HALLOWEEN OF HORROR REVIEW: EIGHT LEGGED FREAKS

CAST

David Arquette (Scream)
Kari Wuhrer (Anaconda)
Scarlett Johansson (Iron Man 2)
Scott Terra (Daredevil)
Rick Overton (Lois & Clark)
Doug E. Doug (Snowmen)
Leon Rippy (Stargate)
Riley Smith (24)
Tom Noonan (Manhunter)

3rd-rock-from-the-sun-halloweenIn the quiet mining town of Prosperity, Arizona, an accident involving a rabbit causes a barrel of toxic waste to land in a reservoir. An exotic spider farmer named Joshua Taft (Tom Noonan) has been making regular visits to the site, where he collects crickets for his spiders. Joshua shows Mike (Scott Terra), a local boy, his collection, which include Jumping spiders, Tarantulas, Trapdoor spiders, male orb-weaver spiders, and a female orb-weaver named Consuela. After Mike leaves, Joshua is bitten by an escaped tarantula and accidentally knocks down the spider cages, causing him to be killed by the spiders. After devouring him, the spiders grow to even bigger proportions.
91IMwjKSa8L._AC_SL1500_On his way home, Mike is accosted by his mother, Sheriff Sam Parker (Kari Wührer) and Deputy Pete Williams (Rick Overton) pulling the toxic barrel out of the pond. Wade (Leon Rippy), the Mayor of Prosperity, is holding a town meeting in the mall about whether they should sell the mines and relocate. Chris McCormick (David Arquette), whose father owned the mines before he died ten years ago, shows up and stands against Wade’s proposition. Chris also sparks a romance with Sam. Meanwhile, Harlan Griffiths (Doug E. Doug), an eccentric extraterrestrial enthusiast, is broadcasting his theory that various missing animals around town have been abducted by extraterrestrials. Inevitably his theory is dismissed as the product of a deranged imagination. Mike sneaks out on foot to find Joshua, but finds the farm covered in webbing and the spiders missing, along with Joshua’s remains. Although he saw a silhouette of an enormous spider in the mines and tells Chris and Sam about the spiders grown to enormous sizes (based on a giant spider leg he found at the mine entrance), they disbelieve his story. Moreover, the mines have reopened with the miners searching for a famous stash of gold.
MV5BMTkyNDU0NTI4OV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTYwOTA0Nzc3._V1_One miner is eaten by a gigantic spider, whose clan have made the mines their home. Seeing as the entire town is connected in some way to the mines, spiders show up in many different places. Pete’s cat has a fight with a spider in the air vents before being eaten, and some of the ostriches on Wade’s farm are devoured by trapdoor spiders. After Sam’s daughter Ashley (Scarlett Johansson) breaks up with her boyfriend, Wade’s step-son Bret (Matt Czuchry), and he and his motorcyclist friends are chased by jumping spiders. Bret manages to get away, and the explosion of a gasoline truck cuts off the telephone line as he becomes trapped in the mine. Chris finds out that his Aunt Gladys (Eileen Ryan) and her dog have been abducted by a male orb-weaver in their basement, and then runs to the Parker’s house for help.
MV5BMTgwNDA1ODg5MF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTYwNjI0Nzc3._V1_Sam is convinced Mike was right all along when she witnesses a giant male orb-weaver attempting to abduct Ashley. While Chris tries to hold it off with a chair, Sam runs to retrieve something from a glass case. Chris ends up pinned to the wall by webbing as well and the spider prepares to abduct them when it is distracted by Sam, she blasts it partially to bits with a shotgun. Meanwhile, Bret, still wandering the mines, finds the main part of the mine, where the now-giant Consuela is now living. Sam contacts Pete and tells him to bring all of the guns in the police force’s possession and after killing several jumping spiders, they escape to Harlan’s trailer, knowing he has a radio station inside. As Sam broadcasts the threat over the radio, a giant tarantula, the “tank” of the horde, assaults the trailer, but they manage to escape. The townspeople initially refuse to take Sam’s warnings seriously, but soon change their tune when the spiders begin to swarm the town. In the chaos, many are attacked, eaten or taken captive by the spiders, Chris tries to convince Harlan that the spiders are extraterrestrial to make him happy, and Sam demands for everybody to evacuate to the mall.
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Many townspeople escape and barricade themselves in the mall, but Wade flees into the mines and locks the gate before the attack. The unarmed residents seize whatever they can use to defend themselves and briefly hold their own against the horde when the giant tarantula from before breaches the gates, and they are eventually forced to retreat to the basement. Meanwhile, Harlan and Chris climb onto the roof and ascend the radio mast to try to get a signal so they can call the army, but they are believed to be pranksters. After the tarantula breaks open the gates and lets the spiders enter the mall, Harlan jumps from the roof and lands in some bushes, where he meets up with Pete. The two run from spiders as Chris gathers the remaining townsfolk into the basement. Meanwhile, Bret encounters the cowardly Wade before his abduction.
Image result for EIGHT LEGGED FREAKSWhile the townsfolk are in the basement, Bret arrives on a forklift that brings down the locked gate, and they all head to through the mines straight to the front entrance, discovering the methane-filled tunnels. After losing Norman (David Earl Waterman) the janitor, and freeing Wade, Chris goes to look for Gladys in the mines and finds her and the gold his father was searching for, but is confronted by the gigantic Consuela. He uses perfume to distract the spider and then escapes using Bret’s motorcycle. Chris then blows up the spiders and the mines using Gladys’ cigarette lighter due to the high concentrations of methane gas. The police finally arrive. They had not believed the reports of the spiders but believed Harlan’s theory that the assailants were extraterrestrial in nature, until Pete tells them that the assailants were “just spiders, that had ingested extremely high levels of toxic waste.” He attempts to prove this by removing his hat, showing that he is bald. He runs his hand back and forth over his head saying; “All new growth, just look at this, all new growth!”

