Posts

Blair Witch (2016)

Image
Often it is important to strike while the iron is hot.  Sometimes, though, it's too hot, and Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sánchez, the directors of The Blair Witch Project , knew that was the case in 2000.  While initially quite popular the movie began to suffer a backlash after people realized just what the movie was - 80-some minutes of three awful people getting lost in the woods.  And, by awful people, I mean the characters; found footage horror was new, so a lot of audiences had a hard time separating the actors from their characters, especially since they used their real names.  As a result of Artisan Entertainment wanting to cash in they hired director Joe Berlinger and rushed out Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2 a year after the original.  It made some money initially, but it basically hobbled any hope of a series.  Rather than found footage it was more of a regular horror film and, from the beginning, it made it clear that its existence was to profit off of the original.  Berl

Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2 (2000)

Image
The Blair Witch Project was a runaway hit in 1999, much to the surprise of its directors Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sánchez and their small cast of characters.  What began as a fake documentary with found footage of three college kids getting lost in the woods and then mysteriously murdered in 1994 ended up spawning its own genre of horror as well earning the directors, and Artisan Entertainment, a ton of money on very little investment.  The problem is that Hollywood often wants to keep that money flowing. To Myrick and Sánchez's credit they thought they should take their time on a sequel.  The Blair Witch Project was definitely a phenomenon, but everything that comes with such a unique situation happened.  Heather Donahue's goodbye speech was endlessly parodied, and The Bare Wench Project ended up having more sequels than the original movie did.  Many people who saw the movie were not happy after the build-up to it, resulting in death threats against Donahue, compounded by th

Eternals (2021)

Image
It was bound to happen at some time.  I am just surprised that the true angry fan and critical backlash against the Marvel Cinematic Universe didn't happen five or ten years ago.  The movies themselves were just too popular, and now it's so much a part of our culture, but they couldn't go on forever without someone throwing some genuine shade just because they can.  While Captain Marvel  practically begged audiences to start reacting negatively, it was Eternals that finally stuck the spanner in the works.   It's a strange movie for this to happen on.  Directed by Chloé Zhao, most known for the independent film Nomadland , Eternals eschews the normal superhero trappings and, like Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings , it opted to go in more of a science fiction and fantasy direction rather than fighting typical bad guys.  In fact, in Eternals , it is hard to really make out who the bad guy is supposed to be, which I assume is some of the reason why this wasn't s

The Blair Witch Project (1999)

Image
Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sánchez figured out a way to never have to work again.  In a way it was like winning the lottery since neither of them knew just how big The Blair Witch Project was going to be.  Even before it came out they had already made a profit when Lionsgate bought the rights to the film and took over the promotion, and it was one of the most brilliant marketing campaigns for a movie.   Partially the campaign used word of mouth to try and make it seem like the legends of the Blair Witch, an evil spirit that supposedly haunts the woods outside of Burkittsville, Maryland, were real.  Although it sounds like the type of local legend that would spring up in a rural area, Myrick and Sánchez made the whole thing up.  What they did is hire three actors - Heather Donahue, Michael C. Williams and Joshua Leonard - to go out in the woods with a walkie-talkie and a GPS.  They were given a 16mm camera and video equipment, and they did the majority of the filming, taking instructions

Village of the Damned (1995)

Image
John Carpenter gradually became disenchanted with making movies, and for good reason.  The Thing , Big Trouble in Little China and others are all considered classics now, but they were bombs when they came out.  Lambasted by critics or totally ignored by audiences, it resulted in Carpenter self-producing  Prince of Darkness and They Live in the late 1980s and then largely becoming a director for hire during the 1990s. Honestly, no one will say the 1990s were the best decade for Carpenter.  He made one great movie during that time - at least one that I consider great - and that was In the Mouth of Madness.  It felt like what it was supposed be, which was John Carpenter both playing on the celebrity of Stephen King while making his own H. P. Lovecraft movie.  It worked, not the least because King borrows a a good number of ideas from Lovecraft, but because it feels like Carpenter still seemed like he had some input despite the fact that, unlike most of his previous material, he had no

Children of the Damned (1964)

Image
John Wyndham had his book, The Midwich Cuckoos , purchased for movie rights before it even hit the shelves.  The resulting movie, Village of the Damned , was expected by MGM to fail in theaters, but it instead became a sleeper hit and remains a classic bit of sci-fi horror to this day.  The subject of an alien invasion was handled in a subtle manner - in many ways due to an extremely low budget - as well as a realistic one, and the platinum-blonde children with glowing eyes were as unforgettable as the rest of the movie.  Wyndham himself began work on a sequel but ultimately abandoned it after a few pages.  With no literary sequel to work with MGM eventually settled on a script by John Briley that, curiously, refers itself to a sequel to The Midwich Cuckoos in the opening titles rather than as a sequel to Village of the Damned , which it obviously took its title from.  For those looking forward to more of the subtle terror of the first movie it was a bit of a disappointment, as Childre

Village of the Damned (1960)

Image
The word "cuckoo" has such a connotation in American English that it has somewhat lost its original meaning.  Where we often associate the word with European clocks or a term meaning crazy a cuckoo is, in fact, a rather sneaky and vicious bird.  It will lay its egg in the nest of another bird, and the hatchling will either use up resources from the parent that should have gone to its own brood or will sometimes kill its competitors.  While many birds do possess surprising amounts of intelligence a good majority still go by instinct and, if the baby is in the nest, the mother will take care of it and protect it regardless.  Thus, John Wyndham's novel The Midwich Cuckoos has a meaning much closer to the plot, something that his native British readers would have picked up on.   The book was, and still is, considered a great piece of speculative fiction, and it was optioned for a movie even before its publishing date in 1957.  Actor Ronald Coleman was tagged to play the lead