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5.0 out of 5 stars Horror Tales Light Up The Darkside of the switch from 80's horror feasts to 90's horror fasts., 25 Feb 2014
This review is from: Tales from the Darkside: The Movie [DVD] (DVD)
1990 was a sad year in two draining ways-whilst the irritants and excesses of the decade just gone would disappear, sadly too, did the two best things it had on prodigious offer: its music artists and its dazzling array of horror films, both things no other decade has managed in such quality, abundance or variety ever before or since. So while the downturn in both was indecently showcased in the 'charts' and on video shelves markedly, a few quality horror films managed to slip through, most notably 'The Guardian', the 'Gremlins' sequel and this nifty little anthology of terror that actually made a satisfyingly successful stab at box office proceeds for Paramount that year, where it actually finished third in its opening weekend, proof, perhaps, that it, unlike music, would possibly sleep for a while, then awake anew further down the decade, which it did, but tastes and times had reshaped it into a more stylised yet rigid and often uniformed product that catered to new taste as opposed to all tastes.

I feel I should explain my truly high rating here, as the amazon star system doesn't quite click with common sense. This does not displace 'Creepshow' as the definitive anthology of the 80's, but matches it perfectly. Both score a high-kicking 9/10 from me, but as this tips it nearer to the full 5 treatment than a merely 'likeable' 4 amazon stars, so does my scoring. And elevates it above the older 'Tales From The Crypt' as well, which, while good, wouldn't quite go as far as an 80's creative team, unafraid of putting ANYTHING out there to shock and please us. Many would hold up 'Creepshow' as better than 'Darkside', but while it blazed the trail, it did have two more immediate struggles 'Darkside' thankfully lacked; firstly the wraparound story of 'Creepshow' featured an irritating and hateful little brat whom I wanted dead the minute he was onscreen, and his father was an equally overdone annoyance, and the acting from both highly questionable in the passable stakes. The other problem was the segment Stephen King himself appeared in, but of later viewings, I've have found this bit quite affecting and certainly amusing, so this can be dropped as one.

Anyone also puzzled by any comparison beyond the anthology link, therefore thinking 'Creepshow' a far more loftier piece, may be stifled into hiccups if they didn't already know that, not only has 'Tales From The Darkside: The Movie' been referred to as 'Creepshow 3' quite often through the 90's, but Tom Savini himself, make-up wizard from 'Creepshow' and Romero movies, has actually called it so! Furthermore, one of the story segments-'Cat From Hell', written by King, was originally intended to be part of the second and highly disappointing 'Creepshow' sequel, but mercifully struck out, miring it into even more resistant sludge. Director John Harrison wasn't just a clear lover of the genre, he'd actually served as first assistant director to Romero on 'Creepshow', having struck up a longstanding friendship with him, composing the score to the movie also; later he would do the same for the 'Tales From The Darkside' TV show, prior to this movie, so I feel that this being referred to in the 'Creepshow' line apt and fitting, yet happy to testify this isn't so-as evidence of how quickly they dived into the sewer after the first. The second vied for worst horror of 1986, it was so disturbingly far from everything the first so strikingly displayed, but as there are films I haven't yet seen, there may well be worse out there, and whilst not a horror film, though sometimes incorrectly billed as one (oh, how today of you all!), 'Trick Or Treat' sucked worse, as did the following year's 'Rawhead Rex' and the even more terrible 1988 offering 'Demonwarp', ending on 1989's abysmal 'The Puppet Master', but worst than all, must be the vomit bag of pointlessness and desperation that actually got stamped with the 'Creepshow 3' tag and sneaked out to universal dismissal not too many years ago! Well, it had to happen didn't it, but who actually cared?

'Tales' features 4 stories, the wraparound being utterly superior to the linking material flowing through the five 'Creepshow' tales, with a far better kid, and Blondie star Deborah Harry as a pleasingly dead-eyed suburban witch who's abducted him to cook him Hansel And Gretel style, and it's a scream to see the cell she's adapted to house him while she tries the maths to tell her how long he should cook for. She blows her barely there role in the older and wretched 'Body Bags' (yet another misstep Mr Carpenter!) out of the water here, wisely just being creepy and amusing, getting far more under our skin than if she was attempting the high-cackling, cauldron-stirring theatrics, not that I'd mind that either, 'Hocus Pocus' being highly enjoyable itself. Whilst she's warming the oven, he regales her with the three horror tales that follow in the hope she'll be eternally put off sizzling him:

*Story 1 being 'Lot 249', concerning a nastily played out tale in a college dormitory, where a student cheated out a scholarship, played by Steve Buscemi, reacts with strong contention and resurrects a mummified corpse to exact his revenge. Adapted from the Arthur Conan Doyle short of the same title, it features Christian Slater in his best horror appearance ever, and deals out another surprise, which almost trumps the brilliant mummy from the screen; the pleasure of seeing a renowned character actor of today in her just 'starting out mode' in a film she'd never since consider for a moment-Mrs Julianne Moore (yet an unnecessary 'Carrie' remake is somehow acceptable these days!):

*Story 2 resurrects the 'Cat From Hell' and boy is it feline fine, visiting the mansion of a wheelchair-clad millionaire whose pharmaceutical empire killed thousands of them over the years, to systematically off the elderly residents living there, the old man himself being the last in line for the final swipe, so has hired a hitman to take the cat down. Alice Drummond, as one of the old ladies, will be recognisable for many guest appearances over the last few decades in her golden years. Be prepared to truly stomach the ghoulishly satisfying end:

*Story 3 'Lover's Vow' is possibly the finest, and based on a certain spirit in Japanese folklore, concern's James Remar's good fortune in being spared his life by a gargoyle-like creature that has killed the publican serving Remar just minutes before closing time. Remar takes a vow to never speak of this night, and once it leaves his lips, his previous downtrodden life literally goes flying-he meets a beautiful woman (Rae Dawn Chong of 'Soul Man' fame), his artist career is revived, and they have two beautiful children, but alas, his secret weighs heavy, and one night, he speaks of it to the mother of his children and in doing shatters his life irreparably. See it to believe it, and the final twist I found surprising and quite lugubrious.

