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Misery – Steve Newton’s Retro Reviews

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Scream Factory has released a collector’s edition Blu-ray of Misery (review), director Rob Reiner’s adaptation of one of Stephen King’s best novels.

You should probably get it.

Here’s my original review from 1990:


Stephen King’s 1987 novel Misery is widely regarded by King aficionados as one of his most compelling and consistently terrifying works. The tale of a best-selling author held captive by his “number-one fan”, Misery is all the more frightening because it is real horror—you are left with the impression that it could definitely happen. The flame-throwing kid from Firestarter or the haunted car in Christine can’t compare with Misery’s mutilating, psychopathic ex-nurse, Annie Wilkes.

When it was announced that Rob Reiner would direct the film version of Misery, King fans had reason to rejoice—especially in light of the wonderful job Reiner did turning King’s novella “The Body” into the smash hit Stand By Me. Then William Goldman, one of Hollywood’s most admired novelist/screenwriters (Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Marathon Man) was hired to do the screenplay, virtually nixing the possibility of a crummy script ruining the film (as it has in other King projects).

The icing on the cake was the signing of James Caan to play the role of victimized author Paul Sheldon and accomplished stage actress Kathy Bates to portray villainess Wilkes. All the pieces were in place for the kind of horror film that is rare: the kind you remember.

The movie starts out with romance writer Sheldon sheltered in a Colorado hotel, putting the finishing touches on his latest novel—a highly personal one (like King’s own Misery) that he believes will finally win him the critical acclaim his past bodice-rippers haven’t. After typing “The End”, and cracking a bottle of champagne to celebrate, he sets off down a mountain road to deliver the manuscript to his agent (Lauren Bacall).

But Sheldon drives right into a fierce snowstorm and winds up trapped and injured in his overturned ’65 Mustang. Enter Annie Wilkes, who rescues Sheldon from a snowy grave, pops his dislocated shoulder back into place, puts his broken legs in splints, and hooks him up to the old intravenous.

Sheldon regains consciousness with the belief that he’s been saved by a guardian angel—albeit a rather odd one. He starts to see the real Wilkes after letting her read his unpublished manuscript; she’s not impressed with his use of swear words and freaks right out.

But that’s nothing compared to her reaction when she buys his latest book and discovers that he’s killed off her favourite character, Misery Chastain. She demands that he bring Misery back to life in a new book, and when the wheelchair-ridden Sheldon realizes it’s either write or die, he complies—all the while nurturing his strength for that one shot at escape.

Because its protagonist spends most of his time recuperating in bed, Misery does drag in spots. Since we aren’t taken inside Sheldon’s mind to witness the physical and mental torment he’s suffering—or inside Wilkes’s own twisted psychoses—the psychological terror relayed so well in King’s book has to be conveyed by long, dialogue-intensive scenes.

But Caan and Wilkes are up for it, and their interaction is genuinely disturbing—and often quite funny (although the humour hits a serious low when Wilkes puts her considerable weight behind a well-placed sledgehammer blow).

Horror fans looking for cinematic shocks à la Carrie and The Dead Zone might have trouble with Misery, but those with more subtle tastes should enjoy its sinister, low-key tone. Like Stand By Me, Misery can’t help but broaden the audience for movies based on Stephen King’s work.


For more from Steve Newton, visit his website about rock ‘n’ roll and horror movies, Ear of Newt!

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Several Muppets Were Run Through The Walking Dead’s Zombie App and It’s Kind of Amazing

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For many people, a big part of their childhood were the Muppets from “Sesame Street”. The lessons they learned from characters such as Bert and Ernie, Count von Count, Big Bird, and more, were invaluable and set a foundation of how to live ones life. On top of educational lessons, they were taught compassion, sharing, decency, and other traits that form the basis of a civilized society. Then zombies came along and botched everything.

Using an app from “The Walking Dead”, several characters from “Sesame Street” have been zombified, resulting in images that will no doubt make some of you laugh while others might be horrified at what their childhood characters have gone through. It’s kinda hard to deny that Count von Count doesn’t look gruesome as hell with a dislocated and dangling jaw…

Below is a gallery of these images and, just for fun, underneath that is “The Walking Gingerbread”, an actual parody of “The Walking Dead” done by “Sesame Street” for Halloween!

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Josh Millican’s Best Horror Films of 2017

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It may just be that my love of horror grows every year, but it honestly feels as though 2017 has been a red-letter year for the genre. Not only are films like Andy Muschietti’s IT and Jordan Peele’s Get Out generating Oscar buzz but we’ve seen horror elements seep into mainstream movies and TV shows, from Logan to “Stranger Things”.

And this hasn’t merely been an amazing year for mainstream horror, with powerful indies emerging as some 2017’s best; it’s further proof that many of the most compelling and important genre flicks are being produced outside the traditional Hollywood system. Below, in no particular order, are my selections for the Best Horror Films of 2017. Let me know what you think in the Comments section!


Brawl in Cell Block 99

Though the subject matter is completely different, S. Craig Zahler’s Brawl in Cell Block 99 has many parallels to his first film, 2015’s Bone Tomahawk. Both movies build slowly and are anchored by compelling characters and engrossing dialogue; furthermore, both films are deceptively understated until an explosive and shocking 3rd Act hits like a gut-punch.