Image result for EIGHT LEGGED FREAKSAs the story ends, Harlan is heard making a radio report about the spiders. He concludes that the town has decided to cover up the whole incident, but have let Harlan continue broadcasting anyway, knowing nobody will believe him. He also mentions Chris reopening the gold mines and putting everyone back to work, but tells his listeners “that is another story altogether.” As the camera zooms in close on his mouth, it is clear that he now has three gold teeth.

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A good film which although was not received very well by the public or the critics is still very entertaining and is one of those films which doesn’t require you to think about the story too much. You just watch the film, enjoy it, and go home more scared of spiders than you went in. Recommended.

HALLOWEEN OF HORROR REVIEW: THE HOUSE OF THE DEVIL

Starring

Jocelin Donahue (He’s Just Not That into You)
Tom Noonan (Manhunter)
Mary Woronov (Looney Tunes: Back in Action)
Greta Gerwig (Lady Bird)
A. J. Bowen (The Guest)
Dee Wallace (Critters Attack!)
Lena Dunham (Girls)

Jocelin Donahue in The House of the Devil (2009)In the 1980s, college student Samantha Hughes (Jocelin Donahue) inspects a house she wishes to rent. Due to Samantha reminding her of her own daughter, landlady (Dee Wallace) forgoes a deposit in favor of one month’s rent in advance. Samantha is struggling financially so she takes on a babysitting job for Mr. Ulman (Tom Noonan) and his wife (Mary Woronov). Ulman asks to meet her but stands her up, later apologizing and offering to pay double the original salary. Samantha accepts and gets a ride to the remote mansion from her best friend, Megan (Greta Gerwig). At the house, Mr. Ulman pulls her aside and reveals that he does not have any children to be monitored; although he has a child, his son is now grown. The babysitting job is to attend to his wife’s ailing mother, whom he refers to as “able-bodied.” Samantha balks but finally agrees when she is offered $400 for the job, a significant increase in her pay. Megan immediately leaves, citing Ulman’s lies and peculiar behavior, but she reluctantly promises to pick up Samantha later. Before the Ulmans depart, Samantha speaks with Mrs. Ulman, who tells her they are from “the desert.”Jocelin Donahue in The House of the Devil (2009)On the way home, Megan stops in her car to smoke a cigarette. When her lighter will not work, a stranger (A.J. Bowen) appears out of nowhere, startling her, and lights her cigarette for her. When Megan reveals that she is not the babysitter hired by the Ulmans, the stranger abruptly shoots and kills her. Samantha orders a pizza from a number that Mr. Ulman had repeatedly recommended she call. While waiting for the delivery, she dances around the house while listening to her Walkman, accidentally breaking a vase in the process. While cleaning up the mess, she discovers a cupboard filled with old family photographs. In one photograph, a different family than the Ulmans stands next to the Volvo she and Megan saw upon pulling up to the house. Later, three corpses are shown in one of the rooms, with the implication that they are the family in the photograph and the true residents of the house.Jocelin Donahue in The House of the Devil (2009)Samantha, shaken by a number of issues at the house and by the sudden arrival of the pizza she ordered (delivered by the same man that killed Megan), dials 911, but tells the operator that it was an accidental call. Drugs in the pizza eventually cause Samantha to pass out, just as she discovers activity behind a door leading to the third floor. When she comes to, she finds that she has been bound and gagged in the center of a Pentagram. As a lunar eclipse darkens the night sky, Mr. and Mrs. Ulman, along with the stranger, who is their son Victor, begin a bizarre ritual. Mother (Danielle Noe) is revealed to be a grotesque, witch-like figure. As part of the ritual she slices Samantha’s arm and pours the blood into a goat skull. She uses the blood to draw occult symbols on Samantha’s stomach and forehead, and forces Samantha to drink her blood from the skull.The House of the Devil (2009)Samantha manages to escape halfway through the ritual, and finds Megan’s bloody corpse in the kitchen. She kills Mrs. Ulman and Victor, but horrific images of Mother begin appearing in her mind. Mr. Ulman chases her out of the house and through a nearby cemetery. There, he tells her she was chosen and that it her destiny to accept “him.” Samantha threatens him with the gun used to kill Megan, but Ulman passively accepts his fate, claiming to be a messenger and gloating that she is too late. Instead of shooting him, she shoots herself in the head, to Ulman’s horror. The scene cuts to a broadcast about the strange lunar eclipse the night before, which has confounded scientists due to its abrupt ending, as Samantha is revealed to be in a hospital bed, her head in bandages. A nurse walks in and pats the unconscious Samantha on the stomach, reassuring her that “You will be just fine. Both of you.”The House of the Devil (2009)The House of the Devil is unquestionably a good movie. For most of the film, I was completely drawn in, waiting with a rising anticipation to see what was lurking around the corner; The House of the Devil is truly scary even with its superficial sense of the mundane. Nothing is shown, save for one particularly haunting shot of what lies behind a door that remains (at least temporarily) unopened, and it is all the better for that. But this is before (please excuse the pun) everything goes to Hell at the climax. I’d certainly recommend this film

REVIEW: PHOENIX (1998)

