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40 FAVORITE HORROR MOVIES

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40. Frankenstein (1931)

 

220px-Frankenstein13.jpg

 

(3 of 20 lists - 43 points - highest rank #3 Tex)

 

Frankenstein is a 1931 horror film from Universal Pictures directed by James Whale and adapted from the play by Peggy Webling which in turn is based on the novel of the same name by Mary Shelley. The film stars Colin Clive, Mae Clarke, John Boles and Boris Karloff, and features Dwight Frye and Edward van Sloan. The Webling play was adapted by John L. Balderston and the screenplay written by Francis Edward Faragoh and Garrett Fort with uncredited contributions from Robert Florey and John Russell. The make-up artist was Jack Pierce.

 

Plot

 

Henry Frankenstein (Colin Clive), an ardent young scientist, and his devoted assistant Fritz (Dwight Frye), a hunchback, piece together a human body, the parts of which have been secretly collected from various sources. Frankenstein's consuming desire is to create human life through various electrical devices which he has perfected.

 

Elizabeth (Mae Clarke), his fiancée, is worried to distraction over his peculiar actions. She cannot understand why he secludes himself in an abandoned watch tower, which he has equipped as a laboratory, and refuses to see anyone. She and her friend, Victor Moritz (John Boles), go to Dr. Waldman (Edward Van Sloan), his old medical professor, and ask Dr. Waldman's help in reclaiming the young scientist from his absorbing experiments. Elizabeth, intent on rescuing Frankenstein, arrives just as Henry is making his final tests. They all watch Frankenstein and the hunchback as they raise the dead creature on an operating table, high into the room, toward an opening at the top of the laboratory. Then a terrific crash of thunder, the crackling of Frankenstein's electric machines, and the hand of Frankenstein's monster (Boris Karloff) begins to move.

 

Through Fritz's error, a criminal brain was secured for Frankenstein's experiments which results in the monster knowing only hate, horror and murder. The manufactured monster despite its grotesque form, initially appears not to be a malevolent beast, but a simple, innocent creation. Frankenstein welcomes it into his laboratory, and asks his creation to sit, which it does. Fritz, however, enters with a flaming torch which frightens the monster. Its fright is mistaken by Frankenstein and Dr. Waldman as an attempt to attack them, and so it is taken to the dungeon where it is chained. Thinking that it is not fit for society, and will wreak havoc at any chance, they leave the monster locked up where Fritz antagonizes it with a torch. As Henry and Dr. Waldman consider the fate of the monster they hear a shriek from the dungeon. Frankenstein and Dr. Waldman rush in to find the monster has strangled Fritz. The monster makes a lunge at the two but they escape the dungeon, locking the monster inside. Realizing that the creature must be destroyed Henry prepares an injection of a powerful drug and the two conspire to release the monster and inject it as it attacks. When the door is unlocked the creature emerges and lunges at Frankenstein as Dr. Waldman injects the drug into the creature's back. The monster knocks Dr. Waldman to the floor and has nearly killed Henry when the drug takes effect and he falls to the floor unconscious.

 

Henry leaves to prepare for his wedding while Dr. Waldman conducts an examination of the unconscious creature. As he is preparing to begin dissecting it the creature awakens and strangles him. It escapes from the tower and wanders through the landscape. It then has a short encounter with a farmer's young daughter, Maria, who asks him to play a game with her in which they playfully toss flowers into a lake and watch them float. The monster enjoys the game, but when they run out of flowers, tragedy occurs. Because of his defective brain, the monster thinks the little girl will float, so he picks her up and throws her into the lake, and the girl drowns. Realizing he has made a terrible mistake, the monster walks away feeling troubled and remorseful. This drowning scene is one of the most controversial in the film, with a long history of censorship.

 

With preparations for the wedding completed, Frankenstein is once again himself and serenely happy with Elizabeth. They are to marry as soon as Dr. Waldman arrives. Victor rushes in, saying that the Doctor has been found strangled in his operating room. Frankenstein suspects the monster. A chilling scream convinces him that the monster is in the house. When the searchers arrive, they find Elizabeth unconscious on the bed. The monster has escaped. He is only intent upon destroying Frankenstein.

 

Leading an enraged band of peasants, Frankenstein searches the surrounding country for the monster. He becomes separated from the band and is discovered by the monster who, after the two stare each other down for a curious moment, attacks him. After a struggle, in which Frankenstein's torch fails to save him, the monster knocks Frankenstein unconscious and carries him off to the old mill. The peasants hear his cries and follow. Finally reaching the mill, they find the monster has climbed to the very top, dragging Frankenstein with him. In a burst of rage, he hurls the young scientist to the ground. His fall is broken by the vanes of the windmill, saving him from instant death. Some of the villagers hurry him to his home while the others remain to burn the mill and destroy the entrapped monster.

 

Later, back at Castle Frankenstein, Frankenstein's father, Baron Frankenstein (Frederick Kerr) celebrates the wedding of his recovered son with a toast to a future grandchild.

 

Difference from film and book

 

There are more differences between the movie and book than there are similarities. This is because the movie is largely based on the 1920s play by Peggy Webling rather than the original Shelley text.

 

A notable difference between the book and film is the articulation of the monster's speech. In Shelley's book, the creature taught himself to read with books of classic literature such as Milton's Paradise Lost. The creature learns to speak clearly, in what appears in the novel as Early Modern English, because of the texts he has found to learn from while in hiding. In the 1931 film, the creature is completely mute except for grunts and growls. (In the 1935 Bride of Frankenstein, the original creature learns some basic speech but is very limited in his dialog, speaking with rough grammar and still preferring at times to express himself gutturally. By the third film, Son of Frankenstein, the creature is apparently inarticulate again. In the fourth film, The Ghost of Frankenstein, the Monster gets Ygor's brain and speaks with Ygor's voice (Béla Lugosi). The fifth film, Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man, was shot this way, but the Monster was dubbed over with grunts when test audiences laughed at the Monster (now Lugosi in both voice and form) speaking.

 

In Mary Shelley's original novel, the creature's savage behavior is his conscious decision against his maltreatment and neglect because of his inhuman appearance, whereas in the 1931 film adaptation states that his condition is largely due to the mistake made by Frankenstein's assistant Fritz, who provides a "Criminal Brain" to be used for the creature. One of the film's most famous scenes, in which the Monster tosses a little girl into a river, is the obverse of a scene in the novel in which he rescues a girl from drowning, only to be shot in the arm by her father.

 

The deformed (hunchbacked) assistants of the first two films are not characters derived from the novel. In the original text, Frankenstein creates his monster in solitude without servants.

 

In the novel, how Frankenstein builds the creature is only obscurely described, references being made to a long slow process born from a combination of new scientific principles and ancient alchemical lore. Whereas the movies precisely depict the methodology by which their version of the monster is created, showing Frankenstein robbing graves of the recently dead and using the organs and body parts to reconstruct a new human body. This process culminates with the harnessing of a lightning bolt to awaken the creature, a scene famously depicted with great spectacle in the 1931 film. Despite their at best limited presence in the original novel (emphasized by Frankenstein's three brushoffs of the question), the idea of the patchwork body of dead flesh and massive discharges of electricity being key to the genesis of the monster have become commonly associated with the Frankenstein story.

 

Another part of the book that is entirely unmentioned in the movie is the Monster's request that Frankenstein make a female companion for him. The Monster threatens Frankenstein, and Frankenstein submits and begins to create another creature. Halfway through the procedure, Frankenstein is overcome with guilt and destroys his work, saying that he would not form another being as hideous and demonic as the first one. This enrages the Monster and causes him to vow that he will be with Frankenstein on his wedding night. Much of this material is dealt with in Bride of Frankenstein.

 

In the novel, Frankenstein's name is Victor, not Henry (Henry Clerval was the name of Victor's best friend) and he is not a doctor, but rather a college dropout who studied chemistry. Elizabeth is murdered by the Monster on her wedding night. The Monster also murders Henry Clerval and Victor's young brother William, and the family maid, Justine Moritz, hangs for the crime. Victor's father dies heartbroken after Elizabeth's murder and Victor begins his pursuit of the monster, which eventually leads to his death from an illness aboard a boat en route to the North Pole. The Monster, finding Victor dead, vows to travel to the Pole and commit suicide, although it is not revealed if he does so.

 

Cast

 

* Colin Clive as Henry Frankenstein

* Mae Clarke as Elizabeth

* John Boles as Victor Moritz

* Boris Karloff as The Monster

* Edward Van Sloan as Dr Waldman

* Frederick Kerr as Baron Frankenstein

* Dwight Frye as Fritz

* Lionel Belmore as Herr Vogel, the Burgomaster

* Marilyn Harris as Little Maria

 

 

Production

 

The film begins with Edward Van Sloan stepping from behind a curtain and delivering a "friendly warning" before the opening credits:

 

We are about to unfold the story of Frankenstein, a man of science who sought to create a man after his own image without reckoning upon God. It is one of the strangest tales ever told. It deals with the two great mysteries of creation – life and death. I think it will thrill you. It may shock you. It might even – horrify you. So if any of you feel that you do not care to subject your nerves to such a strain, now's your chance to – uh, well, we warned you.

 

In the opening credits, Karloff is unbilled, with only a question mark being used in place of his name. This is a nod to a tradition of theatrical adaptations billing the monster without a name. Universal had not revealed in advance who was playing the monster, and had not released any pictures of the monster in order to conceal his appearance. Karloff's name is revealed in the closing credits, which otherwise duplicate the credits from the opening under the principle that "A Good Cast Is Worth Repeating".

 

There was controversy around this point originally, as some part of the management of Universal built up the suspense of who was playing the creature to gather interest in the film as Bela Lugosi was still largely thought to be performing the role of the creature up until the time of the film's release. Some papers were erroneously still listing Lugosi as the performer. Some were coming to see if Lugosi had changed his mind and recanted to star in the film despite some published statements to the contrary, most notably the still famous "electric beam eyes" poster which still credited Lugosi as the monster and showed the creature without the now famous flat head, neck-bolt makeup (created by Universal Studios make-up artist Jack Pierce. Pierce also created Lon Chaney's Wolf Man make-up and Karloff's Mummy make-up as well). Others state it was because the film would cause the ruin of the performer in the role and wanted to minimize said actor's liability, for the original film went against the censor boards of the day.

 

Bela Lugosi was originally set to star as the monster. After several disastrous make-up tests, the Dracula star left the project. Although this is often regarded as one of the worst decisions of Lugosi's career, in actuality the part that Lugosi was offered was not the same character that Karloff eventually played. The character in the Florey script was simply a killing machine without a touch of human interest or pathos, reportedly causing Lugosi to complain "I was a star in my country and I will not be a scarecrow over here!" However, the decision may not have been Lugosi's in any case, since recent evidence suggests that he was kicked off the project, along with director Robert Florey. Ironically, Lugosi would later go on to play the monster in Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man a decade later, when his career was in decline and only after Lon Chaney, Jr. complained bitterly about the possibility of him doing double work through trick photography to appear as both the Wolfman and the Monster in the film for about the same pay rate. Chaney had already appeared as the Monster in the previous Frankenstein film Ghost of Frankenstein, directly succeeding Boris Karloff in the role.

 

As was the custom at the time, only the main cast and crew were listed in the credits. Additionally, however, a number of other actors who worked on the project were or became familiar to fans of the Universal horror films. These included Frederick Kerr as the old Baron Frankenstein, Henry's father; Lionel Belmore as Herr Vogel, the Burgomeister; Marilyn Harris as Little Maria, the girl the monster accidentally kills; and Michael Mark as Ludwig, Maria's father.

 

Jack Pierce was the makeup artist who designed the now-iconic "flat head" look for Karloff's monster, although Whale's contribution in the form of sketches remains a controversy, and who was actually responsible for the idea of the look will probably always be a mystery.

 

Kenneth Strickfaden designed the electrical effects used in the "creation scene." So successful were they that such effects came to be considered an essential part of every subsequent Universal film involving the Frankenstein Monster. Accordingly, the equipment used to produce them has come to be referred to in fan circles as "Strickfadens." It appears that Strickfaden managed to secure the use of at least one Tesla Coil built by the then-aged Nikola Tesla himself. According to this same source, Strickfaden also doubled for Karloff in the electrical "birth" scene as Karloff was deathly afraid of being electrocuted from the live voltage on the stage.

 

There is no musical soundtrack in the film, except for the opening and closing credits.

 

The film opened in New York City at the Mayfair Theatre on December 4, 1931 and grossed $53,000 in one week.

 

Censorship history

 

The scene in which the monster throws the little girl into the lake and accidentally drowns her has long been controversial. Upon its original 1931 release, the second part of this scene was cut by state censorship boards in Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, and New York. Those states also objected to a line they considered blasphemous, one that occurred during Frankenstein's exuberance when he first learns that his creature is alive. The original line was: "It's alive! It's alive! In the name of God! Now I know what it's like to be God!" Local censor boards cut or obliterated "Now I know ..."

 

Originally, Kansas refused to pass the film without dozens of cuts. Universal Pictures sent censor representative Joseph Breen there to urge them to reconsider. Eventually, a compromise was reached, and Frankenstein was shown in that state.

 

As with many Pre-Code films that were reissued after strict enforcement of the Production Code in 1934, Universal made cuts from the master negative, and the deleted sequences were unseen for years. For a 1937 reissue of the film, these cuts included:

 

* Frankenstein's line, "Now I know what it's like to be God!", was obliterated by a clap of thunder on the soundtrack.

* Some footage of Frankenstein's assistant Fritz taking sadistic glee in scaring the monster by waving a lit torch near him while the monster is shackled in chains.

* Close up of needle injection was removed.

* In the scene of the monster and the little girl tossing flowers into the lake, the second part of the scene was cut, beginning at the moment he extends his hands to pick her up.

 

These censored scenes were not shown for decades; in 1986, MCA-Universal restored the shots of Fritz tormenting the Monster, close up of needle injection and Maria being thrown in the water while the full "Now I know what it feels like to be God!" line wouldn't be fully restored until 1999.

 

Reception

 

Frankenstein received universal acclaim from critics and is widely regarded as one of the best films of 1931, as well as one of the greatest movies of all time. It holds a 100% "Fresh" rating on the review aggregate website Rotten Tomatoes. In 1991, the film was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry as being deemed "culturally, historically or aesthetically significant". In 2004, The New York Times placed the film on its Best 1000 Movies Ever list.

 

Frankenstein also received recognition from the American Film Institute. It was named the 87th greatest movie of all time on 100 Years... 100 Movies. The line "It's alive! It's alive!" was ranked as the 49th greatest movie quote in American cinema. The film was on the ballot for several of AFI's 100 series lists, including AFI's 10 Top 10 for the sci-fi category, 100 Years... 100 Movies (10th Anniversary Edition), and twice on 100 Years... 100 Heroes and Villains for both Dr. Henry Frankenstein and the Monster in the villains category.

 

The film was ranked number 56 on AFI's 100 Years... 100 Thrills, a list of America's most heart-pounding movies. It was also ranked number 27 on Bravo's 100 Scariest Movie Moments. Additionally, the Chicago Film Critics Association named it the 14th scariest film ever made.

 

Sequels and parodies

 

Frankenstein was followed by a string of sequels, beginning with Bride of Frankenstein (1935), in which Elsa Lanchester plays the Monster's bride.

 

The next sequel, 1939's Son of Frankenstein, was made, like all those that followed, without Whale or Clive (who had died in 1937). This film also featured Karloff's last full film performance as the Monster. Son of Frankenstein featured Basil Rathbone as Baron Wolf von Frankenstein, and Lionel Atwill as Inspector Krogh.

 

The Ghost of Frankenstein was released in 1942. The movie features Lon Chaney, Jr. as the Monster, taking over from Boris Karloff, who played the role in the first three films of the series, and Bela Lugosi in his second appearance as the demented Ygor.

 

Many of the subsequent films which featured Frankenstein's monster demote the creature to a robotic henchman in someone else's plots, such as in its final Universal film appearance in the deliberately farcical Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948).

 

Karloff would return to the wearing of the makeup and to the role of the Monster one last time in the TV show Route 66 in the early 1960s.

 

The popular 1960s TV show, The Munsters, depicts the family's father Herman as Frankenstein's monster, who married Count Dracula's daughter. The make-up for Herman is based on the make-up of Boris Karloff.

 

Mel Brooks's comedy Young Frankenstein parodied elements of the first three Universal Frankenstein movies. Brooks also recreated the movie into a musical of the same name.

 

Universal film company's 2004 film Van Helsing also featured the Frankenstein creature.

 

A short film, Frankenthumb, is a comedy spoof created using only thumbs.

 

Frankenstein's assistant

 

Although Frankenstein's hunchbacked assistant is often referred to as "Igor" in descriptions of the films, this is incorrect. In both Frankenstein and Bride of Frankenstein, Frankenstein has an assistant who is played both times by Dwight Frye who is crippled. In the original 1931 film the character is named "Fritz" who is hunchbacked and walks with the aid of a small cane. In Bride of Frankenstein, Frye plays "Karl" a murderer who stands upright but has a lumbering metal brace on both legs that can be heard clicking loudly with every step. Both characters would be killed by Karloff's monster in their respective films. It was not until Son of Frankenstein that a character called "Ygor" first appears (here played by Bela Lugosi and revived by Lugosi in the Ghost of Frankenstein after his apparent murder in Son of Frankenstein). This character — a deranged blacksmith whose neck and back are broken and twisted due to a botched hanging — befriends the monster and later helps Dr. Wolf Frankenstein, leading to the "hunchbacked assistant" called "Igor" commonly associated with Frankenstein in pop culture.

 

In popular culture

 

* During the early stages of preproduction on the biopic Walk the Line, director James Mangold interviewed the biopic's subject Johnny Cash. Cash told Mangold that his favorite film was Frankenstein. Cash explained that the idea of a gentle figure being mistaken for a monster spoke to him at a personal level.

* The world's most valuable movie poster is the full color 1931 Frankenstein 6-sheet which is currently owned by Stephen Fishler, a NY poster collector. It is the only copy known to exist.

* In the 1996 TV film Doctor Who, during the mortuary/regeneration scene, a mortuary assistant is shown watching the film. More specifically, the monster's reactions to its first moments of life, is paralleled in the Doctor's regeneration after he is pronounced dead.

* The movie is prominently featured, and acts as a major plot element, in the Spanish film The Spirit of the Beehive

* In the movie Weird Science the movie is shown along with a similar resurrection sequence.

* In the 2008 film Hancock, Will Smith's character John Hancock's (an immortal) earliest memory is of being mugged while on his way to see the movie with his beloved.

* In the pilot episode of The Incredible Hulk, a scene mirrored the "little Maria scene" with the Hulk replacing the Monster. In the 1981 series episode "The First", many of the actual props from the movie utilized as Dr. Clive's laboratory equipment which was used to resurrect the "Evil Hulk," played by Dick Durrock. Furthermore, some of the characters of the episode were named after the actors of the Frankenstein film, such as "Clive," "Frye," and "Elizabeth."

* At Halloween Horror Nights (Orlando) in 2009 there was a haunted attraction patterned after the Frankenstein monster.

* In Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives, Jason Voorhees is brought back to life after a lightning bolt strikes a metal post that was driven through his chest, in homage to the famous lightning scene.

 

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39. (tie) Nosferatu (1922)

 

Schreck.jpg

 

(2 of 20 lists - 44 points - highest rank #3 FlaSoxxJim)

 

Nosferatu, eine Symphonie des Grauens (translated as Nosferatu: A Symphony of Horror; also known as Nosferatu: A Symphony of Terror or simply Nosferatu) is a German Expressionist horror film, directed by F. W. Murnau, starring Max Schreck as the vampire Count Orlok. The film, shot in 1921 and released in 1922, was an unauthorized adaptation of Bram Stoker's Dracula, with names and other details changed because the studio could not obtain the rights to the novel (for instance, "vampire" became "Nosferatu" and "Count Dracula" became "Count Orlok").

 

Nosferatu was ranked twenty-first in Empire magazine's "The 100 Best Films of World Cinema" in 2010.

 

Plot

 

Thomas Hutter (Jonathan Harker in Stoker's novel) lives in the fictitious German city of Wisborg. His employer, Knock (loosely based on Renfield), sends Hutter to Transylvania to visit a new client named Orlok. Hutter entrusts his loving wife Ellen to his good friend Harding and Harding's sister Ruth, before embarking on his long journey.

 

Nearing his destination in the Carpathian mountains, Hutter stops at an inn for dinner. The locals become frightened by the mere mention of Orlok's name and discourage him from traveling to his castle at night, warning of a werewolf on the prowl. In his room, Hutter finds a book, The Book of the Vampires, through which he leafs before falling asleep.

 

The next morning, Hutter dresses and packs, light-heartedly including the book in his bags. After a coach ride to a high mountain pass, the coachmen decline to take him any further as nightfall is approaching. A sinister black swathed coach of an archaic design suddenly appears and the coachman (obviously Orlock in disguise) gestures for him to climb aboard. Past midnight, Hutter is welcomed at the castle by Count Orlok himself, who excuses the poor welcome as the servants have all gone to bed. While Hutter has a late dinner, Orlok reads a letter. When Hutter cuts his thumb, Orlok tries to suck the blood out of the wound, but his repulsed guest pulls his hand away. Hutter then falls asleep exhausted in the parlor.

 

He wakes up to an empty castle and notices fresh punctures on his neck, which he attributes to mosquitoes. That night, Orlok signs the documents to purchase the house across from Hutter's own home. Orlok sees Hutter's miniature portrait of his wife and admires her beautiful neck. Reexamining The Book of the Vampires, Hutter starts to suspect that Orlok is Nosferatu, the "Bird of Death". He cowers in his room as midnight approaches, but there is no way to bar the door. The door opens by itself and Orlok enters, his true nature finally revealed. At the same time, Ellen sleepwalks and screams for Hutter. She is somehow heard by Orlok, who leaves Hutter untouched.

 

The next day, Hutter explores the castle. In its crypt, he finds the coffin in which Orlok is resting dormant. Horrified, he dashes back to his room. From the window, he sees Orlok piling up coffins on a coach and climbing into the last one before the coach departs. Hutter escapes the castle through the window by tying together strips of the bed linen, but has to jump when his improvised rope runs out, and is knocked unconscious by the fall. He is taken to a hospital. When he is sufficiently recovered, Hutter hurries home.

An iconic scene

 

Meanwhile, the coffins are shipped down river on a raft. They are transferred to a schooner, but not before one is opened by the crew. Inside, they find soil and rats.

 

Under the long-distance influence of Orlok, Knock starts behaving oddly and is confined to a psychiatric ward. Later, Knock steals a newspaper, which tells of an outbreak of an unknown plague spreading down the coast of the Black Sea. Many people are dying, with odd marks on their necks. Knock rejoices.

 

The sailors on the ship get sick one by one; soon all but the captain and first mate are dead. Suspecting the truth, the first mate goes below to destroy the coffins. However, Orlok awakens and the horrified sailor jumps into the sea. Unaware of his danger, the captain becomes Orlok's latest victim.

 

When the ship arrives in Wisborg, Orlok leaves unobserved, carrying one of his coffins. (A passage in The Book of the Vampires reveals that the source of a vampire's power is the soil in which he was buried.) He moves into the house he purchased. The next morning, when the ship is inspected, the captain is found dead. After examining the logbook, the doctors assume they are dealing with the plague. The town is stricken with panic.

 

Hutter returns home. Ellen reads The Book of Vampires, despite his injunction not to, and learns how to kill a vampire: a woman pure in heart must willingly give her blood to him, so that he loses track of time until the cock's first crowing. There are many deaths in the town. The residents chase Knock, who has escaped after murdering the warden, mistaking him for a vampire.

 

Orlok stares from his window at the sleeping Ellen. She opens her window to invite him in, but faints. When Hutter revives her, she sends him to fetch Professor Bulwer. After he leaves, Orlok comes in. He becomes so engrossed drinking her blood, he forgets about the coming day. A rooster crows and Orlok vanishes in a bit of smoke as he tries to flee (marking the first death by sunlight in the history of vampire fiction). Ellen lives just long enough to be embraced by her grief-stricken husband. The last image of the movie is of Orlok's ruined castle in the Carpathian Mountains.

 

Cast

 

 

* Max Schreck as Count Orlok

* Gustav von Wangenheim as Thomas Hutter

* Greta Schröder as Ellen Hutter

* Alexander Granach as Knock

* Georg H. Schnell as Harding

* Ruth Landshoff as Annie

* John Gottowt as Professor Bulwer

* Gustav Botz as Professor Sievers

* Max Nemetz as The Captain of The Empusa

* Wolfgang Heinz as First Mate of The Empusa

* Heinrich Witte as guard in asylum

* Guido Herzfeld as innkeeper

* Karl Etlinger as student with Bulwer

* Hardy von Francois as hospital doctor

* Fanny Schreck as hospital nurse

 

Origin and publication history

 

Screenplay and pre-production

 

Hutter's departure from Wisborg was filmed in Heiligen-Geist-Kirche's yard in Wismar; this photograph is from 1970.

 

Nosferatu was the first and only production of Prana Film, founded in 1921 by Enrico Dieckmann and Albin Grau. Grau had the idea to shoot a vampire film; the inspiration arose from Grau's war experience: in the winter of 1916, a Serbian farmer told him that his father was a vampire and one of the Undead.

 

Diekmann and Grau gave Henrik Galeen the task to write a screenplay inspired from Bram Stoker's 1897 novel Dracula, despite Prana Film not having obtained the film rights. Galeen was an experienced specialist in Dark romanticism; he had already worked on Der Student von Prag (The Student of Prague) in 1913, and the screenplay for Der Golem, wie er in die Welt kam (The Golem: How He Came into the World) (1920). Galeen set the story in a fictional north German harbour town named Wisborg and changed the character names. He added the idea of the vampire bringing the plague to Wisborg via rats on the ship. He left out the Van Helsing vampire hunter character. Galeen's Expressionist style screenplay was poetically rhythmic, without being so dismembered as other books influenced by literary Expressionism, such as those by Carl Mayer. Lotte Eisner described Galeen's screenplay as "voll Poesie, voll Rhythmus" ("full of poetry, full of rhythm").

 

Production

 

Filming began in July 1921, with exterior shots in Wismar. A take from Marienkirche's tower over Wismar marketplace with the Wasserkunst Wismar served as the establishing shot for the Wisborg scene. Other locations were the Wassertor, the Heiligen-Geist-Kirche yard and the harbour. In Lübeck, the abandoned Salzspeicher served as Nosferatu's new Wisborg house. Further exterior shots followed in Lauenburg, Rostock and on Sylt. The film team traveled to the Carpathian Mountains, where Orava Castle served as backdrop for Orlok's half-ruined castle. Nearby locations also served: Hutter's stay at Dolný Kubín; the river journey with the coffins filmed on the Váh River; and the panoramas of the High Tatras mountain range. The team filmed interior shots at the JOFA studio in Berlin's Johannisthal locality and further exteriors in the Tegel forest. Parts of the film set in Transylvania were also shot in Slovakia.

 

For cost reasons, cameraman Fritz Arno Wagner only had one camera available, and therefore there was only one original negative. The director followed Galeen's screenplay carefully, following handwritten instructions on camera positioning, lighting, and related matters. Nevertheless Murnau completely rewrote 12 pages of the script, as Galeen's text was missing from the director's working script. This concerned the last scene of the film, in which Ellen sacrifices herself and the vampire dies in the first rays of the Sun. Murnau prepared carefully; there were sketches that were to correspond exactly to each filmed scene, and he used a metronome to control the pace of the acting.

 

Premiere and theatre distribution

 

Shortly before the premiere, an advertisement campaign was placed in issue 21 of the magazine Bühne und Film, with a summary, scene and work photographs, production reports and essays including a treatment on vampirism by Albin Grau. Nosferatu's preview premiered on 4 March 1922 in the Marmorsaal of the Berlin Zoological Garden. This was planned as a large society evening entitled Das Fest des Nosferatu (Festival of Nosferatu), and guests were asked to arrive dressed in Biedermeier costume. The cinema premiere itself took place on 15 March 1922 at Berlin's Primus-Palast.

 

Contemporary critique

 

The Premiere reviewers generally praised the film with some occasionally complaining that the technically perfect and brightly-lit images detracted from the unworldly horror theme. Der Film, a Berlin film magazine, praised the technical quality and the believability of Schreck's portrayal of the vampire, but also felt that his form would have had a greater effect had it been shown more in silhouette.

 

Deviations from the novel

 

The story of Nosferatu is similar to that of Dracula and retains the core characters—Jonathan and Mina Harker, the Count, etc.—but omits many of the secondary players, such as Arthur and Quincey, and changes all of the characters' names (although in some recent releases of this film, which is now in the public domain in the United States but not in most European states, the written dialog screens have been changed to use the Dracula versions of the names). The setting has been transferred from Britain in the 1890s to Germany in 1838.

 

In contrast to Dracula, Orlok does not create other vampires, but kills his victims, causing the townfolk to blame the plague, which ravages the city. Also, Orlok must sleep by day, as sunlight would kill him. The ending is also substantially different from that of Dracula. The count is ultimately destroyed at sunrise when the "Mina" character sacrifices herself to him. The town called "Wisborg" in the film is in fact a mix of Wismar and Lübeck.[16]

 

Influences

 

This was the first and last Prana Film; the company declared bankruptcy after Bram Stoker's estate, acting for his widow, Florence Stoker, sued for copyright infringement and won. The court ordered all existing prints of Nosferatu destroyed, but copies of the film had already been distributed around the world. These prints were duplicated over the year.

 

With the influence of producer and production designer Albin Grau, the film established one of two main depictions of film vampires. The "Nosferatu-type" is a living corpse with rodent features (especially elongated fingernails and incisors), associated with rats and plague, and neither charming nor erotic but rather totally repugnant. The victims usually die and are not turned into vampires themselves. The more common archetype is the "Dracula-type" (established by Bela Lugosi's version of Dracula and perpetuated by Christopher Lee), a charming aristocrat adept at seduction and whose bite turns his victims into new vampires.

 

A more universal effect of the film is less obvious: the ending of Nosferatu single-handedly created the concept that vampires can be physically harmed by sunlight. While this was a common element of many other mythical creatures, pre-Nosferatu vampires disliked but could endure daylight (for instance, a part in the original Dracula novel shows its count in a London street by day). Since Nosferatu's release, the vampire legends have quickly incorporated the idea of fearing, or being destroyed by, the sun.

 

Murnau's Nosferatu is in the public domain in the United States but not in Germany, and copies of the movie are widely available on video (usually as poorly transferred, faded, scratched video copies that are often scorned by enthusiasts). However, pristine restored editions of the film have also been made available, and are also readily accessible to the public.

 

The movie has received not only a strong cult following, but also has received overwhelmingly positive reviews, including being cited as the best of all the adaptations of Dracula. On Rottentomatoes.com it received a "Certified Fresh" label and holds a 98 percent "fresh" rating based on 46 reviews.

 

Derivative works

 

Aaron Copland's 1922 ballet Grohg (unpublished and unpremiered until 1992) used Nosferatu as the physical model for the lead character and roughly follows the storyline.

 

Hugh Cornwell of the Stranglers and Robert Williams recorded an album Nosferatu as a 'soundtrack' to the film, dedicted to the memory of Max Schreck, it was released in 1979. The front cover was a still from the film.

 

Werner Herzog's 1979 homage to Nosferatu, Nosferatu the Vampyre starred Klaus Kinski as Count Dracula, not Orlok. A sequel to Herzog's film called Vampire in Venice starred Kinski, this time as Nosferatu, and Christopher Plummer as Paris Catalano. The 1979 television movie Salem's Lot modeled the appearance of Mr. Barlow on that of Count Orlok. In 1998, Wayne Keeley wrote and directed Nosferatu: The First Vampire, in which the original film was remastered to a soundtrack by Type O Negative and hosted by David Carradine. A 2000 Hollywood movie called Shadow of the Vampire told a secret history of the making of Nosferatu, imagining that actor Max Schreck (played by Willem Dafoe) was actually a genuine vampire, and that director F. W. Murnau (John Malkovich) was complicit in hiring the creature for the purpose of realism.

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39. (tie) Return of the Living Dead (1985)

 

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(3 of 20 lists - 44 points - highest rank #4 Flash Tizzle)

 

 

The Return of the Living Dead is a 1985 American zombie comedy film that was followed by several sequels. The film was written and directed by Dan O'Bannon and starred Clu Gulager, James Karen, Don Calfa, Thom Mathews, Beverly Randolph, Miguel A. Núñez Jr and Linnea Quigley.

 

The film tells the story of how three men accompanied by a group of teenage punks deal with the accidental release of a horde of brain hungry zombies onto an unsuspecting town. The film is also known for its soundtrack, which features several noted deathrock and punk rock bands of the era. The film was a critical success and performed moderately well at the box office. It also spawned four sequels.

 

Plot

 

At the Uneeda medical supply warehouse in Louisville, Kentucky, a bumbling foreman named Frank tries to impress the company's newest employee, Freddy, by showing him a large drum containing the mummified remains of a U.S. army experiment gone horribly wrong. However, Frank accidentally unleashes a toxic gas (as well as the corpse) inside the barrel, setting off a chain reaction that subsequently leads to reanimated dead bodies rising from the ground in the cemetery next to the warehouse. As Frank and Freddy grow increasingly ill due to their direct exposure to the gas, Freddy's friends, their boss Burt and a mortician named Ernie spend the night fighting for their lives against a swarm of fast, unstoppable and surprisingly clever brain-eating zombies.

 

Cast

 

* Clu Gulager as Burt Wilson

* James Karen as Frank

* Don Calfa as Ernst "Ernie" Kaltenbrunner

* Thom Mathews as Freddy

* Miguel A. Núñez Jr. as Spider

* Beverly Randolph as Tina

* Jewel Shepard as Casey

* John Philbin as Chuck

* Brian Peck as Scuz

* Linnea Quigley as Trash

* Mark Venturini as Suicide

* Jonathan Terry as Colonel Horace Glover

 

Production

 

The film has its roots in a novel by John Russo also called Return of the Living Dead. When Russo and George A. Romero parted ways after their 1968 film Night of the Living Dead, Russo retained the rights to any titles featuring Living Dead while Romero was free to create his own series of sequels, beginning with Dawn of the Dead. Russo and producer Tom Fox planned to bring Return of the Living Dead to the screen in 3D and directed by Tobe Hooper. Dan O'Bannon was brought in to give the script a polish and after Hooper backed out to make Lifeforce (also from a script by Dan O'Bannon), O'Bannon was offered the director's seat. He accepted on the condition he could rewrite the film radically so as to differentiate it from Romero's films. Russo retains a story writer credit on the film for developing the project, but the final film bears little to no resemblance to his original novel. He later wrote a novelization of the film which was fairly faithful to the shooting script, though without the character names as in the final film and the addition of a KGB sublot as an explanation for the plot. (Russo would, eventually, make his own 'canon' series with a 1999 revised edition of Night of the Living Dead, subtitled the 30th Anniversary Edition, and its sequel, Children of the Living Dead.)

 

O'Bannon's script also differed from the Romero series in that it is markedly more comedy based than Romero's films, employing "splatstick" style morbid humor and eccentric dialogue. The films also boasted significant nudity, in marked contrast to Romero's work. Russo and O'Bannon were only directly involved with the first film in the series. The rest of the films, to varying degrees, stick to their outline and "rules" established in the first film.

 

Although the movie is set in Louisville, Kentucky, it was filmed in California. The Louisville police uniforms and patrol cars were all period correct which means the studio had to obtain permission from the Louisville city government to use the Louisville police department emblem. Neither the Louisville police nor the city of Louisville received any acknowledgement in the end credits.

 

The Tarman is performed by puppeteer Allan Trautman, who is best known for his work with Jim Henson and The Muppets.

 

The "Half-Corpse" character was an animatronic puppet created by Tony Gardner, and puppeteered by Gardner, actor Brian Peck ("Scuz"), and Production Designer William Stout. This character launched Tony Gardner's career as an independent makeup effects artist.

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37. Creepshow (1982)

 

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(3 of 20 lists - 46 points - highest rank #4 GoSox05)

 

 

Creepshow is a 1982 American horror-comedy anthology film directed by George A. Romero (of Night of the Living Dead and Dawn of the Dead fame), and written by Stephen King (Carrie, The Shining, Misery, The Stand ,The Shawshank Redemption).

 

The film's ensemble cast includes Ted Danson, Leslie Nielsen, Hal Holbrook, E.G. Marshall and Ed Harris.

 

It was considered a sleeper hit at the box office when released in November 1982, earning over $19.7 million domestically, and remains a popular film to this day among horror genre fans. The film was shot on location in Pittsburgh and the suburb areas. It consists of five short stories referred to as "Jolting Tales of Horror": "Father's Day", "The Lonesome Death of Jordy Verrill", "Something to Tide You Over", "The Crate" and "They're Creeping Up on You!". Two of these stories, "The Crate" and "The Lonesome Death of Jordy Verrill" (originally titled "Weeds"), were adapted from previously published Stephen King's short horror tales.

 

The segments are tied together with brief animated sequences. The film is bookended by scenes, featuring a young boy named Billy (played by Stephen King's own son, Joe King), who is punished by his father for reading horror comics. The film is an homage to the E.C. horror comic books of the 1950s such as Tales from the Crypt, The Vault of Horror and The Haunt of Fear.

 

In later years, the international rights of the film would be acquired by Republic Pictures, which today is a subsidiary of the Paramount Motion Pictures Group, itself owned by Viacom. The film's UK rights are owned by Universal Studios.

 

Plot

 

Prologue

 

A young boy named Billy (Joe King) gets yelled at and slapped by his father, Stan (Tom Atkins), for reading a horror comic titled Creepshow. His father tosses the comic in the garbage to teach Billy a lesson, but not before threatening to spank him should Billy ever get caught reading Creepshow comic books again. Later after he tosses the comic book away, Stan reminds his wife (Iva Jean Saraceni) that he had to be hard on Billy because he cannot believe all the "crap" that's in the book. He closes out the discussion with the reason why God made fathers: to protect their ways of life and their children. As Billy sits upstairs hating his father, he hears a sound at the window, which turns out to be a ghostly apparition, beckoning him to come closer.

