrienne Barbeau, Argo, Creepshow) is the only one who can warn the residents of Antonio Bay that danger is coming; she just hopes they’re listening.

The Fog is proof that director John Carpenter (Escape from New York, The Ward) can just about do anything. He has guys in costumes in a foggy atmosphere with glowing eyes, essentially just tall Jawas, and he makes them scarier than any current CGI could do (and we’re looking at you, 2005 remake to The Fog). It’s because he’s a smart filmmaker who solves problems. He knows that he is making a low-budget, possibly cheesy horror film, and so he chooses to shoot it in anamorphic widescreen Panavision in order to add to the grandeur of the gothically beautiful Antonio Bay layered in fog.

I like how separate Carpenter keeps things in this film. For the most part, Stevie Wayne barely shares the screen with anyone else. She gets her own slice of the story. Then, there’s the story of the hitchhiker Elizabeth (Jamie Lee Curtis, True Lies, Halloween) and Nick (Tom Atkins, Night of the Creeps, Drive Angry) as they try to uncover the mystery in the fog. Then, there’s the Father Malone sequences and the centennial sequences with Kathy (Janet Leigh, Psycho, The Manchurian Candidate) trying to keep the celebration together amidst the lingering danger. The film is filled with great characters in an insane situation. These individual “pocket stories” on their own would be great, but together they weave an eerie and creepy tapestry.

The Fog is truly brilliant. I can see why this is often called a Carpenter favorite. It’s a truly incredible little horror story that makes the ghosts (guys in costumes with glowing eyes) more terrifying than most other films could do with a bigger budget. John Carpenter is a horror maestro, and The Fog is just another master stroke.

 

5/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

 

For more 31 Days of Horror, click here.

For my review of John Carpenter’s Halloween, click here.

For my review of John Carpenter’s The Thing, click here.

For my review of John Carpenter and Tobe Hooper’s Body Bags, click here.

For my review of John Carpenter’s In the Mouth of Madness, click here.

For my review of John Carpenter’s Village of the Damned, click here.

[31 Days of Horror Part VI: Jason Lives] Day 5 – Schizoid (1980)

Director: David Paulsen

Cast: Klaus Kinski, Donna Wilkes, Marianna Hill, Craig Wasson, Christopher Lloyd, Flo Gerrish, Joe Regalbuto, Richard Herd

Screenplay: David Paulsen

89 mins. Rated R.

 

Writer/director David Paulsen (Savage Weekend) was told to have a have a screenplay ready within a month that could use Klaus Kinski (Nosferatu the Vampyre, Aguirre, the Wrath of God) and be done for under a million dollars. After having seen it, this perfectly sums up Schizoid.

Advice columnist Julie (Marianna Hill, High Plains Drifter, Coma Girl: The State of Grace) has been receiving creepy notes from a stalker while members of her therapy group are being picked off one by one. As the bodies pile up, Julie begins to see cracks in everyone around her, so who is the assailant, and is she next?

Schizoid is terribly uninteresting. When you have a film featuring Klaus Kinski, one thing it shouldn’t be is uninteresting. Kinski is batshit crazy, so the film should be so much wilder than expected. In fact, the only real win of the film is that Paulsen succeeds pretty well at making everyone suspect in the film. Then there’s the main issue that no one in the film is written likable enough, including Julie, to make me root for any of them.

I would say that there are no truly strong performances in the film outside of an interesting early and somewhat unseen appearance from Christopher Lloyd (Back to the Future, Boundaries). Kinski just seems bored and working for the paycheck (he was contracted to do the film, and it’s obvious he’s not feeling it).

Sadly, Schizoid just doesn’t work. There’s not much to really appreciate about the film, but most of the film is mostly forgettable. Just having seen it a few days back, I can’t really cling to anything strong. This is one to absolutely skip. You can do better.

 

-Kyle A. Goethe

[Hobbit Day] The Return of the King (1980)

Director: Jules Bass, Arthur Rankin Jr.

Cast: Orson Bean, John Huston, William Conrad, Roddy McDowall, Theodore Bikel

Screenplay: Romeo Muller

98 mins. Not Rated.

 

Happy Hobbit Day, y’all. September 22 is Bilbo Baggins’s birthday and Tolkien fans around the world celebrate with all sorts of fun festivities. Well, I thought we would take a look at the Rankin/Bass animated adaptation of the back half of The Lord of the Rings today.

But first, a history. Hobbits love history. After Ralph Bakshi’s sequel to The Lord of the Rings was cancelled, Jules Bass and Arthur Rankin Jr. (The Last Unicorn, Frosty the Snowman) took on the task of adapting the follow-up. They had previously adapted a version of The Hobbit. The style between the two directors is drastically different in almost every way.

