Posts Tagged ‘Hitchcock’

Friday The 13th (1980) – Everybody Looking Forward To The Weekend

Posted 03 Jul 2011 — by contributor
Category Film Reviews, Movies I Got

By Scott Martin

Friday the 13th, USA, 1980

Directed by Sean S. Cunningham

Friday the 13th - a film that delivers what it promises. Alfred Hitchcock created the genre: the “slasher” picture. It was 1960, and the film was Psycho. If we wanted to stretch that fact, we can claim that the original slasher film was a small, yet admittedly scary, film called Peeping Tom, directed by Michael Powell. It was released only a few months before Psycho, but didn’t have nearly the same impact on audiences, or critics. Psycho soared to the top, and Peeping Tom was left to be later rediscovered and revered. Hitchcock, without intention, birthed a new era of horror film that wouldn’t come into its prime until 1974 with the release of Bob Clark’s Black Christmas.

Black Christmas redefined what Hitchcock had started, and set the rules in stone: a mentally unhinged masked killer stalks attractive teens and picks them off, one by one, in creative ways. After Black Christmas, then came John Carpenter’s Halloween (1978), which cemented the popularity of the genre. After Halloween was a critical and financial success, studios ran with the idea that they could make money selling “dead teenager movies” (a term coined by Roger Ebert) to live teenagers. They were right, and in 1980, the first studio-backed slasher film was released. It was May 9th, and it was Friday the 13th. Read More

Buried – A One Man Show

Posted 25 Jun 2011 — by contributor
Category Film Reviews, Movies I Got

By Scott Martin

Buried, Spain / USA / France, 2010 Much of the film Buried's success is owed to Ryan Reynolds, who puts on a one man show with more gusto than he's shown on film before.

Directed by Rodrigo Cortes

I’m always more interested in suspense films or horror films that tap into universal fears and the things that could actually happen to us, rather than the supernatural. For instance, films like John Carpenter’s The Thing (1982) or Brian De Palma’s Carrie (1976), while excellent films in their own right, are more escapist nightmares than things right outside your door. It’s films like Buried, however, that recharge my faith in modern horror/thriller cinema. Director Rodrigo Cortes takes one of our most common fears and puts it to extraordinarily effective use. There’s a political message, a bit of a love story, family stories, a thriller, and a horror movie, all stuffed into a box. And just a box. For 90 minutes. Read More

Hitchcock’s Strangler Trilogy

Posted 01 Jun 2011 — by Ezra Stead
Category Essay, Movies I Got

By Arnold Stead

Shadow of a Doubt, USA, 1943

Rope, USA, 1948

Strangers on a Train, USA, 1951

Directed by Alfred Hitchcock

Rope is one of Alfred Hitchcock's greatest masterpieces.

Phillip, a budding pianist anxious to know if his debut concert will be a success, asks Mrs. Atwater to read his palm. She grants his request and says: “These hands will bring you great fame.” Her prophesy should please him, but Hitchcock shows us Phillip’s hands, the hands of a strangler, fingers frozen in the posture of their deed; then the strangler’s terrified face. It would seem Phillip already knows that the fame Mrs. Atwater speaks of is, in fact, infamy.

Flanked by Shadow of a Doubt (1943) and Strangers on a Train (1951), Rope (1948) serves as the centerpiece for Alfred Hitchcock’s strangler trilogy, a three-part meditation on murder, madness, and reading. In his famous study of Hitchcock, Francois Truffaut remarks that Strangers on a Train, “just like Shadow of a Doubt is systematically built around the figure two.” In both pictures the two central characters “might very well have had the same name. Whether it’s Guy or Bruno, it’s obviously a single personality split in two.” I will argue that Rope fits Truffaut’s schemata, as Phillip (Farley Granger) and Brandon (John Dall) – like Charles Oakley and his niece in Shadow of a Doubt, as well as Guy and Bruno in Strangers on a Train – form “a single personality split in two.” I will further argue that Phillip’s hands, like Charles Oakley’s and Bruno Antony’s, have a will of their own. Hitchcock endows those male hands with a characteristic usually associated with the phallus. To revise an old chestnut: these hands, when aroused, have no conscience.  Read More

Insidious

Posted 13 May 2011 — by Nicole P
Category Film Reviews, Movies I Got

By Scott MartinInsidious Film Poster

Insidious, USA, 2010

Directed by James Wan

There’s a sense of familiarity in a movie like Insidious. Horror movies these days are a dime a dozen, but Insidious‘s familiarity comes from a deeper place; it comes from true classics like Poltergeist (1982) or even Paranormal Activity (2007), whose producers helped get this film done. Those films work because they have a handle on their atmosphere, something every good horror film has. If you can’t control the tone of your film, how can you hope to control the tone of your audience? The answer to that seems easy – that’s why films like John Carpenter’s The Fog (1980) get remade, and films like Boogeyman (2005) are conceived every day. Tell some audiences to be afraid, and naturally they will be. An example of making your audience afraid, rather than simply suggesting their fear, is a Japanese film called Ju-on (2002), later remade in 2004 as The Grudge to, arguably, the same effect. An even better example is Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho (1960).

