Archive for Bruce Campbell

The Evil Dead (2013) Review

Posted in Evil Dead (2013) with tags , , , , on July 27, 2013 by Last Road Reviews

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EVIL DEAD

*** Out of 5

Tagline- The Most Terrifying Film You Will Ever Experience

Release Date- April 5th, 2013

Running Time- 91-Minutes

Rating- R

Screenplay- Fede Alvarez & Rodo Sayagues

Director- Fede Alvarez

Starring- Jane Levy, Shiloh Fernandez, Lou Taylor Pucci, Jessica Lucas, Elizabeth Blackmore

It seems no classic or cult classic is safe these days and I guess it was just a matter of time before Evil Dead got the remake treatment. The new version of the Evil Dead also takes elements from Evil Dead II and this one has a much more serious tone. The original has some comedic moments some were intentional and some wasn’t and of course the sequels played more up to camp, but this one is for the most part played straight and actually its one of those remakes that if you wanted to can be linked in with Sam Raimi’s truly great trilogy. For me the worst crime for a remake is a shot for shot remake; to me it’s like what’s the point? But another crime is a remake by name only. The 2013 Evil Dead as stated takes elements from the first two, but also has enough strength to be its own film rather than a poor rehash. However with that said at the end of the day Evil Dead is heavily flawed and its a film I really wanted to like, but just left me feeling a little cold.

A bunch of friends arrange a getaway at a remote cabin deep in the woods to help Mia (Levy) kick her drug addiction. While there they come across the book of the dead and when one of the friends reads it he ends up summoning a demon and it soon begins to posses them.

The screenplay by Fede Alvarez & Rodo Sayagues has all the right ideas, but never fully works despite the potential. Part of the problem is I felt like I’ve seen this before and not because its a remake. This version of the Evil Dead has a couple of things in common with the first two as I stated, but the plot does differ, but it just feels like a bunch of other films mixed in with the Evil Dead. Characters are weak and lack depth with the exception of the two leads and even they lack in general. The original Evil Dead may not have had the deepest and most complex characters, but they worked better than the characters here. While not poorly written or anything, but there was potential for a lot more.

As director Fede Alvarez fairs a bit better, but there was just something lacking. The setting is never as eerie and mysterious as the original and the demons aren’t nearly as imposing and at times the pacing can be sluggish as everything just feels too cliched. Alvarez does provide some decent suspense at times, but cannot maintain it. There is a decent amount of gore however and these scenes do help keep the Evil Dead interesting, but it also feels like a cheap gimmick to make up for the flaws. Fede Alvarez does deliver a well made film, but it really could have been so much more.

Overall the Evil Dead is sort of middle of the road in terms if remakes; I can name several far worse, but can also name several far better. Really at the end of the day, Evil Dead does serve its purpose, but its a film I really wanted to love, but in the end there just wasn’t enough excitement. Make sure though you watch through the credits for a special appearance from Bruce Campbell.

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Maniac Cop 2 (1990) Review

Posted in Maniac Cop 2 with tags , , , , , , , , on March 28, 2013 by Last Road Reviews

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MANIAC COP 2

*** Out of 5

Tagline- You Have the Right to Remain Silent Forever.

Release Date- December 13th, 1990

Running Time- 87-Minutes

Rating- R

Screenplay- Larry Cohen

Director- William Lustig

Starring- Robert Davi, Claudia Christian, Michael Lerner, Bruce Campbell, Laurene Landon, Clarence Williams III with Leo Rossi and Robert Z’Dar as Matt Cordell

Released in 1990 for many fans of the trilogy and even director William Lustig see Maniac Cop 2 as the best of the three and while the film is enjoyable I personally find it inferior to the original and maybe even the weakest of the 3 films. This one to me at least has a tone more in tune with an action film rather than horror and while Maniac Cop 2 has some really great scenes such as when Cordell (Z’Dar) goes on a killing spree at a precinct, but as a whole I felt the film was just ok and one thing that really bothers me is how much Cordell’s look changed from the original. Despite being scarred he still had human features, but here much more monster looking. I don’t dislike the look, but I just didn’t like how much his features changed.

