Category Archives: TV & Movies

Silver Bullet: Scary Horror Movies: One of the Best Werewolf Movies To Date

Silver Bullet comes from a story (Cycle of the Werewolf) by Stephen King, who also penned the screenplay. Not all of King's works translate as well to the screen as they made read on the page. This one, however, is very effective and remains a strong scare more than twenty years later. Getting better chills from the less-is-more theory, very little is seen of the werewolf until the end of the movie (revealing a less than believable costume, but more than decent for 1985). The story itself is a good one–it has intelligently written, well-fleshed out characters to help make this a memorable film.

Silver Bullet takes place in a small town. Marty (Corey Haim) is an eleven-year-old boy who's paralyzed from the waist down and gets around in a motorized wheelchair. He seldom gets along with his fifteen-year-old sister Jane (Megan Follows), who often feels she must bear the burden of always being responsible for Marty (who never seems to land in trouble). Gary Busey plays Uncle 'Red', Marty's trusted ally who builds him a custom motorcycle, aptly named The Silver Bullet. Uncle Red borders on alcoholic; he makes a great character with his very frank opinions and colorful language.

Small Town Werewolf Murders

Just before the 4th of July, people start turning up dead, including Marty's best friend. The murders do not go unnoticed and the town gets restless, but an attempt at vigilante justice goes sorely awry. Everyone starts locking their doors and staying off the streets, knowing there's "a killer out there." Only when Marty sneaks out at night to set off a stash of fireworks given to him by his uncle does he come face to face with the werewolf, shooting a firework in its eye before making his escape. Forced to ask Jane for help when Uncle Red won't listen, she finds herself searching around town for anyone with just one eye, finding the killer where she least expects. Both kids employ Uncle Red to have their silver chains melted down into a single bullet and at the next full moon, falling on Halloween, they wait, knowing the werewolf is coming for them.

Silver Bullet is a little unusual in its execution. Most werewolf movies are shown from the creature's point of view or at least take a large portion of the time to show the inner struggle of being a werewolf. Only one very short scene suggests the killer, initially, may know and fear what he'll do. But for the majority of the film, he appears to have no qualms about killing, even cornering and threatening Marty in daylight while in human form. This werewolf movie is all about painting the scariest werewolf imaginable–one that's just as scary when he's a man.

A Memorable and Scary Movie

The tense scenes (of which there are several) are all accompanied by music as effective as the Halloween theme. All the characters are well developed, making for an engaging movie. The characters are believable and the dialogue is often funny. Many may have nostalgia for this film, but it holds up remarkably well. The outfits and songs may date the film a little, but it's easily overlooked as the whole package is a genuinely fun, scary horror movie.

Slapshot Remains a Classic Sports Movie

Slapshot Remains a Classic Sports Movie

Slapshot defies expectations as a sports movie by avoiding clichés and the predictability of a big final game.

The story is about men who happen to be hockey players instead of working at the local mill. This allows screenwriter Nancy Dowd and director George Roy Hill to focus on characters with some hockey action. Unlike other by the book sports movies, “Slapshot” features a fascinating bunch of characters, each with their own personality.

A charismatic Paul Newman plays team leader Reggie Dunlop, a man with as many problems off the ice as on. Dunlop’s marriage to Francine (Jennifer Warren) is disintegrating and no amount of his charms can rectify the situation. The team’s lack of success on and off the ice also becomes an albatross around his neck.

The players are tough guys on the ice but struggle mightily against their female opponents at home, including Ned and Lily Braden’s (Michael Ontkean and Lindsay Crouse) on and off again relationship. Then, there’s Yvon Barrette’s hilarious Denis Lemieux, the nervous French goaltender and of course the Hansons (Jeff and Steve Carlson and David Hanson), three looney brothers who are as comfortable playing with toy cars in their hotel room as they are ramming over the opponent players on the ice.

It is this emphasis on the characters that distinguishes “Slapshot” from the typical sports movie that usually focuses on building up to a big final game. The hockey action relates to the team’s misfortune and to each individual player. That leads to some funny moments on the ice such as Dunlop taunting an opposition goaltender and Ned performing his famous striptease.

