Thursday, October 8, 2015

Hellraiser (1987)

Hellraiser (1987)

Director: Clive Barker

Cast: Andrew Robinson, Clare Higgins, Ashley Laurence, Sean Chapman, Doug Bradley

As I write this, it’s been almost thirty years since Clive Barker’s Hellraiser (1987) first opened the gates of hell, giving us a new horror icon to rival that of Freddy Krueger and Jason Voorhees. Weird part is that Clive Barker wasn’t aiming to create a horror icon for a new generation, he was simply adapting his novella ‘The Hellbound Heart’ into film, his intent wasn’t creating a horror icon that horror fans would embrace vehemently and ultimately christen “Pinhead”. And Pinhead it has stayed, even though Clive Barker himself says this name is not dignified enough for the character that Barker called ‘Priest’ in the first versions of the script. Still, the character caught the public’s imagination, and there it has stayed. As I write this, there have been 9 films inspired on Barker’s Hellraiser universe, with a tenth one in production hell. Sadly, none of these numerous sequels have been as good as the original Clive Barker directed film which still remains the best film in the lengthy franchise.

Honestly, I don’t think anything done today will be as good, horrifying or gory as the images that Barker conjured up in his directorial debut. Very rarely do extremely gory or overly sexual films make it to theaters today, which is why I say that Hellraiser is a rare film that we should relish and thank the movie gods for. To use a tired phrase “they just don’t make them like this anymore”, but it’s not for lack of trying. Modern horror filmmakers are constantly trying to make films like these, but they always end up straight to video, where most gore fests end up nowadays. I know Barker is currently trying to get Hellraiser properly remade, but if you ask me, the way Hollywood works today, this remake will never go theatrical. Barker would have to tone down the blood and gore and if he does that, then it won’t be Hellraiser anymore. Sad but true. That’s why I see films like Hellraiser as a rare jewel from one of the goriest decades in horror, the 80’s! A decade in which films like Hellraiser could end up in theater screens and get a sequel every year! Seeing it now, it’s such a shock to the system when compared to the light horror films seen today, which speaks volumes about the soft core crap that passes for horror today. I feel special for having grown up with these twisted/cool horror movies that titillated my young mind!

Hellraiser was another one of those horror movies that as a 12 year old kid, I wasn’t supposed to see, yet found a way to see anyway. My morbid curiosity peaked with these films. The themes explored in Hellraiser were deadly serious and adult, yet there I was, sucking it all in, absorbing the darkness that the world had to offer.Like the dark delights the Cenobytes brought to those who opened the Lament Configuration, so where these movies for me. Dark, hellish delights that presented my young mind with a side of the human psyche I knew nothing about, but was eager to discover. These films were all about uncontrolled passions and the lengths to which a person can go to in order to get ultimate pleasure. How far will a man or woman go for the ultimate ‘good fuck’? Pretty damn far that’s how far! The film has a thing or two to say about the banality of a boring marriage versus the intensity of amazing forbidden sex. It also plays with the idea that pain and pleasure are close bed partners concepts maybe a bit too profound or dark for my innocent little mind, but hey, there’s a first time for everything right?  In Hellraiser, the Lament Configuration is a puzzle box that opens the doors to a dimension where pain and pleasure are indivisible and whoever is dumb enough to solve the puzzle instantly regrets having done so, hence the ‘lament’ in its name. This idea that a supernatural artifact can open the gates to hell isn’t in a new one, other films have played with this premise: The Beyond (1981), City of the Living Dead (1980), The Gate (1987) and The Ninth Gate (1999) come to mind, but only Hellraiser mixes the whole thing with these themes of lust and desire.

