To save his declining business, Chris Cringle, also known as Santa Claus, is forced into a partnership with the U.S. military : There’s something strangely wonderful watching the legendary Mel Gibson play Santa in a Hitman Christmas movie that’s insanely dark yet mighty festive, filmed with lots of heart, a teeny-weeny bit of tongue in cheek and a wickid mind by those Nelms brothers who gave us Small Town Crime a few years back : along for the Sleigh Ride is the sublime Walton Goggins who collects authentic Santa pressies whilst filling out his calendar carrying out hits for anyone who requires his demented service, the stunning Marianne Jean-Baptiste who’s crazy good as Ruth Cringle, Santa’s devoted wife and Eric Woolfe aka: Elf 7 the foreman in Santa’s workshop : EVERY scene between Marianne and Mel is an absolute delight, talk about chemistry, the film’s finale is bloody and Goggins Skinny Man is central to all the mayhem and Chance Hurstfield who’s spoilt and cruel Billy is fantasic : so if you love your festive movies to include a side dose of Christmas magic featuring elves, cookies and that ever so sweet naughty or nice seasonal message mixed with a rather dark and brooding evil tone then FATMAN should be earmarked as a must watch this Festive Season : IT’S BRILLIANT ★★★★
It’s always tough when listing any Top Movie List but as this will become a steady feature on the site I have decided to start Our Top Four with the enormous talent that is Grace Patricia Kelly : I started my obsession & collecting movies during the early 80s, films from all era’s & genre’s, facinated in general by anything and everything movie orientated and I remember watching Dial M for Murder one afternoon whilst home from school and being mesmerised by this screen goddess, this lady that oozed sex appeal yet had this commanding persona one that filled the screen with a kind of movie magic, I guess Grace Kelly became my first movie love and what a magnificent yet short career this American Sweetheart gave us : I hope you enjoy my ramblings….
Born on the 12th November 1929 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania GRACE KELLY not only had the beauty & elegance of a Hollywood Leading Lady but also had the acting chops of a high quality veteran working & becoming goods friends with the likes of Alfred Hitchcock on three occassions, Rear Window, Dial M for Murder and To Catch a Thief and also winning the Academy Award for Best Actress in the wonderful George Seaton picture The Country Girl, this was viewed as a major shock, many thought Judy Garland would win that year for her turn in A Star is Born : in her short Hollywood career Grace would star with Gary Cooper in the acclaimed western High Noon, William Holden in The Bridges of Toko-Ri and Clark Gable in Mogambo : in 1956 Grace Kelly married Prince Rainier ending her love affair with the screen until her death in 1982
One of my favorite Grace Kelly quotes : Mr. Hitchcock taught me everything about cinema. It was thanks to him that I understood that murder scenes should be shot like love scenes and love scenes like murder scenes
Number 2 of My Top 31 Horror Movies : After a struggling writer get’s a job looking after the Overlook Hotel as a caretaker for the winter, something happens to him and his family in extreme & unforgiving ways : Based on Stephen King’s best selling novel of the same name and directed by Stanley Kubrick THE SHINING is an unforgettable journey into the mind of addiction, isolation, family and supernatural terror that has effected me over the years since it’s release back in 1980, I don’t think I’ve ever drooled over or talked about a movie more than this horror masterpiece : very much like Jaws that was written by Peter Benchley The Shining is an example where the movie is better than it’s original source and the changes they made when bringing it to the screen were not only in my eyes justified but add so much to the film’s scare factor, it’s scale and overall stigma : take the main differences for example, the infamous twins that scare the life out of Danny in the movie are not in the book, the blood filled elevators spilling out into the hallway is not in the book, the atmospheric maze and clever icy cold climax is not in the book and the words Jack was typing all Work And No Play Makes Jack A Dull Boy is not in the book, of course I have always been of the opinion that writers should never allow their work to be messed with & for some reason Stephen King allowed big chunks of his book to be altered, but I do believe that the changes made add so much to the terrifying nature of Kubrick’s masterpiece that watching The Shining without these would be a poorer experience : in fairness as with the Top Five Movies on the list The Shining could easily be Number One, it’s scares me because it’s about a family, their isolation and the effect The Overlook has on them all through the harshest of winters in Colorado : from it’s opening shots of the camera following Jack’s car up the mountain road to The Overlook accompanied by it’s hair raising score, Jack breaking down the bathroom door with an axe whilst reciting Little pigs, little pigs, let me come in. Not by the hair of your chiny-chin-chins? and the epic confrontation on the stairwell that involves a baseball