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Archive for the ‘Groovers And Mobsters Present:’ Category

I used to organise a monthly series of posts Groovers and Mobsters Present on the now sadly defunct Movie Mobsters website.  Each month a genre was chosen, myself and Heather (from Movie Mobsters) hand picked other bloggers and asked them to write about their chosen film from that genre.  Most of these posts are lost as they were published on Movie Mobsters.  Some survive including this Halloween horror movie special from 2010.  

What Happened to Baby Jane (1962)

“Yes, she’s emotionally disturbed. She’s unbalanced!”What Happened to Baby Jane

My concept of Halloween is probably skewed: I’m not American and we don’t celebrate it in my country. In theory I suppose What Happened to Baby Jane has no remnants of the visceral terror that one would probably associate with the holiday. Still, the theme is horror and more than just the knee-jerk scares that dissipate before an hour wears out sometimes what’s more horrific is when the terror is established through the monotony of everyday life.

Blanche and Jane are two sisters; both were stars somewhat in their youth although Blanche – now crippled – was the more successful one. A resentful Jane must now be caretaker to her sister and she begins to plot the most monstrous of plans to torture her sister while working on a comeback to the screen. It perhaps reads a little like Norma Desmond in Sunset Boulevard, but What Ever Happened to Baby Jane is altogether more disconcerting and freakish. We’ll watch as Jane kills her sister’s pet bird and feeds it to her, she’ll eventually do the same with the rats in the cellar, she’ll drag her up the stairs, kick her in the head and in one of the film’s most disgusting scenes perform a bizarre show-tune. Sometimes What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? is so awful to look at its almost parody, but I have a feeling that that might be the point.

But the film’s horror manages to hit home despite the allusions to parody, or perhaps because of it. Robert Aldrich seems intent on showing us how ridiculous and awful the human spirit can be. It’s more than the ageing makeup on Bette Davis, her entire demeanor indicates grotesquery and it’s even more distressing because it all seems to be so logical. The most horrific things are those which make sense, despite their awfulness, and that’s where Jane one-ups so many horror movie villains. Keep your Freddy Krueger’s and Chucky’s. Lock me up in a room with Baby Jane and I’d probably go crazy… if she’s not a horror movie villain, I don’t know what is.

By Andrew K from Encore’s World of Film & TV

Dracula: Prince of Darkness (1966)

“There’ll be no morning for us”Dracula Prince of Darkness

How do you pick a movie to write about for something like this? I was struggling to decide so went back to the beginning, the first Hammer Horror movie I ever saw and the one that got me into horror movies. The movie starts with a prologue made up of the closing scenes of the previous film (the first Hammer Dracula) complete with a voiceover explaining the destruction of Dracula (Christopher Lee). We cut to a group of English tourists including Charles Kent (Francis Matthews, a sort of low rent Cary Grant type) who are stranded by a superstitious coach driver whist on their way to Carlsbad. After a coach and horses turns up out of nowhere, they find themselves rescued and accepting the “hospitality” of a dead count in his mysterious castle. I won’t give the plot away but I think you can guess that the castle belongs to Dracula and it is no accident that they have found their way to his castle.

An interesting movie, the story is original but holds many similarities with the original, this is evident in the characters. The traditional Van Helsing character (played by an un-credited Peter Cushing in the prologue) is replaced by Father Sandor (Andrew Keir who went of to play Prof. Quatermass in the Hammer movie Quatermass and the Pit). Charles and Diana Kent (Francis Matthews & Suzan Farmer) are a good stand in for Jonathan and Wilhelmina Harker. Ludwig (Thorley Walters) fills the Renfield part. The movie did two things for the genre: it set the template for the Hammer Dracula movies and also opened the floodgates for Dracula (and vampire movies in general) to move away from the original Bram Stoker novel. Directed by Hammers greatest director Terence Fisher the film has a perfect blend of carefully manipulated tension and just enough gore and horror to make this a great atmospheric movie that only Hammer could have made. There has been some contention as to why Christopher Lee’s Dracula is mute, whatever the reason it just makes it more sinister. A Must for all classic horror fans.

By Andy From Fandango Groovers

The Wicker Man (1973)

“Do sit down, Sergeant. Shocks are so much better absorbed with the knees bent.”The Wicker Man

Let me ask a simple question: What scares you? Masked psychos lurking in the shadows, stalking you in your house or through dark and foreboding woods? Alien invasions, full-scale or otherwise, staged by extraterrestrial races with less-than-benevolent intentions? The dead rising from their graves to consume the living– or perhaps menacing you as malevolent spirits rather than shambling, rotting bodies? Perhaps you fear an encounter with a monster thought to be mythic and legendary, a werewolf or a troll? There’s no end to the myriad, ceaseless evils that filmmakers have unleashed upon the hapless characters of their movies for decades, nor to the number of locations and manners in which the victims-to-be might encounter them, but for my money nothing is scarier than something rooted in something real. Which is why almost forty years after being introduced into the world of horror, the residents of the Hebridean island called Summerisle still frighten me more than the deadliest wraiths and the most remorseless slashers.

The Wicker Man is the kind of film that purchases its fear directly from the stores of reality. Relaying the misfortunes of a police sergeant (Edward Woodward) who travels to the aforementioned island at the behest of an anonymous letter tipping him off to a child’s kidnapping, The Wicker Man quickly shifts from a crime thriller into something weirder, and eventually into something incredibly sinister (which, incidentally, occurs around the time that Christopher Lee’s character is introduced). Investigating the kidnapping, Woodward’s devout Christian policeman delves into the customs, rituals, and culture of the island folk– all of whom celebrate a form of Celtic paganism, which among other things involves sexual liberation, animal

sacrifice, and…well, I’ve said enough already. Watch the film for yourself.

Robin Hardy here aims to inspire suspense and dread not through supernatural or otherwise fantastical plot devices but through nothing more than human ignorance. And maybe Hardy’s greatest feat in The Wicker Man lies in the way he makes us, the audience, feel as much like outsiders and interlopers in this pagan community as Woodward’s rigidly Christian police officer. Truly there’s nothing sillier inherent to the belief structures of the pagans than to those of Christian doctrines, and yet it’s hard not to judge the island inhabitants for adhering to such an outmoded dogma as Woodward mingles among them. (And then again, it’s equally difficult not to do the same to the sexually self-repressed Woodward.) Walking away from the film’s climax we realize that in the end Woodward and the islanders could have learned an enormous amount from each other, but chose instead to clash over religion; in this way The Wicker Man seems to be holding up a mirror to human history, and the reflection is utterly sobering and disquieting. Few horror films since have managed to be so bold or brave, nor so deeply disturbing.

By Andrew C from Andrew at the Cinema

Dawn of the Dead (1978)

“Every dead body that is not exterminated becomes one of them. It gets up and kills! The people it kills get up and kill!”Dawn of the Dead

Anyone that knows me knows that I think Zombies are the end all be all of the Horror genre. And when it comes to Zombies, no one does it better than George A. Romero. Romero has made 6 Zombie films in his “of the Dead” series to date and while Night of the Living Dead is the Bible for all that follow, Dawn of the Dead remains the best film he’s ever made. Here’s the basic idea:

In this first sequel to Night of the Living Dead, a group of four people take up residence in a deserted mall while trying to stay alive amidst the armies of the dead and a vicious gang of militant bikers.

“Dawn”, or the one that takes place in the mall, succeeds on so many levels. First, who hasn’t thought about having free reign over all the stuff in a mall. It’s every consumer’s dream… regardless of whether or not the world is going to hell around you. Second, Zombies make such interesting baddies on film because (a) they’re just relentless and endless and (b) they’re basically us. I mean, what better way to make man take a good look at himself and what he’s capable of than to pit him against his own self. Another thing that makes “Dawn” great is that it was the first time that Romero also began to explore the world beyond people just trying to survive and began to look at the way the living would treat each other if ever they were in a situation where rules and laws no longer applied… turns out, not so good.

