Tag Archives: 1981 movies

Halloween II (1981) Review

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Halloween 2 1981

Time: 92 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Violence
Cast:
Jamie Lee Curtis as Laurie Strode
Donald Pleasence as Dr. Sam Loomis
Director: Rick Rosenthal

After Doctor Samuel Loomis (Donald Pleasence) shoots Michael Myers size times and falls off a balcony, Michael escapes and continues his massacre in Haddonfield. Laurie (Jamie Lee Curtis) is also sent to the hospital and Dr Loomis gathers a group of police officers to hunt down Michael and put an end to his murderous rampage.

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I have watched some of the Halloween movies, I had seen the original, I had seen the recent follow up to it, and I had seen the reboot movies from Rob Zombie. However, I had never checked out Halloween 2 from the 80s, the original follow up to the original movie. Even though the current series continuity is going down a different direction (with Halloween 2018 onwards), I did want to check it out. It’s definitely not as good as the first movie and has a ton of problems, but it does have some decent moments.

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With Halloween 2, you really get the feeling that the sequel was made only because the original was successful. It does aim to be a second half to the first Halloween movie instead of a sequel, as it picks off right as the first movie ended. There are opportunities for Halloween 2 to show the effects of the last movie, as the town is shown to react in disorder and mayhem after the massacre. The hospital is also a classic horror and slasher setting, and works for this movie for some horror moments. On the whole though, it is a very by the numbers slasher. Also, it feels in many ways different to the first movie (despite trying to be a part 2 instead of a sequel), being over the top, less serious, and not as creepy or atmospheric. There are also some leaps in logic, whereas the first movie seemed somewhat grounded in comparison (invincible bogeyman aside). There is also a reveal added into the story that felt unnecessary, not to mention, it feels really forced. To the movie’s credit, Halloween 2 does try to actually end the storyline, with no hints at a sequel. Although of course it would continue with numerous sequels.

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Donald Pleasence is really good as Dr Loomis once again, especially as he’s under more stress and pressure after finding out that Michael Myers is still alive despite shooting him 6 times at the end of the last movie. Jamie Lee Curtis gives it her all as Laurie Strode but she doesn’t get much to do in this movie aside from be unconscious for half her screentime, and limp and run away for the remaining half. Everyone else just felt like bodies for Michael Myers to slaughter, you don’t care for any of them and some of their actions are rather dumb, it’s like they might as well be in a Friday the 13th movie.

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It isn’t Halloween 1 director John Carpenter directing this time, instead it is Rick Rosenthal. Still, Carpenter and Halloween 1 writer Debra Hill were closely involved as producers and writers. I found some of the direction to be a mixed bag. John Carpenter wanted to go insane with the over the top violence and bloody that was popular in the 80s (which explains the blood compared to the first movie). Rosenthal wanted to keep the film similar in tone to the first movie so it felt like a continuation. However his direction just wasn’t on that same level for it to work as well. It does utilise some of the familiar and successful aspects from the original, especially in terms of the overall look. Unfortunately, it doesn’t manage to create the same real tension, suspense and dread and instead goes more for gore. There are some memorable kills, though a lot of them were pretty silly. Halloween 2 does have one or two creepy moments, but overall isn’t very effective on the whole. With that said, it is a very well shot movie, with great tracking shots and POV sequences, and I also liked the use of colour and lighting. I also like the hospital setting, the empty rooms made it work, dimly lit rooms and the addition of Michael Myers really make it work. The mask of Michael Myers looks a bit off and worse than the first movie, it’s weird particularly seeing as it is a follow up to the original, which is right before the sequel. The score is also by John Carpenter, however it makes itself stand out by being more synth based.

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I wouldn’t say that Halloween 2 is bad, I’d say that it is relatively decent. It’s a by the numbers slasher that does have its moments, as well as aspects of the direction which work, but on the whole it is rather forgettable. However, if you liked any of the Halloween movies beyond the original and Halloween 2018, I’d say give it a look.

The Evil Dead (1981) Review

Time: 85 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Graphic violence
Cast:
Bruce Campbell as Ash Williams
Ellen Sandweiss as Cheryl Williams
Hal Delrich as Scott
Betsy Baker as Linda
Sarah York as Shelly
Director: Sam Raimi

Ashley “Ash” Williams (Bruce Campbell), his girlfriend and three pals hike into the woods to a cabin for a fun night away. There they find an old book, the Necronomicon, whose text reawakens the dead when it’s read aloud. The friends inadvertently release a flood of evil and must fight for their lives or become one of the evil dead. Ash watches his friends become possessed, and must make a difficult decision before daybreak to save his own life in this, the first of Sam Raimi’s trilogy.

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The Evil Dead made a massive impact upon its release, despite its low budget. It would go on to spawn two successful sequels, a tv series that would run for 3 seasons and a remake in 2013 (which is actually pretty good as well). The story itself is simple and some of the technical aspects are dated but for the most part it really does hold up well.

