Young Frankenstein Review

During the month of October, I had the incredible experience of viewing Mel Brook’s 1974 comedy classic Young Frankenstein on the big screen. Sitting in an almost completely empty theater, I watched in admiration as one of my favorite actors played out one of his most famous roles, just as people did in 1974.

The story, a comedic spoof based on various film adaptations of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, focuses in on the well-educated medical doctor Dr. Frederick Frankenstein (Gene Wilder). Frederick discovers that he has just inherited the Transylvania castle of his famous grandfather, who conducted experiments in attempts to reanimate the dead. Initially hesitant, Frederick decides to recreate his grandfather’s experiments with the help of an unlikely group of odd individuals.

If there exists a film that is so universally hailed as comedic and undeniably hilarious, then it was probably directed by Mel Brooks. Brooks utilizes every level of humor to its fullest effect, whether it be simple slapstick or a subtler humor that takes a couple of viewings to fully appreciate.

Discussing humor can be a difficult and daunting task, partly because of the subjective nature of comedy. There are only so many ways that I can say a scene from Young Frankenstein is funny, and only so many ways I can say entire films made in its image are not. Yet, with that established, I believe Young Frankenstein to be comedic genius. Brooks takes a beloved source material and handles it with such care, delicacy, and most of all, lunacy.

Pondering such questions as, “What if Igor was in denial that he had a hump?” Or even, “What if Frankenstein’s monster meeting the blind man had a more comedic punch to it?” It’s questions like these that any individual can conjure up in their heads, but only Brooks has the audacity to carry it out on the big screen.

Playing the role of Dr. Frederick Frankenstein, Gene Wilder gives what I would argue the best performance of his career. The frantic ravings and occasional lunacy of a mad scientist in denial about his family heritage is about as outlandish as imaginable, and Wilder fits the bill. Not only that, he becomes the character, going beyond the call of duty to give the audience an unforgettable experience. And is it surprising for me to say that whenever I hear somebody talk about Frankenstein, I first think of this movie, rather than the Universal classic?

One can hardly forget the enigmatic supporting cast, who help make this lovely masterpiece what we know it as today. My personal favorite would be Igor (Marty Feldman), a dimwitted wisecracker with a knack for making the situation worse. Something about Igor has always appealed to me unlike anyone else in the film. His onscreen presence alone is enough to elicit hysterical laughter from yours truly.

Young Frankenstein is a film I re-explore at least once a year, typically around the Halloween season, and for good reason. It’s listed as one of the greatest comedies of all time by the American Film Institute (14th), Bravo TV (56th), Rolling Stone (5th), and was even selected for the Library of Congress National Film Registry. It’s a beloved masterpiece that will hopefully be respected by moviegoers for years to come.

The Verdict: A

-Zachary Flint

 

Halloweentown Review

Whenever I’m asked the question of, “what is my favorite guilty pleasure movie?”, the answer has always been Halloweentown. Sure there are movies I love that most people think are bad, like Looney Tunes: Back in Action and UHF. However with Halloweentown I accept just how bad it is, yet I love just about all of it.

This Disney Channel original movie stars Kimberly J. Brown as Marnie Piper, a thirteen year old girl who is obsessed with the Halloween season. Every year Marnie’s eccentric Grandma Aggie (Debbie Reynolds) visits  for Halloween, dropping hints of a magical world. So when Marnie decides to follow her Grandma home, Marnie discovers that Aggie lives in the secret world of Halloweentown.

Halloweentown is a place where all Universal studios type monsters live in harmony together. However, things may not be as they seem, and it is up to Aggie, Marnie, and Marnie’s younger siblings Sophie (Emily Roeske) and Dylan (Joey Zimmerman) to figure out what is going on.

Among all the cheesy Disney channel tropes,cringe worthy dialogue, and eye roll-able jokes, there is a very charming film here. A film that young kids can understand, and adults can find cute and enjoyable.

Halloweentown overall gives off a very comforting tone and mood. It’s a relaxing film for the audience to experience without having to think too deeply. I often times don’t like it when a film opts to play it safe, but this is the exception for me.

The town of Halloweentown is one of my favorite parts of the entire movie. The makeup design on all the monsters that the audience gets to see inhabiting the town are pretty goofy and funny. The festive set pieces of the town square are great as well, I can tell that a lot of effort was put into the design of them.

Halloweentown has made me smile every time I watch it, ever since I was a kid. That’s something that I really admire in a movie, the ability to keep me coming back years later and enjoying it just the same. Perhaps it’s just my own nostalgia for it getting in the way, but a little nostalgia for movies is never a bad thing.

I sit down with my family every year and  watch Halloweentown. It is a fun, visually creative, and all around enjoyable family movie that is perfect for the Halloween season.  I recommend anyone who likes family fun holiday movies to go ahead and check it out.

Zachary Flint

Halloween (1978) Review

Over time, Halloween has become an iconic film of the horror genre. It is often cited as popularizing the slasher film and creating many horror movie tropes we continue to see used today.

