9 Deuce Horror Presents: Texas Chainsaw Massacre

The 9 Deuce Horror Group sat down and answered some questions surrounding the original and remake of one of the most iconic horror franchises in history, Texas Chainsaw Massacre.  I am here with Kristi, Dom, and Cece, so I want to thank them.

  1.  When you saw the 1974 version for the first time, and watched the opening about how this was real, did you wonder if it really did happen, or did you just assume that it was just another horror flick?

Kristi:  I am more apt to believe it’s based off of true events when it says that. So I believed it.

Dom:  No, I believe that it took some true life event for it’s inspiration

Cece:  The actual legitimate story probably didn’t take place, however, it was said to have been influenced by Ed Gein. 

Kent:  Yeah, I bought into it at first.

 

  1.  I don’t think that we had seen much, if anything quite as extreme as this in mainstream cinema in America at the time.  This set the bar for awhile.  Chronologically, what was the next film that you feel upped the extreme factor beyond this particular film?  There are no wrong answers, but I may poke fun a bit because I’m a jerk.

Kristi: If I’m being honest here, I really haven’t seen many films from the 70s, so I will go with my favorite, Mr. Michael Myers in Halloween.

Dom:  Friday the 13th.  I hear that many moviegoers were not ready for the “extreme” violence of the original TCM

Cece:  Honestly, I am not sure. I think a lot of people really clung to Blair Witch when it came out.

Kent:  Salo is the answer.  There are no other answers.  It is Salo.  Of you haven’t seen Salo, don’t, but know that is the answer.  

 

  1.  Which character got the worst death in the original film?  What about in the remake?

Kristi: Original- the first girl that got killed. Hanging on that hook is way worse than getting clobbered in the head.

Remake- Kemper, Again with the damn hook!

Dom:  Original: The dude in the wheelchair.  Just couldn’t get away.

Remake: Morgan

Cece:  Hook girl is pretty solid for the original. For the remake, I’d say Andy or Morgan.

Kent:  Franklyn and Andy

 

  1.  The original had one of the better endings, especially for it’s time.  Aside from Psycho, can you think of other films prior to the 80’s that had such a unique ending?  If so, what film(s)?

Dom:planet of the apes

Cece:  Honestly, I am clueless on this matter.

Kent:  Salo, Jaws was interesting, The Hills Have Eyes, The Nudist Colony of the Dead, I Drink Your Blood, Suspiria, a lot of them is in the conversation.

 

  1.  Tobe Hooper had a good career as a film director, he also did Salem’s Lot, Poltergeist, Billy Idol’s music video for “Dancing With Myself”, an episode of Tales From The Crypt with Whoopie Goldberg, The Funhouse, Lifeforce, The Funhouse, along with a  few other things.  Would you consider this his best work or do you prefer something else that he did?

Dom: This will be his masterpiece.

Kristi: I actually prefer Poltergeist. The girl screaming for 20 minutes in TCM was annoying as hell. Shut the hell up, calm down, and figure out a plan! Don’t get me wrong, I love this movie, but seriously, did she need to sit there and scream uncontrollably at the table?

Cece:  This will always be his best work.

Kent:  Poltergeist was a better done film, but this is my preference.  Not my best answer, I admit.

 

  1.  Let’s talk about the hitchhiker scene in the beginning of both films.  The original had a male while the remake had a female.  Which one set the tone better for the rest of the film in your opinion?

Kristi:  I have to go with the remake. It gave me an idea of where the film was going. I enjoyed the original as well but it didn’t really give me any direction as to where the film was headed.

Dom:  Both.  Each had a different reason for being there in the beginning as a set up for later.

Cece:  I think the remake was a better feel honestly.

Kent:  I think remake, but both served their purpose, but that fucking exit would in the remake.

 

  1.  The remake starred both Jessica Biel and R Lee Ermey of Full Metal Jacket fame. Did this help the remake by adding well known people, or did it detract a bit from the experience?

Kristi: I like her. I was not distracted at all by them being in it. For me, it added to my enjoyment of the film.

Dom:  It’s the content of the film as well as the story for the most part, though bad acting can totally destroy a film too

Cece:  Usually when using big names, I do get distracted. However, this didn’t bother me for this film.

Kent:  This one worked because Jessica Biel has had a meaningless career career, so it came down to R Lee and he killed it in this one and the prequel.  I liked it.

 

  1.  Who was your favorite character in either film?

Kristi:  Original- The Hitchhiker.  He was batshit crazy. I like that.

Remake- I enjoyed Jessica Biel’s charactor. She irritated me a little bit in the beginning but I think she did a pretty damn good job overall.

Dom: LeatherFace for both

Cece:  I love the crazy family members of Leatherface.

Kent:  Original is the Hitchhiker, remake is Sheriff Hoyt

 

  1.  When you simply consider the look of how both movies were filmed, obviously the remake had a significantly more polished feel to it, which style do you prefer?  The low budget feel of the original or the polished Hollywood style of the remake?

