Wednesday, July 27, 2011

My Love for the Vampyr

As many of you probably know, I love horror films. I also love anything, from shows to stories to films, that involve vampires. My love for vampires increased even more due to Carl Theodor Dreyer's Vampyr (1932).

The film follows a young traveller, Allan Grey, during his visit to an old inn in a European village. During the night, a strange old man wanders into his room and leaves a package with a note that it is not to be opened until he, the old man, has died. Later on, Allan witnesses the elderly man's murder, which prompts him to open the parcel the man left behind in his possession. What he finds in the package is proof to the existence of vampires and that one of them is on the loose, which means that no one is safe. How long will it be until the vampire strikes again?

I love Vampyr because of its grainy cinematography, editing tricks, and haunting score create a dreamlike and eerie tone of terror right from the beginning. I love horror films like this. It's more psychologically terrifying than 'scare you to death with jumpy moments and gallons of bloody gore' terrifying. It's definitely not your typical vampire film. Watch it and see for yourself.

Friday, July 22, 2011

'Last Night, I Dreamt I Went to Manderley Again': Rebecca (1940)

The other day, I was thinking about how strange it would have been to be the second Mrs. de Winter. It would have been awful! No one called her by her first name. In fact, her name is not mentioned once in the entire film. Of course, her name isn't really important because the film (and the novel by Daphne Du Maurier) is supposed to be focused on the power of Rebecca.

Rebecca is about a meek woman who, while visiting Monte Carlo with her unpleasant employer, meets the man of her dreams, the handsome and wealthy Maxim de Winter. She and Max quickly fall in love and get married they go to his large country estate in Cornwall known as Manderley. Once there, the second Mrs. de Winter realizes that her husband is still seems to be tormented by the death of his first wife, Rebecca, who died in a boating accident the year before. In fact, it seems that Rebecca still has a strange hold on everyone in Manderley. No one, especially the creepy housekeeper Mrs. Danvers, seems to think that the second Mrs. de Winter can live up to the greatness of the lovely Rebecca. However, was Rebecca really that wonderful?

Joan Fontaine and Laurence Olivier were perfectly casted in this film; they had great chemistry together. It's surprising to me that, in real life, Laurence treated Joan horribly. Apparently, he really wanted Vivien Leigh, his future wife, to play the role of the second Mrs. de Winter. Personally, I don't think Vivien would have done well playing the second Mrs. de Winter. She definitely more like the Rebecca character. Unsurprisingly, Joan acted more timidly when she was around Laurence. Hitch noticed this and decided to make her act even more anxious and shy by informing her that it wasn't just Laurence who hated like her, everyone on set did. She believed him and as a result became extremely shy and uneasy, thus delivering the perfect performance as the second Mrs. de Winter.

The creepiest performance award goes to the woman who played Mrs. Danvers. Wow, that lady is scary! Her obsession with Rebecca is extremely intense. The scene that displays the intensity of her obsession the most is when she shows the second Mrs. de Winter Rebecca's room.

Rebecca is Hitchcock's first film in Hollywood. David O. Selznick had a lot of influence on this film. He wanted Hitch to stay true to Du Maurier's novel due to its popularity. The film was nominated for 11 Academy Awards in 1941. It won 2, one for Best Picture and the other for Best Cinematography, Black-and-White.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Happy Birthday: Natalie Wood

Natalie Wood would have been 73 years old today. TCM showed some of her movies today, I was able to catch a little of Splendor in the Grass (1961), which is one of my favorites of hers. Natalie's acting career began when she was a child and she was very busy at that time. She starred in one of the most famous Christmas films of all time, Miracle on 34th Street (1947), alongside Maureen O'Hara. When Natalie was 16 years old, she got her big break when she starred alongside James Dean and Sal Mineo in Rebel Without a Cause (1955). Her performance as Judy earned her an Academy Award nomination as Best Supporting Actress. In 1961, she starred in two films that were big hits, one being Splendor in the Grass and the other being West Side Story. She received her second Academy Award nomination for her performance in Splendor in the Grass. After that came Gypsy (1962) and Love with the Proper Stranger (1963), she received a third and final Academy Award nomination for her role in Love with the Proper Stranger.

