Written by John Edward Betancourt
Whether we like to admit it or not, there are things in this world that we fear. Some of our fears are simple products of our imagination that we are able to dismiss with little effort, but deep down in our psyche is deep rooted fear, and it is a place filled to the brim with things that instantly make us uncomfortable or paralyze us with terror.
For some people it’s spiders in that ugly place, or others may fear the end of their lives, and sometimes it is a traumatic experience that haunts us. Regardless of what that fear may be, we all stand by a mantra, we must eventually face our fears head on in an effort to conquer them and be free. It is the concept of facing one's fear that drives the characters in the sublime horror film...Red Dragon.
The simple life has finally found its way to former FBI Agent Will Graham. After bringing down the infamous Chesapeake Ripper; Hannibal ‘The Cannibal’ Lecter, and nearly losing his life in the process and spending time in a mental institution from the stress of the hunt, Graham is finally enjoying quality time with his family. But his unique talent, of being able to think like the mad men he has chased has brought his old friend Jack Crawford to his doorstep. Jack needs help in finding a killer known as ‘The Tooth Fairy’ who viciously murders families. Graham agrees but realizes this will be his toughest challenge yet. So difficult in fact, that he will require help to discover this killer's identity and the only man who can help him...is the mad man that nearly killed him...
It's almost difficult to even refer to Red Dragon as a remake because it is so vastly different from Manhunter. While these two films share the same story and characters, watching this version of the story makes for a unique and tense experience. While Manhunter is a slow burning thinker, Red Dragon is filled with tension and terror, yet it still maintains the intelligence of the novel and its predecessor.
What makes the film so smart is the wonderful way that it handles facing one's fear for both our hero and our villain. Graham obviously has to face the monster that is Lecter once again, putting aside any doubts that he may fail or relapse in the hopes of being able to save lives. This works so well courtesy of Edward Norton's performance because you can see the internal battle in every scene that he deals with Lecter. This is so neatly juxtaposed by Francis Dolarhyde, a man haunted by his past and his flaws to the point where it has driven him to murder. He fears yet embraces what he is becoming and it humanizes our villain just enough to force you to root for him to escape the darkness he carries.
Take those colorful characters and put their flaws into a tight race against the clock and you are treated with a chilling film anchored with an incredible cast, and as always Anthony Hopkins steals the show with another turn as Hannibal Lecter. In fact, adding Hopkins to this film makes the entire franchise work on a whole new level, giving it the continuity it needs before The Silence of the Lambs and it's always a joy to see the only face that one can really associate with Hannibal Lecter. It should also be noted as well how well he and Edward Norton work together on screen, especially since Hannibal treats Graham in such different fashion than he does young Clarice Starling. Gone is the gentleness and fascination that she will be treated to in time, replaced instead with a sense of anger and vengeance all directed toward the man who put him away.
This really is a film that impressed me in theaters with its slick style and maddening pace and it truly bridges the gaps between all the films really. Watch it, be prepared to be uncomfortable and unsettled along the way and enjoy the ride while it lasts since sadly, this is the last time to date that Anthony Hopkins would treat us to another incredible performance as this legendary monster.
Written by John Edward Betancourt
Betrayal is perhaps one of the hardest things a human being will ever have to deal with. Simply because of the fact that when and if it happens it is devastating on every level. When a friend or loved one betrays us, it rocks us at our very core, leaving us feeling as though we can trust no one.
It takes a long time to heal from such actions, but it can be done. But perhaps the toughest betrayal to deal with is when we work toward something in life, something we truly believe in, only to have it fall to pieces because someone that we work with has turned their backs upon us, or that which we worked so hard to obtain, turned out to be nothing more than a waste of time. It is that concept, of watching a dream fall to pieces that is at the core of the 2001 film, Hannibal.
When a drug bust goes horribly wrong, FBI Agent Clarice Starling finds her once promising career in jeopardy when she becomes the scapegoat for this botched operation. With her reputation in tatters, Clarice takes it upon herself to salvage what’s left of her standing by working toward bringing in the man who helped put her on the map, Hannibal ‘The Cannibal’ Lecter. Still at large after his escape, Hannibal has been laying low and living abroad. But with Clarice now on the hunt for him, old enemies are making a push to find him first and everyone’s efforts to locate the living legend will indeed bring Hannibal out of hiding, and back to the United States and back...to Clarice Starling.
