Wednesday, June 20, 2018

15 Movies to Watch If You Love Jaws

Steven Spielberg's adaptation of Peter Benchley novel Jaws is a return to the major elements of fear and the use of suspense in telling a story. With its release in June 1975, Jaws proved to be a huge commercial success and became the first ever Summer Blockbuster. Here is a list of films that involve dangerous water creatures or terror on the sea. After 43 years it's still not safe to go back into the water.

Jaws 2 (1978) 
Sequel the 1975 Blockbuster picks up a few years later with a group of teens going sailing and getting stranded after a shark causes the boats to collide. Not as huge a movie as the first one yet the young cast are all likable, and you do cheer for them to survive.

Piranha Series (1978 & 2010) 
The original Piranha was a surprisingly fun Jaws ripoff that has become a cult classic and one that even Steven Spielberg liked. The 2010 remake is an amazingly well made B movie that amps ups the blood, gore and scares with a great cast and campy style. This remake is easily one of the best horror films of the past decade.

Deep Blue Sea (1999) 
The crew of a remote research facility finds trouble when their genetically modified sharks escape and show off their newly enhanced abilities as they stalk the survivors after a devastating hurricane has damaged the facility.

The Shallows (2016) 
A young woman travels to Mexico after her mother's death and goes surfing only to find herself injured and stranded on a small rock with a shark stalking her. She then must find a way to survive as the tide threatens her safety.

The Reef (2010) 
A yacht carrying friends sailing to Indonesia hits a reef and capsizes. The survivors then find more trouble when they become the target of sharks looking to attack. The Reef is based on an actual event that occurred in the early 1980s off the coast of Australia.

Open Water (2003) 
A couple on a scuba charter are mistakenly left behind by the crew of the boat and find themselves stuck in the middle of the ocean with no means of rescue in sight. They then face the elements as well as predators hoping to be rescued. Open Water was based on a real event and is a fictionalized account of what the couple may have faced when they were lost at sea. 

Orca (1977) 
A salty old fisherman faces off against a pissed off killer whale after he accidentally kills its mate. This Jaws ripoff is one of those rare movies that has you cheering for the deadly creature. A genuine drive-in classic that seems a bit absurd in a few scenes but delivers the goods and plenty of thrills.

Bait (2012) 
A group of shoppers is trapped in a grocery store after a tsunami floods their beach community only to discover that a deadly shark has swum into the store and begins to stalk them as they are waiting for help. As silly as this movie sounds it comes off better than you would expect and is surprisingly entertaining.

Shark Night (2011) 
A group of college kids vacationing on a remote lake finds themselves being attacked by sharks that are not only out of place but purposefully released by some group looking to profit on shark attack videos. This shark movie is not as well received as many of the other films on this list yet is still fun to watch for the over the top special effects and variety of deadly sharks shown.

47 Meters Below (2017) 
Two sisters on a Mexican vacation go on a shady boat tour that promises a once in a lifetime shark cage encounter that leaves them stranded under water after the cable breaks. With limited air and injuries drawing sharks it is a race against time to see if they can survive in this distressing thriller.

Sharknado Series (2013-2018) 
This franchise is pretty absurd, yet the movies are fun and best enjoyed if you sit back and watch the likes of Ian Ziering and Tara Reid battle all sorts of crazy storms and sharks flying about causing havoc. Get your chainsaw ready as there are now six movies as of 2018. 

Below (2002) 
A US Navy submarine picks up the survivors of an attack on Allied hospital ship. Once aboard the survivors begin to question the actions of the Captain and crew as they face an attack by an enemy ship and encounter some bizarre events that seem supernatural. 

Lake Placid (1999) 
A very salty Betty White highlights this movie about a giant saltwater crocodile that is feasting on the local wildlife and people in a Maine lake. The efforts to catch or kill the beast pretty much cover the plot in this standard monster movie. 

Deep Rising (1998) 
A group of armed mercenaries set out to hijack a luxury cruise liner on the high seas instead find an abandoned ship save for a few survivors who are terrified of something. They are then stalked by a savage seaborne tentacled creature that is an FX extravaganza of what is great and bad about CGI in action movies.

