Viewed – 03 May 2013 Blu-ray
After viewing the recent remake, and coming away suitably entertained … naturally thoughts went to seeking out this much loved classic, which I am happy to admit has been one of my favorite horror movies for many years. Starring Bruce Campbell and directed by Sam Raimi (Spider Man 1-3, Drag Me To Hell), this simple tail of a young couple who go to a cabin in the woods for a romantic weekend, quickly turns into a roller coaster of demons, possession and gore as the forces of darkness are awakened when Campbell’s character ‘Ash’ unwittingly plays back a recording of a translation from the book of the dead (!).
Fast, packed with ideas and with some of the most outlandish and daring steady-cam work that has ever been devised – this is inventive director Raimi playing at full throttle. Aided by a comedic, physical performance by Campbell and at times almost Tex Avery style violence and slapstick, this echoes those dodgy, low-budget b-movies of the fifties, whilst throwing at the screen the blood splattered excess of the video-nasty era. The tone here is tongue-in-cheek comedy-horror, and although that can sometimes not work, as in movies like An American Werewolf In London, the balance is just right, making the movie creepy and scary whilst at times laugh out loud funny. Really, try not cracking a smile when Campbell is beating himself up with his possessed hand, then shriek as a body gets literally eaten by the cellar door, resulting in buckets of blood spraying out.
Acting is not the selling point here, but the cast do their best to handle increasingly outrageous situations, with plenty of screaming and perfectly delivered one-liners (‘groovy’). Effects-wise the optical effects are showing their age, but were never that great anyway, and the make-up seriously outshine the recent remake for demonic freakishness. Along with Raimi’s endless imagination, this fired on all cylinders from beginning to end, making for an iconic, very entertaining and a much deserved classic of the genre. Just watch it!
This newly released Blu-ray boasts a very nice remastered image, that may suffer from slight softness and blurriness at times, still manages to make the movie look better than it has done in years. Sound-wise we get a 5.1 DTS Master Audio soundtrack that delivers good clarity even if it sounded a little soft during dialogue, although a 2.0 PCM Stereo soundtrack retains the movie’s original sound for beefier results on a 2 channel system. Extras are exhaustive, with a welcome audio commentary from Bruce Campbell, Sam Raimi and various production members, and we also get several featurettes and picture galleries among other bits and bobs. Very commendable!
(the movie): 5 /5
(the Blu-ray): 4 /5
- Get Your Scream On- Sam Raimi Scares With Evil Dead (eventful.com)
- Watch Sam Raimi’s ‘Within the Woods’, the Precursor to ‘The Evil Dead’ (slashfilm.com)
- Evil Dead. Quit Your B*tching and Enjoy. (kristinaskee.wordpress.com)
- Bruce Campbell Wants to Make Another Evil Dead (thelazygeeks.com)
Viewed – 20 April 2013 Blu-ray
I thought this looked ‘different’ from the trailer. A very British black comedy / drama about 30 something couple Tina and Chris (Alice Lowe & Steve Oram) who go on a caravan holiday to Yorkshire Nothing that unusual here until a fellow tourist is killed when Chris runs him over with the caravan. Seemingly an accident, it isn’t long before Tina starts to suspect that Chris may be hiding a terrible secret.
Directed by Ben Wheatley (Kill List) this is very much a tongue-in-cheek comedy but not of the laugh out loud variety, more the kind of movie you find your self smirking at due to the come-day-go-day behavior and British attitude to the situations. Tina seemed a rather simple-minded but likable woman who only wanted to see the good in Chris, escaping a home life of an oppressive, needy mother and a hum drum existence Whilst Chris was obviously disturbed, with way to many issues with the world, whilst trying his best to appear ‘normal’. The script is sharp and the dialogue often very funny (‘he’s not a human being, he’s a daily mail reader’) and its all shot with a keen eye for the bizarre and absurd (Tina writing a note to Chris with a massive pencil).
I especially liked how this movie constantly surprised me. Lowe and Oram were perfect and complex, suiting their parts well. Imaginative, daring, even gory at times, and very entertaining … and the sound track was excellent too. Essential.
Verdict: 5 /5
- Sightseers (robgemmellsview.wordpress.com)
- Steve Oram, star of Sightseers: Why I dressed up as a serial killer to go on holiday (metro.co.uk)
- New Sightseers Poster Is Proud of Being Average (dreadcentral.com)
Viewed – 01 April 2013 Blu-ray
25th Anniversary Edition
Director Rob Reiner has been responsible, in my opinion for classic after classic, especially during the eighties with movies like Stand By Me, Misery and When Harry Met Sally, but many will know him for this perfectly pitched fantasy fable that pokes fun whilst also offering a tribute to movies like Legend and LadyHawk.