Natalie's life came to an end on November 29th, 1981 when her body was found floating in a cove. It remains to be a mystery as to how she came to be in the water in the first place. All that is known is that she had been on a yacht with Christopher Walken, Robert Wagner, and the boat captain Dennis Davern the night before. She was only 43 years old when she died.

Peeping Tom (1960)

Anyone looking for a weird movie about a psychopath? Well, look no further than Michael Powell's Peeping Tom. It is about a lonely, socially awkward, sexually repressed man, Mark Lewis, who works as a focus puller in a British film studio. He earns extra cash by taking pictures for a local porno shop. When he isn't working, he enjoys filmmaking and compulsively murdering women. He films his murders because he has an obsession with true fear and how its emotional effect registers on a frightened face. What happened in his life that has caused him to become a killer? Why is he so obsessed with fear? What can be done to make him stop murdering innocent people?

The filming style of this movie is very interesting. At some points, it reminded me of Hitchcock's Psycho (1960) and, at other times, it reminded me of Bergman's Persona (1966). It was a very strange combination. I found myself torn between feeling extremely creeped out by Mark and feeling sorry for him. I think that's what caused me to like the film so much.

Back when Peeping Tom was first released, it received devastating reviews by the critics. I think the problem was that they were not used to looking at a serial killer as anything but a monster that is entirely evil. Mark isn't entirely evil, he suffered from a great deal of psychological damage when he was a child, which made him turn to killing. However, he's still a monster because he murders innocent people, he just isn't the monster that the critics in the '60s were accustomed to seeing.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Harry Potter: Deathly Hallows Part 2

The final installment of the Harry Potter series is beyond spectacular. It is the perfect ending to one of my favorite series of all time. It was like I was watching the final part of the book exactly how it was written, but with a few minor changes. The audience laughed, cheered, and cried throughtout the entire film. I already want to go and see it again!

I'm going to miss Harry and his friends' adventures in the books and on the big screen, however, there will be a chance for more Potter experiences when J.K. Rowling's Pottermore is released. Also, there is even more Potter fun to be had at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Orlando, Florida, which I desperately want to go to because it's going to be awesome and I've heard rave reviews about it.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Happy 100th Ginger Rogers!

It would have been Ginger Rogers 100th birthday today! She is one of my favorite dancers ever! Although, I feel like watching Monkey Business more than any other movie that she's been in. It's probably because I went to the zoo with my nephews today and saw a bunch of chimps.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Harry Potter!!!

I'm seeing Harry Potter tomorrow a little past midnight! I'm so excited that I can hardly stand it! I might not sleep tonight because I'm that excited. I'm also seeing it 10:45 PM Friday evening because I also want to see it in the IMAX. Some movies are not worth the IMAX experience, but this is beyond worthy of an IMAX experience.

I stumbled across this the other day. Yes, it's ridiculous, but should be enjoyed by my fellow Potterheads!!!

Sawdust and Tinsel (1953)

Ever since I watched Santa Sangre (1989) earlier this year, it has reawakened my fear of the circus. Back when I was in high school, my honors Biology teacher decided that in order to understand genetic abnormalities, he would show us videos of real life circus freaks and sideshows for two full weeks. Of course, some of these so-called 'freaks' were not genetically mutated at all, but they elected to alter their appearance with the help of technology or plastic surgery in order to improve their circus act.

Ingmar Bergman's Sawdust and Tinsel is not meant to be a scary circus movie, but I did find myself scared during the circus acts at the end. The movie mainly focuses on Albert Johansson, the aging ring master of a traveling circus in Sweden. In the beginning, Albert listens to an unhappy story about the clown Frost and how his wife Alma had humiliated him by bathing naked in the lake with a group of soldiers. The story ends before the circus arrives in the town where Albert left his wife Agda and three sons three years ago when he decided to leave town with the circus and replace Agda with a young mistress, Anne. Now, since he's back in town, he wants to go visit his wife and children, but Anne is strongly against the reunion. Despite Anne's pleas for him not to go, Albert goes to see his wife and children. Once there, he realizes how much he regrets ever leaving them and asks if she'll have him back. Agda refuses him back, so Albert leaves and while he's heading back to the circus area, he witnesses Anne betraying him as well. Overcome with emotion and regret, Albert goes back to the circus where he realizes he'll be stuck living the rest of his life in poverty, with no family or true love.

