4 Shots From 4 Christmas Films: The Godfather, Lethal Weapon, Die Hard, Die Hard 2


4 Shots From 4 Films is just what it says it is, 4 shots from 4 of our favorite films. As opposed to the reviews and recaps that we usually post, 4 Shots From 4 Films lets the visuals do the talking.

Merry Christmas!

Let’s get today started with….

4 Shots From 4 Christmas Films

The Godfather (1972, dir by Francis Ford Coppola)

Lethal Weapon (1987, dir by Richard Donner)

Die Hard (1988, dir by John McTiernan)

Die Hard 2 (1990, dir by Renny Harlin)

40 Years of SUPERMAN: THE MOVIE (Warner Brothers 1978)


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Unlike today, when superheroes dominate at the box office and your local multiplex, costumed crusaders were dead as the proverbial doornail in theaters of the 1970’s. The last was 1966’s BATMAN, at the height of the camp craze, but after that zer0… zilch… nada. I didn’t care; my comic book reading days were pretty much at an end by 1978, driven away by other distractions, like making money, girls, beer, and girls. I had moved on.

But when Warner Brothers announced they were making a new, big budget Superman movie, I was intrigued. I’d always loved the old 50’s TV series starring George Reeves as the Man of Steel, corny as it was, and with a cast featuring Marlon Brando , Gene Hackman , and Glenn Ford , not to mention that girl from Brian DePalma’s SISTERS as Lois Lane, I wanted to see this new version. I also wanted…

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4 Shots From Horror History: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Jaws, Carrie, The Omen


This October, I’m going to be doing something a little bit different with my contribution to 4 Shots From 4 Films.  I’m going to be taking a little chronological tour of the history of horror cinema, moving from decade to decade.

Today, we continue with the 70s!

4 Shots From 4 Films

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974, dir by Tobe Hooper)

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974, dir by Tobe Hooper)

Jaws (1975, dir by Steven Spielberg)

Jaws (1975, dir by Steven Spielberg)

Carrie (1976, dir by Brian DePalma)

Carrie (1976, dir by Brian DePalma)

The Omen (1976, dir by Richard Donner)

The Omen (1976, dir by Richard Donner)

Horror On TV: Tales From the Crypt 2.10 “The Ventriloquist’s Dummy”


For tonight’s excursion into the world of televised horror, we have the 10th episode of the 2nd season of Tales From The Crypt!  This episode, which originally aired on June 5th, 1990, is called The Ventriloquist’s Dummy!

Who doesn’t love a creepy ventriloquist story?  And this is certainly a creepy one, with an ending that you’ll either love or hate.

This episode was directed by Richard Donner and written by future Shawshank Redemption director and Walking Dead showrunner, Frank Darabont!

Enjoy!

Horror on TV: The Twilight Zone 5.3 “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet”


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Wow. It’s hard to believe that is going to be my final televised horror of the year. (Though I imagine this feature will return in October of 2016 — just in time for election season!) Well, let’s get right to it!


For our final televised horror, I have selected a classic episode of The Twilight Zone. In Nightmare at 20,000 Feet, William Shatner is a man who, though being scared of flying, finds himself on an airplane. And guess what he sees out on the wing?


This episode was written by one of Arleigh’s favorite writers, the great Richard Matheson. It was directed by Richard Donner and originally aired on October 11th, 1963.


Enjoy Nightmare at 20,000 Feet! And here’s hoping that all of our readers have had a wonderful, safe, and happy Halloween!


Horror Film Review: The Omen (dir by Richard Donner)


The Omen

A few days ago, Arleigh shared the theme song from 1976’s The Omen as Monday’s horror song of the day.  As I sat there and listened to Jerry Goldsmith’s award-winning hymn to Satan, it occurred to me that I happen to have all five of the Omen films sitting in my movie collection.  Seeing as how this is Halloween and how the world seems to be getting closer to ending with each passing day, I decided that this would be the perfect time to rewatch the entire franchise and consider whether or not The Omen films are truly as scary as a lot of people seem to think.

So, that’s what I did.

How did things turn out?

Well, in the long history of sequels and remakes, The Omen franchise is one of the more uneven collections.  This is one of those franchises where things tend to get less impressive with each subsequent entry.  However, 38 years after its initial release, the first Omen remains effective and, in its way, genuinely scary.

If you’re a horror fan, you probably know the general plot of The Omen regardless of whether you’ve actually watched it or not.  It’s one of those films that has been so frequently imitated that it’s almost possible to watch it by osmosis.