Kristi: I usually like the more Hollywood style but for this film, I liked the low budget feel. I think it adds to the film.

Dom:  The original having that low budget feel made it feel like a documentary , but a good documentary.  The polished feel was expected of today’s audiences.  But i felt both styles were done good.

Cece:  The low budget feel in the original takes the cake. This is one of the main reasons this movie scares the shit out of me.

Kent:  I gotta go with original, but it is very close.  I love 70’s gritty look.

 

Bonus Deuce

  1.  It’s okay to admit that this was a well done remake.  Not all remakes are inherently evil or unwanted.  When done right, they can be a positive experience.  Name a few remakes that you really enjoyed.  The obvious example is The Thing in the 80’s, and that will be my answer, but there are quite a few others.

Kristi: Rob Zombie’s Halloween is the first to come to mind. I think It was done very well also! I didn’t hate Carrie either. It could just be because I like the girl, but I thought it was ok.

Dom:  R Zombie’s Halloween.  Black Christmas

Cece: Zombie’s Halloween for sure (but only the first one) also IT (2017)

Kent:  The Thing, Halloween, The Crazies, Friday the 13th, Night of the Living Dead with Tony Todd, IT

 

  1.  Have you seen any of the sequels, and if so, did you like any of them?

Kristi: I have not seen them.

Dom:  i have but i only remember bits and pieces.  So I’m guessing no.

Cece:  I have seen bits and pieces of the 2nd one with the chili cook off and it’s so bizarre. My mom thinks it’s hilarious.

Kent:  I have unfortunately.  Part 3 was the best of the original 3 sequels, and the prequel to the remake was fine as was the 3D film for what it was.

Please check us out at the actual 9 Deuce website, on Facebook at facebook.com/9deuceblog , on Twitter @official9deuce, or Instagram at Official9Deuce.  Share this, like this, write us an email with a question at kent@9deuce.com.  Thank you.

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The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003)

Michael Bay wanted to make a reboot of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre franchise, and so he went to work.  People frown upon remakes, I am one of them, but this is truly an exception to the rule.  This was not the same story as the original, and for that I am grateful.  The original was great as it was.  This is similar, but different enough.  I am going to give you a synopsis full of spoilers followed by my final thoughts and a rating.  

 

SPOILERS

We meet our main group of friends.  We have Erin (Jessica Biel), her boyfriend Kemper, Morgan (Jonathan Tucker), Andy, and his hitchhiking love interest, Pepper  They are on their way to a Lynard Skynard concert.  They had gone to Mexico and got a pinata full of weed, so wet blanket, I mean Erin, is pissed at Kemper.  They pick up a hitchhiking female, and she is just in rough shape.  She just wants to go home and looks like she has been through hell.  She doesn’t want to go back and pulls out a loaded gun from her crotchal region and puts a bullet in her dome and we get a great shot through the exit wound.  This was so different from the original and set the stage.  In the original, the guy was just lonely and nutty.  This was the epitome of hopelessness, and it was incredibly sad.

They go to call the sheriff and he wants them to meet by this house, so they explore the barn.  Anyway, they end up at the Hewitt house and Erin goes to call again and Kemper grows impatient.  Anyway, this is all an elaborate set up.  The sheriff gives Morgan, Andy, and Pepper a hard time and asks them to do some ridiculous shit.  The sheriff is played by the great R. Lee Ermey.  They eventually figure out that he is involved with everything.  Kemper gets got first.  Everybody gets got and we meet more relatives, including a little boy, Jebidiah.  He is played by David Dorfman, who also played the role of Aidan in The Ring.  Anyway, Jebidiah, a name that comes up later on in the franchise, he helps Erin escape from Leatherface.  The family is not as over the top in this one and set a really nice ambiance.  In the end, after having a face off with Leatherface in the meat packing facility, she ends up hotwiring a car and runs over the Sheriff a few times.

End Film

 

Final Thoughts – While the original is very gritty, this is very polished, but in a good way.  They made plenty of changes that didn’t hurt the story in any way and made up it’s own backstory which comes into play in the follow up film.  I loved the family in this even more than the original.  They upped the gore level.  It was never scary, but it was dark. Leatherface wasn’t goofy anymore, he was a bad ass killer not to be trifled with.  Jessica Biel probably should have had more skin showing through given what she was wearing.  Morgan was also an interesting character put in situations that you try to put yourself into, and he was fucked the whole time quintessentially.  

Rating: 7.6 it’s the same rating I gave the original.  I love both and I am not going to tell you one is better that the other.  Some will disagree, and that’s fine.  Both have a charm, and both are the best of their respective franchises.

Please check us out at the actual 9 Deuce website, on Facebook at facebook.com/9deuceblog , on Twitter @official9deuce, or Instagram at Official9Deuce.  Share this, like this, write us an email with a question at kent@9deuce.com.  Thank you.

