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Review: You Can’t Kill Stephen King

The DVD Pile

you cant kill stephen king DVD 001This low-budget comedy horror film tries very hard and you can certainly see it was made with people with a passion for the film they are making but the writing is not very good and the comedy suffers from perhaps not really being bold enough.

Six friends in a minivan drive up to a small town in Maine for a break and we get a caption to introduce them just like happens in a couple of better known films. It’s a bit unnecessary since it really doesn’t take long for the characters to be obvious. There’s the slut Nicole (Kayle Blogna), the jock Iraq war vet. Monroe (Monroe Mann who is one of the film’s writer/directors), the girlfriend Lori (Kate Costello), the sister Hilary (Crystal Arnette), the black guy Lamont (Justin Brown) and the nerd Ronnie (Ronnie Khalil another writer/director)  who is a Stephen King fan. Ronnie is really keen to meet the man himself but they find the locals turn a bit hostile and unhelpful when Stephen King’s name gets mentioned.

Monroe and Hilary’s late grandparents own a house by the lake so they want to hire a boat and have some fun playing on the lake but the boat warden tells them to go to the next lake and won’t rent them a boat. He agrees to rent them a boat after Nicole uses her breasts to persuade him.

Lamont goes to get fuel for the car and drive up to the house while the other five are going by boat. Ronnie gets serious travel sickness so Monroe drops him off at the house while they have fun water-skiing around the lake making lots of noise until they get pulled up by a cop in a boat for making too much noise and going too fast.

Next the film moves into the main plot of killing off these annoying college kids. I think they may have had the ambition to make kills like some of the more memorable kills from King stories but their budget for effects have limited them to less familiar but easier to film kills.

There’s a lot of references throughout to Stephen king stories as well as elements from other horror films in the soundtrack. There’s even a dream sequence that is really crude parody of scenes from the Shining. It reminded me of the type of stuff from those terrible parody films with shallow jokes that are based on caricatures of films based on their trailers. Stephen King has such a familiar style that it is ripe for comedy but this film never really gets beyond the few scenes and references. Monroe has couple of funny bits when the film decides to take the piss out of the war vet clichés but the bits with Ronnie just annoyed me. This film was just not to my taste though it wasn’t completely incompetent and is filmed quite well.

Rating 4.0/10

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Posted by on November 17, 2013 in Entertainment, Film

 

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Review: Carrie

October Horror Month

Another late one, I need to get better at time management. This is one of those rare creatures, a film adaptation of a Stephen King story that King is happy with and although are some changes they are not significant.  This the story of a lonely girl who only wants to be accepted and when there’s the hope that might be starting to happen a cruel prank leads her to unleash years of rage in an awful demonstration of her psychic powers.   

It opens on a high school PE class and they are playing volleyball. Carrie White (Sissy Spacek) is an awkward girl and not very co-ordinated so when the ball gets passed to her she drops it, to the general disgust of her team-mates. In the locker room afterwards while the other girls muck around nude in slow-mo Carrie showers alone. Suddenly she has her period and is terrified because she just knows she’s bleeding but not why. She pleads for help but they all just make fun of her and they start throwing tampons at her and chanting “plug it up, plug it up,” The bulb in the shower blows and it’s the first small sign of Carrie’s powers that barely gets noticed in the noise.

The PE teacher Miss Collins (Betty Buckley) hears the noise and goes to investigate and Carrie is hysterical and Miss Collins is not happy with any of them. She can’t understand why Carrie is reacting so badly to having a period until she realises that it’s her first and she doesn’t know what’s happening. Miss Collins sends the other girls away and calms Carrie down and explains it to her.

Miss Collins talk to the head teacher Mr Morton about how Carrie was never told about periods or anything else about sex either and teacher blames her extremely religious and extremely crazy mother. They call in Carrie and Morton keeps calling her Cassie which she corrects quietly and makes an ashtray sitting on his desk wobble with her mind as he talks to her. She flips it right over when he gets it wrong again and corrects him loudly and leaves. As Carrie walks home a young boy on a bike rides around her and teasing her, calling her Creepy Carrie so she makes bike his tip over with her powers.

