Tuesday, October 29, 2013

My Five Favorite John Carpenter Films and my Number one Least Favorite

John Carpenter is one of my favorite directors and he definitely has one of the most accomplished careers of any director. Admittedly in the last 20 years his movies have been very hit and miss and only shadows of the quality of his past movies. In fact his latest movie 2010`s The Ward was his first feature film since 2001`s Ghosts of Mars, I just hope he puts out a couple more movies before he quiets for good. Anyways here are my top five FAVORITE John Carpenter movies and my number one LEAST favorite;

1. THE THING (1982)
 For me this is John Carpenters masterpiece. Its the perfect mixture of science fiction and horror, as well as being probably the best remake ever made. On top of that the special effects are some of the greatest practical effects i`ve ever seen. I could go on and on about how much I love this movie and everything about it but I think you get the idea.

2. Assault On Precinct 13 (1976)
 I have to give this movie credit for really being the Carpenter film that made me appreciate and realize how awesome his films are. This movie is one of his very early films and instead of a "horror" film its a brilliant thriller that doesn't hold back.

3. HALLOWEEN (1978)
 Halloween is just such a great horror movie in almost ever way. From its iconic soundtrack to its great Halloween season atmosphere this is a film that is a true classic.

     Another simply brilliant film. It has a amazing cast with Kurt Russel, Lee Van Cleef, Ernest Borgine, Donald Pleasence, etc. Then its title main character Snake Pliskeen is one of the coolest antiheroes since Clint Eastwoods "the man with no name" character. Not to mention the film is just great to look at, the art direction is just amazing.

5. THEY LIVE (1988) 
  What can I say I just love this crazy movie. Though really "They Live" is a great satire at its core (in a Dawn of the Dead sort of way) but its message doesn't get in the way of the film at all. Instead it succeeds in still being an enjoyable horror film with great dark comedic elements.

That about does it with my top 5 favorite Carpenter film unfortunately a couple that I really loved didn't make the list like The Fog, Christine, and Vampires. All three of those are just really great films that I highly recommend checking out as well. Unfortunately though John Carpenter has made some duds, since the beginning of the 90`s its been real hit and miss for his movies on one hand you have Vampires (1998) and In Mouth of Madness (1994) which actually are really good movies. Then you have Escape From L.A (1996) which I don`t think is that bad of a movie I just think it was forced to live up to impossible standards that audiences were giving it, which is one reason why I think most people despise it, but in my opinion I think its alright not anywhere near as good as New York but an OK movie none the less. Anyways the worst film ever done by John Carpenter is by far:

Most people will probably agree with me that this movie is Carpenters worst. Its just so bad and its really unfortunate because I feel like it could have been possibly been good. Instead its a lame science fiction film, with a lackluster story, uninspired acting, and really bad dialogue. Unlike with some of his other bad movies like Memoirs of an Invisible Man which is a pretty forgettable film but it at least has some funny moments and Village of the Damned which is a awful remake but does have a few good scenes, Ghosts of Mars has nothing and is one of those bad films that is so bad its hard to finish.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

The Vampire Bat (1933)

The Vampire Bat (1933)
Directed by: Frank R. Strayer
Written by: Edward T. Lowe Jr
Starring: Lionel Atwill, Fay Reagan, Melvyn Douglas 

   The Vampire Bat is actually one of my favorite Lionel Atwill movies and is a great little gem in regards to 1930s horror. Utilizing some great actors, creepy atmosphere, fantastic sets, and some dash's of  funny humor. I`ve also got to say its one of the  best movies in the public domain; along side films such as White Zombie, Carnival of Souls, and of course Night of the Living Dead. Of course not as good as those movie but its up there with them.

   The movie is set in the village of Klineschloss were locals are scared stiff of a "vampire" who is killing villagers and then draining them dry of their blood. This fear of the killer becomes so strong the people in the village start to become hysterical, which only gets worse when the Burgomaster and town doctor Otto Von Niemann (Lionel Atwill) declare it is officially a epidemic of vampirism. Only police inspector Karl Brettshneider remains skeptical of the "vampirism theory", though with the increasing body count and mounting evidence towards vampirism he doesn't know what to believe. Up until the epic and rather surprising climax were everything is reveled.

      One thing about The Vampire Bat is that its one of the best independent horror films of the 30`s. The sets alone are fantastic, though that mostly has to do with the fact that they were getting to use Universals European village sets at night when Universal wasn't using them, in fact if you think Lionel Atwills office looks familiar its because its the same interior sets from Universals "The Old Dark House". On top of having great set design director Strayer does a marvelous job at photographing the scenes and creating this great unique atmosphere that echoes influence from German Expression and other Universal horror films from that period. The point i`m trying to get at is it doesn't feel like a "cheap quikie" like it could have been, instead it utilizes all its resources and crafts a inspired period piece that holds up to films like Dracula and Frankenstein despite only having a fraction of the budget that they had.

       Not mention it has a really good cast. With the always great Lionel Atwill as the town doctor, Fay Wray from King Kong fame as his niece, and future Oscar winner Melvyn Douglas as police inspector Karl, Lionel Belmore who was the Burgomaster in Frankenstein plays the Burgomaster in this film (so they were recycling Universal sets as well as supporting actors I guess) and good ole Dwight Frye plays the slow odd Herman Gleib whose made a scapegoat for the killings, oh and not mention Robert Frazer from White Zombie has a small role in this movie as well. The cast alone is reason enough to check out this movie and if you like Lionel Atwill and haven't seen this movie there's even more reason now to check it out, cause personally its one of my favorites of his.

      Altogether The Vampire Bat is a great, well made early 30`s independent horror movie. Its a film that so easily could have been bad but wasn't and since its a "spooky old dark house" and "bats flying everywhere" type movie its a perfect movie for Halloween time. So if your a classic horror fan, I definitely recommend giving The Vampire Bat  a chance.