Halloween (1978)

In 1963, six year old Michael Myers murdered his older sister with a knife on Halloween night, and was sentenced to a mental institution under the guidance and examination of Dr. Loomis (Donald Pleasence). Fifteen years later, on the day before Halloween, Michael escapes and heads for his home town of Haddonfield, Illinois, with murderous intent.
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Carrie (1976)

This review was originally written as part of my USA Road Trip for French Toast Sunday.

Carrie White (Sissy Spacek) is a social outcast due to her crippling shyness, awkward nature and plain, dowdy appearance, all a product of her intensely overbearing religious mother (Piper Laurie). Carrie’s pariah status comes to a head when, after a particularly bad gym class, she experiences her first period in the communal shower at school and, not understanding what is happening, she believes she is bleeding to death and pleads with the others for assistance, who only provide mocking and humiliation. Her mother believes the blood to be a curse from Satan and locks Carrie in a closet, but it seems all this mental and physical torment is causing the traumatised girl to develop telekinetic powers.    spacek reflection Continue reading

My Week in Movies, 2015 Week 43

I’ve been thinking about a couple of things this past week, one of which is density – sorry, I mean destiny. I’m a sceptic about pretty much every aspect of life, so I hold no faith in notions of pre-determined actions and events projecting the routes our lives will follow, yet sometimes so many obstacles will conspire against one particular thing I’m trying to accomplish that I can’t help but have my doubts, especially when that thing at least tangentially relates to otherworldly situations. Yep, I’m still going on about the John Carpenter Lambcast, the one I fought tooth and claw to arrange last weekend, only for just one other person to show up.
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Well we re-arranged it for this past weekend, immediately after the normally scheduled show and, as could have been predicted in the Gilliam-esque quest that has been this show, people had to drop out. Firstly was the guy who was there last week, who couldn’t make the new recording time, so I felt really crap about having to let him go when I couldn’t move the time around. Then someone else dropped out a few hours before the show. Cue me scrambling around Twitter and my email contacts, scouting out for anyone who had seen just a handful of his films, enough to have a discussion. Two people replied. Phew. The first show recorded well, albeit with one slightly under the weather guest, and when it came to recording the Carpenter show, one of those last minute replacements didn’t appear, and still hadn’t shown up 30 minutes later. It turned out to be technical difficulties, and from a guest who doesn’t have an Internet phone, so contacting me wasn’t a possibility, and fortunately a replacement was found mid-show, and overall the show recorded well, has been edited and posted (hence why this show is a little later this week, sorry about that), but I can’t help thinking maybe there were so many “signs” that it shouldn’t have taken place. Then again, if that really were the case then the brief period I suffered through yesterday when Internet went down for a few hours (another reason this post is late) would surely have occurred either the night before, when I was trying to post the show, or on Sunday evening itself, when we were recording. No, I think it’s safe to say I’m just being paranoid and melodramatic.
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It’s this easily-quashed realist’s approach to the supernatural that makes it so difficult for me to become absorbed into paranormal horror films. I’ve seen a few this past week and as soon as it becomes blatant that something otherworldly is behind the scary situations I instantly check out any possibility of this film scaring me, because I know it isn’t real. Over the next few days you’ll see what I mean a little better, with reviews for the likes of Poltergeist and Halloween heading your way, but for now, here’s what I watched this week:
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My Week in Movies, 2015 Week 42

Sometimes I think of my blog as a means of chronicling my failures, and this week’s post is no different. The fact that I refer to it as “This week’s post” rather than being more specific says it all as to my output lately. It seems I’ve lost my review-writing mojo recently. Whenever I sit down at the keyboard my mind dries up like a sponge in a kiln. I’ve had half a review of Carrie written for French Toast Sunday for weeks, and I’m about a month late for a review of John Wick for Blueprint: Review, not to mention the 12 other films I’ve watched and not reviewed yet.

It doesn’t help how busy I’ve been recently, and how little has gone to plan weekend and evening-wise. Take this past weekend, for example. Yesterday’s scheduled Lambcast was a John Carpenter Director Retrospective. The intention was for myself and my guests to discuss nine of Carpenter’s bigger films, all of which were ones I’d either never seen, wasn’t very familiar with or really wanted to re-watch, so I’d planned to watch them all, which is what most of the rest of this post will cover. Tuesday to Thursday saw me watching one a night, subjecting Aisha to a bunch of films she had negative interest in seeing. On Friday she was supposed to go out for a work meal, meaning I’d have a full evening into which I could cram three of the films she’d want to watch the least (I’d anticipated The Fog, Prince of Darkness and They Live), leaving me three to watch, one Saturday morning, one Saturday evening and a final film on Sunday morning. Alas, whilst Aisha was walking Murphy before I got home from work (she’s blessed with an early finish on Fridays) Murphy ran off, following a runner who refused to stop despite this unfamiliar dog jumping up at him. Coming across a road on the runner’s presumed route Aisha was understandably distraught at the notion that our little fluff-ball might have come a cropper with a car, but fortunately another kind dog-owner had wrangled Murphy onto her lead, called Aisha’s number on his tag and waited for her to arrive. Bless this woman and all she ever does. The whole experience rather put Aisha off an evening out, so we stayed in and watched Big Trouble in Little China instead.

