Archive for the 'Movies' Category

A Smurfin’ Good Time

Posted in Movies on August 1st, 2011 and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

I was so pleasantly surprised by how much my family liked the new Smurf movie that I was inspired to write a short review.  Going in, I thought I would hate the movie because it didn’t look funny.  And I was a fan of the Smurfs as a kid, so not only did the movie look stupid, but I couldn’t figure out why it took place in our realm rather than the Smurf’s realm – wouldn’t fans of the little blue mystical creatures, kids, and everyone else want to see Smurf village on the big screen?

Don’t worry, we get to see Smurf village, and it’s pretty cool.  Especially the scene where Gargamel breaks in!!  Ok, so I guess that’s kind of a spoiler, sorry about that…  but this is a kid’s movie we’re talking about.  And kid’s movie it is – my kids all really liked it (ages 11, 7, 4 and 3).  The Smurfs have screen time for pretty much 100% of the movie, and there aren’t any boring scenes with a lot of dialogue – these tend to lose the attention of kids.  There are some Smurfy jokes – in this case I’m using “Smurfy” to describe inside jokes written for fans of the Smurfs from decades ago.  Much like the Brady Bunch movies are actually enjoyable parodies of the hit tv show and poke fun at it,  The Smurfs movie has gags about such shout-outs to the 80s cartoon as their names reflecting their personalities (a hilarious joke in the movie that I’m still chuckling about), cracks about how Smurfette always wears the same dress (although more than one joke about this was overdoing it and took the humor away), and multiple references to creator Peyo.

(the Smurfs as I knew and loved them)

From the previews, I thought Gargamel was going to be a bumbling bafoon, one of these over-the-top characters who might be ruined by the actor portraying him as he flailed around aimlessly in a ridiculous looking costume.  But Gargamel as a live person in today’s New York City was actually quite entertaining and even hilarious at times (If you grew up watching the Smurf cartoon like I did, watch for the way Hank Azaria runs as he portrays Gargamel – he imitates the cartoon character so well that it made me laugh out loud!).  I especially liked the inclusion of the little details from the cartoon – like seeing the Smurf cages that Gargamel always had lying in wait for when he finally caught the little guys.  There was backstory explained; everyone knows by now that Smurfette was actually created by Gargamel as Smurf bait, right?  The story line was cheesy but not unbearable even while it made several futile attempts at teaching positive life lessons to kids in the audience.  I could have done without the Katy Perry song reference (is “I Kissed a Girl really a song for kids?  I’ve never heard the song and don’t want to know), and Katy Perry as Smurfette’s voice didn’t really give any personality to the character anyhow – she was just a girl Smurf and nothing like her character in the cartoon.  Clumsy Smurf on the other hand, was a perfect 3d replica of his cartoon counterpart – both in voice and graphics.  I did stop watching the Smurfs sometime after the Smurf cousins (Smurflings) came in, so I have no idea where Gutsy Smurf came from (seems to be a brave Scottish Smurf complete with red sideburns and a kilt?).  I would have liked to see my personal favorite Smurf, Jokey, get more screen time in the movie.  On that subject, I don’t understand why the group of 6 Smurfs with the most screen time (the ones who get to go to NY) did not include such series regulars as Jokey, Greedy, Handy, Vanity or Hefty.  Actually, I didn’t see those Smurfs at all, but then again, we arrived late to the movie so maybe I missed their appearances.  The production staff also did an excellent job of utilizing aspects of modern technology to make funny jokes involving the Smurfs.  Case in point: see the wikipedia reference.

(My favorite Smurf, Jokey)

Overall, Smurfs was an entertaining film for the entire family – and there was a huge gap between my low expectations and my high level of enjoyment of this cute movie!  A must-see for anyone who has kids to take to a movie – bonus if you are a Smurf fan!

One more note – here is a list of characters I would like to see in the sequel:
Hogatha, Johan and Peewit, Clockwork Smurf, and Baby Smurf.  But please, NO SMURFLINGS!!

