Halloween Kingathon – The Shining (1980)

Banner-2logoDirector: Stanley Kubrick

Writer: Stanley Kubrick, Diane Johnson (Screenplay) Stephen King (Novel)

Starring: Jack Nicholson, Shelly Duvall, Danny Lloyd, Scatman Crothers, Barry Nelson

Plot: A family heads to an isolated hotel for the winter where an evil and spiritual presence influences the father into violence, while his psychic son sees horrific forebodings from the past and of the future.

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

Verdict: A True Classic

Story: The Shining starts with the Jack Torrance (Nicholson) going to the isolated hotel for an interview for the new caretaker during the off season. Jack has a family with wife Wendy (Duvall) and son Danny (Lloyd) who has the ability to see into the future with his finger named Tony. With the family moving into the Overlook Hotel they get the grand tour from Dick Hallorann (Crothers) who has a connection with Danny through mind reading known as The Shining.

The family now alone in the hotel Jack starts to write his novel and as the days go past we start to see a change in Jack as he becomes more hostile toward his family before going over the edge with the help from the ghosts haunting the hotel.

The Shining will always go down as a true classic and what can I really say that hasn’t been said already? The film uses the isolation idea to a new level that rarely gets used anymore, with brilliant shots throughout and with the horror moments being measured perfectly. Nothing more to be said than the perfect horror thriller. (10/10)

Actor Review

Jack Nicholson: Jack Torrance is the writer who takes the job as the caretaker in an isolated hotel with his family for the winter, it seems like the perfect job but when he starts getting haunted by the hotels ghosts he becomes dangerous to his family as he wants to keep these ghosts happy. Jack gives one of his best performances of his career in this film that will always be remembered for Here’s Johnny. (10/10)jack

Shelley Duvall: Wendy Torrance is the wife of Jack and mother of Danny, she likes the idea of the job which gives the family time to spend away from the busy world, but once she finds out what is happening to Jack she has to fight to save her own and Danny’s lives. While Shelley could be considered to over play this role I think it works great opposite Nicholson’s performance. (8/10)wendy nd danny

Danny Lloyd: Danny is the son of the family who has the ability to talk through minds known as the shining as well as having an imaginary friend Tony that warns him of things happening. Danny does a good job in this early role for the young actor. (7/10)

Support Cast: The Shining doesn’t have much a supporting cast with most being the ghosts haunting the hotel and the cook who connections with Danny.

Director Review: Stanley KubrickStanley brings us one film that could easily be his masterpiece and a stand out for horror. (10/10)

Horror: The Shining builds on every side of horror throughout the film, with wonderful suspense and no need for jump scares. (10/10)

Settings: The Shining keeps nearly the whole film in the hotel creating a real sense of isolation from start to finish. (10/10)

Suggestion: The Shining is one that every single horror fan and film fan in general should see at least once. (Must Watch)

Best Part: Jack coming after family.

Worst Part: There isn’t one.

Favourite Quote: JackHere’s Johnny

Believability: No (0/10)

Chances of Tears: No (0/10)

Chances of Sequel: No

Post Credits Scene: No

Oscar Chances: No

Budget: $19 Million

Runtime: 2 Hours 24 Minutes

Tagline: The Horror is driving him crazy

Overall: A true masterpiece in the horror genre

Rating 95

Halloween Kingathon – Apt Pupil (1998)

Banner-3logoDirector: Bryan Singer

Writer: Brandon Boyce (Screenplay) Stephen King (Novel)

Starring: Brad Renfro, Ian McKellen, Joshua Jackson, Mickey Cottrell, Michael Reid MacKay, Ann Dowd, Bruce Davison, James Karen

Plot: A boy blackmails his neighbour after suspecting him to be a Nazi war criminal.

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

Verdict: Solid Thriller

Story: Apt Pupil starts with high school student Todd Bowden (Renfro) who takes notice of an elderly man Kurt Dussander (McKellen) who he suspects of being a Nazi war criminal. Todd uses his upper hand of knowing who Kurt is by blackmailing him into helping learn about what really happened during the war.