To this day, I rarely come across Horror films that are let alone good but offer up chills to boot. Dawn does both and if you haven’t seen it yet, well… get on that!

By Kai from The List

The Changeling (1980)

“That house is not fit to live in. No one’s been able to live in it. It doesn’t want people.”The Changeling

Nothing like a good haunted house flick to cheer you up when you’re sick and that’s exactly what The Changeling did for me. No, not the attractive Angelina Jolie. You’re thinking of the wrong Changeling movie. I’m talking about the classic one with the less than attractive George C. Scott. He may not be as easy on the eyes as Jolie but he can act circles around her which is a very good thing when it comes to this movie. Scott plays John Russel, a man who has lost his wife and daughter in a terrible car accident. A few months after their deaths he moves to Seattle so he can teach a music course in college and spend time alone composing on his piano. He rents an old home from the historical preservation society but soon finds that he’s not the only resident there.

While typical of a ghost story where the spirit searches for some type of justice and someone, obviously the homeowner, must put the spirit at peace, The Changeling manages to take that simple idea and make a grand conspiracy of it involving a senator and a large sum of money promised in a will. It isn’t very long into the movie that we get treated to the usual scares of the ghost film. Doors opening and closing, hushed whispers and strange visions. The film does manage to generate some dread and tension as it builds to these moments though. Early on the ghost appears in very subtle ways but as John moves closer to uncovering the secret surrounding the ghost’s fate we’re treated to much more intense and frightening situations.

The ghost goes from a simple spirit to a full on poltergeist and the events of the film become more frantic as the mystery unravels. It was nice to see a ghost story that doesn’t rely on excessively loud and sudden music cues to create the fear. Here we’re just left with images or scenes that are just plain creepy. One little ball in the movie is just as effective a scare as any killer jumping out of a closet! The film is apparently based on an experience that writer Russel Hunter had at one time and that story is as interesting as the film. This one probably won’t have your friends jumping out of their seats and cowering in fear but it’s an effective haunted house movie with some genuine moments of tension and creepiness.

By Will from The Film Reel

Poltergeist (1982)

“They’re heeeeeeeeeeere.”Poltergeist

When I think of scary movies and when I think of Halloween, my heart immediately leaps to Poltergeist, one of the most eerie, smartly written psychological mind freaks ever to grace the silver screen. It inspired the horror genre to be a smarter place and realize that things don’t have to jump out to scare you, what seems possible instead of extreme situations is far more terrifying.

It immediately whisks the viewer into a world of suburban reality. Every house is a cookie cut out of another, but the neighborhood continues to grow and grow. A typical family that is clearly happy, yet humanly flawed begins to experience strange events out of nowhere. Their youngest daughter Carol Anne begins talking to the TV and the dog begins to act manic. In the meantime strange electrical currents seem to be having an effect on the house, while summer storms are also plaguing the neighborhood. Nature seems to be out of whack, and clearly is when suddenly the furniture in the families home begins to move around. By itself. Suddenly lives are in peril, and a darkness invades the house.

This is still is one of the most terrifying movies ever made. The special effects never go too far, yet there is an epic feel to it, still balanced by realism. The characters are full on tangible, and never do you feel like yelling at them telling them how stupid they are. It feels like a real situation, where human curiosity becomes the catalyst for the impossible, and a nightmare that no one can wake up from. The creativity of Poltergeist, with it’s terrific writing and direction put it in the category of one of the greatest horror movies of all time, without question for me.

By Heather from Movie Mobsters

Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer (1986)

“If you strangle one, stab another, and one you cut up, and one you don’t, then the police don’t know what to do. They think you’re four different people.”Henry Portrait of a Serial Killer

Evil lives in our world, and it rarely wears an obvious or garish mask of villainy. That’s a truth human beings prefer not to confront. It’s simpler to imagine that true evil is recognizable somehow, that it cannot hide beneath a pleasant-looking surface. John McNaughton, who shot “Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer” (1986) on a paltry $110,000, understands this elemental human need … and he ignores it. His film is a crumpled snapshot of evil in its basic, most mundane form – a grim reality that can’t be shaken easily.

Talented as he is, McNaughton couldn’t create such a disturbing film without the right actor to play the killer, who must seem harmless enough to function in everyday life but be viciously single-minded in his goals. Michael Rooker, then a relative nobody, plays the part so monstrously well that it’s difficult now, 24 years later, to see him as anyone other than an emotionless murderer. Rooker is Henry, a polite, even-tempered drifter/serial killer who moves into the Chicago apartment of Otis (Tom Towles), newly paroled and not the least bit rehabilitated. When Otis discovers Henry’s secret, he wants to join in, and Henry obliges – but not before schooling Otis on the importance of never developing a traceable pattern. The arrival of Otis’ sister Becky (Tracy Arnold) causes friction between Otis, who lusts openly after his sister, and Henry, who treats this lost soul with kindness and is flattered by her interest in him. But love and companionship, Becky will learn, mean nothing to Henry.

McNaughton based “Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer” (very) loosely on the story of Virginia-born serial killer Henry Lee Lucas, which lends a feeling of authenticity to the film. More important than that, though, is the director’s pointedly unromanticized direction. He forces us to see through the killer’s eyes – as Henry sizes up potential victims, as Henry and Otis slaughter an entire family, videotape the massacre and watch it again for their own sick pleasure. McNaughton forces us to become voyeurs, and it’s the removal of that protective distance that makes “Henry” so frightening.

By Meredith from M. Carter at the Movies

Audition (1999)

“Happy people can’t act”Audition

Takashi Miike has undeniably earned the title of Master of Horror, and it’s because he really knows how to harness an audience’s imagination. The horror industry is known for shocking, bloody, fright-fests, full of chainsaw-wielding bogey men, but I think that when it comes to scary films, less is oftentimes more. A good horror film is one that’ll give you that creeping sense of dread in the pit of your stomach and Audition certainly fits the bill. There’s nothing more chilling than gradually putting together the pieces of a puzzle that’s been gently nagging at you, and slowly coming to the realization that you’re being manipulated by someone you trust—especially when you’re under the impression that you’ve been the one manipulating her.

Aoyama is a middle-aged widower, and like most single men his age who are dipping their toes back into the dating scene, he’s pretty sure he can land a pure, young virgin—if only he could figure out where to meet one (modern girls can be so uppity these days, with all their book larnin’). So, in a stroke of genius, he decides to put out a casting call for actresses to play a sweet, young thing for some unspecified movie or play or something. You’ve seen this ad on craigslist before: “seeking model/actress, 18-24, attractive, good morals, no fatties!” Since most actresses are accustomed to the degrading audition process (being treated like cattle, revealing intimate secrets to strangers, then never hearing back from them) no one will ever suspect that there was never a real acting job. Unfortunately for Aoyama, this little charade is really only good for discovering good actresses—not good girls. (Queue the maniacal laughter).

Beautiful, innocent-looking, young psychopaths will always shock the conscience. (That’s why any good zombie film worth it’s salt will include a little girl amongst the ranks of the flesh-hungry undead.) Our natural instinct is to love and protect such a fragile creature like this, so we’re utterly horrified when we discover her black heart and unnatural appetites. And that’s even before she pulls out the piano wire and eye-acupuncture kit. Yup, films like this will always have a permanent home in the horror genre!

