Horrorfest 2015 Presents: IT (1990, Tommy Lee Wallace)

All too many Stephen King adoptions don’t work out. Yet still there are ones that manage to at least properly tackle his material, IT being one of those adaptations that works rather well. Such a novel is immense and rather hard to tackle, especially considering the novel’s use of flashbacks, many which intercede with the present setting of the novel in the 1980s. And just like the novel the 1950s flashbacks work the best.

Oh and Tim Curry is wonderfully creepy as Pennywise, the villain of the piece. He has hilarious one liners and manages to even terrify in some parts. Particularly when poor grownup Bill recalls what happened to his brother Georgie. So much teeth…how they bite. Some of the adult versions of the young cast don’t quite fit with the novel’s descriptions of them, however. Especially John Ritter and Richard  Thomas, although both give quality performances. Also while I like Harry Anderson as Ritchie it oddly feels a bit too obvious of a casting pick. That said the rest of the cast is spot on, particularly with all of the young kids (Seth Green and Emily Perkins being notable standouts); also Annette O’ Toole is perfect as Beverly and Tim Reid is a great Mike.

Also they get Eddie right despite changing a few details. The second half isn’t as strong as the first, mostly since the kid actors play their parts with the utmost sincerity. Still I also enjoy the second half and naturally due to budget and length issues certain other aspects of the novel had to be cut. I wonder how the planned new version will work out, and I am hoping that it’s an improvement. Still I rather like and enjoy this slice of 1990s TV miniseries, a reminder of the days when such programs existed.

Neo Noir High School Edition

Brick review (originally written 11/14/07, entered 9/19/13)

I’m sure a common criticism of Brick is that this flick consists of “This is a movie” gimmicks. I hate that criticism because its too broad and often inaccurate. Having high school kids deliver film noir dialogue and act like film noir stock characters is quite innovative to say the least. In the hands of a less talented director, such a different take on film noir would be annoying and cloy. However the young creator of the film possessed the ability to make it work.

I would argue that this film is as much a homage to old school film noir as it belongs among the class of modern neo-noir, started by films like The Long Goodbye (1973) and Chinatown (1974). Many scenes are inspired by such noirs as The Maltese Falcon (1941) and The Big Sleep (1946), two famous and exceptional films in the genre. I don’t wish to spoil the film, but the ending certainly cribs from The Maltese Falcon, and the standard femme fatale character reminded me of ones seen in films such as The Killing (1956) and The Lady From Shanghai (1937).

Brandon, the badass tough guy is the perfect anti-hero for the film. What I love especially about film noir protagonists is that none of them fit into clean, nicely defined good and evil definitions. In that way they are far more interesting as a result, forcing the audience to marvel at their worthy qualities as some of their rather dirty action repulse the audience as well. The character of The Pin adds another dynamic in terms of who is really the film’s villain. Just as in other film noirs at times the character who appears to be the worst character, the antagonist, is often second to someone even more dastardly. That’s not to say that is always the case, especially with The Third Man (1949) and Chinatown (1974) but at times its held true.  Only it seems in film noir that more than one villain exists, something I’ve never noticed before I saw this film.

Normally I don’t praise acting, but here the young cast was excellent. Not in terms of being actors, but in that they made the characters come off as teens, despite the fact that non-teen like dialogue was all they said. Some were better than others: Brandon pulled off the desperate street tough hero in over his head expertly. Tug was a great mix of menace and despair, while the Pin came off as mysterious yet powerful and weak, often in the same scene. Nora was the film’s strongest female performance, perfectly capturing a female allure that masked a stunning capacity for cunning.

The more  I think about this film, the more I like it. Brick is as much a film as it as an experiment in film noir referencing and neo-noir execution. Like some of the very best noirs both old and modern, it leaves the viewer feeling intrigued and maybe even a little dirty after the credits roll. Film noir is remarkable if only for presenting a fantasy land composed of nightmares and the dark side of human nature. 95

Bah Humbug!

The Grinch had a point about X-Mas and the modern-day remake with Jim Carrey missed that point: this holiday sucks now. Kids are too young to realize that the joy of the holiday season has been drained by greedy corporations who don’t care if people die on Black Friday while trying to get an overhyped bargin.

This is all disgusting and sad yet not surprising. The War On Christmas has nothing to do with banning the Little Baby Jesus from appearing in schools. Nope it’s all about how overbearing capitalism ruined a nice and simple tradition. For the almighty profit, of course, the God that they pray to.

If anything we shouldn’t give a shit about the gifts we receive on X-Mas day. I like free stuff as much as everyone else but I don’t think it should come with a hidden price tag attached. Nevermind that Jesus wasn’t really born on this day or that Santa doesn’t actually exist. This should be a time for rejoicing with those who love us.

A time to celebrate and be glad for what we have.    It’s sad that a simple and beautiful message gets lost in the madness but I think that’s what Dr. Sess was trying to tell us all those years ago. The same goes for Charlie Brown, a poor sap mistreated for daring to find out what this day is all about. Lucky for us he believed in that really crappy tree while trying to direct the school play. If you thought that the insanity of the holidays was driving you crazy, at least you don’t have to get a bunch of jazz loving hippie children to act on cue.

No matter what religion you are or what you believe in I think we can all get behind the ideal that the holidays should be about people and not material things. Stuff fades away or breaks; we tire of shiny trinkets. However those we love stay with us no matter what. Such a message is the best gift of all. Well that and an XBOXONE. Kidding. ..

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