The Deep (1977) 
Nick Nolte and Jacqueline Bisset's wet t-shirt highlight this thriller by the author of Jaws that focuses on the pair finding a sunken treasure and a World War Two era cargo ship that has a secret cargo that someone is willing to kill to get their hands on. No deadly sharks in this one but did I mention Jacqueline Bisset's wet t-shirt. 

Sunday, June 17, 2018

10 Good and Bad Dad's for Father's Day

Daddy Stone- The Loved Ones (2012)

This father is willing to do anything to please his little girl even if it means kidnapping, hot water lobotomies and giving his daughter the best pink princess prom ever. 

David Drayton- The Mist (2007)

In the middle of an unknown foggy event, this dad must keep his cool while people panic and get carried away by giant critters and creatures of gigantic size.  

Steve Freeling- Poltergeist (1982)

You try to raise your family in a beautiful house only to find that a shady developer hid some details about that perfect plot of land. Plus he makes sure to keep the TV time down.  

John Baxter- Don't Look Now (1973)

Losing a child is the hardest tragedy that a parent can face and finding the strength to cope and overcome is what drives this couple to Italy in the hope that a new job will help ease the pain.

Daddy- The People Under the Stairs (1991)

A good mother and father believe that discipline is the best way to raise a child, yet what if the parents are complete whack jobs with a habit for kidnapping, murder, and a few other vices.

Chris Cleek- The Woman (2011)

This family man and an attorney is the model of the perfect husband and father, he will even help a wayward soul out who is in need of civilizing. Just ask this wife and daughter.

Daddy Meiks- Frailty (2001)

This father is on a mission from God to find and kill demons that are hiding in plain sight. The trouble is one of his sons may not be fully onboard with his father's mission from God.

Louis Creed- Pet Sematary (1989) 

Yet another father who must handle a difficult family moment until he finds a way to fix the mess. This solution is not as simple as he hopes and he will find that maybe it's best to leave the dead buried.

George Lutz- The Amityville Horror (1979)

A man marries a widowed mother of three and wants to provide the perfect home for his new family. The perfect house is found, but the recent history may be too much for this family to handle.

Jack Torrance- The Shining (1980)

Being isolated in a remote hotel can be a tough experience especially if your sanity is in question. It also does not help that the previous caretaker went nuts, but I'm sure All Work and No Play Will Make Jack a Dull Boy. 

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

He Has His Father's Eyes

Rosemary's Baby (1968)

Dir- Roman Polanski
What price is someone willing to pay for fame and glory in the film industry. Well, it seems that Guy Woodhouse is ready to give up the soul of his firstborn. A young and pre-Woody Mia Farrow plays a lovely homemaker who finds her hubby hanging around a spooky collection of people who are awaiting her baby's arrival. Rosemary does a little research and is shocked to discover that her unborn child is desired for purposes too sinister to consider. Gimmick filmmaker William Castle produced this film based on the novel by Ira Levin and directed by Roman Polanski. Polanski had sought actresses Tuesday Weld and Sharon Tate for the role of Rosemary before selecting Mia Farrow when her fame rested on being married to Frank Sinatra. John Cassavetes beat out Jack Nicholson for the part of Guy Woodhouse and Ruth Gordon who won an Oscar for her role as one of the members of the coven. For a movie lacking violence Polanski evoked a feeling of dread and menace that builds slowly making this one of the most effective thrillers ever made. A classic that predates the more gore infested Omen and Exorcist in the demonic possession genre.

Friday, June 8, 2018

Evil Runs in the The Family

Hereditary (2018)

Dir- Ari Aster
The death of a loved one is commonly employed in many horror movies to add tension to an event or to set up a premise that factors into the story and Ari Aster's Hereditary is undoubtedly the latter. Annie (Toni Collette) is mourning the death of her mother with whom she had a problematic relationship, her husband is supportive, but their marriage appears strained. Her children include the moody teenager son Peter and her talented but reclusive daughter Charlie who had the closest bond to the deceased. Annie has lived a difficult life with some family tragedies and will soon face another that will set in motion the events that will tear apart her family and put her sanity on edge. Hereditary is a slow burn kind of film that presents an uncomfortable situation for the family and throws in some shocking scenes and unsettling moments of terror. The young daughter Charlie (Milly Shapiro) stands out with her odd habits such as her tongue clicking as well as the creative but strange toys she makes. It is her bizarre behavior that helps carry the film, and she makes quite an impact when she is on screen. Mr. Aster does an excellent job with the setting of the film, and Annie's detailed house models do look impressive especially in the way they add to her characters difficulty in dealing with the stresses she encounters. Despite the stellar cast, the movie may not appeal to many who may be expecting a film filled with wall to wall scares and frights, the movie does have those but mostly toward the latter half of the film and as mentioned earlier the slow burn style may not appeal to some viewers.  Hereditary is a terrifying movie, but I felt that calling it one of the scariest movies of all time was somewhat opinionated as what scares an audience depends on what that the viewer is most terrified by the most.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Full Scream Ahead

