Category Archives: Genre

drama, comedy, mystery, film noir, independent, studio,

Film Noir Friday: Laura

Canadian
Laura

Detective Mark McPherson investigates the apparent murder of advertising executive Laura Hunt. Told in flashback by Newspaper columnist Waldo Lydecker, Laura follows the detective as he falls in love with her through diaries and a portrait that hangs on her wall.
Gene Tierney stars as Laura, the titular character whose image floats through the film as if she were a mythical creature. Dana Andrews stars opposite her as the detective, Clifton Webb is Waldo Lydecker, Vincent Price is Shelby Carpenter, a role that would surprise today’s audiences, and Dorothy Adams is Bessie Clary.
Laura was adapted to screen from the 1943 novel of the same name by Vera Caspary. Directed and Produced by Otto Preminger, Laura is a classic Film Noir making lists of the top Noir’s for years.
While today’s audience may not find themselves as satisfied with the reveal, Laura still stands the test of time. A successful and talented woman is at the helm. Put on a pedestal by all the men, today’s feminist audience may see these male characters in a less than romantic light.
Film Noir has allowed women to take on roles usually reserved for men. After the Hayes Code was instated women typically portrayed the love interest, the wife, or the daughter. Occasionally they got to play roles far more interesting than that and Laura was a role worth having. Gene Tierney is perfect, as it is believable that any man could fall for her on her portrait alone. She has an essence that pours off the screen; her image excites us as she glides through the memories and imaginations of the other characters. While this role puts Tierney in a place of objectification she is also a strong and smart woman who fights against the ideas that men have of her.

 

laura2
Gene Tierney and Vincent Price

Laura could have been created for the young starlet who by this time was best known for her film Heaven Can Wait alongside Don Ameche. While other good roles came before Laura better ones came after. Tierney would go on to star in Leave Her to Heaven alongside Cornel Wilde, Jeanne Crain and once again, Vincent Price. Vincent Price would appear in a few more roles outside of the genre he is most associated with but would eventually find his home in horror.

 

 

 

Netflix Pick of the Week: Scream

d080eddde4f7498799dd95c3ce1facbca307c639
Released in 1996

Since I’ve been on a Wes Craven kick I’ve decided to choose this nineties gem and Kevin Williamson written slasher starring Neve Campbell, Courtney Cox, and David Arquette, Skeet Ulrich, Matthew Lillard, Rose McGowan, Jamie Kennedy and Drew Barrymore as my Netflix Pick of the Week. A standout picture that has now become cliche due to the saturated market of teen horror that has tried to imitate it, Scream is a great movie born out of a clever script.

Self aware and witty, this nineties slasher knew what it was doing. Scream is more than your typical horror film, while playing with some of the rules set in to motion before slasher scripts were a thing, Scream found its own way in to the heads of its audience. While there are certain things you may question (check out cinema sins Everything Wrong with Scream) the good far out ways the bad. An enjoyable movie that I return to at least once a year, Scream is a classic thanks to great direction by Craven and a fun script by Williamson.

images

The cast of characters are far more complex than the characters of this films predecessors. Randy, played by Jamie Kennedy, is the know-it all film buff. He is the odd one out in a group of friends including final girl, Sidney Prescott, who is still reeling from mother’s murder one year prior to the events of the film. Her boyfriend Billy Loomis, with his perfect teen heartthrob hair, is the brooding type while his best friend Stu is the goofball. Tatum is the best friend and the perfect foil to her good girl friend, Sidney. Apart from the high school students is Dewey, a sheriff and brother to Tatum, and Gale Weathers, a reporter who believes Sidney was wrong about the man she accused of killing her mother. There is also a special appearance by Henry Wrinkler as the Principle and a cameo by Director Wes Craven who appears as a Janitor that looks suspiciously like Freddy Kruger.

The film is brutal but not gory. Funny and is dramatic without becoming overly cheesy. There are many ways this film could have gone wrong but while refusing to take itself seriously, Scream is able to standout in a difficult genre.

Checkout MTV’s Scream, on Netflix, A Nightmare on Elm Street and New Nightmare by Director Wes Craven are on Netflix and The Vampire Diaries and The Following created by Kevin Williams are also available on the streaming website.

Don’t forget to follow Ainsley on Instagram, Twitter and like on Facebook. Feel free to share, comment and make requests.

