Sunday, October 22, 2017
Directed by Christopher B. Landon and screenplay by Landon, Carrie Evans, and Emi Mochizuki from a story by Evans, Mochizuki, and Lona Williams, Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse is the story about a trio of high school Scout kids who find themselves dealing with zombies as they try to save their small town. The film is a horror-comedy in which what happens when zombies find themselves having to deal with three Scout kids who are prepared for any kind of situation. Starring Tye Sheridan, Logan Miller, Joey Morgan, Halston Sage, Sarah Dumont, and David Koechner. Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse is a thrilling and hilarious film from Christopher B. Landon.
The film follows three high school sophomores who are trying to get new recruits to join the Scouts as two of them think about leaving to pursue other interests as they later deal with zombies forcing them to use their skills as Scouts to save their small town. That is pretty much what the film is about as it is set in the span of an entire day where three teenage boys try to get ready for another ceremony as two of them want to go to a senior party as well as do all of the things more mature high school kids are doing. Yet, something happened nearby which has unleashed a horde of zombies ruining the night for these three kids as they’re aided by a cocktail waitress named Denise (Sarah Dumont) who works at a strip club.
The film’s screenplay does reveal how this zombie apocalypse happened and how it would infect a small town where three teenage Scouts have to be the ones to save them with the help of this cocktail waitress. Along the way, there’s some growing pains among the three boys with Ben Goudy (Tye Sheridan) as the conscience of sorts as he’s in love with his best friend’s older sister while Carter Grant (Logan Miller) is eager to party and ditch the more camp-loving Augie Foster (Joey Morgan).
Christopher B. Landon’s direction is definitely stylish from the opening sequence in which a janitor (Blake Anderson) checks out an experiment where everything goes wrong and lead to the mayhem that would ensue. Shot in various locations around Los Angeles, the film does play into this small town feel where not very much is happening and people know each other. Landon does use some wide shots to establish some of the locations yet keeps the compositions simple in terms of coverage while infusing it with elements of style in its approach to comedy and horror. While some of it is over-stylized as well as featuring characters that are thinly-written, Landon is able to make up for some of the film’s shortcomings by just emphasizing on its humor and entertainment factor. Even in the climax which is filled with lots of gore but in all good fun and not take itself too seriously. Overall, Landon crafts a wild and exciting film about a trio of Scouts killing zombies with a cocktail waitress to save their small town and get some poontang along the way.
Cinematographer Brandon Trost does excellent work with the cinematography as many of the daytime scenes are straightforward with some stylish lighting for the strip club scene. Editor Jim Page does nice work with the editing as it stylized despite emphasizing too much on fast-cuts and montages though they do serve their purpose. Production designer Nathan Amondson, with art directors William Budge and Nick Ralbovsky plus set decorator Beauchamp Fontaine, does fantastic work with the look of the strip club as well as the party for the film’s climax. Costume designer Marylou Lim does terrific work with the costumes from the look of the Scout uniforms as well as the somewhat-skimpy clothing of Denise as well as the bloodied clothes that the zombies have.
Special makeups effect supervisor Tony Gardner does brilliant work with the look of the zombies from the way they look including the attention to detail in their body parts. Visual effects supervisor Ryan Tudhope does terrific work with the visual effects as it play into the look of the gore as well as a few moments in the action scenes. Sound designer Peter Brown does superb work with the sound in the way the zombies would sound as well as capturing some of the natural environment in the different locations. The film’s music by Matthew Margeson is wonderful for its mixture of orchestral bombast with hip-hop and electronic music while the soundtrack also play into elements of hip-hop, pop, country, electronic dance music, and rock.
The casting by Courtney Bright, Nicole Daniels, and Joseph Middleton is pretty good as it feature some notable small roles from Dillon Francis as a DJ zombie, porn star Missy Martinez as a police woman zombie with big tits, Elle Evans as a zombie stripper, Blake Anderson as the janitor who would cause the zombie epidemic, Drew Droege as a drunk man Carter tries to use to get him to buy beer, Patrick Schwarzenegger as a douchebag senior Carter’s sister is dating, Niki Koss as a senior Carter wants to sleep with, and Cloris Leachman in a hilarious performance as an old lady neighbor of Carter who hates his guts and later becomes a zombie. Halston Sage is wonderful as Kendall who is Carter’s older sister and Ben’s crush as someone that is very nice as she becomes concerned about Carter when he doesn’t show up for the party. David Koechner is superb as Scout Leader Rogers as a man who is trying to keep the Scout thing alive while wearing a bad toupee and has a love for Dolly Parton.
