Horror Week: Halloween (1978)

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John Carpenter’s Halloween is the quintessential horror movie for Halloween. It is a classic slasher movie that acted as a landmark for future slasher movies to come. John Carpenter used simple elements to create suspense, like shadows in the background or a creepy score. It has very little gore, and yet it still succeeds in instilling fear and suspense into the viewer as the main character is stalked throughout the whole movie. Halloween shows that you don’t need a big budget or lots of blood to make a successful horror movie, all you need is someone behind the camera who understands that sometimes the best scares involve the idea that something may be lurking in the shadows unseen.

Michael Myers, a man who has spent the last fifteen years in a psychiatric facility after having stabbed his older sister to death on Halloween when he was six years old, escapes the facility the night before Halloween and returns to wreak havoc in his hometown of Haddonfield, Illinois. Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis), an innocent high school student who spends her Halloween night babysitting two kids, finds herself to be the main target of this psycho killer.

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John Carpenter is the one who really introduced the element of an immortal boogeyman. As soon as Laurie stabs Michael Myers, he just gets right back up. Jason followed suit with this in the Friday the 13th movies–a silent, masked monster who survives no matter what you do to him. That is one of the things that makes Michael Myers so frightening. He’s not easily defeated, and on top of that, he is a mysterious and silent psycho who doesn’t even feel the need to run after his targets, he just walks after them and then shows up behind them in the shadows when they least expect it.

Jamie Lee Curtis had her feature debut in this movie, and it jump started a long career to come. It has become an iconic role in horror cinema. Personally, her character is the only victim I can even remember from a slasher series, but that probably also has to do with the fact that she has a long lasting connection to Michael Myers in the series.

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The budget for Halloween was only around $300,000. Most of the actors wore their own clothes for the shoot. In addition to that, the mask that Michael Myers wears is a $2.00 Captain Kirk from Star Trek mask that they cut wider eye holes in and painted white. So basically, Michael Myers’ iconic mask is really just the face of a warped William Shatner. Despite the small budget, Halloween made about $70 million worldwide, making it one of the most profitable independent horror films.

Halloween is a great example of an influential horror film. It’s suspenseful and still fun to watch even three decades later. Michael Myers has become an iconic horror movie character and a household name, especially around this time of year. Halloween just wouldn’t be the same without him.


This marks the end of my horror week. Originally, I had planned to do a lot more horror reviews, but time wouldn’t allow it. So I picked five different subgenres of horror to cover. I stuck with a modern take on a famous haunting, a horror/comedy satire, an exorcism movie, a classic unconventional horror, and a classic slasher horror–listed below. Thanks for reading and Happy Halloween!

The Conjuring (2013)
The Cabin in the Woods (2012)
The Exorcism of Emily Rose (2005)
Rosemary’s Baby (1968)
Halloween (1978)

Horror Week: Rosemary’s Baby (1968)

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Rosemary’s Baby is not your traditional horror film. There’s no jump scares, no gore, hardly any scary imagery, and yet it succeeds in being deeply disturbing because we watch a main character we come to care about suffer mentally and physically through a pregnancy that is anything but normal, while the people around her seem about as trustworthy as a used car salesman.

Rosemary Woodhouse (Mia Farrow) and her actor husband, Guy (John Cassavetes), move into a new apartment in New York next to a strange older couple, Minnie and Roman Castevet (Ruth Gordon and Sidney Blackmer). Weird occurrences begin to happen shortly after. A woman Rosemary meets who lives with the Castevets seemingly throws herself from a window. Guy becomes distant to Rosemary the more friendly he becomes with the neighbors, and a man who got a part Guy wanted in a play mysteriously becomes blind. Rosemary also begins having strange dreams. She eventually finds out she is pregnant, but her pregnancy is abnormally rough and she becomes weak, starts losing weight, and is always in pain, despite consuming a peculiar health drink Minnie makes her every morning. On top of that, the doctor the Castevets referred her to is no help, always telling her that she’s fine and everything is normal. After months of torment and the mysterious death of her trustworthy friend, Hutch (Maurice Evans), she eventually becomes suspicious of everyone around her, and soon starts to worry for her baby’s safety.

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Poor, sweet Rosemary. The first time I saw this movie, I couldn’t believe what her character put up with. I wanted her to freak out and start screaming at everyone, because that’s probably what I would do if I were in her situation. That husband needed a punch in the face, especially in the scene when Rosemary passes out and he has sex with her anyway. When she wakes up with scratches on her, she gives him a swift, soft-spoken scolding for not waiting until she was, you know, conscious. I would’ve been like, yeah, you’re not only going to get kicked in the balls right now, but you’re also going to be sleeping on the couch for three months, rapist asshole.

That’s one of the great things about this movie, though. Sure, Rosemary is really a reflection of the times when women were still widely submissive to their husbands, but it also gives us a reason to feel for her and root for her to wake up. The best thing about Rosemary is that she’s not dumb. She’s trusting at first, but she soon learns to follow her instincts, and the parts when she starts to figure it out and starts to stand up for herself–those are some of the best moments with Rosemary. The viewer becomes very involved with her character right from the beginning.

