Sunday, October 15, 2017

What I Watched in September

Among the things I saw last month are two very different Stephen King adaptations. They show the problems inherent with moving from page to screen not just for King's horror tales but any story fashioned first as a book.

Never having read past the first novel in Stephen King's Dark Tower series I have no idea how well this ninety minute film boils things down. I suspect it does it very poorly as it does almost everything poorly as relates to film. This is a boring, visually dull, uninvolving mess that feels like it's two hours long before you even reach the end of the first 45 minutes. The cast is trying but the script gives them so little to grab on to that it's like watching actors work out the blocking for a stage play rather than an actual film. I do wonder if the film was cut down from a longer length but what is here is so poorly written and filmed that I can only imagine that it would be even worse with more minutes added back in. Dreadful and a huge missed opportunity.

Put me in the (rather large) camp that found this new adaptation of King's massive novel to be excellent. Although I've read 19 of his novels and a couple of short story collections, the book IT is one of his that I've never read so I came to this film with only the 1990 TV mini-series for comparison. Wisely, the filmmakers chose to only tell the first half of the book's long story in this movie and I think this new film does an excellent job of placing the children's tale in the 1980's (as did the TV film) without bashing us over the head with 80's-isms. King was clearly trying to emulate favorite authors such as Ray Bradbury by placing the young versions of the characters center stage and this film actually captures that feeling well. The cast of kids are very good, the scares are very well done (even the cheap ones), the monster is brilliantly portrayed and the sense of the town of Derry being a truly dangerous place is put across well. I'm not sure if this is true in the novel but in this version of the telling what we have is partially a haunted house story and I love such things. I was quite pleased with this first half and hope that the 30 years later portion in the second film won't flub things. 

The List 

THE MERMAID (2016) - 7 (fast, silly Stephen Chow comedy)
HANDS OF THE RIPPER (1971) - 7 (rewatch)
DEATH NOTE (2017) - 7
THE FALLING (1987) - 2
NIGHTMARES (1983) - 5 (mediocre anthology horror film)
DARK SUMMER (2015) - 5 (too long ghost tale)
TERROR TRAIN (1980)- 6 (rewatch)
LATE PHASES (2014) - 7 (smart character study as werewolf film)
THE DARK TOWER (2017) - 4
MADMAN (1981) - 6 (rewatch)
HOUSE (1977) - 7 (mad Japanese haunted house insanity)
WILD TALES (2014) - 9 (Amazing Argentinean anthology film)
ENTER THE DEVIL (1974) - 5 (Italian devil-possessed woman vs priest film)
SAW IV (2007) - 4 (rewatch)
DON'T TORTURE A DUCKLING (1972) - 8 (rewatch)
NIGHT OF THE SEAGULLS (1975) - 7(rewatch)
SAW V (2008) - 4
SAW VI (2009) - 5
IT (2017) - 8
LA VENGANZA DE LAS MUJERERS VAMPIRO (1970) - 6 (Santo vs vampire women and a mad scientist!)
WHAT HAVE YOU DONE TO SOLANGE? (1972) - 8 (rewatch)
SEVEN DEATHS IN A CAT'S EYE (1973) -7 (rewatch)
STRANGE BEHAVIOR (1981) - 4 (flat and uninvolving)
EVIL LAUGH (1986) - 3 (rough low budget slasher)
NOTHING UNDERNEATH (1985) - 7 (pretty darned good giallo)


Nick Rentz said...

I saw The Falling as Alien Predator; complete shit. Dennis Christopher is good though. The Madman theme song is the only memorable thing about the movie, in my opinion. Did you get a craving for a Coke while watching Strange Behavior at least? Pretty good gialli, Duckling is probably my favorite Fulci film.

Can't watch until What I Watched in October!

Rod Barnett said...

STRANGE BEHAVIOR just did not work for me. It was too detached in it's storytelling and I never felt engaged with the characters at all.

And question of favorite Fulci films is always an interesting discussion. For me on some days it's Duckling an on others it's FOUR OF THE APOCALYPSE an then it might be ONE ON TOP OF THE OTHER. There's a wealth of great films on his resume.

Brian Lindsey said...

Rod... Where/how did you access NOTHING UNDERNEATH? (Via "special antenna"?)