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The Ring Two (Unrated Widescreen Edition)
The Ring Two (Unrated Widescreen Edition)
DVD ~ Naomi Watts
Offered by Solo Enterprises
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A bitter disappointment, but redeemable, August 21, 2005
THE RING TWO suffers from a lazy, simplistic, and naive script, loaded with half-baked ideas and the earnest belief random crazed deer would be a clever allusion to the horses in the original. It isn't, and the ludicrous scene comes sufferably close to ruining the film. Not to mention the fact that the death of a doctor and the disappearance of a child believed to have a mentally unstable mother leads to absolutely no resolution. Ehren Kruger mortally wounds the film with his script that plays off good ideas, but results in a movie with absolutely no sense. Ultimately, it's all lazy formula - a victim of the tape popping up right in front of Watts' nose on one of her first days in her new town? Making Samara a poltergeist-type entity? Even though Kruger works with evocative themes about motherhood and parenthood, it's all half-arsed on his part when it comes to the plot, which is a great shame - he could have done way more with Sissy Spacek.

The film is redeemable, though. Naomi Watts gives an admirable performance, and director Hideo Nakata gives the film an offbeat atmosphere, one warm as it is gloomy. The film does not indulge in the cold, somber aesthetic of the original film, but that is a good thing - it mirrors the character arc in the films: the first film concerns itself with the cold insensitivity in its characters (between mother and son, media and its subjects), while the second develops the more caring relationship between the mother and son characters.

Nakata still doesn't equal his original Japanese film when it comes to scares, though. While the bathtub scene is awesome, and his directing has always had a plain, raw elegance seen a number of times in this film, he makes a number of missteps, like the anti-climactic well scene and CGI Samara.

The film may not be good, but it is a meritable companion piece to the superior original. It evolves the character arc of the first film's characters, and even works off the subtext and layers of the first film:

While THE RING was a sort of ode to the neglected, needy child, THE RING TWO is an ode to parenthood, primarily the stress and burden of motherhood. A ham-fisted ode, but an effective tribute nonetheless. Naomi Watts sells her role as determined maternal protector, showing fierce will to stop Samara and terrified agony at the task of "infanticide" that parallel fates have put upon her.

In THE RING, Naomi Watts is made to feel the pain and suffering of the child, Samara. In THE RING TWO, Watts is put fully into her role, and is made to feel the pain and suffering of the mother figure (the adoptive mother in the original, Sissy Spacek's character here, every mother who suffered postpartum, from its mildest to its most extreme): the pain of feeling the horrifying need to hurt your child. When Watts visits Spacek at the mental institution and the orderly tells her Spacek is visited frequently by distressed mothers, we realize that motherhood is a universal burden. When the Simon Baker character (in a deleted scene) tells Watts of his daughter whom he lost custody to because of his tragic misstep as a parent, we realize parenthood is in general a universal burden. One gets the feeling RING TWO is dedicated to all insecure and terrified parents in the world. The mother is given an especially warm and compassionate look here, though, and the mere glance at the portrait that adorns the cover of the book Watts finds in the Morgan's basement gives the film a much needed sensitivity to the mystical labors of love that is motherhood.

It's a ring of maternal angst the sequel brings full circle. This type of evocative and pathos-ridden subtext could have made this film great, but unfortunately, the film turned out to not be good. It's really terrible.

The film isn't competely horrible and worthless, though, even though its scatter-brained and ludicrous. It's reasonably well-made, despite unintentional camp, and sports good performances and some effective subtext.

The Ring (Widescreen Edition)
The Ring (Widescreen Edition)
DVD ~ Naomi Watts
Price: $7.99
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Chilling Horror Film of Depth and Maturity, December 22, 2004
I have always puzzled over criticisms that this film is a soulless cash-in of a superior Japanese horror film, intended for low attention-span teenagers. While the original RING stands as a intensely horrifying ghost story on its own, it is safe to say that the American remake is its own fresh take on the same story, adding to the horror of the original with thematic complexity and penetrating subtext.

The Japanese RING is effective because of the stark realism and dry terror it evokes; the remake takes the opposite route, taking on a nightmarish and surreal atmosphere. While RING steams forward to the final climax with menacing intensity, THE RING creeps forward with a languid, contemplative pace. Criticisms for being "slow" are inevitable, but to those who can appreciate it, THE RING ultimately benefits from the way it languishes on its vivid dreamscapes. One is not likely to forget the shot of the well, bathed in blue, or the leaves lighting up "as if they were on fire." But my real point in writing this review is to praise the excellent adaptation this film is of its Japanese counterpart. Scriptwriter Ehren Kruger adds his own version to the legend behind the tape, replacing psychics with unnatural conceptions, and scandal with tragedy. Kruger also adds layers to the film, introducing arcing themes about parental responsiblity, the needs of children, and empathy.