I was surprised to learn that Sawdust and Tinsel was originally marketed as a sex film in the U.S. It was released under the title The Naked Night. I have no idea why this movie was marketed in this fashion. This is not a film full of sex scenes, it's a film focusing on lust, desire, jealousy and regret. It's difficult to watch Albert's emotional breakdown, even though he brought it on himself. He looks utterly defeated and overwhelmed with his ghastly lifestyle. He should have realized from the beginning that his life would end up being much worse without his wife and kids in it.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Jon Hamm and the Yeti

I stumbled across the funny video above featuring Jon Hamm and a little blue hitchhiking monster last night. I love Jon Hamm, he cracks me up and he's absolutely gorgeous. I also love the strange little blue yeti who becomes his friend in this video. 

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Spellbound (1945)

Oh, Spellbound, how I love your little tag-line: "Will he kiss me or kill me?" If you ever find yourself asking this question, I don't care if the guy looks like Gregory Peck, something just isn't right, so get out of the relationship! 

Spellbound is a film full of mystery, psychoanalysis, and romance. Obviously, the romance part is a bit strange, but thankfully it's only a movie, so this sort of a romance works. A highly acclaimed psychiatrist, Dr. Anthony Edwardes has been sent to replace Dr. Murchinson as the new chief of staff at Green Manors mental hospital. When Dr. Constance Petersen meets him, she quickly falls in love with him. However, she begins to realize, as do others working in the mental institution, that Dr. Edwardes isn't Dr. Edwardes at all, but an impostor named John Ballantyne who is a paranoid amnesiac. He runs away with Constance who tries to help him with his amnesia, as well as solve the mystery of what happened to the real Dr. Edwardes. 

I like this movie. It's entertaining, I like watching the chemistry between Gregory Peck and Ingrid Bergman, and I love the dream sequence scene. The dream sequence was created by Salvador Dali. It is full of imagery and gives the audience an insight into what is going on inside of John's brain and what happened in his life that has caused him to suffer from amnesia. The symbolism that is projected throughout the dream is simple to interpret, but I still enjoy seeing them displayed in this fashion. I especially like the faceless man. 

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Bicycle Thieves (1948)

In celebration of director Vittorio De Sica's 110th birthday today, July 7th, the movie I'm discussing today is Ladri di biciclette 'Bicycle Thieves.' I absolutely love this movie. It is about a man, Antonio Ricci, who desperately relies on his bicycle in order to travel all over Rome hanging posters for his job. While hanging some posters, his bicycle ends up getting stolen. Antonio, along with his son Bruno (Enzo Stailoa) set out to track down the thief and retrieve the bike.

Bicycle Thieves is one of the most heartbreaking films that I have ever watched; it's brutally honest. I don't want to go into all what occurs in the film because that sort of discussion could potentially lead to a spoiler for those who have not yet watched this movie. It's too fantastic to ruin. The film's message is the best thing about it; it's brutally honest, which makes it both sad and depressing, but it also makes it real.

The little boy, Enzo Stailoa, delivers a brilliant performance. I love his little walk and all the emotion he gave to Bruno. I read that he actually was found on the streets and asked to play Bruno for this movie, so it seems that he grew up having a similar lifestyle to Bruno's.

Written on the Wind (1956)

Well, the weather sure has been great lately! I've gotten some sun and some awkward patches of sunburn on my legs and feet, which means that summer is going well. Well, I could have done without the sunburn obviously, but it'll go away soon enough. I love swimming, wearing sun dresses, taking long walks and looking at all the beautiful flowers, trees, and lusciously green grass. I hope that all of you have been experiencing great weather!

Last night, I finished watching Written on the Wind. It's about an alcoholic millionaire, Kyle Hadley (Robert Stack), who attempts to cure his drinking problems by marrying the woman, Lucy Moore (Lauren Bacall), who his best friend, Mitch Wayne (Rock Hudson), is secretly in love with. All is going wonderfully for the newlyweds, that is, until Kyle visits his doctor and learns that he may be sterile. This news devastates him and throttles him back into his self-destructive alcoholic state. When Lucy, unaware of what is causing Kyle to drink excessively, tries to cheer him up by informing him that she is pregnant with his baby. However, Kyle's wild and promiscuous sister Marylee (Dorothy Malone) decides to stir up trouble by implying that Lucy's baby is not his, but Mitch's. This comment ends up throwing Kyle into a downward spiral of crazy emotions and rage; all he wants to do is get revenge on both Lucy and Mitch for their fabricated deceit. Will he succeed? Watch to find out.