What first struck me when watching this film is how vastly different it is in its feel and look from any other Hannibal Lecter film out there. There is a haunted beauty to this motion picture visually, almost a majestic feel to it and at first that's a little off putting because hey, this is a horror film about a doctor turned cannibal. Yet, it works, because the majestic feel is part of the trick from Director Ridley Scott as he mixes the beauty of the world with the vast brutality of Hannibal and his enemies. It actually makes for a jarring experience as the film progresses, but while Hannibal benefits from this masterful stroke of genius, this is a film that would be nothing without its star.
Obviously when it comes to Anthony Hopkins reprising his role as Hannibal Lecter, we are treated to nothing less than a fantastic performance. We finally see what the monster is like out of the cage and in many ways, the character is likeable. The slithering snake moving about in the darkness of a cell is gone, instead replaced by a refined and classy man who will murder you at the drop of a hat. He is nicely balanced by the raw evil of Mason Verger, played by an unrecognizable Gary Oldman. Their interaction is absolutely sublime but there is simply not enough of it and that's where some of the flaws in this film arise.
With its central theme of betrayal and staying true to one's self and ideals, the film does jump around quite a bit and while Clarice's fall from grace and infallibility are fascinating, she feels like an unnecessary character here. It's no fault of Julianne Moore, who takes over the role from Jodie Foster, it's simply the fact that Clarice is just...there when it comes to the story. Hannibal and his attempt to betray who and what he is, is a far more fascinating journey to go on as we watch him go from refined gentleman back to the vicious murderer we’ve come to expect by the end of the movie and let’s be honest, the ending dinner scene is one of the coolest, grossest and most bone chilling scenes of recent years. More of that, and more of Hannibal's journey would have undoubtedly made this film as popular as its predecessor.
But it is by no means an awful motion picture. Hannibal is actually quite an enjoyable ride, a slow burning horror film that builds up to its end nicely, it just feels lost at times and that's unfortunate because there is a lot to like here. If you haven't seen it, do so, if anything for that incredible ending.
Written by John Edward Betancourt
THIS IS THE EMERGENCY SPOILER ALERT SYSTEM...YOU ARE ADVISED TO READ AT YOUR OWN RISK...
Getting lost in the moment when it comes to our feelings is quite the common thing. But if there is one particular feeling where it is easier to lose one’s self within over all others…it has to be revenge. Because when someone has wronged us and hurt us, we want nothing more than to make everything right in our minds and we often will stop at nothing to get precisely what we want, regardless of the cost and once we’ve reached that point, revenge can most certainly become dangerous.
Because when one doesn’t care about the consequences of fulfilling it, anything and everything can and will happen, and sometimes good people are emotionally or physically hurt in the process and at its absolute worst…it can completely and utterly consume you, and it is that darker side to revenge that served as the focus for last night’s episode of The Walking Dead. Because ‘The Damned’ not only demonstrated just how far people are willing to go to obtain it, but the consequences that can come with it and what was really amazing…is that it accomplished this by letting revenge consume the audience as well.
Think about it for a moment. So many of us were upset and devastated by that season seven premiere last year. Abraham and Glenn’s death were powerful in their own right, to the point where people flat out stopped watching the show, including a fellow writer for this site, Shae. We were simply stunned that the show went there and as the weeks progressed and the emotional torture continued, we wanted only one thing for the good people of Alexandria and the Hilltop; revenge for what Negan had done to them and their loved ones.
Which is why the season seven finale and the season eight premiere were so incredibly satisfying, because at long last, the Saviors were getting what they deserved, and the pleasure and joy we received from watching Rick and his allies fight back only continued to grow last night as we watched outpost after outpost come under siege in genius and swift fashion thanks to the intel Dwight provided Rick with. But while I’m certain all of us were hooting and hollering with every bullet that claimed a Savior or sent them running, something special happened…the story shifted from action and adventure, to something thoughtful and powerful.
