Monday, December 13, 2010

My review of Mulholland Drive

I don't get Lynch. I just don't get him. At the risk of sounding self absorbed, Anyone who knows me knows that I am no idiot when it comes to films. But I just do not get Lynch. maybe that's the point. I dunno. There were a few coherent plot points but they he turned around and made them not make sense anymore. Typical Lynch stuff really.having said that, the thing I like the most about Lynch is that his films are hard to understand. It gives great re-watch value to his films and it is a great break from the "plots" of films that have come out in recent years (where you can't figure them out because they are so amazingly stupid). It gives a uniqueness to him that few directors (if any) can match.

Acting/Characters: very well done. The performers did a very good job particularly Naomi Watts. But for a lot of the movie, the characters moved around as if in a dream. This is typical Lynch stuff and the actors did it very well. I enjoyed it. It takes a lot of talent to play characters like this and not only keep them interesting, but to still play them very well when everything has changed about them. Good stuff. 9/10

Plot: In terms of presentation of the plot: if you combine memento and Inception and throw in dashes of Eraserhead you will have this movie. But this one is far more coherent than Eraserhead. I'm still trying to figure out all of Eraserhead and I doubt I ever will. He made it that weird. But once I got to the end I could actually understand a lot of what happened. Not all of it of course, but most of it. I doubt if even Lynch fully understands what his movies are about. If I had to guess he just goes to bed every night and dreams the next scene. That's the thing about Lynch's films: they all have a very dreamlike quality to them. I kinda like that. You can go anywhere in a dreamlike world and Lynch understands that. 10/10

Screenplay: It goes along with everything else. It was really odd. But I feel that with Lynch films the dialogue is the least important aspect. It can be very important, but with films like this what you see is much more important than what you hear the people saying. But, it is often as incoherent as the rest of it all. 9/10

Likableness: I hope to see more Lynch films in the future. this film did nothing to make me want to stop seeing his films. I need to know if he made one that made sense. I doubt it, I highly doubt it. But if I see more maybe I'll understand. But I liked that this one had just enough coherency to the plot to keep you interested especially at the end where if you had been paying attention (which is absolutely vital in a film of his. you blank out for a few minutes and you are done) you began to understand the rest of the film. I enjoyed this one a lot. It wasn't as confusing as Eraserhead, it didn't completely click at the end like Memento, but it was good. 9/10

Final Score: 37/40 92% (N)

TRIVIA TIME: 1. Cameos
a. Angelo Badalamenti the soundtrack composer appears as the espresso-drinking movie exec at the beginning of the film.
b. Cori Glazer the script supervisor is playing the blue-haired lady.
c. Charles Croughwell the stunt coordinator is playing the vacuum man.

2. Originally filmed in 1999 on a budget of $8 million as a made-for-TV pilot, new scenes were filmed one year later on a $7 million budget given by the French film studio Studio Canal to wrap up the open ending which had been left unresolved in the original version so that a TV series could follow.
David Lynch initially resisted Studio Canal's offer to provide additional funds to complete the TV pilot as a feature film. Lynch's battles with ABC network executives had left him with a negative feeling about the project and the director felt he had run out of ideas for the storyline. When Lynch finally agreed to revisit the film, much to his horror he found that all the sets had been destroyed, and all of the costumes and props had been released by ABC (normally all sets, props and costumes for a possible TV series are carefully cataloged and stored for future use). Lynch claims this setback actually proved a blessing in disguise, however, when it finally generated new ideas about how to proceed with filming, and the director was able to come up with a satisfying conclusion to the story.

3. When Rita and Betty go to the Sierra Bonita apartment complex, the name next to #17 is L.J. DeRosa - a member of the art department on the film, Laura J. DeRosa.

4. David Lynch's 10 Clues to Unlocking This Thriller: - Pay particular attention in the beginning of the film: at least two clues are revealed before the credits. - Notice appearances of the red lampshade. - Can you hear the title of the film that Adam Kesher is auditioning actresses for? Is it mentioned again? - An accident is a terrible event... notice the location of the accident. - Who gives a key, and why? - Notice the robe, the ashtray, the coffee cup. - What is felt, realized and gathered at the club Silencio? - Did talent alone help Camilla? - Notice the occurrences surrounding the man behind Winkies. - Where is Aunt Ruth?

5. The film is dedicated to Jennifer Syme, a young actress whose story is startlingly similar to that of the character of Betty - but who in fact died after the bulk of the film was completed.

6. Adam Kesher smashing the producers' car windshield in with a golf club is a reference to the famous 1994 incident where Jack Nicholson did the same. Nicholson's nickname is "Mulholland Man".

7. The Cowboy has no eyebrows. This was done to give the character a more subtle, disturbing appearance.

8. Rebekah Del Rio (the singer at Club Silencio) first met David Lynch when a talent agent took her, on a whim, to a recording studio where Lynch happened to be and asked her to sing a song for him. She performed an impromptu version of "Llorando" which, also on a whim (and without her knowledge) was being taped by the audio engineer. Years later, Lynch decided to incorporate the song into "Mullholland Dr."; except for a few minor tweaks, this is the exact same recording used in the movie.

9. The Region 1 DVD of the movie does not feature "chapters"; attempting to "skip" to the next scene or chapter takes you to the "DVD" logo animation at the very end of the movie after all the credits and ratings and so forth. Director David Lynch requested this himself, as he has done on previous releases, such as The Straight Story. By allowing the film to be on one chapter, Lynch believes people will be more inclined to view the feature in one sitting, as intended. Robert Zemeckis also used this idea on his laserdisc release of Forrest Gump.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

My review of The Muppet's Christmas Carol

Classic, just an absolute instant classic. In a way, I feel like Scrooge now, because I spent my time watching horrid slasher films around Christmastime and now seeing this has made me a much happier person (I had seen it before but not for many years).

Acting/Characters: Well, it isn't Michael Caine's masterpiece performance, but good golly did I have fun watching it. If I had to suspect, the cast of this film had a lot of fun making it. It certainly shows. I really like The Muppets. My favorite Muppet is Beaker but I also really like Gonzo and Statler & Waldorf. I feel that each Muppet filled role was done perfectly. I wouldn't have changed a thing. 10/10

Plot: It's A Christmas Carol with Michael Caine and The Muppets. What else is there to say other than 10/10?

Screenplay: I found myself laughing at the jokes, something that I have not done for a long time. I would laugh at bits of the slasher films because they were so stupid but I liked the jokes here. Not all of them were amazing but who cares? I liked them. I also liked the songs too. My favorite one by far was 'We're Marley and Marley WHOOOOAAAH" 10/10.

Likableness: This film is extremely likable. To any naysayers out there who say "bah humbug" I say better watch out or some of the creepier looking Muppets might become the Christmas ghosts on you. 10/10

As a final note I say to you all, God bless us, every one. Why? Because the DENVER BRONCOS FINALLY FIRED MCDANIELS!!!! Sorry. totally off topic but I am an avid Bronco fan (living in Colorado of course) and seeing how he destroyed my team kills me. Well, now he's gone. Anyway, totally off topic here. sorry.

Final Score: 40/40 100% (N)

TRIVIA TIME: 1. This was the first major Muppet project after the death of creator Jim Henson. Henson had performed Kermit and the role was now being handed down to Steve Whitmire. According to Whitmire he was incredibly nervous about taking over such an iconic character. The night before he had to go record Kermit's songs for the movie, he had a dream where he met Henson in a hotel lobby and told him how unsure he was. In the dream, Henson reassured Whitmire that the feeling would pass. After waking up, Whitmire was confident and able to do the part.

2. There is a store called "Micklewhite". Michael Caine's real name is Maurice Micklewhite.

3. David Hemmings, Ron Moody, David Warner, and George Carlin were among the actors who were considered for the role of Scrooge, before Michael Caine was chosen.

4. Towards the end of the film, a tavern called "Statler & Waldorf" (named after the famous Muppet hecklers) can be spotted.

5. Michael Caine considers the role of Scrooge to be one of his most memorable (to him) roles.

6. The movie is dedicated to the memory of Jim Henson and Richard Hunt. Henson, of course, was the creator of the Muppets. Hunt was one of the Muppet voice performers, perhaps best known as the voice of the character Scooter.

7. Jacob and Robert Marley surrounded by wailing cash boxes is a nod to Bob Marley & The Wailers.

8. According to 'Brian Henson, the decision to use Gonzo and Rizzo to narrate the story was made because he wanted to incorporate the narration and prose of the Charles Dickens novel into the film.

9. At the conclusion of the song "One More Sleep", Kermit is seen standing alone in the street and a shooting star can been seen streaking across the sky. In many (in not all) of the Muppet movies, a shooting star goes across the sky at some point when Kermit is on.

10. Rizzo the Rat is named after Dustin Hoffman's character in the film Midnight Cowboy Enrico "Ratso" Rizzo.

11. The word "Muppet" itself first appeared in 1956, and was said by Henson to have been created by combining the words "Marionette" and "puppet". However, Henson was also known to have stated that it was just something he liked the sound of, and he made up the "marionette/puppet" story while talking to a journalist because it sounded plausible.

Monday, December 6, 2010

My review of Sorority Row

 The sisters of Theta Pi
Are dying to keep a secret

Yet again we have another dumb tagline. I like mine better. It is a variation of the one for Terror Train

The stupid girls
of Theta Pi
some will live
some will die
no one cares

I decided now to go for a modern slasher film. After Slaughter High this thing is as good and new as Scream. But I'm not gonna let my hatred of Slaughter High get in my way of an honest critique of this crapfest. But you know, I realized something while watching this movie. Anyone who kills enough people (3 or more according to the definition) in enough time that it can be fit into one film isn't a Serial Killer, but rather a Spree Killer. Now, Don't get me wrong, Michael and Jason and the like are Serial Killers but killers in movies like this are Spree Killers. But yeah, moving on.

