Take 3: A Quiet Place Review + 445 Follower Thank You

This month, 18 Cinema Lane received 445 followers! Therefore, a Blog Follower Dedication Review is in order! Since October is typically known as the Halloween season, I wanted to select a film that was appropriate for this time of year. But I’m also participating in Genre Grandeur, where the theme this month is ‘Movies Directed by the Main Actor/Actress’. So, as the title of this review says, I have chosen to write about A Quiet Place! Prior to this review, I had heard of the 2018 film. Mixed results are what I have heard; either viewers have loved the movie or they thought the story’s logistics didn’t make sense. I’ve also heard A Quiet Place is a horror film that thinks outside the box. This is another reason why I chose to review this movie, as I don’t often talk about titles from the horror genre.

A Quiet Place poster created by Platinum Dunes, Sunday Night Productions, and Paramount Pictures

Things I liked about the film:

The family dynamic: John Krasinski and Emily Blunt are two actors I am familiar with, primarily for their comedic performances. With John, I have seen clips of The Office, while one of Emily’s most notable performances was in The Devil Wears Prada. As I’ve said before on 18 Cinema Lane, I’ve seen more comedic actors successfully transition to dramatic acting. John’s and Emily’s performance definitely stuck the landing, as they were both able to convey a variety of emotions through facial expressions and body language! Portraying John and Emily’s on-screen children were Noah Jupe, Millicent Simmonds, and Cade Woodward. Adding their strong performances, the Abbott family had a really good family dynamic that felt believable and genuine. Toward the beginning of the film, Cade’s character, Beau, really wants a toy space shuttle. However, the toy makes noise, which is a no-no within the Abbott family’s world. Through sign language and facial expressions, John’s character, Lee, explains how Beau can’t have the toy. Beau’s response was a look of pure sadness and confusion on his face. Another memorable scene was when Regan refused a new cochlear implant. Throughout the film, Lee attempts to create a functioning cochlear implant for his daughter. When he gives Regan the implant, Lee is optimistic it will work this time, wide eyes and even a smile conveying this optimism. Regan is not impressed with the new implant, as she’s frustrated at the idea of another implant not working. She not only expresses frustration on her face, she even pushes away her father’s hand.  

The atmosphere: As I mentioned in my point about the family dynamic, noise is a no-no in the Abbott family’s world. That’s because unidentified extraterrestrial creatures have taken over their environment, destroying anyone or anything that makes noise. Right in the very first scene, the audience can see how these creatures have driven people away from a small town. It looks like what most people would call a “ghost town”; cars frozen in the street and leaves slowly blowing through the air. The store where the Abbott family visits appears to be an urban explorer’s dream. Natural light from the store’s windows provides the facility’s only source of light. Products are strewn on the floor, waiting for someone to finally pick them up. Cinematography and inclusion of light help create a film that feels very atmospheric!

Use of sound: Even though the Abbott family try to create as little sound as possible, the film itself was not devoid of sound. At various moments in the story, natural sound could be heard whenever the family traveled from place to place. One notable example is when Noah’s character, Marcus, and Lee walk near a river. Sounds could also be heard through headphones or earbuds. In a scene where Lee and Emily’s character, Evelyn, are slow dancing, Evelyn puts one of her earbuds in Lee’s ear. Not only can the song be heard through the earbud, the song is amplified so the audience can hear it too. It serves as a reminder how sound, even noise, plays a role in our lives.

Sunny autumn landscape picture created by Kotkoa at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-photo/autumn-forest_1436222.htm’>Designed by Kotkoa</a>. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/background”>Background image created by Kotkoa – Freepik.com</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

What I didn’t like about the film:

A film that doesn’t feel like a horror film: Like I said in my introduction, A Quiet Place is a horror film. Even the poster bears the hallmarks of a typical horror production. But, to me, A Quiet Place didn’t feel like a horror movie. Sure, there were terrifying moments in the story. But, if anything, the film felt like a dystopian/apocalyptic film with sci-fi elements. As I watched A Quiet Place, it reminded me of a more creative version of Signs.

Questions that are left unanswered: While I appreciate the film’s creative team respecting the audience’s intelligence, there were some questions I wish were answered. For instance, why did the Abbott family choose not to wear shoes? During Lee and Marcus’ hike, they cross paths with an elderly couple. Who were they and why did the elderly man want the creatures to capture him? Couldn’t the couple join the Abbott family and seek safety together?

The science’s confusing logic: As Marcus and Lee attempt to catch fish in a river, Lee explains how it’s ok to make small sounds. While big sounds are bad, they can be cancelled out with bigger sounds. With this logic in mind, why aren’t the extraterrestrial creatures congregating near the river? Why would they even bother trying to capture people, animals, and objects that make noise? Statements like Lee’s made the story somewhat confusing.

