Thursday, June 30, 2011

Film #70: Scared to Death (1947)

Bed bugs.
Incurable insanity.
Dying unloved.
These things scare the RDHP to death. But a floating blue mask?! That sure doesn’t water our pants!

Yet it sure does a number on Laura Van Ee, our easily scared stiff heroine in this week’s film, “Scared to Death.”
Talking from a cold morgue slab, Laura Van Ee relates to the audience the bizarre tale of how she died… literally scared to death!

Love and marriage go together like a horse and carriage, right? Well, not in the Van Ee home. There they go together more like cutting and hemophilia. Laura Van Ee and her husband Ward hate each other’s guts, but Laura refuses to grant a divorce. Why? Cause this is the 1940s, and Laura’s never worked a day in her life (or has she?!?!?! Foreshadowing here people). Without a husband, how would she feed and clothe herself, she cries!

Laura and Ward live with Ward’s father, Dr. Joseph Van Ee, who hates his daughter-in-law more than Casey Anthony hates motherhood.

Dr. Joseph and his sonny-boy start to conspire to get rid of Laura, but don’t get far before the mysterious Professor Leonide – Dr. Joseph Van Ee’s estranged cousin – barges into their home. Fresh off a stay in a Nazi concentration camp, Leonide and his midget companion return to the Van Ee home where Leonide also grew up hoping to mooch off Dr. Joseph. Seems Leonide needs a place to crash while he gets his midget enhanced hypnosis act off its feet in the States (possibly, the plot was murky on why Leonide showed up).

Once Leonide arrives, all hell breaks loose. Laura starts getting grave warnings about her impending death, and even stalked by a floating blue mask. Her nerves are set on the brink… made worse by her mysterious fear of blindfolds and inability to reveal details of her past life prior to marrying Ward Van Ee. But don’t worry, a bumbling idiot private eye is on the case, hoping to solve a murder mystery and earn his way back on the police force he was thrown from. Add in a nosy reporter that shows up looking for a story and you have a packed nut house.

The scares keep building, Laura’s nerves keep fraying, and somewhere Leonide’s midget dances.
Who is trying to kill Laura?
If a tree falls in the woods, does it make a sound?
Find out, in this week’s 1947 Technicolor nightmare, “Scared to Death.”

RDHP Ratings and Review

C-Rating: 2.0
Chris Dimick hypnotizes:
“Thanks for the downward spiral, Bela!
Let me explain. You gotta feel bad for Bela. In the 1930s, he is the pointy teethed king of horror, receiving top billing in A-rate studio films like “Dracula” and “White Zombie.” That star slowly fizzled in the 1940s, as Lugosi earned respectable but smaller roles in films like “The Wolf Man” and “The Body Snatcher.”

But by the late 1940s, he was “starring” in this B-movie crapfest. Things just got worse in the 50s, hooking up with Ed Wood and supporting his growing drug habit with “films” like “Bride of the Monster” and “Plan 9 from Outer Space.” By then, he was a shell of his former glorious self. Sad.

Lugosi was too good of an actor to be relegated to B-movie hell. I’m not going to discuss here whether it was his own doing that led him there (books have been written on this).

Instead, I’d like to express my appreciation that Bela made the choices he did, and ended up making awful low budget pictures. Because of his slumming, I’ve seen many crap-fests that have been very enjoyable based on schlock alone.

Watching a bad movie can make a person feel like they’ve wasted a few hours of precious life (I’m thinking movies like “27 Dresses” and “G.I. Joe” for starters). But when Bela is in the picture, it is like a personal excuse to keep watching.

Lugosi made dozens of B-movies throughout his long career. While many of them are pointless and low brow, they can still be fun to partake in.
Usually they have a crazy twist, a fun quirk, or are just so dumb they are entertaining. Having Bela in the movie makes it okay to give your attention to a bad film. You can go, “Yeah, this is pretty low budget, disheveled, and lame… but Bela is in it, being his Bela badass self, so I guess no harm done!”

