I’ve been wanting a return of a pure historical a season ever since Doctor Who came back. I decided to reblog this chaps piece because I think its a reasonable starting point to the concept, especially with the comments at the end.
Anyone who thinks ‘pure’ history is boring obviously had the wrong teachers…
Recently I rewatched the original Godzilla film a couple of times. Once with my kids, where I had to read out the subtitles to them, and the other after I’d listened to the Godzilla episode of the Skiffy and Fanty Show. The podcast gave me a fresh appreciation for various aspects of the film including various influences of Japanese culture and history of which I was previously unaware.
So I think it meant that on the most recent rewatch I was simply more aware of everything than I had been previously, picking up on elements and aspects of the film that I hadn’t spotted on other viewings. I doubt there’s anything new here for the many kaiju fans who of course have a much better understanding and appreciation of the film than myself, but for the more casual viewer, you might find some of this of interest.
Out of necessity, there are major spoilers about most of the important beats of the film within this article, so if you haven’t seen Godzilla, you may wish to watch it first so you can get its full effect without knowing all the surprises. Continue reading
Witch Hunt – 6/10
I’ve included Witch Hunt in the Cosmic Horror list only because of its relation to Cast a Deadly Spell. Witch Hunt is in no way Cosmic Horror.
An indirect sequel to Cast a Deadly Spell, it’s stronger in some ways than the original, but has flaws that can’t help but damage it.
I call it an indirect sequel because, while it has some of the same characters – Private Detective Phillip Lovecraft, and licensed witch Hypolyta Kropotkin – there are a few small changes to Lovecraft’s motivations and the like. But nothing important.
The story is set in the 1950’s, and presents us with a McCarthy-istic Senator hell-bent on ridding America of magic. As with the first film, a lot of fun is had with the ideas and concepts of a world in which magic is an everyday thing which almost everybody uses.
Lovecraft is played by Dennis Hopper, who isn’t quite sure what to do with the role. Hopper talked about the film as being the strangest he had ever done, and at times he looks a little out of place, but still puts in an okay performance, with small highlights here and there.
Except for his voiceover.
Over the years I have heard many people complain about Harrison Ford’s voiceover in Blade Runner, saying it was lacklustre and awful. Personally I never had a problem with it. However Hopper’s narration for Witch Hunt is dreadful. He sounds like he’s reading the world’s most boring book.
Sheryl Lee Ralph does a fabulous job as Hypolita Kropotkin, Lovecraft’s friend and landlord. Penelope Ann Miller is also well cast as Kim Hudson, who hires Lovecraft to look into her husband’s affairs. Eric Bogosian is mostly good as anti-magic Senator Larson Crockett, while Julian Sands is only okay as Finn Macha, mostly due to giving us an Irish accent that is almost indecipherable. Sands’ acting is fine, just hard to appreciate.
Most of the film is quite fun and watchable, but where it really falls down are the resolutions of its main and subplots. It really is going along quite well, building tension, giving us reasonable character motivations, and holding together okay, and then it drops the ball disastrously. Neither ending makes sense or works well, and certainly the resolution to the main plot is so awful as to be nonsensical. The writing there is seriously flawed in its logic, creating a situation that realistically should have made things worse, not better.
However, I wanted to finish on the film’s most positive aspect – its dialogue. There are some fabulous lines peppered throughout the story. Great moments like the actress Kim Hudson telling Lovecraft you’d ‘have to be as dumb as I look,’ not to realise what was going on. Or the couple of times Lovecraft gives a would-be tough guy his comeuppance. Those moments sing. The actors know they have a great line, and usually deliver it beautifully.
There’s a greater use of computer graphics this time around, but they are still used sparingly and to good effect. The direction in general varies. It’s mostly quite good, but there a couple of moments where things aren’t as clear as they should be.
Like Cast a Deadly Spell, it’s a fun watch. Yes, it has some serious flaws that hurt it, but most of the film is enjoyable and is definitely worth a look. I really wish HBO had done more films in the universe.
For links to the list of other cosmic horror films I’ve been watching, go here.
Cast a Deadly Spell – 8/10
Sorry for a long absence, was down with a nasty virus, but I’m getting back to normal at long last.
So, Cast A Deadly Spell…
It’s 1948, magic is commonplace, and private detective Phillip Lovecraft is seemingly the only person who not interested in using magic for all manner of things.
The film is as much fun as it sounds. In fact it gets an extra point just for the fact it does have fun with the core concept, whilst staying a reasonable detective story. The only cosmic horror angle here is really some stuff to do with the The Great Old Ones, but who cares? It’s an enjoyable watch.
It also has a solid cast of character actors all doing a great job – Fred Ward, David Warner, Julianne Moore, Clancy Brown – play their parts as they should given the subject matter. And being a made for TV film from the early 90’s, most of the special effects are practical in nature, so while they may not be superbly flashy, they tell the story and never seem out of place because most of what you see is really there.
It’s not a perfect film, but it is enjoyable, and quite watchable.