Horrorfest 2022 Presents: Needful Things (1993, Fraser C. Heston)


Perhaps if I had read the book I wouldn’t like the 1993 adaption of Needful Things so much. Maybe I still would, I donno I’ll find out later. The premise is fairly basic yet Stephen King adds his usual touches: ancient evil that appears nice or not so obvious at first, a pure hero and others who assist them, and a New England small town setting. Usually as in the case of Needful Things that town harbors secrets, and in this case they come to life and threaten to bring ruin upon everyone in Castle Rock, Maine.

It’s usually Maine, yet King does live there. In this small town setting a man named Leland (Max von Sydow) drives in, sets up shop and drives the locals insane. Look we all know who he really is, yet the movie spends it’s entire run time playing around with the truth. Which is oddly fun and works despite some goofy melodrama and lesser direction than the material required. In fact this should have been a mini-series, really, although this film does have a pretty awesome cast.

That grin is shaper than the knife he’s holding

Ed Harris and Bonnie Bedelia are the two people who resist Leland the most, although Bedelia’s nice dinner owner falls prey in the end to Leland like most of the rest of the town. Famous character actors Amanda Plummer and J. T. Walsh round out the rest of the cast, plus Ray McKinnon. Walsh in a way manages to steal the movie out from under von Sydow, which is no easy feat.

Some of the one liners made me laugh, and Leland and Walsh’s Keaton have a scene together that is very darkly funny in so many ways. I wouldn’t mind if this one got a modern update, yet for now I rather enjoyed this adaptation and I shall note that the title inspired Stranger Things. Plus that hilarious Rick and Morty episode. I will get to the book eventually, also.

Horrorfest 2017 Presents: Mother! (Darren Aronofsky)


There are many other horror films that Mother reminds me of, Black Swan and The Shining being two of them. Darren Aronofsky has engaged in psychological matters before, and he goes even further with his latest. Metaphorically, this is a trip into the outrageous, and I refuse to go looking for online answers. Its more satisfying to figure out what a movie is trying to say, even if you end up being wrong.

Also its nice to see Jennifer Lawrence being a part of a non blockbuster film again. I remember discovering her in Winter’s Bone, and she once again displays a naturalistic charisma that makes Veronica one of her best performances. Javier Bardem rivals her, embodying Him as a sort of wonderful grizzly bear of a man. The two are perfectly matched up together, and the struggles that result between them are both captivating, and later on, insane. My patience was rewarded with a last act which I cannot further elaborate on.

Oh and there is a cameo from the last person you would expect to be in this madhouse of a film. I love that Domhnall Gleeson is bent on being in every movie he can possibly appear in, plus Michelle Pfeiffer and Ed Harris might as well be an older version of the main duo. I saw this in an empty theater, and was enthralled by almost every moment. This might be Aronofsky’s masterwork, a film that cares only about what he is trying to accomplish. No wonder audiences hated Mother!

Horrorfest 2016 Presents: Coma (1978, Michael Crichton)


Okay for a merely very good and entertaining horror thiller from the 197os this movie has a pretty awesome cast. Tom Selleck, Ed Harris and Rip Torn all appear in this film and they aren’t even the stars or major characters. Heading the film are Michael Douglas, Geneviève Bujold, and legendary actor Richard Widmark. Famous Bond girl Lois Chiles also makes an appearance as a woman who suffers misfortune, because well it’s a 70s horror thriller set in a hospital. Nothing good ever happens there.

Susan Wheeler and Mark Bellows (Douglas, Bujold) have trouble in their relationship. They also have trouble at the hospital they work at, Boston Memorial, where normal healthy people are falling into comas for no reason. Susan has her suspicions while Mark is convinced it’s nothing. Desperate, she confides in Dr. George Harris (Widmark), who tries to keep her out of trouble. Things spiral from there of course, and there are many tense and crazy scenes that are well crafted. I particularly loved a freaky moment in a clinic that is straight out of a David Cronenberg movie. Funny considering this was made during his early period, and I have to wonder if it helped inspire Dead Ringers. 

coma1978crichton

Furthermore the last act is a bit outlandish if not completely paranoid driven, and yet it works. The movie is largely an exercise in slow burn and the payoff is worth the film’s solid runtime. Douglas and Bujold have great chemistry together, and Crichton actually shows talent as a director. Maybe more writers should make movies, or perhaps just certain ones can direct. Also the film has some interesting commentary on sexual politics (Susan would probably be more easily believed if she was a man or not in the 1970s) and some thoughts on the medical profession.

Widmark’s monologue is fantastic and crazy, a sample of it being: “Our society faces momentous decisions. Decisions about the right to die. About abortion. About terminal illness, prolonged coma, transplantation. Decisions about life and death. But society isn’t deciding. Congress isn’t deciding. The courts aren’t deciding. Religion isn’t deciding. Why? Because society is leaving it up to us, the experts. The doctors.” I guess in all of the madness I forgot that this movie is very well written and has some quality dialogue. Nice.

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