Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Castle Rock Cash In - Pet Sematary 2

My review of the first film can be found here.

The burial ground in Pet Sematary gets its hooks in whoever uses it, not just pulling them to bring back a dead loved one or pet, but also making sure they refer someone else to use it as well.  So it's a story that is almost calling out for a sequel, even if the book suggests that the chain may finally be broken.

This is a film that should absolutely be seen, if only for one reason: Clancy Brown. His stumbling performance as zombie!Gus is an absolute treasure as he's pathetically adorable one moment, crap-your-pants disturbing the next. And when he finally does flip and go after his own family, wow. Just wow. 

It's worth noting that I also watched this one, and I happen to disagree with Noel quite a bit.  I left my feelings in a comment on his post.  Feel free to chime in over there with your own thoughts as well.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Castle Rock Cash In - The Mangler Reborn

Of all the Stephen King adaptations to get a trilogy, I certainly never thought The Mangler would qualify as one of them.

My review of the first film is here, and Noel's review of the first sequel is here.

This is a pretty typical setup for a horror movie - cursed object turns someone into a serial killer - but the use of the Mr. Fixit handyman who turns on the people letting him into their homes is mildly compelling. In fact, one could almost consider this a loose, alternate adaptation of King's short story "The Lawnmower Man" in that, while they obviously can't make its specific scenario a scene here as those rights are owned elsewhere, it has the same air of an everyday stranger doing work on our homes who suddenly takes a turn to the nasty. 
Sadly, most of the film doesn't make use of this setup.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Castle Rock Companion - Pet Sematary

As is probably fitting for the subject matter, both of my cats have a proper cameo in this video.  I say proper because we all know they've made unofficial cameos in the past. :)

If you finish this video and want to read even more analysis of the book, I highly recommend checking out Shredded Cheddar's read along discussion from October 2012.  I contributed via the comments and it was one of the most enjoyable "book club" discussions I've ever had.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Bedtime for Bonzo

When I was young and it was time to go to sleep, my mom used to always say it was "bedtime for Bonzo."  Sometimes, she would even sing it in this simple sing-song kind of way.  At some point I got old enough for the curiosity to get to me, and I asked her just who Bonzo was anyway.  She explained that it was an old movie starring Ronald Reagan and a chimp.  "Ronald Reagan, our president?!" I exclaimed, like every other American kid in the 80s probably did at one time or another.

Fast forward many, many years later, and I decided to watch this film whose name I was so familiar with but otherwise knew nothing about.  Since films starring animals are always shaky ground, I really didn't expect too much from this film, and that may be why I enjoyed it.

The plot is a lot like a romantic screwball comedy, if you can blend those two.  Psychologist professor Peter Boyd, played by Reagan, is engaged to the daughter of the dean, whose main field of study is genetics.  When the dean finds out Peter's father was a criminal, he can no longer approve of their engagement.  So after helping to calm down the problem chimp in the psych department, Peter gets an idea - he'll bring it home and raise it in a normal family environment, to prove it's not your genetic makeup that makes you who you are, but the way you are raised.  Then the dean will change his mind and let him marry his daughter.  But in order to raise him in a normal family, he needs a mother as well, and instead of asking his fiancee for help, he hires a nanny, because his fiancee is rich, upper crust society and knows nothing about raising children.

That last part in particular dates this film a bit, putting it firmly in 1951 when it was made.  I was rolling my eyes when they set up that particular angle.  But of course it's needed to put the romantic angle in place, so I'm willing to overlook it even though I don't agree with it.  The other side of the plot, the classic nature vs. nurture debate, is one I've always been fascinated with though, and it was neat to see it brought up in a lighthearted film like this.  It grants it a bit of intelligence that comedies like this usually wouldn't have today.

The story plays out as you might expect, where the nanny shows up and helps him out, and of course she's a young beautiful woman.  They determine they must use affectionate names for each other and act like a happy couple in order for Bonzo to grow up in a stable environment, and the young woman, Jane, ends up developing feelings for Peter.  For him it's all science at first, but he eventually realizes he cares about her too.  The chimp gets into a lot of antics along the way, but does learn manners and cares for his "parents" over time.

