It’s been a long time, but I finally restarted posting in my To Watch Pile YouTube channel!
I’m hoping to post there regularly so please, like the videos and subscribe to see more, otherwise, keep visiting here for links to the channel!
It’s been a long time, but I finally restarted posting in my To Watch Pile YouTube channel!
I’m hoping to post there regularly so please, like the videos and subscribe to see more, otherwise, keep visiting here for links to the channel!
Film: To say that the ghost stories of Montague R. James are well respected is possibly an understatement. The very fact that a type of horror story is referred to as Jamesian should underline that fact. The Jamesian story type is a path well trod not just by writers, but by filmmakers as well. The Jamesian method has three main features: the story takes place in a small, generally English, community or perhaps a University or other place of learning, it has a sceptical scholar as it’s protagonist and some sort of cursed tome that effects either ghosts of demons.
It’s appropriate for a film to use the Jamesian method too. To have a protagonist in the film who has to have a lot of the environments or traditions of a location or society explained to them makes for an easy way for the viewer to comprehend as well, and it also works for the big reveal if the society has a hidden secret. This method also works well in science fiction to explain more high concept stuff, like in The Last Starfighter or even Star Wars, as Luke need the ways of the grater world explained to him.
This movie, Night of the Demon, is based on one of James’ works, ‘Casting the Runes’, and was adored by Charles Bennett, who also wrote The Lost World and Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, and was directed by Jacques Tourneur, who directed The Comedy of Errors and I Walked With a Zombie. It had a difficult release as the producer Hal E. Chester wanted a visual representation of the demon onscreen, where as Tourneur and Bennett wanted to avoid that. The film had two releases, one which was cut by a full 10 minutes and titles “Curse of the Demon’, but here was have the full, 95 minute version on Bluray from Cinema Cult.
After Professor Henry Harrington (Maurice Denham) died mysteriously during investigating the occult doings of a certain Dr. Karswell (Niall MacGinnis), psychologist John Holden (Dana Andrew’s) travels to England to continue the investigation.
Karswell obviously objects to Holden’s interference, and slips a curse onto his person, one which will cause him to be visited by a demon and murdered at a particular time and date.
Of course, Holden thinks this is a pile of hoo-ha, and even at the insistence of Harrjngton’s niece, Joanna (Peggy Cummins) who is investigating her uncles death, he still remains an unbeliever… even as the evidence for the curse gets more and more apparent! Will he survive the curse? Does it even exist?
Obviously a film of this generation has several elements that a modern film fan may not like. The acting is very ‘on stage’ and ‘performancey’ (you know what I mean, it’s very vaudevillian), the effects are very low-key, but for their time they look fantastic, well, until you get to the silly looking demon, but the silliness of his look adds to the charm of the whole thing.
The story, with its aforementioned ‘Jamesian’ influences, is great. The slow reveals are paced so well, and every introduction of a new character adds to the fun. Even better, the bad guy is announced from the very start so there is no deception, and his intentions are always clear, but how will he get away with his shenanigans, and how far he’ll go are where the expanding story sits.
Trigger warning: there is an Indian character who may not sit well with some as the part is played by Caucasian actor, Peter Elliot. It’s not a dealbreaker, but some may find it offensive.
This is a great film, and a worthy addition to any horror fans collection. Best thing about this edition is that the Cinema Cult edition cover has ‘85 minutes runtime’ on it, meaning it’s the cut ‘Curse of the Demon’ version, but it actually is the uncut ‘Night…’ version.
Extras: Not a sausage.
WISIA: It a great film, so definitely.
This review was done with the Australian Cinema Cult Bluray release of the film
Film: The older I get… and let me tell you, I’m getting older REAL fast… the more and more sick I am of the word ‘franchise’. When I was younger, it referred to a McDonalds, or a KFC, now it appears that no filmmaker or writer wants to make a movie, they want to make a franchise.
You know, I get it. To create something that has some kind of cool legacy would be amazing. To know that something you created has a future because it has a love that is generationally significant.
In past times you could do it with just a single film, which might indicate the quality of these franchises over single films of the past. Personally I blame my beloved 80s movies, and the post-2000 need for nostalgia driven product over new stuff. I guess I’m part of the problem when you consider that this very website older movies more often than newer ones.
Scream (2020) starts with the assault of Tara Carpenter (Jenna Ortega) in her house by the returning Woodsboro murder icon Ghostface, which causes he estranged sister Samantha (Melissa Barrera) to return home as their mother is missing with one of her many boyfriends.
What we quickly learn is that Sam is the illegitimate daughter of the original Woodsboro murderer Billy Loomis (Skeet Ulrich), and is in therapy as the idea of her father being a serial killer has caused a few mental issues.