Sign language alphabet image created by Freepik at freepik.com. Hand sign vector created by freepik – www.freepik.com

My overall impression:

Before I share my overall impression of A Quiet Place, I’d like to thank all of 18 Cinema Lane’s followers! You are the reason why I continue to write and publish so many Blog Follower Dedication Reviews! Now, on to my thoughts on A Quiet Place. I will admit this is a fine, ambitious film that is one of the more unique titles of this nature. However, some aspects of the project could have been stronger. Like I said in my review of Night of the Comet, you need to explain the science in your science fiction story, especially in a way that satisfies the audience. While some of the science in A Quiet Place was explained, other parts of the story were confusing. The movie, to me, felt less like a horror movie and more like a dystopian/apocalyptic film with sci-fi elements. This makes the film’s marketing, as well as its horror classification, somewhat misleading. I am aware there is a sequel to A Quiet Place. Because I thought the movie was just fine, I’m not rushing to see the sequel anytime soon.

Overall score: 7 out of 10

Have you seen A Quiet Place? What movie do you like to watch around Halloween? Please tell me in the comment section below!

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: Dr. Phibes Rises Again Review + 420, 425, and 430 Follower Thank You

While looking for a movie to review for my next Blog Follower Dedication Review, I realized it’s been a month since I wrote about a “spooky” title. It’s also been two months since I reviewed a sequel. Because of those factors, I choose to review the 1972 movie, Dr. Phibes Rises Again! Last year, I saw the predecessor, The Abominable Dr. Phibes, after one of my readers recommended it to me. In my opinion, the film was just fine, as I found the horror in the horror-comedy classification heavily emphasized. The fact The Abominable Dr. Phibes received a sequel was surprising to me. That’s because I had no idea the 1971 title received a second chapter until I recently stumbled across it. What other surprises are in store? Let’s take a trip through this review of Dr. Phibes Rises Again in order to find out!

Dr. Phibes Rises Again poster created by
American International Pictures and Anglo-EMI Film Distributors Ltd./MGM-EMI

Things I liked about the film:

A mystery-adventure: In my review of The Abominable Dr. Phibes, I stated how the story was more of a horror-mystery due to the limited incorporation of comedy. Like its predecessor, the sequel also features a mystery. But this time, an adventure story is included in the script, as the characters travel to Egypt. The change in scenery allowed something new to be brought to the overall story. It also added an exciting component, with the audience receiving an opportunity to witness new sights and join the ride with the characters. A new setting made the film’s twists and turns interesting, as Dr. Phibes came up with different ways to attempt to reach his goal. A distinct identity was given to Dr. Phibes Rises Again because of these creative decisions!

Toned down character demises: One of The Abominable Dr. Phibes’ flaws was how over-the-top demises of characters were, as they came across more gross than scary. These demises also overshadowed Vincent Price’s performance, which led to his talents being underutilized. While Dr. Phibes continued to go after anyone who stood in his way in Dr. Phibes Rises Again, the execution of his plan was toned down. Not only were there less demises, but there was also less on-screen gore compared to the first film. Vincent’s acting abilities received more emphasis because of this creative decision. That creative decision also allowed me, as a viewer, to focus on Vincent’s body language, facial expressions, and vocal inflections. Vincent’s role in Dr. Phibes Rises Again felt more like lead actor material compared to The Abominable Dr. Phibes.

Robert Quarry’s portrayal of Darius Biederbeck: When I talked about Queen of the Damned in my article, Twentieth Century vs. Queen of the Damned at the Against the Crowd Blogathon, I said the movie presented Lestat as a more likable protagonist. Stuart Townsend’s portrayal of Lestat helps make this statement accurate, as his consistent suave, confidence added to Lestat’s likability. Robert Quarry’s portrayal of Darius Biederbeck in Dr. Phibes Rises Again reminded me of Stuart Townsend’s portrayal of Lestat. This is because Darius’ suave, confidence was similar to Lestat’s. Darius was a goal-driven man, believing in himself and his mission. Even when those around him had their doubts, his confidence was unwavering, presented consistently by Robert. What also helped was how strong Robert’s acting abilities were, giving him an opportunity to present a stand-out performance. These aspects of Robert’s portrayal of Darius made it enjoyable for me to watch!

Egyptian hieroglyphic image created by wirestock at freepik.com. Luxor photo created by wirestock – www.freepik.com

What I didn’t like about the film:

A somewhat rehashed story: Dr. Phibes’ story in The Abominable Dr. Phibes revolved around trying to find a solution for his deceased wife, Victoria. This quest for a solution drove Dr. Phibes to go after those he felt wronged him and his wife. In Dr. Phibes Rises Again, Dr. Phibe travels to Egypt. But his mission is similar to the first film: find a solution for Victoria. I won’t claim this story is a carbon copy of The Abominable Dr. Phibes. However, I wish it had less similarities to the predecessor.

Confusing parts of the story: A confusing part of Dr. Phibes Rises Again is the return of Vulnavia. Dr. Phibes’ assistant, Vulnavia, was one of the key characters in The Abominable Dr. Phibes. Without spoiling the first movie, I will say something happens that prevents Vulnavia from appearing in the sequel. Yet, she does appear in Dr. Phibes Rises Again, with no clear explanation provided. This is just one example of confusing parts of the story that should have received more context.

