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  #61  
Old 10-06-2017, 11:07 PM
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Constant re-releases and special editions are annoying, but it’s hard to ignore the new collector’s edition for Silent Night, Deadly Night. Amazing box cover art from Scream Factory as usual, the bonus features look good, and it’s a nice package, if you’re a fan of Christmas horror and the original film:

Click for Spoiler:


Pet Sematary Two (1992)




Plot- After his mother, Renee (Darlanne Fluegel) dies during a freak accident during the filming for her new movie Castle Of Terror, Jeff (Edward Furlong) moves to Ludlow, Maine with his father, Chase (Anthony Edwards). Chase works as a veterinarian, and he’s hoping to start a new life away from Los Angeles with Jeff in Renee‘s hometown, while the housekeeper, Marjorie (Sarah Trigger) lends a helping hand. Jeff befriends Drew (Jason Mcguire), who lives with his mother, Amanda (Lisa Waltz), and his stepfather, Gus (Clancy Brown), the town Sheriff.

Chase runs into a bizarre problem after Gus murders Drew’s dog, Zowie. Following the story of The Creed Family, Drew buries Zowie in the ancient Indian burial ground beyond Pet Sematary with hopes of resurrecting him. Zowie returns with a nasty mean streak, and Chase can’t figure out how Zowie is moving around with no heartbeat and a fresh gunshot wound that won‘t heal.

Zowie attacks and kills Gus on Halloween night, so Drew buries him. A zombified version of Gus returns, and it doesn’t take Jeff too long to realize he can bring his mother back to life, but things don’t go as planned, when Renee returns…..

My Thoughts-Edward Furlong's personal life played a big part in his downward spiral in Hollywood, but Pet Sematary Two was a BIG step down after T2. Furlong made a name for himself in the 90’s playing the rebellious teenager with an attitude in T2 and American History X, and it’s the same routine here. Two was Furlong’s first film after T2, and it looks like his version of John Connor walked right off the set of T2 for this film. Just listen, when he shouts “MOM!” during Renee’s death, and imagine Linda Hamilton in the movie.

You want to feel sympathy for this young kid, who just lost his mother, but the strange (and borderline devious) turn for his character towards the end is baffling. He’s basically salivating at the thought of his dead mother coming back to life, and he doesn’t have a problem with his mother murdering an innocent Marjorie.

Pet Sematary Two has a couple of unlikable characters. Gus is a pushy and domineering hard-ass, who pushes Drew to be a man with tough love. Clyde (Jared Rushton) is a bully, who torments Jeff, so when you look at the big picture, Chase is the only pure good guy here. He’s just a single father, who’s doing his best to raise his bratty teenage son after a tragedy, and he never gives up on Jeff. Honestly, Clancy Brown (before he returns) is the only one, who delivers a noteworthy performance. He’s spot on as the stereotypical stepdad with a bad temper, and it’s easy to feel sympathy for Drew and Amanda, because they have to deal with this jerk on a daily basis.

Pascow was the true harbinger of doom in the original, but you could also say the same thing about Jud. Jud Crandall is one of my personal all-time favorite characters in the horror genre, and Fred Gwynee was an ideal choice for the role. The original Pet Sematary doesn’t work without Gwynee’s performance. Gwynee is the essential lynchpin, but Two is missing that one impactful character and performance.

Pet Sematary Two is supposed to be a sequel, but they only make slight references to what happened in the original film. Clyde tells a story about what happened to Ellie (she murdered her grandparents, and she escaped from an asylum), but there’s no real connection to Pet Sematary with new characters and a new story. Two feels like a remake, so if you didn’t watch the original, or if you didn’t read the book, you’re going to be lost, when they start talking about Louis, Rachel, Gage, and Church.

If we’re talking about themes involving death, not being ready to move on, and second chances, Pet Sematary Two basically takes a giant dump on everything in the first film. When Louis resurrected Church, Jud believed his young daughter wasn’t ready for her favorite pet to die, and Louis resurrected Gage, because he was heartbroken over losing his young son. You could say Louis resurrecting Rachel was a stupid decision after everything that happened with Gage and Church, but you also have to think about a devastated and lonely guy, who has to explain what happened to his young daughter (Ellie). Missy hung herself, because she was sure she had cancer, and she didn’t want to suffer. And Rachel admitted she was happy, when her sick sister Zelda finally died, because she was a little girl, who was stuck with something a child couldn’t handle mentally or emotionally.

Pet Sematary Two gives you the impression it’s cool to come back as an evil, undead badass murderer (i.e Gus killing Clyde), and you’re basically untouchable. In Pet Sematary, Jud warned Louis about burying loved ones:

Click for Spoiler:

"Well sometimes, dead is better. The person you put up there ain't the person that comes back. It might look like that person, but it ain't that person, because whatever lives on the ground beyond the Pet Sematary ain't human at all."

"Louis, sometimes dead is better. The Indians knew that. They stopped using that burial ground when the ground went sour. Don't think about doing it, Louis. The place gets holier, but the place... is evil."


Renee shouting “dead is better!” over and over again is one of the more cringeworthy moments in the movie. When Jud said “dead is better” in the original, it was his way of explaining how moving on was the better option over an “abomination” returning from the grave with malicious intentions.