And oh yeah…   I did a search on my own blog to see if I had written about the I’m a Pink Toothbrush song from the Smurf’s 1979 album.  Turns out, I did include it in a blog post that I had written in March 2010, and my kids (and me still!) are big fans of this adorable tune.  It was really fun to read about my speculations on the Smurf movie in this blog post given the limited info I had that time on this “in production” project!  (if you read it, you should know that Quentin Tarentino was oringally cast as Brainy Smurf, but both actor and studio are quiet on why the pairing did not work out…)  So apparently I HAD heard of Gutsy Smurf – and wrote about it in my own blog a year and a half ago!

(modern Smurfs from the 2011 movie)

My Favorite Movie At The Drive-in

Posted in Movies on August 5th, 2010 and tagged ,

I was so excited to receive the newsletter from my local drive-in movie theater this week, and I’m so glad I checked it when I did – tonight there is a special showing of Wizard of Oz (which just happens to be my favorite movie of all time) at the drive-in!  I can’t wait to watch it under the stars!  I am so glad that I didn’t wait to open the newsletter; I can’t imagine how disappointed I would have been if I had missed the email or had something else planned!  I only checked it yesterday otherwise I would have put together a costume.  But that’s ok, I’m just happy to be going, and I will bring along my hard-cover coffee table book that just happens to have the full script printed inside it.  Boy, will that drive my fellow drive-in friends nuts, but then again, it’s not like I  need the script in front of me to recite the movie.  😉

I am so excited!!

Just Too Scary…

Posted in Kids, Movies on July 26th, 2010 and tagged , , ,

My son is newly 2 years old, and he has a favorite movie:  Monster House.  He asks for it by name, and he just loves it – even if some parts are so scary that he has to watch it from behind his hands:

Nightmare On… Elm Street?

Posted in Movies on May 26th, 2010 and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

We checked out the Nightmare on Elm Street remake a few weeks ago.  It was better than the Friday the 13th remake and the Halloween remake but not comparable to the Texas Chainsaw remake, which was very well done and better than the original, in my opinion.  Nightmare on Elm Street, not so much.  For starters, I don’t understand why the new Freddy Krueger was so short.  His burned face was much less scary than the original Freddy, and I have to say that having high school kids tower over him did take away some of the intended fright.  Also, Freddy’s back-story changed for the new version, which now includes allusions to child abuse of Freddy’s victims at a preschool rather than all of the terrorized kids being from Elm Street.  In fact, I don’t really know what Elm Street has to do with the new version of Nightmare on Elm Street.  Part of the reason we wanted to check this one out is because much of it was filmed in the suburbs of Chicago where we grew up, but we didn’t recognize anything, and my husband did not recognize which scenes were filmed in his former high school.  But not recognizing the filming locations was not what disappointed us most – the 2010 version of Nightmare on Elm Street is just not as scary as the original.  Sure, the special effects are better and the throwback and remakes of certain key scenes were done well and appreciated, but the movie just didn’t have the same effect.

We also recently took in the original My Bloody Valentine, the 1981 version, and it was a good horror movie.  I read afterward that much of it is actually filmed in real mines, which must have been really dangerous, and I wish I had known that before I watched the movie.  Many things were changed for the 2009 version, which I really enjoyed – probably my favorite modern day horror movie.  But to enjoy the original version was nice too.  We picked up the 2009 version on a sale at Walmart, and it came with both the 2D and 3D version and some glasses.  I’ve never had any luck with the old red/green 3D glasses technology, and this time was no exception – my vision is just too uneven, I guess.  It worked for my husband, but I ruined his fun because seeing everything in red and green was incredibly distracting for me.

We’ve also been watching the After Dark Horror Fest movies lately, and there have been too many to review, so I’ll just make quick lists of recommended vs. terrible ones for any horror fanatics reading my blog and looking for some opinions.