“Slapshot” has some clever writing and editing, like when Dunlop refers to the Hansons as a (expletive) disgrace. The next shot is of the announcer telling fans to get tickets to the next game, “we got entertainment for the whole family” just before someone gets hit in the head by a puck (courtesy of one of the Hansons).

The movie also nails the interplay between players in the dressing room. As a journalist, I have witness very similar camaraderie, even at the National Hockey League level. I remember some of the banter between players after a game in Toronto and the friendship within that dressing room. Not exactly things you hear on the television broadcast!

“Slapshot” remains as entertaining as when it was first released in 1977, combining humor on and off the ice with strong drama dealing with factory and team closures. It definitely measures up as one of the best sports movies, scoring a hat trick for audiences.

Slapshot Remains a Classic Sports Movie

Slapshot Remains a Classic Sports Movie

A Year in Provence: Comparing the Movie and Book: An author's humorous musings as an expatriate in France.

In the late 1980’s English author Peter Mayle, and his wife, decide to live out their fantasy –leave the harried and gloomy city world of London and move to the south of France. They’re no longer simply the dreamy tourists who must bid adieu after only weeks in the Mediterranean sun, but take the plunge to become inhabitants of a beautiful old stone cottage in the lush landscape of Provence.

Mayle, with intentions on writing a novel, produced instead a memoir of their first year as expatriates in a strange new land. The Mayles discover how to survive the collision between tourist expectations and the ways of an actual native while living A Year in Provence.

A Year in Provence – The Movie and the Book

While the book is divided into 12 chapters, one for each month of the year, the 1993 television mini-series is split into four blocks – one per season – and each block into the three corresponding months. Each month is 30 minutes long, a perfect 360 minutes to come full circle on their year-long French adventure.

The movie stars the late English actor John Thaw as Mayle and Lindsay Duncan as his wife. Although the movie has a slow start, the fun begins as soon as they arrive in France and partake in a beloved French tradition – eating.

The celebratory sights and sounds of corking wine, toasting flutes, slicing bread and plate after plate of meats, cheeses and delicate desserts parade through their table. As with any movie or book set in France, food and wine co-star and take the delicious focus off people at times. As one scene proves how much food takes center stage, Thaw’s Mayle stared blankly at his computer screen for a few moments before bellowing, “Honey – what’s for supper?”


The movie does a fine job of interpreting the memoir’s themes of language barrier, quirky neighbors, and becoming familiar with “Provence-time” –the time-frame when one may expect an actual appointment to be kept in laid-back, slow country life. Could be tomorrow, could be in a month – depends mostly on mood. For the Mayles, their frustration over this phenomenon was mainly over the huge project of remodeling their French cottage which took all year.

Their growing affection for the contractors and their losing struggle against a society’s tradition, forced the Mayles to let go of their accustomed rigid schedules and adapt to country life. Their entanglement into the personal lives of the workers and their community become a frequent source of simple absurdity as they communicated not just with language but with gestures and wine.

Living the Provincial Life

Mayle describes an episode where he searches for the French equivalent of gold – truffle mushrooms. Because this fungus grows underground, certain “hunters” use dogs or pigs to sniff them out. Mayle, in keeping a promise made to an English friend, goes through shady secret meetings with truffle “smugglers” to being heaved around the forest by an enormous sniffing pig to accumulate enough truffles to take back to London.

The Mayles spend much time enwrapped in the house remodeling, tracking down French fungi, trying to learn the old world way of wine-making and competing against the favorite village champ in a bocce ball shoot-out. One rarely sees Mayle doing any actual writing – expect for the time in September when he finally sits down to work and is seen blowing off the dust on his computer.

The end product of course is Mayle’s most popular and beloved work; a descriptively and lively narrative that casually captures the seemingly unhurried yet busy year in Provence as only a master storyteller can.