bat there are just so many memorable scenes in The Shining but one of them always manages to mess me up and it’s when Jack chastises Wendy for disturbing his place of work in the hotel, you can see the pain etched onto Wendy’s face as her husband says “Wendy let me explain something to you, whenever you come in here and interupt me your breaking my concentration, your distracting me….” the scene is emotional as you not only start to fear for Wendy’s safety but also feel sorry for her and the way that she is being treated, it’s scary because you are now seeing the changes manifesting themselves in Jack and it’s sensational because of it’s deliverance by two actors on top of their game in Nicholson and Duvall : other factors that make The Shining such an amazing movie experience range from it’s eye catching us of color, including The Gold Room’s bathroom with it’s stunning red decor, Room 237’s evocative green & orange bathroom & the mesmerising carpeted hallways throughout, a terrific performance from Danny Lloyd who plays Danny, those tricycle scenes are just Iconic and his psychic abilities lend to some rather creepy, blood soaked images & that moment Wendy is trying to comfort her son and then sees the word REDRUM reversed in the bedroom mirror is unbelievably chilling : overall The Shining is an emotional rollercoaster ride, a character driven horror piece that’s as visually disturbing as it is stunning ★★★★★
Sean Connery was born in Edinburgh, Scotland in 1930 and died in The Bahamas this morning in 2020 : the film world has lost a legend, a hero to many including myself and an actor that spanned a 60 year career….. he escaped from Alcatraz, was a British Secret Agent, an Irish-American cop, a Soviet Submarine Captain, an Immortal Swordsman, was King Arthur, Robin Hood and Indiana’s dad….. may you rest in peace Big Tam…..
Number 16 of My Top 31 Horror Movies : A group of people barricade themselves in an old farmhouse to remain safe from a bloodthirsty, flesh-eating breed of monster who are ravaging the United States. : “They’re coming to get you, Barbra!…” : There’s good zombie films and then there’s George A Romero’s 1968 ghoulfest NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD : crafted in black & white with a runtime of 96mins this slice of horror is pure suspense, alongside a towering performance full of energy & style by New Yorker Duane Jones & scares that would make most of today’s horror films blush Night of the Living Dead is high calibre filmmaking, by a director at his most raw & potent best : I recently rewatched the restored Criterion edition and was reminded (like I am every year) on how creepy the movie holds up, from it’s unique appearance, how fiendishly evil the undead look to the films unsettling graveyard and old farmhouse shot’s with it’s black-and-white filming only adding extra spice to the unnerving viewing experience : Judith O’Dea’s Barbra is terrific, the way she shows us her character’s shock after loosing her brother in the cemetary attack and the terror she’s overcome with is quite chilling : I love the scene in the movie which sees Harry coming up from the basement and arguing with Ben on why they should all be barricaded in down below, Hardman & Jones have the floor mostly to themselves and it’s all quite riverting, Tom & Judy’s ill fated trip to collect some gas from the barn is also one my movie highlights, from it’s chaotic build up, big explosion to the aftermath of Harry locking Ben out of the house to be breathtaking : since it’s release Night of the Living Dead has spawned a zombie franchise and countless other immitations but for me Romero’s original beats all others hands down and is still a spine-chilling masterpiece ★★★★★
Number 19 of My Top 31 Horror Movies : After switching his child at birth in an Italian Hospital, an American ambassador & his wife start to suspect that the child they are raising could actually be the Antichrist : From the nanny hanging herself in dramatic style at a child’s party, Father Brennan being impaled by a lightning rod from the church roof, the vicious attack by the rottweilers in the cemetery, Lee Remick’s window plunge to Warner’s decapitation THE OMEN has a darkness about it that scared the hell out of me growing up and still does today : I love horror and films that deal with the supernatural and the Devil and they don’t come much better than Richard Donnor’s The Omen, an eerie, slow building low budget chiller that spawned four sequels, a remake and won the great Jerry Goldsmith his first & only Oscar after 18 nominations for original score : my favorite scene in the movie is when Thorn played by Gregory Peck discovers the 666 on his son’s head and is then subsequently attacked by the nanny, the whole scene packs a punch from it’s suspense to the ferocious attack : if you’ve never seen The Omen the film comes highly recommended, it’s not only a creepy bone chilling movie experience but with a cast that includes Peck, Remick and Warner it would be crazy to ignore : SUPERB ★★★★★