Deep Rising (1998)

Dir- Stephen Sommers
The late nineties was a time of creature features, and Deep Rising was one of the best of the bunch. A group of armed mercenaries set out to hijack a luxury cruise liner on the high seas instead find an abandoned ship save for a few survivors who are terrified of something. They are then stalked by a savage seaborne tentacled creature that is an FX extravaganza of what is great and bad about CGI in action movies. Deep Rising was one of many creature features that emerged in the late nineties along with Lake Placid, Anaconda, and Mimic.  Deep Rising is one of those movies you go into with no expectations and find it to be surprisingly entertaining, it has a great cast, occasional humor and it never takes itself too seriously given how silly the plot is.  This is a B Movie with Grade A special effects and recognizable actors in a film that is more fun than you would expect it to be. In many ways, this film is an Aliens knockoff with male and female roles that are well written and fun to watch.  In the twenty years since its release, the special effects may seem dated, but the movie is still fun to watch and is recommended if you are a fan of 1950's creature features.

Monday, June 4, 2018

36 Years Ago today a little girl said "They're Here"

Poltergeist (1982)

Dir- Tobe Hooper
Steven Spielberg wrote and produced what had to be one of the best ghost stories of the 1980's. Making use of state of the art special effects and the acting talents of Craig T Nelson and JoBeth Williams we are presented one of the most frightening PG movies ever made. A family in an upscale middle-class neighborhood find themselves living with a playful spirit. At first, the ghost plays gags and simple tricks, yet the real terror begins when researchers arrive to study the phenomena. In one the most iconic movie scenes, we see the late Heather O'Rourke kidnaped by the television as her frantic parents face an evil series of ghosts. The climax is both terrifying and intense, boasting top-notch visuals and plenty of ghostly terror. Surprisingly there is no blood or gore, an ironic note to Director Tobe Hooper, best known for directing The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Although Spielberg wanted a tamer story, we get a good blend of both terror and suspense in this classic. Tragically a curse is believed to have affected this movie series, in this film, and it's subsequent sequels there were tragic deaths involving many of its stars. Whether there is a genuine curse or just a coincidence, we have a truly frightening and engaging story that will forever remain a classic of the Horror genre.

Saturday, June 2, 2018

Not Man, Not Machine.... More

Upgrade (2018)

Dir- Leigh Whannell
Some of the best action movies of the 1980's were those that often featured technology and the perils that came with our over-reliance on it. Movies like "Terminator," "RoboCop" and "Aliens" often showed how technology would promise to solve all problems but usually at a cost. Mechanic Grey Trace is a technophobe who finds his life destroyed after his wife is murdered after an accident and he is left paralyzed. Feeling suicidal he is approached by a wealthy client who offers to restore his motor functions using technology that would augment his body giving him the ability to walk as he had before. Once activated Grey discovers that his newly enhanced body is aided by an artificial intelligence named STEM that assists him with tasks and offers to help find out who murdered his wife. Once unleashed Grey learns that his helpful assistant STEM may be too much for him to control. "Upgrade" is an intense action thriller that shows the perils that technology can offer despite the promises of making our lives better. In many respects, the movie reminded me of the original Robocop movie of the 80's with all the action, violence and some of the dark humor thrown in to lighten the mood. The plot seems formulaic at first but don't be fooled; this film does offer some twists that you may or may not see coming. The violence is intense but the action and humor help to temper it so that it will not shock you too much. "Upgrade" has the potential to be this generations "Terminator" and is the movie that the recent Robocop reboot should have been.