Tag Archives: Brad Dourif

Halloween II (2009) Review

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Halloween 2 2009

Time: 108 Minutes
Age Rating: 79a0443c-3460-4500-922d-308b655c1350[1]
Cast:
Malcolm McDowell as Samuel Loomis
Tyler Mane as Michael Myers
Scout Taylor-Compton as Laurie Strode
Sheri Moon Zombie as Deborah Myers
Brad Dourif as Sheriff Lee Brackett
Danielle Harris as Annie Brackett
Director: Rob Zombie

Michael Myers (Tyler Mane) is still at large and no less dangerous than ever. After failed reunion to reach his baby sister at their old home, Laurie Strode (Scout Taylor-Compton) is immediately taken to a hospital to be treated by the wounds that had been afflicted by her brother a few hours ago. However, Michael isn’t too far off and will continue his murdering Halloween rampage until he gets his sister all to himself.

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Rob Zombie’s remake Halloween back in 2007 was pretty divisive and it remains the case to this day, some love it, some hate it, but most are mixed on it. I myself am in the latter crowd, it no doubt has some issues, but I did like some of the things that Zombie at least tried to do. One of my problems with it is that although Rob Zombie was sort of making his remake of Halloween his own, in the second half of his movie he seemed rather constrained to largely recreating a lot of the original horror classic. As messy as the first half of that remake was, it would’ve been more interesting if Zombie just stayed consistent in doing his own thing. Well it seemed I got my wish with his sequel to that movie with Halloween 2 (not in any way related to Halloween 2 from 1981). Of all the entries in long running and iconic franchises, Rob Zombie’s Halloween 2 is among the most interesting. A departure from the Halloween movies, it goes into some different places I wasn’t expecting, and despite its issues, I liked being along for the ride.

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I watched the director’s cut because I heard that it was better than the theatrical version, and I liked what I got, so if you’re going to watch this movie then the director’s cut is probably the version you should seek out. This is the most un-Halloween-like movie in the series, and I can say this with complete confidence despite at this point only having seen Halloween 1978, Halloween 2018, and the first Rob Zombie Halloween. If you didn’t like the idea of Rob Zombie’s take on Michael Myers, you’re probably going to have a lot of issues with this movie. You might enjoy the movie up to the time jump, which takes place in a hospital, but after that it goes in a completely different direction than a standard Halloween (2007) sequel. It really is the aftermath of the first Rob Zombie Halloween, with Laurie Strode dealing with the impact of the last film, Dr Loomis who is capitalizing on those events with a book, and Michael Myers continuing his long search for Laurie while having visions of his dead mother and a white horse. This is definitely Zombie’s own movie, and even if it doesn’t fully succeed, I can’t help but admire the dedication for going in this direction. I did mention earlier about Michael Myers having visions of a white horse, which is an indication that Halloween 2 is a rather strange movie with some very weird choices, and within the first third of the movie you can figure out whether its your thing or not. People have also called the symbolism and the white horse parts a little pretentious and while I can’t disagree, at least Zombie is trying to go for something different. My issue was more that the white horse and visions tonally doesn’t mix with how grounded they present Laurie’s trauma, especially considering that the first movie seemed to have Michael Myers more as a serial killer than a supernatural presence. Also with regards to the story, I was more invested than I thought I would be, but like the Michael Myers origin story in the first half of Halloween 2007, some of the dialogue written kind of deflates the significance of some dramatic scenes. For example, when Laurie makes a discovery about herself and has a big reaction to it, she just screams “FUCK” like 10 times while in a car, and it’s just rather hard to take seriously. To be fair though, Zombie’s handling of Laurie’s storyline was a little more nuanced than I thought it would be. It’s not really much of a slasher movie until the third act, you must know that going in. Slight spoiler but while Michael Myers is trying to find Laurie throughout, it’s a while before he even gets to her, for the most part he’s a hobo who occasionally kills people. It’s just following these characters doing their own thing until the climax. For whatever reason it worked for me.