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Prom Night (2008)

I found the original Prom Night from 1980 to be mediocre, but did help push some angles that other films have taken and made their own, so it had some historic significance.  Then along comes this film, which is and isn’t a reboot of the franchise.  I have no idea.  I think it sorta is.  Anyway, it does have some recognizable names including: Brittany Snow, Idris Elba, Kellan Lutz, James Ransone, and Ming-Na Wen (Chun Li in Street Fighter!).  OK, the biggest name is Idris, but the others are names you may know, like James was in Sinister 1 and 2, or Kellan from the AWFUL Twilight franchise.  Brittany Snow should be doing porn, but instead has done Pitch Perfect films.  Yeah, exactly.  OK, so I am going to give a brief spoiler laden synopsis and then follow that up with my final thoughts and a rating.

 

SPOILERS

Donna (Brittany) finds her brother and father dead and then hides under a bed and has to see her mom killed by her former teacher, Richard Fenton, so she ends up living with her aunt and uncle. So far, this isn’t nearly as cool of an opening as the original with the kids accidentally killing Robin.  Sadly, this is the best part of the whole film.  This leads to prom night, and 3 couples get a suite at the hotel where this super prom is taking place.  This prom is so over the fucking top, rich kid’s school shit.  They have some of the absolutely most cringe worthy dialogue in film history.  Go ahead, watch this and drink every time you cringe.  You will get drunk.  The obsession over who’s going to be prom queen was especially nauseating and the whole thought of how important it is, and how it will be a lifetime highlight, and how everybody will remember who the queen was.  Fucking hell, I wanna kill these kids before Richard does.  Oh yeah, Richard has escaped prison.  So the cops are keeping tabs on the prom, mainly Idris and James come into play.  

One of the couples is afraid of going to college 100 miles away from each other because love from a high school relationship is forever.  Fucking naive fucking morons.  If you believed this shit when you were in high school, open hand slap yourself in the face, and you know damn well that some people reading this were that gullible, whether they choose to admit it or not.  I couldn’t get any chicks in high school, so I can openly admit to never being this fucking stupid.  The cleaning lady and a bellhop guy get got by Richard, and then some of the friends.  Oh, this is rated PG-13 so the murders are such bullshit that you can’t even enjoy their deaths.  I want some drawn out sadistic kills based on dialogue alone.  I do love the one girl, Chrissy, whose whole life for awhile revolved around being a bitch and trying to be prom queen.  She is who she is and isn’t ashamed of it.  We need more people like her in movies.  She does not get killed.

So the whiny white couple get got, and the black chick does, but not her boy toy.  Black chick was really pretty in this and had a nice dress.  Some of these prom dresses are fucking laughable.  Yup, critiquing young women and shaming them.  That’s what I do.  So they pull the alarm, evactuate the hotel, but Richard has escaped.  Donna and Bobby are at her aunt and uncle’s place, which is under supervision, but Richard is a fucking skilled ninja who has killed off trained police officer who are on lookout duty.  This guy has no fucking special powers or training, but is taking people out like it’s nothing.  Bobby is now dead in bed with Donna and Idris is hauling ass back.  The final showdown is painful to say the least.  Like, she doesn’t scream to get Idris’ attention and that fucking drove me nuts. Everybody cries at the end, including those who paid to see this.

End Film

 

Final Thoughts – Holy hell, who got this film greenlit?  How did they attract so many talented people?  How did this film make over double it’s cost?  How the fuck is that possible?  This is pure trash horror made for teenie boppers who would also call bullshit at how tame this is.  7 year old Kent would make fun of this trash.  Also, no tits, what the fuck?  This is why horror should always be mandated to be R unless it’s something like Monster Squad.  I was so irritated during this, and halfway through, I realized that I had sadly seen this before.  Fuck.

Rating: 2.5 Mainly for Idris and the attractive young women.  Yeah,that’s what I have to offer you.  Read a book or something rather than watching this shit.

Please check us out at the actual 9 Deuce website, on Facebook at facebook.com/9deuceblog , on Twitter @official9deuce, or Instagram at Official9Deuce.  Share this, like this, write us an email with a question at kent@9deuce.com.  Thank you.

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#107 Carrie (2013)

I don’t have high hopes for this, but I love the original. Trying to go in with an open mind. The beginning is definitely different.

So this is rated R and yet they still fucked up the locker room scene and had no titties!!! The fuck is this bullshit??? I am going to be constantly comparing this to the original, which may not be fair, but when you remake a movie, you better expect nitpicking and extreme over analyzing. I’m so sick of the weak excuse of “Well it opens up the movie to a whole new generation”. That only is important when you can significantly improve upon it. The Thing remake in the 80’s, that made sense. the Ocean’s Eleven, it brought something different to the table. Will this do anything different or better?

So let’s elaborate some. They will try to over do the special effects I am willing to bet. If you have an R rating, fucking make use of that! The locker room scene would have been so much better with 2-19 pairs of tits involved. 20 would just be greedy. Now I just saw 2 high schoolers having sex in a car…..no tits. This is going to get a piss poor review from me I fear.

