Horror Film Review: The Guardian (dir by William Friedkin)


OH MY GOD!  THAT TREE IS EATING PEOPLE!

“You mean the tree played by Kevin Costner?”

No, no.  You’re thinking of the wrong Guardian, my imaginary friend.  This Guardian is from 1990 and it’s the killer tree film that was directed by William Friedkin.

“William Friedkin directed a killer tree film?”

Apparently so.

“What’s it about?”

It’s kind of hard to say.  Camilla (Jenny Seagrove) is hired as a nanny and proceeds to not only claim the baby as her own but also tries to seduce the baby’s father away from his wife.

“I think it’s cute the way that you always mention the actor’s name is parenthesis….”

Well, that’s what we’re taught to do.  But back to The Guardian.  The Guardian could also be a movie about a druid who steals babies so that she can sacrifice them to a tree God.

“You mean like that big talking tree from the from Lord of the Rings?”

I guess.  Or maybe Camilla is a reincarnation of Lillith, the demon who kidnaps babies in the night.

“Poor Lillith, so misunderstood.”

Or maybe Camilla is a witch who can make wolves and tress do her bidding!

“Like Sabrina?”

I don’t want to talk about fcking Sabrina.

“Did you mean to spell the f-word that way?”

I try to keep my actual cursing to minimum.  That way, it means something.

“That’s sweet.”

Whatever.  Back to The Guardian!  It’s also possible that Camilla actually is a tree that’s come to life and is now doing evil tree stuff!

“So, what you’re saying is that the film is unclear about just what exactly Camilla’s deal is?”

That’s it, exactly!  The Guardian is a notorious mess and it’s probably significant that this is one of two films that William Friedkin doesn’t even acknowledge in his otherwise tell-all autobiography, Friedkin Confidential.  Reportedly, there were problems on the set. From what little I’ve found online, it would appear that Friedkin originally wanted the movie to be about a mentally deranged woman who thought she was a druid. But the producers wanted a horror film about a woman who actually was a druid. Somehow, this eventually led to The Guardian becoming a movie about a woman who is actually a tree. What’s funny is that the film itself feels like a typical crazy nanny Lifetime film, up until the moment that one of Camilla’s employers attempts to take a chainsaw to that tree.

“Trees don’t like chainsaws.”

Yeah, no joke.  Anyway, before all that happens, Camilla is killing people left and right but yet no one seems to notice.  She doesn’t make any secret of the fact that she’s trying to seduce Phil (Dwier Brown) but Phil’s wife, Kate (Carey Lowell), doesn’t seem to care.  Instead, Phil and Kate attempt to set Camilla up with their friend, goofy Ned (Brad Hall).  It doesn’t take long for Ned to get devoured by a bunch of wolves.  That’s what happens when you walk in on a druid nanny turning into a tree, I guess.

“Isn’t Brad Hall married to Julia Louis-Dreyfus?”

Indeed, he is!  And you don’t see him in any movies nowadays so I guess getting eaten by wolves was kind of the last straw.  But the movie gets even weirder!  There’s also an odd scene in which three gang members just happen to be walking through the woods when they come across Camilla and the baby. They kind of pop up out of nowhere and they immediately turn out to be some pretty bad guys. Luckily, a tree pops up and kills the all. Is the tree Camilla or is the tree someone else? Who knows?

“Gang members in the woods?  You mean like in Friday the 13th Part 3?”

Strangely enough, yes.  Even stranger is the fact that no one notices anything strange about Camilla. To be honest, there are times that Camilla might as well be wearing a sign that reads, “Druid” but no one seems to notice. Then again, it’s debatable whether or not she was actually a druid. She might actually be a tree and I guess it’s understandable that something like that wouldn’t naturally occur to anyone. I mean, I think we’ve all probably met a druid or two but someone who is actually a tree? Well, that’s unusual.

“Very unusual!”

Anyway, The Guardian is a messy film and I’m afraid that I’m probably making it sound more fun than it actually is.  If you do watch it, please be sure to chime in with your thoughts on whether or not Camilla is actually a tree.  I look forward to hearing your opinion!

“Don’t you want to hear my opinion?”

No.

Yes, this an actual scene from The Guardian.

4 Shots From 4 Films: The Exorcist, Female Vampire, Ganja and Hess, The Wicker Man


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!

This October, we’re using 4 Shots From 4 Films to look at some of the best years that horror has to offer!

4 Shots From 4 1973 Horror Films

The Exorcist (1973, dir by William Friedkin)

Female Vampire (1973, dir by Jess Franco)

Ganja and Hess (1973, dir by Bill Gunn)

The Wicker Man (1973, dir by Robin Hardy)

4 Shots From 4 1973 Horror Films: The Creeping Flesh, The Exorcist, Night Watch, The Wicker Man


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.

Since I just reviewed 1973’s Don’t Look Now, here are 4 shots from 4 other horror films that were released the same year.

4 Shots From 4 1973 Horror Films

The Creeping Flesh (1973, dir by Freddie Francis)

The Exorcist (1973, dir by William Friedkin)

Night Watch (1973, dir by Brian G. Hutton)

The Wicker Man (1973, dir by Robin Hardy)

A Movie A Day #2: Blue Chips (1994, directed by William Friedkin)


blue_chips_movie_posterBlue Chips is a movie that will always make me think of England.