 

"Father's Day"

 

(First story, written by King specifically for the film)

 

Seven years ago, an elderly patriarch named Nathan Grantham (Jon Lormer) was killed on Father's Day by his daughter Bedelia (Viveca Lindfors), gone mad from the murder of her husband which Nathan orchestrated. Bedelia bashed her father in the head with a marble ashtray as he screamed for his cake. Third Sunday of June, seven years later, his ungrateful, money-grubbing relatives, including Aunt Bedelia (now taken to drinking), get together for their annual dinner on Father's Day. Nathan Grantham comes back as a revenant to get the cake he never got, and kills off his relatives one by one. The end scene shows an undead Nathan (John Amplas) carrying Aunt Sylvia's frosting-covered head on a platter, rattling "It is Father's Day, and I got my cake."

 

"The Lonesome Death of Jordy Verrill"

 

(Second story, originally titled "Weeds", adapted from a previously published short story written by King)

 

A dimwitted backwoods hick (Stephen King) thinks a newly discovered meteorite will provide enough money from the local college to pay off his $200 bank loan. Instead, he finds himself being overcome by a rapidly spreading plant-like organism that comes off the meteorite and begins growing on him after he touches a glowing green substance within (resulting in the sketch's famous quote: "Meteor s***!").

 

"Something to Tide You Over"

 

(Third story, written by King expressly for the film)

 

Richard Vickers (Leslie Nielsen), a coldblooded, wealthy husband, stages a terrible fate for his unfaithful wife, Becky (Gaylen Ross) and her lover, Harry Wentworth (Ted Danson) by burying them up to their necks on the beach, below the high tide line. He sets up closed-circut TV cameras so the lovers can watch each other die. Richard is in for a surprise of his own when the people he murdered return as waterlogged, seaweed-covered zombies intent on getting revenge of their own.

 

"The Crate"

 

(Fourth story, adapted from a previously published short story)

 

A mysterious, extremely lethal creature is unwittingly released from its crate in this suspenseful and gory monster story. Hal Holbrook stars as mild-mannered college professor Henry Northrup, who sees the creature as a way to rid himself of his drunk, uncouth, and emotionally abusive wife, Wilma (Adrienne Barbeau). (The monster in the crate was nicknamed "Fluffy" by the film's director, George A. Romero)

 

"They're Creeping Up On You!"

 

(Fifth and final story, written by King expressly for the film)

 

Upson Pratt (E.G. Marshall) is a cruel, ruthless businessman whose mysophobia has him living in a hermetically sealed apartment, but finds himself helpless when his apartment becomes overrun by endless hordes of cockroaches.

 

Epilogue

 

The following morning, two garbage collectors (Tom Savini and Marty Schiff) find the Creepshow comic in the trash. They look at the ads in the book for X-ray specs, a Charles Atlas bodybuilding course. They also see an advertisment for a voodoo doll, but lament that the order form has already been redeemed. Inside the house, Stan complains of neck pain, which escalates as Billy repeatedly jabs the voodoo doll while Stan screams in agony.

 

Notes

 

The film boasts one or two ongoing gimmicks for attentive viewers. A popular example would be that the murder weapon from the first story, an ornate marble ashtray, appears in each of the subsequent stories.

 

Cast

 

Prologue

 

* Joe King as Billy

* Tom Atkins (uncredited) as Stan

* Iva Jean Saraceni as Billy's mother

 

Father's Day

 

* Jon Lormer as Nathan Grantham

* Viveca Lindfors as Bedelia

* Elizabeth Regan as Cass Blaine

* Warner Shook as Richard Grantham

* Ed Harris as Hank Blaine

* Carrie Nye as Sylvia Grantham

* Peter Messer as Yarbro

* John Amplas as Undead Nathan

* Nann Mogg as Mrs. Danvers

 

The Lonesome Death of Jordy Verrill

 

* Stephen King as Jordy Verrill

* Bingo O'Malley as Jordy's father

* John Colicos (uncredited) as Doctor

 

Something to Tide You Over

 

* Leslie Nielsen as Richard Vickers

* Gaylen Ross as Becky Vickers

* Ted Danson as Henry Wentworth

 

The Crate

 

* Hal Holbrook as Henry Northup

* Adrienne Barbeau as Wilma Northup

* Fritz Weaver as Dexter Stanley

* Don Keefer as Mike the Janitor

* Robert Harper as Charlie Gereson

* Chuck Aber as Richard Raymond

* Christine Forest as Tabitha Raymond

* Cletus Anderson as Host

* Katie Karlovitz as Maid

* Charles Van Eman as Bartender

* David Garrison (uncredited) as College party host

* Daryl Ferrucci (uncredited) as Fluffy

 

They're Creeping Up on You

 

* E. G. Marshall as Upson Pratt

* David Early as White

* Ann Muffly (uncredited) as Voice of Lenora Castonmeyer

 

Epilogue

 

* Joe King as Billy

* Tom Atkins (uncredited) as Stan

* Iva Jean Saraceni as Billy's mother

* Marty Schiff as Garbageman #1

* Tom Savini as Garbageman #2

 

Reaction

 

Creepshow was given a wide release on November 12, 1982. It started strongly with an $8 million box-office gross for its first five days. In its opening weekend, Creepshow grossed $5,870,889, ranking #1 in the box office, capsizing First Blood from the top spot.

 

Reviews

 

Creepshow received positive reviews from critics. Roger Ebert gave the film three out of four stars and wrote, "Romero and King have approached this movie with humor and affection, as well as with an appreciation of the macabre". In his review for the New York Times, Vincent Canby wrote, "The best things about Creepshow are its carefully simulated comic-book tackiness and the gusto with which some good actors assume silly positions. Horror film purists may object to the levity even though failed, as a lot of it is". Gary Arnold, in his review for the Washington Post, wrote, "What one confronts in Creepshow is five consistently stale, derivative horror vignettes of various lengths and defects". In his review for the Globe and Mail, Jay Scott wrote, "The Romero-King collaboration has softened both the horror and the cynicism, but not by enough to betray the sources - Creepshow is almost as funny and as horrible as the filmmakers would clearly love it to be". David Ansen, in his review for Newsweek, wrote, "For anyone over 12 there's not much pleasure to be had watching two masters of horror deliberately working beneath themselves. Creepshow is a faux naif horror film: too arch to be truly scary, too elemental to succeed as satire". In his review for Time, Richard Corliss wrote, "But the treatment manages to be both perfunctory and languid; the jolts can be predicted by any ten-year-old with a stop watch. Only the story in which Evil Plutocrat E.G. Marshall is eaten alive by cockroaches mixes giggles and grue in the right measure".

 

The film has become a cult horror classic.

 

Sequels and adaptations

 

The film was adapted into an actual comic book of the same name soon after the film's release, illustrated by Bernie Wrightson, an artist fittingly influenced by the 1950s E.C. Comics.

 

A sequel, Creepshow 2 was released in 1987, and was once again based on Stephen King short stories with a screenplay from Creepshow director George A. Romero. The film contained only three tales of horror, as opposed to the original's five stories.

 

The general concept and plot of the film was adapted for the song "Everything Went Black" by The Black Dahlia Murder. However, the segments "They're Creeping Up on You," and "Father's Day" were omitted from the video.

 

On November 10, 2009, it was announced that Taurus Entertainment had a 3-D remake planned.

 

Unofficial sequels

 

A further unofficial sequel, Creepshow III, featuring no involvement from Stephen King, George A. Romero, or anyone else involved in the production of the first two films, was released direct-to-video in 2007 (though it was finished in 2006) to mostly negative reviews. This film, in a fashion similar to the original Creepshow, features five short darkly comedic horror stories. The company behind the film was Taurus Entertainment, also responsible for the in-name-only Romero sequel, Day of the Dead 2: Contagium, a follow-up to 1985's Day of the Dead.

Several screenshots from the film, demonstrating the way comic book imagery and effects were used extensively by director George Romero to recreate the feel of classic 1950's E.C. horror comics such as "Tales from the Crypt".

 

Creepshow make-up artist and Creepshow 2 actor, Tom Savini, has said that Tales from the Darkside: The Movie (1990) is the real Creepshow 3.

 

Television series

 

The moderate success of Creepshow sparked interest in a television series in the same mold. After a few changes, Laurel Productions renamed the television version Tales from the Darkside, which lasted four years (1983–87).

 

The series spawned a film adaptation very similar to Creepshow, entitled Tales from the Darkside: The Movie (1990), directed by Creepshow composer John Harrison.

 

The TV series was followed by a virtually identical series named Monsters, which lasted another three years (1988–91).

 

Creepshow 4 & Creepshow: RAW

 

Warner Bros. is one of the companies currently involved in developing a "revival" or remake of the film, to be titled Creepshow 4.

 

Taurus Entertainment (rights holders of the original Creepshow) have licensed the rights to Jace Hall, of HDFILMS, a Burbank, California company, to produce Creepshow: RAW, a web series based upon the original film.

 

The pilot episode for Creepshow: RAW wrapped on July 30, 2008, and is currently in post-production. The pilot was directed by Wilmer Valderrama and features Michael Madsen. Still shots from the filming can be found at genre news site, Bloody-Disgusting.com.

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36. Dracula (1931)

 

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(5 of 20 lists - 46 points - highest rank #4 BigEdWalsh)

 

Dracula is a 1931 horror film directed by Tod Browning and starring Béla Lugosi as the title character. The film was produced by Universal and is based on the stage play of the same name by Hamilton Deane and John L. Balderston, which in turn is based on the novel Dracula by Bram Stoker.

 

Plot

 

Renfield (Dwight Frye), a British solicitor, travels through the Carpathian Mountains via stagecoach. The people in the stagecoach are fearful that the coach won’t reach the local inn before sundown. Arriving there safely before sundown, Renfield refuses to stay at the inn and asks the driver to take him to the Borgo Pass. The innkeeper and his wife seem to be afraid of Renfield’s destination, Castle Dracula, and warn him about vampires. The innkeeper's wife gives Renfield a crucifix for protection before he leaves for Borgo Pass, whence he is driven to the castle by Dracula's coach, which was awaiting him at Borgo Pass, with Dracula himself disguised as the driver. During the bumpy ride, Renfield leans out and starts to ask the driver to slow down, but is startled to see that the driver has disappeared, and a bat is leading the horses.

 

Renfield enters the castle welcomed by charming but odd nobleman Count Dracula (Béla Lugosi), who unbeknownst to Renfield, is a vampire. Renfield expresses concern about the strange disappearance of the coach driver and his luggage, but Dracula assures him that he has arranged to have his luggage delivered. They discuss Dracula's intention to lease Carfax Abbey in England, where he intends to travel the next day. Dracula then leaves and Renfield goes to his bedroom. Dracula hypnotizes Renfield into opening a window and then causes him to faint. A bat is seen at the window, which then morphs into Dracula. Dracula's three wives suddenly appear and start to move toward Renfield to attack him, but Dracula waves them away, and he attacks Renfield himself.

 

Aboard the schooner Vesta, bound for England, Renfield has now became a raving lunatic slave to Dracula, who is hidden in a coffin and gets out for feeding on the ship's crew. When the ship arrives in England, Renfield is discovered the only living person in it; the captain is lashed on the wheel and none of the ship’s crew is discovered. Renfield is sent to Dr. Seward’s sanatorium.

 

Some nights later at a theatre, Dracula meets Dr. Seward (Herbert Bunston), who is with a group in a box seat area. Dr. Seward introduces his daughter Mina (Helen Chandler), her fiancé John Harker (David Manners), and the family friend Lucy Weston (Frances Dade). Lucy is fascinated by Count Dracula, and that night, after Lucy has a talk with Mina and falls asleep in bed, Dracula enters her room as a bat and feasts on her blood. She dies in an autopsy theatre the next day after a string of transfusions, and two tiny marks on her throat are discovered.

 

Several days later, it is seen that Renfield is obsessed with eating flies and spiders, devouring their lives also. Professor Van Helsing (Edward Van Sloan) analyzes Renfield's blood, discovering Renfield’s obsession. He starts talking about vampires, and that afternoon chats with Renfield, who begs Dr. Seward to send him away, because his nightly cries may disturb Mina’s dreams. When Dracula awakes and calls Renfield with wolf howling, Renfield is disturbed by Van Helsing showing him a branch of wolfbane. It stops wolves, as Van Helsing says, and also is used for vampire protection.

 

Dracula visits Mina, asleep in her bedroom, and bites her, leaving neck marks similar to those on Lucy. The next morning, Mina tells of a dream in which she was visited by Dracula. Then, Dracula enters for a night's visit at the Sewards. Van Helsing and Harker notice that Dracula does not have a reflection in a mirror. When Van Helsing shows this "most amazing phenomenon" to Dracula, he reacts violently, smashes the mirror and leaves. Van Helsing deduces that Dracula is the vampire.

 

Meanwhile, Mina leaves her room and runs to Dracula in the garden, where he wraps his cape around her and attacks her; the next morning, she is found and awakened from unconsciousness. Newspapers report that a "mysterious, beautiful woman in white" has been luring children from the park with chocolate, and then biting them. Mina recognizes the beautiful lady as Lucy, who has risen as a vampire. Harker wants to take Mina to London for safety, but he is finally convinced to leave Mina with them. Van Helsing orders Nurse Briggs (Joan Standing) to take care of Mina when she is sleeping, and not to remove the wreath of wolfbane from around her neck.

 

Renfield again escapes from his cell and listens to the three men discussing vampires. Before Martin (Charles K. Gerrard), his attendant, arrives to take Renfield back to his cell, Renfield relates to Van Helsing, Harker and Seward how Dracula convinced Renfield to allow him to enter the sanitorium by promising him thousands of rats with blood and life in them.

 

Dracula enters the Seward parlour and talks with Van Helsing. Dracula states that because he has fused his blood with Mina's, she now belongs to him. Van Helsing swears revenge by sterilizing Carfax Abbey and finding the coffin where he sleeps; he will then thrust a stake through his heart. Dracula tries to hypnotize Van Helsing, almost succeeding, but Van Helsing shows a crucifix to the vampire and turns away.

 

Harker visits Mina on a terrace, and Mina speaks of how much she loves "nights and fogs". Harker notices Mina’s changes and says he likes them, not realizing that she is slowly transforming into a vampire. A bat (Dracula) flies above them and squeaks to Mina, to which she responds: "Yes? ... Yes? ... I will". Mina then tries to attack Harker. Fortunately, Van Helsing and Dr. Seward arrive just in time to save him. Mina confesses what Dracula has done to her, and tries to tell Harker that their love is finished.

 

Later that night, Dracula hypnotizes Nurse Briggs into removing the wolfbane wreath from Mina's neck and opening the French windows so he can enter her room. Van Helsing and Harker see Renfield, having just escaped from his cell, heading for Carfax Abbey. They see Dracula with Mina in the abbey. When Harker shouts to Mina, Dracula sees them, thinking Renfield had trailed them. He strangles Renfield and tosses him down a staircase, and is hunted by Van Helsing and Harker. Dracula is forced to sleep in his coffin, as sunrise has come, and is trapped. Van Helsing prepares a wooden stake while Harker searches for Mina. He finds her in a strange stasis. Dracula moans in pain when Van Helsing impales him, and Mina returns to normal. Harker leaves with her while Van Helsing stays. Church bells are heard, implying that they will be married.

 

Cast

 

* Béla Lugosi as Count Dracula

* Helen Chandler as Mina

* David Manners as John Harker

* Dwight Frye as Renfield

* Edward Van Sloan as Van Helsing

* Herbert Bunston as Dr Seward

* Frances Dade as Lucy

* Joan Standing as Nurse Briggs (in an error on the opening credits, she is misidentified as "Maid")

* Charles K. Gerrard as Martin

 

Background/Production

 

Bram Stoker's novel had already been filmed without permission as Nosferatu in 1922 by German expressionist film maker F. W. Murnau. Bram Stoker's widow sued for plagiarism and copyright infringement, and the courts decided in her favor, essentially ordering that all prints of Nosferatu be destroyed. Enthusiastic young Hollywood producer Carl Laemmle, Jr. also saw the box office potential in Stoker's gothic chiller, and he legally acquired the novel's film rights. Initially, he wanted Dracula to be a spectacle on a scale with the lavish silent films The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1923) and The Phantom of the Opera (1925).

 

Like those films, Laemmle insisted it must star Lon Chaney, despite Chaney being under contract at MGM. Tod Browning was then approached to direct this new Universal epic. Browning had already directed Chaney as a fake vampire in the (lost) 1927 silent London after Midnight. However, a number of factors would limit Laemmle's plans: Firstly, Chaney himself, who had been diagnosed with throat cancer in 1928, had succumbed to his terminal illness. Furthermore, studio financial difficulties, coupled with the onset of the Great Depression, caused a drastic reduction in budget, forcing Laemmle to look at a cheaper alternative, which meant several grand scenes that closely followed the Stoker storyline had to be abandoned.

 

Already a huge hit on Broadway, the tried and tested Deane/Balderston Dracula play would become the blueprint as the production gained momentum. The screenwriters carefully studied the silent, unauthorized version, Nosferatu for inspiration. One bit of business lifted directly from a nearly identical scene in Nosferatu that does not appear in Stoker's novel was the early scene at the Count's castle when Renfield accidentally pricks his finger on a paper clip and it starts to bleed, and Dracula creeps toward him with glee, only to be repelled when the crucifix falls in front of the bleeding finger.

 

Decision on casting the title role proved problematic. Initially, Laemmle was not at all interested in Lugosi, in spite of good reviews for his stage portrayal. Laemmle instead considered other actors, including Paul Muni, Chester Morris, Ian Keith, John Wray, Joseph Schildkraut, Arthur Edmund Carewe and William Courtney. Lugosi had played the role on Broadway, and to his good fortune, happened to be in Los Angeles with a touring company of the play when the film was being cast. Against the tide of studio opinion, Lugosi lobbied hard and ultimately won the executives over, thanks in part to him accepting a paltry $500 per week salary for seven weeks of work, amounting to $3,500.

 

The eerie speech pattern of Lugosi's Dracula was said to have resulted from the fact that Lugosi did not speak English, and therefore had to learn and speak his lines phonetically. This is a bit of an urban legend. While it was true Lugosi did not speak English at the time of his first English-language play in 1919 and had learned his lines to that play in this manner, by the time of Dracula Lugosi spoke English as well as he ever would. Lugosi's speech pattern would be imitated countless times by other Dracula portrayers, most often in an exaggerated or comical way.

 

According to numerous accounts, the production is alleged to have been a mostly disorganized affair, with the usually meticulous Tod Browning leaving cinematographer Karl Freund to take over during much of the shoot. Moreover, the despondent Browning would simply tear out of the script pages that he felt were redundant; such was his seeming contempt for the screenplay. It is possible, however, given that Browning had originally intended Dracula as collaboration between him and Lon Chaney, his apparent lack of interest on the set was due to losing his friend and original leading man, rather than any actual aversion to the subject matter.

 

The scenes of crew members on the ship struggling in the violent storm were lifted from a Universal silent film, The Storm Breaker (1925). Photographed at silent film projection speed, this accounts for the jerky, speeded-up appearance of the footage when projected at 24 frames per second sound film speed and cobbled together with new footage of Dracula and Renfield. Jack Foley was the foley artist who produced the sound effects.

 

Cinematic process

 

The film/negative format used in the creation of this film was 35 mm. The aspect ratio is the 1930 standard of 0.800 in. by 0.600 in. Original prints were tinted Verdante, a color film stock of the Sonochrome by Kodak.

 

The film's histrionic dramatics from the stage play are also reflected in its special effects, which are limited to fog, lighting, and large flexible bats. Dracula's transition from bat to person is always done off-camera. The film also employs extended periods of silence and character close-ups for dramatic effect, and employs several intertitles and a closeup of a newspaper article to advance the story, holdovers from silent films. One point made by online film critic James Berardinelli[5] is that the actors' performance style seems to belong to the silent era. Director Tod Browning had a solid reputation as a silent film director, having made them since 1915, but he never felt completely at ease with sound films. He only directed a few more, the last in 1939.

 

Reception

 

When the film finally premiered at the Roxy Theatre in New York on Feb. 12, 1931, newspapers reported that members of the audiences fainted in shock at the horror on screen. This publicity, shrewdly orchestrated by the film studio, helped ensure people came to see the film, if for no other reason than curiosity. Dracula was a big gamble for a major Hollywood studio to undertake. In spite of the literary credentials of the source material, it was uncertain if an American audience was prepared for a serious full length supernatural chiller. Though America had been exposed to other chillers before, such as The Cat and the Canary (1927), this was a horror story with no comic relief or trick ending that downplayed the supernatural.

 

Nervous executives breathed a collective sigh of relief when Dracula proved to be a huge box office sensation. Within 48 hours of its opening at New York's Roxy Theatre, it had sold 50,000 tickets. Later in 1931, Universal would release Frankenstein to even greater acclaim. Universal in particular would become the forefront of early horror cinema, with a canon of films including, The Mummy (1932), The Invisible Man (1933), Bride of Frankenstein (1935) and The Wolf Man (1941).

 

Censorship after the 1934 production code

 

When the film was reissued after the Production Code was strictly enforced in 1934, at least two scenes are known to have been censored. The most famous was an epilogue which played only during the film's initial run. In a sequence similar to the prologue from Frankenstein, and again featuring Universal stalwart Edward Van Sloan, he reappeared to reassure the audience that what they’d seen wouldn’t give them nightmares. Van Sloan would then calmly inform those with a nervous disposition that... "There really are such things as Vampires!" In a 1936 reissue, this epilogue was removed out of fear of offending religious groups by encouraging a belief in the supernatural. Also, Dracula's off-camera "death groans" at the end of the film were silenced; this piece of soundtrack was later restored by MCA-Universal for its laser disc and subsequent DVD releases. However, Van Sloan's epilogue is still missing and presumed lost.

 

Legacy

 

Today, Dracula is widely regarded as a classic of the era and of its genre. In 2000, it was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant".

 

To many film lovers and critics alike, Lugosi's portrayal is widely regarded as the definitive Dracula. Lugosi had a powerful presence and authority on-screen. The slow, deliberate pacing of his performance ("I … bid you … welcome!" and "I never drink … wine!") gave his Dracula the air of a walking, talking corpse, which terrified 1931 movie audiences. He was just as compelling with no dialogue, and the many close-ups of Lugosi's face in icy silence jumped off the screen. With this mesmerizing performance, Dracula became Bela Lugosi's signature role, his Dracula a cultural icon, and he himself a legend in the classic Universal Horror film series.

 

However, Dracula would ultimately become a role which would prove to be both a blessing and a curse. Despite his earlier stage successes in a variety of roles, from the moment Lugosi donned the cape on screen, it would forever see him typecast as the Count.

 

Tod Browning would go on to direct Bela Lugosi once more in another vampire thriller, Mark of the Vampire, a 1935 remake of his lost silent film London after Midnight (1927).

 

Iconography

 

This film, and the 1920s stage play by Deane & Balderston, contributed much of Dracula's popular iconography, much of which vastly differs from Stoker's novel. In the novel and in the German silent film Nosferatu (1922), Dracula's appearance is repulsive; Lugosi portrays the Count as a handsome, charming nobleman. The Deane-Balderston play and this film also introduced the now iconic images of Dracula entering his victims' bedrooms through French doors/windows, wrapping his satin-lined cape around victims, and more emphasis on Dracula transforming into a bat. In the Stoker novel, he variously transformed into a bat or a wolf.

 

The now classic Dracula line, "I never drink ... wine", is original to this film. It did not appear in Stoker's novel or the original production of the play. When the play was revived on Broadway in 1977 starring Frank Langella, the line was added, presumably because audiences had come to expect it.

 

Sequels

 

Five years after the release of the film (1936), Universal released Dracula's Daughter, a direct sequel that starts immediately after the end of the first film. A second sequel, Son of Dracula, starring Lon Chaney, Jr. followed in 1943. Despite his apparent death in the 1931 film, the Count returned to life in three more Universal films of the mid-1940s: 1944's House of Frankenstein, 1945's House of Dracula and 1948's comedy Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein. Ironically, Universal would only cast Lugosi as Dracula in one more film, the aforesaid Abbott and Costello vehicle, inscrutably giving the role to John Carradine in any movies featuring Dracula made between 1931 and 1948, although Carradine admittedly more closely resembled Stoker's physical description from the book. Many of the familiar images of Dracula are from stills of the older Lugosi made during the filming of the 1948 comedy, so there remain two confusingly distinct incarnations of Lugosi as Dracula, seventeen years apart in age. As Lugosi played a vampire in three other movies during his career, this contributed to the public misconception that he portrayed Dracula on film many times.

 

Soundtrack

 

Due to the limitations of adding a musical score to a film's soundtrack during 1930 and 1931, no score had ever been composed specifically for the film. The music heard during the opening credits was later reused for the 1932 film, The Mummy.

 

1998 musical score by Philip Glass

 

In 1998 composer Philip Glass was commissioned to compose a musical score for the classic film. The score was performed by the Kronos Quartet under direction of Michael Reisman, Glass's usual conductor.

 

Of the project, Glass said:

 

The film is considered a classic. I felt the score needed to evoke the feeling of the world of the 19th century — for that reason I decided a string quartet would be the most evocative and effective. I wanted to stay away from the obvious effects associated with horror films. With [the Kronos Quartet] we were able to add depth to the emotional layers of the film.

 

The film, with this new score, was released by Universal Studios in 1999 in the VHS format. Universal's DVD releases allow the viewer to choose between the unscored soundtrack or the Glass score. The soundtrack, Dracula, was released by Nonesuch Records in 1999. Glass and the Kronos Quartet performed live during showings of the film in 1999 and 2000.

 

Spanish-language and alternate silent version

 

In the early days of sound films, it was common for Hollywood studios to produce Spanish-language versions of their films using the same sets, costumes and so on. While many of these versions no longer exist, the Spanish-language version of Dracula is an exception. This was included as a bonus feature on the Classic Monster Collection DVD in 1999, the Legacy Collection DVD in 2004 and the 75th Anniversary Edition DVD set in 2006.

 

A third silent version of the film was also released. In 1931, some theatres had not yet been wired for sound, and during this transition period, many studios released alternate silent versions with intertitles.

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35. (tie) Shaun of the Dead (2004)

 

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(3 of 20 lists - 50 points - highest rank #3 whitesoxfan99)

 

Shaun of the Dead is a 2004 British romantic comedy horror film directed by Edgar Wright, starring Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, and written by Pegg and Wright. Pegg plays Shaun, a man attempting to get some kind of focus in his life as he deals with his girlfriend, his mother and stepfather. At the same time, he has to cope with an apocalyptic uprising of zombies.

 

The film is the first of what Pegg and Wright call their Blood and Ice Cream Trilogy with Hot Fuzz as the second and The World's End as the third.

 

The film was a critical and commercial success in the United Kingdom, and the United States. It received universal acclaim with a 91% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes and a score of 76 out of 100 at Metacritic. Shaun of the Dead was a BAFTA nominee.

 

Plot

 

Shaun (Simon Pegg) is a 29-year-old salesman whose life has no direction. His younger colleagues at work show him no respect and he has a rocky relationship with his stepfather, Phillip (Bill Nighy). He also has a tense relationship with his housemate, Pete (Peter Serafinowicz), because of Ed (Nick Frost), Shaun's crude best friend who lives on their couch and deals marijuana. His girlfriend, Liz (Kate Ashfield), is unsatisfied with their social life, because it consists primarily of spending every evening at the Winchester, Shaun's favourite pub, as well as the fact that they never do anything alone together - Shaun always brings Ed and she has to bring her flatmates, David (Dylan Moran) and Dianne (Lucy Davis). After a miserable day at work, Liz breaks up with Shaun when he fails to book a table at a restaurant for their anniversary. Shaun drowns his sorrows with Ed at the Winchester and they return home late, only to have Pete confront them. Pete, suffering a headache after being mugged and bitten by "some crackheads", berates Shaun and tells him to sort his life out. Shaun resolves to do so the next morning.

 

This revelation comes at the same time as an apocalyptic uprising of zombies, although Shaun is too hungover to notice at first. He and Ed finally realise what is happening after watching reports on TV and several zombies appear in the house, and they decide they need to ensure they are somewhere safe. Shaun and Ed arm themselves with weapons from the shed and realise that the safest place they know is the Winchester. They plan to collect Shaun's mother, Barbara (Penelope Wilton), and Phillip, and Liz and her flatmates and head to the Winchester. They discover that Pete is still in the house and is now a zombie, but manage to escape in Pete's car. After collecting Barbara and Phillip, who is bitten in the process, they switch cars and drive in Phillip's Jaguar and head to Liz, Dianne and David's flat, and collect them. Before they make it to the Winchester, Phillip dies of his bite, after he manages to make peace with Shaun. Forced to abandon the car, they set off on foot, bumping into Yvonne, a close friend of Shaun's, and her own band of survivors. Discovering that the path is infested with zombies, they devise a plan to sneak by, pretending to be zombies, with the help of Dianne, who is an aspiring actress. Ed and Shaun get into an argument and the zombies, after watching the commotion, realise they are not dead and approach. David smashes the window with a dustbin and, while Shaun distracts the zombies, everyone takes refuge inside the pub. Shaun joins them after giving the zombies the slip.

 

After several hours, the zombies return. Ed inadvertently gives away their position when he wins on the fruit machine and the zombies converge on the pub. At that moment, the pub's landlords, also zombies, arrive and attack them. Ed manages to get the Winchester rifle above the bar working and they use it to fend off the zombies breaking in. However, Barbara reveals a bite wound she picked up along the way and subsequently dies. Realising she is about to become a zombie, David points the rifle at her, only to meet resistance from Shaun and Ed, and in the ensuing confrontation, Dianne reveals that she is aware that David loves Liz and not her. After Barbara returns as a zombie, Shaun shoots her, and punches David. David grabs the rifle and attempts to shoot Shaun, but discovers that the rifle is out of ammo. Before anyone can react to his attempt to kill Shaun, David angrily storms to the door. Dianne talks him away from it, and David begins to apologize to Shaun. At that moment, the zombies break through a window and drag him out, disemboweling and dismembering him. Frantic, Dianne unbolts the door to rescue David, exposing Shaun, Liz and Ed to the zombies. Ed prepares a Molotov cocktail to fend them off, but Pete arrives and bites him. He manages to get over the bar and Shaun uses the cocktail to ignite the bar. They escape into the cellar. Finding themselves cornered, they contemplate suicide, but discover a service hatch. Shaun and Liz escape through the hatch, and Ed, now mortally wounded from the ensuing zombie attack, stays behind with a cigarette and the rifle. Back on the street, Shaun and Liz prepare to fight the zombies once more, but at that moment, the British Army arrives and they are rescued. Yvonne, who has also survived, shows up and tells Shaun and Liz to follow her. They approach the safety of the trucks, reconciled.

 

Six months after the outbreak, all of the uninfected have returned to daily life, and the remaining zombies, retaining their instincts, are used as cheap labour and entertainment. Liz and Shaun have moved in together in Shaun's house, and Shaun is keeping Ed tethered in the shed and playing TimeSplitters 2.

 

Cast

 

* Simon Pegg as Shaun

* Nick Frost as Ed

* Kate Ashfield as Liz

* Lucy Davis as Dianne

* Dylan Moran as David

* Peter Serafinowicz as Pete

* Jessica Stevenson as Yvonne

* Bill Nighy as Phillip, Shaun's step-dad

* Penelope Wilton as Barbara, Shaun's mom

* Rafe Spall as Noel

* Jeremy Thompson as Himself

* Martin Freeman as Declan

* Reece Shearsmith as Mark

* Tamsin Greig as Maggie

* Julia Deakin as Yvonne's mum

* Matt Lucas as Cousin Tom

* Mark Donovan as Hulking Zombie

* Trisha Goddard as Herself

* Patricia Franklin as Spinster

* Chris Martin as Himself

* Jon Buckland as Himself

* Keith Chegwin as Himself

* Krishnan Guru-Murthy as Himself

* Carol Barnes as Herself

* Rob Butler as Himself

* Vernon Kay as Himself

* Edgar Wright (cameo) as newsreader / prat-falling zombie / Italian restaurant voice

 

Production

 

The film is notable for Wright's kinetic directing style, and its references to other movies, television shows, and video games. In this way, it is similar to the British sitcom Spaced, which both Pegg and Wright worked on in similar roles.

 

The film was inspired by the Spaced episode "Art", written by Pegg (along with his writing partner and co-star Jessica Stevenson) and directed by Wright, in which the character of Tim (Pegg), under the influence of amphetamine and the PlayStation video game Resident Evil 2, hallucinates that he's fighting off a zombie invasion. Having discovered a mutual appreciation for Romero's Dead trilogy, they decided to write their own zombie movie. Spaced was to be a big influence on the making of Shaun, as it was directed by Wright in a similar style, and featured many of the same cast and crew in minor and major roles (as well as Pegg, Wright and Stevenson, Nick Frost — who played Mike in Spaced — has a starring role in Shaun as Ed, and Peter Serafinowicz and Julia Deakin, who played Duane Benzie and Marsha in Spaced, respectively — appeared in Shaun as Pete and Yvonne's mum, respectively).

 

The film's cast features a number of British comedians, comic actors and sitcom stars, most prominently from Spaced, Black Books and The Office. Shaun also co-stars Dylan Moran, who played Bernard Black in Black Books, and Lucy Davis, who played Dawn Tinsley in The Office. In addition to this, cameo appearances are made by Martin Freeman (Tim Canterbury in The Office), Tamsin Greig (Fran in Black Books, Caroline in Green Wing), Julia Deakin (Marsha in Spaced), Reece Shearsmith (a member of The League of Gentlemen) and Matt Lucas (writer/co-star of Little Britain). In addition, the voices of Mark Gatiss (The League of Gentlemen) and Julia Davis (Nighty Night) can be heard as radio news presenters, as can David Walliams (Little Britain) who provides the voice of an unseen TV reporter. Trisha Goddard also makes a cameo appearance, hosting a fictionalised episode of her real-life talk show Trisha. Many other comics and comic actors appear in cameos as zombies, including Rob Brydon, Paul Putner, Pamela Kempthorne (Morticia de'Ath in The Vampires of Bloody Island), Joe Cornish, Antonia Campbell-Hughes (from the Jack Dee sit com Lead Balloon), Mark Donovan (Black Books) and Michael Smiley (Tyres in Spaced). Coldplay members Chris Martin (who contributed to the soundtrack by guest singing the cover of Buzzcocks' "Everybody's Happy Nowadays" by Ash) and Jonny Buckland also cameo as zombies in the movie.

 

Locations

 

The production was filmed entirely in London, on location and at Ealing Studios, and involved production companies Working Title Films and StudioCanal. Many exterior shots were filmed in and around the North London areas of Crouch End, Muswell Hill and Finsbury Park. Zombie extras were mainly local residents or fans of Spaced who responded to a casting call organised through a fan website.

 

The scenes filmed in and around "The Winchester Pub" were shot at The Duke Of Albany in Monson Road New Cross, a three-storey Victorian pub popular with supporters of Millwall F.C. which was converted into luxury flats in 2007.

 

Reception

 

Box office

 

In the UK, Shaun took £1.6 million at 307 cinemas on its opening weekend and netted £6.4 million by mid-May. In its opening weekend in the US, Shaun earned $3.3 million, taking eighth place at the box office despite a limited release to only 607 theatres. The film has earned $30,039,392 worldwide in box office receipts since its release.

 

Critical response

 

Critical reaction was highly positive, with the film receiving a score of 91% at the comparative review website Rotten Tomatoes (with a Cream Of The Crop score of 94%) and a score of 76 out of 100 at Metacritic[8] which indicated universal acclaim. Nev Pierce, reviewing the film for the BBC, called it a "side-splitting, head-smashing, gloriously gory horror comedy" that will "amuse casual viewers and delight genre fans." Peter Bradshaw gave it four stars out of five, saying it "boasts a script crammed with real gags" and is "pacily directed [and] nicely acted."

 

Awards and recognition

 

In 2004, Total Film magazine named Shaun of the Dead the 49th greatest British film of all time. In 2005, it was rated as the third greatest comedy film of all time in a Channel 4 poll. Horror novelist Stephen King described the movie as "...a '10' on the fun meter and destined to be a cult classic." In 2007, Stylus Magazine named it the 9th greatest zombie movie ever made. In 2007, Time named it one of the 25 best horror films, calling the film "spooky, silly and smart-smart-smart" and complimenting its director: "Wright, who'd be a director to watch in any genre, plays world-class games with the camera and the viewer's expectations of what's supposed to happen in a scare film.". Bloody Disgusting ranked the film second in their list of the 'Top 20 Horror Films of the Decade', with the article saying "Shaun of the Dead isn’t just the best horror-comedy of the decade – it’s quite possibly the best horror-comedy ever made."

 

George A. Romero was so impressed with Pegg and Wright's work that he asked them to appear in cameo roles in the 2005 film Land of the Dead. Pegg and Wright insisted on being zombies rather than the slightly more noticeable roles that were originally offered.

 

Quentin Tarantino dubbed the film as one of his top twenty films made since 1992.

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35. (tie) Scream (1996)

 

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(4 of 20 lists - 50 points - highest rank #8 pittshoganerkoff)

 

Scream is a 1996 American horror film directed by Wes Craven from a screenplay by Kevin Williamson. It was released by Dimension Films. Filmed mostly in Santa Rosa, California, the film tells the story of the fictional town Woodsboro, California being terrorized by a masked killer who enjoys tormenting his victims with phone calls and movie references. The killer's main target is Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell), a teenage girl whose mother Maureen fell victim to a brutal murder one year earlier. The film takes on a "whodunit" mystery, with many of her friends and townspeople being fellow targets and suspects.