Of course, the killer is back, but this time is killing the children and/ or family members of the original victims/ killers, and one by one, people are being murdered who somehow relate back to the original murders
This alerts Sydney Prescott (Neve Campbell) and Gale Weathers (Courtney Cox) to the situation, and make there way back to the town to help in whatever way they can, but could it have been that the villain(s) of the piece wanted exactly that?
Like other Scream movies, the story is pretty silly and far fetched, and relies characters to behave in a way that real people don’t. That’s just movies I guess. One thing is, though, is the need justify its existence via a dialogue-based meta-explanation that talks about the state of franchised cinema, and also references itself in a matter more mastubatory that wanking to a home video of yourself wanking. Even down to mentioning how stupid and frustrating new horror films naming themselves like they are the original is unfunny and doesn’t shows a sense of irony: it shows the writers off knowing what they are doing, why they are doing it and are still big enough jerks to make us spend the rest of our lives saying ‘no not that one, the original one’.
As usual with the Scream films, after the first one that is, the motivation for the murder(s) is somewhat lacking, and if not for the quality of acting and violence, would have been flat and uninteresting.
I do have to say I liked the cast, no matter how unliveable the character was. The acting is on point and the cast are certainly a lot more convincing that previous entries. Some of the throwbacks to previous episodes, like Randy’s sister played by Heather Matarazzo from Scream 3, Marley Shelton from Scream 5, Neve Campbell, Courtney Cox and David Arquette from the entire series are an obvious addition. By the way, Arquette has turned into a super-cool ex-cop action hero type, and I want to see him in something like the Bob Odenkirk movie Nobody.
I did find one thing deliciously wonderful about it: considering it’s pedigree of PG-rated, more teen friendly violence, this has some moments of brutality that are stunningly surprising. Some slow, penetrating stab shots that take no prisoners and a leg/ ankle snap that made some parts of me shrink so much I’m gonna need a hot bath to set them free from cowering in my lower abdomen.
Are we gonna see another one? It feels like it, for sure. Do we need another one, no: not even slightly.
Extras: The extras on this disc are quite interesting, and really do pay tribute to Craven’s creation (even one of the characters names is Wes).
There is a Commentary by writers James Vanderbilt and Gus Busick, directors Tyler Gillett and Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and executive producer Chad Villella which is great, as it really covers a lot of aspects of the film, though their assumption of an asthma inhaler in the first scene was ‘very very subtle’ makes me wonder if they have ever seen a movie before. Come on guys, if someone is asthmatic or diabetic it DEFINITELY a plot point later in the film.
The Deleted Scenes are worthless and the film is better off without them.
New Blood compares the original film with the new film, and they talk about how important the film is in film history. Let’s face it, the original film probably did save the dire place mainstream horror was in at the time.
Bloodlines is the same as above but with the cast.
In The Shadow of the Master looks at Craven’s history and influence on the horror genre.
Scream 1996 (see, what did I tell you) trailer.
WISIA: If I was to watch an entire franchise again, I probably would, but I wouldn’t watch it as a single one-off film again.
Film: I honestly can’t describe to you how important Star Wars is to my life. That’s not to say I’m a super obsessive nut job fan who can’t function without starting every sentence with a Star Wars fact (ok, maybe once but not anymore), but I am still pretty passionate about it… gatekeepery?
Maybe a little!
After Return of the Jedi came out in 1983 I CRAVED more content, and read heaps of the Marvel comics, and later the Dark Horse ones too. I also read the books and consumed other media like video games and toys. This of course meant that I was pretty damned excited when the announcement for a new trilogy of films was coming, and I rocked up there very early to see the new flick.
The planet Naboo is going to be invaded! So the Senate sends members of the order of the Jedi, Qui-gon Jinn (Liam Neeson) and Obi-wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor) to engage in negotiations, which unfortunately result in the Jedi needing to make a quick escape, and rescue the Queen of Naboo, Armidale (Natalie Portman), getting her into a ship and off-planet asap.
In their escape they pick up the decidedly odd, and fan-hated Jar Jar Binks (Ahmed Best) and find themselves with a damaged ship on the planet of Tattooine, where they stumble upon the extraordinarily talented boy-mechanic/ pilot Anakin Skywalker (Jake Lloyd) who convinces the refugees that he can win a ‘podrace’ (basically prams attached to jet engines) to get them enough money to buy what they need.
The kid obviously wins in an event that’s fun, but takes far too (D2) long to get through so they can get away from the planet, taking the kid with them, because he has a covid-styled thing in his bloodstream called ‘midichlorians’, and is perfect Jedi material, but very quickly they discover they are being pursued by a Sith Lord named Darth Maul (Ray Park), who is working for the one-pulling-the-strings-of-the-whole-shenanigans Darth Sidious (Ian McDiamid)… will Naboo fall? Has it already? Will Jake Lloyd ever work again?
