Insomnia File #23: Death Do Us Part (dir by Nicholas Humphries)


What’s an Insomnia File? You know how some times you just can’t get any sleep and, at about three in the morning, you’ll find yourself watching whatever you can find on cable? This feature is all about those insomnia-inspired discoveries!

If you were having trouble getting to sleep around one in the morning on March 7th, you could have watched the 2012 horror film, Death Do Us Part, on Showtime.

I don’t know if it would have helped you get to sleep though.  Death Do Us Part is one of those films where the entire cast spends a lot of time screaming.  I couldn’t tell you much about who all of the characters were meant to be, as they all kind of blended together (especially the male characters), but, if need be, I could identify all of their screams.

Of course, it takes a while for the screaming to get started.  Death Do Us Part takes its time getting to the mayhem.  It tells the story of a rich girl named Kennedy (Julia Benson) who has a history of mental instability and who is marrying Ryan Harris (Peter Benson).  Kennedy enjoys posing in her wedding dress, popping pills, and nervously smiling.  Life seems to be perfect for her!  But, as often seems to happen in these movies, Ryan is also having the occasional quickie with Kennedy’s sister, Hannah (Christine Catelain).  Kennedy’s best friend, Emily (Emilie Ullerup), happens to see Hannah and Ryan doing it in the woods.  Emily gets a slightly crazy look in her eyes as she watches.

(Then again, at some point in this movie, everyone has a crazy look in their eyes.)

Kennedy, Ryan, Hannah, Emily, and a couple of guys who aren’t that important are spending the weekend in a cabin in the woods.  The cabin comes with its own pervy caretaker.  If I ever spend the weekend at a cabin in the woods, I’m going to specifically ask for a cabin that doesn’t come with a caretaker.  Judging from the movies that I’ve seen, those dudes are always bad news.

ANYWAY — it takes a while but eventually, people start dying.  In fact, once people start dying, the movie suddenly picks up the pace.  Before you know it, everyone’s running around in the woods and getting killed and screaming.  Seriously, there’s lots and lots of screaming.

Up until the last fifteen minutes, I was ready to dismiss Death Do Us Part as just another low-budget attempt at horror but I actually did like the chaos of everyone running around in the woods.  Don’t get me wrong.  The movie takes way too long to get going and the characters are so generic that you really don’t care whether they’re dead or not.  But I did appreciate the fact that, when confronted by a murderous maniac, the majority of the characters reacted the way that I would have reacted.  They started running around, screaming their heads off, and ultimately, they just made things worse.  It was a nice change from the usual movie technique of having one of the characters suddenly turn out to be a hyper competent survival machine.

There is a twist but you’ll see it coming from a mile away.  That said, the final few shots of the film were enjoyably surreal in only the way that a bloody wedding dress can be.

(Speaking of wedding dresses, I loved the one in this film.  Way to go, Kennedy!)

Anyway, I can’t really recommend Death Do Us Part because it takes too long to get going and the characters are way too generic.  But, I did like the final fourth of the film and I may have found my future wedding dress!

All in all, not a bad way to handle insomnia.

Previous Insomnia Files:

  1. Story of Mankind
  2. Stag
  3. Love Is A Gun
  4. Nina Takes A Lover
  5. Black Ice
  6. Frogs For Snakes
  7. Fair Game
  8. From The Hip
  9. Born Killers
  10. Eye For An Eye
  11. Summer Catch
  12. Beyond the Law
  13. Spring Broke
  14. Promise
  15. George Wallace
  16. Kill The Messenger
  17. The Suburbans
  18. Only The Strong
  19. Great Expectations
  20. Casual Sex?
  21. Truth
  22. Insomina

 

20 Horror Icons Who Were Never Nominated For An Oscar


Though they’ve given some of the best, iconic, and award-worthy performances in horror history, the actors and actresses below have never been nominated for an Oscar.

