Classic Franchise Month – Psycho IV: The Beginning (1990)

Director: Mick Garris

Writer: Joseph Stefano (Screenplay)

Starring: Anthony Perkins, Henry Thomas, Olivia Hussey, CCH Pounder, Warren Frost, Donna Mitchell

 

Plot: Norman Bates recalls his childhood with his abusive mother while fearing his unborn child will inherit his split personality disorder.


Tagline – You’ve met Norman… now meet mother.

Runtime: 1 Hour 36 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: When Sequels Are Bad, Go Prequel

 

Story: Psycho IV: The Beginning starts as Norman Bates (Perkins) listening to a local radio station which is having the discussion about children killing their mother’s. Norman gives us a backstory to his relationship with his mother Norma (Hussey) as teenager Norman (Thomas) commits his first murder.

As he reveals his story the shows rating increase, but when he says he is ready to kill again, it becomes clearly that Norman has been pushed over the edge once again.

 

Thoughts on Psycho IV: The Beginning

 

Characters – In the characters we have two different versions of Norman, the older one who has committed the crimes in the past and now telling his story after moving on with his life and the teenage one that is getting abused by his mother as he first starts out his killing spree, this one is more interesting to watch as seeing him on the edge makes it easier to understand his motivation for his actions. Norma Bates is Norman’s mother, in this film she is very much alive and we see just how she treated Norman when she wasn’t happy with the way his life was going, trying to force him into being a girl.

PerformancesAnthony Perkins mostly gives us the commentary of his characters past, he is a good story teller which is what he must do. Henry Thomas does work as a younger Norman which is good he handles the creepy side of the character well. Olivia Hussey makes for a great Norma Bates, she looks seductive and easily hits the strict level needed.

StoryThe story here takes us to the origin of what drove Norman to become the killer, we get these through a radio show where he tells the story and see the abuse he suffered at the hands of his mother. This works because the sequel line was getting boring after a while, showing us that we needed to go to the prequel line to learn more of the motivation. This however does cause problems for the most part because we jump all over the place in the timeline of creating him, while in the modern time Norman must face his own battle with his mind while telling the story again.

Horror/MysteryThe horror elements do seem to have come out of the film now, we do get the murders, but they never feel scary, the mystery of doing this as a prequel doesn’t help because we know where the film will end up going.

SettingsThe film gives us less time at the Bates Motel, making the scenes there being the highlights of the film, but away from it we lose that IT factor about the Norman character.

Special EffectsThe effects in the movie have improved, when it comes to the murders and the different styles Norman use we feel like they are real this time.


Scene of the Movie –
Young Norman doing the deed.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The confusion timeline in the flashback scenes.

Final ThoughtsThis is a good addition to the Psycho franchise, you could skip over three and still end up in a good position with everything and how this film directs the story.

 

Overall: Nice addition.

Rating

 

 

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ABC Film Challenge – Sci-Fi – F – Fire in the Sky (1993)

Director: Robert Lieberman

Writer: Tracy Torme (Screenplay) Travis Walton (Book)

Starring: D.B. Sweeney, Robert Patrick, Craig Sheffer, Peter Berg, Henry Thomas, Bradley Gregg, James Garner

 

Plot: An Arizona logger mysteriously disappears for five days in an alleged encounter with a flying saucer in 1975.


Tagline – For five days, a man was borrowed. The story that Travis Walton and five other witnesses told is so unbelievable, so unimaginable, that it has become the most famous case of UFO abduction ever recorded.

Runtime: 1 Hour 49 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: That One Scene Shines

 

Story: Fire in the Sky starts as five loggers Mike (Patrick), Allan (Sheffer), David (Berg), Greg (Thomas) and Bobby (Gregg) return to town in a panic with a story to tell the authorities, which brings in Sheriff Frank Watters (Garner). The story the guys tell is the they investigated a mysterious light in the woods which took Travis (Sweeney).

With the search going on for Travis, Mike and the crew find themselves prime suspects in a cover up, until Travis returns with his own account of the story.

 

Thoughts on Fire in the Sky

 

Characters – Travis Walton was a logger that went missing for five days, he doesn’t remember at first what happened, but the truth ill haunt him for the rest of his life as he remembers being taken by aliens. Mike Rogers is the best friend of Travis’ that doesn’t know how to handle his disappearance and his reappearance, but knows that nothing was done by the men in his crew. Frank Watters is the sheriff trying to prove this is a hoax or a cover up depending which side of the events are. The characters are based on the real people which does help make this feel like a good real story to follow.