Parenthood is examined in a number of places in the film. Naomi Watts' character, a crass and insensitive journalist, is also an uncaring mother, not wanting to acknowledge the distance between her and her son. Martin Henderson's Noah is a deadbeat dad, afraid of taking responsibility of the child. Jane Alexander, as the Moesko Island doctor, talks to Watts about her mentally retarded grandson. "We loved him anyway," she says. "It takes work. Some people have limits." She is indirectly talking about the Morgans, whose daughter shows us the worst-case scenario of becoming a parent. The extent to which they go when dealing with their child is horrifying. Aidan and Samara have a subtle relationship in that they are both victims of parents struggling with their role as parents. It is finally the curse that leads Rachel Keller to take full role as a mother, and the empathy she creates with the plight of the neglected daughter Samara Morgan ultimately reflects on her own son. Naomi Watts does a fine job of showing the growth her character makes, conveying real sadness and sensitivity as the film progresses, especially in the final scene. The look in her face when the movie "fades to black," so to speak, hits home the moral crisis the film ends with.

There is a lot more to this film than one would think. The final climax with the television has its own dark edge, even with the superior climax of the Japanese RING edging it out. The final scene brings up a moral dilemma, though, that rivals the original in resonance.

For added insight, watch the DON'T WATCH THIS feature on the DVD. There is one scene between Rachel and her sister Ruth that should not have been cut from the film: their conversation reflects directly another mother-child relationship and how "involved" a parent should be with their children.

In summation, 'The Ring' is a bleak and beautiful horror film with a strong emotional core; a commentary on parents, children, compassion, and the media's lack thereof ("What is it with reporters? They take one person's tragedy and force the world to experience it. They spread it like sickness." Examine that quote. It sums up the curse in three sentences).

A great film, one of the best horror films in years. 9/10.

The Curse of the Cat People
The Curse of the Cat People
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Atmospheric and Touching Sequel to the Classic Horror Film, August 24, 2002
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'Cat People' is a horror film. 'The Curse of the Cat People' is a fantasy, an exploration of a child's imagination. The first film focused on Oliver Reed (Kent Smith), who marries a woman named Irena. Irena is cursed with the supernatural ability to turn into a cat when angered. This deadly ability causes the detoriation of her happy marriage, the death of a man, as well as hers. This movie begins years after the first, Oliver is now married and has a six-year old daughter named Amy. Her imagination and belief in the fantastic triggers her fathers memories of Irena and her "mental delusion," as it is addressed in this film. We are left to ponder whether Irena really was cursed, or whether it was just a mental delusion of hers. Oliver does everything to suppress his daughter's fertile imagination, but this only causes the alienation of Oliver from his daughter. This is when Amy calls for a friend, and she gets one in the form of Irena (Simone Simon).
Is it Divine intervention? Or is it all in Amy's imagination?
'The Curse of the Cat People' is a touching and ethereal film. Great directing, well-built suspense, chilling atmosphere, wonderful script, great acting (especially from the young girl), and unforgettable and haunting visuals (Irena caroling in the distance, Amy at Sleepy Hollow, etc.) This film has nothing to do with cats, or cat people. It never specifies the "mental delusion" Irena Reed had in the first film. The title is very misleading. Great movie.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Others: Beautiful, Moving, Scary, and a Classic Chiller, August 11, 2001
The movie was excellent- a horror movie that is scary, entertaining (if a bit slow), haunting, and deeply depressing at the end. It has a chilling ending and leaves you hoping shes forgiven. I thought the movie was tragic ghost story that has the dramtic depth and character that THE SIXTH SENSE had, this ending much more sad and the movie is much more elegant and wonderfully directed and stylized film- which ranks it over THE SIXTH SENSE(8/10), which I loved too. Definitely 9/10 or ***1/2. Go watch this symbolicly textured film (which can be taken in many different ways), or watch it for the beautiful Nicole Kidman, or to watch a classic ghost story thats SCARY! Nicole Kidman did a wonderful job portraying a character who needs such a wide range of emotions. The children are believable and the supporting cast is solid. Nicole Kidman is let to show her acting talent with a tormented character who gets your sympathy and then throws at you her secret that you hope shes forgiven for. The drama depth and symbolism is used wonderfully here. She truly loves her children- but the loss of her husband, her isolation, and her childrens sickness drives her to the edge. She is a deeply religious woman- where does she think she is? She truly loves her children and it is a tragedy to see everything shes gone through with the loss of her husband. Its scary as well and has the classic fog-ladden house and creepy bumps in the night. It is stylishly directed and every action scene is directed with such intensity (I loved the scene in which the the children wake up in the morning to discover- well, if you watched it, you should know). It reaches back into the classic horror stories of THE INNOCENTS and THE HAUNTING, who share a great deal with this film: the power and haunting and emotional depth as this film. I loved this movie and it is one of my favorites. It ranks with some of the best horror films and, besides all the script and deepness stuff, its a great thriller with some delightfully jump out of your seat moments and freaky scenes. The little kids are adorable and it is delightfully creepy. Watch, enjoy, and even tear up in this tragic story with character for the quality people, horror for the thrills. The last scene is haunting and beautiful. Go see it for Kidman's performance and the kids. 9/10 ***1/2