Whilst typically lacking any extras, this should please fans of 'Creepshow', especially anyone disappointed by its embarrassing sequel, and anyone who just loves 80's horrors and laments their general passing, and the dissipated days of the horror anthology as a whole, though I would urge all to snap up 2007's wonderful 'Trick 'R Treat' with an equally well-known cast, an anthology film to tap into the actual folklore of Halloween, rather than just using it to mask up and knife civilians, and not to be confused with the rubbish high-school thriller from 1986 I mentioned above, that doesn't lop of the capital O of 'Or'. Sadly today, the likes of the abhorrent and artistically devoid 'V/H/S/' and sequels are the fashion tool of the fool to dredge up an untouchable format merely to webcam it while everyone goes around killing each other with nothing to suggest any ambiguity of any other sort-I guess you'd call that the Derailed of the Darkside, for want of something pleasanter.
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Showing 1-10 of 20 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 2 Mar 2014 00:11:10 GMT
West25 says:
Great review pal, it's exactly what I would have expected. There's plenty of great information about the film itself and an interesting story to begin with, explaining why you've rated the film as highly as you have and your disappointment that this was one of the last films of its type. I have reviewed this one myself if you didn't know, but it was one of my earlier reviews and was nowhere near as detailed as it would be today, and lacked a fair bit of great information that you mention in your review. I'm surprised we've voted it so differently though, I gave it three stars (nearly gave it four) and actually feel it's on par with Creepshow 2 which I really like, but there's no question in my mind that Creepshow is still by far the greatest horror anthology of the '80s. I forgot to ask you, have you seen Asylum from '72? That's one of my favourite anthology films, and Trilogy of Terror is a lot of fun as well. I also forgot to mention Trick 'r Treat in my review as well, surely the best anthology we've had in a long time. Such a shame Tales from the Darkside was treated so badly with no extras, hopefully it'll be released again in the future the way it should have been in the first place.

In reply to an earlier post on 5 Mar 2014 17:09:52 GMT
Thanks, I've had to spruce it up it a bit ( a few typos and an unclear line about the other 'Trick Or Treat' which I do not want people confusing it with 'Trick 'R Treat' from 2007. I'll probably give 'Creepshow 2' another view (it's been a while but the trailer on my old VHS 'Vamp' made it look dreadful), but if amazon had a rating system aligned with a more sensible one like the US DVD & Video Guide (where 5 was excellent, 4 stars were very good, 3.5 was good, 3 was good, with a few flaws, 2 was pretty bad and 1 was dreadful. I'd add a 0 for something not even worthy of cleaning up poo like 'F', clearly only a few beyond detestable pieces guilty of making you want to commit mass murder and then some would ever get this, but 'F', well done you! I guess 'Creepshow 3' (from 2007 I think) would be a bit above, but I read up on it and yes it had 0% on Rotten Tomatoes. Ooh! You bitches! To bed without any dejeuner, be off with you now. Fancy a happening as clearly insurmountably wonderful as 'Creepshow' not even get a 1% fraction of what it deserves, my faith in people has dropped some more


In reply to an earlier post on 7 Mar 2014 11:19:07 GMT
Last edited by the author on 8 Mar 2014 15:27:29 GMT
West25 says:
I do hope you give Creepshow 2 another chance, as a huge fan of the first, I honestly really didn't like the sequel myself the first time I watched it. I may not have been keen on it the second time I viewed it, but somewhere along the line it really grew on me and I now consider it a really fun enjoyable sequel. There's so many films where I've had a bit of difficulty in deciding whether to award three stars or four, it's really easy to award something one, two or five stars, but a three can be a film that you didn't really enjoy but thought it was great on a technical level, or a film you really enjoy but know it isn't particularly well made, it's very hard. It wouldn't be hard to have it out of ten stars, still easy but more options. Creepshow 3 is a travesty of filmmaking, it's anti-filmmaking and should be wiped off the face of the earth. Every copy should be gathered up and burned like people used to burn literature, I really hope everyone involved in making it offer a sincere apology on their deathbed before they perish. I wholeheartedly despise the folks behind Creepshow 3 and wish them all the worst, they also took a giant, red-hot steaming dump on Day of the Dead as well, they really do have no shame. Disgusting parasites that leach off proper fans of the series.

In reply to an earlier post on 9 Mar 2014 01:29:12 GMT
Last edited by the author on 9 Mar 2014 01:29:51 GMT
I honestly will, it has been so long since I've seen it, I just remembered it as being woefully undernourished, clumsy and ill-realised compared to the first film around it and others, but was it truly that bad? Admittedly the trailer makes it look God-awful for an 80's horror, but 'Rawhead Rex', 'The Puppet Master' and 'Demonwarp' bad? I'm not so sure, truly, and unlike all those and others, it hasn't been a recent watch for ages, but to see it again I'd have to buy it, but if it's cheap enough, I might pick it up the next time I get a couple of films, namely 'Link' and 'Bad Moon' will very likely be the next few. It's really touching how you're really trying to segue it into me, and I must say if an initially dodgy film has any chance to change itself, an 80's horror will do it.