PerformancesThe performances across the board are good, with D.B. Sweeney showing the pure terror needed during the abduction scene. Robert Patrick works well in his role where he could easily be the lead of the film. James Garner brings an extra bit of class to the performances too.

StoryThe story follows one of the most famous and detailed encounters from alien abduction in history. The story first treats the events like a murder cover up which is wonderful to watch on the screen because we don’t need to watch a full abduction routine which we do see later in the film. the story balances the ideas of what could be truth and what people would want the truth to be too.

Fantasy/Mystery/Sci-Fi The fantasy part of this film comes from what you want to believe about the events, because there is no proof it is real, this adds the mystery too which does also circle around the truth too. The sci-fi side of the film comes from the moment in space which shows what the aliens did to Travis.

SettingsThe film keeps us in the small town location where the events happened which does keep us understand how the town would react to the situation.

Special EffectsThe effects are spared for the final moments of the film where we see what happened to Travis, they all look great too.


Scene of the Movie –
Memories nightmare

That Moment That Annoyed Me I was expecting more from the alien abduction side of things.

Final ThoughtsThis is a good sci-fi film, it does balance the event between what could have happened, what is believed to have happened and leaves you to make up your own mind, with a sequence in the ship which will be haunting.

 

Overall: A sci-fi film that hasn’t dated like others

Rating

 

 

Legends of the Fall (1994)

Director: Edward Zwick

Writer: Susan Shilliday, William D Wittliff (Screenplay) Jim Harrison (Novel)

Starring: Brad Pitt, Anthony Hopkins, Aidan Quinn, Julia Ormond, Henry Thomas, Karine Lombard, Tantoo Cardinal

 

Plot: In the 1900s, three brothers and their father living in the remote wilderness of Montana are affected by betrayal, history, love, nature, and war.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Enjoyable Life Story

 

Story: Legends of the Fall starts in the wilderness of Montana, Col William Ludlow (Hopkins) moves his family away from the wars which cover America to raise his three sons in the early 1900s. His sons no grown up Tristian (Pitt) the gentle and kind one, Alfred (Quinn) the intelligent one and Samuel (Thomas) the one who has just returned with his wife to be Susannah (Ormond).

With the First World War raging over in Europe the three brothers volunteer to fight which leads to tragedy when Samuel getting killed in action, Alfred returns to his family but Tristian goes in search for answers. As the years pass by Alfred becomes a success in his field while Tristian finds his own success but the family will never be the same as they deal with the effects of the war.

 

Thoughts on Legends of the Fall

 

Characters/PerformanceTristian is the wild child, he keeps things to himself, prefer the quiet life that only he could enjoy. He travels to discover himself but knows his heart is back in Montana on the ranch. Col William is the father of the house, he was tired of the battle between the natives and modern Americans, he wants the best for his three children as long as they keep to the right morale paths. Alfred is the smartest of all the brothers, he uses his intelligence to become a political success, the opposite to Tristian. Susannah enters the life as the youngest brother’s wife to be but soon after he passes has feelings for them all.

Performance wise, Brad Pitt shows us here just how good of an actor he was going to be, he goes toe to toe with the always incredible Anthony Hopkins. Aidan Quinn, Julian Ormond and Henry Thomas all give fantastic performance too.

StoryWatching a film about this one family becomes very interesting, we have the brothers that go in different directions as the father is left waiting hoping they return the successes they plan. This is something that is a good watch that can be enjoyed by all the people, it does have slight issues when it comes to understand the full timeline but otherwise flows nicely.

Romance/WarThe romance side of this film is brilliant because we get to see how love can be broken when you must wait for it but you will always have the feelings for that person in your heart. The war side id brief but is the reason why everything goes in the direction it does for the two remaining brothers.

SettingsThe remote location is great to see which is why our characters are away from the world and the settings continue this trend as we see how the brothers go in directions which bring them into different worlds.

Final ThoughtsThis is a film with heavyweight performances, the powerful story and a look at one of the most difficult times that America faced.

 

Overall: Brilliant coming of age tale.

