100 Days of Horror welcomes you to ... SATANFEST 2013

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"Y'all know me, know how I earn a livin'. I'll catch this bird for you, but it ain't gonna be easy. Bad fish! Not like going down to the pond and chasing bluegills and tommycods. This shark, swallow ya whole. Little shakin', little tenderizin', and down you go. And we gotta do it quick, that'll bring back the tourists, that'll put all your businesses on a payin' basis. But it's not gonna be pleasant! I value my neck a lot more than three thousand bucks, chief. I'll find him for three, but I'll catch him, and kill him, for ten. But you've gotta make up your minds. If you want to stay alive, then ante up. If you want to play it cheap, be on welfare the whole winter. I don't want no volunteers, I don't want no mates, there's too many captains on this island. Ten thousand dollars for me by myself. For that you get the head, the tail, the whole damn thing."

Thursday, September 16, 2010

100 Days of Horror Day Fifty-Five - "Firestarter/1408!"

Hey hey folks, a little change in the lineup today - instead of the planned Creature Feature, "The Creature from the Black Lagoon," we are instead watching another Stephen King drive-in double feature, "Firestarter" and "1408."

The problem is that I thought I had "Creature" but it turns out no. However I am in the process of downloading it as we speak so it should be good to go for tomorrow!

Personally, I like the King double feature bills! I like most of his movies - in fact, there's a three or four day King marathon coming soon.

So thanks as always for reading! We WILL be watching "Creature" tomorrow, so tune in and play along!

Firestarter (1984): Directed by Mark. L Lester. Starring Drew Barrymore, Davod Keith, George C. Scott, Moses Gunn, Art Carney, Freddie Jones and Louise Fletcher.

The Skinny: Based on Stephen King's 1980 book of the same name, the eponymous "firestarter" is 10-year-old Charlie, a young girl with the power of pyrokinesis, who is being pursued by agents of the government whose program spawned hers - and many others' - powers.

What's Good: This is one of the so-so King movies, in my humble opinion. They tried REAL hard, I'll grant them that - they cast George C. Scott, who is always a smash, and Drew Barrymore at the height of her 80s popularity. So what went wrong? Okay, wait this is supposed to be what's good ... well, Scott as I said is always great, even when he's chewing the scenery. So what makes this movie work is the relationship between his assassin, John Rainbird, and Barrymore's Charlie. Once she's been captured, Rainbird insinuates his way into her life by pretending to be a sympathetic housecleaner. It's creepy to watch, because the relationship takes on an odd sheen - almost like he's grooming her, when in fact he plans to kill her (and the line Scott delivers when he tells us about that goal is absolutely fucking chilling).

What's Bad: The movie isn't sure if it's supposed to be a drama or an action thriller, so it kind of fails at both. And it also fails at being a "horror" movie as much of the existential fear the characters experience in the novel are absent in the movie. You can rest assured, however, that this movie is found in the "horror" section of your favorite movie provider. And as usual with movies from the 80s, there's poor lighting in the night and street scenes and not-so-great sound at times, too. But it's still worth a look, if for no reason that to watch Barrymore exercise the chops that one day made her a superstar. It's also funny to note that she was (allegedly) smoking weed, drinking champaign and snorting coke at that age, so you wonder in those scenes where she's sweating if it is indeed the heat of the fires she's starting that's making her perspire or the line she just had in her trailer.

Why We Like It: Like I said, Scott is a powerhouse as the ponytailed assassin Rainbird, one of King's most enigmatic characters of all time.

Memorable Stuff: The best scene in the film is when Charlie and her dad seek refuge at an old couple's farmhouse that quickly erupts into a conflagration when agents from The Shop show up to capture them. When Charlie unleashes her pyrokinetic powers, cars explode and flip upside down and men burst into spontaneous flame. It is one of the movie's most effective stunt scenes.

1408 (2007) Directed by Mikael Halstrom. Starring John Cusack, Samuel L. Jackson and Mary McCormack.

The Skinny: Based on a short story from King's "Everything's Eventual" compilation, "1408" is the number of a room in the Dolphin Hotel in New York that is supposedly the most haunted place one could imagine. Enter Mike Enslin - author, skeptic and haunted house debunker. But what he experiences in the room is far beyond the cold spots and specters he's encountered previously.

What's Good: This is actually an effective thriller with a few moments of true fear. Much of the film - in fact, the majority of it - is just Cusack in a room dealing with horror after horror. And Enslin is one of King's great flawed characters - a writer with a dark past filled with death and tragedy. And it's those very events that come back to haunt him once he's securely locked in Room 1408. Because like the dead tree in the Dagobah bog where Luke encounters his father/Darth Vader, the only horror in Room 1408 is what you take with you.

What's Bad: There is a much dark and more satisfying ending where Cusack's character dies, but instead we get Samuel L. Jackson looking off into the distance, nodding and saying "Well done, Mr. Enslin. Well Done." It is one of the worst pat endings I have EVER seen in my life. And if you haven't seen it, fear not - I haven't ruined the ending for you. No, King has one last horror in store for you at the bitter end, because he likes to stick it in deep and break it off.

Why We Like It: Cusack carries the whole damn picture and he is in fine cocky form for much of it. The movie gets a little tedious at about the 2/3 mark, however, and you can get a little tired of being hit with spooky thing after spooky thing. It's no "The Mist<" and it's no "The Dead Zone," but younger viewers who cut their horror teeth on "Saw" and "Hostel" need some of teh special effects and gritty violence more than a deep character meditation like "Dead Zone" or "The Shining," so they're probably love this movie.

Memorable Stuff: I don't want to give too much away here, but Cusack's run-ins with his deceased daughter are chilling and dark. Much of the rest of the movie is a study on how much one man can take before what he's experiencing changes him at his core.