Scared to Death was such a movie. I would have never watched this had it not starred Bela Lugosi. Was it great? No. Was it fun, absolutely. It would be hard for me to rate this above a 1 without Lugosi bringing his primal charm to the movie. I have Bela to thank for the 2.0 rating, and the slew of jokes Nick and I riffed during this film.
There were several laugh out loud moments (unintentionally), a midget from the movie Freaks was in it, and I got to see a hardnosed reporter speak crazy 1940s language in the pursuit of a story. Better yet, the movie was only 65 minutes! Less of my life wasted! What’s not to love!

Scared to Death was silly, but it was creative and unique. Lugosi was just being Lugosi, but strangely that is enough to like his performance.

Bela, your loss is our gain. Thanks for opening up the world of B-movie loveable crap to a new generation. Your drug habit WAS worth it!”

N-Rating: 1.9
Nick Rich hypnotizes:
"I could-da been a contenda!
Truer words have never been spoken, especially in the case of this week's muddling 1947 thriller Scared to Death. Starring an aging Bela Lugosi in one of his three appearances on the Technicolor screen (as opposed to his usual silver), this 'thrilling mystery of a supernatural killer' is probably most notable for the novelty of catching a glimpse of Dracula outside his normal shades of gray.

While neither scary, nor particularly well written, StD (best RDHP movie abbreviation to date!) had surprisingly decent acting - from some of the players. In fact, in what would be former Olympic wrestling silver medalist Nat Pendleton's final onscreen appearance as Bill Raymond (a former cop who's 'none to bright' and on the lookout for murder so's he can get his job on the force back) was either the most horrible performance I've ever seen or one of the most brilliant.

Pendleton easily steals the movie with his dim-witted 'house-officer' who is always late to the scene of the crime.

Conversely, Lugosi as the enigmatic Professor Leonide borders on being downright boring to watch. Sure, Lugosi has an air of entertainment in the way he sulks on and off screen (when he actually makes an appearance in this film that is...), but as is his curse he is trapped by his accent and pigeon-holed into playing the same character he's frequented all too often. By comparison Pendleton's fool was immensely more enjoyable to watch and wonder over the limits of his stupidity. Apparently Pendleton made a career out of playing characters that are a bit slow on the up-chuck, but as he has a much lower profile than Lugosi, I found myself more inclined to give his token performance greater leeway (as I had never seen it before).

Now, compliments aside, I wouldn't want anyone to get the impression that this is a quality film! While there were aspects that were amusing (the lingo, treatment of women so stereotypically chauvinistic it was hilarious, ridiculous cuts to a picture of the murdered woman in the morgue with a voice-over that usually spoke less than 7 words, etc.) there was also a lot that just didn't click.

The pacing was a bit slow and although the movie only clocked in at 65 minutes, it felt like the film would have been better off if it has only lasted 45.

I found myself not really following the flow of the story - and not particularly caring. I know this film was a super-low budget production made on the cheap to wring out some profits during a rough time in film history, but that doesn't win any favor with me.

I went into this film hoping it would be bad enough that it would at least be amusing to watch, but unfortunately any amusement I harvested from StD ran dry when the film got to be a bit too long in the tooth... which is what this review feels like it’s doing!

The Skinny: Check this flick out if you want to see Bella's cheeks flushed or if you've ever wondered what a horror movie would be like with a third rate Stooge in it."

Things We Learned From Scared To Death:
-Trouble and Bela are like “this.”
-You actually can be scared to death.
-Midgets are only offended by politeness.
-Nobody likes reporters.
-“Little girl” is an okay term to call your lady lover in the 40s.
-News stories have a smell.

