Posted in Flick Central

IT: Chapter Two, based on IT by Stephen King: a Film Review

Synopsis:

27 years have passed since the Loser’s Club fought Pennywise.  They have since gone their separate ways, now adults, some married and some not…life went on after the dark events that summer in Derry, Maine.

But it has begun again.  And as Mike Hanlon calls up his old friends the Loser’s Club finds that they may have done so much more than simply move on from their childhood.  They seem to have forgotten everything from that summer…and honestly most of their lives in Derry. All but Mike, who stayed…who became Derry’s historian…and who kept watch incase Pennywise rose again in the strange 27-year cycle of the past.

As children and adults go missing, the Losers much rise again to fight that which haunts the tiny New England town.  They must regain their memories in order to fight off the killer clown.  Will they be able to dig up their pasts?  Will they be able to end the nightmare?  And if they do…what will the cost be?  In the end will it be worth it?

General Information:

-Genre: Supernatural Horror

-Creator: based on IT by Stephen King

-Length: 165 minutes

-Rating: R (for supernatural violence, severe violence and gore, severe language, alcohol use and smoking, LGBT+ violence and slurs, mild nudity and sexual innuendos)

-Where to Watch: Amazon Prime Video, iTunes, YouTube, DVD, Blue-Ray, or find it at your local library (like I did)

-Main Cast: Bill Skarsgard, Jessica Chastain, James McAvoy, Bill Hader, Isaiah Mustafa, Jay Ryan, James Ransone, Andy Bean, Jaeden Lieberher, Jeremy Ray Taylor, Sphia Lillis, Finn Wolfhard, Wyatt Oleff, Chosen Jacobs, Jack Dylan Grazer, Nicholas Hamilton, Jackson Robert Scott

-Page of Reference in RPO: 62

Review (contains spoilers):

A wonderful continuation of the story started in IT: Chapter One.

First I must commend the casting agent on a job well done.  It is rare in the film industry to find children and adults that look like they could be the same person but they did this FLAWLESSLY! One of the best casting jobs I’ve seen in a long time.  Even the IT miniseries (which did a decent job) didn’t get it done THIS well.

And while I did enjoy the fact that the first movie stood alone and if you didn’t know the story you could watch it independently and not need the continuation of the story, I absolutely love the way this story was written.  There are just enough “flashback” style moments in the film but they are new and fresh information.  Not tired flashbacks from the first film which is nice because then you can watch them back to back without a lot of déjà vu.

There are a few good jump scares in this one and the overall dark and intense quality of the themes are incredibly well done.  I chalk this up to utilizing as many practical effects as they could.  I enjoy that they didn’t rely on doing everything in post-production.  I really do believe (having worked in the film industry myself) that films that rely completely on CGI tend to fall flat.  Practical effects are the way to go…filling in what you cannot possibly do (like a giant clown or 300 rows of teeth in a distended mouth) is what CGI should be used for.

The changes in the story (like Audra not showing up and getting captured by Pennywise) are enjoyable and keep a more consistent story.  The moment Beverly realizes Ben is the one who wrote the poem is much more satisfying that in the miniseries.  And the overall pacing is more consistent than the other film. 

Timing is everything in a horror film.  Using just the right choreography, lighting and musical beat in with the blocking is what makes or breaks a film.  And this one really got it right.

Overall, wonderful.

Rating:

Rating: 4 out of 5.

For the review on IT by Stephen King:

Review on It (miniseries)

Review on IT: Chapter One

Posted in Blog Posts, Flick Central

IT: Chapter One, based on IT by Stephen King: a Film Review

Synopsis:

In 1986, young Georgie Denburough is out in a storm playing with a paper boat that his older brother, Bill, had made for him.  As he follows the boat along it gets swept into a drain.  Georgie reaches into the drain to try and get the boat when he is confronted by a clown.  A clown deep down in the sewers.  When he reaches for the boat again, the strange creature rips his arm away and drags the poor boy down into the sewers.  Georgie becomes one of the first missing children that would haunt the town of Derry, Maine over the course of the next year.