An unresolved mystery: While in Egypt, Dr. Phibes discovers a sarcophagus. When he opens the sarcophagus, it appears a mummy had been removed. Dr. Phibes even questions what happened to the aforementioned mummy. But after this scene took place, the mystery is never resolved. In fact, it was never brought up after Dr. Phibes’ initial discovery. This made me wonder why the film’s creative team would include that mystery in their script if they had no intentions to solve it on screen?

Scary movie screening image created by Freepik at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-photo/small-skeleton-with-popcorn-and-tv_1323292.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a>. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/background”>Background image created by Freepik</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

My overall impression:

Before I share my overall impression of Dr. Phibes Rises Again, I’d like to thank all my followers! I appreciate your support of 18 Cinema Lane! Now, on to my thoughts on Dr. Phibes Rises Again. On the one hand, the sequel tries to go in a different direction from the first movie. It even fixes some of the predecessor’s flaws. On the other hand, though, Dr. Phibes’ story was similar to his story in The Abominable Dr. Phibes. It also doesn’t help how parts of the story were confusing and a mystery was unresolved. Therefore, I will say this: as a movie, Dr. Phibes Rises Again is fine. As a sequel, it is slightly better than the first film.

Overall score: 7.2 out of 10

Have you seen The Abominable Dr. Phibes or its sequel? Are there any sequels you think are better than their predecessor? Please tell me in the comment section!

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: The Pit and the Pendulum (1961) Review

For The Corman-Verse Blogathon, I was originally going to review the 1996 film Kyoko/Because of You. The only way I could watch the movie is if I purchased a DVD copy. Unfortunately, the copy I bought would not arrive in time for the blogathon. Even though I do plan to review Kyoko/Because of You in the near future, I needed to select a back-up film to write about for the event. While scrolling through Roger Corman’s filmography, I discovered he directed the 1961 adaptation, The Pit and the Pendulum. Since no other participant had selected the film, I chose to review this movie instead. Vincent Price is no stranger to 18 Cinema Lane. As of the publication of this review, The Pit and the Pendulum is the ninth movie of Vincent’s I’ve seen. The majority of his films have been enjoyable to varying degrees. So, where does the 1961 title lie? You won’t know that answer unless you read this review!

The Pit and the Pendulum (1961) poster created by Alta Vista Productions and
American International Pictures

Things I liked about the film:

The acting: As I said in the introduction, The Pit and the Pendulum is the ninth movie of Vincent’s I’ve seen. Among most of these films, Vincent’s acting talents have been on full display, allowing the audience to witness just how versatile of an actor he is. In the 1961 adaptation, Vincent portrays Nicholas Medina. Throughout the story, Nicholas is overcome not only by the loss of his wife, but also by trauma he experienced as a child. When Francis Barnard, the film’s protagonist, questions the cause of his sister’s death, Nicholas’ eyes appear both concerned and wounded. This is because he wants to protect Francis from the truth and himself from the grief. During Francis’ stay in the Medina Castle, Nicholas shows Francis Elizabeth’s (his wife and Francis’ sister) room. While reminiscing over his time with Elizabeth, Nicholas is suddenly overcome with sorrow. With a quivering lip and tear-filled eyes, he bursts out crying, longing for his dearly beloved.

 Like I previously mentioned, Francis Barnard is the film’s protagonist. Portrayed by John Kerr, this character was a good representative of the audience. What I mean by this is he and the audience were in the same boat, figuring things out as they go along. That element of the story gave viewers an opportunity to connect with the character. What also worked in John’s favor is how consistent his performance was. Throughout The Pit and the Pendulum, Francis was suspicious of the Medina Castle and the people who lived there. His face was set in a serious expression; mouth displaying a tight, straight line and eyes in a scowling manner.

Nicholas’ sister, Catherine, is one of the people Francis meets. Catherine, portrayed by Luana Anders, reminded me of Snow White from the 1937 animated classic, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. This is because she showcased a gentle concern toward the characters around her. But unlike the cartoon princess, Catherine contributed more to the story, instead of being a more passive participant. When she and her brother are first confronted by Francis about Elizabeth’s death, Catherine shows worry on her face. However, the reason for her facial expression was different from Nicholas’, as she wonders how she will reveal the truth to Francis. Later in the film, Catherine explains Nicholas’ past trauma to Francis, in an effort to show him her brother is being honest. This time, her expressions show more understanding, appearing calmer and sure of herself.

The set design: The Pit and the Pendulum takes place inside the Medina Castle, during the year 1547. While I’m not a historian when it comes to this particular era, I will say the set design appeared historically accurate! Each room of the castle was spacious, presented in long to medium shots to showcase their size and scope. Though the walls were a mix of white and caramel marble, they were covered with exquisite artwork. In Francis’ room, there was a wall-sized piece of tapestry. Elizabeth’s room boasted her portrait, which captured her in blue and purple hues. The rooms in Medina Castle also included elaborate pieces of furniture. A gold canopy bed in Elizabeth’s room displayed small, detailed carvings on the footboard.

The mystery: When I talked about John Kerr’s performance, I said his character, Francis, was in the same boat as the audience. That’s because this is the type of mystery story where the audience figures things out alongside the protagonist. Out of the mystery movies I’ve seen in my life, I find these types of stories to be some of the more engaging ones in the genre. They give viewers the illusion they are experiencing a journey with the main character. The mystery in The Pit and the Pendulum started right away and was carried until the movie’s end. As the story moved forward, the reveal of certain secrets was evenly paced throughout the script. This allowed the film’s momentum to remain consistent and keep the story intriguing!

