Thursday, 29 November 2018

The Wicker Man/The Langoliers/The Howling/Urban Legend

The Wicker Man

contains spoilers

It's hard to talk about a film talked to death, and one which has melted into pop culture, so in brief: excellent. Although, I think the horror is the wrong way round.
 See, Edward Woodward comes to the island of his own free will, walks into a trap and is burned to death in a giant Wicker Man. Horror, right? But if you look at it the other way, a close knit and loving (figuratively and literally) community are threatened by an outside force which threatens to destroy the island and its people until they band together to destroy it. I've just described every vampire film ever, and its funny how if you turn the vampire into a Wee Free police man, how the audience perspective flips. This is a film in which perspective flips. Christopher Lee is viewed as overlord of the island, yet a closer looks reveals him to have less power than Theresa May and at risk from the villagers themselves. Britt Ekland is seen as sinful through the eyes of Sgt Howie (and thus the camera) when she is in fact trying to save his life. What's notable is the number of islanders - including Lee's Lord Summerisle himself - who suggest Woodward should sod off the island before May Day. Yet his character flaw is himself.

Wicker Man has some stunning camera work, and each character is well cast. It's also a film in which a character dies because he will not sleep with 1970s Britt Ekland.
 The Langoliers (Mini-series)

Terrible acting!

Dean Stockwell.

More terrible acting.

And yet... more engaging than the King novella. The main protagonist is a writer. Not named Stephen. 10 passengers wake up on a plane to find everyone gone, a deserted airport, and a terrible whistling in the distance, while a mentally disturbed man yells about the Langoliers. There is psychic kid, too. This is an anti-time-travel story. With terrible acting. Some nice of sound, though.

If you like Dean Stockwell gazing worried at the camera for long periods - and he and David Morse are our stock "they can actually act" cast members here - then this is the show for you.
 The Howling

A film with the greatest heel turn since Andre the Giant, if only it wasn't spelled out in huge foreshadowing letters before hand. A woman is nearly killed by a serial killer, so her friendly pyschiatrist John Steed sends her to a colony where folk can be themselves. You've probably guessed from the title that this is a film about werewolves, and you'd be right. And so, without even trying to spoil things, you've probably already guessed the twist.

And despite that, its a fun engaging wee film. Dee Wallace and Belinda Balaski are both engaging, and Patrick Macnee is always on hand to look worried out of windows. I would have said it also had the least sensual sex scene in some time, but then I also saw Phantasm a few days ago.

Oh, and the SFX are great. Team went onto do The Thing.
 I remember when Scream came out. Each generation has a stand out horror film that all the kids needed to see, and that was ours. For some strange reason, however, Mum wasn't very keen on this, mostly down to it being an 18 rated film, and me being ten at the time. Somehow everyone else in the class got to see a pirate video tiil one day it came out at a friends house. Forbidden film! There was still an hour to go by pick up time, so his mum phoned my mum and told her she'd made dinner for us, so to come over at 8pm instead. Saw film, had dinner, mum comes over, evidence hidden. On the bus back home, Mum casually asked: "So how was Scream then?" Mums! They know!

Scream was a huge success, however, and it brought a ¤¤¤¤load of horror films in its wake, based on similiar stylings. Some hold up really well, and one successful cult one I taped last night and hope to see again this month.

And then you get...

Urban Legend (1998)

At the time, this was one of the scariest films that existed, but then we were twelve. At that age, urban legends are documentary. At the age of thirty-two, this is goofy rubbish. It's so goofy that the killer bumps off all of Natalie's friends and adult guardians till there's only 3 people living and one person has to be the killer by default. And they are! Also, motive? Natalie and one girl who dies at the very start once killed the killer's friend in a crap joke gone wrong. But what did Freddie Kreuger or the Well Manicured Man have to do with that? Disproportionate and somewhat mean retribution diving all over the place here.

Robert Englund has a ball. In Hatchet, he was on screen for one scene only, so here we get two scenes. More screen time in Hatchet though. He is the red herring, but this is told to us rather than shown - on screen he's amiable enough the little we see of him. The whole audience believing he did it is based on the audience knowing its Freddie. That could work in a better film, but like the superb John Neville (who probably signed up just for that death scene) he is wasted. Before being wasted.

This is fundamental of the film. Too many characters, not enough time to breathe, so little to care about them when they die. The sole exception to this is Tara Reid's Sasha, who dies on live radio and is meant to be one of the more popular people on campus and yet there's still 3 people tracking down the killer. Care about these characters, film, the audience is doing it's best here.

Brainless slasher film, where the killer uses cars to kill folk, then killed a child with a car in real life.

Oh, Brad Douriff has a fun one scene cameo.

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