Rating

 

 

Gerald’s Game (2017)

Director: Mike Flanagan

Writer: Jeff Howard, Mike Flanagan (Screenplay) Stephen King (Novel)

Starring: Carla Gugino, Henry Thomas, Bruce Greenwood, Carel Struycken, Kate Siegel

 

Plot: While trying to spice up their marriage in their remote lake house, Jessie must fight to survive when her husband dies unexpectedly, leaving her handcuffed to their bed frame.

 

Runtime: 1 Hour 43 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Strong Solo Thriller

 

Story: Gerald’s Game starts as married couple Jessie (Gugino) and Gerald (Greenwood) head off to a remote cabin for a weekend away from the world to rekindle their marriage, but when Gerald’s fantasy involves a sex game he handcuffs Jessie to the bed but suffers a heart attack, leaving Jessie handcuffed and alone.

What follows is Jessie needing to find a way out of the situation where she starts seeing her husband and other creations from her mind and even looking into her past with her relationship with Tom (Thomas) as she looks to survive until there is rescue for her.

 

Thoughts on Gerald’s Game

 

Characters – Jessie is the wife that gets handcuffed to the bed to try and spice her marriage up but when her husband dies she must figure out a way to escape before she dies, be it from natural causes, dog or unknown presence. She must deal with her past, present and future to escape alive. Gerald is the husband that wants to kink things up in the bedroom but he dies but stays around in the imagination of Jessie. Tom is her father that has a relationship with the younger Jessie that leads to the back story of what causes her life decisions.

PerformancesCarla Gugino does a great job carry the movie throughout the film and at times playing a double role at times. Bruce Greenwood and Henry Thomas are good through the film too but never taken the shine of Carla’s performance.

StoryThe story follows how a sex game marriage goes wrong leaving one woman handcuffed to the bed needing to survive, having her face her demons while trying to look for an escape which makes sense in what is a Stephen King story. we do get the plenty of false ideas of what is going on but by the end it makes sense, you just need to focus on every detail.

Horror/ThrillerThe horror elements of this film are from what Jessie is experiencing while tied up while the thriller side of the film keeps us guess to just where it will go.

SettingsNearly the whole fil is set within the bedroom as, well Jessie can’t go anywhere and it is here she must face her problem head on using life experiences to help her and these do take us away from this solo setting.

Special EffectsThe practical effects in this fil are amazing there is one scene that you will need to turn away just because of how real it looks.


Scene of the Movie –
Handcuff escaping.

That Moment That Annoyed Me I feel she would be in a lot more pain than we see near the end.

Final ThoughtsThis is a great solo thriller that is a must watch for the Stephen King fans out there, great leading performance and one scene that will stay in your memory for years.

 

Overall: Must watch for Thriller fans

Rating

 

 

Ouija: Origin of Evil (2016)

ouijaDirector: Mike Flanagan

Writer: Mike Flanagan, Jeff Howard (Screenplay)

Starring: Annalise Basso, Elizabeth Reaser, Lulu Wilson, Henry Thomas, Parker Mack, Halle Charlton

 

Plot: In 1965 Los Angeles, a widowed mother and her two daughters add a new stunt to bolster their seance scam business and unwittingly invite authentic evil into their home. When the youngest daughter is overtaken by a merciless spirit, the family confronts unthinkable fears to save her and send her possessor back to the other side.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Huge Improvement

 

Story: Ouija: Origin of Evil starts as we see séance scam artists Alice (Reaser) and her daughters Lina (Basso) and Doris (Wilson) showing off all their skills at getting the most out of their clients. We see how Lina the elder sister is getting tired of the scam and wants to add in a new trick to their scam, introduce the Ouija board and of course we get the rules told to us in case we missed the first film.

Once the Ouija board is bought into the house Doris starts acting strange like she has become possessed by a spirit summoned by the Ouija board and the family start to have their own money issues solved before we get to see the real motives behind the spirit taking over Doris’ body.

Ouija: Origin of Evil is the prequel to the largely disappointing horror film from last year. So naturally I was going in with little to no expectation on this film. I liked how this horror kicked out the pointless slasher side to the story and made the family come off so desperate for the money they would believe anything that could offer them. The film only feels connected by the title and could easily by a stand-alone horror film. The film comes off very creepy without hitting to mindless horror moments which is a big plus.

The performances from the small cast all works with Lulu Wilson shining as the creepy child while the rest all go great jobs during the story unfolding. This really is a huge improvement on the first film take the story in the direction it should have always been going.

 

Overall: Major improvement on the first film, creepy and horror ridden throughout.

Ratingcard