Monthly Archives: June 2013

Review: Mama

DVD Review

Mama DVD 001This is another creepy horror from director Guillermo del Toro that has children as main characters. He really has a way with stories that use the perspective of children to access the deepest most primitive fears of the darkness and the unknown.

Two little girls Lilly and Victoria are kidnapped by their father Jeffrey (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) who takes them to a remote cabin in the woods. Since he has killed their mother there’s a strong hint he’s going to kill them and himself but then Mama appears and kills him.

Five years later and Jeffrey’s brother Lucas (also Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) has not given up hunting for his Jeffrey and his daughters even though he has spent all his money hiring two men to searching the whole county. Then one day they find Jeffrey’s car abandoned in the woods after it went off the road and they soon come across the cabin. Inside are the two little girls who have gone totally feral and behave like frightened wild animals

The girls are in the clinic of psychologist Dr Dreyfuss (Daniel Kash) who is workings on getting the girls socialized again. This is going better with older girl Victoria (Megan Charpentier) but there has only been limited success with Lilly (Isabelle Nélisse) who was only a baby when their father died. He believes the girls created Mama out of their imagination.

Lucas wants custody of the two girls but their mother’s aunt Jean (Jane Moffat) has also applied for custody on the grounds that she can offer them a stable home while Lucas is a struggling artist and his girlfriend Annabel (Jessica Chastain) is a bass guitarist with a rock band and tours around a lot. Before the girls were found Annabel was happy with her rock ’n’ roll lifestyle and not really ready to settle down and have kids but she knows how much Lucas wants them. The court will go along with Dr Dreyfuss’s recommendation and he prefers Lucas and Annabel but only on the condition that they move into a large house owned by his institute so he can continue with his work with the girls.

When they move into the house at first it seems the girls are still clinging on to their Mama fantasy but it gets more obvious to Annabel as things go on that Mama is real presence and a very real threat to Lucas, Annabel and the girls.

The film is good at creating a creepy atmosphere with a consistently k muted look full of dark shadows where Mama hides. The Mama CGI gets less scary the more she appears later in the film but it was never too distracting. The children playing Victoria and Lily really are very good with a mixture of innocence and vulnerability and wildness and danger.

Annabel starts the film not wanting to have children so of course the film has her looking after the children on her own and trying to protect them from the jealous clutches of Mama. At first she’s doing it out of her love of Lucas but later she’s willing to fight the angry spirit for the girls. It is a bit of an abrupt turnaround but it’s typical of films to condense emotional arcs like this and Jessica manages to pull it off okay.

This is an effective ghost story with a straightforward plot that relies on creepy atmosphere more than gore.

Rating 7.0/10

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Posted by on June 23, 2013 in Film


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Review: The Wicked

DVD Review

The Wicked DVD 001This one was a blind buy at the bargain section of the local HMV and I didn’t have expectations about its quality but it at least it turned out to be an entertaining film that isn’t anything to excited about but also doesn’t take itself too seriously so is less of a grind than other low budget films.

Before the titles we see a little girl Amanda (Caitlin Carmichael) in her bed and she is terrified, crying to her mother about the Wicked. Her mother tries to reassure her that the Wicked is just a silly story but later that night something does come and drags Amanda away. So even before the titles we know that the Wicked is real and is some sort of powerful supernatural evil

Witches really do get rough treatment at the hands of horror writers, who have turned them into a movie monster so you can’t expect a serious study of witchcraft in this film. Witches are particularly convenient in horror films because their use of magic spells means writers can pull their powers out of thin air as the story requires and that happens quite a lot in this film.

In the town of Bogie Falls there’s a legend that a witch (Cassie Keller) was burnt to death sometime in the past. The person telling the story says it was about a hundred years ago but I’m sure that they didn’t get away with burning witches in 1913 no matter how rural Baker County might be. She didn’t die because she comes back every year on the spring equinox to steal people away and eat them, starting from their feet. She has to do this to keep herself alive. There was a ritual dare for the local high school kids to go to her house called Open Hearth which is still standing out in the woods. As a dare the kids throw rocks at the house but if anyone breaks a window then the witch will come for them. This is what happened to Amanda so even though it is being as treated as a silly story to scare kids we already know it is true.