So I will say something positive. The 2 leads are decent. I’m a big fan of Julianne Moore, and Chloe isn’t awful.  In the scene where the gym teacher threatens the girls with not going to prom, in the original, you had a class of girls that look like high school girls, some were chubby or unattractive, or average, there was a variety. In the remake….who the fuck is the average girl even? There’s no chubby girls. I fucking hate that shit. Don’t treat your audience like kids. Not every girl in these films have to look perfect, it’s not reality. Guys like a little variety. I mean not even the background girls were ugly. So fucking dumb!!!

I wish they would have found a better longing dude to play Tommy. The original guy was awesome with his sweet looking tux and amazing blond hair. This guy, he just looks like every other high school jock guy. Lame. I won’t even get into who they replaced Travolta with, but the bar has been lowered.

It’s about time I got to hear “dirty pillows” as well as “they’re all gonna laugh at you”.

So the prom scene was updated well….until they didn’t have her hear “they’re all gonna laugh at you” in the wierd way the original did. I mean that is a huge deal and they fucked that up. The other big thing they royally fucked up was the ending. The gravestone ending was blasphemous from my perspective.

All in all, the 4 main leads succeeded in various way, they weren’t the problem with it, although Chloe may have been too cute for the role. Chloe did a fine acting job, i really did like her performance. It was all the minor things that I fell in love with in the original, and this felt like an empty shell. It’s like when you are best friends with somebody and they turn their back on you, or your girlfriend dumps you, and suddenly you see them as only a shell of their former self. That’s what this was. I can still be friends with this movie, I don’t hate this movie, but damned if I don’t prefer the old Carrie. That was my Carrie.

I’m giving this  5.1 because I am unsure if I will watch this again, but I feel someday I might out of boredom. Too many missed opportunities to give it much above. And if anybody is reading this and hasn’t seen the original Carrie, go watch it, then tell it how much you love it.

I don’t own the rights to this picture or film. It’s from the film, so they are the owners, not me.

T & A Totals didn’t change at all…..really, nothing guys? It was rated R. Show us Judy Greer topless, something.

13 Bare breasts

2 bare asses

2 concealed breasts

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#99 Quarantine (2008)

I don’t understand why I have heard so much negativity around this movie. The original Rec, was a Korean movie perhaps. One of those Asia countries. Anyway, this was a fun, original feeling movie. Yeah, it was does the bouncy handheld camera thing due to the premise, but it works well and isn’t too chaotic in my opinion. There’s no big names here, but the acting is fine for what it needs to be.

Sometimes I just want to copy and past IMDB’s synopsis. But why come here if you can go there….right?

So this reasonably attractive female reporter is to spend the night with the local fire department. Well you spend 10-15 mins getting to know some of these guys, it was filler but it wasn’t boring really surprisingly. Then they get a call, so her and the cameraman go on a ride along. At some apartment building, so lady was going a lil crazy with yelling. Well she got infected with a disease that causes her to like this killer but zombie-ish, lots of biting and shit. Well of course she attacks somebody, then they get the disease, and the cops and firefighters are trying to restore order, but it keeps spreading. When they try to leave, they find out the government has quarantined the building and they are not getting out thanks to the CDC. So basically they are left to fend for themselves. They have no contact to the outside world at this point. They be fucked. Of course lady survives towards the end and what we are seeing the found footage so to speak.

This was a very fun movie. Don’t take it too seriously and enjoy a gory film with a few potential scares. I think it gets a bad rep because sometimes the public just wants to hate on some horror flicks because they be stupid. I am giving this a 7.1. If you don’t like it, why are you reading this garbage?

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#93 Halloween (2007)

And just as I thought I was out, I get pulled right back in. OK, I willingly walked into this treat.

Let me start off by saying that for the life of me, I DO NOT understand the hate for this movie. I’m sorry, but people need to let shit go when it comes to remakes. They are here to stay. If you don’t want to see it, don’t watch it. BUT do NOT tell me that it’s a bad movie just because you are too hurt that a remake was made. Let’s look at the remake market for horror.

Nightmare on Elm Street – noble effort, wasn’t bad, destined to be hated because it wasn’t Robert Englund. That was a good shot, I’m not hating, but I prefer the original.

Friday the 13th – The remake was fantastic. Compared to the original, I will take the remake any day. That is not me saying that I don’t recognize the importance of the of the original, much like any of these, but this movie was way more entertaining.

Texas Chainsaw Massacre – Similar set up, very close ties to the original, and it was well done. Some days I prefer the original, some the newer, depending on if I want bloody or gritty. Both excellent.

Hills Have Eyes – New one is way more bloody and gory, still a lot prefer the original.

Amityville Horror – New one wasn’t bad, it just never properly resonated with fans like the original, and I am partial to the original as well.

