HALLOWEEN OF HORROR REVIEW: THE GRUDGE

CAST

Sarah Michelle Gellar (Ringer)
Jason Behr (Roswell)
William Mapother (Powers)
Clea DuVall (The Lizzie Borden Chronicles)
KaDee Strickland (American Gangster)
Grace Zabriskie (Armageddon)
Bill Pullman (Independence Day)
Ted Raimi (Ash vs Evil Dead)
Ryo Ishibashi (Blue Tiger)

MV5BMjAyNTM0Njg1NF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMDE2ODcyMw@@._V1_SX1777_CR0,0,1777,989_AL_The Grudge describes a curse that is born when someone dies in the grip of a powerful rage or extreme sorrow. The curse is an entity created where the person died. Those who encounter this evil supernatural force die; and the curse is reborn repeatedly, passed from victim to victim in an endless, growing chain of horror. The following events are explained in their actual order; the original film is presented in a non-linear narrative.
MV5BMjE1Mzc5ODAzMl5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMjI0ODcyMw@@._V1_SY1000_CR0,0,1404,1000_AL_The Saeki family lived happily in suburban Tokyo, but housewife Kayako Saeki fell in love with her college professor, Peter Kirk, obsessively writing about him in her diary. However, her husband Takeo discovered the diary. Believing Kayako was having an affair, he became mentally disturbed and murdered his wife by pushing her off the stairs, snapping her neck to a 90 degree angle and crushing her throat. He then drowned his young son Toshio – who witnessed the act – in the bathtub to cover his tracks, along with the pet cat, Mar. Takeo hid the bodies in the attic and closet, before Kayako’s ghost murdered him by hanging him with her hair in Toshio’s bedroom. Peter came to the Saeki house to speak to Kayako after receiving a letter from her, only to find her corpse. Shocked, he fled the house, killing himself the next day by falling over the balcony of his building complex in front of his wife. The Saeki family rose again as ghosts due to their rage and sorrow, notably Kayako, who appears as an onryō ghost, leaving the curse on the house.
MV5BMjI2ODc1MjUxNl5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMzA2ODcyMw@@._V1_SY1000_CR0,0,1467,1000_AL_The present timeline starts a few years later with the Williams family moving in from America. While husband Matt is thrilled with the house, his wife Jennifer and dementia-ridden mother Emma feel uncomfortable. Jennifer is quickly consumed by the curse. Matt returns home to find the house trashed, Emma upset, and his wife dying. Matt and Jennifer are killed by Toshio. Yoko, a careworker, arrives at the house the next day to find Emma alone, and encounters Kayako, who attacks her. Concerned about Yoko’s disappearance, her employer Alex sends another careworker, Karen Davis, to take over the care for Emma. At the house, Karen is shocked when she finds a seemingly alive Toshio and Mar in the closet, contacting Alex for help.
MV5BMTQ0MjU5OTA1NV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNzk0ODcyMw@@._V1_SY1000_CR0,0,1734,1000_AL_Alex finds Emma dead in the house and Karen in a state of shock after her first encounter with Kayako, and summons the police, including Detective Nakagawa. Nakagawa and his partner Igarashi explore the house, finding the bodies of Matt and Jennifer in the attic along with a human’s lower jaw. Matt’s sister Susan disappears after being followed and attacked by Kayako, and Alex is killed when visited by a Kayako-possessed Yoko missing her lower jaw. Karen begins to be haunted by Kayako herself, informing her boyfriend Doug of the situation. She researches the origins of the house, eventually confronting Nakagawa, who explains three of his colleagues investigating the Saeki deaths all were consumed by the curse. That night, Nakagawa goes to the house and tries to burn it down, but is killed by Takeo.
MV5BNTg2MTMyNDg1Ml5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNDI0ODcyMw@@._V1_SX1500_CR0,0,1500,999_AL_
Karen races to the house upon learning Doug has ventured there to look for her, experiencing a vision in which she sees Peter visiting the house and finding Kayako’s corpse. Karen finds Doug paralyzed by fear, and attempts to flee the house with him, only to witness Kayako as she drags herself down the stairs and crawls on Doug, causing him to die of fright. Karen spots the petrol and manages to ignite it with Doug’s lighter just as Kayako is about to kill her. Karen is whisked to a hospital, but learns the house survived the fire. Visiting Doug’s body, Karen realizes she is still haunted by Kayako, who appears behind her as the camera circles to reveal her wide staring eye.MV5BMTY4ODkzNzcxNV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNzU0ODcyMw@@._V1_SY1000_CR0,0,1235,1000_AL_Ju-On already ranks as one of the scariest movies ever made, and The Grudge is a worthy attempt which has some pluses and minuses over the original. The story is certainly easier to follow and more is explained, although it refuses to be told in a linear fashion. This adds to the uneasiness we feel while watching it, but is less confusing than the previous version.