The Omen [VHS]
The Omen [VHS]
Offered by imagine-this
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Mark of the Beast: OMEN Leaves Effective Mark on Viewer, May 31, 2001
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: The Omen [VHS] (VHS Tape)
THE OMEN is a truly effective horror film. It is one of the best of the seventies. It may not be as psychologically intense as ROSEMARY'S BABY or religiously disturbing as THE EXORCIST, but it is a wonderful, quiet, and subtly moving story of a caring family torn apart by a terrifying revelation. Gregory Peck plays the US Ambassador who's wife gave birth to a stillborn. Not wanting to break the news to his wife, the hospital offers him the baby of a woman who died after giving birth, a woman who has no living relatives. He accepts and the family live happily until his son, Damien's, fifth birthday, in which the revelation of the antichrist is carried out. The cast is wonderful, adding to the realism and effectiveness of the film. You really feel the Thorns being torn apart by the events that occur, yet still reluctant to believe their son, the child they have been waiting for all their lives, to be the antichrist. Gregory Peck is very good, and gives the film a sense of respectability, and not just a 70's devil film. The talented Lee Remick contributes to the story well, making us especially sympathetic for this unfortunate character. Remick and the whole casts expressions of horrors leave an imprint in your mind for a long time. David Warner plays the curious photographer. The devil is one of the most horrifying evils of the horror film, and this film really takes this subject seriously, thus making the film a more believable movie. Also, this classic movie is completely entertaining. It has some gore for the gore lovers, but also uses it very carefully for those who don't enjoy bloodfests. It is creepy, eerie, and even a bit campy for those who like that sort of thing. Last, but not least, Jerry Goldsmith's Academy Award-winning score (the heart-stopping "Ave Satani") is a major part of this horror movie. This drama/horror is creative, scary, entertaining, and moving at the same time.

Sweeney Todd, the Demon Barber of Fleet Street (1979 Original Broadway Cast)
Sweeney Todd, the Demon Barber of Fleet Street (1979 Original Broadway Cast)
Offered by jrman2875
Price: $10.00
63 used & new from $0.01

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderfully morbid, humorous, and Brilliant, February 24, 2001
SWEENEY TODD is Sondheim's masterpiece musical. With a very strange plot, this unique musical is great for everyone who wants a daring, brilliant, avant-garde, and fun musical. The musical is ingeniously complex, but still catchy and enjoyable. The book by Hugh Wheeler is wonderfully written and very grandiose. I enjoy musicals more when the story isn't one someone would think would be a good musical. A Tony award winning musical with the famous Angela Lansbury about a man who slashes peoples throats and then disposes them in the most peculiar way is an amusing thought. The musical stars the great Angela Lansbury and Len Cariou. Cariou is the tortured, symathetic, yet murderous Sweeney Todd. Unjustly commited by the sick and twisted Judge Turpin, he has come back for revenge only to find out his family is gone, due to the Judge's cruel actions. His barber shop rests on top of Ms. Lovett's(Lansbury)failing pie shop. After reviving his business with the help of Ms. Lovett, he goes after the judge and his partner in crime, the Beadle... only to become mad with revenge, becoming a worped murderer of many, disposing of his bodies in partnership with Lovett... giving her pie business a boost with Todd's endless supply of meat... The subplot of Anthony(Victor Garber, who is also very good) and Sweeney's daughter, Johanna, is another essential part of the story. The supporting cast is great, too, with Merle Louise as the mysterious beggar woman and Edmund Lyndeck as Judge Turpin. It is a bloody, grand guignol melodrama with a captivating plot and moody atmosphere, Sondheim's masterful score heightening the mood of this macabre classic. Sondheim is brilliant. His music is beautiful, his lyrics develop characters and plot. His score is big but not without some subtlety. From Ms. Lovett's hilarious THE WORST PIES IN LONDON to the soothing WAIT, from the frantic and amusing KISS ME/LADIES IN THEIR SENSITIVITES number to the heartbreaking and haunting Sweeney/Anthony/Johanna version of JOHANNA. Their is also the unforgettable and gory finale that will satisfy the viewers looking for action, suspense, and gore- the viewers who want shocking and unsettling sutuations- ones who want to hear more of Sondheim's music- viewers who want to see the stars shine- and those who want a touching and disturbing story of revenge and corruption in the gloomy streets of a foggy London town. Lunatics running around, romance, and horror lace this musical with something for everyone. Buy the double CD package. Watch the show. Unforgettable, brilliant, and worth every dollar I paid for it. I also recommend every other Sondheim show.