The main problem with this film is really the same problem that ALL the prequels had: the pacing. Too much time is spent showing things that are irrelevant, or at the very least could be shown in a far more speedier fashion. The cynic in me would suggest that perhaps Lucas was already well and truly thinking of his licensing opportunities with this and video games when you consider the amount of time spent on the pod racer scene which in now way really moves the story forward at all.
The minor problems are few but still interfere with my ability to completely enjoy this film. A lot of screen time is given to the young actor Jake Lloyd, and unfortunately he’s just not very good. Sure he displays all the exuberance of youth, and Lucas intention of having a child character to pull the kids into the film… and franchise doesn’t survive if it doesn’t propagate new fans… had solid reasoning. I think perhaps a first shot at the big time that’s filled with green screen, actors in half costumes and environments that don’t exist at all may have been hard on the youngling.
It’s not all bad though: the rest of the cast are fantastic. Neeson, McGregor, Portman all, play their parts and really lay some epic foundations of not what’s to come in the films, but also in the associated animations like Clone Wars and Rebels. The effects are also fantastic, with all the aliens and vehicles really existing honestly in their environments.
I honestly believe that if this was the film that started the legacy of Star Wars, it would have spluttered to a half almost immediately. It was only providence and the promise of two more episodes that allowed Lucas to continue with this tomfoolery. Luckily for him the opening sequence of the next film was absolute gold!
Extras: Extras? Meesa LOVE extras!
Ahem, what I meant to say is that there is a whole Blu-ray Disc FULL of extras in this 4K Ultra HD release!
Conversations: Doug Chiang Looks Back sees… guess who… Doug Chiang reminisce on working on the prequel trilogy, and how it developed his 5 points of design. It’s interesting that something that would seem to be so important wouldn’t get much more than a 5 minute feature.
Discoveries from Inside: Models & Miniatures is another sub-5 minute featurette looking at the miniatures used in the films.
George Lucas on the Digital Revolution has Lucas himself discuss the change from analog filmmaking to digital.
Legacy Content, which includes a feature length documentary called ‘The Beginning’, The Podrace: Theatrical Edit, Archive Fly-through, Interviews, Deleted/ Extended Scenes and The Collection. This legacy content has been seen on previous releases of the film on other formats.
WISIA: Not one of my favourite Star Wars films by a long shot, but you have to watch it if your having a Star Wars festival, right?
This review was done after watching the Australian 4K Ultra HD.
Fantastic 4 (2015)
Film: Those Marvel films that are around now, they are bloody fantastic, aren’t they… well, except for Thor Ragnarok which is a lowest common denominator, slapstick comedy piece of populist cinema made for people who don’t respect comic books as an art form and think it’s ok to throw a much loved character through a comedy filter for lowbrow ‘laffs’.
Ahem, excuse me.
Well due to a bunch of contractual stuff, there were (before the Disney juggernaut purchased everything on the planet except for DC, Star Trek and Firefly) a bunch of Marvel properties that were still owned by other companies. Sony had (and still has) Spiderman and his amazing friends and enemies, and Fox were the proud owners of the X-men and this part of the Marvel Universe, the Fantastic Four, once the proud owners of the tagline ‘The World’s Greatest Comic Magazine’.
This was the fourth attempt at a Fantastic Four film. The first was the doomed and not-officially released Roger Corman junk pile that ruined careers, then we had the successful, but more PG-friendly than the modern Marvel films, 2005 film and its sequel, which weren’t too bad and certainly truer to the comics than this catastrophic film that holds up neither as a comic-based film or even as a good movie at all!
You probably know the story, but this has some unnecessary tweaks.
Childhood friends Reed Richards (Miles Teller) and Ben Grimm (Jamie Bell) are invited by Dr. Franklin Storm (Reg E. Cathey) to help with an experiment in pan-dimensional travel he is performing with his scientist daughter Sue (Kate Mara), engineer/ mechanic son Johnny Storm (Michael B. Jordan) and experiment detractor Victor Von Doom (Tony Kibbell).
Unfortunately, an accident happens during the experiment and they are exposed to a radiation that gives them powers beyond human imaging… well, unless your name is Jack Kirby or Stan Lee… Richards escapes the facility that’s experimenting on them but the others start being forced to work for a government agency, until they realise there is a bigger threat coming, and they need to all be involved…
This film tries to cram into its terrible script an anti-corporation activist message, Fast and the Furious styled car culture, teenage geniuses and some fairly high-concept sci-fi… it seemingly seemed to be an attempt to be a non-version of a Marvel film and wanted to sit amongst other sci-fi films of the time like Lucy, The Martian and Transcendence. Whilst the FF comics did sit amongst some of those themes, it never felt so ham-fisted as in this film.
