Tag Archives: Chicago

Child’s Play: The Movie that has Haunted My Dreams

Frightening as always.

Chucky and the Child’s Play series has haunted my dreams ever since I was 8 years old. And, watching this movie again, it still sent chills down my spine. Leave it to movies of years past to make me want to piss myself when newer films today with all their special effects can’t do crap. What a cruel world. For those of you who don’t know, Child’s play is the story of a young boy who just wants a doll for a friend. Lo and behold, his mother comes through and finds him just the doll he wants. And he’ll regret that decision for the next two movies.

So the movie starts out like this. Old Wormtongue AKA Charles Lee Ray (Brad Dourif) is running from his ultimate

Say hello, Andy.

nemesis cop, Prince Humperdink AKA Detective Mike Norris (Chris Sarandon). The final face-off takes place in a toy store in some bad part of town and Chucky takes his voodoo training and places his soul in the body of a doll until he can later reclaim his life. And, a few weeks after, we find little Andy (Alex Vincent) watching his favorite cartoon, the Good Guy dolls. Pleading with his mother who busts tooth and nail to scrape through life for her son, Mrs. Barclay (Catherine Hicks) finds one from a sketchy drifter and his cart of goodies.

The events of the movie are amazingly supplemented by a big buildup to the point where you finally see Chucky’s true face. What I found more frightening was Chucky imitating the Good Guy doll he is inhabiting. “Hi I’m Chucky, wanna play?” in that sing-song voice of a demonic child haunts my dreams frequently. His eyes opening and closing reminds me of why I fear the technology known as animatronics. (Forget ever going on the

I can feel the poop in the pants already…

It’s a Small World After All ride ever again.) His blinks and innocent movements feign away from the evil animatronic face that hides beneath the facade. But when Catherine Hicks, mother of 7th Heaven swears her head off, you can bet Brad Dourif won’t let that bitch talk to him that way.

The movie turns into a wild goose chase of little Andy accompanying Chucky around the beaten streets of Chicago in search of a way to return to a human form. When it’s revealed that the worst must be done, it all comes crashing down for Andy. It’s a race against the clock for Mrs Barclay and Detective Norris

Your fate is sealed, in 7th Heaven, Catherine Hicks.

when they learn that Andy wasn’t lying, ever. As the tagline says, “You’ll Wish it was Only Make-Believe”, I’ve wished that for so long.

And not to mention the doll that Chucky is based on. Don Mancini must have drawn on some evil inspiration that graced his mind when he found Robert the Doll. Considered one of the evilest dolls on the face of the North American continent, Robert the Doll haunted Key West painter Robert Eugene Otto for his entire life. Talking to it and finding himself scared to death, Otto never left Robert’s side. Attempting to kill and curse anyone around him and even moving on his own, Robert the Doll to this day, being his old 104 year old self, will change his face to a mortifying, contortion of a grin. I was impressed with Tom Holland, slasher director extraordinaire, use of P.O.V. and a creepy sense of crawling around on the floor. The use of doll doubles mixed with actual animatronics has frightened me and will continue to do so as long as dolls exist in this world.

With this success this cult horror classic has created, there’s no wonder there are another 4 films after this one, and talk of a remake. Brad Dourif does a wonderful job of giving off a gruff thuggish voice and continues to do so. This movie went above and beyond the PG-13 rating and decided some F-bombs would be appropriate to show the extent of Chucky’s evil. This movie may be one of those B-rated horror films, but it broke ground for a kind of horror that freaks a lot of people out, dummies and dolls. If it frightens you, it’s done its job. And Child’s Play sure does that for me. Just for the poop in the pants, 7.4 out of 10.

And here’s the original trailer to set your bones on ice.

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Baby’s Day Out: My Slapstick Childhood Returns

I love this movie poster.

The second I saw that this film came on Netflix, I pooped my pants, very similar to what Baby Bink would’ve done (although they’re 18 now…) . This movie made me laugh so hard when I was younger and I really found it to be an endearing movie for children of all ages. Heck, I’m 21 now and I enjoyed it just as much as when I was 8. The Worton twins are adorable and have great movie presence for how young they are. It may have taken a lot of shots to get those adorable faces to do what they wanted, but they got the right shots. My childhood was not soon forgotten when I watched this movie again. I remembered every part.