As the conversations become a regular occurrence Todd’s parent Monica (Dowd) and Richard (Davison) want to meet him but Todd is dealing with his own nightmares. The deeper the two get involved in the stories we get to see the darker side of Kurt but more worryingly we see Todd start to become psychotic.

Apt Pupil builds up tension through the story very well and as the film continues you really don’t know what either character is really capable off, but saying that I think most of the tension gets lost in the final acts which go on slightly too long. I liked the idea of Nazi war criminal being blackmailed into doing what the kid wants but also like how it all get turned on its head half way through. This is an interest story and the change in both characters as the film continues often comes off disturbing. (7/10)

Actor Review

Brad Renfro: Todd Bowden is a straight A high school student who uncovers the true identity of a Nazi war criminal, first he tries to blackmail him into giving him the stories but when his grades go downhill he ends up changing becoming obsessed with the idea of what the Nazi’s were doing. Brad does a good job in this role showing a full range of what he could do. (7/10)todd

Ian McKellen: Kurt Dussander is the Nazi war criminal living a normal life in America, he gets forced to too tell the stories about his time in the war before turning the tables on his blackmailer as he continues his ways. Ian is great in this performance flawlessly pulling off the performance as the German. (8/10)kurt

Support Cast: Apt Pupil has a supporting cast that includes Todd’s parents, family and teachers each one noticed a change in him in different ways.

Director Review: Bryan SingerBryan continued to show his talent behind the camera here showing he can pull off all sorts of thrillers. (7/10)

Drama: Apt Pupil shows what you could or couldn’t do when you learn the true nature of somebody. (8/10)

Thriller: Apt Pupil keeps you guessing to what both characters are capable off from start to finish. (8/10)

Settings: Apt Pupil uses basic settings of the two homes mainly with a large part in Kurt’s home. (7/10)

Suggestion: Apt Pupil is one to try, it does bring you right into the story but does let it go near the end. (Try It)

Best Part: Tramp scene.

Worst Part: Ends slowly.

Believability: No (0/10)

Chances of Tears: No (0/10)

Chances of Sequel: No

Post Credits Scene: No

Oscar Chances: No

Box Office: $8.8 Million

Budget: $14 Million

Runtime: 1 Hour 51 Minutes

Tagline: If you don’t believe in the existence of evil, you’ve got a lot to learn.

Trivia: The movie is based on a novella (a long short story) by Stephen King from a book of short stories called “Different Seasons” which also includes “The Body” which becameStand by Me (1986) and “Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption” which became The Shawshank Redemption (1994).

Overall: A thriller that keeps you guessing.

Rating 70


Halloween Kingathon – Riding the Bullet (2004)

Banner-2logoDirector: Mick Garris

Writer: Mick Garris (Screenplay) Stephen King (Novel)

Starring: Jonathan Jackson, David Arquette, Cliff Robertson, Barbara Hershey, Erika Christensen, Barry W Levy

Plot: When a man finds out his mother is dying and tries to hitch-hike his way to the hospital, he is picked up by a stranger with a deadly secret.

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

Verdict: Unchallenging Horror

Story: Riding the Bullet starts by showing our main character Alan growing up with his mother Jean (Hershey). With the credits over we meet art student Alan (Jackson) who has a fascination with death whose girlfriend Jessica (Christensen) is leaving him. This leads to a failed suicide attempt even though it was only a prank to throw a surprise birthday party.

Even though Jessica still leaves Alan she leave him with two tickets to Toronto rock concert to see John Lennon’s band but due to Alan’s mother having a stroke he has to return home to be with her. Alan has to hitch-hike back home where he relives moments of his childhood while being tested by the crazed George Staub (Arquette) who makes him pick his own life or his mother’s life.