The Final
Kill Theory
Perfect Getaway (more thriller than horror, but good)
My Bloody Valentine 3D (2009) – especially if you can get the 3D to work for you at home.  The 3D for this one in the theater was amazing, and I really enjoyed my first horror movie 3D experience on the big screen when it came out.

Worth one viewing:
My Bloody Valentine (1981)
The Graves

Awful waste of time:
The Broken

And, I think I’ll throw this one out there separately since it’s not horror at all, but we also watched The Prestige again yesterday and it’s very good – especially the second time around.  It’s a story about two rival magicians that takes place in the 1890’s.  If you’re going to give it a try, pay attention!  Oh, and I would not look too closely at the imdb entry for it – there is too much that can be given away.  That’s all I’m going to say other than I highly recommend it, but again -it is in no way a horror film; we just watched it again recently which is why I put it in this horror-movie-laden post.

Look What They’ve Started…

Posted in Movies on May 19th, 2010 and tagged , , , , , , ,

If you’re a fan of Wicked, stop reading because the following post might offend you, by no means am I pulling any punches.  I had kind of a stressful day that I can’t post about, and then I read this article, so that was the icing on the cake.  Think I’ll take out my frustrations on pop culture – things that don’t really matter in real life.

I just read an offensive (to me) article detailing the no fewer than SIX Wizard of Oz spinoffs currently being developed in Hollywood.  Luckily for the world and movie fans abound, most of them won’t see the light of day, but unfortunately at least one or even a few will make it through production and be released into mainstream society, poisoning the legacy of Baum’s characters and the 1939 MGM cinematic masterpiece we true fans hold dear.  Before you think I’m overreacting, read the synopses I included below.  If you’re still not offended, do a google image search to dredge up the action figures from the Twisted Oz series, but make sure your kids aren’t in the room first.  What is this world coming to?

I bring Wicked into this because I blame the franchise – once someone decided to write a book imagining their own version of Baum’s characters, the door was blown wide open.  Sure, there have been uncountable Wizard of Oz spinoffs.  The Muppets had one, the Veggie Tales had one, and countless sitcoms from the last 7 decades had their shots at putting their main characters in versions of Munchkinland.  But not until Wicked took off in popularity have people really started abusing the integrity of Baum’s original characters and, more importantly to me, massacring the sweet and innocent 1939 MGM movie – my favorite movie for many reasons, the main one being how advanced in many ways it truly was for its day.  Sure, 1985’s debacle Return to Oz was no picnic, but did it really do any significant damage?  Not really, it was never really liked nor taken seriously.  I like to make this comparison:  take another movie classic, say, Gone With The Wind.  Now take an “author” (really just some who is literate enough to be able to put words together to  make a story) and imagine them creating a  “backstory” for the Civil War characters Rhett Butler and Scarlett O’Hara.  Let’s make Rhett, oh, let’s say he was an astronaut before he met Scarlett and let’s make her an ER doctor – that’s why she has trouble attaching to people; it’s because she loses them in the ER.  Doesn’t make much sense, does it?  Probably because Gone With the Wind is what it is –  an epic story set during the 1800’s when those professions did not exist as we know them today.  Do you see my point?  Wicked has the witches going to school and other ridiculous scenarios – I’m not going to falsely claim to be an expert as I’ve never read the book nor seen the show.  Perhaps if I saw the show, I would like it –  everyone seems to rave about it, and the costumes are supposed to be amazing.  Maybe so, but they should have left my favorite movie alone!  They could have started from scratch, wrote their own stories with their own characters, and I would have been perfectly happy to check out Wicked the show.  But they had to steal Baum’s ideas and MGM’s visions just to put a brand-name on a product to sell, and this my friends, is called “selling out”.