Great Gore Movies

Rather than make this a top 10 thing, I thought I'd just briefly review the best gore movies I've seen. Best is usually the most blood shed, although of course you have to take into account the comedy, originality and plot of a movie as well. I consider horror movies and gore movies to be generally a different genre with only a bit of overlap, so there are very few movies here that would be considered mainstream horrors. Obviously it goes without saying that you should make sure your watching the uncut versions of these movies, else you may be left pretty disappointed.

Braindead (aka Dead Alive) (1992)
This movie, set in New Zealand and directed by Peter Jackson of all people, is probably the most gory in terms of blood shed I've seen. The infamous lawn mower scene finale seems to be making this movie ever more popular as a cult classic. It has the record for the most fake blood ever used in a movie, and even has zombie sex, which soon results in a pretty horrific birth of a zombie baby.

The source of the zombie virus in this movie is none other than the Sumatran rat monkey. This hilarious looking creature was the product of what apparently happens when monkeys are raped by rats with the plague; although perhaps for practical reasons this was never actually filmed for the movie. Essentially the plot revolves around a man called Lionel trying to keep the zombies hidden whilst trying to pursue a normal life with his girlfriend. Unfortunately for him an animal stimulant gives them just the boost they need to escape and eat all the guests at his party.

The strong comedy element enhances the movie even further up the scale and another highlight would have to be the sight of Lionel's mother as a 3 storey tall monstrosity at the end.

Premutos (1997)
One of the few movies that could be said to rival Braindead in terms of sheer killing and gore has to be this German film. The English version suffers from some awful dubbing, so that does reduce the overall quality of it. Fortunately you can still enjoy this even if you do watch it in German and don't understand a word of it; and to be honest there isn't much speech in the 2nd half of the movie anyway, its pretty much non-stop killing during the last half an hour. In fact the body count is a very respectable 139, which is certainly more than Braindead.

The plot, such that there is, involves a farmer bringing the Demon Premutos back to life through the use of an old book he finds. The demon than possesses him and all hell brakes loose. Whilst this is happening in the bedroom, the family party in the room next door is soon interrupted and we get to watch in awe as the characters use various weapons to fight back.

I doubt many people will have even heard of this film, its strictly for gorehounds looking for something to rival the likes of Braindead. You can't say its a good movie, but the bloodshed is insane.

Waz (2007)
Somewhat following on a similar vein as the Saw movies, is this very dark, and quite disturbing movie. There isn't much of the in ya face gore to be found here, perhaps with the exception of the ending, which does contain a nice bit of torture. Overall the film likes to give you the suggestion of what is happening and leave the actual brutality of it to your imagination. It is this notion that actually makes it seem very disturbing, and although you may guess how it is going to end, it is still a good ending.

The story centres on a corrupt police officer investigating a serious of deaths, and the killer has left the equation w delta z on the mutilated bodies. They had all been tortured to the brink of death until they killed a loved one. As the story develops we learn that the officer is more personally involved in the case than he had been letting on.

Overall an engaging film that will soon suck you into its dark way of thinking.

Cannibal Ferox (1981)
There a loads of these niche cannibal movies around, but this has to be one of the best (along with Cannibal Holocaust). As you'd expect, this is set amongst the remote tribes found in the jungles of the amazon. A nice wide variety of gore in this one, including a human castration and several instances of real animal killing, which lead to It being banned in 31 countries to start with. I suppose therefore this is a rare one that actually has real gore in, rather than special effects. Just make sure you don't end up watching a cut version of this film by mistake.

We follow two groups of people in the jungle, one drug dealer group, and one college student group. The drug dealers are hiding in the jungle to avoid jail, and are forcing native tribal people to mine emeralds for them; the main incentive being the torture and death of any uncompliant natives. After they kill the daughter of the tribal chief, the natives decide to take revenge on the drug dealers, and unfortunately the college students stumble right in the middle of this mini-war.

I wouldn't watch this if your not prepared to see some animal butchering, but it isn't all that bad, and if you can cope with that you'll enjoy the movie.