Which brings us to the dark side of revenge that I made mention of, because everything negative about it came to fruition. First and foremost, good people were hurt by it. Plenty of fine and kind people from Alexandria, whose only mission was to contain the Saviors at one particular outpost to allow for Rick and Daryl to handle them with larger firepower, or allow for the dead to their thing, found themselves injured in the midst of the combat, including Aaron’s partner Eric, who took a round to the gut and whose fate now remains up in the air because of this violent quest to make things right.
Meanwhile others, came to realize that perhaps the wholesale slaughter of the Saviors may not be the best course of action for the long-term struggle of humanity as a whole since Jesus went against Rick’s edict at his assigned outpost and took every last Savior into custody after demanding their surrender, and despite the protests from Tara and Morgan, in many ways this is where the story shifted for the audience. Because Jesus isn’t wrong. It’s the end of the world, mankind’s numbers have dwindled to dangerously low levels and murdering one another with impunity…only helps the dead win, so to spare lives now and show them there is a better way speaks volumes to how far revenge has consumed the group and that they too have to be better in the days to come to forge a brighter future.
But truly, the centerpiece of this theme came about by way of Rick Grimes and his encounters at the end of the episode. Because Rick forgot that the people that he is fighting against are still people, and that they have families, and lives of their own and that made the moment when all of this hit him, by finding a sleeping little girl that instantly reminded everyone of Judith, all the more sobering. As did the surprise of seeing Morales from season one aligned with the Saviors, because he too is a father, and a husband and while we didn’t get much detail as to where his family is now, the fact that Rick’s quest for payback has now in essence ruined families in a way makes him no less of a monster than Negan, and judging from the look of remorse on his face at the end the episode, he’s fully aware of the fact that he’s made a critical mistake in believing that all of the Saviors are a faceless monster.
Yet perhaps the most impressive part of this story, is the sheer fact that it served as a reminder that the dead have taken over this world because of mankind’s foolishness. The divides and ego that permeate this war, and the fact that some people, Negan specifically, believe that life has to be ugly and hard now…only contributes to the living dead’s rule of this land. Because if by chance, these two men are able to put aside their differences and work together, they can achieve wonders, but who knows if they can ever find common ground. Either way, thus far this story arc is turning out to be far more cerebral than its comic counterpart, and I love the depth that’s present in this iteration of ‘All Out War’ and I cannot wait to see what other fascinating and thoughtful stories await us in this arc. Until next time.
Written by John Edward Betancourt
THIS IS THE EMERGENCY SPOILER ALERT SYSTEM...YOU ARE ADVISED TO READ AT YOUR OWN RISK...
Finding the perfect balance, has to be one incredible task for the brave souls that enjoy the title of ‘Showrunner’ when it comes to our favorite television shows. Because it is up to that all important person or persons to help the Writer’s Room figure out how to properly tell their tale over the course of a season and if too much of the plot is advanced up front, you’re left with a weak and unsatisfying season finale and if the saga takes too much time getting to the point, then everything feels rushed when you get to the last few episodes of the season.
Which is why many television sagas, Stranger Things included, make use of the ‘transitional episode’, a tale that helps keep the plot grounded and balanced by breaking away from the big storyline for a brief moment and I think we can all agree that this particular storytelling device often delivers mixed results. At times, they seem like lost episodes, just a tale thrown into the mix to fill the episode count while at other times, they’re completely and utterly brilliant, finding a way to give us just enough plot wise while still finding ways to entertain, as was the case with the second chapter of season two of this phenomenal show, ‘Trick or Treat, Freak’.
Because Chapter Two, not only advanced the plot just enough to satisfy, it slowed down the story to allow for us to get some answers to some burning questions, and follow up on some of the issues brought forth in the season premiere. Case in point, how Eleven escaped the Upside Down and the hardships she’s faced ever since, and how she’s yearning now to escape her current situation and her past and live a new life free from isolation and oddly enough, the notion of living one’s life free from the past was precisely how the story followed up with everyone who was trying to move forward in the prior episode. Because in reality, we came to realize in this tale that Nancy and Joyce are doing their best to move forward by not dealing with all of the incredible events that happened a year ago and they’re quickly coming to realize…that’s just not feasible. That in order to move forward they’ve got to face their pain and their fears and it should be interesting to see how that comes together later on in the season.
