wes craven

November 2, 2016

The People Under the Stairs

The People Under the Stairs: Unique

R

 1991 ‧ Mystery/Thriller ‧ 1h 42m

 Trailer

When young Fool (Brandon Adams) breaks into the home of his family’s greedy and uncaring landlords, he discovers a disturbing scenario where incestuous adult siblings have mutilated a number of boys and kept them imprisoned under stairs in their large, creepy house. As Fool attempts to flee before the psychopaths can catch him, he meets their daughter, Alice (A.J. Langer), who has been spared any extreme discipline by her deranged parents. Can Fool and Alice escape before it’s too late?
Release date: November 1, 1991
Director: Wes Craven
It’s time for something to help out that Halloween hangover you have. Best way is to watch, The People Under the Stairs!
The People Under the Stairs is one of Wes Craven’s most interesting and unique films. This is a film that should be seen by any movie buff. The creativity alone makes this film a must see for anyone. I first saw The People Under the Stairs when I was around 14. It left a very good impression on me, one that would sneak up in the back of my mind every now and then. This year for Halloween I just had to watch it, there isn’t anything close to it.

“This is the perfect film to explain how uncreative hollywood has gotten. I only wish films this unique still came out in theaters today.”

I do not want to talk a dime about the film.
If you never saw it, trust me its best to go in blind.
The People Under the Stairs is a crazy good film. It’s entertaining right to the last frame. Be warned it does go out of this world wacky but that only adds to the uniqueness to a film that is as highly entertaining as this.

Go check it out if you can! 

October 15, 2015

The Horror Time Capsule – 1993: Body Bags

BODY BAGS: UN-FILLING

91 mins | Horror/Sci-Fi anthology | 1993

HBO had Tales from the Crypt, Showtime had nothing. But that all changed on August 8th 1993, Body Bags an anthology TV movie aired on Showtime…and that was it.

A star studded of a cast came together to make an extremely un-filling 91 minutes. Tales from the Crypt had the Crypt Keeper hosting its episodes, Body Bags had “The Coroner” played fantastically by the great John Carpenter. Yes I know I’m comparing apples and oranges, TV show with TV movie but clearly this is what Showtime had in mind. They had the power to do something unique but instead came up short.

The three best things are John Carpenter playing The Coroner, who is the most entertaining piece in this puzzle of a film. The second is the first story, “The Gas Station” which is a solid story that sets you up to be disappointed. The third is the cast, a balls to the wall of this guy and that comes up short. I liked this cast alot. It’s a shame they didn’t make more, it would of been fun to see where it goes with others making special appearances.

“The Morgue”
John Carpenter as The Coroner
Tom Arnold as Morgue Worker #1
Tobe Hooper as Morgue Worker #2

Is the glue that holds everything together. The Coroner is the Crypt Keeper here hosting the stories in a flat out entertaining performance by John Carpenter.

“The Gas Station”
Robert Carradine as Bill
Alex Datcher as Anne
Wes Craven as Pasty Faced Man
Sam Raimi as Dead Bill
David Naughton as Pete
Lucy Boryer as Peggy
George Buck Flower as Stranger
Molly Cheek as Divorcee
Only story that makes me feel like I didn’t waste my time. The others aren’t horrible but the this one just works. It’s a simple slasher, which paired with guests set the bar way too high. Seeing the likes of Craven, Raimi and Carradine peeked my interest. But I guess its just too good for this film, because sadly the others don’t come any close to “The Gas Station”.

“Hair”
Stacy Keach as Richard Coberts
David Warner as Dr. Lock
Sheena Easton as Megan
Dan Blom as Dennis
Gregory Nicotero as Man with Beautiful Hair
Kim Alexis as Woman with Beautiful Hair
Deborah Harry as The Nurse

Stacy Keach plays a guy who isn’t happy with his thinning hair. Sheena Easton says no and she loves him anyway. But it’s just too depressing 🙁 …He tries a few comical treatments but nothing helps. I’m pretty sure this whole story was suppose to be the funny one then again it was the 90’s. And let me say its very 90’s, very very 90’s.

He see a commercial and decides to try it. “Dr. Lock” played by David Warner (Titanic, Tron, The Omen) is the doc that can help. He asks Stacy what kind of hair he’d like using a 90’s computer generated program, you know how that looks without me saying anymore. Keach picks the Stallion. Yep it is its name, long black hair (see picture). And the whole things was done over night, without surgery! Sounds to good to be true hun? Well it is… And when you find out why, it feels like a copout. When its revealed I could hear myself say, “Really?!” I didn’t care much for it but I did like it more then the “Eye”. “Hair” was so bad yet I honestly think I liked this story about a guys hair more then the guy and his eye.