The Return of the King opens at the end of the tale after the ring has been destroyed and recounts the events that caused the end of the ring and Sauron (an interesting idea but one that is not wholly successful in the larger framework of the work) as Frodo (Orson Bean, Being John Malkovitch, TV’s Desperate Housewives) explains how he lost ring finger and became “Frodo of the Nine Fingers.” He tells of the bravery of Samwise Gamgee (Roddy McDowall, Planet of the Apes, A Bug’s Life) taking on the role of ringbearer in his absence. Meanwhile, Gandalf (John Huston, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, The Black Cauldron) escorts Pippin to Minas Tirith to bring warnings of war to Denethor (William Conrad, The Killers, TV’s Cannon).

Overall, The Return of the King has some major missteps in its adaptation. The choice to place a framing device on the story further separates itself from the interesting and far superior Bakshi film. Rankin and Bass said they always planned to follow-up their adaptation of The Hobbit with The Return of the King, but I call bullshit on that one.

Then there’s the issues of the characters. Aragorn (Theodore Bikel, My Fair Lady, The African Queen) barely has a presence in the film and Legolas and Gimli do not appear whatsoever. It’s as if they for forgot to include them at all. I get it, they have less purpose in the latter half of the story, but to omit them completely is an extremely poor choice.

Now, there are some nice musical interludes (an area where the Rankin/Bass adaptations usually make good on the source material), and I rather enjoyed the Denethor scenes, but the wins of this film are too few and far between.

The Return of the King is easily the lesser of the three animated Tolkien films. It just misses the mark on so much that anything good to say is quickly overshadowed by its flaws. Even Rankin/Bass’s work on The Hobbit is far better. Sadly, this is a poor finale to an interesting animated journey.

 

2/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

 

For my review of Ralph Bakshi’s The Lord of the Rings, click here.

 

 

For more Almighty Goatman,

[Top 250 Friday] #58: The Shining (1980)

 theshining1980a

Director: Stanley Kubrick

Cast: Jack Nicholson, Shelley Duvall, Scatman Crothers, Danny Lloyd

Screenplay: Stanley Kubrick, Diane Johnson

146 mins. Rated R.

iMDB Top 250: #58 (as of 6/12/2015)

 

In today’s visit to the iMDB Top 250, we take a look at The Shining, from director Stanley Kubrick (A Clockwork Orange, Full Metal Jacket).

theshining1980b

Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson, The Departed, How Do You Know) has just been hired to care after The Overlook Hotel during the offseason of the winter alongside his wife Wendy (Shelley Duvall, Annie Hall, The 4th Floor) and son Danny (Danny Lloyd). Danny meets the hotel chef, Dick Halloran (Scatman Crothers, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, The Aristocats), who teaches him about an ability they both share called the Shining. As Danny encounters some of the ghostly apparitions of The Overlook, father Jack sinks deeper and deeper into madness as cabin fever takes him over.

I’m not a fan of Danny Lloyd, but the rest of the cast performs admirably and very well in the film, thanks to Kubrick’s unwavering ability to get the best out of his performers, whatever means necessary. His relationship with Shelley Duvall turned an okay performance into a good one, but it was through an entire movie shoot of ridicule and fighting.

Kubrick gives this film some truly incredible cinematography. He has some of the most impressive shots and lighting I’ve seen in a film, due to his imperfect perfectionism. Because of this, The Shining has been and will be forever analyzed.

I love this film, but I hate this adaptation. So did Stephen King, who wrote the incredible novel that the film is based on. I think the book was better and I would love to see a straight adaptation one day, but the film is pretty incredible nonetheless.

theshining1980c

There are so many great pieces about this film that fit so well together. It is truly the high point of an already terrific career. Stanley Kubrick has made a list of notable films, but his abilities to direct what is essentially a horror film prove his prowess among the greats.

 

4.5/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

For more iMDB Top 250, click here.

 

[Happy 35th Birthday!] Airplane! (1980)

airplane!1980a

Director: Jim Abrahams, David Zucker, Jerry Zucker

 

Cast: Robert Hays, Julie Hagerty, Leslie Nielsen

Screenplay: Jim Abrahams, David Zucker, Jerry Zucker

88 mins. Rated PG.