Acting/Characters: Well, they are pretty much the same. They were difficult at times to remember who they were. That is never ever good. You have films like Psycho and Scream and you could name off all of the characters and what they were like in your sleep. My favorite character by far was the killer. why not? he's doing us all a favor. But you know, the acting was not the worst I have seen. It certainly wasn't the best but it wasn't the worst either. That is because you had one or two characters that had good roles. But, I have discovered that it is easy to play a girl who freaks out all of the time and even easier to play a psychopath. But yeah, the characters are just like very other slasher film out there. when you want the killer to win you are either watching The Silence of the Lambs, Psycho, or a really horrible film where the characters are so annoying that you just want them dead so that the film can be slightly watchable. 3/10

Plot: well, another college prank gone wrong film. *groan* It was slightly interesting near the end, but for the other 90 minutes, it was just the girls with a conscience freaking out and the girls without one being b******. Either way you wanted them all to die and the killer to win. That and the killings. There was a long stretch of time between killings. I watched this film to see girls get cut into pieces with a tire iron I didn't watch it to hear them talk about what's going on for 50 minutes. Why does anyone watch a slasher? for the killings! This one was low on them until the very ending. So yeah, It had a rather pathetic plot that got mildly interesting near the end. 3/10

Screenplay: Who writes these things? I surmise, that it would take 100 monkeys on typewriters 100 years to write a Shakespeare play. Well, it would take one monkey 5 minutes to write this nonsense. The monkey would have occasional bursts of intelligence, but overall, the end result would be this. I don't understand how professional screenplay writers come up with his stuff and think it is a good idea. It isn't the worst screenplay that I have come across, but at the end of the day it isn't even as good as the screenplay for Terror Train. 1.5/10

Likableness: When the killer was on screen killing off all of the people that you disliked and no one was talking it was a very fun film. But sadly, there were probably a grand total of 10 minutes where that happened. It was just your average slasher flick. Since the slasher genre is so bad, that isn't a compliment or anything. It's just a fact. When will I find another good one? I hope soon. 2.5/10

Final Score: 10/40 25% (S)

TRIVIA TIME: 1. The movie was originally intended to be R-rated, but after the success of 2008's Prom Night remake, Summit Entertainment planned to trim it to a PG-13 rating. However, the studio changed its mind, and decided to keep the movie as a solid R-rated movie.

2. The bird-shaped cane that Cassidy grabs for a weapon in one scene is a homage to the original The House on Sorority Row, as it's the same style cane that Mrs. Slater carries in that film.

3. According to the script, Cassidy's surname is Tappan, and Jessica's is Pierson.

4. The name of the college the girls attend is Rosman, named after Mark Rosman, the writer/director of the original film, as well as the executive producer of this film.

5. Several of the music tracks used for background during dialog are used in the video game "Sims 3" when the Sims' stereo is set to "Custom".

6. The frat boy who drunkly declares himself a "sea pig" is directly referencing the original film, wherein a student jumps into the sorority swimming pool and declares the same.

7. Leah Pipes originally read for the part for the character of Ellie. After auditioning for Ellie, she auditioned for the part of Jessica. After a second audition for the role of Jessica, as well as a makeover of hair extensions and a wardrobe change, she was given the part.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

My review of Slaughter High

Marty majored in
Cutting classmates

Another dumb tagline. A college major joke for a High School film.

I just can't stop can I? I don't know why I feel the need to keep watching these horrible slasher films!Maybe it's the challenge of finding a good slasher beyond the big 3 (Halloween, Nightmare on Elm Street, Scream) slashers. By the time I'm done, I will be able to give you all a short list of the good ones I have found. But, until then, I have to deal with this nonsense. *shudder* I hate the synthesizer music that plays over and over again every few minutes. And when it isn't, you have sound effects and music that wouldn't be out of place in an old Scooby-Doo cartoon.

Acting/Characters: stereotypes. Overacted stereotypes. Every single syllable of every single line is over-enunciated. It gets annoying very fast. But you know something? I think I finally figured it out, we don't care that people in these movies die because they are all so stupid that they deserve to die. It is almost a kind of natural selection. So in a way, the killers in movies like this are the true heroes for riding the human population of retards like the teens in slasher films. I dunno, maybe I'm just being heartless. But the characters in the film are brainless so it all works out. Usually the killer has somewhat of a brain, which is what allows him to successfully kill people, but not in this movie. If any of the characters had a brain, the events of the film wouldn't have happened. Also, my biggest beef with the film has to be that all of the kills are impossible. well, almost all of them. there was one of them that could have easily happened. But the rest of them are impossible in one way or another. It was ridiculous. 0/10

Plot: so. many. plot. holes. I don't get it. How can a human being be so stupid? I mean, these kids have a lower IQ than any other group of kids in any other slasher film that I have ever seen. That is saying something. Every event in the film could have been avoided if the characters had just done one thing differently. And you will know full well what that is if you are ever forced at gunpoint to see this. I just don't get it. Then they tried to have a "twist" ending that completely failed. Basically, the filmmakers looked at the film and said to themselves, we have already thrown in every single possible thing to make this movie bad, what can we do to make it worse? there has to be something!" well, they found it. The ending...oh the ending hurt my head. A lot. I have now seen every dumb trick that they can throw at me. At least, I hope so. Again, once you are held at gunpoint and forced to watch this, you will understand. I know that some may argue that this film just didn't try to take itself seriously, that might be true but it hid it well if that was the case. i thought that this movie was trying very hard to be the next Halloween. Maybe I just don't get Cult Classics.

Screenplay: Like I said before, every single syllable of every single line was overacted and over-enunciated. EVERY LAST ONE!!! The directors told the actors "we know the screenplay is the worst ever, so make it worse. Come on we're going for the record here: all the Razzies". it shows. 0/10

Likableness: Maybe I'm just taking this movie too seriously or i don't understand films like this, but this is truly one of the worst films I have ever seen and I would gladly add it to any list saying so. I would pick Sleepaway Camp again over this (although, Sleepaway Camp had such a rocking ending that it is an incredibly easy choice). But I would do Sleepaway Camp without the ending. It was that bad. 0/10

Final Score: 0/40 0% (H)

TRIVIA TIME: 1. Simon Scuddamore, who plays the film's slasher, committed suicide shortly after production of the film.

2. The films working title was "April Fool's Day", however the title was changed to keep this film from being confused with the Paramount film April Fool's Day which was released the same year.

3. Star Caroline Munro was actually 36 years old during this film where she played a 'teenage' heroine.

My review of Urban Legend

It happened to
someone who knows
someone you know...

You're next.
what a stupid tagline

Like I said in my review of Candyman, my next review will be of a horror film. well, my next one probably will be of one as well. Eventually I'll run out and I will have an excellent list of horror films to see and horror films to avoid. This one certainly goes in the latter category. It is always best to avoid campy Scream rip-offs.

Acting/Characters: My favorite actor, and therefore favorite character in the film, was Robert Englund. You would all, of course, know him better as Freddy Kreuger. But, the puns were distinctly absent from his performance which is probably why I liked him the most. The rest of the characters were just what every other college stereotype in a slasher film is. You have the goth, best friend, final girl, good guy, party animals, disbelieving Dean etc. Nothing new at all. I don't know why I expected differently. Especially after dozens of these things. 2/10

Plot: If there is one thing I hate, it is PLOT HOLES!!! The ending is one big "Well wait, how did...? Wouldn't they...? That doesn't make any sense!!!" If your gonna have a twist ending, make sure that it is plausible. This one wasn't. Not even close. The plot did have promise i must admit, but they failed to even try to make the film original. If you can't at least find a few ways to make a film original, don't make the film! Also, they fall victim to the fact that by the end, you know who the killer is because A. it's never whom the characters suspect and B. everyone else is either dead or the Final Girl. They could have done better. But they didn't. I don't know why. 2/10

Screenplay: take every single screenplay cliche of a horror film and put it in this one and there you go. you have this films entire screenplay. I don't get it, these people re professional screenplay writers and they come up with this nonsense. why? 1.5/10

Likableness: I've certainly seen worse. I have seen much better as well. This film took a promising plot and riddled it full of cliches and predictability. But, it had its moments where it could be entertaining, particularly when Robert Englund was on the screen. But that was about it. It had some decent kills too. The rest were implausible and just plain stupid Especially once you find out who the killer is. A normal person with superhuman strength? it doesn't work. 2/10

Final Score: 7.5/40 18.5% (S)

TRIVIA TIME: 1. When Paul and Natalie walk into the hidden room in Wexler's office, a puppet of Freddy Krueger can be seen just before they see the axe. Robert Englund, who plays Wexler, played Freddy Krueger in A Nightmare on Elm Street

2. The author of "The Encyclopedia of Urban Legends" is Charles Breen. The doctor on Tosh's bottle of lithium is a doctor Charles Breen. Charles Breen is the production designer

3. Sarah Michelle Gellar accepted the role of Sasha but had to back out due to schedule conflicts with "Buffy the Vampire Slayer"

4. Jodi Lyn O'Keefe was originally offered the role of Sasha, but turned it down to take part in Halloween H20: 20 Years Later

5. The movie's fictional location is Melbourne, New Hampshire. Melbourne is the name of the director's home city in Australia.

6. The last name of Natasha Gregson Wagner's character is 'Mancini'. Don Mancini is the name of the writer of all the "Child's Play" films, and the other actor that is featured in the beginning of the film, Brad Dourif, does the voice of Chucky.

7. The Latin motto of the university, which is featured on its emblem in some scenes, when translated, gives you the identity of the killer.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

My review of Candyman

well whaddyaknow, all the time I spent searching for another good horror/slasher film wasn't wasted. I actually found one. I don't think I'll bother with the 3 sequels (or any upcoming remakes that might happen I don't know if there will be any). It amazes me that good horror films like this one do exist. why can't there be more films like this one? It isn't Oscar worthy but it doesn't melt my eyes with how bad it is either.

Acting/Characters: Finally! A film where not every single character is knife fodder. well, you can still kinda tell who is gonna die, but it isn't immediately obvious. The acting for this film wasn't too bad. i especially liked the main character. But, as with most horror films of this nature, my favorite character was the killer. I really liked what they did with the killer. Other horror films should take note. 8/10

Plot: Basically take Bloody Mary and replace it with Candyman. It isn't the most original plot ever in the area of the bare basics (although I dunno, this might have been the first film like this that deals with curses and bogeymen. I doubt it). However, most slasher films have an unoriginal plot and just leave it at that. This film actually tries to do original things with its plot. I always commend a film for that. It is so incredibly rare in this genre. I also really liked the ending as well. It surprised me a bit. I will admit that the plot had some predictable moments. Particularly with the rising action, but I feel that they didn't completely overshadow everything else and they were few and far between. 7.5/10

Screenplay: Like most horror films I feel that this was the weakest part of the film but that doesn't mean that it was Razzie worthy. it just needed a bit more fine tuning is all. certainly not the worst I have seen. Not the best either. It thankfully didn't have any cringe worthy lines in it. It could have very very very easily though. There were times when it traveled that fine line between mediocre and bad. But, it'll do. It didn't need Casablanca's screenplay but I felt that it needed a bit more tuning. 6/10

Likableness: I was very entertained by this one. It helped vindicate the horror genre for me. I have seen so many bad slasher films that they are starting to blur together but this one is one that I will remember as being one of the better ones. It isn't even close to the level of quality of say, Scream 1 and 2 or Black Christmas, but it is certainly one of the best horrors I have seen in a while. 7.5/10

Final Score: 29/40 72% (D)

TRIVIA TIME: 1. There is a Guy Fawkes mask hanging next to Helen's bathroom mirror. Fawkes is an infamous figure in English history (an influence from Clive Barker's original story perhaps), who attempted to blow up the English Parliament on November 5, 1605. Every year the British celebrate Guy Fawkes Day by lighting bonfires and burning Fawkes in effigy.

