A Nightmare On Elm Street


Viewed – 22 May 2010  Blu-ray

Warning: May contain spoilers

In the wake of the remake of this 1984 horror classic, watching it now with somewhat jaded horror-fan eyes is certainly a different experience to when it first freaked me out on VHS all those years before.  Wes Craven’s third movie is arguably one of the more imaginative movies of the eighties horror boom that spawned countless Friday the 13th sequels and rip-offs, and here we have a boogeyman like killer (the legendary Robert Englund) stalking teenagers in their dreams, wearing a red & green striped sweater and a dirty old fedora.  His weapon of choice?  A rather sickening glove with razors on the fingers.  Shudder.  Nancy Thomson (Heather Langenkamp) is the plucky school girl who watches her friends fall victim to this grisly menace and gradually figures out a way of stopping him, aided by her Police Lieutenant father John Saxon.

The dreamy atmosphere, the eerie music, that jump rope song and the presence of an actually scary Freddy Kreuger all come together to create a memorable and unnerving experience that with set pieces such as the murder of Tina with her being pushed up the wall and across the ceiling to the murder of a young Johnny Depp by being pulled into his own bed, followed by an eruption of blood – still shock and amaze to this day.  With some stylish camera work, believable performances (bar some cranky dialogue) this is still leaps and bounds above the remake that although trying to offer something new, never matched what this did right in the first place.  With the advent of torture flicks like Saw and Martyrs this does feel a little tame bar the above mentioned moments and the Nancy-turns-D.I.Y action hero ending always seemed a little silly, and it’s hard not to smirk at those eighties hair styles.  Meaning that yes, the movie has aged.

One, two, Freddy’s coming for you … the Blu-ray boasts a detailed if slightly soft image quality but the colours and the close-ups all look a mark up from previous releases.  The dark scenes seem a little fuzzy in places and lack some of the detail evident in other scenes, but overall this is a very pleasing HD performance.  The soundtrack, so important in this kind of flick really impresses with lots of detail and clarity and the dialogue is mostly clear if a little echoey in places.  I did notice some lip-sync issues when played back on the Playstation 3 but this doesn’t seem to be something that rears its head on all players.  Thankfully the original mono soundtrack isn’t effected.  Extras consist of two commentaries featuring cast and crew, and also we get three featurettes, the best being the Never Sleep Again: Making Of A Nightmare On Elm Street which has plenty of interviews and unseen footage.  Add to this a trivia track and Blu-ray focus points and this makes for a quality package for a deservedly classic movie.

Verdict: 4 /5

Edward Scissorhands


Viewed – 05 September 2009  Blu-ray

This is such a classic film for me.  Probably best watched at Christmas, this enchanting, modern-fairy tale is so touching and magical yet also strange and off centre in a way only director Tim Burton seems able to convey.  A very personal project for the director, this tells the story of an artificially created man, Edward (a near un-recognisable Johnny Depp) who’s creator (the late, great Vincent Price) dies before he is complete, thus leaving him with scissors for hands.  When a kind hearted avon-lady comes knocking at the spooky old mansion on a hill overlooking the suburban paradise below, Edward is transported into the lives of a group of quirky characters, most notably Winona Ryder’s cheer-leader blonde school girl with a scum-bag boyfriend (former teen movie regular Anthony Michael Hall).

edwardscissorhands121

Very simple at it’s heart, what makes this film so memorable is the almost overwhelmingly innocent performance of Depp’s Edward and the subtle, believable love story between him and Winona Ryder’s Kim.  The moment when she asks him to hold her and he returns a heart-breaking ‘I can’t’ as he goes to embrace her, should be up their with ‘don’t put baby in the corner’ for classic movie moments.  Add to this the enchanting score by Burton regular Danny Elfman and also Burton’s stunning set design (check out the amazing tree sculptures and the Gothic architecture of the mansion, not to mention the pastel colouring of the suburban street), and this is one of those cinematic visions that works on almost every level.  Ok, any believability or logic is mostly ignored and there are some moments that do make you uncomfortable (such as the moment Edward is almost seduced, which sits uneasily within the context of an otherwise kid-friendly movie).  Yet these are small quibbles in an otherwise heart-warming, feel good movie everyone should see at least once.

The blu-ray sadly, is underwhelming with a picture that although decent, is nothing you might expect from the format, and the DTS HD Master Audio track is serviceable at best.  Extras consist of an irritatingly quiet commentary by Burton, and another by composer Elfman, and then we just get a pathetic featurette that offers nothing but for a few talking heads, shot at the time of the production, lasting only four minutes.  A real let down.

Verdict:  4 /5

Sweeny Todd


Viewed – 24 June 2008  DVD

I have always been a big fan of Tim Burton.  His dark, tongue-in-cheek brand of comic, goth-horror has always struck a cord with me, and his frequent collaborations with Johnny Depp are just the icing on the cake.  Now we come to his latest effort, and one I was at first appealed by as it looked just as dark and sinister as Burton’s masterpiece Sleepy Hollow.  Then I discovered it was a musical.

Musicals have a hit and miss relationship with me – I am very fond of the likes of Sound Of Music, Evita, Little Shop Of Horrors (!) and even Tim Burton’s own A Nightmare Before Christmas…but I also hate some that haven’t got the right vibe – such as Moulin Rouge which seemed 90% noise and 10% entertainment.  Sadly, this film falls into the latter category, with no memorable numbers, no dancing, no staged choreography…just lots and lots of sung dialogue.  You know when a musical has failed when you actually wish they would just ‘talk’ for a bit instead of singing.  If there was one memorable song, then at least that would be something…but there isn’t.  Maybe I have come into this all wrong though – it’s an Opera, not a musical.  Perhaps.  Thats not what its been hyped up as though.

I will give credit where its due though; Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter are very good, and make a very interesting odd-couple, and the story is intriguing with some very macabre twists and turns…oh and as expected, Burton’s sumptuous eye for period set design and camera work are a treat for the eyes throughout.  Really though, why make it a musical, when you have no decent songs in it?  Disappointing.

Verdict: 2 /5

Tim Burton back to dark & sinister?


sweenytoddpic.jpg 

 Just from this poster alone…I have high hopes for the new Johnny Depp / Tim Burton vehicle ‘Sweeney Todd’….as a big fan of the director, and loving the likes of Beetlejuice, Edward Scissorhands and especially Sleepy Hollow….I wasn’t exactly attracted to his adaptation of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (a bit too ‘bright’ for ol’ Burton, me thinks)…so this looks like a return to his routes…unless that is, they are basing it on the ‘musical’ and not the legendary horror myth…pls keep this creepy and dark and spooky, and with a Danny Elfman theme throughout!  🙂

Update:  OH NO!!!  It is based on the musical (SOB!), and a Tim Burton first, the music is done by someone called Stephen Sondheim….shudder (but I’ll let him off, as he’s the guy who did the musical).  Suddenly I’m not so excited!!!  😦

…Read more HERE