‘Christine’ – REVIEW (Columbia, 1983)

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Christine‘ is a 1983 American supernatural horror film directed by John Carpenter. It starred Keith Gordon, John Stockwell, Alexandra Paul, Robert Prosky and Harry Dean Stanton, with supporting performances from Roberts Blossom and Kelly Preston.

“She was born in Detroit.. ..on an automobile assembly line. But she is no ordinary automobile. Deep within her chassis lives an unholy presence. She is ‘Christine’ – a red and white 1958 Plymouth Fury whose unique standard equipment includes an evil, indestructible vengeance that will destroy anyone in her way..

..she seduces 17 year-old Arnie Cunningham, who becomes consumed with passion for her sleek, rounded, chrome-laden, body. She demands his complete and unquestioned devotion and when outsiders seek to interfere, they become the victims of Christine’s horrifying wrath..”

The screenplay was written by Bill Phillips, based on Stephen King’s novel of the same name, which was also published in 1983. Filming began in April 1983, merely days after King had published his novel.

The movie follows the changes in the lives of Arnie Cunningham, his friends, his family, and those that cross him after he purchases a vintage 1958 Plymouth Fury named Christine.

Despite an initially lukewarm reception amongst critics, the film has gone on to become a cult classic.

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‘Children of the Corn’ – REVIEW (New World Pictures, 1984)

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Children of the Corn’ (officially entitled ‘Stephen King’s Children of the Corn’) is a 1984 horror film based on Stephen King’s 1977 short story of the same name. An American production, it was directed by Fritz Kiersch, and starred Peter Horton, Linda Hamilton, John Franklin, Courtney Gains, Robby Kiger, Anne Marie McEvoy, Julie Maddalena and R.G. Armstrong.

In the drought-stricken prairie lands of Nebraska, the corn crop has failed. Nothing survives in the arid soil and people pray for rain. Into the small community of Gatlin comes a sinister boy preacher, with a message for the children – only human blood will restore life to the parched earth and revive the dying corn. So it is that all the adults perish one hot Sunday, as their sons and daughters obey the savage commands of Isaac and his bloodthirsty executioner Malachai..

..three years later a young couple on their way through Nebraska get lost on the maze of roads around Gatlin and stumble into the seemingly deserted township. But here every adult must die..

The film tells the story of a religious cult of children who worship a malevolent entity known only as ‘he who walks behind the rows’. Under the direction of one of the children, the others have been lured into ritually murdering all of the adults in the (fictitious) rural town of Gatlin, Nebraska, in return for a successful corn harvest and ultimately salvation.

Although King himself wrote an original draft of the screenplay, it was rejected in favour of one by George Goldsmith. King was keen to focus on the characters of Burt and Vicky and the uprising of the children in Gatlin. Goldsmith wrote a more conventional narrative, which was more violent and ultimately won the favour of the producers. The film was mostly shot in Whiting (see this page from Google maps) and Salix, Iowa with some filming taking place in California.

Although largely panned by the critics upon release, the film has amassed a cult following, has spawned several sequels and is arguably better known than the original short story.

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‘Salem’s Lot’ – REVIEW (Warner Bros, 1979)

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Salem’s Lot was a television mini-series adaptation of Stephen King’s horror novel of the same name. It was directed by Tobe Hooper, shortly after his success directing ‘The Texas Chainsaw Massacre’ and was released in 1979.

Novelist Ben Mears returns to his childhood town to exercise the ghosts of his past, unaware that an ancient evil has unleashed itself upon the Lot..

..one by one the people are disappearing, Salem’s Lot is dying. Ben fears the answer lies in the old Marsten House, with its mysterious new occupants, the sinister Mr Straker and the elusive Mr Barlow..

The mini-series was an American production starring David Soul, Bonnie Bedelia, Lance Kerwin and James Mason. The plot centres on a writer who returns to his hometown to discover that the townsfolk are being turned into vampires; it also combines elements of the haunted house sub-genre of horror.