2. Virginia Madsen claims that she was hypnotized for some of the film's scenes.

3. "Sweets to the Sweet" which is written on the walls in two areas of Cabrini Green is actually a line from Shakespeare's Hamlet.

4. Virginia Madsen is allergic to bees, so an ambulance was always on set while filming the bee sequence. Also, Real bees were actually put into Tony Todd's mouth while they where shooting the climax. His only protection was a mouth guard that kept him from having the bees go down his throat. Also, The bees were breed specifically for this movie. They need to make sure that the bees were only 12 hours old so that they looked like mature bees, but at that point, the stinger isn't powerful enough to do any real damage.

5. The architecture flaw of the medicine chests and people being able to sneak in, is something that Bernard Rose discovered in his research for the film and there was actually a series of murders that were committed this way.

6. On the DVD commentary, Alan Poul said that had Virginia Madsen been unavailable, the part of Helen would have most likely gone to the then unknown Sandra Bullock.

7. Exterior, hallway and stairway scenes were actually filmed for a few days in the infamous Cabrini-Green housing projects, though the producers had to make a deal with the ruling gang members to put them in the movie as extras to ensure the cast and crew's safety during filming. Even with this arrangement, a sniper put a bullet through the production van on the last day of filming, though no one was injured.

Friday, December 3, 2010

My review of Terror Train

The boys
and girls
of Sigma Phi,

Some will live.

Some will die.

This is now my 6th Jamie Lee Scream Queen film (lets see, Halloween 1,2,4 Prom Night, and now this. never mind, it's my 5th Jamie Lee Scream queen film) I agree withe very critic who gave this a positive review: you could do worse.

Acting/Characters: It could have been worse. it could have been a lot better too. Jamie Lee plays the same character that she played in Halloween and Prom Night just with a different name. The rest of the characters are just what every other knife fodder slasher teen is in the other films. But I feel that,surprisingly, these kids did just a tiny bit better than the kids in the other slashers. Nothing award winning (maybe Teen Choice Award winning but everyone with even half a brain knows that they aren't real awards anyway). Jamie Lee obviously had the most character. Boy, she can scream. You know, one thing that I have noticed is that no matter how old Jamie Lee is when doing a film, she sounds exactly the same. Her voice that is. I bet the second she started talking as a young child she sounded like she does now. I'm rambling on a random tangent but yeah, it could have been worse. 4/10

Plot: If Alien taught us one thing about Horror Films is that a claustrophobic setting is always a plus. There are few more claustrophobic settings than a train. I liked that a lot. Other than that, it was the same thing as every other slasher: masked killer stalking and killing teens until only Jamie Lee is left. If I hadn't seen so many films like that I might have enjoyed the plot a bit more. But I also noticed that this film had a Dr. Loomis sort of character. Not someone who was desperately looking for the deranged killer but rather an adult who is really the only person who really knows what is going on and has more brains than all of the teens combined. I also liked the ending a bit more than I did with the other slasher films. The identity of the killer isn't something that this film tries to hide, but it still manages to get in a few twists that you didn't see coming. So, at least this film tried. 6/10

Screenplay: well, this is like the rest of the movie, it could have been a lot worse. It could have been like every other slasher film out there. In many ways it was, but the screenplay found a few ways to be a bit better than the rest of the slashers. It was still decently generic. 4/10

Likableness: you know, I wasn't rolling my eyes as much as I normally do during a slasher film which is always nice. But that isn't to say I didn't roll my eyes. there were certainly moments where I did. But overall, I must agree with he critics: you could do worse. A lot worse. It was decently entertaining and I must give it credit for that. 5/10

Final Score: 19/40 47% (M)

TRIVIA TIME: 1. The idea for Terror Train came from a dream that Daniel Grodnikhad. One weekend night after seeing the films Halloween and Silver Streak, Dan woke up and said to his wife, "What do you think about putting Halloween on a train? His wife answered, "That's terrible. He jotted down "Terrible Train" on a piece of paper on his nightstand. In the morning he changed the title to TERROR TRAIN, wrote up 22 pages, and made a deal on it with Sandy Howard's company at 3 in the afternoon.

2. Jamie Lee Curtis shot this film back to back with the similarly themed slasher film Prom Night in late 1979. Both films were shot in Canada; Prom Night in Toronto and Terror Train in Montreal.

3. The film's German title is 'Monster im Nacht-Express', which translates to 'Monster on the Night Express Train'.

4. 'Derek MacKinnon' who played Kenny also played ten other characters, making it eleven in total.

5. Filmed aboard actual train cars that were converted to allow space for large camera equipment for the production.

My review of Piranha 3D

Meh. You know, as I am an 18 year old college student, movies like this teach me many things. I have survived the serial killer stuff of high school, and now I have to survive a few more serial killers and 4 spring break vacations to beach locations and I can finally go on to become a security guard for an evil corporation. I am in the prime of my life for an unfortunate occurrence that ends my life in a violent way. High schoolers get killed by serial killers, college students get killed on Spring Break and if you survive that sweet. Dr. No is hiring. Ya just gotta make it to 30 and your rate of dying by some unseen violent occurrence drops drastically. I'm rambling here and probably not making much sense so yeah, Piranha 3D.

Acting/Characters: You know, Jerry O'Connell should stop doing horror films playing a character named Derrek. It just doesn't end well. That aside, there didn't really need to be acting in this film. All anyone really had to do was panic and die. My favorite characters by far were Christopher Lloyd and Richard Dreyfuss. I particularly liked all of the Jaws references with Dreyfuss. No characters flat out annoyed me which is always nice. Overall, it could have been worse. However, they put kids in the movie! Kids have no point. You know they're not gonna die so why put them in there. every character in the film should be fair game for a brutal and bloody death. Kids can't die in horror. What's the point? 6/10

Plot: You can pretty much tell the plot from looking at the poster. All it is is blood,, blood, and more blood. This is one of the goriest films I have ever seen. This is a total "shut down and enjoy the carnage" movie. So yeah, other than piranhas eating people, there isn't too much in the way of plot. Not that there needs to be. 6/10

Screenplay: Packed full of Jaws references especially in the very beginning. I liked that. I like it when movies reference other movies. Other than that the screenplay was a bit weak. Like most of the movie, it could have been a lot worse. 5/10

Likableness: Maybe it's just because I was tired that day or that I might not have been in the mood for that level of gore, I just wasn't feeling it. But I still recognized its good points. And its bad points. I doubt that the sequel will succeed. It might though. If it doesn't take itself seriously like this one, it could work. But yeah. it was a halfway decent film 5/10

Final Score: 22/40 55% (M)

TRIVIA TIME: 1. Alexandre Aja planned to have Joe Dante (director of the original Piranha (1978)) and James Cameron (director of Piranha Part Two: The Spawning (1981)) play boat captains who give safety lessons to the teens. Dante wanted to do it but Cameron was too busy.

2. The movie has a movie poster with the same style as Jaws and its sequels i.e. the monster at the bottom of the sea concept

3. Richard Dreyfuss' character has the same first name (Matt) as his character in Jaws. Dreyfuss' character is called Matt Boyd in this movie whereas in the earlier film his character was called Matt Hooper.

4. The director filmed scenes specifically for the trailers and TV spots.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

My review of The Godfather

I know this is a stereotypical thing to say, but The Godfather is my favorite movie of all time, plain and simple. It earned that though. It isn't something that I say lightly. I'm sure anyone who reads my reviews can attest to that.

Acting/Characters: I stand by the fact that Anthony Hopkins' performance as Hannibal Lecter is the single greatest performance ever. The performance is, to me, why Hannibal Lecter is the greatest fictional character ever. Film or paper. However, The Godfather has the single greatest collection of fantastic performances ever. James Caan as Sonny, Robert DuVall as Tom, Diane Keaton as Kay, Talia Shire as Connie, John Cazale as Fredo, Al Pacino as Michael, and of course, the biggest performance of all, Marlon Brando as Don Vito Corleone. I gotta tell you, The Godfather should have won more than one acting award. Heck, it should have won more than 3 Oscars overall. I will not dispute Brando's Oscar (nor should anyone) But I do feel that Al Pacino should have won over Joel Gray. I can only hope that the academy does too. I feel that Al Pacino's character development is the best I have seen. He goes from sweet naive college boy, to ""I gotta do this for the family", to "I am gonna butcher anyone who gets in my way." He does this flawlessly. Brando also does excellent in his role as the aging Don of the powerful Corleone crime family. I enjoyed seeing how his character transformed over the course of the movie as well from the ruthless calculating Don to the old withered man saddened by the goings on around him. It is just all flawless. 10/10

Plot: I have read the book so I can say with certainty that the movie improves on the book. Usually the book is better than the movie but I enjoy the movie a lot more than I enjoyed the book. But frankly, the book is still excellent. The movie could not have been done without the book and I am glad that Puzo worked on the movie with Coppola. It helped the movie become what it is simply because you don't have an author who resents it. Few things can hurt a movie based on a popular book more than an author who is against the movie every step of the way. In this case the author helped refine the movie. I feel that the plot of the movie is one of the best I have seen. It held my attention throughout the entire movie (quite a feat considering the 3 hour running time). I won't go into more detail because i don't give away plot details and it is better that you don't know anything going in, but I will say this quote from my father: most movies these days just dump the plot on your lap and say "here you go enjoy" The Godfather simply whispers it in your ear. I fully agree. 10/10

Screenplay: "Well let me tell you something my Kraut Mick friend, I'm gonna make so much trouble for you, you won t know what hit you!"

"I'm gonna make him an offer he can't refuse"

"Don Corleone, I am honored and grateful that you have invited me to your daughter... 's wedding... on the day of your daughter's wedding. And I hope their first child be a masculine child. I pledge my ever-ending loyalty."

"Oh, Godfather, I don't know what to do, I don't know what to do..."
"YOU CAN ACT LIKE A MAN! What's the matter with you? Is this what you've become, a Hollywood finocchio who cries like a woman? "Oh, what do I do? What do I do?" What is that nonsense? Ridiculous!"