I do have to say that having pan-dimensional travel, something we know nothing about as it really only exists in theory, being the reason for the 4 to get their powers was a clever idea. Considering the comics were created before we went to space properly, we did not know that ‘cosmic rays’ existed and that they won’t give us powers. Another issue was using Doom as the bad guy again when clearly the concept of pan-dimensionality, a concept referred to as ‘The Negative Zone in the comics, would have leant itself to a better idea of something following the 4 back to our dimension, like the characters of Blastaar, or even better, the metal clad insect-thing Annihilus.
The aesthetic of this film is pretty amazing. The technology all looks legitimate, and the cast do the best they can with a script that doesn’t reek of the same legitness. I have to admit to liking the idea of some of the members requiring ‘containment suits’ instead of usual superhero costumes, and there’s a nice little tip-of-the-hat to the ‘4’ symbol from the comics hidden here and there too.
The soundtrack by Marco Beltrami and Phillip Glass is wonderful at setting the mood throughout the film.
It’s a case of too little too late though. There were legends of Trank being erratic on set, which are unfounded and rumours of studio interference that was untenable, but usually brought on by a studio being unhappy with his work, so I guess it was to be expected that this would be a die-cast turd.
If you haven’t seen this, don’t bother watching it unless you want to see just how bad a comic-based film can be. If you are a film student, watch it so you can understand how to screw up the final act of a film and avoid it happening to your projects. I honestly don’t understand why a simple superhero film about ‘family’ is so hard. If you want to watch a good Fantastic Four film, watch The Incredibles which steals….ahem, ‘borrows’ liberally from the ideals of Kirby and Lee’s original creation.
The only reason this film gets a single ‘*’ is because of my affection for Kate Mara.
Extras: The disc opens with a preview for Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials, before hitting the menu.
Powering Up: The Superpowers of the Fantastic Four looks at the FF and Doom’s powers and how they were realised for this film. This film is pretty effects heavy and their powers are so different it does make for an interesting cgi featurette.
The Quantum Gates explores the Quantum Gates, the invention that takes the scientists to another dimension.
Planet Zero investigates the design of Planet Zero, the other-dinemsional planet.
The Score obviously looks at Betrami and Glass’s magnificent score.
Concept Art just looks at some still images of the art for the Gates and the planet.
The tragedy of watching these extras is all the creators involved were really invested in the film. I feel sorry for them
WISIA: No… oh, unless I needed a Kate Mara fix, but I’d probably watch Transcendence instead.
Jakob’s Wife (2021)
Film: To say I have a crush on Barbara Crampton is a bit of an understatement. This is going to sound extraordinarily bizarre, but before I saw her in Reanimator in 1986 or 1987, I was a brunette person, but Crampton completely turned me around. I’ve been an avid follower of her career (except the soap opera days) and as far as I am concerned, if she’s in a film, it’s a sign of quality.
Over the past couple of years Crampton has appeared in a few horror films that really stood out for me: Adam Wingard’s You’re Next, Ted Geoghan’s We Are Still Here and Jackson Stewart’s Beyond the Gates were all films I really liked and possibly wouldn’t have watched if not for her presence. Hell, I even played Back 4 Blood because she played a voice in it.
Anyways, enough about what a weirdo I am, Jakob’s Wife stars Crampton, along with he co-star from We Are Still Here, Larry Fessenden, and Bonnie Aarons, from The Nun, I Know Who Killed Me and Mulholland Drive. The film was directed by Travis Stevens, who gave us the C. M. Punk-starring Girl on the Third Floor, who shares the writing duties with The Special’s Mark Steensland and the writer of the Castle Freak remake, Kathy Charles.
Jakob’s Wife tells of Anne Fedder (Crampton), the frustrated, mousey and resentful wife of town minister, Jakob Fedder (Fessenden) who when a teenager had dreams of travel and an exotic life that tragically went unfulfilled.
As a high-profile member of the town, she is assisting in the revamping of an old mills into a new shopping precinct, with the help of her teenage boyfriend Tom Low (Robert Rusler) who we find out is back for her and not for the mill, but whilst checking out the site, they run into a small problem. Tom is attacked and seemingly killed by rats, and someone, or someTHING attacks Anne.
Suddenly, Jakob notices changes in Anne, she’s more confident, and has a list for blood, but what is a good, wholesome, God-fearing family to do when one of the members might be a vampire?