By Allison from My Film Habit

28 Days Later (2002)

“It’s just people killing people. Which, to my mind, puts us in a state of normality right now.”28 Days Later

A group of animal rights activists break into a laboratory, and, like big turkeys, release a monkey with a certain ailment. Said monkey is infected with Rage, a highly contagious, quick spreading virus that sends the host into a homicidal craze, causing them to run wild, killing and infecting everything they see. 28 days later, the entirety of England has been ravaged by the virus. Enter Jim, who awakes from a coma on to a dead world. As he walks through the abandoned London streets, he soon meets other survivors, and together, they try and escape the city and get to a military blockade. When they get there though, they find something far worse than the infection waiting for them.

28 Days Later… was a real game changer for the zombie horror genre. Not only was it the first of its kind to incorporate zombies infected that sprint, it was also the first of its kind that seemed possible. There was a clear explanation behind the outbreak of the virus, and the way it spreads and behaves, though heavily fictionalized, is quite believable, making 28 Days Later… all the more terrifying. But, it’s the quiet moments that really set Danny Boyle’s film apart from its brothers. Early on in the film, Jim walks through a completely desolate and abandoned London. There is not a single person in the streets. The only vehicles he comes across are stalled in the middle of the road, having been destroyed or ransacked. The only clues he gets to his situation are the out of date newspapers that litter the sidewalk and the posters of missing people that adorn the walls. What is truly amazing about this is that Boyle and Co. achieved these images with absolutely no special effects. That’s right! Zero! The shut down sections of London’s streets and then filmed the scenes. Those early images are incredibly haunting are truly frightening. 28 Days Later… keeps that level of terror up for the entire run time, despite the film going a little off the rails in the third act. Imagine that. A horror movie these days that is actually scary.

Pretty much every single modern zombie movie owes something to 28 Days Later…. Remember how cool it was to see zombies running in Zack Snyder’s remake of Dawn of the Dead? 28 Days Later… did it first, and better. Remember how, in I Am Legend, the shots of Will Smith walking through an empty city looked really cool? 28 Days Later… did it first, and without any special effects. Danny Boyle’s film ushered in a new era for the modern zombie movie. It did away with the usual conventions of the genre, chiefly the concept of a slow moving zombie that anyone could get away from. It was the first legitimately scary movie of its kind since Night of the Living Dead. That one was scary because the concept was brand new. 28 Days Later… is scarier because it takes that concept, and updates it to fit in the real world. Hey, it made me believe that a zombie apocalypse could happen. That’s gotta count for something.

Ok, fine, they aren’t really zombies; they’re diseased humans, but come on! Give a guy a break! Zombie movie is easier to write, say, and read then diseased human movie! Let it go (Here’s looking at you, Nick)!

By Sebastian from Films From the Supermassive Black Hole

The Devil’s Rejects (2005)

Adam: “Please… Stop…” Otis: “Stop?? Bitch, I have just started.”The Devil's Rejects

Raw and unadulterated, this movie features an unsettling amount of violence brought on by this murdering clan of intensely evil people. The Devil’s Rejects (the sequel to the 70’s throwback House of 1000 Corpses) again follows the Firefly Family, the most vicious Texas backwoods murderers. Yet while the original was full of 70’s B-Movie weirdness to compliment the savagery, this sequel was just full on brutal realism.

The film opens with the Firefly Family barely surviving an incredibly awesome shootout (one John McTiernan or perhaps Luc Besson might approve of) and the entire film becomes a chase to bring the Fireflys to justice. Yet in the case of Sheriff Wydell (William Forsythe), being that the Fireflys are responsible for the death of his brother, justice goes right out the window. He wants them to suffer and goes on a half-mad quest for their heads. But while the Fireflys are hiding/escaping the law, laying low just isn’t in their nature and they are still content to destroy as many lives wherever they go. Set to the best collection of 60’s/70’s folk music it’s hard not to like this movie even though you will probably never shake some scenes from your brain…ever. Unsettling is an understatement and this movie has been called “The Terminator of horror films” for a good reason. But there is some fun thrown in amongst the gasp inducing sequences and it all ends fantastically with the best use of “Freebird” I’ve ever seen in a movie.

The Devil’s Rejects is the kind of film you need to see because sometimes, when typical hack-n-slash horror won’t cut it, you need something jarring to cleanse your pallet of all the trite horror. I’m not saying you need to see The Human Centipede but give The Devil’s Rejects a shot especially for Halloween. In short this will rock your world. This isn’t for everyone but in this film which is basically visual blunt force trauma it is really really good in a really really bad way.

You see them walking down your street, you RUN the other way!!

By Marc from Go See Talk

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As part of the Groovers and Mobsters Present series we posted a Halloween special last year. For those who missed it over on Movie Mobsters last year here it is again:

What Happened to Baby Jane (1962)

“Yes, she’s emotionally disturbed. She’s unbalanced!”

My concept of Halloween is probably skewed: I’m not American and we don’t celebrate it in my country. In theory I suppose What Happened to Baby Jane has no remnants of the visceral terror that one would probably associate with the holiday. Still, the theme is horror and more than just the knee-jerk scares that dissipate before an hour wears out sometimes what’s more horrific is when the terror is established through the monotony of everyday life.

Blanche and Jane are two sisters; both were stars somewhat in their youth although Blanche – now crippled – was the more successful one. A resentful Jane must now be caretaker to her sister and she begins to plot the most monstrous of plans to torture her sister while working on a comeback to the screen. It perhaps reads a little like Norma Desmond in Sunset Boulevard, but What Ever Happened to Baby Jane is altogether more disconcerting and freakish. We’ll watch as Jane kills her sister’s pet bird and feeds it to her, she’ll eventually do the same with the rats in the cellar, she’ll drag her up the stairs, kick her in the head and in one of the film’s most disgusting scenes perform a bizarre show-tune. Sometimes What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? is so awful to look at its almost parody, but I have a feeling that that might be the point.

But the film’s horror manages to hit home despite the allusions to parody, or perhaps because of it. Robert Aldrich seems intent on showing us how ridiculous and awful the human spirit can be. It’s more than the ageing makeup on Bette Davis, her entire demeanor indicates grotesquery and it’s even more distressing because it all seems to be so logical. The most horrific things are those which make sense, despite their awfulness, and that’s where Jane one-ups so many horror movie villains. Keep your Freddy Krueger’s and Chucky’s. Lock me up in a room with Baby Jane and I’d probably go crazy… if she’s not a horror movie villain, I don’t know what is.

By Andrew K from Encore’s World of Film & TV

Dracula: Prince of Darkness (1966)

“There’ll be no morning for us”

How do you pick a movie to write about for something like this? I was struggling to decide so went back to the beginning, the first Hammer Horror movie I ever saw and the one that got me into horror movies. The movie starts with a prologue made up of the closing scenes of the previous film (the first Hammer Dracula) complete with a voiceover explaining the destruction of Dracula (Christopher Lee). We cut to a group of English tourists including Charles Kent (Francis Matthews, a sort of low rent Cary Grant type) who are stranded by a superstitious coach driver whist on their way to Carlsbad. After a coach and horses turns up out of nowhere, they find themselves rescued and accepting the “hospitality” of a dead count in his mysterious castle. I won’t give the plot away but I think you can guess that the castle belongs to Dracula and it is no accident that they have found their way to his castle.

An interesting movie, the story is original but holds many similarities with the original, this is evident in the characters. The traditional Van Helsing character (played by an un-credited Peter Cushing in the prologue) is replaced by Father Sandor (Andrew Keir who went of to play Prof. Quatermass in the Hammer movie Quatermass and the Pit). Charles and Diana Kent (Francis Matthews & Suzan Farmer) are a good stand in for Jonathan and Wilhelmina Harker. Ludwig (Thorley Walters) fills the Renfield part. The movie did two things for the genre: it set the template for the Hammer Dracula movies and also opened the floodgates for Dracula (and vampire movies in general) to move away from the original Bram Stoker novel. Directed by Hammers greatest director Terence Fisher the film has a perfect blend of carefully manipulated tension and just enough gore and horror to make this a great atmospheric movie that only Hammer could have made. There has been some contention as to why Christopher Lee’s Dracula is mute, whatever the reason it just makes it more sinister. A Must for all classic horror fans.