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Tyler Mane returns to play adult Michael Myers, and he is great, of course in the scenes where he kills people he really is a force of nature, but his mere presence in a scene is intimidating and haunting. Brad Dourif as the sheriff gets more scenes than in the first movie, and he’s quite good, particularly great in the last act. Malcolm McDowell was in good in the first movie as Dr Loomis, and this time Loomis is more like what you’d expect from a character played by McDowell. His character has grown rather selfish and egotistical ever since he started profiting off Michael Myers’s murders, and while I’m not entirely on board with what they did with him, McDowell absolutely sells it and gives another solid performance.

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Once again you feel Rob Zombie’s presence all over this, and like the story, it’s even more his movie. It’s even more grim, more so than Halloween 2007. Visually it’s great, that grainy 16mm really added a lot and fit the tone and rest of the direction perfectly. The violence in Zombie’s first Halloween was pretty graphic but here it’s ramped up to being even more over the top, to the point of hilarity and absurdity at points. In the aforementioned hospital scene, the moment where Michael Myers gratuitously stabs a nurse played by future Oscar winner Octavia Spencer is just so overblown, that it had to be intentionally darkly comedic. Brian Tyler’s score is pretty good (albeit rather standard horror music), but it is weird how the first movie had issues of placing the main Halloween theme in inappropriate scenes, whereas here you don’t hear the main theme until the end. It’s mostly its own thing, and that certainly fits in with the rest of the movie.

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Halloween 2 is very much not for everyone, even more the case than the previous movie. It’s imperfect for sure, but much of Zombie’s direction, the different choice for the story, as well as some of the acting was enough to keep me on board throughout. The thing is that it’s not really a slasher movie, it’s an arthouse movie (or at least an attempt at one) using the characters from a Halloween movie, and so its stuck trying to be a slasher movie at certain points. I get the feeling that it would have been better if Zombie just made the film its own thing with his own characters and not being constrained at that, it’s not like you can make an argument that he’s elevating the source material or something. I will say that if you thought Rob Zombie didn’t go full out and was stuck with the recreation of the original movie, give this one a try (try to watch the director’s cut). However I can completely see why plenty of people strongly dislike this movie.

Halloween (2007) Review

Halloween

Halloween 2007

Time: 110 Minutes
Age Rating: 79a0443c-3460-4500-922d-308b655c1350[1]
Cast:
Malcolm McDowell as Samuel Loomis
Sheri Moon Zombie as Deborah Myers
Tyler Mane as Michael Myers
Daeg Faerch as Michael Myers (age 10)
Scout Taylor-Compton as Laurie Strode
Brad Dourif as Sheriff Lee Brackett
Danielle Harris as Annie Brackett
William Forsythe as Ronnie
Director: Rob Zombie

After spending 17 years in a mental institution, Michael Myers (Tyler Mane) escapes and sets out to find his younger sister (Scout Taylor-Compton). He doesn’t spare anyone who tries to interfere with his mission.

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John Carpenter’s Halloween has been cemented as an absolute horror classic, and remaking such an influential movie is a big task for any director. However Rob Zombie’s Halloween movies have a notably divided reaction to them, and they’re not really for everyone. His first movie is a bit of a mixed bag but at the same time, there’s parts of it I like that’s worth praising.

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For the record, I haven’t watched the director’s cut, but from what I can tell it’s a little more violent and adding an unnecessary rape scene, so I don’t think I’m really missing much by skipping out on that version. Halloween 2007 is essentially made up of two different halves. The first half is about Michael Myers when he was younger and basically serves as an origin story. One of the major criticisms of the movie from a lot of people is that Michael Myers shouldn’t be explored as a character, and that he works much better as a mystery and almost supernatural presence. I’d counter that even if that’s true, this would at least be something different from the original instead of just recreating the movie and going through the same beats. Honestly my issue with it was personally more of the handling. Long story short, Michael Myers grew up in a broken home, and I’ll skip past the fact that this origin story is way overused for villains, since I’ve already got a lot of things to say. It is heavy handed how horrible his childhood is, and while blatancy isn’t inherently bad, some of the writing is just so over the top, especially with the dialogue. With that said, there are some nuanced scenes and some parts that were handled quite well, and it was interesting to see Zombie’s take.

