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Feb 182014
 

Based on the horror novel, Stephen King’s It is about an evil entity called Pennywise (Tim Curry) that terrorizes children in the town of Derry, Maine. Pennywise can take many forms, but the most common is a clown with scary demon fangs and claws. FYI, this is the first horror film I have ever seen where young kids get killed. Something about that just isn’t right when compared with other horror movies.

The protagonists are a group of friends, Bill (Jonathon Brandis), Ben (Brandon Crane), Beverly (Emily Perkins), Richie (Seth Green), Eddie (Adam Faraizl), Stan (Ben Heller), and Mike (Marlon Taylor). They’re all misfits at their school, which labels them as the Losers Club. Each one has a troubled background and have been acquainted with Pennywise. Surprisingly, no one else sees Pennywise or any of the obvious puddles of blood he leaves behind. I mean, it. Sorry, that gets confusing sometimes.

Pennywise isn’t the only enemy the Losers Club has to deal with. The school bully Henry Bowers (Jarred Blancard) and his gang have picked on each of them. These bullies are so brutal and murderous it’s actually a good thing that Pennywise attacked them.

I admit this movie is long. It was actually divided into two parts. Part one was mostly back-story when the Losers Club got together and defeated Pennywise for the first time. Thirty years later, Pennywise has returned and Mike (Tim Reid) calls all of his old friends to return. One by one, each of them thinks back to those frightening memories, hoping to have left their old lives behind. Yet they all knew that returning to Derry was the right thing to do, no matter what anyone else tells them. Seriously, why is everyone so verbally brutal?

Part two is when the Losers Club gets back together in Derry. Mike, Bill (Richard Thomas), Ben (John Ritter), Eddie (Dennis Christopher), Beverly (Annette O’Toole), Richie (Harry Anderson), and Stan (Richard Masur) are all adults now and Pennywise still appears every now and then to terrorize them. And of course, no one can see or hear him. I mean, it. Man, I keep doing that.

As it turns out, Henry Bowers (Michael Cole) did survive and Pennywise asks for his assistance to kill the Losers Club since they both have the same enemies. You’d think after 30 years, Henry would have left his bullying days behind him, but he didn’t. This time Henry and Pennywise work together, but is it really a partnership when teaming up with IT?

It’s nice to know that the Losers Club are such a tight knit group, but sometimes when they share their memories with one another it gets a little too personal and drags out into more flashback scenes. Is that really necessary?

Eventually, the Losers Club heads down in the sewer to face Pennywise again to make sure that he stays dead this time. Unfortunately, there’s another wrinkle. Bill’s wife Audra (Olivia Hussey, who I remember best as Juliet from Romeo & Juliet the 1968 version) has followed Bill to Derry and now Pennywise has her. Is this clown relentless or what.

This was an interesting and scary film. There was no mention of where Pennywise came from, only that IT has been around for a long time and knows how to leave a calling card. Somehow I can see a similarity between Pennywise and Freddy Kruger when it comes to their terrorizing methods. Who do you think is scarier?

Dec 202013
 

Yep, that’s right. Just when I thought I had covered each movie version of A Christmas Carol, I find more interesting titles. Does anyone remember these?

Scrooge (1935): This one may be “older than dirt”, but there is some interesting trivia about it. For example, this was the first version to have sound since the very first version of A Christmas Carol was produced back in the silent movie era. One thing I don’t understand is why Jacob Marley was completely invisible when he visited Scrooge (Seymour Hicks). Marley’s face was on the haunted knocker and you could hear his chains rattle when he moved around. I guess it was meant to sound mysterious.

A Christmas Carol (1938): This version has quite a few differences like; Scrooge’s (Reginald Owen) nephew Fred (Barry MacKay) always enjoying a good slide on the ice, Bob Cratchit (Gene Lockhart) getting fired, and Scrooge summoning the authorities when Jacob Marley (Leo G. Carroll) arrives. Of course they don’t see him. One thing is odd though. Scrooge’s old love interest Belle is not featured.