This was Clive Barker’s first film so he was a rookie when he made it, he’s admitted to not knowning much about the intricacies of filmmaking at the time of making this picture, still, what he did have was the view point of an artist, a necessary quality to pull off a film like this one. Plus, he wrote the story the film is based on, and while it’s not always a great idea to put writers behind the camara, in this case it worked with hellish charm, because Barker is a painter and he treats the images he captures with his cameras as if he was layering one of his paintings. He showed promise with what he did with this film, and went on to show growth as a filmmaker in films like Nightbreed (1990) and Lord of Illussions (1995), my favorite Barker film. This first Hellraiser film is more aesthetically pleasing to the eye than any of the sequels in the franchise. The special make up effects are amazing on this one. The resurrection sequence, in which the character of Frank comes back to life is one of the high points of the film. I recently screened this film for an audience and that scene still makes hearts stop. It’s a show stealer. Where the film does have a few faults is in the visual effects department and Barker admits that these were done in a hurry to meet the schedule, and it’s a damn shame because when those cheesy visual effects show up, it brings the film down a few notches for me. Still, as a whole the film is solid, if it wasn’t for those cheesy visual effects I’d give the film a perfect score. But whatever, I love the film, warts and all as they say.

The success of Hellraiser spawned a sequel that started rolling mere weeks after Hellraiser proved a success in cinemas and so we got Hellbound: Hellraiser II (1988), a decent sequel that sadly wasn’t directed by Barker himself. Hellbound: Hellraiser II was messy in terms of story (last minute rewrites galore) and it had flaws in the visual effects department as well, but it gives us some of the best and bloodiest moments in the entire franchise and let’s not forget it also gave us Pinheads origin. For me this franchise was good up to Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth (1992), after that one, things started to really go downhill for the franchise, with each sequel being worse than the last. If you’re really bored, then the last one that’s “watchable” is Hellraiser: Bloodline (1996), the fourth film in the series. You know the franchise was on its last legs because on that one they sent Pinhead to space! If that isn’t the sign of a franchise running out of juice, I don’t know what is. After Hellraiser Bloodline, the franchise consists of extremely low budget films that were made from scripts that weren’t even Hellraiser scripts, they were horror scripts that the producers had laying around and converted into Hellraiser films. What’s one got to do to get a decent Hellraiser film nowadays? Go to hell to get one? Here’s hoping Barker successfully reboots this franchise and gives us a new dose of decent (or maybe even better?) Hellraiser films.

Rating: 4 out of 5  


Monday, October 5, 2015

My Demon Lover (1987)

My Demon Lover (1987)

Director:  Charlie Loventhal

Cast: Scott Valentine, Michelle Little, Robert Trebor

Back when I was around twelve years old, seeing a film like My Demon Lover was prohibitive for me because the household I grew up in was fanatically Christian and therefore any film with demons or sex was extremely off limits as far as my parents were concerned and My Demon Lover had both! But back then, I was just starting to fall in love with special effects, so I found a way to see it; I waited for just the right moment in which my parents were gone and then, alone and in the dark, I feasted my eyes on the demonic imagery. I have to admit watching My Demon Lover was all about the thrill of doing something I wasn’t supposed to be doing. What attracted me to the film wasn’t the sex or possible nudity because truth be told, there’s very little of both on this movie, no, what I wanted to see were those crafty makeup effects! You see, back in the 80’s, horror movies where pushing the boundaries of what could be done through make up effects. Back then, every horror movie was about gooey, slimy monsters. The Nightmare on Elm Street franchise spear headed this gruesome movement in cinema, but many smaller budget movies emulated this idea of turning a film into a special make up effects showcase, My Demon Lover was one of them.