 

Released in the United States on December 20, 1996 Scream was a box office success, grossing $173,046,663 internationally and received very positive reviews from critics as the review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes awarded the film an 81% 'fresh' rating, based on 53 reviews.

 

Scream single-handedly revitalized the slasher film genre in the late 1990s, similar to the impact Halloween (1978) had on late 1970s film, by using a standard concept with a tongue-in-cheek approach that combined straightforward scares with dialogue that satirized slasher film conventions. Following the film's success, two sequels were released in 1997 and 2000 respectively, and a third sequel scheduled for release April 15, 2011.

 

Plot

 

High school student Casey Becker (Drew Barrymore) is waiting for her boyfriend Steve (Kevin Patrick Walls) when a mysterious person (Roger L. Jackson) contacts her on the phone. Harmless at first, the caller starts to threaten Casey, telling her that he is somewhere outside the house watching her. When Casey warns him that Steve will arrive soon, the caller reveals that he has Steve tied up outside the patio. Now hysterical, Casey is forced to answer questions focused on horror movie clichés. She answers the second question wrong, resulting in Steve's death. When Casey refuses to answer the last question, the killer breaks into her house, revealed to be a man dressed in a ghostly costume named Ghostface. Ghostface chases her outside and stabs her in the chest, and when Casey sees her parents coming home, she is unable to call for help and is stabbed two more times. Her parents then find her body hanging from a tree outside, bloodied and gutted.

 

The timing of the tragedy is hard on their classmate Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell), who is attempting to cope with the upcoming one-year anniversary of her mother's rape and murder. The following night she is contacted by the Ghostface killer, who taunts Sidney over the phone and then attacks her in her home. Reacting to circumstantial evidence, Sidney accuses her boyfriend Billy Loomis (Skeet Ulrich) of being the attacker. Because her father is away on business, she spends the following night with her best friend Tatum (Rose McGowan) and her brother Dwight "Dewey" Riley (David Arquette), a deputy on the police force. While there, she receives another taunting phone call from Ghostface, who tells Sidney that she "fingered the wrong man...again," implying that the man convicted of killing Sidney's mother, Cotton Weary (Liev Schreiber), was actually innocent. This phone call seems to clear Billy, who is still in jail. Suspicion falls on Sidney's father (Lawrence Hecht), who turns out to be missing. Sidney is forced to deal with the scandalization of her attack by tabloid television newswoman Gale Weathers (Courtney Cox), who previously authored a book accusing Sidney's mother of having an affair with Cotton Weary and essentially calling Sidney an outright liar, leading to bitter mistrust between Gale and Sidney.

 

With the killer still loose, and a number of students wearing Ghostface masks as pranks, school is canceled as a precautionary measure, and the principal (Henry Winkler) is stabbed to death. Unaware of the principal's fate, Tatum's boyfriend Stuart "Stu" Macher (Matthew Lillard) throws a party; among the guests are Billy and Sidney, who reconcile through sexual intercourse, and film buff Randy (Jamie Kennedy), who explains to the other party-goers the genre conventions a movie character is required to follow in order to survive a horror film. Tatum goes into the garage to get some more beer for the party, but instead fights with Ghostface. In the end her head gets trapped in the garage door, Ghostface activates it, causing her head to get crushed between the door and the ceiling. Meanwhile Gale, sensing the potential for a scoop, crashes the party and hides a video camera inside the house. As Dewey and Gale investigate the mysterious appearance of Mr. Prescott's car, the party-goers receive word of the principal's death and most of them head to the school. With few party goers left, Ghostface starts to stalk those who remain behind. Gale's cameraman Kenny (W. Earl Brown) is murdered next when Ghostface slices his throat. Ghostface then attacks and wounds Billy, Dewey, and Sidney. Meanwhile Gale, after discovering Kenny's bloody corpse, drives but loses control and crashes the car down a hill.

 

Sidney encounters Randy and Stu, who both accuse each other of being the killer; not knowing which one to trust, Sidney locks them both out of the house. Billy falls down the stairs, seriously injured, and lets Randy into the house. Randy claims that Stu has gone mad, but Billy replies that "We all go a little mad sometimes" (quoting a line by Norman Bates from Psycho) and shoots Randy. Billy and Stu reveal that they are both the killer, and have been using a voice-changing device to make them seem like just one person over the phone. They also reveal that they murdered Sidney's mother the previous year, as she had an affair with Billy's father and caused Billy's mother to leave; Stu claims "peer pressure" as his motive. They framed Cotton Weary for the crimes; similarly, they plan to frame Sidney's father for their current murder spree by planting evidence on his body. They stab each other to create the illusion that they have been attacked by Sidney's father, but Billy cuts too deeply, and Stu starts to die from blood loss.

 

Gale attempts to rescue Sidney and her father, but she is easily subdued when she fails to disengage the safety on her gun. However, Gale's interference does serve as a distraction which allows Sidney to escape. She returns to taunt and attack Billy and Stu; in the struggle that follows, she is subdued by Stu and Billy, but she kills Stu by electrocuting his head with a television. Randy regains consciousness after surviving his gunshot wound, but is then punched in the face by Billy, stunning him. Just when Billy is about to kill Sidney, Gale saves Sidney's life by shooting him and hitting his shoulder. Sidney, Randy, and Gale take one last look at Billy's body. Presumably dead, Billy springs to life one more time (a horror convention which Randy had predicted), but Sidney quickly shoots him again through the head, killing him.

 

In the epilogue, Dewey is carried away on a stretcher, wounded but alive, and Gale makes an impromptu news report on the events of the previous night as the authorities arrive.

 

Cast

 

* David Arquette as Deputy Dwight "Dewey" Riley

* Neve Campbell as Sidney Prescott

* Courteney Cox as Gale Weathers

* Matthew Lillard as Stuart "Stu" Macher

* Rose McGowan as Tatum Riley

* Skeet Ulrich as Billy Loomis

* Jamie Kennedy as Randy

* W. Earl Brown as Kenny

* Joseph Whipp as Sheriff Burke

* Liev Schreiber as Cotton Weary

* Drew Barrymore as Casey Becker

* Roger L. Jackson as Ghostface (voice)

* Kevin Patrick Walls as Steven "Steve" Orth

* Lawrence Hecht as Neil Prescott

* C.W. Morgan as Mr. Loomis

* Lynn McRee as Maureen Prescott

* Henry Winkler as Principal Himbry (uncredited)

* Linda Blair as the 'Obnoxious Reporter'

* Wes Craven as 'Freddie Kruger' Janitor (uncredited cameo)

 

References to horror film genre

 

The film features numerous in-jokes and references to other horror projects. The victims in Scream are self-aware and each make numerous references to teen slasher and horror films.

 

Two of the most common references are to A Nightmare on Elm Street and its director Wes Craven. Fred, a janitor in the film played by Craven, wears an outfit resembling Freddy Krueger's. Later in the film, Tatum tells Sidney that she is "starting to sound like a Wes Carpenter flick", a fictional name created from compounding Craven's name and John Carpenter, director of Halloween.

 

In addition to its director, Halloween is referenced many times throughout the film. When Casey's parents come home and discover she's gone, her father tells her mother to drive down to the McKenzie's and call the police, which is similar to when Laurie tells Lindsey and Tommy to go across the street to the McKenzie's and call the police. Also, Billy's surname, Loomis, is the same as that of Donald Pleasence's character in Halloween (1978), which in turn was the name of Marion Crane's lover in Psycho. In a similar fashion to Marion Crane (Janet Leigh), Scream's highly-billed star Drew Barrymore dies early in the film.

 

Linda Blair, who portrayed the character Regan in The Exorcist, is also the attractive reporter who approaches Sidney when she first returns to school after being attacked by the killer. Joseph Whipp, who portrays Sheriff Burke in Scream, also portrayed a deputy sheriff in A Nightmare on Elm Street.

 

Release

 

Critical reception

 

The reaction to Scream was generally positive among film reviewers, who appreciated the shift from the teen slasher films of the 1980s and their "endless series of laborious, half-baked sequels." Williamson's script was praised as containing a "fiendishly clever, complicated plot" which "deftly mixes irony, self-reference and wry social commentary with chills and blood spills."

 

Roger Ebert appreciated "the in-jokes and the self-aware characters", but was confused over whether the level of violence was "defused by the ironic way the film uses it and comments on it." The New York Times says "not much of 'Scream' is that gruesome", but observes that Craven "wants things both ways, capitalizing on lurid material while undermining it with mocking humor. Not even horror fans who can answer all this film's knowing trivia questions may be fully comfortable with such an exploitative mix."

 

Scream ranked #32 on Entertainment Weekly's list of the 50 Best High School Movies and #13 on Bravo's 100 Scariest Movie Moments. In 2008, Entertainment Weekly dubbed the film a "New Classic" by ranking it #60 in their list of the 100 Best Films of the Last 13 Years. The film received an 81% fresh rating on RottenTomatoes.com. The film ranks #482 on Empire's 2008 list of the 500 greatest movies of all time.

 

Box office

 

The film opened in 1,413 theaters, taking $6,354,586 in its opening weekend. The film made almost $87 million in its initial release, and was then re-released to theatres on April 11, 1997 and went on to make another $16 million, making total a domestic gross of $103,046,663, with, as of 2007, a worldwide lifetime gross of $173,046,663.

 

Awards

 

The film won several awards, including Best Movie at the MTV Movie Awards 1997, and Saturn Awards for Best Actress (Neve Campbell), Best Writer and Best Horror Film. Craven was awarded the Grand Prize at the Gérardmer Film Festival.

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33. Army of Darkness (1993)

 

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(4 of 20 lists - 51 points - highest rank #3 knightni)

 

Army of Darkness (also known as Evil Dead III, Evil Dead III: Army of Darkness, Bruce Campbell vs. Army of Darkness, or The Medieval Dead) is a 1993 American comedy horror film and the third installment in the Evil Dead series. Bruce Campbell stars as protagonist Ash Williams who finds himself in the Middle Ages where he must battle the undead in his quest to return home. The film was directed by Sam Raimi, and written by Raimi and his brother Ivan, and produced by Rob Tapert.

 

Army of Darkness is not as violent or gory as the prior Evil Dead films, relying more on slapstick. The film had a higher budget than its predecessors, estimated to be around $11 million. At the box office Army of Darkness barely made back its budget, with a gross of $11.5 million domestically. Since its video release it has acquired a cult following, along with the other two films in the trilogy.

 

Plot

 

After a brief flashback to Evil Dead II, which explains the Necronomicon Ex-Mortis and how Ash got to where he is, Ash lands in Medieval England, where he is almost immediately captured by Lord Arthur's men, who suspect him to be an agent for Duke Henry, with whom Arthur is at war. He is enslaved along with the captured Henry, his gun and chainsaw confiscated, and is taken to a castle. Ash is thrown in a pit where he fights off a Deadite and regains his weapons from Arthur's Wise Man. After demanding Henry and his men be set free (since Henry stood up for him, and swore he did not know who Ash was), Ash is celebrated as a hero, and also grows attracted to the sister of one of Arthur's fallen knights, Sheila.

 

According to the Wise Man, the only way Ash can return to his time is to retrieve the Necronomicon. After bidding goodbye to Sheila, Ash starts his search for the Necronomicon. Entering a haunted forest, an unseen force pursues Ash through the woods. Fleeing, Ash ducks into a windmill where he crashes into a mirror. The small reflections of Ash climb out from the shattered mirror and torment him. One of the reflections dives down Ash's throat and uses his body to become a life-sized copy of Ash, after which Ash kills him and buries him.

 

When he arrives at the Necronomicon's location, he finds three books instead of one. Ash eventually finds the real one and attempts to say the magic phrase that will allow him to remove the book safely — "Klaatu barada nikto". (The line was taken from the 1951 film The Day the Earth Stood Still). However, forgetting the last word, he tries to trick the book by mumbling the missing word. He then grabs the book from the cradle, and rushes back to the castle, while the dead rise from graves all around. During Ash's panicked ride back, Ash's evil copy rises from his grave and unites the Deadites into the Army of Darkness.

 

Despite causing the predicament faced by the Medieval soldiers, Ash initially demands to be returned to his own time. However, Sheila is captured by a Flying Deadite, and then transformed into a Deadite. Ash becomes determined to lead the humans against the skeletal Deadite army. Reluctantly, the people agree to join Ash. Using scientific knowledge from textbooks in the trunk of his 1973 Oldsmobile Delta 88, and enlisting the help of Duke Henry, Ash successfully leads the Medieval soldiers to defeat his Deadite clone, Evil Ash, and his Deadite Army, and save Sheila. After this, he is brought back to his own time using a potion made from the Necronomicon.

 

The final scene (See Different versions) begins with Ash back at the S-Mart store, telling a male co-worker (Ted Raimi) all about his adventure back in time, and how he could have been king. After this, a Deadite starts wreaking havoc on the store (it is implied that he again raised the dead by saying the wrong words needed to travel through time), and Ash slays the creature. The film ends with Ash in voice over saying, "Sure, I could have stayed in the past. Could have even been king. But in my own way, I am king." He then says out loud, while kissing the attractive female co-worker whose life he has just saved, "Hail to the King, baby!"

 

Cast

 

* Bruce Campbell as Ashley "Ash" Williams

* Embeth Davidtz as Sheila

* Marcus Gilbert as Lord Arthur

* Ian Abercrombie as Wiseman

* Richard Grove as Duke Henry the Red

* Timothy Patrick Quill as Blacksmith

* Michael Earl Reid as Gold Tooth

* Bridget Fonda as Linda

* Patricia Tallman as Possessed Witch

* Ted Raimi as Cowardly Warrior / Second Supportive Villager / S-Mart Clerk (as Theodore Raimi)

 

Production

 

Plans to make a third Evil Dead film had been circulating for a number of years, even prior to the production of Darkman. Evil Dead II made enough money internationally that Dino De Laurentiis was willing to finance a sequel. Director and script writer Sam Raimi drew from a variety of sources, including literature with A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court and Jonathan Swift's Gulliver's Travels and films like The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad, Jason and the Argonauts, and The Three Stooges. Evil Dead II, according to Bruce Campbell, "was originally designed to go back into the past to 1300, but we couldn't muster it at the time, so we decided to make an interim version, not knowing if the 1300 story would ever get made". Promotional drawings were created and published in Variety during the casting process before the budget was deemed too little for the plot. The working title for the project was Evil Dead III: Army of Darkness. The title "Army of Darkness" came from an idea by Irvin Shapiro, during the production of Evil Dead II. This was used after Sam Raimi was unable to use his original title "The Medieval Dead." ("The Medieval Dead" would later be used as the films subtitle for its UK release as Army of Darkness: The Medieval Dead).

 

Screenplay & pre-production

 

Initially, Raimi invited Scott Spiegel to co-write Army of Darkness because he had done a good job on Evil Dead II, but he was busy on rewrites for the Clint Eastwood film, The Rookie. After the good experience of writing the screenplay for a film called Easy Wheels, Sam and his brother Ivan Raimi decided to co-write the film together. They worked on the script throughout the pre-production and production of Darkman. After filming Darkman, they took the script out and worked on it in more detail. Raimi says that Ivan "has a good sense of character" and that he brought more comedy into the script. Campbell remembers, "We all decided, 'Get him out of the cabin.' There were earlier drafts where part three still took place there, but we thought, 'Well, we all know that cabin, it's time to move on.' The three of us decided to keep it in 1300, because it's more interesting". Campbell and Tapert would read the script drafts, give Raimi their notes and he would decide which suggestions to keep and which ones to discard.

 

The initial budget was $8 million but during pre-production, it became obvious that this was not going to be enough. Darkman was also a financial success and De Laurentiis had multi-picture deal with Universal and so Army of Darkness became one of the films. The studio decided to contribute half of the film's $12 million budget. However, the film's ambitious scope and its extensive effects work forced Campbell, Raimi and producer Rob Tapert to put up $1 million of their collective salaries to shoot a new ending and not film a scene where a possessed woman pushes down some giant pillars. Visual effects supervisor William Mesa showed Raimi storyboards he had from Victor Fleming's film Joan of Arc that depicted huge battle scenes and he picked out 25 shots to use in Army of Darkness. A storyboard artist worked closely with the director in order to blend the shots from the Joan of Arc storyboards with the battle scenes in his film.

 

Principal photography

 

Principal photography took place between soundstage and on-location work. Army of Darkness was filmed in Bronson Canyon and Vasquez Rocks Natural Area Park. The interior shots were filmed on an Introvision stage in Hollywood. Raimi's use of the Introvision process was a tribute to the stop-motion animation work of Ray Harryhausen. Introvision uses front-projected images with live actors instead of the traditional rear projection that Harryhausen and others used. Introvision blended components with more realistic-looking results. To achieve this effect, Raimi used 60-foot-tall Scotchlite front-projection screens, miniatures and background plates. According to the director, the advantage of using this technique was "the incredible amount of interaction between the background, which doesn't exist, and the foreground, which is usually your character".

 

The shooting for Army of Darkness began in mid-1991, and it lasted for about 100 days. It was a mid-summer shoot and while on location on a huge castle set that was built near Acton, California on the edge of the Mojave Desert, the cast and crew endured very hot conditions during the day and very cold temperatures at night. Most of the film took place at night and the filmmakers shot most of the film during the summer when the days were longest and the nights were the shortest. It would take an hour and a half to light an area leaving the filmmakers only six hours left to shoot a scene. Money problems forced cinematographer Bill Pope to shoot only for certain hours Monday through Friday because he could not be paid his standard fee. Mesa shot many of the action sequences on the weekend.

 

It was a difficult shoot for Campbell who had to learn elaborate choreography for the battle scenes, which involved him remembering a number system because the actor was often fighting opponents that were not really there. Mesa remembers, "Bruce was cussing and swearing some of the time because you had to work on the number system. Sam would tell us to make it as complicated and hard for Bruce as possible. 'Make him go through torture!' So we'd come up with these shots that were really, really difficult, and sometimes they would take thirty-seven takes". Some scenes, like Evil Ash walking along the graveyard while his skeleton minions come to life, blended stop-motion animation with live skeletons that were mechanically rigged, with prosthetics and visual effects.

 

Soundtrack

 

Danny Elfman, who composed the score for Darkman, wrote the "March of the Dead" theme for Army of Darkness, but after the re-shoots were completed Joseph LoDuca, who composed the music for The Evil Dead and Evil Dead II, returned to score the new film. LoDuca sat down with Raimi and they went over the entire film, scene by scene. The composer used his knowledge of synthesizers and was able to present many cues in a mock-up form before he took them in front of an orchestra.

 

Post-production

 

While Dino De Laurentiis gave Raimi and his crew freedom to shoot the movie the way it wanted, Universal Pictures took over during post-production. Universal was not happy with Raimi's cut because it did not like his original ending of the movie and felt that it was negative. A more upbeat ending was shot a month after Army of Darkness was made. It was shot in a lumber store in Malibu, California over three or four nights. Then, two months after Army of Darkness was finished, a round of re-shoots began in Santa Monica and involved Ash in the windmill and the scenes with Bridget Fonda done for very little money. Raimi recalls, "Actually, I kind of like the fact that there are two endings, that in one alternate universe Bruce is screwed, and in another universe he's some cheesy hero".

 

In addition, Raimi needed $3 million to finish his movie, but Universal was not willing to give him the money and delayed its release because they were upset that De Laurentiis would not give them the rights to the Hannibal Lecter character so that they could film a sequel to Jonathan Demme's The Silence of the Lambs. The matter was finally resolved, but Army of Darkness' release date had been pushed back from its original summer of 1992 release to February 1993.

 

For the movie's poster, Universal brought Campbell in to take several reference head shots and asked him to strike a sly look on his face. They showed him a rough of this Frank Frazetta-like painting. The actor had a day to approve it or, as he was told, there would be no ad campaign for the film. Raimi ran into further troubles with the Motion Picture Association of America over the film's rating. The MPAA gave it an NC-17 rating for a shot of a female Deadite being decapitated early on in the film. Universal, however, wanted a PG-13 rating, so Raimi made a few cuts and was still stuck with the MPAA's R rating. In response, Universal turned the film over to outside film editors who cut Army of Darkness to 81 minutes in length and another version running 87 minutes that was eventually released in theaters. Eventually, Army of Darkness ended up with an R rating.

 

Reception

 

Box office performance

 

Army of Darkness was released by Universal Pictures on February 19, 1993 in 1,387 theaters in the United States, grossing $4.4 million (38.5% of total gross) on its first weekend. In total, the film earned $11.5 million in the US and $21.5 million worldwide.

 

Critical reception

 

Army of Darkness was well received by critics with a 75% "Fresh" rating on the review aggregate website Rotten Tomatoes, which made its critical reception above average but is lower than The Evil Dead and Evil Dead II, which received 100% and 98% critical approval, respectively. Roger Ebert gave the film two out of four stars and wrote, "The movie isn't as funny or entertaining as Evil Dead II, however, maybe because the comic approach seems recycled". In her review for the New York Times, Janet Maslin praised, "Mr. Campbell's manly, mock-heroic posturing is perfectly in keeping with the director's droll outlook". Desson Howe, in this review for the Washington Post praised the film's style: "Bill Pope's cinematography is gymnastic and appropriately frenetic. The visual and make-up effects (from artist-technicians William Mesa, Tony Gardner and others) are incredibly imaginative". However, Entertainment Weekly gave the film a "C+" rating and wrote, "This spoofy cast of thousands looks a little too much like a crew of bland Hollywood extras. By the time Army of Darkness turns into a retread of Jason and the Argonauts, featuring an army of fighting skeletons, the film has fallen into a ditch between parody and spectacle".

 

Awards

 

Army of Darkness won the Saturn Award for Best Horror Film (1994). It was also nominated for Best Make-Up. Army of Darkness was nominated for the Grand Prize at Avoriaz Fantastic Film Festival, and won the Golden Raven at the Brussels International Festival of Fantasy Film in 1993. The film also won the Critics' Award at Fantasporto, and was nominated for the International Fantasy Film Award in the category of Best Film in 1993. It was also nominated Best Film at the Sitges - Spanish International Film Festival.

 

Different versions

 

There are four different versions of Army of Darkness: the 96-minute director's cut, the 81-minute U.S. theatrical version, the 88-minute international edit, and the 88-minute U.S. television version. The director's cut includes numerous new scenes and extensions compared to the US theatrical version. Among the changes are more violence in the pit, a love scene between Ash and Sheila, an extended windmill scene, different dialogue between Good and Bad Ash, an extended speech on the castle roof and a vastly different ending. The TV version (which is not available on DVD) is particularly notable for including two scenes not in any other version of the film (though they do appear in rough cut form in the "Deleted Scenes" section of the DVD.)

 

The theatrical release picks up after Ash has returned to the present, in which he stages one final confrontation with the "she-b****" in the S-Mart Housewares Department. The alternative ending, which was favored by Raimi and Bruce Campbell, depicts Ash as he sits in his Oldsmobile (the same 1973 Oldsmobile featured in many Sam Raimi films), in a cave, the entrance caved in by some of the black powder he made earlier. As he drinks the magic potion (given to him by a person that may or may not be Merlin - the king's name being "Arthur"), he is distracted by a falling rock and takes one drop too many. Ash sleeps well beyond his time, not aging but growing a very large beard, and shouts "I'VE SLEPT TOO LONG!" after awakening in a post-apocalyptic England.

 

When test audiences did not approve of Raimi's original ending, he cut the film down to the international cut that now exists on DVD. When it was again rejected by Universal, Raimi was forced to edit it again to the U.S. theatrical version. The original cut had an opening that was more in tune with the Evil Dead series (included as a deleted scene on Anchor Bay's director's cut DVD).

 

The MGM Hong Kong Region 3 DVD edits together the U.S. altered theatrical, European and director's cuts into a final, 96-minute cut of the film. The film is digitally re-mastered, compiled from original source prints (not from VHS sources as the Anchor Bay Entertainment releases are). A new Blu-ray release of Army of Darkness from Optimum Releasing in the UK was rumored to be of the director's cut, however it was released on September 19, 2008 and included the Director's Cut as an extra, in standard definition. The movie was released as Bruce Campbell vs Army of Darkness for the UK Blu-ray release.

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32. Candyman (1992)

 

Candymanposter.jpg

 

(3 of 20 lists - 53 points - highest rank #1 Flash Tizzle)

 

Candyman is a 1992 horror film starring Virginia Madsen, Tony Todd and Xander Berkeley. It was directed by Bernard Rose and is based on the short story "The Forbidden" by Clive Barker, though the film's scenario is switched from England to Chicago. The film was scored by Philip Glass. The film was met with critical acclaim and was a box office success. Candyman is the first film in a trilogy which includes Candyman 2: Farewell to the Flesh and Candyman 3: Day of the Dead.

 

Plot

 

Helen Lyle is a graduate student conducting research for her thesis on urban legends. While interviewing freshmen about their superstitions, she hears about a local legend known as Candyman, who is summoned by anyone who looks into a mirror and chants his name five times (similar to the Bloody Mary folkloric tale). However, summoning him often costs the individual their own life. Later that evening, Helen and her friend Bernadette jokingly call Candyman's name into the mirror in Helen's bathroom but nothing happens.

 

While conducting her research, Helen enters the notorious gang-ridden territory known as Cabrini–Green, the site of a recent unsolved murder. There she meets Anne-Marie McCoy, a resident of the housing projects. While exploring parts of the housing development, Helen is attacked by a gang member carrying a hook who has taken the Candyman moniker as his own to enhance his own street credibility by associating himself with the legend. Helen survives the assault and is able to later identify her attacker to the police.

 

Helen later returns to school but hears a voice calling her name as she walks through a parking garage. Another man she encounters states he is the Candyman of the urban legend and because of Helen's disbelief in him, he must now prove to her that he is real. Helen blacks out and wakes up in Anne-Marie's apartment, covered in blood. Anne-Marie, whose rottweiler has been decapitated and whose baby is also missing, attacks Helen and she is forced to defend herself from Anne-Marie using a meat cleaver. The police then enter the apartment and arrest Helen.

 

Trevor, Helen's husband, bails her out of jail the following day and leaves her in their apartment while he runs an errand. Candyman approaches Helen again and cuts the nape of her neck, causing her to bleed. Bernadette arrives at Helen's apartment and, too weak from the loss of blood, Helen is unable to stop Candyman from murdering her. Helen is then sedated and placed in a psychiatric hospital.

 

After a month's stay at the hospital, Helen is interviewed by a psychologist in preparation for her upcoming trial. While restrained, Helen attempts to deny culpability in the murders and convince the psychiatrist that the urban legend is indeed true. After summoning Candyman, the psychologist is murdered by Candyman from behind and Helen is able to escape to her own apartment. There she finds Trevor with another woman, one of his students. Helen then flees to Cabrini–Green to confront Candyman and to locate Anne-Marie's still-missing infant.

 

Candyman predicts that Helen will help carry on his tradition of inciting fear into a community, and promises to release the baby if Helen agrees to sacrifice herself. Instead of holding his end of the bargain, Candyman takes both the baby and Helen into the middle of a massive junk pile which the residents have been planning to turn into a bonfire, intending to sacrifice both Helen and the baby in order to feed his own legend. However, the residents believe Candyman is hiding inside the bonfire pile and attempt to bring justice. Helen manages to rescue the baby, but dies from burns in the process. Candyman also burns in the fire, leaving only his hook-hand behind.

 

After Helen's funeral, in which the residents of Cabrini–Green pay their respects and give thanks to Helen, Trevor stands before a mirror in the bathroom of their former apartment. He chants Helen's name in grief, unintentionally summoning her vengeful spirit. Helen kills Trevor with Candyman's hook, leaving Trevor's new lover Stacey with his bloodied corpse as Helen becomes the embodiment of the urban legend, fulfilling Candyman's prophecy.

 

Differences between story and film

 

The short story concentrates solely on Helen and features Candyman in the last couple of pages only. The horror film is more of a slasher-film in comparison. Candyman was summoned by rumors and urban legends in a desolate and poor community, and the purported legend about saying his name five times is not featured anywhere in the story.

 

Reception

 

Candyman had its world premiere at the 1992 Toronto Film Festival, playing as part of its Midnight Madness line-up.

 

The film has a 73% "fresh" rating at Rotten Tomatoes. The film also came in at number 75 on Bravo's 100 Scariest Movie Moments.

 

The character Candyman came in at number 8 on Bloody Disgusting's "The Top 13 Slashers in Horror Movie History"[4] and ranked the same on Ugo's "Top Eleven Slashers". The actor who played Candyman, Tony Todd, made #53 on Retrocrush's "The 100 Greatest Horror Movie Performances" for his role.

 

The movie appears in two sections of Filmsite.org, in "Greatest Scariest Movie Moments and Scenes" and "Greatest Movie Twists, Spoilers and Surprise Endings".

 

Cast

 

* Virginia Madsen as Helen Lyle

* Tony Todd as The Candyman

* Xander Berkeley as Trevor Lyle

* Vanessa A. Williams as Anne-Marie McCoy

* Kasi Lemmons as Bernadette 'Bernie' Walsh

* Bernard Rose as Archie Walsh

* Gilbert Lewis as Detective Frank Valento

* Stanley DeSantis as Dr. Burke

* Eric Edwards as Harold

* Rusty Schwimmer as Policewoman

* Michael Culkin as Professor Philip Purcell

* DeJuan Guy as Jake

* Marianna Elliott as Clara

* Ria Pavia as Monica

* Carolyn Lowery as Stacy

* Lisa Ann Poggi as Diane

* Adam Philipson as Danny

* Barbara Alston as Henrietta Mosely

* Sarina C. Grant as Kitty Culver

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31. Cloverfield (2008)

 

cloverfield-alternate-poster-run-fast.jp

 

(3 of 20 lists - 54 points - highest rank #4 Cali)

 

Cloverfield is a 2008 American monster movie/disaster movie directed by Matt Reeves, produced by J. J. Abrams and written by Drew Goddard.

 

The film follows six young New Yorkers attending a going-away party on the night that a gigantic monster attacks the city. First publicized within a teaser trailer in screenings of Transformers, the film was released on January 17 in New Zealand and Australia, on January 18 in North America, on January 24 in South Korea, on January 25 in Taiwan, on January 31 in Germany and on February 1 in Ireland, in the United Kingdom and in Italy. In Japan, the film was released on April 5.

 

VFX and CGI were performed by effects studios Double Negative and Tippett Studio.

 

Plot

 

The film is presented so as to look as if it were a video file recovered from a digital camcorder by the United States Department of Defense. The film begins with a disclaimer stating that the following footage about to be viewed is of a case designated "Cloverfield" and was found in the area that was "formerly known as Central Park".

 

Rob wakes up on the morning of April 27 having slept with Beth, a previously platonic friend. They plan to leave for Coney Island that day. The footage cuts to May 22, when Rob's brother Jason and his girlfriend Lily prepare a farewell party for Rob who will be moving to Japan. At the party, their friend Hud uses the camera to film testimonials for Rob, accidentally taping over Rob and Beth's Coney Island trip. While recording, Hud flirts unsuccessfully with Marlena, another party guest. After Beth leaves the party following an argument with Rob, an apparent earthquake strikes, and the city suffers a brief power outage.

 

The local news reports that an oil tanker has capsized near Liberty Island. After going upstairs to investigate the disaster, a devastating explosion that destroys much of Lower Manhattan causes the party-goers to evacuate the building and witness the head of the Statue of Liberty crashing nearby in the street, with several stunning scratch and bite marks. Hud records what appears to be a giant hand of a creature several blocks away. Many take shelter in a convenience store as the Woolworth Building collapses. Rob, Jason, Lily, Hud and Marlena attempt to escape Manhattan on the Brooklyn Bridge. A gigantic tail destroys the center span of the bridge, killing Jason and hundreds of others. The survivors are forced to flee back to Manhattan.

 

Rob listens to Beth's message saying she is trapped in her apartment and unable to move. The news shows the United States Army's 42nd Infantry Division attacking the monster and smaller, vicious creatures that are falling off its body. Several creatures are seen attacking soldiers and civilians on the ground.

 

As hundreds attempt to flee, Rob, Hud, Lily, and Marlena venture out to rescue Beth. They are soon caught in a crossfire between the monster and the military, and escape into a subway station. They decide to go through the subway tunnels to reach Beth's apartment, but are attacked by several of the parasites where one of them mortally wounds Marlena. The group escapes into the Bloomingdale's department store where they are met by a squad of soldiers, who have set up a field hospital and command center in the store. As Rob tries to garner assistance for Beth, Marlena's eyes start bleeding and she is taken away behind a curtain by men wearing hazmat suits where she inflates, then explodes. One of the military leaders allows the others to leave but warns them to report to a military evacuation site before 6:00 am, which is when the last helicopter will evacuate Manhattan before the Military enacts its "Hammerdown" protocol, which involves bombing the city in an effort to destroy the monster.

 

The group finds Beth's apartment tower at the Time Warner Center has collapsed against the center's other tower. They climb the standing tower and cross onto the roof of Beth's building and work their way down to her apartment. Beth is found, but trapped, and the group is able to free her. After her rescue, the four make their way to the evacuation site where they encounter the monster once more over Grand Central Station while the military's efforts to destroy it are futile. Ignoring the firepower from the military, the creature now gives chase to the group toward the evacuation center. Lily is raced into a departing helicopter without her friends.

 

Moments later, Rob, Beth and Hud are taken away in a second helicopter and witness a U.S. Air Force B-2 Spirit bomb the monster. Just as Hud begins hailing victory over the monster, it jumps out of the wreckage and begins attacking the helicopter, causing it to crash into a grassy clearing in Central Park. A voice on the crashed helicopter's radio warns of the Hammerdown protocol will begin in 15 minutes and states that anyone able to hear the sirens is within the blast zone.

 

Hud and Beth pull Rob, who is injured, from the helicopter wreckage, but Hud returns to recover the camera. The monster is then seen standing over him, and Hud is oblivious to Rob and Beth pleading for him to run. The monster lunges at Hud and kills him. Rob and Beth grab the still-recording camera and take shelter under Greyshot Arch in Central Park as air raid sirens begin to blare and bombers are heard in the distance, indicating that the Hammerdown protocol is about to begin. Rob and Beth take turns leaving their last testimonies of the day, which Rob mentions as Saturday, May 23, on camera.

 

Numerous explosions occur outside as the massive bombing sortie takes place, and the creature is heard screaming in pain. As the bridge crumbles and debris covers the camera, Rob and Beth can be heard professing their love to one another as another bomb wipes out the bridge, stopping the camera's recording. The film then cuts to the footage of Rob and Beth's Coney Island date before the disaster. In the distance, unnoticed by Rob and Beth, a large object falls into the ocean.

 

Cast

 

* Michael Stahl-David as Robert "Rob" Hawkins

* Mike Vogel as Jason Hawkins

* T. J. Miller as Hudson "Hud" Platt

* Odette Yustman as Elizabeth "Beth" McIntyre

* Jessica Lucas as Lily Ford

* Lizzy Caplan as Marlena Diamond

* Ben Feldman as Travis

* Ian Cyrus Jr as Spiderman

 

To prevent the leaking of plot information, instead of auditioning the actors with scenes from the film, scripts from Abrams' previous productions were used, such as television series Alias and Lost. Some scenes were also written specifically for the audition process, not intended for use in the film. Despite not being told the premise of the film, Lizzy Caplan stated that she accepted a role in Cloverfield solely because she was a fan of the Abrams-produced television series Lost (in which her former Related co-star Kiele Sanchez was a recurring character), and her experience of discovering its true nature initially caused her to state that she would not sign on for a film in the future "without knowing full well what it is". She indicated that her character was a sarcastic outsider, and that her role, was "physically demanding".

 

Production

 

Development

 

J. J. Abrams thought up a new monster after he and his son visited a toy store in Japan while promoting Mission: Impossible III. He explained, "We saw all these Godzilla toys, and I thought, we need our own American monster, and not like King Kong. I love King Kong. King Kong is adorable. And Godzilla is a charming monster. We love Godzilla. But I wanted something that was just insane, and intense." There are three still frames in "pre-recorded" sequences, one from the movie Them! one from The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms and one from King Kong - these three movies are also cited in the credits.

 

In February 2007, Paramount Pictures secretly greenlit Cloverfield, to be produced by Abrams, directed by Matt Reeves and written by Drew Goddard. The project was produced by Abrams' company, Bad Robot Productions. The visual effects producer was Chantal Feghali.

 

The severed head of the Statue of Liberty was inspired by the poster of the 1981 film Escape from New York, which had shown the head lying in the streets in New York. According to Reeves, "It's an incredibly provocative image. And that was the source that inspired producer J. J. Abrams to say, 'Now this would be an interesting idea for a movie'."

 

Title

 

The film was initially titled Cloverfield; however, this changed throughout production before it was finalized as the original title. Matt Reeves explained that the title was changed frequently due to the hype caused by the teaser trailer. "That excitement spread to such a degree that we suddenly couldn't use the name anymore. So we started using all these names like Slusho and Cheese. And people always found out what we were doing!" The director said that "Cloverfield" was the government's case designation for the events caused by the monster, comparing the titling to that of the Manhattan Project. "And it's not a project per se. It's the way that this case has been designated. That's why that is on the trailer, and it becomes clearer in the film. It's how they refer to this phenomenon [or] this case", said the director. The film's final title, Cloverfield, is the name of the exit Abrams takes to his Santa Monica office. In turn, the road used to lead to the Santa Monica Airport, which originally bore the name Clover Field.

 

One final title, Greyshot, was proposed before the movie was officially titled Cloverfield. The name Greyshot is taken from the archway that the two survivors take shelter under at the end of the movie. Director Matt Reeves said that it was decided not to change the title to Greyshot because the film was already so well known as Cloverfield.

 

The film received a subtitle in Japan, where it was released as Cloverfield/Hakaisha (クローバーフィールド/HAKAISHA, Kurōbāfīrudo/HAKAISHA?). The subtitle "Destroyer" was chosen by Abrams and was translated into Japanese as Hakaisha (破壊者, lit. "Destroyer"?) by Paramount Japan at his request. The subtitle Kishin (鬼神, lit. "Fierce God"?) was chosen for the manga spinoff, Cloverfield/Kishin, released exclusively in Japan.

