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SAMSKARA IMPRESSIONS @ samskara.org is a personal website created as a chronicle of my day-to-day musings. All content, except otherwise noted, is copyrighted to me and may not be reproduced without written permission. Some content is copyrighted to their original owners and no infringement is intended and no rights implied. Content contained within are subject to fair use and used here either in whole or in part as a commentary only.



Posted On: 31 October, 2011 | Posted By: Samskara
Halloween Movies Review – Part One

I thought I’d offer my feelings on some scary or otherwise films for Halloween. This is sort of a short list with a bit of a review of why they’re scary or good. So here we go.

Van Helsing Title Screen

1) 2004 – VAN HELSING
View Official Trailer: [ HERE ]
Starring: Hugh Jackman, Kate Beckinsale, Richard Roxburgh, David Wenham, Shuler Hensley, Kevin J. O’Connor, Will Kemp, Elena Anya, Sylvia Collocca, Josie Maran, Alun Armstrong.

I just got through watching this only this afternoon. Is it scary? Not much but it does feature some of Universal’s most familiar monsters from their heyday. This is a retelling of sorts of the story of Dr. Van Helsing from the Dracula films. Hugh Jackman plays the titular character who this time out is a servant of The Vatican where priests, mullahs, Buddhist priests and other relgious scions work side-by-side to help rid the world of evil. That evil is in the form of monsters, namely Dracula, The Wolfman and Frankenstein’s Monster. Van Helsing is dispatched to Transylvannia to help the Valerius family to do away with the evil of Dracula and his wives who have been terrorizing the locals. Directed by Stephen Sommers (“The Mummy” and “The Mummy Returns”) this is a huges film in terms of one of those summer blockbusters, however, it is also funny. Comic turns come with David Wenham’s Carl, sidekick to Jackman, and the uber funny Kevin J. O’Connor as Igor. Whether you’re a fan of this kind of film or not you’ll find soemthing about it that might tickle your fancy. Jackman’s semi-nude scene at the end will likely have the ladies drooling.

The Thing title screen

2) 1982 – THE THING
View Official Trailer: [ HERE ]
Starring: Kurt Russell, A. Wilfred Brimley, Donald Moffatt, David Clennon, Keith David, David Masur, T. K. Carter, Richard Dysart, Charles Hallahan, Peter Maloney, Joel Polis, Thomas G. Waites, Jed The Dog.

John Carptener’s “The Thing”: This film has to be one of the scariest I’ve ever seen. Kurt Russell stars as Mac Ready a chopper pilot for an Antarctic science base. A dog from a Norwegian base comes into the camp and thus begins the rapid dispatching of the members of the team until only two are left. The movie is one of those rarities that can actually still make me jump at a certain part concerning a petrie dish and a probe. The other part that gets me is the parts with the dog. Jed the Alaskan Malamute is just so good in this. Having not received a ‘lick’ of acting in terms of animal actors, he leaves a lasting impression on one. I have the special edition of the DVD and there is an hour and a half long documentary of the making of the film from the perspective of the cast and crew. All in all a film worth watching…but not with the lights out. I tried that one night and it scared the crap right out of me. Ennio Morricone’s minimalist score doesn’t help either.

3) 1979 – ALIEN
View Official Trailer: [ HERE ]
Starring: Tom Skerritt, Sigourney Weaver, Veronica Cartright, John Hurt, Ian Holm. Harry Dean Stanton, Jones the Cat, Yaphet Koto.

Ridley Scott’s answer to Kubrick’s 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY. This is what happens when the needs of a big corporation get in the way of good sense. The inhabitants of a deep space oil refinery Nostromo are awakened by their computer to investigate a distress signal emanating from the surface of a planet called LV-426. When they find a derelect spacecraft with its pilot still at the controls with its chest exploded from the inside, I think it’s time to say sometimes man doesn’t need to go out there and explore. When a facehugger attaches itself to one of the astronauts and is brought back on board the ship, you just know its not a good thing. John Hurt has the distinction to have been the only man on screen to ‘give birth’ as in one of the most scariest and unanticipated moments in cinema history unfolds, a little thing bursts forward from Hurt’s chest and begins to systematically dispatch the members of the crew. THE THING owes a lot to ALIEN in the way that many of the moments in THE THING parallel Scott’s style and the dispatching of the other members of the cast for the one breakout. In this case, it’s Weaver as Ellen Ripley who has to do battle with the alien as the sole survivor of The Nostromo. Her final sleep led to …..

Aliens Title Screen

4) 1986 – ALIENS
View Official Trailer: [ HERE ]
Starring: Sigourney Weaver, Michael Biehn, Bill Paxton, Lance Henriksen, Paul Reiser, Carrie Henn, Jenette Goldstein, Mark Rolston, William Hope.

James Cameron continued on from where Ridley Scott left off. It’s 57 years later and Ellen Ripley and Jones the Cat are found by earth and she is in hot doo-doo. FAcing the heat of the loss of The Nostromo, Ripley has to go back to LV-426 or Acheron as it’s been named, to find out why a colony of 50 or so families of the Wayland-Yutani Corp have lost contact with Earth. Rpiley doesn’t go alone. She’s with a group of tough talking, and even tougher acting Colonial Marines who plan on hunting the little buggers down and eradicating them. Things get a little hinky when they discover only one survivor of the conlony left, a little girl named Newt. As the Marines are whittled down to only Hicks (Biehn) and Bishop (Henriksen), Ripley then has to steel herself to go back and rescue Newt and escape before the colony is nuked. It happens that Ripley and company make it back to The Sulaco, the Marine’s carrier, but not alone. The Mother of All Aliens (to use a SUPERNATURALism) is a bit pissed at Ripley for getting rid of her children and means to get Ripley. Our heroine succeeds and the universe is safe again….. Except from David Fincher and Jean-Pierre Jeunet. While not scary, ALIENS is solid on action and keeps the roller-coaster going until the end. Is it really a Halloween film? Not really. Just if you’re going to invest in ALIEN, then you should follow it up with ALIENS.

5) 1967 – THE FEARLESS VAMPIRE KILLERS
View Official Trailer: [ HERE ]
Starring: Jack McGowran, Roman Polanski, Sharon Tate, Ferdy Mayne, Iain Quarrier, Fiona Lewis, Alfie Bass, Jessie Robins, Terry Downs.

While not a horror film per se, it is a send up of those Hammer horror films of the fifties. Professor Abronsius is a failed lecturer who along with his dedicated assistant, Alfred (Roman Polanski), go to Transylvania in order to hunt down vampires. While in the small village where no one admits to having seen vampires despite the hanging garlic and crucifixes, we meet the Shagal family, including the luminous Sarah (Sharon Tate) who captures Alfred’s heart. she has a secret in that she’s a chronic bather and has been targeted by the head vamp, Von Krolock (Ferdy Mayne) in the non-existent castle on the non-existent mountain. The humorous part of the film comes in the latter half when toward the end, Abronsius spreads the horror he sought to destroy. This film is funny for all its sight gags and there is horror…just not the typical kind one would be used to. Please do not allow Mr. Polanski’s troubles stop you from seeing this gem. It truly is one of the rarities that is actually funny and doesn’t make any bones about it. The one downer in all of this film’s perfection is the late Sharon Tate who plays the hapless Sarah.

…. continued ….