The flash-back scenes: In a few moments of the movie, flash-back scenes were used to explain things that happened in Nicholas’ past. One example is when Nicholas himself is telling Francis how Elizabeth passed away. Those flash-back scenes were narrated by Vincent Price and were coated in a single-color hue. For instance, in the days of Nicholas and Elizabeth’s happier times, the scenes were displayed in either green or blue. The way the flash-backs were presented made them feel distinct from the “current” events. They also brought Nicholas past to life.

The Corman-Verse Blogathon banner created by Gill from Realweegiemidget Reviews and Barry from Cinematic Catharsis

What I didn’t like about the film:

The prolonged appearance of The Pit and The Pendulum: I’ve gone on record to say a movie’s title, sometimes, serves as a promise to the audience. There is a pit and pendulum in this film. But they appeared in the movie’s last eleven minutes. It’s been years since I’ve read anything by Edgar Allan Poe, so I’m not sure which parts of the story are straight from the source material. However, I kind of wish the pit and pendulum would have appeared in the movie sooner.

A somewhat confusing climax: For this part of the review, I will be bringing up spoilers. While I typically try to leave spoilers out of my reviews, I feel I can’t fully explain my points without including them. If you haven’t seen 1961’s The Pit and the Pendulum, please skip this part and continue reading where it states “The underutilization of Maximillian”.

In The Pit and the Pendulum, Francis, and the audience, learn Elizabeth died of shock. But throughout the film, Nicholas is convinced he killed his wife. To prove Nicholas didn’t kill Elizabeth, Francis and Doctor Leon open Elizabeth’s grave, revealing a skeleton. But toward the end of the movie, Nicholas discovers Elizabeth had been alive that whole time. Even though he is overcome by shock, Nicholas pulls out of it, believing he is his father, Sebastian. Looking back on the film, I wonder if Nicholas assumed his father’s identity because the grief and trauma made him take a psychological turn for the worse? Or did Nicholas know about Elizabeth and Leon’s affair that entire time, using the “shock” as the perfect opportunity for revenge? Also, where did Leon and Elizabeth find a skeleton for their plan?

The underutilization of Maximillian: In a handful of moments, a servant named Maximillian appeared in the movie. At one point, I honestly thought he would play a bigger role in the mystery. Unfortunately, Maximillian was underutilized throughout the story. It felt like this character was included in the movie just for the sake of it.

Castle photo created by Photoangel at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-photo/old-castle-in-the-mountians_1286237.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a>. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/tree”>Tree image created by Photoangel – Freepik.com</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

My overall impression:

When it comes to movie blogging, things don’t always go according to plan. That was the case when I chose to review The Pit and the Pendulum. Looking back on the film, I realize this change of plans ended up being a good thing. For starters, I had the opportunity to review one of Vincent’s films on his birthday, which happens to be today. The film in question was also a pleasant surprise because of how good it was! The Pit and the Pendulum is an engaging and intriguing mystery from start to finish. This is one of the more effective horror movies, similar to titles like 1962’s Cape Fear. Vincent Price is one of those actors I’ve come to appreciate the more of his films I watch. After watching The Song of Bernadette, I thought it would be so cool to hear Vincent read some of Edgar Allan Poe’s work. Because of his involvement in The Pit and the Pendulum, my wish kind of came true. I also discovered, in 1970, Vincent was the narrator of An Evening of Edgar Allan Poe. Since I enjoyed the 1961 adaptation so much, I’ll have to seek that production out!

Overall score: 8.1-8.2 out of 10

Have you seen any adaptation of The Pit and the Pendulum? Did you read Edgar Allan Poe’s literary work? Let me know in the comment section!

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: The Abominable Dr. Phibes Review

The Abominable Dr. Phibes was recommended by one of my readers named Michael. When I found out the movie was considered a horror-comedy, I thought it’d be a perfect entry for MovieRob’s Genre Grandeur, as horror-comedies are the theme for February. Then I discovered the film was released in 1971. Because Kim and Drew, from Tranquil Dreams and Drew’s Movie Reviews, are hosting the 6th Annual Ultimate Decades Blogathon, where the subject is movies premiering in years ending in 1, I decided to review The Abominable Dr. Phibes for both blogathons! As of early 2021, this is the fifth film of Vincent Price’s I’ve seen and written about. Most of these movies have either belonged in the horror genre or have been mysterious in nature. With The Abominable Dr. Phibes, this will be a little different, as part of the story is a comedy. Out of the movies of Vincent’s I have seen, none of them have featured a large amount of humor. So, by choosing this film for the aforementioned blogathons, I am given an opportunity to see Vincent work with slightly different material!

The Abominable Dr. Phibes poster created by American International Pictures.

