Daily Archives: October 15, 2020

Horror Films A–Z, Oct. 2020: J, K & L

Ju-on: The Grudge

Year: 2002
Runtime: 1h 32m
Rated: R

Director: Takashi Shimizu

Writer: Takashi Shimizu

Stars: Megumi Okina, Misaki Itô, Misa Uehara

Ju-on: The curse of one who dies in the grip of a powerful rage.

Initial: This was supposed to be a rewatch day, but instead of watching a not-very-horror “J” film that I’ve seen before, I’m going to watch a new film and stave off this future problem. I’m apprehensive about how much this film is going to creep me out. I have not seen the American version. Uh, either of them.

Production Notes: This is actually the third installment of the Ju-on franchise, but the first to get a theatrical release.

What Did I Think: (possible spoilers ahead)
Not as creepy as The Ring, but what is? I did honest-to-goodness yelp once during this movie and it wasn’t at a particularly “scary” part. A criticism of Ju-on is that it’s a bit derivative. I can see that, but I haven’t watched enough J-horror for that to bother me at all.

Kong: Skull Island

Year: 2017
Runtime: 1h 58m
Rated: PG-13

Director: Jordan Vogt-Roberts

Writers: Dan Gilroy, Max Borenstein, Derek Connolly, John Gatins, Merian C. Cooper, Edgar Wallace

Stars: Tom Hiddleston, Samuel L. Jackson, Brie Larson

“Mark my words: there’ll never be a more screwed up time in Washington.”

Initial: Sometimes, you just want a good monster movie. Hope this one holds up to a rewatch.

Production Notes: Apocalypse Now (1979) and Princess Mononoke (1997) are both cited as inspiration for this film.

What Did I Think: (possible spoilers ahead)
One of my favorite films as a kid was Mysterious Island (1961). Despite the impossibility of uncharted lands filled with dinosaurs and giant animals, I just really enjoy the concept. So, Skull Island works for me. It’s got a great cast, some very picturesque cinematography, characters with clever dialog, and ginormous animals battling it out. Somehow it’s a movie that can contain both John C. Rielly being a screwball and Samuel L. Jackson being Ahab. And I realized that it’s really smart to have most of the giant monster fights in the water; it gives them weight and scale.

Lord of Illusions

Year: 1995
Runtime: 1h 49m
Rated: R

Director: Clive Barker

Writer: Clive Barker

Stars: Scott Bakula, Kevin J. O’Connor, J. Trevor Edmond

“You can’t have too many saviors.”

Initial: I’ve read the short story more recently than I’ve watched the movie.

Production Notes: The Magic Castle is a real place in Los Angeles. Not sure if they shot inside, but it’s a nice nod.

What Did I Think: (possible spoilers ahead)
Actually, I’m not sure I had seen this movie before. I thought I had, but I think I’m confusing it with Angel Heart (1987). Anyway… I feel like every movie Clive Barker has written/directed ends up getting cut in ways unflattering to the plot. (I’m including Hellraiser in this…) The bones of the story are there and there are muscles and tendons and ligaments, but the films feel unfinished. It’s not that I want to be spoon-fed plot, but I want to know the characters and the world better before, inevitably, all hell breaks loose. Still, I like Barker’s movies for what is there and, if I hadn’t seen this movie in the past, I’ll be rewatching it in the future.