Pet Sematary Two has a noticeable plot hole, dumb choices from the characters, inconsistencies, some unanswered questions, and a pointless subplot. What was the point of brining Clyde back to life? And what happened to the “you have to bury your own” rule for the ritual to work? Clyde wasn’t buried by his mother or father, and they basically ignored the strict rule for a surprise return at the end. When Renee returns, she’s coherent, speaks well, and she has no problems with carrying herself as a normal human being, but the dead version of Gus is a brainless and homicidal goofball? What was the point of Marjorie being obsessed with Renee and her career? She comes off as a creepy stalker/crazy fan, Renee kills her, and there’s no real resolution after her death, so it’s a useless subplot that doesn’t add anything to the movie. Gus either tries to or rapes Amanda, and they ignore what happened or didn’t happen? Seriously?

Pet Sematary had some comedy (“fuck off, hairball!”) and silly moments, but the movie also had emotional depth. You can see the pain in a conflicted Louis’ face, when he has to kill Gage (again), and they tried to recreate a similar moment with Renee and Jeff at the end, but it doesn’t work, at all. It’s just awful, when Renee is repeatedly shouting “DEAD IS BETTER!!” in a high-pitched, cackly voice, while her skin is melting off, and Jeff and Chase are watching her demise.

Pet Sematary Two delivers more nasty gore and blood, but it’s a terrible film. They tried to play up this big mystery behind Zowie’s more feral behavior, but if you’ve read the book, or if you’ve seen the original film, you know what’s happening and you know why it’s happening, so the element of surprise is dead. When fans take to the internet to bitch and complain about unnecessary sequels, Pet Sematary Two is the best example for the certain types of sequels they’re complaining about. There was no need for this, and you can see why Stephen King wanted his name removed from this mess. It’s just an obvious cash grab trying to capitalize on the success of the original, and it's another crappy and forgettable "bad things happen, when loved ones return from the grave" horror film.
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  #62  
Old 10-18-2017, 10:58 PM
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Freaks Of Nature (2015)




Plot- Dag (Nicholas Bruan) lives an unusual life in Dillford, Ohio. Vampires, humans, and zombies coexist, but a sudden alien invasion disrupts the shaky relationship after a series of paranoid accusations. Eventually, mistrust and anger within the community reaches a boiling point, sparking a violent war between the vampires, the humans, and the zombies, and Dag realizes he’ll have to put his pursuit of Lorelei (Vanessa Hudgens) on hold.

Dag teams up with his old friend, Ned (Josh Fadem), and Petra (Mackenzie Davis) to stop the aliens, with hopes of reuniting the town, but Dillford’s famous riblets might hold the key to stopping and defeating the aliens…

My Thoughts- Freaks Of Nature puts a lot of effort into the details for social rankings between the vampires, the humans, and the zombies. The zombies are stuck at the bottom of the totem pole. The zombie kids have to ride the short bus to school, they have to wear shock collars to stop them from eating other students, they eat canned brains, and they’re forced to live in a trashy, rundown part of town. The vampires are dominant, and they’re easily at the top of the food chain. It’s cool to be a vampire, so they attract a lot of people, imitators, or “wampires” (vampire wannabes), who will do anything to be one of them. Rick Wilson (Denis Leary), the rich owner of the riblet plant, is the lone exception, but as far as the humans go, you get the feeling they’re just trying to quietly go about their lives without disrupting anything.

The social rankings and the fine details go deeper in the story to give you the feeling you’re watching what happens, when zombies, vampires, and humans have to live together. The tension, the bullying, and you get an inside look at the daily routines for vampires and zombies. A keg filled with blood at a vampire party, blood instead of morning coffee, and I got a good chuckle out of Mr. Keller’s (Keegan-Michael Key), Ned’s teacher, troubles to find companionship on vHarmony (eHarmony for vampires).

Freaks Of Nature features just about every cliché and familiar character from a coming-of-age film with a horror twist. Dag is the shy nerd, who’s tired of being one of the losers in high school. Dag wants to join the ranks of the popular kids, so he decided to cut ties with a geeky and insecure Ned, his childhood friend. He wants a chance with Lorelei, because she’s the perfect ten, who’s supposed to be out of his league. But Dag doesn’t realize Lorelei is just using him to hide her weed at his house, because he’s desperate for a shot at losing his virginity to her.

Ned is obsessed with good grades. He’s tired of living with, Chaz Jr. (Chris Zylka), a star on the local high school baseball team, who embodies every stereotype for a young meathead, and he doesn’t want to settle for selling Hyundais with his father, or taking a dead end job at the riblet plant. He’s an outcast, so he wants to join a group of outcasts. His plan? He allows a zombie girl to bite him.

Petra falls in love with Milan (Ed Westwick), the popular vampire at school. The problem? He’s a dick, a bully, and he doesn’t really care about Petra. Petra is young and vulnerable, so he took advantage of her, and he turned her into a vampire.

Josh Fadem is okay in the leading role, but to his credit, he’s playing a character that’s been done to death in coming-of-age films. The supporting cast features a few solid performances. Keegan- Michael Key is hilarious (“I don’t want your quarter of a doughnut! I want a full doughnut!”), Mackenzie Davis nails Petra, and the different emotional stages for the character throughout the movie, and Hudgens is a believable as the pothead/free spirit. I wish Denis Leary had more screen time, because he’s good for some laughs as the pushy and rich asshole, who owns a red Porsche. A nod for Bob Odenkirk and Joan Cusack for playing Dag’s parents, as the kooky and eccentric married couple, and Patten Oswalt’s character had some potential. But his total screen time might add up to three minutes.