Riding the Bullet plays out that a trip down memory lane with elements of horror while giving our character a real trip. The mix of flash backs works well but the needless false awakens get boring quickly because you give up caring about whether they will be shocking or not. I also feel this film never captures the full effects of horror leaving us stuck in the middle of genres and not sure if it will be a growing up film or a horror film. (5/10)

Actor Review

Jonathan Jackson: Alan Parker is the art student that hitch-hike homes to see his sick mother only to find himself facing up to his own demons as well as being tested by the ghost of a victim on of the road he is travelling along. Jonathan does a solid job in the role. (6/10)alan

David Arquette: George Staub starts off as a help driving picking up Alan but it soon becomes clear that he is in fact dead and haunting the road looking to collect souls and this time he puts Alan in the impossible position of having to pick himself or his mother. If anyone can play crazy it would be David and he does a god job in the role. (7/10)georgge

Support Cast: Riding the Bullet has a supporting cast that includes the people Alan meet on his journey as well as the friends from college, they all effects the thinking of Alan as the film unfolds.

Director Review: Mick GarrisMick is often the go to guy for Stephen King adaptation but I do feel this one is one of his weaker efforts. (6/10)

Horror: Riding the Bullet doesn’t reach the horror levels you would like to think it could have. (5/10)

Thriller: Riding the Bullet doesn’t really make you want know what happens and doesn’t pull you to the edge of your seat. (4/10)

Settings: Riding the Bullet keeps most of the settings along one road as Alan tries to find his way home. (7/10)

Suggestion: Riding the Bullet is one for the King fans to enjoy otherwise it could be one you miss. (King Fans Watch)

Best Part: David Arquette really stands out.

Worst Part: Too many dream sequences.

Scariest Scene: Under the hat

Believability: No (0/10)

Chances of Tears: No (0/10)

Chances of Sequel: No

Post Credits Scene: No

Oscar Chances: No

Budget: $5 Million

Runtime: 1 Hour 38 Minutes

Tagline: The dead travel fast

Overall: Road Trip with hallucination

Rating 55

Halloween Kingathon – Silver Bullet From Riley Central

Today we would like to thank Damien Riley of rileycentral.net for this review, let’s see what he tihnks
Silver Bullet: A Werewolf, Americana, and the 80’slogo

People in their teens and twenties might find it hard to believe that there were werewolf movies prior to “Twilight.” Probably the most outlandish of which is “An American Werewolf in London.” If you haven’t seen it yet, you should. It’s comedic irony in a horror film like no other film. “Silver Bullet” is another werewolf film that has been lost on a new generation. I was 10 in 1980 and watched whatever I could of Stephen king movies all through the decade. “Silver Bullet” is horror with an Americana feel to it. King created a solid story here that has stood the test of time for me. Watching it 30 years later, I still hid my eyes a few times, remember terrified sleepovers of my youth in front of the tv.

The plot is fairly simple but that works well for the film. A werewolf brings terror down on a smalltown American city. The protagonist is Marty, a paralyzed boy confined to a wheelchair. The other two main characters beside Marty are his sister and uncle. They don’t believe what he is telling them about the horror he sees. Along the way you get smalltown diners, 80’s decorated homes, picnics, and scary legends coming to life before your eyes. All people around my age must remember the motorcycle wheelchair. Yes, that was something to behold! Most all of King’s movies have somewhat of a sing song vibe to them, “The Shining” being an exception. I remember reading “The Stand” and “Firestarter” in high school and there were pages devoted to oldies tunes. King has a talent for making singsong wholesome images terrifying. Silver Bullet follows right along in that style of his.

A character worth noting is Marty’s uncle, played by the indefatigable Gary Busey. He is pure fun to watch on screen. When I see him in movies like this or “the Buddy Holly Story” I can’t help but wonder if the character was written just for him. He has an attitude in real life that shows through in most of his characters. When facing a werewolf, you definitely want Busey with you. In the interest of preventing spoilers I won’t go into too much plot detail. Suffice it to say, “Silver Bullet” is a well-crafted movie adapted from an amazing story by an established and world famous horror writer. It reminds me of the 80’s in its purity and innocence. Even though it is a bit singsong at times with its focus on an American town, it pulls no punches for being a frightening movie including clever effects. Every time I watch it I see something more. The werewolf movie genre may have evolved since the 80’s but we can always travel back and get a glimpse of what it was with “Silver Bullet.”