This little kerfuffle obviously put a dash into my Carpenter-viewing schedule, so I attempted to make up for it on Saturday, knocking off two films early in the morning. Problems arose when real life crept in. We were due to have our guest bedroom re-plastered this week. It was supposed to be done late in the week, so Saturday afternoon we prepped the room, removing the furniture, wall-fixings and stripping the wallpaper from the walls and ceiling. Why is there wallpaper on the ceiling? Because the previous inhabitants were lunatics, clearly. Moving the furniture was fine – though the house is now so cluttered that navigating our bedroom now feels like I’m playing a game of minesweeper with my feet – but when I came to detach the radiator the valve nut was painted shut so much that the nut didn’t turn, the downpipe bent and began leaking water. The emergency plumber stopped the leak but didn’t fix the pipe and later it started leaking again with no signs of stopping. a few buckets of water later and it subsided, after we ran out of dry towels, and the next morning we fixed it after a trip to Wickes (all praise Wickes, the church of DIY), but after that ordeal we didn’t get a lot of films watched on Saturday night. Sunday proved just as fruitless, with me just about cramming In the Mouth of Madness in a couple of instalments between radiator fixing and wallpaper stripping before the podcast recording at 5pm. The plasterer got in touch, moving the proposed date  I just about finished stripping the ceiling in time, hastily pieced an intro together and logged onto Skype, only for two of the guests not to show up (with valid reasons, so I won’t name and shame). The only present guest, Aaron from The Code is Zeek, and I decided the best course of action would be to reschedule, so all the rushing was for nought, but at least it gives me a chance to watch the two Carpenter films I hadn’t re-watched yet (They Live and Halloween). It also meant Aisha didn’t have to finish the wallpaper stripping alone, I could help out with dinner and take Murphy for a walk and have more of a relaxing evening after the weekend of stress, so there’s a silver lining to the cloud. Also, I got to phone my Dad (whom I’d called to help out with the leaky radiator, as he is something of a DIY guru, but who was in Wales watching a football match at the time) and say that I’d fixed a problem without his assistance, and that made me really rather happy.

Oh, while I’m at it, I’m going to go ahead and call the time of death for HitchcOctober 2015. Apologies, but it’s not happening this year. I’m too far behind on other things as it is, but next year. There’s always next year. Here’s what I watched this week:
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My Week in Movies, 2015 Week 41

HitchcOctober isn’t going too well, is it? Almost halfway through and I’ve only written one post. For shame. Still, it’s been an eventful month so far what with the meet-up in London (which has since made every film-watching occasion a major disappointment due to the lack of pub-based discussion afterwards) and a week spent visiting Aisha’s family. I’ve used this time to watch a few new releases, but alas everything else is getting ignored. Sorry about that. The rest of the month is looking fairly uneventful though, except for the fact that I need to watch eight John Carpenter movies over the next six days in preparation for this coming weekend’s Lambcast, so I’m really starting to doubt whether I’ll meet my aim of finishing all of Hitchcock’s movies this month. Damn. Here’s what I watched this week:
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HitchcOctober: Dial M For Murder

Tony Wendice (Ray Milland) is a former tennis pro who has grown too old for the game and now works as a sports equipment salesman, living with his beautiful young wife Margot (Grace Kelly). Tony has recently begun to suspect that Margot has been having an affair with American detective novelist Mark Halliday (Robert Cummings), and has obtained proof via a letter from Mark that Tony stole from Margot’s handbag. Instead of confronting his wife, Tony plans instead to enact revenge. He hires a down on his luck old college friend of his (Anthony Dawson) to murder Margot, and forms a flawless scheme to ensure he is the major beneficiary of all her money. As expected, however, not everything goes to plan.
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My Week in Movies, 2015 Week 40 UK LAMB Meet-Up!

Back in January one of my many film-based resolutions for 2015 was to meet up with some other members of this film blogging world. Interacting on a daily or weekly basis in written and audible format is glorious, don’t get me wrong, but there’s nothing like meeting someone face-to-face to have a really in depth movie conversation, or trade Stallone impressions. This weekend saw this resolution soundly thwarted by the first official UK LAMB meet-up, which saw a gaggle of us film bloggers meeting up in London for various group activities revolving around food, drink and films. I took a total of zero photos during the weekend, because I don’t generally take a lot of photos, and also I was trying to maintain some modicum of phone battery in case meet-up stragglers were trying to get in contact, but fortunately some of the other attendees were not so power-stingy.

