Tag Archive | JohnCarpenter

Escape From New York Movie Review

By: Justin Hopkins

**SPOILER WARNING**

July 10th marked the 40th Anniversary of John Carpenters Escape From New York. A Science Fiction Action movie, starring Kurt Russell as Snake Plissken and I couldn’t think of a better movie to talk about for this months Classic 13. When I watched this movie when I was a kid to watch it a few times before it grew on me. See, I watched Escape From L.A first and the tone shifts were a bit jarring, but that is for another time. Lets jump in and see what makes Escape From New York a Classic.

Synopsis

We start off with voice over telling explaining that after crime had skyrocketed to 400 percent in 1988. New York had been converted to a Maximum Security Prison, for the entirety of the county. A fifty foot wall surrounding Manhattan Island with mines on the bridges. The only inhabitants are prisoners. If you go in; you don’t come back. We jump to 1997. Where we see two prisoners getting blown up when they tried to escape on a make shift raft. We jump back to the base and see the arrival of Snake Plissken. Who is in cuffs and being led down the hall and is stopped by someone. While that was going on, they had an issue of a plane entering the city. A terrorist had taken it over and flying it into the city. Going to crash it, when they run the name they learn that it is in fact Air Force One that is being taken down. The President manages to make it out in an escape pod. They rush in to get him, but he i s already gone and are confronted by a guy. Who shows them the president’s cut off finger and tells them they have thirty seconds to get out. Which brings us back to why they stopped Snake. A war Hero turned criminal. They offer him a pardon to go in and bring the president back in 24 hours, for the Hartford Summit. He agrees but while he is getting ready, he unwittingly gets injected with a heat charges. That will blow out his arteries if he doesn’t make it back in time. He makes it in with relatively no issues. Even manages to track the President’s Vital blip on the devise only it is not on the president, but a drunk and they are not letting him comeback without the President. Leaving him to have to track the President down in the city before it is to late.

Review

The Cinematography in this movie is gorgeous. Keeping the lights down and using the darkness to their advantages. Never knowing if what you saw is something important or just a crazy running around. The city being a dark and gritty place that you did not want to find yourself in. The score was spot on. From building up hype during the opening credits to the music going when the crazies were coming out if the sewers. Ambient noise was just as prevalent though. Just letting the sounds of what was going on carry and build the tension. Had a lot of fun with what the world the prisoners have concocted with what they had. I really want the chandeliers on my car asap. Carpenter did wonderfully in this area.

The story was a wild one but played really well and the pacing was good. On top of the ticking clock on Snake’s wrist, you ended up having so many pieces. Had Brain and Maggie working behind his back. Figuring out how he got in and went to save the President by themselves. To the tape floating out in the world. Leaving you wondering how Snake would escape captivity and pull it all together and generally had me enticed to see how it concluded. I loved all the little nods to Snake’s past. How everyone thought he was dead and the ties he had top Brain. Making you wonder, but never really telling or showing. Just letting his legend grow.

The cast killed it here. Kurt Russell created such an amazing, memorable character in Snake Plissken. He just went for it and owned every scene he is in. Brought such a presence and demeanor to the character that stays with you after it is over and it is almost a shame that we didn’t get an encounter between him and Frank Doubleday’s Romero, who was just the best. He turned up the charisma and eccentricity to this character. He was creepy and unnerving and it was amazing. Donald Pleasence was excellent as the president. Nailing the fear he had when he was prisoner. Especially with the line over not being able to stop shaking. Than on a dime, not caring about any of the ones who died to save him. Setting up for the end perfectly. Harry Dean Stanton and Adrienne Bardeau nailed it as Brain and Maggie. We didn’t get to see much of Isaac Hayes as the Duke and that is kind of a down, but the time we spent with the Duke was all postive.

The ending was fantastic and felt perfect. One small little move of Snake pocketing the two tapes to give them the wrong one was perfect revenge for what they did to him. Sticking it to the cops who used and nearly killed him and the President who couldn’t be bothered to show respect to those who died to get him here and just… perfect way to close off on.

I have no negatives. This was just a fun Sci-Fi Action movie. A memorable character in Snake Plissken, an excellent cast and a wild story. A classic for a reason. That is fun to watch at any time. Gladly suggest checking it out if you haven’t already. Final Grade – S

As always, I hope you enjoyed and….

Thank You For Reading!!!!

They Live Movie Review

**SPOILER WARNING**

By: Justin Hopkins

It is a shame that it has taken me this long to get around to this classic. Granted my ability to stick to a schedule is dodgy at best but still, They Live probably should have been higher up on the to do list. I grew up with this movie, even before I was a fan of the movies. Due to me being a wrestling nerd and was sold when I heard it stared Roddy Rowdy Piper, and it has remained a movie I continue to go back to, but lets dive in shall we. Discuss the good, the bad and the in between.