Sarah Dumont is fantastic as Denise as a woman in her 20s who works at a strip club as a cocktail waitress who befriends Ben as well as help the boys deal with zombies as someone who proves to be more than just being an attractive woman. Joey Morgan is terrific as Augie Foster as a Scout who loves being a Scout as he has accepted his identity while upset that his friends want to ditch him for some party as he would discover his mentor has become a zombie. Logan Miller is excellent as Carter Grant as a Scout who is the most willing to leave in favor of being with the in-crowd as he hopes to party and get laid as he’s also the film’s comic relief. Finally, there’s Tye Sheridan in a brilliant performance as Ben Goudy as a 16-year old high school sophomore who is also a skilled Scout as he ponders about leaving as well as deal with growing pains prompting him to step up and be a good person as well save the town that he cares about.
Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse is a stellar film from Christopher B. Landon. Featuring a superb cast, an entertaining premise, and a fine mix of comedy and horror, it’s a film that doesn’t take itself seriously while being just a simple zombie comedy. In the end, Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse is a terrific film from Christopher B. Landon.
© thevoid99 2017
Saturday, October 21, 2017
Directed by Susan Lacy, Spielberg is a documentary film about the life and career of one of the key figures in cinema in Steven Spielberg. The film chronicles many of the films Spielberg made including some of his rarely-seen student and home movies he made when he was a kid as well as the themes of the films he made told by the man himself as well as many of his collaborators as well as film critics, filmmakers, and members of his family. The result is a fascinating and lively film from Susan Lacy.
The name Steven Spielberg is often synonymous with populist cinema as some claimed that he started the Blockbuster era with 1975’s Jaws and would continue to give the film industry a jolt in the arm financially through films such as Close Encounters of the Third Kind, the Indiana Jones film series, E.T.: The Extraterrestrial, and Jurassic Park. While he had been criticized from moving American cinema away from personal and more serious subject matter that had dominated in the 1970s. There are those that disagreed with that sentiment including Spielberg himself as he states that many of his films are personal. The difference is that they’re big personal films as his parents Arnold Spielberg and Leah Adler as well as sisters Anne, Nancy, and Sue will agree to that as there’s scenes from his films that is based on his own life and the life of his family.
Among the themes Spielberg often explored is family as it relates to the dysfunctional family life he had when he was young when his parents split up as well as his own growing pains as a child and teenager. Part of his reasons in making Schindler’s List had to do with his own issues about his Jewish faith as he felt ashamed of being a Jew when he was young and had ignored until he married actress Kate Capshaw in 1991 who got him to come to terms with his Jewish faith. Capshaw would be at his side when he made the film as he also chose not to profit from any financial success of the film in order to create a foundation that allowed Holocaust survivors to give their testimonies. It’s among the one of many stories Spielberg would tell as well as why he would make films outside of his comfort zone like The Color Purple, Empire of the Sun, and A.I.: Artificial Intelligence as a way to challenge himself but also know his limits as a storyteller.
The film also explore some of the business ventures he did such as founding Dreamworks with Jeffrey Katzenberg and David Geffen as well as producing other films for other filmmakers while remaining friends with filmmakers such as Martin Scorsese, Francis Ford Coppola, George Lucas, and Brian de Palma who are also interviewed in the film. Even film critics/historians such as A.O. Scott, Annette Insdorf, David Edelstein, J. Hoberman, and Janet Maslin talk about why his films endure and still matter as well as revealing why Spielberg has had a polarizing relationship with critics despite being championed early in his career by the famed critic Pauline Kael. Collaborators such as cinematographer Vilmos Zsigmond and screenwriter Melissa Mathison are both interviewed in the film before their respective deaths in 2016 and 2015 as well as Spielberg’s mother who died in February 2017 as the film is dedicated to her as they all talk about Spielberg’s gift in telling stories as well as stories about children. While films such as Always, Hook, The Terminal, and The Adventures of Tintin aren’t mentioned with the other films that are discussed in the documentary at the time Spielberg was in production for his 2015 film Bridge of Spies. Susan Lacy does provide a great insight into his body of work with the aid of editor Deborah Peretz in compiling footage from those films as well as some rare making-of footage.