A Christmas Carol (1951): Now this was a good version that expands on Scrooge’s (Alastair Sim) past and the special effects of all the ghosts were neat for it’s time. No wonder it was ranked as an old classic.

A Christmas Carol (1969): Here’s an old version I found out about not too long ago. It’s pretty mediocre except for Jacob Marley as a skull faced phantom with creepy wild hair. And why does Scrooge use snuff to make himself sneeze? I don’t see how that applies to the story.

The Stingiest Man in Town (1978): This special is narrated by a humbug named B.A.H. Humbug Esquire. He stumbles around as he tags along with Scrooge (voice of Walter Matthau) during the ghostly journey.

Speaking of the Christmas ghosts, Jacob Marley on the haunted knocker isn’t as creepy in this version as he was on Disney’s A Christmas Carol, but a close second.

1978-toon-grave

And on top of that, during the climax when Scrooge sees his name on the tombstone, a scary devil emerges from it. Even though it was very brief, don’t you think that’s a little too intense for a family Christmas special?

A Christmas Carol (1994): I can tell that this version was highly focused on a children’s level. The only thing that really stuck out was that the voice of Scrooge sounded a lot like Tweeg from Teddy Ruxpin. Apparently, it’s not the same voice actor.

A Christmas Carol (1997): Tim Curry stars as the voice of Scrooge in this straight-to-video musical. Scrooge has a dog named Debit, who goes with him on his spiritual journey, at least part of it. What really makes this version interesting is that his nephew Fred performs a song called Santa’s Sooty Suit. It is both funny and catchy. This is one of very few versions of A Christmas Carol to actually mention Santa Claus as a reference.

Bah, Humduck! A Looney Tunes Christmas (2006): I do recall an older Looney Tunes special based on A Christmas Carol where Yosemite Sam was Scrooge, but this feature has Daffy Duck as the greedy miser, who runs a superstore. Bugs Bunny warns Daffy about the ghosts of Christmas coming for him if he doesn’t change his ways, but does Daffy listen?

These holiday specials just keep getting better and better, don’t they. Happy Holidays!

Sep 202013
 

There have been quite a few movie versions of Treasure Island, but I’d have to say that my most favorite is Muppet Treasure Island. Young orphan Jim Hawkins (Kevin Bishop) and his friends Gonzo and Rizzo work at an inn and dream of going on adventures out at sea like Jim’s father did before he died. They soon get their wish and more when pirates come after them.

According to Billy Bones (Billy Connolly), Pirate Captain Flint had his crew bury his treasure on an island before killing them. Bones actually has the map and gives it to Jim for safekeeping, but warns him of the one legged man. Oddly, Bones doesn’t mention his name.

Mrs. Bluberidge (Jennifer Saunders) the owner of the inn is hilarious when she easily responds to people’s conversations when she isn’t even in the room. “How does she do that?” How, indeed.

After escaping the pirates at the inn, Jim, Gonzo, and Rizzo find young Squire Trelawney (Fozzie) and he agrees to finance the voyage to find the treasure. When it comes to making decisions, Trelawney relies on Mr. Bimbo, a man that lives in his finger. I don’t see how having a man living in a bear’s finger is significant, but the gag runs throughout the movie.

Leading the voyage is Captain Abraham Smollett (Kermit) and First Mate Samuel Arrow (Sam the Eagle). The rest of the assembled crew are pirate-like. Meanwhile, Rizzo invites other rats on board the ship as if it were a vacation cruise. It must be tricky having both the ship crew and the tourist group coinciding with the voyage.

Jim, Gonzo, and Rizzo work as cabin boys with the ship’s cook Long John Silver (Tim Curry). Long John has one leg, which means that he could be the pirate Billy Bones mentioned, but Long John seems to be a nice guy, especially towards Jim. Long John has a soft spot for Jim, even if he is a master manipulator.

