Horror This ‘n’ That

The Town That Dreaded Sundown (2014) and Don’t Blink are currently on streaming Netflix.

Town that Dreaded Sundown

 

The Town That Dreaded Sundown (2014) – Rated R

Sixty-five years after the masked Moonlight Murderer terrified Texarkana, the mayhem begins again, and a shy teenage girl knows how to stop it.”

The original The Town That Dreaded Sundown (1976) was a rather odd hodgepodge of a movie involving a series of real-life murders in Texarkana. Part of it dealt with the murders from the murderer’s point of view and part dealt with the manhunt, ably aided by veteran character actor Ben Johnson as the lead Ranger in the investigation. It suffered from a low budget and some abrupt tonal shifts but was an interesting misfire for its time.

The new The Town That Dreaded Sundown is neither a remake nor a reboot. The old movie is actually part of the plot for the new movie (kudos to Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa). The new attacks actually stem from an incident at a drive-in movie showing – you guessed it – The Town That Dreaded Sundown.

As usual for a horror movie, the police here are rather clueless and our plucky heroine who survived the initial attack of our new killer investigates the new murders. There are a few other additional good ideas but there are also a lot of story beats stolen from various other horror movies, such as Scream. Other thoughts came to mind at various points such as Nancy Drew and Scooby-Doo and these are not favorable.

The Town That Dreaded Sundown ends up being a passable waste of time, particularly those with knowledge of, though not necessarily reverence for, the original movie.

Don't Blink

 

Don’t Blink (2014) – Not rated

Ten friends are stranded at a secluded — and deserted — mountain resort, where they must solve the deadly mystery surrounding the abandoned lodge.”

Don’t Blink is another good idea gone awry. I am unsure as to how much credit to give writer/director Travis Oates. There are actually many good ideas in this movie but the central premise is one that has been done before. Don’t Blink is exceedingly similar to Vanishing on 7th Street.

On the other hand, Oates sets his film at a deserted  (or is it?) mountain resort, instead of an entire city, giving this a nice mystery vibe a la Agatha Christie’s Ten Little Indians. The scenes are filmed effectively though the repeated, nonsensical gasoline problem gets old very quickly (what, absolutely NO ONE filled up at the nearest gas station? AND none of the cars at the resort had used the resort’s pumps?). The gas issue does work though if you view the entire movie as a metaphor about this issue.

For being a pretty young people in peril (or PYPIP) movie, the characters are distinguishable and not horrifically annoying. There is a bit of disbelief involving the choice to stay once events unfold but it is all slickly done. There are some very interesting events surrounding the lodge that subtly play out.

The Musketeer – Alexandre Dumas week

Time for Alexandre Dumas’ most enduring creation, The Three Musketeers.

Sadly Richard Lester’s definitive version from 1973 is not available. Neither is the 1948 version starring Gene Kelly, Lana Turner, and Vincent Price. Heck even the groan inducing (though Oliver Platt made a good Porthos) Disney version from 1993 is missing.

The Musketeer is currently available on instant Netflix.

The Musketeer

The Musketeer (2001) – PG-13

In this rollicking adaptation of the Alexander Dumas classic “The Three Musketeers,” young D’Artagnan seeks to join the legendary musketeer brigade and avenge his father’s death — but finds that the group has disbanded.

“We’re drunks, not fools.

One Line Review: The tagline “As You’ve Never Seen It” is a warning, not a boast.

Well I suppose there is some truth in advertising. Don’t expect this to be about the three musketeers – it really is all about D’Artagnon. The movie is doubly miscast. Aramis is really Athos but that’s okay because the three musketeers are just window dressing. Most of the part the musketeers played is handled by Planchet, D’Artagnon’s manservant. Count Rochefort is present but his character traits are actually given to the mysterious Man in Black, including his eye patch. Constance Bonacieux is renamed Francesca Bonacieux.

The three musketeers don’t hold a candle to young and somehow incredibly experienced D’Artagnon. Honestly, after seeing D’Artagnon in action, the Three Musketeers look incompetent. They even, embarrassingly, come to D’Artagnon proverbial hats-in-hand for aid. D’Artagnon turns them down of course because this is his film, until he needs aid in the final act.

The man in black believes himself more powerful and wiser than Cardinal Richeliu. He threatens the Queen and Captain Treville. He is so evil that he kills his own men (one of my least favorite tropes). The plot is so eye-rollingly ludicrous that I am still suffering from whiplash. All of this is before the final act, which I assure you is far worse though shall remain spoiler-free.

The fights are the only real reason to watch this. There is a lot of good fight choreography but if we don’t care about the characters (and we don’t) then it all seems rather pointless. Costuming and set design are quite nice but go somewhat unappreciated. The acting is wooden pretty much across the board including stars who know better like Mena Suvari. Stephen Rea and Catherine Deneuve are wasted here. Tim Roth is entertaining but does not have much to do and his character is essentially a transplanted Bond villain.

Very mild spoiler alert: The climactic battle is completely ripped off from an episode of Xena and actually makes no logistical sense. I will say though that it makes more sense than the scene immediately preceding it where a character has a choice of two weapons.