Cinematographers Ed Marritz and Samuel Painter would film many of the interviews what were filmed which would feature many of the actors who worked with Spielberg along with collaborators who are often part of Spielberg’s filmmaking family. Sound editor Steve Borne would compile some of the audio from other interviews including clips from other films as much of the music that is played on the film is from many of Spielberg’s films which is mainly the music composed by John Williams.
Spielberg is a marvelous film from Susan Lacy. Not only is the film essential for fans of the filmmaker but also an engaging documentary that explore many of the filmmaker’s methods in making films as well as the kind of stories he want to tell. Even as it offers some rare footage of his personal life without revealing too much and give the man the chance to speak for himself as he’s still a vital force in the film industry. In the end, Spielberg is a remarkable film from Susan Lacy.
Steven Spielberg Films: (Duel (1971 TV film)) – (The Sugarland Express) – (Jaws) – (Close Encounters of the Third Kind) – (1941) – (Raiders of the Lost Ark) – (E.T.: The Extraterrestrial) – (Twilight Zone: the Movie-Kick the Can) - (Indiana Jones & the Temple of Doom) – (The Color Purple) – (Empire of the Sun) – (Always) – (Indiana Jones & the Last Crusade) – (Hook) – (Jurassic Park) – Schindler's List - (The Lost World: Jurassic Park) – (Amistad) – Saving Private Ryan - (A.I. Artificial Intelligence) – (Minority Report) – Catch Me If You Can - (The Terminal) – (War of the Worlds (2005 film)) – (Munich) – (Indiana Jones & the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull) – (The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn) – (War Horse) – (Lincoln) – (Bridge of Spies) – (BFG) – (The Post (2017 film)) – (Ready Player One)
© thevoid99 2017
Friday, October 20, 2017
Based on the short story It Had to Be Murder by Cornell Woolrich, Rear Window is the story of a man with a broken leg who sits in his apartment watching his neighbors from the building across from him where he sees a murder happening. Directed by Alfred Hitchcock and screenplay by John Michael Hayes, the film is a look into a man who observes everything around him while he is forced to watch from afar where something sinister is happening. Starring James Stewart, Grace Kelly, Thelma Ritter, Wendell Corey, and Raymond Burr. Rear Window is an intoxicating and eerie film from Alfred Hitchcock.
Set in a New York City at an apartment complex in Greenwich Village, the film revolves around a photographer with a broken leg who observes the occupants at the apartment building from his rear window as he believes a murder has occurred. It’s a film that is about voyeurism but not in a creepy way as it’s more about a man’s curiosity of the world around him as he is stuck in a wheelchair with a broken leg that’s about to be fully healed in a week. Yet, he notices something is off as it relates to a neighbor living across the building from him as he turns to his girlfriend and a nurse for help as they realize that something isn’t right. John Michael Hayes’ screenplay is set mainly in this apartment area where the photographer L.B. “Jeff” Jeffries (James Stewart) is staying at where he would look out at his apartment window during a hot summer. There would be various individuals he would observe including a ballerina, a songwriter, a newlywed couple, a lonely woman, a couple with a dog, and a mysterious man with an ailing wife.
Jeffries would get frequent visits from his nurse Stella who works for an insurance company that pays for Jeffries’ work as a photographer as he had been injured on the job as she knows there’s trouble around. Also visiting Jeffries is his socialite girlfriend Lisa Fremont (Grace Kelly) who wants to marry him but he’s reluctant feeling she’s too perfect for him as she often arrives wearing fashionable and posh clothes as well as bring food that is expensive. The two women would eventually realize something isn’t right as well as notice a few things that are off including a flower bed as Jeffries even turn to his friend in the NYPD detective Tom Doyle (Wendell Corey) for help who isn’t sure that this man has done anything. Yet, a key event that other people from the building saw would force Jeffries to take matters into his own hands with help from Stella and Lisa.
Alfred Hitchcock’s direction is very stylish for the fact that it’s set entirely in this apartment complex in the middle of Greenwich Village where it never leaves that setting though it’s all mainly shot in a soundstage at Paramount Studios in Hollywood. Hitchcock’s usage of the wide shots have him capture what Jeffries is seeing from his window as there are some unique crane shots to capture ever occupant in the building and their activities. While Hitchcock would use some close-ups and medium shots in scenes at Jeffries’ apartment to play into his own life and the time he spends with Lisa. Hitchcock is more concerned with what Jeffries is seeing from his binoculars or his camera with a wide angle lens to get the scope of what is happening. Much of the film is shown from Jeffries’ point of view as there is never a close-up of the other residents except for the suspect in Lars Thorwald (Raymond Burr) who is unaware that he’s being seen until the third act. The element of suspense of whether Thorwald is really a killer or doing something else just adds to the intrigue where Stella and Lisa would make plans to see what Thorwald is hiding as the latter would go into his apartment. It would then lead to the unveiling of what is happening with Jeffries being confronted for his voyeuristic tendencies. Overall, Hitchcock creates a thrilling and evocative film about a man possibly witnessing a murder from his window.