The Shining – The biggest debate for true fans. You see, you have the people that instantly dismiss it due to it not being Kubrick, due to the length, due to Jack nicholson being replaced by Steven Weber, a lot of differences from one to the other. Here’s the thing, the new one is more like the book. If you prefer the book, you should invest some time in the made for TV miniseries remake because it is extremely well done. The biggest beef I have with the remake is that it isn’t as scary, it simply isn’t. Both are great.

Which leads me to Rob Zombie’s take on Halloween.  This is THE BEST remake of the horror franchises, I do not accept any other answers. If you are pissed off that the family is white trash now as opposed to the original, well quite frankly it makes Michael’s descent all the more logical and reasonable. The original provides shit for a back story, and most people are actually satisfied with this? I firmly believe the haters went into this movie with  a hate on and never gave it a fair chance. This movie has something called character development. Wow, what a neat fucking idea. You don’t like the characters? Too bad, they have dimensions now. The original characters were poorly fleshed out and I will fight somebody tooth and nail over this. Look how long it took to get to Michael killing people in this. Look at what you know by that point. His mom is a stripper, the kids at school pick on him for this, he likes pet rats, his step dad is a complete dickhead to everybody in the house and calls Michael gay and demeans the shit out of everybody. Well now, I can see how that kid may snap and kill some mother fuckers. Why did the original Michael Meyers go on a killing spree? ……….Waiting……….Still waiting……….I got all fucking day………..Oh, you don’t have a good reason. Well fuck you very much, go park yourself at the kid’s table with your hackneyed opinions and preferences. You can tell I have had a few conversations and read some really stupid people’s opinions on this movie.

So we have a backstory. William Forsythe’s dickheaded character gets got. The stupid promiscuous sister and her man get got. We see titties! Sherri Moon dances.  This all happens prior to him being locked up. Are you kidding me? You are gonna complain about this? So Michael likes to have a mask on, makes him feel safer. Malcolm McDowell is Dr Loomis. Have I mentioned how great this cast is? The haters will bring up that it is a bunch of Rob Zombie retreads. Well ain’t that some shit. Who of his big stars before have huge roles in this? Sherri has an adequate role, and she’s hot. This certainly isn’t an issue. Tyler Mane is a beast of a man and is the best Michael in my opinion based on size and presence. Brad Douriff plays the main sheriff, and he’s a horror icon, ya know, the voice of Chucky. Danny Trejo plays my favorite character in this, and I so wanted him to live, and Michael ALMOST allowed it. Most heartbreaking scene in the film. Bill Moseley, the man who played Otis in the House and Devils Rejects, has a small role. Sid Haig, Captain Spaulding, also has a small roles. Other awesome actors in this include Dee Wallace, leslie Easterbrook, Ken Foree, Clint Howard, and Lew fucking Temple. Then you have Danielle Harris, who played Jamie in Halloween 4 and 5. What a great fucking cast!! Oh and the kid that portrayed young Michael Meyers was the fat kid that taunted Hancock, in that movie, Hancock.

If I haven’t sold you yet, then why are you even breathing? Unfortunately, the sequel wasn’t as good, some may say it was downright awful and began the downward spiral which led to the blah Lords of Salem. This movie though, this movie is a masterpiece that I think all horror fans should see. Oh and just in case I haven’t sold you, one final story.

My mom, who is now in her 60’s, she is the one that showed me the original Halloween and made me dig the franchise. I decided to show her this movie to see if she would like it or be a jaded old person who hates remakes. Without any influence, she tells me she enjoyed this one more due to character development and backstory. There you have it. This shit matters!

I give this movie an 8.3.

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#65 Friday the 13th (2009)

I watched this with other people.  To offer a fair review would be hard. But I will give as good as your mother can take.

This movie is a fine rehash of a franchise and honestly deserves another installment. The makers decided right off the bat, what do our fans want to see? So they gave us a bunch of blood, a bunch of good kills, titties, Jason in a sack and a mask, some stereotypical characters, and overall a nice tongue in cheek film. I am not gonna critique performances, everybody did what they was supposed to. I personally haven’t heard a theater audience get so loud for a horror flick until 20 some minutes in. Everything was like fan service. Why it only got a 5.4 on IMDB, I do not fucking know. People are pretentious fuckers. This was fun in the theater, this was fun at home. I have nothing to critique. It’s something I would watch yearly and is better than most, if not all Friday the 13ths.

Overall, I give it a 7.3, yes I truly loved this movie.

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#45 Thir13een Ghosts (2001)

This movie is a pretty solid endeavor. It’s not gonna win any awards, it’s probably never gonna be on a top 25 horror list, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a worthwhile watch. What it does, it does VERY well. The cast is awesome in my opinion. you have Tony Shaloub of Monk and Wings fame as the lead. Then you have Shannon Elizabeth of showing her tits in American Pie fame, and also a fun movie called Night Of The Demons which may get areviewed later on. Finally, I like Matthew Lillard a lot, he played Shaggy in the Scooby Doo movie. I know a lot of people don’t like him, but I find him to be a fun actor. I liked him in an adequate film called Messages Deleted.