Jakob’s Wife is a strange film. Is it a black comedy? I think so, but a great deal of it is played straight, and there is certainly some themes related to marital frustrations, and people trying to maintain their faith when there doesn’t seem room for any. It also leans into some physical comedy too, but that might just be because Fessenden is such a loveable goofball. He’s just the Total Dad of B grade horror.
The gore and effects are heaps of fun. The main vampire ‘The Master’ has a great Nosferatu/ Salem’s Lot look about it, and the blood-letting effects are straight out of any Hong Kong/ Sushi Typhoon movie, that is, like a damned fire hose!
At the end of the day, weirdly enough, it’s a story about marriage, and how sometimes some people get lost behind another, but with a shed-load of blood attached. At its best the film is ok, but I think it struggles at times to decide what it’s trying to be. It’s not enough black comedy, the gore is a little too silly to be horrible, and occasionally the actings is a bit too slapstick. I think I WANT to like it more than what I actually do.
One thing though, my crush on Barbara is well and truly intact.
Extras: The disc starts with reviews for Son, Psycho Goreman and The Dark and The Wicked before hitting the menu screen.
The Making of Jakob’s Wife only goes for 5 odd minutes and doesn’t really dive deep into the actual ‘making of’, it really just a few sound bytes from the cast about the film.
There’s about 13 minutes of deleted scenes which as usual, make little difference to the story.
WISIA: It’s not great, but with Barbara in it, I’ll be back.
Last Night in Soho (2021)
Film: Sometimes I just want to watch a film, you know?
Every time we turn around, we hear the words ‘franchise’ or ‘three film deal’ when it comes to cinema. Sometimes… actually most times, I just want to sit down and watch A film. Not something that requires prior knowledge, a rewatch of six films or a YouTube explanation as to what has come before: occasionally… actually, mostly, I just want to watch a film.
Many months ago I saw the trailer for a film called Last Night in Soho, and I was pretty darn excited. First, written (along with Krystal Wilson-Cairns) and directed by Edgar Wright, whose Cornetto Trilogy rates pretty high in my favourite films (I know what I said about franchises but these are three separate films that have an ice cream as a common thread), and Scott Pilgrim Vs The World, which is easily one of my favourite comic adaptations. That’s not to go without talking about his doco about the pop band The Sparks, which is a fascinating watch, especially for music lovers. Also, one of the stars of the film is my lockdown crush, Anya Taylor-Joy, who easily gave the most accurate portrayal of a Marvel character playing Magik, in The X-men spin-off The New Mutants, played Beth Harmon in the amazing The Queen’s Gambit on Netflix (I love both Walter Tevis’ writing and am an avid chess player, even though I suck at it) and was in the beautiful The VVitch: A New-England Folktale, as Thomasin.
Last Night in Soho tells of Eloise ‘Ellie’ Turner (Thomasin McKenzie), a young, aspiring fashion designer from country Cornwall who is accepted to go to a big fashion school in London. After a disastrous first night in the college’s dormitories with her room-mate, the unpleasant Jocasta (Synnøve Karlson), Ellie decides to rent an off-campus bedsit from Mrs Collins (Diana Rigg).
There’s something a little ‘special’ about Ellie though; she’s a touch ‘sensitive’… in the psychic way, like her mother was before she committed suicide… and every night when she goes to bed, she has time travelling flights-of-fancy where she finds herself transported into the body of Sandie (Anya Taylor-Joy), an aspiring actress who engages her career with the seemingly nice and suave Jack (Matt Smith), but Jack may be a lot less than what he seems, and Ellie starts to both ‘become’ Sandie, but also in intrigued by what happened to her, which surely must have been murder considering the sad path she was going down…
Ellie’s vision start intruding into her real life until she can barely tell them apart, but who can she turn to as her life rapidly seems to be crumbling, who is the strange older man (Terrance Stamp) that seems to be following her and how can her fashion education, and fledgling romance with John (Michael Ajao) …
I have to say I am totally in love with this film. It’s very much a giallo but told through modern eyes and technology, the cinematography and acting really are outstanding, the special effects are wonderful and all the tricks, both in and out of camera, will really make you wonder how it was done, and the soundtrack speaks to me like very few have before.
I honestly can’t recommend this movie enough. It appeals to my love of giallo, it’s visuals appeal to my love of 60s cinema, it’s an Edgar Wright film and it stars a whole bunch of actors that I really like, and a current crush.
Extras: A decent bunch of extras about the film that I actually think could have been edited together into a wonderful
Meet Eloise looks at the character and casting of the character of Eloise in the film. Wright, Wilson-Cairns, McKenzie, Taylor-Joy and other members of the cast and crew all discuss the creation of the character.