Baby’s Day Out is the story of a baby in a suburb of Chicago. With his well-to-do family always wanting their child to be the center of attention, Laraine (Lara Flynn Boyle) and Bennington (Matthew Glave) want Bink’s picture in the newspaper. (They use such pretentious names to show that all they care about is high class image and money.) Three no-good lousy crooks find the photography company and take their place, posing as professionals. Their names? Joe Matengna, Joe Pantoliano, and Brian Haley. If only they could’ve gotten a third Joe/Italian gangster to fill out the trio…

The dastardly trio.

Baby Bink is kidnapped and the crooks demand a ransom. With the FBI on the job (such a high class mission right?), it’s only a matter of time before Baby Bink is found. But Baby Bink doesn’t need their help. He has the power of comedic timing and slapstick comedy and wit on his side. And this is the exact point where a lot of critics were lost on finding this film redeemable. It is cheesy, but at least they got a good cast to fill out the humor. Look, this is Joe Pantoliano, before Joe Pantoliano was Cypher from The Matrix. Yes, he did good work before, and after, but that was when Pantoliano came into my awareness.

Look at this cute baby. Staring death in the face.

And I have no problem with the cheesiness of this film. It can be cheddar for all I care, this movie appeals to the child’s audience and the child in all of us. And my inner child tells me I loved slapstick back in the day. This movie delivers it well, just like Home Alone. And apparently this did well in the box office… And in Southeast Asia… Weird.

So bring in the wonderful elements of great Italian actors, slapstick, and a cute baby, and this movie is gold. It is so endearing and the music sweeps you away into the children’s book that Bink is reliving. That’s what I liked about it, that element of magical whimsy. The magical sense of adventure that lies in the bottoms of all of our hearts is reinvigorated by a baby crawling around Chicago. Who knew?

This gets a bit ridonkulously funny.

And there are so many great scenes! The apartment rooftop scene screams of parkour gone wrong. (Just watched District 13: Ultimatum. Can’t get Parkour out of my head.) Matengna delivers his big boss with a boo-boo lines so well and, surprisingly, Pantoliano is a great buffoon. I love that he’s bald in this like he always is, it gives a great slapstick element to the trio. My favorite scene in the Primate house is wonderful and gets me every time. Not to mention the fire crotch scene (you’ll get what I mean when you watch this too and relive your childhood). With all things good and cute in this movie, who wouldn’t want to watch this for the coo’s and awwwww’s, mixed with a laugh in there for all ages? It’s a wonderfully nostalgic experience. A well worth it 8.6 out of 10 (by my childhood grading scale).

Look at this cute face. Check it.


The Rite

I gotta tell you, I’m a sucker for exorcist/devil related films. Any horror movie that tries new ways to prove the Devil walks the earth, I’m on board with believing it. These movies are usually more frightening than gore/slasher/paranormal films. Why? There are a lot of people out there who pray for their immortal souls. Why? Because demons and the Devil himself walk among us, waiting to corrupt us and enter our bodies. In The Rite’s case, no human being is an exception. We are all judge and condemned by spiritual forces. By God himself.

Now, I’m a realist. But I love losing myself in movies like this. Any preacher/demon interaction scenes give me goosebumps.

Colin O'Donoghue. Didn't know he was Irish...

A good shaking of the faith scene here and there is good too. And I love directors/writers who push the boundaries on exactly what it means to be possessed. Different symbolical entities that manifest themselves in unspeakable ways are always something of an interest of mine. Without a strong biblical background, I love the ways the Bible is used to push the envelope with demons and what they can do on a mortal plane.

But anyways, enough of my obsession with the possessed. This movie follows the religious experiences of one Michael Kovak (Colin O’Donoghue). I’ve not seen this guy in any other films, but I was quite impressed with his “I don’t believe in faith” performance and the scientific approach he took. But Michael has two options in his father Istvan’s (Rutger Hauer) eyes. He can either pursue the life of a mortician or that of a priest/preacher. Choosing the less morbid/path his father didn’t choose, Michael begins his training as a priest.

Michael's first experience with an exorcism.

But his faith has never taken any form in Michael. And so Michael’s religious teacher, Father Matthew (Toby Jones) (Great little performance from a great English actor.) suggests Michael take an exorcism class in Italy. It is here that, with no faith in Father Xavier’s (Ciaran Hinds) teaching, is asked to seek the exorcistic teachings of Father Lucas Trevant (Anthony Hopkins). And with this, Michael is shown the tricks of the Devil, and the demons in himself he must conquer.