I liked this film all right. The acting was over-the-top in some parts, but good throughout the majority of the film. I particularly liked Mitch because he came off as being very masculine, yet sensitive. He seemed to really care for Lucy. Kyle and Marylee annoyed me for the majority of the film. Stack did a wonderful job at portraying a pathetic wealthy alcoholic. Malone's character was extremely irritating and obnoxious, but I can see why she won the Oscar for the performance she gave during that time period. Bacall's character was a bit helpless and meek at times, but I did like her wardrobe. I'd recommend seeing this film if you enjoy melodramas, beautiful cinematography, and vibrant colors.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011


I love Charade (1963). I own a terrible copy of the film, which is unfortunate. The resolution is beyond awful, but I still watch it because I love the movie so much. Charade is a romantic-comedy-thriller about a woman, Regina 'Reggie' Lampert (Audrey Hepburn) who is planning to divorce her husband, Charles, once she returns from her vacation in the Alps. Once she returns to Paris, she finds that all of her belongings have been removed from her house and that her husband has died. After her husband's funeral, she ends up being pursued by several men who want to take back the fortune that Charles supposedly stole from them and left behind in her possession. She has no idea what fortune this could be because what he has left behind for her doesn't seem to have any significant value, but no one seems to want to believe her! Even the nice handsome man (played by Cary Grant) who keeps changing his name every few seconds. The situation becomes even more intense when the angry men pursuing her end up being killed off one by one. By the end of it, she has no idea who she can trust or what she will have to do in order to survive!

This film is enjoyable on so many levels. Audrey Hepburn displays a wonderful wardrobe in the film, one which I'd love to own. The story is consistently intriguing, humorous, and witty. I love Audrey's exaggerated expressions. I love Cary Grant for being silly, suave, mysterious, and handsome all at the same time. I also love how obvious it was that Cary Grant would have been the perfect James Bond. I love Walter Matthau's delivery of lines; something about his voice always cracks me up. There honestly isn't one character in this film that I found to be boring; the film was perfectly casted. I also adore that the majority of the film takes place in Paris, it's an amazing city! Basically, it's impossible to not be entertained by this film, so if you haven't seen it yet, you must put it on your 'to-see' list.

The opening title sequence of Charade with awesome music.

Monday, July 4, 2011

The Lady Vanishes

The Lady Vanishes (1938) is another favorite Hitchcock film of mine. I could watch it a billion times and still love it. It always makes me laugh! I believe it's one of the last films Hitch made while still in Britain before he leaves to go collaborate with David O. Selznick in the U.S.. The film is about a young woman, Iris, who is traveling on a train to London in order to get married. Her trip has been delayed due to poor weather, so she, along with the other travelers are stuck staying in a small hotel in a small country for one night. During this time, Iris meets a nice old woman in the hallway, as well as an obnoxious man who is playing the clarinet loudly in the room above her.

The next morning, she meets the old woman again and notices that the woman has dropped her glasses, so she goes over to her and returns them. While returning them, a flower pot is pushed from the window above and it lands on the back of her head. The old woman helps her onto the train and once on the train, she passes out. The old woman looks after Iris during the beginning of the train ride and Iris learns that her name is Miss. Froy. The two go back to their train car after having some tea and Iris quickly falls asleep. When she wakes up, however, she realizes that Miss. Froy is no longer sitting across from her. She then asks the others in the cabin, as well as the train, if they know where she has gone to. For some reason, no one seems to recall ever seeing Miss. Froy. Convinced that something terrible has happened to Miss. Froy, Iris seeks out whoever she can regarding the old woman. She ends up meeting the annoying clarinet man, Gilbert, and the two end up working together in order to find out why Miss. Froy has disappeared and where she has disappeared to.

I love the witty humor in this film. The two funny British men who are obsessed with cricket are awesome. I also love the chemistry between Iris (Margaret Lockwood) and Gilbert (Michael Redgrave). The two are both funny and adorable together. I especially like how the two characters despised each other at the beginning, but then ended up falling for each other. If you're in the mood for a hilarious and suspenseful film, then look no further than The Lady Vanishes.

