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.
Dubbed “Jaws with Claws” when it was released; “Grizzly” is not exactly original. I think every reviewer who’s covered the film has pointed out it’s unabashed similarity with “Jaws” (1975) and of course “Grizzly” is a rip-off of that classic film. But on it’s own lo-fi terms it’s a terrific B-movie that still entertains to this day.
The passing of William Hurt on March 13th prompted me to go through my collection and check out some of his work. I’ve always thought he was a very good actor and I was quite saddened to hear he was gone. I don’t own a lot of his movies but “Body Heat” (1981) is a big favorite, “The Big Chill” (1983) as well and also “Altered States”. There are a few movies I really like but I’m not sure why and “Altered States” has always been one of those. I know painfully little about the film’s late director Ken Russell and have seen only one other film of his; “Crimes of Passion” (1984), which I do like as well so maybe I should check out more of his films.
“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….
“Part 3” introduced the iconic image of a hockey masked maniac who’s essentially a killing machine that refuses to die and dispatches of his victims in spectacular ways. Type “hockey mask” in Google and there are numerous references for Jason on the first page of websites and images. So iconic is the look of this serial killer and for this fact alone then “Part 3” is an important piece of horror cinema. As an entry in the long running series it’s in the upper tier; surpassed by Parts 1 and 4 (the best of the bunch), Part 2 and Part 6 but narrowly beating out Part 5.