Synopsys

The movie kicks off with a man with no name (Nada) arriving to the city in search of a job. Having lost his previous one in Denver. His first day he ended up striking out at Job Placement, but on the second day he lands a job at a construction sight. Where he is spotted by a man named Frank who tells him about a Homeless camp and invites him to come along. after introducing him to Gill and showing him around, they get to talking over a meal and we learn a little bit about Frank. Has a family back home in Detroit and had to come due to the Steel Mills closing down, which left him angry over it. How badly the workers were treated and the overall harshness of life. While Nada still believes in the dream. Works hard and plays by the rules and wait for his chance. Later that night, we see a TV Program a group of people are watching is interrupted by what the one calls a hacker. Warning the people of signals coming through the transmissions and that they are out there and only safe as long as they are hidden. As that is going on, Nada spots the Preacher from the day before mouthing along to it. When the feed cuts out, Gill runs up to the Preacher and drags him to the church across the street. Getting into a visible argument with him. Next time another hack, which was much shorter and Gill again runs off to the Church, with Nada following along. Finding a make shift Lab, a lot of cardboard boxes and Choir noises are actually just a radio. Can hear bits and pieces of a conversation but is caught by the Preacher who tries to warn him, but he is quick to leaves. Seeing a suspicious helicopter flying overhead, which draws them out of the church as well, but leaves as quickly as it arrived. Collecting a pair of binoculars from one of the people at the camp and starts watching them. Much to the chagrin of Frank, who wants nothing to do with this. Not wanting to risk his job and warns Nada to do the same. That night, and still watching, the helicopter returned, with a full police unit, SWAT Team and bulldozer. Overwhelming the Church and Homeless Camp. Brutalizing anyone they could catch, including the Preacher. Nada barely makes it out. Taking shelter in a nearby house with a few others. The next morning he goes back and gets a box from the church, and to his confusion, finds it filled with black sunglasses. Throwing all but one in the trash, putting it on when he hit the street/. To find everything turning black and white. Billboards and signs saying things such as, obey, marry and reproduce and consume, but worse was when he saw and alien disguised as a human and that is where I will leave it for now.

Movie Review

I loved the story of they told so much. Entwining the dangers of Capitalism with aliens. Showing how distracted people are to real issues with consumer goods and the hardships of when they lose everything and are on there on. No one helping and feeling lost and forgotten, despite them trying their hardest and the temptation of betraying everything to avoid that faith vs testing who you really are, and all told so well through the eyes of Nada. A character told so well, that it can go over your head on first viewing that they never give his name, which to me, is amazing feat. Again, speaks on the world around him. Frank gives a diatribe about his problems and Holly tries to trick him later, but no one ever asks for his name.

The action and fight scenes were great. There wasn’t much in the way of gore and the fire fights were fast paced. Showing the importance of them moving quicks and of course, helping differentiate it from the fight between Nada and Frank. Over him trying to get Frank to wear the glasses and Frank wanting none of this, which kickstarts a six minute street fight which was awesome. There was nothing flashy about it. Just two guys trading punches and throwing each other around in an alley. Can see how much time Roddy and Keith David put into making the most brutal looking fight they could and it works perfectly.

Roddy “Rowdy” Piper was brilliant as Nada. Bringing a lot of his natural charisma and charm to the character. Quick witted to throw out a one liner, not all of them stuck, but majority are fantastic. Brought a gritty realism with him. Makes you feel bad for him. A guy willing to take any job and do his best and clinging on to the belief that if he stays the track, it’ll get better. Playing so well off of Keith David. A character who lives in reality. Wanting to keep his head down and not be noticed, despite the anger he has over his situation. George ” Buck” Flowers, incredible as support. Same with Peter Jason and massive praise to Jason Imada, who from what I have read about, played most of the Aliens.

I don’t really have a lot of bad things to say. Some of the jokes didn’t quite stick and Meg Foster came across as a bit to much dead pan for my liking, but none of which broke my immersion all that much so call it in between. I am stretching a lot here, this movie is fantastic is tremendous. Memorable characters, a story that could drop today and still be just a relevant and quotable as they come. If you haven’t seen it make it a must watch as it has [earned it’s title as moniker as a classic. Final Grade S

As always, I hope you enjoyed and….

Thank You For Reading.