CAST
Ray Liotta (Hannibal)
Anthony LaPaglia (Analyze That)
Tom Noonan (Robocop 2)
Daniel Baldwin (Vampires)
Jeremy Piven (Old School)
Brittany Murphy (Sin City)
Anjelica Huston (Daddy Day Care)
Giovanni Ribisi (Ted)
Xander Berkeley (Kick-Ass)
Al Sapienza (The Sopranos)
George Murdock (Battlestar Galactica)
Kathryn Joosten (Desperate Housewives)
Glenn Morshower (Transformers)
Giancarlo Esposito (Breaking Bad)
Kari Wuhrer (Eight Legged Freaks)
In Phoenix, Arizona, Harry Collins is a cop whose compulsive gambling has indebted him to a local gangster, Chicago. As his losses mount and time counts down, Collins resorts to exploiting a young woman, Veronica, that he has picked up to distract his friends in a poker game. Despite the successful distraction, he still loses, and he rejects Veronica’s sexual advances, as he considers her to be bad luck. When Collins drops her off at her house, Veronica’s mother sees her daughter in tears and glares at Collins. Collins later tracks down Veronica’s mother, Leila, and defends himself, stating that he did not have sex with her. Unimpressed, Leila rebukes him, which causes him to reassess his behavior and offer a sincere apology. Surprised by his apology, Leila slowly warms to Collins, and they begin a romance. Having lost his lucky lighter, Collins asks her for a keepsake, but Leila tells him that he must make his own luck and avoid whatever trouble in which he’s become involved.
Meanwhile, Chicago cuts off Collins from his bookies and gives him 48 hours to either repay his debt or murder Joey, a young suspect held in custody. Mike Henshaw, Collins’ corrupt partner, suggests murdering Chicago, but Collins, unwilling to welch on a bet or murder Joey, decides instead to rob Louie, a local loanshark. Collins recruits Henshaw and another corrupt cop, James Nutter, and, over their objections, brings in a more straight-laced cop, Fred Shuster. Unknown to the others, Shuster has discovered that his wife, Katie, is having an affair with Henshaw. Distraught and feeling betrayed, Shuster agrees to work with Lt. Webber to bring down the corrupt cops. However, the robbery is botched when the trigger-happy Henshaw kills Louie before he can open the safe. Collins hires a local locksmith to crack Louie’s safe, and the group splits up. Collins and Shuster arrive at the meeting point, but Lt. Webber is already there; Webber betrays Shuster, killing him, and shoots Collins in the gut. Collins escapes, but Webber steals the money.
Nutter and Henshaw, suspecting that Collins has betrayed them, arrive at the meeting point and discover Shuster’s body. Before they can track down Collins and kill him, they are surrounded by the police. When Nutter attempts to surrender, Henshaw kills him; Henshaw is killed in turn by the other cops. Collins hitches a ride back to town and surprises Katie and Webber, who are having an affair. Over their objections, Collins burns most of the money while denouncing them both for betraying Fred. After alerting the cops to Webber’s involvement, Collins takes enough money to pay off his gambling debt and meets with Chicago. Amused, Chicago accepts the money but mocks Collins’ reluctance to murder Joey; Chicago reveals that he has had Joey murdered in prison and points out that had Collins simply murdered Joey, all of this trouble could have been avoided. Enraged, Collins kills Chicago and his bodyguards, then stumbles back to his car, where he apparently dies of his wounds.
It’s a well shot film, neatly edited, with excellent performances from the entire cast.