Mrs White (Piper Laurie) is visiting her neighbours, proselytizing door-to-door and giving out religious tracts. She goes to see Mrs Snell (Priscilla Pointer), whose daughter Sue (Amy Irving) is in Carrie’s class. When she is getting into full flow about the evil that grips the world Mrs Snell interrupts her and gives her $10 donation to shut her up and get rid of her. Mrs White takes the money and leaves but she’s not happy.

Mrs White goes home and Carrie is upstairs in her room when the phone rings. It’s Miss Collins telling her about Carrie’s period. Mrs White tells Carrie to come downstairs. She smacks Carrie over the head with the bible and reads out passages about sin. Carrie wants to know why she didn’t tell her about periods but she just carries on forcing Carrie to repeat passages about Eve’s curse of blood for her sin. Her mother says she knows Carrie sins and drags her into a cupboard. In the cupboard is a gory explicit statue of St Sebastian full of arrows. When she comes out of cupboard later she thanks her mother for abusing her who says she can go to bed and Carrie makes a mirror break with her mind powers.

In school next day the English teacher Mr Fromm is reading poetry to the class. It is apparently by Tommy Ross (William Katt) but Fromm seems to doubt that he wrote it. He asks the class what they think and quietly Carrie says she thinks it’s beautiful and Fromm gets really nasty and takes piss and Tommy curses him under his breath

Miss Collins is with the PE class, all except Carrie, and she is punishing them for what happened with Carrie. None of them cared about Carrie’s feelings. Miss Collins wanted a really harsh punishment for them but Morton made it one week detention with Miss Collins on the athletic field.  Chris Hargensen (Nancy Allen) says she’s not coming and Miss Collins says the punishment for skipping detention is 3 days suspension and no prom tickets. She drills them very hard and the jaunty goofy music slows down as the all get tired. Chris whines that she’s had enough and swears at Miss Collins who slaps Sue really hard. Sue says she’s going to report her but she gets no back-up from other girls and walks away raging and planning vengeance.

Sue Snell goes to the track to talk to her boyfriend Tommy and she wants a favour from him. Sue is genuinely feeling bad about her behaviour in PE class and wants Tommy to invite Carrie to the prom instead of her.

Chris is with her boyfriend Billy (John Travolta) in his car driving around. He’s drinking beer and talking to other people cruising around like his buddy Freddy and a car full of girls. Suddenly a police car appears and Billy panics and hides the beer spilling it. Sue gets mad at him calls him an idiot and he slaps her. Sue and Billy get to a party and in the car she kisses his fingers then is making out but she stops to fix her hair she calls him dumb and he slaps her again.  She kisses him to talk him to doing something for her. She gives him oral sex and while she’s got her mouth full she say she hate Carrie White and Billy just says “Who?”

Carrie wants to know more about her powers and goes to the library to look up miracles and reads about telekinesis in several books. Tommy comes up to her makes a bit of small talk. He invites her to the prom and she runs off, so used to being teased she is sure this happening again.  Miss Collins finds her outside and Carrie tells her about it. Carrie thinks it’s a trick which it isn’t but it isn’t totally honest either. Miss Collins tries to tell her she an attractive young woman

Miss Collins talks to Tommy and Sue, thinking that something is going on. Sue says it’s really to help Carrie out by getting her out talking with people. Sue really wants Tommy to try and talk Carrie into accepting as she really thinks it will help her. Miss Collins is frustrated as there’s little she can do but she’s on her guard.

Tommy goes to Carrie’s house and fortunately she answers the door but stays behind the screen to speak to Tommy.  He tries to persuade her to go to the prom and won’t take no for an answer. Tommy says it because she liked his poem. Eventually she agrees and goes back inside quickly before her mother hears them.

Sue, Billy and Freddy break into a local slaughterhouse and climb into a pen full of pigs. Freddy is talking tough about how he’s going to kill a pig but craps out and hands the hammer to Billy who brutally smashes a pig to death with it.