Summer has finally come for Derry, Maine.  Kids are out of school.  Bullies have free reign of the streets and the “Losers” are trying to stay out of trouble.  As the mysterious disappearance of more kids continues a small group of kids come together, tormented by the local bully as well as a far less tangible but far more dangerous force lurking in the shadows.  This group, known as the Losers’ Club, discover that each have been visited in the last year by a strange clown.  This clown…a force that knows who they are and where they live…is far beyond everything that even their scariest nightmares could have imagined.

As Bill and the rest of the Losers follow the clues, they will be led down the path closer to Pennywise.  Will Bill find his little brother, Georgie, alive and well as he fervently believes?  Or will all of them have to face their darkest nightmares at the hands of a terrifying clown?

General Information:

-Genre: Supernatural Horror

-Creator: based on IT by Stephen King

-Length: 135 minutes

-Rating: R (for supernatural violence, severe violence and gore, severe language, mild sexual innuendo, mild mentions of abuse, some smoking)

-Where to Watch: Amazon Prime Video, iTunes, YouTube, DVD, Blue-Ray, or look for it at your local library (like I did!)

-Main Cast: Jaeden Lieberher, Bill Skarsgard, Jeremy Ray Taylor, Sphia Lillis, Finn Wolfhard, Wyatt Oleff, Chosen Jacobs, Jack Dylan Grazer, Nicholas Hamilton, Jackson Robert Scott

-Page of Reference in RPO: 62

Review (contains spoilers):

Yay.  A real horror film.  As a horror buff I can give credit where credit is due.  While the 1991 version with Tim Curry was perfectly fine (this hurts to say because Tim Curry is a FANTASTIC actor…one of my favorites in fact), it lacks the more modern horror moments.  “Child’s play” as a friend once said, compared to this film and its sequel film.

While I was hesitant at first with the more modernization of the timeline (the book has their childhood in the mid-1950s) I was quite impressed with how this little change really worked with the overall feel of the film.  It definitely allowed for some of the more classic horror tropes to be utilized but also paid a wonderful homage to the real rise and birth of modern horror films.

From practical effects to an honestly terrifying Pennywise the Dancing Clown, this was the film I was hoping for when I watched the 1991 miniseries.

And no offence to Mr. Curry….But Bill Skarsgard’s performance, from costume to makeup to mannerisms, was the clown we should all be absolutely terrified is under our beds.

The story seems to follow the book (and the miniseries) fairly closely with small nods to the miniseries.  The big exception is that Georgie is missing and Bill still thinks he is alive.  It is his desire to find his brother, alive and well, that sends the Loser’s Club down the rabbit hole and into the depths of the horrors that lurk in the Derry sewer system.

I do think this choice was much more believable especially for the 1980s.  the idea that the kids are building a dam in a small creek just doesn’t seem to fit in a world where there are arcade games, movies and a robust set of Television shows.  Going out on an adventure like in The Goonies or fighting demons like in Nightmare on Elm Street or Gremlins is MUCH more convincing than what happened in the book (which was believable and fine for the mid-1950s).

This change in time also allowed for larger conversations and allusions.  Beverly’s abusive father became worse (from physical and mental abuse to actual alluded sexual abuse).  Eddie’s mother is even more neurotic and a bigger hypochondriac (now we may diagnose her with Munchausen’s by Proxy).  Richie’s deep dark secret is covered by his humor and foul mouth (also something that was easier to do in both a theatrical release and in the 1980s).  Bill’s stutter isn’t as pronounced but still there, apparent and more natural.  The rest of the group is just as well.  They join together and make a great team.

Honestly, this is a real horror film.  And if you didn’t know or weren’t familiar with the book is a complete movie on its own.  Which cannot be said of the mini-series.  Very well done and will be one that I will be watching again.