 

As a child, I was a bit of a goofball, like many kids are. My influences were of a particular variety like Jim Carrey, Harold Ramis and, most notably, Leslie Nielsen (The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad!, Stan Helsing). Early in my childhood, I connected to Nielsen’s brand of comedy. His form of wordplay and parody combined with his perfect timing allowed for some of the greatest moments in comedy. 35 years ago, the first film featuring Leslie Nielsen as a comedic performer, Airplane!, was released, and its time we look back on it.

airplane!1980b

When Ted Striker (Robert Hays, Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey, Sharknado 2: The Second One) follows his stewardess ex-girlfriend Elaine (Julie Hagerty, She’s the Man, Confessions of a Shopaholic) aboard her next flight, he isn’t aware that a freak food poisoning incident would leave him the only man capable of flying the aircraft, and his drinking problem coupled with his regrets from the war have taken a toll on him. Now, it’s up to Striker, Elaine, and Dr. Rumack (Nielsen) to save the passengers and land the plane.

Airplane!, from the writer-director group of Jim Abrahams, David Zucker, and Jerry Zucker, is the first true win for the three filmmakers. They took the script for the film Zero Hour, purchased up the rights, and turned it into one of the most quotable films of all time. Their decision to cast serious actors reading satirical dialogue is what makes it as hilarious as it is.

The directors set the tone perfectly from the first moment with their spoof of Jaws. From then on, they send up films like Saturday Night Fever with their gags about the beginnings and endings of Disco.

The film is a slow burn the first viewing. The directors have such a unique style that if you don’t know what you are getting into, it might take a bit to get it. Their comedy requires your full attention and that’s why it doesn’t happen anymore in recent films.

airplane!1980c

Airplane! Is a comedy masterpiece, still as good today as it was 35 years ago when it first graced the screen. It ushered in a new subgenre of comedy that lasted almost three decades. Nielsen was ushered with it, and his career met new avenues.

 

5/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

[Top 250 Friday] 12) Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back (1980)

 starwarsepisodevtheempirestrikesback1980a

Director: Irvin Kershner

Cast: Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Billy Dee Williams, Anthony Daniels, David Prowse, Kenny Baker, Peter Mayhew, Frank Oz

Screenplay: Leigh Brackett, Lawrence Kasdan

124 mins. Rated PG for sci-fi action violence.

  • Academy Award Winner: Best Sound
  • Academy Award Winner: Special Achievement Award (for visual effects)
  • Academy Award Nominee: Best Art Direction
  • Academy Award Nominee: Best Music, Original Score

iMDB Top 250: #12 (as of 6/3/2015)

 

On the very short list of the Best Sequels of All Time, The Empire Strikes Back is pretty darn close to the top. Director Irvin Kershner (RoboCop 2, Never Say Never Again) brought not just the best installment in the Star Wars franchise, but also an amazing science fiction epic.

starwarsepisodevtheempirestrikesback1980c

It has been three years since Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill, TV’s Regular Show, Kingsman: The Secret Service) and the Rebels destroyed the Death Star. While Luke heads to the Dagobah System to train with the Jedi Master Yoda (Frank Oz, TV’s The Muppet Show, Zathura), Han Solo (Harrison Ford, Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark, The Age of Adaline) and Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher, When Harry Met Sally, Maps to the Stars) evade the malicious Empire while trying to find somewhere to hide out when they come across Cloud City and Han’s old friend, Lando Calrissian (Billy Dee Williams, Batman, Barry Munday).

Kershner presents Empire as a dark continuation of the Star Wars Saga. Luke is challenged in his furthering of his Jedi abilities with Frank Oz puppeting the creature Yoda in a great performance of the little green Jedi Master (there was even a campaign to win Oz the coveted Oscar for an acting role), while Han and Leia are tested in their abilities to trust, both one another and those close to them as they carefully avoid detection by the enemy. New to the series, Billy Dee Williams handles his role capably and intermingles into the cast with ease.

The film is beautifully shot and looks just as nice now as it did 35 years ago. Ben Burtt displayed some great new sound effects for this film, setting a new standard for sci-fi while setting itself above the rest. The film is also perfectly paced. I could watch it ten times in a row and it would still flow well.

starwarsepisodevtheempirestrikesback1980b

Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back is the best film in the series (and also the only one not written by George Lucas). It proves that some films can best their predecessor. The film, now 35, is still an amazing piece of cinema.

 

5/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

 

For my review of George Lucas’ Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace, click here.

For my review of George Lucas’ Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones, click here.

For my review of George Lucas’ Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith, click here.

For my review of George Lucas’ Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope, click here.

 

[Happy 35th Birthday!] Kagemusha (1980)

kagemusha1980a

Director: Akira Kurosawa

Cast: Tatsuya Nakadai, Tsutomu Yamazaki, Ken’ichi Hagiwara

Screenplay: Masato Ide, Akira Kurosawa

162 mins. Rated PG.