 

The other tentative film titles were:

 

* 1-18-08 (USA) (promotional title)

* Cheese (USA) (fake working title)

* Clover (USA) (fake working title)

* Monstrous (USA) (promotional title)

* Slusho (USA) (fake working title)

* Greyshot (USA) (proposed title)

* hide (USA) (promotional title)

 

Filming

 

The casting process was carried out in secret, with no script being sent out to candidates. With production estimated to have a budget of $30 million, filming began in mid-June 2007 in New York. One cast member indicated that the film would look like it cost $150 million, despite producers not casting recognizable and expensive actors. Filmmakers used the Panasonic HVX200 for most of the interior scenes, and the Sony CineAlta F23 high-definition video camera to film nearly all of the New York exterior scenes. Filming took place on Coney Island, with scenes shot at Deno's Wonder Wheel Amusement Park and the B&B Carousel. The scenes of tanks firing at the creature while the main characters hide in a stairwell were filmed on Hennesy Street on Warner Bros. backlot in Burbank, CA. Some interior shots were filmed on a soundstage at Downey, California, Bloomingdale's in the movie was actually filmed in an emptied Robinsons-May store that was under reconstruction in Arcadia, California, and the outside scenes of Sephora and the electronics store were filmed in Downtown Los Angeles.

 

The film was shot and edited in a cinéma vérité style, to look like it was filmed with one hand-held camera, including jump cuts similar to ones found in home movies. T. J. Miller, who plays Hud, has said in various interviews that he filmed a third of the movie and almost half of it made it into the film. Director Matt Reeves described the presentation, "We wanted this to be as if someone found a Handicam, took out the tape and put it in the player to watch it. What you're watching is a home movie that then turns into something else." Reeves explained that the pedestrians documenting the severed head of the Statue of Liberty with the camera phones was reflective of the contemporary period. According to him: "Cloverfield very much speaks to the fear and anxieties of our time, how we live our lives. Constantly documenting things and putting them up on YouTube, sending people videos through e-mail – we felt it was very applicable to the way people feel now."

 

Several of the filmmakers are heard but not seen in the film. The man yelling "Oh my God!" repeatedly when the head of the Statue of Liberty lands in the street is producer Bryan Burk, and director Matt Reeves voiced the whispered radio broadcast at the end of the credits.

 

After viewing a cut of the film, Steven Spielberg suggested giving the audience a hint at the fate of the monster during the climax, which resulted in the addition of a countdown overheard on the helicopter's radio and the sounding of air raid sirens to signal the forthcoming Hammerdown bombing.

 

Creature design

 

Visual main effects supervisor Nick Tom and his company Tippett Studio were enlisted to develop the visual effects for Cloverfield. Because the visual effects were incorporated after filming, cast members had to react to a non-existent creature during scenes, only being familiar with early conceptual renderings of the beast. Artist Neville Page designed the monster, thoroughly creating a biological rationale for the creature, even if many of his ideas like "elongated, and articulated external esophagus" would not show up on screen. The key idea behind the monster was that he was an immature creature suffering from "separation anxiety". This recalls real-life elephants who get frightened and lash out at the circus, because the director felt "there's nothing scarier than something huge that's spooked".

 

Marketing

 

Before the film's release, Paramount Pictures carried out a viral marketing campaign to promote the film which included viral tie-ins similar to Lost Experience. Filmmakers decided to create a teaser trailer that would be a surprise in the light of commonplace media saturation, which they put together during the preparation stage of the production process. The teaser was then used as a basis for the film itself. Paramount Pictures encouraged the teaser to be released without a title attached, and the Motion Picture Association of America approved the move. As Transformers showed high tracking numbers before its release in July 2007, the studio attached the teaser trailer for Cloverfield that showed the release date of January 18, 2008 but not the title. A second trailer was released on November 16, 2007 which was attached to Beowulf, confirming the title.

 

The studio had kept knowledge of the project secret from the online community, a cited rarity due to the presence of scoopers that follow upcoming films. The controlled release of information on the film has been observed as a risky strategy, which could succeed like The Blair Witch Project (1999) or disappoint like Snakes on a Plane (2006), the latter of which had generated online hype but failed to attract large audiences.

 

Pre-release plot speculation

 

The sudden appearance of the untitled trailer for Cloverfield fueled media speculation over the film's plot. USA Today reported the possibilities of the film being based on the works of H. P. Lovecraft, a live-action adaptation of Voltron (based on a mis-interpretation of the trailer's line "It's alive!" as "It's a lion!"), a new film about Godzilla, or a spin-off of the TV show Lost. The Star Ledger also reported the possibility of the film being based on Lovecraft lore or Godzilla. The Guardian reported the possibility of a Lost spin-off, while Time Out reported that the film was about an alien called "The Parasite". IGN also backed the possibility of that premise, with The Parasite rumored to be a working title for the film. Online, Slusho and Colossus had been discussed as other possible titles. Entertainment Weekly also disputed reports that the film would be about a parasite or a colossal Asian robot such as Voltron.

 

Visitors of the website Ain't It Cool News have pointed out 9/11 allusions based on the destruction in New York City such as the decapitated Statue of Liberty. The film has also drawn alternate reality game enthusiasts that have followed other viral marketing campaigns like those set up for the TV series Lost, the video games Halo 2 and Halo 3. Members of the forums at argn.com and unfiction.com have investigated the background of the film, with the "1-18-08" section at Unfiction generating over 7,700 posts in August 2007. The members have studied photographs on the film's official site, potentially related MySpace profiles, and the Comic-Con teaser poster for the film. A popular piece of fan art posted that the monster was a mutated Humpback Whale.

 

Viral tie-ins

 

Puzzle websites containing Lovecraftian elements, such as Ethan Haas Was Right, were originally reported to be connected to the film. On July 9, 2007, producer J. J. Abrams stated that, while a number of websites were being developed to market the film, the only official site that had been found was 1-18-08.com. At the site, a collection of time-coded photos are provided to visitors to piece together a series of events and interpret their meanings. The pictures can also be flipped over – by repeatedly and rapidly moving the mouse side to side. Also, while on 1-18-08.com, if the page is left open long enough, the monster's roar can be heard. Eventually, www.cloverfieldmovie.com was created. The site provided both a trailer and a number, 33287, which, when texted from a mobile phone, provided a ringtone of the monster's roar and a wallpaper of a decimated Manhattan. This eventually turns out to be a Paramount number (people later received material on Iron Man, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, Kung Fu Panda, and The Love Guru).

 

the drink Slusho! served As part of the viral marketing campaign. The drink had already appeared in producer Abrams' previous creation, the TV series Alias. Viral websites for Slusho! and a Japanese drilling company named Tagruato (タグルアト, Taguruato?) were launched to add to the mythology of Cloverfield. A building bearing the company logo for Tagruato can also be seen in the TV spot of the eleventh Star Trek film, another Abrams production. When Cloverfield was hosted at Comic-Con 2007, gray Slusho! T-shirts were distributed to attendees. Fans who had registered at the Slusho! website for Cloverfield received e-mails of fictional sonar images before the film's release that showed a deep-sea creature heading toward Manhattan.

 

On the Tagruato website, the only page besides the homepage that has the "warped sword" symbol is the one about deep sea drilling, and "Clover" supposedly originated from the ocean surrounding Coney Island. If someone goes to the interactive map feature, the closest station is the "Chuai Station" that was set to open 4 months after the attack on New York. It also states in the "Headlines" section that there has been an altercation and it will be fixed shortly, as they have sent out special teams to deal with the problem. It also states that Tagruato employed a satellite called "Hatsui" in tracking a fallen piece of a satellite owned by the Japanese government, called "ChimpanzIII", with no luck so far, but says "According to Hatsui data, it disappeared into the Atlantic Ocean late last week".

 

In addition to Tagruato.jp, Slusho.jp, Jamieandteddy.com and 1-18-08.com have at least one "warped sword" symbol in each. Slusho features it on its homepage, 1-18-08.com features it behind Teddy Hansen's photograph and Jamieandteddy.com features it on its homepage, making it seem as if there's a relationship between the three of them. In this site, a hint to the monster was given after moving around the photographs for some time.

 

Producer Bryan Burk explained the viral tie-in, "It was all done in conjunction with the studio... The whole experience in making this movie is very reminiscent of how we did Lost." Director Matt Reeves described Slusho! as "part of the involved connectivity" with Abrams' Alias and that the drink represented a "meta-story" for Cloverfield. The director explained, "It's almost like tentacles that grow out of the film and lead, also, to the ideas in the film. And there's this weird way where you can go see the movie and it's one experience... But there's also this other place where you can get engaged where there's this other sort of aspect for all those people who are into that. All the stories kind of bounce off one another and inform each other. But, at the end of the day, this movie stands on its own to be a movie.... The Internet sort of stories and connections and clues are, in a way, a prism and they're another way of looking at the same thing. To us, it's just another exciting aspect of the storytelling."

 

Reception

 

Cloverfield opened in 3,411 theaters on January 18, 2008, and grossed a total of $16,930,000 on its opening day in the United States and Canada. It made $40,058,229 on its opening weekend, making it the most successful January release to date. Worldwide, it has grossed $170,602,318, making it the first movie in 2008 to gross over $100 million. Critics mostly praised Cloverfield; as of April 27, 2008, review aggregate website Rotten Tomatoes reported that 76% of critics gave the film positive reviews, based on 173 reviews. According to Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the film has received an average score of 64, based on 37 reviews. And on Spill.com, it got their highest rating of 'Better Than Sex!'.

 

Marc Savlov of The Austin Chronicle calls the film "the most intense and original creature feature I've seen in my adult moviegoing life [...] a pure-blood, grade A, exhilarating monster movie." He cites Matt Reeves' direction, the "whip-smart, stylistically invisible" script and the "nearly subconscious evocation of our current paranoid, terror-phobic times" as the keys to the film's success, saying that telling the story through the lens of one character's camera "works fantastically well". Michael Rechtshaffen of The Hollywood Reporter called it "chillingly effective", praising the effects and the film's "claustrophobic intensity". He said that though the characters "aren't particularly interesting or developed", there was "something refreshing about a monster movie that isn't filled with the usual suspects". Lisa Schwarzbaum of Entertainment Weekly said that the film was "surreptitiously subversive, [a] stylistically clever little gem", and that while the characters were "vapid, twenty-something nincompoops" and the acting "appropriately unmemorable", the decision to tell the story through amateur footage was "brilliant". Roger Ebert in the Chicago Sun-Times wrote that the film is "pretty scary at times" and cites "unmistakable evocations of 9/11". He concludes that "all in all, it is an effective film, deploying its special effects well and never breaking the illusion that it is all happening as we see it".

 

Todd McCarthy of Variety called the film an "old-fashioned monster movie dressed up in trendy new threads", praising the special effects, "nihilistic attitude" and "post-9/11 anxiety overlay", but said, "In the end, [it's] not much different from all the marauding creature features that have come before it". Scott Foundas of LA Weekly was critical of the film's use of scenes reminiscent of the September 11, 2001 attacks in New York City and called it "cheap and opportunistic". He suggested that the film was engaging in "stealth" attempts at social commentary and compared this unfavorably to the films of Don Siegel, George A. Romero and Steven Spielberg, saying, "Where those filmmakers all had something meaningful to say about the state of the world and [...] human nature, Abrams doesn't have much to say about anything". Manohla Dargis in the New York Times called the allusions "tacky", saying, "[The images] may make you think of the attack, and you may curse the filmmakers for their vulgarity, insensitivity or lack of imagination", but that "the film is too dumb to offend anything except your intelligence". She concludes that the film "works as a showcase for impressively realistic-looking special effects, a realism that fails to extend to the scurrying humans whose fates are meant to invoke pity and fear but instead inspire yawns and contempt." Stephanie Zacharek of Salon.com calls the film "badly constructed, humorless and emotionally sadistic", and sums up by saying that the film "takes the trauma of 9/11 and turns it into just another random spectacle at which to point and shoot". Michael Phillips of the Chicago Tribune warned that the viewer may feel "queasy" at the references to September 11, but that "other sequences [...] carry a real jolt" and that such tactics were "crude, but undeniably gripping". He called the film "dumb", but "quick and dirty and effectively brusque", concluding that despite it being "a harsher, more demographically calculating brand of fun", he enjoyed the film. Bruce Paterson of Cinephilia described the film as "a successful experiment in style but not necessarily a successful story for those who want dramatic closure".

 

Cloverfield appeared on some critics' top ten lists of the best films of 2008. Empire magazine named it the fifth best film of 2008. The prestigious French film journal Cahiers du Cinema named the film as the third best of 2008. Bloody Disgusting ranked the film number twenty in their list of the 'Top 20 Horror Films of the Decade', with the article calling the film "A brilliant conceit, to be sure, backed by a genius early marketing campaign that followed the less-is-more philosophy to tantalizing effect... much like Blair Witch nearly ten years earlier, Cloverfield helped prove, particularly in its first half hour, that what you don’t see can be the scariest thing of all."

 

The movie was nominated for four awards: It was nominated for two Saturn Awards for "Best supporting actress (Lizzy Caplan)" and "Best science fiction film". It was nominated for two Golden Trailer Awards for "Best Thriller for Trailer" and "Most original trailer". The film went on to win a Saturn Award for "Best science fiction film". It was also ranked #12 on Bravo's 13 Scarier Movie Moments.

 

Shaky camerawork

 

The film's shaky camera style of cinematography, dubbed "La Shakily Queasy-Cam" by Roger Ebert, caused some viewers (particularly in darkened movie theaters) to experience motion sickness, including nausea and a temporary loss of balance. Audience members prone to migraines have cited the film as a trigger. Some theaters showing the film, such as AMC Theatres, provided posted and verbal warnings, informing viewers about the filming style of Cloverfield while other theatres like Pacific Theatres just verbally warned guests in detail at the box office about experiencing motion sickness upon viewing the film and what to do if they had to step out and vomit.

 

The cinematography influences the encoding of the video and can cause compression artifacts to fast motion across the field of view.

 

Sequel

 

At the premiere of the film, Matt Reeves talked about possibilities of how a sequel will turn out if the film succeeds. According to Reeves, "While we were on set making the film we talked about the possibilities and directions of how a sequel can go. The fun of this movie was that it might not have been the only movie being made that night, there might be another movie! In today's day and age of people filming their lives on their camera phones and Handycams, uploading it to YouTube... That was kind of exciting thinking about that."

 

In another interview, Reeves states:

 

There's a moment on the Brooklyn Bridge, and there was a guy filming something on the side of the bridge, and Hud sees him filming and he turns over and he sees the ship that's been capsized and sees the headless Statue of Liberty, and then he turns back and this guy's briefly filming him. In my mind that was two movies intersecting for a brief moment, and I thought there was something interesting in the idea that this incident happened and there are so many different points of view, and there are several different movies at least happening that evening and we just saw one piece of another.

 

Reeves also points out that the end scene on Coney Island shows something falling into the ocean in the background but didn't give out details. (Later to have been a satellite as a fake Promotional Campaign from Tagruato, to serve as another viral tie in.) This is, however, many days before the start of the film and shows the two main characters on Coney island before they meet again at the start of the party — as shown by the date stamp on the footage from the camera. This relates to how events began to happen and the satellite which falls from orbit owned by the Japanese media company mentioned.

 

Producers Bryan Burk and J. J. Abrams also announced their thoughts to Entertainment Weekly about possible sequels. According to Bryan Burk, "The creative team has fleshed out an entire back-story which, if we're lucky, we might get to explore in future films".

 

Abrams stated that he does not want to rush into the development of the sequel because of the first film's success and would rather create a sequel that is true to the previous film.

 

At the end of January 2008, Matt Reeves entered early talks with Paramount Pictures to direct a sequel to Cloverfield, which would likely be filmed before Reeves's other project, The Invisible Woman. Reeves now said:

 

The idea of doing something so differently is exhilarating. We hope that it created a movie experience that is different. The thing about doing a sequel is that I think we all really feel protective of that experience. The key here will be if we can find something that is compelling enough and that is different enough for us to do, then it will probably be worth doing. Obviously it also depends on how Cloverfield does worldwide and all of those things too, but really, for us creatively, we just want to find something that would be another challenge.

 

In an interview with Attack of the Show, J. J. Abrams had stated that they might abandon the filming style, stating that he and the rest of the crew would like to try something new.

 

In September 2008, when asked by CraveOnline what the current status is on Cloverfield 2, Abrams stated that at this point, they are still discussing it; however, he still feels reluctant to work on a sequel. In the same interview, Abrams said that they were working on something that "could be kind of cool." When asked if it would take place in a different location, Abrams replied by saying that "It would be a totally different kind of thing but it's too early to talk about."

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30. Friday the 13th (1980)

 

friday_the_thirteenth_movie_poster.jpg

 

(5 of 20 lists - 55 points - highest rank #8 knightni)

 

Friday the 13th is a 1980 American slasher film directed by Sean S. Cunningham and written by Victor Miller. The film stars Betsy Palmer, Adrienne King, Harry Crosby and Kevin Bacon in one of his earliest roles. The film concerns a group of teenagers who re-open an abandoned camp site years after a young boy drowned in a nearby lake. One by one, the teens fall victim to a mysterious killer.

 

Friday the 13th, inspired by the success of John Carpenter's Halloween, was made on an estimated budget of $550,000. Released by Paramount Pictures in the United States, and Warner Bros. internationally, the film received mixed reviews from film critics, but grossed over $39.7 million at the box office in the United States, and went on to become one of the most profitable slasher films in cinema history. It was also the first movie of its kind to secure distribution in the USA by a major studio, Paramount Pictures. The film's box office success led to a long series of sequels, a crossover with Freddy Krueger and a series reboot released on February 13, 2009.

 

Plot

 

The film begins in 1957 as two summer camp counselors at Camp Crystal Lake, Barry (Willie Adams) and Claudette (Debra S. Hayes), sneak away from a campfire sing-along to have sex. Before they can completely undress, an unseen assailant sneaks into the room and murders them both.

 

The film then moves forward to Friday, June 13, 1979. A young woman named Annie (Robbi Morgan) enters a small diner and asks for directions to Camp Crystal Lake, much to the shock of the restaurant's patrons and staff. Enos (Rex Everhart), a truck driver from the diner, agrees to give her a lift halfway to the camp. A strange old man named Ralph (Walt Gorney) reacts to the news of the camp's reopening by warning Annie that they are all doomed. During the drive, Enos warns her about the camp, informing her that a young boy drowned in Crystal Lake in 1957, one year before the double murders occurred, followed by several fires and poisoned water. After Enos lets her out, Annie hitches another ride in a Jeep. The second driver, whose face is never seen, murders Annie by slashing her throat with a large hunting knife after her futile efforts to escape.

 

At the camp, the other counselors, Ned (Mark Nelson), Jack (Kevin Bacon), Bill (Harry Crosby), Marcie (Jeannine Taylor), Brenda (Laurie Bartram), Alice (Adrienne King) and the camp's owner, Steve Christy (Peter Brouwer), are refurbishing the cabins and facilities. As a violent storm closes in on the horizon, Steve leaves the campgrounds to get more supplies. The unidentified killer begins to isolate and murder the counselors. First Ned, who is lead into a cabin and is killed by slashing his throat (off-screen), then Jack who is impaled from underneath his bed by an arrow, followed by Marcie, whose face is slashed with an axe.

 

Meanwhile, Alice, Brenda and Bill are playing strip Monopoly in the main cabin. Brenda soon leaves and goes to her cabin to bed. While in bed reading a book, she hears a childlike voice outside crying "Help me" several times. As she goes out to investigate, the lights at the archery range suddenly turn on and Brenda is murdered off-screen. Alice informs Bill that she thinks she heard Brenda screaming and that she saw the lights turn on at the archery range. Alice and Bill leave the cabin to investigate and find a bloody axe in Brenda's bed. Attempting to phone the police, they discover the phones are dead and, when they try to leave, the car won't start. Later that evening, Steve returns from town and is also murdered, apparently familiar with his off-screen attacker. Back at camp, when the lights go out, Bill goes to check on the power generator. Alice heads out looking for Bill when he doesn't return. She finds his body pinned to a door by several arrows and the throat slashed. Now alone, Alice flees back to the main cabin and hides. After a few moments of silence, Brenda's corpse is hurled through the window.

 

Alice hears a vehicle outside the cabin and, thinking it to be Steve, runs out to warn him. Instead, she finds a middle-aged woman who introduces herself as Mrs. Voorhees (Betsy Palmer), stating that she is an "old friend of the Christys". Alice hysterically tries to tell her about the murders. Mrs. Voorhees expresses horror at the sight of Brenda's body, but she soon reveals herself to be the mother of the boy who drowned in the lake in 1957, and that today is his birthday. Talking mostly to herself, she blames her son Jason's drowning on the fact that two counselors were having sex and were unaware of Jason struggling in the lake. Mrs. Voorhees suddenly turns violent and pulls out a knife, rushing at Alice. A lengthy chase ensues, during which Alice flees her attacker and finds Steve and Annie's bodies in the process. Alice and Mrs. Voorhees have multiple confrontations, each time with Alice believing she has finally beaten Mrs. Voorhees. During their final fight, Alice manages to decapitate Mrs. Voorhees with her own machete.

 

Afterward, Alice boards a canoe and floats to the middle of the lake. As the sun rises, the decomposing corpse of Mrs. Voorhees' son, Jason (Ari Lehman), attacks Alice, just as the police arrive. As she is dragged under water, Alice awakens from the nightmare in a hospital, where Sergeant Tierney (Ron Carroll) tells her that they pulled her out of the lake. Alice is informed that everyone is dead; when she asks about Jason, Tierney informs her they never found any boy, which leaves her with the impression that he is still there.

 

Production

 

Development

 

Friday the 13th did not even have a completed script when Sean S. Cunningham took out this ad in Variety magazine

 

Friday the 13th was produced and directed by Sean S. Cunningham, who had previously worked with filmmaker Wes Craven on the film The Last House on the Left. Cunningham, inspired by John Carpenter's Halloween, and films by Mario Bava, wanted Friday the 13th to be shocking, visually stunning, and "[make] you jump out of your seat." Wanting to distance himself from The Last House on the Left, Cunningham wanted Friday the 13th to be more of a "roller-coaster ride".

 

This film was intended to be "a real scary movie" and at the same time make the audience laugh. Friday the 13th began its life as nothing more than a title. Initially, "Long Night at Camp Blood" was the working title during the writing process, but Cunningham believed in his "Friday the 13th" moniker, and quickly rushed out to place an ad in Variety. Worried that someone else owned the rights to the title and wanting to avoid potential lawsuits, Cunningham thought it would be best to find out immediately. He commissioned a New York advertising agency to develop his concept of the Friday the 13th logo, which consisted of big block letters bursting through a pane of glass. In the end, Cunningham believed there were "no problems" with the title, but distributor George Mansour stated, "There was a movie before ours called Friday the 13th: The Orphan. Moderately successful. But someone still threatened to sue. I don't know whether Phil [scuderi] paid them off, but it was finally resolved." The film was shot in and around the townships of Blairstown and Hope, New Jersey in the fall (September) of 1979. The camp scenes were shot on a working Boy Scout camp, Camp No-Be-Bo-Sco.

 

Writing

 

The script was written by Victor Miller, who has gone on to write for several television soap operas, including Guiding Light, One Life to Live and All My Children. Miller delighted in inventing a serial killer who turned out to be somebody's mother, a murderer whose only motivation was her love for her child. "I took motherhood and turned it on its head and I think that was great fun. Mrs. Voorhees was the mother I'd always wanted - a mother who would have killed for her kids." Miller was unhappy about the filmmakers' decision to make Jason Voorhees the killer in the sequels. "Jason was dead from the very beginning. He was a victim, not a villain." The idea of Jason appearing at the end of the film was initially not used in the original script, and was actually suggested by makeup designer Tom Savini. Savini stated that "The whole reason for the cliffhanger at the end was I had just seen Carrie, so we thought that we need a 'chair jumper' like that and I said, 'let's bring in Jason.'"

 

Music

 

When Harry Manfredini began working on the musical score, the decision was made to only play the music alongside the killer so it would not "manipulate the audience" into thinking the killer was present when they were not. Manfredini pointed out the lack of music for certain scenes: "There's a scene where one of the girls […] is setting up the archery area of the film. One of the guys shoots an arrow into the target and just misses her. It's a huge scare, but if you notice, there's no music. That was a choice." Manfredini also noted that when something was going to happen, the music would cut off so that the audience would relax a bit, and the scare would be that much more effective.

 

Since Mrs. Voorhees, the killer in the original Friday the 13th, does not show up until the final reel of the film, Manfredini had the job of creating a score that would represent the killer in her absence. Manfredini was inspired by the 1975 film Jaws, where the shark is not seen for the majority of the film but the motif created by John Williams cued the audience on when the shark was present during scenes when you could not see it. Sean S. Cunningham sought a chorus, but the budget would not allow it. While listening to a Krzysztof Penderecki piece of music, which contained a chorus with "striking pronunciations", Manfredini was inspired to recreate a similar sound. He came up with the sound "ki ki ki, ma ma ma" from the final reel when Mrs. Voorhees arrives and is reciting "Kill her, mommy!" The "ki" comes from "kill", and the "ma" from "mommy". To achieve the unique sound he wanted for the film, Manfredini spoke the two words "harshly, distinctly and rhythmically into a microphone" and ran them into an echo reverberation machine. Manfredini finished the original score after a couple of weeks, and then recorded the score in a friend's basement. Victor Miller and assistant editor Jay Keuper have commented on how memorable the music is, with Keuper describing it as "iconographic". Manfredini says, "Everybody thinks it's cha, cha, cha. I'm like, 'Cha, cha, cha? What are you talking about?"

 

Release

 

Box office

 

Paramount bought Friday the 13th's distribution rights for $1.5 million, after seeing a screening of the film. They spent approximately $500,000 in advertisements for the film, and then an additional $500,000 when the film began performing well at the box office. Friday the 13th opened theatrically on May 9, 1980 across the United States in 1,100 theaters. It took in $5,816,321 in its opening weekend, before finishing domestically with $39,754,601. The film finished as the eighteenth highest grossing film of 1980. Friday the 13th was released internationally, which was unusual for an independent film with, at the time, no well-recognized or bankable actors. The film would take in approximately $20 million in international box office receipts. Not factoring in international sales, or the cross-over film with A Nightmare on Elm Street's Freddy Krueger, the original Friday the 13th is the highest grossing film of the ten film series. To provide context with the box office gross of films in 2009, the cost of making and promoting Friday the 13th—which includes the $550,000 budget and the $1 million in advertisement—is approximately $4.4 million. With regard to the domestic box office gross, the film would have made $117,917,391 in adjusted 2009 dollars. In terms of recent box-office performance, Friday the 13th would be the highest grossing horror film of 2008 using the adjusted figures. On July 13, 2007, Friday the 13th was screened for the first time on Blairstown's Main Street in the very theater which appears shortly after the opening credits. Overflowing crowds forced the Blairstown Theater Festival, the sponsoring organization, to add an extra screening at 11:00 PM. The event was covered by local media and New York City's Channel 11. A 30th Anniversary Edition will be released on March 5, 2010, featuring vintage studio-issued ephemera with autographs of Kevin Bacon, Betsy Palmer, Robbi Morgan and Mark Nelson.

 

Critical response

 

Upon release, Friday the 13th received mixed reviews from critics. Its most vocal detractor was Gene Siskel who in his review called Cunningham "one of the most despicable creatures ever to infest the movie business". He also published Betsy Palmer's home address and encourage fellow detractors to write to her and express their contempt for the film. Siskel and Roger Ebert spent a whole episode of their TV show berating the film because they felt it would make audiences root for the killer. Leonard Maltin initially awarded the film one star, or 'BOMB', but later changed his mind and awarded the film a star and-a-half stating "...simply because it's slightly better than part 2" and called it a "...gory, cardboard thriller...one more clue to why SAT scores continue to decline." Variety claimed the film was "low-budget in the worst sense - with no apparent talent or intelligence to offset its technical inadequacies - Friday the 13th has nothing to exploit but its title." The film currently holds a 60% "Fresh" rating on Rotten Tomatoes (the highest percentage for any film in the series).

 

The ending sequence of the film was listed at #31 on Bravo's 100 Scariest Movie Moments, and the film was voted #15 in Channel 4's 100 Greatest Scariest Moments.

 

Related works

 

Sequels

 

Further information: Friday the 13th franchise

 

As of 2009, Friday the 13th has spawned ten sequels, including a crossover film with A Nightmare on Elm Street villain Freddy Krueger. Friday the 13th Part 2 (1981) introduced Jason Voorhees, the son of Mrs. Voorhees, as the primary antagonist, which would continue for the remaining sequels (with exception of the fifth movie) and related works. Most of the sequels were filmed on larger budgets than the original. In comparison, Friday the 13th' had a budget of $550,000, while the first sequel was given a budget of $1.25 million. At the time of its release, Freddy vs. Jason had the largest budget, at $25 million. All of the sequels repeated the premise of the original, so the filmmakers made tweaks to provide freshness. Changes involved an addition to the title—as opposed to a number attached to the end—like "The Final Chapter" and "Jason Takes Manhattan", or filming the movie in 3-D, as Miner did for Friday the 13th Part III (1982). One major addition that would affect the entire film series was the addition of Jason's hockey mask in the third film; this mask would become one of the most recognizable images in popular culture. Cunningham did not direct any of the film's sequels, though he did act as producer on the later installments; he initially did not want Jason Voorhees to be resurrected for the sequel.

 

A reboot to Friday the 13th came to theaters in February 2009, with Freddy vs. Jason writers Damian Shannon and Mark Swift hired to script the new film. The film is reported to focus on Jason Voorhees, and that he will keep his trademark hockey-mask. The film is being produced by Michael Bay, Andrew Form, and Brad Fuller through Bay's production company Platinum Dunes, for New Line Cinema. In November 2007, Marcus Nispel, director of the 2003 remake of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, was hired to direct. The film had its United States release on February 13, 2009.

 

Adaptations

 

In 1987, seven years after the release of the motion picture, Simon Hawke adapted a novelization of Friday the 13th. One of the few additions to the book was Mrs. Voorhees begging the Christy family to take her back after the loss of her son; they agreed. Another addition in the novel is more understanding in Mrs. Voorhees' actions. Hawke felt the character had attempted to move on when Jason died, but her psychosis got the best of her. When Steve Christy reopened the camp, Mrs. Voorhees saw it as a chance that what happened to her son could happen again. Her murders were against the counselors, because she saw them all as responsible for Jason's death.

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29. Jacob's Ladder (1990)

 

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(5 of 20 lists - 60 points - highest rank #5 daggins)

 

Jacob's Ladder is a 1990 psychological thriller film directed by Adrian Lyne, based on a screenplay by Bruce Joel Rubin. It stars Tim Robbins, Elizabeth Peña, Danny Aiello, and Jason Alexander; Macaulay Culkin appears in an uncredited performance.

 

Plot

 

Jacob Singer (Robbins) is a U.S. soldier deployed in the Mekong Delta during the Vietnam War. When the story begins, helicopters are passing overhead, carrying supplies for what seems to be preparations for a big Viet Cong offensive. Without any warning, Jacob's unit comes under heavy fire. The soldiers try to take cover but begin to exhibit strange behavior for no apparent reason. Jacob attempts to escape the unexplained insanity, only to be stabbed with a bayonet by an unseen person.

 

The film then shifts back and forth from Vietnam to Jacob's memories (and hallucinations) of his son Gabe (Culkin, uncredited) and former wife Sarah (Kalember), and to his present (set in 1975 Brooklyn) relationship with a woman named Jezebel (Peña) in New York City. During this latter period, Jacob faces several threats to his life and has severe hallucinatory experiences. It is subsequently revealed that his son Gabe was hit by a car and killed before Jacob went to Vietnam. At a key moment, Jacob's friend and chiropractor, Louis (Aiello), cites the 14th century Christian mystic Meister Eckhart:

 

Eckhart saw Hell too; he said: 'the only thing that burns in Hell is the part of you that won't let go of life, your memories, your attachments. They burn them all away. But they're not punishing you,' he said. 'They're freeing your soul. So, if you're frightened of dying and... you're holding on, you'll see devils tearing your life away. But if you've made your peace, then the devils are really angels, freeing you from the earth.'

 

As the hallucinations become increasingly bizarre, one of his old army buddies contacts Jacob to tell him about his hallucinations and is killed in a car ignition explosion. At the funeral, his surviving platoon-mates confess to Jacob they too have been seeing horrible hallucinations. Jacob is then approached by a man named Michael Newman (Craven), who claims to have been a chemist working with the Army's chemical warfare division in Saigon, where he worked on creating a drug that would increase aggression. He says that tests of the drug (code-named "The Ladder" in reference to how it takes people straight to their primal urges) were first performed on monkeys and then on a group of enemy POWs, with gruesome results. Later, small doses of "The Ladder" were secretly given to Jacob's battalion via their C-rations. Instead of targeting the enemy, however, the men in Jacob's unit attacked each other indiscriminately. This revelation insinuates that Jacob was stabbed by one of his fellow soldiers.

 

The last scenes of the movie has Jacob returning to the apartment building he once lived in with Sarah. He enters and begins looking through an old shoe box, containing his memories and the pain he’s been clinging to, things like his dog-tags, and a picture of Gabe. Jacob then is surprised to see Gabe at the foot of the stairwell. Gabe takes Jacob by the hand and together the two of them ascend the stairwell and disappear into a bright light. At the dénouement, we learn Jacob never made it out of Vietnam; his body is shown in an army triage tent with two surgeons just after he expired, with a now peaceful look on his face. Apparently, the entire series of events turns out to have been a dying hallucination. Before the film credits, an on-screen title card states that the U.S. Army allegedly experimented with a hallucinogenic drug called BZ, a claim denied by the Pentagon.

 

Evaluation

 

Antecedents

 

The title of the film refers to the biblical story of Jacob's Ladder, or the dream of a meeting place between Heaven and Earth (Genesis 28:12). The earliest literary antecedent appears in Don Juan Manuel's Tales of Count Lucanor, Chapter XI, in which a life happens in an instant (1337). This story was rewritten by Jorge Luis Borges in the short story "The Wizard Postponed" in his book A Universal History of Infamy (1935). A similar dying hallucination occurs in Borges' short story The Secret Miracle (1944). The film is also viewed by many, including the screenwriter Bruce Joel Rubin, as a modern interpretation of Bardo Thodol (the Tibetan Book of the Dead).

 

"The Ladder"

 

Jacob is told that the horrific events he experienced on his final day in Vietnam were the product of an experimental drug called "The Ladder", which was used on troops without their knowledge. Jacob is told this by Michael Newman (Matt Craven), who is later seen treating his wounds in a Medevac helicopter. He is told that the drug was named for its ability to cause "a fast trip straight down the ladder, right to the primal fear, right to the base anger." Although the name "The Ladder" also has a metaphorical and religious significance beyond this, it is notable that the film begins in a subway station and ends on a stairway.

 

At the end of the film, a message is displayed mentioning the testing of a drug named BZ, NATO code for a deliriant and hallucinogen known as 3-quinuclidinyl benzilate that was rumored to have been administered to U.S. troops by the government in a secret attempt to increase their fighting power. The effects of BZ, however, are different from the effects of the drug depicted in the film. Director Adrian Lyne himself noted that "nothing ... suggests that the drug BZ—a super-hallucinogen that has a tendency to elicit maniac behavior—was used on U.S. troops."

 

Reception

 

Reception of the film was quite polarizing at the time of release. According to aggregate website Rotten Tomatoes, 73% of reviews of the film were positive reviews. The top critics were split evenly, with 50% giving it a positive review. Film critic Roger Ebert wrote in his review, "This movie was not a pleasant experience, but it was exhilarating in the sense that I was able to observe filmmakers working at the edge of their abilities and inspirations", giving it 3.5 stars out of 4.

 

"Shaking head" effect

 

The film's director Adrian Lyne used a famous body horror technique in which an actor is recorded waving his head around at a low frame rate, resulting in horrific fast motion when played back. In an interview Lyne said he was inspired by the art of Francis Bacon when developing the effect. This effect is one of the signature animation techniques developed by The Brothers Quay and used extensively in their short films, including Street of Crocodiles (1986), based on the short novel of the same name by the Polish author and artist Bruno Schulz.

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28. (tie) The Evil Dead (1981)

 

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(4 of 20 lists - 61 points - highest rank #4 pittshoganerkoff)

 

The Evil Dead (also known as: Evil Dead, The Book of the Dead, Sam Raimi's The Evil Dead and The Evil Dead, the Ultimate Experience in Grueling Horror) is a 1981 American horror film written and directed by Sam Raimi, starring Bruce Campbell, Ellen Sandweiss, and Betsy Baker. The film is a story of five college students vacationing in an isolated cabin in a wooded area. Their vacation becomes gruesome when they find an audiotape that releases evil spirits.

 

The film was extremely controversial for its graphic terror, violence, and gore, being initially turned down by almost all U.S. film distributors until a European company finally bought it in the Cannes Film Festival marketplace. It was finally released into theaters on October 15, 1981. Although its budget was just $375,000, the film was a moderate success at the box office, grossing a total of $2,400,000 in the U.S. upon its initial release. Despite getting mixed reviews by critics at the time, it now has a dedicated cult following. The film has spawned two sequels, Evil Dead II and Army of Darkness; work on a script for a further film has started.