Now, I need to extoll how good Anthony Hopkins performance is. For the first half of the movie, he plays the nonchalant exorcist. This guy goes around curing people of the Devil himself, no big deal. This guy could care less about whether or not Michael believes in the Devil. He plays the carefree teacher who doesn’t care about his pupil. But then, out of nowhere, due to a shaken faith, Anthony Hopkins channels straight Hannibal Lecter. Could not believe where this came from (can’t tell). But you have to watch how amazingly evil Anthony Hopkins becomes. (Interesting note, there’s a mention of a “Welsh priest.” Coincidence that a movie based on true events would include a role with a Welsh older man? Gotta be fate, or gotta be Hopkins.)

Another little kudos for this movie: special effects. There are 3 scenes in which computer graphics are

Anthony Hopkins. Are you scared yet?

employed. That’s it. Everything else: make-up artists/actual tricks of the camera. When a movie can pull of subtle elements of horror without overdoing the special fx function, then it deserves to be noticed. I feel as if this movie was overlooked as far as horror movies go. This movie has a great balance of horror and plot. Something to watch and take stock in. And that’s worth the few intense horror scenes that’re shown. This movie almost felt like it was the prequel/setup for The Exorcist. (Michael Kovak goes to Chicago to be a priest. Coincidence?)

Pray for your sins. The Devil is coming.

Great Italy shots of Rome and Vatican City. Beautiful buildings to function as B-roll between scenes. The buildings looked (could have been?) Actual religious buildings in Vatican City. It was a great visual experience. I give credit to Mikael Hafstrom, the director of this film. Having some horror movies under his belt already, this Swede really has it down in his 13th film. So thank you, all that worked on this exorcism film. It was great. 8.8 out of 10.


Pirates of the Caribbean: On Decent Tides

So I thought I’d give the last of the Pirates movies a go and I found I wasn’t disappointed. Despite a staggered cast without Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightly, this movie still finds a way to deliver. (I guess they really weren’t that much of a loss. But really, what have they been doing lately?) Johnny Depp has taken up the sword and three-cornered hat again as Jack Sparrow and he doesn’t disappoint. Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides picks up with Sparrow’s last excursion on the high seas in pursuit of the Fountain of Youth. And despite the years, this movie is just as good. (Don’t bother with the 3-D.)

So Jack Sparrow has been caught again by the English and it looks like it will be a short drop with a sudden

Cruz and Depp. Match made in Heaven?

stop. But Jack has a plan. He’s back in London for one reason. To discover who’s impersonating him and why. And he does find that out. It’s Angelica, his former love. (Jack Sparrow has many former loves, but I guess that’s beside the point.) He really did love Angelica (Penelope Cruz) and this fact ropes him into her wild adventure. And her wild adventure comes with baggage. Major baggage. Angelica has acquired the help of Blackbeard (Ian McShane), the new Barbosa and ruthless pirate of the sea. Their goal is the Fountain of Youth, and its Blackbeard/Angelica vs the English (plus Barbosa) vs the Spanish Armada vs the one and only Captain Jack Sparrow.

What a wild ride...

And what a thrill ride it is. The chases, the mermaids, the magical island (Florida, I think) and the start of an actual myth that has kept the world searching. It all adds up to an amazing little roller-coaster of action and adventure. I’m sure it’s fine in 3-D, again, it’s just as good in 2-D, and the special effects really shows it. (I expected something with zombies, but I was disappointed.) The mermaid scene is quite cool and all the stunts look top notch. And the acting is what you expect from a Pirates film.

Johnny Depp is classic Jack Sparrow. Penelope Cruz is kind of annoying (I don’t picture a hispanic female pirate would have anything to do with the Pirates movies) but I guess she fulfills her purpose. Geoffrey Rush was amazing as Barbosa, the whole reason I love Pirates of the Caribbean. His witty,

Geoffrey Rush. You show that Jack Sparrow.

devil-may-care attitude and  amazing personality really brings a whole other level to the rapport of the films. Ian McShane (a respectable actor) really leaves something to be desired. I felt as if he was doing his own imitation of Barbosa, and it just wasn’t as good. Sam Claflin plays a small part as some sort of pastor who falls in love with a mermaid. A comment on religion vs magical realism? You tell me. And Richard Griffiths, good old Uncle Vernon of HP, plays a small part as King George.

Rob Marshall (Director of Nine and Chicago… what?) Delivers a good addition to the Pirates franchise. The story is sound and gives another reason for everyone to go to Disney World and have a go on the Pirates of the Caribbean ride. And it sure is worth it. If the movies are any attest to the ride and the entity that is Pirates of the Caribbean, you should check this movie out (DVD or in theaters, doesn’t matter.), it’s worth viewing. 7.6 out of 10.