Rating:

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Review on IT (novel) by Stephen King

Review on IT: Chapter Two

Review on IT (miniseries)

Posted in Blog Posts, Flick Central

IT, based off IT by Stephen King: a Mini Series Review

Synopsis:

Based on the novel by Stephen King, IT brings the horror to life on television.

The Lucky Seven have finally found friendship and comradery in each other only to find out that they have all been visited by the same entity: a bizarre and terrifying clown named Pennywise.  He can take on their deepest fears and as they begin to uncover the mystery behind these visits they discover that the clown is also responsible for the rash of murders in the area, including their leaders younger brother.  They follow Pennywise deep into the sewers to kill the creature and seem to be successful.

27 years later the murders begin again. The group returns with help from the only member to remain in their small hometown.  As their memories return they must face their deepest fears to fight IT again and this time hopefully rid the world and their lives from the haunting and dangerous presence.

General Information:

-Genre: Supernatural Horror

-Creator: based off IT by Stephen King

-Length: 192 minutes (original) or 187 minutes (DVD/Blue-Ray) split between two episodes

-Rating: TV-PG (episode 1), TV-14 (episode 2) (for mild nudity and sexual remarks, violence and gore, mild profanity, some alcohol and mild drug use, some intense scenes)

-Where to Watch: Amazon Prime Video (rent or buy), iTunes, DVD, Blue-Ray, or find it at your local library (like I did!)

-Main Cast: Harry Anderson, Dennis Christopher, Richard Masur, Annette O’Toole, Tim Reid, John Ritter, Richard Thomas, Tim Curry

-Page of Reference in RPO: 62

Review (contains spoilers):

So…

*blinks*

That was…not remotely scary.

Its supposed to be…I think.  Or at least I remember it being scary… but it was made for TV so maybe I am mistaken.

It could also be that I’m watching it 30 years out from its production.

And it was just…very tame.  Sure there was blood and gore.  The possessed fortune cookies were pretty cool.  IT’s actual form was pretty well done.  But as for scares.  It fell quite flat.

I wouldn’t approved it for young children, but older kids would find this ok…at least by todays standards.  Its campy and over the top (though Tim Curry’s performance was amazing as usual) with very few jump scares or creepy music.

Overall it was disappointing to watch as an adult.  Even one who is terrified of clowns.

Rating:

Rating: 3 out of 5.

(and only because Tim Curry does a great job as always)

For the review on IT by Stephen King:

For the review on IT: Chapter One: https://guntersgamesandgold.com/?p=512

For the review on IT: Chapter Two: https://guntersgamesandgold.com/?p=524

Posted in Blog Posts, Read Me

The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon, by Stephen King: a Novella Review

Synopsis:

Around a year after their parents’ divorce, nine-year-old Trisha and fourteen-year-old Pete are in the custody of their mother.  She tries to keep her kids entertained with family trips on the weekend.  But Pete is far from happy about the situation and this often ends in total blowups between himself and his mother.  Arguments that Trisha is getting annoyed hearing over and over again.

As they head out on one of their family trips, this time a hike on a six mile stretch of the Appalachian Trail, the argument between Pete and his mother continue.  Trisha is beyond annoyed.  As she tries to get her mother’s attention so she can get everyone to stop so she can go to the bathroom neither her mother nor her brother hear her.  In a bout of childhood irritation, she decides to just step off the path to relieve herself.  How far ahead could they really get?

As she returns in the direction, she remembers the trail is in, Trisha soon realizes that she may be in serious trouble.  The path is no where to be seen.  As she tries to figure out where she should be going the day drags on and she has to resign herself to the fact that not only is she terribly lost but she may have to spend the night outside in the woods.

With only her Walkman for company Trisha is lost.  As she tries to make her way back to civilization, she turns to her favorite Red Sox player, Tom Gordon, for company and strength.  As the days wear on though she cannot shake the feeling she is being watched.  Will Trisha make it home?  Or will It get her deep in the heart of the New England wilds?