At dinner Carrie isn’t hungry and tells her mother about the invitation to prom and it’s not too hard to guess her mother’s crazy overreaction. Carrie knows everyone thinks she’s a freak and just wants to be normal and go to prom. Carrie begs and pleads while Mrs White goes into a crazy religious rant and she forbids Carrie to go. Carrie uses her powers to make windows close and says she’s going and things are going to change. Carrie tells her about things she’s learned about her powers and of course her mother talks about and Satan tells her to renounce her powers. Carrie is not listening to her mother’s crazy talk any more Carrie and says she’s going to the prom.

Chris, Billy and Freddy break in to the school hall where the prom will be held and set up a bucket full of pigs’ blood above the stage. They fix it so that they just pull on a rope and it tips the blood over whoever is standing underneath it.

The day before the prom there are scenes of everyone getting ready for the big night. Carrie makes herself a dress and goes to a shop to buy herself lipstick.

Sue gets Freddy and one of her friends Norma to volunteer to do the collection of ballots for the Prom King and Queen to ensure her despicable plans works out.

That evening Carrie is getting ready putting on make-up and not listening to her mother who runs her down and says Tommy won’t come and they will all just laugh at her. When Tommy does arrive Mrs White tries to stop her leaving but Carrie forces her mother back down onto her bed with her power and leaves. Tommy drives them to the dance and Carrie is nervous and they wait in car before they go in while Tommy talks to her until she  relaxes.

Inside there’s a rock band playing and people up dancing. Carrie gets talking to one of the othe rgirls who is dating Tommy’s firend and she admires Carrie’s dress and is surprised to hear the Carrie made it herself. Tommy asks her if she wants to dance but Carrie says she wants to just sit for a while

Miss Collins comes up and talks with Carrie about her own prom and Carrie is starting to relax and have good time. Tommy invites Carrie to a party after the prom then asks her again if she wants to dance but Carrie says she doesn’t know how. Tommy shows her what to do and as they dance he kisses her. She asks why she’s here. Why? Why? Why?  Tommy calms her fears and says that they’re here and they’re together they like it.

They hold the vote for King and Queen and they see that their names are on the ballot. Tommy says they should vote for themselves and Carrie protests but Tommy say to hell with modesty.

Chris and Billy are hiding under stage ready with the rope to tip the bucket of blood. Their pals are collecting the ballot papers and they dump the papers they collected and replace them with their own pile of papers.

The result is announced and of course it’s Tommy and Carrie and Carrie feels so happy and accepted as they walk to the stage to the applause of the crowd in slow-mo. Sue has actually sneaked in to the hall and is so happy watching Carrie having a good time, getting her picture taken.

Sue sees the bucket and follows the rope down to where she sees Chris and Billy hiding under the stage. Miss Collins sees Sue looking up and following the rope from the bucket and thinks Sue is up to something and she tosses her out.

Chris pulls the string and the blood tips all over Carrie. Everyone is horrified except Chris’s friend who laughs loudly. Tommy is really angry but he gets knocked out by the bucket falling and hitting him in back of his head. There is only really that one girl laughing but Carrie has gone crazy and her mother’s word echo in her head and she sees them all laughing at her and she sees Chris and Billy sneaking out the back door.

Carrie is full of power fuelled by her rage and she forces all the doors closed. She unrolls the firehose and uses the blast of water to toss people around violently and on the stage the mixture of water and electricity kills Fromm and Morton at the microphone. Miss Collins gets crushed to death by the basketball backboard swinging loose. Then Carrie starts a fire and walks out of the hall as it rapidly becomes an inferno with the screams of the dying behind her. As Carrie walks down the road Chris is driving Billy’s car and she aims straight for Carrie to run her down but Carrie just tosses the car aside and it spins over and over then it bursts into flames.

Carrie goes home. Mrs White has the house full of lit candles. Carrie goes upstairs to her room and she goes into the bathroom, not seeing her mother hiding behind the bathroom door. Carrie peels of the dress and has a bath to clean the blood off her. Once she’s clean she calls to mother and Mrs White hugs her as she tells her about them making fun of her. Mrs White doesn’t offer much comfort and tells Carrie she regrets getting pregnant to her drunken father and she believes Carrie is her sin and says she should have killed her when she was born. As Carrie weeps in her arms Mrs White picks up her knife and stabs her in the back

Carries falls down the stairs into the kitchen backs away from her crazy mother who is coming to finish what she started but Carrie uses her powers to stab her with knives and other sharp things from kitchen in her hands and body. Mrs White is groaning like she’s in ecstasy as she dies with eyes in the same pose as the statue of St Sebastian. Carrie struggles to her feet and screams. She takes her mother down carries her into the punishment cupboard and collapses the house down on them and drags it into the ground.