Bad Taste (1987)
The first ever film directed by Peter Jackson; he shows us what he's capable of without any real budget for it. As with his later Braindead movie he chose to set this in his native New Zealand. Mostly the acting is pretty poor, but its a funny kind of poor, and does contain some very strange alien creatures, and naturally some gore.
Not one to be taken too seriously for its story, this is about a group of aliens that kill people in order to use them as meat in their fast food chain. The intergalactic monsters look like human's to start with, until they reveal what they really look like later on; and in the assault on the alien headquarters at the end we see the head alien fall victim to some chainsaw action.

Watch this one definitely for its hilarity, and whilst it does have some gut wrenching gore, somehow it just doesn't seem as full on as others in the genre.

Also check out these gore feasts:
Cannibal Holocaust
Black Christmas
Evil Aliens
Evil Dead
Zombie Flesh-eaters
Zombie Strippers (2008)

Upcoming Comic Book Movies: New Superhero Films on the Horizon

Over the past several years, it seems that movies based on comic book properties have completely overtaken Hollywood. With the success of films such as X-Men, Spiderman, Superman Returns, and Batman Begins, it is no wonder that Hollywood is snatching up the rights to just about everything comic book related. The past year alone has seen adaptations of the frightening graphic novel 30 Days of Night and Frank Miller’s incredible 300. This trend shows no signs of slowing.

There are a whole slew of new comic related films coming out in the near future, including some sequels, some prequels, and even a few newly acquired properties. Let’s look at some of the most anticipated comic book movies on the horizon.

  • The Incredible Hulk: Set to smash its way into movie theaters around the globe this June, The Incredible Hulk looks to be quite a departure from the 2003 comic adaptation starring Eric Bana and Jennifer Connelly. The new Hulk will feature Edward Norton as the tortured scientist/monster and Liv Tyler as his love interest Betty Ross. Fans can also expect to see a monstrous onscreen version of popular Hulk villain the Abomination.
  • Iron ManThis comic book favorite is finally a live action film with none other than Oscar nominated actor Robert Downey Jr. in the role of Tony Stark, the billionaire industrialist who creates the Iron Man armor. It is unknown whether Tony Stark’s alcoholism, one of the more intriguing subplots of the series, will make it into the film. With an actor as talented as Downey, one can only hope.
  • Hellboy 2: The Golden Army: Guillermo del Toro (Pan’s Labyrinth) returns to the director’s chair with this sequel to the 2004 hit starring everyone’s favorite big red kitten loving, cigar chomping, paranormal investigator. In this film, Hellboy must stop the Mythical World from returning to destroy and enslave the mortal realm. Ron Perlman, Selma Blair, and Doug Jones return as Hellboy, Liz Sherman, and Abe Sapien, top tier members in the BPRD (Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense).
  • Batman: The Dark Knight: In the sequel to Batman Begins, Batman tangles with Joker, his arch nemesis, for the first time. Christian Bale, Michael Caine, and Gary Oldman reappear in a movie that promises to be full of some very dark action. One of the more notable and tragic aspects of this film is that it was one of Heath Ledger’s last projects before his untimely death. Ledger plays the twisted and iconic Joker.

Plenty of other comic book films are in the works, too, including Wolverine, Captain America, and Watchmen. If Hollywood wants to make films appreciated by hardcore and casual fans alike, they must stay true to the source material. The coming months and years will show if they heed this warning.

2010: The Year of the Movie

2010 was a really bad year to be an Academy Award nominee, and a great year to be an audience member. Though all the nominees (a whopping ten!) this year were great films, a few stand out from the rest.

  1. The Social Network

Produced with a seductive, artful brand of undeniable generational appeal, The Social Network is about more than just Facebook: it beautifully depicts the modern adaptation of classic teen angst. Brilliant performances from the fast-talking Jesse Eisenberg and effortlessly cool Justin Timberlake help set this film apart amidst this year's selection of truly spectacular nominees. Lusty and almost dark, The Social Network is a cultural phenomenon delivered at exactly the right moment.

  1. The King's Speech

From its first few minutes, The King's Speech does not fail to satisfy. Equipped with a remarkable cast, the film unravels itself to become a truly endearing picture. Heartbreaking and triumphant, The King's Speech familiarizes King George VI's struggle to overcome a handicap when his country needed him most.

