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Saturday, February 25, 2012

The Hand That Rocks The Cradle


I debated long and hard over posting this movie. Technically it's a thriller but it contains some horror elements and a terrific death scene. So I present The Hand That Rocks The Cradle an official Cinemania Horror Pass.

  The Hand That Rocks The Cradle is a 1992 thriller starring Annabella Sciorra and Rebecca De Mornay. The movie centers on Claire (Sciorra), a pregnant woman who learns that her obstetrician has been molesting her. She turns him in leading to his suicide and the miscarriage of his wife, Peyton (De Mornay). A vengeful Peyton takes a job as their nanny, intent on taking Claire's family from her.

  Rebecca De Mornay is perfect as Peyton. She's intense, genuinely scary, and can play a psycho without being over the top. She makes the simple task of eating an apple seem sinister.

  While De Mornay owns the film, I have to give props for Sciorra stuck with the usually thankless role as the protagonist. Sciorra brings a certain vulnerability and feistiness to her role that makes you genuinely root for her.

   Ernie Hudson plays Solomon, a special needs handyman who rooms with Claire's family. He's not saddled with the stereotypical and often insulting traits that generally shows up with special needs characters. He's actually portrayed as a person not a stock character. Julianne Moore also stars but her character is pretty boring and showcases none of Moore's talents. Trekkies take note, John de Lancie a.k.a Q plays Claire's rather handsy doctor.

   This film contains one of the most awesome deaths in cinema. Peyton rigs a greenhouse to crash in on Clare but is forced instead to use it to take out Moore whose character has learned Peyton's identity. It's wonderfully shot and actually comes off as realistic.

   The only thing really wrong with the film is the lighthearted family scenes. The movie constantly forces the point home on how perfect and happy the family is. Not only are they redundant, they really don't move the plot along.

  For instance we are treated to a scene where the father and daughter sing an off key rendition of HMS Pinafore. Cute, maybe necessary to the plot, hell no. This movie seems obsessed with the works of Gilbert & Sullivan, music from Pirates of Penzance also makes an appearance.

   If you haven't seen this film, I'd recommend doing so. It's well done with some great acting and a decent if rather schmaltzy ending.



Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The Rage: Carrie 2

  Had they obliterated all references to Carrie, The Rage would have been a decent little B movie. Piggybacking off another more successful franchise only hurt the film in my humble opinion.

   The Rage focuses on Rachel, who like her predecessor is an unpopular outcast with telekinetic abilities. And why not? She's Carrie's long lost sister after. That just annoys me to no end. In both the book and movie, Carrie's father died when she was young. Yet somehow decades later, he existed long enough to father another child.

   Why not have her be Carrie's niece? That would have been more realistic or even a throw away line on he left Carrie's mom and she simply lied about him dying. The Rage is paint by numbers, Rachel is an outcast, Rachel gets harassed, Rachel gets revenge. And to add insult to injury, a love story featuring the most boring characters on earth is shoehorned in.

   Rachel is simply not likable or  even interesting. Emily Bergl plays Rachel, she is normally a good actress but you simply can't see it with the mediocre script. One of the London twins stars her love interest, the sober one  I think.

  Amy Irving reprises her role as Sue Snell from the previous film. She doesn't really do much accept perform as a greek chorus. We now know whatever happened to Sue, we just don't care. And her death is pointless and kind of insulting. The ending is anti-climatic and the tacked on scare ending was unnecessary.

  The film only seems to be an excuse to parade around popular television actors and show off their CGI. Avoid this one and watch the far better miniseries that came out in 2002. It stars Angela Bettis who in my opinion is the best Carrie to ever grace the silver screen.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Don't Go To Sleep

   I'll admit to being a snob when it comes to made-for-tv horror films. They tend to be bland films totally devoid of anything truly scary. Especially in the '80s where did not have the safe harbor that cable television would later provide.

    Don't Go To Sleep is a 1982 film starring Valerie Harper, Dennis Weaver, and Ruth Gordon. It concerns a  family dealing with the tragic death of their eldest daughter. After moving to a new house, the younger sister claims to hear the voice of the dead girl who seemingly wants revenge.

    This film is anything but bland, it is atmospheric, genuinely creepy, and keeps the viewers on their toes. The deaths are pretty well done and the acting is top notch. One shining star of the film is Valerie Harper. Harper is a great actress unfortunately the lion's share of her work were ensconced in sitcom hell. Very few realize that she can do more than quack wise to canned laughter.

   The movie however truly belongs to the kids, especially Robin Ignacio who plays the haunted younger sister, Mary. Ignacio is creepy as hell and it helps the film distinguish itself as a truer horror films. It's a shame that she quit acting so we never got to see how she fared as an adult.

  Kristen Cumming plays Jennifer and while her role is mostly off screen, she herself puts in a couple of scary scenes especially at the end. The ending in my opinion was top notch, it was unexpected and freaky. So freaky that this self-proclaimed horror nut actually slept with the light on after seeing this. This is a rare movie but can be found online. It's a must for any horror fan, young or old.