Freaks Of Nature is very predictable. You know it’s only a matter of time before Dag falls in love with Petra, and you can see Dag giving his big speech for the town to come together as a united front to stop the aliens coming from a mile away. And of course, the dysfunctional trio of Petra, Ned, and Dag putting their differences aside to work together represents hope for Dillford to follow in their footsteps. I know it’s a comedy, but the ending was a bit too silly for me, with the aliens using the riblets to transform into one giant being. Freaks Of Nature is a low budget film, and the CGI was bad, so one the bigger moments in the movie doesn’t have the wow-factor or the necessary impact.

Freaks Of Nature doesn’t live up to the full potential of a fun premise, but it’s an effective mash-up of a horror comedy and a coming-of-age film, and taking a thorough and detailed approach for all things zombies and vampires should appeal to die-hard horror aficionados. They dropped a few hints (sort of a nod to Teen Wolf) for Dag’s transformation, but Dag’s transformation during his fight with Milan was too convenient and out of left field for me. Still, Freaks Of Nature delivers fairly consistent laughs, likeable characters, and more than enough blood, gore, and carnage.

With all that said, there’s a good chance we’re talking about a beloved cult classic now, if Freaks Of Nature was released in the 80’s. Vampires, zombies, and humans fighting each other and working together to stop invading aliens, who want the town’s cheap meat (loaded with enough chemicals and garbage to literally take years off of your life) for their signature rib sandwiches? Yep, and you can pretty much guarantee the numerous special edition re-releases and box sets, but if you’re looking for 80’s nostalgia, you’ll be disappointed. The premise, the characters, and the story screams 80’s horror, but Freaks Of Nature definitely has the look and feel of a modern horror film, including the themes.
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Old 10-20-2017, 02:48 PM
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I watched The Bad Batch over the weekend and what utter trash that turned out to be. Even with a fairly solid cast that included Jim Carrey, Jason Mamoa, and Keanu Reeves it just feel incredibly short of expectations. Bad Batch is billed as a cannibalistic, dystopian society type of movie, but there is hardly and gore, nor is there really even motive for why the characters are doing what they are doing. Not to mentioned a much to prolonged story arc involving walking through the dessert, which based on earlier scenes, really doesn't take that long. I've seen worse, but not much. If you wanna check it out it's on Netflix
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Old 10-22-2017, 08:31 PM
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Just watched the trailer, and I'll give it a shot one day, but The Bad Batch looks like one of those horror films that crosses into different genres. Usually, it's a hit-and-miss experiment, because it's hard to nail each genre without the film devolving into a big mess, or it's easy to notice they're just trying too hard.
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Old 10-26-2017, 11:17 PM
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When A Stranger Calls (1979)




Plot- Jill Johnson (Carol Kane) expected a quiet night at The Mandrakis’ house, when she agreed to babysit their children, but Jill receives a series of phone calls from a disturbed stranger. Jill panics, as she tries to escape the house, but Officer John Clifford (Charles Durning) arrives with backup before the stranger has a chance to attack. The stranger, later identified as Curt Duncan (Tony Beckley), murdered the children several hours earlier, terrorized Jill by calling from inside the house, and Duncan is sent to an asylum after the murders.

Seven years later, Jill is married with two children, but Duncan resurfaces after escaping from the asylum. Clifford, now working as a private investigator, sets out on a mission to find and stop Duncan after Dr. Mandrakis (Carmen Argenziano) hires him. A woman named Tracy (Collen Dewhurst) could lead Clifford to Duncan, but Jill receives an unpleasant surprise, when Duncan calls her during a celebratory dinner with her husband……

My Thoughts- Beckley’s character is loaded with clichés. The Crazy stalker/killer escapes from the asylum, he targets “the one that got away,” and he won’t stop until Jill is dead. Duncan follows a familiar pattern for killers in horror movies, but Beckley is genuinely creepy. You know you’re looking at a disturbed and angry man, with a nasty mean streak, he’s socially awkward around women, and Beckely delivers the best performance here.

When A Stranger Calls has a strong and memorable opening. The first fifteen to twenty minutes of the movie are loaded with some great tension. The tight, close up shots of the phone, the quiet, empty shots of the house, the silhouette of Duncan against the wall, and Carol Kane does a good job of selling Jill’s fear and panicky mindset, because she doesn‘t know what‘s going to happen next.

When A Stranger Calls starts out good, but the movie hits a dull slump, when Duncan returns, and he decides to stalk Tracy. Sure, you’ll see a few eerie shots of the city at night, and a few tense moments, when Duncan follows Tracy, but it’s a tedious series of events, with Duncan obsessing over this lonely and bitter barfly. I get it. Tracy is basically a means to an end, because she helps Clifford track and locate Duncan. But Jill returns during the tail end of the movie, so the conclusion of her storyline feels shoehorned into the movie, because they dedicated a lot of time to Tracy. Clifford obsessing over catching and stopping Duncan was more than enough, and I have to believe he could’ve found a way to catch Duncan without Tracy.

When A Stranger Calls has a cult following. It’s an obscure horror flick, and it’s actually a full length adaptation of Fred Walton’s (the director) short film The Sitter, based on the urban legend The Babysitter And The Man Upstairs. WASC is also praised as an influential horror film, laying out the blueprint for the protagonist receiving strange and threatening calls from a weirdo, and the original Scream’s opening with Drew Barrymore pays homage to WASC’s opening. WASC is a bit overrated as a cult classic. The opening is great, but it’s a bumpy road after that. It’s a decent enough horror flick with a simple premise, and When A Stranger Calls is on You Tube, if you’re interested.
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Old 11-05-2017, 11:49 PM
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When A Stranger Calls Back (1993)




Plot- Julia Jenz (Jill Schoelen) arrives at The Schifrin’s home to babysit their two children, but when Dr. Schifrin (Kevin McNulty) and Mrs. Schifrin (Cheryl Wilson) leave, a stranger, claiming to have car trouble, shows up at the door, and he urges Julia to call an auto club. The phone is dead, but Julia stalls The Stranger to keep him calm by pretending to make the calls. Eventually, Julia notices misplaced and missing items in the house, and the stranger returns with a more apprehensive attitude. The children are missing, and Julia runs into another big problem, when The Stranger appears in the house. The Stranger tries to attack Julia, but she escapes the house, running into the arms of Dr. Schifrin.

