A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)

A Nightmare on Elm StreetA Nightmare on Elm Street isn’t my favorite horror film, I don’t even think it’s on the list of slasher films I enjoy. But it has an interesting concept, developed characters, and like Psycho it pulls one of the biggest twits on the audience with the role of Tina.

A Nightmare on Elm Street 5We are introduced to an interesting, scared young girl named Tina (Amanda Wyss) who has been having horrible dreams of a burned man with a claw-hand chasing her. Unfortunately, little does she know, this man is actually real and a danger to her. Truly afraid she has her boyfriend and two friends sleep over with her and that night her dreams take a drastic turn for the worst when she is brutally killed all about her room in a manner that would leave CSI baffled and probably should have precluded her boyfriend from being a suspect.

With no one believing Rod (Nick Corri), Tina’s boyfriend, he is arrested and Nancy and Glen (Heather Langenkamp and Johnny Depp respectively) are skeptical as things start to get strange around them. By the time Rod has bit the dust in jail, it’s no longer a question of who is killing them but how this person is killing them.

A Nightmare on Elm Street 3While I don’t particularly care for Freddy Kruger (Robert Englund) I can safely admit that he makes up a part of the trifect of serial killers that are most famous in the slasher genre, including Jason Voorhees and Michael Meyers (With Leatherface sometimes around for the ride and sometimes conflated with A Nightmare on Elm Street 2Jason despite the fact that Jason has never once used a chainsaw). His series has a unique concept, something other slasher films can’t say or blatantly pirated from one of the four killers just mentioned. Supernatural, determined, laced with quips, and a weapon that makes me question his manhood much like Kia did in Freddy vs Jason. Of course it didn’t really end well for her.

A Nightmare on Elm Street 4Slasher films are a huge part of our culture and because of that they have fallen into disrepair over the years. We no longer want new and original concepts but franchise mills that will keep our appetites whetted so we can feel good when we complain about them. I dislike The Nightmare on Elm Street franchise but that doesn’t make it a bad one. It is actually original in concept, features well developed characters in its first installment (something that Friday the 13th can’t share in but Halloween can), and blurred the lines between horror and comedy in a believable fashion that never dulled the wow factor. Then the sequels happened and that is a completely different conversation that we can have later in the month.

For now, it’s October, the month of scary images and tricking of friends and strangers alike. Enjoy the crisp autumn season as it begins to come to a close and hopefully join me in on a Halloween marathon this upcoming October 31st!

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The Tourist

The TouristHave you ever just sat down and found yourself enjoying a movie more than you initially realized? Sometimes I feel that way, especially when it comes to movies I know a little information about, nothing too crucial to ruin the fun, but enough to make it intriguing. Angelina Jolie and Jonny Depp in Europe, a bit of a mystery, throw in a possible romance, and a lot of expensive clothes and jewelry and you generally have yourself a merry old time. The beauty of the places you see can generally tell you the type of movie you’re going to be watching. The exoticness of it all makes it a bit tempting and I was most assuredly tempted.

The Tourist is the interesting tale of Elise Clifton-Ward, a beautiful woman who lives in Paris and is being jointly watched by the French police and Scotland Yard. Her day seems to be going as normally as possible, she wakes up, goes on a walk to her local Parisian café where her order has already been put in, and then… Well, then the fun kicks in as a letter is delivered to her by courier from her ex-lover (the reason she’s being watched by the police). With explicit instructions, despite her grievances, Elise follows through on the instructions and involves a Wisconsin math teacher as she tries to get back to her lover.

From there the plot spirals because of miscommunication, lack of professionalism, a little bit of romantic misdirection, and the Disney-esque one day love story. However, the story is far deeper than it wants you to believe, and it has more plot twists than an M. Night Shyamalan movie. It all makes sense one moment and then it feels like everything we knew was a lie. The twists and turns pulled me in and while I had already figured out the final twist long before the movie was over, it didn’t diminish the movie in my mind in any fashion.

I have that issue, though, sometimes things jump out at me and I figure out the plot long before we’re supposed to know it (I knew Stu Macher was crazy and that he was Ghostface, I knew it!). While the big twist was something I could figure out, the others came at me like a bullet train and I was hooked (albeit not on a feeling). I was captivated by the movie and the twists and turns made for a better ride overall and, after all, that’s the point of a good movie in my humble opinion.

I do have to add, though, that Paul Bettany is quite adorable and funny here.

Into the Woods

Into the WoodsMusicals are fun, generally, but in the past few years there have been a couple of musicals filled to the brim with grim (And this one literally took the grim from Grimm, which wasn’t a bad take in my humble opinion). Into the Woods is a good film adapted from a musical, something that seems to be picking up steam these days, so I suppose it’s only a matter of time before we get a remake of the adaptation of the musical (whew that’s a doozey!).

Starring the likes of Meryl Streep, Emily Blunt, Anna Kendrick, Chris Pine, and what amounts to a cameo from Johnny Depp (though the promotional material would have you believe he’s as important as Rogue was supposed to be in Days of Future Past). When I first saw this I was pleasantly surprised by Christine Baranski’s appearance, though I adore her in The Good Wife and Mamma Mia (thus the pleasantly, if I wasn’t as obvious as I could possibly be). And a few others who, while not entirely unknown, just simply haven’t hit it big yet (but there’s still years to come! Maybe a new YA trilogy will give your shot to fame!).

James Corden is our protagonist, The Baker, and because of the Witch from next door (Streep) having placed a curse on his house for his father’s thievery, must now find four items for a potion so that he and his wife (Blunt) can have a baby. Unfortunately this in turn bleeds into the stories of Cinderella, Rapunzel, Jack and the Giant Bean Stalk, and Little Red Riding Hood (Rapunzel kind of only tagged along, really they could have cut that whole section out and it still would have made sense without a little bit more drama).

While there is a bit of dialogue that isn’t a part of a song the majority of our tale is told through repeated rhymes because (reasons!) it’s a musical. What can set a musical apart from those that are simply okay is undeniably the cast and its ability to hold a tune, however, this isn’t a musical it is a musical film so the rules are different. While each and every actor in the film can sing (or we simply missed the credit for someone who provided their singing voice for the unfortunate actor who isn’t also a singer or a director) they aren’t necessarily cast for their singing ability. A musical is a straight shot through the entire play, so you cast the actor with the best voice who can play the part, hold the song throughout the duration (especially if they’re a main character), and look good doing so. Not so in a movie, where it is filmed almost entirely out of sequence, like it was a Quentin Tarantino movie from hell, so we are only ever presented with the best take given (and sometimes not even the same take for every actor, thank God for B Roll!).

Into the Woods is dark and dreary but not at all boring because it pulled pieces together it knew would make a good movie and cut out others that couldn’t fit for time, didn’t make sense, or couldn’t be done justice (once again more than likely for the first two reason). The actors provide us with a fun time because, as I said before, musicals are fun!