Posts Tagged ‘ John Carpenter ’

They Live (1988)

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Ridiculous film with an interesting premise and a strong first act that quickly falls apart once the actual plot kicks in and all attempts at seriousness get tossed aside in favor of goofiness and stupidity. Was this meant to be so kitschy? And if so, why take the time and effort to make such a great, atmospheric, downright spooky and suspenseful first 15-20 minutes? Was it all a cruel joke on the part of the filmmakers to fool the audience into thinking they’d be watching something competently made, or did they just get lazy about a third of the way in and decide throwing the least amount of sensical scenes together and calling it a movie would be the  best way to go? I don’t understand.

Even the main character is great until he opens his mouth. He’s clearly more of a presence than an actor anyway, so why force him to act? Just give him a few stoic lines here and there ala Arnold Schwarzenegger and call it a day. Not hard. People won’t care. This isn’t a deep, emotional drama or anything. Not by a long shot. And what was with that **SPOILERS** fight scene near the middle between him and his reluctant cop buddy or whatever, god. **END SPOILERS** I’ve never seen anything so wacky in my life, and it just goes on and on. What were they thinking? Was it meant to be funny? And the film is full of such weird, idiotic moments of questionable humor and quality. Why put such bizarre, poorly thought out scenes like these in a film sporting such serious and important themes? Since when does the prospect of forced conformity and physical/psychological imprisonment gel with clunky, borderline slapstick comedy and goofy one liners? What in god’s name is going on here!?!? Arghh!

Overall, ugh. Like watching two different movies, the shorter first of which is great, while the second resembles something out of a children’s cartoon show. A shame. Avoid.

But, if you don’t believe me, you’re welcome to check it out for yourself here: They Live. Click the link! Stream the video! Obey!

 

Halloween (1978) – 3/5


Shockingly mediocre and extremely overrated. Terrible dialogue, shallow, one-dimensional characters, cheap to nonexistent scares, with a story that makes little to no sense and deaths so bloodless and vanilla plain that they’ll have you wondering whether Michael Myers actually killed any of his victims or just lulled them to sleep. And this is considered a “horror classic”? Why? The cinematography is pretty at least.  Mostly

I was so disappointed in this. It’s not downright terrible thanks to its aforementioned cinematography and its ability to create a general sense of growing unease as it plods along, and I get what the film was trying to do: establish that a killer is on the loose, but not have anything significant happen or any of the main characters realize what’s really going on until the last 20 minutes or so when they all suddenly start to die. It’s very Hitchcockian in a way, with its ever-growing suspense, and a clever idea overall. But the execution leaves a lot to be desired.

It’s not scary, for one. Even the intro, though interesting at first, was kind of a let down. Yeah, I get that it’s supposed to be this whole **SPOILERS** first person murder thing, **END SPOILERS** but given that you know nothing about who anyone is, and how quickly it all ends, it’s pretty ineffective scare-wise. And the “reveal” at the end of that sequence was kind of silly. **SPOILERS** The cute, innocent looking little kid did all that, really? **END SPOILERS**  Maybe such things were shocking when the film first came out, but nowadays, they’re just stupid. Same with how Michael Myers escapes from the hospital. It’s never explained just what in the hell **SPOILERS** he and the other patients were doing outside the institution in the first place. Did someone forget to lock a door or something? **END SPOILERS** Come on, just put in a line of dialogue explaining it. It’s not that hard.

And the rest of the film isn’t much better. The “scare” scenes just weren’t very scary. They’re shot very plainly, happen in a predictable, inexplicably bloodless manner, and the characters are so stupid and unlikable that you just don’t give a damn about what happens to them, or how. The dialogue feels like it was written by a 15-year-old girl, and none of these characters are even remotely sympathetic or show even the slightest bit of intelligence at any point. Who the hell **SPOILERS** gets completely undressed save her underwear in the middle of a stranger’s kitchen after accidentally spilling butter or whatever the hell on herself, then proceeds to parade around in said underwear for the rest of the movie as though being mostly naked in public, on Halloween night no less, were the most normal thing in the world? **END SPOILERS** Come on. Stupid.

And what girl decides **SPOILERS** to take her boyfriend to the house her friend is babysitting in and, finding no one home, thinks having sex with him there would be a great idea despite it, again, not being her house nor being occupied by anyone? What if the owners suddenly decided to come home? They’d not only find their child and her babysitter missing, but a complete stranger having sex with someone on their bed. **END SPOILERS**  Who the hell does that? Or did the writers intentionally make these characters shallow and inconsiderate so the violent deaths that inevitably befall them seem justifiable? Or is it just poor writing? Given the lack of depth of the rest of the film, I’d say the latter.

Overall, I didn’t like this movie. It’s not the worst film I’ve ever seen, and it has its moments, but it by no means lived up to its many decades of hype. Maybe it was unique and scary and groundbreaking at its time, but looking back, it just does not hold up. It’s not well written nor well acted nor well told, none of the characters are sympathetic or likable or even dislikable really; they’re just vanilla plain, much like Michael Myers himself.

The film is shallow and emotionless, with things happening without rhyme or reason, which, again, might have been gripping and scary and unique when it first came out, but just feels lazy and unimaginative today, especially when so many other films have gone on to do so much more with essentially the same formula. Heck, even the Rob Zombie remake was more interesting than this. It’s more violent and intense and brutal, and actually managed to scare the crap out of me at times. And the acting was much, much better. Say what you will about the overall quality of the remake, but the film delivered some very good scares at times.

Disappointingly overrated. Doesn’t hold up at all. Recommended only if you want to see what all the hype was about, and don’t mind being let down. Sigh.