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The second half is pretty much the events of the original film, which is both better and worse. On one hand it is more steady and less messy than the first half, and is just pretty much Rob Zombie doing his own take on the events of the original Halloween. The downside is that it is just that. While for sure there are some little plot changes made so that it’s not exactly the same, it’s just pretty much “Rob Zombie does Halloween”. Zombie is definitely paying homage to the original, so he’s not shamelessly copying the original, nor does he just recreate the whole movie, but even just paying homage has the potential to limit your movie, and that is the case here. It is quite jarring going from essentially Michael: Portrait of a Serial Killer, to what you’d expect from a Halloween remake. The early parts of that second half can be a little boring and uninteresting as you’re just waiting for Michael Myers to start stabbing people, specifically the people who you know are going to be killed from watching the movie. Once it picks up later on though it does work well. If I was someone who was scared of the original movie (which I’m not), I’d be less scared watching the remake, because while it is more graphic, we spent almost half the movie with the killer and less time with the victims and survivors, so the kill scenes aren’t nearly as impactful.

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The cast are also a bit of a mixed bag. Tyler Mane plays the grown up Michael Myers and while you don’t see his face, he does so well in the role. His mere presence is intimidating and he’s probably the most physically imposing version of the character that you could imagine. Donald Pleasance is hard to replace as Dr Loomis, but Malcolm McDowell was perfectly cast, and is quite good on his part. For the most part he pretty much just acts like Pleasance from the original but there are some moments where he stands out, especially in some of the earlier scenes before Michael Myers escapes. A lot of the rest of the cast is hit or miss, Brad Dourif does pretty well in his scenes as the sheriff character. As for Laurie, Scout Taylor-Compton I guess is alright but certainly suffers by not really feeling much of a main character like Jamie Lee Curtis’s version did in the original.

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Even though I’ve only seen the Halloween movies from Rob Zombie, I can tell that this is definitely a Rob Zombie movie. He lent his style to this take on the Halloween movies, and while I think that it’s more suited to something like Texas Chainsaw Massacre, I’m not complaining that we got something distinct here. Perhaps the biggest contribution Rob Zombie has given to the Halloween movies is making Michael Myers an absolute force to be reckoned with, with his attacks being very aggressive and loud. It can be very over the top and even unintentionally funny at points, but I liked it all the same. As for horror, as I said before I wasn’t scared by the original Halloween, and the remake certainly is much less scary than that. Tyler Bates’s score is mostly its own thing, outside of when it uses certain themes from John Carpenter’s score. It’s not quite as effective as the original’s music, but very few movies could achieve that, so I’m alright with that. My issues with the score is whenever it inappropriately uses the main theme in the movie, for example when kid Michael Myers is just running, it just plays randomly and it doesn’t really fit. The Michael Myers mask and overall look is pretty much perfect, really grimy, creepy and scary.

Halloween (2007)
Directed by Rob Zombie
Shown: Tyler Mane, Scout Taylor-Compton

Halloween 2007 as I said before is a mixed bag. The new take is interesting, but Zombie doesn’t quite pull off the execution, and while he does an alright job at redoing Halloween 1978 with Michael Myers on the loose, it is the same stuff and not anything beyond decent. All that being said, Zombie did make these movies his own, when he’s not paying homage to Carpenter’s classic at least. If you want to see Rob Zombie go full… well… Rob Zombie with the Halloween movies, then his Halloween 2 would be the one to check out after this one. If you liked the original, I’d say the 2007 remake is at least worth watching, even just out of curiosity.