And it isn't just your approval of it that intrigues me, it's your admittance that it didn't even work fr you the first few times! That's amazing, because with most people on here (or anyone who seems to watch movies), if it's not the acclaimed bespoken popular titles (and let's be fair, most probably don't see them either, just parrot what everyone else says!), it wouldn't even get a second watch if it wasn't loved on first sight, especially if they'd bought it, a bit stupid really, because, if you're a real horror fan like us, Mister Joe, and a few others I've spoken to, you will naturally be buying titles as the only way to see a new or old horror film you like the description of, which means a few misses will naturally happen, hell we can name some for sure, but it's more likely these mistakes are not much more than £3 a time if lucky. Annoying to waste money, perhaps, but with something you love, you soon forget it when you're next purchase, which may be more, rocks the hell out of it. Balance this out to with the memorable successes; for me 'Ogre', 'The Burrowers', 'Frankenfish', 'Burning Bright', 'Frogs' and 'Husk' for example, represent real gold at pretty decent prices when I swiped them. This money wastage over the years on bad films can be put int perspective when you remember the other oopsies people make when they buy too much food when shopping on an empty stomach, or to get a "bargain" (buy 3 for price of two) which, done several times, probably represents real wastage, especially if the things aren't well-liked or pass their sell-by date. And what about nights out with mates where you have to buy rounds, bills that get hiked up a year, how many drugs and cigs are we wasting money on. We need perspective; yes buying a cretinous misfire of a film, or a purely average one will always rankle a bit, but after a while, you forget, you sell it on, give it away and just put in a piece of treasure you already own, be it 'The Pack', 'Jurassic Park III', 'Scarecrows', 'House' or whatever, and all is right with horror once more. I do wish more people had your patience and your ability to let a thing grow. Sometimes we're right about a film sucking straight off, and it'll never change, other times it just needs growing. Perfect examples of things I dig now are the wicked 'The Relic', which I amazingly warm to on first viewing, but that was about 2000 when I saw it and was still in a slight 'Scream' transition from older horror, plus the VHS copy was s lousy you could barely see anything. Also-'Castle Freak'-didn't like that first time round either, but as years went past, it kept niggling at me-I need to see it again. I even did the same thing with high-school cheerleader comedy 'Bring It On'! (Horrified or amused, bet you're at least stunned, huh?).

'Creepshow 3' huh? Sounds almost as good as 'F'!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Tom Savini clearly felt your pain. As soon as it was released, he spat that 'Tales From The Darkside' is 'Creepshow 3'-making 'Creepshow 3' actually pretty excellent, huh?

In reply to an earlier post on 9 Mar 2014 17:26:17 GMT
West25 says:
I remember the first time I watched Creepshow 2, a mate from school lent me the VHS and I really didn't like it, I think mostly because I adore the first film. I recall we almost had a falling out about it as he loved it and I told him it was awful, but we soon got passed that. I remember watching it at least once more and still not really liking it all that much, but then somewhere down the road I really warmed to it. I've probably watched it at least a dozen times now, maybe more as I tend to watch it roughly every other time I watch the first one. I can definitely see how a trailer could make it look terrible compared to the first one, but no, it really isn't all that bad. The first story is charming but it is the worst and took the longest to grow on me, but I now really love the other two stories, The Raft and The Hitchhiker, especially The Hitchhiker which is funny, gory and pretty creepy. Puppet Master has actually grown on me since the first time I watched it, but Creepshow 2 is much better. I still love the idea of Rawhead Rex, but it's so cheap and tacky that I can't help but wonder what a remake could do for it, and I very rarely say anything should get a remake.

I surprise myself how often I will give a film one more go if I didn't really like it, though there are exceptions when I watch a film that I hate so much that there's no way a second viewing will ever even nearly change my mind. Then again I really didn't like The Blair Witch Project and I've given that another two watches, though admittedly I couldn't even make it to the end the last time. I think I just love films and ideally want to love absolutely everything that I take a chance on, but sadly with the amount of films bought, we do buy a dud now and then and I'd rather give the dud a chance to grow and develop and become a valued part of my collection, rather than just tossing it out or giving it away. Like you say, to every bad film that we end up with, we normally buy another ten, twenty, fifty that end up being exactly what we'd hoped for, and the ones that don't normally only cost a two or three pound. Even when I buy a film for quite cheap and don't like it, I still don't see it as a waste of money as at least I've now seen the film, and most of the time these aren't films that you're going to see pop up on sky movies or the BBC on a Saturday night any time soon. You can buy two or three films and take a chance on them for the same price as you'd pay to go and watch one film at the cinema which of course is always a gamble as well. Also, a couple of hours at the pub can cost £20-30, potentially that's five to ten films of which I'd almost definitely like most of them, maybe all of them. I buy almost all films without having previously seen them, and after doing this for many years now, I've become almost clairvoyant in getting films that I'll like and skipping others. I still buy loads of films but I don't seem to get a dud anywhere near as often as I did years ago. Castle Freak is one that I didn't love originally as well, knowing that it was from the man that brought us Re-Animator, From Beyond and Dolls, it just didn't live up to my expectations on first viewing. I still feel it's the weakest of the Jeffrey Combs/Barbara Crampton/Stuart Gordon trilogy of movies, but I really do have a lot of time for it now. I kind of have the same thing, sometimes I'll watch a film and be a little disappointed by it, but normally within a few weeks or months, something will start niggling at me to give it another go, and I then normally enjoy it a lot more. It's like I subconsciously know that I was maybe in the wrong mood for it last time, or it wasn't what I expected, or I had a few interruptions that put me off and it wasn't the actual film itself. I seem to remember watching Bring It On not long after it came out, I didn't like it and that's one film I have very little desire to revisit.

I'm not sure if I got across my hatred for Creepshow 3 on the post above, I probably went a little too easy on it and the things that made it. Tom Savini had the stones to come out and say how terrible the third film was, it's a shame a few more people didn't show their absolute disgust after what they did to Day of the Dead, as it may have stopped these slime balls from attempting to destroy the Creepshow series. Thankfully after vomiting all over those two series, the directors and producers seem to have basically done nothing since which is something I'm very grateful for.