RDHP Presents:

Call them what you want – little people, vertically challenged, freaks of nature. We can all agree on one thing, midgets are damn entertaining folk. Angelo Rossitto, the little person who played “Indigo” in Scared to Death, used his small stature as a moneymaker for seven decades of film, starring in over 80 films and TV shows from Freaks to Gunsmoke to The Incredible Hulk.

Entertainment loves them some little people, and really what’s not to love?! Below, we salute our favorite little people from film and TV past. Enjoy, but please, watch where you step:

Gary Coleman
A nutcase for sure… but a loveable one.

The Lollipop Guild
How many licks does it take, boys?

Tattoo from Fantasy Island
De plane! De plane! Seriously, get off the plane!

Danny Devito
The rare ugly midget.

“Mini Me” Verne Troyer
Porn aside, you have to appreciate his film exploits. And he’s just so whittle!

Wee Man
What a Jackass.

Psychic Tangina in the Poltergeist
What is with that voice! It’s as creepy as it is pleasing.

Warwick Davis as the Leprechaun
This little clover made a killing in film…literally.

The Man From Another Place on Twin Peaks
What the fu*#! David Lynch strikes again.

Peter Dinklage in Elf
Proof that a little person can, and will, take down a tallie.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Film #69: Cujo (1983)

What’s wrong with that doggie in my window?
The one with the yellow goo’ed fa-A-a-A-ace!
Not cool how he’s try-Y-Ying to kill me.
I do hope he’ll just go away.

But nope, this dog won’t just go away. At least until he’s had the chance to tear out your throat and snack on your baby’s back-ribs. One lesson learned this week: Not all dogs go to heaven… namely, the satanic death machine known as Cujo.

There once was a time when Cujo was a playful fella. He had a peaceful life, running around the countryside chasing rabbits, serving his wife-beating master, and licking his privates to his heart’s content. But one day while hunting a waskly wabbit, Cujo followed the bunny down its rabbit hole and started tripping major balls.

His huge Saint Bernard head got caught in the hole, which leaded to a large underground cavern. Cujo sure could use “one pill that makes him smaller.” With Jefferson Airplane nowhere in sight though, Cujo flips his shit and the ensuing barking fit causes rabid bats inside the cave to attack the doggie’s face.
Welp, dog-gone-it if Cujo right then and there doesn’t started to get infected with a bat-bite disease that slowly changes him from family pet to chomping murdering monster.

Meanwhile back in the city, city folks are having their own city problems. Advertising executive and sports car driving tool Vic Trenton thinks he has the perfect life. A mulleted wife named Donna, a whiny kid named “Tadpole”, and a “stud” best friend named Steve Kemp who likes to drop by the house at random times.
But, it’s just not that simple. Vic doesn’t pay attention to his family, so Donna gets back at him by screwing his best friend. Meanwhile, poor Tadpole hears monsters in his closet every night. Typical American family (at least in Stephen King’s world… the author of the book this film is based).

When Vic’s sports car goes on the fritz, he rushes to get it repaired… neglecting the other family roadster, Donna’s hunk of crap Ford (Fix Or Repair Daily). The car repair takes him out to little known, but great, country mechanic Joe Camber, who also has a whinny son, a wife who likes Irish kisses, and…DUN, DUN, DAHHHHHHH! A DOG NAMED CUJO!

And so the universe brings these two families together.

Vic gets his car fixed, but has to run out of town during an advertising crisis. While gone, Donna’s Ford starts acting like a Ford, and she decides to take it to Camber to get fixed. Meanwhile back at the Camber residence, the wife and kid have gone out of town, and Joe Camber has gone to hell. Literally...Cujo has finally turned rabid and crazy, and turns Joe into a pile of Beggin’ Strips. (It’ssssssssssssssss Joe-Bacon!)

Donna drives out to the Camber residence with Tadpole in her head, but once she arrives her car first breaks down, then gets attacked by the giant Cujo. They try to get out, but Cujo’s there with biting results. The standoff lasts for days in the sweltering desolate car… Cujo against mulleted mother.