Rear Window [VHS]
Rear Window [VHS]
Offered by EC-WareHouseFinds
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77 used & new from $0.74

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Suspenseful, Satisfying, Profound, and Comedic, February 23, 2001
This review is from: Rear Window [VHS] (VHS Tape)
REAR WINDOW is probably the perfect susense-mystery. Hitchcock includes everything in this very classy thriller with a involving romance between two compelling and enduring actors. With humor, style, directing, script, visuals, and thrills, this one leaves you with such a satisfying feeling that it is impossible not to smile- and think about the thought-provoking visuals and themes. Jimmy Stewart plays a man who is restricted to staying in his apartment due to being in a wheelchair. With a socialite girlfriend(the charming Grace Kelly) and a "wise" physical therapist(a endearing Thelma Ritter), Stewart investigates the strange happenings going on in the apartment across from his. As his interests grow, the trio goes through many hardships to satisfy their curiousness and prove their shocking theory. The movie is absolutely well-paced, the structure and plot/character-development becoming more and more familiar and interesting. Alfred Hitchcock wonderfully directs this film. He had worked with the elegant Grace Kelly once before and had many meetings with her to talk about this film. It was a pleasent surprise when he offered her the job of Lisa in REAR WINDOW. Alfred Hitchcock was the master of suspense and the avant-garde. Hitchcock was a very influential director, which he showed in this movie. Almost all the shots originate from Stwewart's apartment. Watch for him winding a clock in the musician/composer's apartment approximately half and hour into the movie. The music is done by Franz Waxman, the great composer of SUNSET BLVD., THE PHILADELPHIA STORY, Hitchcock's own REBECCA, and BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN. Story by Cornell Woolrich, script by John Michael Hayes, and costumes by Hitchcock's staple designer, Edith Head. This was one of Hitchcock's most ingenious thrillers. This movie is also one of wit and subtleness. Stella, my favorite character, has two of my favorite lines- "We've become a race of Peeping Toms. What people ought to do is get outside their own house and look in for a change. Yes sir. How's that for a bit of homespun philosophy?" and "When two people love each other, they come together - WHAM - like two taxis on Broadway." Buy this movie and experience a classic film that overachieves almost every aspect a good drama and comedy suspense should do- will satisfy everyone from the thrill lover to the analyzer(a great film to pick apart like many other Hitchcock films), and from the people who want fun to people who want meaning and depth. Look for themes, but enjoy this Hitchcock vintage classic.

Into the Woods (1987 Original Broadway Cast)
Into the Woods (1987 Original Broadway Cast)
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My All-Time Favorite Musical-Dark and Endearing, January 18, 2001
INTO THE WOODS is my favorite musical ever. It introduced me to my favorite composer, Stephen Sondheim. The acclaimed composer of other profound musicals such as SWEENEY TODD and PACIFIC OVERTURES, this is his most famous- reaching people from all ages. INTO THE WOODS is a wonderfully realized fractured fairytale, mixing together a number of children's fairytales: from Jack and the Beanstalk to Little Red Ridinghood. It is profound and is laced by frequent morals. This show portrays the fairytale, and the consequences for certain actions the characters take. Stealing from giants is just as wrong as stealing from people- and after murderering some"one", Jack has to face the result of his engraved faults. Apart from this in-depth look at certain fairytales, this musical sends dozens of great morals that portray the flaws and cruelty of characters, even the most lovable fantasy characters such as Cinderella. With a few twists, this is a shocking musical- a dark narrative on the shedded human characters(Cinderella, Rapunzel, Jack, etc.) leaving their protective fairy land where they are pure hero or heroine. The tables are turned and Sondheim and Lapine wonderfully create a fable full of witty dialogue, catchy tunes, and heart-wrenching themes. INTO THE WOODS begins with a ideal fairy-tale, a happy, adventurous look at a baker and his wife's journey to retrieve four object- a cow as white as milk(Jack), a slipper as pure as gold(Cinderella), a cape a red as blood(Little Red Ridinghood) and hair as yellow as corn(Repunzal). It ends happily ever after- then the second act comes and the characters are exposed to real life- full of grief, torture, and reprimand. It seems hopeless until there is optimism leant to us when the characters realize their faults and their enemies virtues. Joanna Gleason won the Tony for Best Actress, portraying the logical Baker's Wife. The talented Bernadette Peters plays the witch wonderfully too. Jack is played by Ben Wright(recommended too), the hilarious Danielle Ferdland as the sarcastic Little Red Ridinghood, Robert Westenberg, also hilarious as the "Charming, not sincere" Prince, and a enjoyable Chip Zein as the baker. Higlights include "Your Fault", Joanna Gleasons wonderfully sung "Moment in the Woods", and the unforgettably powerful "Last Midnight" The theme is incredibly creative- it creates the mood of the play, the most popular song "Children Will Listen" topping it off at the end. I love the return of the alive and even dead characters in the end- I think it is creative and endearing. This is a wonderful musical- I think it should've won Best Musical, though I like Phantom of the Opera, too.

