Friday, October 25, 2013

The Ward & The People Under the Stairs are on A Night of Horror with The Vern.

I'm very sorry about the lateness in posts people.  I'm working at setting up  new interviews for The As You Watch Podcast and getting ready for a show my band has on Halloween night.  Not to mention my job and also searching for a new place to live. It's been a busy week for me.  I hope to be back on Tuesday with even more Gorey Goodies.    But for now, let's travel to my crypt for another night of horror.

The People Under The Stairs.

Cast: Brandon Quentin Adams, A.J. Langer, Ving Rhames.

Writer and Director Wes Craven.

***s out of 4.

 I am always amazed at how a movie is marketed.  Since "The People Under The Stairs" is essentially a horror flick.  It makes sense for the trailer to feature really heightened music and show a lot of the more scary aspects.  While the movie itself does have things that are indeed frightening. This could have easily been done as a dark children's fable.  A very dark one at that, but still a tale for children all the same.  Let me explain.

Fool(Brandon Quentin Adams) is a poor kid who is about to be evicted from his apartment by some real nasty landlords.  One of the tenants named Leroy(Ving Rhames) comes up with a plan to break in and steal the money that is hidden there.  When they get inside they soon discover that the landlords are a viciously deranged couple(played creepily brilliant by Everett McGill and Wendy Robie)  who will do anything to make sure they don't leave.  Fool ends up discovering their young daughter Alice(A.J. Langer) who does her best to help him escape her evil parent's clutches.

The actual people under the stairs are just the ones the couple caught and did not release.  Of course they are cannibalistic creatures, but in no way should they be considered to be monsters.  For starters they don't eat kids, and two.  The only humans I have seeing them chow down on were really bad people.  They are (in this author's mind) the Boo Radley persona from "To Kill a Mockingbird".  Something that is made to look scary, when viewed from a distance, but up close.  OK so they are still scary looking, but they are actual nice people who do end up helping these kids so that's not bad, right.  The evil parents are just hyper realistic versions of the ones you would find in most fairy tales.  They are the wicked stepmother from "Sleeping Beauty" or Jafar from "Aladdin", but taken to very extreme measures.  Yes, they are off the wall and sometimes comical.  "Burn in Hell" is said so much by them.  I'm surprised it wasn't written on the floor mat near the front steps.  If they did tone down the language and some of the gore.  This could have easily been a PG-13 rated flick.  But then again if it was, no one would see it.  

The Ward.

Cast: Amber Heard, Danielle Panabacker, Jarred Harris

Writers: Michael Rasmussen, Shawn Rassmussen

Director: John Carpenter.

** and a 1/2 *'s out of four.

I am kind a curious at why the titles call this John Carpenter's "The Ward", when he himself did not write this at all. He was just the director.  If that was the case then shouldn't "Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas" should instead be called "Henry Selick's The Nightmare Before Christmas".  After all Mr. Selick was the one who directed the picture.  Mr. Burton's only contribution was the story and the characters, he never did work on the script.  But that's an entirely different  post for an entirely different day. We are here to look at Mr. Carpenter's latest movie.
"The Ward".

Kristen(Amber Heard) is a young girl who is taken to a mental institution for trying to burn down a house.  She has no reason why she is there and can't seem to recall anything from her past either.  While there she meets the other patients( I blank when trying to remember their names, but am told one of them is Meryl Streep's daughter) and is given a room previously occupied by a girl named Tammy. Who was killed by a ghost during the first part of the movie.  It's not long before Kristen starts seeing the very same ghost and gets attacked by it.  Of course since she is in the loony bin the only people who believe her are the other crazy chicks.  How is she going to survive this?

 I can't help but think that before John Carpenter made this.  He saw "Girl Interrupted" and thought.  "I like this move, but you know what would make it really good.  A  demon ghost girl who kills people".  It's been over ten years since he last directed a picture("Ghost of Mars" in 2001) so I'm sure he had lots of time to watch other movies to be inspired by.  The story by Michael and Shawn Rassmussen is surprisingly the best thing about this movie. It has a good sense of each characters' motivations, and the plot rarely or if ever slows down.  The look of this hardly felt like it was directed by John Carpenter.  If I didn't know going in who the director was.  I would have just though that it was a very impressive debut from a new film student.  Take a look at Carpenter's earlier movies like "Escape from New York"," Big Trouble in Little China", "Christine" and "They Live".  They all shared the same type of style to them.  The story may have featured some unbelievable ideas(ie,turning New York into a prison, and sunglasses that can see aliens) , but the way it was shot made it feel dirty, gritty, but somehow real.  I guess you could blame this on the advent of computers.  I'm really not sure.  Maybe someone who has just recently discovered John Carpenter through this film may have a different opinion on his earlier works.

As for "The Ward".   oh I'm sorry.  As for "John Carpenter's The Ward".  This was a very decent ghost story where I thought the movie was heading one place with it's story, but then it switched gears and went another place.  I found myself being a tad upset, but enjoyed where it went, and then it surprised me again by going back to where I originally thought it would.  The performances from the cast were good although there were a few moments that made me wish Mr. Carpenter had a better editor. I never once wish that this should be recast. A very solid watch.


  1. I'm just glad Carpenter is working instead of sitting home getting stoned and playing video games. Nothing wrong with sitting home getting stoned and playing video games, but he's far too talented to not at least crank out a movie every two or three years. A ten year break is just absurd for a filmmaker of his caliber.

    1. Very True. I liked that many of his early films never age that much. They are stories set in that time and it adds a bit of charm to each one. Thanks for the comment . Be sure to check out Brandon at Movies at a Dog Farm on the side bar people.

  2. I've heard of People Under The Stairs, not watched it yet. I love that title :)

    I didn't even know John Carpenter was still active, I feel he kind of lost his way as a director in the 90s and 00s in the same way Dario Argento did.

    1. Yeah Chris, I feel that Carpenter is still a good director, but it lacks the same kind of passion that it once had. Thanks for commenting

  3. People Under The Stairs=fucking awesome!
    The Ward=Fucking sucks!

  4. I coudnt have said it better. Thanks for the comment

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