“Eye”
Mark Hamill as Brent Matthews
Twiggy as Cathy Matthews
John Agar as Dr. Lang
Roger Corman as Dr. Bregman
Charles Napier as Baseball Team Manager
Eddie Velez as Baseball Player


Were “Hair” was about hair I bet you can’t figure out what “Eye” is about?…NOPE

Your wrong it is about…

A eye. Let that settle in a bit. We have a film that is made up of three stories. Two are about something on your body. Not much to pick from apparently. “The Gas Station” stands out for its pacing and the fact its different then the others. “Hair” and “Eye” are about two guys getting transplants. And its goes wrong, like it feels like they didn’t try. “The Gas Station” isn’t a perfect film, but the “Eye” and “Hair” come off like they ran out of ideas and gave it to their 8 year old son to write. When you have three films it should feel like three and not two.

“Eye” is about a baseball player with an annoying accent. His wife played by Twiggy losses her American accent a few times and that too becomes annoying. Mark Hamill here is somewhat a joy to watch. The thing is he has always been but here I feel he was wasted. When he gets into a bad car accident in which his right eye is destroyed. He ends up losing it but receives one from a donor. The donor ends up being a serial killer who killed woman and had sex with them. This eye begins to take over the good old southern wholesome baseball player who was making his way to the top.

And thats it. Still feel hungry for more don’t you? Yeah thats how I felt.

“The Gas Station” = Solid

“Hair” = Short

Should of been left out. Or give us more. I didn’t mind the story but there could of been more, the story came up short for me on creativity.

“Eye” = Weak

Like the “Hair” I think it should of been left out. What would of been cool if they connected it to “The Gas Station” and its serial killer. Maybe that was his eye, sure it sounds like Im doing a copout but at least it’s something.

Because what we got in the end was very un-filling.

Kinda felt this way after the film but The Gas Station saved me

September 10, 2015

The Simplistic Reviews Podcast (Ep. 54) September 2015

                                                          FOR MATURE AUDIENCES

Sharpen your pencils and grab your loose-leaf notebooks.  It’s the “back to school” edition of the Simplistic Reviews Podcast.  On this episode, the boys tackle Jesse Spano’s horrible drug problem, Patty Mayonnaise’s slutty behavior, and Max Landis’ ego.

Speaking of schooling, Matt and DJ also pay up on a debt and discuss the high school spy film Barely Lethal, starring Oscar nominees Hailee Steinfeld and Samuel L. Jackson…yes…nothing in that sentence was made up.

Bill Cosby, Jared, Kanye, Miley…all get a little ribbing on this episode of the Simplistic Reviews Podcast.

Show Notes
Wes Craven
Jesse Spano freakout
Patti Mayonnaise
Tommy Wiseau & Fantastic 4

Music Notes
My Flows Is Tight By Lord Digga
Saved By The Bell Theme Song
Plain Jane By Sid Phillips
Game Of Thrones Remix
Cast Your Fate To The Wind By Vince Guaraldi