Assassins (1991 Original Off-Broadway Cast)
Assassins (1991 Original Off-Broadway Cast)
Offered by Fulfillment Express US
Price: $14.94
48 used & new from $3.43

5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Darkly Humourus and Morbid Piece of Musical Theater, January 18, 2001
There is no other musical quite like Sondheim's haunting and disturbing musical ASSASSINS. The ultimate composer of avant-garde, Stephen Sondheim, creates a disturbing look at a variety of assassins who either attempted to prevailed to kill a president. Sondheim's compelling music is rooted to a whole range of music genres. From the creepy pop song "Unworthy of your Love" to a number of Ballads: "The Ballad of Booth" portrays John Wilkes Booth's last stand at the barnhouse. It is one of the most compelling scenes in musical theater. Of course, there is the shocking last scene. Lee Harvey Oswald, Kennedy's assissin, is planning to commit suicide, only to be visited by past assassins. It is a harrowing sequence, ending with the shot and a heart-wrenching variation on a patriotic tune. One of my favorite songs is the opening theme where a proprieter in a carnival shooting booth. The proprietor, played by William Parry(Sunday in the Park with George-"boatman") greets all the assassins to the booth, as he tempts them with the one thing they want. It is a black comic song, the assassin Sara Jane Moore(Debra Monk) providing much of the comic relief. The opener is a wonderfully interesting and catchy song, meaningful and metaphoric. The main tune is an other-wise optimistic song, if taken out of context. "Everybody's got the right to be happy..." It is a rather amusing song for the assassins to sing, but it fits their whole meaning. Though the plot is very controversial, I recommend this to everyone. With the climactic "Another National Anthem", the assassins relieve all point of their actions and stampede off the one point of ethics in the whole musical. The assassins march together in one cohesive group, showing the dark side of the American Dream. It is really scary. I've read the whole script and the interactions of the assassins, who most have never even met each other in their factual lives, is qite real- the comic scene between Moore, a Kentucky Fried Chicken Bucket, and the one other woman assassin, Lynette Fromme, is a nausea inducing scene of black and dark comedy- Also, Samuel Byck, played by the hilarious Lee Wilkof(Seymoure from Little Shop of Horrors), has some funny monologues. This musical is a innovative display of Sondheim's talent- a disturbing and unforgettable musical experience. Also listen for Joy Franz(Cinderella's Stepmother from Into the Woods). The popular Victor Garber plays the infamous John Wilkes Booth. Terrance Man plays Leon Csolgasz. "Everbody's got the right, to their dream..." [I]Recommend all other Sondheim musicals.

Trouble With Harry
Trouble With Harry
by Jack Trevor Story
Edition: Hardcover

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Great Black Comedy, Hilarious and Sweet, December 22, 2000
This review is from: Trouble With Harry (Hardcover)
THE TROUBLE WITH HARRY is a hilarious book that is so endearing that it would fit as a children's story if not for some inappropriate things. It is a well-written story with developed and wonderful characters, wonderful morbid and black touches, and satisfying conclusions. This book was adapted by Alfred Hitchcock into a movie which is wonderful, too. Not everything is included in the movie, so I recommend this book. I watched the movie first so, I know that there are some really funny things in this book not included in the movie. One of the best characters is Mrs. Gravely. Also, for those who have read the book and seen the movie, I like the books story of the hedgehogs. It's odd how both the captain and Sam seemed to feel more sympathetic of the animals than of the person, while Jennifer didn't seem to care at all. Anyway, read the book, it is wonderful.

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