In reply to an earlier post on 12 Mar 2014 18:54:06 GMT
It's interesting the contrasting thoughts we have as kids, and actually adults have the same tendency to get ratty over differing things, certainly on here, but then is that disagreeing just to be difficult and try and waste someone's time to fill in your own empty void. I could never change my mind on 'Puppet Master' or 'Rawhead Rex', it's not that long ago since I suffered them-the best thing abut the 'Rawhead Rex' VHS was all the trailers for far better movies on them that same year-namely 'Dolls', 'From Beyond', 'Hamburger Hill', 'Hellraiser II: Hellbound', 'Elvira: Mistress Of The Dark' and some others, but 'Creepshow 2' was ages ago, and all I've got to go on from a pretty young memory is just how bad the trailer is (the trailer for the original 'Creepshow' is a scream in contrast), plus the DVD & Video Guide Review, which is the only film critique tome I refer to annually as they are often far less snobby and kiss kiss in their tiny reviews, their star ratings are much better, and they are really good about 80's horrors, often three starring many, and they often don't insult a movie in the review, or if they do, they can bring up good points to let it off being too bad. Plus they often include wonderful titles many collections leave out-'Skipped Parts', 'Drowning Mona', 'The End Of Violence', 'Earthly Possessions', 'Dagon', 'Eulogy', 'Urbania', 'Cowboys & Angels' etc, and they were the first place that let me know of 'Scarecrows'-in a four star review they called it "something rare, a truly frightening horror film, loaded with suspense, intelligent writing and decent acting" They skimmed the plot quickly and ended by saying: "Not for the squeamish, but horror fans will find this to be a feast". They also four star the often dissed 'Silver Bullet', yet refreshingly say that Kubrick's 'The Shining' fails on all fronts. They nurture my love further by disliking both 'Magnolia' and 'Happiness'-being probably the ONLY film publication to ever do that. I mean I don't even think anyone has any balls on here to dislike either, yet for me it's so easy. This guide doesn't always get it right, some films are missed out still, some have fallen out since last edition, and there are reviews they have so obviously got wrong-like turkeying 'Pumpkinhead' and 'Cellar Dweller', while staying tiresomely uniform by loving 'The Sixth Sense', 'Excalibur', 'Rosemary's Baby' and 'Don't Look Now'. Yet it's the only guide refusing to go down the usual over-critical, mean-spirited, stingy with ratings avenue, sadly they've now been discontinued, while other bad ones are still published. Worse, though, there hardly seems to be a single horror since the 80's they like-they turkey 'The Guardian', 'Bats' and 'Wrong Turn', and flaw, among others the flawless 'Faculty', 'Deep Rising', 'Starship Troopers', 'Deep Blue Sea' and both 'Jeepers Creepers', 'House 1&2', 'Castle Freak', and 'Jurassic Park III', and whilst 'Dolls', 'The Relic' and 'Frogs' read well, the stars aren't too flattering, as for 'Amityville 2: The Possession' and the really fine "rebot" with Melissa George.

I am very like you in that I do give films more than one chance, and more often than not (unless the film is so blindingly bad, but then that wouldn't be something I'd choose not to watch anyway), if I dislike a film, it's because the second time around it's failings are made clear, or just rammed home, then again, a second viewing just as likely puts something firmly into favour, and with 'Bring It n', I d sometimes have a small hankering for certain high-school comedies that make me smile or touch me in some way, on paper, indeed on-screen, it sounds a virtual horror, a comedy about cheerleading full stop, but seriously, full marks to almost everyone, apart from an icky James Franco lookalike (never a good thing, especially when the acting's the same too) for turning it into a cut above the usual teen-fare that I've seen dozens of times since its release. Unlike 'American Pie' which just does my head in, these kind of high school comedies (well most) I can do without, and I even feel stuff like 'Pretty Persuasion' and 'Easy A' are not as sharp or indeed as pleasant as they should be. Now 'Mean Girls' was fun, but 'Jawbreaker' must be the best 90's one, a surefire successor to 'Heathers', if only they'd drop the careless reference to harridan Madonna to no film seemed to be without, but then 'Heathers' is guilty of that too, but in the 90's, this is just vile. America is so obsessed with utter vacuous monotony. The odd bit of balance is restored in places, like loving 'The Salton-Sea' (brill Val Kilmer film noir) and mirroring my dislike of the original 'Amityville'- in fact it's their retitling it 'The Amityville Bore' that struck me so winningly that it's only ever how I refer to it, and just use the actual title for the "reboot" (i.e the one that got right everything the 1979 one didn't), and while I love them for stating quickly that "even though it's a sequel, 'Jaws 2' delivers", I'd rate it more than just 3 stars.

I'm also far more relaxed about wasting money on bad films-once you compare it to what you do spend in other areas of your live that you could cut down on sometimes, especially if it seems you're the one doing most of it, you find it's not at all bad, besides there is the irrepressible itch that just won't be relieved until you buy that £3 film that you're aware could disappoint, but you just hope it won't. It'll be the next one, you think, and that's why I appreciate 'Rites Of Spring' so much-it's n a diabolical label (for new) horror movies, yet it literally became the sweet death smell of spring, where the trio before it just stank. And badly. Beyond 'Rawhead Rex' and for you 'Blair Witch' badly! By the way that DVD&Vid guide I mentioned-it turkeyed 'Blair Witch' for you and said the second was better, though obviously bad, so that's good huh!

While we obviously have far more scope loving and tolerating films that most just don't, I still wield the sledgehammer more than you, as the great forgiver, so considering you've learnt how I felt over several posts about stuff like 'Alien', 'Rosemary's Baby' and some others, no doubt exacerbated by all those so-called horror thread 'debaters' that can't stomach the great "un-insultable" brought down to where they belong, I no of barely anything you truly hate, as you just don't state it, but you should, if something really bothered you, you ought to let rip, it's the right place to do it, and you've more right than most, you give films so many chances, and are fiercely uncritical in a way people just don't seem to think they're meant to be, yet never are for the so-called music today that blody needs it, so no, man, no, you can't hate that 'Creepshow 3' wannabee that isn't 'Tales From The Darkside', clearly Tom Savini hates it far more, you've barely touched it, it's far clearer 'Blair Witch' bothers you more, c'mon, dudey, take that apparent 'Creepshow 3' biatch to Chinatown, baby, and take it a-bleeding-part!