What this film needs is a bunch of high school students who are stupid enough to go to Open Hearth and perfect fort this role is 18-year-old Zach (Justin Deeley) and his friends Carter (Chase Maser) and Tracy (Jackelyn Gauci). They are talking about plans to go camping at Open Hearth while a younger girl Sammy (Diana Hopper) eavesdrops from the nearby bushes. Sammy is a close friend of Zach’s younger brother Max (Devon Werkheiser)  and she tells Max about Zach’s plans and suggests they go up there too and perhaps get photographs of them being naughty so that Max can use them to blackmail Zach. Sammy and Max have often got up to mischief together but Max is starting to want to grow up a bit while Sammy wants to cling onto her childhood. After suffering from a spot of Zach throwing his weight around Max agrees to go with her.

There is another person joining them and they pick her up next day on the way to the campsite. Terri (Nicole Forester) is a new girl at school and Tracy has invited her along as a date for Zach. She is not only attractive and pretty smart but going by her family’s house her parents are loaded. We learn all about the legend of the witch from Carter as he tells the story to Terri trying to scare her but Terri doesn’t take any of it seriously and nor does Zach.

There’s also a pair of dickhead comedy relief deputies Karl (Jamie Kaler) and Mahoney (Robert Young) who take a perverse pleasure in hassling Sammy and Max. Deputy Karl was a regular victim of the pair’s childish pranking and now he has a badge he wants to abuse it for petty payback.

Zach and friends drive to small lake that is a short hike away from Open Hearth and set up camp before going to the house and throwing stones at it. Of course a window breaks but they just laugh and creep themselves out at shadows moving around in the house then head back the campsite. Carter and Tracy pair off for comically noisy sex while Zach and Terri chat by the lake before they go for a swim and sex in the lake.

Meanwhile Max and Sammy have arrived at the house and they also throw rocks at it and Max breaks a window. The witch comes out of the house after them and they run into the woods but the witch has a crazy CGI smoke teleportation power and she catches them. The story involves a lot of running away from the witch through the woods and going into the house to rescue people from the witch before she puts through her large rusty meat grinder and eats them.

This looks like a low-budget film judging by the special effects but the story was entertaining enough. The acting was very variable quality and there was some pretty corny dialogue that sounded awkward in the delivery. I did like the characters, especially Terri who seemed a lot less dumb than typical horror film characters. You can hardly accuse the film of originality but there were a few nice touches of detail that helps it to stand out a little.

Rating 6.0/10

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Posted by on June 15, 2013 in Film


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Review: Rise of the Zombies

DVD Review

Rise of the Zombies DVD 001There are so many zombie films nowadays that it really would be a surprise if someone really did bring something new to the genre so there wasn’t much hope that this film would stand out from the crowd. Still it has Danny Trejo and Jordi from Star Trek so that‘s something the others don’t have. Unfortunately when you have story that doesn’t really have much to say then there’s a limit to how much decent actors can do to bring a mediocre story to life.

This film doesn’t start at the outbreak but some time later when a group of survivors from San Francisco have made it Alcatraz. The film opens with another group of survivors heading in a car to the shore to go to the island but the driver goes mental on this narrow twisty road and tries to drive down it at full speed resulting in the car crashing killing the driver. One of the passengers, a heavily pregnant woman, gets out and away but the others gets attacked by zombies and they’re dead. The film has a very abrupt start, right in the middle of a zombie attack and that is a bit unsettling.

On Alcatraz there is a mixed group of people but at least it contains scientists who are trying to find out what is causing the zombies and find a way to cure it or at least stop it spreading. Dr Lynn Snyder (Mariel Hemingway) is examining a video sent by Dr Arnold (French Stewart), a scientist working in the city on a vaccine with chimpanzees and he has very positive results. Dr Dan Halpern (LeVar Burton) is there with his daughter Julie (Kerisse Hutchinson) and he is examining the zombie tissue. Halpern has discovered that there is weird black viral goo that is animating the dead flesh and keeping it from decaying. Other survivors on the island are Marshal (Ethan Suplee) who is ex-air force Captain Caspian (Danny Trejo), Kyle (Chad Lindberg), Ashley (Heather Hemmens) and a brother and sister called Jud (Peter Ngo) and Jun (Lilan Bowden). There are others but this is a zombie film so try to guess why I’m not bothering finding out their names