  • Academy Award Nominee: Best Art Direction – Set Decoration
  • Academy Award Nominee: Best Foreign Language Film

 

In 1980, Akira Kurosawa (Yojimbo, Seven Samurai) released Kagemusha, but it almost didn’t happen. When the film went way over budget, George Lucas and Francis Ford Coppola stepped in to executive produce the film and keep it from being shut down. Was it worth it?

kagemusha1980b

Yes.

When warlord Shingen Takeda (Tatsuya Nakadai, Ran, The Tale of the Princess Kaguya) dies in the middle of his conquest, his brother Nobukado (Tsutomu Yamazaki, Departures, Space Battleship Yamato) replaces him with a criminal who bears a striking resemblance to the former conqueror. Through all his might, the criminal (also played by Nakadai) attempts to protect the ruse under the agreement that he be set free when no longer needed, though forces seek to unmask the lie and possibly topple the balance of power.

I love Kurosawa. His vision sets him apart from many other directors. He had a specific genre and style that surprised viewers his entire life. Kagemusha is huge. This film is glorious and gorgeous and everything that Kurosawa was known for. It also featured one of the biggest battles recorded on film, with 5000 extras. He also knew how to use the footage he had. The battle I just mentioned takes up roughly ten minutes of screen time. Many directors today failed to use restraint to save story, and we get movies like Transformers which focus so much on the battles that they forget the story too often.

The performances from the veteran actors continue to impress. The film also benefits have some amazingly planned out sequences. My favorite Kurosawa moments exist in his surreal sensibilities. There is an incredible dream sequence in Kagemusha, and it happens to be my favorite scene in the film, especially with both roles filled by the same actor.

kagemusha1980c

Now the film is translated very well into English thanks in part to Lucas and Coppola. Kagemusha is a great piece of cinema that demands to be viewed and experienced. Get your hands on it immediately and be a part of something historic (it is available as part of the Criterion Collection and also on Netflix). The only people who won’t appreciate are those who haven’t seen it.

 

4.5/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

31 Days of Horror: Day 17 – Friday the 13th (1980)

fridaythe13th1980a

Director: Sean S. Cunningham

Cast: Betsy Palmer, Adrienne King, Harry Crosby, Laurie Bartram, Jeannine Taylor, Kevin Bacon, Mark Nelson, Robbi Morgan, Ari Lehman

Screenplay: Victor Miller

95 mins. Rated X.

 

I hit another classic on my watch list. The film that said to people everywhere, “Hey everyone! I’m Halloween again!” My review of Friday the 13th comes right now!

Ki Ki Ki Ma Ma Ma!

Friday the 13th is an age-old classic. It also happens to be a movie that continues to surprise to this day. If you haven’t watched it, go buy it and watch it. It isn’t perfect by any means, but I’m warning you, there may be possible SPOILERs so look sharp.

fridaythe13th1980b

The movie takes place…on Friday the 13th. Years ago, Camp Crystal Lake was shut down after several murders and other crimes were committed on the premises. Now, years later, the camp is reopening with the help of several attractive 20-somethings (among them Kevin Bacon, TV’s The Following, Apollo 13). But, trouble starts up again as the camp counselors are picked off one by one by a mysterious stranger who just may be more connected than they know.

I love the original Friday the 13th. It is just so damn fun. The Jason Voorhees series is to this day one of those film series that you can have a bunch of friends over and just watch some mindless violence. It has a great drinking game. It has a bunch of young attractive people partying, playing Strip Monopoly, getting it on, and getting murdered.

This film actually has a bit more of a twist ending due to its franchise work. This was not intended by any of the filmmakers, but it certainly holds up as an interesting ending in light of the direction the franchise went.

The plot is simple. The performances are not good. The film is still fun. I will actually give this film a higher rating for fun factor, because it boils down to good old fashioned entertainment.

Many people still don’t know what the sound of the Ki Ki Ki Ma Ma Ma. Some people (myself included) think it is more of a Chi Chi Chi Ha Ha Ha, but that would be wrong. Others think it is an advertisement for Jiffy Pop Jif Jif Jif Pop Pop Pop, but that would be wrong as well. It is Ki Ki Ki Ma Ma Ma and if you know the ending SPOILER ALERT SPOILER ALERT then you know it references Kill Kill Kill Mom Mom Mom.

People hated Betsy Palmer (TV’s Knots Landing, Mister Roberts) being in this film and portraying Mrs. Voorhees. One critic went as far as to publish her address in anger so that people could…I don’t really know, vandalize or send her Anthrax? Anyway, he published the wrong address, so I guess his plan didn’t work.

fridaythe13th1980c

So, Crazy Ralph said it best, these kids were all doomed…doomed! I love a little cheese with my horror films, and I think you will enjoy Friday the 13th.

 

3.5/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

For more 31 Days of Horror, click here.

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