Things I liked about the film:

The mystery: In horror movies, there is usually a mysterious element that can come in a variety of forms. One of these forms is a mystery. Throughout The Abominable Dr. Phibes, the detectives at Scotland Yard are attempting to figure out why several doctors in their neighborhood are dying of mysterious causes. The way the mystery is presented allows the audience to solve it alongside the characters. This presents the idea of the audience sharing an experience with the detectives in the film. Even though we see what is making these doctors die, it doesn’t take away from the intrigue of the mystery. In fact, it keeps the audience invested in what is about to happen next. Seeing how all the pieces of the story connected was interesting to see. It definitely kept my attention as I watched the film!

The craftmanship: There were several items in this movie that caught my eye due to their quality and artistry. A frog mask is just one example. The head covering mask is covered in three different shades of green, allowing it to shine from many different angles. Gold piping can also be found on the mask, assisting in distinguishing its shape. Jewels add finishing touches as the mask features gold gems around the frog’s eyes and an emerald clasp in the back. Dr. Phibes’ mask also boasts incredible craftsmanship! The eye covering mask is shaped like a bird and is coated in shiny shades of green, bronze, and gold. Both masks were two of the most beautiful I’ve ever seen!

The set design: The Abominable Dr. Phibes features several interesting set designs that are worth noting. Despite Dr. Phibe’s house only being shown at night and only part of its exterior could be seen, it was a magnificent structure! Its Victorian style brightened the night with its white frames and cherry wood doors. The house features a grand white marble staircase paired beautifully with chandeliers and crystal sconces. I wish more scenes had taken place by this staircase, as it is an impressive part of Dr. Phibes’ residence! Other locations in the story also displayed memorable set designs.  Dr. Vesalius’ apartment is a great example. Near the front door is a curved, frosted window. The door itself was covered in a light and dark wood that ending up complimenting the faded yellow walls. This location looked reflective of the late ‘60s to early ‘70s due to its color scheme and furniture selections.

Scared audience image created by Katemangostar at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-photo/terrified-friends-watching-horror-movie-in-cinema_1027311.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a>. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/people”>People image created by Katemangostar – Freepik.com</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

What I didn’t like about the film:

The underutilization of Vincent Price: As I said in my introduction, this is the fifth film of Vincent Price’s I’ve seen. Therefore, I, as an audience member, know what he is capable of, talent wise. Despite being the top billed actor in The Abominable Dr. Phibes, Vincent wasn’t given much material to work with. He didn’t have any speaking lines in this movie. While there is an explanation given within the story, the only time we hear Vincent’s iconic voice is through recordings. It also doesn’t help that the different ways Dr. Phibes went after his victims overshadows Vincent’s performance. The more I think about it, the more I wonder if the creative team behind this film cast Vincent Price simply to get more people to see the movie?

Weak on comedy: The Abominable Dr. Phibes is classified as a horror-comedy. When I made this discovery, I was expecting the movie to be more like Young Frankenstein. Even though there were a few times I found myself giggling, the film didn’t contain much humor. The Abominable Dr. Phibes relies more on the horror genre. It also contains a mystery within the overall plot, which would make it a horror-mystery. I felt misled after these reveals.

Depiction of demises partially used for shock value: Strictly from a story-telling perspective, it was interesting to see how Dr. Phibes carried out his plan. But when the plan is put into practice, the depiction of his victims’ demises comes across as more gross than scary. Within a segment of the story involving rats, there was a brief shot of a rat chewing on what looks like a bloody bone. I won’t spoil The Abominable Dr. Phibes, in case any of my readers haven’t seen it. But parts of the film like the one I described feels like the movie’s creative team just wanted to shock their audience.

Ultimate Decades Blogathon (1) banner created by Kim and Drew from Tranquil Dreams and Drew’s Movie Reviews.

My overall impression:

When I think of the term “horror-comedy”, Young Frankenstein immediately comes to mind. Even though I haven’t seen this film, I am aware of its premise. Because of my expectations, I was somewhat let down by The Abominable Dr. Phibes. Sure, its mystery was intriguing and kept me invested in the overall story. But as I look back on this movie, I find myself expecting more. Despite its classification as a horror-comedy, it ended up being a horror-mystery, with very little comedy to be found. I was also disappointed to see Vincent Price underutilized in The Abominable Dr. Phibes. While he was given different material to work with, he didn’t have any speaking lines. The way Dr. Phibes’ victims met their demise overshadowed Vincent’s performance. These factors make his portrayal of the titular character feel like a part of an ensemble instead of someone leading a film. This is an interesting movie, but I can think of stories of this nature that are stronger than this one. I still prefer a picture like The Crow over The Abominable Dr. Phibes.

Overall score: 7-7.1 out of 10

Have you seen a horror-comedy? Which film of Vincent Price’s would you recommend? Share your thoughts in the comment section!

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: House of the Long Shadows Review

Vincent Price is an actor who has become as much of a household name as the Michael Jackson song he provided the voice-over for, Thriller. Prior to my involvement in the Vincent Price Blogathon, the only film of Vincent’s I have seen is one that is very different from what he is known for: The Whales of August. Last August (me reviewing The Whales of August in August was not intentional), I reviewed that film for the A Month Without the Code Blogathon. Even though I liked Vincent’s performance in that movie, I found the movie itself to be mundane. So, for this current blogathon, I wanted to watch one of Vincent’s films that contained more horror. When I discovered House of the Long Shadows, I was intrigued by the movie’s synopsis. For those of you who have visited my blog before, you would know I enjoy a good mystery from time to time. Because of this film’s mysterious nature, I had hopes to get, at least, some enjoyment out of this project!