Cinematographer Robert Burks does brilliant work with the film’s gorgeous Technicolor cinematography from its approach to lighting some of the scenes at Jeffries’ home at night as well as the way the exteriors would look in day at night at the apartment courtyard. Editor George Tomasini does excellent work with the editing as it help play into the suspense with its approach to rhythmic cuts as well as other stylized cuts to help create that sense of intrigue and heightened drama. Art directors J. McMillan Johnson and Hal Pereira, along with set decorators Sam Comer and Ray Moyer, do incredible work with the design of the apartment buildings and backdrops behind the buildings as well as the room where Jeffries sees everything.
Costume designer Edith Head does fantastic work with the costumes from the gorgeous dresses that Lisa wears as well as the skimpy clothing of the ballerina. Sound recordists John Cope and Harry Lindgren do terrific work with the sound in creating that raucous atmosphere in the building as well as the screams and small noises that help play into the suspense. The film’s music by Franz Waxman is superb for its orchestral score that has moments that are serene as well as low-key moments to play into the suspense while the film also feature music that is played on location include a piece by Ross Bagdasarian who appears in the film as the lonely composer.
The film’s marvelous cast include some notable small roles from Ross Bagdasarian as the lonely composer, Judith Evelyn as a lonely middle-aged woman seeking companionship, Rand Harper and Havis Davenport as the newlywed couple who had moved in to the building, Frank Cady and Sara Berner as the couple with the dog, Irene Winston as Thorwald’s wife, and Georgine Darcy as the ballerina who is called Miss Torso. Wendell Corey is superb as Jeffries’ detective friend Tom Doyle as a man who would check on Jeffries' suspicions though he doesn’t think Thorwald has done anything without any real evidence. Raymond Burr is fantastic as Lars Thorwald as this mysterious man who is believed to be hiding something as he is also very secretive where he eventually realizes that Jeffries is watching him leading to a confrontation in the film’s climax.
Thelma Ritter is excellent as Stella as a nurse who watches over Jeffries in his recovery as she would notice little things from the window as she provides some of the best lines and commentary as well as be a comic relief of sorts for the film. Grace Kelly is amazing as Lisa Fremont as the socialite girlfriend of Jeffries who is trying to help him as well as deal with the fact that her life is too perfect for Jeffries as she would later prove to be a helpful ally for Jeffries when she also suspects Thorwald. Finally, there’s James Stewart in a brilliant performance as L.B. “Jeff” Jeffries as an injured photographer who looks out his apartment window to see his surroundings as he notices something is off as he believes a murdered has occurred where Stewart provides that sense of restraint and curiosity into his performance as it is one of finest performances of his career.
Rear Window is an outstanding film from Alfred Hitchcock that features great performances from James Stewart, Grace Kelly, and Thelma Ritter. Along with its dazzling production design, beautiful cinematography, and provocative ideas of voyeurism. It’s a film that explores the idea of a man seeing something he probably shouldn’t have seen and wonder if there’s something bad happening. In the end, Rear Window is a magnificent film from Alfred Hitchcock.