Starring Robin Wright (before she was Penn) as a farm girl named Buttercup, and Cary Elwes (everybody’s favorite comedy heart-throb) as her farm boy love-interest, this is a simple love story with added swashbuckling, masked avengers, a giant, miracles and perfect narration by Peter Falk (Columbo). At it’s heart its a comedy, and a dry one at that, with some great lines (As You Wish, You Killed My Father … Prepare To Die, He’s Only Mostly Dead!) and some great talent throughout the cast (look out for cameos from Peter Cook, Billy Crystal and Mel Smith). Reiner’s direction is perfectly paced, telling the story with a bunch of larger-than-life characters, including a great boo-hiss villain in the shape of Chris Sarandon’s Prince Humperdink …. and let’s not forget ‘that’ theme tune.
As a movie I grew up loving, watching it now with more mature eyes, it stands the test of time well. The script is still sharp and quotable, the performances just right, without getting too silly, and overall I had a great time. I think it lacks a bit of spectacle, some of the effects and scenery look fake as hell, and the climax lacks a bit of impact. However this is one of those movies where the moments you loved, are still great and the characters are all as fun as you recall – even if by today’s standards it all seems a little corny and cheap. I still say its a classic though.
This 25th Anniversary Blu-ray is pretty impressive. The image is crisp and has much more detail than I could have expected, the colors especially popping (check out Prince Humperdink’s red outfit and gold crown), whilst the sound is clear and punchy. I noticed a few moments of slight lip-sync, but that could have been my player (PS3) and when I came to watch the disk on my second player (a Pioneer) it wouldn’t play at all (!). Very odd. Extra’s consist of all the special features from the DVD special edition (two commentaries, a documentary, 1987 featurette, photo galleries, Cary Elwes on set video diary etc) as well as all new features including a new documentary covering the movie’s cult appeal, as well as several other featurettes). So despite a few technical hiccups I experienced, this is otherwise a home-run.
(the movie) 4 /5
(the Blu-ray) 4 /5
- The Princess Bride (R/I) (PG) | Close-Up Film Review (close-upfilm.com)
- The Princess Bride’s 25th Anniversary Special Edition Blu-Ray Coming Soon (geeksyndicate.co.uk)
- Mandy Patinkin on his favorite ‘Princess Bride’ quote (newyork.newsday.com)
Viewed – 12 January 2013 DVD
Steve Carell (40 Year Old Virgin) plays Dodge, an easy going insurance salesman whose wife runs out on him during the run up to a meteorite hitting the planet. As chaos erupts and everyone starts making their final arrangements, Dodge stumbles upon Penny (Keira Knightley) an equally unlucky in love British girl. Soon they are taking to the road in hope of being with those that they love.
This is a likable romantic comedy that suffers from a bit of personality disorder. The first half seemed quite broad comedy, with a few crude gags and bizarre characters. Then it changed, got more serious and meaningful, and became all the better for it. The scripts is quite sharp with some good lines (“I want you to be my last”), and the performances are decent with Knightley, usually annoying, proving quite charming for a change. Also the concept is believably done … with some good observations, saying much on how we really might act during an apocalypse.
As a refreshing take on end of the world movies this proved interesting and at times quite touching, but seemed a bit too slight overall to really shine. Still, a passable night’s viewing.
Verdict: 3 /5
Viewed – 30 December 2012. Blu-ray
I have always wanted to see this classic 1959 Billy Wilder comedy starring Tony Curtis, Jack Lemmon & Marilyn Monroe. It tells the story of two down on their luck musicians (Curtis & Lemon) who witness a gangland shooting. Before long they are on the run, disguised as women and part of a traveling jazz band … this is where they meet sultry singer Sugar Cain (Monroe), and are soon battling for her attention.
Although not laugh-out-loud funny this has an innocent, amusing charm throughout, aided by enjoyable turns from Curtis & Lemmon clearly enjoying their cross-dressing escapades a bit too much. Monroe shines, with gorgeous screen icon beauty and an infectious personality making it easy to believe the whole world could fall in love with her. Yes its all rather gentle and lacks a bit of spark or convincing danger, but as a much loved classic this was still an entertaining two hours.
The Blu-ray comes in it’s original 1:66:1 ratio and boasts a clean, detailed image, with only brief moments of softness and shimmering. Sound, remixed in 5.1 is equally pleasing without really surprising anyone. Extras consist of a commentary made up of archive interviews, nostalgic documentaries and a trailer. Pretty decent.
(the movie) 3 /5
(the Blu-ray) 4 /5
- FBI worried Marilyn Monroe was communist (bazaardaily.com)
- See the Entire MAC Marilyn Monroe Collection in Detail (bellasugar.com)
- Marilyn Monroe Covers Playboy For 50th Anniversary Of Her Death (huffingtonpost.com)
- 10 Memorable Kisses on Film (popcornpreviews.com)
- FBI spied on Marilyn Monroe (dearkitty1.wordpress.com)