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  1. Asia Argento

Perhaps because of charges of nepotism, people are quick to overlook just how good Asia Argento was in those films she made with Dario Argento.  Her work in Trauma especially deserves to be reevaluated.  Outside of her work with Dario, Asia gave great, self-directed performances in Scarlet Diva and The Heart is Deceitful Above All Things.

2. Jamie Lee Curtis

“Prom Night!  Everything is all right!”  Did you know that Jamie Lee Curtis received a Genie Nomination for her performance in Prom Night?  That could be because, in 1980, there weren’t that many movies being produced in Canada but still, Jamie was pretty good in that film.  And, of course, there’s a little film called Halloween

3. Peter Cushing

The beloved Hammer horror veteran did wonderful work as both Frankenstein and Van Helsing.  Personally, I love his odd cameo in Shock Waves.

4. Robert Englund

One, two, Freddy’s coming for you…

5. Lance Henriksen

One of the great character actors, Lance Henriksen gave one of the best vampire performances of all time in Kathryn Bigelow’s Near Dark.

David Hess, R.I.P.

6. David Hess

In just two films — Wes Craven’s Last House On The Left and Ruggero Deodato’s The House On The Edge of the Park — Hess defined screen evil.  If nothing else, he deserved an Oscar for composing The Road Leads To Nowhere.

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7. Boris Karloff

As our own Gary Loggins will tell you, it’s a crime that Boris Karloff never received an Oscar nomination.  He may be best remembered for Frankenstein but, for me, Karloff’s best performance was in Targets.

8. Camille Keaton

Yes, Camille Keaton did deserve a Best Actress nomination for I Spit On Your Grave.

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9. Klaus Kinski

The notorious and talented Klaus Kinski was never nominated for an Oscar.  Perhaps the Academy was scared of what he would do if he won.  But, that said, Kinski gave some of the best performances of all time, in films for everyone from Jess Franco to Werner Herzog.

Christopher Lee Is Dracula

10. Christopher Lee

That the amazing Christopher Lee was never nominated is a shock.  Though he will always be Dracula, Lee gave wonderful performances in films of all genres.  Lee always cited the little-seen Jinnah as being his best performance.

 

11. Bela Lugosi

The original Dracula, Lugosi never escaped typecasting.  Believe it or not, one of his finest performances was in one of the worst (if most enjoyable) films of all time, Ed Wood’s Bride of the Monster.

12. Catriona MacColl

This English actress gave three excellent performances in each chapter of Lucio Fulci’s Beyond Trilogy, with her performance in The House By The Cemetery elevating the entire film.

13. Daria Nicolodi

This Italian actress served as a muse to two of the best directors around, Dario Argento and Mario Bava.  Her award-worthy performances include Deep Red and, especially, Shock.

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14. Bill Paxton

This great Texas actor gave award-worthy performances in everything from Near Dark to Aliens to Frailty.  RIP.

15. Donald Pleasence 

Dr. Loomis!  As good as he was in Halloween, Pleasence also gave excellent performances in Roman Polanski’s Cul-de-Sac and a nightmarish Australian film called Wake in Fright.

Roger Corman and Vincent Price

16. Vincent Price

The great Vincent Price never seems to get the respect that he deserves.  He may have overacted at times but nobody went overboard with as much style as Vincent Price.  His most award-worthy performance?  The Witchfinder General.

17. Giovanni Lombardo Radice

The greatest of all the Italian horror stars, Radice is still active, gracious, and beloved by his many fans.  Quentin Tarantino is a self-described fan so it’s time for Tarantino to write him a great role.

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18. Michael Rooker

To many people, this great character actor will always be Henry.

19. Joe Spinell

This character actor will always be remembered for playing the lead role in the original Maniac but he also appeared in some of the most acclaimed films of all time.  Over the course of a relatively short career, Spinell appeared in everything from The Godfather to Taxi Driver to Rocky to Starcrash.  He was the American Klaus Kinski,

20. Barbara Steele

Barbara Steele has worked with everyone from Mario Bava to Jonathan Demme to David Cronenberg to Federico Fellini.  Among her many excellent performances, her work in Black Sunday and Caged Heat stands out as particularly memorable.

black-sunday

10 Horror Films That Should Have Been Nominated For Best Picture


Horror films!

