Archive for Ken Foree

The Dentist (1996) Review

Posted in Dentist with tags , , , , , on September 22, 2013 by Last Road Reviews

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THE DENTIST

*** ½ Out of 5

Tagline- It’s Been Six Month. Time for Your Check-Up!

Release Date- October 18th, 1996

Running Time- 92-Minutes

Rating- R

Screenplay- Dennis Paoli, Stuart Gordon & Charles Finch

Director- Brian Yuzna

Starring- Corbin Bernsen, Ken Foree, Linda Hoffman, Molly Hagan, Virginya Keehne, Jan Hoag and Earl Boen as Marvin Goldblum

Released in 1996, on first thought most will probably write The Dentist off as just another stupid horror flick, but there is actually more here than one might expect. Obviously The Dentist isn’t a classic of the horror genre, but it wasn’t attempting to be anything more than a fun flick. But what this movie does have is a solid cast and some excellent filmmakers involved. Stuart Gordon best known for directing Re-Animator and From Beyond was one of the writers and Dennis Paoli was also one of the writers and he was also one of the writers on Re-Animator and From Beyond plus a whole slew of other Gordon flicks. Corbin Bernsen is the most notable of the cast and he’s one of my favorite actors; Bernsen is best known for his role as Arnie Becker for 8 seasons on the courtroom drama L.A. Law and Bernsen also has several films under his belt and he’s known to the modern audience for playing Henry Spencer on the USA show Psych. What I love about Corbin Bernsen is he’s an actor who can play dramatic roles as well as comedic roles and of course for playing sleazy type characters and hard asses, but he’s also an actor not afraid to ham it up and be a little silly and over the top like he was here in The Dentist as Dr. Alan Feinstone.

The Dentist often gets mixed reviews, but sometimes I think people take the movie a little too seriously and I suppose with Stuart Gordon and Dennis Paoli involved expectations might run a little high, which is understandable based on their body of work, but if you just go in and take the movie for what it is a silly low budget horror flick you might find yourself entertained by it. Like I said the Dentist isn’t a classic of the genre, but its a highly entertaining film. In many ways its the last of its kind as a couple of months later Scream would be released and it would totally reinvent the horror genre and low budget films like this were either getting even lower budgets or trying to copy the format of Scream. Even though the Dentist was released before Scream after what followed this film almost feels out of place.

The screenplay by Dennis Paoli, Stuart Gordon & Charles Finch is what it is; it’s not meant to be a deep character study or anything like that. The script is meant to be a little silly and just entertain and I do think Paoli, Gordon & Finch succeed at doing that’ no doubt this isn’t one of Paoli’s and Gordon’s strongest work of their career, but it’s still a fun script. There isn’t much character development, but it didn’t hurt the film. Overall the script is a lot of fun and that’s all that really matters.

Director Brian Yuzna from the start sets up a fun tone and while the pacing can be slightly sluggish early on its never boring and as the film goes on the pacing gets stronger. There isn’t much suspense, but Yuzna goes for a more fun tone and for the most part he succeeds. Brian Yuzna has had a bit of a weird career; he’s done some solid work like the underrated Return of the Living Dead III and two Re-Animator sequels as well as producing the first part and he was also involved as producer on Warlock & From Beyond and even was a writer on Honey, I shrunk the Kids along with Stuart Gordon, but Yuzna has also made some poor movies like the god awful Silent Night, Deadly Night 4: The Initiation and he wrote Silent Night, Deadly Night 5: The Toy Maker, which wasn’t the worst movie, but wasn’t all that good either. But with The Dentist, Yuzna makes a very fun movie and while I don’t think this is his best flick I think it’s one of his most fun flicks.

The cast was actually pretty good something you most likely wouldn’t expect in a low budget horror picture like this and the performances were also strong. Corbin Bernsen is one of my favorite actors and he seems to having a total blast and was just wonderful. Ken Foree also stars playing a Detective, Foree of course is best known as Peter in George Romero’s Dawn of the Dead and Earl Boen also appears and he’s one of those actors you may not know his name, but once you see him you’ll know who he is. Virginya Keehne as Sarah I thought was an excellent performance; she’s playing a teenage girl who is finally gonna get her braces off after 2-years and she gives a far better performance than one might expect; while the character might lack some depth, Keehne has the awkward and shy teenage girl down to perfection. Molly Hagan and Mark Ruffalo also appear.

The Dentist is by no means a masterpiece of the genre, but it’s quite a lot of fun; after a somewhat slow stat it picks up and becomes highly entertaining and was followed by an equally as fun sequel.