Will Cujo make dog chow out of the Tadpole!?
Can the super strong possessed beast be stopped by the super protective mother!?
How do I get to I-94 from here?
Find out, in the 1983 howler, “Cujo.”

RDHP Ratings and Review

C-Rating: 4.0
Chris Dimick barks:
“Stephen King hates you. I can’t say I blame him.
Wait wait wait, before you get offended let me clarify that Mr. King and I don’t hate YOU personally, but humanity as a whole. If you are reading this blog, then guaranteed you are a good person… and Stephen and I both like you just fine. Obviously you have impeccable taste and class. It is those others out there. And the others hidden deep inside all of us, really, that draw the ire of humanity pessimists like King and myself.

A quick survey of the human characters in Stephen King’s books and movies – Cujo included – show he doesn’t think too highly of man’s ability to choose good over evil. There aren’t many sympatric characters in King’s works. Even the people he steers you towards rooting for have extraordinary character flaws.
It is almost like he is challenging you to still care for these horrible people as they face horrifying situations.

In Cujo, for example, our heroine is Donna Trenton, the mother of whinny Tad who has been cheating on her husband for months with one of his best friends. And this is the hero!? As Cujo lunges for her throat, for a moment an audience must think ‘Should I care if she is turned into Gravy Train?”
King makes you care by putting innocent Tad in the car with her… and softens your feelings toward Donna as she tries to protect her son. Such is King’s genius.

The other characters are just as bad. There is the abusive mechanic and Cujo owner Joe Camber who, the second his bruised wife leaves town, conspires with a friend to go into the city to get liquored up and have sex with whores.
Donna’s bed buddy Steve Kemp is no saint either, attempting to rape Donna when she tries to end their relationship – with little Tad sleeping in the room above no less.
The dad, Vic Trenton is no choir boy… neglecting his family and their car so he can get ahead in his career and drive a fancy sports roadster. All these people suck!

Yes, King is a horror writer and likely focuses in on the darker aspects of humanity in his books to exude creepiness and set a mood. But beyond that you can see his downright disappointment in human kind, and the expectation that given the right special circumstances, or even in day to day circumstances, ALL people will choose evil over good.
What's scariest about his work is not the ghosts or monsters, but how King shows the evil inside humankind. Lurking, ready to be released. People just need a motive, King states.

In my formative years I once had a memorable discussion with my Mom about right and wrong. She said something that I took to heart then, and used to guide my feelings toward humanity for decades.
“Given the choice, most people will choose right over wrong. Most, not all, but most people are inherently good,” she said.

I adopted her belief as my own, and it always comforted me as I went about my travels through life. Yes, there are deranged people out there who think they are doing right but actually doing wrong, and yes there are people who know they are doing wrong but are so selfish they don’t care.

But the belief that most of us, most people, choose to live a just, fair, respectful, restrained, and good life for most of their time on this earth made me better able to tackle sticky life situations and reinforce my own pursuit of being as good a person as I could be.
Most importantly, it made me like humanity.

But lately, over the last few years, I’ve been starting to doubt that assessment on mankind. Are there good people in the world? Absolutely, and I wouldn’t be able to function without their presence in my life. There are several people I know personally that I would trust with any problem, and know they would pull through for me in the end.
Friends and family I love and care for more than anything else in this world.

But are MOST people good… and would MOST people choose the right thing to do even if the wrong thing benefited them more?
I don’t think so. I just can’t entirely believe it anymore.

In short, I’m on the fence, leaning toward falling out of love with the human race. And I’m not talking about the occasional hiccup in morals and good behavior. Everyone succumbs to that… and after it is said and done if you realize the mistake, feel remorse, and never repeat the action, then your moral code can be restored.

I’m talking about the bulk of humanity, 51 percent. Are they trying to choose righteousness over selfishness? Good over evil? I sure wish I could say yes, like I had in the past. But I just don’t think I can. Why? Turn on the news. Watch people on the street. Think back to the interactions in your life.