REVIEW: LAST ACTION HERO

CAST
Arnold Schwarzenegger (The Terminator)
F. Murray Abraham (Thirteen Ghosts)
Art Carney (Firestarter)
Charles Dance (Game of Thrones)
Frank McRae (Rocky II)
Tom Noonan (Manhunter)
Anthony Quinn (Hercules and The Amazon Women)
Mercedes Ruehl (Big)
Austin O’Brien (Lawnmower Man 2)
Ian McKellen (The Hobbit)
Sven-Ole Thorsen (Mallrats)
Tina Turner (Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdrome)
Angie Everhart (Garden of Evil)
James Belushi (Red Heat)
Robert Patrick (Tammy)
Sharon Stone (Total Recall)
Jean-Claude Van Damme (Universal Soldier
Joan Plowright (Enchanted April)
Karen Duffy (Dumb and Dumber)
Michael Chieffo (Roswell)
Chevy Chase (Chuck)
Damon Wayans (My Wife and Kids)
Danny DeVito (Dumbo)
Peter Kent (Total Recall)
Persia White (The Vampire Diaries)
Timothy Dalton (Flash Gordon)
Danny Madigan is a teenage boy living in a crime-ridden area of New York City with his widowed mother Irene. To escape from his harsh reality, Danny often skips school to watch movies at the run-down Pandora movie theater, owned and managed by Danny’s friend Nick. Nick receives the film reels for Jack Slater IV, the latest in one of Danny’s favorite film series about the titular Los Angeles police detective and violent action hero, and offers to show it to Danny at a private screening just before the world premiere. To mark the occasion, Nick tears up a special ticket he received from Harry Houdini years ago, giving one half of the stub to Danny as a keepsake.
As the film starts, Danny is unaware that the stub glows with magic. When a lit stick of dynamite exits the film during a car chase scene and lands in the theater, Danny instinctively ducks for cover. When he comes to, he finds that he is now in the film, riding along with Slater who is in disbelief as how Danny arrived. At the LAPD headquarters, Danny tries to explain how this is all a film and explaining who the bad guys are, but Slater does not accept this. Despite this, Slater’s supervisor, Lt. Dekker, assigns Danny to work with Slater given his apparent knowledge of the villain. Danny leads Slater to the home of mob boss Tony Vivaldi which he saw in the opening of the film. Vivaldi denies any wrong doing and Slater is unable to arrest him despite Danny’s assurance of his crime. As they depart, Vivaldi’s assassin, Mr. Benedict, overhears Danny talking about the ticket stub, and discretely follows the two. That night, Benedict orders an attack on Slater’s home while he is introducing Danny to his daughter, Whitney. While Slater and Whitney fend off the attackers, Benedict is able to steal the ticket stub from Danny.
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From the attack, Slater learns of Vivaldi’s plot to kill a rival mob family at a rooftop funeral service using nerve gas, and he and Danny are able to foil the attack. Whitney helps to drive them to Vivaldi’s home, but they arrive just after Benedict has killed Vivaldi and used the ticket stub to create a portal to the real world. Danny and Slater follow. They lose track of Benedict quickly, and Slater becomes dishearted by the reality of this New York City. Danny introduces Slater to his mother, and from her, Slater comes to appreciate the harsh reality instead of the glamorized world he lives in, vowing to take a softer