Dune (1984) Review

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Dune (1984)

Time: 136 Minutes
Age Rating: 120px-OFLCN_-_PG.svg[1]
Cast:
Francesca Annis as Lady Jessica
Leonardo Cimino as the Baron’s Doctor
Brad Dourif as Piter De Vries
José Ferrer as Padishah Emperor Shaddam IV
Linda Hunt as the Shadout Mapes
Freddie Jones as Thufir Hawat
Richard Jordan as Duncan Idaho
Kyle MacLachlan as Paul Atreides
Virginia Madsen as Princess Irulan
Silvana Mangano as Reverend Mother Ramallo
Everett McGill as Stilgar
Kenneth McMillan as Baron Vladimir Harkonnen
Jack Nance as Nefud
Siân Phillips as Reverend Mother Gaius Helen Mohiam
Jürgen Prochnow as Duke Leto Atreides
Paul Smith as The Beast Rabban
Patrick Stewart as Gurney Halleck
Sting as Feyd Rautha
Dean Stockwell as Doctor Wellington Yueh
Max von Sydow as Doctor Kynes
Alicia Roanne Witt as Alia
Sean Young as Chani
Director: David Lynch

In the year 10191, a spice called melange is the most valuable substance known in the universe, and its only source is the desert planet Arrakis. A royal decree awards Arrakis to Duke Leto Atreides (Jürgen Prochnow) and ousts his bitter enemies, the Harkonnens. However, when the Harkonnens violently seize back their fiefdom, it is up to Paul (Kyle MacLachlan), Leto’s son, to lead the Fremen, the natives of Arrakis, in a battle for control of the planet and its spice. Based on Frank Herbert’s epic novel.

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I’ve heard about Dune for some time, especially that it was David Lynch directing a movie based on the influential novel, and had been meaning to watch it at some point. With Denis Villeneuve’s version coming however, I was felt that the time was right to watch Lynch’s version. Dune certainly was an ambitious book to adapt for the big screen. Unfortunately, it didn’t seem to work out all that well, even Lynch himself didn’t have a good time making the movie, mostly due to the studio interference that went on during the movie. Still, I liked what I saw.

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I haven’t read Frank Herbert’s Dune, so I can’t comment on how well it was adapted to the big screen. A lot of adaptations of books can suffer from not being able to cover everything in its story and having to condense it down quite a bit, but that especially feels the case with this movie. It certainly feels like there’s a lot missing from the movie, even at 2 hours and 15 minutes. The last half of the story particularly feels quite rushed. One of the biggest mistakes was the use of narration, it’s used not only to explain a lot of the background and worldbuilding but it’s mainly used to reveal their inner thoughts. It was already quite a bit much with Kyle MacLachlan, but there’s narration from multiple characters about their feelings and it quickly becomes annoying. The exposition dumps were also pretty bad, the film literally opens with a floating head narrator shoving so much information onto you, and it is just a mess. Additionally, I wasn’t particularly interested in the characters or the story, I was just following what was going on.

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Dune has got a large cast, including Kyle MacLachlan, Patrick Stewart, Brad Dourif, Max von Sydow. Sean Young and Sting. Generally I remember the cast being alright, but they are constrained by the characters being not particularly well written or interesting. However, they do what they can.

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David Lynch is a great director and we know this from many of his other movies like Mulholland Drive, Blue Velvet and The Elephant Man. With that said, while I haven’t seen all of his movies, when most people say that Dune is easily his weakest movie, I believe that. At the same time, I think it has got a lot of things going for it, and I even liked some of the choices that Lynch made. The production designs and costumes definitely go all out on the craziness. I haven’t read the book so I’m not sure if the designs are supposed to resemble how they look in Lynch’s movie, but looking at it all as its own thing, I liked it in a campy and over the top sci-fi way. The visual effects however don’t hold up well. Some are a little dated, other parts look so absurdly dated that I can’t imagine that it looked particularly good even for the 80s.