The Evil Dead is very straightforward. People go to a cabin in the woods, they unleash the living dead, chaos and hilarity ensues. Storywise there isn’t really much to say about The Evil Dead and it does fall into some of the horror tropes such as people doing something really dangerous (such as unleashing the living dead upon themselves). Unlike the rest of the series which got more cartoonish and humorous as they went on, most of the movie is pretty dark and serious in comparison. Maybe there might be some slapstick violence and an unbelievable amount of blood thrown all over people, but outside of that there isn’t much humour as you’d think given the series’ reputation (although there is some dark comedy in there as well). However, it is just as crazed, insane and unpredictable as the rest of the series, with it doing to places and showing things on screen that you wouldn’t expect. The Evil Dead is just under 90 minutes long and that was pretty much the best length for it, it doesn’t overstay it’s welcome.

The actors weren’t anything special, neither were the characters, the characters are rather simple and generic horror characters. The acting is kind of weak, a little bad sometimes, though it’s not a huge weight on the movie. Bruce Campbell is the lead here as Ash Williams and he’s actually pretty good. He’s not at all the Ash we all know and love (with the chainsaw on his hand and the boomstick in the other), here he’s just a normal guy and he does well reacting and changing to everything that he sees and experiences throughout the movie.

Sam Rami’s direction is the reason why this movie really works as well as it does. This movie has a really low budget for a horror movie at $350-400K, and you can feel that throughout. With that however, Rami used some very creative techniques to achieve what he set out to do, and the results are rather impressive. The practical effects and makeup really work and a lot of them are still impressive today. Some of them look dated now but considering the budget and the time, you can look past that easily. The use of camera movements (especially the famous POV shots from an unseen demon force) are creative and are memorable, even if some of them are done for budget reasons. It is a very bloody and gory movie, if you don’t like that kind of movie, you probably won’t be staying with this movie for very long. There is blood absolutely everywhere and it goes everywhere. There are also some genuinely unnerving scenes. I didn’t personally find the movie scary but I will say that generally you’re more likely to be disturbed than scared. That tree scene for example is still very hard to watch.

The Evil Dead is a very effective horror movie that still is a classic today. Yes it is cheesy and dated at times but that’s to be expected from a horror movies from the early 80s. Ultimately its Sam Raimi’s direction that makes such a familiar horror concept (even in 1981) and a really low budget work so well. All the practical effects are impressive even to this day and its one thrilling and slightly disturbing horror movie. The Evil Dead ever since its release has established itself as one of the most iconic and important horror films of all time.

Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)

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Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Arc

Time: 115 Minutes
Age Rating: 120px-OFLCN_-_PG.svg[1] Violence
Cast:
Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones
Karen Allen as Marion Ravenwood
Paul Freeman as Rene Belloq
Ronald Lacey as Major Arnold Toht
John Rhys-Davies as Sallah
Denholm Elliot as Satipo
Director: Steven Spielberg

Archaeologist professor Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford) is hired to find the Ark of the Covenant when two agents from US Army intelligence tell him of Nazi German activities in archaeology, including a gigantic excavation site in Egypt – a site that an intercepted cable indicates to Indy is the location of the, the powerful chest bearing the Ten Commandments, that the Nazis can use to obliterate any enemy.

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Every adventure movie ever made owes it to this movie. With great characters, a sense of adventure, many thrills and well filmed action scenes; it is easy to see it reflected in many adventure movies released after it. It held up 33 years ago and it holds up today, as it continues to entertain today.

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This film always has something entertaining going on and always has your curiosity and attention. The reason why it is so loved was because as a film, it gets everything right. For a simple premise, the film takes advantage of it and really makes it as entertaining as possible. The film also has many genres combined into it: action, adventure, romance, comedy, fantasy – and all of these genres are extremely well balanced. There aren’t that many flaws with this movie (despite Indy near the end of the movie knowing what to do despite not learning about it prior to the event), and most of the time you don’t even notice them as you are wrapped up in the adventure.

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Indiana Jones is now an iconic character thanks to Harrison Ford’s performance. He doesn’t just rehash his performance from Star Wars as Han Solo; he really brings this character to life. He is like John McClane from Die Hard; he felt relatable and vulnerable like other human beings who seemed like he could die at any moment, where a lot of action characters are always capable. Karen Allen also does a good job at being Marion Ravenwood who is Indy’s love interest throughout the movie. One of the best things about her is that unlike most female characters in action movies (who usually spend most of their time being rescued from danger), she can hold her own and handle herself in any situation All the other side characters that are in this movie are memorable, especially Davies, Elliott and Lacey who are effective as the antagonists in the movie.

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The action scenes in this movie are done incredibly well. The film is also perfectly edited, as is the cinematography shot. I know it goes without saying but the stunt work is incredible; there are a lot of them, unlike most movies of today which often use CGI for the big action scenes. That chase scene in the last act with the horses stands out most to me whenever I think about this movie; it so well shot and overall is the best car chase scene I’ve seen in a movie. The set pieces for each location are designed very well. Also the film uses a lot of practical effects that actually feel real, a perfect example is the boulder near the beginning of the movie. John William’s score is a triumph all the way through; it fits so well with the action scenes, the discovery scenes and many others.

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This film is a fun adventure, simple as that. It takes you on a ride. The film balances the action scenes, dialogue and mystery moments. If for some strange reason you haven’t seen this movie, see it now and see what you have been missing out on for years. Raiders of the Lost Ark are a special movie to action films and to films in general. Steven Spielberg perfectly captured the adventurous spirit with this movie.