 

Plot

 

Five Michigan State students venture into the hills and mountains of Tennessee to spend a weekend in an isolated cabin. There they find The Book of the Dead (a fictional Aztec/Canaanite text, unrelated to the Egyptian Book of the Dead), otherwise known as the Nyturan Demonta. While searching the basement of the cabin, the students find and play a tape recording of demonic incantations from the book, unwittingly resurrecting "Kandarian" Demons. The characters are then possessed one by one, beginning with Cheryl Williams (Ellen Sandweiss), after she is hypnotized by the song of a Demon and lured into the forest at night. Alone and far from the safety of the cabin, the Demon proceeds to possess the trees of the forest, which come to life in a snake-like fashion and brutally rape her. Cheryl escapes the trees and is chased by the Demon all the way back to the cabin, where no one believes her story and assumes that she was attacked by a wild animal. Her brother, Ash Williams (Bruce Campbell), decides to drive her into town where she can stay the night. They discover that the only bridge is completely destroyed and the supports are bent into the shape of a claw-like hand.

 

Soon thereafter, Cheryl, having been infested by a Demon during the rape, dies and becomes a deadite (a corpse that is used as a vessel for the Demon that has possessed it) and stabs Linda (Betsy Baker) in the ankle with a pencil. Scotty beats her with the blunt end of his axe and kicks her in the cellar; he then locks her in the fruit cellar, but afterward Shelly (Theresa Tilly) enters her room and is killed and possessed by a Demon that crashes through the window; now a deadite, she becomes psychotically vicious and attacks Scotty (Hal Delrich), who dismembers her with an axe. Scotty then leaves to find a trail out of the woods.

 

Ash goes to check on Linda, but finds that she too has become possessed by a Spirit. Scotty returns, but has suffered massive injuries inflicted upon him by the possessed trees. Before losing consciousness he tells Ash there is a trail in the woods. Linda revives momentarily from the possession and Ash drags her outside and locks her out of the cabin. He goes back to check on Scotty, but finds that he died from his injuries. Linda later returns as a deadite and tries to stab Ash, but Ash stabs her through the chest with a dagger. Ash drags her outside to dismember her with a chainsaw, but finds that he cannot bring himself to do it, and simply buries her instead. She rises from the grave and, after a violent struggle, Ash beheads her with a shovel. He returns to find the cellar door open. He enters the cellar, to find shotgun ammunition and returns to the upstairs. He hears a noise from Shelly and Scott's bedroom. With the shotgun, he goes in to investigate and suspects Cheryl may be in the closet. Cheryl jumps at the window a demon had earlier broken through and tries to take the shotgun from Ash, grabbing at it wildly. Ash shoots her in the chest, but it does not seem to have any effect. Ash then proceeds to barricade both the front and back doors. He runs back into the cellar to find a box of shotgun shells and experiences a strange series of events including the cellar filling with blood and hearing voices. Cheryl tries to attack Ash through the door, but he shoots her and then barricades the door.

 

Meanwhile, Scotty's dead body suddenly revives to reveal that he has been possessed by a Spirit, only to have his eyes gouged out by Ash after a brief struggle. Ash notices that Nyturan Demonta has fallen near the fireplace and is starting to burn. Ash sees that Scotty's body is starting to burn as well, giving an allusion that disposal of the book into the fire will also destroy the Demons. Before he can reach it, however, Cheryl successfully breaks in through the front door and easily knocks him down. Scotty then pins Ash to the floor while Cheryl grabs a fireplace poker and repeatedly hits Ash in the back with it. Ash manages to grab the book after several attempts, using the necklace he had given to Linda earlier in the film, and throws it directly into the blazing flames just as Cheryl raises the fireplace poker to impale him. The Demons leave the bodies of Cheryl and Scotty, and their corpses become inanimate and fall apart over the course of several minutes just as dawn breaks, leaving Ash as the only survivor. He heads outside and stands in front of the cabin for a moment, thinking he has survived the ordeal. An Unseen Evil speeds through the forest, breaks its way through the cabin doors, and descends upon Ash, who screams in terror as the film ends.

 

Production

 

Raimi and Co. managed to secure a shooting budget of less than $375,000 and with the cast and crew, headed for a wilderness cabin in the woods near Morristown, Tennessee. The movie was shot over a period of about 1.5 years. Raimi used 'Fake Shemps' or 'stand-ins' to replace the actors who had left. One of the only actors loyal to the project from the beginning was Bruce Campbell (also a producer of the film and Raimi's childhood filmmaking partner), who went through torturous circumstances as the character 'Ash.' According to the Evil Dead DVD commentary, he would often return home after a night of shooting in the back of a pick-up truck, as he was usually covered in fake blood made from a mixture of corn syrup, food coloring, and non-dairy coffee creamer.

 

Actors Richard DeManincor (Scott) and Theresa Tilly (Shelly) both went under different "stage names" during the shoot, since they were members of the Screen Actors Guild and wanted to avoid being penalized for participating in a non-union production. They are credited in the credits as "Hal Delrich" for DeManincor and "Sarah York" for Tilly.

 

According to Bruce Campbell's autobiography, If Chins Could Kill, Richard acquired his stage name by combining his short name with his roommates' names, Hal & Del.

 

Joel Coen served as an assistant editor on the film.

 

Censorship

 

Because of its graphic violence, the original version of the movie was banned in several countries, including Finland, Germany, Iceland and Ireland. In Germany, the movie's release was hindered by public authorities for almost 10 years. Original 1982 cinema and video releases of the movie had been seized, making the movie successful on the black market video circuit with pirated copies abounding. Several well-known horror enthusiasts publicly criticized the German ban on the movie, including author Stephen King (who gave it a rave review in the November 1982 issue of Twilight Zone). A heavily edited version was made available legally during 1992. During 2001 an uncut German DVD version was released, but the Berlin-Tiergarten Court ordered seizure of the DVD in April 2002 (Case Number 351 Gs 1749/02). In Finland, The Evil Dead was later released uncut on DVD by Future Film, and rated K-18. In the United Kingdom, the movie was one of the first to be labeled a video nasty during the mid-1980s and was finally released uncut in 2001.

 

When the film was re-submitted in the US for a rating in 1994 the MPAA classified it with an NC-17 rating. When the distribution company Elite Entertainment released the film on DVD in 1999 they retained the NC-17 version. Anchor Bay Entertainment has since acquired the DVD rights to the film, and their subsequent releases have surrendered the rating to allow them to release the film unrated.

 

Critical reception

 

The Evil Dead received mixed reviews upon its release but over the years its critical reputation has grown considerably. Based on 45 reviews, the film holds a 100% "Fresh" rating on the review aggregate website Rotten Tomatoes. The film was selected by the American Film Institute as one of the 400 candidates for AFI's 100 Years... 100 Thrills, a list of America's most heart-pounding films.

 

The movie's vine rape scene has been described by some as being misogynistic. Raimi has since stated he regrets putting it in the movie.

 

* Beyond Hollywood 5/5 stars

* Nick Schager (A-)

* Analog Medium 4.5/5 stars

 

Releases

 

The first release was on October 15, 1981. The film had a re-release in March 2010[12] as part of The Evil Dead Cross Country Tour, which begins in the NuArt Theatre in West Los Angeles. The limited edition Blu-ray was released on August 31, 2010 in the United States, featuring two discs with audio commentary with writer/director Sam Raimi, producer Robert Tapert and star Bruce Campbell.

 

Spin-offs

 

There have been a variety of spin-offs and tie-ins including a musical and comic mini-series. The themes of this movie have become a cult favorite among tattoo clientele. The images and catch phrases adorn a wide range of people from the rank and file to tattoo artists like Dan Henk.

 

Evil Dead: The Musical

 

With the approval of both Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell, a musical version of the film was staged, enjoying a successful workshop in Toronto and performances at the Just for Laughs Festival in Montreal in 2004. The New York off-Broadway production started previews on October 2, 2006. The official Opening Night performance was November 1, 2006. The show continued with 8 performances per week at the New World Stages until closing February 17, 2007. Evil Dead: The Musical has recently started production in Toronto starting from May 1, 2007 with the run extended from June 23, 2007 to August 4, 2007. On August 4, 2007 it was announced that the show has now been extended for a final time until September 8, 2007, excepting its further extensions to May 3, 2008, June 14, 2008 and August 2, 2008. A production is also scheduled to open at the Campbell Theatre in Martinez, CA on June 13, 2008. A second Canadian production by the Sock 'n Buskin Theatre Company opened on March 12, 2009 for a short run in Ottawa at Kailash Mital Theatre at Carleton University. This version created quite a buzz and was well-received on opening night. Ground Zero Theatre and Hit & Myth Productions will be staging the next production at the Playhouse at Vertigo Theatre Centre in Calgary, Alberta, running May 26, 2009 to June 15, 2009, extended to July 12, 2009.

 

Comic book

 

In January 2008, Dark Horse Comics began releasing a four part monthly comic book mini-series based on Evil Dead, written by Mark Verheiden, with art by John Bolton, who provided art for the Dark Horse Army of Darkness comic. The comic miniseries has several noticeable differences from the film, such as Cheryl being only a friend of Linda, and not Ash's sister.

 

Dynamite Entertainment has an on-going "Army of Darkness" series and several mini-series and cross-over mini-series, featuring horror characters such as Darkman, the Marvel Zombies and Herbert West.

 

Earlier incarnations

 

The short film Within the Woods (1978) was made as a prototype to help convince possible investors to fund The Evil Dead. In it the filmmakers experimented with techniques they would use in the feature. It shares plot elements with The Evil Dead and also stars Bruce Campbell.

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28. (tie) Suspiria (1977)

 

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(4 of 20 lists - 61 points - highest rank #2 Flash Tizzle)

 

Suspiria is a 1977 Italian horror film directed by Dario Argento, and co-written by Argento and actress Daria Nicolodi. Nicolodi claims the plot was inspired by an experience of her grandmother's. The setting was originally to be a children's school but was later changed to a dance school for older teenagers. It stars Jessica Harper, Alida Valli, Udo Kier, and Joan Bennett in her final film role.

 

Entertainment Weekly rated the film #18 of its top 25 most frightening movies of all time, saying it had "the most vicious murder scene ever filmed". A poll among critics at Total Film named it as the 3rd greatest horror film of all-time. It was rated #24 on the cable channel Bravo's list of the "100 Scariest Movie Moments".

 

Suspiria is the first of a film trilogy Argento refers to as "The Three Mothers", about evil forces attempting to break through to the earth and wreak merciless havoc. Argento's next film, Inferno (1980), was the second in the trilogy, and the third is The Mother of Tears.

 

By a poll of film critics conducted by the Village Voice, Suspiria was named the 100th greatest film made during the 20th century.

 

The film was the final feature film to be processed in the Italian processing plant of Technicolor before it was closed.

 

Plot

 

During a night of rain and thunder, a young American ballet student, Suzy Bannion (Jessica Harper), lands in Munich to attend a prestigious dance academy in Freiburg. When she reaches the school, she witnesses another student, Pat Hingle (Eva Axén), fleeing the building in a panic. Unable to gain access herself, Suzy stays in town for the night.

 

Pat arrives at a friend's apartment where she is attacked and murdered. She is stabbed several times. The killer then winds a cord around her neck that finally hangs her when she crashes through a stained-glass ceiling. On the floor directly below, Pat's friend is also killed when she is hit by falling glass and metal.

 

Upon her arrival at the academy the next morning, Suzy is introduced to Madame Blanc (Joan Bennett) and Miss Tanner (Alida Valli). In a recurring Argento plot device also used prominently in Profondo Rosso and Tenebrae, Suzy realizes she recalls overhearing something Pat said the night before, but is unable to remember it. Suzy meets Olga (Barbara Magnolfi) and Sarah (Stefania Casini) and learns that she is to board off-campus with Olga. The following morning, Blanc informs her that a dormitory room is now free but Suzy says she would prefer to stay where she is. After a strange encounter with the cook (Franca Scagnetti), Suzy passes out during a lesson and awakens to discover the staff have moved her into a dormitory room against her wishes. Sarah's room is next door, and the two become friends.

 

As the school prepares for dinner, maggots begin to fall from the ceiling. Tanner discovers crates of spoiled food on the floor above, and the students and staff are forced to sleep in the practice hall overnight. During the evening, Sarah identifies a distinctive whistling snore as that of the school's director, who is not due to return for several weeks. The next morning class is interrupted when Tanner accosts the blind pianist Daniel (Flavio Bucci), telling him that his guide dog has bitten Blanc's young nephew Albert (Jacopo Mariani). Outraged, Daniel proudly resigns immediately. That night, Suzy hears the staff as they leave for the night, but realizes they seem to be heading somewhere inside the building. While discussing this with Sarah, she becomes suddenly drowsy and goes to sleep, leaving Sarah to count the footsteps she hears as they pass. Meanwhile, while Daniel the pianist crosses a plaza with his dog, a statue of a phoenix comes to life; his dog becomes spooked and tears his throat out, killing him.

 

Next day, Suzy upsets Sarah by telling Blanc that she heard Pat saying the words "iris" and "secret" the night she died. As the two girls swim, Sarah reveals that she was close to Pat and that Pat had been taking notes and talking strangely for some time. Later, she discovers the notes are gone. Once again, Suzy comes over drowsy and Sarah flees her friend's room just before an unseen person enters. Escaping to the attic, Sarah is attacked and finally murdered after becoming trapped in a room full of razor wire.

 

Finding Sarah's room empty the following day, Suzy goes to meet her friend's psychologist Dr. Mandel (Udo Kier). Mandel explains that the school was founded by Helena Markos, a Greek émigré, who was believed to be a witch. Markos is also known as Mater Suspiriorum, or the Mother of Sighs. Mandel's colleague Professor Millus tells Suzy that a coven can only survive with their queen.

 

Back at school, Suzy discovers all the students have gone to the theater. Finally suspicious of her prescribed glass of wine, she dumps it and listens for the footsteps of the staff. After her count, Suzy finds herself in Blanc's office. Noticing irises painted on the wall she finally recalls what Pat was saying the night she was killed, and finds a door hidden in the wall. Beyond, she discovers a ritual chamber where the coven is gathered, apparently directed by Blanc and comprising most of the rest of the staff. Unseen, Suzy learns she is to be killed, and finds Sarah's corpse. In another room she finds the directress and accidentally wakes her. The directress reveals herself as Helena Markos and taunts Suzy, invisible as an empty indentation on the bed when Suzy pulls back the bed curtains. Helena calls Sarah's reanimated corpse into the room to attack her. Suzy lunges at the outline of Markos, fatally stabbing her through the neck with the tailfeather from a glass peacock, causing Sarah's possessed corpse to vanish and the defeated coven members to writhe helplessly and bleed. Suzy then flees erratic supernatural forces ripping apart the place all the way out of the school and into the night as the building bursts into flame, destroying the entire coven.

 

Cast

 

* Jessica Harper as Suzy Bannion

* Udo Kier as Dr. Frank Mandel

* Joan Bennett as Madame Blanc

* Alida Valli as Miss. Tanner

* Stefania Casini as Sarah

* Miguel Bosé as Mark

* Flavio Bucci as Daniel

* Barbara Magnolfi as Olga

* Eva Axen as Pat

* Susanna Javicoli as Sonia

* Rudolf Schundler as Prof. Milius

* Margarita Horowitz as Teacher

* Jacopo Mariani as Albert

* Franca Scagnetti as Cook

 

Production

 

The title, Suspiria, and the general concept of the "The Three Mothers" came from Suspiria de Profundis, Thomas De Quincey's sequel to his Confessions of an English Opium Eater. There is a section in Suspiria De Profundis entitled "Levana and Our Ladies of Sorrow". The piece asserts that just as there are three Fates and three Graces, there are three Sorrows: "Mater Lacrymarum, Our Lady of Tears," "Mater Suspiriorum, Our Lady of Sighs," and "Mater Tenebrarum, Our Lady of Darkness."

 

Suspiria is noteworthy for several stylistic flourishes that have become Argento trademarks. The film was made with anamorphic lenses. The production design and cinematography emphasize vivid primary colors, particularly red, creating a deliberately unrealistic, nightmarish setting. This look was emphasized by the use of imbibition Technicolor prints. The imbibition process, used for The Wizard of Oz and Gone with the Wind, is much more vivid in its color rendition than emulsion-based release prints, therefore enhancing the nightmarish quality of the film.

 

It was rumored that this film contained ghostly images or apparitions in certains scenes within the backgrounds that appeared in glass and lighting that were unexplained. This added to the mystique of the movie.

 

Soundtrack

 

 

The Italian rock music band Goblin composed most of the film's musical score. Goblin also composed music for several other films by Dario Argento. In the film's opening credits, they are incorrectly referred to as "The Goblins". The score for Suspiria is considered a unique masterpiece. Like Ennio Morricone's compositions for Sergio Leone, Goblin's score for Suspiria was created before the film was shot. It has been reused in multiple Hong Kong films, including Yuen Woo-ping's martial arts film Dance of the Drunk Mantis (1979) and Tsui Hark's horror-comedy We Are Going to Eat You (1980).

 

Goblin frontman Claudio Simonetti later formed a heavy metal band, Daemonia, and the 2001 Anchor Bay DVD release contains a video of the band playing a reworking of the Suspiria theme song. This DVD edition also contains the entire original soundtrack as a bonus CD, long out of print in North America.

 

Goblin's main title theme for Suspiria was named as one of the best songs released between 1977 and 1979 in The Pitchfork 500: Our Guide to the Greatest Songs from Punk to the Present.

 

The main theme has been sampled on the Raekwon and Ghostface Killah song, Legal Coke off of the R.A.G.U. mixtape. Also sampled by RJD2 for the song, Weather People off Cage's Album Weather Proof and by Army Of The Pharaohs song Swords Drawn. The main theme and other music from the film was also sampled in television series such as Invader Zim.

 

Response

 

No aspect of Suspiria was as influential as Argento's flamboyant approach to filming the many killings occurring in the story. Argento already had a reputation for brutal violence in his films, such as his preceding feature, Deep Red, and he would later in his career be much criticised for it, including charges of misogyny which he denies. In Suspiria, victims are murdered in extremely elaborate ways; Pat Hingle initially has her face shoved through a window before she is stabbed in the chest repeatedly. She is then tied up, has an electrical cord wound around her body which slips as noose around her neck when she falls, is stabbed through the heart (in close up) and finally dropped through a stained-glass ceiling. A large piece of falling debris then impales another woman below. The camera lingers on Pat's blood-spattered body, suspended from the roof by the cord. This sequence was so greatly edited for Suspiria's original U.S. release that it was almost purged from the film. The film was seen as so violent in Germany that it was unsuitable for release and is to this day banned.

 

Suspiria made Argento famous. Though many of his later films were admired by his fans, Suspiria is generally regarded as his best. Joan Bennett was nominated for a Saturn Award for her performance, missing out on Best Supporting Actress to Susan Tyrrell for Bad.

 

Two bands, a Norwegian thrash metal band and a pioneering mid-1990s U.K. gothic rock band, have named themselves after the film. Several albums have also used the title, including Suspiria by Darkwell, Suspiria by Miranda Sex Garden, and Suspiria de Profundis by Die Form which can also be regarded as inspired by Thomas De Quincey's work of the same title.

 

The Smashing Pumpkins used the theme from the film as introductory music on their 2007 tour. The Houston-based Two Star Symphony Orchestra, on their 2004 CD Danse Macabre: Constant Companion, included a track titled "Goblin Attack" that features a strings rendition of the Suspiria theme. The track's title appears to be a reference to the Italian rock band Goblin. The 69 eyes wrote a song 'Suspiria Snow White' on the album Back in Blood.

 

The movie's music has been imitated by various artists, including Ministry's "Psalm 69" from their album Psalm 69: The Way to Succeed and the Way to Suck Eggs, Cage Kennylz's "Weather People", and Atmosphere's "Bird Sings Why the Caged I Know".

 

In the 2007 film, Juno, the title character mentions Suspiria during a discussion of horror films with character Mark Loring after she finds a SomethingWeird Video copy of The Wizard of Gore.

 

Remakes

 

A remake was expected for a 2005 release according to the Internet Movie Database. This status remained as such into 2006, but the entry was eventually removed. Around the same time, writer Steven Katz stated that the remake "probably will not happen". Some fans believe that Argento was responsible, as he was against the remake, claiming to have seen a script, and saying "it will be s***, but that won't be my fault". But according to the IMDb, the remake has now been announced to be released in 2012.

 

During June 2006, Japanese studio GONZO reportedly announced the production of an anime remake of Suspiria (サスペリア) is in development, but it has not yet announced a release date for TV broadcast. The anime adaptation will be directed by Yoshimasa Hiraike (Solty Rei).

 

During March 2008, it was announced on the MTV Movies Blog website that the remake of Suspiria was to be made and released in 2008 with director David Gordon Green (Pineapple Express) at the helm. The remake is being produced by Italian production company First Sun.

 

During August 2008, the Bloody Disgusting website reported that Natalie Portman's and Annette Savitch's Handsome Charlie Films set to produce the remake and that Portman will play the lead role. In 2009, it was reported that the movie will star Portman and directed by David Gordon Green. The First Sun project will produce by Marco Morabito and Luca Guadagnino.

 

The American independent supernatural thriller film Finale was inspired by Suspiria, the director John Michael Elfers described his film as homage.

 

The American film The Woods starring Agnes Bruckner features a plot very reminiscent of Suspiria.

 

Awards

 

Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films, USA

 

* 1978 Nominated Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actress – Joan Bennett

* 2002 Nominated Saturn Award for Best DVD Classic Film Release

 

* Ranked #45 in Empire magazines "The 100 Best Films Of World Cinema" in 2010.

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26. Carrie (1976)

 

220px-Carrieposter.jpg

 

(5 of 20 lists - 64 points - highest rank #3 sti3)

 

Carrie is a 1976 American supernatural horror film directed by Brian De Palma and written by Lawrence D. Cohen, based on the novel Carrie by Stephen King. The film and the novel tell the story of a socially outcast teenage girl, Carrie White, who discovers she possesses psionic power which seems to flare up when she becomes angry. Carrie's powers become apparent after her humiliation by her peers, teachers, and abusive mother, eventually resulting in tragedy. The film stars Sissy Spacek, Piper Laurie, Betty Buckley, Amy Irving, Nancy Allen, William Katt, John Travolta, P.J. Soles and Priscilla Pointer.

 

The film was a major success for United Artists, grossing $33.8 million at the U.S. box office, on a budget of $1.8 million. It received a mostly positive response from critics. The film spawned a failed sequel The Rage: Carrie 2 and a fairly well-received made for television remake, released in 2002, neither of which involved De Palma. During a survey taken in October 2008, it was revealed that Carrie was considered one of the most popular movies teens watched on Halloween.

 

Both Sissy Spacek and Piper Laurie were nominated for Academy Award for Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress respectively.

 

Plot

 

Carrie White (Sissy Spacek) is a shy teenage girl abused by her religious mother, Margaret (Piper Laurie). The girls at school also harass Carrie, with Chris Hargensen (Nancy Allen) being especially cruel.

 

Carrie experiences her first period while showering after gym class, and the other girls throw tampons and sanitary pads at her before Miss Collins (Betty Buckley) intervenes. As Carrie becomes more upset, a light bulb pops just before Miss Collins tells the other girls to leave. Miss Collins brings Carrie to the principal's office, and while consoling her, the principal calls Carrie by the wrong name, inadvertently emphasizing how overlooked she is. When Carrie corrects the principal and says "it's Carrie," an ashtray falls from the principal's desk. Later, while Carrie is walking home, a neighborhood boy crashes his bicycle after taunting Carrie.

 

Margaret, who walks from door to door "spreading the gospel of salvation through Christ's blood", receives a call from Miss Collins about the locker room incident and tells Carrie that the "curse of blood" is punishment for sin. She locks Carrie in a closet and forces her to pray. In her bedroom that night, a miserable Carrie stares at her mirror until it shatters.

 

Sue Snell (Amy Irving), one of Carrie's gym classmates, expresses regret for teasing Carrie at school. The next day, English teacher Mr. Fromm (Sydney Lassick) reads a poem written by Tommy Ross (William Katt), Sue's boyfriend. Fromm invites the class to critique Tommy's work but mocks Carrie when she speaks, which irks Tommy. Sue, feeling guilty for teasing Carrie, convinces Tommy to take Carrie to the prom and show her a good time.

 

Carrie suspects she may have a telekinetic gift, and researches it in the library. Later, Tommy asks Carrie to prom but Carrie flees, fearing another trick. After a pep talk from Miss Collins, Carrie accepts Tommy's invitation when he later approaches her at her home. Carrie tells her mother that she is going to the prom, and Margaret insists the prom is an occasion of sin, refusing to let her attend. However, Carrie causes the windows of the house to slam shut, revealing her telekinesis. Margaret believes this is Satan's power, but Carrie again insists she will go to the prom.

 

Meanwhile, Miss Collins berates the girls who tormented Carrie in the locker room, subjecting them to a week-long boot-camp-style detention. All the girls show remorse except for Chris, who holds a deep hatred for Carrie. After Chris throws a fit, Miss Collins bans her from the prom. Chris tells her delinquent boyfriend, Billy Nolan (John Travolta), that she wants revenge on Carrie and goes with Billy and other kids to a farm where Billy kills a pig. After draining the pig's blood into a bucket, Billy places the bucket above the school's stage.

 

Chris makes a deal with her friend Norma Watson (P.J. Soles) and Billy's friend Freddy to rig the election of prom king and queen so Tommy and Carrie win. As Carrie gets ready for the evening, her mother tells her that everyone will laugh at her. Carrie defies her mother, leaving with Tommy. Though her classmates are surprised to see Carrie at prom, they begin treating her as an equal. Sue Snell sneaks into the prom to ensure everything is going well for Carrie.

 

To Carrie's surprise, she and Tommy are named prom king and queen. As the couple approaches the stage to be crowned, Sue discovers Chris hiding behind the stage holding a rope attached to the bucket of pig's blood resting on the rafters. However, Miss Collins forces Sue out, believing she is there for mischief. As the crown is placed on Carrie's head, Chris pulls the rope and Carrie is drenched in pig's blood. As the crowd looks on in silence, Tommy is knocked unconscious by the bucket and Carrie imagines the whole room laughing and jeering at her. Carrie's telekinesis takes over, closing the doors to the gym and turning on a fire hose. Norma is killed by the fire hose along with many other people, and Carrie kills Miss Collins with a falling rafter. Mr. Fromm is electrocuted, which then causes a fire in the gym. Leaving her classmates inside the school as it burns, Carrie walks home, covered in blood. Chris and Billy catch up with her, intending to run her over with Billy's car, but Carrie uses her powers to flip the car, killing Billy and Chris.

 

At home, Carrie breaks down in her mother's arms after taking a bath. Believing the devil has taken over Carrie, Margaret brings the girl to her knees and stabs Carrie in the back. Carrie falls down the stairs and is cornered in the kitchen by her mother, but sends kitchen knives flying at her mother, pinning her to the wall and killing her. Overcome with guilt and grief, Carrie uses her telekinesis to collapse the house where both she and her mother are crushed by falling debris.

 

Some time later, Sue, the only survivor of prom, dreams of visiting the plot where Carrie's house stood. As she places flowers on the ground, a bloody hand reaches out, grabbing Sue's wrist, who then wakes up, screaming in her mother's arms.

 

Cast

 

* Sissy Spacek as Carrie White

* Amy Irving as Sue Snell

* Piper Laurie as Margaret White

* Betty Buckley as Miss Collins

* William Katt as Tommy Ross

* Nancy Allen as Chris Hargensen

* John Travolta as Billy Nolan

* PJ Soles as Norma Watson

* Priscilla Pointer as Mrs. Snell

* Sydney Lassick as Mr. Fromm

* Stefan Gierasch as Mr. Morton

* Michael Talbott as Freddy

* Doug Cox as The Beak

* Harry Gold as George Dawson

* Noelle North as Freida Jason

* Cindy Daly as Cora

* Deirdre Berthrong as Rhonda

* Anson Downes as Ernest

* Rory Stevens as Kenny

* Edie McClurg as Helen

 

Production

 

Pre-production

 

Carrie was the first Stephen King novel to be published and the first to be adapted into a feature film. In an interview in Port Charlotte, Florida at a public appearance near his home on the Gulf coast on March 20, 2010, King said he was 26 years old at the time and was paid just $2,500 for the film rights, but adding "I was fortunate to have that happen to my first book."

 

De Palma told Cinefantastique magazine in an interview in 1977:

 

“ I read the book. It was suggested to me by a writer friend of mine. A writer friend of his, Stephen King, had written it. I guess this was almost two years ago [circa 1975]. I liked it a lot and proceeded to call my agent to find out who owned it. I found out that nobody had bought it yet. A lot of studios were considering it, so I called around to some of the people I knew and said it was a terrific book and I'm very interested in doing it. Then nothing happened for, I guess, six months. ”

 

Lawrence D. Cohen was hired as the writer, and produced the first draft, which had closely followed the novel's intentions. However, later versions departed from King's vision rapidly, and certain scripted scenes were omitted from the final version, mainly due to financial limitations.

 

The final scene, in which Sue reaches toward Carrie's grave, was shot backwards to give it a dreamlike quality. It was also filmed at night, using artificial lighting to create the desired effect. This scene was inspired by the final scene in Deliverance (1972). Spacek had insisted on using her own hand in the given scene, so she was positioned under the rocks and gravel. DePalma stated 'Sissy, come on, I'll get a stunt person. What do you want? To be buried in the ground?!' However Spacek declared 'Brian, I have to do this.' DePalma explains that they "had to bury her. Bury her! We had to put her in a box and stick her underneath the ground. Well, I had her husband bury her because I certainly didn't want to bury her. I used to walk around and set up the shot and every once in a while we'd hear Sissy: 'Are we ready yet?' 'Yeah, Sissy, we're going to be ready real soon." The White house was filmed in Santa Paula, California and to give the home a Gothic theme, director and producers went to religious shops looking for artifacts to place in the home.

 

Coincidentally, one of the locations where Carrie was filmed, Palisades Charter High School, was at one time owned by the parents of Carrie Fisher, Debbie Reynolds and Eddie Fisher years before the school was built. The lot was then taken some years after the couple had purchased it by the State by eminent domain to build "Pali High".

 

Initially, Melanie Griffith had auditioned for the role, taking it as an opportunity to begin a career as a mature, adult actress. After Griffith dropped out from the project, Sissy Spacek had been persuaded by husband Jack Fisk to audition for the title role. Fisk then convinced De Palma to let her audition. After several auditions, DePalma concluded that Spacek would be playing Christine Hargenson. Determined to land the leading role, Spacek backed out of a television commercial she was scheduled to film, rubbed Vaseline into her hair, didn't bother to wash her face, and arrived at the final audition clad in a sailor dress which her mother had made her in the seventh grade, with the hem cut off, and booked the part.

 

Amy Irving was cast alongside her mother, Priscilla Pointer, who would play the mother of Irving's character.

 

Nancy Allen was the last to audition, and her audition came just as she was on the verge of leaving Hollywood. She and De Palma later married.

 

Filming

 

Principal photography and filming began on May 17, 1976 and ended in July, with a 50-day shooting schedule. Principal location shooting occurred in California: in Culver City Studios, and in Los Angeles, the Bates High School scenes were filmed at Pier Avenue Junior High in Hermosa Beach, with the exception of the shots of the Bates High School athletic field, which were filmed at Palisades Charter High School in Pacific Palisades. The shots of the school in flames, and the gym scenes, were both filmed inside Culver City Studios.

 

De Palma began with one director of photography, and cameraman Isidore Mankofsky, who was eventually replaced by Mario Tosi after conflict between Mankofsky and De Palma ensued. Gregory M. Auer served as the special effects supervisor for Carrie, with Jack Fisk, Spacek's husband, as art director. De Palma borrowed heavily from the films of Alfred Hitchcock, which as a result, gave Carrie a Hitchcockian tone. The most obvious example is the name of the high school, which is Bates High, a reference to Norman Bates from Psycho (1960). In addition, the four note violin theme from Psycho is used throughout the film whenever Carrie uses her telekinetic powers.

 

Much of the filming and production became problematic, most notably the prom scene, perhaps the most chaotic to film, and took over two weeks to shoot, with 35 takes. Auer added red, green and yellow food colouring to a bulk-sold concoction known in the cosmetics industry as 7-11 Blood. However, when it was put to use, the concoction kept drying and adhering to Spacek's skin because of the hot lights. The only solution was to hose Spacek down when the substance got gluey.

 

A wraparound segment at beginning and end of the film was scripted and filmed which featured the Whites' home being pummeled by stones that hailed from the sky. The opening scene was filmed as planned, though on celluloid, the tiny pebbles looked like rain water. A mechanical malfunction botched production the night when the model of the Whites' home was set to be destroyed, so they burned it down instead and dropped the scenes with the stones altogether. However, some interior scenes had already been filmed which were left in the movie where one can clearly see boulders crashing through the Whites' ceiling.

 

Reaction

 

Box office performance

 

Carrie initially had a limited release on November 3, 1976, opening in 409 theaters. After receiving a broader theatrical release, it grossed $5 million, and was one of the five top grossing films for the following two weeks. Its domestic gross was $33,800,000, more than 18 times its budget, which in today's money, is equivalent to $135 million.

 

Awards and critical reception

 

Carrie received immensely positive reviews and is widely regarded as one of the best films of 1976, as well as one of the best horror films ever made. The film currently holds a 90% "Certified Fresh" rating on the review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes. Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times stated the film was an "absolutely spellbinding horror movie", as well as an "observant human portrait". Pauline Kael of The New Yorker stated that Carrie was "the best scary-funny movie since Jaws — a teasing, terrifying, lyrical shocker". Take One Magazine critic Susan Schenker said she was "angry at the way Carrie manipulated me to the point where my heart was thudding, and embarrassed because the film really works." A 1998 edition of The Movie Guide stated Carrie was a "landmark horror film", while Stephen Farber prophetically stated in a 1978 issue of New West Magazine, "it's a horror classic, and years from now it will still be written and argued about, and it will still be scaring the daylights out of new generations of moviegoers." Quentin Tarantino placed Carrie at number 8 in a list of his favorite films ever.

 

Nevertheless, the film was not without its detractors. Andrew Sarris of The Village Voice commented, "There are so few incidents that two extended sequences are rendered in slow-motion as if to pad out the running time..."

 

In addition to being a box office success, Carrie is notable for being one of the few horror films to be nominated for multiple Academy Awards. Sissy Spacek and Piper Laurie received nominations for Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress awards, respectively. The film also won the grand prize at the Avoriaz Fantastic Film Festival, while Sissy Spacek was given the Best Actress award by the National Society of Film Critics. In 2008, Carrie was ranked number 86 on Empire Magazine's list of The 500 Greatest Movies of All Time. This movie also ranked number 15 on Entertainment Weekly's list of the 50 Best High School Movies, and #46 on the American Film Institute's list of 100 Greatest Cinema Thrills, and was also ranked eighth for its famous ending sequence on Bravo's five-hour miniseries The 100 Scariest Movie Moments (2004). They Shoot Pictures, a filmsite that is in contact with film critics all over the world, lists Carrie as 348th on their current list of the one thousand greatest pictures ever made.

 

Stephen King's reaction today

 

In a March 20, 2010 interview, King replied that he thought, although dated now, Carrie was a "good movie."

 

Music

 

The score for Carrie was composed by Pino Donaggio. In addition, two pop songs ("Born to Have It All" and "I Never Dreamed Someone Like You Could Love Someone Like Me") were written for the early portion of the prom sequence and were performed by Katie Irving, sister of star Amy Irving. Donaggio would work again with De Palma on Dressed to Kill, Home Movies, Blow Out, Body Double, and Raising Cain.

 

The soundtrack was originally released on vinyl in 1976 under the United Artists label; a deluxe CD edition containing a few tracks of dialogue from the film was released by MGM/Rykodisc in 1997. A 2005 CD re-release of the original soundtrack (minus dialogue) is available from Varèse Sarabande. Portions of the film's score were omitted from all versions of the soundtrack album, most notably the piece of music that plays while the girls are in detention. Additionally, the other songs in the film (Education Blues by Vance or Towers, (Love Is Like A) Heat Wave by Martha and the Vandellas, etc.) were uncredited in the film and were omitted from the album. A bootleg version of the complete score has circulated on the internet.

 

Sequels, remakes and related works

 

Carrie, along with the novel, have been reproduced and adapted several times.

 

Sequel

 

The Rage: Carrie 2 was released in 1999. It featured another teenager with telekinetic powers who is revealed to have shared a father with Carrie White. The film received universally negative reviews and was a box office failure.

 

Remake

 

In 2002, a television remake starring Angela Bettis in the titular role was released. The film updated the events of the story to modern-day settings and technology while simultaneously attempting to be more faithful to the book's original structure, storyline, and specific events. The one exception to the latter was that the ending of Carrie in the remake was drastically changed: instead of killing her mother and then herself, the film has Carrie killing her mother, being revived via CPR by Sue Snell and being driven to Florida to hide. This new ending marked a complete divergence from the novel and was a signal that the movie served as a pilot for a Carrie television series, which never materialized. In the new ending, the rescued Carrie vows to help others with similar gifts to her own. Although Angela Bettis' portrayal of Carrie was highly praised, the remade film was cited by most critics as inferior to the original.

 

Stage productions

 

A 1988 Broadway musical of the same name and starring Betty Buckley, Linzi Hateley and Darlene Love, closed after only 16 previews and five performances. An English pop opera filtered through Greek tragedy, the show was so notorious that it provided the title to Ken Mandelbaum's survey of theatrical disasters, Not Since Carrie: Forty Years of Broadway Musical Flops. Clips of the musical may be found on YouTube. Apparently, the only known footage of the musical is the opening number, "In".

 

Early in the 21st century, playwright Erik Jackson attempted to secure the rights to stage another production of Carrie the musical, but his request was rejected. Jackson eventually earned the consent of Stephen King to mount a new, officially-sanctioned, non-musical production of Carrie, which debuted Off-Broadway in 2006 with female impersonator Sherry Vine in the lead role. Similarly, many other unofficial spoofs have been staged over the years, usually with a gym teacher named "Miss Collins" (as opposed to the novel's "Miss Desjardin" and the musical's "Miss Gardner"), most notably the "parodage" Scarrie the Musical, which hit the Illinois stage in 1998 and was revived in 2005; Dad's Garage Theatre's 2002 production of Carrie White the Musical; and the 2007 New Orleans production of Carrie's Facts of Life, which was a hybrid of Carrie and the classic American sitcom The Facts of Life.