By Andy From Fandango Groovers

The Wicker Man (1973)

“Do sit down, Sergeant. Shocks are so much better absorbed with the knees bent.”

Let me ask a simple question: What scares you? Masked psychos lurking in the shadows, stalking you in your house or through dark and foreboding woods? Alien invasions, full-scale or otherwise, staged by extraterrestrial races with less-than-benevolent intentions? The dead rising from their graves to consume the living– or perhaps menacing you as malevolent spirits rather than shambling, rotting bodies? Perhaps you fear an encounter with a monster thought to be mythic and legendary, a werewolf or a troll? There’s no end to the myriad, ceaseless evils that filmmakers have unleashed upon the hapless characters of their movies for decades, nor to the number of locations and manners in which the victims-to-be might encounter them, but for my money nothing is scarier than something rooted in something real. Which is why almost forty years after being introduced into the world of horror, the residents of the Hebridean island called Summerisle still frighten me more than the deadliest wraiths and the most remorseless slashers.

The Wicker Man is the kind of film that purchases its fear directly from the stores of reality. Relaying the misfortunes of a police sergeant (Edward Woodward) who travels to the aforementioned island at the behest of an anonymous letter tipping him off to a child’s kidnapping, The Wicker Man quickly shifts from a crime thriller into something weirder, and eventually into something incredibly sinister (which, incidentally, occurs around the time that Christopher Lee’s character is introduced). Investigating the kidnapping, Woodward’s devout Christian policeman delves into the customs, rituals, and culture of the island folk– all of whom celebrate a form of Celtic paganism, which among other things involves sexual liberation, animal

sacrifice, and…well, I’ve said enough already. Watch the film for yourself.

Robin Hardy here aims to inspire suspense and dread not through supernatural or otherwise fantastical plot devices but through nothing more than human ignorance. And maybe Hardy’s greatest feat in The Wicker Man lies in the way he makes us, the audience, feel as much like outsiders and interlopers in this pagan community as Woodward’s rigidly Christian police officer. Truly there’s nothing sillier inherent to the belief structures of the pagans than to those of Christian doctrines, and yet it’s hard not to judge the island inhabitants for adhering to such an outmoded dogma as Woodward mingles among them. (And then again, it’s equally difficult not to do the same to the sexually self-repressed Woodward.) Walking away from the film’s climax we realize that in the end Woodward and the islanders could have learned an enormous amount from each other, but chose instead to clash over religion; in this way The Wicker Man seems to be holding up a mirror to human history, and the reflection is utterly sobering and disquieting. Few horror films since have managed to be so bold or brave, nor so deeply disturbing.

By Andrew C from Andrew at the Cinema

Dawn of the Dead (1978)

“Every dead body that is not exterminated becomes one of them. It gets up and kills! The people it kills get up and kill!”

Anyone that knows me knows that I think Zombies are the end all be all of the Horror genre. And when it comes to Zombies, no one does it better than George A. Romero. Romero has made 6 Zombie films in his “of the Dead” series to date and while Night of the Living Dead is the Bible for all that follow, Dawn of the Dead remains the best film he’s ever made. Here’s the basic idea:

In this first sequel to Night of the Living Dead, a group of four people take up residence in a deserted mall while trying to stay alive amidst the armies of the dead and a vicious gang of militant bikers.

“Dawn”, or the one that takes place in the mall, succeeds on so many levels. First, who hasn’t thought about having free reign over all the stuff in a mall. It’s every consumer’s dream… regardless of whether or not the world is going to hell around you. Second, Zombies make such interesting baddies on film because (a) they’re just relentless and endless and (b) they’re basically us. I mean, what better way to make man take a good look at himself and what he’s capable of than to pit him against his own self. Another thing that makes “Dawn” great is that it was the first time that Romero also began to explore the world beyond people just trying to survive and began to look at the way the living would treat each other if ever they were in a situation where rules and laws no longer applied… turns out, not so good.

To this day, I rarely come across Horror films that are let alone good but offer up chills to boot. Dawn does both and if you haven’t seen it yet, well… get on that!

By Kai from The List

The Changeling (1980)

“That house is not fit to live in. No one’s been able to live in it. It doesn’t want people.”

Nothing like a good haunted house flick to cheer you up when you’re sick and that’s exactly what The Changeling did for me. No, not the attractive Angelina Jolie. You’re thinking of the wrong Changeling movie. I’m talking about the classic one with the less than attractive George C. Scott. He may not be as easy on the eyes as Jolie but he can act circles around her which is a very good thing when it comes to this movie. Scott plays John Russel, a man who has lost his wife and daughter in a terrible car accident. A few months after their deaths he moves to Seattle so he can teach a music course in college and spend time alone composing on his piano. He rents an old home from the historical preservation society but soon finds that he’s not the only resident there.

While typical of a ghost story where the spirit searches for some type of justice and someone, obviously the homeowner, must put the spirit at peace, The Changeling manages to take that simple idea and make a grand conspiracy of it involving a senator and a large sum of money promised in a will. It isn’t very long into the movie that we get treated to the usual scares of the ghost film. Doors opening and closing, hushed whispers and strange visions. The film does manage to generate some dread and tension as it builds to these moments though. Early on the ghost appears in very subtle ways but as John moves closer to uncovering the secret surrounding the ghost’s fate we’re treated to much more intense and frightening situations.

The ghost goes from a simple spirit to a full on poltergeist and the events of the film become more frantic as the mystery unravels. It was nice to see a ghost story that doesn’t rely on excessively loud and sudden music cues to create the fear. Here we’re just left with images or scenes that are just plain creepy. One little ball in the movie is just as effective a scare as any killer jumping out of a closet! The film is apparently based on an experience that writer Russel Hunter had at one time and that story is as interesting as the film. This one probably won’t have your friends jumping out of their seats and cowering in fear but it’s an effective haunted house movie with some genuine moments of tension and creepiness.

By Will from The Film Reel

Poltergeist (1982)

“They’re heeeeeeeeeeere.”

When I think of scary movies and when I think of Halloween, my heart immediately leaps to Poltergeist, one of the most eerie, smartly written psychological mind freaks ever to grace the silver screen. It inspired the horror genre to be a smarter place and realize that things don’t have to jump out to scare you, what seems possible instead of extreme situations is far more terrifying.

It immediately whisks the viewer into a world of suburban reality. Every house is a cookie cut out of another, but the neighborhood continues to grow and grow. A typical family that is clearly happy, yet humanly flawed begins to experience strange events out of nowhere. Their youngest daughter Carol Anne begins talking to the TV and the dog begins to act manic. In the meantime strange electrical currents seem to be having an effect on the house, while summer storms are also plaguing the neighborhood. Nature seems to be out of whack, and clearly is when suddenly the furniture in the families home begins to move around. By itself. Suddenly lives are in peril, and a darkness invades the house.

This is still is one of the most terrifying movies ever made. The special effects never go too far, yet there is an epic feel to it, still balanced by realism. The characters are full on tangible, and never do you feel like yelling at them telling them how stupid they are. It feels like a real situation, where human curiosity becomes the catalyst for the impossible, and a nightmare that no one can wake up from. The creativity of Poltergeist, with it’s terrific writing and direction put it in the category of one of the greatest horror movies of all time, without question for me.

By Heather from Movie Mobsters

Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer (1986)

“If you strangle one, stab another, and one you cut up, and one you don’t, then the police don’t know what to do. They think you’re four different people.”