Yet, what truly made this episode such an enjoyable ride through and through, was the fact that it was just downright fun. We got to see these kids being kids, and I won’t lie, the entire costume sequence, where the guys were able to suit up with pride in their Ghostbusters attire took me right down memory lane and I’m sure I’m not alone in that since plenty of us geeks and nerds wore our costumes back in the day with pride and endured our own parental photo shoots to preserve the wonder of that particular moment, and the joy from this sequence didn’t end there. The whole segment with Mad Max was downright hilarious and it’s a good thing we had some fun with the kids in this episode, because dark things are on the horizon.
Because, we cannot forget that something sinister is brewing in Hawkins behind the scenes, there’s something eating its way through the pumpkin fields in town with glee and holy cow, we need to take a moment and discuss the whole Upside Down sequence with Will because that was completely and utterly terrifying. There is something supremely unwholesome about seeing a creature like that suddenly rise up from seemingly nowhere and tower over Will and the audience and what made that sequence all the more chilling is the sheer fact that whatever this awful thing is, it’s clearly hell bent on finding and getting close to Will and no good can come from that.
In the end however, I think this episode serves as proof that season two is just as good as season one, in fact it may be better. Because I am loving the depth we are seeing from the characters here, and the fact that the past is haunting so many. It’s making for a truly engrossing storyline, one that is moving along as the Duffer Brothers see fit and what made this transitional episode so amazing for me, is the sheer fact that it flew by while watching it. If anything, I’m definitely hooked and I’m dying to know what Dustin found in the trashcan and I cannot wait to find out what that massive hulk of a monster has planned for Will and Hawkins, which means…I should probably bid you all farewell and go watch episode three. Until next time.
Written by John Edward Betancourt
THIS IS THE EMERGENCY SPOILER ALERT SYSTEM...YOU ARE ADVISED TO READ AT YOUR OWN RISK...
Television shows that are instant hits or considered to be a ‘phenomenon’ when it comes to storytelling are truly magical in their own right. After all, they latched onto something special with the audience, found a way to instantly suck them in and that’s precisely what Netflix’s Stranger Things managed to do in its inaugural season. It found a way to please fans of nostalgia and horror by providing those folks with a gripping and terrifying storyline set in an era that many look upon fondly. But most importantly, it broke free of any niche audiences by delivering an incredible story with vibrant characters that drew everyone in.
That kind of perfect storm is incredibly difficult to replicate because when a story comes together that easily and becomes a phenomenon and darling in its own right, everything that follows after it will be held to the standard of that original tale and I think that’s what was on all of our minds when we tuned in this week to see what the second season of this explosive saga had in store for us and I’m pleased to say that if the season two premiere of this series, ‘MADMAX’ is any indicator of what the rest of year two is going to be like, than Stranger Things has become the equivalent of lightning striking twice.
Because it doesn’t take long for this story to suck you right in and make you feel at home and really, there were two key things that I absolutely adored when it came to this premiere, the fact that the horror elements that brought me plenty of joy in season one were still prevalent in this tale and the fact that the writing when it comes to the characters and the depth surrounding them has improved leaps and bounds over season one. I say that, because in essence, last year was all reactionary storytelling, wherein everyone’s best was brought about because of Will’s disappearance and of course, their survival instincts when dealing with the Upside Down, but in this premiere, we finally learned more about who these characters are as people and what they want in life.
Much of that was achieved by way of a key theme hanging over just about all of the story; the need to move on from a traumatic past, because so many in this tale were working hard to forget about the horrors that happened a year ago in Hawkins and their strife made for some compelling and heartbreaking television. Case in point, Joyce, a mother who so desperately wants to see her family come together again that she’s willing to get involved with someone that at least in my opinion, she really isn’t that interested in, but appears to be in order to create a family environment for her boys so they can all feel whole again and use that to heal all of their pain.