I’d been meaning to re-watch this movie for the longest time, to re-live this forbidden fruit of my youth one more time, but for some strange reason, this movie disappeared from the planet. This is something that happens to a lot of low budget horror films. Suddenly, poof! They vanish from the face of the earth! But I never forgot about My Demon Lover, it was this little horror movie that thrilled me when I was a kid and had fond memories of enjoying it, I needed to give it the old re-watch! For nostalgia's sake! So anyways, one day I go into Amazon and there it is.  Warner Bros. had released it under their ‘Warner Bros. Archive Collection’ banner. Under this banner, Warner Bros. has re-released a lot of these “forgotten” sci-fi/horror/action movies like Freejack (1992), If Looks Could Kill (1991) and The Green Slime (1968). So anyways, I quickly snatched a copy and re-watched My Demon Lover, a film I had not seen since I was twelve! And of course, it’s silly as hell. As silly as any other 80’s movie you’ve seen and of course, that’s exactly what I loved about it. It took me back to simpler days in cinema, when a film could be about two silly kids falling in love in New York City; where a movie could be about a couple of crazy kids with no bigger priorities in their lives save for falling in love and having fun. The film runs on that idealistic idea that the world might be messed up, but we can survive it with a little love in our lives. Weird that the filmmakers decided to mix demons with love, but such is the nature of the cinema of the 80’s.

In retrospect, My Demon Lover is less a sex comedy and more a date movie. It’s about accepting each other with our flaws, finding ways to “make it work” and finding someone you want to care for. On this film everybody is trying to date somebody, it takes place within the bachelor world, where girls and boys are constantly worried about finding “the one”. In this way it reminded me of films like About Last Night (1986), where the two sexes are constantly analyzing each other. So you get the typical “men are like this, women are like that” conversations. ‘Denny’, the main character in the film is a working girl who falls for the worst guys; losers who dump her by stealing everything in her apartment. Then we have ‘Kaz’, a bum from the streets who plays the saxophone on the train and oogles and harasses the ladies he sees on the streets. Oh, he’s also cursed to turning into a demon whenever he tries to have sex! There’s an allegory there, about how guys can turn into wild animals whenever they want to get it on with the ladies, but you shouldn’t really read too much into that. This isn’t exactly what you’d call a ‘deep film’. Its themes are simple yet valid ones: if you truly care for someone then you have to do something truly noble for that person; you have to show some real love and go beyond just sexual attraction. 

The entertaining part of the film comes of course whenever ‘Kaz’ gets horny and turns into a demon. What’s cool about the concept is that he turns into a different looking demon every time he turns, so we get a variety of monsters throughout the film. Kaz goes from turning into a werewolf demon, to turning into a fat bald guy who can’t stop laughing, to growing demon wings among many other amusing transformations. The makeup effects are not anything I’d call amazing or award worthy, but they sure are entertaining… and gooey. There’s a lot of slimy, squishy stuff going on. My Demon Lover was produced by New Line Cinema’s head honcho Robert Shaye, the guy responsible for producing so many of the Nightmare on Elm Street films before New Line Cinema became a major film studio. This explains the films emphasis on makeup effects work; it was just the thing to do during the 80’s when latex monsters ruled the screens. If you wanted a movie to make money, you put a lot of special make up effects in it. New Line Cinema was after all known as “The House that Freddy Built”. This make up effects frenzy ran its course and ended in the mid 90’s when horror switched back to ‘slasher mode’ with the success of films like Scream (1996) and I Know What You Did Last Summer (1997). It’s interesting to note how it was horror maestro Wes Craven’s creations that decided the direction horror films would take throughout the 80’s and 90’s, he certainly had a pulse on the genre.  

So what we got here is a silly, simple yet entertaining little horror movie from the late 80’s. It reminded me of another film you might want to check out if you end up enjoying My Demon Lover, it’s a film called Date with an Angel (1987). It shares a similar premise (that of falling in love with a supernatural being) but instead of dating a demon, the main character falls for an angel. But if you ask me, all of these movies in which regular people fall in love with a monster, or a creature are influenced by Ron Howard's Splash (1984), that's the one where Tom Hanks falls for a mermaid played by Darryl Hannah. Seeing My Demon Lover made me think about how modern movies aren’t populated with regular people anymore. I miss that about movies, where the protagonists don’t have to be perfect, politically correct, unrealistic tight asses, in fact, a lot of films from the 80’s were about the working class, those of us surviving to make it in the world, this is something we don’t see that much anymore. In movies from the 80’s, characters weren’t afraid to be silly and ridiculous, they were imperfect, they were more like us, the regular everyday people. In this way, characters in films from the 80’s feel more real to me, even though they are extremely silly because let’s face it; all pretensions aside, most of us are still a bunch of grown up kids pretending to be adults. Deep down inside, we’re all little kids who want the thrill of watching horror movies in the dark, without our parents’ permission.