Evil lives in our world, and it rarely wears an obvious or garish mask of villainy. That’s a truth human beings prefer not to confront. It’s simpler to imagine that true evil is recognizable somehow, that it cannot hide beneath a pleasant-looking surface. John McNaughton, who shot “Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer” (1986) on a paltry $110,000, understands this elemental human need … and he ignores it. His film is a crumpled snapshot of evil in its basic, most mundane form – a grim reality that can’t be shaken easily.

Talented as he is, McNaughton couldn’t create such a disturbing film without the right actor to play the killer, who must seem harmless enough to function in everyday life but be viciously single-minded in his goals. Michael Rooker, then a relative nobody, plays the part so monstrously well that it’s difficult now, 24 years later, to see him as anyone other than an emotionless murderer. Rooker is Henry, a polite, even-tempered drifter/serial killer who moves into the Chicago apartment of Otis (Tom Towles), newly paroled and not the least bit rehabilitated. When Otis discovers Henry’s secret, he wants to join in, and Henry obliges – but not before schooling Otis on the importance of never developing a traceable pattern. The arrival of Otis’ sister Becky (Tracy Arnold) causes friction between Otis, who lusts openly after his sister, and Henry, who treats this lost soul with kindness and is flattered by her interest in him. But love and companionship, Becky will learn, mean nothing to Henry.

McNaughton based “Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer” (very) loosely on the story of Virginia-born serial killer Henry Lee Lucas, which lends a feeling of authenticity to the film. More important than that, though, is the director’s pointedly unromanticized direction. He forces us to see through the killer’s eyes – as Henry sizes up potential victims, as Henry and Otis slaughter an entire family, videotape the massacre and watch it again for their own sick pleasure. McNaughton forces us to become voyeurs, and it’s the removal of that protective distance that makes “Henry” so frightening.

By Meredith from M. Carter at the Movies

Audition (1999)

“Happy people can’t act”

Takashi Miike has undeniably earned the title of Master of Horror, and it’s because he really knows how to harness an audience’s imagination. The horror industry is known for shocking, bloody, fright-fests, full of chainsaw-wielding bogey men, but I think that when it comes to scary films, less is oftentimes more. A good horror film is one that’ll give you that creeping sense of dread in the pit of your stomach and Audition certainly fits the bill. There’s nothing more chilling than gradually putting together the pieces of a puzzle that’s been gently nagging at you, and slowly coming to the realization that you’re being manipulated by someone you trust—especially when you’re under the impression that you’ve been the one manipulating her.

Aoyama is a middle-aged widower, and like most single men his age who are dipping their toes back into the dating scene, he’s pretty sure he can land a pure, young virgin—if only he could figure out where to meet one (modern girls can be so uppity these days, with all their book larnin’). So, in a stroke of genius, he decides to put out a casting call for actresses to play a sweet, young thing for some unspecified movie or play or something. You’ve seen this ad on craigslist before: “seeking model/actress, 18-24, attractive, good morals, no fatties!” Since most actresses are accustomed to the degrading audition process (being treated like cattle, revealing intimate secrets to strangers, then never hearing back from them) no one will ever suspect that there was never a real acting job. Unfortunately for Aoyama, this little charade is really only good for discovering good actresses—not good girls. (Queue the maniacal laughter).

Beautiful, innocent-looking, young psychopaths will always shock the conscience. (That’s why any good zombie film worth it’s salt will include a little girl amongst the ranks of the flesh-hungry undead.) Our natural instinct is to love and protect such a fragile creature like this, so we’re utterly horrified when we discover her black heart and unnatural appetites. And that’s even before she pulls out the piano wire and eye-acupuncture kit. Yup, films like this will always have a permanent home in the horror genre!

By Allison from My Film Habit

28 Days Later (2002)

“It’s just people killing people. Which, to my mind, puts us in a state of normality right now.”

A group of animal rights activists break into a laboratory, and, like big turkeys, release a monkey with a certain ailment. Said monkey is infected with Rage, a highly contagious, quick spreading virus that sends the host into a homicidal craze, causing them to run wild, killing and infecting everything they see. 28 days later, the entirety of England has been ravaged by the virus. Enter Jim, who awakes from a coma on to a dead world. As he walks through the abandoned London streets, he soon meets other survivors, and together, they try and escape the city and get to a military blockade. When they get there though, they find something far worse than the infection waiting for them.

28 Days Later… was a real game changer for the zombie horror genre. Not only was it the first of its kind to incorporate zombies infected that sprint, it was also the first of its kind that seemed possible. There was a clear explanation behind the outbreak of the virus, and the way it spreads and behaves, though heavily fictionalized, is quite believable, making 28 Days Later… all the more terrifying. But, it’s the quiet moments that really set Danny Boyle’s film apart from its brothers. Early on in the film, Jim walks through a completely desolate and abandoned London. There is not a single person in the streets. The only vehicles he comes across are stalled in the middle of the road, having been destroyed or ransacked. The only clues he gets to his situation are the out of date newspapers that litter the sidewalk and the posters of missing people that adorn the walls. What is truly amazing about this is that Boyle and Co. achieved these images with absolutely no special effects. That’s right! Zero! The shut down sections of London’s streets and then filmed the scenes. Those early images are incredibly haunting are truly frightening. 28 Days Later… keeps that level of terror up for the entire run time, despite the film going a little off the rails in the third act. Imagine that. A horror movie these days that is actually scary.

Pretty much every single modern zombie movie owes something to 28 Days Later…. Remember how cool it was to see zombies running in Zack Snyder’s remake of Dawn of the Dead? 28 Days Later… did it first, and better. Remember how, in I Am Legend, the shots of Will Smith walking through an empty city looked really cool? 28 Days Later… did it first, and without any special effects. Danny Boyle’s film ushered in a new era for the modern zombie movie. It did away with the usual conventions of the genre, chiefly the concept of a slow moving zombie that anyone could get away from. It was the first legitimately scary movie of its kind since Night of the Living Dead. That one was scary because the concept was brand new. 28 Days Later… is scarier because it takes that concept, and updates it to fit in the real world. Hey, it made me believe that a zombie apocalypse could happen. That’s gotta count for something.

Ok, fine, they aren’t really zombies; they’re diseased humans, but come on! Give a guy a break! Zombie movie is easier to write, say, and read then diseased human movie! Let it go (Here’s looking at you, Nick)!

By Sebastian from Films From the Supermassive Black Hole

The Devil’s Rejects (2005)

Adam: “Please… Stop…” Otis: “Stop?? Bitch, I have just started.”

Raw and unadulterated, this movie features an unsettling amount of violence brought on by this murdering clan of intensely evil people. The Devil’s Rejects (the sequel to the 70’s throwback House of 1000 Corpses) again follows the Firefly Family, the most vicious Texas backwoods murderers. Yet while the original was full of 70’s B-Movie weirdness to compliment the savagery, this sequel was just full on brutal realism.

The film opens with the Firefly Family barely surviving an incredibly awesome shootout (one John McTiernan or perhaps Luc Besson might approve of) and the entire film becomes a chase to bring the Fireflys to justice. Yet in the case of Sheriff Wydell (William Forsythe), being that the Fireflys are responsible for the death of his brother, justice goes right out the window. He wants them to suffer and goes on a half-mad quest for their heads. But while the Fireflys are hiding/escaping the law, laying low just isn’t in their nature and they are still content to destroy as many lives wherever they go. Set to the best collection of 60’s/70’s folk music it’s hard not to like this movie even though you will probably never shake some scenes from your brain…ever. Unsettling is an understatement and this movie has been called “The Terminator of horror films” for a good reason. But there is some fun thrown in amongst the gasp inducing sequences and it all ends fantastically with the best use of “Freebird” I’ve ever seen in a movie.