Halloween Kingathon – Hearts in Atlantis (2001)

Banner-3logoDirector: Scott Hicks

Writer: William Goldman (Screenplay) Stephen King (Novel)

Starring: Anthony Hopkins, Anton Yelchin, Hope Davis, Mika Boorem, David Morse, Alan Tudyk, Tom Bower, Celia Weston, Adam LeFevre

Plot: A widowed mother and her son change when a mysterious stranger enters their lives.

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

Verdict: Truly Touching Film

Story: Hearts in Atlantis starts an adult Bobby Garfield (Morse) receiving news of a childhood friends death John Sullivan in military service. The bad news continues as Bobby finds out that the other member of the three friends Carol has also died, leaving him to take a trip down memory lane.

Wee move back to when Bobby (Yelchin) was 11 years old with his best friend Carol (Boorem) and Sully. Bobby’s mother Liz (Davis) struggles for money making his birthday present disappointing but he is happy with being able to spend time with his friends. To help with money they rent out a room and their new tenant Ted Brautigan (Hopkins) who comes in full of mystery.

Ted offers Bobby a chance to earn some money by simply reading the newspapers and keeping an eye out for people who are to get him as he knows everyone in town. As the mystery about Ted grows Bobby gets a chance to grow up in a way he never thought it could.friends

Hearts in Atlantis is a drama that brings us the coming of age tale in a subtle manor, it shows how looking back on childhood will be amazing because things will have changed. It also puts us in a position of wondering just whether to believe Ted’s story as we learn about his abilities as it also plays into the ideas of government ideas. Somehow without being the most amazing story this film always gets me with its simple side or just how the little things were important in growing up. I personal really enjoy this one for all those reasons. (8/10)

Actor Review

Anthony Hopkins: Ted Brautigan is the mysterious stranger who moves into the spare room at the Garfield household. He has the ability to read minds but is on the run from something he doesn’t let us know who is after him. Anthony gives us a good performance where we see him in a stable role. (7/10)ted

Anton Yelchin: Bobby Garfield is the 11 year old boy who lives with his single mother who is happy with the friendship he has with Sully and Carol. When Ted moves in he starts to learn life lessons while working on trying to protect him an unknown enemy. Anton shows that he was going to be a bigger star one day. (7/10)bobby

Hope Davis: Liz Garfield is the mother of Bobby who is always struggling for money but we really see she looks after herself when it comes to money. Hope gives a good dimension to this character. (7/10)

Mika Boorem: Carol Gerber is the first love Bobby, they grew up as youngsters and we follow this period of her life with Bobby as they experience the first chapters of the romantic lives. Mika does a good job showing she was going on to something more. (7/10)

Support Cast: Hearts in Atlantis has the supporting character you would expect to see in a coming of age story as well as the old Bobby played by David Morse.

Director Review: Scott HicksScott brings us a beautifully shot film that will touch you. (7/10)

Drama: Hearts in Atlantis uses the coming of age angle for the drama side of the story. (7/10)

Mystery: Hearts in Atlantis does keep you wondering what Ted really has done or his ability. (9/10)

Settings: Hearts in Atlantis re-creates the look of the time period in question well. (7/10)

Suggestion: Hearts in Atlantis is one for all the coming of age movie fans. (Coming of Age Fans Watch)

Best Part: The fun fair scene.

Worst Part: I can never find one.

Believability: No (0/10)

Chances of Tears: No (0/10)

Chances of Sequel: No

Post Credits Scene: No

Oscar Chances: No

Budget: $31 Million

Runtime: 1 Hour 41 Minutes

Tagline: What if one of life’s great mysteries moved in upstairs?

Overall: A wonderful coming of age film.

Rating 80