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We, as viewers know there’s something not right with the Castevets, even if their only obvious problem right off the bat is that they’re extremely annoying. Rosemary never fully wants to get involved with them, no matter how nice they pretend to be to her, but only gives them the benefit of the doubt because her husband forms a friendship with them. Then we follow her as her trust in not only her neighbors, but her husband as well slowly dissipates. We are there with her when she suffers through her agonizing pregnancy, so much so you can almost feel her pain. Then when she realizes everything that’s going on and tries to explain the craziness to the only person she thinks might believe her, we feel her madness and desperation.

Roman Polanski created this almost perfect horror film that doesn’t need to fall back on cheap scares to arouse a true feeling of horror. The horror lies in the journey we endeavor with Rosemary and her awful pregnancy, a woman who cannot trust a single person she’s surrounded by, a woman who doesn’t have anyone to help her. That is truly horrifying.

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I couldn’t picture anyone but Mia Farrow in this role. She really emanates the kindness in her character, and her performance throughout the movie transitions so smoothly as she goes through physical agony and becomes more paranoid as the story goes on. Ruth Gordon also stands out as Minnie Castevet, her naturally aggressive personality reminds me of a lot of people I know who were born and raised in New York, of course, not all New Yorkers are like that, but when you meet the ones who are you’re not likely to forget them (love you all).

Roman Polanski’s Rosemary’s Baby is one of the most well made horror films in history. Although it doesn’t provide the conventional type of scares, it succeeds in creating an eerily suspenseful and paranoid atmosphere as the story goes on, and we delve deeper with Rosemary into the supernatural threats that suddenly surround her and her unborn child. It is one of those movies I would recommend everyone should see in their lifetime.

Genre Grandeur – Goodfellas (1990)

Check out my post for this month’s Genre Grandeur hosted over at Movierob. The genre is biopics, and with so many great biopics to choose from, I went with good ol’ Goodfellas. Great biopic and a great gangster movie.

If you aren’t already, you should head on over to Movierob’s blog and follow him. He hosts plenty of guest posts, including the Genre Grandeur every month. Next month’s genre is going to be 80’s action flicks (great pick, by the way.)

Thanks, Rob!

Here’s a review by Justine of Justine’s MovieBlog for this month’s Genre Grandeur – Biopics of the Scorsese gangster movie Goodfellas (1990)

Next month’s Genre chosen by Kieron of What About the Twinkie? is 80’s action flicks, so send me the review of your favorite film in that genre by 25th Nov to action80@movierob.net and I’ll post it.

Let’s see what Justine thought of this movie…

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goodfellas_1990Next to The Godfather trilogy, I’d say that Goodfellas is one of the greatest American gangster movies ever made. When I think of it that way, I almost forget that unlike The Godfather, it’s not just a gangster movie, it’s a biopic on the life of a real man, Henry Hill. Hill was an associate of the Lucchese crime family in New York City. He became well known for being a rat, giving up his friends to the FBI and testifying against…

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Horror Week: The Exorcism of Emily Rose (2005)

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When I first saw The Exorcism of Emily Rose in the theater nine years ago, I couldn’t sleep for two nights afterwards. Even today, I still can’t watch it without losing sleep. Aside from The Exorcist, this is the one movie that still scares the piss out of me no matter what hour of the day I watch it. Based loosely on the real events of the exorcism of Anneliese Michel, a German girl who died at age 23 after experiencing what she and her priests thought was demonic possession, Scott Derrickson’s The Exorcism of Emily Rose focuses mostly on the court proceedings after her death, making this a compelling courtroom drama as well as a horror film.

Erin Bruner (Laura Linney) is a lawyer who is defending a priest, Father Moore (Tom Wilkinson) who is being charged with negligent homicide after a young girl dies shortly after an exorcism. The movie follows the trial as Erin, who herself is an agnostic and doesn’t believe in demonic possession, tries to convince the jury that Emily Rose (Jennifer Carpenter) did not die due to the priest’s neglect and advice to not seek professional medical help, but rather that Emily could not be helped and sought out assistance from the Church only after medicine and psychology had already failed her. Emily’s story is shown through flashbacks, as her health quickly deteriorates due to what is seemingly supernatural causes.

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I was raised as a Catholic and to believe that God and the Devil exists, and even though I’m an adult now and make my own conclusions about what is or isn’t real, there’s no doubt that it’s this conditioning of beliefs that make this movie so unbelievably terrifying to me. It also doesn’t hurt that Jennifer Carpenter gives one of the scariest and tormented performances I’ve ever seen. Seriously, I couldn’t watch Dexter without half expecting she was going to start contorting her body and screaming loudly in a demon voice. She makes the green vomit-spewing Linda Blair seem almost cartoonish.

The thing I love about this movie is that it’s scary without trying to be too scary. There aren’t many cheap jump scares, and aside from a few cheesier visions of demons, the main scares are presented as a girl who is extremely ill mentally and physically. It also manages to be thought-provoking and frightening at the same time. Like I said, it’s a courtroom drama first and foremost, and the scariest parts involving the titular character, Emily, are presented to us from different people’s perspectives. The arguments on both sides are very convincing. Was what Emily was going through really demonic possession or the result of various psychiatric issues like schizophrenia, for example? It’s easy to write it off as the latter, but it’s impossible to do without undermining other people’s strong religious beliefs. Emily herself was convinced she was possessed and her family believed the same. The movie deals with issues like this, but at the same time, truly explores the possibility that what she thought she was experiencing was, in fact, the result of symptoms of a serious mental illness.