The chimp they used is well trained, and there aren't too many obvious tricks being deployed to get him to do what they want.  The only obvious thing I noticed was when he goes to blow out the candles on his birthday cake, they used slow motion, I guess because he wouldn't actually do that one trick.  But otherwise he's very good and absolutely adorable.  The one thing that's a little annoying is they seemed to be dubbing a voice for him at times, making him whimper and such.  I don't really know that that was necessary at all.

While the ending may be obvious, this is still a well done film in the execution.  Peter admits to his fiancee what's going on earlier than you would expect, and there's a lot of twists and turns in the middle related to the fact that Bonzo has an attraction to shiny objects.  Maybe it's just my own personal fondness for chimps and other primates, but I found myself emotionally invested in Bonzo's journey as he became a member of their little family.  While he gets into a lot of trouble in the beginning, the slower pacing, lack of whacky music, and less exaggerated reactions from his human co-stars made this so much better than say Beethoven or Dunston Checks In.  It's not a masterpiece of film-making but it is downright charming.

Being my first time seeing Reagan playing a lead role, I'd call him fairly average for the era.  He's not too charming, but his character is meant to be a bit distant.  I think the biggest thing for me is that his voice doesn't sound anything like the soothing old man voice I'm used to hearing from him in my youth.  But if you're curious just what kind of actor our former president used to be, this wouldn't be a bad film to check out.

As for me, I'll probably be saying it's bedtime for Bonzo when it's time to go to sleep for the rest of my life, and now I know there's a charming little movie to go along with my childhood memories.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Horrible dream

So I know I said this blog was mostly for positive things, but I can’t help but to write about the way my brain managed to horrify me last night.

I was somewhere, and for whatever reason a bunch of girls I had gone to elementary and high school with were also there, and we were all wearing these evening gowns with satin gloves and high heels, all the same color and design.  The girls were being paraded out one by one, and eventually my friend Melanie, who died on her 16th birthday, was among them.  She gave me her normal small smile when she saw me, and then kept going.  She was sort of limping as she walked, but I chalked it up to the fact that she wasn’t used to wearing high heels and let her go on.

A little time passes and my friend Nicki has this panicked look on her face, and is gesturing ahead.  In my mind, I knew what she was referring to without her saying anything.  We were caught in some kind of time loop, and Melanie was about to die again.  I broke into a run, and of course it was that special dream form of running where it’s slow motion and it’s like you’re trying to run under water, gravity is too heavy and you can’t go as fast as you want. Other people were streaming past me, all of us trying to reach her.

But we were too late.  There she was, lying on her back, arms splayed out, dead, in that same evening gown.  I screamed a high pitched scream and was able to move at normal speed again, and I cradled her head in my lap and cried.  “Too late!  We were too late again!”

Mind you, Melanie died in a car crash, and she was dressed in her normal clothes at the time.  It wasn’t a drunk driving scenario, just a guy who lost control of the car while driving in the rain.  No one could have predicted it happening, and there wasn’t any way we could have prevented it.  But damn if that dream didn’t feel real at the time.

I’ve had dreams with her in them before, but they are usually much more peaceful, just situations where we’re hanging out again and everything is as it was.  I’d like to have those kinds of dreams again, please.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Castle Rock Cash In - The Mangler 2

If you missed my review of the insanity that is The Mangler, you can view that here.

Noel tells me these sequels go into even crazier territory, and I'm kind of afraid to find out how.  But he's going to tell us all about them.

"...she goes to one of her hacker websites where she finds the Mangler Virus, which she uploads into the school's computer system. The Mangler (who often proudly stamps "You've Been Mangled" on monitors) is of course a sentient force bent on destruction, so it's not only after our group of prefects, but what little of the hapless staff is left on campus.
 This movie blows."
(read the rest of the insane plot summary and Noel's thorough explanation of just why this movie is so bad over at his blog.)
Related Posts with Thumbnails