Five years later, a traumatized Julia is trying to live a normal life as a college student, but she can’t ignore signs of The Stranger’s return. Jill Johnson (Carol Kane), now working as the campus Director Of Women’s Services, believes Julia’s story, and she enlists the help of Detective John Clifford (Charles Durning) to catch the stranger. Clifford is retired, and he questions the validity of Julia’s story at first, but things change, when Julia shoots herself during a botched suicide attempt.

With Julia in a coma, Jill and Clifford continue their pursuit of The Stranger, and Clifford catches a break, when he learns more details about his identity. William Landis (Gene Lythgow) works as a ventriloquist at a nightclub, and Jill is forced into a one on one showdown, when Landis corners Jill at her apartment.

My Thoughts- When A Stranger Calls Back maintains some continuity with Carol Kane and Charles Durning’s returns. It happens with every genre, but every now and then, you’ll have low priority and low budget sequels, and they’re just sequels in name only, but that’s not the case here. You know what Jill went through in the original, so you can buy into the connection that she has with Julia. And you can also understand why she’s the head of a women’s services department, why she teaches self-defense classes for women, why she’s overly paranoid, and why she carries a gun now.

Kane and Durning have prominent roles in the sequel, but for the most part, the focus of the story remains on Julia. Jill takes on the role of a mentor. She protects Julia, she teaches her how to use a gun, and Julia is believable as a sympathetic character, because she’s just an innocent kid, who can’t escape a deranged weirdo.

Landis shares a lot of similarities with Duncan from the original. He’s a genuinely disturbed and creepy guy, with some serious issues, but I have to give the edge to Lythgow for the better performance. Landis took pictures of Julia’s breasts, while she was still in a coma, and Landis continues to show his hateful side during the performance at the club. He’s sitting on the stage with a faceless dummy, and you can only see his eyes with the black face paint. Basically, he uses his performance as a chance to condemn and attack people, who are actually happy and enjoying their lives, because he’s a bitter and miserable piece of shit. There’s an uneasy scene to watch, when Landis sneaks in Julia’s hospital room, while she’s still in a coma. He’s just standing over her, and out of nowhere, he slowly and softly hits Julia in the stomach with an open hand, and he starts punching her after that. Lythgow’s performance works, and he’s a darker protagonist.

When A Stranger Calls hits a few slumps after Jill escapes Duncan in the beginning, but WASCB is an improvement over the original, if we’re talking about maintaining the tension. Clifford catching Landis in the ally behind the club, Landis showing up in Julia’s room, Landis taunting and toying with Julia and Jill (Landis taking items out of the house, moving stuff around, leaving the milk cartoon with the missing children on Jill‘s kitchen counter, etc.), and the trickery behind Landis stalking Julia in the early stages of he movie was a good surprise. You’re not really sure what’s going on, when Landis targets Julia for the first time, because you’re lead to believe two men (one outside and one inside) are waiting to attack Julia. But Landis, using his skills as a ventriloquist, was throwing his voice to confuse Julia.

The ending is very similar to the original, with the bad guy closing in on Jill at her home, and Clifford showing up at the last minute to save her. It’s predictable, because you know Jill is going to survive, but it’s a tense finale, with Jill holding the gun and taking careful steps in the dark. Landis uses body paint to blend in with the walls, so Jill can’t see him until it’s too late. My only minor and nitpicky complaint is, Landis looks kind of ridiculous, when he goes after Jill covered in body paint, and it looks like he’s wearing a Speedo.

The continuity is there, but what happened to Jill’s husband and her kids? They don’t mention them at all, and they don’t drop any hints or give any clues for their whereabouts or what happened to them. Still, When A Stranger Calls Back is a worthwhile sequel, if you enjoyed, or if you’re a fan of the original. Is WASCB unnecessary? Yep. Duncan died in the original, and Jill survived, but it’s not a lazy sequel, because they actually put some effort into the story. Sure, the sequel shares a lot of similarities with the original (writer/director Fred Walton returns), but it’s hard to ignore the changes to Jill’s character, and Clifford wanting to give up on Julia, because he believes she’s just a victim of her own paranoid delusions. When A Stranger Calls Back won’t leave any lasting impressions on you, but it’s on YouTube, if you’re interested.
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Old 11-13-2017, 12:50 AM
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When A Stranger Calls (2006)




Plot- Jill Johnson (Camilla Belle) expected a quiet night of babysitting at The Mandrakis’ house. Dr. Mandrakis (Derek de Lint) and his wife, Kelly (Kate Jennings Grant) are on a dinner date, while the kids are sleeping, so Jill doesn’t have to worry about anything at first. But things change, when Jill receives a series of threatening phone calls from a stranger. At first, Officer Burroughs (David Denman) reassures Jill The Stranger is nothing more than a pesky prank caller, but the location for the traced phone calls reveals The Stranger is inside the house. A panicky Jill has to escape the house with the children, but The Stranger closes in before they can reach the front door……

My Thoughts- Camilla Belle gives a good effort, but she’s no Carol Kane. Although, to be fair, Kane’s character disappears for a long stretch in the original, and on top of that, Kane had a sequel with more screen time to develop Jill Johnson.