 

Influence on other films

 

The film was quickly followed by a wave of copycats and imitators. Though Carrie is more melodramatic than traditional horror films, its biggest influence was on the slasher genre that exploded in popularity shortly after the release of the film. The final scare (in this instance, a hand bursting from the grave) was rarely seen until this point, and soon most slasher films incorporated this tactic. Films like the Friday the 13th series have been accused of ripping off Carrie's ending, because each feature finales where a hand bursts out of a strange location and grabs something. Another film of that series, Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood, released in 1988, featured a telekinetic protagonist, similar to Carrie.

 

Other films lifted the character layout and storyline more blatantly and featured teens who were humiliated seeking revenge, often with the aid of some sort of supernatural power. Amongst the most notable are: Jennifer, in which the titular character (Lisa Pelikan) unleashes her wrath on her peers by exerting her telepathic control over snakes; Mirror Mirror, in which a girl taps into an evil force that resides in her mirror; The Initiation of Sarah, a 1978 movie of the week in which the titular character (Kay Lenz) gets revenge on a rival sorority member (Morgan Fairchild); Slaughter High, in which a young man is horribly burned as a result of his classmates' prank; Evilspeak, in which Clint Howard taps into the powers of Satan through his computer; and Jawbreaker, which featured an ugly duckling plot, a humiliating prom sequence, a pig's blood reference, and three cast members from Carrie films (William Katt, P. J. Soles, Charlotte Ayanna) portraying the Purr family.

 

Pop culture references

 

Horror metal band Razorthroat recorded a 2004 concept album entitled "Pig Blood Blues" based on Carrie.

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25. Hostel (2005)

 

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(4 of 20 lists - 65 points - highest rank #4 ScottyDo)

 

Hostel is a 2005 horror film written, produced and directed by Eli Roth, starring Jay Hernandez, Derek Richardson, Jennifer Lim, Eythor Gudjonsson and Barbara Nedeljáková. Eli's original script was developed by Quentin Tarantino, who also acted as producer on the movie. Due to the graphic nature of this film, its showing has been restricted in certain countries. The sequel, Hostel: Part II, was released on June 8, 2007.

 

Plot

 

Two college grad students, Paxton (Jay Hernandez) and his friend, Josh (Derek Richardson), along with their friend Óli (Eyþór Guðjónsson), are backpacking together across Europe on vacation. After being thrown out of a discothèque in Amsterdam, the three visit a brothel, where Josh chickens out of having sex with a very attractive prostitute. When they return to their hostel, they meet a Russian man named Alexei (Lubomir Bukovy) who informs them about an undocumented hostel in Slovakia filled with beautiful, American-loving women.

 

The three subsequently board a train on which they meet a peculiar businessman (Jan Vlasák), who "freaks" Josh out by placing his hand on his thigh. The man moves to another cab on the train immediately after Josh expresses his obvious disapproval of such an unexpected action. The three leave the train at a small Slovakian village, and check into the local hostel, finding themselves sharing a room with two beautiful single women: Russian Natalya (Barbara Nedeljáková) and Czech Svetlana (Jana Kadeřábková), who entice them into joining them at a spa and a disco. At the disco, Josh is saved from being attacked by a gang of impoverished children looking for money and bubblegum by the peculiar businessman whom he had unpleasantly encountered on the train. Josh apologizes for his overreaction on the train and buys the businessman a drink, and the businessman assures him there are no hard feelings. Later that night, Paxton and Josh have sex with Svetlana and Natalya, respectively. The next day, a young Japanese backpacker, Kana (Jennifer Lim), approaches Paxton and Josh, who are searching for Óli, informing them that her friend, Yuki (Keiko Seiko), is strangely missing as well. An MMS photo sent from Yuki's phone shows Yuki and Óli beneath a smokestack of an abandoned factory, with the word "Sayonara" written in Japanese beneath it. A while later, they spot a man wearing Óli's jacket, and follow him, but when confronted, the man claims the jacket is his. Not long after, Paxton and Josh receive a second MMS photo message from Óli's phone, in which their friend appears in a closeup face shot with the text "I go home" accompanying the image. Then, the scene shifts to the source of the photo, revealing Óli's severed head sitting on a table in a dark, dungeon-like room with a man in surgeon-like attire leaving the room, and about to torture a young woman. Under a feeling of intense discomfort and suspicion, Paxton and Josh decide to leave Bratislava with Kana the following day. Paxton later notices that the MMS photo of Oli and Yuki has been faked. Although Josh is anxious to leave immediately, Paxton talks him into staying just one more night, so they can have sex with Natalya and Svetlana one more time. Josh reluctantly agrees. Later that night, while partying with Natalya and Svetlana, Paxton and Josh are slipped tranquilizers. Josh stumbles back to the hostel while Paxton passes out in the disco's storage room, where he is inadvertently locked in for the night.

 

The next day, Josh wakes up handcuffed to a chair in a dungeon-like room with a bag over his head and sees the business man from the train entering the room. After he examines the tools on a table, while Josh tearfully pleads to be released, the businessman chooses a drill and begins torturing Josh by drilling him in both of his pectorals just above his nipples and in his thighs. After he is done, the businessman sits down and tells Josh his unfulfilled dream of being a surgeon. Josh desperately begs him to let him go. The businessman puts on the facade of releasing him, but instead slices Josh's Achilles tendons, leaving him screaming in pain. The businessman then opens the door and tells Josh he is free to go, but once he attempts to stand, he falls over. The businessman then stands over Josh as he tries to crawl away and violently slices his throat.

 

Meanwhile, Paxton awakes and returns to his room where two women invite him to a spa, eerily similar to Natalya and Svetlana. Paxton merely observes them suspiciously, with a look of confusion and suspicion on his face, realizing something is definitely amiss. When the local police chief (Miroslav Táborský) proves unhelpful, Paxton locates Natalya and Svetlana at a dismal bar. Paxton furiously interrogates them on the whereabouts of Josh, and the two girls lie to him, telling him that Josh and Óli went to an "art show" together where the factory is. Although Natalya and Svetlana tell Paxton to relax and have a drink, he is furiously unyielding and demands he be taken to where Josh and Óli are. Natalya and the man she is sitting with comply, and they begin to leave the bar to take Paxton to the factory. When Paxton looks back to Svetlana and asks if she is coming, she replies, "I already seen this show." Once Paxton enters the factory, he shockingly witnesses the businessman cutting open Josh's corpse like a surgeon. He is then ambushed by thugs. As he is taken to a cell, he sees several other rooms where others are being tortured. He is restrained in a chair and joined minutes later by a German client, Johann (Petr Janiš). When Johann realizes that Paxton speaks his native language, he requests one of the staff thugs place a ball gag in his victim's mouth. However, the continuation of Paxton's torture causes him to vomit, and thus, Johann removes the gag. He then cuts off two of Paxton's fingers from his left hand with a chainsaw, but at the same time, unintentionally and unknowingly severs Paxton's hand restraints. Johann runs toward Paxton with the chainsaw but slips on the ball gag and accidentally cuts his own right leg off. Paxton gets out of the chair and shoots Johann in the head. Paxton hides on a cart filled with corpses, pretending to be dead. He then knocks out the man cutting up and cremating the corpses.

 

After disguising himself as a client, he meets another client who thinks that Paxton is a client too. Paxton becomes more uncomfortable as the man begins describing the thrill he is anticipating. When the man leaves, Paxton escapes. He hears Kana's screams and decides to rescue her. Paxton locates Kana and kills the man who is torturing her with a blowtorch (the same man he met before after disguising himself). Kana's face is badly disfigured, her right eyeball hanging out of the socket. In an attempt to stop her screaming, Paxton cuts the eyeball loose. The two flee in a car from the building and get chased by some of the guards. While driving away Paxton sees Natalya and Svetlana talking to Alexei, confirming his involvement, and Paxton runs the three of them over, killing them. With the help of the child gang, Paxton and Kana elude the guards and head to the train station. When Kana sees a reflection of her disfigured face at the station, she jumps in front of an oncoming train, committing suicide and allowing Paxton to flee inside the other train without being noticed.

 

Aboard the train, Paxton hears the voice of the businessman. In Vienna, he follows him to a public restroom and throws the Elite Hunting's card under his stall. When the businessman reaches down to pick it up, Paxton cuts off two of his fingers, holds his head underwater and, when the man sees Paxton's reflection, slices his throat and slams his head into the toilet. Paxton then boards a train leaving Vienna. (In an alternate ending available on the DVD, Paxton gets revenge by spiriting away the businessman's young daughter. When the businessman emerges from the men's room his daughter is gone and he calls her name in anguish as we see her leaving on a train with Paxton holding his hand over her mouth to quiet her cries.)

 

Cast

Actor Character

Jay Hernandez Paxton

Derek Richardson Josh

Eyþór Guðjónsson Óli

Jan Vlasák The Dutch Businessman

Barbara Nedeljáková Natalya

Jana Kaderabkova Svetlana

Jennifer Lim Kana

Keiko Seiko Yuki

Lubomir Bukovy Alexei

Jana Havlickova Vala

Rick Hoffman The American Client

Petr Janis Johan, the German Surgeon

Takashi Miike Miike Takashi

Patrik Zigo The Bubblegum Gang Leader

Milda Jedi Havlas Desk Clerk Jedi

Miroslav Taborsky Police Officer

 

Production

 

Despite the fact most of the movie is set in a small fictional location near Bratislava, Slovakia, actually not a single sequence was shot in Slovakia. The filming locations were at the Barrandov Studios, Prague and in Český Krumlov, Czech Republic. In addition to the lower costs of filming in the Czech Republic, Barrandov has well-equipped sound stages, making it a popular choice for US productions set in Europe. 95% of the film was shot on location in and around Prague, and the stage was only used for the main torture rooms.

 

Originally the part of the business man, eventually played by Jan Vlasák, was offered to producer Quentin Tarantino who turned it down only to regret it upon seeing the finished film.

 

Reception

 

Box office

 

The film's opening weekend North American box office gross was $19.5 million, making it the top grossing film that weekend. It went on to gross a total of $47.2 million in the U.S. The film's budget was around $4.8 million, and the film went on to gross over $80 million at the box office worldwide.

 

Critical response

 

The film received mixed reviews from critics. On the review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, 58% of critics gave the film positive reviews, based on 98 reviews. On Metacritic, the film had an average score of 55 out of 100, based on 21 reviews.

 

Guardian film critic Peter Bradshaw noted that Hostel was "actually silly, crass and queasy. And not in a good way". David Edelstein of New York Magazine was equally negative deriding director Roth with creating the horror sub-genre 'torture porn,' or 'gorno,' using excessive violence to excite audiences like a sexual act. Jean-François Rauger, film critic for Le Monde, a French newspaper, and programmer of the Cinémathèque Française, listed Hostel as the best American film of 2006, calling it an example of modern consumerism. Hostel won the 2006 Empire Award for Best Horror Film. The film's underlying social critique and its link to Marxist and Nietzschean philosophy was recently debated by a panel at Rider University's 2010 Film Symposium by Dr. Barry Seldes, Dr. Robert Good, and James Morgart.

 

Slovak reaction to setting

 

The film's release was accompanied by strong complaints from the country of Slovakia, and also from the Czech Republic. Slovak officials were disgusted by the film's portrayal of their country as an undeveloped, poor and uncultured land suffering from high criminality, war and prostitution, fearing it would "damage the good reputation of Slovakia" and make foreigners feel it was a dangerous place to be. The tourist board of Slovakia invited Roth on an all-expense paid trip to their country so he could see it is not made up of run down factories and kids who kill for bubble gum. Tomáš Galbavý, a Slovak Member of Parliament, commented: "I am offended by this film. I think that all Slovaks should feel offended."

 

Defending himself, Roth said the film was not meant to be offensive, arguing "Americans do not even know that this country exists. My film is not a geographical work but aims to show Americans' ignorance of the world around them." Roth has repeatedly argued that despite the many films in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre series, people still go to Texas.

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24. Paranormal Activity (2007)

 

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(4 of 20 lists - 66 points - highest rank #5 pittshoganerkoff)

 

Paranormal Activity is a 2007 American horror film written and directed by Oren Peli. The film centers on a young couple, Katie and Micah, who are haunted by a supernatural presence in their home; it is presented in the style of "found footage," from a camera set up by the couple in an attempt to photograph what is haunting them.

 

Paranormal Activity premiered at Screamfest Film Festival in North America on October 14, 2007, and was shown at the Slamdance Film Festival on January 18, 2008. It received a limited U.S. release on September 25, 2009 and nationwide release on October 16, 2009. The film earned nearly $108 million at the U.S. box office and $194 million worldwide. Paramount/DreamWorks acquired the U.S. rights for $350,000. It is one of the most profitable movies ever made, based on return on investment, although such figures are difficult to verify independently and are likely to exclude marketing costs.

 

Plot

 

Katie (Katie Featherston) and her boyfriend, Micah (Micah Sloat), are a young couple who recently moved into a two-story tract house in suburban San Diego, California. Katie claims that a ghostly presence has haunted her since her youth and believes that it has followed her to their new home. She hires a psychic, Dr. Fredrichs (Mark Fredrichs), who assesses that she is being haunted not by a ghost, but by a demon. He says the demon feeds off negative energy, and its intent is to haunt and torment Katie no matter where she goes. Before leaving, he advises them not to taunt or communicate with the demon, and to contact demonologist Dr. Johan Averies for help. Instead, each night, Micah mounts a video camera on a tripod in their bedroom to record any paranormal activity that might occur while they sleep in the hopes of solving the problem himself.

 

The camera manages to capture several supernatural phenomena which remain minor at first, including the bedroom door moving by itself, and the sound of rapid footsteps downstairs. As Micah consistently taunts the demon, the phenomena gradually grow worse, including loud bangs and inhuman noises reverberating from deep within the house. One night, Katie awakens to spend several hours standing by the bed staring at Micah while he sleeps and goes outside to sit on the backyard swing, none of which she remembers the following morning. Katie, already irritated by Micah's flippant response to the situation, becomes irate when Micah brings home a ouija board despite Dr. Fredrichs' warnings. While the two are out of the house, the Ouija board's planchette moves on its own and a small fire erupts on the board, extinguishing itself moments later. The next night, Micah sprinkles talcum powder in the hallway and later the couple finds non-human footprints leading to the bedroom from the attic. In the attic, Micah finds a burnt photograph of a young Katie, which was previously thought to have been destroyed in a house fire.

 

The morning after a particularly intense haunting, a loud bang is heard and they discover the glass over a photo of them has been smashed with Micah's image scratched underneath. Dr. Averies is abroad when Micah finally agrees to invite him, so Dr. Fredrichs comes instead. Upon his arrival, Dr. Fredrichs immediately has a sense of dread. He apologetically leaves despite their pleas for his help, stating that his presence is only making the demon angry. Two nights later, Katie is dragged out of bed and down the hallway by an invisible force. Hearing her screams, Micah gives chase and seizes her back; the next morning they discover a gruesome bite mark on her back. Stressed and exhausted, the couple decide to go to a hotel. Later, Micah finds Katie gripping a crucifix so tightly that it bloodies her palm. Micah, angry at a situation he cannot control, burns the crucifix and the picture found in the attic. Just as Micah is set to leave, a suddenly calm Katie insists they remain at the house, claiming that they're "going to be okay now", her voice speaking dually with the demon's voice.

 

Later that night, Katie awakens to once again stand and stare at Micah while he sleeps. After standing and staring at Micah for approximately three hours, Katie goes downstairs into the darkness. After a moment of silence, Katie lets out a blood-curdling scream, waking Micah who rushes to her while the camera records what sounds like a struggle downstairs. Suddenly, the screams stop, and a brief silence is followed by the sound of heavy footsteps coming up the stairs. Micah's body is violently hurled at the camera, knocking it over. Katie slowly walks into view, her clothing soaked with blood. Crouching over Micah's body, she slowly looks at the camera with an evil smile and suddenly lunges toward it, with her face adopting a demonic appearance right before the screen fades to black.

 

The film ends with an ending title card stating that Micah's body was discovered a few days later by the police, and Katie's whereabouts remain unknown.

 

Cast

 

* Katie Featherston as Katie

* Micah Sloat as Micah

* Mark Fredrichs as Psychic

* Amber Armstrong as Amber

* Ashley Palmer as Diane

 

Production

 

First-time director Oren Peli had been afraid of ghosts his entire life, even fearing the comedy film Ghostbusters, but intended to channel that fear into something positive and productive. Peli took a year to prepare his own house for shooting, going so far as to repaint the walls, add furniture, put in a carpet, and build a stairwell. In this time, he also did extensive research into paranormal phenomena and demonology, stating, "We wanted to be as truthful as we could be." The reason for making the ghost in the story a demon was a result of the research pointing to the most malevolent and violent entities being "demons". The phenomena in the film take place largely at night—the vulnerability of being asleep, Peli reasoned, taps into a human being's most primal fear, stating, "If something is lurking in your home there's not much you can do about it."

 

Attempting to focus on believability rather than action and gore, Peli chose to shoot the picture with a home video camera. In deciding on a more raw and stationary format (the camera was almost always sitting on a tripod or something else) and eliminating the need for a camera crew, a "higher degree of plausibility" was created for the audience as they were "more invested in the story and the characters". Peli says that the dialogue was "natural" because there was no real script. Instead, the actors were given outlines of the story and situations to improvise, a technique known as "retroscripting" used in the making of The Blair Witch Project. In casting the movie, Peli auditioned "a few hundred people" before finally meeting Katie Featherston and Micah Sloat. He originally auditioned them individually and later called them back to audition together. Peli was impressed with the chemistry between the actors, saying, "If you saw the [audition] footage, you would've thought they had known each other for years." During a guest appearance on The Jay Leno Show on November 3, 2009, Sloat and Featherston explained they each saw the casting call on Craigslist. Featherston noted they were originally paid $500 for their work.

 

The film was shot out of sequence due to Peli's self-imposed 7-day shooting schedule, though Peli would have preferred the story unfold for the actors as he had envisioned it. Sloat, who controlled the camera for a good deal of the film, was a former cameraman at his university's TV station. "It was a very intense week", Peli recalled, stating that the film would be shot day and night, edited at the same time, and would have the visual effects applied to it as the acting footage was being finalized.

 

Post-production and distribution

 

The film was screened at 2007's Screamfest Horror Film Festival, where it impressed an assistant at the Creative Artists Agency, Kirill Baru, so much that CAA signed on to represent Peli. Attempting to find a distributor for the film and/or directing work for Peli, the agency sent out DVDs of the movie to as many people in the industry as they could, and it was eventually seen by Miramax Films Senior Executive Jason Blum, who thought it had potential. He worked with Peli to re-edit the film and submitted it to the Sundance Film Festival, but it was rejected. The DVD also impressed DreamWorks executives Adam Goodman, Stacey Snider, and finally Steven Spielberg, who cut a deal with Blum and Peli.

 

DreamWorks' plan was to remake the film with a bigger budget and with Peli directing, and only to include the original version as an extra when the DVD was eventually released. "They didn't know what to do with [the original]," said Blum; they just wanted to be "in business" with Peli. Blum and Peli agreed, but stipulated a test screening of the original film before going ahead with the remake, believing it would be well-received by a theatrical audience.

 

During the screening, people began walking out; Goodman thought the film was bombing, until he learned that the viewers were actually leaving because they were so frightened. He then realized a remake was unwise. Paramount Pictures, which acquired DreamWorks in 2005, bought the domestic rights to the film, and international rights to any sequels, for $300,000 USD. The theatrical release was delayed indefinitely because Paramount had put all DreamWorks productions on hold. Meanwhile, a screening for international buyers resulted in the sale of international rights in 52 countries. Only after Goodman became production chief at Paramount in June 2009 did the film finally get slated for a fall release.

 

Alternate versions

 

After the film was acquired by Paramount Pictures, several changes were made. Some scenes were cut, others added, and the original ending was scrapped, with two new endings shot. The ending shown in theaters during the film's worldwide release is the only one of the three to feature visual effects, and it differs from the endings previously seen at the Screamfest and Burbank screenings.

 

Another version of the film was shown at only one public viewing. Katie returns to the bedroom after the screaming and noise of her and Micah struggling downstairs. She is holding a knife and covered in blood. She closes and locks the bedroom door. Katie walks over and smiles at the camera, then slits her own throat. This ending is offered as an alternate ending on the DVD and Blu-ray release of the film.

 

There is a third ending in which, after killing Micah, Katie returns to the bedroom and sits down against the bed with the knife in her hand, rocking back and forth, for almost two days straight. Katie's sister comes looking for her, but when she enters the house, she is heard screaming after seeing Micah's body and runs out of the house. The police arrive at the house a few hours later, and Katie comes out of the bedroom with her knife, calling for Micah. Following a heated confrontation, a door behind the officers slams shut, causing the officers to shoot Katie. This version was the "original" version; it is only available to view on the internet.

 

Release

 

On September 25, 2009, the movie opened in thirteen college towns across the United States. On his website, director Oren Peli invited internet users to "demand" where the film went next by voting on eventful.com. This was the first time a major motion picture studio used the service to virally market a film. Twelve of the thirteen venues sold out. On September 28, Paramount issued a press release on Peli's website, announcing openings in 20 other markets on Friday, October 2, including large-market cities such as New York and Chicago.

 

On October 3, it was reported that a total of 33 screenings in all 20 markets sold out and that the movie had made $500,000 domestically. A day later, Paramount announced that the film would have a full limited release in 40 markets, playing at all hours (including after-midnight showings). On October 6, Paramount announced that the movie would be released nationwide if the film got 1,000,000 "demands" on eventful.com. The full limited release of the film started on Friday, October 9. On October 10 the Eventful.com counter hit over 1,000,000 requests. Paramount announced soon after that the film would get a wide domestic release on Friday, October 16 and then expand to more theaters on the 23rd. By November, it was showing in locales worldwide.

 

Home release

 

Paranormal Activity was released on DVD and Blu-ray on December 29, 2009. The home release media includes an alternate ending to the theatrical version, in which Katie slits her own throat in front of the camera, then collapses to the floor. It was released in the UK on March 22, 2010 on DVD and Blu-ray with some specials.

 

The DVD and Blu-Ray was released in Australia on April 2, 2010. In March 2010, a limited VHS edition was released in the United States and The Netherlands. This was accomplished after a petition on the website, WeWantVHS.com.

 

Additionally, at the end of the credits, 15 minutes worth of names were added to the DVD release as part of a special promo where fans could sign up on the Paranormal Activity website and submit their name to be added for free.

 

Reception

 

Reviews

 

Based on 175 reviews collected by Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an overall approval 'certified fresh' rating from critics of 82%. Movie critics James Berardinelli and Roger Ebert each awarded it 3.5 stars out of a maximum of 4 stars. Entertainment Weekly critic Owen Gleiberman gave Paranormal Activity an A- rating and called it "frightening...freaky and terrifying" and noted that "Paranormal Activity scrapes away 30 years of encrusted nightmare clichés." Bloody Disgusting ranked the film sixteenth in their list of the "Top 20 Horror Films of the Decade", with the article saying, "Peli deserves props for milking the maximum amount of tension out of the spare, modern setting – an ordinary, cookie-cutter tract home in San Diego. It doesn’t sound very scary, but Peli manages to make it terrifying. If you aren’t white-knuckling your armrest at least once or twice while watching it, you probably don’t have a pulse." However, David Stratton of the Australian version of At the Movies remarked that "it was extremely unthrilling, very obvious, very cliched. We've seen it all before."

 

Box office

 

The film opened on September 25, 2009, to 12 theaters taking $36,146 on its opening day and $77,873 on its first weekend for an average of $6,489 per venue. It took more success when it opened to 33 theaters on October 1, 2009, doubling the box office reception, grossing $532,242 for an average of $16,129 per venue, bringing the 10-day total to $776,763.

 

As it expanded to 160 theaters on the October 9–11 weekend, the film grossed $2,659,296 on that Friday having a per-theater average of $16,621. It went on to gross $7,900,695, which was $800,000 more than originally estimated. Over the weekend, the film reached the week's highest per-theater average of $49,379, coming in at #4 for the weekend, behind Couples Retreat, Zombieland, and Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs. Over the weekend of October 16, 2009, Paranormal Activity expanded to 600 more theaters, grossing $19,617,650 with $25,813 per theater average gross, and bringing the total gross to $33,171,743. On the weekend of October 23, 2009, Paranormal Activity rose to #1, beating out the expected number one box office victor Saw VI, earning $21,104,070, expanding to 1,945 theaters for an average of $10,850 per theater, compared with the $14,118,444 gross from 3,036 theaters, and $4,650 average for Saw VI. The film has grossed $107,918,810 domestically and $85,379,199 in foreign markets, with a total gross of $193,298,009.

 

Accolades

 

The film was nominated for "best first feature" in the Independent Spirit Awards 2009.

 

Related media

 

Digital comics

 

In December 2009, a short digital comic entitled Paranormal Activity: The Search for Katie was released for the iPhone. It was penned by Scott Lobdell and features art from Mark Badger.

 

Parodies

 

The 30 Rock episode "Verna" spoofed Katie's sleepwalking with a fast-forward video of Liz Lemon "sleep-eating."

 

On March 7, 2010, Alec Baldwin and Steve Martin performed a spoof of the film as part of the 82nd Academy Awards.

 

Sequel

 

Paramount hired screenwriter Michael R. Perry to create the follow-up for an October 22, 2010 release. Oren Peli, the director of the first film, serves as a producer for the sequel.

 

Kevin Greutert, director of Saw VI, was initially hired to direct the sequel. However Lionsgate exercised a clause in Greutert's contract to have him direct the next film in the Saw franchise. The full acting cast returned for the sequel.

 

Tod Williams is the director for Paranormal Activity 2, which started production in May 2010. The teaser trailer was seen with The Twilight Saga: Eclipse upon its release on June 30, 2010.

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23. Let The Right One In (2008)

 

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(5 of 20 lists - 72 points - highest rank #5 Soxy)

 

Let the Right One In (Swedish: Låt den rätte komma in) is a 2008 Swedish romantic horror film directed by Tomas Alfredson. Based on the novel of the same name by John Ajvide Lindqvist (who also wrote the screenplay), the film tells the story of a bullied 12-year-old boy who develops a friendship with a vampire child in Blackeberg, a suburb of Stockholm, in the early 1980s. Alfredson, unfamiliar with the horror and vampire genres, decided to tone down many elements of the novel and focus primarily on the relationship between the two main characters. Selecting the lead actors involved a year-long process with open castings held all over Sweden. In the end, then 11-year-olds Kåre Hedebrant and Lina Leandersson were chosen for the leading roles. They were subsequently commended by both Alfredson and film reviewers for their performances.

 

The film received widespread international critical acclaim and won numerous awards, including the "Founders Award for Best Narrative Feature" at the 2008 Tribeca Film Festival and the European Fantastic Film Festivals Federation's 2008 Méliès d'Or (Golden Méliès) for the "Best European Fantastic Feature Film", as well as four Guldbagge Awards from the Swedish Film Institute.

 

Plot

 

Oskar (Kåre Hedebrant), a meek 12-year-old boy, lives with his mother, Yvonne (Karin Bergquist), in the western Stockholm suburb of Blackeberg in 1982. His classmates regularly bully him, and he spends his evenings imagining revenge. One night, he meets Eli (Lina Leandersson), who has the physical appearance of a pale girl his own age. Eli has recently moved in next door to Oskar with an older man named Håkan (Per Ragnar). Eli initially informs Oskar that they cannot be friends. However, over time, they begin to form a close relationship, with Oskar lending his Rubik's Cube to Eli, and the two exchanging Morse code messages through their apartment wall. Håkan secretly requests that Eli stop seeing him, but is rebuffed, as Eli has developed tender feelings for Oskar. This is first seen when Eli discovers that Oskar's schoolmates have bullied him after questioning him about a cut on his cheek, and encourages him to stand up for himself. This inspires Oskar to finally stand up to his tormentors during a field trip and to strike the leader of the bullies, Conny (Patrik Rydmark), on the side of the head with a pole, damaging his ear.

 

Meanwhile, Håkan has killed a local resident to provide blood for Eli. When he fails to return with the blood, Eli finds and kills a local resident named Jocke (Mikael Rohm). Håkan attempts to hide his body in a lake, but Oskar's fellow-students discover it during a field trip. When his last attempt to secure blood fails, and he is about to be caught, Håkan purposely disfigures himself by pouring acid on his face, preventing the authorities from identifying him and tracing Eli. Eli finds out where Håkan is being held at the local hospital. Håkan lets Eli in the window and offers his neck for Eli to feed on. Afterwards, he falls out the window to his death. Now alone, Eli goes to Oskar's apartment and spends the night with him, during which time they agree to "go steady". Some time later, Oskar shows Eli a private place he knows. Unaware that Eli is a vampire, Oskar suggests that they form a blood bond, and cuts his hand, asking Eli to do the same. Eli, thirsting for blood but not wanting to harm Oskar, laps up his spilt blood before running away. Soon after, Eli attacks Virginia (Ika Nord), a local woman. Her boyfriend, Lacke (Peter Carlberg), who was also Jocke's best friend, turns up just in time to interrupt the attack.

 

Virginia survives the attack, but soon discovers that she has become painfully sensitive to sunlight. Thirsting for blood, she pays a visit to her friend, the eccentric Gösta. Gösta's many cats attack her fiercely. In the hospital, Virginia asks an orderly to open the blinds in her room. When the sunlight streams in, she bursts into flames. Lacke, who has lost everything because of Eli, seeks out Håkan and Eli's apartment. He finds Eli asleep in the bathtub and, as he is about to strike, Oskar distracts him. Eli is alerted by the noise and kills Lacke. Eli realises that it is no longer safe to stay, and informs Oskar of this.

 

The next morning, Oskar receives a phone call from Conny's friend, Martin (Mikael Erhardsson), who lures Oskar out to resume an after-school fitness program at the local swimming pool. The bullies, led by Conny and his older brother, Jimmy (Rasmus Luthander), start a fire to draw Mr. Ávila (Cayetano Ruiz), the teacher in charge, outside. This leaves Oskar trapped alone in the pool, where Jimmy forces him to hold his breath underwater for three minutes, threatening to cut Oskar's eye out if he fails. As Oskar is underwater, a commotion takes place above the surface. Soon, Jimmy's severed head drops into the pool, followed shortly by his arm, which was holding Oskar down. Oskar is then pulled out of the water by Eli. A closing wide shot reveals three dismembered bodies around the pool and Andreas (Johan Sömnes), the reluctant fourth bully, sobbing on a bench. The film concludes with Oskar travelling on a train, with Eli beside him in a trunk to avoid the sunlight. Inside, Eli taps the word "kiss" to Oskar in Morse code, which he taps back.

 

Cast

 

* Kåre Hedebrant as Oskar

* Lina Leandersson (Elif Ceylan, voice) as Eli

* Per Ragnar as Håkan

* Henrik Dahl as Erik, Oskar's father

* Karin Bergquist as Yvonne, Oskar's mother

* Peter Carlberg as Lacke

* Ika Nord as Virginia

* Mikael Rahm as Jocke

* Karl Robert Lindgren as Gösta

* Anders T. Peedu as Morgan

* Pale Olofsson as Larry

* Cayetano Ruiz as Magister Ávila

* Patrik Rydmark as Conny

* Johan Sömnes as Andreas

* Mikael Erhardsson as Martin

* Rasmus Luthander as Jimmy

* Sören Källstigen as Erik's friend

* Bernt Östman as Virginia's nurse

* Kajsa Linderholm as the teacher

* Susanne Ruben as the older Eli

 

Production

 

Development

 

The film project started in late 2004 when John Nordling, a producer at the production company EFTI, contacted Ajvide Lindqvist's publisher Ordfront to acquire the rights for a film adaption of Ajvide Lindqvist's novel. "At Ordfront they just laughed when I called, I was like the 48th they put on the list. But I called John Ajvide Lindqvist and it turned out we had the same idea of what kind of film we should make. It wasn't about money, but about the right constellation". A friend introduced Tomas Alfredson to the novel. While he normally doesn't like to receive books, because "it's a private thing to choose what to read", he decided to read it after a few weeks. He was deeply affected by the depiction of bullying in the novel. "It's very hard and very down-to-earth, unsentimental (...) I had some period when I grew up when I had hard times in school (...) So it really shook me", he told the Los Angeles Times. Ajvide Lindqvist was already familiar with Alfredson's previous work, and he and Alfredson discovered that they "understood each other very well."

 

In addition to EFTI, co-producers included Sveriges Television and the regional production centre Filmpool Nord. The production of the film involved a total budget of around 29 million SEK, including support from the Swedish Film Institute and Nordisk Film- & TV Fond.

 

Screenplay

 

Ajvide Lindqvist had insisted on writing the screenplay himself. Alfredson, who had no familiarity with the vampire and horror genres, initially expressed skepticism at having the original author do the adaptation, but was very satisfied with the end result. Many of the minor characters and events from the book were removed, and focus directed primarily on the love story between the two leads. In particular, many aspects of the character Håkan, including him being a pedophile, were removed, and his relationship with Eli was left open to interpretation. Alfredson felt that the film could not deal with such a serious theme as pedophilia in a satisfying manner, and that this element would detract from the story of the children and their relationship.

 

A key passage in the novel details what happens when a vampire enters a room uninvited, an action that traditional vampire lore usually prohibits. Alfredson originally wanted to omit this from the film, but Ajvide Lindqvist was adamant that it had to be included. Alfredson was initially nervous about the scene. He realized in post-production that the sound effects and music made it "American, in a bad way", and had to be removed for the scene to work. The end result, which shows Eli slowly beginning to bleed from her eyes, ears, and pores, received positive notices from many critics. Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian described it as a "haemophilia of rejection".

 

The novel presents Eli as an androgynous boy, castrated centuries before by a sadistic vampire nobleman. The film handles the issue of Eli's gender more ambiguously: a brief scene in which Eli changes into a dress offers a glimpse of a suggestive scar but no explicit elaboration. A female actress plays Eli's character, but Eli tries to tell Oskar "I'm not a girl" when Oskar asks that Eli be his girlfriend. According to an interview with the director, as the film was originally conceived, flashbacks explained this aspect in more detail, but these scenes were eventually cut. In the end, Ajvide Lindqvist was satisfied with the adaptation. When Alfredson showed him eight minutes of footage for the first time, he "started to cry because it was so damn beautiful". He subsequently described the film as a "masterpiece". "It doesn't really matter that [Alfredson] didn't want to do it the way I wanted it in every respect. He could obviously never do that. The film is his creative process", he said.

 

Casting

 

"Both Kåre and Lina who plays the leading parts are extremely intelligent, have exceptional integrity and are both kinds of strange old people. (...) It took us a year to find them, and I think they’re unprecedentedly fantastic."

 

—Tomas Alfredson, director

 

Casting of the lead actors took almost a year, with open castings held all over Sweden. Kåre Hedebrant, selected to audition for the role as Oskar after an initial screening at his school, eventually landed the role. Lina Leandersson responded to an online advertisement seeking a 12-year old boy or girl "good at running". After three more auditions, she was selected to play Eli.

 

Alfredson has described the casting process as the most difficult part of making the film. He had particular concerns about the interaction between the two leads, and the fact that those who had read the book would have a preconceived notion of how the characters were supposed to look. He wanted the actors to look innocent, and be able to interact in front of the camera. They were supposed to be "mirror images of each other. She is everything he isn't. Dark, strong, brave, and a girl. (...) Like two sides of the same coin." On another occasion, Alfredson stated that "[c]asting is 70 percent of the job; it's not about picking the right people to make the roles. It is about creating chords, how a B and a Minor interact together, and are played together."

 

In the end, Alfredson expressed satisfaction with the result, and has frequently lauded Hedebrant and Leandersson for being "extremely intelligent", "incredibly wise", and "unprecedentedly fantastic."

 

Filming

 

Although the film takes place in Blackeberg, a suburb of Stockholm, principal photography took place in Luleå (in the north of Sweden) to ensure enough snow and cold weather. The area where the filming took place dated from around the same time as Blackeberg, and has similar architecture. However, Alfredson shot a few scenes in the Blackeberg area. In particular, the scene where Eli leaps down on Virginia from a tree, was shot in the town square of Blackeberg. Another scene, where Eli attacks Jocke in an underpass, was shot in the nearby suburb Råcksta. The original Blackeberg underpass that Lindqvist had envisioned was deemed too high to fit in the picture. Due to the extreme cold, many of the outdoor close-up scenes were made in a studio. The town hall of Boden was used for the hospital exterior scenes.

 

The jungle gym where much of the interaction between Oskar and Eli takes place was constructed specifically for the film. Its design was intended to suit the CinemaScope format better than a regular jungle gym, which would typically have to be cropped height-wise.

 

Most of the filming used a single, fixed, Arri 535B camera, with almost no handheld usage, and few cuts. Tracking shots relied on a track-mounted dolly, rather than Steadicam, to create calm, predictable camera movement. The crew paid special attention to lighting. Cinematographer Hoyte van Hoytema and director Tomas Alfredson invented a technique they called "spray light". In an interview, van Hoytema describes it as follows: "If you could capture dull electrical light in a can and spray it like hairspray across Eli’s apartment, it would have the same result as what we created". For the emotional scenes between Oskar and Eli, van Hoytema consistently diffused the lighting.

 

Post-production

 

The film contains around 50 shots with computer-generated imagery. Alfredson wanted to make them very subtle and almost unnoticeable. The sequence where multiple cats attack Virginia, one of the most complicated scenes to film, required several weeks of drafting and planning. A combination of real cats, stuffed cats and computer-generated imagery was employed.