In The Mouth Of Madness Movie Review

By: Justin Hopkins

**SPOILER WARNING**

  As another day at home passes, another movie comes up to cross of the list. Following in the footsteps of my review of Prince Of Darkness. We get to movie three of John Carpenter’s Apocalyptic Trilogy, In The Mouth Of Madness. I wasn’t sure what to think when turn on this flick. Knowing very little about it, but after seeing Sam Neel in Event Horizon. Was more than willing to watch him in another horror movie. With it now officially crossed off the list. Let’s dive in and discuss shall we.

The movie kicks off with our main character, John Trent being forcibly admitted to an Insane Asylum. Where after a brief moment of trying to plead his sanity. Experiences a graphic hallucination. When Dr. Wrenn comes to see him, we find him drawing crosses on every inch on his padded cell, his body and clothes and he does not want to leave anymore. After a brief conversation, we learn that he is an Insurance Investigator and that this all started with the disappearance of Sutter Cain. We start the flashback with him tearing apart a man trying to pull an insurance scam. While he is having lunch with a man named Robbie, who is about to talk to him about the Arcane Case, when they are attacked by a crazy man with an Ax. All around his eyes are red and mutated with two pupils squished together. That night, we learn that people are rioting all over the globe. Demanding copies of Sutter Cain’s book. The next day while he is meeting with Arcane. We learn that Sutter Cain has gone missing and that they want his new book. Due to the fact he is world’s highest grossing bookseller, and that the man who tried to kill him the day before, was Sutter’s Agent. Who was the only one who knew how to get ahold of Sutter and read bits of the new book. Sutter’s work has had an almost psychotic effect on some of it’s readers you see.  John doesn’t buy any of this. Believing it to be a mixture of a set-up on their end and mass hysteria over just the latest pop craze. Nevertheless, he picks up some of the books to aide in his investigation, and has a dream sequence of an assault he sees earlier. Where a cop is beating on a young man, only this time, the cop is a monster, and John is trapped between him and a group lead by the agent. Who tells him he can see him, before the mob turns on the agent. Shaken by the dream, he throws himself into his investigation with vigor, and he discovers clues to Sutters location, using images cut from the covers of his books. Coming up with a town in New Hampshire, that he believes is ” Hobbs End.” After calling out the Agent, asking one last time if this was a hoax or not. He heads off to find the town, with assistant Linda Styles. Where after a hit and run that where the biker left before help, but putting a freight into Linda, and a chilling sequence of events that leads them into the town. Where Styles picks up on things around town that was written in his books, and that the events happening are the same from his newest book and John trying to tell her how crazy that is, and this is a good spot to move on.

This story is wonderfully written. Everything that is seen at the start paying off in a big way as the movie goes along. A tremendous example of Dramatic Irony from Linda, when she says, when the insane outnumber the sane, he’d find himself locked away in a padded room. We already know they are leading up to him being locked away and leaves us waiting to see how twisted of a situation this must lead to to put him there and a great mystery unfolding around, and not quite sure how it will conclude and chilling twist at the end. That was there from the start. Which makes a second watch all the more enjoyable.

Much like any Carpenter Film, the gore is on point as usual. There weren’t as many people dying to see like we normally get. The Gore mainly coming from prosthetics. Such as the cop, hordes of infected, and the creepy kids, who were absolutely chilling. I especially love the fact that they never really reuse the same morphed eyes. The cop having red and white pinwheels, and the little girl’s. Even the young man outside of the bookstore. Which made each seem special in their own way. The body contortions of Linda’s crab walking was unnerving. Then you got the actual tentacled, slimy grotesque monster. The lighting and way they came across was excellent. Not looking to cartoonish and just beautifully handled. Huge round of applause to everyone who worked on special effects.

I never talk enough about background settings and they do that so well here to. The town looked like any normal, small town along a highway. Which really added to the isolation feeling. The long, dark corridor he was chased through looked amazing. Looked and felt like it would just go on forever. The church was always framed in a way to give it both a sense of prestige and menace.

Casting was near perfect here. Sam Neill brought John Trent to life, and was a treat to watch as he slowly descended into madness. Seeing desperation as he tried to hold on to rational thought. Never wanting to sway from a reasonable explanation. Still calling Sutter a hack horror writer when he was almost at his lowest. Jurgen Prochnow did great as Sutter. The back and forth between him and Sam were entertaining and the enjoyment he got from what he was about to happen carried heavy through him. I do kind of wish we got more of the human side from Julie Carmen’s Linda. She was great at her crazy side, but think more could have been done while she was human. Small and only nitpick I have with the movie.

Normally, would talk about the ending, but don’t want to give away anything about it to anyone who hasn’t seen it. Despite my spoiler warning at the top. If you haven’t checked it out, would strongly suggest you give it a watch. Great film for anytime. Final Grade- S

I hope you enjoyed reading and as always…

Thank You For Reading.