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The Exorcism of Emily Rose is my go-to movie if I feel like I don’t want to sleep for a while (which is a rare thing, I like sleep). I actually haven’t watched it in a few years and I don’t think I will any time soon. The fact that it is much more than just an exorcism movie makes it worth watching even for people who aren’t terrified of the idea of demonic possession. It may not be a horror classic like The Exorcist, but the interesting story, as well as the amazing performances by the actors–especially Jennifer Carpenter and Laura Linney–make this one of my favorite underrated horror movies to watch on a rare occasion.

Horror Week: The Cabin in the Woods (2012)

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I guess I’ll start off by saying that The Cabin in the Woods is awesome. Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard took a bunch of horror movie clichés and turned them into over the top, ridiculous fun. From the start, you know that something strange is happening here, but you don’t know what. It’s a satire on all modern day horror movies. It’s balanced in some actual horror, but along with some very humorous realizations of what we as an audience are subjected to when we sit down and watch any of the million remakes and sequels of Friday the 13th, A Nightmare on Elm Street, and whatever else out there these days.

You’ve got the basic elements of a horror movie, five stupid young people go off to vacation in a remote cabin for no apparent reason, each of these five people identify with the horror movie group stereotype. There’s a jock (Chris Hemsworth), a blonde whore (Anna Hutchinson), a virgin (Kristen Connolly), a scholar (Jesse Williams), and a pothead fool (Fran Kranz). Simple, right? Nope. Why is the blonde pre-med? Why’s our virgin sleeping with professors? Wait, more importantly, who are these lab guys controlling everything? Why are they betting on which monsters these clueless people are going to face? Is it a game? What the hell is going on? Why am I laughing more at this than I did at Anchorman 2? All viable questions. The answer is, this is Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard, you should probably just roll with it.

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I think this movie is trying to tell me something. Obviously, for one, horror movie stereotypes are ridiculous. These lab guys are what the wise “fool” Marty refers to as puppeteers. The blonde isn’t whore-ish enough, they put chemicals in her hair dye (yup, she’s not actually blonde either!) to make her libido go up. They use traps, chemicals, and different things to rig the system. Basically, they are trying to make a modern day horror flick, except it’s all real. But why? I’m not even going to get into it, mainly because I don’t want to spoil the movie for people who haven’t seen it, but also because I’m not sure how well I could even explain it. Basically, we get to watch a bunch of people being forcibly molded into their respective stereotypes while being persuaded to make stupid decisions they probably wouldn’t have otherwise made.

The commentary and reactions of the “puppeteers,” mainly Richard Jenkins and Bradley Whitford’s characters are some of the best parts, and towards the end…oh man, it’s just too much. In a good way, though. It’s nice to see something different in the horror genre, while at the same time, watching it poke fun at the clichés we’re all too familiar with by now.

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The Cabin in the Woods is just an all around fun, entertaining horror/comedy. It’s brilliantly written and directed, the actors are great to watch, and it manages to break the mold of horror movies, while being extremely aware of what that mold actually is. Sure, we’ve seen plenty of horrible horror spoofs (Haunted House, Scary Movie), but this is a spoof of a different kind…it’s far more fun and a lot less dumb.

Horror Week: The Conjuring (2013)

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Seeing as how Halloween is this Friday, it’s about time to start rounding up some reviews on horror movies. Props to those who have been doing a horror review every day this whole month, I wish I had the motivation to do the same, but sadly I’ve been slacking. I’ll have to settle for a horror week instead of a month. I’ve enjoyed reading everyone else’s, though! So this is going to be a random selection of horror movies I’ve either seen recently or a long time ago. Some will be favorites and some won’t, but they’ll all be ones memorable enough for me to think of off the top of my head. So without further ado…

The Conjuring is a horror movie I’ve seen recently this past month. I found myself putting it off because I’m a bit of a little girl when it comes to some scary stuff, and refuse to watch movies like this at night time by myself. But no matter, I’ve finally gotten around to it. If I were to rank this movie on a scare scale of 1-10, 1 being not scary at all, and 10 being pissing my pants, I’d give this about a 7. I jumped at some parts and it stuck with me long enough until the sun went down and I started thinking how freaky it would be if a ghost grabbed my feet while I was trying to sleep. Needless to say, I had a little bit of trouble sleeping that night. Overall, I’d say that’s a success.

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It’s easy to say the scariest stories are the true ones. Unfortunately, “true stories” when it comes to horror movies end up being about as true as me saying Bigfoot lives in my back woods. That doesn’t mean I don’t believe in any ghost stories. I’ve been to one of Lorraine Warren’s scary ass Hallow’s Eve lectures and let me tell you, she’s pretty damn convincing–enough to where while I was driving home that night, I had to try my hardest not to look in the rear view mirror lest there be a scary face sitting in my backseat. Hollywood sucks at telling true horror stories, though, and take liberties that make it lose any credibility, and therefore, a lot of the genuinely scary elements. I’m pretty sure they’ve done much of the same here.