stance. They learn that Benedict believes he can kill Slater in this world by killing the actor that plays him, Arnold Schwarzenegger. After chasing Benedict down to the premiere of Jack Slater IV and saving Schwarzenegger’s life, they corner Benedict on the roof, finding that he has brought the Ripper, the villain from Jack Slater III and who had killed Slater’s son in that film. The Ripper attempts to kill Danny but Slater stops him in time. However, Danny ends up thrown from the roof and hanging for his life. As Slater attempts to rescue him, Benedict mortally shoots Slater and monologues on how he will use the ticket to bring more villains to life and take over this world. Danny uses the opportunity to knock Benedict down, and Slater is able to kill Benedict by firing into his exploding glass eye.
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The ticket stub flies free to the streets before they can grab it, and with no other ideas, Danny helps Slater back to the Pandora hoping to find a way to return Jack to his world where he should heal quickly due to its fictional nature. Shortly after they arrive, they find that Death from the The Seventh Seal, pulled out of the film by the loose ticket stub, has followed them. However, it is revealed that Death only approached the two out of curiosity: because of Slater’s fictional nature, “he’s not on any of [Death’s] lists.” After Danny explains the situation, Death suggests to find the other half of the ticket stub before departing. Danny empties the lobby stub box and finds the still glowing other half of the ticket stub and uses it to pull Slater back into the film. There, Slater quickly heals, his wound barely a scratch. After Danny calls for help, Slater tells Danny he must return to his world, and the two say their goodbyes. Danny returns and excited tells Nick of his adventure as Jack Slater IV ends, with Slater tells Dekker of his new insights on the world before driving off into the sunset.
It may be a satire, but Last Action Hero just may be one of the last true action films. Real stunts, real explosions, real destruction, reality gone twisted. It’s Arnold’s most subversive movie, and it’s many things, but bad ain’t one of them.

 

 

REVIEW: MANHUNTER

 

CAST

William Petersen (CSI)
Kim Greist (Brazil)
Tom Noonan (Robocop 2)
Dennis Farina (Romeo is Bleeding)
Brian Cox (X-Men 2)
Joan Allen (Pleasantville)
Stephen Lang (Avatar)
Frankie Faison (Luke Cage)
Chris Elliott (Scary Movie 2)
Bill Smitrovich (Ted 1 & 2)
Marshall Bell (Total Recall)

Thomas Harris’ extremely popular “Hannibal Lector” character has appeared in 80% of the author’s novels and five separate feature-length films. Most would find Lector synonymous with 1991’s landmark The Silence of the Lambs, in which Anthony Hopkins turned the soft-spoken cannibal into a cultural icon. The character’s subsequent film appearances are all more exaggerated than the last, so it makes sense that 1986’s Manhunter shows Hannibal at his most…normal? It also serves as director Michael Mann’s third film, but it flopped at the box office and still stands in the shadow of its more popular young brother. Based on Harris’ second novel Red Dragon (and remade in 2002 by Brett Ratner), Manhunter deserved a bigger audience then and still deserves a bigger one today.

