Samhain’s Sanctum

I fiddle around with 3D graphics — as long-time readers will have noted in the blog headers — but I don’t usually post my art here on the blog. After all, the blog is here to discuss other peoples’ creations, and usually movies, not other forms of art. For today, though, I’ve decided to make an exception and share something I’ve been working on for fun for a couple months. So check after the jump for a bit of Halloween pop culture. Continue reading

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Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers

Halloween 5 PosterIt’s tough to keep a franchise on the tracks, but aside from the aberrant Halloween III: Season of the Witch, which deviated from the story, the Halloween franchise was reasonably solid up until this point. The first film is a classic, the second is a sound (if unnecessary) follow-up, and the fourth film is a worthy way of continuing the story while modifying it. But with the fifth film, although it’s not truly bad, it’s easy to see where things are starting to go astray.

One person who isn’t to blame for this is actor Donald Pleasance, who once again returns as the world’s most durable child psychologist, and once again treats the material seriously and skillfully. Also returning is Danielle Harris as young Jamie Lloyd, the niece of Michael Myers and current target of his rage. She does well enough once again, though she’s given some ridiculous material to work with. No, the blame here for the film’s unevenness has to go to writer-director Dominique Othenin-Girard. While there are several logical ways to follow-up on part 4, the screenplay here takes a tactic that is not at all logical. Continue reading

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The Mummy (1999)

Mummy 1999 PosterI didn’t have the opportunity to dig up an old classic Universal monster movie this year, so instead I watched and reviewed a somewhat newer Universal monster movie. The Mummy gives some passing nods to its 1932 predecessor, but rather than being a horror film, it’s an adventure film with a monster in it.

As is traditional with stories involving mummies, the whole thing starts with a curse. A priest in ancient Egypt (Arnold Vosloo) is caught in a lover’s rendezvous with the Pharoah’s wife, and so he is condemned to be entombed alive, to be gnawed upon by scarabs eternally. Of course, this has the usual problem with undying curses, in that you have to make the victim undying. A few millennia later, somebody breaks into the tomb, and the wrathful priest is bringing back the plagues of Egypt. Continue reading

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28 Days Later…

28 Days Later PosterCombine two different plot setups, create a new twist on an old genre. In retrospect it seems obvious, though I don’t know for certain if there are examples of this particular combination before this 2002 film from Danny Boyle. On the one hand, 28 Days Later… is a zombie survival film. On the other hand, the zombies in this case aren’t true undead; not raised by magic or even unknown means, but are instead living people who are infected by a terrible plague. This plague, the “Rage virus”, is an artificially created infection which is let loose after a group of activists destroy a laboratory experimenting on primates; we know what the activists are doing there, but we’re never told just what the lab is doing with the virus, although a scientist speaks of trying to find a cure. Perhaps it’s something they’ve weaponized, or perhaps it’s something they’ve stumbled across but was previously isolated.

Either way, the result is the same. This contagion, which spreads through saliva or blood, soon spreads throughout Great Britain — and, it is rumored, the world. With an infection time that can be measured in seconds, it rapidly wipes out most of the population. Jim (Cillian Murphy) is an ordinary man who wakes up from a coma in the hospital only to find that he is a man virtually alone in a city of the dead. Continue reading

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The Last House on the Left (2009)

Last House 2009 PosterI’m going to keep this one short, because there’s just not much for me to say here. This is a remake of a Wes Craven film, this time directed by Dennis Iliadis, with the plot and scenes apparently roughly paralleling the original (which I haven’t seen and probably won’t after this). A pair of teenage girls are kidnapped, sexually assaulted, and one of them is killed while the other is left for dead. Their attackers, injured from a car crash, take up refuge in the house of a couple who — unbeknownst to the attackers — are the parents of the surviving girl. Revenge-killing ensues.

Although it’s not poorly done as a film, I found myself impatiently waiting for it to be over. It can be divided into four acts, none of which hold up well. There’s the lead-in, which is dull; the assault, which is repulsive and dwells on itself too much; the lead-in to the revenge, which aims for suspense but is instead just boring again; and the revenge itself, which could have been mildly interesting but by this point the film had already entirely lost me.

I’m giving this an additional star because the quality of the acting and directing is passable enough that for the right audience, maybe the film could be OK. But I don’t know who that audience is.

Rating: 2 Pumpkins

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Half Light

Half Light PosterIt has to be difficult making new twists on genres. At least, that’s the only conclusion I can come up with for films that don’t manage to bring all of their disparate elements together successfully. Craig Rosenberg’s Half Light, from 2006, is another such film.

Demi Moore stars as an American writer living in England. When her son drowns, she leaves her husband/editor (Henry Ian Cusick) and rents a cottage in Scotland to come to terms with her grief and write her next novel. When there, she starts a romance with the local lighthouse keeper (Hans Matheson). There are only a few problems. She keeps having visions of her dead son. Visions which try to strangle her. Continue reading

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The Reaping

Reaping PosterAs I’ve watched horror films over the years, I’ve seen a lot of inspirations for the antagonists. There are threats from insanity (slashers), threats from technology (mad scientists), threats from wronged nature (Godzilla), threats from the supernatural (any number of paranormal films), and even a few threats of biblical origin. The Reaping falls into the last category; as with The Abominable Dr. Phibes, it draws upon the ten plagues of Egypt, as detailed in Exodus, for its inspiration. Unlike that Vincent Price vehicle, however, the plagues in The Reaping do not have a mad scientist at their origin; they appear to genuinely be supernatural.

But appearances aren’t everything, which is where Hilary Swank comes into this Stephen Hopkins picture. Swank plays a former minister turned professional skeptic, a professor who travels the world debunking miracles and supernatural events. When David Morrissey tells her of a small town that seems to be undergoing the biblical plagues, she and her assistant (Idris Elba) head in to find out what’s really going on. Continue reading

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