Rating: 3 out of 5 

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Silver Bullet (1985)

Silver Bullet (1985)

Director: Daniel Attias

Cast: Corey Haim, Gary Busey, Everett McGill

Silver Bullet is a werewolf film that was released a few years after the success of two far superior werewolf films, An American Werewolf in London (1981) and The Howling (1981), the two films that all other werewolf films must look up to. And while Joe Dante’s The Howling is a nifty werewolf flick with great effects by the always amazing Rob Bottin, I have to say that as far as I’m concerned, no werewolf movie out there has been able to surpass what John Landis and crew achieved in An American Werewolf in London; the challenge to beat An American Werewolf in London in terms of makeup effects work is still up and running. The film is a great amalgamation of comedy, great effects, horrifying moments and a great story; it’s simply too good of a movie. It’s incredible that with the advancement of technology in the world of special effects, no computer generated images have been able to top the genius that make up effects guru Rick Baker achieved in An American Werewolf in London; which is why the werewolves in Silver Bullet pale so brightly when compared to Baker’s creations.  Still, a werewolf movie does not run on special effects alone, so how was Silver Bullet as a whole, especially when we take in consideration that it’s a Stephen King adaptation?

The world of cinematic Stephen King adaptations is an uneven one. Some are amazing like The Shining (1980) and Pet Sematary (1989), while others are mediocre, like Maximum Overdrive (1986) and The Lawnmower Man (1992), to name just a few examples. Is Silver Bullet one of the good ones? Well, it’s a strange sort of film in the sense that it seems to been aimed at kids, but it’s a hard ‘R’ filled with lots of gore. It feels like it’s aimed at kids because number one, it has a kid in the starring role in the form of a pre-teen Corey Haim, who plays Marty Coslaw, a kid bound to a wheelchair for the rest of his life. Marty knows there’s a werewolf prowling about killing his neighbors in grizzly ways, but of course, same as in every single horror film of the 80’s, nobody believes the kid. The film even feels like it’s a family film, because at its core it’s about a kid’s relationship with his crazy, yet lovable, drunkard uncle. The whole film is tinged with that gee-whiz 12 year old mentality that so many of Stephen King’s novels are known for. King loves to center his horror stories around children. He did it in Silver Bullet (1985), It (1990) and again in Dreamcatcher (2003). King connects horror with childhood, which makes sense. It’s at that age that we are most susceptible to being scared; we know so little of the world. The problem with mixing children and horror on films is that your target audience becomes children, but then if you’re making a horror movie for kids it can’t be too scary or you risk getting an ‘R’ rating and losing your target audience…and then the film becomes a marketing nightmare. Who do you sell the movie to, kids or adults? This is probably the reason why Silver Bullet died a quick death at the box office.

I haven’t read The Cycle of the Werewolf, the novel on which Silver Bullet is based on, but I have seen the illustrations that accompany the novel, namely, Bernie Wrightson’s amazing art work. The sad part is that the werewolves in the film pale in comparison even when compared to Wrightson’s illustrations! Who’s to blame for the underwhelming werewolves on this film? Well, none other than Carlo Rambaldi, the Italian special effect guru best known for creating E.T. for Spielberg’s E.T. The  Extraterrestrial (1982). He also created the creatures seen in David Lynch’s Dune (1984). Rambaldi’s creature work has always been a bit uneven, on some films it can be amazing, like for example the Alien in Alien (1979), while on others not so great, like for example, his work on King Kong Lives (1986) is actually laugh inducing! For some reason, this is one of the films where his work was lackluster, the werewolf’s head looks as big as a refrigerator. If the filmmakers had employed the likes of Stan Winston, Rick Baker or Rob Bottin, this film might have turned out a bit better in terms of the werewolf effects.

