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Ghosties and Ghoulies and Things That Go Bump

by Moe - 1 Comment(s)

Okay, it's that time of year-when we offer up some more choices to help keep you up at night.

First up and one I highly recommend is Jekyll, starring the talented and versatile James Nesbitt. This is yet another excellent BBC mini series from 2007. It is one of those series that I started watching and all else had to wait. It is wicked great fun, with a tremendous ending. You may also know Nesbitt from Monroe and Murphy's Law, both of which CPL carries. And if you don't know him yet you will soon because Nesbitt is playing one of the dwarves in the big Peter Jackson production, The Hobbit.

Although it's never appealed to me it does to a lot of people- Paranormal Activity- we have one, two and three. Four is in the theatres just in time for Halloween. Interesting bit of trivia about PNA. Each of the films cost less than $5 million to make but the first 3 have grossed a combined $576 million worldwide. PNA Five anybody?

We have the original campy and popular 70's television series Barnabas/Dark Shadows and there are a lot of them from which to choose. The remake by Tim Burton, Dark Shadows is new on our shelves. It is only for die hard Depp/Burton fans- which I am not. Depp yes, Burton not so much. There are some other Depp/Burton pairings that I like better, that you can access down at the bottom of this post. John Cusack I do like and you might want to take a look at The Raven. Cusack plays Edgar Allen Poe, aiding the Baltimore police in solving some gruesome crimes that appear to be based on his stories. Woman in Black with Mr. Harry Potter - Daniel Radcliffe- is a fairly decent gothic horror story.

Now another remake that I really did like is Fright Night . With Colin Farrell as your next door neighbour you'd think all would be good- you'd be wrong. Watch for the scene with the Century 21 sign. It is equal parts macabre and hilarious.

Latest installment in the Vampires versus the Lycans saga- Underworld Awakening. I really liked the first installment in this quadrilogy, especially that tremendous fight scene at the end between Beckinsdale and Nighy. This latest one I found was only so so. Two (Evolution)is okay and three (Rise of the Lycans) is not bad. However, they have left it wide open for another sequel, but it'll need an infusion of fresh blood.

The Walking Dead is very popular and we have season one. Season two just started last weekend on tv and those that saw it say it was very good.

Just spoke to our crack team of 'Selectors' and I am really happy to tell you that we are getting Abe Lincoln Vampire Hunter. I was going to pass on this at the theatres this summer and wait for it to come out on dvd, but I ended up going when the one I really wanted to see was sold out. I thought it was great fun, and deserved more attention than it got- great CGI's, lots of jumps and giggles, a very convincing plot (once you accept that Abe Lincoln really was a vampire hunter, not just a president). There is a truly evil vampire master played to perfection by Rufus Sewell. And the best train heading towards a burning trestle action sequence that I have ever seen. Can't link this one yet, but keep checking our catalogue.

The Mist by Stephen King is actually better than you would think given the rather shaky start. Stick with it past the first appearance of a rubberized tentacle, and you are in for a pretty darn good movie. It has a really strong performance by Marcia Gay Harden and an ending that surprised and challenged me.

Still need some more choices? Follow theses links to see some previous Halloween posts---one, two and three, another one entirely devoted to Stephen King and some Gotchas! Oh man, I just love being scared.

Now, if you like your monsters in print as well as on the screen, let me recommend a wonderful YA trilogy by Rick Yancey. It is the Monstrumologist, Curse of the Wendigo and The Isle of Blood. It has two of the most memorable characters I have read recently- Dr. Pellinore Warthrop and Will Henry. I spent many enjoyable hours reading them, and almost as many imagining who would be the best choices to play the characters if they ever turned the books into movies. And these are books that are just begging to be turned into movies.

And what would Halloween be without Frankenstein?

Johnny D & John C

by Moe - 1 Comment(s)

Whenever I think 'quirky', two actors come to mind. One is Johnny Depp and the other is John Cusack. Both have been around for a lot of years, both are highly versatile and both can be counted on to give solid performances---especially in very offbeat films. It's interesting to see that both also have new releases in the theatres at the moment. The Raven is loosely based on Edgar Allan Poe's poem of the same name and features Cusask. Dark Shadows is a re-imagining of the 1966 TV cult classic and features Depp as an imprisoned vampire, Barnabas Collins. Truth be told, I will give both of these a pass until they come out on DVD, but we have lots of other Depp and Cusack titles that showcase their talents.

Forget the mainstream Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, we've all seen and enjoyed them, and try these from Depp: Edward Scissorhands, Rango, Don Juan DeMarco, Benny and Joon and the wonderful and truly strange Ed Wood. We also have the original tv series that launched his career and made him the heartthrob of most North American teens---21 Jump Street. I recently watched The Rum Diary and although not a great film it did qualify as mildly quirky, is well acted, and had more than enough to keep me with it.

Cusack has never really been main stream, or at least not since his days as a member of the brat pack in the 80's. Try him out in what is likely one of the most bizarre movies ever---Being John Malcovich. Also Grosse Pointe Blank and the same roll reprised in War Inc ---written by Cusack---and yes that is him doing his own stunts-he has a black belt in kick boxing.

Now to end this post, let me say that the two Johns have in their filmography to my mind several VERY scary movies. 1408 with Cusack just scares the milk and cookies out of me every time I watch it- and I can't stop watching it. And Depp is often at his best when he plays the 'in over his head' protagonist like in Sleepy Hollow. Also, From Hell (a Jack the Ripper retelling-very bloody and dark) and Secret Window.

Gothic

by Moe - 2 Comment(s)

I decided to take advantage of the free tickets we were offering to the new Daniel Radcliffe movie, The Woman in Black, and send myself. I enjoy a good gothic ghost /horror story, but mostly I was interested in seeing how Daniel acquits himself post Harry Potter. I am a fan of the Potter movies (well, most of them), but I always thought that Daniel, as Harry was – well--- a little one dimensional. I am not sure if this was his young age and total lack of experience when starting, the direction he was given, or his style. So I was eager to see this performance..

As I said I like gothic, but I am coming to the conclusion that if you’ve seen about five, you’ve likely seen them all! Madwomen in the attic, tormented spouses, angelic faced children, and souls that simply refuse to cross over. So it was really no surprise that the plot followed a pretty well traveled trajectory. Daniel was convincing enough playing 'tormented spouse' and I could believe he had a four year old child. However, as the story progressed and the inevitable ‘gotchas’ occurred, I kept on looking around for Hermione, Ron and a wand to make an appearance to help get him out of the situation. My conclusion- he was- well---a little one dimensional.

Here is a review from someone else who saw the movie:

I scored a couple of your free passes to Woman in Black- thanks for the chances for these and you asked people to write if they went to it, so just thought I’d write what I thought of it. I haven’t seen a lot of movies like this- usually lots more horror kind of stuff but it did a pretty good job of scaring me anyways. I thought Radcliffe was pretty good- he was kind of creepy too. And I liked the ending- I guess there was really only two ways it could end and I kind of guessed wrong, so it surprised me. If you like being kind of scared, but don’t like the real gross stuff this is pretty good fun.

For a few more gothic choices, try any of these from our collection.

The Innocents- based on the Henry James story, Turn of the Screw.

Jane Eyre- there are many versions but I like the original with Orson Wells and Fontaine from 1944 or the 1986 with Ciaran Hinds and Samantha Morton. You’ll know Hinds when you see him- he is actually also in The Woman in Black.

Wuthering Heights-again, lots of versions to choose from

Rebecca- the best one is with Olivier and Fontaine and directed by Hitchcock.

Gaslight- with Ingrid Berman and Charles Boyer.

Frankenstein-the version that is most true to the original Mary Shelley literary creation happens to also be my fave version - it is with the multi talented Kenneth Branagh who wrote, directed and starred and the monster is played convincingly by Robert deNiro. From 2004.