"Leave the gun. Take the Cannoli."

as you can probably guess, I hold the screenplay of this film in higher regard than I do the screenplay of Casablanca. I know that the screenplay is one of the reasons that the characters are so good. the actors of this film had so much to work with with the screenplay that it was impossible for actors of that caliber to fail. 10/10

Likableness: I don't feel that I need to say anything more about why I feel that this film is the best film ever. I just urge those of you who haven't seen it to do so ASAP. 10/10

Final Score: 40/40 100% (P) (Stamp of perfection)

TRIVIA TIME: 1. Some people considered for the role of Vito Corleone: Ernest Borgnine, Edward G. Robinson, Orson Welles, Danny Thomas, Richard Conte, Anthony Quinn, George C. Scott, Burt Lancaster, Carlo Ponte, Frank Sinatra and Laurence Olivier.

2. According to an August 1971 article by Nicholas Pileggi in The New York Times, a supporting cast member became so committed to his role that he accompanied a group of Mafia enforcers on a trip to beat up strike breakers during a labor dispute. But the enforcers had the wrong address and were unable to find the strike breakers. The actor's name was not revealed.

3. Mafia crime boss Joe Colombo and his organization The Italian-American Civil Rights League started a campaign to stop the film from being made. According to Robert Evans in his autobiography, Colombo called his home and threatened him and his family. Paramount received many letters during pre-production from Italian-Americans - including politicians - decrying the film as anti-Italian. They threatened to protest and disrupt filming. Producer Albert S. Ruddy met with Colombo who demanded that the terms "Mafia" and "Cosa Nostra" not be used in the film. Ruddy gave them the right to review the script and make changes. He also agreed to hire League members (read: mobsters) as extras and advisers. The angry letters ceased after this agreement was made. Paramount owner Charlie Bluhdorn read about the agreement in The New York Times and was so outraged that he fired Ruddy and shut down production. But Evans convinced Bluhdorn that the agreement was beneficial for the film and Ruddy was rehired.

4. The early buzz on the film was so positive that a sequel was planned before the film was finished filming.

5. Gianni Russo used his organized crime connections to secure the role of Carlo Rizzi, going so far as to get a camera crew to film his own audition and send it to the producers. However, Marlon Brando was initially against having Russo, who had never acted before, in the film; this made Russo furious and he went to threaten Brando. However, this reckless act proved to be a blessing in disguise: Brando thought Russo was acting and was convinced he would be good for the role.

6. Marlon Brando wanted to make Don Corleone "look "like a bulldog," so he stuffed his cheeks with cotton wool for the audition. For actual filming, he wore a mouthpiece made by a dentist; this appliance is on display in the American Museum of the Moving Image in Queens, New York.

7. The cat held by Marlon Brando in the opening scene was a stray the actor found while on the lot at Paramount, and was not originally called for in the script. So content was the cat that its purring muffled some of Brando's dialogue, and, as a result, most of his lines had to be looped.

8. During an early shot of the scene where Vito Corleone returns home and his people carry him up the stairs, Marlon Brando put weights under his body on the bed as a prank, to make it harder to lift him.

9. Marlon Brando did not memorize most of his lines and read from cue cards during most of the film.

10. Director Francis Ford Coppola worked with relatives in this film, (making it a family film in many contexts). In chronological order of appearance:
- his sister Talia Shire portrayed Connie Corleone throughout the trilogy
- his mother Italia Coppola serves as an extra in the restaurant meeting
- his father Carmine Coppola is the piano player in the Mattress sequence
- his sons Gian-Carlo Coppola and Roman Coppola can be seen as extras in the scene where Sonny beats up Carlo, and at the funeral
- and his daughter Sofia Coppola is the baby Michael Rizzi in the baptism (she was three weeks old at the time of shooting).

11. Don Vito Corleone's distinctive voice was based on real-life mobster Frank Costello. Marlon Brando had seen him on TV during the Kefauver hearings in 1951 and imitated his husky whisper in the film.

12. The film makes use of a variety of Italian words:
- Paulie says "sfortunato", which in Italian means "What a unlucky guy!" (ironic), referring to Carlo (wedding scene).
- Michael explains that Tom is a "consigliere," or a counselor;
- Vito calls Johnny Fontane a "finocchio," an offensive term for a homosexual
- Sonny refers to Paulie as a "stronzo," a term equivalent to "asshole"
- Carlo and Connie both say "vaffanculo" during their fight, which means "fuck you"
- Don Zaluchi calls the sale of drugs to children as an "infamita," or an infamy
- and both the Dons Corleone use the word "pezzonovante," which means ".95 caliber," or more accurately meaning "big shot".

13. George Lucas put together the "Mattress Sequence" (the montage of crime scene photos and headlines about the war between the five families) as a favor to Francis Ford Coppola for helping him fund American Graffiti. He asked not to be credited. George Lucas used photos from real crime scenes in the Mattress Sequence. One of the most prominent photos shows two cops kneeling beside what looks like a man sleeping on the ground with his head propped up against a fence. That man is Frank "The Enforcer" Nitti, Al Capone's right-hand man who had, in fact, committed suicide with a gunshot to the head.

14. The actor playing Luca Brasi, Lenny Montana, was so nervous about working with Marlon Brando that, in the first take of their scene together, he flubbed some lines. Francis Ford Coppola liked the genuine nervousness and used it in the final cut. The scenes of Brasi practicing his speech were added later.

15. At the meeting in the restaurant, Sollozzo speaks to Michael in Sicilian so rapid subtitles could not be used. He begins with: "I am sorry. What happened to your father was business. I have much respect for your father. But your father, his thinking is old-fashioned. You must understand why I had to do that. Now let's work through where we go from here." When Michael returns from the bathroom, he continues in Sicilian with: "Everything all right? I respect myself, understand, and cannot allow another man to hold me back. What happened was unavoidable. I had the unspoken support of the other Family dons. If your father were in better health, without his eldest son running things, no disrespect intended, we wouldn't have this nonsense. We will stop fighting until your father is well and can resume bargaining. No vengeance will be taken. We will have peace. But your Family should interfere no longer."

16. Al Pacino's maternal grandparents emigrated to America from Corleone, Sicily, just as Vito Corleone had.

17. During filming, James Caan and Gianni Russo did not get along and were frequently at loggerheads. During filming Sonny's beating on Carlo, Caan nearly hit Russo with the stick he threw at him, and actually broke two of Russo's ribs and chipped his elbow.

18. Jewish actors James Caan and Abe Vigoda portray Italian characters (Santino Corleone, Salvatore Tessio), while Italian Alex Rocco, portrays a Jewish character (Moe Greene).

19. The only comment Robert Duvall will make about his performance is that he wished "they would have made a better hairpiece" for his character.