In reply to an earlier post on 13 Mar 2014 20:32:21 GMT
West25 says:
I think Puppet Master grew on me a little more because I thought it was simply okay the first time I watched it, whereas you really disliked it. I still don't think it's a great film, but it's a film that entertains and it's become a reasonably pleasant way to waste ninety minutes. Plus you last watched it not that long ago, so it'd be pointless trying to watch it again, it's different if it's a film you haven't seen since you were a kid and wasn't keen on. I really don't understand why people get so annoyed with DVDs having trailers at the start, you can normally skip them, and I first heard of several films that I now love because I saw the trailer on another film I watched. When I was younger and I used to rent a VHS from the shop, I enjoyed watching through the trailers. I suppose it's a little different now because of the internet and several film magazines, but I still sit through the trailers and only skip the ones that I already know. I think sitting through trailers makes it more like when you go the cinema. It's great when you find a magazine that seems to be almost completely in line with how you feel about most films, far too many of them just seem to rate everything all the same and would never give certain films the light of day. There's not many that would give Scarecrows four stars and sing its praises, which is sad because it's a great film that contains many moments of genuine horror, and there's a lot of horror films that can't honestly claim the same. Silver Bullet is another film I really like, but I doubt you'll stumble across many "professional" reviews that rate it anywhere near that highly. It's the exact same with The Shining, you really won't pick up many magazines that call The Shining a failure on all fronts. I don't actually agree with that statement at all, but I have to admit that I enjoy reading reviews that are for and against films that I like. I can really enjoy reading through a one star review for a film I absolutely love as well as it's well written, witty and honest. I know I've said before that I quite like Magnolia, but I do feel it's bloated and fully understand why others dislike it, especially the stranger moments like raining frogs. I watched Happiness again a couple of days ago, I really do like it. From the very first brilliantly uncomfortable scene where Jon Lovitz gets dumped by Jane Adams, I was loving it. I also thought Dylan Baker was superb in a very difficult role that many, many actors wouldn't have had the guts to even attempt, but again, it's a film where I fully understand why others would not like it, even despise it. It was inevitable that they would also rate some films very differently to what you would, though rating Pumpkinhead as a turkey seems like someone had a bout of madness when they did that, it's a brilliant '80s monster movie with a quality Lance Henriksen performance.

It's always the second viewing where I make my mind up on a film, even if I watch a film once and loved it, I feel uncomfortable saying to people that I love it as I may not be as taken with it the second time, it may not live up to repeated viewings. Sometimes a film that doesn't seem all that good has a couple of layers that are only really revealed on repeated viewings, there's a few films where I seem to notice new things even watching it for the third, fifth, tenth time. There's always exceptions when it comes to certain types of films, I still don't see myself watching Bring It On anytime soon, but that's not to say there isn't a similar film that would work for me. I'm really not a fan of most of these American Pie type of films myself, I find most of them awful, but I really do like one called Slackers with Devon Sawa, Jason Segel, Jaime King and Jason Schwartzman, but most people seemed to hate it. I don't like most typical Hollywood rom-coms, but I took a chance on one a few years ago called The Baxter and absolutely loved it, showing that I can like certain types of film as long as it's done with some freshness and creativity. I did enjoy Easy A, but I wouldn't go any further than enjoyed. One that really surprised me when I watched it a couple of years ago was Whip It, I thought it sounded dreadful but decided to give it a shot anyway, really liked it, which is exactly why I always try and give anything a chance. I've never seen Jawbreaker, but it sounds like it could be fun and has a surprising amount of genre actors in it, William Katt, P. J. Soles, Carol Kane and Pam Grier. Heathers is one that I really do like, not seen it in ages. I think we've disagreed on The Amityville Horror before, I think the original is a great film which was followed up by an equally good sequel, and I think it's much better than the remake, and I like Ryan Reynolds and Melissa George.

I saw that a packet of cigarettes are nearly £8 now, there's a lot of people that smoke roughly twenty a day, so that's £56 a week. There's a lot of people that smoke a lot more than that, and that's a whole lot of money gone each week on something that is gone minutes within lighting it. I don't normally spend anywhere near that a week, maybe £20 a week on average, so it's hard to get too upset spending £4 on a dud when other people and ourselves spend a lot more than that all the time on other things we don't need. It's an itch sometimes like you say as well, sometimes there's a certain film that you need to get and until you get it, it's like an itch that you need to scratch. I'm delighted to hear that an actual DVD guide basically called The Blair Witch a turkey, I assumed every single publication gave it a huge thumbs up, it seemed that way to me anyway. The sequel is bad, but it's better than the first.

In reply to an earlier post on 19 Mar 2014 21:02:10 GMT
Last edited by the author on 19 Mar 2014 21:03:54 GMT
The DVD & Video Guide was generally great, and way over half the 80's horrors that we love are on good scores with worded reviews to match ('Vamp', 'The Howling', 'The Company Of Wolves', 'Scarecrows', 'Critters', 'Cujo', 'Silver Bullet', 'Cat's Eye', 'The Dark Half', 'Fright Night 1&2', 'Nightlife'['89], 'Waxwork', 'Poltergeist 1&2', and even stuff I dislike like 'Puppet Master' and 'The Cellar'), but by the same taken, like I said, the balance is illogically shaken with stupidly wrong reviews of 'Pumpkinhead', 'Ghost Town' and almost every decent horror done in the 90's to now, yet crap like 'Urban Legend' and 'Cherry Falls' they like, presumably as they're slashers, yet they dislike 'Scream 2', a film they wouldn't exist without. 'The Shining' I just felt boring, needlessly protracted, Jack N too OTT, the women playing his wife pretty simpering and annoying, and just too long, I stopped caring, and bares little resemblance to the book, in fact I feel good about this as the author didn't like it either, and preferred the better TV version with Steven Weber and Rebecca De Mornay, but even that is very long and I don't watch it often, though it's obviously pretty good. Just don't find the story particularly engrossing and just too long for what it is. You're kind, 'Magnolia' didn't have strange moments, it had entirely ridiculous whole scenes, a number of which I'll list quickly as pure qualifications of proof of one of the many reasons it's hateful and dumbly overrated to boot:

Scene 1: Miriam Margoyles decides to shoot her hubby (why) and misses him despite him standing right in front of her and bullet kills her son as he passes the window trying to commit suicide by falling into the safety barrier that would stop him hitting the floor anyway!