Suspense Saturday: Murder!

murder-1930-directed-by-alfred-hitchcock-us-film-poster
Murder! released in 1930

Let’s go back to the early days of Hitchcock. In 1930 Alfred Hitchcock was still a budding director; co-written by Hitchcock, his wife Alma Reville and Walter C. Mycroft it is based on a book and play Enter Sir John by Clemence Dane and Helen Simpson. The third talkie film directed by the future master of suspense Murder! may not be one of his most popular films but when you watch it you will see the directors signature from the beginning.

Actress Diana Baring, played by Norah Baring, is accused of murdering fellow actress Edna Druce when she is found in a daze with blood on her clothes and the weapon at her feet. She has no recollection of the events and the police arrest her due to the damning evidence. The two young actresses are thought to be rivals and she withholds information that could help the police. After she is found guilty, juror and actor-manager Sir John Menier played by Herbert Marchass, feels responsible so he begins investigating the crime to prove her innocence.

Spoiler Alert

His investigation leads him to another actor in the troupe. Menier fakes an audition, calling in actor Handell Fane, who often plays cross-dressing roles. When Fane realizes that he is accusing him of the crime he leaves and goes to his job in the circus. When he realizes that he is caught, Fane hangs himself while performing his trapeze act. If it wasn’t for the work of Menier, Diana would have suffered that same fate in prison.

Murder! has me feeling more sympathy towards the actual perpetrator of the crime than I do for the women falsely accused. Considering the time of this film I highly doubt that was the intention but also, knowing Hitchcock, he probably wanted us to feel things far beyond our own comfort zones. Was that intentional?I don’t know, but like in all art, it is entirely up to our own interpretation.

Murder! is available to watch on Amazon Prime as well as on various free streaming sites.

 

Film Noir Friday: Fourteen Hours

fourteen-hours1
Richard Basehart and Paul Douglas in Fourteen Hours

Fourteen Hours, is a lesser known Film Noir from 1951, directed by Henry Hathaway and Written by John Paxton. Based on an article by Joel Sayre in The New Yorker describing the 1938 suicide of John William Warden. The film was shot in New York and is the film debut of Grace Kelly in a small role.

The film follows a cop as he attempts to coerce a suicidal man off the ledge of a building. Onlookers and family discord make the situation worse as the Officer attempts to gain the unstable man’s trust. Over the course of fourteen hours he succeeds in winning him over only to have his efforts continually messed up due to those around him.

My happiest surprise while watching this film was the treatment of mental illness and the reality the stigma towards it. People on the streets are seen as being both sympathetic and horrible towards the situation. Below the man on the ledge, taxi drivers are placing bets and kids are mocking him. While this is a harsh view it is a true one and a view we still live with today. Far too often people forget that those suffering from a mental illness and those on the brink of suicide are ill and they need help. However we don’t view it in the same vein as physical illnesses like cancer so we have a distorted view of the harsh reality.

On the streets and in the buildings of New York, life continued. People went to work, found their ways back to each other and managed to find love. It is a Hollywood movie after all. You could’t expect them to make a movie with at least a little romance did you? Fourteen Hours breaks up the drama that exist on the ledge by showing us his affect on those below him and how they react to the situation. While this film may not be as well known as Noir classics  Laura and Double Indemnity, it still works with a great script and superb acting by the films star, Robert Cosick.

Two endings to the film exist. The original and preferred ending by the Director has Robert falling to his death but due to the suicide of Fox President, Spyros Skouras daughter on the day of the films preview the ending was changed to have Robert survive.

Netflix Pick of the Week: Hush

25910920543_95a26f337c

Directed by: Mike Flanagan

Written by: Mike Flanagan & Katie Siegel

Starring: Katie Siegel,  John Gallagher, Jr, Michael Trucco, Samantha Sloyan,  Emma Graves

Genre: Home Invasion, Thriller

Plot: A deaf writer lives a secluded life in the woods. She must fight for her life when a masked killer begins terrorizing her.

Review: 

A new entry into the home invasion thriller genre, Hush premiered at South By Southwest in March. Distributed by Netflix, Hush was released in April to rave reviews. Different than most films from the genre due to its heroins deafness, Hush gave us a great protagonist to root for. There is a total of five characters seen in the film, one on Skype and two others for a short period of time. The majority of the scenes feature the man and Maddie. Hush is easily one of the most minimalist films of all time. With roughly 15 minutes of dialogue there is 70 minutes that go without and it is a true testament to this films greatness that you are not really aware of that until the end.

A smart use of the genre that often comes off as lack luster. Instead of saying, “been there, done that,” you will be pleasantly surprised. Maddie, the man character is a writer and being that I am also a writer I related to her. For all creatives out there you will find something in Maddie as well. The way she comes up with stories is mentioned early on and put into use later on in the film. Hush, made great use of foreshadowing. They gave us pieces of information that kept us informed without giving too much away. If you are looking for something new to watch, a new horror film to add to your favorites list or anxiously looking through your Netflix queue for something to watch why not check out Hush?