And as a result, we might be faced with the following junk polluting our theaters in the future (taken from this article from moviefone):

•’Surrender Dorothy’
Who’s behind it? Drew Barrymore’s production company, Flower Films
What’s it about? According to Pajiba, the latest version of the script, by Zach Helm (‘Stranger Than Fiction’) is an ‘Enchanted’-like story that sees the Wicked Witch of the West still alive and threatening to take over our world as well as Oz. It’s up to Dorothy’s great-great-granddaughter to figure out how to use the ruby slippers to defeat her.
Status: Barrymore’s been developing this project since way back in 1999, when she was still a fresh-faced ingenue who’d just played Cinderella in ‘Ever After.’ Today, Pajiba says, the 35-year-old is unlikely to star in it, but she would direct it as her follow-up to her directing debut in last year’s ‘Whip It.’ Pajiba imagines she might cast ‘Whip It’ star Ellen Page, who would indeed make a fine Dorothy. Still, with 11 years having gone by, it doesn’t seem like Barrymore’s exactly in a hurry to get this off the ground.

•’Oz the Great and Powerful’
Who’s behind it? Disney and ‘Alice in Wonderland’ producer Joe Roth
What’s it about? The script by Mitchell Kapner (‘The Whole Nine Yards’) tells the backstory of how the wizard went from earthbound carnival mountebank to becoming the fearsome and mysterious sorcerer of the Emerald City.
Status: Given the success of the Roth-produced ‘Alice,’ Disney is likely to fast-track this movie, which was formerly titled ‘Brick’ (as in “yellow”?), according to the Los Angeles Times. Now that the next James Bond movie has been postponed and his schedule freed up, Sam Mendes has been approached to direct and Robert Downey Jr. to star, reports FirstShowing. Neither has yet said yes.

Who’s behind it? Temple Hill, the production company behind the ‘Twilight’ movies
What’s it about? According to the Los Angeles Times, the script by Darren Lemke (‘Shrek Forever After’) is a faithful retelling of L. Frank Baum’s first novel in the saga, ‘The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.’ Imagine the Judy Garland movie, but with more action and no music.
Status: Coming from the New Line division of Warner Bros., this has the potential to launch a vast franchise based on the 22 ‘Oz’ books. Which is why it’s the most likely of the three competing ‘Oz’ projects at Warners (see below) to see the light of day.

•’The Twisted Land of Oz’
Who’s behind it? Comic book gorehound and toymaker Todd McFarlane (‘Spawn’)
What’s it about? Based on McFarlane’s own decidedly R-rated ‘Twisted Land of Oz’ line of figurines, his Oz includes a Scarecrow who’s torn apart by ravenous birds, a Tin Man who’s a junkpile of Edward Scissorhands-like limbs, a flesh-eating Lion who’s not at all cowardly, a Wizard who’s a gas-mask-wearing mad scientist, a carnivorous creature dubbed Toto after it eats Dorothy’s dog, and a nubile Dorothy who’s bound and molested by depraved Munchkins.
Status: There was confusion in the trade press (including some strewn by McFarlane himself) between this project and Josh Olson’s, (see below) since both were pitched to production company Thunder Road, with an eye toward distribution by Warner Bros. Last we heard from McFarlane (via MTV), back in September, he was grumbling over Thunder Road’s apparent decision to go with Olsen’s more family-friendly script instead of his own. McFarlane also claimed at one point that Michael Bay was interested in directing, but we imagine he’s a little too busy making movies based on another line of toys.

•’Oz: Return to the Emerald City’
Who’s behind it? Screenwriter Josh Olson (‘A History of Violence’)
What’s it about?In a plot that sounds a lot like ‘Surrender Dorothy,’ a descendant of Dorothy Gale (this time, her granddaughter) living in contemporary America (she’s a young associate at a top Chicago law firm) is called upon to defeat a new witch making trouble in Oz. Aiding the young woman are the Scarecrow, Tin Man, and Cowardly Lion that she’s been hearing her grandmother talk about for years.
Status: Olsen has denied ever being affiliated with the McFarlane ‘Oz,’ telling MTV in January that the script he delivered to Thunder Road and Warner Bros. was based on his own original pitch. Dakota Fanning was rumored at one time to be up for the younger Dorothy, but that rumor proved false (makes sense, since Olsen’s granddaughter character is an adult). Of course, both Olsen’s and McFarlane’s projects have to compete with Temple Hill’s for Warners’ favor.

