Archive for Meg Foster

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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Stepfather II (1989) Review

Posted in Stepfather II with tags , , , , , , on October 23, 2012 by Last Road Reviews

Review by Dave

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STEPFATHER II: MAKE ROOM FOR DADDY

*** ½ Out of 5

Tagline- Make Room for Daddy

Release Date- November 3rd, 1989

Running Time- 88-Minutes

Rating- R

Screenplay- John Auerbach

Director- Jeff Burr

Starring- Terry O’Quinn, Meg Foster, Jonathon Brandis, Mitchell Laurance, Henry Brown and Caroline Williams as Matty Crimmins

Despite being killed at the end of the first movie the psychotic stepfather Jerry Blake (O’Quinn) or should I say Gene Clifford since that’s his new identity is still very much alive locked up in an insane asylum. The original movie was a surprise hit and was also generally well received by critics, but when a sequel can be made and let’s face it there’s always a way to make a sequel one will be made and in general in the horror genre sequels tend to be inferior to the originals and while Stepfather II may not break from that rule I actually have to admit I kinda liked this film a little bit more than the original.

The idea behind Stepfather II is basically the same as the original and if anything this movie is more a less of a rewrite of the original film and the only real difference is Joseph Ruben director of the original wanted to stray from slasher movie conventions and the movie plays out much more like a thriller with horror elements, but Stepfather II plays up a lot more to the slasher movie conventions, which wasn’t the original plan by director Jeff Burr; after the Weinstein’s got involved reshoots were ordered to add a little bit more gore and scenes were edited taking away some of the depth in favor of a faster paced slasher type flick. In some areas I think the changes might have actually helped the movie rather than hinder it, but it also dumbs the movie down a bit. In my opinion both versions have something going for it (the deleted, extended and alternate scenes can be seen on the SE DVD release).

Surviving the ordeal from the original film the evil stepfather escapes from an insane asylum (rather easily I should add) and now under the name Gene Clifford, he takes up residence in Los Angeles and is posing as a psychiatrist and focuses on single mother Carol Grayland (Foster) who has a young son Todd (Brandis). At first everything goes well, but soon enough things sour and Clifford is back to his old murderous ways that builds to a shocking showdown.

The screenplay by John Auerbach pretty much sticks to the element of the original film only with a few more deaths; like the first movie Stepfather II focuses on the characters rather than action and while it worked well in the original film and works well here I do think this movie might have benefited from more action. At this point we know what Gene is gonna do; he’ll be normal with a few breakdowns in private and then snap and go on his rampage. The biggest flaw is that Auerbach rehashes the original and doesn’t really add anything new to the series. Like the original, Clifford’s motives are never explained and while I kinda like that, but in the 2nd one perhaps a little tiny bit of an explanation was needed if only to keep it feeling fresh.

Auerbach does however do a nice job with the characters and they have some decent depth and I suppose in many ways they are similar to characters in the original, but they still work and are likeable; while the original has the better script mainly due to it being original and new, Auerbach does a nice job overall despite any problems I had with the script and again the characters are generally likeable and well-written and it only suffers from being a bit of a rehash.

Director Jeff Burr best known to horror fans for Leatherface: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre III takes over the series and despite the success of the first film the budget was lower and Burr manages to make a solid movie despite not having a lot of resources at his disposal. While Stepfather II might lack the eerie atmosphere of the original, Burr does manage however to put together some decent scenes of suspense and the pacing is mostly solid with very few lulls. Even though Stepfather II has a higher body count the movie doesn’t rely on deaths since after the first 3 deaths there are long stretches without any and quite honestly I thought Burr did a better job at keeping the movie interesting than Joseph Ruben did in the original. Like I said I liked the original, but felt the pacing at times could be a bit slow, but it’s made up for in eerie atmosphere and acting, but despite not having the same eerie tone, I felt Jeff Burr kept the pace moving a lot more swiftly.

As I stated Stepfather II plays up a lot more to the slasher movie conventions whereas the original avoided that for the most part. And like I brought up scenes were edited down and reshoots were done to make the deaths a bit more gory and while I understand why Jeff Burr would be upset and I would as well if I were in his position, but I think despite the edits and reshoots the film still turns out much better than expected and while the movie might lose some depth due to the edits and reshoots and make it more of the typical slasher flick of the era it does sort of also benefit the movie as it makes it better paced. Just a heads up the death scenes that were reshot you’ll know due to Terry O’Quinn not being seen; he didn’t take part in the reshoots, so when the deaths happen if you don’t see him that’s how you know it was part of a reshoot.

Like the original film it’s the cast that elevates the picture; Terry O’Quinn is again excellent, but he seems to play up to the camp factor a little more, which what makes the performance so excellent since he does something a little different. While he is still creepy he isn’t as chilling as he was in the original, but it was another great performance. Meg Foster wasn’t the original choice, but I think she was the right choice; I like a lot of her movies and quite honestly I can’t see anyone else playing the role of Carol any better. The late Jonathon Brandis is solid as the soon to be stepson. But it’s Caroline Williams as Matty who steals the show; Williams is best known for her role as Stretch in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre II.

While most people favor the original film, which is understandable since from a filmmaking aspect I suppose the original is the better film overall and the original also has an eerie atmosphere, but like I said I enjoyed this one a bit more. Its better paced and a little more exciting even if more of the standard slasher flick. Stepfather II may not be a perfect film, but it gets the job done and turns out highly entertaining.

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