Dame Agatha Christie’s 1939 novel “Ten Little Indians” (which initial title was quite edgy (and it’s easy to google) and quickly changed to “And Then There Were None” when it was published in the US in 1940) is one of the Queen of Suspense’s most enduring piece of literature. It’s a remarkably grim novel whose basic plot has been imitated countless times and undoubtedly will continue to inspire more works for the unforeseeable future. In the 20th century there were four English speaking film adaptations of the novel produced in 1945, 1965, 1974 and 1989 that greeted audiences but there was one fact that not everyone knows that tied all the films together in a peculiar way that differed from the novel. When the novel was adapted for the stage Dame Agatha herself changed the ending and altered the plot slightly. No doubt a reason for this was partly to let theater patrons depart on a slightly happier note but also some key things would have been very difficult to realize on stage that is much easier to communicate in a novel. The following film versions were all adapted from Christie’s stage version and so they did not faithfully adhere to the nihilistic tone that so distinguishes the novel from the rest of her work.
“Terror Train” is excellent. It has everything that a slasher film fan could want in spades and delivers it with a straightforward narrative that’s blissfully free of absurd red herrings that make no sense. That said it does present a possibly implausible revelation but it actually ends up being a clever mislead in a film noted for it’s twist free nature. The script for “Terror Train” is pretty good.
My favourite director is John Carpenter and I’ve spent an un-Godly amount of time devouring his work for more than 30 years. I’ve been rather hesitant at sharing my thoughts on his films on my blog as so much has been written about them and they’ve been fairly well dissected by many. But what the heck! I recently got into a Carpenter mood and viewed three of his early features and wanted to write a few things down.
My personal favourite of his is “The Fog”. It’s not what I consider his best work as I think “The Thing” is his crowning achievement. The one I’ve viewed most often is “Halloween” and the whole Michael Myers franchise is a big part of why horror/slasher films got a hold of me early on and have kept me interested for all these years.
These three early features by Carpenter are movies I revisit regularly and think very highly of.
High school friends Julie, Helen, Barry and Ray accidentally hit a man with their car after a night of partying. Instead of doing the right thing and report the accident they decide to get rid of the body in fear of what would happen to their futures if they came clean. A year later Julie gets an ominous message simply stating “I know what you did last summer” and soon it’s apparent that the group’s buried secret is coming back to haunt them in deadly ways…
“The House With Laughing Windows” is one of those chillers that sets an uneasy tone from the start and maintains the ominous mood admirably throughout. It doesn’t hurt that stylistically the film is wonderfully lensed and the surroundings gradually become a bit otherworldly as the oppressing mood slowly tightens around the lead character. Director Pupi Avati manages to maintain the sombre mood and gradually escalate the tension. But be forewarned that it’s a fairly slow burn affair.
The small mining town of Valentine’s Bluffs has a bloody history that coincides with Valentine’s Day. The annual celebration is eagerly awaited and two supervisors of the Hanniger mine leave early and fail to check on methane levels with a number of workers still below. An explosion occurs and leaves the miners buried beneath as the celebrations go on above….
Eccentric millionaire Lionel Twain invites five of the most renowned and respected detectives in the world to his isolated mansion for a dinner and a murder. Greeting them is blind butler Bensonmum who only receives help from a hired deaf/mute maid who has a long list of things she doesn’t do; among them cooking. Before the night is over Twain promises that a murder will occur and the five best sleuths will be completely stumped.