Who’s behind it? Universal
What’s it about? It’s a film version of the Broadway smash about what Glinda the Good Witch and the Wicked Witch of the West were like when they were schoolmates, well before Dorothy showed up. (Think ‘Mean Girls’ with green face paint.) Winnie Holzman, who wrote the book for the musical, has also written the screenplay.
Status: Universal is a co-producer of the stage show and has owned the film rights since the play opened seven years ago. Despite an IMDB listing that cites a 2012 release date, there’s been no sign of progress beyond script stage. No one has been cast, though let’s hope this gets rolling before original stars (and recurring ‘Glee’ guest players) Kristin Chenoweth and Idina Menzel are too old to reprise their stage roles.

Am I A Denzel Fan?

Posted in Movies on April 22nd, 2010 and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

I’ve heard a lot of people say they are Denzel Washington fans, and I didn’t really get it.  But then I watched Inside Man, and  I enjoyed it.  I then saw Book of Eli in the theaters, which I really liked a lot, and it’s become one of my husband’s favorite movies of all time.

Last night we watched the 1998 movie Fallen, also starring Denzel, and it was one of the best crime-thrillers I’ve seen in a long time.  As usual with these types of movies, I hesitate saying too much because I don’t want to ruin anything for anyone.  Let’s just say that I highly recommend Fallen; especially if you like the genre; especially if you like Denzel.  Always intriguing; at times it was genuinely creepy, though never gory, and most importantly, it did not leave the audience distracted with guessing possible twists – just a good crime drama which left one waiting to see what unfolds next.  John Goodman, James Gandolfini, and Donald Sutherland all provide excellent performances rounding out the acting roster.  At one point, there was an expression on Denzel Washington’s face that was utterly perfect for the circumstance at hand, and that’s when I realized that I was starting to become a fan of his acting.  If you would have asked me before today who my favorite movie actor is, I would have said Tom Hanks.  I loved Forrest Gump, Splash, League of Their Own and Toy Story, and I thoroughly enjoyed a host of other Hanks films: The Terminal, Castaway, and Big just to name a few.  Hanks’ diversity, comedic abilities, and every-man qualities make him fun to watch.  So after thinking about all these great movies again, I guess I would still maintain Tom Hanks as my favorite movie actor, but because I judge movies more from a whole-picture perspective, Denzel’s films are starting to catch my eye – he knows how to pick ’em!

I’ve seen Bone Collector (push-knob car locks have never been the same), but it’s been a long time, and I don’t remember much about the movie except that I liked it (and those darn push-knob car locks).  So now, being a Denzel Washington fan, I will have to watch Bone Collector again.

So the point of this post is?  See Fallen – it’s good.  And we have SO broken the stinker movie trend around here.  Hallelujah!!  And thank you Denzel!

A Break From The Stinker Trend

Posted in Movies on April 16th, 2010 and tagged , , , ,

My husband and I have been watching some stinky movies lately.  Many of them have had something in common, but I don’t want to say which ones or what their common trait is for fear of making these movies predictable and even worse for people who might decide to watch  them.  I will just name the titles of the movies we’ve watched lately that weren’t any good along with some quick notes:

Edge of Darkness (recent Mel Gibson mess), Shutter Island (so looking forward to this one and it let me down), Memento (man loses memory and uses Polariods to remind himself of his mission in life), Fight Club (made us permanently question’s rating system – this one got an 8.8 and we hated it), The Skeleton Key (Kate Hudson voo-doo flick – need I say any more?), The Machinist (the best part of this movie was Christian Bale’s acting – what does that tell you?), Angel Heart (more voo-doo, this time from the 80’s with Robert DeNiro and “Denise” from the Cosby Show which will never be the same for me again – I saw more of Denise than I ever needed to see; there was little about this movie that wasn’t disturbing – why they are bothering with a remake in 2011 is way beyond me), Surveillance (I liked this one a little, but my husband did not.  One of the rare movies upon which we disagreed.  Bill Pullman was pretty good), The Collector (a horror movie that wasn’t quite as bad as the other mentioned above.  VERY gory, and the amount of squirms and gore did not outweigh the good things about the movie).

Some of those movies are newer and we saw them in the theater; others are older releases watched at home.  There just isn’t much coming to the theaters these days.  The Nightmare Elm Street remake is coming soon, but my hopes are not high for that one –  the Halloween remake was awful, and the redone Friday the 13th wasn’t much better.  I did enjoy My Bloody Valentine 3D that came out a few years ago, but then again, I never saw the original.

At least we’ve been offered a break from all the stinkers.  We saw the Steve Carell / Tina Fey comedy-adventure flick Date Night for our date night the other night, and it was enjoyable.  Better than I thought, actually.  Steve Carell plays an everyman suburban husband who takes his wife out for a date night, and they say they are another couple in order to get a table at a swanky restaurant.  Problem is, the couple they pose as are mixed up in no-good business – hijinks ensue.  Steve Carell wasn’t given much to work with for his character, but it amazes me how he brings life to every one of his roles and makes every character different from one another – how does he do that?

And surprisingly, we got a break from our stinker-streak for at home movies too with a Sarah Michelle Gellar suspense thriller that was actually quite enjoyable, despite my usual disdain for the actress.  It’s called Possession, but don’t let the title fool you – it was a pretty good suspense movie with a crummy title.  The movie follows a young couple who are very much in love and celebrating their first wedding anniversary.  Complicating their lives however, is the husband’s convict brother, who has just been released from prison and is staying with them.  There is a horrible car accident, and both brothers end up in comas with the brother-in-law waking up thinking he’s the husband…  sounds like a cheesy soap opera, but it was well done, and we liked it.  From what I’ve been reading, it’s a remake of a Korean movie called Addicted; I might have to check out the original.  There is also an alternate ending, but I’ll stick with the ending I saw – the alternate sounds dumb.

I’m just glad that we broke our stinker-streak, even if it did have to involve Sarah Michelle Gellar.  Consider this blog post your warning to stay away from the ones I listed above – some were almost bad enough to add to my “horrible movies” list; one that includes such bombs as The Love Guru and The Night Listener.  You’ve been warned!!

Shortest Movie Review Ever

Posted in Movies on March 21st, 2010 and tagged , ,

Just watched Fight Club – one of the worst movies I have ever seen.  I can’t believe we wasted over 2 hours of kid-less time on this piece of you-know-what.

The people who voted (yes, all 357,160 of them) for this on to give it an 8.8 out of 10 and made it #16 of their top 250 movies of all time should be ashamed – makes me hesitate to be advised by any of their ratings in the future.

I am not going to waste any more of my time writing or thinking about this movie.


Posted in Movies on March 17th, 2010 and tagged , , , ,

Here we go, another movie review – have you seen or even heard of a movie called Triangle (2009)?  It’s not a mainstream movie; it only got about 5,000 votes on
But my husband and I watched it the other night, and we both really enjoyed it – so much that I found it worthy of a little blog post.

So where do I start…  because as a reviewer on so eloquently said:

How to talk about “Triangle” without giving anything away? It’s a puzzle equal to that which the movie presents its audience because this isn’t your standard horror movie.