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David Lynch’s Dune is a bit of a mixed bag to say the least. Some of the direction didn’t work so well, and while the ideas are there, they weren’t executed the best. I think mainly that Dune just wasn’t ready to be made into a movie that early on, and at 2 hour and 15 minutes long it wasn’t quite enough. However, I don’t regret watching it, and I even enjoyed it for what it was. I will say that what benefited my experience of this movie was knowing that Villeneuve’s version would be coming and imagining how many of these concepts would be delivered by him (I even started imagining some of the characters in Lynch’s Dune played by the actors cast in Denis’s version). 1984 Dune doesn’t succeed all that well, but I think it’s worth a watch at the very least.

The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002) Review

Time: 259 Minutes (theatrical cut) or 235 minutes (extended cut)
Age Rating: 860940[1] Medium level violence
Cast:
Elijah Wood as Frodo Baggins
Sean Astin as Samwise Gamgee
Viggo Mortensen as Aragorn
Ian McKellen as Gandalf
Billy Boyd as Peregrin Took
Dominic Monaghan as Meriadoc Brandybuck
John Rhys-Davies as Gimli
Orlando Bloom as Legolas Greenleaf
Andy Serkis as Gollum/Sméagol
Bernard Hill as Théoden
Miranda Otto as Éowyn
Christopher Lee as Saruman
Liv Tyler as Arwen Undómiel
Hugo Weaving as Elrond
David Wenham as Faramir
Cate Blanchett as Galadriel
Brad Dourif as Gríma Wormtongue
Karl Urban as Éomer
Craig Parker as Haldir
John Leigh as Háma
Bruce Hopkins as Gamling
John Bach as Madril
Director: Peter Jackson

The Fellowship has been broken. Boromir is dead, Frodo Baggins (Elijah Wood) and Samwise Gamgee (Sean Astin) have gone to Mordor alone to destroy the One Ring, Merry (Dominic Monaghan) and Pippin (Billy Boyd) have been captured by the Uruk-hai, and Aragorn (Viggo Mortensen), Legolas (Orlando Bloom), and Gimli (John Rhys-Davs) have made friends of the Rohan, a race of humans that are in the path of the upcoming war, led by its aging king, Théoden. The two towers between Mordor and Isengard, Barad-dúr and Orthanc, have united in their lust for destruction. The corrupt wizard Saruman (Christopher Lee), under the power of the Dark Lord Sauron, and his assistant, Gríma Wormtongue (Brad Dourif), have created a grand Uruk-hai army bent on the destruction of Man and Middle-earth. One of the Ring’s original bearers, the creature Gollum (Andy Serkis), has tracked Frodo and Sam down in search of the ring, but is captured by the Hobbits and used as a way to lead them to Mt. Doom.

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The Lord of the Rings movies are among my favourite movies of all time but reviewing them isn’t that easy. Talking about the Lord of the Rings movies is very difficult, it is so famous and well known that so much of it feels redundant talking about, and plus there is just so much that can be said about it. That can be clearly seen in my review of The Fellowship of the Ring from years ago, which is easily one of the worst reviews I ever written. Years later and after watching the Lord of the Rings movies more recently, I decided to review the rest of them the best I can. If you haven’t watched any of the Lord of the Rings movies, long story short just go and watch them. The Two Towers continues on the greatness of the previous film of The Fellowship of the Ring, and it even does a lot of things better than the first film.

The film jumps between characters’ perspectives and it does it well. It mostly jumps from Frodo, Sam and Gollum to Aragon, Legolas and Gimli as well as to Merry and Pippin. Some characters and storylines are more interesting than others but all of them are done rather well. It goes even darker than the first movie and you really feel the higher stakes throughout. I generally think that the Lord of the Rings trilogy is better with the extended editions, but that’s especially the case with The Two Towers and Return of the King. The extended cut is almost an hour longer but it is worth the extra footage. Sometimes I think about the scenes that were cut from the cut and I can’t imagine the movie without them. For example, one of the scenes only in the extended cut included a flashback from Faramir (David Wenham) to his brother Boromir (Sean Bean) and his father Denethor (John Noble) and it added so much his character and what is driving him to make the decisions he made. There’s much more examples like this but that’s just one of them. The third acts of each of the Lord of the Rings movies are usually the standout of each of them, and The Two Towers is no exception, with two great battles happening at the same time. As for how it adapted the original book, I haven’t read it so I don’t have much to say regarding that.