Part thriller, part character study and part horror film, this tale of FBI profile expert Will Graham (William Petersen) often crackles with suspense. Having retired to his peaceful family life due to exhaustion, Graham is approached by his former boss Jack Crawford (Dennis Farina) after an unknown killer’s quiet rampage has already left two families dead. Hannibal isn’t the culprit, of course: he’s safely behind bars due to Graham’s tireless efforts with the FBI, but he might be personally linked to the killer at large. Fearing another series of murders may be only weeks away, the intensely dedicated Graham decides to pursue the case, using his behavioral knowledge to carve away at the killer’s unknown location.

As in Silence of the Lambs, the character of Hannibal Lector (here spelled “Lecktor”, and portrayed by Brian Cox) only pops up occasionally to offer twisted guidance, but his presence looms heavily over the entire film. Silence’s menacing Buffalo Bill is one-upped, though, by the more sympathetic, layered and quietly intimidating Francis Dollarhyde (Tom Noonan), a lab worker whose dark personal life fuels violent impulses. Working on a lunar cycle, Dollarhyde’s third slaughter grows closer as Graham and Crawford attempt to track him down. Manhunter’s approach to Dollarhyde is extremely effective: the film’s almost half-over before we even catch a glimpse of him, and the slow reveal works wonderfully.Tom Noonan and William Petersen in Manhunter (1986)Manhunter is arguably the least-known of the “Hannibal Lector” films…and that’s a shame, because it’s easily second best behind Silence of the Lambs. Michael Mann’s solid direction anchors this cat-and-mouse thriller quite well.

REVIEW: THE CAPE

MAIN CAST

David Lyons (Eat Pray Love)
Keith David (Pitch Black)
Summer Glau (Firefly)
James Frain (Gotham)
Jennifer Ferrin (The Following)
Ryan Wynott (Flashforward)
Dorian Missick (Lucky Number Slevin)
Martin Klebba (Pirates of The Caribbean)
Izabella Miko (Coyote Ugly)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Vinnie Jones (Arrow)
Eric Pierpoint (Alien Nation)
JoNell Kennedy (Dreamgirls)
Richard Schiff (Man of Steel)
Mather Zickel (Bones)
Thomas Kretschmann (Dracula)
Mena Suvari (American Pie)
Kevin Kilner (Earth: Final Conflict)
Elliott Gould (Ocean’s Eleven)
Pruitt Taylor Vince (Heroes Reborn)
Chad Lindberg (October Sky)
Illeana Douglas (Ghost World)
Tom Noonan (Manhunter)

Palm City Vince Faraday is a happy man, a good cop, a good husband, a good father. Until one day he receives a mysterious message from Internet whistle blower “Orwell” advising him where the notorious crime lord “Chess” is shipping illegal weapons into Palm City. Vince trusts one person to go with him to uncover the shipment, that one person however betrays him and suddenly Vince finds himself on the run – a victim of an elaborate set up naming him as “Chess”.

In order for Vince to clear his name and win back his family, he assumes the persona of “The Cape”, his son’s favourite comic book character. Now with the help of “Orwell” and “The Carnival Of Crime” he strives toobtain the evidence that will vindicate him and allow him to go home. The Cape has been brilliantly made, the cinematography and story telling are cleaverly done so Vince comes off as a real man doing what he must unstead of another moody broody caped cruisader. He doesn’t always say the right thing, he doesn’t accent a stupid voice, he just is who he is (with the addition of a cape – obviously). The supporting cast of “The Carnival Of Crime” adds the manditory comic relief without coming off as slapstick characters – there’s Vinny Jones for that (well, he does play a character called “Scales”).

Unfortunately this series fell victim to the “great TV show but just not quite enough viewers” syndrome and was axed after just one season, meaning the story was never completed.