Number 21 of My Top 31 Horror Movies : The film follows a married couple that haunted by a series of mysterious occurrences after the death of their young child : I’ve never had children but everytime I revisit this grief stricken horror movie I can’t stop thinking about it for days after, it’s truly haunting and it’s not just the death of the young child it’s pretty much everything about the film, from it’s dubious looking characters, Daphne Du Maurier’s dark & mysterious story, the down trodden city of Venice that gives the movie it’s atmospheric look just as Corwall did for Du Maurier’s ghostly Rebecca, the twisting narrow streets and murky canals of the Italian city are brought to life, in haunting and surreal fashion by frequent Roeg collaborator Anthony Richmond and Julie Christie & Donald Sutherland with two of the most authentic, enriching performances I have ever seen, their onscreen chemistry is beautiful to watch : Nicolas Roeg’s Don’t Look Now is one of the most memorable, shocking & scary horror movies that’s graced the screen & if you get the chance may I recommend the Criterion Edition as it’s utterly gorgeous and contains lot’s of fabulous extras too ★★★★★
Number 24 of My Top 31 Horror Movies : When five friends arrive at a remote cabin in the woods for a little vacation, little do they expect the horrors that await them : I have rewatched Drew Goddard’s THE CABIN IN THE WOODS several times since the big screen back in 2011 and each & every time I have found something new to smile about : from Goddard & Whedon’s FRESH, FUNNY & ORIGINAL script to that bizzare feeling your watching two movies wrapped up in one it’s almost like an R rated Twilight Zone episode, it just keeps getting better and better, so much so that it recently made My Top 20 Movies of the Decade : The Cabin in the Woods is so far removed from their work together on Buffy the Vampire Slayer it’s actually insane to think it’s from the same team, but when it sinks in and you’ve watched it a few time the penny drops and you realise HELL YEAH this has their stamp it’s just on a different level, a more sadistic, crueler and blood splattered level : The Cabin in the Woods has so many horror layers and each time you peel one away the next is scarier, first you get the old garage attendent who’s creepy as fuck and at this point I would have turned for home, then it’s the cabin with it’s remote location, double sided mirrors and a goddam cellar and then the monsters start to come out to play, one by one each scarier and more violent than the next… well you get the picture….. it’s brilliant : the film is just everything you’d want from a horror movie, it’s scary, sexy and relentless, I mean watching Jules make out with the wolf is just…..wtf just happened have I been smoking some of Marty’s drugs or what?, the pair of Amy Acker & Fran Kranz add so much greatness and nostalgia to each scene their part of, the way the story arc twists and turns like a Rubik Cube is utterly bonkers and not since Wes Craven gave us Scream have I seen a better horror lead than Kristen Connolly, she’s fearless, gorgeous, takes no shit and she just owns her character : WHAT A MOVIE !! ★★★★★
Number 27 of My Top 31 Horror Movies : Whilst at the local zoo an American man falls for a Serbian illustrator, who fears that she will turn into a cat person if they are intimate together : Scary movies come in all guises and Jacques Tourneur’s RKO masterpiece CAT PEOPLE is one of the many examples, that you don’t necessarily have to see the horror coming to be petrified of it’s existence : I’ve always be a huge fan of producer Val Lewton and his stable of great horror movies for RKO pictures, films such as I Walked with a Zombie, Ghost Ship, Isle of the Dead, The Leopard Man and of course Cat People and it’s sequel The Curse of the Cat People made use of great light, shadows and rolling fog combined with the Golden Age maestro Roy Webb and his unbeatable spine-chilling scores : Cat People was filmed in 18 Days and for me is the finest example of that era, a terrific horror with some unsettling scenes to drool over, or in my case hide from : two such scenes involve the wonderful Jane Randolph and her character Alice, the first sees her leaving a cafe and being followed by Simone Simon‘s Irena, the sound of both of their footsteps and the sparsely lit pavement that Alice follows sets the scene in RKO atmospheric tradition, she’s panicking & constantly looking over her shoulder and then she then starts to run as if something is chasing her, terrified, out of breathe…. this moment in the film is giddy perfection, suspense of the highest order and so typical of it’s time that I will never get bored of watching : in the second scene we find a Alice alone in her hotel complex going for a swim in the basement’s pool when she’s startled by a young cat and a scary shadowy outline that overhangs the stairwell, before we know it Alice is alone and in the centre of the swimming pool, the camera-work is sensational during this scene circling the pool as the shadows illuminate & drip off the walls on all sides as the sound of a wild cat echoes around the pool, then Alice starts to scream…. for me it’s the movies highlight and it’s most unsettling moment too and executed with heart stopping precision : I loved revisiting Cat People on the restored Criterion edition, it truly is a horror masterpiece ★★★★½