Alfred Hitchcock Films: (Number 13) - (The Pleasure Garden) - (The Blackguard) - (The Mountain Eagle) - (The Lodger) - (A Story of the London Fog) - (The Ring) - (Downhill) - (The Farmer’s Wife) - (Easy Virtue) - (Champagne) - (The Manxman) - (Blackmail) - (Juno and the Paycock) - (Murder!) - (The Skin Game) - (Mary) - (Lord Camber’s Ladies) - (Rich and Strange) - (Number Seventeen) - (Waltzes from Vienna) - (The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934 film)) - (39 Steps) - (Secret Agent) - (Sabotage) - (Young and Innocent) – The Lady Vanishes - (Jamaica Inn) – (Rebecca) – (Foreign Correspondent) – (Mr. & Mrs. Smith) – Suspicion - (Saboteur) – (Shadow of a Doubt) – Lifeboat - Bon Voyage - (Spellbound) – (Notorious) – (The Paradine Cage) – Rope - (Under Capricorn) – (Stage Fright) – Strangers on a Train - I Confess - Dial M for Murder - To Catch a Thief - (The Trouble with Harry) – (The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956 film)) – (The Wrong Man) – Vertigo - North by Northwest - Psycho - The Birds - Marnie - (Torn Curtain) – (Topaz) – (Frenzy) – (Family Plot)
© thevoid99 2017
Thursday, October 19, 2017
For the third week of October 2017 as part of the Thursday Movie Picks series hosted by Wanderer of Wandering Through the Shelves. It’s the third week of the Halloween edition of the series as the focus is on body horror. A sub-genre that has been very popular as it involves people dealing with something wrong with their bodies or given something that belonged to someone else and a bunch of crazy shit happens. Here are my three picks:
From the master of the body horror sub-genre is a film that can only come from the mind of David Cronenberg. The film revolves a man wanting to get racy material for his channel only to get more than he bargains for when he discovers the world of snuff films and hallucinations which would affect his body. It’s a film that feature some incredible makeup effects courtesy of Rick Baker as it showcases man’s desire for extreme as well as what happens when technology and humanity merge. Long live the new flesh.
2. Idle Hands
A funny horror-comedy in the late 90s involves a slacker whose right hand becomes possessed due to the fact that he’s lazy where his hand forces him to kill people including a couple of his stoner friends who come back from the dead to help him get rid of this cursed hand. It’s a silly film that is very funny which features a young Jessica Alba looking very sexy though why is she dancing so badly to a Ramones song? It’s a film which doesn’t require a lot of brains as it is just good fun.
3. One-Eyed Monster
This straight-to-DVD horror comedy revolves around a porno film shoot in a cabin that goes to hell all because of a killer penis. Not just any penis but Ron Jeremy’s big penis. Some strange thing in space lands on Ron Jeremy while he’s on break from a shoot and then possesses him to the point that it kills him and his penis is the one on the loose. Featuring Charles Napier and porn legend Veronica Hart, it’s a film that is just entertaining all because of its premise as it refuses to take itself seriously which is the point of the film.
© thevoid99 2017
Wednesday, October 18, 2017
Directed by Fede Alvarez and written by Alvarez and Rodo Sayagues, Don’t Breathe is the story of three young people who decide to break into a blind man’s home to steal things and make money off of it only to realize they’re in much bigger trouble. The film is an exploration of what happens when the plan to steal things at one’s home becomes something even more troubling. Starring Jane Levy, Dylan Minnette, Daniel Zovatto, and Stephen Lang. Don’t Breathe is a gripping and unsettling film from Fede Alvarez.
Set in Detroit in which the city is in ruins making it easier for teens to rob homes, the film revolves around a group of three teenage robbers who get a tip to break into the home of a blind war veteran who is believed to have a substantial amount of money in his house. Getting into the house is the easy part but it’s getting out that would be hard part as the man who owns the home has a bigger secret and can sense any kind of movement, breath, and anything despite being blind forcing these three kids to try and survive. The film’s screenplay by Fede Alvarez and Rodo Sayagues revolves around these three teens as one of them in Rocky (Jane Levy) is eager to get out of Detroit to take her little sister to California away from their alcoholic mother. She seeks the help of her friends Alex (Dylan Minnette) and Money (Daniel Zovatto) to find a house as the latter would get a tip about the home of this blind man (Stephen Lang). Believing the job would be easy, they decide to get in and get out quickly but the blind man isn’t someone who can be easily fooled nor can is he vulnerable. Especially as he’s got something in his basement that is even more valuable than money.
Alvarez’s direction is definitely stylish for the way he would create some intricate tracking shots that would go on for a few minutes in order to establish the geography of the blind man’s home. While the few exterior scenes in the film is shot on location in Detroit, much of it is shot mainly in Hungary for a few exteriors as much of the interiors is shot in a house made as a set. The usage of medium shots and close-ups would play into some of the claustrophobic elements of the film as well as the suspense and horror. Most notably a scene in the basement where it’s completely dark as the teenagers have no idea where they’re at as they can’t see anything which gives the blind man an advantage.
The basement is also the place where the blind man has this secret as it play into his own reclusive persona as well as the sense of loss that he carries. There are some wide shots in the scenes set in the house and in some of the exteriors yet Alvarez prefers to maintain that intimacy that add to the sense of danger as well as creating a mood where the characters have no idea where to go or if they have to move. Even as Alvarez would use hand-held or Steadicams to capture a sense of movement from the perspective of the blind man. All of which reveal what happens when someone decides to rob the wrong house. Overall, Alvarez creates a riveting and eerie film about three teens who rob the house of a blind man only to be trapped in his home.