Dreaming of Sandie explores the creation of Sandie’s character, from Wright’s and Wilson-Cairn’s original idea down to the execution by Taylor-Joy.
Smoke and Mirrors takes us into the shifting between the 60s and now and how effects were used to execute the look of both eras and their intrusion into each other’s worlds.
On The Streets of Soho sees the actual Soho in London become a character in the film, and how the writing and direction did that.
Time Travelling enters the sixties via fashion and music which really makes the time travelling sequences quite exciting.
There are 6 Deleted Scenes, which I don’t miss in the film at all. There is one sad bit of romance that I believe the movie missed out not having in it.
Animatics show animated storyboards of four sequences.
Extras shows some pretty cool behind the scenes stuff, like hair and make-up tests and some trial camera shots. Interesting for those with a fascination for filmmaking.
‘Downtown’ Music Video sees Taylor-Joy perform a cover of the classic song originally performed by Petula Clark.
Trailers has a domestic and an international trailer for the film, both which are quite different.
There is also a commentary with Wright, editor Paul Machliss and composer Steve Price which is animated and fascinating and completely worth while listening to even if you aren’t a commentary listener.
WISIA: Oh yes, this will be watched again. Regularly.
Paganini Horror (1989)
Film: It’s funny how no matter how well versed you think you are in a genre, sometimes a film may just slip through your fingers.
Honestly, before the release of this soundtrack on vinyl I had never heard of this film, and I like to think of myself as a fan of writer/ director Luigi Cozzi as well, consider my affection for Contamination, The Black Cat, Starcrash and the documentary Dario Argento: Master of Horror.
(On a side note: it is a mission of mine to one day visit his horror store in Rome, Profundo Rosso)
Kate (Jasmine Maimone) is used to writer hit songs, but has hit a dry spell that she can’t seem to come out of, and it’s suggested to her that perhaps she find someone to write her a new hit song.
Her drummer, Daniel (Pascal Persiano) makes a deal with a Mr. Pickett (Donald Pleasance, but dubbed by someone else which makes for a decidedly unsettling performance) to get a piece of unpublished music by Nicolo Paganini, the 19th century violinist who was said to have made a deal with the devil!
They decide to make an elaborate music clip in an old house owned by Sylvia Hackett (Daria Niccolodi), directed by a horror movie director, Mark Singer (Pietro Genuardi). The band are excited by the prospect of doing a Michael Jackson/ Thriller-styled clip, but very quickly things go awry.
Daniel and Rita (Luanda Ravegnini) go missing and bizarre supernatural things start happening, but is it some kind of curse from the Paganini music, or is the old house somehow involved, and what does this all have to do with the murder that is committed by a young girl upon her mother that we witnessed in the prologue?
This whole thing looks like a weird, 90 minute film clip for a song like Guns ‘n’ Roses November Rain, and being totally honest, it’s so boring it took me several goes to get through it. If it wasn’t for the fact that I knew Pleasance and Niccolodi appeared again towards the end, I probably would not have finished it at all, and this review wouldn’t exist.
I do normally like Cozzi’s film no matter how low the budget is, but this is just awful. The only reason to own this disc is for the excellent commentary by Troy Howarth.
Extras: There’s some very interesting extras on this disc:
Commentary by Troy Hogarth, the writer of three volumes of So Deadly, So Perverse, a book series about the history of giallo films, so it makes him the perfect person to do a commentary about this film, and it’s a stunningly informative piece.
Bloody Violin: Luigi Cozzi on Paganini Horror sees the writer/ director reminisce about the origins of the film, and the journey to completing the production. He also discusses where his film sits in the history of gialli and Italian cinema.
Interview with Pietro Genuardi is a look back with the actor, over his career and his performance as Mark Singer in this film. Some interesting anecdotes about making films in the late 80s in Italy.
There is also a trailer for the film.
WISIA: Nope. I regret watching it once.
This movie was reviewed using the 88 Films Bluray release.
Film: If you have been enjoying all those Marvel movies, and other movies based on comic properties you basically have this film to thank.
Tim Burton’s Batman film, released in 1989, wasn’t just a film, it was a phenomenon. Today, the idea of making a super-hero film is an easy one, especially if you have the initials ‘DC’ or the world ‘Marvel’ attached to it. Even non-superhero comic based franchises have successfully launched with things like Riverdale (loosely based on Archie comics), The Walking Dead (based on the Image comics) and the Edgar Wright helmed Scott Pilgrim Vs the World (based on Brian Lee O’Malley’s comic) all finding various degrees of success. Back then, comics were ‘still for kids’ and the idea of making a film that would be successful, based on a comic, wasn’t something taken too seriously. The first two Superman films had set a standard, that like this series of films, the final two didn’t stand up to, and Batman was also a hard character to make a serious film of because most people remembered him as the character from the campy TV series of the 60s.