Screenwriter Leigh Whannell is similar to a magician pulling a rabbit out of his hat; the effect comes from left field and the audience was probably told not to expect a rabbit in the first place. I remember watching the first Saw film (2004) and being blind-sided by the ending. After rewatching the film, I remember being blind-sided by the conditions under which the ending works. Twist endings, by nature, aren’t organic, but they can feel that way even if they are dependent on the rest of the film and a bit of smoke and mirrors. There is a twist here that some might see coming. The trickiest part to pulling off a twist ending is to get the audience too wrapped up in what’s going on to even remember that there’s an end. Good horror films with big finishes can do that; most of those get ruined with a sequel or a remake. Read More

Birdemic: Shock And Terror

Posted 13 Apr 2011 — by Ezra Stead
Category Film Reviews, Most Confusing Films of All time, Movies I Got

By Ezra Stead

Birdemic: Shock and Terror, USA, 2008

Written and Directed by James Nguyen

Birdemic: Shock and Terror is probably the worst film ever made.

After years – hell, nearly two decades – of searching, I think I just may have found the absolute worst movie ever made. Though Michael Bay’s Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (2009), my previous choice, is indeed the most mind-numbing and impossible to enjoy film I can remember seeing, at the very least it has some stellar craftsmanship in the technical departments. James Nguyen’s Birdemic: Shock and Terror was clearly made without the benefit of anyone who knew absolutely anything about filmmaking within a hundred yards of the set. Witness production values and acting that make Tommy Wiseau’s notorious 2003 classic The Room look like a legitimate masterpiece. Witness sound editing and mixing apparently done by a pair of deaf children. Witness the worst special effects ever seen in a feature film. Witness the musical number “Just Hangin’ Out,” sung onscreen in its hilarious entirety by Damien Carter. Witness the flaming wreckage of a film that is Birdemic: Shock and Terror.

Read More

Movie Geek Manifesto

Posted 08 Apr 2011 — by Ezra Stead
Category Essay

By Ezra Stead

Ezra Stead is really serious about filmed entertainment.

“My love of cinema supersedes all moral considerations.”

– Alfred Hitchcock

There are many different opinions on this, all of which would undoubtedly be geeky to discuss at length, but in my opinion, a geek is someone deeply obsessed with a particular field of knowledge, as opposed to, say, a nerd – who excels at all things scholastic and probably ends up owning a Fortune 500 company – or a dork – who most likely spills a drink all over a beautiful woman in his eagerness to buy it for her. Now, a nerd or a dork could also be a geek, but the terms are not interchangeable, nor are “dweeb,” “spazz,” “melvin,” “poindexter,” “four-eyes,” “putz,” or any other similar nomenclature. Read More

The Legacy of Silent Film

Posted 04 Apr 2011 — by Ezra Stead
Category Essay, Most Confusing Films of All time, Movies I Got

By Ezra Stead

A Trip To The Moon is one of the best of the very early silent films.

Perhaps one of the main reasons that so many of us, myself included, fail to “get” certain films, or certain aspects of film as a whole, is that we have not spent sufficient time studying the beginnings of the art form. We have not looked to the past. This, then, is a look at the first few decades of the cinematic arts, and the influence of these early films on what we see onscreen today.

When Louis and Auguste Lumiere first showed their short film The Arrival of a Train in 1895, they certainly had no inkling that, almost 100 years later, it would be the film-within-a-film in Francis Ford Coppola’s 1992 adaptation of Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Nor could Carl Theodor Dreyer have suspected that his 1928 feature The Passion of Joan of Arc would one day be the major inspiration for Mel Gibson’s hugely successful The Passion of the Christ (2004). But no matter where these and other early filmmakers envisioned the medium in 100 years, or whether they even believed it would last that long, the films we see today are undeniably the legacy of these pioneers of a nascent art form. Read More