The Devil’s Rejects is the kind of film you need to see because sometimes, when typical hack-n-slash horror won’t cut it, you need something jarring to cleanse your pallet of all the trite horror. I’m not saying you need to see The Human Centipede but give The Devil’s Rejects a shot especially for Halloween. In short this will rock your world. This isn’t for everyone but in this film which is basically visual blunt force trauma it is really really good in a really really bad way.

You see them walking down your street, you RUN the other way!!

By Marc from Go See Talk

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I often try and say something insightful or relevant in these introductions and probably just come across as glib so I will break with tradition skip any introduction. Before you move on I do have two more recommendations from the genre that nobody chose to write about: La Jetee (1962): A French film constructed from still photographs accompanied by a haunting voiceover. It provided the inspiration for 12 Monkeys. Primer (2004): The ultra low budget (around $7,000) thriller proves great storytelling is more important than flashy CGI even in Sci-Fi.

Time Bandits (1981)

“If I were creating the world I wouldn’t mess about with butterflies and daffodils. I would have started with lasers, eight o’clock, Day One! [zaps one of his minions accidentally, minion screams] Sorry”

Time Bandits has a strong place in my heart. I fell in love with it at a young age and watching it with my Father is one of the very few good memories I have left of the now missing parent. Thirty years later and I find myself relighting the feelings and enjoyment that I once felt. I would lay in bed at home wishing that my wardrobe would be smashed open by a Black Knight. I longed to be whisked away by a band of renegade Dwarves who had discovered a map that charts all of the universes wormholes, time portals no less. They would take me on there quest for bounty and riches through time and space. Sadly this never arose and I am here stuck at my desk typing this out for you. Ah well.

Time Bandits is the brain child of Michael Palin who teamed up with his Monty Python compadre Terry Gilliam to helm his second project (after Jabberwocky). It is a dark and deranged history lesson for the kids with enough black comedy and gags to keep any Python fan happy. Beneath this strange and fantastic tale is a lovely subtext about how petty and materialistic humanity has become. It is handled with such a deft touch and subtlety that is far greater than its meagre budget ($5m). Terry Gilliam is such a visionary genius. Great characters fill this classic, John Cleese as the vague Robin Hood, Ian Holm in scene stealing form as Napoleon with ‘Napoleon’ Complex believe it or not, David Warner as Evil camping it up big time and a very easy going Ralph Richardson as the Supreme Being. Although this is still a kids film it has enough meat on the bone and some wicked gags to keep the adults laughing to the final credits. Fantastic

By Scott from Front Room Cinema

The Terminator (1984)

“The hardest thing is deciding what I should tell you and what not to. Well, anyway, I’ve got a while yet before you’re old enough to understand the tapes. They’re more for me at this point… to help get it all straight. Should I tell you about your father? That’s a tough one. Will it change your decision to send him here… knowing? But if you don’t send Kyle, you could never be. God, you can go crazy thinking about all this… I suppose I’ll tell you… I owe him that. And maybe it’ll be enough if you know that in the few hours we had together we loved a lifetime’s worth” Sarah Connor

A human being, Kyle Reese (Michael Biehn), and a terminator suddenly appeared out of nowhere. Their presence was followed with bolt of high electric current…and they were naked. From Reese explanation we learned that only living organism can be transported by the time machine and for that reason they had to travel naked. I have seen and read some time travel stories and Terminator is the only one that let the traveler goes butt naked. For a ten years old girl in the 80s, it was quite a surprise to see that scene. The rationalization of that scene made sense at that time, I doubt it a little now. The Cyborg was mostly composed of metal, in other word dead things. It was a bit unusual for it to travel with the transporting machine even though it was covered with living tissue, wouldn’t the machine be like those machine in airport that can see through?

The time traveler in The Terminator and all terminator series can only travel one way, there was no returning home. The Terminator (Arnold Schwarzenegger) knew perfectly well that it could never return and will do everything to eliminate the mother of the future leader who will relentlessly fight the domination of machines over human. The Leader, John Connor, knew the danger that will come to his mother in the past sent his to-be-father knowing he would never see him again.

And here comes the paradox of time traveling!

I deliberately chose the quotes from Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton) to her future son because it shows how difficult a time traveling could be. The future and the past are connected in a way we can’t explain. John gave Sarah’s picture to one of his subordinates knowing that that man will become his father, but at the same time how can John be born before his father was even born? What happened to John if Reese didn’t meet Sarah in the past or somehow Reese changed the past? As we could see in Terminator 2, Sarah tried to change the future. I guess this paradox is what makes Time Travel a good story to explore.

I will close this with a quote from Kyle Reese

“John Connor gave me a picture of you once. I didn’t know why at the time. It was very old – torn, faded. You were young like you are now. You seemed just a little sad. I used to always wonder what you were thinking at that moment. I memorized every line, every curve. I came across time for you Sarah. I love you; I always have”

By Novroz from Polychrome Interest

Back to the Future (1985)

“Last night, Darth Vader came down from planet Vulcan and told me that if I didn’t take Lorraine out that he’d melt my brain“. George McFly

Teenager Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) is accidentally sent back in time from 1985 to 1955 in a DeLorean car turned it a time machine by eccentric scientist Doc Brown (Christopher Lloyd). He quickly breaks the first rule of time travel by inadvertently changing the past. All he has to do is find a way to get home to 1985 before he causes any more damage, that and get his mismatched parents to fall in love to avoid a catastrophic paradox whereby he and his siblings were never born.

To make a successful time travel movie you need to create a believable setting in two different eras, if you fail to get that part right before you even displace your protagonist the battle is already lost. That is the beauty of back to the future; the 1985 section could easily be a John Hughes high school comedy while the 1955 scenes could pass for a nostalgic film like American Graffiti. To add to this the cleverer than you think story involves time travel paradox and a fish out water tale that knows exactly how far to push the boundaries of comedy and drama. Director Robert Zemeckis has a light touch knowing when to be funny and when to let the action excite the audience. The casting is perfect following a brave choice to recast the lead four weeks into production. All this comes together to create a film that is both traditional and contemporary.

Back to the Future was a huge summer hit in 1985, we didn’t get it here in the UK until Christmas. I had to wait for the video release the following year, it was worth the wait! Having seen the movie numerous times on the small screen over the last 25 years I saw it where it belongs on the big screen last year, again it was worth the wait! The movie has aged really well hand holds up as a modern classic.

By Andy From Fandango Groovers

Twelve Monkeys (1995)

“Telephone call? Telephone call? That’s communication with the outside world. Doctor’s *discretion*. Nuh-uh. Look, hey – all of these nuts could just make phone calls, they could spread insanity, oozing through telephone cables, oozing into the ears of all these poor sane people, infecting them. Wackos everywhere, plague of madness.”

This is a strange movie, widely revered in the Sci-Fi community that delves into time travel. Unfortunately a lot of the public has given it a bad reputation for being a movie too complicated for people to understand, and though it does lean towards the complex side it’s one the best modern films representing time travel. In it’s complexity is also a ridiculously scary and intelligent, not to mention entertaining film. Mankind has barely survived a virus that destroyed the majority of it’s population. Years into the future, criminals are sent through time travel to find the pieces of the puzzle that ended in mans demise. All signs point to something involving “Twelve Monkeys”. In order to save humanity James Cole (Bruce Willis) is a criminal sent back to find this information.

For some reason he has more tolerance to the travel and can remember more. When locked in a mental home he meet Jeffrey Goines. Brad Pitt’s performance was career defining at this point. The combination of psychotic behavior intertwined with such a reflective level of intelligence almost has you believing what he’s selling. There’s some strange logic to Jeffrey Goines crazy, which makes it entirely plausible that he had the following he did. 12 Monkey’s is a good movie, but it’s something exceptional because of Jeffrey Goines and Brad Pitt.