Yet what made this push for mental peace so incredibly fascinating is the fact that Joyce and so many others understand that it’s going to be a long hard road to recovery since momma Byers is fully cognizant of the fact that her son is still struggling with what he experienced in that other world and some…well they’ve not fully recovered at all as was evidenced in the devastating dinner scene with Barb’s parents where her folks expressed their continued dedication to bringing home their baby girl, rather than accept the possibility (and fact) that she’s dead. And of course, we cannot forget the true surprise when it comes to this episode, in that Sheriff Hopper is the only person to apparently have found a way to work through his pain by playing dad to a surrogate daughter in Eleven, the one character we thought was gone forever…
However, while one can easily lose themselves in this beautiful style of storytelling, I made mention of the fact that the horror is still there waiting for us and my goodness, the show simply didn’t mess around when it comes to that. Because it’s clear something horrible is brewing behind the scenes and something powerful is looking to find its way into our world, by way of Will, and no good can come of the fact that it appears to have found him at the end of the episode. Either way, this was a wonderful beginning to season two, I love how rich the characters have become and I’m delighted that the hints of trouble to come sent utter chills down my spine and with that in mind, it’s time to tell Netflix to play the next episode of this incredible show so I can see what terrors from the Upside Down await us, until next time.
Written by Scott Edwards
One of the things that I always love to do is sit back and listen to the old timers tell their stories. For some reason, this never loses its appeal for me, even if I hear the same story a hundred times, this is just a highlight of the year for me. It all started from my old camping days, but has continued into the out of the way restaurants that only the locals go to. Finding someone that is willing to give you a story, even a fish story, is something that seems to be going away, so make sure to find a good old timer that is willing to give you a little insight into something that you may never hear again.
Chuck is already having a tough day and not having his supervisor John around is not making it any better. Knowing that he made the right choice in promoting his longtime employee, Chuck is starting to wonder what could have possibly happened to John. But Chuck has no fear as he sees John rolling in late, yet he looks like there is something seriously wrong. Pulling his boss aside, John has had one heck of a long weekend and needs to tell his story and get his life back together.
Getting home from a long day of logging and getting into a spat with a couple of his employees, John is ready to sit back and take his boots off, but his son Jacob saw something strange in the woods. Needing to go check it out, John gets back up and takes his eldest son Caleb on a little hunting trip. Armed with his revolver, John believes that what Jacob saw was a bear in the woods, but his description of a hairy man is not sitting right with him. Thinking that it might be a squatter, John is ready for anything that he might find, yet, he is not ready to see something that he has never seen before.
Hearing a strange sound in the woods, John sends Caleb running home when he is ready to take his shot, but seeing the creature running after his son, he fears the worst. Running after the hairy beast, John is thankful for seeing it continue to haul hairy butt past his fallen boy. Getting home and telling his wife what he had just witnessed, John decides to take care of the problem himself rather than getting the sheriff involved, mainly because the story sounds too crazy. But the hairy beast has just been made aware that there is attention to be given to this household and keeps an eye on what is going on and takes its shots at the house when the family least expects it. Not wanting to leave the house, no matter how bad it gets, John and his family fall victim to a Big Foot harassment that will change their lives forever.
I know the review seems a little short, but that is the gist of what happens, a Big Foot lays claim to John and his family and even though it does not seem to want to hurt them in the long run, it likes to make its presence known. I love the innocent Jacob wanting to be friends with the hairy beast, going so far as to put his hands on the window to touch Big Foot’s hand through the glass. The fear the John has for his family’s safety is understandable, but when he has no idea what he is up against, he does some silly things that might lead to them facing a Big Foot’s wrath. With uprooted trees, a drunken hunting attempt, a struggling father, a Big Foot and a showdown for the ages, you might wonder what Big Foot is like in real life, an oversized fuzzy man that likes to be petted, or a scary sea lion that eats people’s faces off. Stay Scared.
Written by John Edward Betancourt
It is quite interesting how the worst parts of our past, manages to directly influence our future from time to time. After all, who hasn’t thought about a particularly rough moment in their lives when it comes to a specific decision that generates a touch of déjà vu, or uses that same memory or moment to avoid a familiar and uncomfortable situation.