It was tough but here it goes : Christopher Nolan’s Top 8 Movies in order : (1) MEMENTO : 2000 : Nolan’s least pretentious movie, was shot for $9 million in less than a month, it’s story is exciting, fresh & edge of the seat and to this day it’s the filmmaker’s finest achievment with great turns by Guy Pearce & Joe Pantoliano : (2) THE PRESTIGE : 2006 : a hidden gem that I like to annually revisit & then think about for days after : Christian Bale & Hugh Jackman are immense as is Rebecca Hall who gives a stella turn playing Borden’s wife, from the sets, sound & story the film’s pure magic : (3) INCEPTION : 2010 : It’s been 10yrs and I still find myself marvelling at the effects, the rotating sets & Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s gravity fight scene which is so awesome to watch : breathtaking cinema built around a beautiful love story : (4) INTERSTELLAR : 2014 : Nolan’s ambitious scifi thriller blew me away whilst tugging at my heart strings from start to finish, the scene of Coops as he watches the clips from back home are tough, that enthralling docking sequence & the enormity of the tidal wave scenes are stunning : Hoytema’s work on this is quite simply wow : (5) THE DARK KNIGHT RISES : 2012 : Darkness rains down on Gotham & I for one loved the chaos & the ride Nolan brings to this trilogy ending masterpiece : in Tom Hardy’s Bane Batman has met his most demented nemesis & that delicious Talia twist in it’s finale gave the franchise the explosive ending it deserved : (6) INSOMNIA : 2002 : showcases the masterclass that is Al Pacino, his performance captures every essence of Will Dormer and it’s up there amongst the actors best work : Of course Wally Pfister’s DP and his canvas of British Columbia doesn’t help either – a tense, character driven remake that still holds up well today : (7) BATMAN BEGINS : 2005 : has sheer depth, towering action scenes, Liam Neeson & Cillian Murphy’s villainous pair, Michael BLOODY Caine, a cameo by Lucy Russell & of course Nolan’s ace in the pack Christian Bale who’s easily the “best actor” that’s played our Caped Crusader : (8) THE DARK KNIGHT : 2008 : Heath Ledger’s Joker waddling out of the hospital dressed in nurse atire as it explodes is one of many highlights from Nolan’s stupendous action packed sequel : lots of love here for Aaron Eckhart’s Harvey Dent & Batman’s custom made bike is craaazy good too !! (also worth mentioning that I really enjoyed Dunkirk, Following and of course Nolan’s latest Tenet)
Aweful News : the Iconic Movie Star Olivia De Havilland has died aged 104 : in my eye’s they don’t come much better than Livvie, a Golden Age Beauty who graced the screen in over forty feature films, winning two Academy Awards and starring alongside some of the very best in the movie world : One of my favourite quotes of hers was in 1999 where she commented over Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother “I want to follow her example and live many years longer. I consider every birthday a victory” well Livvie you sure did, rest in peace Legend……
As you can tell from this movie blog or my social media feed I was born a Cinephile, I have this passion for all things film : I watch, collect and talk about the movies, The Good, The Bad and The Ugly things that I’m passionate about : My love stretches to every genre, from the western to scifi, from the 30s to modern day, Cagney to DiCaprio, Foster to Hepburn, Movies are my crush, my excitement and I’m at my happiest surrounded by them : Last year someone posted a question “What is your Mount Rushmore of Film Directors?” I know we all have different views on this and that’s more than fine, but for me the four filmmakers and their respective filmographies that have consistently made me tick, given me the goosebumps & excelled in their work are Steven Spielberg, James Cameron, Quentin Tarantino & Martin Scorsese what’s yours?
Here’s 3 great Behind the Scene shots from 1968’s Once Upon a Time in the West – Directed by Sergio Leone and stars : Henry Fonda, Claudia Cardinale, Charles Bronson, Jason Robards & Woody Strode : A mysterious stranger with a harmonica teams up with a notorious gunslinger to protect a beautiful widow from a ruthless assassin working for the railroad in the old west : The late great Ennio Morricone composed the musical score and it’s one his finest in my opinion.
After serving time in prison a 47-year old Al Capone starts suffering from dementia and is haunted by his violent past – Blurring his past with the present comes a facinating character study into one of the most evil gangsters of all time – Josh Trank’s CAPONE is an absorbing watch, with flashes of violence & brilliance that shows once again the might of Tom Hardy and the formidable work of Linda Cardellini – along with the film’s injection of black humor such as Capone’s fishing meltdown alongside Matt Dillon and the brilliant Tommy Gun scene you also get to feel quite sad for this monster as you watch his final moments decend into lunacy, incontinence and utter mayhem – My only criticism is that CAPONE felt 30mins too short, Trank could have delved further into Capone’s fascinating backstory, more carnage and maybe let the viewer discover a little more about his wife and best friend Mae Coughlin (maybe a prequel Josh?) but that being said the film is outstanding, well written and almost Kubrick in style and I for one can’t wait to revisit Capone many more times ★★★★½