The Conjuring follows the story of the Perron family after they move into a new house in Rhode Island. Shortly after they move in, they start experiencing the usual kind of paranormal activity–strange noises, visions of ghosts, the mother, Carolyn Perron (Lili Taylor), actually wakes up with bruises on her body, and the five daughters experience some pretty creepy situations as well. When they realize what they’re dealing with is serious business, Carolyn and her husband Roger (Ron Livingston) track down the famous paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren (Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga) and ask them for help.

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For the first half of the movie, director James Wan seems to understand that sometimes the scariest elements in a movie are what we don’t see. Pictures falling off the wall, doors slamming, a quick glimpse of a shadow or a face, these are the things that build suspense and create jumpy situations, something classic horror movies heavily relied on in the past. I don’t know about most people, but it’s these things that get me, not long shots of an actor in bad make-up or a CGI ghost wailing at the screen. However, once it gets towards the end, the whole vision of Bathsheba the ghost witch was a little ridiculous. Actually the possession scene was a little over the top in general. This is coming from someone who is scared to death of demon and possession related stuff (thank you, The Exorcist), but the possession here wasn’t all that scary, not to mention, the Warrens have stated numerous times they would never do an exorcism without a priest, so that whole scenario is an example of Hollywood fiction at its finest, or worst, depending upon how you see it.

Also, the inclusion of the Annabelle doll seemed extremely out of place. Sure, dolls are scary. I used to have one doll in my room I got for my first Holy Communion when I was a little girl, it was a praying doll. One night, it randomly fell off my dresser, and you know what I did? I kicked that thing the hell out of my bedroom. It sits downstairs now in a glass hutch in the dining room. But I digress. My point is, Annabelle, aside from being a creepy ass doll, served no purpose to this particular story. However, it was obviously put there for the possibility of a spin-off, which did happen, and I didn’t see it, mainly because I heard it was awful. So, I think it’s safe to say Annabelle is just a big fail on all accounts.

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I know I’m mainly nitpicking here, but it’s tough to find some good horror nowadays and I feel the need to be harsh for some reason. However, The Conjuring, despite a few issues I had with it, really is some of the best horror I’ve seen in a while. Half the time I don’t even bother going to see horror movies in the theater because I just know they are going to be bad, and that’s probably why I didn’t see this one. I’m glad I was wrong, though. James Wan directed something worthwhile here, and it doesn’t hurt that the actors did a top notch job at acting terrified, Lili Taylor wasn’t so bad at pretending to be possessed either. This definitely isn’t a bad pick for Halloween.

Netflix: Expiring Soon (October 2014)

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Below you will find lists of titles expiring on Netflix by the end of this month (October, as well as some in beginning of November) in the US, Canada, and the UK. For anyone wanting to know what has been added this month, you can find that list here. I try to keep it as updated as possible.

As usual, if anyone comes across any expiration dates that are not on this list, leave the title in the comments and I will add it. Thanks!

Note: Unless any of these titles are renewed, the dates below represent the date of the last day these titles will be available for you to watch.