Some folks however, take that influence to the extreme, the past simply consumes them and they face all the ugly in their lives every waking moment of every single day, paralyzing their life in the process. Despite all of this however we all share a common goal, to take the negative from days gone by and use it to make our lives better. To learn and grow from it, to be strong people and make amazing decisions, and perhaps make the world a better place in doing so. It is that ideal that takes the stage in one of the finest horror films ever made...The Silence of the Lambs.
Clarice Starling is seeing her dreams come to fruition. She is a cadet with the FBI and she has just been handed a golden opportunity by renowned agent Jack Crawford. She is to interview legendary killer Hannibal ‘The Cannibal’ Lecter in an effort to gain insight into a current case, involving the serial killer known as ‘Buffalo Bill’. But while Clarice sees this as a time to shine, she will face an incredible challenge when speaking to Hannibal. For this man can see straight into a person's soul, and Clarice...now has his attention.
So, when I said this motion picture is truly one of the finest horror films ever made, I stand by it because this is the first film in the genre to not only take-home Best Picture at the Academy Awards but holy hell...it's scary. There are few moments in this motion picture that aren't filled with incredible tension, uncomfortable moments that leave you squirming and unsettled and this is a story that stays with you long after you've finished it and that's the mark of a great horror film.
Yet at the same time the movie is filled with incredible character development and greater concepts. The whole story of Clarice Starling for example, with her checkered past full of fear and ugly memories that drive her to be a Federal Agent and make the world a better place is a wonderful move for the film to counterbalance all the darkness in this tale and the role is played to perfection by Jodie Foster and she is of course anchored by one of the finest villains to ever hit the screen in Hannibal Lecter, played by Anthony Hopkins, and his portrayal of Lecter is the stuff of legend. Lecter was originally portrayed in subdued fashion but Hopkins does such a fine job with the role that Hannibal commands the screen every second he appears on it. Madness and intellect ooze from the character, leaving the audience to fully believe that he is capable of anything and it makes the scene when Hannibal escapes all the more chilling because of it.
But of course all the terror centers around the nightmare that is Buffalo Bill. This is a character without remorse, who kills because of a greater need, at least in his mind, and that makes the scenes where he interacts with the senator's daughter some of the most frightening moments in cinema that I have ever been privy to. In fact, the more I think about it...this is a film that is practically flawless. Every single scene in this movie works and the tension builds moment by moment and it deserves every bit of praise it has received. If by some chance you haven't seen this one, just buy it and add it to your collection. It's a horror film that provides a sense of hope by way of Clarice Starling after robbing you of it thanks to Hannibal and Buffalo Bill and something like that is just so rare to find in the genre. Truly, this one is a masterpiece.
Written by Scott Edwards
Working friendships can be one of two things for people, you are either friends inside of the building, or outside of the building. It can be easy to determine if the friendships you make at work are actually something bigger than just a working one, by going out and seeing if you can click on another level. It is funny as I have been working with so many different people over the years and keeping in touch with them as we all have moved on, and so many of what I thought were just co-workers have turned into lifelong friends. With so many people just going to work to get paid, there might be something else inside the walls that can help better anyone’s life.
Talking with her agent, Emily T is blown away by her new music video and not in a good way. Wanting to sell the sex like her former group used to, Agent Fox knows exactly what it will take to get Emily back on the top of the charts, a reunion tour. Not wanting to get back together with her old group since she has been on her own for the past five years, Emily is not willing to bend, but it is the only way she will be able to get what she wants. Getting a knock on her door, Emily sees that events have already been put into motion to get the Three of Sin back together.
Seeing her old band mates Cynthia, who has been branching out on her own to become a better musician and Sharon who has made her own brand of edible underwear, Emily is not ready to be a part of the group again. But with the promise of fame and fortune when her new album is released, she decides to go along with the flow and with new drummer Ray in tow, the group jets across the world to Italy to start their tour. Arriving at the house that is being rented out to the group, things do not seem to be going well, but once the liquor starts to flow, all negativity is gone as the group is back together with only one rule, do not sleep with the drummer.