Scene 2: Woman has a body 'hidden' in her closet, and gives the visiting cop John C Reilly such grief and abuse, despite him coming to the wrong door about something else anyway that, after ten LONG minutes of abuse, during which any normal cop would have cuffed her for movie editing's sake, he cuffs her to the couch, finally finds the body in a tiny room, with her dragging couch around yelling about being arrested for "what exactly"??!!

Scene 3: When John C Reilly finally gets the right door-after waiting a year for the dumb cow within to open it who's rushing around to hide all the drugs she has on every surface, playing blaring music to "hide the sound of hiding drugs"??!! She opens the door and they're both yelling "what?!" at each other cos she still hasn't turned off the music, which he then yells at her to do 100x before she does so. OMG! And he doesn't find any drugs, despite the fact they're poking out of every service.

Scene 4: William H Macy wants dental work he doesn't need, he whines to his boss for a raise, he don't get it, so steals money from the office at night. I believe it goes undiscovered, but then later he has a stupid strike of conscience and climbs the building AT NIGHT WITHOUT A ROPE TO PUT IT BACK!? WTF?!

Scene 5: Julieanne Moore decides that her terminally dying old man of a husband she married for the money deserves more than her and doesn't want to be put in the will, and goes suddenly haring around town at night for a miracle cure that doesn't exist, despite most chemist being closed and her knowing he's dying anyway-and she's fallen in love with him and doesn't want her to die! Cue much dumb weeping and shrieking, but then everyone yells in this film, no conversations, just repetitive BOOMING repetitious worthless speak that doesn't mean anything and no one would talk like that.

Scene 6: Thomas Jane shooting himself at the start. Why? Apart from escaping being in any more of it.

Scene 7: Nauseatingly sick scene of father berating his genius young son who, once on the game show he's been studying so hard for with his pushy parent, then pees himself 'Exorcist' style for clamming up.

Scene 8: Game Show host Philip Baker Hall decides to visit drug-addled daughter he's sexually abused fr years to say sorry (?!) and she stays in her bed, repeatedly YELLING AT THE TOP OF HER FLAMING, WHINY IRRITATING VOICE: "Get the beep out my room you beeping beep beep" on high repeat for a complete Madonna playing time while he just stands there like an idiot not moving as she carries on.

This sums up the movie as a whole, just one long yelling rant about nothing, all the while the odious Cruise attempts to be a sex guru (eurgh!) whilst ignoring the dying father he hasn't seen for years, and Philip Seymour Hoffman has nothing at all to do except sit by dying Robard's bed reading porn-whatever! The whole thing is stitched together through every drama before it, especially 'Short Cuts', except where 'Short Cuts' and all the others were far better played, realistic, powerful and generally non-contrived, this thing reeks of abysmal complacency, derivation, self-indulgence and showing off, and it's three hour running time doesn't even show any of the skill Robert Altman employed to make his three-hour 'Short Cuts' fly by-which it did, and remaining riveting all the while. Even more insultingly, Anderson just had to put Ms Moore in his film too, so pleased must he have been that she was so well-known by 1999, then he could pretend another calculated move was all his own. And he only did a plague of frogs as it was in keeping with the rest of the ridiculous sceneario, plus Altman had already finished with an earthquake, and he couldn't be that obvious-could he? You may think 'The Blair Witch Project' had universal praise, but it's films like this and the even worse 'Happiness' that plunder the world, daring anyone to dislike it and then publish it. 'Happiness' was full of over-wrought simplicity, with several stupid plot points like the body of the security guard in the hotel bins, no one missed her and I can't even remember who killed her, or why, and she was never found. So they don' empty bins? The film seemed so desperate to "not judge" every mortal sin the pathetic extended family compressed into the film's running time that it just ended up on an abysmal note, and again was too long. I remember yelling in despair and annoyance at the thing dozens of times throughout, nothing get solved in it, it's message of nutters, killers and paedophilia being a pretty "usual thing in families sometimes" was kind of hard to lose, and I haven't seen Todd Solonz do a decent film since 'Welcome To The Dollhouse' he started with, which you couldn't love either, but at least respect. As for Dylan Baker, seeing what he did in 'Trick 'R Treat' and 'The Laramie Project' was far tougher-it was clear from the outset everyone was going to admire and big up that incompetent attempt to shock the US just enough for them to be impressed by it and be impressed with themselves for being impressed with it! Worse, despite what they were all trying, I couldn't believe in any of it, it just didn't ring true anyway, making its utterly distasteful nature even worse, and Philip Seymour Hoffman was wasted again. Note how they wouldn't dare make the archetypal pretty boy or pretty girl a realistically sick pervert or killer, no only ordinary or "ugly" people do that, and the "pretty" ones are the victims. Sorry to tell you, but as much as you hate Blair Witch', I hate this, and it, along with 'Sixth Sense' and 'Magnolia' plus 'American Pie' were among the worst things 1998 and 1999 had to offer. Still, at least to of them aren't horror, or are, but fr a different reason.

But I agree with you n 'Slackers'-I got it out not expecting much, but noting several critics called it better than 'Pie' and such ilk, and I agree. It couldn't aspire to the same charmingly tasteless yet cute humour of 'Dead Man On Campus' from 1998 (see it if you can, it's inspired) and Devon Sawa's 1999 horror comedy 'Idle Hands'-now that is wickedly funny and quite icky, and sadly dissed, but it did well. I remember a woman critic saying it gives what you expect and is rather sweet, despite attempting to offend, but when she reviewed the DVD extras, which just meant a scene selection menu and its trailer she said "Now that IS offensive!" Classic, and fore-running perhaps exactly what we say now about every decent horror that just won't have extras, though enough big pics are doing it too!