When the producers had decided to make a film more like the comics rather than the TV show, that was dark, and really tapped into the ideas of justice and fear, and they accidentally found that people who had grown up with both the comics and action films of the 80s were prepared to take it seriously, even though they had director Tim Burton and star Michael Keaton, both who gave us the comedy Beetlejuice. The announcement of character actor Jack Nicolson performing the role of the villain The Joker, a perennial favourite from the comics, made ‘proper’ film fans sit up and really take notice, as did the inclusion of other actors like Jack Palance, Billy Dee Williams, Michael Gough and Pat Hingle.
(NB: I remember being horrified by the casting of Keaton in the title role, and not until I saw him on the cover of an issue of American science fiction film magazine Starlog did I actually see that Warner Bros were taking this film seriously.)
I was already a comic fan when this came out, having been a fan since the early 1970s, and I saw it in a dingy little cinema in a small country called Orange in country New South Wales, and went in a skeptic, but emerged, reborn, as a lover, and I wasn’t alone, as Batmania hit and there possible wasn’t a man or woman on the planet who didn’t have at least one little tiny piece of Batman-based paraphernalia in their cupboards.
The film struck all the right chords at the right time, like Beatlemania before it, and Spicemania soon after… comic nerds weren’t the outcasts anymore, they became historians, and even the comic industry had a temporary boom, with new store and titles popping up all over the place.
…but what is this film about?
Well, (and I’m sure I don’t really have to tell you) this film tells of the Batman (Michael Keaton), a creature of the night who I stills fear into the heart of the crooks of Gotham City with a campaign of fear.
What no-one knows about the Batman is, is that he is actually millionaire playboy, Bruce Wayne, who has started this campaign of justice as he has suffered severe mental trauma as a child when he watched his parents, Thomas and Martha, brutally murdered in front of him.
There’s other shenanigans happening in Gotham city though, as crimelord Grissom (Jack Palance) has decided to have his second-in-charge, the extraordinarily vain Jack Napier (Jack Nicholson) taken down by the police for bedding his girlfriend, Alicia (Jerry Hall).
The tip-off goes awry, and instead of being killed by corrupt cop Lieutenant Elkhart (William Hootkins), Napier falls into a vat of chemicals which damages his face so bad that it drives him mad, and he become a self described homicidal artist, The Joker, with an intention, and the means, of killing the citizens of Gotham City.
Batman has to stop his terrible plans, but the Joker isn’t his only problem, as investigative journalists Alexander Knox (Robert Wuhl) and photographer Vicki Vale (Kim Basinger) are hot on the tale of revealing his secret identity…
It’s a classic Batman tale, with the Joker having a nefarious scheme and the Batman requiring some detective work to figure out his game, something some more modern Bat-films have been lacking as he appears to be more a thug who beats up the mentally challenged before locking them up in an asylum where security is obviously lacklustre. It’s a shame these films don’t lean more into the Detective side, when you consider he is ‘the Dark Knight Detective’…
The cast is an interesting mix and are great together, Robert Wuhl providing some surpassingly non-annoying comedy relief, which is occasionally foiled brilliantly by Michael Keaton’s surprising straight man in Bruce Wayne: the ‘give Knox a grant’ line is a set-up that you don’t even know exists until the payoff. Great work from writer Sam Hamm.
Burton’s direction and style drips through the entire proceedings like molasses, sweet and dark, and in combination with Anton Furst’s spectacular design and Danny Elfman’s dark score, it’s like being front row and the sole occupant of a Cure concert. The juxtaposition of Prince’s songs throughout the film make for interesting pops of audible colour that suit the bright appearances of the Joker perfectly, which are both visually and rally appealing and a strange evil light in all the darkness of the good guys and the city in which they live.
One can’t comment on colour within this film without mentioning not just Basinger’s portrayal of Vicki Vale, which is not just another ‘straight man’ role for Wuhl, but also represents us in i converting Bruce Wayne’s tragic backstory. Her appearance in predominantly bright tones and white make her an Angel of salvation not just for the troubled Bruce, but a piece of forbidden fruit for the Joker also.
I could rave about this film forever. I simply love it, and it also reminds me of a time when even though a movie was based on a serialised comic book, which are essentially soap-operas, movies are more story driven and not everything needs to be squeezed into one two hour flick. Nor does it require a cavalcade of other heroes from within the comics to support the main character because they aren’t interesting enough, and most importantly, to watch one film, you don’t need to have seen 30 others and have 2 streaming subscription services to know what’s going on with superfluous characters… it’s doesn’t need to pander to the meme/ Instagram crowd for ‘lols’.
