Search This Blog

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

The Mist (2007) - Frank Darabont

With the modern IT coming out soon followed by The Dark Tower, it seemed to be a good time to look at the King adaptations. Like this revisit of Frank Darabont’s The Mist. I had reviewed this back in 2011 and decided to give it one more day in court. I am glad to go back and view The Mist. This time I had taken the advice of Rocket Film School and saw the movie in black and white. It was so much better.

This picture is the closest thing we have to a Lovecraftian feature film. In the horror society it is well known that Sir Stephen King holds H.P. Lovecraft in high regard. He has been loving up to that man for his entire career. I had always felt Cthulhu would have been genius on the big screen. In my wildest dreams I can picture Kubrick showing us a great Lovecraft story. Now I understand Ron Howard is working on something. Let's hope it is better than this...

The Mist is a movie about a small town that gets terrorized by alternate dimension monsters that hide in a thick mist. The movie doesn't focus on the monsters it focuses on the emotions of the people that had become trapped in this situation. The movie takes this small town that has grown up around each other and turns them on one and other. Even though the movie focuses on the group part of the film more than the horror part. It still has some decent gore with horrible CGI. You see this giant ??? outside, holding everyone inside of a supermarket. All we know is that this monster has tentacles that rip people to shit.

The initial paranoia that the movie begins with is great. The creeping fear that doesn't stop and can't be explained is perfect. Then they add terrible CGI monsters ruining the whole damn thing. The Mist was a huge disappointment but the noir style version I had watched made it more palatable. The acting wasn’t as horrible as I had remembered but it was far from perfect. What else would you expect from a Thomas Jane led film? Did anyone not learn anything at all from Punisher!? This movie is hot wind and nothing more. The scariest thing in the movie is not even the Monsters, it's the bible thumping psycho bitch that kills a military guy in a human sacrifice. What the hell... nuts.

The good is that the characters are pretty well flushed out. They just aren’t believable. The cast has a number of actors from The Walking Dead and a few that appeared in other King works like William Sadler, Frances Sternhagen, Jeffrey DeMunn and Andre Brauer. Not to mention Thomas Jane himself who had also been in Dreamcatcher. A movie that I expect has ties to this one. Both dealing with similar looking creatures being hunted by a covert arm of the military. Both movies taking place in the King multiverse is just more evidence. 

Also, I cannot stress enough that this black and white thing is far superior. The black and white makes me appreciate the shots. It’s lovely aside from the CGI. Which is better but still horrible. The movie has a very minimal soundtrack, and that adds to the impending dread and despair but the music it uses is pretentious and exceedingly melodramatic. The worst part about the movie has to be the ending though. The ending... The damn ending. A horrible display of wrapping this nasty excuse up by copping out and wasting everyone. There are no incentives for any of the evil acts that take place.The survivors kill themselves leaving Thomas Jane the only survivor. Just as a tank strolls past and the mist clears up, revealing troops killing the monsters. I am expected to believe that the survivors drove on however much gasoline. Across highways and strange roads. Only to commit suicide and be passed by truckloads of survivors from THEIR TOWN! Did the armed forces follow them? They roamed across highways, freeways and fire roads but nevertheless the military found them! I can’t even.

Director: Frank Darabont

Producer: Frank Darabont, Martin Shafer and Liz Glotzer

Writer: Frank Darabont
Starring: Thomas Jane, Marcia Gay Harden, Laurie Holden, Andre Braugher and William Sadler. 
Studio: Dimension Films, Darkwoods Productions and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Release date: November 21, 2007
Country: United States
Did Ya Know: Frank Darabont agreed to make the film with Dimension only under the condition that no matter what, they wouldn't change the scripted ending. They agreed.(WHAT!?) This is the same director as The Shawshank Redemption and The Green Mile (WHAT!?) The movie actually got pretty good marks from different websites.

Wednesday, May 03, 2017

Death Ship (1980) - Alvin Rakoff

Death Ship is striking. The exterior resembles any other small-budget horror movie released in the late-seventies or early eighties. It's muddy and coarse. But Death Ship is surely worth trying out. It has tension and terror. Plus, stages of certain fright. If that's not sufficient. Consider seeing a possessed George Kennedy starring in a movie set on a runaway Nazi ghost ship.

An ocean liner is bearing out on a retirement voyage for its captain. The ship is run into by an unknown dark vessel and draws on water. This causes it to sink. A lot of the voyagers and crew are drown and are killed. But both captains and their families live along with the band leader. They are ultimately "rescued" by that same dark vessel that sank them. A solitary German World War II Nazi torture ship that desires to execute them one by one. To make things worse, the retiring captain becomes possessed by Nazi ghosts and cooperates in the deaths. It's insane.

The movie doesn't come without obvious issues. There are terrible cuts and snags from the dreaded low-budget. But the overall trend of the movie still comes off as dark and foreboding. It's unnerving. One scene is when an individual falls into the hull of the ship. The possessed captain fetches him out utilizing a net full of bones and decomposing corpses. It's brilliant. The man suffers as he yields to despair. The movie slows down in this spot to tack on extra fright and irregularity. That scene is hard to watch. The whole time we get to intense levels of unhealthy quality nazi music. That's enough to contribute to a few rough dreams.

Issues are bound to occur. These headaches are with the condition of the film, dubbing and acting. Sure. But the effects aren't insignificant. In fact a number of them were outstanding. But this film isn't about blood and guts. This horror movie relies on environment. The shots of the inner recesses of this huge abandoned ship are enough to give you the willies. The casting is likewise impressive. Richard Crenna, Nick Mancuso and Saul Rubinek all star or make appearances. The acting is television quality, but it's not the most terrible. And it doesn't take away from the surroundings or how weirdness. Another cool thing is that the movie was written by grind house legend Jack Hill. So that gives Death Ship points.

I found it funny that the most convenient group of people survive the wreckage. Just about everyone featured on board the first ocean liner survived. Moreover, both captains fail to go down with the ship. But those are mere petty criticisms. I admired this picture. The movie touched a lot of buttons for me. It isn't perfect, but there's an attraction. This anti-Semitic murder machine is preposterous. A giant nazi killer ship! I mean what in the hell! George Kennedy as a nazi possessed curmudgeon is the definition of fright. This is a must see for horror fans.

Director: Alvin Rakoff
Producer: Derek Gibson and Harold Greenberg
Writer: Jack Hill and David P. Lewis
Starring: George Kennedy, Richard Crenna, Nick Mancuso and Sally Ann Howes
Studio: Avco Embassy Pictures
Release date: March 7, 1980
Country: Canada and United Kingdom
Did ya know: The make and model of the derelict mysterious black 'Flying Dutchman like' "Death Ship" was a deserted German World War II freighter which had once been a Kriegsmarine prison ship used for torturing.