Many regard ‘Salem’s Lot’ as a staple of the a classic horror genre and it generally received good reviews, mixing the classic vampire tale with a more contemporary setting and moving away from the then standard depiction of a vampire ‘master’ back to an earlier Germanic cinema interpretation. It has some really subtle, creepy and clever effects, which heralded a move away from Hooper’s previous work and aligned him to a more mainstream audience.

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‘The Martian Chronicles’ – REVIEW (Orion Pictures, 1980)

MC Title Banner.pngThe Martian Chronicles’ is a television mini-series based on Ray Bradbury‘s collection of short stories of the same name. It concerns the exploration of Mars, its inhabitants, settlers and largely acts a fable that parallels aspects of the colonisation of North America by European settlers.

It was directed by Michael Anderson, written by Richard Matheson, produced by Milton Subotsky  and Andrew Donally and starred Rock HudsonDarren McGavinBernadette PetersRoddy McDowallFritz WeaverBarry Morse, and Maria Schell.

An American-Anglo production, it initially aired on NBC from 27th-20th of January 1980,  and was shown on the BBC as late night airings, shortly thereafter. It consists of three episodes with a total running time of approximately four to five hours (depending upon version). The series was quite divisive at the time of airing and remains so, some appreciating its attempt to convey the complexity of the underlying stories, but also commenting on the production values that were marred by often sub-par special effects, some of the acting and the wide liberties taken with the original story-lines; indeed Ray Bradbury was himself one of the series greatest critics.

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Subway (Gaumont Film Company, 1985) – REVIEW

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Subway is a French comedy drama film directed by Luc Besson. Released in 1985 it starred Christopher Lambert and Isabelle Adjani and was classified as part of the then newly-dubbed “cinéma du lookmovement. This was a brief French cinematic resurgence that witnessed a younger generation of filmmakers looking back to the days of Godard, Truffaut and the ‘Nouvelle Vague’; combining a sense of playful experimentation with elements of early 80’s pop culture.

Upon release ‘Subway’ was a huge box-office hit in its native France and became somewhat of a cult film here in the UK. It has subsequently been seen as a companion piece to Jean-Jacques Beineix’s earlier art-house classic, ‘Diva (1981). Together, these two films can be seen as both the development and continuation of the concerns and preoccupations of early 80’s pop culture, centred on somewhat doomed relationships and an irreverence to money.

It would be the film that finally introduced Besson to wider commercial audiences outside of the confines of French art-house and features an ensemble cast which includes Jean Reno, Michel Galabru, Jean-Hugues Anglade, Richard Bohringer and Éric Serra.

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Doctor Who ‘Death to the Daleks’ (BBC Worldwide, 2012) – REVIEW

Doctor Who Logo (small).pngOK, here we go with the first of what will, in time, I hope become one of many Doctor Who reviews. When reviewing Doctor Who serials, we will be not only looking at the how the DVD has been put together, but also reviewing the serial more generally. I hope this makes sense.

I was a bit undecided as to where to start with the reviews for the good Doctor, as I have so many favourites.. ..indeed, up until Peter Davidson took over the helm, there were only a few serials I really didn’t enjoy. As you will see as my blog continues I am not really a big fan of the newer Doctor Who’s.. ..don’t get me wrong the productions are fantastic and some of the stories look really interesting, but for me there is just something missing. Truth be told, I think when Tom Baker relinquished his lengthy reign as the Doctor I started to ‘tune out’.

So, shall we start with ‘Genesis of the Daleks‘, or maybe ‘Pyramids of Mars‘? No.. ..for my first review I have decided to tackle a quirky little story from the Pertwee era.. ..’Death to the Daleks‘. I’m not quite sure why I have started with this one, it is certainly not ‘classic‘ Who.. ..maybe because it has always made me smile. Anyway, here we go.

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From Beyond The Grave (Amicus Productions, 1974) – REVIEW

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From Beyond The Grave’ was released in 1974 by Amicus Productions. It is a British horror film anthology directed by Kevin Connor and produced by Milton Subotsky. The film is primarily based on stories by R. Chetwynd-Hayes. It was originally titled ‘The Undead’ and depending upon where you are in the world, you may recognise it  as ‘The Creatures’, ‘Tales from Beyond The Grave’, and ‘Tales From The Beyond’.

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