Extras: There really is an amazing bunch of extras on this Bluray disc:
Commentary by Tim Burton, which really looks at his creative process behind the film and a few little bits and pieces you may have missed upon your initial viewings. It’s an interesting look at his creative process.
On the Set with Bob Kane sees Batman creator Bob Kane on set of the Batman film, talking about his (and Bill Fingers) creations.
Legends of the Dark Knight: The History of Batman sees interviews with comic book writers and artists, like Bob Kane, Stan Lee, Mike Mignola and Harlan Ellison, and comic book historians and filmmakers, including the driving force behind this film, Michael E. Uslan, who wrote The Boy Who Loved Batman.
Shadows of the Bat:The Cinematic Saga
Part 1: The Road to Gotham City looks at the genesis of this Batman film which dated all the way back to when the first Superman film came out in the late 70s.
Part 2: The Gathering Storm looks at the difficult decisions that needed to be made as far as the script and casting is concerned, and how they managed to fulfill them.
Part 3: The Legend Reborn has Tim Burton discuss how he created a legacy for Batman, and maybe even extended the life of the characters popularity.
Beyond Batman is the section all about the making of this particular film, divided into these mini-documentaries: Visualising Gotham: The Production Design of Batman, Building the Batmobile, Those Wonderful Toys: The Props and a gadgets of Batman, Designing the Batsuit, From Jack to the Joker and Nocturnal Overture: The Music of Batman. Individually, these make for fascinating featurettes but altogether they explore everything that makes the gothic design of this film so striking and memorable.
Batman: The Heroes and The Villains looks at all the characters individually, with analyses by actors, writers and fans.
Batman The Complete Robin Storyboard Sequence is a look at the obviously removed addition of Robin to the script, that was ultimately scrapped.
In addition, there is also the Trailer and music videos for Batdance, Partyman and Scandalous by Prince
WISIA: Its the ultimate comic book film that didn’t just spawn one comic book movie trend, but two. The film and the extras on this discs should be watched regularly by any movie or comic fan.
Film: I’m sure in and about this website I have expressed my ‘Stephen King thing’: I love his stories but don’t enjoy his writing. This means two things, of course: first, I’m some kind of literary heathan of whom shall forever be looked down upon by the book-loving majority, and two, I can watch any film based on a King novel without getting all ‘the book was better’ about it.
This film is an exception to any horror snobbery that may exist though as this film has pedigree in the form of a man known an John Carpenter, who both directed this film and composed the score (along with Alan Howarth, who has a decent horror pedigree himself). Not sure who John Caroenter is? Well, I suggest you sit yourself down and watch John Carpenter’s The Thing, Prince of Darkness, The Fog and Halloween.
Christine tells of Arnie (Keith Gordon), a nerd who is regularly beaten up and picked on by… well, by absolutely everyone except for his mate, Dennis (John Stockwell), who buys a beautiful 5os classic car who has the name ‘Christine’ from an old weirdo named LeBay (Roberts Blossom).
Unfortunately for Arnie, Christine has a secret. Slowly but surely, Arnie changes… he becomes cool and aloof, and those who have ever ill-treated him start either disappearing and/or winding up dead.
Dennis does some research about the car and discovers that LeBay’s brother and his family all died as a result of the actions of the car, and along with Annie’s on again/ off again girlfriend, Leigh (Alexandra Paul) try to find out what effect the car has over Arnie…
Christine is certainly a film of its time. The whole ‘nerd gets picked on but gets revenge due to supernatural means’ was done to death and we’ve moved on from it, and also we tend not to get men who are clearly in thirties to play teenagers any more. The thing is thoigh, I still don’t mind seeing that nerd get the hot girl and get his revenge on the jerks.
The film is entertaining throughout and some of the effects of the car self-repairing are surprisingly good considering their age.
There’s a commentary with director John Carpenter and actor Keith Gordon where they talk about their careers and the time on the set of the film.
There’s about 20-odd Deleted Scenes on this disc, some of which I, for the first time ever, do wish we’re in the film. The Bullies Trashing Christine is a particular fun one, imagine Greased Lightening from Grease, but in reverse.
The featurettes Christine: Fast and Furious, Finish Line and Ignition all look at the making of the film, from the deal made with King and how this is essentially a monster movie. They are each about ten minute and honestly I don’t know why they didn’t just make a 30 minute doco about the film. Seems like they went to the ‘quantity’ column of extras to add value to the disc.
WISIA: John Carpenter films are always worth multi-views so I’ve of course watched this several times.