Maniac Cop 2 picks up shortly after the events of the original and Jack Forrest (Campbell) is officially cleared for the set of murders he was set up for and the man person responsible is dead. The police department are still denying the murderer could have been Cordell, but they’ll soon find out the truth since obviously he survived and is soon back on the beat and continues his war against the NYPD.

The script by Larry Cohen starts off along the lines of the original film with a lot of it denying how it could have been Cordell since he was killed in prison and while in some ways early on the script can be a bit of a rehash it still mostly works well even if not as interesting. Cohen also goes into more detail on why Cordell was sent to prison and there is also a subplot with a serial killer (Rossi) who ends up forming a partnership of sorts with Cordell and in someways, Cordell is still the villain, but in a sense the hero. Cohen has the right idea, but something just didn’t fully work. The script while never great is strongest in the first half, but the 2nd half it gets a little disjointed in spots. The characters are more or less the same as the original with the exception of McKinney (Davi) & Riley (Christian) who are the new leads and both these characters are excellent, but the script is still bogged down by a few ideas that are again interesting, but never fully work.

Unlike the first film, which had an eerie atmosphere early before becoming a little more of a crime/drama with a bit of an action feel as well, Director William Lustig starts off that road, but the film never really has the eerie feel of the original. The tone of the film seems to be more along the lines of an action film. The pacing is alright there are moments when things are a bit sluggish, but to his credit, Lustig is always able to keep the film from being boring even if for me at least never overly exciting either. The first half of the film retains the horror elements and while it doesn’t work as well as the original, Lustig still delivers a fun movie with some strong suspense such as Riley handcuffed to the steering wheel from outside the car, which Cordell has set in motion, but the 2nd half of the film is when things took a bit of a decline and the problem is Lustig never really sets any kind of tone. I’m a big fan of William Lustig and I find him one of the most underrated horror/exploitation filmmakers, but for me Maniac Cop 2 was sort of middle of the road.

Overall I get why some would prefer Maniac Cop 2 over the original, but I found it inferior; I enjoyed the film, but felt there was just something not fully working. Like the original the cast is excellent and Robert Davi as the no nonsense Det. Sean McKinney is a great addition to the series. And Davi along with Claudia Christian as Susan Riley work well together and help make up for some of the flaws. Maniac Cop 2 has its moments and again I enjoyed it, but felt it could have been more.

Michael Lerner appears as Edward Doyle and the character was actually in the original, but the scenes were cut out though they can be seen on various video releases of Maniac Cop. Also Leo Rossi appeared in the original and all his scenes were with Lerner, but while Lerner is playing the same character, Rossi plays the serial killer Turkell.

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Maniac Cop (1988) Review

Posted in Maniac Cop with tags , , , , , on March 26, 2013 by Last Road Reviews

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MANIAC COP

**** Out of 5

Tagline- You Have the Right to Remain Silent Forever.

Release Date- May 13th, 1988

Running Time- 85-Minutes

Rating- R

Screenplay- Larry Cohen

Director- William Lustig

Starring- Tom Atkins, Bruce Campbell, Laurene Landon, Richard Roundtree, William Smith, Sheree North and Robert Z’Dar as Matt Cordell

Released in 1988 Maniac Cop stands out from the slasher pack as it doesn’t knockoff Halloween or Friday the 13th and it doesn’t feature many of the cliches that started to big these films down in the mid 80s and really by 1988 all creativity was pretty much gone. Maniac Cop just might be the most original slasher film of the 80s as it does its own thing rather than rehash other films and in my opinion is one of the stronger slasher flicks of the 80s. Based off the title most would expect a silly splatter flick, but the film is actually player straight and avoids camp value. If anything the only problem I really had with the film is at times it lacked direction as it started off as a slasher film with a mystery angle than becomes more of a crime/drama before going back to the slasher aspect of the film.