Stephen King’s assessment is depressing, but is it correct?
I hope not. But I think so.”

N-Rating: 2.9
Nick Rich barks:

“In my experience, Stephen King films are a mixed bag (or box of dog treats as the case may be). The Kingster has written some gripping stories, but unfortunately they have not always transitioned well to the big screen.

I think this hit or miss legacy is due in part to the budget of said films, but to a larger degree, the nature of his stories – to put it plainly, some just don’t work well as a film. Some of King’s stories are just a bit too ‘out there’ to work well as a movie in my book (get it? Book.). You can be clipping along at a great pace, enjoying the characters he’s given you, the premise is gravy, but when the payoff comes… sometimes King is a little to out there. Now, hey, I am all for creativity and surprising me with new ideas and whatnot, and heaven knows I give a movie a lot of slack when it comes to how far down the rabbit hole it will take me… but there just comes a certain point where that slack ends and my brain just says, “really? That’s what you’re giving me?”

This reaction is made all the more bitter by the fact that the story may have captured me up until the payoff (The Langoliers and Cell come to mind), which when not executed properly, leaves me with a bad taste in my mouth. At this point you may be wondering why I haven’t dug in to Cujo… but actually I have.

Cujo is written in what I believe to be the best vein for a celluloid ready King story: it is grounded completely in realism (ala Misery). As it turns out, no weird voodoo alien priest is responsible for Cujo going off his rocker, he simply has contracted a case of rabies and gone all Paul Riser on everyone. Chris and I were both shocked (and extremely pleased) by this revelation. You see, King has almost conditioned us to expect some whacky, out of left field element to his stories and therefore we were expecting Cujo to become a mutant monster due to cosmic radiation… the fact that he was a regular dog gripped by a real ailment made the film much more believable (obviously) and much, much better.

However, just because a film is better than meh (click here for definition), doesn’t necessarily make it great. While Cujo’s story was fairly fit, the production value (which probably was decent at the time) didn’t seem to age as well. Perhaps this was just an unfortunate side effect from being made in the 80s (which is a bit surprising, as it usually tends to make a film rock, not flop). As I ponder the causes for Cujo’s shortcomings, I’d have to say the fault lies more with the production team than the acting. While Cujo was by far the best actor, the rest of the cast put in solid enough performances to pass for a feature length film. The director, producers and cinematographer (you know, the boys in charge of how a film looks and feels) unfortunately missed the mark and gave the film a definite TV movie vibe. How did they do this you ask? The old fashioned way of course! Cheesy music, plain-jane shots of the action and odd effects (Cujo walking out of the excrement of a fog machine in slow-mo comes to mind):

All of which only served to pull the actor’s performances down to the upper echelon of TV movie quality, as their performances alone were not good enough to elevate it to big boy status:

Poor Cujo! If only he had had a better master, maybe things could have been different.
The Skinny: Check this flick out if you’d like to see what ET would have been like with rabies or if you need a refresher of the fallenness of man (which isn’t really necessary, but some may like to watch it as opposed to live it).

Things We Learned From Cujo:
-Some dogs’ bite is as bad as their bark.
-Mo money, mo problems.
-Mom plus mullet = Momlet.
-Seaweed has 30 percent of your daily Vitamin A needs.
-Grossest place for a woman to sweat – her upper lip.
-Sometimes, shaking a baby is okay – like when it’s screaming.
-“Yes or no” is not a good way to ask your spouse if they are cheating.
-You can’t run out on the Sharp account.
-Too much junk food and boob tube causes nightmares.
-Actor Danny Pintauro’s (Tad) first kiss: Dee Wallace-Stone.
-Cujo HATES missed phone calls.

Quote of the Viewing:
[The Cujo opening credits feature a swirling red liquid. This excites Nick and Chris for some reason, and they start yelling at the screen.]