  1. Black Swan

This devastatingly beautiful psychological thriller, held together by Natalie Portman's intense and thrilling performance, will make it a memorable pick for IMDB reviewers and ballet fanatics alike. Portman's ballerina's mental struggle for perfection is nothing short of mesmerizing, and the creative special effects complete the film's sense of insanity.

  1. Inception

Refreshingly innovative and original, it is difficult to decide where to begin when describing Inception. It's complex, fast-moving story line will keep the viewer glued to the screen, while its stunning cinematography and truly talented cast garner it well-earned reviews.

  1. True Grit

Led by one of Hollywood's most respected outlaws and a fourteen-year-old girl tougher than nails, True Grit captures the do-or-die motif of the much-loved original American western movie.

  1. The Kids Are All Right

A movie for modern America, The Kids are All Right is not focused on a lesbian marriage but the picture of a contemporary family – broken, blended, and ultimately whole.

  1. Toy Story 3

A movie for the kid in all of us, Toy Story 3 is more than a beautifully crafted children's film: it's a celebration of how far animation has come in the past decade.

  1. The Fighter

Dreaming of greatness, but pushed toward failure by his problematic family, Mark Wahlberg stars in this film chronicling the story of a fighter with heart and talent: Mickey "Irish" Ward. However, lacking dimension and focus, the film falls just short of impressive.

  1. 127 Hours

Faced with the choice of death or self mutilation, this triumphant flick starring James Franco illustrates the power of human choice; a gut-wrenching film sure to keep you on the edge of your seat.

  1. Winter's Bone

An interesting take on the concept of dysfunctional family, Winter's Bone depicts the plight of one "good apple" growing up amongst rot.

What's Your Favorite Scary Movie? A look at the Scream Series

What frightens you more: A nightmare with a flesh burned man in a striped sweater or a serial killer with a knife wearing a ghost face mask? You can decide for yourself, but for many, nothing has been more horrifying, more chilling, and realistic, than being stalked by a killer in a ghost face mask in the horror movie hit Scream.

Although both Freddy Kruger and Ghostface were created by notorious slasher-film director, Wes Craven, Ghostface has presumed popularity in the scary movie genre due to Scream’s critically acclaimed success. Since the release of Scream in 1996, Scream 2 in 1997, and Scream 3 in 2000, the Scream trilogy has grossed over three-hundred million dollars. The numbers aren't the only proof that Scream is a box-office triumph; Scream changed the “rules” of the scary movie genre causing even more positive critical response.

Unlike the traditional scary movies, Scream created new rules for surviving: Don’t have sex, never say “I’ll be right back”, never ask “Who’s there?”, and finally, never investigate a strange noise. All of these rules clashed with the conventional horror films, Friday the 13th, Psycho, and Nightmare on Elm Street. 

Scream 2 changed the guidelines even more with the new rules of a horror movie sequel: expect the body count to be bigger, anticipate the murder scenes to be more bloody and elaborate, and never assume the killer is dead. But with the release of Scream 3, the rules changed once again and the audience learned that all bets are off in a trilogy. These rules altered scary movies and Scream created its own category in the horror genre.

So what are the rules in the fourth installment of the Scream series? Slasher-film fans will find out this Friday, April 15th when Ghostface returns to Woodsboro ten years later. Ghostface isn't the only one returning however. The original cast members Neve Campbell, David Arquette, and Courteney Cox will also enter the wrath of the serial killer once again.

Campbell's character, Sydney Prescott, returns to Woodsboro for the last stop on her book tour for her new self-help book. There she is reunited with Sheriff Dewey (Arquette) and Gayle Weathers (Cox). Alongside the initial cast members are fresh Hollywood actors Emma Roberts, who plays Sydney's cousin, Hayden Panettiere, and Rory Culkin.

With a mix of new and old castmates, it is hard to decipher who the new Ghostface will be and what his/her motive is. However, Wes Craven is sure to bring his audience to screams with a new set of rules in Scream 4.