Cinematographer Pedro Luque does brilliant work with the film’s cinematography with its usage of filters and lighting schemes to help set a mood for many of the film’s interiors as it’s mainly set at night to maintain that sense of dread and terror. Editors Eric L. Beason, Louise Ford, and Gardner Gould do excellent work with the editing as it play into the suspense and horror as it help create moments that are scary as well as building up the terror. Production designer Naaman Marshall, with art directors Adrien Asztalos and Erick Donaldson plus set decorator Zsusza Mihalek, does fantastic work with the look of the house from the way the rooms look as well as the basement and its secret as well as the attention to detail of everything that is in and out of the house. Costume designer Carlos Rosario does nice work with the costumes as it is mainly straightforward to play into something casual for all of the characters to wear
Hair/makeup designer Carla Vicenzino, with special effects makeup designer Ivan Poharnok, does amazing work with the look of the bits of gore in the film as well as the look of the blind man with his dead eyes. Visual effects supervisor Alejandro Damiani does terrific work with some of the film’s minimal visual effects as it’s mainly bit of set dressing for some of the exteriors as well as bits of the interiors. Sound designer Jonathan Miller does superb work with the sound as it play into the tense atmosphere inside the house as well as the things that the blind man has to trigger something in his home. The film’s music by Roque Banos is wonderful for its usage of low-key orchestral music to play into the suspense and horror as well as creating some momentum for the former.
The casting by Rich Delia is marvelous as it feature some small roles from Emma Bercovici as Rocky’s little sister Diddy, Christian Zagia as a black markets dealer in Raul, Katia Bokor as Rocky and Diddy’s alcoholic mother Ginger, Sergej Onopko as Ginger’s boyfriend Trevor, and Franciska Torocsik as a mysterious woman named Cindy. Daniel Zovatto is superb as Money as the most abrasive member of the gang who is eager to break into the home of the blind man as he would put the gang into serious trouble.
Dylan Minnette is fantastic as Alex as the conscience of the gang as someone who is reluctant about breaking into the blind man’s home but knows he needs the money and to help Rocky get out as he also cope with all of the dangers at the house as well as be the one who can signal the alarm in case something goes wrong. Jane Levy is excellent as Rocky as a young woman who is willing to break into the home of the blind man in the hopes to get the money as she’s forced to realize what she’s dealing with and wonder if she’s really made a major mistake. Finally, there’s Stephen Lang in a phenomenal performance as the blind man as it is this eerie performance as a man who uses his sense of smell and hearing to understand who is there as well as provide a reason into the secret he’s protecting as it is one of his great performances.
Don’t Breathe is an incredible film from Fede Alvarez. Featuring a great cast, a minimalist premise, intimate setting, and eerie visuals, the film is definitely a horror film that aims for something simple without the need to embellish anything in order to tell a gripping story. In the end, Don’t Breathe is a sensational film from Fede Alvarez.
Fede Alvarez Films: (Evil Dead (2013 film)) – (The Girl in the Spider’s Web)
© thevoid99 2017
Tuesday, October 17, 2017
Based on the novel The Midwich Cuckoos by John Wyndham, Village of the Damned is the story of a British village where its women give birth to children who are mysterious and have powers. Directed by Wolf Rilla and screenplay by Rilla, Stirling Silliphant, and Ronald Kinnoch, the film is a look into a home that is unhinged by mysterious children who want to take over. Starring George Sanders, Barbara Shelley, Martin Stephens, and Michael Gwynn. Village of the Damned is a mesmerizing and eerie film from Wolf Rilla.
Set in a small British village, the film revolves its villagers who suddenly fall asleep for hours and then wake up not knowing what had happened as some of the women in the village have become pregnant as the children they would give birth to are very mysterious. It’s a film that plays into a community that is baffled by this mysterious event as well as be disturbed by this group of white-haired children who are much smarter than normal children and can read minds. The film’s screenplay starts off with this typical normal day in the village of Midwich where everyone is just doing what they do until they all suddenly faint and fall asleep for some mysterious reason.