Nick and Chris: “What is it?! It’s a drain?! It’s blood?! It’s, it’s paint?! It’s Jello?! It’s…

[The title screen pop’s up, stating “Cujo”]

Nick and Chris (relieved): “Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhh, it’s fine… it’s just Cujo!”

RDHP Presents:
Doggy Stars!
Cujo was the best actor of the group in this week’s film. While that might sound like a slight against the human thespians in Cujo, don’t forget about all the loveable dog actors who have thrilled us through the ages. Below, we present some of the canines who have captured our heart throughout the years. Or just made an impression. “Who wants to go for a walk down memory lane? Does some good boy want to go on a walk down memory lane? Let’s go boy, come on. Let’s go for a walk! Go for a walk!”

The mischievous mutt from Christmas Vacation is Cousin Eddie’s “pride and joy.” He’s got a bit of Mississippi leg hound in him, but scratch his belly and he’ll love you till the day you die.

After Cujo, somedoggie needed to restore humanity's faith in Saint Bernards. Beethoven took up the task!

Scooby Doo
The first ever drug addict canine on television (he just got a little TOO excited for those Scooby Snacks). Hopefully not the last.

Santa’s Little Helper
Race dog turned family pet turned Mr. Burns’ guard dog turned family pet again. It’s not easy being The Simpsons pet.

All nine of these dogs were great actors except for the last Lassie, who refused to get help for Timmy until the network gave him a five bone raise. What a Prima Dogga!

Poor Charlie Brown. Even his DOG was cooler than him.

Sarah Jessica Parker
What’s amazing is, like Mr. Ed, they got this dog to talk and dress in people clothes. Must have used peanut butter.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Film #68: The Bat Whispers (1930)

No need for riddling this, or riddling that.
It’s obvious who’s afraid of the big black bat.
Everyone… at least those in “The Bat Whispers.”

Whispering isn’t polite. That is what momma taught us (that, and go straight for the eyes!). But secret tisk-talk is the least of people’s worries in this week’s flick.
The Bat not only Whispers, he also murders!

Coppers are having a helluva time catching a maniac thief named “The Bat.” Legend holds that the perp is half man, half hideous winged devil who bites and kicks… and flies!

After a string of robberies/murders, the entire town is on edge. So confident in his criminal ability, The Bat even gives police the location of his next robbery – a socialite’s mansion housing a safe with a priceless necklace. The cops surround the place, but the bat still manages to not only steal the necklace but murder the socialite right under their powdered noses (you know, from donuts).
As a farewell, The Bat leaves a note saying he has had his fill of the city and will be moving the countryside for some “relaxation.”

Country folk, including the servants of Cornelia Van Gorder, don’t like the sound of that. Van Gorder and her dimwitted “help” are staying in a stately country manor for vacation. It just so happens that the owner of the mansion, the president of a bank, recently experienced a bank robbery of hundreds of millions of dollars while he was “out of the country.”

A humble bank teller, and Van Gorder’s niece’s secret fiancĂ©, is the main suspect in the heist. Scared for her lover, the niece hides the bank teller in plain sight at the mansion, saying he is the new gardner. Word gets out that the teller is at the house, and that he has hidden the fortune in a secret room hidden deep inside the country mansion.

Spooks and strange folks soon arrive at the house. Van Gorder calls both the police and a private detective to protect them… but with The Bat on the loose no one feels safe.
All sorts of creepers begin sneaking around looking for the treasure, meanwhile scaring the house inhabitants into believing there are ghosts afoot.
“Get out now!” one seeming specter demands. And wouldn’t you know it, The Bat also shows up… and starts picking off his competitors one by one while looking for the mullah.

Is the mansion filled with ghosts, or robbers?
Did the bank teller really take that money?
Just who is “The Bat”?
What is the meaning of life?
Find out, in the thrilling 1930 haunted house mystery “The Bat Whispers.”