Above Bernie Wrightson's illustrations for King's Cycle of the Werewolf, below, Carlo Rambaldi's werewolf for Silver Bullet (1985)

Werewolf effects aside, it’s not the worst werewolf movie I’ve ever seen; that would be Wes Craven’s Cursed (2005). No, Silver Bullet is actually watchable. Corey Haim and Gary Busey play likable characters who live in their own little world. Busey’s Uncle Red is always saying one liners and silly jokes to keep Marty’s spirits up and Marty, even though he is disabled, hasn’t given up on life and is actually very gung-ho about living it. The whole film, like many of King’s stories takes place in small town U.S.A., with a whole slew of townsfolk archetypes like the town asshole, the nice Sheriff who is lenient with the people he’s known his whole life, the violent macho man, the old lady, the unfaithful wife, the natural leader, all these archetypes that tend to inhabit Kings stories. So you definitely feel like you are watching a Stephen King movie. In terms of themes, well, the film does have a thing or two to say about catholic priests who like to chase little boys. Ultimately, I think what hurts this movie the most is the lack of direction. It has that television show feel to it, there’s nothing spectacular or eye catching about the way it was filmed, the direction is actually very banal. This was director Daniel Attias first and only cinematic effort, the rest of his career has been spent directing television, so I guess that explains a lot. Not one of King’s worst adaptations, it certainly deserves a watch if you’re a werewolf or Stephen King fan.

Rating: 3 out of 5


Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials (2015)

The Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials (2015)

Director: Wes Ball

Cast: Dylan O’Brien, Ki Hong Lee, Kaya Scodelario, Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Giancarlo Esposito, Rosa Salazar, Lily Taylor

The whole kids versus ‘the system’ thing has run its course in my book. But you know Hollywood, they’ll keep pumping out movies based on the latest young adult hit novel until the whole things been bled to death. The Hunger Game movies are a huge bore for me; all they do is talk, talk, and then talk some more and it’s not even good dialog. For example Insurgent (2015), the latest sequel from the Divergent series was such a letdown of a film! Nothing happens! Worst part is that I actually enjoyed the first one! Even worse is that Naomi Watts and Kate Winslet were on this thing! Which brings me to the problem with some of these franchises: Hollywood will do a good first film to kick the franchise of and then follow it with watered down, less than stellar sequel. When it comes to franchises, sometimes Hollywood doesn’t pay much attention to sequels because they figure we’ll see whatever they pump out, because they’ve already got us hooked. They figure we’ll pay for a shitty sequel because we just gotta know how it ends. Well, I got news for you Hollywood, I’m not gonna fall for it! I’m not seeing the next Divergent film! That franchise is dead in my book. I’m sick of Hollywood stretching out films with unnecessary dialog just so they can pump out another extra sequel! What’s this sucky new trend where they turn the last film in the franchise into two films? Its bullshit I tell ya! So of course, I went into Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials (2015) with extremely low expectations. Was this to be another stretched out, shitty sequel?

In the first film, Thomas and his crew of misfits managed to escape the maze in which they were living in, yet the question remained, who is running the show? Why where they placed in this maze in the first place and what comes after you escape it? As we soon discover, the kids haven’t escaped the clutches of ‘Wicked’ just yet, which by the way is the name that they have for the government on this series of films. That’s right my friends, the government on these films is so evil that it’s called ‘Wicked’. So anyhow, the kids have to run yet again and escape into the wild and crazy scorched earth; a post apocalyptic waste land filled with infected zombie like ex-humans. You see humanity has been infected by a deadly virus for which there is apparently no cure. The government is trying to find it, but with no success! Apparently Thomas’s blood is what can save humanity! Will the wicked government ever capture Thomas and manage to harvest his blood?