The story is ok, but probably where people may not give a shit. The family inherits this mansion and all his uncle’s wealth. But the house has some ghosts shockingly. And you can only see these ghosts with specific glasses. And they are trapped. And honestly, it’s a convoluted mess. BUT where this movie shines is in how awesome the ghosts are. If you are a fan of horror, I would recommend this movie based on the ghosts factor alone. Very good ideas there. So it is very hit and miss, but overall I thought it was enjoyable. Like 6.0 worth of enjoyment. Take it for what it’s worth. I believe Amazon has this and House of Wax in a double blu ray pack for $9.50 and that is totally worth it.

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#4 Carrie (1976)

Here’s where it all begins as far as films based on Stephen King novels. Yup, we are going all the way back to 1976, and if you were old enough to be alive in 76, there’s no shame in that because your generation helped bridge the gap from Hitchcock to Wes Craven, Stephen King, and John Carpenter.

As many of you may know, there is a remake coming out in a couple of weeks starring Julianne Moore and the girl from Kick Ass. The cast is sufficient, and it is rated R. But will it be as good as the original? I have my doubts, but if it introduces a new generation to this story, I can’t truly complain. But the first 3 minutes better have lots of teenage girls in the girl’s locker room showing their tits and bushes or else I fear the movie will have lost 20% of it’s audience instantly. Ahhh, the 70’s!

So as you hopefully know by now, the story of Carrie is a simple one. Average girl, raised by raised over zealous religious mom, gets picked on in school when she has her first period, gets to go to the prom with the dreamy Tommy, while the mean kids play a practical joke on Carrie that is downright cruel. Did I mention that Carrie has telekinetic powers and when she gets emotional, she can’t always control those powers. And as we all know, when the practical joke is downright cruel and at Carrie’s expense, all HELL breaks loose. Simple plot that is easily relate-able and has quite the body count, and unlike most horror flicks where you can often sympathize with the “bad guys”, I don’t think anybody watches this and feels any sympathy for the assholes in this one. Yes, John Travolta is an asshole.

So that leads to the cast of this. Carrie is played by Sissy Spacek who played this really well, but didn’t amount to much later on in her career. The crazy mom is played by Piper Laurie and she plays the role amazing, although I think Julianne Moore may outshine her. And did I mention John Travolta plays an asshole? He is awesome in his early career. The rest of the actors are fine for what they do, I like Tommy for his hair, being the hair affection-ado that I am.

Brian DePalma directs this movie. Yes, the same dude that brought us Scarface, The Untouchables, Carlito’s Way, and Mission Impossible, ended up directing this. What a career he had. Good for him.

As for the rating….I am torn between 7.5 and 8, so in an unprecedented move for me in these blogs, I give you a 7.8 rating. Definitely recommended for people of all ages. Oh and that ending…..damn!

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Ben-Hur (1959)

Yes, I am reviewing an older religious epic film.  Odd, right?  Well, I had told my buddy Bob that I would in fact do this film review at his urging.  With that in mind, and given the context of the film and the people who may enjoy this review more than my typical horror fiends, I’m going to watch my language.

I took a lot of notes during this film because my short term memory is terrible.  From those notes, I’m going to try to make this into something that will offer my opinions and maybe beg some questions.

Overall, I really liked this movie.  Within the first 15-20 minutes, I kept thinking about Gladiator, and there is no doubt in my mind that this film inspired one of the all time best films.  I do feel that the term epic is tossed around too loosely.  Realistically, how many true epics have been made?  It’s not as many as every film trailer would have you believe.  While this may not be the first one, or maybe it was, I have no idea, this is an amazing film that takes you on a very lengthy and profound journey of betrayal, vengeance, acceptance, chariots, love, horses, whips, spears, and Pontius Pilate.

The story is there, very clearly, and it is like 3 and a half hours long, and it rarely got boring, which is quite the feat in my opinion.  Still, we have to talk about the acting.  Charlton Heston is one of those names, he’s a household name, or at least used to be, and then that *&^% Michael Moore did that whole Bowling for Columbine nonsense. Charlton won the Oscar here, and this film racked up awards left and right.  I don’t know whether he deserved it because, believe it or not, I am not well versed in films from 1959.  I will say that he delivers 70-80% of the time, and then he has a little bit of his cheesiness that was on full display in Planet of the Apes, for instance.  He did a really good job, and was a great lead.  Hugh Griffith, who played Sheik, won for best supporting actor.  Sheik was clearly my favorite character and I had hoped that he had at least received a nomination.  I felt that the people who played Messala, Esther, Pontius, Balthazar, Quintus Arrius, and especially Simonides, were all very good to great.  Messala, I feel, was the toughest role, and it showed, but it was well done.