Monday, November 15, 2010

The politics of the Academy Awards

The Politics behind the Academy Awards
Once a year, Hollywood’s elite gather to honor the film makers that they deem worthy of recognition. Many have had the dream of standing in front of their peers giving a tearful acceptance speech. Very few have achieved that dream. On the surface the Oscars are simply a way to give the best of the best their due. However, if the surface layer of the Oscars is taken off, layers of politics are revealed that are as convoluted as the average presidential election. This is not to say that the Academy Awards are necessarily corrupt, it is more like a popularity contest. The best do not always win. In fact the Academy Awards are very political.
To truly understand how the Oscars could possibly be so political, one must understand how they work in the first place. It begins with the nominees being chosen. In a 2010 article John August explains the process. “I got a…catalogue of all the eligible choices for Best Picture. I had to pick and rank my top 10 films” (August). He continues explaining that as member of a certain branch of film making “The Writers Branch” (August) he can only vote for certain Oscars as opposed to all of them. “I’ll be casting votes for Original Screenplay, Adapted Screenplay, and Best Picture” (August). Members can only vote in fields that they directly participate in. However, everyone votes for Best Picture. He also says that though he ranks his choices, “it’s not a weighted Ballot” (August). The voters rank their ballots so that the Academy gets a better picture about what the voters feel about the nominated films. This applies for every category. Once all the members of the Academy have voted, the ballots are sent to
PriceWaterhouseCoopers LLP to be counted. “The Academy had hired Price Waterhouse and Co…to count the ballots and ensure secrecy” (Osborne 66). The nominees are usually announced roughly a month before the ceremony after all the ballots have been mailed. As of 1940, all the winners are kept a secret “to avoid any embarrassing press leaks as had occurred in the past” (Osborne 66). Before 1940, the press received the names of the winners on the night of the Oscar ceremony.
When the night of the Academy Awards finally arrives, the competitions are split into two different categories. There are the smaller Oscar categories such as Best Documentary, and Best Live Action Short, and then there are The Big Five. The Big Five are Best Picture, Best Actor, best Actress, Best Director, and either one of the screenplay Awards. To date only three films have won all five major awards: It Happened one Night in 1934, One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest in 1975, and The Silence of the Lambs in 1991 (Osborne 36, 233, 309). The fight for the Big Five Oscars makes up the most political part of the Oscar races.
Academy Awards yield more than just winning a golden statue. They often help to either jumpstart or revitalize a career for a film maker. An example is Christoph Waltz, who won Best Supporting Actor for playing the villainous Colonel Hans Landa in Quentin Tarantino’s latest film Inglourious Basterds. Thanks to this win he will have his pick of films to act in during the next few years. Before Basterds, he was an actor in small unknown German films. Furthermore winning an Oscar helps anyone no matter what part of the film industry they belong to. James Brooks, the director of the 1983 Best Picture winner Terms of Endearment, noted after winning, ““The Oscar gives you the right to make whatever film you want next”” (Levy 306). Also, if a film wins an Oscar that hasn’t come out on video yet, then the film’s total gross increases significantly. For instance, after Million Dollar Baby won multiple Academy Awards for 2004, including Best Picture and Best Actress, it saw its total gross for the film increase 56% (box office mojo). Considering all of these benefits that a film maker receives from winning an Oscar, doesn’t it make sense that they would fight tooth and nail for votes?
Film makers employ many tactics to try to garner votes from their peers during voting time. The most popular tactic is getting the production company to campaign for your film. “Orion had set aside a $350,000 promotional budget for The Silence of the Lambs” (Holden 470).Obviously, the bigger studios have the most effective campaigns. That is simply because they have the most money to campaign with. Another prominent, yet clandestine, type of campaigning is the smear campaign. A smear campaign occurs when a studio or an individual opposed to a certain movie or film maker publishes something that paints the movie in a negative light. “The New York Times published an article saying “Social activists are worried that the movie will send the wrong kind of message to people with spinal injuries”” (Setoodeh). The article was referring to the controversial ending of the 2004 Best Picture winner Million Dollar Baby. For a more recent example, the producer of The 2009 Best Picture winner The Hurt Locker, Nicholas Cartier made backhanded comments about one of the other nominees, Avatar. He said “If everyone tells one or two of their friends we will win and not a $500M film, we need independent movies to win like the movies you and I do.” What he was doing was telling all his friends to tell all their friends to vote for The Hurt Locker and not for Avatar which was the 500M dollar film he was referring to. Although despite some of the potential truth that smear campaigns carry, they often have little to no effect on the results. When asked if he thought smear campaigns were effective, professional film critic Tony Macklin said “Not really”. Also, according to Ramin Setoodeh’s 2010 article about smear campaigns, their effectiveness is limited. His article shows that most of the films and film makers that are the victims of smear campaigns end up winning anyway.
Sometimes no amount of campaigning will help a film maker’s cause. Oftentimes no matter what happens beforehand, certain films will almost definitely win because of the connections the filmmakers have. Tony Macklin noted “The actors who vote have a major, often decisive, influence. They vote for one of their own when an actor directs: Redford and Ordinary People, Costner and Dances with Wolves, Gibson and Braveheart, Eastwood and Unforgiven and Million Dollar Baby” However, this seems to apply exclusively to men. Actresses who have directed Best Picture nominees continually get snubbed. The most famous example is Barbra Streisand the iconic actress who won Best Actress in 1968 tying for the award with Katherine Hepburn. During her career, she directed two smash hits Yentl and The Prince of Tides. However, she was not nominated for Best Director for either of them something that shocked Hollywood. Yentl didn’t even get a Best Picture nomination and The Prince of Tides lost out for Best Picture. “The Directors Branch chose to repeat their Yentl snub of eight years earlier by failing to nominate Barbra Streisand” (Holden 457). However, the Academy did attempt to make it up to her. It was no coincidence that Barbra Streisand announced Kathryn Bieglow as the first woman to win Best Director.
Another significant type of politics is the Domino Effect. This describes something that happens over a number of years. The first example happened between 1938 and 1941. In 1938, Robert Donat was the forerunner for Best Actor for his performance in The Citadel. Surprisingly, Spencer Tracy won for his role in Boys Town. So, seemingly to apologize for the loss, they gave it to him the next year for Goodbye Mr. Chips. However, Jimmy Stewart was considered the obvious winner for his role in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. Therefore, the next year, the award went to Jimmy Stewart for The Philadelphia Story. “Jimmy Stewart’s Oscar was considered a gold plated apology for being robbed of last year’s Mr. Smith goes to Washington” (Kinn/Piazza 57). However, as with before, many believe he was not the most deserving candidate. The forerunner in 1941 was Henry Fonda for The Grapes of Wrath. Unfortunately for Fonda, the Domino Effect stopped there and he didn’t win until 1981 for On Golden Pond. Nevertheless, people often win Oscars in later years as an apology robbed of their chance at receiving an Oscar in the past. Whoopi Goldberg won Best Supporting Actress in 1990 after being robbed for Best Actress in 1985. “Goldberg got her revenge for The Color Purple fiasco” (Holden 438). In fact, she only lost because Geraldine Page had seven failed nominations behind her before 1985. “Many thought the timing of this award was more of a career tribute than recognition of her touching performance” (Kinn/Piazza 245). The Academy decided to give Geraldine Page an Oscar because she hadn’t received one for her previous work.
Additionally, many of the films that win Best Picture reflect the troubles of the times. Currently the Iraq war rages in the Middle East and a film about the Iraq War, The Hurt Locker, just won Best Picture. While America was involved in World War II, three films about World War II won Best Picture. Oftentimes though, the films don’t even deal with war. When On the Waterfront won in 1954, McCarthyism was running rampant. On the Waterfront tells the tale of a dock worker who must decide whether or not to give information about his friends and mentors
who are part of the mob to the law. To strengthen the connection, the screenwriter for the movie was blacklisted, proving that the Academy will often pick films for Best Picture with which they can relate. When Mrs. Miniver was released in 1942 it effectively portrayed the hardships of the civilians living through World War II, On the Waterfront showed the moral dilemmas of blacklisting and inspired people to do what was right no matter the cost, The Best Years of Our Lives showed the hardships of soldiers returning home after enduring World War II, and The Hurt Locker gave a powerful account of the Iraq War.
Moreover, people vote for the movies that show their particular ethnicity or beliefs in a powerful manner or in a good light. A prime example is the 1993 Best Picture winner Schindler’s List. Tony Macklin states, “There is a strong Jewish contingency in the academy”. Schindler’s List effectively portrayed the horrors of the Holocaust so that people today could see what it was like and maybe understand what the Jewish people went through. However, even portraying the Holocaust so effectively didn’t help Schindler’s List win any 1993 acting awards. Liam Neeson was considered a definite winner for his portrayal of Oskar Schindler but he lost to Tom Hanks. “There is a bloc of gay individuals in Hollywood” says Macklin. Arguably, this played a huge role in helping Tom Hanks win over Neeson for his role of Andrew Beckett, a homosexual dying of AIDS, in the movie Philadelphia. Macklin also says “Last year’s politics probably decided that Sean Penn won for his role as gay activist Harvey Milk…Mickey Rourke was the surprise loser”.
Over the course of the Academy’s 82 years, many people have felt the anticipation of a “guaranteed” win for an Oscar and then the crushing disappointment when they lose to a surprise winner. No one seems to have experienced this more than the legendary director, Steven Spielberg. “It was an impromptu wildly entertaining party for everyone except Steven Spielberg, humiliated by his 0-11 shutout for his first grownup movie The Color Purple” (Kinn/Piazza 244). The Color Purple didn’t win even one of its 11 nominations, becoming only the second film to ever lose that badly. The humiliations didn’t stop there for Spielberg. An article by Michael Wilmington of the Chicago Tribune says “Ever since Harrison Ford opened the envelope to name the Best Picture of 1998, people have quibbled over whether Shakespeare in Love really deserved to beat Saving Private Ryan.” He also asks, “Was it resentment of Steven Spielberg’s whole charmed career?” It isn’t unlikely. Spielberg has been the director of a Best Picture nominee six times with Jaws, Raiders of the Lost Ark, E.T., The Color Purple, Schindler’s List, and Saving Private Ryan (Osborne 234,246,268,280,316,344). Supposedly by the time he started making films that were Best Picture worthy, people tired of him.
There have been moments, though few and far between, where someone’s name has been announced and they do the unthinkable, they decline it. This has only happened twice in the history of the Oscars. George C. Scott declined Best Actor for his role in Patton in 1970 and Marlon Brando followed suit in 1972 by declining for his role in The Godfather. “George C. Scott shocked the world when he declined his Oscar for Patton” (Levy 280). George C. Scott never made it a secret as to why he declined it. He said, “The Oscar is a meat parade, barbarous and innately corrupt” (Levy 280). Brando’s refusal became even more famous and controversial than Scott’s. When Liv Ullman and Roger Moore read the name of Marlon Brando as Best Actor for his role in The Godfather, a young woman in traditional Native American clothes named Sacheen Littlefeather came up to the podium and read part of a speech written by Brando protesting the unfair treatment of Native Americans in film to a stunned crowd. Some people praised Brando for his move while others criticized it. Whatever people said about it, it shocked everyone.
From the very beginning politics have influenced who receives the Oscar. Whether the Academy honors someone for their career as opposed to them actually deserving it for the best film making of the year, some form of bias, or dislike of a worthy candidate, the Oscars have always been politically influenced. When asked about whether or not he thought this would always be the case, Tony Macklin said “Life is Political”. Right or wrong, it seems politics will continue to remain an innately present aspect of Hollywood’s biggest awards.

1. They’re not worthy-2000 article by Michael Wilmington
2. Behind the Oscar: the secret history of the Academy Awards-Book by Anthony Holden
3. The Academy Awards: the Complete Unofficial History-Book by Gail Kinn and Jim Piazza
4. All About the Oscar-Book by Emanuel Levy
5. 80 Years of the Oscar-Book by Robert Osborne
6. Interviewed Professional Film Critic Tony Macklin
7. Internet article about the voting process by John August
8. (box office mojo is the corporation behind the website)
9. Internet article about smear campaigns by Ramin Setoodeh

Friday, November 12, 2010

My review of Saw II

I have been meaning to do a review for this one for a while. well, here it goes then.

Acting/Characters: This film set the standard for what the characters would be for the rest of the series: deranged jerks, the whiny girl who freaks out the whole game, the obsessed cop, the one who tries to be reasonable about the whole thing and so on and so forth. This film also started Jigsaw off as a major character. The problem with this movie (and indeed, the rest of the series) is that 99% of the characters in the film (like in most slashers) are one dimensional cardboard cutouts of humans that are only there to show one emotion throughout the whole movie until they die a grisly death. Boring. You know, Jigsaw is the only character in this one that I really actually like. despite the fact that he's a deranged sociopath (by the way, I was taking a sociology class and I asked the teacher what the difference between a psychopath and a sociopath is and she wasn't totally sure, but she said that to the best of her knowledge, a psychopath is a killer who has lost all touch with reality. Take the serial killer Ed Gein as an example. a sociopath is a killer who kills but can still fool people with a masquerade as a normal person. Hannibal Lecter for an example. Anyway, yeah random tangent) he is still the most likable character in the whole film for me. I didn't care about anyone else. 2/10

Plot: After watching the Saw franchise (minus the 7th one as of right now) I realized that the best traps in saw aren't the really elaborate and painful ones that will rip you into small pieces, rather the best Saw traps are the ones that you look at and you squirm in your seat because you can sort of imagine what that feels like. This movie is pretty much the last one that has traps like that. the ones in particular that I am thinking about are the needle pit and the razor box. I can kinda imagine what that feels like so those are the best traps. The sequel has wild traps tat will rip you to shreds if you fail and that is boring because you can't imagine what that feels like. Anyway, all that aside, the plot of this film is decently interesting. Nothing really good or well done but it is enough to keep you interested. the combination of that and some good traps leads me to give this section 5/10

Screenplay: I am tired of crappy screenplays. They are far too common in these kinds of films. I would have to think that professional screenwriters can do better than this but apparently not. .5/10

Likableness: It is an entertaining film. it has its boring parts and wild traps but it is overall not the worst of the sequels. It might even be the best sequel. I dunno. It was entertaining I suppose. 5/10

Final score: 12.5/40 31% (S)

TRIVIA TIME: 1. The advertising posters for the film had to be recalled on orders from the MPAA because the two severed fingers forming the "II" in the posters did not meet guidelines for film advertising. The new poster makes it more obscure. Also, posters had listed the film as being rated R when at the time the film still hadn't gone before the MPAA for a rating.

