Saturday, June 30, 2012

Stephen King's IT-Book and Movie review/ Comparison


In 1986 the undisputed master of horror Stephen King released his masterpiece, IT. At this point in King's career he had already published Carrie, Salem's Lot, The Shining and The Stand as well as some other greats. IT sold a million first-run copies, his most to date, and won the British Fantasy Award in 1987. IT was also the best-selling book in the United States in 1986 and was nominated for several other awards. There's even been a 25th anniversary special edition version released that's very pricey.

Now you're probably asking "why is he reviewing a book that's over 20 years old?", and the answer is simple. I just got around to reading it a few months ago. And during the process of reading the book I watched the movie twice and noted the similarities and differences between the book and the movie. That's why I decided to do a review/comparison.

So the inevitable question: Was the book or movie better?

Even though I grew up with the movie and love it I'd have to go with the book. The book had more detail and more character development. I felt that I personally knew the kids in the book. Bill with his stutter, Eddie with his asthma, Richie with his jokes, Stan with his birds, Mike with his history obsession and Bev with her family issues. Real characters. Real problems.

And just to think that they had to fight an evil entity plaguing their town who disguised itself as a clown named Pennywise. And all they had to rely on was their friendship and courage. Very powerful story-telling done with beautiful and descriptive detail.

After finishing the book I was torn because I had the awesome feeling that comes with finishing a good book and the disappointment that it was over and I didn't have anymore pages to continue the journey I lost myself in day after day. Even having to put it down at times due to being creeped out. Not a book to read at night.

Now for those of you who don't know what this books about let me explain it to you. The town of Derry is plagued by an evil entity that disguises itself as a clown to lore little children and eat them. The cycle repeats itself every 27 years and children turn up dead and missing. One day IT claims a little boy named George, and George's older brother (stuttering) Bill gathers his childhood friends in an attempt to kill IT. And after what they thought was a successful cease and destroy mission they discover IT's back 30 years after they faced it as children. Making Bill and his friends come together again one last time.

I really have nothing but praises for this book although I did find it dragged out a bit in some parts, mostly the Derry interludes, but it didn't drag on enough to hurt the book. The book stands strong. It's an adventurous, scary, funny, sad, endearing, empowering and most of all at it's core IT is a story of friendship and the bond it carries.

I give the book 4 stars.



Synopsis taken from IMDb
In 1960, seven outcast kids known as "The Loser Club" fight an evil demon who poses as a child-killing clown. 30 years later, they are called back to fight the same clown again.

This movie is awesome! Such a classic! Everyone is afraid of Tim Curry's Pennywise, I used to watch this film as a kid and I always remembered the George scene with the paper boat. Heavy stuff for a kid to see and still creepy for and adult me now.

I always thought this movie had good acting in IT was good and very believable. And had a very good cast.

Even though this was a 4-part TV movie they ran with it. There isn't alot of gore but they scare you in a classy traditional way. Pennywise is enough to scare us without gore.

Like the book the movie is scary, funny, sad, endearing, empowering and adventurous.

I give the movie 3 1/2 stars.


Now as I mentioned earlier, the book is clearly better. But I'm not degrading the film at all for that. It happens most of the time when a book succeeds the movie

The movie had the advantage of not getting boring and slow in areas where the book did. The movie was more steady and consistent.

The book had the advantage of not having a time restraint like the movie and because it was a book it allowed for so much more detail. IT is probably the most detailed book I've ever read and the movie did a good job interpreting it and as good as the movie was it was a watered down version of the book.

The book was scarier even though the movie did a great job with the scares. The parts that scared me the most were where Bev was hearing voices in the bathroom sink drain. This occurred several times in the book and in the movie there was only 1 scene.

After reading the book I realized how different Pennywise was in the book. A huge chunk of the book he only appears as the clown here and there, he mostly gets kids as Frankenstein or The Teenage Werewolf or The Creature From The Black Lagoon and other odd things. The movie made it seem like IT was always a clown. He was the clown way less in the book.

Pennywise was more terrifying in the book but Tim Curry did a great job as the character.

There's a scene in the book where Bev lets the crew of boys from The Loser Club to make love to her to bring them all close as a group when she feels they may fall apart. I don't know how they could have done this in the movie since she was a young teenager in the book when she did this act. So although the scene made a good part in the book I don't think viewing that scene in a movie would be necessary.