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LtR: Elwood Jones (From the Depths of DVD Hell, The Mad, Bad and Downright Strange Showcase), Rob Kyte (FTS), Jason Truluck (Coffee Break Travel), Tony Cogan (Coog’s Film Blog), Jess Manzo (FTS), Me!, Mette Kowalski (FTS, Across the Universe) & Rebecca Sharp (Almost Ginger). Photo courtesy of Lindsay Street of FTS and Coffee Break Travel.

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LtR: David Brook (Blueprint: Review), Will Slater (Exploding Helicopter), Joel Burman (Deny Everything, The LAMB), Me!, Rebecca Sharp (Almost Ginger), Tony Cogan (Coog’s Film Blog), Mette Kowalksi (FTS, Across the Universe), Jason Truluck (Coffee Break Travel), Lindsay Street (FTS, Coffee Break Travel), Jess Manzo (FTS), Rob Kyte (FTS), Simon & Sarah Column (Flickering Myth, Movie Mezzanine and many others). Photo courtesy of Simon Column.

So what occurred? Well, I met up with Jess, Rob, Lindsay and Jason on Friday morning. We went to Borough market for some delicious food-stuffs, where I also introduced them all to the English sangria that is Pimm’s. After a wander round Shoreditch we were then joined by Mette, Joel and Will for a curry, before Mette headed off to see Benedict Cumberbatch in Hamlet whilst the rest of us set about the far more civilised activity of getting shit-faced on a pub crawl resplendent with movie-based debates (Will thinks Mad Max: Fury Road was too long, Joel’s anticipations for Star Wars have leap-frogged The Force Awakens in favour of Rogue One, that sort of thing).

The next day, after far too little sleep, it was the official Meet-Up proper. I’m not renowned for organising events, it’s not something I’ve done very often and I’m not very good at it, yet here I found myself trying to organise a mass meet-up in a city I’ve not lived in for almost a decade and barely went out in when I did live there, so as you might expect not a lot went to plan. I met Jess, Rob, Lindsay, Jason, Elwood and Mette at Waterloo train station in the morning, except that train delays and minimal prior communication made this take longer than expected, so breakfast turned to brunch and brunch turned to lunch as we headed to the food market near Southbank. We were joined by Tony and Rebecca to explore the BFI for a while, then headed to the Curzon Cinema, as recommended by Simon, where Will and Joel joined us. The plan had been for us all to see The Martian, except the Curzon wasn’t playing it. Nor was it playing the back-up option of The Walk (or the significantly less likely option of The Green Inferno), so we trekked to the Leicester Square Empire Cinema ( not actually that far, central London seems to be about 60% cinemas) which was playing The Martian, but only had 5 seats left. Thus ensued a panicked trek around every cinema in the vicinity to see literally any movie that wasn’t The Internship or The Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials, but which would give us time to make our 8pm dinner reservation. We eventually settled on Macbeth at the Central Picturehouse, because some people really wanted to see it based on the trailer image of Michael Fassbender emerging from a lake, and it seemed apt to have the UK meet-up involve Shakespeare in some format. My thoughts on The Scottish Film can be read later, but afterwards those of who could stay (Elwood had to leave early for family reasons, but David, Simon and his wife Sarah joined us for the film) recorded mini Lambcast segments in the coffee shop below the cinema, which I’ll be piecing together into a podcast later this week. We then went to Fire and Stone near Covent Garden for a delicious dinner that also included a round of Last Lamb Standing, before after dinner drinks in The Coal Hole, specifically in an absolutely perfect basement room that would have been ideal for recording a podcast but it completely slipped my mind so our hugely entertaining conversation spanning recent TV shows, film-watching habits and the many and varied reasons why I’ve never tried coffee are all lost to the sands of time. Sorry about that.

Sunday once again found me meeting up with Jess, Rob, Lindsay and Jason as well as Tony for breakfast near Southbank again before the FTS gang and I headed back to Bournemouth for a couple of days. I took them to my friend’s coffee shop, Espresso Kitchen, then we cooked them a traditional Sunday roast and drank into the night. We introduced them to such stalwarts of British Popular Culture as Countdown, Mr. Blobby, Pointless, Cornish pasties, Catchphrase and Don’t Tell the Bride. Trying to explain why there’s a talking dog selling car insurance on TV was a challenge.

Scheduling snafus aside, this has easily been one of the best weekends of recent years. The only downside is now everyone has done home, and I don’t have anyone to discuss movies with any more. But that just means I’ll have to arrange another meet-up again sometime soon, this time with pre-booked cinema tickets. If you’re in the UK or nearby (as well as Baltimore there were attendees from Sweden and Denmark) and were unable to make it to this meet-up fear not, we’re going to try and make them semi-regular occurrences every few months or so. If you want to be involved in the plans for the next one, get in touch!

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