The plot centers around someone dressed as a police officer killing off innocent civilians and after the death of his wife, officer Jack Forrest (Campbell) becomes the prime suspect.

The screenplay by Larry Cohen was well written as a whole and like I mentioned before my biggest complaint was the lack of any clear direction; based on the title and the plot most would assume this would be some silly splatter flick, but instead the script focuses more on the crime/drama element and I think this though hinders the movie in some areas, but I also think it helps keep the film from being the standard late 80s slasher flick. In general Cohen works the slasher and crime/drama parts of the script, but there are times when the flow doesn’t fully work and it almost seems as if two scripts were written than combined. The characters are fairly decent at least the main characters and that in part help keep the script interesting. From the start we know Jack Forrest (Campbell) isn’t the killer so this isn’t a spoiler, but I don’t see why Forrest was even set up for the murders. It was explained, but quite honestly it really doesn’t make a lot of sense and it seemed as if it wasn’t fully thought out. The motive behind why Cordell (Z’Dar) is killing also isn’t made clear; it’s mentioned why, but if he has a grudge against people of the police department why not go after them rather than murder innocent people? As solid as the script was it was little things like this that slightly hinder the film, but they are easy enough to overlook since the rest of the script is quite solid.

The mystery angle is probably the strongest of the script and the only problem I have is as the film goes on Cordell is humanized a little too much. While its never a bad thing to give your villain a little depth I do feel as if for me at least I couldn’t fully buy into Cordell taking so much damage and keep on coming back. Films like Halloween at least early in the series never gave much of a backstory to Michael and the same for Jason in the Friday the 13th films, which makes it a little easier to accept them as unstoppable killers and while I can still accept Cordell as an unstoppable killer there are times when I did sort of feel it didn’t work since he’s humanized too much. Overall Larry Cohen delivers a solid screenplay that works best though before we learn more about Cordell thus taking away some of his mystery. But regardless Larry Cohen writes an excellent screenplay with some flaws, but doesn’t take away from it too much.

Director William Lustig may not have reached the heights of John Carpenter or Dario Argento, but Lustig in my opinion is a very underrated filmmaker; Maniac was one of my favorite horror flicks of the 80s and he really captured that grindhouse style of filmmaking perfectly and did it again with Vigilante; I don’t think Maniac Cop is as good as either of those two movies, but Lustig however still delivers an excellent film. Maniac Cop gets off to a very quick start with about 5 murders in the first 20-minutes and Lustig also creates a nice eerie tone and keeps Cordell hidden to add to the mystery. As the film shifts gears a little bit and the film becomes more of a crime/drama the eerie feel from the first half is lost a bit, but Lustig still keeps the film well paced. The exploitation style of filmmaking Lustig was known for at this time isn’t present here and I think that’s a good thing since it shows William Lustig can do more than just one style of film. While Maniac Cop may not be a perfect film, but its another winner from William Lustig.

The cast for Maniac Cop was amazing with Tom Atkins who like always delivers a great performance and of course Bruce Campbell as Jack and Laurene Landon as Theresa both are excellent and work very well together. We also have Richard Roundtree and in cameos Sam Raimi as the parade reporter and boxing legend Jake LaMotta as a detective early in the film. And if not mistaken, LaMotta is William Lustig’s uncle. And speaking of Lustig he also has a cameo. Robert Z’Dar is quite imposing as Matt Cordell and the character may not have reached the heights in popularity as Jason Voorhees and Michael Myers, but Z’Dar has a great presence and is very menacing.

Overall Maniac Cop is an excellent film and don’t let the title fool you into thinking this is a campy splatter flick as the film is played straight and ends up being one of the better slasher flicks of the 80s and one of the better late 80s horror movies. Maniac Cop was followed by two sequels.

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10 More Movies to Watch for Halloween

Posted in 10 More Movie to Watch for Halloween with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 19, 2012 by Last Road Reviews

Like the first list, this is in no order or an all-time favorite list.

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