                         Check us out on FacebookTwitterYouTubeLetterboxd, and Pinterest

August 31, 2015

RIP Wes Craven 1939-2015

1939-2015
What can be said about a man that created nightmares….
We lost a legend on August 30st 2015 as Wes Craven was removed form this mortal coil, but he will live on in the minds and hearts of horror fans everywhere. We at Simplistic Reviews say this sucks and….well….it sucks.
While his filmography has had its series of ups-and-downs, there is no denying his influence on not just the horror genre, but film in general.
While this is just one man’s opinion, but of course it’s the right one, here is my Top Five List Wes Craven Films:
5.  The People Under the Stairs (1991)
An outlier in his filmography, but also one of his most out of the box horror efforts. Always one to make a social message, Craven chose “Stairs” to talk about income inequality and the failure of Reaganomics in the inner city. There are also tones of child abuse and the breakdown of the seemingly All-American Family in the suburbs. This also one of the first screen appearances by Ving Rhames and there are scenes of nice tension and of course gore. People think “Nightmare on Elm Street” and “Scream” when they think of Craven, but “Stairs” is certainly one of his strongest efforts.
4. The Serpent and the Rainbow (1988)
Do you want a creepy voodoo story, look no further than “The Serpent and the Rainbow.” Filmed in the Dominican Republic due to political turmoil in Haiti, Craven weaves a tale about “real” zombies and includes the corruption and political strife that was gripping Haiti at the time into the storytelling. By no means is this film perfect, but it is perfectly unsettling and the trippy visuals add a lot of style.
3. A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)
I wrestled with this decision as I understand that normally its sacrilegious to not make “A Nightmare on Elm Street” the guaranteed number one on any Wes Craven list, but hey, its not my number one. The creation of Freddy Krueger is one of the most iconic in not just horror history, but in film itself. At the time the concept of a monster that you couldn’t hide from, even in your dreams, was revolutionary and all but perfected the slasher genre. My one big gripe, and this is only recently, and after watching “Never Sleep Again” is the way the ending was changed in order to create a create a series of films as opposed to just one great horror film. Mind you, just my opinion, but the sequels do play into my overall opinion of the film itself.
2. Scream 2 (1997)
Yes, it’s true, I prefer “Scream 2” to the original. While “Scream” reinvigorated the horror genre and pretty created a new wave in slasher cinema, “Scream 2” used the template used and made a sequel worthy of the original. There are old faces and new faces and a good twist that kept the “Scream” mythology going for two more sequels.
1. New Nightmare (1994)
The beginning of self-referential Craven was “New Nightmare” a love letter to all “Nightmare” fans. Much of the whole of the original cast shows up in cameos, and Heather Langenkamp shines in a role that made her a star 20 years before this film. You could see Craven took all he learned from his years as a horror director/writer and put his heart and soul into something that he held dear for so many years despite the sour taste I’m sure he had in his mouth in the years following the original film.
  
October 31, 2013

This is Halloween: A Nightmare on Elm Street 3 Dream Warriors

A Nightmare on Elm Street 3 Dream Warriors: Imaginative

96mins/Horror/1987

This is it guys and girls!

This is the film that introduced me to horror and Freddy. Two loves that will never die for me. I remember that day, it was a cold rainy day and me and my family went to a farmers market early that morning. I walked around couldn’t find a damn thing to buy, but I knew I wanted to buy something thou nothing had peaked my interest.

I began to check out a collection of VHS’s that seem to just collect dust.

Then a beat up VHS cover came my way…

That is what I saw, and I was never the same again. I asked my mom, since it was rated R and I was like 6, she obliged; lucky for me! I went home holding the shit out of that VHS counting the time to when we would get home. It was getting late so once everyone went to bed and my tracking on the VHS player cleaned up that damn picture I begin to watch the film that would make me into a man that faithfully night!

Dream Warriors is the 3rd film in the Nightmare on Elm Street series, raking as one of the stronger Freddy films. This film is the one with the “puppet strings”. My favorite kill on Freddy’s slasher list and yes its a gory film if you didn’t know, maybe the most out of all the Nightmares. This time around the the victims fight back using their own dreams to create a force Freddy has yet to see. This is a interesting turn in the films that really makes it stand out. Almost everyone agrees possibly the best sequel in the franchise.

Chuck Russell (The Mask, Eraser, The Scorpion King) does a fantastic job as Director. Sure its a bit goofy, gory and somewhat cheesy but its hands down one of the best entertainment bang for your buck of films in years. Its a film I would watch with friends and never get bored with the repeats we had with that one old beat up tape.

October 8, 2013

This Is Halloween: Scream 2

OUTLIER

Scream 2 – Outlier

Certain things sell me on a film, especially a horror film.  The main thing(s) is whether it keeps me interested, engaged, and I’m able to care about a few of the characters.  You wouldn’t normally say that a soundtrack for a film is what made you like the film even more.  However, “Scream 2” is that type of film, an outlier where the soundtrack is as good as the film itself.  But of course there is an excellent movie hidden behind the soundtrack.

“Scream 2” the first sequel in the popular “Scream” series is “The Godfather II” of the horror genre.  Not only is Wes Craven back, with Kevin Williamson penning the screenplay again, but Craven ups the ante and creates a sequel that provides more laughs, more tension, and an even hipper cast than the first film, including Raylan Givens.  Once again we start with a sequence that later in the series becomes standard protocol where a famous person(s) that you wouldn’t think would get killed, gets killed.  Meanwhile, Sidney Prescott, our heroine in the previous film, has gone off the college where she’s followed by Ghostface.  But wait, you might say, “Wait a minute, Ghostface is dead, that was Billy Loomis and his buddy Stu!”  I would rebuttal and say, “You know what would have been cool, if Ghostface Killah played Ghostface!”  I still say we get that petition signed and just cast “Scream 5” with everybody from the Wu-Tang Clan.