Sue is the only survivor of her year and in a dream she goes to Carrie’s house to lay flowers and Carrie’s hand reaches out and grabs her arm and she wakes screaming.

This film has some pretty great performances especially from Sissy Spacek and Piper Laurie and director Brian De Palma must get the credit, or blame in some cases, for this. Carrie is such an underdog you can’t help but  get dragged in by the happiness of the moment before the blood and the hope that Sue will manage to stop Chris. I’m always bit puzzled by the use the split screen at the end which felt gimmicky and appeared at just the wrong moment  but it seem De Palma regrets it too. There’s a re-make on its way next year it but I won’t be getting my hopes up for that and I’m sure it’s been re-made before

Rating 8.5/10

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Posted by on October 19, 2012 in Entertainment, Film

 

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Review: In the Mouth of Madness

John Carpenter really makes some creepy horror films and I think this one gets up there with some of the best that he’s made. The story has some H P Lovecraft influence but I think it resembles the writing of Stephen King a lot too.

We are introduced to John Trent (Sam Neill) reluctantly being admitted to a psychiatric hospital putting up a bit of a struggle as the staff put him into a padded cell. It was a funny scene that he’s sitting in his room and they start piping The CarpentersWe’ve Only Just Begun and there’s an insane chorus of inmates singing along to it. (I think the same music is played on the radio in the film 1408 too). Later Trent gets a visit from Dr Wrenn (David Warner) and he tells Wren his story

Trent is an insurance fraud investigator who looks into big claims for his boss at an insurance company. He is intelligent but deeply cynical, always believing people are pulling some sort of scam if they have the opportunity. Trent gets asked to look into the case of claim from a publishing company whose best-selling horror writer Sutter Cane has gone missing. He is sitting having lunch with his boss who is telling him the details when a madman with crazy eyes (and really mean crazy eyes) smashes through the window next to them asks Trent “Do you read Sutter Cane?” before raising the axe he’s carrying and getting shot dead by cops before he can kill Trent with it.

At the publishersTrent talks with Jackson Harglow (Charlton Heston). Trent smells something is going on and suspects they are faking it for a publicity stunt but Harglow insist he wants to know what’s going on just as much as Trent does. He introduces Linda Styles (Julie Carmen), an editor who worked on all Cane’s books. Styles tells him that they never had any direct contact with Cane, only through his agent. Trent asks about the agent and is told that he was the axe-crazy man he saw shot dead. Trent is not all that impressed by Cane dismissing his writing based on what he’s heard about it. Styles recommends Trent tries reading it for himself.

On the news there have been stories of riots in bookshops everywhere with fans of Sutter Cane wanting his latest book. Trent goes to a bookshop to buy all of Sutter Cane’s books and the place has been wrecked. A young fan of Cane’s has got crazy eyes. Earlier Styles had told Trent that Cane’s writing has been found to an effect on his less mentally stable readers. Trent goes home and speed reads through the Sutter Cane books. He nods off and has a terrible nightmare. He suddenly notices something on the covers of all the books, red lines, When he cuts through the red lines the pieces of the cover fit together to form a map of New Hampshire, with the location of the fictional town of Hobb’s End marked on the map.