Lynn tells Marshall and Caspian that she needs to go to the city to contact Dr Arnold and see how he’s getting on with his work on a vaccine. Caspian is having none of it since it would leave them stranded on the island with no way off because they just have one raft and as far as he’s concerned it would be a suicide mission. The whole issue is forced when zombies reach the island by floating on the current and they attack the survivors. They decide that they are all going to a rescue centre on the mainland. The raft isn’t big enough to carry everyone. Julie got bitten in the attack so Dr Halpern wants to stay behind in the hope that he finds a cure. It’s a slim hope but then those leaving have about the same chance of survival. They leave him with a gun and a grenade for emergencies.

Like most zombie films this story follows the characters as they make their way to various targets while they get attacked by zombies. In this film you don’t have shambling animated corpses. The zombies are fast, strong and have wall-crawling abilities. I have read people say this makes them scarier but I have always liked the traditional shambling corpses whose very appearance makes your gorge rise.

This film is pretty bland and not very memorable. It reminded me of a poor episode of The Walking Dead TV series and this feeling is reinforced by the abrupt start and even more abrupt ending that make this feel like part of a bigger story. When the characters talk about things that happened before the present events they sound more interesting than the ones we actually get to see. The most interesting part of the film is the subplot of the scientists working on a cure but there wasn’t enough of that and before we see where it could have gone the film finishes.

For a zombie film I can’t really remember too much gore but I’m sure it was there. There’s constant down beat tone to the film and the script really puts the characters through some seriously bad times emotionally so that almost all hope and reason for continued existence is gone by the end. I‘m disappointed that they didn’t make better use of an interesting cast and I won’t remember this in a week.

Rating 5.0/10

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Posted by on June 12, 2013 in Film


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Review: Seeds of Destruction

DVD Review

Seeds of Destruction DVD 001This cheap SyFy production is a dumb lazy story with a poor clunky script and it irritated me with stupid shallow plot driven characters, cheap unconvincing CGI. It is a dumb film with no passion churned by the SyFy channel then released on DVD straight to bargain bin section next to the Asylum films   

The film opens with its mad scientist Dr Frame Marcos (James Morrison) mucking about in his greenhouse, blowing cigar smoke at the leaves of a plant then telling his assistant Noel (Daniel Bacon) about how it is absorbing the toxins and there is no monoxide, it has all been converted to oxygen though if he’s talking about carbon monoxide I wonder what the plant did with the carbon. There’s no context given for this yet but it is a nice looking greenhouse

The next scene has two ecowarriors Kate (Luisa D’Oliveira) and Joe (Jesse Moss) at a disused mine that they know has been used for illegal dumping of hazardous waste. So they are going to wait there on the off-chance that before they die of dehydration out in the middle of Nevada someone will just coincidentally pick that time to do some illegal dumping. Seriously, there is no hint from either of them that they have any information about who is dumping or when they are likely to do it. Instead they witness a dodgy science type meeting up with an even more dodgy government type. The scientist is trying to sell a seed to the government type who shows him a case of money. Kate spots a sniper who is there with the government type and the sniper spots her. This gets the government type thinking he’s been set-up and the scientist type does a runner, gets shot and spills his seed on the ground. It germinates instantly and soon there are giant roots sprouting out of the ground. The roots spread across the countryside destroying everything in their path including the government type. The two ecowarriors manage to flee and escape but the roots are racing down the road after them even though they are a plant and aren’t chasing anyone.

There’s a secret agency called Scope and they get right on the case recruiting Jocelyn (Stefanie von Pfetten) a paleobotanist to help them figure out what’s happening and put a stop to it. As it turns out years before she worked with Marcos on a search for seeds from the Garden of Eden. As soon as I heard that I knew that I was in for a whole load of stupid bollocks. I am certainly not someone who remembers the bible in any detail but I am fairly confident that there is nowhere it talks of the Gadda da Vidda being populated by monster plants that destroy the Earth. This film treats the Garden as a real place and Adam’s fall as an historical event. I normally don’t mind bible stories being included in horror films but this clunky script is not subtle and has been peppered with crude on-the-nose dialogue about belief and wouldn’t ya know it there’s a Hollywood Atheist in the person of Scope agent Jack (Adrian Pasdar) who gets to learn the folly of his ways and is of course only an atheist because of personal tragedy.