Statler and Waldorf are featured as talking figureheads on the front of the ship. It’s the perfect place for them to do their usual heckling gags when it’s convenient.

Once arriving at the island, Smollett discovers that his ex-fiancé Benjamina Gunn (Miss Piggy) rules a group of native pigs. Since leaving her at the altar, Benjamina has been involved with Captain Flint, among other pirates. That’s just crazy.

Later there’s an exciting pirate battle on the island. I never would’ve thought these Muppets were such good sword fighters. Did anyone notice the Miss Piggy tattoo on Smollett’s chest?

This certainly was a good movie filled with adventure, comedy, and Muppets. It’s unlike many other Muppet movies because it doesn’t focus on show business, but still keeps its charm as a musical movie.

Apr 042012
 

Congo is an adventure story, which takes place in the jungles of Africa. Professor Peter Elliott (Dylan Walsh), a primatologist, teaches a gorilla named Amy to talk with an electronic glove. Amy misses the jungle so he’s taking her back with the help of a safari expedition led by Captain Munro Kelly (Ernie Hudson). I think I saw the classic Doom game on Professor Elliott’s computer.

Joining him on the expedition is electronics expert Dr. Karen Ross (Laura Linney) because she is on the search for her fiancé Charles Travis (Bruce Campbell), who was lost in that same jungle.

Tim Curry is funny in this film as Herkermer Homolka. Although his purpose is to help Professor Elliott return Amy to the jungle, his true intention is to find the lost city of Zinj, which is only a myth, or is it. The most memorable scene was when the safari had to jump out of the plane as it flies over the jungle. “Push me, please.” Then it’s Dr. Elliot’s turn. “You want me to push you too?”

The other safari members like to sing while they prepare for travel. It’s good to see that they’re a cheerful group, despite that they keep running off or getting killed, a couple at a time.

During the night while the safari travels by raft, hippos attack them. This was when I first learned that hippos are very dangerous and territorial.

The safari continues to reduce as the expedition continues forward and they soon discover that the lost city of Zinj is real and so are the legendary killer apes. Those apes sure are brutal. They can actually take out a man’s brain and throw it like a ball. Whoa, dude! Not even a baboon is that dangerous.

This is an exciting film. Even though the killer apes are monstrous, I don’t think this is any more of a “scary” movie than Jurassic Park or Men in Black.

Sep 212011
 

 

We all know about Tinkerbell and her adventures in Pixie Hollow. Back in the early 90s there was another village of fairies called Ferngully – The Last Rainforest. Everyone lives in harmony until a group of humans with a leveler arrive to cut down the forest.

An ambitious young fairy named Crysta (voice of Samantha Mathis) finds one of the humans in the woods; a city kid named Zak Young. Crysta accidentally shrinks Zak to fairy size. Now they have to get to Crysta’s mentor Magi to undo the spell.

Meanwhile, the leveler cuts down a thick tree and frees an evil creature called Hexxus (voice of Tim Curry). I never did understand what kind of a creature Hexxus is, but he’s a cool villain. Maybe he’s a demon of some sort?

Another cool character is Batty (voice of Robin Williams). He was a lab animal and the wires put into his head caused some comedic side affects in his mind. Batty has absorbed a lot of voltage, but he’s a helpful ally.

On their way to Magi, Zak shows some athletic jumping skills while trying to keep up with Crysta and Batty. The obstacles in the forest remind me of a video game.

Soon, Hexxus takes control of the leveler and uses it to attack Ferngully. Luckily he has a weakness. Hexxus feeds on toxins and pollution, which the leveler has lots of. Turn off the source and Hexxus goes with it. However, the task isn’t so easy when you’re the size of a fairy. It becomes exciting when Zak valiantly helps Crysta fight Hexxus.

This was a good film about how important rainforests are without sounding preachy. It’s really the fairy world that I find interesting because it represents epic fantasy adventure.