Audiences love them but the Academy has never quite felt the same way.  True, there have been a few horror films nominated.  The Exorcist was a major contender.  Jaws was nominated.  So was The Sixth Sense.  Silence of the Lambs won.

But, for the most part, horror films have struggled to get Academy recognition.  While the Academy has recently shown a willingness to honor science fiction, the horror genre has yet to benefit from the decision to increase the number of best picture nominees.

Because I love horror and I love movies and I love lists, here are ten horror films that I think deserved a best picture nomination:

  1. Frankenstein (1931)

One of the most popular and influential horror films of all time, Frankenstein was sadly ignored by the Academy.  It’s certainly better remembered than the film that won best picture of 1931, Cimarron.

Psycho

2. Psycho (1960)

Psycho may have received nominations for best director, supporting actress, cinematography, and art design but the film that made people afraid to take showers did not receive a nomination for best picture.  The winner that year was a legitimate classic, The Apartment.  But it’s hard not to feel that Psycho should have, at the very least, received a nominations over the other 4 films nominated.

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3. Night of the Living Dead (1968)

George Romero’s zombie classic may have set the standard for zombie movies to come but it was not honored the Academy.  The Academy was more comfortable with Oliver!

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4. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)

1974 was a very good year for the movies and certainly, I would not argue that The Texas Chainsaw Massacre deserved a nomination over The Godfather Part II, The Conversation, or Chinatown.  But over The Towering Inferno?  That’s another story.

5. Suspiria (1977)

Oscar nominee Dario Argento?  In a perfect world, yes.

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6) Halloween (1978)

The night he came home … to Oscars!  If nothing else, John Carpenter’s score definitely deserved to win.

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7) Dawn of the Dead (1979)

Few sequels have been nominated for best picture.  Dawn of the Dead definitely should have been one of them.  Who wouldn’t want to see, at the very least, Tom Savini’s speech as he accepted his special award for best makeup?

8) The Shining (1980)

Stanley Kubrick’s film may be recognized as a classic now but the reviews, when it was first released, were mixed.  So, I guess we shouldn’t be surprised that it wasn’t given any recognition by the Academy.  It’s a shame because I’ve watched The Shining a few dozen times and it still scares the Hell out of me.

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9) The Cabin In The Woods (2012)

One of the best films of the new century, this joyful tribute to the horror genre was sadly overlooked by the Academy in 2012.

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10) The Neon Demon (2016)

Is Nicholas Winding Refn’s The Neon Demon truly a horror movie?  It’s close enough.  Though the film opened to mixed reviews, it’ll be recognized as a classic in another ten years.

 

Film Review: The Ring (dir by Gore Verbinski)


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(SPOILERS BELOW!)

This weekend, I will be seeing Rings, the second sequel to the 2002 film, The Ring.  (Of course, The Ring itself is a remake of the Japanese film, Ringu.)  Since it’s been a while since we’ve had a new installment in the Ring franchise, I decided to rewatch the first film tonight.

I have to admit that I had a few concerns before I rewatched The Ring.  When I first saw The Ring, it scared me to the extent that I actually had nightmares afterward.  Even after all these years, the image of that little girl emerging from the well and then crawling out of the television still makes me shiver.  But even with that in mind, I still found myself wondering if The Ring would live up to my vivid memories.

After all, it’s been 14 years since The Ring was released and, since that time, it’s been copied and imitated by literally hundreds of other PG-13 rated horror movies.  Would the shocks still be effective, now that I knew they were coming and that I would no longer be surprised to learn that the little girl in the well was actually evil?