Kate and Joe are wondering how to get involved in the script so they don’t contact the authorities because Joe is a paranoid idiot at all points of this film. Kate realises that she has videotaped the number plate of the van the scientist guy was driving and if only they had access to the police database they could find who owned it. Fortunately not only do they know a hacker that can do it, the guy lives only a short drive away in rural Nevada. They get there with the plant roots not far behind them. Their friend Spit (Don Thompson) seems to be another idiot just a way of creating  more fake tension as he screws up until the roots are closing in on them. He gets killed when he goes to rescue his pussy. This gets Joe angry but we never got to know Spit except that he’s smelly hippy and an irritating idiot

Back at Scope headquarters they are watching the progress of the roots on satellite live feed. They are trying to come up with ways to stop them. The boss Wilson (David Richmond-Peck) gets to send jets to blow things up after some talk about destroying  the growing tips which any gardener would tell you is an idiotic idea. Kate and Joe see the jets and realise that they are in the line of fire so we get yet more fake tension as they drive past a wall of flame and yet escape unscathed. Back at Scope headquarters they are cheering and cracking open the victory champagne before the dust has settled. Of course they have haven’t destroyed the roots, they have just made them angry and the paleobotanist acts surprised when she realises the roots have been running under the ground and yet again I wonder why they didn’t just bring in a gardener.

The story continues in completely predictable fashion with its Hollywood Science solutions and a big showdown at ground zero. It is possibly stupid enough to be enjoyed ironically with chemical assistance and it has plenty of really stupid mad science but on its own it’s just another dumb Syfy film.

Rating 4.0/10

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Posted by on June 9, 2013 in Entertainment, Film


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Review: Poltergeist (1982)

Bluray Review

Poltergeist Bluray 001This mainstream horror film from the collaboration of Tobe Hooper and Steven Spielberg has earned its reputation as a horror classic so it is not a suprise that there are plans to milk its reputation with a ill-advised remake. The family facing supernatural horror is format that has inspired many imitators but Spielberg really knows how to set up this type of story with a feeling of genuine warmth, creating relatable everyman characters before really bringing the horror right home.

The film opens with sound of the US national anthem being played on a TV just before the channel closes for the night. You young sprogs probably don’t remember that but TV channels didn’t run through the night stopped at about one or two in the morning and cathode ray TVs didn’t turn themselves off when there was no signal. The family dog is on the prowl for food and as it goes around the house we see the whole Freeling family. Steve Freeling (Craig T. Nelson) is dozing in a chair in front of the TV. When the music stops the signal is switched off and the screen is covered in random dots and the sound of white noise comes from the speakers. The dog goes upstairs to Diane Freeling (JoBeth Williams) who is asleep in bed. In the bedroom of the teenage daughter Dana (Dominique Dunne) the dog gets lucky and finds a packet of crisps (potato chips). In the children’s bedroom is eight-year-old Robbie (Oliver Robins) and five-year-old Carol Anne (Heather O’Rourke). Carol Anne wakes up and goes down to the living room, She starts answering some voices she seems to hear in the static coining from the TV set and she starts calling out to the voices This wakes everyone up who all come down to see what’s happening. They are all a bit weirded out but Diane and Steve put it down to sleepwalking.

Next day is a summer Sunday afternoon in the suburbs and the establishing scene is very typically Stephen Spielberg, with the camera following a man riding a child’s bike and trying to balance an unwieldy pack of beer while a bunch of kids send a pair of remote control racing cars after him, making him fall of the bike and drop the beer. He lifts the beer which is spraying its contents in jets from the leaking cans and carries it into the house, past Dana in the kitchen and through to the living room where Steve is with a group of buddies in the living room watching an American Football match. When the channel suddenly switches to a kid’s show Steve apologizes to his buddies. His neighbour has a TV remote on the same frequency and there’s a spot of childish bickering between the two men as they duel with their remotes.