Netflix US

10/24
The Bleeding House (2011)
Champ – 34 episodes (2008) (TV)
The First Grader (2010)
Kiss Kiss Bang Bang – 21 episodes (TV)
A Little Help (2010)
10/25
The Scent of the Green Papaya (1993)
10/26
Good Neighbors (2010)
Machete Maidens Unleashed! (2010)
Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003)
10/28
Abel (1986)
Blood Brothers (2007)
Blush (1995)
Children of the Pyre (2008)
London: The Modern Babylon (2012)
Rock Jocks (2012)
Vivan Las Antipodas (2011)
10/29
The Men Next Door (2012)
10/30
In Their Sleep (2010)
Ishaqzaade (2012)
Macho (2009)
Mighty Machines – 3 Seasons (1995-08) (TV)
The Objective (2008)
The Skeptic (2009)
Victim (2010)
10/31
101 Dalmations (1996)
The After Life Investigations: The Scole Experiments (2010)
Allan Quartermain and the Lost City of Gold (1987)
Amber – 4 episodes (2012) (TV)
American Psycho (2000)
Angelina Ballerina: Love to Dance (2009)
Apocalypse Now (1979)
Apocalypse Now Redux (2001)
Balibo (2009)
The Best and the Brightest (2011)
The Big Chill (1983)
Blown Away (1992)
Bob the Builder (1999-2012) (TV)
Breezy (1973)
Brighton Beach Memoirs (1986)
Broadcast News (1987)
The Brothers (2001)
The Buddy Holly Story (1978)
Bullet Proof Monk (2003)
Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969)
Candyman (1992)
Caveman (1981)
Cheech & Chong’s Next Movie (1980)
Cloak & Dagger (1984)
The Conqueror Worm (1968)
The Dogs of War (1980)
Ed Hardy: Tattoo the World (2010)
Elvis ’56 (1987)
The Escape Artist (1982)
Faith Like Potatoes (2006)
Fall Time (1995)
Fightville (2011)
Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children (2005)
Footloose (1984)
For a Few Dollars More (1965)
Fire in Babylon (2010)
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966)
The Great Outdoors (1988)
Hammett (1982)
Hannibal (2001)
He Said, She Said (1991)
He’s Such a Girl (2011)
Heat Wave (2011)
How to Be a Serial Killer (2008)
I Can’t Think Straight (2007)
Iceman (1984)
King Solomon’s Mines (1985)
La Bamba (1987)
Lassie (2005)
Les Miserables (1998)
Lost Angels: Skid Row Is My Home (2010)
The Lost and Found Family (2009)
Mr. Nice (2010)
Neds (2010)
The Ninth Gate (1999)
The Odessa File (1974)
One From the Heart (1982)
Orca: The Killer Whale (1977)
Original Gangstas (1996)
Pavilion of Women (2000)
Pirates Who Don’t Do Anything: A VeggieTales Movie (2008)
The Prince of Tides (1991)
Qué pena tu boda (2011)
A Raisin in the Sun (2008)
Rat (2000)
Red Scorpion (1989)
Red State (2011)
Right at Your Door (2006)
Sabrina (1995)
Say Anything (1989)
Serenity (2005)
Shinjuku Incident (2009)
Silent Running (1971)
Single White Female (1992)
Small, Beautifully Moving Parts (2011)
Southie (1998)
St. Elmo’s Fire (1985)
Starman (1984)
Steel Magnolias (1989)
The Substitute (1996)
The Substitute 2: School’s Out (1998)
The Substitute 4: Failure is Not an Option (2001)
Tetro (2009)
Thelma & Louise (1991)
Thomas & Friends (2005-2012) (TV)
Todd and the Book of Pure Evil – 2 Seasons (2010-11) (TV)
Tortilla Soup (2001)
Trees Lounge (1996)
Turkey Bowl (2011)
Underbelly – 3 Seasons (2008-10) (TV)
Under the Tuscan Sun (2003)
Unstable Fables: Tortoise vs. Hare (2008)
Up at the Villa (2000)
Vigilante Force (1976)
Wild Eyes: The Abby Sunderland Story (2011)
11/2
The Cabin in the Woods (2011)
11/3
Double Dragon (1994)
Pururambo (2007)
11/4
Footy Legends (2006)
The Go Master (2006)
Goosebumps – 5 Seasons (1995) (TV)
Haifa (1996)
The Magic School Bus – 4 Seasons (1994) (TV)
Zombie Night (2013)
11/5
Amazing Love (2012)
A Christmas Puppy (2011)
New Hope (2012)
Zombie Massacre (2013)

Netflix Canada

10/24
A Lonely Place to Die (2011)
10/26
Never Back Down 2: The Beatdown (2011)
10/31
The Edge (1997)
An Inconvenient Truth (2006)
Journey to the Center of the Earth (2009)
Life of Pi (2012)
The Lucky One (2012)
The Maid (2009)
MASH (1970)
A Matador’s Mistress (2008)
My Bodyguard (1980)
Perfume: The Story of a Murderer (2006)
Predators (2010)
Prelude to a Kiss (1992)
Shaft (2000)
Taken 2 (2012)
Wild Eyes: The Abby Sunderland Story (2011)
11/4
Backyard (2009)
11/5
Bloody Mary (2011)

Netflix UK

10/25
Bowfinger (1999)
A Royal Affair (2012)
10/26
House at the End of the Street (2012)
V/H/S (2012)
10/30
Ishaqzaade (2012)
10/31
City of God (2002)
Qué pena tu boda (2011)
Wild Eyes: The Abby Sunderland Story (2011)
11/1
The Booth at the End – 1 season (2010) (TV)
John Carter (2012)
11/4
Goosebumps – 5 seasons (1995) (TV)
11/6
Double Dhamaal (2011)

The Ten Most Iconic Female Movie Characters Blogathon

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Thank you Ryan at Ten Stars or Less for nominating me for The Ten Most Iconic Female Movie Characters blogathon. It’s nice, for a change, to recognize the strong female characters who have carried some of our favorite movies to success. Without further ado, here are the rules as described by the creator of this blogathon, Dell on Movies

A list of 10 iconic female movie characters has been made. That list will be assigned to another blogger who can then change it by removing one character (describing why they think she should not be on the list) and replacing it with another one (also with motivation) and hand over the baton to another blogger. Once assigned, that blogger will have to put his/her post up within a week. If this is not the case the blogger who assigned it has to reassign it to another blogger.

Ryan had recently removed Jackie Brown and replaced her with Bella Swan. Here is the current list now:

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princess-leia

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It wasn’t easy to choose a lady to take off this list, as I agree with every choice and the reasons why they’re considered iconic. Ellen Ripley and Princess Leia are obvious choices, and if they weren’t on this list already, they would’ve been my first two options. As much as I hate Bella, it’s true that there’s hardly a person out there who doesn’t know about the Twilight movies and the part she played in them, she may not be generally likable, but she is iconic. I thought about removing Marge Gunderson, because she’s one of those characters I feel like no one knows unless you’ve actually seen Fargo, but I love her too much to do it. I’m also a personal fan of horror movies and thrillers and a lot of the females on this list are horror/thriller characters, like Ripley, Rosemary, and Clarice. Not only are they personal favorites of mine, but they’ve proven that women can really bring a lot to the table when it comes to the creepy stuff.