Still, Jill is an annoying character in the remake, but you can’t put it all on Belle. Jill makes a lot of stupid mistakes in the remake. She doesn’t take the time to consistently check on the kids, because she’s more interested in exploring (Oh, wow. Motion sensor lights! This is cool!) The Mandrakis’ lavish house. And when the calls finally start, she checks on the kids AFTER The Stranger asks about them. Oh, and let’s not forget about Jill leaving two small children in the house by themselves, when it’s clear a lunatic has intentions to murder you and the kids. She leaves the kids alone, she runs to the guest house (used by Dr. Mandrakis’ son, occasionally), and there’s no sense of urgency to make it back to the house at all, when she’s there. And to make things worse, it’s not a short trip to the guest house, so The Stranger had the perfect opportunity to kill the children, if he wanted to.

The Mandrakis’ house is one of the more noticeable changes in the remake. The house looks like it belongs in one of those fancy home décor magazines, but at the same time, it’s the perfect setting for the movie. The house is isolated, located on the countryside, and it’s basically out in the middle of nowhere, so it’s easy to buy into Jill’s life or death dilemma, because she can’t run to a neighbor’s house and just knock on the door for help. The scenes inside the house at night are kind of creepy (i.e. the shots of that ugly statue in the dark) every now and then, with Jill walking around in the dark, and the house is huge, so The Stranger has access to a lot of hiding spots.

You have to expect a more modernized approach and changes for a remake, and When A Stranger Calls ‘06 has a lot of them, if we’re talking about the overall look and feel of the movie, and the characters (Jill is in high school). The growing pains for Jill and all the high school drama for teenagers? Yeah, I could’ve done without it. Jill has to babysit as form of punishment, because she went over her minutes, and the cell phone bill was ridiculously high. Jill’s father (played by Clark Gregg) wants to teach her a lesson, so Jill is going to babysit to work off her debt. You have to babysit two quiet and obedient children in a house that’s probably worth millions of dollars, you get to eat free food, and you don’t have to do anything, while you‘re there. You can’t go to the bonfire party, so take that, and learn how to be responsible! I just don’t get it.

The sub-plot between Jill, her friend, Tiffany (Katie Cassidy), and Jill’s boyfriend, Bobby (Brian Geraghty) doesn’t add anything to the movie. Jill is not speaking to Tiffany, because she kissed Bobby, and Jill is mad at Bobby, because he didn’t stop Tiffany. Scarlett (Tessa Thompson) is another one of Jill’s childhood friends, and she tries to play peacemaker between Tiffany and Jill, but her character doesn’t add anything to the movie.

The original and When A Stranger Calls Back had more depth to their stories, but the remake takes the events in the first twenty something minutes from the original, and they stretch everything out to fill a full length film. To give you a clearer picture, The Stranger decides to attack around 1hr. and 9min., and When A Stranger Calls clocks in at 1hr. and 27min. for the overall runtime. You’ll see a lot of teasing, jump scares, fake-out jump scares (the ice machine, the coat hanging on the wall in the utility room, etc.), and they basically stick to a “things that go bump in the night” formula for scares.

Honestly, outside of Tiffany showing up, surprising Jill, Tiffany having to get out of her car to move the tree blocking the driveway, and Jill finding Tiffany’s corpse, nothing major happens until The Stranger attacks. You’ll need a lot of patience, if you want to sit through this, because WASC ‘06 takes a long slow burn approach to build the tension.

When A Stranger Calls ’06 plays it safe as a remake, and they actually use lines of dialogue from the original. “Have you checked the children?” is one of the more obvious ones, and The Stranger telling Jill he wants her blood all over him, when she starts freaking out on the phone. That, and Jill running into Officer Burroughs arms towards the end is similar to Carol Kane running into Charles Durning’s arms in the original. Tommy Flanagan plays The Stranger, and Lance Henriksen provides the voice for the phone calls. They don’t show a full view of The Stranger’s face until the end, when he’s in a police car, and I don’t know if they were teasing a sequel or not, but the setup for Jill’s nightmare sequence at the hospital is terrible. It’s too obvious she’s having a nightmare, because a. she’s in an empty hospital, and b. you can see the overused mirror jump scare with The Stranger standing behind Jill in her room coming from a mile away.

When A Stranger Calls is a forgettable and unnecessary remake, the original is the superior film, and I’ll take the sequel over this. Also, the intro with The Stranger attacking victims at a house near a local carnival really didn’t do anything for me. Still, WASC ’06 is not a god awful abomination.

The remake was panned by the critics back in 2006, and after reading the reviews, you might get the impression WASC ’06 is an embarrassing piece of garbage. True, the movie is loaded with horror clichés, the familiar stupid mistakes in horror movies, some eye rolling moments (Jill dropping the phone in slow motion, when she knows The Stranger is in the house), and Jill is an annoying character. And if you’re talking about delivering a satisfying payoff, they set themselves up for failure with the long wait. If you’re going with a slow burn, you need to end the movie with a real homerun. Sure, it’s a happy ending for the most part, but every time I re-watch this, I just get the feeling they’re filling time and stalling before the end.