Leading the investigation is Alan Bernard (Michael Gwynn) who is a military officer that was talking to Professor Gordon Zellaby (George Sanders) when the event happened as he wonders what had happened and how his wife Anthea (Barbara Shelley) and the other women in the village became pregnant. A few years go by after the pregnancy and birth is where things become really strange as the kids grow up faster than the other children as well as exhibit certain powers and ask big questions.
Wolf Rilla’s direction is largely straightforward for much of the film in terms of the compositions and its approach to suspense by not delving into the horror and drama immediately in the film except in the opening sequence. There are a few moments of minor suspense early on but much of it is dramatic as Rilla’s compositions in the medium shots and close-up play into the characters coping with what happen and this new situation they’re in. By the film’s second half where the children have arrived and have these strange powers, it does become a more suspenseful feature where Zellaby tries to understand what is going on. There are some wide shots in the film as it relates to the number of children who have these powers in Rilla needing to get all of them in the shot.
There are also these scary moments where the power of these children where their eyes would lit up as it would play into something drastic as it harkens to the dangers of what happens with society if it’s under the control of people who bring fear as it harkens to the times of the Cold War in the 1960s. All of which would play into Zellaby needing to confront these children as well as what they’re planning to do with society. Overall, Rilla crafts a chilling yet haunting film about a group of children terrorizing a village.
Cinematographer Geoffrey Faithfull does brilliant work with the film’s black-and-white cinematography as it help play into the film’s evocative look and tone for much of the daytime exteriors as well as some chilling scenes set at night. Editor Gordon Hales does excellent work with the editing as it help play into the suspense and drama with some rhythmic cuts including a few stylish cuts for some of the intense moments of the film. Art director Ivan King does fantastic work with the film’s sets from the look of the homes where the characters live and work at to the look of the house where the children would go to in their attempt to start their own colony. Sound recordist Cyril Swern does terrific work with the sound in creating something that feels natural but also unsettling for some of the dramatic suspenseful moments. The film’s music by Ron Goodwin is superb for its low-key yet eerie orchestral score that play into the drama and suspense.
The casting by Irene Howard is amazing as it feature some notable small roles from Jenny Laird and Sarah Long in their respective roles as a mother-daughter duo who both become pregnant, Richard Warner as a man who is angry over his wife’s pregnancy as he returns home from the sea, John Phillips as General Leighton who wants to destroy the town believing it is dangerous because of the children, and Laurence Naismith as Dr. Williers who would examine the women and notice something odd about the children before and after they’re born. Michael Gwynn is superb as Alan Bernard as a military officer friend of Professor Zellaby who is trying to understand what is going on as he would have a confrontation with the children only to nearly be killed by them.
Martin Stephens is fantastic as Anthea’s son David as one of the children who has these strange powers as he is the leader of sorts of these kids who is very intelligent and cunning in his determination for power. Barbara Shelley is excellent as Anthea as the woman who would give birth to David as she copes with his powers as she becomes unsure of what she’s given birth to as well as the chaos he’s caused. Finally, there’s George Sanders in a brilliant performance as Professor Gordon Zellaby as a man trying to make sense of everything as well as engage in conversation with his son and the other children where he realizes that something about them isn’t right.
Village of the Damned is an incredible film from Wolf Rilla. Featuring a great cast, eerie visuals, and a gripping story on a community unraveled by evil and mysterious children. It’s a film that explore what happens when something mysterious and unexplained can lead to chaos and put the lives of a community at risk. In the end, Village of the Damned is a sensational film from Wolf Rilla.
Related: Village of the Damned (1995 film)
© thevoid99 2017
Monday, October 16, 2017
Based on the novella The Turn of the Screw by Henry James, The Innocents is the story of a troubled governess who watches over two children who are supposedly possessed as she believes the house is haunted. Directed by Jack Clayton and screenplay by William Archibald and Truman Capote with additional dialogue from Jack Mortimer, the film is a Gothic horror story set in a home that might be haunted. Starring Deborah Kerr, Michael Redgrave, Megs Jenkins, Peter Wyngarde, Martin Stephens, Pamela Franklin, Isla Cameron, and Clytie Jessop. The Innocents is an intoxicating yet eerie film from Jack Clayton.
The film follows a woman who is given the job to be the governess for a man’s niece and nephew as her job is to care for them while he’s away on business as she becomes disturbed by their odd behavior as she believes the home they live in is haunted. It’s a film that explores a woman dealing with her situation as she tries to get to know as well as befriend these two kids living in this mansion which also house a few staff members include a housekeeper who probably knows more than she lets on. The film’s screenplay explores life at this beautiful and serene home that seems to be tranquil but there is also something off about the house once Miss Giddens (Deborah Kerr) has arrived into the home. In meeting the young girl Flora (Pamela Franklin) and the housekeeper Mrs. Grose (Megs Jenkins), Miss Giddens seems to have gotten herself a job that will make her happy and more.