And by far the scariest part in the film for me was when Bev goes to visit her father as an adult and ends up drinking tea with the old lady who eventually becomes her dead, decomposed father and chases her around the house. In the book the old woman became a witch and the house Bev was in was made of sweets and she realized that she was caught in Hansel and Gretel's story. I thought this scene would have been way better if they followed the book. It's one of those things where you don't know why they didn't make it that way.

There were characters that I didn't think the movie portrayed properly. Mostly Ben Hanscom (John Ritter) and Richie Tozier (Harry Anderson). They're appearances in the movie didn't match up.

Movie's a classic and a close 2nd but the book's simply a masterpiece.


I recently read some news online talking of a remake and as of now it looks as if there will be a remake of IT and Pet Semetary. IT is said to be more like the book but still having the trouble of a time frame, you can only do so much in a cramped time period. And Pennywise is said to be more like in the book and not as comically funny as Curry's portrayal but more savage and scary with dark humor. And I also heard that it would be taking place in modern time and not following the book's timeline. I guess we'll see...

I'd like to see the remake portray the characters as good (with the exception of Ben and Richie) and I'd like to see Pennywise be more scary and horrific. I also'd like them to elaborate on some of the details better, like how in the book George's scrapbook went all crazy twice and only once in the original film. I remain optimistic about the film but only time will tell if I'm right right or wrong in doing so.

The Town That Dreaded Sundown (1976)



Synopsis taken from IMDb
Set in the late 40's the residents of Texarkana, Texas are left terrorized by a mysterious hooded killer who is stalking victims during the evening and leaving the local police at a loss.

This film isn't available on DVD or Blu-ray and I don't have a VHS player, but that doesn't stop a guy like me.

This film was based on true events.

My first impression going into this movie was that it was going to be a good movie because it's deemed a classic by alot of horrorhound's. And after watching I can't say that I disagree, however there was one scene in particular that almost ruined the movie for me. The hooded killer attacks a victim with a trombone and I thought that it was absolutely ridiculous. I know the film had some humor going in but this scene just did not fit in with the rest of the movie at all. My opinion of this movie would be higher if this scene weren't in it. Take a look.

Now before and after that particular scene I liked the movie and was entertained. It's crazy to see how far the slasher genre's gone. I wasn't scared of this movie, but it kept me watching. I also didn't like that the killer used a gun, it just didn't come off as appropriate to me. But it is based on true events so if the killer used a gun it makes sense and I can't bash it for that. 

I can see how some people would defend this movie's faults (like the trombone scene) but it wasn't a bad movie. The acting was decent, the story was clever and some of the kills were pretty cool.

The ending was good, could have been better but I liked it. I wish I was alive during it's release because I'm sure the effect would have hit me harder. It's just a movie that has gotten outdated. But that's okay! Alot of our favorite horror films could be laughed at by today's audiences.

There's not alot of gore at all, but that doesn't hurt a movie, and alot of gore wouldn't fit with this movie.

Walking away from the movie I was a bit disappointed but overall I liked it. I think it would have been better if it took itself more seriously.

2 1/2 stars for me.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The Innkeepers (2011)


Synopsis taken from IMDb
During the final days at the Yankee Pedlar Inn, two employees determined to reveal the hotel's haunted past begin to experience disturbing events as old guests check in for a stay.

The Innkeepers was a film that I've been looking forward to for a long time. After seeing Ti West's The House Of The Devil I became an instant fan of this guy. In my eyes Ti West is horror's new hope. He has a good vision and has outstanding execution. He alongside Adam Green (Hatchet) are the people keeping horror alive and in it's roots. Ti West does great buildup and suspense, and The Innkeepers was no different.

I read some internet reviews that said this movie dragged on too long and blah blah blah. I guess I see things differently. I'd rather be chilled by the suspense in a movie and scared of what's to come than to just see alot of gore. The suspense in this movie was top notch and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

I jumped a few times and was even truly frozen to my seat at some points. By far my favorite part was about 3 quarters through the movie, when our lead characters are in the basement and they encounter the ghost in the building. It isn't done with cheap thrills and it isn't predictable. You actually don't see a thing. You just see the reactions on their faces as they realize the ghost is with them, leaving you to imagine what it is that they're seeing. And in my eyes making it scarier.

What you imagine is so much worse than what they could have shown and Ti West used that method and played it off brilliantly. But don't fret, this isn't a Blair Witch Project film where you see absolutely nothing, you see plenty. Ti West just picks and chooses what you see that way not only do you avoid becoming not scared by being shown the horrific stuff too much, but are also waiting for something to pop up because you know something's eventually going to happen.