But from a directorial standpoint, When A Stranger Calls is a competently made film. I’ll always love Con Air, but it’s more of a character driven film, with the performances from Nicolas Cage and others. Simon West’s work behind the camera saves WASC to a certain extent. WASC features a few spooky nighttime scenes, close calls, and West actually does a good job of building the tension. WASC is only worth watching, if you’re a fan of the original films, and if you’re curious about a remake, and it’s a fun guilty pleasure for me.
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Old 11-23-2017, 12:54 AM
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Annabelle: Creation (2017)




Plot-In 1943, Samuel Mullins (Anthony LaPaglia), a dollmaker, tries to fix a flat tire, but one of the lug nuts rolls into the road. Sam’s young daughter, Annabelle (or “Bee”) runs after it, but a speeding car hits and kills Annabelle (Samara Lee) before her mother, Esther (Miranda Otto) has a chance to catch her.

Twelve years later, Sam cares for a disfigured and bedridden Esther, and The Mullins decide to open their home to six girls after their orphanage closes down. Led by Sister Charlotte (Stephanie Sigman), Janice (Talitha Bateman), Linda (Lulu Wilson), Carol (Grace Fulton), and the others try to adjust to a new life, but after a series of strange occurrences, Janice and the others realize an evil presence is growing stronger in the house. Ignoring stern warnings from Sam, Janice opens the locked door to the room containing the Annabelle doll. After unleashing the demon, Janice becomes the primary target, and it’s only a matter of time before she succumbs to the possession.

My Thoughts- I’ve never had a big problem with the original Annabelle. It’s a decent enough horror flick, but I can’t ignore two weak, uninteresting, and boring main characters. Annabelle Wallis (Mia) and Ward Horton (Jon), playing the all-American 1960’s couple, were about as interesting as watching paint dry, but Creation adds characters with a little more depth. Janice/Jan has polio, so she can’t fit in and move around too much without help. There’s a scene, where Jan is talking to Sister Charlotte, and she’s clearly upset. She believes the demon is targeting her, because she’s the weak link in the group, but Sister Charlotte reassures her she is brave and strong enough to fight.

The friendship between Linda and Jan is one of the bigger highlights here. Linda wants to do everything she can to help Jan, but Jan encourages her to have fun without her and join the group, because she doesn’t want to hold her back. Looking at the group, next to Jan and Linda, Carol is the only one that stands out. She’s basically the mean girl in the group, she’s a bully, and that’s about it.

LaPaglia delivers a decent performance as this broken and angry man. Miranda Otto plays the depressed and grief-stricken mother, who wants to hide from the world. After the early stages of the movie, you won’t see her in full view again until the tail end of the film. If I had to guess, the idea behind hiding Esther’s face and keeping her covered up is, she’s too hideous and unbearably grotesque to look at it, so when she finally takes off her mask (half of a mask), it’ll be a shock. Well, she has a burned handprint on her face from the demon’s attack years ago, and that‘s it. I’m not saying it’s not a horrific injury, but after all the teasing, they basically lead you to believe Esther’s face is nothing but bones, with bits of flesh and blood trickling down from her forehead. With all that said, it’s easy to buy into Esther being this heartbroken mother, when Otto emotionally tells the story about the demon tricking Sam and herself into using Annabelle as conduit with visions of Bee.

It’s her third appearance in a movie, but Annabelle still works as a creepy doll. Annabelle actually turns her head a little bit during a mid-credits scene, but Annabelle maintains her evil mystique with silence and limited movements. If she moves and starts to talk too much, you’ll basically wind up with Chucky. Not that I have anything against the Child’s Play films, but you’re moving in a comedic direction, and killing whatever impact Annabelle’s presence might have, if she starts talking.

Creation is definitely an upgrade over the original, but the movie is not without its flaws, because Creation is loaded with a lot of familiar clichés, scare tactics, and horror tropes. Flickering lights, doors slowly opening, an unseen force (the demon) aggressively dragging Linda down a hallway, while she scratches at the floor, and I’m tired of seeing one character vomit thick, black goo into another character’s mouth to possess them. It happens, when Bee’s ghost/the demon possesses Jan in the barn, and it’s becoming one of the more tiresome and overused methods to possess characters in horror films. For me, it’s almost more annoying than watching a possessed character perched on the ceiling and spinning their head around before they crawl on all fours to attack one of the protagonists.

And Creation has a few predictable mishaps, and you can see them coming from a mile away. Jan has to use a stairlift chair (originally created by Sam for Esther) to get upstairs, and you just know at some point, Jan will run into problems and malfunctions, when she REALLY needs the stairlift to work, and that’s exactly what happens.

Although, I’ll give Creation some credit for providing valid reasons for Sister Charlotte and the girls staying in the house, when it’s clear they should leave and never look back. They have no place to go, and six young girls with a family-like bond will be forced to go to different homes. Sure, you could say it’s not worth risking your life to stick together, but it’s a more plausible reason over the typical “Every cent we have is in this house. We can’t leave!” or “It’s too soon to start over again!” stuff.

Creation has it’s fair share of clichés, and the one truly eye rolling moment, when Bee’s ghost (with the demon’s face) shouts “YOUR SOUL!” when Jan asks her what she wants. That, and I’m not a big fan of evil and possessed Jan, because she turns into the ordinary creepy and evil kid in a horror film. Still, if we’re comparing this one to the original, Creation does a better job of maintaining the tension, and David F. Sandberg delivers a more spooky and atmospheric film. And I LOVED the scarecrow sequence towards the end, when the demon uses the scarecrow to taunt the girls, and Carol having to find a way to escape the scarecrow/demon in the barn. Creation also has a few squirmy scenes. When Sam tries to stand up to a possessed Jan, while holding a cross, the demon brutally breaks his fingers one by one, and the sight of a dismembered corpse nailed into the wall is pretty gruesome.