I love this list as it is, but I have to choose one so…I am going to remove Maria Von Trapp. I know everyone knows what The Sound of Music is, it is an iconic movie in general. Julie Andrews is no doubt amazing in it, but when I think of iconic females, she’s one of the last that comes to mind. I’m not sure why, I’ll just attribute it to the fact that I’m young and haven’t watched The Sound of Music more than a couple of times. Honestly, I didn’t remember what her character’s name was until I saw a live production of it on cable not too long ago and Carrie Underwood played the role. For the record, it didn’t hold a candle to the movie. Anyway, sorry, Maria, you’re still amazing!

With that said, there are quite a few female characters who were removed who probably could be re-added, like Mary Poppins or Dorothy Gale, for instance. However, I’m going to introduce a new option. So I’ve chosen…

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I haven’t even sat down and watched Carrie until a few years ago, but I always knew who Carrie White was even when I was a little girl. She’s the telekinetic girl with the crazy, religious fanatic mother. She’s the girl who is bullied, gets pig’s blood dumped on her, and goes psycho at her high school prom. Even if you haven’t actually seen it, you probably already know how the story goes. But if you have, you know she’s not easily forgettable. Sissy Spacek is Carrie, and I think that every time I see her acting in anything else. It is, in my opinion, the most iconic role of her career, and she plays one of the most iconic female characters to date.

I’m happy to have gotten a chance to be a part of this blogathon, and now I am going to pass the torch to Emma at emmakwall (explains it all). Good luck!

Best to Worst: David Fincher

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David Fincher is one of my personal favorite directors. His short list of feature films include stories that are mostly dark in tone, but he manages them really well with his gritty and unique style. He is known for being a bit of an obsessive director, but that can only explain why his track record consists of so many hits and very few misses, making him one of the most consistent and respectable modern filmmakers today. With the recent release of Gone Girl, Fincher has once again proven that not only can he be counted on to make a faithful book adaptation, but also a great thriller in general. Here is my own ranking of David Fincher’s films from best to worst.

1. Zodiac (2007)
Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Robert Downey Jr., Mark Ruffalo, John Carroll Lynch
IMDb rating: 7.7
Rotten Tomatoes score: 89%

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When I think of David Fincher, Seven and Fight Club are the two movies that immediately come to mind. In my opinion, though, Zodiac is by far the best Fincher film, despite it being somewhat underrated by the general audience compared to the other two career-defining movies he made early on. It has a few great performances from Jake Gyllenhaal, Mark Ruffalo, and Robert Downey Jr. The story is interesting, being based on the real life serial murders of the Zodiac killer from the late ’60s and early ’70s, but it also involves the theme of obsession, and how obsession with the case ultimately destroys many people’s personal lives in the long run. The subject is tackled skillfully, letting the details unravel slowly before your eyes, and all the while you know from history that the killer was never caught. Movies don’t always need a definite resolution to be good, and this is an example of that. I’ll also add that it has a great soundtrack, thanks to this movie I can’t listen to Donovan’s song “Hurdy Gurdy Man” without thinking of the Zodiac killer.

2. Seven (1995)
Starring: Morgan Freeman, Brad Pitt, Kevin Spacey, Gwyneth Paltrow
IMDb rating: 8.7
Rotten Tomatoes score: 79%

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Seven is the film that allowed Fincher to really make a lasting impact on cinema, being the first good movie he directed since his rather unsuccessful debut with Alien³. It’s a thriller that stuck with me throughout the years, and often times, I find myself comparing other serial killer thrillers to this one for some reason. It’s a movie that is full of clichés, but manages to balance them out with a good script, some great actors, and particularly skillful stylized filmmaking. Full review here.

3. Fight Club (1999)
Starring: Edward Norton, Brad Pitt, Helena Bonham Carter, Meat Loaf
IMDb rating: 8.9
Rotten Tomatoes score: 80%

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Fight Club is one of those movies I can watch over and over again, and trust me, I have. Maybe there are other movies that deserve this spot more than this one, but my own personal bias won’t allow it. Fight Club is something that people either love, or they don’t understand the hype. I belong to the former group. I don’t know what it is about this one. Maybe it’s the weird humor, the anarchic message, or the fact there’s a bunch of guys kicking the crap out of each other with their shirts off. Whatever the reason, I’ve loved it for a long, long time. It’s a very stylish film, from the camera work to the editing, but it all works well in a story where the main character finds himself in a world of chaos, breaking away from the status quo via the amazing Tyler Durden.