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Lords of Salem (2013) Review

Posted in Lords of Salem with tags , , , , , on September 9, 2013 by Last Road Reviews

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LORDS OF SALEM

**** Out of 5

Tagline- We’ve Been Waiting. We’ve Always Been Waiting

Release Date- April 19th, 2013

Running Time- 101-Minutes

Rating- R

Writer/Director- Rob Zombie

Starring- Sheri Moon Zombie, Bruce Davison, Jeffrey Daniel Phillips, Ken Foree, Dee Wallace and Meg Foster

When it comes to Rob Zombie as a filmmaker he’s either seen as a great filmmaker or seen as a hack. Very rarely do you hear he’s ok. I’m a big fan of Rob’s music and films. Now I clearly get we all won’t agree, but those who label Rob a hack are wrong. His films are generally well made and just because you don’t like his style or which ever film that doesn’t mean he isn’t a good filmmaker. A lot of the hate he gets stems from his remake of Halloween, which is quite absurd. I love the original Halloween, but many great films have been remade and those filmmakers don’t get the heat Zombie does. I have issues with both of Zombie’s Halloween films, but when all is said and done I loved both his Halloween installments as well as House of 1000 Corpses and Devil’s Rejects, which is my favorite Rob Zombie film to date. People often say Rob Zombie basically makes the same film over and over again, which isn’t entirely true. Obviously Corpses and Rejects will share many things in common, but with Rejects, Zombie made an original sequel that doesn’t rehash Corpses and more or less he did that with Halloween II. However these 4 films as different as they are at times are a lot a like. But with Lords of Salem Rob Zombie makes a film unlike any of the ones he did before. There are certain traits in the film that may share something in common with his other films, but all filmmakers have a style with something in common with their previous films. But Lords of Salem is a very different film than anything Rob has done and Lords of Salem is his most ambitious film to date.

Lords of Salem is a film that will very much divide viewers much like how Rob Zombie does as a filmmaker. After Lords of Salem ends either you really enjoyed it or you’ll think what the hell did I just watch? Lords of Salem is again very different that Zombie’s past films and breaking away from your style isn’t always a good thing, but here it was and I think the time was right for Zombie to do something different. I think each of Rob’s films have shown some growth as a filmmaker and he continues to grow as a filmmaker with Lords of Salem and like I said this film will no doubt divide the viewers.

Heidi (Moon Zombie) a local DJ receives a record from a band called the Lords and after playing she begins to have flashbacks to her troubled life and unleashes a coven of witches out for revenge.

The screenplay by Zombie is quite difficult to rate since this is very much a directors movie and the like or dislike will be with the direction and not the writing. As much as I love Rob Zombie’s films the writing at times can be my only real complaint. Characters at times can be a little too trashy and the overuse of curse words can become silly. I didn’t really have issues with that in Corpses & Rejects since it fit for the most part, but in the Halloween films it sometimes didn’t work. Lords of Salem in someways is Rob’s best screenplay and in other ways his weakest. The good here is characters aren’t like those in his past films and he shows he can write about normal people, which at times was a problem in his over films. There isn’t an overuse of cursing and the characters are all generally likable as well. The script is quite different than past Zombie films and it shows he can mix of his style and still be successful the only downside is characters don’t have the depth of past Zombie characters. Even if I have some issues with some of his writing the main characters though always had some depth. Heidi is a recovering drug addict and I felt a little more could have been explored, but with that said I still very much liked the character as well as the others. Like I said you don’t judge Lords of Salem on the writing, but Zombie does show a lot more depth as a writer and it truly is very different than his past screenplays, which I think was a very good thing.

People have compared Lords of Salem to such films as Rosemary’s Baby, the Shinning and even Suspiria and after watching the film I can see why. Rob Zombie makes a film unlike any he’s done before and the only real connection in terms of direction is the gritty feel. The pace for Lords of Salem is very slow burn, but Rob does a great job creating an eerie and mysterious tone. I also loved the visual look and it adds a whole other layer to the film. For those expecting the typical Rob Zombie film look elsewhere as in his past films there was action and violence spread out, but here there isn’t a lot of action and while there is violence it’s not nearly as graphic as his past work. Lords of Salem shows Rob Zombie has far more to offer than most people assume and again this was very different than his past films and for those who think he’s a one trick pony watch Lords of Salem. This film really gets me excited for future Rob Zombie films once again I loved his other films, but it was time to mix of his style and not only was he able to that, but does it successfully.

Some have hailed Lords of Salem Rob Zombie’s best film, but I personally would rate Corpses, Rejects and both Halloween films above this, but when all is said and done Lords of Salem is another excellent film by one of my favorite filmmakers. Lords of Salem has a great gritty look with some truly bizarre images. Like I said as different as Zombie’s past films were they also had a lot in common and Rob Zombie totally reinvented himself with a truly odd film with some eerie atmosphere. Lords of Salem isn’t for everyone, but I quite enjoyed it.