Happy 4th of July!

Today was a beautiful day. Nice to be able to spend time with the family and enjoy the weather at the beach. I saw some fireworks tonight, but they weren't as spectacular as the ones I saw at Disney World earlier this year, but still nice. If you love fireworks and haven't seen them at Disney World, then you should try to make it there sometime to see them because it's quite an impressive display. 

Sunday, July 3, 2011


Notorious (1946) is one of my favorite Hitchcock films and my favorite from both Ingrid Bergman and Cary Grant. I feel like I've mentioned this movie a lot, but I don't think I've actually ever talked about it in great detail. The film is about a woman, Alicia Huberman, who's German father has just been convicted for treason against the United States. One night, during one of her regular parties where she likes to drink and flaunt herself around men, she meets Devlin. She doesn't know much about Devlin, but is instantly attracted to him. Later on in the night and the next day, he informs Alicia that he is a government agent and asks if she would be interested in spying on her father's Nazi friends who are operating out of Rio de Janeiro. She agrees to be a spy and leaves for Rio that day with Devlin. A passionate romance quickly sparks up between the two, but it is interrupted once Alicia becomes too involved with her job.

This film has one of the best kissing scenes that I have ever watched in a movie. Hitch designed the kissing to be broken up into little kisses, so it met the Hayes Code that restricted on-screen kissing scenes to 3 seconds, but it also was still able to be sexy because he had them kissing on-again, off-again for a long time. Oh, how I absolutely adore this scene!

The acting in this film was brilliant by everyone involved. Claude Rains played momma's boy Alexander Sebastian perfectly. Leopoldine Konstantin was perfect as Sebastian's horrendously over-bearing and creepy mother. I swear, that woman does not blink and it's freaky!

If you're a fan of suspense, romance, and awesomeness, then you will love Notorious. The story is interesting and there is some humor mixed in. I love Hitch's experimentation with shots in this film and how he was creative enough to find a way to skirt past the Haye's Code restriction.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Une femme est une femme: A Woman Is a Woman

The other night, I decided to watch A Woman Is a Woman (1961). The film is about a woman, Angela, who desperately wants to have a baby. She deicides to try to persuade her boyfriend, Emile, into having a baby with her, but he will have no part of it. Therefore, she decides that the only thing she can do to have a baby is to go ask another man if he will give her one. The man she ends up asking is Emile's best friend Alfred.

I've read other people's reviews of this film and it seems like it's one that you either love or hate. I happened to find this film quite witty and funny. It's lively and it's completely silly. I think that I mainly enjoyed this movie because I've witnessed countless relationships that are similar to the one that Angela and Emile have. The two are constantly arguing with each other over any little thing, but that does not mean that they do not love each other. In fact, it's quite the opposite, the two argue so much because they love each other so much, which, if you think about is quite stupid and childish, but it works for them.

Silence of the Lambs

I seem to have a strange obsession with shows, books, and films about serial killers. I've been watching copious amounts of Dexter, reading murder mysteries, and reading/watching true crime stories. I like basically anything involving detectives finding clues, solving cases, and catching the bad guys who are responsible for the madness.

I decided to watch Silence of the Lambs (1991) a couple of nights ago. I've watched it several times before, but it had been a long time and I felt like watching it. I'm assuming that the majority of you have watched, read, or at least heard of Silence of the Lambs. (If you enjoy reading, I recommend reading the novel that this film is based on. It's a quick and fantastic read. The author is Thomas Harris). However, if you have not, it is about an FBI trainee who, with the help of a highly manipulative and brilliant cannibalistic serial killer, tracks down a crazed killer, Buffalo Bill, who has been skinning his victims.

The best part of Silence of the Lambs, in my opinion, is the character Hannibal Lecter. The character intrigues me because he used to be a respectable psychiatrist, responsible for analyzing the twisted minds of fellow psychopaths. A psychiatrist becoming a cannibalistic serial killer is extremely unnerving. I find it fascinating the way he works with Clarice (Jodie Foster), allowing her to think on her own, yet giving her guidance and clues as to who Buffalo Bill is, the way that he thinks, how to analyze his mind, and how to uncover where he is hiding. Anthony Hopkins plays the part of Hannibal Lecter to perfection. The way he speaks, observes, and listens to Clarice is what makes the character seem so realistic and creepy.