While Sidney is trying to adjust to college life, a new boyfriend, and playing Cassandra, her friends are killed one at a time by Ghostface, who just LOVES sequels; they’re bloodier, sillier, and have ridiculous plot twists.  While “Scream 2” is all of this and more, the fact that it’s self-aware without being fully self-aware works extremely well.  The characters never follow their own advice even though they try to justify their decisions for being the typical horror stereotypes.  Just like the first “Scream” the characters are likable and are typical of the slasher genre, but Craven and Williamson do a great job of expanding the world of Woodsboro from it’s small town beginnings in the first film, to a college campus where there is a larger group of suspects in a more condensed, claustrophobic area.

Now, let me get back to the real reason to like this film; the soundtrack.  If you haven’t enjoyed the “Scream 2” soundtrack, do yourself a favor and give it a listen.  The tracks range from Master P to Dave Matthews Band, but I still think there should have been some Wu-Tang on the soundtrack, it just seems like a lost opportunity.

Overall, “Scream 2” would have been a great way to end the series, but what would a horror series be without a few more sequels, which we got with the underwhelming “Scream 3” and the underrated “Scream 4.”  However, “Scream 2” stands alone as a horror sequel that not only meets a fan’s expectations but was so much more than a cooker-cutter sequel to make more money.  While Wes Craven’s record as a horror director had been spotty since “A Nightmare on Elm Street,” the “Scream” franchise gave him a second lease on life, and “Scream 2” stands as one of his best efforts in a career that spans over 40 years.  An outlier indeed, “Scream 2” gives you what you want, but it gives it in a way where excess isn’t required.

Fun Fact:  As if there wasn’t enough to like about “Scream 2,” Danny Elfman, composer of “Batman,” “Spider-man,” and former lead singer of Oingo Boingo, took the time to compose the Cassandra theme heard HERE for the film.

October 30, 2012

31 Nights of Halloween, Scream

Scream – Smart

After the horror and slasher movie boom in the mid-to-late 1980s there was a definite lull.  I mean, name me one horror movie that came out between 1985-1995 that really mattered and changed the genre for the better (okay, I’ll give you a few of those).  But the genre was so bogged down in the same cliched plot device (teens isolated and stalked by an unstoppable force) but studios continued to insist on putting these movies out since they were a sure fire money maker.  Everyone knew that these movies were getting worse and worse, and it was the elephant in the room for the genre.  It wasn’t until 1996 that Wes Craven, who had recently fallen on hard times himself (ever seen “Vampire in Brooklyn“) got together with future “Dawson Creek” creator Kevin Williamson, and told everyone “Hey, these slasher movies are ridiculous.”  Thus, “Scream” was created.

“Scream” follows the exploits of a group of teens in Woodsboro, CA who are terrorized by a masked killer who we now know in horror lexicon as “Ghostface” (see above).  Sidney Prescott, played by Neve Campbell, becomes the prime target of not only the killer, but of newscaster, Gale Weathers, who wrote a tell-all book about the murder of Sidney’s mother and the possible conspiracy revolved around her convicted killer, Cotton Weary.

The film follows all the standard horror tropes, but they are smart about it.  Williamson weaves a decent story with smart writing and a pretty hip cast (for the time of course, I’m mean have you seen “Chill Factor“).  Before “Scream” there weren’t any other films that would have characters addressing their current situation and comparing it to something they’d seen in a movie.  In a way it was breaking the 4th wall without talking to the audience directly.  As a horror film fan it was awesome to see nerds like me on the screen telling themselves what they needed to do to survive in a horror movie, when in fact they were in one.  It was not only smart but extremely self-aware and it knowingly made fun of how stupid horror movies had gotten.  There was also the fact Craven killed off one of his main stars within the first ten minutes, which I always appreciate.

During his post-Nightmare on Elm Street era, Wes Craven tried his hands at everything from Bush-era poverty to voodoo, but it wasn’t until he returned to the slasher genre where his career took back off, I mean he got to work with Gloria Estefan* for God sakes….Miami Sound Machine man!  Anyway, what I always found ironic is the fact that Craven created a new series that was poking fun at the ridiculousness of slasher films and all of their sequels, and “Scream,” to a degree, became something it was making fun of in first place three sequels later.  I do, however, find “Scream 2” to be a sequel that surpassed it’s predecessor in many ways.