The film opens in Rome with diplomat Robert Thorn (Gregory Peck) being rushed to the hospital where his wife, Kathy (Lee Remick), has just given birth.  A priest (Martin Benson) tells him that his son died shortly after being born but that he can always just go home with an orphaned newborn that he just happens to have handy.  Robert agrees and decides not to tell his wife the truth about the child.  Robert and Kathy raise the boy and they name him Damien.  Four years later, the politically ambitious Robert is named as Ambassador to the Court of St. James.

The Thorns move to London and soon, odd things start to happen.  Damien (now played by Harvey Spencer Stephens) is a quiet boy with a piercing stare who throws a fit whenever he’s taken inside of a church.  When Kathy takes Damien to the zoo, they’re attacked by angry baboons.  A large Rottweiler mysteriously appears on the grounds of the Ambassador’s estate.  A mysterious and sinister nanny (Billie Whitelaw) shows up and explains that she’s been sent by an “agency.”  A crazed priest (Patrick Troughton) starts to stalk the Ambassador, demanding a chance to speak with him and insisting that Damien’s mother was actually a jackal.

Even more mysteriously, people start dying in the strangest of ways.  A young woman (Holly Palance) smiles as she shouts, “Damien, it’s all for you!” and then hangs herself, thoroughly ruining Damien’s fifth birthday party.  A freak lightning storm leads to a man being impaled by a weather vane.  Another person who suspects that there might be something wrong with Damien ends up losing his head in a graphic sequence that — even in this age of Hostel and Saw — is difficult to watch.

The Ambassador is contact by Keith Jennings (David Warner), a nervous photographer who fears that Damien may be planning on killing him.  Soon, Thorn and Jennings are flying to Italy and to the Middle East and discovering evidence that five year-old Damien might very well be the Antichrist.  Speaking of Damien, he and that nanny have been left alone with poor, victimized Kathy.

(“Oh, leave her alone,” I muttered as Damien attempted to kill Kathy for the hundredth time…)

As I watched The Omen, I tried to figure out why this film has held up so well.  It certainly wasn’t due to the performance of Gregory Peck who, quite frankly, seemed to mostly be going through the motions.  David Warner, on the other hand, gave such a good performance that it was almost difficult to watch.  (Don’t get attached to any character who appears in an Omen film.)   Some of the film’s effectiveness was undoubtedly due to Jerry Goldsmith’s intense score.  Anything’s scary when you’ve got a hundred voice shouting “Ave Satani” at you.

But, ultimately, I think the reason why The Omen still works is because the film generates such a palpable sense of doom.  This is one of those films that leaves you convinced that anyone can die at any minute and, considering that happens to be true in both this movie and in real life, that makes the horror of The Omen feel very real.  By the time the film ends, you’re left with little doubt that nobody in the film had the least bit of power or control over his or her own destiny.  Instead, they were all just pawns in a game that they had no hope of ever winning or understanding.  Is there anything scarier than feeling powerless?

All I know is that, having rewatched The Omen, I will never look at a plane of glass the same way again.

 

 

Horror Song of the Day: Ave Satani (by Jerry Goldsmith)


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One cannot think of horror and not bring up Richard Donner’s The Omen. A film made during the turbulent late 1970’s when the world was literally on the brink of ripping itself apart. The Omen was a film that told the tale of the birth of the Anti-Christ which would herald the coming of the Apocalypse. Outside of William Friedkin’s The Exorcist there wasn’t a film during this era which put the fear of God’s Judgment on the faithful than The Omen.

It helped that it’s own film score was determined to hammer the point of it’s blasphemous subject matter by taking one of the most holy rituals in Roman Catholicism and inverting it to praise Satan instead of the Virgin Mary. Jerry Goldsmith took the rite of consecration and came up with what one could call the rite of desecration for a purported Black Mass.

One must say that “Ave Satani” was all the creation of Jerry Goldsmith and a fellow choir-master in London. This was a work of art created to accompany a film that some would label art as well, but for some whose own faith has superseded all thoughts of art appreciation “Ave Satani” was very real and was a real danger to one’s eternal soul.

I will say that it’s an effective use of the Gregorian chant and more than just a tad hair-raising.

Ave Satani

Sanguis bibimus
Corpus edibus
Sanguis bibimus
Corpus edibus
Sanguis bibimus
Corpus edibus
Rolle corpus Satani, ave
Sanguis bibimus
Corpus edibus
Rolle corpus Satani, ave

Ave, ave, versus Christus
Ave, ave, versus Christus
Ave, ave, versus Christus

Ave Satani
Sanguis bibimus
Corpus edibus
Rolle corpus Satani,
Satani, Satani

Ave, ave, Satani