2. It took around 120,000 syringes to complete the needle pit sequence. It took four days for four people to replace all of the needle tips with fiber tips for the needle pit scene. Gelatin and a little water were added to the needle pit to make the syringes more movable and slippery. The creators and writers had originally thought of having a character be forced to dig through a bathtub full of the syringes, but decided it wouldn't be enough, instead wanting it on a grander scale. After thinking of the pit in the middle of the room, they intended for a character to land up to her neck in the needles as if it were a pool, but realized that it would be impossible for her to sink into such a pool, along with the fact that getting enough needles would have taken too long as it took the production team a long time to get as many needles as they had.

3. The hall Det. Matthews walks down to pick up his son at the police office was actually a dressing room for the crew.

4. Shawnee Smith was pregnant during filming, but kept it a secret from everyone, including the director and producers. Her daughter gave the secret away one day during lunch, but only to the director/writer Darren Lynn Bousman.

5. A few of the traps actually worked: the Venus fly trap could close, turning the key could shoot the gun, and the blades in the razor box could cut you if they were metal.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

My review of Friday the 13th Part 2

I have been trying to find and watch this one for a while. last night I succeeded in finding it. I watched it. I had always known that the series would absolutely suck. I wasn't a huge fan of the first one to be quite honest but this one makes the original look really good. (maybe that's a slight exaggeration).

Acting/Characters: bland. that's all there is to say, the characters are bland. One dimensional cardboard characters. maybe the director intended for them to be something more (although I doubt it, knife fodder sells). The actors certainly didn't do a good job with the characters. Although, I feel that the actors are hardly to blame for that. It is hard to work with bad characters as an actor. I will say that the highlight of the film for me was the flashbacks at the very beginning with Pamela Voorhees. "Kill her Mommy, Kill her." I really liked that. But yeah, overall the characters were weak. I didn't care about a single one of them. Also, Jason could have been done better. I realize that they haven't gotten to the Hockey Mask Tilt the Head Killer yet, but Jason just wasn't that scary. all of the characters in this one follow the list of rules that I found near the Meyers House (for more on that, check my blog entitled Oh My Gosh! It All Makes Sense Now!). .5/10

Plot: same plot as before really. Same plot as the sequels. Dumb teenagers getting slashed up by an unstoppable killer. BORING. The guys have an IQ of about 8 and the girls have the same IQ. the only real difference between the boys and the girls is that the girls wear shirts that are pretty much bras with sleeves and short short short short shorts. The final girl is obviously the only exception as she has an IQ of about 26. same old same old. Nothing new here. The director of this one could at least try to make this one original. I don't really understand why they don't. .5/10

Screenplay: 0/10. That's all I need to say.

Likableness: as a generic slasher film it does what it's supposed to. Although, I doubt that the makers of the film made it so that it would be a total bore the whole way through. The worst part is that TONS of people actually paid money to see this (granted, ticket prices were probably MUCH cheaper back then but STILL!!!) 1/10.

Final Score: 2/40 5% (S)

TRIVIA TIME: 1. This film has one of the longest pre-credit sequences in cinematic history, nearly 15 minutes in some versions.

2. The lead character Ginny Field was named after Virginia Field, who was the production designer on both the first two Friday the 13th films.

3. During the climactic fight between Jason and Ginny, Jason raises the mattock to block Ginny's machete swing. Amy Steel said that during the first take, the timing was wrong and she accidentally hit 'Steve Dash''s finger, causing him to have to go to the emergency room. Steve Dash has photos of him being treated in the ER in his costume, fake machete still stuck through his shoulder. After his finger was stitched up, he returned to set that night and insisted they complete the scene. She said they simply put a condom on his finger and applied make-up to make it look dirty.

4. 48 seconds were cut by the MPAA to avoid an X rating. Including A shot of the infamous double-impalement yet a gory still photo of this censored shot appears on the back of the videocassette box.

5. When the filmmakers asked Adrienne King to reprise her role as Alice, she said that she wanted to be on screen for a short period of time because there was an obsessive fan who was stalking her, broke into her apartment, and she feared for her life. Following the release of the movie, Adrienne King had numerous encounters with an obsessive fan. The situation escalated into a stalker case, and she decided to avoid any further acting opportunities. She has not done any on-screen film work since, but has done voice over work on several films more than 15 years later.

6. The first Jason scene in the movie is a shot of Jason's legs walking across the street toward Alice's house. This is the only time in the series Jason was played by a woman. Jason's legs belonged to Ellen Lutter, the film's costume designer.

7. Jason in this film is dressed to look exactly the same as the hooded, burlap sack killer from The Town That Dreaded Sundown.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

My review of The Bride of Chucky

Well, I have started to see the films that other than the original, I was most excited to see. I have heard that these films are more comedy horror than anything actual horror like the last 3.

Acting: I know that the main actor, Nick Stabile, went to High School with my mother and that they even acted with each other. cool. Anyway, like always, the best stuff comes out of Chucky and also Tiffany has some good stuff too. They certainly have the most character of anyone in the film. But really, the acting in this one was too silly to really be taken seriously. It was just good enough that it didn't ruin the rest of the movie. 6/10

Plot: Well well, what do you know? They actually came up with an original plot. Instead of Chucky being revived again and him going after Andy they take it in a whole new direction. I love that. I really liked the blend of comedy and horror. It was ridiculous and satirical of itself and the genre (for examples of that, see Trivia Time #1). I really like it when a movie satirizes its genre. Especially if it does it well. 7/10

Screenplay: Still not the best in the world but I think it is the best of the series. The tiffs between Chucky and Tiffany are great. Here's an example: Tiffany: For god's sake Chucky, drag yourself into the 90s. Stabbings went out with Bundy and Dahmer. You look like Martha Stewart with that thing.
Chucky: Who the f*** is Martha Stewart?
Tiffany: My idol. And what does Martha tell you to do when friends drop by for dinner and you haven't had time to shop? You improvise.

Later when wondering what to do with a body of a victim: Tiffany: What are we gonna do?
Chucky: [Sarcastically] I don't know, what would Martha Stewart do?

I love it. It was great. 8.5/10

Likableness: Well I...oh my gosh...I liked it. I liked it a lot. Huh. I wouldn't have guessed It was incredibly cheesy but. wow. I liked it. It wasn't perfect and there were parts I didn't like which was to be expected but overall, I really enjoyed it. 9/10

Final Score: 30.5/40 76% (N)

TRIVIA TIME: 1. In the opening scene Michael Myers' and Jason's masks (from the Halloween and Friday the 13th movies), Leatherface's chain saw (from the Texas Chainsaw Massacre movies), and Freddy Kruger's glove (from the Nightmare on Elm Street movies) are visible. Also in the evidence room in the beginning of the movie, there is "The Crate" from the movie "Creepshow"

2. There is a character in the film named Damien Baylock. In The Omen, the satanic child is called Damien, while his evil nanny is called Mrs. Baylock.

3. A certain Bride of Chucky promotional poster is a parody of one of the Scream 2 posters.

4. When one of the characters is killed, his face looks like Pinhead from Hellraiser. Chucky exclaims "Why Does That Look So Familiar?"

5. Chucky's voodoo chant (which, if I have to hear that stupid thing one more time, I'm gonna put an axe through my wall) translates roughly like this: To the almighty Damballa, give me the power I beg of you!
To the mercy of my soul.
To the point of my death.
Hear me out of from my condemned voice.


My review of Black christmas (Original)

"Agnes? It's me Billy. Don't tell what we did!"

You Know, I'm not really sure why this one has a negative (although, it is just barely negative) score on the tomatometer. I enjoyed it immensely.

Acting: Better than your average slasher flick. I especially liked Kier Duella (Dave Bowman, 2001: A Space Odyssey). He played his role very well. Also Olivia Hussey did a fine job as well. John Saxton (who seems to always play cops in slasher films. At least with what I've seen him in. He also played Sgt. Thompson in A Nightmare on Elm Street) does a good job as well but all he really had to do was play a cop which he did well. The rest of the cast did an alright job too. Not perfect but I liked it. There were times that I felt the tension of the girls and I wondered what would happen next. I was genuinely uneasy. Something that I haven't felt with a horror film in a long time. 9/10

Plot: Since it is the first film like it, I cannot call it stereotypical. I can see why people wanted to copy it though. I found that it actually creeped my out. I did the right thing with this one and I watched it right before I went to bed at around midnight so that only added to the atmosphere in the film. I felt the plot was very good and since it was the first, it was original. Not too bad. 9/10

Screenplay: any words that came out of the killer were awesome. They were usually random nonsense but it was creepy random nonsense. But, when the killer actually said something that you could understand, that got creepy pretty fast. There were actually some comedic moments that I liked a lot too. I laughed at this film. in a good way. again, not a perfect screenplay but for a film like this, from what I've seen lately, it was pretty good. 8.5/10

Likableness: very likable film. One of the few genuinely scary films I have seen in a while. I will admit that it made me jump at points. I don't usually jump at films like this. But it was also a very fun film to watch. I actually cared about some of the characters because they weren't one dimensional cardboard cutouts this time. 9/10

Final Score: 35.5/40 88% (N)

TRIVIA TIME: 1. The role of Mrs. Mac was offered to Bette Davis. Also, The role of Peter was originally offered to Malcolm McDowell, but he turned it down.

2. When NBC showed the film during prime time (under the title "Stranger in the House"), it was deemed 'too scary' for network television and was pulled off the air.

3. Around 1986, Olivia Hussey met producers for the film Roxanne, who were interested in casting her for the title role, co-star Steve Martin met her and said "Oh my God Olivia, you were in one of my all time favorite films", thinking it was her classical performance in the phenomenal Romeo and Juliet, Olivia was surprised to find out it was indeed Black Christmas, Martin claimed he had seen it over 20 times.

4. According to director Bob Clark about five people were responsible for voicing the frightening phone calls, including Clark, actor Nick Mancuso and an unnamed actress.

5. The original title of the films script was "Stop Me". It was director Bob Clark who came up with the title "Black Christmas" saying that he liked the irony of something dark occurring during such a festive holiday. However, Upon initial release in the US the films title was changed to "Silent Night, Evil Night" because the American distributor feared the title "Black Christmas" might cause the film to be mistaken for a 'blaxploitation' flick. However the film didn't do well under the new title and it was changed back to the original "Black Christmas" title, which it was a success under.

6. Reportedly the story was inspired to writer Roy Moore by an actual series of murders that took place in Montreal, Quebec around the Christmas season.

7. The snow seen outside of the sorority house was actually fake, because there had been surprisingly little snow fall during the filming. A foam material that was provided by the local fire department was used for snow on the lawn and according to cinematographer Albert J. Dunk the substance actually caused the grass on the lawn to grow greener than ever the following spring.

8. Shooting the search party scenes in the park proved to be quite difficult as the temperature was a freezing 10 degrees during the night of filming.