General Information:

-Genre: Psychological Horror, Survival

-Author: Stephen King

-Number of Pages: 224

-Where to Read: check at your local bookseller (they can often order items that are not in stock), find it on audiobook, or check out your local library for a copy

-Page of Reference in RPO: 62

Review (contains spoilers):

A quick read, especially when it comes to the works of Stephen King.  I wouldn’t consider it horror by any means though it is labeled as such.  I decided to also categorize it as a survival story as it seems to fit more with several of the novels I’ve read in the last year that are in that genre (surviving plane crashes or blizzards, being lost a sea, etc.)

The story follows that of a little girl who gets lost in the woods.  A seemingly common thing when someone steps off the path especially along the larger and more dangerous stretches of trails like that in the Pacific Northwest or, in this case, the Appalachian wilderness.  The most frustrating part is that it was all preventable if only her mother had paid more attention to her daughter while hiking an unfamiliar trail with a moderate to difficult rating.

The story seems a bit unbelievable for more modern times, as the young girl (aged 9) has a skill set that isn’t taught often anymore.  She knows some foods that are safe and scvangable in the New England wilds.  Some of this was taught in school and others were taught by her mother.  Now it seems that we would only learn these items if our children participated in something like Boy or Girl Scouts or showed a genuine interest in the great outdoors.  Most families today don’t even go hiking on the weekends, let alone teach general survival skills to their children.

Overall, the story is good.  One of a young child, lost in the woods and struggling to survive.  She makes choices, some good and some bad, that even adults often cannot when stuck in similar situations.  But she is a child and therefore some of the things she chooses to do seem more adult and mature that what a typical nine-year-old (even in the 1980s) would chose to do.

Or perhaps I’m just looking at things through a modern lens where we don’t have this knowledge.  Our schools are different.  Our parents work too hard and don’t often have the time to teach their children any of this information (or even know these things themselves).

Frankly the premise of a nine-year-old knowing a lot of this information is kind of out there.  It may have been more convincing if the girl and her brother were closer in age (say her brother being 16 instead of 14 and she herself being 14 instead of 9) where she and her brother may have been exposed to scouting, family camping trips, general exploration and even her own interests.  But for a young child whose only real obsession is that of the Red Sox this just feels contrived.

King does, however, capture the eerie and creepy feeling of a mind who is going slightly feral.  Between the starvation (as she doesn’t know a lot but enough to not die) and being sick, sunstroke and the general fear of being alone and lost, King does touch on how your mind can play tricks on you in this context.  And while I wouldn’t categorize this as horror, the idea that our brains can go into a survival mode turning what would be considered by the rational mind as normal such as animal activity and death, claw marks on trees from bears and general trouble in the woods into something completely sinister and slightly paranormal is disconcerting.

A decent story but nothing that I would commend King on.  If you enjoy survival stories you will enjoy this.

Review:

Rating: 3 out of 5.
Posted in Blog Posts, Read Me

Cycle of the Werewolf by Stephen King: an Illustrated Short Story review

Synopsis:

Late one cold January night, it begins.  An attack on a lone man, trapped in a shack along the railroad tracks.  And so goes the year…the cycle of the Werewolf… as one tiny town suffers the fate of a creature whose bloodlust cannot be satisfied.

General Information:

-Genre: Horror 

-Author/Illustrator: Stephen King, illustrated by Berni Wrightston

-Number of Pages: 128 pages

-Where to Read: support local booksellers (many can order books for you if they are not in stock), or look at your local library (like I did!)

-Page of Reference in RPO: 62

Review (contains spoilers):

An interesting idea to a story.  Each chapter contains an illustration and then the short story for that month.  Progressing from January to December the story follows a town that is being ravaged by the attack of a werewolf.

It’s a simple concept put together with concise writing.  I haven’t read enough of King to know if this is his normal writing style (though after slogging through half of IT I have the feeling being concise isn’t his forte).  So for that I find it an interesting exercise in varying writing styles by a well-known author.

Honestly, interesting but not really a life changing read.  Defiantly something for people who are interested in writing studies from their favorite authors.

The illustrations are simple and well thought through.

Review:

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.