This movie is a whirlwind up till the climactic shooting by airport security, filmed in slow-motion, of James which is perceived through a young incarnation of himself (Joseph Melito ) watching and witnessing his own death. Talk about twisted. In this one the virus gets us even with trying to alter the time continuum.

Heather from Movie Mobsters

Timeline (2003)

“So you’re saying you accidentally discovered time travel?” – “No, we accidentally discovered a wormhole.”

Plot: A group of archaeological students must travel back to year 1357 to retrieve their missing professor, which happens to be the very day of the bloodiest battle between the English and the French. They must survive 14th Century France long enough before their time marker expires.

I know critics rip this movie to shreds, but I actually find it pretty entertaining. Based on Michael Crichton’s novel of the same name, what makes the story unique is the mix between futuristic elements and the medieval setting. As with a lot of time travel movies though, the concept is often better than the execution. Yes there are logic and consistency issues here, but as long as you’re willing to suspend your disbelief for alittle while and not over-analyze every single thing, this movie is pretty good fun.

It’s sci-fi lite, I mean, they describe their time machine as ‘3D fax machine’ so that should tell you something. I’d imagine the book goes into quantum physics stuff in much more detail, but that’d be impossible to cover in a 2-hour movie. The pace is swift enough with a good amount of chase/battle scenes to keep action fans happy, and an endearing love story thrown in for good measure. In fact, the romance between André Marek & Lady Claire is the major highlights for me.

The movie also looks pretty authentic, as Richard Donner didn’t use much CGI even on the gritty battle scenes. One major quibble I haveis with the lead actor Paul Walker, who is utterly unconvincing and weak. He’s supposed to play Billy Connolly’s son and I really just can’t picture that. But Gerry Butler as André Marek more than makes up for that, even though when I first saw this, I had no idea who Butler was. It was after I saw The Phantom of the Opera a couple of years later that I realized he’s the same actor playing the Phantom! I also like Anna Friel as Claire & Frances O’Connor as Kate, and Billy Connolly, David Thewlis, and Michael Sheen round out the cast nicely.

So yeah, it’s really not as bad as the critics make it out to be. It’s worth a rental if you like time travel sci-fis or just an action romp to watch on a Friday evening.

By Ruth From FlixChatter

Timecrimes (2007)

“He’s like your reflection. You’re looking in the mirror only this reflection shows what you were doing…”

Timecrimes goes a long way to show that the old adage of “curiosity killed the cat” is advice worth heeding. But what fun is a story when a character can’t help himself right? When Hector makes his way home from shopping one day he decides to relax and kick back in the lounge chair on the lawn of he and his wife’s new home. Doing a little nature gazing with his binoculars he sees what looks like a troubled woman in the woods. As he goes to investigate he soon finds himself chased by a strange and hostile figure. He retreats to a nearby house and to save himself is left no choice but to break in. Hector meets a man who offers to hide him from the assailant inside one of his machines. Hector emerges from the mechanical device and learns he’s become an unexpected time traveler (going back in time roughly 30 minutes) and the man who helped him is a scientist who explains the predicament. If you’ve seen Back to the Future II you’ll know what can happen if you have 2 of the same persons running around in the same time…and in Timecrimes it only gets worse and more complicated than that.

Usually most time travel films employ some elaborate device including (but not limited to) flashing lights, gee whiz mechanics and a confusing formula explaining what makes it possible. Well not here and not in the least. Almost like magic, and even just as matter of fact, the time machine doesn’t even give any clear demarcations but still falls into the trappings of other time travel films. Except for the use of night and day you’d have no clue you had even traveled at all and that’s why the less is more approach to this low budget film works so well. Beyond that Timecrimes is layered so damn well showing time travel complexities and conundrums aplenty. Telling the same 30 minute story from three points of view it becomes a lot like watching the progressive seasons of Lost as you’ll be equally amazed how many ways a situation can be spun/altered when looked at from a different angle (and by more than one person).

Actually it’s quite innovative even if there are really no answers to concepts and pseudo science presented in the plot. Hector becomes an unwilling prisoner of the time continuum which deteriorates as he tries to fix the ripple he created. As the film progresses through each act trying to tie up the loose ends gets harder and harder. Don’t feel bad if you start to feels confused and hopeless as Hector. As with anything it’s all in the details and Timecrimes really gets you to pay attention to them. Liken this to early Christopher Nolan films it really is a more interesting film on repeat viewings. If this is the first time you’re seeing it, guaranteed you’ll be blown away by the story that you’ll forget all the shortcomings.

By Marc from Go See Talk

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In this instalment of Groovers & Mobsters, we’re going to look at the “Buddy” element in modern films. It’s taken many forms over the years and come in a variety of iterations but today we’ll evaluate this absolute classic cinematic formula. It’s proven time and again to be a winner and, most of the time, makes for one very funny outing…especially if the characters aren’t having a good time.

Traditionally a “buddy flick” (or even a “road trip movie”) focuses on a two-man team who has either been willingly or unwillingly paired together because of some mutual plot device. What follows is a series of misadventures befalling the leads as they continually bump heads (either their own, or someone else’s) much to the enjoyment of the viewer. That said, the following bloggers appreciate the subtle and not so subtle “back and forth” that the characters in these films dish out/endure and shine some light on their all time favourite “Buddy flicks”. Enjoy!!

Some Like it Hot (1959)

“We’re up the creek and you want to hock the paddle!”

Looking for a way out of town (fast) after witnessing the Saint Valentine’s Day massacre, two out of work male musicians shave their legs, don woman’s cloths and hide out with an all female band on their way to Florida.

The Buddy films now often referred to as Bromances may have aspects of or even predominately belong to another genres but nearly always have at their heart two protagonists whose relationship is integral to the plot of the movie. It helps that the duo in question are the supremely talented actors, Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon who have genuine chemistry. Not forgetting the duo behind the scenes Billy Wilder and I. A. L. Diamond who give them such amazing dialogue tom play with.

The dynamic of the characters is summed up their bickering exchanges: Joe (Tony Curtis) is the smooth talking, risk taking, gambling ladies’ man. He is the one who pawns their overcoats in the middle of winter to place a bet, when they loose he suggests hocking their instruments to place a further bet. But he is also the one who gets the girl in the shape of Sugar Kane (Marilyn Monroe), the band’s singer and ukulele player. Jerry (Jack Lemmon) on the other hand is a more complicated character, more cautious, less of a risk taker, always over thinking things and easily led by Joe. A classic example of this plays out in an early scene, the catalyst for the movies plot when the boys find themselves out of work when the speakeasy the work in is raided by the police.

  • Joe: What are you worried about? This job is going to last a long time.
  • Jerry: Well, suppose it doesn’t?
  • Joe: Jerry, boy, why do you have to paint everything so black? Suppose you got hit by a truck. Suppose the stock market crashes. Suppose Mary Pickford divorces Douglas Fairbanks. Suppose the Dodgers leave Brooklyn!
  • Jerry: [Jerry notices the badge of an undercover agent at a nearby table] Joe…?
  • Joe: Suppose Lake Michigan overflows.
  • Jerry: Well, don’t look now, but the whole town is underwater!

Although the movie is basically made up of one gag after another the actors play it straight and deliver their lines with stone cold sincerity however ridicules they are. It isn’t just the wisecracking banter that make the movie great, the interplay between the characters is utterly sublime with the most impeccable comic timing, bringing out both the best and the worst in each other. This is Curtis and Lemmon at their best making this not only my favourite “buddy movie” but my favourite comedy and possibly my all time favourite movie.

Click here to see the other chosen movies.