9. Despite its ominous themes and plot, Olivia Hussey reassured that the set was a very light and happy place between takes stating everyone got along with each other very well. She did however admit that Margot Kidder was rather distant from cast/crew during the filming.

10. According to director Bob Clark the original script for the film featured murder scenes that were more graphic. Clark however felt that it would be more effective if the murders were toned down and made more subtle on screen. Writer Roy Moore liked the idea as well.

11. Minimal vulgarity from the phone calls were initially scripted, director Bob Clark read out rather tame dialogue for the actors to react to. However stronger coarse language was later looped in post-production for a stronger reaction.

My review of The Omen (original)

I like a good old horror film. This one fit quite nicely. It was followed with 3 or 4 sequels and a remake, but oh well. Nothing new. I will say that this film had a fantastic (and constantly parodied) score.

Acting: It's frigging Gregory Pack. What's not to like? The kid who played Damien was really interesting too. But I feel that it was the deranged Nanny who stole the show: "Have no fear, little one... I am here to protect thee." The first one was nuts too though (not her fault) "Damien!! Damien!! Look at me, Damien! It's all for you." That scene in particular was really interesting. They got a great cast for this one. 10/10

Plot: well, this is the last of the three major Demonic Child movies (the other two being Rosemary's Baby and The Exorcist both of which are excellent) so the plot is in its most BASIC form, similar to those two, Rosemary's Baby in articular. Now the way the go about it is different but you get what I'm saying. I really liked the plot. It is basically what would have happened if Santa hadn't succeeded in stopping the animals in Woodland Critter Christmas in South Park. But it was a certainly enjoyable plot that I really liked. 9.5/10

Screenplay: The screenplay, for once, is what made the film creepier. Particularly with the aforementioned Nanny quotes. Creepy stuff. 9/10

Likableness: Very likable. I highly enjoyed this film in large part due to the score. They succeeded in making the film have a demonic aura to it. I liked that a lot. Gregory Peck was excellent as usual as were the rest of the cast. It was a great film. 10/10

Final Score: 38.5/40 96% (N)

TRIVIA TIME: 1. Charlton Heston, Roy Scheider, Dick Van Dyke, and William Holden turned down the lead role. Gregory Peck, accepted the lead. William Holden starred in the sequel Damien: Omen II

2. To make the baboons attack the car in the Windsor Zoo park scene, an official from the zoo was in the back seat of the car with a baby baboon, but the baboons had no response at all. They then took the head of the baboons, and the baboons outside went crazy. Lee Remick's terror as the baboons attack the car was real.

3. Having changed its title from "The Antichrist" to "The Birthmark," the film seemed to fall victim to a sinister curse. Star Gregory Peck and screenwriter David Seltzer took separate planes to the UK...yet BOTH planes were struck by lightning. While producer Harvey Bernhard was in Rome, lightning just missed him. Rottweilers hired for the film attacked their trainers. A hotel at which director Richard Donner was staying got bombed by the IRA; he was also struck by a car. After Peck canceled another flight, to Israel, the plane he would have chartered crashed...killing all on board. On day one of the shoot, several principal members of the crew survived a head-on car crash. The jinx appeared to persist well into post-production... when special effects artist John Richardson was injured and his girlfriend beheaded in an accident on the set of A Bridge Too Far

4. As part of its pre-release publicity campaign, and to point out the significance of "the three sixes" as The Sign of Satan, the movie was sneak-previewed nationwide in the USA on 6 June 1976. While audiences inside the theaters were being scared witless by the film, theater employees were out front, busily putting up specially made posters declaring: "Today is the SIXTH day of the SIXTH month of Nineteen-Seventy-SIX!" Hokey though it was, the gimmick worked quite well, as many a theater patron literally "freaked-out" upon seeing those posters as they left the previews.

5. Richard Donner decided that Harvey Stephens' naturally blond hair should be dyed black to give him a more sinister look in his role as Damien. Harvey Stephens, as Damien, was largely chosen for this role from the way he attacked Richard Donner during auditions. Donner asked all the little boys to "come at him" as if they were attacking Katherine Thorn during the church wedding scene. Stephens screamed and clawed at Donner's face, and kicked him in the groin during his act. Donner whipped the kid off him, ordered the kid's blond hair dyed black and cast him as Damien.

Monday, November 8, 2010

My review of Titanic

well, here we are. Titanic. one of, if not THE, most talked about Best Picture winners ever. Now, one of the things that I feel about the movie is that if the story was set anywhere other than the Titanic, maybe Jack and Rose meeting on a different ship or in a big city, this movie would be absolutely Razzie worthy. the scenes with Jack and Rose are some of the worst parts of the whole movie with a screenplay to match. Also, what's with the Celine Dion soundtrack. every time something bad happens he has to come in doing her vocal stuff it gets annoying pretty fast. however, when they focus on something other than her relationship, that's when the quality shows up. that's when I really get into this movie. See, as a young child I was obsessed with the Titanic. as such I know a lot about it. so, it was interesting for me to see how James Cameron brought the history to life. I liked seeing the ship in all of its glory and then the shots of the ship underwater after 70 years are really awesome.

Before I go deeper I want to pause for some of the history. mainly, that if one thing had gone differently then the whole thing could have been avoided/not as bad. for instance, if when they saw the iceberg and realized that they weren't going to be able to simply miss it by turning, if they had gone straight into the iceberg head on, then the watertight compartments would have kept the ship afloat and the damage to the ship would have been minimal (still visible though). one of the reasons that the ship sank so quickly is that the ship had such large gashes in it and the ship was only designed to have 4 or so compartments filled with water to keep afloat and the water filled like 7 or 8 or something like that. if they had hit the iceberg head on, then the collision would have stopped the ship and only 2 or 3 compartments would have been needed to be sealed. However, the turning is perfectly understandable becasue it is pure instinct to turn when you see a who knows how large object in front of you and you are about to run into it. also, as an interesting tidbit, there was a book written in 1898 called Futility, or the wreck of the Titan. in that book an ocean liner that is declared unsinkable strikes an iceberg and sinks and a lot of the passengers die becasue there are not enough lifeboats. hmmmmm. hmmmmmm. this book was written in 1989. interesting huh?

another thing with this movie is how overrated it is. it has been 13 years and people are already tired of hearing about it. "okay Jack dies the ship sinks blah blah blah blah blah" yeah. this movie hasn't aged well. Avatar will not either for the same reason.

One thing that love about this movie is that id does some dramatic parts very well. when the band is playing Nearer my God to Thee and they show all of the people trapped in the ship basically getting ready to die as peacefully as they possibly can, like the old couple (incidentally those two were the founders of Macy's) snuggling together in their last moments or the mother telling her kids a bedtime story as their room is filling with water. yeah. that is the best scene in the entire movie easily. Also, the little bit where the priest is preaching about heaven as the ship is tipping up and going down vertically and he stays to get people through their imminent deaths despite how obviously scared he is was an amazing bit (it's also a true story by the way). I liked how James Cameron slipped in true stories. another one is when Jack and Rose are on the railing and the ship is perfectly vertical and they look over and see one of the ship's bakers with them, well the story of that guy is that he went into the water while the ship was sinking and he survived becasue he had just enough food and booze to keep him alive until the lifeboats came back. Also, I like that the visual effects add something to the plot. the visuals in this movie are the fact that the ship is actively sinking around the characters. with Avatar the visuals are just eye candy. with this one, they contribute to the story and help move it along.

Final Verdict: Close Call. this film has not aged well and half the movie is annoying and overrated. however the other half is an amazing story coupled with some excellent visual effects. Competition Film: Good Will Hunting.

TRIVIA TIME: 1. James Cameron went on the dives to the real Titanic himself, and found it an overwhelming emotional experience to actually see it. He ended up spending more time with the ship than its living passengers did.

2. In real life there was concern that the davits might not be strong enough to lower the boats fully loaded, although they had in fact been tested under such a weight. The davits in the film, which can be seen flexing under the weight, were made by the same company as the real-life ones.

3. Most of the ocean which extras were jumping into was 3 feet deep.

My review of The Lord of the Rings: the Fellowship of the Ring

I was 9 years old when this film came out. It was actually the first film that I recall scared me (the whole creepy Nazgul chase scenes through the forest of Hobbitton scared me). But, even then I recognized that this film was one of the greatest I had ever seen. I hadn't even seen the other two yet. And boy was I in for a surprise. I'll be honest here, This is the greatest trilogy to grace mankind.

Acting/Characters: This is actually the only one that had a performer in it get an Oscar nomination for acting: Ian McKellan as Gandalf for Best Supporting Actor. I feel that he did an excellent job. I have not seen Iris so I cannot say whether or not Jim Broadbent deserved to win over McKellan. But I really enjoyed the performance by the entire cast. They really brought the characters to life. The two characters that I thought has the most character to them were Bilbo and Sam. Sam has the most character throughout the entire trilogy. It was interesting to see Frodo go through the character transition (throughout the trilogy) of sort of nervous wimp to this determined but tortured character. Merry and Pippin provide great comic relief. I really liked this aspect of the film a lot. 10/10

Plot: Fantastic plot. Absolutely fantastic. I didn't actually end up fully reading the book for this one (not the case with the sequels, I successfully read both of them). I really enjoyed the fight scenes a lot. they aren't quite on the scale of the battle scenes in the second two films but they are still awesome. Particularly with Legolas, Aragorn, and Gimli. Boromir in Amon-Hen at the end too was pretty awesome. I know as a younger kid I particularly liked how Legolas was just as good as killing with a bow no matter what the range. 100 yards or 5 feet it didn't matter he was gonna get one right in your neck. Great stuff. I particularly like (and again, this is true for the whole trilogy) where they would leave stuff off. They always ended the move in the perfect spot and you just have to see the next one. One thing I have found to be true countless times (and this has been confirmed by anyone I meet that likes the trilogy) If you happen across a clip anywhere whether it is being used in a sermon at church (which has happened to me may times. My pastor likes showing movie clips) or you're flipping channels and you watch it for about 15 minutes before you have to leave somewhere, once you see any portion of the film you get this deep NEED to suddenly go and watch the whole trilogy. They are that good. 10/10

Screenplay: Excellent screenplay. particularly how they blended together so many emotions and got it all across. Whether it was laughing at merry and Pippin or getting engrossed in a fight scene or listening to the history of The Ring, you have to love the screenplay. It is excellent. 10/10

Final Score: 40/40 100% (N)

TRIVIA TIME: (Get ready for the first part of the most exhausting Trivia Time segments ever).

1. Cameos a. John Howe and Alan Lee In. the prologue, the two most famous Middle Earth artists can be seen as two of the nine human kings.
b. Peter Jackson As the belching peasant, outside the Prancing Pony Inn in Bree.