House of the Long Shadows poster
House of the Long Shadows poster created by London-Cannon Films and Cannon. Image found at en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:LongShadows.jpg

Things I liked about the film:

The acting: Prior to watching House of the Long Shadows, I haven’t seen many of the projects from Desi Arnaz Jr.’s filmography. In fact, I’ve only watched his guest appearances on I Love Lucy and his special appearance on The Brady Bunch. Despite this, I was impressed with his lead performance in the film! His casual yet effortless acting style worked with how the character was written. Desi’s acting abilities fit the role of the protagonist, Kenneth Magee! I also liked Julie Peasgood’s portrayal of Mary Norton! Her expressions and emotions really highlighted the sense of urgency her character was experiencing. A scene where Julie sold me on what Mary was going through is when Mary first comes to the Manor to warn Kenneth of the unseen dangers he will face. Because this blogathon is dedicated to Vincent Price, his performance should not be overlooked. As I said in the introduction, the only other film of his that I’ve seen is The Whales of August. The great thing about House of the Long Shadows is how Vincent is given more material to work with as an actor. This allowed him and his character to have a more commanding presence!

 

The use of music: The music that can be heard in the film’s background does a really good job at keeping the movie’s tone consistent. Throughout Kenneth’s stay at the Manor, scores that sound mysterious, sinister, and even sad are played at various moments of the movie. At times when the tone changes, the music never skips a beat and adapts with the events of the story. A great example is when Kenneth is driving to the train station. When the weather is fair and the sky is sunny, light-hearted music can be heard during Kenneth’s drive. As soon as the skies turn dark and stormy, ominous music takes the place of the previous tune.

 

The element of mystery: For those who haven’t yet seen House of the Long Shadows, I won’t spoil the story. What I will say is the mystery element of the film was well-written! The narrative is presented in a way that allows the audience to solve the mystery alongside Kenneth and Mary. This creates an interactive and shared experience between the characters and the viewers. It also maintains a sense of intrigue throughout the movie. As the story unfolds, it makes the audience wonder what will happen next.

Terrified friends watching horror movie in cinema
Scared audience image created by Katemangostar at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-photo/terrified-friends-watching-horror-movie-in-cinema_1027311.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a>. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/people”>People image created by Katemangostar – Freepik.com</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

What I didn’t like about the film:

A limited use of horror: Vincent Price is an actor who is known for starring in horror-esque films. This detail made me believe House of the Long Shadows would be a horror movie. While there are elements of horror to be found, they primarily existed in the film’s second half. The story as a whole placed more emphasis on the element of mystery. This made the movie not as scary as I expected.

 

Diane and Andrew’s subplot: In House of the Long Shadows, there is a subplot involving a young couple named Diane and Andrew. They are in the area of the Manor due to a vacation gone wrong. While watching this movie, I found their subplot to not be integrated in the overall story as well as the other characters’ stories. If anything, it felt like it was there for the sake of being there.

 

The limited use of lighting: I understand the limited use of lighting was adopted to emphasis the atmosphere of the Manor. Where this succeeds on that regard, it also hides the beauty of the Manor itself. One of the most striking features of this location is the grand staircase. It had visually appealing details, such as the gold ornamentations along the iron bars of the stairs. Unfortunately, it was difficult to see this part of the Manor clearly because there was little to no lighting in this space.

Vincent Price Blogathon banner
The Vincent Price Blogathon banner created by Gill from Realweegiemidget Reviews and Barry from Cinematic Catharsis. Image found at https://weegiemidget.wordpress.com/2020/02/20/vincent-price-blogathon/

My overall impression:

Vincent Price: a name that is, more often than not, associated with projects featuring ghosts, ghouls, and things that go bump in the night. While this has become a part of Vincent’s legacy, it’s important to remember what he offered to the horror genre, as well as the world of film, as an actor. When I watched his performance in House of the Long Shadows, Vincent’s performance reminded me of Bela Lugosi’s performance in the 1931 film, Dracula! Even though both actors are on screen for a certain amount of time, they use their acting abilities to control the camera’s focus and command its undivided attention. As for the film itself, House of the Long Shadows is truly a hidden gem! Despite being different from what I expected, it’s a movie I think fans of mystery, horror and Vincent himself will enjoy! Maybe the final words of this review are nowhere near as memorable as Vincent’s closing monologue in Thriller. But they do have a special place in this post.

 

Overall score: 7.8 out of 10

 

Have you seen any of Vincent Price’s films? If so, which one is your favorite? Tell me in the comment section!

