Archive for dennis christopher

NECRONOMICON (1993) – The Dungeon Review!

Posted in horror, movies, USA with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 12, 2012 by goregirl

Hey! Hey! It’s another 90s film! You can expect a couple more before the month ends! How wrong could you go with an anthology based on the work of H.P. Lovecraft (loosely based as it might be) with Brian Yuzna directing a segment and the wraparound story and the great Jeffrey Combs playing Mr. Lovecraft? There was definitely potential for awesomeness! Well, awesome it is not, but it does have some admirable qualities. Necronomicon is three stories with three different directors. The story that connects the trilogy sees H.P. Lovecraft finding the Necronomicon and reading three of its gnarly tales. Warning SPOILERS ahead.

necronomicon15

The Drowned

The Drowned is directed by Christophe Gans (Brotherhood of the Wolf, Silent Hill) and is quite impressive visually. A dilapidated old mansion is the setting for this story. Edward de Lapoer has inherited the old mansion and finds the diary of his relative that tells of how he resurrected his dead wife and son. This great opening flashback scene was promising but the rest of the film that focuses on Edward was rather tiresome. The Drowned really does lose its mojo something awful once its story returns to the present which makes up half of its runtime. Edward immediately seeks out the Necronomicon which is hiding behind a portrait and bad things happen. What saved The Drowned from being a complete wash were some pretty damn nifty creature effects. It has an awesome Cthulhu-esque sea creature thing that makes an appearance in the finale. The Drowned was definitely my least favourite of the trio but it was not without a few highlights.

necronomicon

necronomicon1

necronomicon2

necronomicon3

The Cold

The Cold is directed by Shûsuke Kaneko (Gamera: Guardian of the Universe, Crossfire, Godzilla, Mothra and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack) and has the most cohesive story of the three. I enjoyed this tale despite its rather obvious final twist. A reporter is sent to the home of a woman they believe is connected to several murders. The woman tells the reporter how she came to be in the former home of Dr. Madden. The story she relays is that of her mother Emily and how she came to meet and fall in love with the doctor who learned the secret of eternal life. I wasn’t super crazy about the Emily Character played by Bess Meyer but Dr. Madden played by the talented David Warner was a real highlight. I didn’t think Warner and Meyer had any chemistry and I found it hard to buy that Madden would fall for this woman. There isn’t much in the way of special effects in this segment; what little is included didn’t look too bad though. The Cold is flawed, but I enjoyed the story and Warner enough to say I found it fairly entertaining.

Necronomicon3

Necronomicon1

necronomicon4

necronomicon5

Whispers

Whispers is directed by Brian Yuzna (Society, Bride of Re-Animator, The Dentist, Progeny, Return of the Living Dead III) and was my favourite of the three. It is definitely light on story but the visuals are something else! A pregnant cop named Sarah and her partner/lover Paul are in a car accident and Paul is pulled out of the vehicle and dragged away. Sarah frees herself and pursues the man they call The Butcher. This is definitely the nastiest and goriest of the segments. There are some really neato effects and creatures in this one. The building and its many room, halls and hidden passages are properly spooky and creepy. Nothing beats the cave scene with Sarah’s discovery of Paul and the ugly flying beasts! Oh and what a properly wonderful grim ending! Despite a flimsy story Whispers is a helluva lot of fun to watch!

necronomicon7

necronomicon6

necronomicon9

necronomicon11

Necronomicon ends with the H.P. Lovecraft connecting story. The finale did feel a bit rushed and I think they re-used the monster from the first segment, but it is energetic and Yuzna throws in some funky looking effects and a pretty cool creature! Jeffrey Combs is always some fun ain’t he?

Necronomicon

necronomicon12

necronomicon13

Necronomicon is flawed all over the place but definitely has its share of memorable moments. Most anthologies have a weak link and that is certainly the case with Necronomicon’s first story The Drowned. Each of the films, even The Drowned has at least a little something to offer although I can not say any of these stories blew me away. As is the case with most Lovecraft adaptations I’ve seen they take plenty of liberties with the material and a limited budget prevents it from meeting the sheer spectacularness of Lovecraft’s written word. That said there are certainly a few Lovecraft adaptations that kick some rather serious ass; I would not call Necronomicon one of them. My feelings about Necronomicon overall are a bit lukewarm, but it is not a bad way to spend 90ish minutes. Lightly recommended.

