Movie Reviews: “Psycho” (1960)

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Directed by Alfred Hitchcock.
Starring Anthony Perkins, Janet Leigh, and Vera Miles.

Alfred Hitchcock’s “Psycho” was a game changer for suspense/horror cinema. It gave its audience a career making performance out of Anthony Perkins as the eerie Motel owner Norman Bates. It also gave its audience stellar directing & cinematography with unique camera shots to highlight the chilling story based upon Richard Bloch’s novel. All of the necessary ingredients to make a classic film were there, but “Psycho” is extra special because of the filmmaker’s innovation and Anthony Perkins’ passion, making the film a masterpiece.

The story follows Marion Crane, a woman who committed a crime and is running away, not from her crime per-say, but from the life she had and to find the man she is in love (and been having an affair) with. She pulls into a small motel for the night, the Bates Motel. I consider the motel itself to be one of the film’s best characters. There she encounters Norman Bates, and his Mother.

If you haven’t had the privilege of watching “Psycho” then I recommend you make it a priority for Halloween! Many people cite “Psycho” as the first slasher film. While that might not be quite accurate, it certainly was monstrously influential and something special when it was released, and still something special to this day.

4.0 out of 4.0 stars.

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Movie Reviews: “Red Lights” (2012)

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Starring Cillian Murphy, Sigourney Weaver, Elizabeth Olsen, & Robert De Niro.

Murphy and Weaver star as Tom Buckley & Margaret Matheson, a skeptical group of paranormal researchers. They’ve debunked claims for years, yet to see something extraordinary and real, that is until world-famous blind psychic Simon Silver (De Niro) comes out of retirement. The closer they get to examining his stage show, the more horrible events happen around them. How far will they go to uncover the truth?

“Red Lights” held my attention for most of the duration, but lost me towards the climax. It’s an interesting concept close to my heart. The paranormal world had always fascinated me, as has truth seeking. This film does that field justice. The performances by Murphy, Weaver and De Niro are all as good as you’d think, but are slightly limited by script issues. This could have been fantastic with a more independent studio, but ended up just being all right. A lot of my overall feelings of a film depend on how they finish. Take that into consideration. Worth seeing though.

2.5 out of 4.0 stars.

Movie Reviews: “Sound of My Voice” (2011)

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Directed by Zal Batmanglij.
Starring Brit Marling, Christopher Denham & Nicole Vicius.
Written by Brit Marling & Zal Batmanglij.

Peter, a journalist, and his writer girlfriend Lorna integrate themselves into an underground cult led by Maggie, who claims to come from the year 2054.

Maggie is gentle, hypnotic, detailed, direct and subtly demanding, telling the followers that all the “choices are theirs.” It’s creepy, yet as a viewer, rejecting her openness makes me feel sad. Brit Marling portrayed the futuristic leader perfectly in ways that words can’t do justice. It’s a masterful performance.

This film works on parallel levels. Is she for real? Is she a fraud? What are the consequences of each? How deep will Peter & Lorna allow themselves to get to document this?

“Sound of My Voice” is gorgeously shot and performed, and written with a wide mind. It was a surprise gem with a conclusion that haunts me to this very moment. My brain is still philosophizing the events and rolling over the details. The best films do that to us.

3.5 out of 4.0 stars.

Film Reviews: “Lost Boys 3: The Thirst” (2010)

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Starring Corey Feldman.

Corey Feldmen returns as Edgar Frog, vampire hunter. Edgar is approached Gwen Lieber, a best selling author of “Twilight” esque books. She offers Edgar a hunting job with the potential to kill the true head vampire, which would undo all remaining vampirism, including the curse on his brother Alan Frog.

I thought LB3 was much better than LB2. We have an original character in the lead role and with a new story. It’s more enjoyable, has a good sense of humor, and didn’t feel like a rehash. If you’ve seen and enjoyed the original “Lost Boys”, I say skip “LB2: The Tribe” and just go straight to “LB3: The Thirst.”

3.0 out of 4.0 stars.

Film Reviews: “Lost Boys 2: The Tribe” (2008)

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Starring Autumn Reeser, Corey Feldmen, Tad Hilgenbrink and Angus Sutherland.

The original “Lost Boys” from 1987 is one of the best hip vampire movies ever made. For me, it’s right up there with the original “Fright Night” and “Near Dark.”

21 years later we have a sequel. So, how is it? Well… Simply, it’s a watered down, modernized version of the first film. So much so, that it’s basically a remake.

The premise: Brother and sister, Chris and Nicole move to Luna Bay to live with their Aunt after their parents died in a car accident. Nicole meets and falls for lead vampire Shane (Sutherland) and begins to turn. Chris hires Edgar Frog to help him kill Shane and save the sister. Almost exactly the same plot from the first film.

It’s not horrible, but not great, or even really good. It just makes you wish you were watching the original. It’s great to see Corey Feldmen reprise his role as Edgar Frog, but he isn’t given enough screen time. Angus Sutherland is awful. He doesn’t deserve to don the Sutherland name. (Pun intended there!) The film feels very cheap and predictable. It wasn’t necessary.

2.0 out of 4.0 stars.

Film Reviews: “Creep” (2004)

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Franka Potente (Run Lola Run) stars as Kate, a woman who falls asleep in a subway station late at night on her way home, and misses the train. She wakes to find the station empty and tries to leave but all the doors are locked. Kate now has to spend the rest of the night in the station, but is she really alone?

This one didn’t do much for me. I don’t know… The more you find out about what’s going on, the less I was interested. It’s not a bad film, and not poorly made, but I was bored with it. The flow of the movie felt like they were writing it as they went along, and the antagonist didn’t impress or scare me. I could see some people really enjoying this one, but it just wasn’t for me.

1.5 out of 4.0 stars.

Film Reviews: “Torso” (1973)

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Directed by Sergio Martino.

“Torso”, is an Italian slasher about a masked man killing young college girls by strangling them with a red scarf. The police find fibers of the scarf under the nails of the victims and begin an investigation. One woman thinks she has seen the scarf before and knows who the killer is. Can they stop him before he strikes again? Or have they got the¬†wrong man?

This is an interesting film because it’s a slasher pre “Texas Chainsaw”, “Halloween”, or “Friday the 13th.” Perhaps those films borrowed bits from this one. There’s some great scenes here, but as a whole “Torso” is very slow going.

2.0 out of 4.0 stars.