REVIEW: PLEASANTVILLE

 

CAST

Tobey Maguire (Spider-Man)
Reese Witherspoon (This Means War)
William H.Macy (The Cooler)
Jeff Daniels (Allegiant)
Joan Allen (Manhunter)
J.T. Walsh (A Few Good men)
Don Knotts (Three’s Company)
Marley Shelton (Planet Terror)
Jane Kaczmarek (Malcolm In The Middle)
Giuseppe Andrews (Cabin Fever)
Jenny Lewis (Bolt)
Marissa Ribisi (100 Girls)
Justin Nimmo (Power Rangers In Space)
Jason Behr (Roswell)
Paul Walker (The Fast and The Furious)
Maggie Lawson (Two and a Half Men)
Marc Blucas (Buffy)
Danny Strong (3rd Rock From The Sun)
Nancy Lenehan (Catch Me If You Can)

tobey-maguire-pleasantville

Distinctively here in Pleasantville, there is a journey which starts with materializing a TV-series into life and ends up with materializing the life into this TV-series. The cheerful 1950s’ TV sit-com Pleasantville is revived in the ’90s on cable. A homebody teen, David Wagner, escapes from the daily rush of the real unpleasant world by watching this show. He doesn’t even miss the reruns, memorizes the scripts and speaks them out before the actors in the show say their part. One day after school, he and his sister Jennifer can’t agree on the right TV channel to watch. Then they fight over the remote control and it breaks. The new remote, which will zap them inside Pleasantville, given to them by a strange TV-repairman.

When they entered Pleasantville, they become the part of the show and turn to black-and-white as the TV show displays. David and Jennifer take up residence as the son and the daughter of the sit-com family. Soon, they realize that there the life is always pleasant; the temperature is always lukewarm and the seasons are always spring with no rain no snow no hot no cold weather, books have no words, roads end where they start, nothing burns and matches are useless, married couples sleep in twin beds, sex does not exist, nobody gets sick, nobody gets hurt and nobody ever questions this hassle-free life. David fits right in as he always dreamt to be, while her sister persists on him to try to figure out what should they do to escape from there. Though she changes her mind when he gets a boyfriend from school. Her attempts of putting her lifestyle on effect causes Pleasantville gets colors. Thus wonderful and frightening changes start to take place.

Pleasantville is a truly original film that soars with dynamism and aesthetic. From a social and deeply political perspective; it has deep meaning and relevance in today’s society.

 

REVIEW: DRAGON WARS

 

CAST

Jason Behr (Roswell)
Amanda Brooks (Flightplan)
Robert Forster (Jackie Brown)
Craig Robinson (This Is The End)
Aimee Garcia (Robocop 2014)
Chris Mulkey (Whiplash)
Billy Gardell (Mike & Molly)
Holmes Osborne (Donnie Darko)
Matthias Hues (Star Trek VI)
Derek Mears (Friday The 13th 2009)
Geoff Pierson (Dexter)

Jason Behr and Amanda Brooks in D-War (2007)

Here in the UK it is called DRAGON WARS, although confusingly it is called D-WAR in North America and WAR OF THE DRAGONS in the Far East.


The plot, as you may have guessed by now concerns Dragons, although you don’t actually see a “proper” one until the final few minutes of the film. The Blu-Ray casing boasts that it cost over $75 million to make, although a few minutes watching confirmed my suspicions that a very large proportion of this went on the large quantities of CGI used with whatever pocket change was left over going on the actors.

Jason Behr in D-War (2007)
Basically the plot is as follows. In order for a wyrm to become a dragon, it first has to be chosen by heaven then wait for a chosen girl to become 20 so her lifeforce can merge with it. This is great for the dragon, but not so great for the girl who then as far as I can see dies.


As is revealed in a flashback within a flashback the last time this could occur was 500 years ago, but followers of a bad wyrm attack the village where she lives to try and grab her first. Oddly they only check for the woman after nearly wiping the village from the surface of the earth, obviously not thinking that the chosen one is just as likely to get flattened by a giant fireball from the skies as anyone else.  Although she is captured, she and her lover take their own lives before she can give her life force to anyone, and so the stage is set for a rematch 500 years later in what is presumably Los Angeles. Things start ominously with a giant snake munching down elephants at the local zoo, then it appears elsewhere in the city (how does it get around without being seen?) Then a man dressed a bit like Shredder in TMNT attacks Sarah after she is rescued by the hero from the hospital where she has been incarcerated but fails in his attempt when he is hit by not one but two automobiles in what is one of the films funniest moments.


Undeterred by this failure, he raises an army of obese lizard things with missile launchers strapped to their backs and of course many smaller dragons, which appear to be Raptors with wings and finally the bit that the entire audience has been waiting for begins – the US Army Vs The Dragon Ninjas.Robert Forster in D-War (2007)The computer-generated birds breathe fire on people. The computer generated helicopters empty round after round on the relentless computer generated snake. The snake lunges at computer generated cars and slings them hundreds of feet. The cameras whoosh between skyscrapers and plummet with burning helicopters and dying flying raptor-thingies, and the audience can relax and realise that they are finally getting their money’s worth. If only the quality of the CGI was matched by the real life extras which are surely the worst that I have come across in a modern film. They scream, run waving their hands above their heads and in general look very pleased to be on the big screen. Equally poor is the script and continuity, neither of which make any sense as the plot leaps from one scene to the other and plotholes big enough to swallow several dragons whole – the FBI manage to find the girl within a few minutes of entering the city and its crowds of fleeing citizens and the evil snake which may look impressive but passes up several easy opportunities to eat the heroine and achieve immortality. Observant viewers may notice that the same helicopter pilot appears to die several times…


The ending is pretty bizarre, the means by which the main bad guy being defeated being down to his stabbing the hero in the relatively small mystic pendant hanging round his neck as opposed to anywhere else in his body and ends pretty suddenly leaving the audience both baffled and slightly unsatisfied.