Dolans Cadillac – The King of Horror week

This is the King of Horror week. All of the movies are based on the works of Stephen King. Dolans Cadillac is currently available on instant Netflix.

WATCH: Dolans Cadillac (2009) – Rated R for violence and language.

Robinsons (Wes Bentley) life assumes a new purpose when his wife — a witness to an execution-style slaying in the desert — is murdered by a Las Vegas mobster (Christian Slater), and the mild-mannered teacher vows to avenge her death. To overcome his wily adversary — and the thugs heavily armored Cadillac — Robinson devises an ingenious revenge plan that does not rely on raw firepower in this thriller based on a short story by Stephen King.

“When he looks at you in a certain way, your prostate goes bad and your urine burns.”

“I sentence you to life because I know two things. You do not have the stuff to kill me and you do not have the stuff to kill yourself.”

Christian Slater has an absolutely wonderful time chewing the scenery here as Dolan. Dolan is an extremely talkative villain. This is one of the best roles Slater has had in years. Heck this is one of his best roles period. Not quite up there with his iconic Heathers performance, this is pretty close as he goes over-the-top in a role made for it.

Wes Bentley is Robinson, our poor school teacher bent on revenge.. While I would have preferred to see someone who appeared to change physically over the course of events, Bentley appears a little grim prior to the start of events and changes little over the course of the film. Acting-wise he is pretty good here but could have been a little better in the beginning.

Emmanuelle Vaugier is Elizabeth. Elizabeth suffers the fate that pretty much all movie characters do when they try to do the right thing and appear as a witness in a trial. Thankfully this does not end her role in the movie.

Director Jeff Beesley presents some nice imagery here. His direction is not flashy though the film is presented in a nice 2.35:1 format. He sticks mainly to telling this story economically.

This is not to say the film is without flourishes. the scenes involving Elizabeth after her death are particularly well-done as is the image of a female character “shushing” someone.

After one entertainingly abortive revenge attempt, the movie settles down into full-on caper mode. As with most caper movies, there is a lot of preparation and the real enjoyment is in the payoff. Beesley saves a good amount of time for the payoff and it really works.

I really was not expecting much from this movie and I was pleasantly surprised by the fact this is pretty darn good – not great but pretty darn good. I recommend this for a fun 88 minute ride.

For those of you with set top boxes, this movie is presented in HD.

People Watch: Both Al Sapienza (Fletcher) and Greg Bryk (Chief) appears in Saw V together as the chief of police and Mallick respectively.

The Dead Zone – The King of Horror week

This is King of Horror week. All of the films will be based on the works of Stephen King. The Dead Zone is currently available on instant Netflix.

WATCH: The Dead Zone (1983) – Rated R.

Christopher Walken gives an eerie, memorable performance as Johnny Smith, a man who awakens from a five-year coma blessed with second sight: the ability to see a persons past, present and future simply through physical contact. When he shakes hands with an up-and-coming political candidate (Martin Sheen), Smith foresees nuclear war. Horror veteran David Cronenberg directs this supernatural thriller, adapted from a novel by Stephen King.

“”Bless me”? Do you know what God did for me? He threw an 18-wheeled truck at me and bounced me into nowhere for five years! When I woke up, my girl was gone, my job was gone, my legs are just about useless… Blessed me? God has been a real sport to me! “

David Cronenberg crafts a wonderful movie here. He abandons his usual body horror motifs (mostly – he does manage to slip a few in) in favor of adapting a book by Stephen King. Cronenberg crafted a lot of wonderful visual imagery for this film.

The overall feel of the film is melancholy. Almost all of the characters are tragic in some fashion. It is unusual for a genre film (it is not quite horror) to be so depressing in tone.

The script by Jeffrey Boam makes mention of The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe and The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving. Not only are these works that inspired King but they are both certainly melancholy as well.

Cronenberg usually uses Howard Shore for his music but the executives made him use Michael Kamen for this film. Howard Shore is most famous for his Oscar-winning scores for The Lord of the Rings trilogy. In spite of that, the score Kamen used here is absolutely haunting and really fits the tone of the film.