I love the few rom-coms-'Singles', 'The Night We Never Met', 'In Good Company', 'Miami Rhapsody', 'Next Stop Wonderland'-Hollywood has managed to get right, but by the mid-90's they turned into repugnant gush and still are. Not sure I've heard of 'Baxter, I'm going to look that up. Other countries do rom-coms so much better, like the French 'The Heartbreaker' with Romain Durais and the Irish 'The Honeymooners' and 'Happily Ever Afters'. Amy Heckerling's little-seen 'I Could Never Be Your Woman' did well as well, stars Michelle Pfeiffer and two 'Clueless' actors, with a cameo by Graham Norton! 'Easy A' was fun, but not the genius stated, whereas 'Jawbreaker' is bitingly funny. It's surprising, sly, funny, daring, and has a wonderful ode-to-'Carrie' finale, and is 'Heathers' for the 90's, and is just tops. It's pretty cheap now, you must see it, I'm sure you'll enjoy it, and the supporting cast, as you say, is great. Cult film for sure.

'The Amityville Bore' for me did just that and, though it was '79, seemed to wuss out of doing everyting to startle, and I found the few effects they tried, truly first grade, even the use of music seemed ill-judged and unbalanced, whereas I feel the remake, despite being a little too glossy, delivered what the first should have, but there's no touching the truly remarkable best of all of them-'Amityville 2: The Possession'-an utter nightmare in the best way only a truly disturbing horror could be.

If you're interested, and I'm sure you'd love to know, to re-balance things, perhaps, for my disliking 'Happiness' so much (entirely its own fault) I will state exactly what DVD & Vid Guide said about 'The Blair Witch Project: Besides the turkey sign, meaning two/one (none in extreme circumstances, so not here) they said: "A fiendishly clever publicity campaign fuelled the release of this ultra-low-budget quickie , which turned out to be one of the biggest swindles ever perpetrated on unsuspecting movie audiences. This "faux documentary" about 3 young filmmakers who meet an uncertain fate while investigating an old legend in the Maryland woods fails to deliver on all counts." Ouch.

But if this is a big swindle, what about now when we get 50 a week! AND no one prints that. While 'BW2-'Book Of Shadows' is pitifully worse than the first-which I still, but don't over-like, and watch only when required (i.e not much), the DVD & Vid guide say of the sequel that it's "Less inept than the original, it raises the would-be franchise to the level of any other hackneyed slasher flick, but trashes of amateurism remain", and give it a **(3/10) rating. Thank God no more followed, but check that up against now where we get 500 'Saws', 'Hostels', 'Paranormals' and 'Last Exorcisms', and they don't even have the decency to be horror films, never mind wanted, required, creative, smart or even average!

In reply to an earlier post on 26 Mar 2014 03:55:38 GMT
West25 says:
It's a shame I never read the DVD & Video Guide, it sounds like it was a mag that actually appreciated horror films unlike most. I really wouldn't have minded if some of my favourite horror movies got bad reviews in there, if there's plenty that I like with positive reviews and the bad ones are at least well worded and have some merit.

It's been a long time since I watched Magnolia and to be honest, I don't even remember several of the scenes that you mention there. I won't even pretend that some of what you wrote doesn't make the film seem awful, and I do remember when I watched it that I thought it dragged in places and the editing should have been much tighter. I think I'll watch it again soon as I can't really discuss the film properly with it being so hazy in my mind, perhaps I'll watch it and not really think much of it, maybe I'll like it quite a lot and I might be able to explain why, either way I doubt I'll have a decent rebuttal to that little list you made as those moments do seem daft. I know you don't like Happiness but the guard that was killed was a man when he tried to rape one of Seymour Hoffman's neighbours, she killed him and hid his body parts in the bin which is revealed in the end. I know you'll never like that film, it's definitely a film where I really do understand why people don't like it. It's certainly an odd film and doesn't have any likeable characters, every character has flaws, some worse than others. There also doesn't seem to be any point at all to it, it's just a glimpse into the world of some extremely strange people. I also didn't really believe in any of what I was seeing, I just viewed it almost as some sort of dark, sick fairy tale where nothing really makes sense. I did notice that they picked Philip Seymour Hoffman to play the strange, weirdo instead of a slim, good-looking guy, though looking at American Psycho and other films, other films have sickos that are weird or fat.

There was something about Slackers that instantly made me like it, I've actually watched it four or five times since I've had it, though it has no extras of course. It's a little crude at times like American Pie, but it just doesn't come across as being vulgar like it did in that film. I'm certainly not against vulgarity in films, but I just thought Slackers worked better. I've never seen Dead Man on Campus, I'll add it to a wish list on here, I do like Idle Hands, or at least I think I do, it's a very long time since I've seen it. I've actually been purposefully trying to order a lot less recently to give myself time to revisit a load of films I like that I haven't seen in ages, whereas normally I just buy that much that I'm always just watching new stuff. That's great of course, but then what's the point in having them on DVD if I'm not re-watching them? I really like that what the critic took offense to was a complete lack of extras on Idle Hands, I just wish more people took offense to it. If far more people did what I've decided to do and not buy popular films anymore that are released without extras, vanilla discs would soon become a thing of the past.

I've not heard of quite a few of those rom-coms you've named, normally I see the word rom-com and I'm put off. Repugnant gush is probably just about the most apt description of what's wrong with rom-coms that I've heard, they're either disgustingly saccharine or have a pair of beautiful but utterly devoid of any real acting talent actors stinking up the screen, just awful. I'd definitely recommend The Baxter, normal looking people that act like real people, a romance that doesn't seem unrealistic and forced, and it has the awesome Peter Dinklage in it as a character brilliantly named Benson Hedges. I think other countries definitely do the rom-com a lot better than the UK or US do, especially the French. I've seen several French rom-coms and they just seem so real and natural, not forced and banal like ours. I do like The Notebook though, which people have attempted to make fun of me for. I normally just respond with "I know, so what?" and that ends pretty quickly. You've given me a few films there to look into, I may be pretty clued up on my horror, but there's genres like the rom-com where I'm almost completely clueless.