RDHP Ratings and Review

C-Rating: 3.9
Chris Dimick whispers:
Some may say it is dead in film, killed off by round after round of sequels and remakes. I feel it has just gone into hiding… eeking out in smaller, unknown indies (The Human Centipede) and the occasional breakout mainstream hit (Inception).

What makes a movie entertaining is its originality, if even the trait only blossoms for one scene or cinematic idea. Originality is what made The Bat Whispers great, and a blast to watch.
But it wasn’t the plot or the dialog or even the twist ending that made “Bat” so great.

In fact, it wasn’t really all that original as a whole. The movie was based on a successful play, and there was even a silent film version made before it, directed by this film’s director, Roland West. All three versions employed many of the same plot points (and would again when the movie remade, this time with Vincent Price, in 1959).

The originality came from the film’s cinematography, which fiercely grabbed our attention 81 years after the movie was released. Similar to shots in modern day super hero movies, The Bat Whispers featured several scenes where the camera swooped through scenery and buildings, one fluid continuous shot through the sky giving the allusion one is flying, like a Bat, through the environment.

Long before CGI and Matrix like camera work, the makers of this film employed life like models to perform the shots. Even with the less sophisticated technology, the effect was exciting and somewhat mind-blowing.

Nick and I literally “whoa-ed!” during the scenes featuring the bit. It was like I was watching a 1930 version of Sin City or The Dark Knight. Amazing.
Speaking of Batman, that famous comic character was created in 1939 by Bob Kane, who freely says the complicated crime-fighter is based in part on The Bat Whispers.

I’ll admit there are no true original ideas. Everything, especially in entertainment, is based in part on something that has come before it. There’d be no rock and roll without the blues, no Family Guy without The Simpsons… etc.
And The Bat story has been made so many times, one might think it odd to equate it with originality.

But this film's cinematographer really made it his own, and brought the audience something never seen before. He could have phoned it in… seeing as it was just another silly mystery movie. But he didn’t. He went for it, for something new, for something to “wow.”

Right here, I want to thank him for that, whatever cemetery he is in. Thanks for not following the norm, or just giving it the effort required, Mr. Cinematographer. Thanks for trying, and for being original.
You entertained me, a man in 2011, with your antics. And you made my night, on June 14, 2011, in the process.

It can be easy to take originality for granted in the slog of copycats and not-try-very-hards that come our way each day. But in the same vein, that just makes it much easier to spot when something truly unique and heartfelt does come along.

When you find this, promote it, praise it, share it. I forget all too often to appreciate the hard work and originally of folks. Problem is, if you don’t ask more, you’ll just get more of the plain old boring same.

And do we really need another SAW movie?”

N-Rating: 3.7
Nick Rich whispers: “Until I sat down to write this review and reread the title of this movie, I totally thought it was called 'The Bat Whisperer'. You know... like The Horse Whisperer... only with bats. I can only imagine what this film would have been like had it actually had that tile - more squinting, romance and animal feces perhaps? Thankfully it did not, and the pain of Phantasm IV was scrubbed partially from my memory. For this piece of community service, I would truly like to thank you The Bat Whispers, in all the ways that matter you've made a difference in my life.

While not the best movie I've ever seen, The Bat Whispers certainly holds its own. Which, considering the company it keeps as a 1930's film (M, King Kong, The Black Cat, etc.), is quite impressive. As Chris mentioned, this was a film that truly looked out of its time, as if the filmmakers were able to peer into a crystal ball and see hue of tomorrows yet to come. The cinematography was shockingly fresh for a film that at the time of our viewing was 81 years old.