Vince Vaughn delivers a genuinely poignant portrayal of Bradley Thomas, a down-on-his-luck drug runner willing to do anything to protect his family from disgruntled former associates. Don Johnson also deserves a shout-out for his turn as corrupt Warden Tuggs, the most unnerving fictional jailer since Cool Hand Luke.

Brawl in Cell Block 99 isn’t your typical horror movie, presenting a meandering narrative, but it’s still as entertaining as anything that follows an established formula. Horror is always most compelling when we can connect with a film’s protagonists, and this film delivers in spades.


Raw

Julia Ducournau’s Raw both benefited and suffered from reports of audience members fainting and falling ill during the film’s 2015 premiere at TIFF. Upon its limited theatrical release, The Nuart in Los Angeles passed barf bags out to moviegoers, a tactic usually reserved for the most extreme and outlandish of B-movies, films intentionally crafted to trigger the gag-reflex. While Raw does indeed contain scenes that are very difficult to stomach (pun intended!) it’s hardly a 2-dimensional gross-out.

Before classifying the film as horror, it’s a coming of age saga first and foremost. Themes of cannibalism and bodily mutilations become metaphors for sexual awakenings and transitions into adulthood. Raw is also a compelling study of sibling rivalries and the powerful influence of heredity on personal development.


The Blackcoat’s Daughter

Though released after I Am the Pretty Thing That Lives in the House, The Blackcoat’s Daughter is actually the debut film from Oz Perkins (son of horror icon Anthony Perkins). It combines the supernatural terrors of a possession movie with the compelling complexity of a murder mystery. The all-girls boarding school in winter provides a moody aesthetic with Gothic undertones while serving as an incubator for sexual awakenings and religious guilt.

The Blackcoat’s Daughter hinges on a powerful twist, but this doesn’t hit the audience like a ton of bricks; rather, the film’s secrets are gradually unraveled, resulting in a slow realization that’s as poignant as it is shocking. The film succeeds in no small part thanks to compelling performances by a trio of talented young thespians: Emma Roberts, Kiernan Shipka, and Lucy Boynton.


The Devil’s Candy

Sean Byrne is one of the most talented horror practitioners to emerge from Australia in the 21st Century. His debut film, The Loved Ones, is an under-seen sleeper that balances teen angst, dark comedy, and extreme violence. With his follow-up film, The Devil’s Candy, Byrne is finally getting the attention he deserves.

It’s less extreme than The Loved Ones, but The Devil’s Candy’s understated presentation, genuine drama, and slow-burn build-up delivers more palpable dread and a lasting resonance. The Devil’s Candy is a chaotic mix of heavy metal music and inner demons and can be viewed as a metaphor for how the blind pursuit of art can destroy families.

Ethan Embry deserves a shout out for his harrowing portrayal of father and artist Jesse Hellman. Who’d have thought the kid from Can’t Hardly Wait would develop into such a skilled actor?


Get OutGet Out

Historically, Q1 is a bad time for horror movies, as studios are prone to dumping films they have little faith in. Jordan Peele’s Get Out breaks the rules in many ways and, though released in February, it remains one of the most lauded and analyzed films of 2017—in any genre. The inclusion of sociopolitical elements makes Get Out both unique and timely, although even without its social agenda, Get Out is a compelling and unnerving experience, one that stokes paranoia by exacerbating primal fears related to deception and isolation.

Peele has become an exciting and refreshing figure in horror with plans for more socially-conscious thrillers in the years to come.


47 Meters Down

Nearly unceremoniously dumped directly to DVD in 2016, In the Deep was rebranded 47 Meters Down and given a theatrical release last Summer, where it became an unlikely hit. Perhaps hampered by preconceptions relating to lead actress Mandy Moore, 47 Meters Down is nonetheless immensely entertaining, eclipsing 2016’s shark-horror blockbuster The Shallows.

I do have doubts about the film’s ability to spawn a franchise (there’s currently a sequel in the works, being produced under the temporary title 48 Meters Down) considering this film hinges on a twist that can only be used once, so it’s difficult to imagine a sequel with the same impact—but who knows?

Ultimately, though, even a bad sequel won’t diminish the shine of 47 Meters Down. The film also proves there are still plenty of ways to pack legitimate terror into a PG-13 horror movie.

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Ash Vs Evil Dead Seasons 1 and 2 Are Now Streaming on Netflix

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The last word we brought you guys on the upcoming third season of Starz’s “Ash vs Evil Dead” starring Bruce Campbell was when we shared the show’s all-new teaser trailer (below).

Today we have awesome news that the first two seasons are now streaming on Netflix!

So if you’ve been putting off watching the series (for some reason) or have been waiting until the day where you could just binge-watch the series in one grand swoop, then today is your day. There isn’t a better time than now. Just make sure you’re caught up come February.

Hell, yeah.

Are you excited to watch (or rewatch) the first two seasons of “Ash vs Evil Dead” on Netflix? Let us know below!

“Ash vs Evil Dead” stars Bruce Campbell, Ray Santiago, Dana DeLorenzo, and Lucy Lawless. Campbell executive produces the series with Sam Raimi, Rob Tapert, Ivan Raimi, and Rick Jacobson. Season 3’s new showrunners are Mark Verheiden and Moira Grant.

“Ash vs Evil Dead” season 3 hits STARZ Sunday, February 25, 2018.

Synopsis:

Ash has spent the last 30 years avoiding responsibility, maturity and the terrors of the Evil Dead until a Deadite plague threatens to destroy all of mankind and Ash becomes mankind’s only hope.

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