That, that's exactly summed up how I felt about The Blair Witch Project. I saw the brilliant publicity campaign, I allowed myself to listen to everyone saying how scary and brilliant it was, and then I watched it. It literally failed on all counts for me and I felt like I'd been swindled out of £9.99, which luckily I was able to swap it for something else later that day. I was that disappointed and enraged by what I'd seen, I bought the film, walked home as I don't drive, watched the film, instantly ejected it and walked back to town to try and get them to change it for something else which they thankfully did. Town was over three miles away and this was on a day where I'd just finished a 6-2 shift and walked town straight from work, and work was nearly four miles away. It was about eight at night before I got home again, worth it though, I didn't want the film in my house overnight. Blair Witch 2 is inept, there's no doubt about it, but it's nowhere near as inept as its predecessor.

In reply to an earlier post on 27 Mar 2014 01:36:51 GMT
I'll never like 'Happiness', no, but if there was some scenes still to come after the credits, I would have missed them, I was just done with it. With 'Magnolia' I know it too well-I hate it but have seen it three t-h-r-e-e times! but I can explain. Firstly cos I naturally thought it something to rival all those great ensemble dramas I'm a sucker for, until I realised I was a hideous blatant melding of pretty much ALL dramas done in the 90's, second watch because a few silly jerks were challenging my "inability to understand the bigger picture" (don't you just LOVE that one?) and I wanted to put together enough scenes accurately on paper while it was on so I could rattle off just how absurd, thieved and utterly meaningless and horrible it all was, but within months of having done all this and shut them up, bang the thing attacked me again; this time I was doing a media course, and it was one of the films the tutor just HAD to pick, so it's almost burned into by psyche, not least the pathetic mode of so-called communication that has EVERYONE IN THE FILM YELLING AT EACH OTHER AT THE T-O-P OF THEIR VOICES BECAUSE IT'S APPARENTLY SO PROFOUND AND THE ONLY WAY TO CONVENIENTLY HOLD ATTENTION AND CONVINCE YOU SOMETHING DRAMATIC IS GOING ON, WHEN IT REALLY ISN'T!!!!! Throughout the whole 900 year running time, that's it, just aimless sentences on high repeat, peppered every second 'word' with ineffective profanity, screaming around scenes constructed and played out as badly as them. The thing's not even shot that well, it looks like any late night TV cheapie import, yet much was made of the camera-work too. I swear some critics (if not all) think Anderson invented the kettle and the boiling water to go in it. When invention, huh! is not what he's about at all, ironically, "I prefer think of it as stealing" as Josh Hartnett says in 'The Faculty'. Oh yeah, never said this before, but I notice you head all your reviews with a quote from the movie you're reviewing. To quote another man, this time the great James Earl Jones out of 'Soul Man' (from the 'House' director as mentioned in my review-I try!), but tweaked with a few exchanged word from me (least I admit it, Thomas Anderson!): "West25, I'm not a humourless man, nor am I against vulgarity in films in any shape or form, but if filmmakers are going to insist on it dominating practically every joke in their movies, could they please see to it that it is funny!" (Hope the man's wonderful invoking tone came through their on the screen).

I love crude humour as much as the next dude-some rom-coms may even have strayed a bit further from disaster with it (if funny), but only certain films nail, and there has to be other stuff going on, and a strong story behind it, like in 'Idle Hands', the 'Elviras' and the general black comedies I love like 'The Ref', 'Ruthless People', 'Comic Book Villains', 'Love Kills' and so on. Speaking of rom-comes (shudder!), I will check out 'Baxter' but 'The Night We Never Met' was done in 1993, and rom-coms didn't become truly nasty and toothless and sugar-filled until the mid-90's-Meg Ryan take some of the blame, but then it went viral, but n 1993, the right kind of rom-com worked, and 'The Night We Never Met' is so special and boasts three wicked players in Annabella Sciorra, Kevin Anderson and Matthew Broderick, in one of his best films ever. Unmissable, charming, has bite, and as wonderfully unwinding like life is, clever, a great premise, and a believable one. I should review it, the more people who see it the better, one of 1993's best. I avoid most rom-com naturally, but even a few modern ones like 'Just Like Heaven' (Mark Ruffalo, who is usually a safe bet, and still is here) and (gulp) Reese Witherspoon star-is god. But this was luck, and it's usually best their avoided, so I only know what matters, or what I've seen. The less they feel or look like a modern idea of a US/UK one is usually when they're safe, and 'Next Stop Wonderland (first film by 'The Machinist' and 'Session 9' director-and still his best film) is a shining example, but so I think is one charming little offbeat one from the 80's, 'Echo Park' starring Tom Hulce. Came well-reviewed from 'Radio Times and I totally concurred with it on one viewing, and ne of the last things I bought in my dead HMV, along with 'City Island'.

God, man, yet another thing we have in common, I don't drive either, and thank you for proving someone else can live their lives and get from a to b without a brrmm brrmm! even if it may seem annoying at times, but it's not like cars aren't annoying to keep nor inexpensive either. But don't you find that's another thing we get judged for. "You're male and over the age of 18 and you don't drive, never mind own a car. What?!" How could we be so stupid in other words, but thank you again for seeming to share tonnes of my own personal DNA. So sweet. But even that walk was worth it, you got 'Blair Biatch' swapped! Well done, bet you felt better, what tale did you tell, as you'd unpacked it already, did you pretend it was scratched, or did you make SURE it was scratched?! What did you exchange it for, you remember. Whatever it was, bet you felt you'd found your winning lottery numbers after fearing you used them for toilet paper, despite the walk. I'm quite a walker myself, so that doesn't bother me too much, but good for you, being so annoyed you didn't stew on it, but took it right back that day. I did the same with toy-horror 'Puppet Master'-took it back to HMV some ten years back and got a refund! So these things are managed now and again, and I think an offensive movie gives us the gall to do it and get away with it. Well, it's only fair, all that money spent, hours erased, walking done!
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