Diane is trying to tidy up the children’s bedroom and she discovers Carol Anne’s pet canary lying dead in its cage. She is about to flush the bird down the toilet when Carol Anne spots her and she has to put the bird in a cigar box and give it a funeral in the garden. Billy is watching them bury the bird from the branches of an old dead tree in the garden. He can see that there’s a storm approaching

That night when they put the kids to bed the storm is coming closer. Robbie is frightened of the old tree just outside his window, insisting that it is staring at him even when Steve tries to assure him that it is protecting them. Robbie is just little bundle of anxiety and he’s also scared of the lightning and his little sister’s large creepy clown doll. Carol Anne seems less worried but she insists on the closet light being switched on with door left half-open. Stephen just pops his head in Dana’s door and tells her to get off the phone that she tries to hide from him.

Steve and Diane sit on their bed, rolling joints while watching TV and Steve is reading a book about Ronald Reagan. The film treats the dope smoking as casually as the earlier beer drinking and it never gets raised again. It’s not a long or significant scene but considering the US government’s drug policy then and today it is probably a little statement by the writer. They start kissing and cuddling and are just about to make love when they get interrupted by Robbie who is scared of the thunder.

Steve puts Robbie back to bed and tells him about counting the gap between the lightning flash and the thunder to see that the storm is moving away. He leaves Robbie and Carol Anne counting the gaps and goes back to bed. There’s a sudden lightning strike near the house the next shot shows the two children sleeping in between their parents in their bed. The TV is on and the anthem is playing then the signal goes dead and there’s static. Carol Anne climbs out of bed and approaches the TV calling out to the voices she seems to hear in the static. A glowing wisp of light comes from the screen and seems to search round the room until it reaches the wall then beam of light shoots out of the screen and hits the wall above the bed. Everything starts shaking violently and the others wake up. Carol Anne just says brightly “they’re here.”

Next day is when things start getting freaky. After Steve has left for work and Dana and Robbie have gone to school Diane is cleaning up the kitchen. She turns her back for a moment and when she looks round the chairs are balanced in a precarious pyramid arrangement on top of the kitchen table.

When Steve comes home from work Diane is really excited and drags him into the kitchen to show him something strange. She has a circle marked on the floor in crayon and she puts a chair in the circle. The chair starts to shake then it shoots across the floor by propelled by some unseen force. While Steve is trying to process that she gets Carol Anne to put on a crash helmet then sits her in the circle. Steve catches her as she slides across the floor. They try to figure out what’s going on but they really don’t know. There’s an abrupt cut to a very curious scene where Stephen and Diane go to talk to their next door neighbour to find out if they have experienced anything strange but they end up getting badly bitten by mosquitoes and having fits of the giggles.

The night is stormy again but this time there is an unnatural vicious edge to the wind. A branch of the tree smashes through the window and grabs Robbie right out of his bed. His parents rush outside just as the tree tries to swallow Robbie into the trunk. A tornado appears and starts pulling the tree up by the roots. Steve climbs the tree and manages to get Robbie out just before the tree gets sucked up into the tornado.

This was actually all a distraction because back in the bedroom a portal of bright light has opened up in the closet into the dimension of death and is sucking everything in the bedroom into it. Carol Anne’s screams go ignored in the panic to rescue Robbie and she finds herself pulled into the portal. When the family notice she is gone everyone searches the house and Steve even searches the bottom of the hole dug for the swimming pool they are having built. It is Robbie who notices that Carol’s Anne’s voice frightened voice is coming from the TV set

Steve goes to see Dr Lesh (Beatrice Straight) a professor at the local university who has published papers on her psychic research. She agrees to come to the house with her two assistants Marty (Martin Casella) and Ryan (Richard Lawson) and whole load of recording equipment. There is a really nice juxtaposition between the feeble expectations of the researchers based on years of data and the extraordinary events that they witness in the Freeling house created by movie magic. The children’s room is chaotic with objects flying around the room and signs of a mischievous intent about the chaos as a book flaps in their faces and a spinning record is played by the needle of a compass.