Craven has always been a trendsetting director; from “The Last House on the Left” to “Scream 4” and everything in-between (remember…..”Vampire in Brooklyn”**).  He’s adapted to the times, for the good and bad, but when you’re a director that has created two of the most well known horror figures in the past 25 years (Freddy too of course) it’s easy to forgive some of the mistakes.  If you haven’t seen “Scream,” be smart, don’t be dumb, check it out.

Fun Fact:  Craven had a cameo as the janitor “Freddy” in the same iconic red and green sweater.  Check it out.

* “Music of the Heart” which also starred Academy Award winner, Meryl Streep.

**For the record, I really don’t mind “Vampire in Brooklyn.”  It was last decent movie Eddie Murphy made.

October 22, 2012

31 Nights Of Halloween, Shocker

Shocker: Mess

The Idea is fun, The Content is weak

This is a review and also a questionnaire if anyone knows the answers to. I have so many question on this film. The first time I ever knew about this film was at the dollar store years ago. I had found the soundtrack there for just a dollar and thought it would be a cool film to watch. After listening to the disk I just had to watch this film, which brought up a ton of question. Never has a film left me with so many questions before.
“I eat this wimp’s will power for breakfast, John-bo.” Let me say first I know its a comedy-horror hybrid. It just doesn’t work for me this time around. Peter Bergs acting is not the greatest, lets just say that. Mitch Pileggi is the only reason to watch this poorly made film. Wes Craven is a favorite of mine mostly do to, A Nightmare on Elm Street, a horror masterpiece (In my opinion). This film isn’t even close to good let alone a masterpiece. Craven seems to wanna recreate that magic that was on Elm Street and as well as a new franchise. By trying to recreate, they created a film that so bloated it seems they tried every idea they could think of. It’s almost 2hrs long and thats way too long for this film, just way too long. The idea is so stretched out it gives stretch armstrong a run for this money. That line there might of been bad, but its nowhere near the cheesy dialogue in this film.

Here is a film that knows its not suppose to be good (at least I think so) and goes with it. Only redeeming value is watching this with friends do to its stupidity, other then that is hard to watch by yourself. 

The scene that sticks out for me, is the Park scene, in which we get a odd “gun shooting count”.
This is how it goes…
1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9,10, 11, 12
(Reloads)
1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6
(Reloads)
Throws Gun
New Gun
1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6
“It’s no good, Pinker; Alison told me the secret. Maybe you *were* my father, but you know who my father is now? You know who’s responsible for me? Me; no one else.”(Spoilers if you care ahead!)

Side notes: Nobody seems to care that there is a cop trying to kill a kid at this park. Also the children continue to play as gun shots ring out. And why does Jonathan seem to be running in a circle that whole time? Really lets just say, the whole direction of this film is a Mess. Doing this creates many plot-holes and makes the movie not a movie but a joke. The script needs a line of time to stay on its course, like a train on a track. The film seems to have its scenes written individually, thrown in a bag then picked out one by one for the film. This makes things tough to follow and allows the viewer to really not care. As you watch this film things just pop up for no reason, like Alison talking from the dead, did I miss something? And the damn necklace that Jonathan gives to her, apparently it has a bit magic, how? And didn’t he get rid of the necklace 6ft under? How did it come back from being 6ft under? 

“It smells like the goddamn electric chair in here.” 
So as I watch this film I asked myself, if Pinker is apparently Jonathan’s father, then why is he trying to kill his own son? Because his son shot Pinker in the leg? Seems a bit much I think. Also why the hell is Jonathan so damn hard to kill? Because Jonathan doesn’t seem so bright, I mean he does run in circles as Pinker tries to kill him. Oh and I don’t think anyone will disagree on this one, but Jonathan’s adapted father is a idiot. Why was he written so badly? He doesn’t realize anything, even when Jonathan proves to him he knows things that can help catch Pinker, he keeps shooting down his adapted kid who knows things he shouldn’t know.

How could he travel into bodys, because of the devil worshiping he did? Is that why he can’t die? And how can Jonathan see into the future? I found it funny the cops have to read the miranda rights from a piece of paper, they don’t know it by heart yet?

And why was finding one killer so difficult? Seriously they had a shitty group of police in that town.
Why? Why? Why?
Maybe I just don’t remember, but I do believe they didn’t explain this stuff. Hey possibly I had passed out or something because I’ve never had so many question after watching a movie.
Listen I usually don’t care so much about stupid films like this, I really like stupid horror films for the comedy side of it but this film had too many questions on this one.

Like I said in the beginning watch it with friends or if you can’t sleep one night pop it in.

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