1408 – Stephen King

1408 – Stephen King

“Based on a short story by Stephen King, a man who specializes in debunking the paranormal checks into the infamous room 1408 in the Dolphin Hotel, only to discover… the terror is real.”

I can’t say I’ve been thrilled with how Stephen King’s work seems to turn out when it hits the big screen. However, this story seemed very interesting and the fact that John Cusak and Samel L. Jackson were on board got my interest even more. And who could miss all that hype at Blockbuster? Too bad they didn’t do that kind of job when it was in the theaters, I’ve never even heard of this movie.

But anyway, the premise goes like this – John Cusak is a writer of paranormal fiction. He creates such riveting titles as 10 most haunted house, 10 most haunted cemeteries, etc. When a chance postcard with the word “Don’t enter 1048” comes in the mail, of course he has to go investigate. He is met by the soft spoken, but firm manager (Jackson) who tries to convince him not to stay in the room.

But of course Mike Enslin (Cusak) does stay in the room and that’s when all hell breaks looks. He hallucinates, see visions, and battles many of the previous guests who gave taken their own lives in the room. Rather than turn this movie into a complete gore fest it’s more of psychological thriller. Is Mike dreaming or is it real? Is he paranoid or is he seeing ghosts? Is he in purgatory or is he just drunk?

The movie creates a lot of atmosphere by keeping most of the movie within the confines of the room. It builds slowly giving plenty of reasons to doubt anything is actually happening (drinking, not sleeping, paranoia, power of suggestion) so you really get drawn into the story. Is Mike actually experiencing this or is he passed out asleep? Is his mind playing tricks because of the previous events in the room?

What follows is a wild ride of torment and “unexplained phenomena”. Mike gets drawn into the terror of the room and does everything he can to escape. And then escape again. And again.

This is a good mood movie, very little gore, but plenty to keep you guessing about what’s going on. Cusak does a fantastic job of showing his decent into madness. So much of the main movie is just him, you really get to see him show off some talent.

Not on par with The Shining, but definitely worth renting. Plenty of things to make you jump and plenty for you to think about. I have to admit, one of the better King stories that have been put to film. Blockbuster has hundreds of copies so you should no problem getting one… :)

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When a Stranger Calls – Rating 2.5 out of 5

It’s the classic tale of an attractive teen that helps out a friend with an “easy babysitting job”. She is then tainted with bangs, crashes, shadowy figures, noises from all parts of the home and an endless series of phone calls where the unknown caller is ultimately in the same house.

When a Stranger Calls is a formulaic, by the numbers, uninspired teen horror movie that is ultimately pointless and disappointing. It’s painfully predictable with a whole slew of characters who could be the villain. We have the mysterious housekeeper, the son who might or might not be back from college, the obsessive boyfriend, the drunken friend, the children she is babysitting but that we don’t actually see, and even the parents themselves who become unavailable whenever she tries to call them. Even the police officer she tries to get help from seems less than excited to investigate.

There are lots of bumps in the night, plenty of dark scenes (curse those power outages that always happen in these kinds of movies) and plenty of weapons conveniently located around the house. There is plenty of suspicion building, but there is no doubt about what’s going to happen. The babysitter is tormented, runs through the house knocking things over in the dark and hurting herself, frantically tries to find the housekeeper and the son but to no avail. She must face the evil alone while trying to save the children.

Nothing new in this movie except a minor amount of excitement and suspense.

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After Dark Horror Fest – 8 Films To Die For

After Dark Horror Fest – 8 Films To Die For

Well I can’t say these movies are to die for. In fact only two of them really stand out while the rest really don’t offer much.

There are certainly better films out there to watch, but as a series this isn’t too bad. It shows a lot of promise in many cases and hopefully with some more practice some of these directors and writers will have some quality goods to show us in the future. Unfortunately some of the other movies in this series show some of the real clichés and pitfalls to making this type of movie. While sometime we get good stories in a low budget (Reincarnation) we also get typical fair (the Abandoned).

In case you want to keep up here is my ranking for this series from best to not so best…

The Hamiltons
Penny Dreadful
Wicked Little Things
Dark Ride
The Abandoned

I give Lions Gate full credit for putting these out. It’s definitely good to see something other than high budget Hannibal films coming out. Hopefully we will see a new horror fest with all new title in the not too distant future. While not all showcase films they are worth renting. For the most part they set the mood for a creepy night of movie watching.

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The Hamiltons – After Dark Horror Fest – 8 Films To Die For

The Hamiltons – After Dark Horror Fest – 8 Films To Die For

“The Hamiltons seem to be the picture-perfect American family. They are hardworking community members; giving to their local charities, attending town hall meetings and always respectful of their neighbors…except for the fact that they usually end up killing them.”

Boy, talk about dysfunctional family! The Hamiltons are 4 siblings trying to get along in the world after their parents have died. They have sold the farm they grew up on and now move from town to town, house to house. David (the eldest) is trying to keep things together while his younger siblings (Darlene and Wendell) seem to keep getting themselves in trouble. Francis, the youngest, is just trying to blend in and deal with the squabbles his family seems to have.

Not long after we meet the Hamiltons we realize something isn’t quite right. Wendell has a bad temper and keeps lashing out at people and bringing unneeded attention to the family. But as we progress we see Wendell has more than a bad temper he has a penchant for subduing victims and locking them up in his basement.

Serial Killers?
Deranged Morticians?

As we dig deeper into this demented family we see Francis trying to break free. He doesn’t want to turn out like them and feels they have now gone too far. He tries to get help, tries to get them caught and tries to help the victims.

There is some good acting in this. Samuel Child (David) plays the stiff, awkward and creepy older brother who looks like a mortician. He is full of parental concern and dark humor. He really pulls off innocent, creepy neighbor. He reminds me of (Danny Faster) the mortician character we see in the X-Files.

Joseph McKelheer (Wendell) shows some great acting as the deranged and out of control brother. He has a strong screen presence and will hopefully bring some other deranged characters to life.

I have to say this movie is one of the best in this series. There are some unanswered questions (such as how did the parents die) and a few predictable moments, but overall this is a good movie to watch. Dark humor, tense moments and a plot that keeps moving forward make this worthwhile.

This one is a keeper and is one you will probably watch more than once.

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