The good thing about these Maze Runner movies is that they are not boring, as opposed to The Hunger Games and Divergent films. Sure they got their expository dialog, but it’s quickly followed by action and interesting visuals. This movie has some pretty nifty action sequences, and staying true to its title, they actually do run for most of the film, this is without a doubt a chase film. So in this sense you can rest easy, the film won’t bore you to tears. And another good thing it has going for it is that it’s visually interesting. There’s this moment where the kids are running away from a thunder storm which I thought was pretty cool from a visual standpoint. There’s another sequence where they have to run away from a zombie horde while running through a series of toppled down buildings which was fun.  So while the whole theme of young kids versus the system is getting pretty old by now, The Maze Runner series is keeping things interesting by telling their tale with an emphasis on action. So kudos to the filmmakers for that!

The thing with this series of films is that there’s a shroud of mystery throughout the whole series of films. We’ve yet to fully understand why these kids were put in that maze in the first place, the answers are alluded to, but never fully answered, which I think is a successful element in these films, they want to keep us guessing. Keep it a mystery and people will want to come back for the next film. A new addition to this film was the whole post apocalyptic angle. I love post apocalyptic films and the icing on the cake is that we also get zombies on this one, now there’s a surprise! So for a while there, this turns into a zombie flick. Sans the gore of course, because we gotta keep it ‘PG-13’, can’t forget our target audience here are teens. Still, it was a pretty intense and fast paced film. The characters were likable, I thought it was interesting how each of the rebels is from a different ethnicity as if to make sure kids from all over the world are represented on the film, which reminded me of Children of the Damned (1964), which did a similar thing. This is probably done to give teens from all parts of the world a character they can identify with. I liked that they made the Asian guy a kick ass character, but the black guy does next to nothing, so I guess Hollywood still has to deal with giving black characters more substantial roles. To me, each one of the kids should have their moment to shine, not just the white guy. This is director Wes Ball’s second film, his first was The Maze Runner (2014), so this guy has two for two in entertainment value in my book, let’s see if he can keep it up for the third one. I’m curious for Maze Runner: The Death Cure (2017), let’s hope they don’t stretch that one into two films.

Rating: 4 out of 5

Thursday, September 17, 2015

The Deep (1977)

The Deep (1977)

Director: Peter Yates

Cast: Nick  Nolte, Jacqueline Bisset, Robert Shaw, Louis Gossett Jr., Elli Wallach

After Steven Spielberg’s Jaws (1975) helped create what is now known as the ‘summer blockbuster’,  suddenly Peter Benchley (the author of Jaws) was a hot commodity in Hollywood and whatever he’d written suddenly became the center of attention for producers, who jumped on his novels like sharks on a frenzy. This is how we come upon The Deep (1977), a film that rode on the Jaws bandwagon for all its worth. The awesomeness that was Spielberg’s Jaws made people think that if it had Peter Benchley’s name on it, it would have the impact and the nail biting suspense that Spielberg’s film had. Was this the case with The Deep? Could Spielberg’s successful style of storytelling be duplicated by the likes of Peter Yates?

The Deep is all about Gail and David, a couple who go to Bermuda for a romantic getaway and a bit of scuba diving; you see they like to explore the wreckage of old sunken ships. In their search for underwater forgotten trinkets, they stumble upon an ampoule of morphine. When they take their findings to the local treasure expert, he tells them they’ve found no big deal, but in reality, they’ve discovered part of a treasure of more than 90,000 ampoules of morphine that sunk with a ship called ‘The Goliath’. The part that gets everybody’s panties up in a bunch is that this morphine can be sold for millions on the black market. Suddenly Gail and David become the target of local thugs who want them to dive for the rest of the ampoules. Will they strike a deal for the dive, or do Gail and David have other plans?