As everyone wakes up in the house, very hungover, they notice that the power is out, along with the fact they do not have anything to eat. The tour’s manager, Rudy, heads down to see what the deal is with the owners of the house and becomes infected by something terrible. A meteor has crashed down outside of the town and has changed everyone that came into contact with it into a life sucking force that moves only in spurts, but cannot be stopped. Seeing the infected people coming towards the house, Three of Sin must make their way to safety, but not knowing the area can be costly since there is no way in knowing how far the infection has traveled. On foot, the band must come together for one last performance, one of survival before they suffer the same fate of the people in this small town.
This movie turned out a little different than I expected, as I thought that this would be more of a zombie type movie, and while it was, the infected seem to be made of stone and while they can move, it comes in bunches while you are not looking. I really liked the bandmates group dynamic in this movie, mainly because everyone is excited with the exception of Emily who wants nothing to do with her past life, much less the women that helped get her to the top. But Emily does demonstrate that she is not completely against her group, as she shows that keeping them safe from the infected is more important than her own safety, I actually did not see that coming. With stone zombies, old friends coming together, edible underwear, a shot at redemption, a silly waking up scene and an awesome preparing for war montage, this movie has it all. Stay Scared.
Written by John Edward Betancourt
When you look at the horror genre from beginning to end, it is a veritable tapestry of nightmares when it comes to the monsters that have emerged to terrorize our imagination. We've met creatures that suck blood to survive, eat our flesh to survive, or transform into unholy creatures that roam the darkness and we’ve even seen spirits that haunt our every waking move.
But there is one monster that has always been far more terrifying than any zombie or vampire on screen...man himself. But one man in particular has managed to terrify audiences simply by way of his presence alone and through our knowledge of his disturbing actions...Hannibal Lecter. He is a character that fascinates and revolts all at once and his legacy in film began with an interesting take on his story from Director Michael Mann in the 1986 film, Manhunter.
This motion picture loosely followed the plot of Thomas Harris' Red Dragon by pitting the man who brought Hannibal Lecter down against a vicious serial killer hell bent on killing entire families; Francis Dollarhyde, also known as ‘The Tooth Fairy’. Now I say this film loosely follows the plot simply because while the core elements are there, this is an extremely unique film in how the story is told.
Not only is it incredibly 1980's in its style and look, it is also a slow cooking horror film. While the book moves at a breakneck pace, featuring a race against time to stop Francis before he kills again, Manhunter takes its time with everything and it works quite well for the film. With highly stylized sequences, rife with bright colors and synthesizer riffs or an 80's pop rock song playing, this motion picture uses the power of that decade and its slow burn style to make you uncomfortable. Because many of the images and musical stings are accompanied by disturbing visuals and unwholesome moments that seemingly go on forever, and this manipulation is so effective, that even to this day, I still get chills when I hear Iron Butterfly’s ‘Inna Gadda Da Vida’ because of how it was used in this movie.
Sadly, the only complaints I have for this film is that Lecter is not featured as prominently here as he is in the other films in this saga, and that this story greatly downplays the importance of Graham and Lecter’s past. After all Graham brought down this legendary murderer and that seems extremely glossed over in order to focus on the Dollarhyde storyline. Even still, Brian Cox manages to make every second count when playing this iconic killer and steals every scene when he’s on screen by portraying Lecter as a cool and collected man, one that only lets nuggets of his insanity slip through either by way of a particularly disturbing look, or when he gets overly excited talking about death, as he does in the scene late in the film when he and Graham discuss power and how it relates to becoming a God…
That subtle performance and the visceral experience the film provides make this an essential horror film to own and enjoy if you haven't had the chance to see it. Just make sure to ignore the fact that Anthony Hopkins isn't in it and go into this motion picture with an open mind and you'll come out of it not only terrified, but pleased with such a unique telling of this Lecter tale.
Written by Scott Edwards
Good vs. Evil. It seems like a story that has been told from the beginning of time, and yet we can never get enough of it. Always having a villain to place the blame on and sometimes not being able to entirely defeat them at first, we know that good will always prevail…at least in movies. But we rarely have Evil vs. Evil in movies for a few reasons. If there is another evil person who is running around, they are usually associated with the team of good and when they get killed off, we could care less simply because they’re evil, and they also hardly ever put up a fight. But the good news is, horror fans got what they wanted with two agents of pure evil facing off in the 2003 film, Freddy vs. Jason.
