Thinner (1996) review

Thinner posterDirector: Tom Holland

Starring: Robert John Burke, Joe Mantegna, Michael Constantine, Kari Wuhrer, Lucinda Jenney

“Justice ain’t about bringing back the dead, white man. Justice is about justice. Your friend the policeman, your friend the judge, they make sure nothing happen to you. They keep you safe. But I make sure something happen to them. That justice, white man. Gypsy justice.” (Tadzu Lempke, Thinner)

Here’s a hell of a fact. At the time of writing, there have been a total of 81 films or TV shows based on one of Stephen King’s novels or short stories.

Some are fantastic (The Shining, Pet Sematary, Carrie). Others are The Lawnmower Man.

And then there’s Thinner, which lies somewhere in between. It’s never gone down as a classic Stephen King adaptation, and rightly so, but that doesn’t mean it’s a massive stinker either. Continue reading “Thinner (1996) review”

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Pet Sematary II (1992) review

Pet Sematary 2 posterDirector: Mary Lambert

Starring: Edward Furlong, Anthony Edwards, Jason McGuire, Clancy Brown, Jared Rushton

“You bury your own.” (Gus, Pet Sematary II)

The original Pet Sematary (disclaimer: one of my favourite horror films ever) revolved around the idea that if something has ceased to be it’s sometimes best to move on and not try to resurrect it.

Mary Lambert’s film showed that any attempt to revive dead children, animals and adults inevitably results in a disturbing aberration that may look similar, but is missing its soul. With Pet Sematary II, she shows how the same rule can apply to ‘dead’ movies too.

The film centers on Jeff Matthews, a young lad played by Edward Furlong, looking like he just stepped off the Terminator 2 set and walked straight in front of the camera.

Jeff’s mum is a big movie star, but a freak electrocution accident on set leads to her ending up a bit less alive than she’d probably like (i.e. not at all) so his dad decides it’s probably best for he and Jeff to leave Hollywood and its bad memories behind them and start a new life elsewhere. Continue reading “Pet Sematary II (1992) review”

Pet Sematary (1989) review

Pet Sematary posterDirector: Mary Lambert

Starring: Dale Midkiff, Fred Gwynne, Denise Crosby, Brad Greenquist, Miko Hughes

“I’m at Judd’s, daddy. Will you come over and play with me? First I played with Judd, then mommy came and I played with mommy. We played, daddy! We had an awful good time. Now I want to play with yoooooou.” (Gage, Pet Sematary)

Losing a loved one is always a harrowing process, one in which you’re often at your lowest possible ebb. But what if there was a way to undo the process?

Specifically, what if there was a way to bring back the recently deceased and have them back in your life again?

What if the consequence of said person becoming an ex-corpse is they don’t behave like they did before pegging it? Would you still want to see their body alive even if their mind and personality wasn’t the same?

These are the questions raised by Pet Sematary, the 1989 movie based on Stephen King’s book of the same name and, I should probably just come out and declare at this early stage in the review, one of my favourite horror films ever. Continue reading “Pet Sematary (1989) review”

Creepshow (1982)

Director: George A Romero

Starring: Ed Harris, Leslie Nielsen, Ted Danson, Tom Atkins, Hal Holbrook, Stephen King, EG Marshall

“You see that crap? All that horror crap? Things coming out of crates and eating people? Dead people coming back to life? People turning into weeds, for christ sake? Well, you want him reading that stuff? All right then! I took care of it. That’s why God made fathers, babe. That’s why God made fathers.” (Stan, Creepshow)

If you’ve read my previous review of Creepshow 3, you’ll have noticed that it has the dubious honour of one measly Trevor mask as its rating. This wasn’t just because Creepshow 3 is bad – it most certainly is – but also because its predecessors were so good that the third film let the entire series down. To cheer myself up then I decided to re-watch the original Creepshow over the festive period.

Well, it certainly beats a caterpillar cake

If you’re not familiar with it, Creepshow is a collection of five short stories written by Stephen King and directed by George A Romero (back when he was still good and not slapping his name on any old shite for a fiver). It’s an homage to the old EC comics of the 1950s like Tales From The Crypt and Vault Of Horror, and as such each story starts and ends as if it were in a comic book, with garish colours and speech bubbles. It’s an interesting style that not everyone will love but it’s fun and keeps things light-hearted. Make no mistake, this may be a collection of horror stories but (much like the EC comics themselves) its tongue is planted firmly in its rotting cheek and its five tales of morality are much funnier than they are scary. Continue reading “Creepshow (1982)”

The Langoliers (1995)

Director: Tom Holland

Starring: David Morse, Mark Chapman, Patricia Wettig, Bronson Pinchot

“I hear a really terrible scary sound. And it’s awful. A little like Rice Krispies after you pour in the milk. But I know it’s closer than it was, because something’s coming. Something making that horrible cereal noise.” (Bob, The Langoliers)

As a three-hour made-for-TV film based on a Stephen King book, The Langoliers could either have been compelling viewing or cheesy as hell. Impressively, it manages to be both at the same time. While the story is full of the typical twists and turns you’d expect from a King yarn, the acting is so laughable at times it somehow manages to make things even more entertaining.

On paper, you’d be forgiven for wondering just how The Langoliers manages to last three hours. After all, the plot is the sort of minimalist scenario you might expect as an exercise at an improv class. A group of passengers wake up midway through a flight to Boston to find the rest of the passengers, crew and pilots are missing. With no noticeable damage to the plane and no sign that anyone left, confusion spreads as the group try to figure out what’s happened to everyone. That’s about it.

This guy's a kooky author. He's also patronising to the point that you want to punch his face off

Of course, with the genius storytelling mind of Stephen King behind the wheel twists and turns inevitably ensue, and by the end the film has covered the likes of time travel, telepathy and big CGI balls of fur that eat up the Earth. And it’s a true testament to King’s talents that as mental as all that sounds, it still makes perfect sense when it happens, even when a Maine airport is completely swallowed up whole by a handful of the aforementioned furballs.

These are the Langoliers. They eat things. Just as well, because that's all they seem equipped to do

This being a mid-’90s TV movie, the cheese factor is immensely high. The acting ranges from adequate (David Morse is believable as an off-duty pilot who tries to save the day) to atrocious (pretty much everyone else). Probably the most bizarre example of this is Mark Chapman, who plays the mysterious Nick. Despite actually being a British actor (he’s from London, apparently), he still somehow manages to provide a terrible, fake-sounding English accent. This isn’t helped by his stereotypical English gentleman dialogue, which is so cliched that at times he actually says “jolly good”.

While the plot is engaging and there’s always a desire to find out what’s going to happen to the group, The Langoliers constantly seems like it’s trying its very best to put you off with its embarrassingly poor production. The music is horrible, the CGI effects when the titular Langoliers arrive are laughable, and the final scene is easily one of the worst things ever committed to film. Have a look to see what I mean (don’t worry, it doesn’t spoil what happens):

If you’re looking for a film that takes a great story then buries it in made-for-TV cheese then you’ve got very specific tastes and should probably broaden your search filter. Regardless, The Langoliers will fit your rather niche needs perfectly, and despite its incredible three-hour duration it still manages to whizz by. It’s worth a look, just leave your critic’s hat at the door because it’s certainly not cinema magic. Don’t be fooled by the trailer below, it’s not quite as exciting as it makes it appear.

WHERE CAN I GET IT?
UK would-be Langoliers viewers can get the Region 2 DVD at Amazon.co.uk by clicking here. If you live in the US, you can get the Region 1 DVD from Amazon.com by clicking here or get it in a boxset with The Stand and Golden Years by clicking here.