Sunday, October 23, 2011

Weekly Wrap-Up (10/23)

Halloween (1978)
I am a Big John Carpenter fan but had somehow never seen this film before. Halloween is one of the most influential movies in the last 30 to 40 years as it is usually credited for the rise of the slasher genre. While this film has contains many elements that would eventually become cliches today, it is still am amazing film that holds up well. The great camerawork by Dean Cundey and Carpenter's directing allow the movie to rise above its low budget. That said, the low budget doesn't show much anyway since Halloween does a great job setting up the suspense and doesn't need to rely on blood and gore to be scary. Carpenter knows that what you don't see is scarier than what you do see, and uses that to full effect in this film. At its core, Halloween is about the struggle between good and evil. Although good will triumph over evil, evil always returns in some form.
Jamie Lee Curtis puts in a nice performance in what was her film debut and the role she will probably always be best known for. Donald Pleasence is awesome as usual as the doctor tracking Michael Myers. 
Although Halloween is probably Carpenter's best known movie, my favorite Carpenter film is still The Thing. Of course that is just personal preference as I love both along with all the other Carpenter films I have seen so far... except Ghosts of Mars.

I had seen this movie awhile ago but was due for a re-watch.
Bill Murray IS Peter Venkman. Although I can't imagine anybody else in this role, John Belushi was originally intended to play Venkman. Ghostbusters went through a long process of re-writes before it got made so I have a feeling that if Belushi lived and was in the movie it would be quite different. Murray and the cast made a lot of ad-libs which was a lot of fun and helped make this one of the most memorable and quotable comedies ever.
The special effects hold up well, as practical effects usually do!
One thing that surprised me was how good the writing was. Ghostbusters is not the most tightly written comedy, but its up there. Each set-up had a pay-off: Don't cross the streams, Stay Puft marshmallow man, Zuul, relationship between Dana Barrett (Sigourney Weaver) and Louis Tully (Rick Moranis), etc. A friend recommended watching the sequel saying it was underrated, so I'll give that movie a shot when I get the chance.

Ghost Dad (1990)
I love Bill Cosby. His stand-up and television work are both great. However he just couldn't make the jump to movies. I'm not counting Bill Cosby: Himself (1983) since that is just a filmed version of his stand-up routine at the time.
I was shocked to discover that the great actor Sidney Poitier directed this movie. He has directed a few other films but this one appears to have killed his directing career as it is the last movie he has made. Ghost Dad had a decent budget ($18 million) although I'm guessing most of that went to Cosby's salary. The special effects were actually decent, but most of them were camera tricks. Although its hard to believe, Ghost Dad made over $24 million at the box office so it actually turned a profit.
While Ghost Dad is watchable, there are far better family comedies out there. For a movie called Ghost Dad starring Bill Cosby its actually not as wacky as one would expect, although there are still some ridiculous moments. Hey, at least its not Leonard Part 6!

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