Cinematic universes are a thing now, and it’s no secret Warner Bros. is trying to build one with The Conjuring. It’s really strange, because Annabelle 2014 was a prequel….and Creation is a prequel to that film. The ending leads into the beginning of Annabelle 2014, and Creation has a post-credits scene with Valak (the demon nun from The Conjuring 2) to tease The Nun, a spin-off set to be released next year. If you’ve seen the previous films, you already know Annabelle is a conduit for evil, but Creation reveals how Annabelle got her name, the story of the man, who made her, what happened to his family, and Jan/Annabelle Higgins’ origin story. And you’ll see Sam creating Annabelle from scratch during the opening. I guess if you’re a hardcore Conjuring fan, watching Sam put Annabelle together piece by piece might be enough to give you goosebumps, but the big moment really didn‘t do anything for me.

The prequel to a prequel approach is an odd strategy, but Annabelle: Creation’s final box office total surpassed the $300,000,000 mark, and that’s off of a reported production budget of $15,000,000. The Conjuring Series has a reported worldwide box office total of $1.2 billion, and the series is starting to follow a similar pattern, but I have to give credit where credit is due, because they’re entertaining horror films, for the most part.
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Old 11-23-2017, 01:14 AM
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Originally Posted by Mitch Henessey View Post
Annabelle: Creation (2017)




Plot-In 1943, Samuel Mullins (Anthony LaPaglia), a dollmaker, tries to fix a flat tire, but one of the lug nuts rolls into the road. Sam’s young daughter, Annabelle (or “Bee”) runs after it, but a speeding car hits and kills Annabelle (Samara Lee) before her mother, Esther (Miranda Otto) has a chance to catch her.

Twelve years later, Sam cares for a disfigured and bedridden Esther, and The Mullins decide to open their home to six girls after their orphanage closes down. Led by Sister Charlotte (Stephanie Sigman), Janice (Talitha Bateman), Linda (Lulu Wilson), Carol (Grace Fulton), and the others try to adjust to a new life, but after a series of strange occurrences, Janice and the others realize an evil presence is growing stronger in the house. Ignoring stern warnings from Sam, Janice opens the locked door to the room containing the Annabelle doll. After unleashing the demon, Janice becomes the primary target, and it’s only a matter of time before she succumbs to the possession.

My Thoughts- I’ve never had a big problem with the original Annabelle. It’s a decent enough horror flick, but I can’t ignore two weak, uninteresting, and boring main characters. Annabelle Wallis (Mia) and Ward Horton (Jon), playing the all-American 1960’s couple, were about as interesting as watching paint dry, but Creation adds characters with a little more depth. Janice/Jan has polio, so she can’t fit in and move around too much without help. There’s a scene, where Jan is talking to Sister Charlotte, and she’s clearly upset. She believes the demon is targeting her, because she’s the weak link in the group, but Sister Charlotte reassures her she is brave and strong enough to fight.

The friendship between Linda and Jan is one of the bigger highlights here. Linda wants to do everything she can to help Jan, but Jan encourages her to have fun without her and join the group, because she doesn’t want to hold her back. Looking at the group, next to Jan and Linda, Carol is the only one that stands out. She’s basically the mean girl in the group, she’s a bully, and that’s about it.

LaPaglia delivers a decent performance as this broken and angry man. Miranda Otto plays the depressed and grief-stricken mother, who wants to hide from the world. After the early stages of the movie, you won’t see her in full view again until the tail end of the film. If I had to guess, the idea behind hiding Esther’s face and keeping her covered up is, she’s too hideous and unbearably grotesque to look at it, so when she finally takes off her mask (half of a mask), it’ll be a shock. Well, she has a burned handprint on her face from the demon’s attack years ago, and that‘s it. I’m not saying it’s not a horrific injury, but after all the teasing, they basically lead you to believe Esther’s face is nothing but bones, with bits of flesh and blood trickling down from her forehead. With all that said, it’s easy to buy into Esther being this heartbroken mother, when Otto emotionally tells the story about the demon tricking Sam and herself into using Annabelle as conduit with visions of Bee.

It’s her third appearance in a movie, but Annabelle still works as a creepy doll. Annabelle actually turns her head a little bit during a mid-credits scene, but Annabelle maintains her evil mystique with silence and limited movements. If she moves and starts to talk too much, you’ll basically wind up with Chucky. Not that I have anything against the Child’s Play films, but you’re moving in a comedic direction, and killing whatever impact Annabelle’s presence might have, if she starts talking.

Creation is definitely an upgrade over the original, but the movie is not without its flaws, because Creation is loaded with a lot of familiar clichés, scare tactics, and horror tropes. Flickering lights, doors slowly opening, an unseen force (the demon) aggressively dragging Linda down a hallway, while she scratches at the floor, and I’m tired of seeing one character vomit thick, black goo into another character’s mouth to possess them. It happens, when Bee’s ghost/the demon possesses Jan in the barn, and it’s becoming one of the more tiresome and overused methods to possess characters in horror films. For me, it’s almost more annoying than watching a possessed character perched on the ceiling and spinning their head around before they crawl on all fours to attack one of the protagonists.