Dungeon Rating: 3/5

Directed By: Christophe Gans, Shûsuke Kaneko, Brian Yuzna

Starring: Jeffrey Combs, Tony Azito, Juan Fernández, Brian Yuzna, Bruce Payne, Belinda Bauer, Richard Lynch, Maria Ford, Peter Jasienski, Denice D. Lewis, William Jess Russell, Vladimir Kulich, David Warner, Bess Meyer, Millie Perkins, Dennis Christopher, Gary Graham, Curt Lowens, James Paradise, Sebastian White, Signy Coleman, Obba Babatundé, Don Calfa, Judith Drake

FADE TO BLACK (1980) – The Dungeon Review!

Posted in horror, movies, USA with tags , , , , , , , , , on February 2, 2010 by goregirl

This was a stray from January’s 80’s month. ‘Fade To Black’ is full of vintage film clips, posters and movie trivia. It actually takes place in Hollywood and you get to check out the Marquee’s for other films that came out at the time. It has a unique and interesting premise for a horror film, and Dennis Christopher is excellent in the lead role as Eric Binford. This could have been a masterpiece, but more about that later.

Eric Binford is a shy, awkward, socially inept adult living with his verbally abusive Aunt Selma. Friendless Eric is addicted to film and he is knowledgeable to a fault. He runs films canisters all over town on the company’s moped. One day while eating lunch he meets Marilyn; an Australian girl who looks just like Marilyn Monroe. Eric gives Marilyn a lift to work and she agrees to go on a date with him. Unfortunately, she doesn’t show up, which pushes Eric’s fragile mind just a little closer to the edge. When he comes home depressed, he has to deal with his bitchy Aunt Selma. Spewing her usual venom, she knocks over his film projector, finally sending Eric completely over the edge. And so begins his movie-inspired killing spree.

A great idea poorly executed can be the death of a film. It almost killed this film for me. The stereotypical surly cop character spends most of his time yelling at Jerry the “bleeding heart liberal”. Jerry has scored a temporary office in the stations old drunk tank, and his role as councillor allows him one brief meeting with Eric that we never get to see. Apparently this unseen meeting was the catalyst to getting him involved. Ann, the female cop makes friendly with Jerry lightening fast. After seeing him snort coke and playing his harmonica she’s in bed with him in the next scene. Jerry and Ann’s involvement in the films finale was just laughable. These three have no relevance to the plot what-so-ever. The film would have been much better without this lame subplot. It really dragged down ‘Fade To Black’ for me.

Eric snaps pretty quickly but it is intended to be a horror film so it is understandable that they jam this in fairly early in the film. I would have enjoyed a more intimate exploration into Eric’s fragile mind. Had they lost the cop subplot they could have done this. Sounds like a lot of complaints right? There was plenty to critize but what I loved about the film really elevated it beyond its failures. The character of Eric Binford is inspired. Dennis Christopher was perfectly cast and is a fascination to watch. He is so awkward at times it made me cringe. He manages to illicit sympathy regardless of his acts of murder. Linda Kerridge is adorable and is very likeable as Marilyn, I even found myself rooting for her. It also features Mickey Rourke in one of his earliest performances as Ritchie, one of Eric’s victims. I really liked the way it was filmed too. It is very dark and gritty, I felt like I was part of Eric’s film obsessed world. The use of the old film clips was an excellent addition. Not much in the way of gore but there is a body count and the film-inspired murders are a ton of fun to watch. Eric’s character costumes are first rate. Luckily the scenes that feature Eric make up the majority of the film.

I generally detest remakes, but this film may be one of the best candidates I’ve ever seen for one. I love the idea of a psycho movie fanatic dressed like his favourite character re-enacting scenes as his murderous modus operandi. Pure brilliance! Had this not had the weak subplot I would have rated this film higher. Despite its flaws I enjoyed ‘Fade To Black’. Recommended.

Dungeon Rating: 3.5/5

Directed By: Vernon Zimmerman

Starring: Dennis Christopher, Tim Thomerson, Gwynne Gilford, Norman Burton, Linda Kerridge, Morgan Paull, James Luisi, Eve Brent, John Steadman, Marcie Barkin, Mickey Rourke, Peter Horton