Movies that are about treasure hunts comply with certain elements. We always have good guys looking for the treasure and bad guys after their coat tails, willing to kill to get their hands on the loot. Both groups are fueled by greed, fortune and glory. Examples of these types of films are Romancing the Stone (1984), Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark (1984), The Goonies (1985) and The Phantom (1996). These films are also known as adventure films because searching for the treasure always leads to running from somebody and near death experiences avoiding booby traps, sadly, The Deep doesn’t offer us much in the way of excitement or adventure, it’s actually a pretty dull affair. Which is a sad thing because story wise it feels as if the book had great potential for an exciting adventure film. I get a feeling that the problem comes from the downright boring way in which the story was told, so even though I’m sure having all the underwater photography was a ‘big deal’ back in the 70’s, it wasn’t enough. The Deep needed to be more kinetic.

Composer John Barry did the music for this film and he’s been responsible for fantastic music for many wonderful films, but for some reason, on The Deep the music was kept to a minimum and we’re left with a lot of silent moments, with no dialog, and no music, which brings excitement levels down to almost a complete stop, even during scenes that are meant to be exciting. The film boasts the fact that it was shot mostly underwater, and it’s true, most of it was shot in four different oceans and a huge underwater set and all the actors involved had to take diving lessons. The filmmakers and actors went through all these troubles to shoot so much of the film underwater yet all that effort doesn’t seem worth it for me because the resulting film turned out so boring and uneventful.  Anyways, you know your movie is in trouble when the most exciting thing about it is an eel that hides inside of the sunken ship and every now and then pokes its head out in an attempt to eat somebody. That eel felt like a desperate attempt to inject excitement into a film that doesn’t have much of it.

This is the film that made a star out of Nick Nolte, it was his first starring role. He headlined the film alongside the beautiful Jacqueline Bisset who by the way opens the film with scenes of her scuba diving with only a t-shirt on. In these scenes, understandably so, her nipples become the center of attraction. According to producer Peter Gruber these opening scenes were one of the reasons why the film ended up becoming, to my surprise, one of the top money makers for Columbia Pictures that year. But let’s be honest, nipples aside, what people expected was another Jaws, even the poster for the film makes you think it was a sequel to Jaws. I doubt people were impressed by this film as much as they were by Jacqueline Bisset’s breasts. To my disappointment her role in the film isn’t even that good, she is often times left on the sidelines while the men go treasure hunting. Most of her scenes involve her waiting, bored out of her mind while the men are out having their ‘adventure’. Though she does have one scene where she kicks ass with a harpoon, most of the time she’s relegated to the damsel in distress type of female character. And speaking of underdeveloped characters, the film is filled with a great supporting cast like Elli Wallach and Louis Gossett Jr., but man their roles are paper thin! These actors feel wasted here. Robert Shaw, whom we all came to love in his role as Quint in Jaws (1975) gives the strongest performance in the picture.

The fact that most of the film was shot underwater was the big technical achievement with this one, they supposedly made the biggest underwater set built to that date. I just wish that after all those efforts the film audiences ended up getting would have been better. Not only that, for such a simple film, it runs for more than two hours! The Deep goes to show us the difference that the right director and the right music can make in a film. I’m not saying that Peter Yates and John Barry are bad within their fields, but a lot of what made Jaws such an amazing piece of cinema is that Spielberg was behind the cameras; Spielberg knows a thing or two about strong characters, performances, suspense and just pure cinematic entertainment. On The Deep we had Peter Yates directing and Yates is a director who took a stab at quite a few genres within his repertoire, with a couple of good films to his name like Bullit (1968) and Krull (1983), unfortunately I get the idea that at the time he made The Deep, he didn’t understand the importance of excitement in an adventure film. The results are evident in The Deep, one of the dullest treasure hunts in cinematic history.

Ratings: 2 1/2 out of 5      


Related Posts with Thumbnails