Add to that, there was the question of technology.  In 2002, it seemed all too plausible that people could be trading back and forth a cursed VHS tape.  The Ring was made at a time when DVDs were still considered to be exotic.  When The Ring first came out, YouTube didn’t even exist.  But today, both VHS tapes and VCRs are artifacts of another era.  DVDs have been replaced by Blu-rays and Blu-rays are in the process of being replaced by streaming services.  For The Ring to work, you had to be able to relate to people watching a VHS tape.  Today, all of these people would be too busy watching cute cat videos on YouTube to fall into The Ring‘s trap.

In short, would The Ring still work in the age of Netflix?  And would the film still be as scary as it was when it was first released?  These were the question that I found myself wondering as I sat down to rewatch The Ring.

And the answer to both questions is … for the most part, yes.

Here’s the good news.  All the important things still work.  The performances of Martin Henderson, David Dorfman, Amber Tamblyn, and especially Naomi Watts hold up well.  Gore Verbinski’s direction is still effective and, as I rewatched the film, I was surprised to see how many odd and quirky details that Verbinski managed to work into the film.  (I especially enjoyed the magic-obsessed desk clerk.)  The cursed video was still creepy and compulsively watchable and I still felt uneasy while watching Anna Morgan (played by Shannon Cochran) comb her hair in that mirror.  Even more importantly, the little girl in the well, Samara Morgan (Daveigh Chase), was still incredibly frightening.

Admittedly, The Ring is dated and some of its effectiveness has been diluted by imitation.  Unfortunately, that’s something that happens with any financially successful horror film.  Beyond that, as effective as the entire film was, there were parts of The Ring that did feel undeniably silly.  There’s a lengthy scene in which Naomi Watts, while on a ferry, attempts to talk to a horse and the horse reacts by jumping into the ocean.  I understand that the scene was probably meant to establish that, as a result of watching that videotape, Watts was now cursed.  But, still, I kept wondering why Watts was bothering the horse in the first place.  I mean, I love horses too but I know better than to disturb one while on a ferry.  As well, the film’s opening sequence — in which Amber Tamblyn is menaced and ultimately killed by Samara — no longer felt as effective as it did when I first saw it, largely due to the fact that it’s been copied by so many other horror films.  Imitation may be the ultimate compliment but it does tend to dilute the effectiveness of horror.

But, in the end, The Ring held up well enough.  The film’s storyline — characters watch a cursed video tape and then, seven days later, are killed by Samara — was simple but enjoyable.  And, when David Dorfman delivered his classic line: “No.  You weren’t supposed to help her,” I still felt a chill run down my spine.

Will Rings hold up as well as The Ring?

I’ll find out this weekend!

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Stage Fright: THE HYPNOTIC EYE (Allied Artists 1960)


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The Hypnotic Eye (1960) Directed by George Blair Shown: Lobby card

Evil hypnotists have been a movie staple since Svengali first mesmerized Trilby in 1911, but THE HYPNOTIC EYE is in a class of its own. This demented little tale is sufficiently creepy enough to overcome its meager budget limitations, and features the Ice Queen of Horror, Allison Hayes, in the pivotal role of Justine, assistant to master trancemaker Desmond.

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We start with an opening shot of a woman, thinking she’s washing her hair, sticking her head directly into the flame of a stove pilot. That’ll get your attention! A series of horrible self-mutilations have left a dozen beautiful women disfigured and the police scratching their heads. Detective Dave Kennedy discusses the bizarre cases with police psychologist Phil Hecht: “One of them stuck her face in the blade of an electric fan. Thought it was a vibrator. Another one sliced her face with a straight razor. Thought it was a lipstick brush”.

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Dave’s girlfriend Marcia…

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A Merry Christmas and Enjoy the Greatest Christmas Film Ever Made!


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We celebrate the 7th year anniversary of the site and we continue a yearly holiday ritual over here at Through the Shattered Lens. I present to all of you readers, visitors and passer-byes the greatest holiday film ever created since forever, ever. I know it’s one that resident anime contributor pantsukudasai56 looks forward to each and every Christmas.