In the kitchen a visibly shaken Dr Lesh tries to compose herself while explaining the difference between a poltergeist which is a short-term event around a single person and a normal haunting which is focused on a place, while a kettle moves itself across the table and light flash off and on. The definitions Dr Lesh gives suggests that this is a normal haunting but perhaps it merely reveals the limitations of labelling such barely defined phenomena. Diane contacts Carol Anne through the TV set. Carol Anne is terrified and doesn’t know where she is. Marty goes upstairs to check for natural causes of the voice like a CB radio. Carol Anne says there are other people there with her and she can see a blinding white light. Dr Lesh urges Diane to warn Carol Annw away from the light. This is the light that is supposed to be seen by those who have near death experiences and is where the souls are supposed to go when they die but Carol Anne is not dead. Carol Anne starts screaming that someone is coming for her. Diane goes to stairs and she feels something pass through her. She is covered in the familiar smell of Carol Anne and she is sure that’s who it was. She heads for the stairs but there’ a roar and they hear Marty’s screams from upstairs. He comes running back down saying that something bit him. When he shows them the marks the jaw that did is clearly huge. There’s a sudden flash of light and load of old junk drops out and fall to the floor. Then there’s another roar and a blast of air throws them all back. After that they can’t hear Carol Anne any more. Steve wants send his family away but Diane’s not going anywhere and they all stay.

That night everyone is in the living room. Steve tries to sleep in an armchair and Robbie is lying on the couch next to Diane who talks with Dr Lesh. Marty and Ryan take turns monitoring the equipment while the others try to get some sleep. Marty feels hungry and goes to get some food out of the fridge. The cheeky bastard helps himself to a chicken drumstick and lifts out a steak to cook. He puts the meat on the counter while he finds a frying pan. When he looks back at the meat it is crawling across the counter then bursts open in foetid rotten chunks. He spits out the chicken which is suddenly covered in maggots and he rushes into the toilet to rinse his mouth out in the sink. He stands up and looks in the mirror but instead of seeing his reflection he sees his hands tearing the face off a really obvious dummy head. It still creeps Marty out.

Back in the living room Ryan is sitting listening to music with his back to the monitors but fortunately these ghosts want to appear on camera and they turn it to face the stairs. Marty comes back into the room and nudges Ryan to look at the screen. The other wake up and they watch as a ghostly figure with flowing robes glides down the stairs followed by several orbs of light. When they play back the video they recorded they see that the orbs are actually human figures. What they have recorded at this house would be a radical blast across the bows of science and Lesh and her team know it, but the Freelings are not interested in shaking up science, they just want Carol Anne back safe. In the morning when the team leaves Dr Lesh tells Diane that she is leaving Ryan with them and she will be back and she’ll promises to bring some expert help.

Next day Robbie and the dog are sent off to stay with his grandmother while Dana is going to stay with a friend. Steve’s boss Mr Teague (James Karen) drops by to find out if he’s okay. Steve doesn’t want to tell him what’s going on so tells him that they all have the flu. Teague drives Steve to a hillside overlooking the whole housing development. Steve is his top real estate agent and Teague is worried about losing him to a rival. He offers Steve a house in the latest phase right where they are standing. Steve comments on the lack of available space, indicating the graveyard they are standing beside. Teague waves away his concerns, saying they have bought the land and will move the graves to a cemetery a couple of miles away. Then Teague tells him they did it before when they built the first phase Cuesta Verde in the 70s where Steve’s house is. This is significant as we learn later and Steve clearly suspects.

Back at home Dr Lesh has returned with the expert help that she promised, a small unworldly woman called Tangina (Zelda Rubinstein) who has apparently been tested and those tests confirmed her claims to be a powerful psychic medium. She goes into more detail than Dr Lesh about the strange dimension where Carol Anne is trapped and adds in the detail that there is malevolent force there with her which she calls the Beast implying it’s something like the Devil. Steve is having a hard time taking her seriously with her strange childlike voice and peculiar mannerisms but Diane gets him to shut up since she’s their only hope.