 

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: Nosferatu Review (A Month Without the Code — #1)

Like last month, I will be participating in Pure Entertainment Preservation Society’s A Month Without the Code Blogathon! Unlike the Clean Movie Month Blogathon, the purpose of this month’s blogathon is to watch and talk about films that were released outside of the Breen Code era. That way, elements of the Breen Code can be applied to these films through discussion and analysis. For the very first review, I have chosen Nosferatu! It’s a film that I had definitely heard of, but had never seen. So far, I’ve had a good track record when it comes to the silent film genre. The Kid, Wild Oranges, and Sunnyside are films that I have seen and enjoyed. Also, I thought it would be interesting to apply the Breen Code to a film that was released before the Breen Code existed. It’s time to start this unfrightening and not-so-spooky review of 1922’s Nosferatu!

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Like the poster for Les Enfants Terribles, I’ve seen other posters for Nosferatu. This one, however, is the one I like the most! Screenshot taken by me, Sally Silverscreen.
Things I liked about the film:

The acting: As I’ve said in my review of Wild Oranges, actors and actresses in silent films have to rely on body language, facial expressions, and actions/behaviors. The cast in Nosferatu used these acting elements to their full advantage, as if the “silent” part of silent films was never considered as a disadvantage. Both Gustav von Wangenheim and Greta Schroder, the actors who portrayed the characters of Hutter and Ellen, were very expressive! Their acting abilities helped the audience figure out what their characters were thinking and feeling. The two actors that stole the show, though, were Max Schreck and Alexander Granach! Even though their characters, Count Orlok/Nosferatu and Knock, are only on-screen for a limited time, they made the most of their on-screen presence. Both of these actors use their facial expressions to make their characters appear as creepy as possible. Because their acting abilities were that good, it made the portrayal of their characters appear believable!

 

The music: Similar to films like Sunnyside, the music in Nosferatu represented the tone of the overall film. This movie is classified as a horror movie, so the music during frightening scenes was tense and suspenseful. For less scary moments, the music was calmer and gentler. While Hutter visits an inn on his trip to Count Orlok’s castle, the music is light-hearted. This shows what Hutter is feeling, which is excitement toward his journey. When he shares his destination with the innkeeper, every patron in the inn becomes scared. At this moment, the music quickly changes to sound more mysterious and eerie. The fact that the music was always on-point with what was happening on-screen helped make the movie-viewing experience that much more engaging!

 

The on-screen chemistry: Even though their relationship wasn’t featured on-screen for very long, I liked seeing the on-screen chemistry between Gustav von Wangenheim and Greta Schroder! Anytime Hutter and Ellen interacted with each other, it was apparent that these characters truly cared about one another. As I already said, Gustav and Greta’s performances were very expressive. This not only helped make their portrayals endearing, but also help the audience stay invested in Hutter and Ellen’s relationship. This part of the story was a good way to balance out the scariness of Count Orlok/Nosferatu’s character. It was just one way of providing enough light-hearted moments to not frighten the audience too much.

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Happy vampire image created by Freepik at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/several-vampires-ready-for-halloween_1317599.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a>. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/party”>Party vector created by Freepik</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

What I didn’t like about the film:

Nosferatu’s limited presence: Before I watched this film, I had assumed that Count Orlok/Nosferatu would have a significantly large presence on-screen. Unfortunately, he was only featured in a handful of scenes. I also thought that most of the plot would revolve around Count Orlok/Nosferatu, especially since the movie is titled Nosferatu. However, the plot was about the fear associated with this character. While Count Orlok/Nosferatu was not an afterthought, it felt like the movie was about everything but him. This character ended up serving the plot very sparingly.

 

Not so subtle dialogue: Because Nosferatu is a “silent film”, the film’s dialogue is featured on title cards and shots that look like the audience is reading a page from a book. But this dialogue didn’t want to hide the fact that there was a vampire in the movie. Toward the beginning of the film, Knock, Hutter’s boss, tells him that in order to sell a house to Count Orlok, it would require a little bit of blood. When Count Orlok sees a picture of Hutter’s wife, Ellen, he says that she has a nice-looking neck. These are just two examples of how this dialogue was not so subtle about who Count Orlok really was. This happened so frequently, that I felt annoyed by it.

 

Contradicting logic: In, at least, two instances, there were times when logic in Nosferatu was contradicted. One example is when Count Orlok tells Hutter that he only sleeps during the day, which causes people to think that he doesn’t exist. But, when he boards a ship on his way to Wisborg, Count Orlok/Nosferatu walks around the ship’s deck in broad daylight. In a shot that was sharing the film’s plot, it was revealed that the people of Wisborg were afraid to leave their homes because they were unaware of who was affected by the “plague”. When they accused Knock of infecting the town with the “plague”, these same townspeople were chasing Knock throughout the town and a neighboring field. Moments like these made the story seem like it wasn’t as strong as it could have been.

A Month Without the Code banner
A Month Without the Code Blogathon banner created by Tiffany and Rebekah Brannan from Pure Entertainment Preservation Society. Image found at https://pureentertainmentpreservationsociety.wordpress.com/2019/07/31/announcing-amonthwithoutthecode65/.