 

The film features analogue sound-effects exclusively throughout. The lead sound-designer Per Sundström explained: "The key to good sound effects is working with natural and real sounds.(...) These analogue sounds can be digitally reworked as much as necessary, but the origin has to be natural". The soundscape was designed to come as close to the actors as possible, with audible heartbeats, breathing, and swallowing. Late in production it was also decided to overdub actress Lina Leandersson's voice with a less feminine one, to underline the backstory. "She's 200 years old, not twelve. We needed that incongruity. Besides, it makes her menacing", Sundström said. Both men and women up to the age of forty auditioned for the role. After a vote, the film team ended up selecting Elif Ceylan, who provides all of Eli's spoken dialogue. Footage of Ceylan eating melon or sausage was combined with various animal noises to emulate the sound of Eli biting into her victims and drinking their blood.

 

The sound crew won a Guldbagge Award for Best Achievement from the Swedish Film Institute, for the "nightmarishly great sound" in the film.

 

Soundtrack

 

Swedish composer Johan Söderqvist wrote the score. Alfredson instructed him to write something that sounded hopeful and romantic, in contrast to the events that take place in the film. Söderqvist has described the outcome as consisting of both darkness and light, and emphasized melody and harmony as the most important qualities of the music. It is performed by the Slovak National Symphony Orchestra. The score placed fourth on Ain't it Cool News' Top 10 Best Scores Of 2008 List, being described as "scrupulously weaving together strains of bone-chillingly cold horror with the encompassing warmth of newly acquired love". If magazine described the score as "the most beautifully emotional score yet to grace the undead. It’s a feeling of tender melancholy that delivers its scares in a subtle, chamber orchestra way".

 

The song "Kvar i min bil", written and performed by Per Gessle, resonates repeatedly through the film. Originally an outtake from Gessle's solo album En Händig Man, the song was specially provided for the film, to resemble the sound of popular 1980s pop group Gyllene Tider. Gessle has described the song as a "bluesy tune with a nice guitar hook”. Other songs in the film include "Försonade" from 1968, written and performed by future ABBA member Agnetha Fältskog, and "Flash in the Night" from 1981, written by Tim Norell and Björn Håkansson and performed by Secret Service.

 

On November 11, 2008, MovieScore Media released the film soundtrack in a limited edition of 500 copies. It contains 21 of Söderqvist's original scores from the film.

 

Release

 

Theatrical

 

Let the Right One In received its first performance at the Göteborg International Film Festival in Sweden on 26 January 2008 where Alfredson won the Festival's Nordic Film Prize. It subsequently played at several other film festivals, including the Tribeca Film Festival in New York (24 April 2008), where it won the Founders Award for Best Narrative Feature, the Edinburgh Film Festival on 25 Jun 2008 where it won the Rotten Tomatoes Critical Consensus Award, and the Neuchâtel International Fantastic Film Festival in Switzerland on 3 July 2008 where it won the Méliès d'Argent (Silver Méliès). The Swedish premiere was originally planned for 18 April 2008, but following the positive response from the festival screenings, the producers decided to postpone the release until autumn, to allow for a longer theatrical run. At one time there was a plan to release the film for a special series of screenings in Luleå, beginning 24 September and lasting seven days. This was canceled when the Swedish Film Institute announced that Everlasting Moments had been selected over Let the Right One In as Sweden's submission for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. The distributors released it on 24 October 2008 in Sweden, Norway, and as a limited release in the United States. In Australia, the film was released on 19 March 2009. The film was released in cinemas in the UK on 10 April 2009.

 

Critical reception

 

Swedish critics generally expressed positive reactions to the film. In 26 reviews listed at the Swedish-language review site Kritiker.se it achieved an average rating of 4.0 out of 5. Svenska Dagbladet gave the film a rating of 5 out of 6 and hailed Alfredson for his ability to "tell [stories] through pictures instead of words about a society where hearts are turned to icicles and everyone is left on their own, but also about love warm and red like blood on white melting snow". Göran Everdahl for SVT's Gomorron Sverige gave the film 4 out of 5 and described the film as "kitchen sink fantasy" that "gives the vampire story back something it has been missing for a long time: the ability to really frighten us". Expressen and Göteborgs-Posten were less impressed and gave the film 3 out of 5. Expressen criticized it for being unappealing to those uninitiated in vampire films while Göteborgs-Posten believed the supporting characters had lost the emotional depth that made the novel so successful.

 

Let the Right One In was well received by US critics. As of 2010 the film has a 97% "fresh" rating at Rotten Tomatoes based on 148 reviews, with an average rating of 8.2 out of 10, including a 97% "Cream of the Crop" rating from top critics, based on 29 reviews. Additionally, Metacritic has reported an average score of 82 out of 100 based on 30 reviews which indicates "universal acclaim". Reviewers have commented on the beautiful cinematography and its quiet, restrained approach to the sometimes bloody and violent subject matter. KJ Doughton of Film Threat thought the visuals in the ending were fresh and inventive and would be talked about for years to come. Roger Ebert gave the film 3.5 out of 4 stars, calling it a vampire movie that takes vampires seriously, drawing comparisons to Nosferatu and to Nosferatu the Vampyre. He described it as a story of "two lonely and desperate kids capable of performing dark deeds without apparent emotion", and praised the actors for "powerful" performances in "draining" roles. Ebert later called the film "The best modern vampire movie". One negative review came from Owen Gleiberman of Entertainment Weekly, who gave the movie a "C", characterizing it as a "Swedish head-scratcher", with "a few creepy images but very little holding them together".

 

Bloody Disgusting ranked the film first in their list of the 'Top 20 Horror Films of the Decade', with the article saying "It’s rare enough for a horror film to be good; even rarer are those that function as genuine works of art. Let the Right One In is one of those films – an austerely beautiful creation that reveals itself slowly, like the best works of art do. The simplicity of the story allows Swedish director Tomas Alfredson to focus on these two pre-teen characters with a penetrating insight that not only makes it a great vampire film but a great coming-of-age film as well. At its core, the film is, simply, a human story, a pensive meditation on the transcendent possibilities of human connection. Most of all, it’s a film that sticks with you, and whose stature will continue to grow in the decades to come."

 

The film was ranked #15 in Empire magazine's 2010 list of "The 100 Best Films Of World Cinema". In their rationale, the authors noted that, "in these days where every second movie seems to feature vampires, it takes a very special twist on the legend to surprise us - but this one knocked us out and then bit us in the jugular", and found that the "strange central friendship" between the two lead characters was what made the film "so frightening, and so magnetic".

 

Top ten lists

 

The film appeared on many critics' top ten lists of the best films of 2008.

 

* 1st - David Ansen, Newsweek

* 1st - Dan Jolin, Empire

* 1st - David Hughes, Empire

* 1st - Kim Newman, Empire

* 2nd - Marc Savlov, Austin Chronicle

* 2nd - Peter Vonder Haar, Film Threat

* 2nd - Marc Mohan, Portland Oregonian

* 2nd - Mike Russell, Portland Oregonian

* 3rd - Mark Dinning, Empire

* 3rd - Simon Crook, Empire

* 4th - Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

* 4th - Sean Axmaker, Seattle Post

* 5th - Ty Burr, Boston Globe

* 5th - V.A. Musetto, New York Post

* 5th - Helen O'Hara, Empire

 

 

 

* 5th - Liz Beardsworth, Empire

* 5th - James Dyer, Empire

* 5th - Sam Toy, Empire

* 6th - Kimberly Jones, Austin Chronicle

* 7th - Lawrence Toppman, Charlotte Observer

* 7th - Phil De Semlyen, Empire

* 7th - Olly Richards, Empire

* 8th - Scott Foundas, L.A. Weekly

* 9th - Andrea Gronvall, Chicago Reader

* 9th - Keith Phipps, The Onion AV Club

* 9th - Damon Wise, Empire

* 9th - Ian Freer, Empire

 

Home media

 

The film was released in North America on DVD and Blu-ray in March 2009 by Magnet Films, and in the UK in August by Momentum Pictures. The American discs feature both the original Swedish dialogue and an English dubbed version, while the European versions feature only the Swedish, and an audio-descriptive track in English. Icons of Fright reported that the American release had been criticized for using new, oversimplified English subtitles instead of the original theatrical subtitles. This unattributed translation contained many mistakes and reductions, with many fans calling the release unwatchable. Following customer complaints, Magnet stated that they would release an updated version with the original theatrical subtitles, but will not exchange current discs. Director Tomas Alfredson also expressed his dissatisfaction with the DVD subtitles, calling it a "turkey translation". "If you look on the 'net, people are furious about how bad it is done", he added. The UK release retains the theatrical subtitles.

 

Awards and nominations

 

Alfredson won the Göteborg International Film Festival's Nordic Film Prize as director of Let the Right One In on the grounds that he "succeeds to transform a vampire movie to a truly original, touching, amusing and heart-warming story about friendship and marginalisation". Let the Right One In was nominated in five categories for the Swedish Film Institute's 2008 Guldbagge Award, eventually winning for best directing, screenplay and cinematography as well as a Best Achievement-award to production designer Eva Norén. In awarding the film the "Founders Award for Best Narrative Feature", the top award at the Tribeca Film Festival, the jury described the film as a "mesmerizing exploration of loneliness and alienation through masterful reexamination of the vampire myth". The film also won the Méliès d'Argent (Silver Méliès) at the Swiss Neuchâtel International Fantastic Film Festival (NIFFF) and went on to win the Méliès d'Or (Golden Méliès) for the "Best European Fantastic Feature Film", awarded by the European Fantastic Film Festivals Federation of which NIFFF is a part. Other awards include the first Rotten Tomatoes Critical Consensus Award at the Edinburgh Film Festival.

 

Despite being an internationally successful film, Let the Right One In was not submitted by Sweden for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. The details surrounding the film's eligibility for the award resulted in some confusion. Being released on 24 October 2008, the film would normally be eligible for submission for the 82nd Academy Awards. However, the producers decided to release it on 24 September as a seven day limited run only in Luleå. This would be exactly enough to meet the criteria for the 81st Academy Awards instead. When the Swedish Film Institute on 16 September announced that Jan Troell's Everlasting Moments had been selected instead of Let the Right One In, the Luleå screenings were cancelled. Despite the fact that the film was released within the eligibility period for the 82nd Academy Awards, it wasn't among the films considered because the Swedish Film Institute doesn't allow a film to be considered twice.

 

 

Award Category Recipients and nominees Outcome

Amsterdam Fantastic Film Festival Silver Scream Award Tomas Alfredson Won

Black Tulip Award Tomas Alfredson Won

Austin Fantastic Fest Best Horror Feature - Won

Austin Film Critics Association Best Foreign Language Film - Won

Australian Film Critics Association Best Overseas Film - Won

British Academy Film Awards Best Film Not in the English Language - Nominated

Boston Society of Film Critics Awards Foreign Language Film - Won

British Independent Film Awards Best Foreign Film - Won

Broadcast Film Critics Association Awards Best Foreign Language Film - Nominated

Calgary International Film Festival Best International Feature Tomas Alfredson Won

Chicago Film Critics Association Awards Most Promising Filmmaker Tomas Alfredson Won

Most Promising Performer Lina Leandersson Nominated

Chlotrudis Awards Best Movie - Nominated

Best Director Tomas Alfredson Nominated

Best Actress Lina Leandersson Nominated

Best Adapted Screenplay John Ajvide Lindqvist Won

Best Cinematography Hoyte Van Hoytema Won

Edinburgh International Film Festival Rotten Tomatoes Critical Consensus Award Tomas Alfredson Won

Fant-Asia Film Festival Best European/North — South American Film Tomas Alfredson Won

Best Director Tomas Alfredson Won

Best Film Tomas Alfredson Won

Best Photography Hoyte Van Hoytema Won

Florida Film Critics Circle Awards Best Foreign Language Film - Won

Empire Awards Best Horror Film - Won

Goya Awards Best European Film - Nominated

Irish Film & Television Awards 2010[80] International Film - Nominated

Guldbagge Awards Best Achievement (Bästa prestation) Eva Norén Won

Best Achievement (Bästa prestation) Per Sundström

Jonas Jansson

Patrik Strömdahl Won

Best Cinematography (Bästa foto) Hoyte Van Hoytema Won

Best Direction (Bästa regi) Tomas Alfredson Won

Best Screenplay (Bästa manuskript) John Ajvide Lindqvist Won

Best Film (Bästa film) John Nordling

Carl Molinder Nominated

Best Supporting Actor (Bästa manliga biroll) Per Ragnar Nominated

Gérardmer Film Festival Critics Award Tomas Alfredson Won

Best Film Tomas Alfredson Won

Göteborg Film Festival Nordic Film Prize Tomas Alfredson Won

Nordic Vision Award Hoyte Van Hoytema Won

Kansas City Film Critics Circle Awards Best Foreign Language Film - Won

London Film Critics' Circle Awards Foreign Language Film of the Year Tomas Alfredson Won

NatFilm Festival Critics Award Tomas Alfredson Won

Neuchâtel International Fantastic Film Festival Grand Prize of European Fantasy Film in Silver Tomas Alfredson Won

Special Mention Tomas Alfredson Won

Youth Jury Award Tomas Alfredson Won

Online Film Critics Society Awards Best Foreign Language Film - Won

Best Screenplay, Adapted John Ajvide Lindqvist Won

Breakthrough Filmmaker Tomas Alfredson Won

Breakthrough Performance Lina Leandersson Won

Breakthrough Performance Kåre Hedebrant Nominated

Phoenix Film Critics Society Awards Best Foreign Language Film - Won

Puchon International Fantastic Film Festival Best Director Tomas Alfredson Won

Citizen's Choice Award Tomas Alfredson Won

San Diego Film Critics Society Awards Best Foreign Language Film - Won

San Francisco Film Critics Circle Best Foreign Language Film - Won

Saturn Awards Best International Film - Won

Best Performance by a Younger Actor Lina Leandersson Nominated

Best Writing John Ajvide Lindqvist Nominated

Sitges - Catalonian International Film Festival Grand Prize of European Fantasy Film in Gold Tomas Alfredson Won

Southeastern Film Critics Association Awards Best Foreign Language Film - Won

Toronto After Dark Film Festival Best Feature Film Tomas Alfredson Won

Toronto Film Critics Association Awards Best Foreign-Language Film - Won

Tribeca Film Festival Best Narrative Feature Tomas Alfredson Won

Washington DC Area Film Critics Association Awards Best Foreign Language Film - Won

Woodstock Film Festival Best Narrative Feature Tomas Alfredson Won

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22. The Ring (2002)

 

220px-Theringpostere.jpg

 

(5 of 20 lists - 75 points - highest rank #2 pittshoganerkoff)

 

The Ring is a 2002 American psychological horror film directed by Gore Verbinski and starring Naomi Watts and Martin Henderson. It is an American remake of the 1998 Japanese horror film Ring.

 

Both films are based on Kôji Suzuki's novel Ring and focus on a mysterious cursed videotape which contains a seemingly random series of disturbing images. After watching the tape, the viewer receives a phone call in which a girl's voice announces that the viewer will die in seven days. The film was a critical and commercial success.

 

Plot

 

Two teenage girls, 16-year-old Katie Embry (Amber Tamblyn) and 17-year-old Becca Kotler (Rachael Bella), discuss a supposedly cursed videotape while home alone at Katie's house. Katie reveals that, seven days before, she went to a cabin at Shelter Mountain Inn with friends, where she viewed the video tape. The girls laugh it off, but after a series of strange occurrences in the next few minutes, involving a television in the house turning itself on, Katie dies mysteriously and horrifically while Becca watches, leading to Becca's institutionalization in a mental hospital.

 

Katie's 9-year-old cousin, Aidan (David Dorfman), is visibly affected by the death. After Katie's funeral, Ruth Embry (Lindsay Frost) asks her sister Rachel (Naomi Watts), Aidan's mother and a journalist, to investigate Katie's death, which leads her to the cabin where Katie watched the tape. Rachel finds and watches the tape; the phone rings, and she hears a child's voice say "seven days", upsetting Rachel. The next day, Rachel calls Noah (Martin Henderson), an ex-boyfriend who is Aiden's father, to show him the video and asks for his assistance based upon his media-related skills. He asks her to make a copy for further investigation, which she does, but later takes it home herself. To Rachel's horror, she discovers Aidan watching the copy a few days later.

 

After viewing the tape, Rachel begins experiencing nightmares, nose bleeds, and surreal situations (for instance, when she pauses a section of the tape in which a fly runs across the screen, she is able to pluck the fly from the monitor). Increasingly anxious about getting to the origin of the tape, Rachel investigates images of a woman seen in the tape. Using a video lab, she discovers images in the tape's overscan area, which through further research she discovers to be a lighthouse located on Moesko Island. It also turns out that the tape's overscan does not include time code, which hints that the tape was not made using electronic equipment. The woman turns out to be Anna Morgan, who lived on the island in Washington, many years prior with her husband Richard (Brian Cox). Rachel discovers that, after bringing home an adopted daughter, tragedy befell the Morgan ranch – the horses raised on the ranch went mad and killed themselves, which in turn supposedly had caused Anna (who loved her horses) to become depressed and commit suicide. Rachel goes to the Morgan house and finds Richard, who refuses to talk about the video or his daughter and sends Rachel away. A local doctor tells Rachel that Anna could not carry a baby to term and adopted a child named Samara (Daveigh Chase). The doctor recounts that Anna soon complained about gruesome visions that only happened when Samara was around, so both were sent to a mental institution. While Rachel is investigating on Moesko Island, Noah is investigating the institution, where he finds Anna's file and discovers that there was a video of Samara, but the video is missing. Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Rachel sneaks back to the Morgan house where she discovers the missing video, watches it, and is confronted by Richard who says that the girl was evil. He then electrocutes himself in the bathtub, sending Rachel running out of the room screaming.

 

Noah arrives and, with Rachel, goes to the barn to discover an attic where Samara was kept by her father. Behind the wallpaper they discover an image of a tree seen on the tape, which grows near the Shelter Mountain Inn. At the inn, they discover a well underneath the floor, in which Rachel finds Samara's body, experiencing a vision of how her mother pushed her into it. Rachel notifies the authorities, and gives Samara a proper burial.

 

Rachel informs Aidan that they will no longer be troubled by Samara. However, Aidan is horrified, telling his mother she had freed her body, and that Samara "never sleeps". In his apartment, Noah's TV turns on, revealing an image in which a decaying Samara crawls from the well and out of the TV into the room. Horrified, Noah trips backward and tries to crawl away from Samara. Samara faces him, exposes her true face and stares directly at him, killing him with fear, which Rachel discovers after racing to his apartment and seeing his face distorted like Katie's was. Upon returning to her apartment, Rachel destroys and burns the original tape. Wondering why she had not died like the others, she remembers that she made a copy of the tape. She soon notices the copy of the tape underneath the couch. Rachel realizes the only way to escape and save Aidan is to copy the tape and show it to someone else, continuing the cycle. The film ends with Rachel helping Aidan to copy the tape.

 

Cast

 

* Naomi Watts as Rachel Keller

* Martin Henderson as Noah Clay

* David Dorfman as Aidan Keller

* Brian Cox as Richard Morgan

* Jane Alexander as Dr. Grasnik

* Lindsay Frost as Ruth Embry

* Amber Tamblyn as Katie Embry

* Rachael Bella as Rebecca 'Becca' Kotler

* Daveigh Chase as Samara Morgan

* Shannon Cochran as Anna Morgan

* Richard Lineback as Innkeeper

* Pauley Perrette as Beth

* Sara Rue as Babysitter

 

Reception

 

In order to advertise The Ring, many promotional websites were formed featuring the characters and places in the film. The film was financially successful; the box office gross actually increased from its 1st weekend to its 2nd, as the initial success led DreamWorks to roll the film into 700 additional theatres. The Ring made $8.3 million in its first two weeks in Japan, compared to Ring's $6.6 million total box-office gross. The success of The Ring opened the way for American remakes of several other Japanese horror films, including The Grudge and Dark Water. A sequel, The Ring Two, was released in North American theaters on March 18, 2005. It was directed by Hideo Nakata, the director of Ring.

 

The Ring also received critical acclaim from film critics, receiving 72% favorable reviews out of 167 reviews on Rotten Tomatoes, and a Metacritic score of 57/100 (mixed or average) from 36 reviews. On the television program Ebert & Roeper, Richard Roeper gave the film "Thumbs Up" and said it was very gripping and scary despite some minor unanswered questions. Roger Ebert gave the film "Thumbs Down" and felt it was boring and "borderline ridiculous"; he also disliked the extended, detailed ending. IGN’s Jeremy Conrad praised the movie for its atmospheric set up and cinematography, and said that “there are 'disturbing images'… but the film doesn't really rely on gore to deliver the scares. … The Ring relies on atmosphere and story to deliver the jumps, not someone being cleaved in half by a glass door.” Film Threat's Jim Agnew called it “dark, disturbing and original throughout. You know that you’re going to see something a little different than your usual studio crap.” Verbinski was praised for slowly revealing the plot while keeping the audience interested, “the twists keep on coming, and Verbinski shows a fine-tuned gift for calibrating and manipulating viewer expectations.”

 

Despite the praise given to Verbinski’s direction, critics railed the characters as being weak. The Chicago Reader’s Jonathan Rosenbaurn said that the film was “an utter waste of Watts… perhaps because the script didn’t bother to give her a character,” whereas other critics such as William Arnold from Seattle Post-Intelligencer said the opposite: “she projects intelligence, determination and resourcefulness that carry the movie nicely.” Many critics regarded Dorfman’s character as a "creepy-child" “Sixth Sense cliché.” A large sum of critics, like Miami Herald’s Rene Rodriguez and USA Today’s Claudia Puig found themselves confused and thought that by the end of the movie “[the plot] still doesn't make much sense.”

 

The movie was number 20 on the cable channel Bravo's list of the 100 Scariest Movie Moments. Bloody Disgusting ranked the film sixth in their list of the 'Top 20 Horror Films of the Decade', with the article saying "The Ring was not only the first American “J-Horror” remake out of the gate; it also still stands as the best."

 

Sequel

 

A sequel to "The Ring" was produced in 2005. "The Ring Two" is based upon the events in "The Ring," and furthers the story.

 

Also, another 'sequel' is set to be produced. "The Ring 3D" has been confirmed, and is predicted to be released in 2011 or 2012. The plot of this sequel is, as of now, depicting the events that occurred in Samara's past - before the cursed video tape. The film is to be filmed in 3D.

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21. (tie) Saw (2004)

 

Saw_poster.JPG

 

(5 of 20 lists - 76 points - highest rank #2 Buehrle>Wood)

 

Saw is a 2004 American-Australian horror film directed by James Wan and starring Tobin Bell, Shawnee Smith, Leigh Whannell, Cary Elwes and Danny Glover. The plot of the film was conceived of by James Wan, while Whannell wrote the screenplay. It is the first installment of the Saw film series. The film's story revolves around two men who awaken kidnapped and chained in a dilapidated industrial bathroom. They are each given instructions via a microcassette recorder to kill the other man in the room as that is the only "rule" of their "game". Meanwhile, police detectives investigate and attempt to apprehend the mastermind behind the "game." The film was first screened January 19, 2004, at the Sundance Film Festival to positive reviews. It was then screened at the Toronto International Film Festival on September 18, 2004, with theatrical releases on October 29, 2004, in the United States and December 2, 2004, in Australia. The film was originally rated NC-17 for strong, graphic violence, though after being slightly re-edited, it was released with an R rating.

 

Critical responses varied. Some critics denounced the entire film as nothing more than a "cheap snuff film", while others praised its stylish visuals and called it a true "chilling" and "terrifying" horror film. Despite mixed reviews, Saw was a financial box office success.

 

Plot

 

Adam Stanheight (Leigh Whannell), a photographer, and Dr. Lawrence Gordon (Cary Elwes), an oncologist, awaken at opposite ends of a grimy, disused bathroom, Adam in a water-filled bathtub. Both men are chained at the ankle to the pipes. Between them is a body of a man lying in a pool of blood, who appears to have shot himself in the head. He holds a revolver and a microcassette recorder. Adam and Lawrence discover tapes in their pockets; the men learn from both tapes that Adam must escape the bathroom, while Lawrence must kill Adam before six o'clock, or he'll lose his wife and daughter and be left to die. They find a bag containing two hacksaws, though neither is able to cut through the chains. Adam breaks his saw and throws it at a mirror in frustration; Lawrence realizes that they are meant to be used on their feet.

 

Lawrence tells Adam that their captor is very likely the Jigsaw Killer, whose name is a misnomer; he never directly kills anyone, instead putting victims in situations or mechanical traps (which he refers to as "games") in which they must go through physical and/or psychological torture to survive and escape with a better appreciation for life. Flashbacks show that while Lawrence was talking with some students and an orderly named Zep Hindle (Michael Emerson) about the terminal brain cancer of a man named John Kramer (Tobin Bell), he was approached by Detectives David Tapp (Danny Glover) and Steven Sing (Ken Leung) about his penlight being found at the scene of a Jigsaw "game". He viewed the testimony of Amanda Young (Shawnee Smith), a heroin addict, who is the only known survivor of Jigsaw's games; she barely escaped from having her jaws ripped open during her game by a "reverse bear trap" and believes that her experience made her a better person. Other victims of Jigsaw's games included Paul, who was trapped in a cage filled with barbed wire, and Mark, who was trapped in a room with a flammable substance all over his body along with a candle to help him read the walls covered with numbers that hid the combination to a safe. One of the detectives revealed that Jigsaw frequently watched his victims die — he "liked to book himself front row seats to his own sick little games".

 

Meanwhile, Lawrence's wife and daughter, Alison (Monica Potter) and Diana (Makenzie Vega), are being held captive in their home by a man who is watching Adam and Lawrence through a camera behind the bathroom's mirror, while tormenting Alison and Diana. Their house is simultaneously being watched by Tapp, who was discharged from the force. Flashbacks show that he became obsessed with the Jigsaw case after viewing Amanda's testimony, and that he and Sing illegally entered a warehouse they knew to be Jigsaw's lair and saved a man from being killed by drills aimed at his neck. Jigsaw managed to make a run for it after slashing Tapp's throat, and Sing was killed by a shotgun booby trap while pursuing him. After being discharged, Tapp began stalking Lawrence.

 

In the bathroom, Lawrence finds a mobile phone that can only receive calls and a cigarette and lighter; he and Adam use the latter two items to try to stage Adam's death, but an electric shock through Adam's ankle chain foils this plan. Following these events, Adam and Lawrence recall their abductions; they were both ambushed and knocked unconscious by a stranger wearing a gruesome pig mask. Lawrence receives a call from Alison, who warns him that Adam knows more than he is telling. Adam explains that he was paid to take pictures of Lawrence for the past few days by Tapp, and shows Lawrence a pile of pictures of him from the bag containing the hacksaws. Lawrence berates Adam for invading his privacy, while Adam shows Lawrence evidence that he was cheating on Alison. Adam then notices a picture of a man in Lawrence's house; Lawrence identifies the man as Zep the orderly, and the two deduce that Zep is their abductor. Adam then points out that it is six o'clock, the deadline. Zep moves to kill Alison, but she frees herself and manages to overpower Zep, gaining Tapp's attention in the process. He arrives in time to save Alison and Diana from Zep, allowing them to escape, and chases Zep to the sewers.

 

Lawrence, who is only aware of gunshots and screaming, is zapped by the ankle chain as well and loses reach of the phone; in desperation, he saws off his foot, then takes the revolver and shoots Adam, who collapses to the floor. Zep, who shot Tapp during the chase, enters the bathroom intent on killing Lawrence, only to be blindsided by Adam (whose gunshot wound in the shoulder had not been fatal) and beaten to death with a toilet tank cover. As Lawrence crawls away with the promise that he'll return with help, Adam searches Zep's body for a key and finds another microcassette recorder. He learns that Zep was another victim of the game, following rules to obtain an antidote for the slow poison within his body. While listening to the tape, the body that had been lying on the floor then rises to its feet and reveals itself as John Kramer, the real Jigsaw Killer. He tells Adam that the chain's key is in the bathtub, which was drained when Adam accidentally kicked the plug out. Adam then grabs Zep's pistol and tries to shoot Jigsaw but is electrocuted by his hidden remote control before he can get a shot off. Jigsaw then turns off the lights and shuts the bathroom door while leaving Adam inside to die.

 

Cast

 

* Tobin Bell as Jigsaw

* Shawnee Smith as Amanda Young

* Leigh Whannell as Adam Faulkner

* Cary Elwes as Dr. Lawrence Gordon

* Danny Glover as Detective David Tapp

* Michael Emerson as Zep Hindle

* Dina Meyer as Detective Allison Kerry

* Mike Butters as Paul Leahy Stallberg

* Paul Gutrecht as Mark Rodriguez Wilson

* Ken Leung as Detective Steven Sing

* Makenzie Vega as Diana Gordon

* Monica Potter as Alison Gordon

* Ned Bellamy as Jeff Ridenhour

* Alexandra Bokyun Chun as Carla

* Oren Koules as Donnie Greco (uncredited)

* Benito Martinez as Brett

* Avner Garbi as Father

* Hans Raith as Detective (uncredited)

 

Reception

 

Box office

 

The film earned $18,276,468 on its opening weekend which averaged $7,894 per theater from 2,467 theaters, and ranked #3 for the weekend behind The Grudge and Ray. Saw went on to gross $103.1 million in 9 weeks in theaters.

 

Critical

 

Critical responses were mixed. Rotten Tomatoes reports that 47% critics gave the film a positive review, based upon a sample of 158, with an average score of 5.4 out of 10. On Metacritic, the film has an average score of 46 out of 100, based on 32 reviews. Roger Ebert gave Saw two stars out of four, calling it "an efficiently made thriller" but "finally not quite worth the ordeal it puts us through." Carla Meyer of The San Francisco Chronicle wrote that the film "[combined] B-movie acting with a twisted mind-set and visual tricks designed to camouflage cheap effects" and that it was "terrifying at some moments and insinuatingly creepy at many others". Despite the mixed critical response, the movie has attracted a strong following and has spawned six sequels as of 2010. On Empire magazine's list of the 500 greatest films, it is ranked 499th. Bloody Disgusting ranked the film tenth in its list of the Top 20 Horror Films of the Decade, with the article calling Saw [p]erhaps the most influential horror film of the decade, [which] kick-started a franchise.... n light of its measly $1.2 million price tag the film's quality relative to bigger-budget horror films is striking. It also takes itself seriously, which came as a breath of fresh air following the trend of wimpy tongue-in-cheek horror that had dominated the multiplexes post-Scream. More than anything, this twisted morality tale is a film made by horror fans, for horror fans; its gory, it's depraved, and best of all it introduced a new horror icon in Jigsaw."

 

Home media

 

Soundtrack

 

Megadeth's song "Die Dead Enough" was originally set to be featured in the movie, but was not used for undisclosed reasons.

 

DVD Uncut Edition

 

The uncut edition of the film is approximately eight seconds longer than the theatrical version.[14] The additional footage includes:

 

* An extra closeup shot of the body on the floor, which shows the extent of the "gunshot wound" on the back of the head.

* A few extra seconds of Paul crawling through the razor wire.

* A few extra shots of Amanda sifting through the intestines and stomach of Donnie.

* An extra shot of Lawrence sawing into his foot, which shows more blood.

 

However, in addition to the new footage, the dialogue between Lawrence and Adam in the end, just before Lawrence leaves, has been shortened in the Region 1 release as Dr. Gordon's line of "I wouldn't lie to you." has been cut, but is retained in the Region 2 release. The short film used to promote it, also entitled "Saw", is also included on the DVD.

 

The uncut DVD also contains "See Saw in 60", which consists of three jumpy and humorous one-minute condensed versions of the film. Two are presented using dolls with crude faces drawn on them; sound clips from the movie are used for one, high-pitched squeaky voices for the other. The third is made using actual footage from the movie and the squeaky voices. A similar Easter egg was used on later uncut releases of the sequels.

 

Saw VI bundle

 

A barebones copy (featuring no special features) of "Saw" was featured with the DVD and Blu-ray release of Saw VI.

 

Video game

 

A video game, also titled Saw, was developed by Zombie Studios and published by Konami. The game serves as a sequel to Saw, and a prequel to Saw II. It was released on October 6, 2009 on the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and PC platforms.

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21. (tie) Rosemary's Baby (1968)

 

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(6 of 20 lists - 76 points - highest rank #7 ScottyDo)

 

Rosemary's Baby is a 1968 American horror film written and directed by Roman Polanski, based on the bestselling 1967 novel by Ira Levin. The cast includes Mia Farrow, John Cassavetes, Ruth Gordon, Maurice Evans, Sidney Blackmer, and Charles Grodin. The film received mostly positive reviews and earned numerous nominations and awards. The American Film Institute ranked the film 9th in their 100 Years…100 Thrills list. The official tagline of the film is "Pray for Rosemary's Baby."

 

Plot

 

Rosemary Woodhouse (Mia Farrow), a bright but somewhat naive young housewife, and Guy (John Cassavetes), her husband and a struggling actor, move into the Bramford, a Gothic, 19th century New York City apartment building with a history of unsavory tenants and mysterious events. Their neighbors are an elderly and slightly eccentric couple, Minnie and Roman Castevet (Ruth Gordon and Sidney Blackmer), who tend to be meddlesome but seem harmless. Guy becomes unusually close to the pair while Rosemary tries to maintain a distance from them. Guy lands a role in a play when the actor originally cast suddenly and inexplicably goes blind. Soon afterward, Guy suggests that he and Rosemary have the child they had planned. On the night they plan to try to conceive, Minnie brings them individual ramekins of chocolate mousse, but Rosemary finds hers has a chalky under-taste and surreptitiously throws it away after a few mouthfuls. Shortly afterward, she has a dizzy spell and passes out. She experiences what she perceives to be a strange dream in which she is raped by a demonic presence.

 

A few weeks later, Rosemary learns she is pregnant and is due on June 28, 1966 (6/66). She plans to receive obstetric care from Dr. Hill, recommended by her friend Elise (Emmaline Henry), but the Castevets insist she see their good friend, famed obstetrician, Dr. Sapirstein (Ralph Bellamy). For the first three months of her pregnancy, Rosemary suffers severe abdominal pains, loses weight, and craves raw meat and chicken liver. The doctor insists the pain will subside soon and assures her she has nothing to worry about. At the Castavets' New Year's Eve party, Roman raises a toast to "1966: the Year One".

 

When her old friend Hutch sees Rosemary's gaunt appearance, he is disturbed enough to do some research, and plans to share his findings with her but falls into a coma before they can meet. He briefly regains consciousness before he dies, and instructs his friend Grace Cardiff to deliver the book about witchcraft on his desk that he had planned to give to Rosemary. Photographs, passages in the text he marked, and the cryptic message "the name is an anagram" lead Rosemary to realize Roman Castevet is really Steven Marcato, the son of Adrian Marcato, a former resident of the Bramford who was accused of worshiping Satan and was a martyr to the cause. She suspects her neighbors are part of a cult with sinister designs for her baby, and Guy is cooperating with them in exchange for their help in advancing his career. She deduces that Dr. Saperstein is also part of the conspiracy when his receptionist comments that the smell coming from a good luck charm given to Rosemary by the Castavets — which contains tannis root, also known as "Devil's Pepper" — reminds her of a fragrance often shared by the doctor.

 

An increasingly disturbed Rosemary shares her fears and suspicions with Dr. Hill, who, assuming she is delusional, calls Dr. Sapirstein and Guy. She is told that if she cooperates, she and the baby will not be harmed. The two men bring Rosemary home, at which point she goes into labor. When she awakens following the delivery of her baby, she is told the child died shortly after birth. However, when she hears an infant's cries somewhere in the building, she suspects he still is alive. In the hall closet, she discovers a secret door leading into the Castevet apartment where the coven meets, and finds the congregation gathered, worshipping her newborn son, the spawn of Satan. The truth is revealed about Rosemary's son being the Antichrist, devastating Rosemary considerably. Both Roman and the coven urge Rosemary to become a mother to her son, Adrian. The film ends with her adjusting her son's blankets and gently rocking his cradle.

 

Cast

 

* Mia Farrow as Rosemary Woodhouse

* John Cassavetes as Guy Woodhouse

* Ruth Gordon as Minnie Castevet

* Sidney Blackmer as Roman Castevet / Steven Marcato

* Maurice Evans as Hutch

* Ralph Bellamy as Dr. Abraham Sapirstein

* Charles Grodin as Dr. Hill

* Patsy Kelly as Laura-Louise

* Victoria Vetri as Terry Gionoffrio

* Emmaline Henry as Elise Dunstan

* Hanna Landy as Grace Cardiff

* Tony Curtis as voice of Donald Baumgart

 

Production

 

Script

 

In Rosemary's Baby: A Retrospective, a featurette on the DVD release of the film, screenwriter/director Roman Polanski, Paramount Pictures executive Robert Evans, and production designer Richard Sylbert reminisce at length about the production. Evans recalled William Castle brought him the galley proofs of the book and asked him to purchase the film rights even before Random House released the publication. The studio head recognized the commercial potential of the project and agreed with the stipulation that Castle, who had a reputation for low-budget horror films, could produce but not direct the film adaptation. He makes a cameo as the man at the phone booth waiting for Mia Farrow to finish her call.

 

Evans admired Polanski's European films and hoped he could convince him to make his American debut with Rosemary's Baby. He knew the director was a ski buff who was anxious to make a film with the sport as its basis, so he sent him the script for Downhill Racer along with the galleys for Rosemary. Polanski read the latter book non-stop through the night and called Evans the following morning to tell him he thought Rosemary was the more interesting project, and would like the opportunity to write as well as direct it.

 

Polanski, having never before adapted a screenplay, was not aware that he was allowed to make changes from the source material, leading to the film being extremely faithful to the novel and including many lines of dialogue drawn directly from Levin's book. Author Ira Levin claimed that during a scene in which Guy mentions wanting to buy a particular shirt advertised in The New Yorker, Polanski was unable to find the specific issue with the shirt advertised and phoned Levin for help. Levin, who had assumed while writing that any given issue of The New Yorker would contain an ad for men's shirts, admitted that he had made it up.