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After a brief hiatus Groovers & Mobsters Present will return, check back in two weeks for the first of the new series. Any blogger wishing to take part in a future edition email me at: fandangogroovers@gmail.com

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James Bond was created in 1953 when Ian Fleming’s first novel, Casino Royale was published. The British secret agent hit the big screen just under a decade later with the first movie Dr. No in 1962. As such Bond’s origins like Flemings go back to the second world war, Fleming worked for the director of Naval Intelligence of the Royal Navy, he was commissioned as a lieutenant and rose to the rank of Commander (the same rank he gave to his fictional creation). As Fleming returned to civilian life the Cold War was starting making Bond very much a cold war character. Whilst the character has a very defined arc across the series of books they all date from mid fifties to mid sixties, the movies however have had to adapt and develop in order to stay reverent over time. In the seventies he joined the space race (Diamonds Are Forever and Moonraker), in the late 80’s as Mikhail Gorbachev embraced the idea of Glasnost a new Bond took on East – West relations before embarking on a battle with a new enemy, the drug trade. Then Bond disappeared from our screens for a time. The brief hiatus was caused by a legal dispute, once settled yet another new Bond took over finding the world a different place after The Berlin Wall came down. As the villains plans got more elaborate and Bonds gadgets got more preposterous the franchise lost its relevance and something new was needed, we received it with Casino Royale. As MGM work through their financial situation we do not know where the series will go next, but one thing we do know; James Bond WILL return!

Casino Royale (2006)

“Christ I miss the cold war” – M

Bond was conceived in the cold war and after forty years of evolution had lost relevance and all connection with reality. In essence Bond is a character from a time travel movie who after around 1977 (or possibly even 1965) never completely fits into the modern world. Opinions differed as to how best to restore the franchise to its former glory, some (including me) advocated a return to the original source material and a 1950/60’s setting. Others suggested something more like the all action Bourne movies, as it turned out a middle ground was the best option. Taking the first Bond novel at its centre and expanding on it to create a rounded movie that is essentially a reboot taking the franchise back to year one.

The black and white pre credit sequence takes us back to a pre 00 (licence to kill) Bond (Daniel Craig), it is raw, bloody, brutal, visceral but more importantly it is basic simple and brilliant; the perfect antidote to the overblown excess of its predecessors. We next meet Bond on assignment; in a scene involving a fantastic parkour chase, a mission to capture a bomb maker goes wrong. Bond follows the evidence resulting in a chain of events that culminate in him taking part in a high-stakes poker tournament against terrorist banker/financier LeChiffre (Mads Mikkelsen) who is attempting to win back the money he lost because of Bond. This tournament is where we rejoin Ian Fleming’s source material, true the setting has changed from France to Montenegro and the game from baccarat to Texas hold ‘em poker but the essence of the story survives.

This may be a reboot and an attempt to get new and younger viewers onboard (a successful one) but it is also a Bond movie through and through full of themes and references to what has gone before. The conversations Bond has with Vesper Lynd (Green) and M (Judi Dench) are equally as epic and important as the action scenes. Whilst I still believe From Russia With Love is the best Bond film ever Casino Royale is comfortably the second best and certainly the best made within my lifetime.

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In the week leading up to tomorrows Groovers and Mobsters Present: James Bond we have given you the best of Bond Girls, Gadgets, Cars, Villains and Henchmen. Now for something a little different. Like no other character from movies or literature James Bond can be identified by his possessions, it isn’t the gadgets, it’s the “stuff”.

The Suit

James Bonds cloths changed over time to keep up with (or not too far behind) the fashions of the day. His everyday attire was normally a tailored suit (in Ian Fleming’s novels he favoured a lightweight serge in Navy Blue). The identity of his tailor is never mentioned in the novels but someone on Savile Row is hinted at. The movies are a little more overt with Bond telling Felix Leiter that his suits are tailored on Savile Row. In reality the suits worn by Connery came from director Terence Young’s tailor, Anthony Sinclair (located on Conduit Street near Savile Row and not on “the row” itself). Roger Moore favoured his own tailors Cyril Castle (of Mayfair) and later Douglas Hayward but his contemporary and stylish suits are often forgotten because of the dated safari jackets he also wore. Partly because of the plots of the movies he appeared in Timothy Dalton introduced some more casual cloths but insisted the character remained true to his origins and not move more towards the Miami Vice inspired pastels that were creeping into fashion in the 80‘s. When Bond returned in the 90’s the game had changed and bespoke tailors (who spend about 80 hours on each suit) could not produce enough garments for a movie. For the Pierce Brosnan era they moved to the Italian company Brioni who have been associated with Hollywood since the 50’s. The current Bond, Daniel Craig has worn Tom Ford in his two movies so far.

The Gun

When Ian Fleming wrote the first James Bond novel, Casino Royale, he issued his secret agent with a Beretta 418. Fleming freely admitted to knowing little about the type of weapon an agent like Bond would use, therefore it came as no surprise when Geoffrey Boothroyd, a gun collector and Bond fan wrote to Fleming explaining the Beretta 418 was “a lady’s gun”. The two men entered into correspondence until eventually Bonds new gun the Walther PPK 7.65 mm was decided upon. As Fleming set to work on his next novel Dr. No, not only did he start using the Walther but he is actually assigned it by a character called Major Boothroyd. As Dr. No became the first Bond novel to be filmed we see Bonds move from the Beretta to the Walther at the start of the film series. The Walther PP was designed by Carl Walther Waffenfabrik in 1929 (and the slightly smaller version the PPK two years later) for police use, they have been in continues use ever since and the PPK/S has been manufactured in the USA by Smith & Wesson under license. After first using one in Tomorrow Never Dies, from The World Is Not Enough onwards Bond’s issued sidearm became the more modern Walther P99 but the PPK will always be associated with Bond.

The Car

In the novels Bond originally drove a Bentley, it is described as a 4½ Litre with an Amherst Villiers supercharger in battleship grey. He did however drive an Aston Martin in the novel Goldfinger, in the film version he drives the Aston Martin DB5 for the first time. The most iconic and recognisable Bond car, Bond and the BD5 will always be synonymous with each other. It reappeared with Sean Connery in Thunderball but its finest hour comes in GoldenEye when driven by Pierce Brosnan’s Bond as he races femme fatale, Xenia Onatopp driving a Ferrari F355 through the French Alpes towards Monte Carlo. In the real world the old Aston wouldn’t’t be able to keep up with the modern Ferrari but in Bonds world this is easily forgotten. After a few dalliances with Lotus’ and BMW’s Bond is now back in an Aston with a classic DB5 making its most recent appearance in Casino Royale.

The Watch

Ian Fleming’s Bond always wore a Rolex, the exact model was never mentioned. In the films Sean Connery wore a Rolex Submariner, as did Roger Moore initially. Then as we move into the digital age in The Spy Who Loved Me Moore updated to a digital Seiko. Timothy Dalton went back to the classic Rolex Submariner only to be replaced by Pierce Brosnan and The Omega Seamaster. Daniel Craig, also wears the Omega. Part of Rolex’s Oyster Perpetual range the Submariner was first produced in 1954 and designed for diving, the style is iconic and has been copied by other watch manufactures ever since. Although he was ultimately the Bond who moved away from the Rolex it was Roger Moore who made best use of it in Live and Let Die. His Submariner featured highly intense electro-magnet powerful enough to deflect the path of a bullet as well as rotating saw-edged bezel.

The Drink

Thanks to the movies James Bond is always associated with Vodka Martinis, in fact the Bond of Ian Fleming’s novels drank many different drinks. In Casino Royale he did however drink a Vodka Martini that he eventually named “Vesper” after the character Vesper Lynd. The Vesper recipe is:

  1. Three measures of Gordon’s Gin
  2. One of vodka
  3. Half a measure of Kina Lillet
  4. Shake over ice until it’s ice-cold and strain into a martini glass.
  5. Then add a large thin slice of lemon peel

Check back tomorrow for the main event, Groovers And Mobsters Present James Bond

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