I think the thing that impressed me most about the cinematography was that the amazing camera shots were nestled in among, truthfully, rather mundane workhorse shots of the action (or lack thereof). You would be clipping along, following the story and most likely forgetting the camera was even there and BAM! These ingenuitive shots would slap you in the face out of nowhere! A sprawling zoom shot, an awkward angle that pushes you off balance... that they were surrounded by simple shots made them all the more impressive, like standing a pretty girl among the wallflowers. Sure, other films from this era had some crazy cinematography (see Vampyr), but The Bat Whispers stood apart because of its restraint of, rather than indulgence in creative shots.

I can't in good conscious finish this entry without mentioning some of negative aspects of this film... after all, it wasn't all gravy. Here's a quick rundown:
  • The acting was a little slapsticky (which was actually quite annoying in the case of the housekeeper) and felt oddly like it both belonged and didn't fit at the same time... which left me feeling a bit conflicted.
  • The story wasn't particularly well crafted. For a movie that touted a twist ending, I as the viewer wasn't even aware I was supposed to be guessing who The Bat was! So, naturally, I wasn't all that surprised for the big reveal... oh, and once revealed, there wasn't that total recall you get from a good reveal where the entire film flashes before your eyes again and you think 'oooohhhh, it all makes sense now!' Instead, I was left thinking 'oh, ok, that dude's The Bat.'
  • The pacing of the film was a bit slow at times. I suppose I expected that a movie that was filmed in such forward-thinking way would have pacing to match... and was subsequently a bit disappointed.
As I mentioned before, all of these negatives magically seemed to make the film shine all the brighter for those amazing moments tucked away in the celluloid. So while it may seem like there are quite a few negatives in this film, I would recommend checking it out - it's just a fun ride. Of course, any enjoyment I derived out of this film could just be the direct result of it following a viewing of a Phantasm film, coupled with the fact that it was not complete and utter crap. Let's choose to think its a decent flick and let Phantasm stop haunting us (as if that's possible).

The Skinny: Check this flick out if you want to see what The Matrix or Inception looked like as a fetus... or if you'd like to see Thomas Lennon's great-grandfather!”

Things We Learned From The Bat Whispers:
-Socialism is bad, but even worse is “spookism.”
-Mentally disabled folks make great house “help.”
-Best place to keep one’s Ouija board is under the family Bible.
-Best way to stop snoring is to tie one’s jaw shut with a handkerchief.
-It takes Chris 34 seconds to get a pop from his fridge.
-Ladies’ minds go out the window when a good looking fella walks through the door.
-Feeling sick? Some Prohibition whiskey will cure ya.
-Alopecia is not a strain of flowers.
-Darkness can allow anyone to escape any situation.
-Mexican Twinkies are called “Los Submarinos”:

RDHP Presents:
"Dude, I won't ruin the ending for you, but you HAVE to see it"
No spoilers allowed! Seriously, it is the RDHP’s opinion that people who tell spoilers, especially end of the movie spoilers, should have their toenails slowly pulled off with rusty pliers and fed to them with a glass of Kim Kardashians butt-sweat.
At the end of The Bat Whisper, a main character “breaks the fourth wall” of the movie and pleads to viewers to not give away the surprise, twist ending. Nothing worse than ruining the end of a movie by spoiling the surprise. Even worse, those people who claim to have “known it all along” after viewing. Yeah right.
In honor of keeping secrets and preventing spoilers, we present our favorite surprise ending movies that should have a similar whisper warning. These endings will twist you harder than a Rold Gold!

The 6th Sense (1999)
Dead people are seen indeed.

The Usual Suspects
Kaiser Soze is whaaaaaaaaaaaaa?

Se7en (1995)
What’s in the box, Brad?

Sleepaway Camp (1983)
You’ll feel confused, terrified, and maybe a little turned on.

The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
Mega-daddy issues.

Diabolique (1955)
You’ll never walk into the bathroom alone again.

The Village (2004)
M Night strikes again! What a twisty billy!

Identity (2003)
John Cusack confused in a movie. Not the first or last time.

Dark City (1998)
Just where are they?!

Planet of the Apes (1968)
You maniacs, you really did it!