And Creation has a few predictable mishaps, and you can see them coming from a mile away. Jan has to use a stairlift chair (originally created by Sam for Esther) to get upstairs, and you just know at some point, Jan will run into problems and malfunctions, when she REALLY needs the stairlift to work, and that’s exactly what happens.

Although, I’ll give Creation some credit for providing valid reasons for Sister Charlotte and the girls staying in the house, when it’s clear they should leave and never look back. They have no place to go, and six young girls with a family-like bond will be forced to go to different homes. Sure, you could say it’s not worth risking your life to stick together, but it’s a more plausible reason over the typical “Every cent we have is in this house. We can’t leave!” or “It’s too soon to start over again!” stuff.

Creation has it’s fair share of clichés, and the one truly eye rolling moment, when Bee’s ghost (with the demon’s face) shouts “YOUR SOUL!” when Jan asks her what she wants. That, and I’m not a big fan of evil and possessed Jan, because she turns into the ordinary creepy and evil kid in a horror film. Still, if we’re comparing this one to the original, Creation does a better job of maintaining the tension, and David F. Sandberg delivers a more spooky and atmospheric film. And I LOVED the scarecrow sequence towards the end, when the demon uses the scarecrow to taunt the girls, and Carol having to find a way to escape the scarecrow/demon in the barn. Creation also has a few squirmy scenes. When Sam tries to stand up to a possessed Jan, while holding a cross, the demon brutally breaks his fingers one by one, and the sight of a dismembered corpse nailed into the wall is pretty gruesome.

Cinematic universes are a thing now, and it’s no secret Warner Bros. is trying to build one with The Conjuring. It’s really strange, because Annabelle 2014 was a prequel….and Creation is a prequel to that film. The ending leads into the beginning of Annabelle 2014, and Creation has a post-credits scene with Valak (the demon nun from The Conjuring 2) to tease The Nun, a spin-off set to be released next year. If you’ve seen the previous films, you already know Annabelle is a conduit for evil, but Creation reveals how Annabelle got her name, the story of the man, who made her, what happened to his family, and Jan/Annabelle Higgins’ origin story. And you’ll see Sam creating Annabelle from scratch during the opening. I guess if you’re a hardcore Conjuring fan, watching Sam put Annabelle together piece by piece might be enough to give you goosebumps, but the big moment really didn‘t do anything for me.

The prequel to a prequel approach is an odd strategy, but Annabelle: Creation’s final box office total surpassed the $300,000,000 mark, and that’s off of a reported production budget of $15,000,000. The Conjuring Series has a reported worldwide box office total of $1.2 billion, and the series is starting to follow a similar pattern, but I have to give credit where credit is due, because they’re entertaining horror films, for the most part.
This question is more related to the Conjuring films, but since they feature Annabelle I’ll still ask it. How do you feel about writers and studios using The Warrens and treating their “investigations” as inspiration when it’s been proven that they were nothing more than frauds and con artists?

I guess it could extend to films like The Strangers, which has a sequel coming soon. They claim to be based on a true event, but the screenwriter has admitted he embellished 99% of what happened. It wasn’t even a home invasion, it was an idea he had after there was a knock on the door while he was home alone at night as a teenager.
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  #70  
Old 11-25-2017, 01:03 PM
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Yeah, it's basically a marketing tool to play up the realism hook. Just look at the Annabelle doll. The "real" Annabelle doll (supposedly they keep it in a glass case at The Warren's occult museum) is a Raggedy Ann doll, so you can imagine just how silly that would look in the movies, if they actually used it. To give you an example, there's a flashback in Creation, where they're showing how they glued pages from the bible to the walls in Annabelle's locked room, and one of the priests sprinkled her with holy water to keep the evil at bay. Now remove Annabelle on the box cover, and put a Raggedy Ann doll in the chair. You're basically crossing into Scary Movie territory, and they had to completely revamp the design for the movies, because more people would laugh at something that's supposed to be this big evil threat.

A Dark Place inspired The Haunting In Connecticut '09, and when the author, who wrote the book went to interview the family that was supposedly haunted, he noticed none of them could keep their stories straight. He told Ed about his concerns, and Ed basically told him to use whatever he could and make the rest up, because that's what they're paying him for. But no one really remembers The Haunting In Connecticut, because it was a piece of crap.

The Conjuring benefits from having solid casts, Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga playing likeable characters (going by everything I've read, The Warrens were basically shameless opportunists, and Ed was kind of a dick), and James Wan is one of the best mainstream horror filmmakers. Just looking at The Conjuring and Annabelle films, MAYBE I could believe everything that happens in the first 10-15 minutes of the movie, without knowing anything about The Warrens. Ed and Lorraine meeting the families, discussing what happened, and figuring out different solutions to the problem. But after that, it's clear you're watching a movie that's probably 10% real life (and that's a stretch) and 90% bullshit, especially when all the supernatural stuff kicks in, because everything is just too convenient.

The realism hook only works, if you can produce a quality product. I'm not too excited about the sequel, but I've read about theories involving connections to The Manson Family Murders and The Strangers, but it sounds like a lot of fan fiction. Evan Peters' Kai Anderson was inspired to do what he did in the recent season of American Horror Story, because he idolized Charles Manson and other cult leaders, and going by the rumors, Quentin Tarantino's new film is supposed to use Manson and the murders as a backdrop for the story. Ed Gein is/was used as an inspiration for movies and TV shows, but if you look at the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre, it's almost impossible to draw comparisons to what Gein did. But TCM '74 is praised as a horror classic , because of the rough cut feel and look of the movie, the intro, and the idea of a group of people wandering into the wrong part of a backwoods town.
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