Yet, that all changes when Flora’s brother Miles (Martin Stephens) arrives after having been kicked out at school where things start off a little odd and then becomes more troubling due to Miles’ personality as someone who acts very mature and say a lot of mature things. Miss Giddens would then see mysterious people at the home thinking they’re alive as it is believed to be previous inhabitants in the home including the children’s previous governess. Miss Giddens would learn more about those previous inhabitants as she believes they are possessing the children as she wants to know what these inhabitants want.
Jack Clayton’s direction is definitely stylish for many of the visuals that he creates as it help sets a mood into this massive estate and land which is a character in the film. Shot partially on location at a mansion in Sheffield Park on Sussex with much of it shot on Shepperton Studios in Britain. Clayton would use some wide shots to establish some of the locations but also use the wide shots for some unique compositions that play into some of the dramatic tension that looms throughout the film. Especially in the way he would frame his actors for a shot where there’s an extreme close-up of one character in the foreground and a medium shot of another character in the background. There are also some unique compositions in some of the medium and wide shots that would play into some of the things Miss Giddens would see during the course of the film as she wonders if it’s real or not. There are also sequences that are surreal as it relates to what Miss Giddens is dreaming about as it would also include moments that are very extreme as it relates to Miss Giddens’ relationship with Miles. While there’s scenes that are straightforward, it is only to build up the suspense as it would lead to this chilling climax as it relates to the previous inhabitants of the home. Overall, Clayton crafts an evocative yet haunting film about a governess dealing with children who could be possessed by ghosts.
Cinematographer Freddie Francis does brilliant work with the film’s black-and-white photography to help create moods with its usage of lighting, shades, and shadows to play into the suspense and horror as well as the usage of candle lights for a few scenes set at night. Editor James Clark does excellent work with the editing with its approach to rhythms to build up the suspense and drama as well as the usage of superimposed dissolves to play up the dramatic suspense in a few scenes. Art director Wilfred Shingleton does amazing work with the look of the rooms inside the house as well as some of the things found in the mysterious attic as well as folly near the lake at the estate.
Costume designer Sophie Devine, under the Motley pseudonym, does fantastic work with the look of the costumes as it plays into the film’s setting around the 19th Century with the dresses that Miss Giddens look to the clothes that the children wear. The sound work of Daphne Oram, with sound recordists Buster Ambler and John Cox, is incredible for the mixture of sounds in some scenes that add to the sense of terror as it is widely considered to be the early ideas of sound design as it’s one of the film’s major highlights. The film’s music by Georges Auric is superb for its orchestral score that is only used sparingly as it pops up on certain parts to help set the mood for the suspense and horror.
The film’s marvelous cast include some notable small roles from Isla Cameron as the housemaid Anna, Clytie Jessop as the ghost of the previous governess in Miss Jessel, Peter Wyngarde as a mysterious ghost who seems to be haunting and possessing Miles, and Michael Redgrave in a terrific small role as Miles and Flora’s uncle who hires Miss Giddens to be the children’s new governess. Pamela Franklin is wonderful as Flora as a young girl who is full of life and energy though she is also odd for the fact that she sings a song from a music box as she has no idea where she knows the song. Martin Stephens is excellent as Miles as a young boy who is kicked out of school as he’s also full of wonderment but there’s also something about him that is dark as he would say things that would disturb Miss Giddens.
Megs Jenkins is fantastic as Mrs. Grose as the housekeeper who is trying to understand what Miss Giddens is seeing as she also knows about the history of the house while aware that something isn’t right. Finally, there’s Deborah Kerr in a phenomenal performance as Miss Giddens as a governess who is hired to watch over the children of a rich man as she copes with the environment she’s in as well as the troubling behavior of the children as it’s one of Kerr’s finest performances.
The Innocents is a spectacular film from Jack Clayton that features a tremendous performance from Deborah Kerr. Along with its gorgeous visuals, eerie music soundtrack and sound design, and a haunting story set in a haunted house. The film is definitely a horror film that is more about mood rather than cheap scares to create suspense as well as show what atmosphere can do to create scares. In the end, The Innocents is a sensational film from Jack Clayton.
© thevoid99 2017