When I was a kid, I would spend every summer over in the UK.  When I flew over for the summer of ’94, the in-flight movie was Blue Chips.  I can still remember sitting in the back of the plane, trying to watch the movie on that tiny screen.  At the time, I did not pay much attention to Blue Chips.  It was about basketball, which was not something that I was interested in.  It also starred Nick Nolte, who, over the years, starred in a lot of the movies that I saw while flying over the Atlantic Ocean.  Try as I might, I could not understand a word that Nolte was saying.  It was impossible to separate his gravely voice from the drone of the plane’s engines.  I didn’t care much about Blue Chips.

Two months later, I was sitting in the back of my return flight when the flight attendant announced, “Our in-flight movie will be Blue Chips, starring Nick Nolte.”  Still not caring about basketball and still unable to understand a word that Nick Nolte was saying, I sat through Blue Chips for a second time.  What else was I going to do?  Step outside and go for a walk?

Looking back, I can understand why Blue Chips would be shown on a plane.  There’s nothing unconventional or controversial about Blue Chips.  It’s not going to start any fights or leave anyone offended.  Nick Nolte plays Pete Bell, a college basketball coach who, coming off of his first losing season, resorts to unethical measures to recruit three star players.  Ricky Roe (Matt Nover) is a farmboy from Indiana and his racist father wants the college to buy him a new tractor.  Penny Hardaway plays Butch McRae, whose mother (Alfre Woodard) wants a new house.  Neon Bordeaux (Shaq!) doesn’t want anything but still gets a new Lexus.   The corrupt head of the school’s booster club is named Happy and is played by J.T. Walsh.  Other than Happy Gilmore, has there ever been anyone in a movie named Happy who hasn’t turned out to be bad news?

Blue Chips was directed by William Friedkin, though you’d never guess that this by the numbers movie was from the same director who did The French ConnectionThe Exorcistor To Live And Die In L.A.  In his autobiography, The Friedkin Connection, he devoted just a few words to Blue Chips, saying, “It’s hard to capture, in a sports film, the excitement of a real game, with its own unpredictable dramatic structure and suspense. I couldn’t overcome that.”

Friedkin’s right but I’m always happy whenever I come across Blue Chips on cable because it reminds me of that long-ago summer in England.

For tomorrow’s movie a day, it’s another sports-related film that always makes me think about Britain: Alan Clarke’s The Firm.

blue-chips-nick-nolte

Music Video of the Day: Self Control by Laura Branigan (1984, dir. William Friedkin)


We already looked at a video directed by someone who would then go on to make feature films. Here we have one made by a director who was already well established. That being William Friedkin. He helmed this kinky music video for Laura Branigan’s song Self Control. To my knowledge, it isn’t out there who played the man behind the mask. The video was controversial at the time. Wikipedia says it even had to be have a minor alteration made to it in order to air on MTV, which Branigan was not happy about.

This is also one of those rare videos where we know more than just the director. According to Internet Music Video Database, this was choreographed by Russell Clark who has done a few films you might recognize. The one that jumps out at me is Rockula (1990). The reason is that I reviewed it last October. It’s that other rock based horror film that has Toni Basil in it. He also did some of the choreography for Teen Witch (1989). Sadly, it seems that according to IMDb, it was not the famous Top That scene.

Also according to IMDb, famous Producer and Production Manager Fred C. Caruso produced this music video. He did movies like The Godfather (1972), Blow Out (1981), and Blue Velvet (1986) to name a few.

I can’t speak for everyone, but I was introduced to this song via the Grand Theft Auto: Vice City soundtrack.

Rough Justice: THE FRENCH CONNECTION (20th Century Fox 1971)


cracked rear viewer

french1

First of all, I’d like to thank Kellee Pratt of Outspoken and Freckled for inviting me to participate in the 31Days of Oscar Blogathon. It’s cool to be part of the film blogging community, and even cooler because I get to write about THE FRENCH CONNECTION, a groundbreaking movie in many ways. It was the first R-Rated film to win the Academy Award for Best Picture, and scored four other golden statuettes as well. It also helped (along with the Clint Eastwood/Don Siegel DIRTY HARRY) usher in the 70’s “tough cop” genre, which in turn spawned the proliferation of all those 70’s cop shows that dominated (KOJAK, STARSKY & HUTCH, BARETTA, etc, etc).

The story follows New York City cops Jimmy “Popeye” Doyle and his partner Sonny “Cloudy” Russo as they investigate a large shipment of heroin being brought in from France. The detectives focus on Sal Boca, a small time hood…

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4 Shots From 4 Films: Kwaidan, Minority Report, La Horde, The Exorcist


A new feature that I thought was a nice way to introduce not just our readers, but also fellow site writers to some films we love, admire and think worthy of checking out.

It won’t be any sort of review or recap of what the film is about, but just a simple, single shot from the film itself that the individual writer considers an worthy and interesting glimpse of the film.

To start off “4 Shots From 4 Films” here’s the first 4 shots. Moving forward it will be just 4 screenshots and the title of the film they belong to.

4 SHOTS FROM 4 FILMS

Kwaidan

Kwaidan (dir. by Masaki Kobayashi – 1964)

MinorityReport

Minority Report (dir. by Steven Spielberg – 2002)