Tangina takes them upstairs outside the bedroom and she tells Diane to call out to Carol Anne. Carol Anne is frightened to talk so she tells Steve to order her talk. Tangina tells them to tell her to go towards the light and Diane is worried since Dr Lesh said she was not to go anywhere near the light but this is to get rid of the many spirits surrounding her and then she gets Steve to order Carol Anne to turn away.

They can get into the bedroom now and Tangina asks for some tennis balls and rope. When Tangina tosses the tennis balls into the bedroom closet they re-appear in the same place as the old junk in the living room but covered in strawberry jam. This confirms Tangina’s idea that the bedroom is an entrance point to the other dimension and there’s an exit in living room. Steve tosses one end of the rope through and Ryan grabs the other end in the living room. Tangina plans to go in and fetch Carol Ann then bring her out and plans to tie the rope around herself and have Steve and Ryan keep hold of the ends. Diane insists on going instead.

With the rope looped around her waist Diane goes into the closet while Steve holds on to the rope. There’s a lot of noise and a lot of shouting over it but Tangina’s plan works and Diane falls out of the dimensional hole in the living room with Carol Ann held tightly in her arms. They are covered in jam and aren’t breathing so Steve and Ryan carry them into the bathroom to wash the jam off. They soon start breathing and open their eyes. After that is happiness and tears as Carol Ann is reunited with her parents in the world of the living and Tangina declares that the house is clean.

Next day Robbie returns from his grandmother’s house. They are going to leave to stay in a motel but before that Steve is going to see Teague to hand in his notice. In the meantime for some bizarre reason Diane puts the children to bed back up their bedroom then runs herself a bath. Robbie gets attacked by Carol Ann’s scary clown doll and he fights it off then tears it to pieces. Then the portal into the death dimension opens up again and it starts sucking the two children into it. Meanwhile Diane in the bedroom has been dragged up the wall then across the ceiling. Diane hears the children screaming but she can’t get in their room because of a large hideous spectre guarding the door. Everything she touches gives her electric shocks which throw her down the stairs and out the door.

Diane goes to the fence and calls out to her neighbours for help. As she looks up helplessly at the flashes of light from the children’s bedroom she slips in the mud and falls into the hole dug for the swimming pool. Decayed corpses break out of the ground and fill the muddy water around her and their bony fingers clutch at her. She manages to struggle out of the pool with help of her neighbours and they hear the children screaming upstairs. She rushes up in the room and the children are clinging to their beds while the portal drags them in. She grabs Robbie’s hand and tells him to grab Carol Anne’s Hand. Then with all her desperate strength she pulls them out of the room.

They run downstairs and coffins burst through the floor, blocking the way to the door so they run to the kitchen. Steve returns to the chaos, driven by Teague. When he enters the house there are coffins exploding out of the ground spilling their contents. He confronts Teague with the obvious fact that he only moved the headstone but he left bodies where they were buried. Diane Gets the children out the back door and they run through the garden avoiding the coffin exploding out of the ground around them

The house is collapsing in itself and the whole neighbourhood is exploding into chaos. Dana arrives back from her friends and Steve gets the family into the car and they drive off leaving the neighbours watching their house collapsing in before dragged through the portal and vanishing. Steve drives to a motel and there’s an amusing last scene of him dumping the motel room TV outside.

I think this film still holds up pretty well today and I think it is down to a timeless quality of the story of a normal family facing down a threat to stay together. The Freeling family are really believable thanks to great performances and direction. There is strong feel of the influence of producer and writer Steven Spielberg throughout the film and it seems he was a very hands-on presence even though he was also directing ET just up the road from this film’s set.

Most of the special effects are well done though some have not dated well, like the scene with Marty at the mirror. The tragic death of Heather O’Rourke at 12 of septic shock and the murder of Dominique Dunne by her boyfriend at 22 has led to the inevitable talk of this film series being cursed. These beliefs are reinforced by the story that some of the skeletons used were real. I am sceptical about these stories but it certainly doesn’t do harm to a horror film to have creepy reputation and the Bluray comes with documentaries with spook botherers. Personally I’d liked to have seen cast and director/producer commentaries or an SFX documentary.

Rating 8.5/10

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Posted by on June 6, 2013 in Entertainment, Film


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