It is a film full of joy and happiness. Of giving and sharing with loved ones that which matters most. This is a film that best describes what Through the Shattered Lens stands for and works towards.

It even has a scene straight out of a Disney classic.

So, from all of us at Through the Shattered Lens….

MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL, AND TO ALL A GOOD NIGHT!

A Few Thoughts on …. The Walking Dead 7.5 “Go Getters” (dir by Darnell Martin)


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So far, season 7 of The Walking Dead has been pretty inconsistent.

Often times, I have felt like a lone voice in the wilderness, vainly defending the season premiere and continuing to hope that, at some point, Jeffrey Dean Morgan’s portrayal of Negan is going to become something more than a one-dimensional caricature.

Like a lot of people, I kind of enjoyed the second episode but, in retrospect, that was mostly because of the weirdness of King Ezekiel and the majesty of Shiva.  The episode itself was extremely slow and featured one of those overly sentimental musical montages, the type of thing that never holds up particularly well on repeat viewing.

The Cell … oh, I tried to enjoy The Cell but basically, it was just an hour of Daryl not speaking and Negan doing his Negan thing.

And then there was last week’s episode, which appears to be going down in the history books as the consensus pick for the worst episode of The Walking Dead ever.

So, with all that in mind, I am going to cautiously state that I think that the latest installment, Go Getters, was a definite improvement over the last few episodes.  It was hardly a classic.  It certainly wasn’t The Walking Dead at its absolute best.  But, at the very least, it held my attention for 60 minutes, it seemed to actually move the story forward (as opposed to just being a stagnant portrayal of doom and gloom), and it left me looking forward to seeing what would happen next week.  Coming nearly halfway through an uneven season, Go Getters provided just a little bit of hope for the show’s future, telling us,  “The Walking Dead‘s not dead and growling in Herschel’s barn just yet!”

Of course, it helped that Go Getters was centered on Maggie, the only one of the main characters who has not left me pissed off or disappointed this season.  Following the deaths of Glenn and Abraham, Maggie and Sasha are hiding out at Hilltop Colony.  Gregory wants to kick them out, Jesus wants to protect them.  Eventually, the Saviors show up and we get to know Simon (Steven Ogg, investing the role with such menace that it’s hard not to wonder how different the season would be if he had been cast as Negan), who is one of Negan’s liuetenants.  Simon collects his tribute, humiliates Gregory, and leaves.  Meanwhile, Carl and Enid show up at Hilltop, having run away from Alexandria.  One-eyed Carl has decided to take revenge on Negan and who can blame him?  At this point, he has to know that his red-eyed, sniveling, neutered father isn’t going to do anything…

(Which brings up an interesting issue: we’re supposed to look down on Gregory for being so weak and subservient to the Saviors but really, he didn’t do anything different from what Rick did last week.  We’re supposed to give Rick a pass but not Gregory, which doesn’t seem quite right.  Gregory may be an ass but, as we should all know by now, nice guys don’t survive the apocalypse.)

So far, each episode this season has featured a different community being harassed by Negan.  I’m assuming that these communities are eventually going to come together to take out the Saviors.  If that’s the case, I can understand and even respect the deliberate build-up.  At the same time, this season is moving so slowly (and has been so repetitive) that it’s hard not to get frustrated when you’re watching on a weekly schedule.  One gets the feeling that Season 7 will be better when binge-watched but, for now, I find myself wishing the show would pick up the pace.

But, with all that in mind, I liked Go Getters.  I love the fact that Maggie refuses to surrender.  Despite all of the terrible things that have happened to her and the people that she loved, Maggie has not given up.  She hasn’t turned into a weak shell, like Rick or Daryl.  Nor has she retreated to a world of fantasy, like Carol.  Instead, Maggie lives, Maggie fights, and Maggie endures.  Glenn may be dead but Maggie the Cat is alive.

GO MAGGIE!