4. The Social Network (2010)
Starring: Jesse Eisenberg, Andrew Garfield, Justine Timberlake, Armie Hammer
IMDb rating: 7.8
Rotten Tomatoes score: 96%

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I’m not really a huge fan of Facebook and for some reason, a movie about it just didn’t appeal to me at all, but I went to see it anyway, and man, was I surprised. Fincher took a subject I couldn’t give two shits about, told me a story I didn’t care to know, and actually made me like it. A lot of credit has to go to Aaron Sorkin for his witty script and clever dialogue, but this movie as a whole intrigued me. I have no idea if the real Mark Zuckerberg is anything like how Jesse Eisenberg played him, but I don’t even care. He was perfect for it. I hated him just as much as I liked him, and that is something I don’t feel very often. Andrew Garfield was also amazing, and even Justin Timberlake surprised me. Whenever this movie comes on TV I find myself watching it even though I’ve already seen it a bunch of times, it’s just one of those kind of movies.

5. Gone Girl (2014)
Starring: Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike, Carrie Coon, Tyler Perry, Neil Patrick Harris
IMDb rating: 8.6
Rotten Tomatoes score: 87%

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Gone Girl is one of the best adaptations from a book I’ve seen in a long time. The story is engaging, Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike give a couple of memorable performances. It’s a dark story, and there are elements to it that are outrageous, but even so, it’s a story that is somewhat relatable. One of the main themes is that marriage is tough, and I think that’s something a lot of people can relate to. It’s a movie I enjoyed for a lot of reasons, and is possibly one of my favorites from this year so far. If you want, you can read my full review of Gone Girl here.

6. The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (2011)
Starring: Daniel Craig, Rooney Mara, Christopher Plummer, Stellan Skarsgård
IMDb rating: 7.9
Rotten Tomatoes score: 86%

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Another solid book adaptation by Fincher. Based on the book by Stieg Larsson, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo deals with a lot of seriously dark themes, including rape and murder. It’s definitely a lot darker tonally than Gone Girl, but the reason I think Gone Girl was better was that it had a more relatable story, and the film engages its audience with the characters on an emotional level a lot better than this, but both are similar in some ways. I have to say that the performances here are indeed amazing. I couldn’t tell Rooney Mara could play a part like this just by seeing her in the one short scene she had in The Social Network, but she pretty much blew me away. I was skeptical about this movie at first, because it seemed cheap to remake a movie so soon after the Swedish version came out, but I’ve seen both, and this one is infinitely better. Stylishly, the film fits the tone of Larsson’s novel really well. But that’s not surprising, as Fincher proves time and time again what he can do with some dark material.

7. The Game (1997)
Starring: Michael Douglas, Deborah Kara Unger, Sean Penn, James Rebhorn
IMDb rating: 7.8
Rotten Tomatoes score: 71%

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The Game is a well-made movie with a really intriguing story…right up until the end. Actually, the ending is really the main problem I have with this film. It starts out as a thrilling story of a wealthy businessman who gets sucked into playing a seemingly wicked game, turning everyone he meets into a person he cannot trust, not that he had anyone to trust in the first place. It has a great premise, but falls flat towards the end. Of course, I don’t want to spoil it for anyone who hasn’t seen it, but I will just say, it’s a little disappointing and kind of strange. I will say that the journey and the mystery is absorbing and exciting, almost to the point of frustration–good frustration–and I certainly can’t take that away from it.

8. Panic Room (2002)
Starring: Jodie Foster, Kristen Stewart, Forest Whitaker, Jared Leto
IMDb rating: 6.8
Rotten Tomatoes score: 76%

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Panic Room is actually a pretty engaging thriller. The only reason it doesn’t match up to Fincher’s other thrillers for me is that it’s just very, very simple. Not that that’s necessarily a bad thing, it’s just that I find movies more memorable when they are juggling different themes, or making you think in one way or another. That sounds incredibly pretentious and I almost feel bad for saying it, but it’s true. This is just pure entertainment, a sit down and turn your brain off kind of movie. Jodie Foster gives a solid performance, and so does Jared Leto with his…weird cornrows. Kristen Stewart, for once, isn’t terrible, so that’s always a plus. Pretty good entertainment all around.

9. Alien³ (1992)
Starring: Sigourney Weaver, Charles S. Dutton, Charles Dance
IMDb rating: 6.4
Rotten Tomatoes score: 43%

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It’s kind of unfortunate that David Fincher’s feature-length directorial debut was a sequel, and a third sequel at that. It seemed way out of place for an Alien movie, it stopped being an awesome space horror movie and turned into some kind of dark, prison thriller that just happened to have a murderous alien in it. I’ve read, though, that Fincher had basically no control over the movie creatively, the script was constantly changing and production was a mess, and that’s a big reason why it turned out the way it did. He was so upset about it, he didn’t want to read another script until he happened to come across the script for Seven three years later and used it as a chance to redeem himself. Although it’s nowhere near as good as Alien and Aliens, it really wasn’t that bad. It’s bearable at best, but not really definitive of Fincher’s work.

10. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008)
Starring: Brad Pitt, Cate Blanchett, Tilda Swinton, Taraji P. Henson
IMDb rating: 7.8
Rotten Tomatoes score: 72%

curious case of benjamin

Let me just say that this isn’t exactly a bad movie even though I’m putting it last. It’s last because it was a personal disappointment. Based on F. Scott Fitzgerald’s short story, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button tells a very unique kind of tale of a man who is born old and grows young. It had a lot of potential it just didn’t live up to for me, and I was really looking forward to seeing it before it came out. It suffers from being extremely overlong, clocking in at nearly three hours. While the first half of the movie wasn’t too bad, the second half dragged on and on forever with seemingly no purpose. It failed to make me feel a connection to the characters and to the story even though it tried really hard to be melodramatic. It never delved any deeper than just being a story about a man and woman whose love is doomed to fail for obvious aging reasons. But with that said, it had some great visual effects and the acting isn’t terrible. I just sadly had more fun with Alien³ .

How would you rate David Fincher’s movies? Let me know in the comments!

Gone Girl (2014)

I was excited when I found out they were adapting Gillian Flynn’s novel, Gone Girl, into a movie. This is a book I came across two years ago, and I flew through in about two days, because it was really that good. I wasn’t sure how well the story would fare on the big screen, though, important story elements of a lot of good books end up lost in translation. However, this is one of the best adaptations I’ve seen in quite a few years, and that is obviously due to the great direction by David Fincher and the fact that Flynn wrote the screenplay herself, not to mention, this pairing is perfect.

If anyone is familiar with Gillian Flynn’s other novels (Sharp Objects and Dark Places), you know she’s got a pretty twisted mind, and David Fincher seems to have been drawn to this kind of material since he first started directing. Author of dark stories meets director of dark movies, it’s really a match made in a twisty, screwed up version of cinema heaven. Gone Girl is a thrilling story that explores the deep, dark side of a modern marriage and turns it into a murder mystery where you’ll find no one character is 100% reliable, and that secrets come to reveal themselves in interesting ways.

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Nick Dunne (Ben Affleck) returns to his home one morning on the day of his and Amy’s (Rosamund Pike) 5th wedding anniversary after spending the morning in a bar aptly named “The Bar” that he owns with his twin sister, Margot (Carrie Coon). When he walks in the door he finds that his wife is missing and there’s a coffee table flipped over with glass everywhere. Nick calls the police and Detective Rhonda Boney (Kim Dickens) and officer Jim Gilpin (Patrick Fugit) answer the call. When they start their investigation, they find that not everything is quite as it seems. Nick ends up in the spotlight as a possible suspect of Amy’s murder as information reaches the public that alludes to the idea that they had a far from perfect marriage before her mysterious disappearance, and that Nick isn’t exactly innocent in all things.

I’ve never jumped on the Ben Affleck hating bandwagon myself, but I will say that his performance in this movie is one of the best from him that I’ve seen in a while. I certainly did not picture him as Nick Dunne while reading the book, but he plays the character quite well. Nick, without giving much away, is a mixture of charming, idiotic, and sometimes, kind of an asshole. Affleck does a good job of bringing this multifaceted character to life.

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Rosamund Pike, who I have never seen in a leading role before, showcases her talents as Amy, a character whose life the audience comes to know through her diary, as well as from Nick’s perspective. She’s a woman who has been idealized by her own parents, through their successful book series Amazing Amy, a fictional side of her own self she will never live up to. After her disappearance, she becomes even more idealized. After all, she is now a poor victim of possible domestic abuse and murder. Just as there are different sides to Nick, however, there’s even more so for Amy. Pike is a brilliant choice for this role, again, someone I never pictured, but who fits it more perfectly than I could have imagined.

I also have to give a couple of honorable mentions to Tyler Perry as Nick’s lawyer, Tanner Bolt, as well as Carrie Coon as Margot Dunne. Tyler Perry, while not playing the most serious character in this movie proved he could still pull off more serious than Madea, and that’s a pretty worthy accomplishment I think. Carrie Coon is the sassy and overprotective sister who I would probably get annoyed with quick if I were married to Nick Dunne, no doubt about that. Neil Patrick Harris, on the other hand, seemed a little out of place compared to everyone else. I love him and everything but the part he played in this was just weird to say the least. Maybe I’m just too used to seeing him as Barney in How I Met Your Mother.

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I’ve been seeing numerous other people praising the score by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, and that’s not surprising. It’s often haunting and it fits the tone of the movie so well. There’s a part towards the end of the movie where some serious shit goes down, and the music actually gave me chills.

Aside from pointing out some very common, and also not so common downfalls of marriage, Gone Girl accurately portrays the role the media plays in situations like this. The media is so quick to point fingers at anyone without knowing all of the facts, and the general public tend to flock to the most popular opinion generated by the media. It doesn’t matter if the suspect is guilty or not guilty, you’ll still have talk show hosts spouting their own biased opinions on air, and people taking to the streets holding signs, yelling “murderer” and praising the victims like they are some sort of martyred saints. It really shows the dark side of humanity in general.

Gone Girl is high up on my list of favorite movies from this year. It is brilliantly made thanks to David Fincher who is an amazing director, Gillian Flynn who wrote the script and the novel it’s based off of, along with some exceptional performances and a hauntingly composed score. The only thing I wish is that I hadn’t read the book two years ago, because I feel like this film would’ve been even better and more shocking if I hadn’t already known what was going to happen. So for anyone who has not read or seen Gone Girl yet and is thinking about doing one or both, I would say watch the movie first. You’ll be pleasantly surprised.

5/5