My overall impression:

After watching Nosferatu, I can see that this year’s A Month Without the Code is off to a good start! I have been lucky when it comes to the silent film genre, as I enjoyed every film I’ve seen and/or reviewed so far! Nosferatu has such a rich story, making for an interesting and engaging movie. The stories of how this project was made and restored are also fascinating. It makes me thankful that someone went out of their way to preserve this piece of cinema and save it from obscurity. If this film was created during the Breen Code era, it would be very different. For one thing, it would not be a silent film, as movies released between 1934 to 1954 had audio where cast members could be heard. From the perspective of content, there are a few things that would need to change. These things are the following:

 

  • The references to blood would need to be reduced. Since one of the characters in Nosferatu is a vampire, talking about blood makes sense. But, because mentions of bodily functions are looked down on, blood would have to be talked about at a minimum.

 

  • There are two shots in this movie that could be seen as disturbing: one shows a Venus Fly Trap eating a fly and one shows a spider eating its prey. These scenes would have to be removed.

 

  • On two separate occasions, a dead body is shown on-screen. These images would have to be removed and the on-screen deaths would need to be implied either through dialogue or clever visuals.

 

 

Overall score: 7.5 out of 10

 

 

Have you seen Nosferatu? What is your favorite movie featuring vampires? Share your thoughts in the comment section!

 

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: Christine Review

On 18 Cinema Lane, most of the movies that I’ve reviewed so far have been Hallmark movies. While I enjoy watching and talking about these kinds of films, I also try my best to provide a variety of movies to discuss on my blog. Recently, I had the chance to watch Christine and felt that it would be a good opportunity to talk about something new on 18 Cinema Lane. This was the first time I had ever seen a John Carpenter directed film, but I have definitely heard of his cinematic projects over the years. While I don’t review rated R movies often, I watched a TV-14/PG-13 version of this film, so I consider Christine to be an exception. Now that we’ve gotten through the introductions, let’s buckle up and cruise through my review of Christine.

Christine movie poster
Christine poster created by Columbia Pictures. Image found at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:ChristinePoster.jpg

Things I liked about the film:

The acting: I thought the cast of Christine was talented! The one actor that stood out to me, though, was Keith Gordon! His portrayal of Arnie Cunningham was so memorable and captivating, his performance stayed in my memory long after I watched the film. Arnie’s evolution was showcased so well in this movie, with Keith bringing the right amount of versatility that a role like this could have asked for. This is definitely one of the best acting performances in any of Stephen King’s book-to-film adaptations!

 

The soundtrack: Though most of the music in this movie was meant to sound and feel like tunes from decades past, I think it was a great component to the film! The collection of songs that was featured in the movie was all great! Whenever Christine was reacting to a particular situation, there was always a perfect song to match what she was thinking. I also liked the instrumental tunes that were used during suspenseful moments, as they really set the tone that the film wanted to achieve.

 

The cars: Even though the movie is all about Christine, she ended up stealing the show. The red car that was used to portray the titular character was absolutely gorgeous! Besides Christine, there were other nice-looking cars as well, such as Dennis’ blue car and Buddy’s silver car.

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Antique car image created by Freepik at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/red-classic-car_803652.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a>. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/vintage”>Vintage vector created by Freepik</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

What I didn’t like about the film:

The underutilization of Dennis: John Stockwell did a good job portraying the character of Dennis Guilder! This character was not only well-acted, but also well-written. However, Dennis was not in the movie as much as I would have hoped. While the movie primarily focuses on Arnie’s transformation, it seems like most of Dennis’ significance is to, simply, be Arnie’s friend. Dennis does gain an important role in Christine, but that comes toward the end of the film.

 

The bullies: Similar to what I said about Dennis, each of the bullies in this film were well-acted. But I don’t feel that the bullies were well-written characters. To me, it seemed that these characters being mere bullies is what defined them. If that definition were to be taken away, these characters would be pretty weak. There also wasn’t any depth to these characters, like they were written into this story just for the sake of Arnie needing to have a conflict.

 

An anti-climatic ending: I’m not going to spoil anything if you haven’t seen Christine, but I thought the ending was very uneventful. For starters, this movie wasn’t as “scary” as I had expected. I know a story about a villainous car can sound silly, but this story was based on the novel by Stephen King, who is known for such literary works like Misery and The Shining. The plot itself did have some intrigue, but I just couldn’t take the idea of an angry car very seriously.

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Scary movie screening image created by Freepik at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-photo/small-skeleton-with-popcorn-and-tv_1323292.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a>. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/background”>Background image created by Freepik</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

My overall impression:

John Carpenter is known for directing some pretty scary films, such as The Thing and Halloween. Stephen King is famous for writing some pretty scary stories, such as Misery and The Shining, which were previously mentioned. On paper, this sounds like a one-in-a-million, horror movie “dream team”. Because of Mr. Carpenter directing a movie based on one of Mr. King’s books, I expected Christine to be scarier and more frightening. In reality, this movie did not reach my personal expectations. Though the film fell short of being remotely scary, I don’t think it was a terrible film. I have seen other movies based on Stephen King’s stories and while I don’t think it’s one of the best adaptations, it’s definitely not one of the worst. I think that a story about a villainous car was a creative concept, but in the end, it felt more silly than scary.

 

Overall score: 6.5 out of 10

 

Have you seen Christine? What’s your favorite Stephen King adaptation? Let me know in the comment section!

 

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen