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Friday, January 29, 2010

The Changeling

     "The Changeling" is one of the best ghost stories ever filmed.  There.  I said it.  A killer chiller from 1980, it stars the great George C. Scott as a man coping with the sudden and tragic death of his wife and daughter.  In a state of terrible grief, he moves to Washington state and rents an old mansion recommended from the Historical Society. At first glance, the house comes across as quite spooky, and it's not long before shit gets downright scary.

     This movie rocks.  This is the perfect ghost story.  .  It's full of classic haunted house cliches- the dark and windy nights, the cobwebbed stairs, the bumps in the night- it all works extremely well here.  "The Changeling" is hands down one of the best ghost stories of all time.  For a relatively small budget in 1980, this movie has far more imagination than any CGI-infested ghost flick today. Director Peter Medak creates incredible suspense here and a startling sense of dread- all with virtually no special effects.  It's all in the mood.  "The Changeling" positively reeks creepy atmosphere- and I dare you not to be scared when George C. Scott finally sees the "ghost".  Oh and this movie contains the most terrifying seance ever put on film.  Seriously.  It's a truly frightening scene that's masterfully carried out and packs a wallop.

      You can possibly see the influence of "The Changeling" in the American version of "The Ring"- Naomi Watts trying to unravel the mystery of the dead child is very similar in some aspects to George C. Scott and his story.  Sadly, many audiences today just can't relate to a slow-burn kind of movie like this one.  It moves a bit more slowly and surely- and once things are in full swing, you're totally committed and sucked in.  Interestingly enough, this movie works best watching it alone.  I've tried showing it to friends, and they just found it boring.  But alone, especially at night, with the dark quiet surrounding you- "The Changeling" is far more powerful.

       This is one of the scariest movies I've ever seen.  Writer Russell Hunter has said that "The Changeling" is based on his own personal experiences he had while living in the Henry Treat Rogers Mansion in Denver.  Martin Scorsese is a huge fan of  "The Changeling"- it's on his list of the scariest movies ever.  Stephen King has also praised the film. "The Changeling" ranked #54 on Bravo's 100 Scariest Movie Moments, and it most definitely deserves a spot on that list.  So, on that note, rent "The Changeling" from Netflix on a dark and stormy night.  Turn out the lights, settle down on the sofa, and enjoy a frightfully fun ghost story!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Alice, Sweet Alice

 ALICE, SWEET ALICE tells the story of a young Catholic girl named Alice, who's withdrawn and strange. When her younger sister (Brooke Shields) ends up brutally murdered during her first communion, all eyes turn suspiciously towards Alice. Is this strange young girl capable of cold-blooded murder, or is something more sinister going on? A then 19-year old Paula E. Sheppard does a sensational job as 12-year old Alice, who may or may not be deeply deranged. She is truly chilling in her role- there is something about her eyes...  it's an absolutely underrated and riveting performance.

    ALICE, SWEET ALICE is weird, haunting, and disturbing- a bonafide camp classic, being the big-screen debut of one Brooke Shields and all. If you're in the mood for a freaky Catholic 70's slasher that's extremely over-the-top and scary to boot, then this is the flick for you. Also known as COMMUNION, this is a nifty little shocker that's developed a strong cult following over the years. Guys,  I dig this movie. I dig this alot.

     There are some truly creepy scenes in this movie, and the mask the killer wears is super scary. It's obviously inspired by the classic DON'T LOOK NOW, but it certainly stands on its own. Such a weird little movie though! There's just something so eerie about those weird horror films from the 1970's, and ALICE, SWEET ALICE is right up there with the best of them.

      ALICE, SWEET ALICE seemed to get lost in the shuffle of 70's horror, and slowly over the years has gained a healthy cult status. So much in fact that it ranked #88 on Bravo's list of the Top 100 Scariest Moments in Movie History. It's extremely low budget, but once again it proves that you don't need tons of money to create a chilling atmosphere. Good, weird 70's cinema here, kids. Yes indeed.

Sunday, January 10, 2010


     "Dracula" was Universal's first horror movie with sound, and it was first released in February of 1931.  Bela Lugosi instantly became a superstar with his unforgettable turn as the legendary Count Dracula.  "Dracula" was so successful that it helped launch a long-running series of horror movies for the studio.  "Dracula" opens with a bang, as Jonathon Harker rides through the fog-shrouded Borga Pass in the Carpathian Mountains.  Upon arriving at Count Dracula's castle, a Gothic creepiness is firmly established and stays throughout the rest of the movie.  Combined with Lugosi's definitive Count, and with the outstanding set design, it's easy to see why "Dracula" set the prototype for all creature-features to follow- lots of cobwebs, foggy cemeteries,  creaking doors, and strangely enough, armadillos.  In this day and age, it's almost hard to understand the effect "Dracula" had on movie-going audiences.  But truly nothing like this had ever been seen before, and it terrified audiences all over the world. Lugosi set the prototype for all vampires to come.  This is the iconic vampire that we all grew up with.  From Bela Lugosi's magical portrayal of the Count came the Hammer films, Sesame Street's The Count, even Count Chocula.  It's an unforgettable role.  Count Dracula has been the most portrayed character in motion picture history.  "Dracula" ranked #79 on Bravo's list of the 100 Scariest Moments in Movie History.

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