Christopher Walken does a fantastic job of playing the doomed Johnny Smith. He is one of my favorite character actors and it is really nice to see him in the lead role for a change.

Herbert Lom has a nice weighty part as Dr. Weizak who helps Johnny after his coma. While it is nice to see him play a serious role, I kept waiting for his eye to start twitching as it did when he was Inspector Dreyfus in the Pink Panther series of movies.

Brooke Adams plays our requisite love interest and gets to actually emote. Not only does her character Sarah get to be in love but she also gets to suffer anguish and heartbreak on more than one level.

Martin Sheen plays Greg Stillson, a man whose ultimate ambition is to be President of the United States. Martin Sheen would go on to play President Kennedy in the miniseries “Kennedy”, The President in “Medusas Child”, and President Bartlet on “The West Wing”. He is a little over the top here but fun to watch.

Many other wonderful actors have brief parts here as well. Tom Skerritt, Anthony Zerbe, and Colleen Dewhurst all have meaty roles here.

I rarely comment on the endings of movies in order to avoid spoiling the ending (even a 27-year-old movie like this one) but I feel that I have to mention that this film has one of the most satisfactory endings to a movie that I have ever seen.

I highly recommend this horror film for the feel more than the content. The atmosphere that Cronenberg creates outweighs the narrative that King created.

The Dead Zone is presented in HD for those with set top boxes.

Oh and for purists there is quite a bit that is changed from the novel and the major reporter subplot is mostly jettisoned.

The Dead Zone TV series is entertaining but really misses the point of the story.

People Watch: Look for William B. Davis in a brief role as an ambulance driver. Davis is better known as the cigarette smoking man from the X-Files.

The Mangler – King of Horror week

This week we are covering films based on works by Stephen King. The Mangler is currently available on instant Netflix.

PASS: The Mangler (1995) – Rated R for gory horror violence and language.

“Machines are not made to rise up against humans, but in this sci-fi thriller, one does. But why? Police detective John Hunton (Ted Levine) is on the case, as he begins to unravel the strange mystery of a folding machine that seems to yearn not for clothing but for flesh. What is behind this lust for blood, and just who is responsible for turning it into a mangling creature? The answer may lie with the gadgets owner, Bill Gartley (Robert Englund). “

How could this go wrong? Take a story from the master of horror Stephen King. Have horror director Tobe Hooper (Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Poltergeist) not only film it but help adapt the script. Sprinkle in actors who played two of the more horrific serial killers recently, Robert Englund (Freddy from the Nightmare on Elm Street series) and Ted Levine (Jame “Buffalo Bill” Gumb from The Silence of the Lambs). Bake until done.

Well first the short story by Stephen King, while entertaining, is a one-note joke. For goodness sakes, it is a story about a haunted/possessed laundry machine!

If you thought the old Universal Mummy movies were silly in that any victim could simply walk toward the exit and be capable of outrunning the lumbering Kharis then how do you feel about a huge threatening machine that simply sits there?

Tobe does have a lot of fun with this. When one of the older ladies is umm folded to death, they take her remains away in a small laundry basket. If you had not already guessed, this movie is not at all subtle.

Tobe uses a lot of bizarre colored lighting, especially green. He also favors a number of odd camera angles. I did not find this dramatic so much as offputting. It is somewhat stylish but makes the film less serious.

The acting is pretty bad in this. The performances from Robert Englund and Ted Levine mostly consist of odd tics and mannerisms. Robert Englund is buried under makeup as usual. The supporting actors range from ineffectual to dreadful.

The central monstrosity, the Mangler is a very impressive piece of machinery. It looks great, both malevolent and suitably steampunk.

This movie can certainly provide some seriously goofy, gory fun but I simply cannot recommend it. I can hardly believe that this movie spawned two sequels.

People Watch: The Curse of The Mangler! For stuntwoman Ashley Waldorf and actors Demetre Philips, Lisa Morris, Vanessa Pike, Larry Taylor, Gerritt Schoonhoven, Ted Le Plat, Odile Rault, and Irene Frangs, this would be their last (so far) feature film appearance.