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Dawn of the Dead (1978) Review

Posted in Dawn of the Dead (1978) with tags , , , , , on July 30, 2013 by Last Road Reviews

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DAWN OF THE DEAD

***** Out of 5

Tagline- When There’s No More Room in Hell, the Dead Will Walk the Earth

Release Date- September 2nd, 1978

Running Time- 127-Minutes

Rating- NR

Writer/Director- George A. Romero

Starring- David Emge, Ken Foree, Scott H. Reiniger, Gaylen Ross

Released in 1978 (but hit the States in 79) George A. Romero’s Dawn of the Dead is considered by many as the best film of his career and the holy grail of the zombie film and if that isn’t enough Dawn of the Dead also gets classic status among the mainstream critics. The film was produced on about a 1-million dollar budget and what Romero pulled off is nothing short of amazing. This film is very much an epic and changed the way zombie films were made and I also love Night of the Living Dead and its impossible for me to pick between the two films, but it sure isnt difficult to see why many people prefer this. In some ways I also prefer Dawn of the Dead and both films were a huge impact on me and I kind of like them about the same for different reasons.

1978 was a fantastic year for the horror genre with 3 films being in my top 10 (a case can be made for top 3). Obviously Dawn of the Dead is one and also John Carpenter’s Halloween and the remake of Invasion of the Body Snatchers. Also that year while not top 10, but films I thought were very good; Toolbox Murders, I Spit on Your Grave, Grapes of Death and the TV films Are You Alone in the House and Carpenter’s Someone’s Watching Me. So as you can see 1978 was one of those landmark years with some truly great films and with some very good films. Of the three films I rate so highly it’s impossible for me to pick one over the other since they are all so different and each have something I love more than the other. Dawn of the Dead is one of those rare films (even more in the horror genre) where everything falls perfectly into place and we get a true masterpiece of cinema.

In past reviews I have written on about the films by George Romero I always mention that while he’s an amazing director he’s also a fantastic writer who creates complex characters that are deep in development. Dawn of the Dead is prime example of that. As far as the writing goes this was by far Romero’s best screenplay in regards to plotting and more so characters. Dawn of the Dead in my opinion has the best set of characters in any film I have seen. Some know each other and others don’t and their forced to work together in the mass confusion. All the characters have their own identity and fully developed and I couldn’t really pick any of the main 4 as my favorite. Dawn of the Dead is one of those films where you get attached to the characters and when in any sort of danger the tension is high. That’s a credit to 3 things; first Romero for creating these characters, his direction and cast. Overall Dawn of the Dead features a truly brilliant script with a smart plot, smart social commentary and brilliant characters.

As amazing as the script was without the proper director this is a film that could have been boring despite how well written it was. Thankfully George Romero is as good a director as he is writer. From the very opening of the scene, Romero establishes a dark and bleak tone to go with the mass confusion all the characters are going through. The film is well paced and despite running a little over 2-hours each scene adds to the film in terms of story, characters or suspense and tension. Romero always keeps the film going strong through the entire running time. Due to the characters being as strong as they are, Dawn of the Dead is filled with some of the very best suspense and tension of any film I have seen. Romero doesn’t really have many jump scares for the most part, which filmmakers use as a cheap gimmick, but by establishing an eerie and bleak tone to go with these great characters, there is always a feel of suspense and even more so when any of the 4 characters are in any danger. However in with a dark tone there is also a light and fun tone, which some people didn’t like. I didn’t mind the lighter parts and I think most complaints stem from some of the comedy like the pie in the face scenes to the zombies. Though some of the lighter scenes with the characters I thought were great and adds a lot of depth to Dawn of the Dead.

The mall setting helps us feel comfortable since its something we know. You’ll always feel safer when in an environment that you know and we’ve all been to a mall and despite the dangers that lurk around we the viewer can still feel comfortable since we’re in a place we all can relate to and I think that’s part of why for the longest time Day of the Dead wasn’t as highly regarded since it takes us away from our comfort zone. But being set in a mall is something we can all relate to and Romero uses this place we’ve been to a million times and makes it something eerie. But I do think setting the film in a mall was brilliant as again its something we can relate to.

The acting was terrific and in my opinion Dawn of the Dead features some of the best acting in any horror movie. As I mentioned I feel as if this movie has the best set of characters and the cast is a big part of that. Like I said I really can’t pick a favorite since everyone of the main characters were likable.

Overall there is a reason why Dawn of the Dead is so highly regarded not just as a horror film, but as a film in general. The writing and directing is great as is the acting. The production values are amazing and for a film shot for about 1-million it not only looks far bigger in budget, but looks more expensive than a good portion of big budget Hollywood releases. There really isn’t much more I can say that others haven’t, but Dawn of the Dead truly is a masterpiece of filmmaking.

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Dawn of the Dead Poster Gallery

Posted in Dawn of the Dead Posters and Lobby Cards with tags , , , , , , on February 25, 2013 by Last Road Reviews

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