All of the surviving characters from Fellowship of the Ring are back. Elijah Wood and Sean Astin are great as Frodo and Sam, they really do feel like best friends going on this journey. Wood also does a really good job at showing the conflict Frodo is experiencing having to bear the One Ring and with it changing him while they’re on their journey. Viggo Mortensen as Aragon, Orlando Bloom as Legolas and John Rhys-Davis as Gimli in their plotline are great, Mortensen particularly is perfectly cast as Aragon and brings a lot to his role. The only thing about Gimli that kind of got annoying was that after Fellowship of the Ring he gets cartoonishly silly and buffoonish. The same happens in reverse with Legolas, who is cartoonishly great at everything, to the point where he’s literally sliding down stairs on a shield while shooting orcs with arrows. It’s not movie breaking but it’s just a bit too much at times. There’s also a plotline focussing on Billy Boyd’s Pippin and Dominic Monaghan as Merry, and while it’s less interesting than the other plotlines, it is still done well enough. Both characters are seen as being comic relief, so it’s good that they get to have their part in what happened in the movie (though I guess it’s more of a credit to the book more than anything else). Ian McKellan is always great as Gandalf (even though instead of returning as Gandalf the Grey, he’s now Gandalf the White), flat out perfect in the role.

Christopher Lee as Saruman also gets more focus this time round as one of the main antagonists of the movie, ending up being more often than not the source of conflict in much of the plotlines here. Lee as usual is scene chewingly great as Saruman, having such a presence about him when he’s on screen. Other returning characters like Liv Tyler as Arwen, Hugo Weaving as Elrond and Cate Blanchett as Galadriel are good as always. The newer additions were also great, namely Bernard Hill as Theoden, Miranda Otto as Eowyn, David Wenham as Faramir, Karl Urban as Eomer and Brad Dourif as Grima Wormtongue. All of them did really good jobs of making themselves stand out amongst the cast. The stand out new character/performance though is from Andy Serkis as Gollum. Although it is motion capture and largely done through special effects, the way he moves, emotes and speaks all come from Serkis. They did such a fantastic job at making him one of the more complex characters in these movies, sympathetic in one scene and then treacherous in the next.

Its no surprise that Peter Jackson’s direction was great but I think he’s improved even more with his second film. The landscapes, locations and sets just feel all great, it all helps that almost all of it feels real. All the special effects are good as usual, what makes it so effective is that it mixes both practical and digital effects. Now given that its over 16 years old, some of the CGI don’t look completely fantastic and aren’t at the level of today’s CGI but most of it still holds up very well. Like Fellowship, everything feels like it’s on such a huge scale, and it feels somewhat authentic. As I said earlier when I was talking about Andy Serkis, I especially like what they did with Gollum with motion capture, it still looks seamless and real today. The action scenes are also well filmed and even better than those in The Fellowship of the Ring. The standout is the third act which consists of and cuts between the battle at Helm’s Deep and the Ents fighting against Isengard. Its just such a spectacle to watch and are amongst some of the best sequences of the whole trilogy. Directionwise, The Two Towers really was just a little better than The Fellowship of the Ring. Even little aspects are slightly improved, like I know it’s a minor thing to note but there aren’t as many awkward close up shots as in the first movie. Howard Shore’s score once again is just iconic and adds so much to the movie, I can’t imagine the Lord of the Rings movies without them.

The Two Towers is for me even better than The Fellowship of the Ring. Some of it as to do with preference with regard to the story and all that, not to mention the large scale sequences, especially the Helm’s Deep battle, are among some of the stand out moments in the movie series. However I also think that Peter Jackson’s direction has even improved, and would only continue to improve with Return of the King. Each Lord of the Rings movie is better than the last one, but all 3 of them are excellent.