Directed by John Carpenter, Halloween was made on a relatively small budget of about 300,000 dollars, while making over 70 million in the box office. Proving just how financially successful independent, low budget films good be.

Halloween tells the story of an escaped psychopath named Michael Myers. Myers, whose been locked up since he was a child for killing his sister Judith (Sandy Johnson), has now broken out of his mental ward and is returning to his home in Haddonfield, Illinois. There he stalks 17 year old Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) who is babysitting on Halloween night. The only one who may be able to stop Myers’s terror is Dr. Sam Loomis (Donald Pleasance), Michael’s psychiatrist from when he was a boy.

I know a lot of people don’t find this film very frightening by today’s standards, but I think that has more to do with how society views horror. Modern day horror flicks are plagued by pop-up jump scares that are paired with loud sounds. No longer is it about building up tension, but rather just have the film go silent, followed by a loud noise that makes the audience jump. Making them think that they were scared. Very few modern horror directors (like James Wan) pull off the jump scare in a clever and unique way.

I don’t believe Halloween has got any less scary over time. The subtle horror aspects infused with the sharp musical score (written by John Carpenter himself) make this film what it is. The very simple but effective music adds to the tension that builds from Myers stalking various people. The music will spike as you can see Myers standing in the background, surrounded by the darkness. Very creepy.

One of the biggest reasons I love Halloween is how the film was shot. Being on a low budget gives Halloween this sort of gritty look to it. It all feels very practical and real. The tracking shots that John Carpenter uses when the camera slowly moves between houses really builds up tension in a way I haven’t seen before. At least, not done as well. He utilizes simple but creative camera shots to give the point of view of Michael Myers, as the audience hears his deep breathing through the mask.

Michael Myers symbolizes pure evil, and the fact that he can get up after being repeatedly stabbed and shot gives him this “indestructible force” aspect. As if he isn’t even a human and more like an entity.

The climatic scene when Laurie makes her way into the neighbor’s house when the audience knows Micheal Myers is already inside still scares me to this day. The horrors that ensue are well done and effective. Many other films have taken inspiration from these iconic scenes between Laurie and Michael, who acted and performed very well. Again, the gritty way Halloween was shot really adds to the experience.

Finally, the ambiguous note the film ends on suits it nicely and I wouldn’t have wanted it to end any other way.

I recommend Halloween to all who have an appreciation for horror. It is a horror movie classic that will continue to be a staple of the genre for many years to come.

Zachary Flint

40 Years of Horror: Best Horror Films By Year 1975-2015 (In Pictures)

My picks for some of the best horror related films of the past few decades.

1975: Jaws

halloween13

1976: The Omen

halloween14

Runner Up: Carrie

halloween15

1977: Suspiria

halloween16

Runner Up: The Hills Have Eyes

halloween17

1978: Halloween

halloween1

Runner Up: Dawn of the Dead

halloween18

1979: Alien

halloween5

1980: The Shining

halloween19.png

Runner Up: Friday the 13th

halloween20

1981: The Evil Dead

halloween7

1982: The Thing

halloween11

Runner Up: Poltergeist

halloween21

1983: Twilight Zone: The Movie

halloween22

1984: A Nightmare on Elm Street

halloween23.jpg

1985: Re-Animator

halloween24

1986: Aliens

halloween12

1987: Evil Dead II

halloween25

Runner Up: Hellraiser

halloween26

1988: They Live

halloween27

Runner Up: Child’s Play

halloween28

1989: Pet Sematary

halloween29

1990: Arachnophobia

halloween30

1991: Silence of the Lambs

halloween10

1992: Candyman

halloween31

1993: Leprechaun

halloween32

1994: Wes Craven’s New Nightmare

halloween34

1995: Se7en

halloween33

1996: From Dusk Till Dawn

halloween35.jpg

Runner Up: Scream

halloween36.jpg

1997: Anaconda

halloween37

1998: Ringu

halloween38

1999: Audition

halloween40

Runner Up: The Sixth Sense

halloween41

2000: American Psycho

halloween43

2001: The Others

halloween44

2002: 28 Days Later

halloween45

Runner Up: The Ring

halloween39

2003: House of 1000 Corpses

halloween46.jpg

2004: Shaun of the Dead

halloween50

 

 

Runner Up: Saw

halloween47

2005: Hostel

halloween48

2006: Slither

halloween51.jpg

2007: Planet Terror

halloween52.jpg

2008: The Strangers

halloween54.jpg

2009: Orphan

04_orphan__blu-ray

2010: Insidious

halloween56.jpg

2011: The Cabin in the Woods

halloween55

2012: V/H/S

halloween60.jpg

2013: The Conjuring

halloween58

Runner Up: Mama

halloween59.jpg

2014: It Follows

halloween2

Runner Up: The Babadook

halloween42.jpg

2015: Krampus

halloween57

Zachary Flint