To people like me this movie struck a chord in me and brought a big smile to my face. I felt like I was watching a movie that I grew up with. A truly chilling movie that makes you paranoid and excited for what's to come at the same time. I like all kinds of horror. Everything from Universal Monsters to 70's exploitation horror to 80's slasher horror. I even like some modern "torture porn" flicks, but nothing compares to the feeling of watching a movie that takes you on a journey like this one- where suspense is the terror and the fear of what's to happen to our lead characters.

And another thing that I loved about this movie was not only was the acting very well done but they were very real and believable characters. Good casting is key when making a horror film or else you end up being a cheap thrills movie that gets forgotten quickly. When you have great characters you have a believable movie. I genuinely liked the characters and thought that they'd probably be people I'd hang with if they weren't fictional.

This movie comes together perfectly and it has made me an even bigger Ti West fan. Movies like this are why us horror fans are horror fans. I made my girlfriend, mom, sister and best friend watch this film and they all loved it. We need more TRUE horror films like this. Original, funny, scary and not a remake.

3 1/2 stars for me

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Scanners (1981)


Synopisis taken from IMDb
Darrly Revok is the most powerful of all the scanners, and is the head of the underground scanner movement for world domination. Scanners have great psychic power, strong enough to control minds; they can inflict enormous pain/damage on their victims. Doctor Paul Ruth finds a scanner that Revok hasn't, and converts him to their cause- to destroy the underground movement.

I'm a HUGE David Cronenberg fan, The Fly is one of my all-time favorite sci fi films ever. This guy is a legend of the cinema, so I'm always stoked to check out a new film by him. Especially a movie by him that has a notorious head exploding scene. But it's safe to say my expectations were pretty high...

The movie started off with a good flow, the acting seemed strong, convincing story and well directed. It keeps you enthralled, looking and waiting for the next crazy corner this film was obviously taking.

I thought this film had solid characters and character developement. The effects were well done and the movie delivered. However, it wasn't Cronenberg's best in my eyes. I expected more but I wasn't really let down by this film, I still very much enjoyed it.

One of my main flaws with the film is that i thought it dragged on a little, but the fact that it was creative as hell kept me watching. I didn't know what I was getting into, just that I was in for a Cronenberg head trip.

The ending of this film was good and had a twist that I can't say I didn't see coming but it didn't effect the film in a negative way. I do feel that there should have (could have) been more story to it than there was. I guess that's what Scanners 2 and 3 are but I can't say I'm looking forward to jumping into them. The fact that I didn't even know they did sequels signals the alarm in my mind.

Cronenberg did what he does best and that's deliver a movie that is a totally crazy idea but makes it work wonders on screen. While it wasn't his strongest film it didn't hurt anything for his career and it won't hurt other people to watch if they enjoy good films.

3 stars for me.

Silent Night, Deadly Night (1984)


Synopisis taken from IMDb
A young boy watches his parents by a thief in a Santa suit. He spends his youth in an orphanage, staying quietly to his self, but his mind is further bent by an ironhanded Mother Superior. He finally gets a job at a local store, where he finally snaps when he is required to wear a Santa suit, and goes on a killing spree that leads him slowly back to the orphanage.

This film is one that I've heard about for awhile but it just kept seeming to get overlooked by other films I've been meaning to tackle. So when the time came to give this movie a go I was anxious to experience this film because of all the hype I've built up for it in my mind.

From the second the film started I knew I was going to like this one. The story was pretty good, simple, but nothing short of what you'd expect from an early 80's horror film. The acting seemed good and the theme and feel for the film fit very well. The music was very fitting.

I liked the buildup to this film, I didn't get bored watching the story unwind before the killings started, I was actually glued to my seat. We see the lead character, Billy, go from being a child to being an older child in an orphanage to being an adult and working a job. We see the trauma he's encountered and can totally understand his breakdown that we knew would happen.

The killings in this movie were awesome and well done. They were fun and brutal but not overly done or ridiculous. They were the type you'd look away from but would still be entertained and want to watch/see more. And more importantly I liked the backstory to Billy this film and thought it helped alot in the buildup to his breakdown and killing spree. My favorite death by far was when Billy impales a victim on the antlers of a antelope head on the wall.

My only regret with this film is not seeing it sooner than I did. I liked this film alot, I'd even go as far to say that I like it more than the original Black Christmas. And I really like the original Black Christmas. I'll be watching this again for sure (along with Black Christmas) around Christmas this year.

I give this movie a high 3 stars.

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