The other aspects that I want to touch on before I get to my notes is the technical stuff.  Visually, this looked awesome, and I love how blue Heston’s eyes were in this.  Of course there is the chariot scene, which I would like to watch some special features on someday, as I can only imagine how hard that was to film.  The stuff on the ships was also really well done.  Then of course, there is the music, which feels like John William’s father or something did.  It was really something to just chill and enjoy.

Now onto my notes, and some of these will be in paragraph form, and some may just be random observations.  I apologize for the length of this, but it’s a long film, so just enjoy the time and effort here.

I admit, at first I found the whole star thing in the beginning very cheesy, and it initially concerned me about how this movie would go.  I was happy to see the 3 wise men, and this whole thing is about the days of Jesus Christ, despite him not really being a main character, his presence is felt throughout .  While watching, I looked up info on the 3 Wise Men and found that in Syria, they often say that there were 12.  So there’s that.

Every time I hear them say Nazareth, I wanted to sing “Love Hurts.

I still don’t know why Messala’s helmet’s red mane isn’t like everybody else’s unless it had something to do with rank.

I loved how irritating they made Rome in this.  They come off so obnoxious, with their taxes, and trumpets, and  just the domineering way that they handle things.

I liked the pep talk that Pontius had with Messala early on about how to break an idea, and how respectful he was early on.

OK, I hate to be that guy, and feel free to skip this part, but I have to discuss it.  Judah and Messala came off incredibly friendly.  Friendlier than any 2 dudes typically are in a film.  I am familiar with how men were portrayed at that time in Hollywood, and this seemed so over the top.  Naturally, I have this internal conversation, is there any way that they intended to make these 2 come off as gay or lovers or however you want to word it.  Obviously, that wouldn’t be the intention for a film of this nature, but man.  I did some research after the film and did find that I wasn’t the only person to question it.  While it wasn’t the intended purpose, my gaydar was going off.  The worst offense was Messala touching Judah’s arm and saying “Is there anything so sad as unrequited love?” followed by a giggle. I found this an odd choice in how they had these 2 act, and I know that it’s easily defensible, and it’s not a flaw, but a very curious choice is all I am saying, made more surprising by the nature of this particular film.

This whole thing with Messala trying to convince Judah to give in to the empire, it reminded me so much of the film Swing Kids.  The best part is that you can see both perspectives, whether you agree with them is a whole other thing, but that’s what makes a “villain” even better.  People are raised or brought up to believe one thing and another believes the opposite.  Both are just doing what they feel is the right thing.  This is actually why I still prefer Commodus (Joaquin Phoenix) in Gladiator as the antagonist.  While they are similar characters, at least Messala was doing his job and just trying to get a promotion.  Commodus just wanted what he felt he deserved but yet never earning it.

In a way, isn’t Messala’s story just as tragic as Judah’s?  Messala knows what he has to do and it is a lousy choice.  He did what was best for him, at the time, but still had to live with the decisions that he made.  By the time that he dies, you think about his journey.

They set up the Judah and Esther stuff so well in their first meeting.  She was quite the beauty, and I have to assume was somewhat of a famous talent for awhile based on appearance alone.  By the way, Simonides was my first of my favorite characters.  Something about him was incredibly endearing.  Also, how is it that Judah didn’t have a special lady friend at the beginning of the film?

I liked the death of The Governor, it was well set up.  I even moreso enjoyed when Messala investigated later and realized that what he was told was the truth, but at that point, he couldn’t go back without pretty much ruining his life.  I kinda thought that Messala was going to make Tirzah his woman, and maybe treat her to a life of luxury so much that she would betray Judah down the line.  But it didn’t go that way.  Also, I had to laugh when Judah is fighting the guards and gets hit in the head by the keys.  It was such a quick and practical thing.  Then these guys did a lousy job of handling Judah.  This made me incredibly happy to see Judah get his hands on a spear again. Messala was great with his back against the wall, very confident, which made him all the more despised.  His reasoning of how he was to show that he was not a man to be trifled with, and it was one of, if not the best scene in the whole film.

The whole dynamic between Messala and Judah remind me in some ways of Jean Veljean and Javert in Les Miserables, and that’s a great thing.

Jesus hooking Judah up with some water and showing no fear of the Romans was pretty solid.  Not only that, but it set up so much of the last 30-45 minutes of the film.  Plus, the one Roman in charge didn’t dare take on Jesus, and  it was odd, but cool to see.

The whole boat scene, I wouldn’t call it a scene, as I mean the whole boat part, this was easily my favorite part of the film.  Judah has this confidence, especially against Quintus.  I loved Quintus pushing the guys to their limit by increasing speed.  This also leads to my guilty pleasure character, the Hortator who just pounds the rhythm of the rowing. What a terrible job that is.  My arms got tired just watching him.  The smell in that room had to be absolutely awful too.  These are things I think about.

Quintus was a very interesting character and although his story was short, he may have had one of the best character arcs of the whole movie.  It was like watching wrestling when the bad guy finally sees the light and turns face and becomes the good guy and fights all of the heels.  Yes, I had to mention wrestling.