Being dormant for a couple of years, Freddy Krueger is ready to make a comeback and visit his children once again. Being able to infect Jason Voorhees’ dreams as the powerful killer’s mother, Freddy gives the order for him to go and invade Elm Street. Knowing that the deaths that Jason will afflict will spark the fear of him once again that he needs to feed off of, Freddy has no idea what he has unleashed. But that is not even a worry in his mind, since he needs to be remembered once again and not even the depths of hell can keep him from making a comeback for the ages.
Hanging out with her friends, Lori is trying to keep her mind clear about what happened in her house a couple years ago. With her best friend Kia wanting to get her hooked up with a cute boy, Lori is still hung up on her boyfriend Will who has moved away. Trying to convince Lori to move on, Kia has a plan to get some loving in her life when Gibb’s boyfriend Trey and his friend Blake come over to the parentless house for some good old-fashioned fun. While a storm is in full effect and the power goes out in the house, Gibb and Trey finish up in the bedroom and after Gibb gets out of the shower she discovers that there is someone else in the house that is looking to make their lives a living hell.
While being questioned at the police station about what happened, Lori is clueless and only knows that Trey has been hacked to bits in the house. With strange questions being asked about her dreams, Lori is trying to put together what it all means and comes up with the name Freddy Krueger who was mentioned outside of her house by the police. Falling asleep and having a disturbing nightmare that features the burnt old killer, she does not want anything other than to spend time with her friends. Getting to school and hearing that Blake and his father were killed as well, she and her friends have no idea what lies in store for them, especially when their nightmares come to life.
Being locked up in the Westin Hills Sanitarium for the past couple of years, Will and Mark know that they do not belong, but have one good thing to report, they are no longer having dreams involving Freddy. While getting his dose of Hypnocil, Will sees Lori’s house on the news with reports of another killing taking place there. Needing to make sure that Lori is all right, the two are able to escape the ward and make their way to the high school to check on her. After being chased off by the police, the two head off to the records office and find that Freddy Krueger has been erased from Springwood’s town history, along with uncovering the harsh truth that the deaths of his victims have been covered up. Needing to protect Lori from the torment that she is about to incur from Freddy, Will makes his way to the rave in the corn field, but has no idea who he is going to encounter.
Getting their party on at the high school’s rave party, Gibb steps away from the crowd and passes out in the cornfield. Seeing her dead boyfriend as she remembers him, she becomes introduced to Freddy Krueger who is looking to become soulmates in a different way. But before Freddy is able to collect his next soul, he is shocked to see that Jason has taken the young woman before him. Needing his power back to kill in dreams once again, Freddy moves on to those who know his name, but as his children are the target of Jason as well, he must find a way to stop the killing machine from fulfilling what he was recruited for. Trying to flee for their lives, Lori and her friends need to come up with a plan of attack against both of the killers, but after seeing that Lori can bring things back from the dream world, they all make the decision to travel to Camp Crystal Lake and have Freddy and Jason duke it out once and for all.
There is one thing that I remember seeing consistently on the early horror movie message boards and that was everyone wanted to see a face-off between two of the greatest horror icons, Freddy Krueger and Jason Voorhees. While I was not huge into these series at the time and only seeing the later movies in the series, I was able to figure out why. With all of the killing, torture, survival games and blood that the face-off would bring, it is everything that a horror fan would want to see. This movie did not disappoint when it came to those aspects and even gave us both types of their trademark frights while the story played on.
With the same group trying to battle off sleep and the monstrous Jason at the same time, it is a wonder that both of the killers were able to be featured as much as they were. Not getting too out of control with the storyline seemed to be key in this movie and while I would have liked to see a little bit more of what happened in dreamland, I was pleased with the Jason Voorhees dream sequence that turned into a battle for the ages. With teenagers fearing for their lives, a razor-blade hand, a machete, drinking, smoking, fires, nasty dreams, dismembered bodies and plenty of blood flowing. Overall, this is just a fun movie to get lost in for a while. There is just something about the battle for dominance in this movie that makes me enjoy this a little more than I should, that and the final showdown that everyone has been waiting for. Stay Scared.