2. Choices/persons interested in roles: Aragorn: Stuart Townsend, Daniel Day-Lewis, Russel Crowe.
Gandalf: John Austin, Sam Niell, Christopher Lee, Sean Connery.

3. Eight of the nine members of the Fellowship got a small tattoo of the word "nine" spelled out in Tengwar, which is the Elvish script created by Tolkien. They got it at a tattoo parlor in Wellington, New Zealand, to commemorate the experience of the movie. The ninth member, John Rhys-Davies, declined and sent his stunt double in his place. Elijah Wood's tattoo is on his lower stomach. Sean Astin and Billy Boyd have the tattoo on their ankles (to commemorate all those hours in the hobbit feet). Orlando Bloom, who plays the archer elf Legolas, has his on his forearm. His tattoo is visible during a fight scene in Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl. Ian McKellen's is on his shoulder. Dominic Monaghan's is on his shoulder. And the eighth member, Sean Bean, has his tattoo on his right shoulder. Viggo Mortensen has his tattoo on his left shoulder. It is visible on some pictures from the movie Eastern Promises.

4. Although David Bowie was said to be keen on playing Elf Lord Elrond, the part went instead to Hugo Weaving.

5. Originally the narration at the prologue was to be spoken by Elijah Wood, but it was felt that the information imparted had little bearing on the character of Frodo. Ian McKellen also recorded a narration but once again it was felt that Gandalf wasn't the right character to speak it. They eventually settled on Cate Blanchett as Galadriel, as it emphasizes the timelessness of the elves.

6. The bridge in Hobbiton was built by the New Zealand army out of polystyrene.

7. Some of the customers in the Prancing Pony are walking around on stilts to emphasize the height disparity with the Hobbits.

8. The big trees in Lothlorien forest are made of rubber.

9. The climactic fight scene was shot in the middle of a heatwave, with temperatures in excess of 100 degrees. Many of the actors playing the Uruk'hais had to be carried off the set with heat exhaustion.

10. Legolas's arrows in the final battle are computer generated. It would have been physically impossible for even the most gifted archer to fire off so many arrows so quickly.

11. The Tolkien estate was never in favor of Peter Jackson's film adaptation but seeing as J.R.R. Tolkien signed the rights away in 1968 for $15,000, there was nothing they could do about it. Tolkien's grandson Simon came out in support of the production and was disowned by his relatives. Tolkien's son Christopher Tolkien later retracted any opposition.

12. Production designer Grant Major personally supervised the translation of all the writings in Balin's tomb into Dwarvish. He was then horrified to learn that a visiting J.R.R. Tolkien scholar had taken great offence at seeing the phrase "Joe was here" among the writings. They scoured the contents of Balin's tomb and found nothing, only to learn that the scholar - who was overly serious about everything to do with Tolkien - had been told this by a crew carpenter who has having a joke at his expense. Intrepid fans later published screen captures and translations of Moria wall segments where the runes spelled "John was here" and "Made in New Zealand". During pre-production, Weta artists asked Tolkien expert Michael Martinez if there were any examples of Orc graffiti in the book. Martinez found one citation (in the scene where Frodo, Sam, and Gollum see a defaced statue in Gondor). He used other passages to argue that the Orcs would have used runes to carve graffiti on Moria's walls.

13. It is estimated that filming of the trilogy pumped about $200,000,000 into the New Zealand economy. The New Zealand government even created a Minister for Lord of the Rings, whose remit was to exploit all the economic opportunities the films represented.

14. Fans were offered the chance to have their names in the special edition's hugely lengthy closing credits for $39.95.

15. Hobbiton was made a year before production began to make it look like it was a natural, lived-in place, complete with real vegetable patches. The greens department regulated the length of the grass by having sheep eat it.

16. The large tree that stands above Bag End was built especially by the production department. Every leaf had to be manually attached.

17. 1800 Hobbit feet were made for the production. (A world record).

18. 29 Ring Wraith costumes were made in total.

19. During the Council of Elrond, leaves are continually falling in the background to suggest that this is a meeting that is taking place outside. This meant about half a dozen crew members were positioned above the set, dropping leaves at various intervals. This also meant that the production department had to collect sacks and sacks of leaves during autumn, and of course dead leaves turn brown fairly quickly. Which also meant that every single one of those leaves had to be individually painted.

20. Although Bilbo Baggins's opening scenes are in Hobbiton, Ian Holm never actually worked on the location. His scenes were all done against blue screen.

21. The nocturnal screams of possums were used for the screeches made by the Orcs in the mines of Moria. Also, The main sound elements for the cave troll were a walrus, a tiger and a horse.

22. The scripts were essentially being rewritten every day of the 15 month shoot, most of which with the added input from the actors who were all now heavily involved with their characters.

23. When Arwen escapes from the Black Riders through the river by flooding them, the spell she speaks isn't subtitled. According to the Encyclopedy of Arda (see External Links: Miscellaneous # 58), she says: "Nîn o Chithaeglir lasto beth daer; rimmo nín Bruinen dan in Ulaer", which means roughly "Waters of the Hithaeglir, hear the word of power, rush, waters of Bruinen, against the Ringwraiths"

24. During filming, most of the members of the Fellowship took up surfing in New Zealand in their spare time. Among them was Viggo Mortensen, who wiped out terribly one day, and bruised one whole side of his face. The next day, makeup tried to mask the bruising and swelling, but were unsuccessful. Instead, Peter Jackson opted to film Mortenson from one side for the entire scene. In the scene in the Mines of Moria when they find the grave of Gimli's relative, Aragorn is only seen from one side in the whole scene.

25. Peter Jackson originally contemplated having the character of Tom Bombadil, a character that was in the book but never made it to the movie, incorporated into a cameo scene in which the Hobbits are walking through the forest and see a man with a feathered cap dart through the trees, then they hear Tom singing and begin running through the forest, but ran out of time to film it.

26. Orlando Bloom originally auditioned for the part of Faramir. He was called back and subsequently cast, instead, as Legolas.

27. New Zealand's army was cast as extras for large battle scenes in the film, but was forced to back out due to having to serve as peacekeepers in East Timor.

28. The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, and The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, were filmed simultaneously. The back-to-back shoot lasted a record-equaling 274 days, in 16 months - exactly the same time as taken for the principal photography of Apocalypse Now.

29. When Christopher Lee and J.R.R. Tolkien were in correspondence, Tolkien gave Lee his blessing to play Gandalf if there ever was a film version of Lord of the Rings. Years later, Lee campaigned for the part of Gandalf in this production, but was offered the part of Saruman instead. Lee, who wanted to participate in the project anyway he could, accepted the role of Saruman.

30. Christopher Lee reads "The Lord of the Rings" once a year and has done so since the year it was published, and is the only member of the cast and crew ever to have met J.R.R. Tolkien. As well as being the only member of the cast and crew to have met J.R.R. Tolkien face to face, Christopher Lee was also the first person to be cast in the trilogy because of his extensive knowledge of the books. He frequently visited the makeup department and often gave tips about the facial design of the monsters.

31. Peter Jackson gave one of the rings used in the movies to both Elijah Wood and Andy Serkis as gift when the shoot was finished. They both thought they had the only one.

32. Cate Blanchett joked that she took the role of Galadriel because, "I've always wanted pointy ears".

33. Ian McKellen based Gandalf's accent on that of J.R.R. Tolkien himself.

34. Gandalf's painful encounter with a ceiling beam in Bilbo's hobbit-hole was not in the script - Ian McKellen banged his forehead against the beam accidentally, not on purpose. But Peter Jackson thought McKellen did a great job "acting through" the mistake, and so kept it in.

35. Viggo Mortensen (Aragorn), who is trilingual in English, Spanish, and Danish, requested the script be revised to let Aragorn speak more of his lines in Elvish.

36. The Orc blacksmiths shown beneath Isengard are actually the WETA Workshop staff who made the weapons used in the film.

37. Over 12.5 million plastic rings were made in order to fabricate simulated chain mail for the movie. Two crew members spent the length of the shoot linking the rings by hand into suits of armor. By the end of production, they had worn the fingerprints off their thumbs and index fingers.

38. The portraits hanging above the fireplace in Bag End are based on the likenesses of director Peter Jackson and producer Fran Walsh.

39. The scream of the Ringwraiths is actually Fran Walsh, the co-writer and co-producer of the film.

40. The cast often had to fly to remote shoot locations by helicopter. Sean Bean (Boromir) was afraid of flying and would only do it when absolutely necessary. When they were shooting the scenes of the Fellowship crossing the snowy mountains, he'd spend two hours every morning climbing from the base of the mountain to the set near the top, already dressed as Boromir. The crew being flown up could see him from their helicopters.

41. When Frodo is leafing through Bilbo's Book in Rivendell, a page with dwarven runes is shown. The runes translate thus: "Stand by the grey stone when the thrush knocks, and the setting sun with the last light of Durin's Day will shine upon the keyhole." This is a reference (actually a direct copy) to a map in the book "The Hobbit" and the runes tell of the secret entrance into The Lonely Mountain.

42. While filming the trilogy, Viggo Mortensen got so into character that during a conversation, Peter Jackson referred to him as "Aragorn" for over half an hour without him realizing it.

43. Jake Gyllenhaal auditioned for the role of Frodo

44. Pregnancy changed Peter Jackson's vision of "Lord of the Rings". Originally, he wanted to cast Lucy Lawless as Galadriel and Uma Thurman as Arwen. Unfortunately, both actresses became pregnant after being asked to read, and the roles were filled in by Cate Blanchett and Liv Tyler, respectively.

45. When Bilbo finds the Ring at the start of the movie Gollum shouts "My Precious" however Andy Serkis wasn't on set that day so Dominic Monaghan stood in for him.

46. When Pippin is being hit with the apples after asking about second breakfast, it is Viggo Mortensen himself chucking the apple at his head. They had to shoot the scene 16 times to get it just right, and Billy Boyd says he believes Mortensen enjoyed himself immensely.

47. When Gandalf has his big stand-off scene with the Balrog, Ian McKellen is actually acting to a ping pong ball.

48. Warwick Davis, Timothy Spall and Robert Trebor auditioned for the role of Gimli.

49. A rubber puppet with a horrific face was superimposed over Ian Holm's face when Bilbo Baggins catches a glimpse of the ring again in Rivendell. Holm was so delighted with the puppet that the design team had a cast iron version of it made for his mantelpiece and gave it to him as a parting gift when Holm wrapped all his scenes on the film.

50. While Christopher Lee was always Peter Jackson's first choice for the role of Saruman. Jackson did consider Tim Curry, Jeremy Irons and Malcolm McDowell for the role.