 

 

 

 

 

Five Favorite Kid Halloween movies

When you really love a film it doesn’t matter how old you are. You still want to scower through YouTube to find if it’s been uploaded or search website after website to see if you can find it. On Halloween this happens quite a lot for me. I look for my favorite Halloween films that I watched every time they where on as a child. Some I now own and others are hard to find. Here are five of my favorite Halloween movies for kids in no particular order.

Tower of Terror

Tower of Terror
This Disney film was a Halloween season staple when it was first released. Starring Steve Guttenberg and a young Kirsten Dunst Tower of Terror was follows a disgraced reporter as he investigates an abandoned luxury hotel where five people mysteriously disappeared sixty years earlier.
Trivia: Most of the footage of the tower was shot inside and outside of the actual Tower of Terror.

Under Wraps

Under Wraps
This Disney Halloween favorite can still be seen late at night on Disney during the month of October. It was one of my favorite Halloween films as a child and still a fun favorite till this day. It fallows three kids who accidentally re-animate a mummy on Halloween night.
Trivia: All by Myself is the only song featured in the film.

Don't Look under the bed

Don’t Look Under the Bed
I often forget this Disney film until I see it mentioned somewhere. However it was a part of my viewing pleasure anytime it appeared on TV when I was a child. After being framed for pranks my a mysterious boogeyman Frances calls on her brothers imaginary friend Larry Houdini to help banish it.

halloweentown

Halloweentown
A Disney Channel classic for the 90’s kid generation Halloweentown stars Hollywood legend Debbie Reynolds. A witch comes to town asking for her daughters help to defeat a dark force in their home realm. The daughter refuses, as she is leaving her grandchildren follow her on to the flying bus. They soon must help their grandmother defeat what is causing the witches and various creatures of Halloween town to turn in to something they are not.

Hocus Pocus

Hocus Pocus
Hey Halloween staple for many Hocus Pocus follows the Sanderson sisters after they are resurrected by a virgin on Halloween. It takes two teenagers, a young girl and an immortal cat to stop the three witches.
Trivia: Though this film was meant to be a Disney Channel original it caught the eye of the studios who believed it was strong enough to be placed in Theaters.

Five Haunting Favorites.

Hello everyone. I have been M.I.A for a while and I apologize. Since it is Halloween aka my favorite time of year I thought I would make a few, Halloween/Scary/Horror inspired list. The first one is my Five Favorite Haunting movies. Rather you see the ghost, rather the house is just plane spooky or its all the work of those pesky Poltergeist here are five of my favorite Haunting films. Counting down from five to one.

0RDssc2iTP8.movieposter

5. Poltergeist
This Steven Spielberg produced film surrounds a family who deal with the poltergeist that have taken over their home. What starts as fun turns terrifying when their young daughter Carol Ann played by the late Heather O’Rourke is nowhere to be found. The film was a fun family style horror film that spawned less well received sequels.
Trivia: The film series is believed to be cursed due to the use of real skeletons in the picture. Apparently it was cheaper to use real ones instead of plastic models.

MV5BMTM3NjA1NDMyMV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMDQzNDMzOQ@@._V1_SX214_AL_

4. The Conjuring
The Conjuring follows paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren as they help a family terrorized by a presence in their new home.
Trivia: Based on a true story The Conjuring is based on one of the cases of real life Paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren.

House on Haunted hill

3.House on Haunted Hill
Vincent Price stars as eccentric millionaire Fredrick Loren. Along with his wife Annabelle he invites five people to stay over night at the house on Haunted Hill for a Haunted house party. If they stay through the night they will earn Ten thousand dollars. Over the course of their stay they are haunted by ghost and murderers.
Trivia: The film is public domain.

The Haunting

2.The Haunting
Two paranormal scientist’s invite two women to a haunted mansion. One of the women begins to lose her sanity.
Trivia:Based on Shirley Jackson’s novel The Haunting of Hill House.  The character played by Claire Bloom was a lesbian but due to the sensors the studios would not allow her character to touch Eleanor played by Julie Harris.

The Innocents

1. The Innocents
A governess played by Deborah Kerr is convinced that the house is haunted. Kerr regards this as one of her finest performances and with good reason. The atmosphere of the film paired with the fine acting makes for a very sinister film.
Trivia: Based on The Turn of the Screw by Henry James.