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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: Dark Shadows

DVD Review

I was familiar with the original Dark Shadows TV when they used to show it on the Sci Fi Channels in the 90s. It was long with complicated story-lines. I was not confident that a faithful film would be successful or that with Tim Burton in the director’s chair there would be much sign of the source material. I’m not really sure who this film is for since I don’t think the liberties taken with characters will please fans of the original TV series and there are much better collaborations between Burton and Depp than this to please their fans.

The wealthy Collins family left for America in 1760 to set up a fish processing factory in a bay they named Collinsport and with the wealth from that business they built a very large house that they called Collinwood. Their son and heir Barnabas grew into Johnny Depp who has a relationship with a servant called Angelique (Eva Green). When Angelique wants more than just sex he rejects her. Unfortunately for Barnabas, Angelique is a powerful witch and she kills his parents.

Barnabas knows that his parents were killed by magic somehow and he studies magic to try to find out how. Later Barnabas falls in love with Josette DePres (Bella Heathcote) and Angelique casts a spell to drive Josette to the edge of a cliff and throw herself to her death in front of Barnabas. A grief-stricken Barnabas throws himself off the cliff too but Angelique casts another spell and turns him into an immortal vampire so he can suffer forever. She then turns the town against him so they capture him in a metal coffin bound with chains and bury him

That’s enough back-story now, the film forwards to 1972 and a young woman who decides to call herself Victoria Winters (Bella Heathcote) travels on a train to Collinsport. She gets a lift from the station in a VW van from a gang of dope-smoking hippies to the gate of Collinwood. The place has certainly seen betters day and now looks a bit dilapidated and where there would usually be a garden there’s a pumpkin patch. She knocks on the door and it’s opened by the grounds-keeper Willie Loomis (Jackie Earle Haley) who is also the butler and cook. Victoria introduces herself and says she’s here for the job of tutor to one of the Collins children. Elizabeth Collins (Michelle Pfeiffer) comes down to greet her and asks her a few questions about 70s current affairs and seems pleased to find Victoria’s view to be archaic and  that she is disinterested in the modern world. Elizabeth tells Victoria about the other people staying there, Elizabeth’s daughter Carolyn (Chloë Grace Moretz), her brother Roger (Jonny Lee Miller), his son David (Gulliver McGrath) that Victoria is to tutor, a senile old cook who never says anything and a psychiatrist Dr Hoffman (Helena Bonham Carter).

Victoria meets everyone at dinner later where Elizabeth introduces her to Roger and Caroline who is dancing to psychedelic music and calling her young cousin a loony. Dr Hoffman staggers down to the dining room drunk. While they are sitting down to dinner David appears covered in a sheet. He gets ridiculed by Caroline and told off by Elizabeth for cutting holes in sheets. He wanted to scare Victoria and she plays along and says she was terrified. While they talk over dinner Caroline gets sent to her room for been cheeky and unpleasant. Victoria learns that they all think David is a bit strange because David talks to his dead mother. Victoria starts backing him up and talks about her thoughts on ghosts and other dimensions but Elizabeth shuts her down.

Later that night Victoria sees the ghost of Josette who tells her “He” is coming. At a construction site in town a digger finds something in the soil and at first they think it’s a gas main but when they dig around it they find it’s metal coffin bound in chains. They open the up the coffin and a very hungry Barnabas comes out and kills all the workers, apologising for this to last man he kills Barnabas heads towards town and we get a sample of what we’re in for when he sees an electric McDonalds sign and thinks it is powered by witchcraft. In town he sees the very strange sight of the 70s filtered through the mind of Tim Burton and even though Collinsport is a fairly quiet small coastal town you’d think it was a trendy swinging town in California.

Barnabas goes to Collinwood and is it not happy with the state of the place. He meets Willie in the pumpkin patch and Barnabas waves his pointy vampire hand around and hypnotises Willie and gets him to tell him what year it is and about the Collins family. He has Willie take him to get cleaned up then Barnabas goes into the house and in the large hall he introduces himself as relative from abroad to David and Caroline. Caroline mocks his archaic speech and mannerisms but David likes him because he’s creepy. Elizabeth enters and of course she recognises him from his portrait above the fire place but she doesn’t believe in the old stories and wants to know who he really is and what he’s up to. To prove that he’s who he say he is he activates a secret door down to a basement and shows her a secret stash of art and treasure. Elizabeth swears him to secrecy and agrees to let him to stay.

At breakfast next morning Elizabeth introduces Barnabas to Roger and then to Dr Hoffman went she makes her appearance. Barnabas says he going to invest in the family fish processing business. Over the years their business has been lost to rival called Angel Bay. Victoria comes down to breakfast and right away Barnabas notices her similarity to his love Josette.

Angel Bay is owned by Angelique and when she hears about the murders of the construction workers wants to know where because she realises it means that Barnabas is back at Collinwood. Angelique heads straight out there and Barnabas is surprised to see her still alive but she’s been around all this time, taking out her anger at being rejected by Barnabas on the whole Collins family. She still wants him but Barnabas is still angry about Josette being killed and then being locked in a coffin for about 200 years

This film has Burton’s style all over it and it is much more a Burton film than it is an adaptation of the Dark Shadows TV series. The films doesn’t settle very easily in any genre since as a comedy it’s not funny, as a horror there are no scares and the dramatic elements are campy and over-played. The characters are very thin with no depth at all. Barnabas Collins in particular is a mere caricature of the character played by Jonathan Fridd in the original TV series which may have been cheap and creaky but at least it had a sense of unease about it. This film is not totally horrible but it isn’t very interesting either

Rating 6.0/10

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Posted by on November 10, 2012 in Entertainment, Film


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