Judah’s meeting with Balthazar was short but it really got me wondering just how he would play a role later on.  Also, the mentioning of Alexandria, so now I must mention The Walking Dead and get all of my references out in short order. Messala was very similar to The Governor if you really thing about it, just saying.  I could make more comparisons, but I won’t.

Sheik is an instantly charismatic and fun character.  He was the perfect character for a film that needed that levity.  From yelling at the guy for hitting his horses, to having 8 wives, to him waiting for Judah to burp.  Then how he treats and talks to his horses, everything is just great here.  Aside from the boat stuff, this is my second favorite scene.

I approve that they kept the scenes between Esther and Judah short for such a long film.

Another great scene is when Messala and Judah see each other face to face after Messala gets the gift. Messala’s reaction is exquisite.  Messala still stands tall all things considering.  Judah’s confidence was off the charts here, and it may have been his best scene.

It was a shame to find out that Miriam and Tirzah became lepers, but I was surprised that they lived that long, and even more surprised that Messala didn’t kill them just to spite Judah and get in his head more.  Like kill them right in front of him.

Obviously I was a big fan of Sheik making bets with Messala.  He’s so charismatic, in a room full of like 30 men, he stands out and owns the moment.

Paragraphs later, I can finally discuss the chariot race scene.  It was great, of that, there is no real argument.  To just read all the interesting tidbits about it is awesome, and the music is great too.  I didn’t like how Messala had the Greek Chariot with the huge advantage.  It really didn’t make sense to me.  All of this time, I feel that Messala has still tried handling things like a man doing his job.  I a lot of people will disagree with me, but he had a certain bit of honor to him, and this struck me as unnecessary.  I feel that the scene would have been more effective if Messala was actually just incredibly good and skilled and then lost due to over confidence, or just lost a hard fought win.  The whip was cool, and when he hit one of the white horses, I half expected Sheik to lose it.  The overall scale of this scene is gigantic and should be a scene that everybody should see before dying.  I loved the EMT’s, as I will call them, for their hustle onto the field to get guys who lost their rides.  Pontius has some great lines like “I crown their god.”  Somehow, this whole thing ends in such  agrand fashion with Messala being so stubborn, refusing to get his legs amputated and save his life, and would rather face his nemesis as a whole man and then die.  He knew what he had done, I don’t think he ever intended on living beyond this.  His voice was so well done there, and then the big reveal to Judah that his mother and sister are still alive. Rather than make peace, he adds the “if you can recognize them” line and tells him that the race isn’t over.  That is how you go out like a hoss.

The whole Valley of the Lepers was a neat place, I loved how food was delivered, and it was an incredible set piece.  Later on, we see more of it inside the cave, and it’s well done.

Then we have the last great scene.  Pontius drops so many great lines on Judah, and is very blunt, but speaks a lot of blunt truth too.  My favorite lines were: “Where there is greatness, great government or power, even great feeling or compassion, error also is great. We progress and mature by fault. But Rome has said she is ready to join your life to hers in a great future.” and “Perfect freedom has no existence”. these lines have so much impact I believe, and it’s a short scene, but it’s like the final straw in some sense.  Great acting by both gentlemen.

Judah finally sees him mom and sister and wants to bring them to the miracle man, Jesus, but he has just been sentenced.  I found it to be a very interesting choice to never show Jesus’ face up close.  Most of you are familiar with how this story plays out, it’s obviously not pretty and full of despair, to say the least.  Then Judah finally realizes that he knows him and he tries to give Jesus water.  I was happy that they found a way to get that in.  Although unsuccessful, obviously it was the right gesture. I get why they did this, and showed the crucification, but it brings the movie to this standstill.  Then Judah and Balthazar had another very poignant conversation about Jesus and his purpose and whatnot.  This is where I would have stopped the movie, because it was such a profound conversation.

I get why they did the whole storm thing and whatnot, but I have to admit, it felt very tacked on.  Then Miriam and Tirzah are just magically cured, and I get it, but I didn’t like it.  For me, this is not a happy story, this is an absolutely sad and horrific story, and I feel that they added the stuff at the end to send audiences home happy, which makes sense.  From a storytelling perspective, it was unnecessary.  The Full House type group hug at the end, I just, nope.

Sorry for the length but it was a 3 hours and 42 minutes long movie.  The only thing left is for a rating, and I don’t know how to properly rate this.  For it’s time, it’s a 9.2, but we no longer live in 1959.  There are some small nitpicks, but the last 5 minutes or so, that’s where my biggest gripe lies.  Also, in fairness, it is a long movie so it gets the time to tell it’s full story.

Rating – 8.2 feels very fair to me.  The thing is, I simply don’t know how many more times I will watch it, but it was a great movie and incredibly well done.

All the pictures used in this blog are for review purposes. They are the property of:

Please go find a copy and support the creators.