 

Casting

 

Polanski envisioned Rosemary as a robust, full-figured, girl-next-door type, and he wanted Tuesday Weld or his own wife Sharon Tate for the role. Since the book had not reached bestseller status yet, Evans was unsure the title alone would guarantee an audience for the film, and he felt a bigger name was needed for the lead. Patty Duke was considered for the lead. With only a supporting role in Guns at Batasi (1964) and the not-yet-released A Dandy in Aspic (1968) as her only feature film credits, Mia Farrow had an unproven box office track record, but her role as Allison MacKenzie in the popular television series Peyton Place and her unexpected marriage to Frank Sinatra had made her a household name. Despite her waif-like appearance (which would ultimately prove beneficial to the character, as Rosemary became more frail as her pregnancy progressed), Polanski agreed to cast her. Her acceptance incensed Sinatra, who had demanded she forgo her career when they wed, and he served her divorce papers via a corporate lawyer, in front of the cast and crew midway through filming. In an effort to salvage her relationship, Farrow asked Evans to release her from her contract, but he persuaded her to remain with the project after showing her an hour-long rough cut and assuring her she would receive an Academy Award nomination for her performance.

 

Robert Redford was the first choice for the role of Guy Woodhouse, but he turned down the offer. Jack Nicholson was considered briefly before Polanski suggested John Cassavetes.

 

Sylbert was a good friend of Garson Kanin, who was married to Ruth Gordon, and he suggested her for the role of Minnie Castevet. He also suggested The Dakota, an Upper West Side apartment building known for its show business tenants, be used for the Bramford. Its hallways were not as worn and dark as Polanski wanted, but when the building's owners would not allow interior filming, that became a moot point and it was used for exterior shots only.

 

Polanski wanted to cast Hollywood old-timers as the coven members but did not know any by name. He drew sketches of how he envisioned each character, and they were used to fill the roles. In every instance, the actor cast strongly resembled Polanski's drawing. These included Ralph Bellamy, Patsy Kelly, Elisha Cook, Jr., Phil Leeds, and Hope Summers.

 

When Rosemary calls Donald Baumgart, the actor who goes blind and is replaced by Guy, the voice heard is that of actor Tony Curtis. Farrow, who had not been told who would be reading Baumgart's lines, recognized the voice but could not place it. The slight confusion she displays throughout the call was exactly what Polanski hoped to capture by not revealing Curtis' identity in advance.

 

Filming

 

Sydney Guilaroff designed the wig worn by Mia Farrow in the film's early scenes. It was removed to reveal the Vidal Sassoon hairdo that made headlines when Farrow cut her trademark long hair during filming of Peyton Place.

 

One of Mia Farrow's more emotionally charged scenes occurs in the midst of a party, when several of Rosemary's female friends lock Guy out of the kitchen as they console her in private. The scene was shot in a single day. That morning, just before the first take was filmed, a private messenger served Farrow with formal divorce papers from Frank Sinatra. As she read the documents, Farrow fell to her knees on the kitchen floor and openly wept in front of the cast and crew. Roman Polanski insisted that the day be canceled and filming be postponed until the next day, when he would start consecutively filming as many scenes as possible that did not contain Rosemary. Farrow openly would not accept this, insisting that nothing had changed. The day's filming concluded on time and without delay.

 

When Farrow was reluctant to film a scene that depicted a dazed and preoccupied Rosemary wandering into the middle of a Manhattan street into oncoming traffic, Polanski pointed to her pregnancy padding and reassured her, "no one's going to hit a pregnant woman". The scene was successfully shot with Farrow walking into real traffic and Polanski following along, operating the hand-held camera since he was the only one willing to do it.

 

Critical reception

 

In her review for The New York Times, Renata Adler said, "The movie—although it is pleasant—doesn't seem to work on any of its dark or powerful terms. I think this is because it is almost too extremely plausible. The quality of the young people's lives seems the quality of lives that one knows, even to the point of finding old people next door to avoid and lean on. One gets very annoyed that they don't catch on sooner."

 

Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times called it "a brooding, macabre film, filled with the sense of unthinkable danger. Strangely enough it also has an eerie sense of humor almost until the end. It is a creepy film and a crawly film, and a film filled with things that go bump in the night. It is very good...much more than just a suspense story; the brilliance of the film comes more from Polanski's direction, and from a series of genuinely inspired performances, than from the original story . . . The best thing that can be said about the film, I think, is that it works. Polanski has taken a most difficult situation and made it believable, right up to the end. In this sense, he even outdoes Hitchcock."

 

Variety stated, "Several exhilarating milestones are achieved in Rosemary's Baby, an excellent film version of Ira Levin's diabolical chiller novel. Writer-director Roman Polanski has triumphed in his first US-made pic. The film holds attention without explicit violence or gore . . . Farrow's performance is outstanding."

 

Today, the film is widely regarded as a classic; 53 of the 54 reviews surveyed on the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes are positive.

 

Legacy

 

In the 1976 television film, Look What's Happened to Rosemary's Baby, Patty Duke starred as Rosemary Woodhouse and Ruth Gordon reprised her role of Minnie Castevet.

 

For the scene where Rosemary is raped by Satan, Rosemary's Baby ranked #23 on Bravo's 100 Scariest Movie Moments. Contrary to an urban legend, Anton LaVey did not play the role of Satan in the rape scene of Rosemary's Baby. In fact it was actor Clay Tanner, and no technical advisor was used.

 

Thirty years after he wrote Rosemary's Baby, Ira Levin wrote Son of Rosemary, a sequel which he dedicated to the film's star, Mia Farrow. Reaction to the book was mixed, but it made the best seller lists nationwide.

 

A 2009-2010 remake of Rosemary's Baby was briefly considered. The intended producers were Michael Bay, Andrew Form, and Brad Fuller. The remake fell through in 2008.

 

Accolades

 

Academy Awards

 

* Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress (Ruth Gordon, winner)

* Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay (nominee)

 

Golden Globe Awards

 

* Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress - Motion Picture (Gordon, winner)

* Golden Globe Award for Best Actress - Motion Picture Drama (Farrow, nominee)

* Golden Globe Award for Best Screenplay (nominee)

* Golden Globe Award for Best Original Score (nominee)

 

Other awards

 

* BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role (Mia Farrow, nominee)

* Directors Guild of America Award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Motion Pictures (nominee)

* Writers Guild of America Award for Best Written American Drama (nominee)

* David di Donatello Award for Best Foreign Actress (Mia Farrow, winner)

* David di Donatello Award for Best Foreign Director (winner)

* Edgar Allan Poe Award for Best Motion Picture Screenplay (nominee)

* French Syndicate of Cinema Critics Award for Best Foreign Film (winner)

* Kansas City Film Critics Circle Award for Best Supporting Actor (Sidney Blackmer, winner)

* Kansas City Film Critics Circle Award for Best Supporting Actress (Gordon, winner)

 

In popular culture

 

The film has been parodied in numerous works since its 1968 release, including Mad Magazine ("Rosemia's Boo-Boo", issue #124, January 1969) and The Realist ("Rosemerica's Baby", No. 93, August 1972).

 

References to the film can also be found in innumerable music and television works. Some artists who have featured references to the film within their music include Interpol, Microfilm (band), Charles Bronson, The Devil Wears Prada, The Tubes, Today Is the Day, Walt Mink and Fantômas. The hardcore punk band Rosemary's Babies took the pluralized version of the title as a statement of their horror film influences. The film has also been referenced in several television shows and other films, including That '70s Show, Bébé's Kids, South Park, Star Trek: Enterprise, Chapter 27, Stay Tuned, Last Action Hero,Ugly Americans, Frasier, Weeds, Angels in America, CSI, Gilmore Girls and Roseanne.

 

Following the film's premier, a string of movies about Satan worshippers and black magic appeared on the low budget-big budget scene. Among those films made and released were The Devil Rides Out, The Brotherhood Of Satan, Mark Of The Devil and Blood On Satan's Claw. They offered up new views of good against evil, especially when Devil worship caused concern in the modern world.

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19. An American Werewolf in London (1981)

 

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(6 of 20 lists - 78 points - highest rank #2 FlaSoxxJim)

 

An American Werewolf in London is a 1981 British-American horror comedy film, written and directed by John Landis. It stars David Naughton, Griffin Dunne, and Jenny Agutter.

 

The film starts with two young American men, David (David Naughton) and Jack (Griffin Dunne) on a backpacking holiday in England. Following an awkwardly tense visit to a village pub, the two men venture deep into the moors at night. They are attacked by a werewolf, which results in Jack's death and David being taken to a London hospital. Through apparitions of his dead friend and disturbing dream sequences, David becomes informed that he is a werewolf and will transform at the next full moon.

 

Shooting took place mostly in London but also in Surrey and Wales. It was released in the United States on August 21, 1981 and grossed $30.56 million at the box office. Critics generated mostly favourable reviews for the film. The movie won the 1981 Saturn Award for Best Horror Film and an Academy Award for Outstanding Achievement in Makeup. The film was one of three high-profile wolf-themed horror films released in 1981, alongside The Howling and Wolfen. Over the years, the film has accumulated a cult following and has been referred to as a cult classic. Empire magazine also named An American Werewolf in London as the 107th greatest movie of all time in September 2008.

 

The film was followed by a 1997 sequel, An American Werewolf in Paris, which featured a completely different cast and none of the original crew.

 

Plot

 

Two American college students, David Kessler (David Naughton) and Jack Goodman (Griffin Dunne), are backpacking across the Yorkshire moors. As darkness falls, and they decide to stop for the night at a pub called "The Slaughtered Lamb". Jack notices a five-pointed star on the wall. When he asks about it, the pub becomes very quiet. The pub-goers start acting very strangely. The pair decide to leave, but not before the others offer them pieces of advice such as "Beware the moon, lads" and "Keep to the road." Whilst conversing with each other and wondering what they meant, they wander off the road, onto the moors.

 

Back at the pub, the owner gets very distressed and suggests that they go after the pair. As she says this, a sinister howling is heard. The rest of the pub-goers, having barricaded the door, decline. Back out on the moors, Jack and David have also heard the howls, and they seem to be steadily getting closer. They start back to the Slaughtered Lamb when they realize they are disorientated and lost on the moors. A full moon comes out from behind the clouds, and they remember the advice they were given earlier. The noises get steadily closer until they are stopped by a supernaturally large animal. The animal attacks both of them, and kills Jack. The animal is then shot and killed by the pub-goers, who have now emerged. David survives the mauling and is taken to a hospital in London. When he wakes up three weeks later, he does not remember what happened and is told of his friend's death. David is questioned by an arrogant inspector, and more understanding sergeant and learns that he and Jack were supposedly attacked by an escaped lunatic. David insists that they were actually attacked by a large wolf. But the inspector had already been told there were witnesses and an autopsy report of the maniac, so they deduce that David is suffering from shock. David has several nightmares at night (one of him running through the woods, decapitating and eating a deer, another of him in a hospital bed with a monstrous fanged face, and finally him at home where his family is attacked by Nazis with monstrous faces).

 

Things get stranger when Jack, now a reanimated corpse, comes to visit David, who explains that they had been attacked by a werewolf, and stating that David himself is, in fact, now a werewolf. Jack urges David to kill himself before the next full moon, not only because Jack is cursed to exist in a state of living death for as long as the bloodline of the werewolf that attacked them survives, but also to prevent David from inflicting the same fate on his eventual victims.

 

Trying to see if David is indeed telling the truth, his doctor takes a trip to the Slaughtered Lamb. However when asked about the incident, the pub-goers deny any knowledge of David, Jack or the wolf. But one distraught pub-goer speaks to the doctor outside the pub and says that David should not have been taken away, and that he and everyone else will be in danger when he changes. After more investigation, the doctor finds out that the police report was "misplaced", and that David's wounds were cleaned and dressed before he was even looked at. The doctor is convinced that the whole town was lying, and that David was indeed attacked by an animal, though he's not completely convinced it was a werewolf.

 

Upon his release from the hospital, David moves in with Alex Price (Jenny Agutter), the pretty young nurse who grew infatuated with him in the hospital. He stays in Alex's London apartment, where they later make love for the first time. Jack suddenly appears to David again and tells him that he will turn into a werewolf the next day. Jack advises David to take his own life; otherwise he is doomed to kill innocent people who will then become the living dead. When the full moon rises, as Jack had warned, he begins to feel excruciating pain before stripping nude and turning into a werewolf. In his werewolf form, David walks on all fours, is covered in shaggy gray fur, is larger than a regular wolf, and has a savage face with horrifying fanged jaws. He prowls the streets and the London Underground and slaughters six innocent Londoners. When he wakes in the morning, he is naked on the floor of the wolf cage at London Zoo with no memory of his nocturnal lupine adventures, but unharmed by the resident wolves.

 

David eventually realizes that Jack was right about everything and that he is responsible for the murders of the night before. David encounters Jack (in an advanced stage of decay) in a cinema in Picadilly Circus, this time accompanied by David's victims from the previous night. They all insist that he must commit suicide before turning into a werewolf again. Whilst talking with them, night falls and, consequently, David turns into a werewolf again and goes on another killing spree. Following a horrific melee, he is cornered in an alley by the police when Alex arrives to calm him down by telling him that she loves him. Though he is apparently temporarily softened, he is shot and killed when he lunges forward, returning to human form in front of a grieving Alex as he dies.

 

Cast

 

* David Naughton as David Kessler

* Griffin Dunne as Jack Goodman

* Jenny Agutter as Nurse Alex Price

* John Woodvine as Dr. J.S. Hirsch

* Lila Kaye as Barmaid

* Frank Oz as Mr. Collins / Miss Piggy

* John Landis as Man being smashed in window

* David Schofield as Dart Player

 

The producers wanted Dan Aykroyd in the role of David and John Belushi as Jack, but John Landis refused.

 

The credits congratulate Prince Charles and Diana Spencer for their wedding and contain the disclaimer "Any resemblance to any persons living, dead or undead is coincidental." A similar slogan appears during the ending credits of Michael Jackson's Thriller, a horror-based short film directed by Landis.

 

At the end of the credits is a promo card for Universal Studios urging viewers to "Ask for Babs." This is a reference to Landis' 1978 film National Lampoon's Animal House where the credits list the future occupations of the students, including Babs, who became a tour guide at Universal Studios. This same card appears in Landis' other films. Until the release of Animal House on VHS, asking for Babs at Universal Studios actually got people in for free.

 

History

 

John Landis came up with the story while he worked in Yugoslavia as a production assistant on the film Kelly's Heroes (1970). He and a Yugoslavian member of the crew were driving in the back of a car on location when they came across a group of gypsies. The gypsies appeared to be performing rituals on a man being buried so that he would not "rise from the grave." This made Landis realize that he could never be able to confront the undead and gave him the idea for a film in which a man of his own age would go through such a thing.

 

John Landis wrote the first draft of An American Werewolf in London in 1969 and shelved it for over a decade. Two years later, Landis wrote, directed and starred in his debut film, Schlock, which developed a cult following. Landis developed box-office status in Hollywood through the successful comedy films The Kentucky Fried Movie, National Lampoon's Animal House and The Blues Brothers before securing $10 million financing for his werewolf film. Financiers believed that Landis' script was too frightening to be a comedy and too funny to be a horror film.

 

Michael Jackson cited this film as his reason for working with Landis on his subsequent music videos, including Thriller and Black or White.

 

Makeup effects

 

According to Entertainment Weekly, the real star of this film is the Oscar-winning transformation effects by Rick Baker, which changed the face of horror makeup in the 1980s.

 

The various prosthetics and fake, robotic body parts used during the film's painful, extended werewolf transformation scenes and on Griffin Dunne when his character returns as a bloody, mangled ghost impressed the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences so much that they decided to create a new awards category at the Oscars specifically for the film — Outstanding Achievement in Makeup. Since the 1981 Academy Awards, this has been a regular category each year.

 

During the body casting sessions, the crew danced around David Naughton singing, "I'm a werewolf, you're a werewolf ... wouldn't you like to be a werewolf, too?" in reference to his days as a pitchman for Dr Pepper.

 

Cameos and bit parts

 

In the Piccadilly Circus sequence, the man hit by a car and thrown through a store window is Landis himself.

 

As in most of the director's movies, Frank Oz makes an appearance: first as Mr. Collins from the American embassy in the hospital scene, and later as Miss Piggy in a dream sequence, when David's younger siblings watch a scene from The Muppet Show that was never shown in the United States.

 

Actors in bit parts who were already—or would become—more well-known include the two chess players David and Jack meet in the pub, played by the familiar character actor Brian Glover and then-rising comedian and actor Rik Mayall. One of the policemen helping to chase and kill the werewolf is John Altman, who would later achieve fame as "Nasty" Nick Cotton in EastEnders. Alan Ford—later to appear in Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch—plays a taxi driver. The policeman in the cinema is played by John Salthouse and the policeman in Piccadilly Circus is played by Peter Ellis. Both Salthouse and Ellis appeared in police drama The Bill. David Schofield, known as Mercer from The Pirates of the Caribbean film series, plays the dart player at the Slaughtered Lamb and assists Dr. Hirsch in his investigation of David's attack.

 

Locations

 

The opening shots of the moors are near Hay Bluff, a mountain that straddles the Welsh border in Brecon Beacons National Park. The scenes were shot on the Welsh side of Hay Bluff, about four miles to the south of the town of Hay-on-Wye in the county of Powys. The scene where David and Jack get dropped off by the sheep farmer is by the stone circle, the same location where, later in the film, Dr. Hirsch stops and looks at the sign for East Proctor. The same road provides the scenery for the next two shots, where David and Jack talk about Debbie Klein.

 

East Proctor is a small hamlet ten miles to the west of Hay Bluff called Crickadarn. It is featured from the shot where David and Jack walk down a hill towards East Proctor. The exterior of the "Slaughtered Lamb" was a private house in Crickadarn dressed to look like a pub and the Angel of Death statue in the village was a prop created by the movie makers. The church next door is also still frequented, however the upper levels have now fallen into disrepair.

 

The interior of the "Slaughtered Lamb" was filmed in a pub called The Black Swan, Ockham, Surrey near Effingham. The bar was used but a false wall was built to make the pub look smaller. The Black Swan was re-furbished and extended to became a gastro pub in 2006 making it unrecognisable from the interior used for the film. In fact, until the late 70's , the interior of the Black Swan was far smaller...being the original rooms ( including an "off licence" area of the original design. It was knocked through into a long bar in an earlier act of "improvement" that ruined its charming character.

 

Nurse Alex's flat is located on Coleherne Road, just off Redcliffe Square (SW10), Kensington near to Earl's Court. In 1966, mere yards from the site of Alex's flat, Guinness heir Tara Browne died after crashing his Lotus Elan on the junction of Redcliffe Square and Redcliffe Gardens. The accident is puportedly the subject of the part one of A Day In The Life by The Beatles.

 

The attack at the tube station was set in — and filmed at — Tottenham Court Road tube station although the chase through the tunnels of the station were actually filmed at Charing Cross tube station.

 

The final sequence in the alleyway was filmed at Clink Street, London. The location is now almost unrecognisable, the area having been redeveloped since.

 

The scenes where David wakes up naked in the zoo were shot at London Zoo, Regent's Park.

 

Soundtrack

 

The film's ironically upbeat soundtrack consists of songs which refer in some way to the moon. Bobby Vinton's slow and soothing version of "Blue Moon" plays during the opening credits, Van Morrison's "Moondance" as David and Alex make love for the first time, Creedence Clearwater Revival's "Bad Moon Rising" as David is nearing the moment of changing to the werewolf, a soft, bittersweet ballad version of "Blue Moon" by Sam Cooke during the agonizing wolf transformation and The Marcels' doo-wop version of "Blue Moon" over the end credits.[5] Landis failed to get permission to use Cat Stevens' "Moonshadow" and Bob Dylan's "Moonshiner", both artists feeling the film to be inappropriate.[citation needed] It was stated on the DVD commentary by David Naughton and Griffin Dunne that they were not sure why Landis could not get the rights to Warren Zevon's "Werewolves of London" - a song that they felt would have been more appropriate for the film.

 

Reception

 

The budget of An American Werewolf in London was reportedly $10 million. The worldwide box office came to $30,565,292, making it a box office success.

 

The film was also met with critical acclaim, earning an 88% Fresh rating on rottentomatoes.com. Kim Newman of Empire magazine praised the film, saying "Carnivorous lunar activities rarely come any more entertaining than this". Tom Huddlestone from Time Out also gave the film a positive review, saying the film was "Not just gory but actually frightening, not just funny but clever". Roger Ebert's review was less favourable. He stated that "An American Werewolf in London seems curiously unfinished, as if director John Landis spent all his energy on spectacular set pieces and then didn't want to bother with things like transitions, character development, or an ending."

 

Radio adaptation

 

A radio adaptation of the film was broadcast on BBC Radio 1 in 1997, written and directed by Dirk Maggs and with Jenny Agutter, Brian Glover, and John Woodvine reprising the roles of Alex Price, the chess player (now named George Hackett, and with a more significant role as East Proctor's special constable) and Dr. Hirsch. The roles of David and Jack were played by Eric Meyers and William Dufris. Maggs' script added a backstory that some people in East Proctor are settlers from Eastern Europe and brought lycanthropy with them. The werewolf who bites David is revealed to be related to Hackett, and has escaped from an asylum where he is held under the name "Larry Talbot", the name of the title character in The Wolf Man.

 

Remake

 

In June 2009, it was announced that Dimension Films was working with producers Sean and Bryan Furst on a remake of the film.

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18. The Silence of the Lambs (1991)

 

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(5 of 20 lists - 79 points - highest rank #6 BigEdWalsh)

 

The Silence of the Lambs is a 1991 American thriller film, which blends elements of the crime and horror genres. It was directed by Jonathan Demme and stars Jodie Foster, Anthony Hopkins, Scott Glenn, and Ted Levine. It is based on the novel of the same name by Thomas Harris, his second to feature Dr. Hannibal Lecter, a brilliant psychiatrist and cannibalistic serial killer.

 

In the film, Clarice Starling, a young FBI trainee, seeks the advice of Hannibal Lecter, an imprisoned cannibal, for help in apprehending a serial killer known only as "Buffalo Bill".

 

When The Silence of the Lambs was released on February 14, 1991, it received much critical acclaim. The film won the top five Academy Awards: Best Picture, Best Actress, Best Actor, Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay.

 

Plot

 

Clarice Starling is pulled from her training at the FBI Academy at Quantico, Virginia, by Jack Crawford of the Bureau's Behavioral Science Unit. He tasks her with interviewing Hannibal Lecter, a former psychiatrist and incarcerated cannibalistic serial killer, believing Lecter's insight might be useful in the pursuit of a serial killer nicknamed "Buffalo Bill" who skins his female victims' corpses. Starling travels to the Baltimore State Hospital for the Criminally Insane, where she is led by Dr. Frederick Chilton to Lecter's solitary quarters. Although initially pleasant and courteous, Lecter grows impatient with Starling's attempts at "dissecting" him and rebuffs her. As she is leaving, one of the prisoners obscenely flicks semen at her. Lecter, who considers discourtesy "unspeakably ugly", calls Clarice back and tells her to seek out an old patient of his. Clarice is led to a storage lot where she discovers a man's severed head. She returns to Lecter, who tells her that the man is linked to Buffalo Bill. Though Lecter denies killing this man, he offers to profile Buffalo Bill if he can be transferred away from Chilton, whom he dislikes.

 

In light of Buffalo Bill's recent abduction of a U.S. Senator's daughter, Crawford authorizes Starling to offer Lecter a fake deal promising a prison transfer if he provides information that helps find Buffalo Bill and rescue the abductee. Instead, Lecter begins a game of quid pro quo with Starling, offering comprehensive clues and insights about Buffalo Bill in exchange for events from Starling's childhood, something she was advised not to do. Chilton secretly records the conversation and reveals Starling's deal as a sham before offering to transfer Lecter in exchange for a deal of Chilton's own making. Lecter agrees and is flown to Memphis where he reveals personal information on Buffalo Bill to federal agents. As the manhunt begins, Starling visits Lecter at his special cell in a Tennessee courthouse and confronts him with her decryption of the name he provided ("Louis Friend", which is an anagram of "iron sulfide"). Lecter refuses Starling's pleas for the truth, as she believes everything he stated was false, and forces her to recount her traumatic childhood. She tells him how she was orphaned, relocated to a relative's farm, discovered a lamb slaughterhouse and failed in an attempt to rescue one of the lambs. Lecter gives her the case files on Buffalo Bill, after their conversation is interrupted by Chilton and the police who escort her from the building. Later that evening, Lecter manages to escape from his cell, killing his two guards in the process, and disappears.

 

Starling analyzes Lecter's annotations to the case files and realizes that Buffalo Bill's first victim knew him personally before he killed her. Starling travels to the victim's hometown and discovers that Buffalo Bill was a tailor, with dresses and templates identical to the patches of skin removed from each of his victims. She telephones Crawford to inform him that Buffalo Bill is trying to fashion a "woman suit" of real skin, but Crawford is already en route to make an arrest, having cross-referenced Lecter's notes with a hospital's archives and finding a man named Jame Gumb who once applied for a sex-change operation. Starling continues interviewing friends of Buffalo Bill's first victim while Crawford leads an FBI tactical team to Gumb's address in Illinois. Starling is led to the house of "Jack Gordon", who she realizes is actually Jame Gumb. She pursues him into his multi-room basement where she discovers the recently-abducted Senator's daughter alive, but traumatized and trapped in a dry well. After turning off the basement lights, Gumb stalks Starling in the dark with night vision goggles but gives his position away when he cocks his revolver, and is shot to death by Starling.

 

Some time later at the FBI Academy graduation party, Starling receives a phone call from Lecter, who is at an airport in Bimini. He assures her that he does not plan to pursue her and asks her to show him the same courtesy, which she says she cannot do. Lecter then hangs up the phone, saying he's "having an old friend for dinner", and begins following a newly-arrived Chilton, who is fleeing since Lecter is at large.

 

Cast

 

* Jodie Foster as Clarice Starling

* Anthony Hopkins as Dr. Hannibal Lecter

* Scott Glenn as Jack Crawford

* Ted Levine as Jame Gumb, "Buffalo Bill"

* Anthony Heald as Frederick Chilton

* Brooke Smith as Catherine Martin

* Kasi Lemmons as Ardelia Mapp

* Frankie Faison as Barney Matthews

* Diane Baker as Sen. Ruth Martin

* Charles Napier as Lt. Boyle

* Danny Darst as Sgt. Tate

* Alex Coleman as Sgt. Jim Pembry

* Dan Butler as Roden

* Paul Lazar as Pilcher

* Ron Vawter as Paul Krendler

* Roger Corman as FBI Director Hayden Burke

* Chris Isaak as SWAT Commander

* Harry Northup as Mr Bimmel

* Masha Skorobogatov as Young Clarice Starling

 

Pre-production

 

Casting

 

Michelle Pfeiffer was initially offered the role of Clarice Starling, but turned it down. She has said about her rejection of the part, "that was a difficult decision, but I got nervous about the subject matter." According to Jonathan Demme, there were 300 applicants for the role of Clarice Starling.

 

Production

 

The Silence of the Lambs was distributed by Orion Pictures; MGM (who bought Orion in 1997) currently holds the rights.

 

Response

 

Critical

 

Anthony Hopkins and Jodie Foster gained overwhelming acclaim with their portrayals of Hannibal Lecter and Clarice Starling, even though Hopkins' screen time in the entire film is just over 16 minutes. Their respective portrayals won both of them Academy Awards in 1992.

 

The Silence of the Lambs was a sleeper hit that only gradually gained widespread success. The film ultimately received widespread critical acclaim; Rotten Tomatoes records that The Silence of the Lambs received a 96% positive response from critics. Anthony Hopkins and Jodie Foster also received praise for their performances. Roger Ebert specifically mentioned the "terrifying qualities" of Hannibal Lecter, and has since recognized the film as a "horror masterpiece," alongside such classics as Nosferatu, Psycho, and Halloween. However, the film is also notable for being one of two multi-Oscar winners disapproved of by Ebert's colleague, Gene Siskel, the other being Unforgiven.

 

Box office

 

Domestic Box Office

 

Opening Weekend $13,766,814

% of Total Gross 10.5%

Close Date 10 October 1991

Total U.S. Gross $130,742,922

Worldwide Box Office

Total Worldwide Gross $272,742,922

 

Awards and honors

 

Academy Awards record

 

1. Best Actress, Jodie Foster

2. Best Actor, Anthony Hopkins

3. Best Director, Jonathan Demme

4. Best Picture, Edward Saxon, Kenneth Utt, Ronald M. Bozman

5. Best Adapted Screenplay, Ted Tally

 

Golden Globe Awards record

 

1. Best Actress, Jodie Foster

 

BAFTA Awards record

 

1. Best Actor, Anthony Hopkins

2. Best Actress, Jodie Foster

 

Jonathan Demme won an Academy Award for Best Director. Jodie Foster and Anthony Hopkins both won Oscars for their roles as Clarice Starling and Dr. Hannibal Lecter, respectively. The film won additional Oscars for Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Picture.

 

Other awards include "Best Picture" from CHI Awards, the "best film" from PEO Awards, and Best Film from National Board of Review, all in 1991. Jonathan Demme was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for best director. The film was nominated for "best film" at the BAFTA Awards (British Academy of Film and Television Arts). In 1992, Ted Tally received an Edgar Award for Best Motion Picture Screenplay. In 1991, the film was awarded Best Horror Film of the Year during the 2nd Horror Hall of Fame Telecast. Vincent Price presented the award to the film's Executive Producer Gary Goetzman.

 

In 1998, the film was listed as one of the 100 greatest movies in the past 100 years by the American Film Institute. In 2006 at the Key Art Awards, the original poster for The Silence of the Lambs was named best film poster "of the past 35 years".

 

The Silence of the Lambs placed seventh on Bravo's 100 Scariest Movie Moments for Lecter's infamous escape scene. The American Film Institute named Hannibal Lecter (as portrayed by Hopkins) the number one film villain of all time and Clarice Starling (as portrayed by Foster) the sixth greatest film hero of all time.

 

American Film Institute recognition

 

* AFI's 100 Years... 100 Movies - #65

* AFI's 100 Years... 100 Thrills - #5

* AFI's 100 Years... 100 Heroes and Villains:

o Clarice Starling - Hero #6

o Dr. Hannibal Lecter - Villain #1

* 2005, AFI's 100 Years... 100 Movie Quotes - #21

o "A census taker once tried to test me. I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice Chianti."

* AFI's 100 Years... 100 Movies (10th Anniversary Edition) - #74

 

Accusations of homophobia and sexism

 

Upon its release, The Silence of the Lambs was criticized by members of the gay community for being what they perceived as another in a long line of negative on-screen portrayals of LGBT characters in the absence of any positive portrayals, but the director Jonathan Demme's next project was the AIDS-related drama Philadelphia which featured a homosexual as the protagonist.

 

In a 1992 interview with Playboy magazine, notable feminist and women's rights advocate Betty Friedan stated, "I thought it was absolutely outrageous that The Silence of the Lambs won four Oscars. [...] I'm not saying that the movie shouldn't have been shown. I'm not denying the movie was an artistic triumph, but it was about the evisceration, the skinning alive of women. That is what I find offensive. Not the Playboy centerfold."

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17. The Birds (1963)

 

220px-The_Birds_original_poster.jpg

 

(4 of 20 lists - 80 points - highest rank #1 Rex Kickass)

 

The Birds is a 1963 suspense horror film directed by Alfred Hitchcock based on the 1952 novella The Birds by Daphne du Maurier. It depicts Bodega Bay, California which is, suddenly and for unexplained reasons, the subject of a series of widespread and violent bird attacks over the course of a few days.

 

The screenplay was written by Evan Hunter.

 

Synopsis

 

Melanie Daniels (Tippi Hedren) is a young wealthy socialite who meets a lawyer, Mitch Brenner (Rod Taylor), in a San Francisco pet shop. Mitch pretends to mistake her for a salesperson, which infuriates Melanie and leads her to inquire as to the reason for his behavior. He mentions a previous encounter that he had with her. Intrigued by Mitch, Melanie finds the address of his home in Bodega Bay, California. She drives there and visits his house by sneaking across the small harbor in a motor boat, leaving a note. As she is heading back across the bay, a seagull swoops down and inflicts a cut on her head.

 

Over the next few days, the avian attacks continue, as Melanie's relationship with Mitch, his clinging mother, Lydia (Jessica Tandy), his young sister, Cathy (Veronica Cartwright), and Cathy's teacher (who is also Mitch's ex lover) Annie Hayworth (Suzanne Pleshette) develops. The second strange bird incident occurs when Melanie stays for the night at Hayworth's house and a gull kills itself upon hitting the front door. The next attack occurs at Cathy's party. Avian violence escalates when Lydia discovers a friend dead in his bedroom.

 

After another attack by crows at the school, an argument erupts at the local bar. One resident believes the attacks are a sign of the apocalypse, but an out-of-town woman yells at them for scaring her children. An old woman (Ethel Griffies), an amateur ornithologist, insists that calling birds' behavior attacks is an exaggeration, and no bird species flocks and attacks. Despite her words, a motorist is attacked while filling his car with gasoline; he is knocked unconscious, and the gasoline continues to pump out onto the street. An explosion and fire result, and more deaths occur when there's another attack. While hiding inside the bar, the scared mother believes Melanie is the cause of these attacks. After this attack subsides, Melanie and Mitch find Annie dead on her front porch and Cathy crying at the window.

 

Melanie and Mitch's family take refuge in Mitch's house, boarding up the windows. The house is attacked by the birds and they almost manage to break through the doors. In the evening, when everyone else is asleep, Melanie hears noises from the upper floor and finds that the birds have broken through the roof. They attack her, sealing her in the room until Mitch comes to her rescue. Lydia and Mitch tend to Melanie, but determine she must get to a hospital. A sea of landed birds ripples menacingly around them as they leave the house but do not attack, aside from a few pecks. The radio reports several smaller bird attacks in nearby communities. Mitch drives the car slowly towards the road before picking up speed. The film concludes with the car driving away, down the coast road and out of sight, as thousands of birds watch.

 

Cast

 

* Tippi Hedren - Melanie Daniels

* Rod Taylor - Mitch Brenner

* Jessica Tandy - Lydia Brenner

* Veronica Cartwright - Cathy Brenner

* Suzanne Pleshette - Annie Hayworth

 

Soundtrack

 

The Birds lacks a conventional incidental score but rather uses sound effects and sparse source music in counterpoint to calculated silences. Oskar Sala and Remi Gassmann are credited with "electronic sound production and composition," and Hitchcock's previous musical collaborator Bernard Herrmann has a credit as "sound consultant." Some of the bird sounds were created by Sala and Gassmann on the Mixtur-Trautonium. Source music includes Claude Debussy's Deux arabesques, which Tippi Hedren's character plays on piano, and "Risseldy Rosseldy", an Americanized version of the Scottish folk song "Wee Cooper O'Fife", which is sung by the schoolchildren.

 

Premiere and awards

 

The film debuted at a prestigious invitational showing at the 1963 Cannes Film Festival with Hitchcock and Hedren in attendance. In March 1963, the Museum of Modern Art in New York City also had an invitation-only screening of The Birds as part of a 50-film retrospective of Hitchcock's film work. The MOMA series had a booklet with a monograph on Hitchcock written by Peter Bogdanovich.

 

The Birds was nominated for an Academy Award in the category of Special Effects. The effect of the flapping of the birds' wings was done in the Disney Studios by animator Ub Iwerks who used the Disney's sodium vapor process ("yellow screen"). The SV process films the subject against a screen lit with narrow-spectrum sodium vapor lights. Unlike most compositing processes, SVP actually shoots two separate elements of the footage simultaneously using a beam-splitter. One reel is regular film stock and the other a film stock with emulsion sensitive only to the sodium vapor wavelength. This results in very precise matte shots compared to blue screen special effects, necessary due to "fringing" of the image from the birds' rapid wing flapping.

 

However, the 1963 Special Effects award went to Cleopatra. Tippi Hedren received the Golden Globe Award for New Star Of The Year - Actress in 1964, sharing it with Ursula Andress and Elke Sommer. She also received the Photoplay Award as Most Promising Newcomer. The film ranked number one of the top ten foreign films selected by the Bengal Film Journalists' Association Awards. The Association also awarded Alfred Hitchcock the Best Director Award for the film.

 

Factual basis

 

On 18 August 1961, residents in the town of Capitola, California, awoke to find sooty shearwaters slamming into their rooftops, and their streets covered with dead birds. News reports suggested domoic acid poisoning (amnesic shellfish poisoning) as the cause. According to a local newspaper, the Santa Cruz Sentinel, Alfred Hitchcock requested news copy in 1961 to use as "research material for his latest thriller".

 

Sequel and remake

 

A sequel, The Birds II: Land's End, was released in 1994 starring a different cast of characters. The movie was a direct-to-television film and was met with very negative reviews. The film's director, Rick Rosenthal, took his name off of it, opting instead to use the infamous Hollywood pseudonym Alan Smithee. It featured co-star Tippi Hedren in a different role from the one in the original film.

 

In 2007, Variety reported that Naomi Watts would star in Universal's remake of the film. The remake would also star George Clooney and would be directed by Casino Royale director Martin Campbell. The production would be a joint venture by Platinum Dunes and Mandalay Pictures. Later in 2007, original star Tippi Hedren publicly stated her opposition to the remake, saying "Why would you do that? Why? I mean, can’t we find new stories, new things to do?".

 

Development has been stalled since the original announcement in 2007. On June 16, 2009, Brad Fuller of Dimension Films stated that no further developments had taken place, commenting "We keep trying, but I don't know." Martin Campbell was eventually replaced as director by Platinum Dunes host Dennis Iliades in December 2009.

 

James Nguyen, the director of the B movie Birdemic: Shock and Terror, said his film was a tribute to Hitchcock's The Birds.

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