Prince of Darkness Movie Review

By: Justin Hopkins

**SPOILER WARNING**

  With everything kind of grinding to a halt, and a fair amount of free time on my hands. Decided to sit back and try and catch up on some horror movie gems that I have been meaning to watch and just haven’t done so at this point. Where better than the master storyteller himself, John Carpenter, and the second entry in the Apocalyptic Trilogy, Prince of Darkness. It’s been on my watch list way, longer than it should have been and found myself pretty excited to finally turn it on, and now that I have finally watched. Let’s dive in and discuss shall we.

The movie starts out relatively slow. Panning through the characters we will be seeing throughout the movie. Revealing the death of a Priest and Donald Pleasence Priest character starts investigating why he was in town, and found something troubling in the basement of the former brotherhood of sleep church. A mysterious green ooze, spiraling in a giant locked cylinder, and a book he can not decipher. He calls in a Quantum Physicist Professor Howard Birack, to get a scientific study done, to prove that it is, more of less, Satan. Who brings in his students and a few other experts in the field to find out what this could be. Meanwhile, we see how Catherine gets along with everyone, and a budding relationship with fellow student Brian Marsh. As they all begin to show up. Notice the homeless beginning to show up outside. Standing there and watching the church. Except for one, who greets Pleasence, and rubs her face on his hand. Seeing maggots in her food dish. As everyone sees it and begins to run experiments. Coming up with their own theories and worry sets in. When one student goes to leave, is killed by the homeless people, in gory fashion. Inside, while Lisa is reading what she transcribed from the book and Pleasance talks about how ths was kept secret so long. Downstair, Susan, the one in radiation, is examining a sound coming from the cylinder, and is sprayed in the face by some of the ooze that sept out of the top. Possessing her and she begins to infect the others. While chaos and dissension going across the survivors, as they not only try to survive, but figure out what is going on and that this really is the essence of Satan, and we will leave it there for now.

I really enjoyed the story they were telling. The fact the Priest, while he believed it from the get go. Wanted them to prove it scientifically. Which kind of made him a stronger character, because while he was raving. Not crazy about it. It was a slow burn of a story with depth and while they tried to be scientific in their studies. Didn’t back away from the religious connotations or try to find a reasonable explanation for it all. Just let it all unfolded as hell breaking loose and works better for it.

As per usual for John Carpenter, the gore was great. Had some fun kills with the bike to the gut, chopstick to the eye, and the woman stabbing the guy with scissors. The fact when the people were possessed, they went light on the liquid. Would have been easy for them to go heavy, but felt different by being light on the fluid. Most of all, loved watching Kelly’s transformation. Watching her go from normal to skin peeling off and and withered away to nothing. Beautiful prosthetic work.

Casting wise they were pretty solid. It was a blast to watch the back and forth between Donald Pleasence and Victor Wong. Sort of wish they had some more time toward the end to talk when everything gets going. as strange as that may sound. Lisa Blount played an interesting Catherine, made better by the way this ended. Dennis Dun, Susan Blanchard, and Jameson Parker were all good, but the one who really stood out to me, was Anne Howard. The first one possessed and she did spectacular. Doing everything with a blank, emotionless state, and she made it work really well. Every scene with her was disturbing and creepy. Mostly, because you didn’t know what she was going to do. From her standing and watching the one being stabbed to death and than infecting Lisa. Her presence commanded attention. In the same vein, Ann Yen was effective as a possessed one as well, and kind of a shame we didn’t get more from her. And lest we forget, the talented Alice Cooper. Who did tremendous job as the leader of the Homeless People keeping them trapt in the church.

Now onto the negatives and one of the big ones that I didn’t like, was the dream sequence. They were menacing and unnerving, but they do very little for the story in my opinion. They address them, like it is a big deal, but haven’t got the slightest clue why. The figure isn’t the Anti-God, nor is it Kelly and never really say who the guy is. All seems like an elaborate set up for the ending. Which brings us to the next slight negative.

The love most of the ending. Trying not to say to much for anyone who haven’t watched. It all works up until after they get out of the church. Had the credits just started rolling with the dream sequence don’t think I would have had a problem, but with Brian waking up and the jumpscare and looking into the mirror. Just seemed like a weak way to end a relatively good, fun movie.

And that really sums up Prince of Darkness. Not one of Carpenter’s best, in my opinion. Slow Burn film, that builds up a suspenseful, fun ride. Gladly suggest checking it out, if you haven’t. Final Grade: B+

I hope you enjoyed and as always….

Thank You For Reading.

 

 

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