I think that is very true about this movie – it’s one of those that is a puzzle all the way through, and while many of these types of movies end up disappointing me in the end, Triangle is the exception.  It’s a movie where I could see the viewer getting more and more out of it each time he or she watches it, and I will definitely try watching it again.  If you’re interested in a real puzzle of a movie, check out Triangle – but don’t read too much on about it first.  And especially, DO NOT watch the trailer.  It’s better to watch it going in cold; knowing almost nothing about it, which is why I didn’t say much in this “review”.  I will only say that I recommend it as a very different type of movie-watching experience.  After you’ve seen it, you will want to read as many discussion boards about Triangle as you can; it’s really interesting to ponder the…  well, just see it, then we can talk 🙂

And one more interesting thing about Triangle – as I was reading the discussion boards, I came across comparisons between Triangle and an old poem called The Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Samuel Taylor Coleridge.  It seemed very strange to me that I had completely forgotten that I read The Rime of the Ancient Mariner way back when in school until I was reading about it the other day, which is when details of its plot flashed in my mind like déjà vu – an interesting thing to happen, considering the themes of the movie Triangle…

Night Of The Hunter

Posted in Movies on March 12th, 2010 and tagged , , , , , , ,

We recently came upon an old horror movie (1955) called Night of the Hunter.  And if you’ve noticed, I don’t really write movie reviews anymore – I watch a lot of movies and there is too much other stuff going on in my life…  but Night of the Hunter is surprisingly intriguing for a black-and-white horror flick, so I want to recommend it.

In Night of the Hunter, a little kid named Johnny is left with an incredibly adult responsibility when his father is arrested for robbing a bank and killed in prison – Johnny must now take care of his little sister Pearl and hide the stolen money – never to tell anyone where it is.  Johnny’s father talks in his sleep in prison, and his insane cellmate learns of the money and the kids.  The cellmate, played by Robert Mitchum, dons the personality of a preacher and manages to charm the childrens’ mother into making him their new stepfather, even though he is only interested in the hidden treasure.  What follows is a riveting cat-and-mouse game between the children and the bad guy, and while old-fashioned, the movie managed to become quite an intriguing horror / suspense film.  I would share the trailer since they have it on youtube, but apparently the producers were attempting to attract a different type of audience as the trailer plays up the very few sexual aspects of the film – which really isn’t representative of the film at all; the trailer completely misrepresents the film and that’s why I’m not going to show it.  There was good acting, great directing, and talented camera shots and cinematography that really helped to heighten the suspense.  Some of the characters are incredibly old-fashioned (a friend of the childrens’ mother tells her that she “can’t raise those children without a man”, suggesting that she find a man, ANY man to help her – this idea is completely irrelevant in today’s society where single moms are commonplace), but it’s easy and kind of fun to transport yourself back in time in order to sympathize and begin to understand the plight of these characters.  The movie is set in the Depression era; a time when kids were often more of a financial burden than their parents could handle.  In many cases, it was thought to be best for them if they were left to take care of themselves, often before they were teenagers.  This aspect of the movie also explains Johnny’s determination to take care of his little sister, as well as to explain other events in the movie that are best to be left unsaid here – I certainly don’t want to spoil anything.  Overall, Night of the Hunter is a riveting, classic horror movie experience that effectively transcends the decades-long gap between its release and modern horror movies – which all too often rely on blood, violence and gore to entertain.

After watching the movie, I looked up the actors on, and I was surprised to learn that young Johnny is played by Peter Graves – a popular actor best known to me as Capt. Clarence Oveur in the Airplane! movies.  It was quite novel to see him in a movie as a kid when I was familiar with his later-in-life acting roles…  And I was also surprised to see that the childrens’ mother was portrayed by the late Shelley Winters, an actress that I knew best as Roseanne’s Nana Mary on the 90’s sitcom Roseanne – no wonder I didn’t recognize her nearly 40 years earlier!

And a final note – Night of the Hunter is based on a novel, one I will have to add to my ‘books to read’ list…  er, make that my ‘books to read if I ever finish the Harry Potter series’ list.  🙂