Trent takes his discovery to Harglow and Styles, sure that he’s uncovered part of their plot but Harglow denies it. Trent is going New Hampshire to look for Hobb’s End and find Sutter Cane so Harglow decides to send Styles along with him. They are driving through New Hampshire all day with no sign of Hobb’s End, with Styles insisting it’s because the place doesn’t exist. She brings up the idea of what reality is and says that if most believe in Cane’s reality then it would be those who are sane that would be the crazy ones

At night Styles takes over the driving while Trent gets some sleep. They pass Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christiansen) riding his bike. A bit further on Styles is startled by an old man cycling towards her and she hits him. When she gets out to help him he has a boy’s voice and is dressed the same and has the same bike as the boy she saw earlier. The man/boy gets up and cycles off again apparently unhurt so they get back in their car and Styles drives on. It is pitch back but the sound of the road seems to stop yet they are still moving. She looks out and it looks like they are flying through the airabove the clouds. After a few moments noise erupts as the wheels land on a covered wooden bridge and the darkness is broken up by flashe of sunshine through the wooden planks of the bridge. They get to the other side in broad daylight and Styles stops next to a “Welcome to Hobb’s End” sign. Trent wakes up then and congratulates Styles on finding the place. Styles just gives him a look then says “You can drive,”

They drive around the town of Hobbs End which is pretty quiet. The only activity seems top a bunch of young kids chasing a dog. They check into the hotel and Styles gets creepy feeling of familiarity. Everything she has seen is like it has come of Sutter Cane’s books, especially the hotel. In their room she tries to convince Trent but he’s cynical as you’d expect. To try to prove his point he reads a description of a black church that should be visible from the window and it isn’t. Styles goes to the other window and points to the church, visible exactly as described in the book. They go to the church and see several townspeople driving up armed and angry, with Vigo the Carpathian from Ghostbusters 2 (Wilhelm von Homburg) demanding the return of his son. Cane (Jürgen Prochnow) appears in the doorway with the boy but the door closes before the man can get his son and a pack of viscious dobermans chases everyone away.

Trent is sure it’s all a performance but Styles insist that it isn’t. She confirms that the disappearance was a stunt arranged by the publishing company for publicity but insists that Hobbs End is not real. Trent says he doesn’t remember evil children and dogs but Styles says that’s because it’s from the new book. Trent wants to just go back to confront Harglow but Styles steals the car keys and makes her way back to the black church. Cane tells her about dark creatures, eldritch abominations from other dimensions htat had been guiding his writing and have given him the power to make what he writes reality so that he can write them an entrance into the real world. Cane lets her read the finished book, the new bible that will start the change.

Trent goes to the bar and the man from earlier at the church warns him to get out of town before the evil infects him too. Outside Trent gets chased by a mutated mob of townspeople and he runs back the hotel. Styles is there and she’s mutating too. The old lady running the hotel has transformed into a tentacled monster. Trent gets in his car and tries to get away but every road leads him back to the mob at the centre of town. He decides to drive through the mob and Styles appears in the road in front of him, forcing him to swerve and crash.

Went Trent come round he finds himself in a confessional booth inside the church. Cane tells Trent that he’s a character written by Cane with task of taking the manuscript into the outside world. Trent refuses to believe this but Cane insists it is true. Cane rips his face open like a paper and it opens a portal and the dark ones chase Trent down a long tunnel.

Suddenly Trent is lying at the side of a road with no sign of Hobb’s End or its residents. The manuscript keeps following him on his way back to the city despite his several attempt to destroy it. Back at Harglow’s office Trent apologises for no managing to get the manuscript, but Harglow doesn’t know what he’s talking about. Trent delivered the book months ago and the film version was due to be released soon. He also doesn’t know anything about Styles.

Trent is losing it and he goes to a bookshop full of other people who are losing it too. He kills a young man with crazy eyes outside the bookshop and this leads to his admission to the psychiatric hospital and back to Trent telling his story to Dr Wrenn.

After Wrenn leaves the power goes out in th hospital and Trent sees strange shadows and hears terrible screams, some of them human. Next day his cell door has been ripped open, the hospital is wrecked and lifeless. Trent leaves the building and outside it looks like an abandoned battle zone. He makes his way into the city and sees a cinema screening the new Sutter Cane novel “In the Mouth of Madness” starring John Trent and directed by John Carpenter. He sits down and watches the same film we have and he laughs hysterically at the film, the hysteria edging gradually into despair and the film ends.

You know what hate most about this film? That I’m stuck with a video of this film instead getting it on a decent quality DVD with a John Carpenter commentary. The self-referential nature of the story is nicely done. Some of the effects are better than others but I think this a really entertaining film.

 
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Posted by on November 7, 2011 in Entertainment, Film

 

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