Thursday, July 02, 2009

Not to be Confused With, Day 5

... wherein Tara Reid is an archaeologist(!), Nick Nolte is a cop(!!), Will Ferrell is a parent(!!!), and you WILL believe a boy can spell!

Alone in the Dark (1982/2004)

Alone in the Dark (1982)
Dir: Jack Sholder
Synopsis: "At a secluded mental institution, Dr. Bain (Halloween's Donald Pleasence) maintains order while electricity fuels the asylum's hi-tech security system that keeps the nearby neighborhoods safe from menaces like Frank Hawkes (Academy Award©-winner Jack Palance, City Slickers) and 'Preacher' (Academy Award winner Martin Landau, Ed Wood). Meanwhile a new doctor, Dan Potter (The A-Team's Dwight Schultz), arrives in town with his family, but the inmates don't take kindly to his presence and believe he has killed off their former therapist. Suddenly a power outage leaves the town in chaos...and now the maniacs are free to roam the streets and hunt down the man they believe has invaded their lives. With the area quickly descending into riots and chaos, the innocent few must fight for their lives when they're left terrified, cornered and Alone in the Dark! One of the most memorable and terrifying cult horror films of the 1980s, this white-knuckle shocker from director Jack Sholder (The Hidden) features shocking special effects from Tom Savini (Dawn of the Dead, Friday the 13th), delivering one seat-jumping scare after another along with a thick vein of sly, pitch-black humor. Turn off the lights and watch...if you dare!"

Alone in the Dark (2004)
Dir: Uwe Boll
Synopsis: "Edward Carnby (Christian Slater) is a private investigator specializing in unexplainable supernatural phenomena. His cases delve into the dark corners of the world, searching for truth in the occult remnants of ancient civilizations. Now, the greatest mystery of his past is about to become the most dangerous case he has ever faced. With the help of his ex-girlfriend, archaeologist Aline Cedrac (Tara Reid), and his bitter rival, government agent Richard Burke (Stephen Dorff), Edward is about to learn that just because you don't believe in something doesn't mean it can't cannot kill you."

Advantage: Alone in the Dark (1982)

I remember trying to get in the panties of this girl in high school, and she absolutely LOVED Christian Slater; I think it had something to do with his role in “Pump Up the Volume.” I tried one time to suggest that she was more enamored with the character he played, rather than the actor. I’d long since left her behind for other conquests of the day, but when the news broke about Slater biting some dude on the titty, I immediately thought back to her, and wondered if she still had an infatuation for him. Are Slater & Tara Reid, as directed by Uwe Boll, a better evening’s viewing than Pleasance, Landau, and Palance, with Savini special effects? I submit that they are not.

Nightwatch (1998/2006)

Nightwatch (1998)
Dir: Ole Bornedal
Synopsis: "This edge-of-your-seat suspense thriller stars Ewan McGregor (Star Wars: Episode I, Little Voice) and Nick Nolte (Simpatico, The Thin Red Line) leading an exciting Hollywood cast! Martin (McGregor) is a cash-strapped law student trying to make easy money as night watchman at the old city morgue. But Martin's peaceful graveyard shift fast becomes a time of terror when a serial killer begins wreaking havoc after hours and leaving behind clues pointing to Martin's guilt! Also starring Patricia Arquette (Bringing Out The Dead, Stigmata) and Josh Brolin (Hollow Man, The Mod Squad), Nightwatch is a stylishly original motion picture that leads you on a shocking series of twists and turns!"

Nightwatch (2006)
Dir: Timur Bekmambetov
Synopsis: "The forces of Light and Darkness have co-existed in a delicate balance for hundreds of years...until now. Even as the Night Watch polices the Dark Others - among them vampires, witches and shape-shifters - a chain of mysterious events triggers a dreaded, age-old prophecy: An immortal with special powers will come to switch sides, shattering the balance and unleashing an apocalyptic war unlike any the world has ever known!"

Advantage: Nightwatch (2006)

The 2006 film is remniscent of films like "Underworld" or "Blade," and plays off of themes that have been introduced as far back as "Nightbreed." The 1998 film just misses the mark, being a less-than-impressive remake of "Nattevagten," a 1994 Danish film.

Kicking & Screaming (1995/2005)

Kicking & Screaming (1995)
Dir: Noah Baumbach
Synopsis: "Paralyzed with post-graduation ennui, a group of college friends remain on campus, patching together a community for themselves in order to deny the real-world futures awaiting them. Academy Award-nominated screenwriter Noah Baumbach's hilarious and touching directorial debut was one of the highlights of the American independent film scene of the Nineties, speaking directly to a generation of adults-to-be unable to reconcile their hermetic education experience with workaday responsibility, and posing the eternal question, 'Where do we go from here?' Stingingly funny and incisive, Baumbach's breakthrough features endlessly quotable dialogue delivered by a stellar ensemble cast."

Kicking & Screaming (2005)
Dir: Jesse Dylan
Synopsis: "Will Ferrell's trademark off-the-wall lunacy kicks in for a comedy sure to score big with the whole family! Phil Weston (Ferrell) is a mild-mannered suburban dad - who's suddenly transformed into a caffeine-fueled sports maniac when he becomes the coach of his son's unruly soccer team. But when the championship pits his underdog team against the squad coached by his own domineering dad (Oscar winner Robert Duvall), it's game on for the most uproarious mismatch of the season! Suit up for fun, Ferrell-style, with the comedy Ebert & Roeper give 'Two Thumbs Up!'"

Advantage: DRAW

... and not in a good way. I suppose that I left my self-righteous angst & worldly disillusionment behind on my college graduation day back in the late 90s, far too long to be impressed with the 1995 film anymore. And I just can't be impressed with Ferrell's mug-and-holler style of comedic acting. So neither film gets a strong nod here, only a strong "meh," with a side order of "feh."

Spellbound (1945/2002)

Spellbound (1945)
Dir: Alfred Hitchcock
Synopsis: "Dr. Constance Peterson (Ingrid Bergman) is a dedicated psychiatrist who puts all her passion into her work - until she falls in love with Dr. Edwards (Gregory Peck). Unfortunately, it soon becomes clear that Edwards is an impostor - an amnesiac - who may or may not be a cold-blooded murderer. Pursued by the police, Constance must decide whether to turn in her mysterious lover... or risk her life by trying to unlock the dark secrets in his mind."

Spellbound (2002)
Dir: Jeffrey Blitz
Synopsis: "Spellbound follows the lives of eight young Americans who share one goal: to win the National Spelling Bee.

"Think this sounds boring? Prepare to be blown away. The Bee is as intense a competition as any Olympic match, and for the spellers and their families, the stakes are just as high. The unbearable pressure becomes even more extraordinary as it is felt by ordinary teenagers.

"Watch as the Bee becomes a dramatic backdrop for the bigger story about kids and families today as we discover that within the roller coaster ride of the National Spelling Bee can be found the heart of America

Advantage: DRAW

And here's a draw in a good way. Both films are successful on their own merits. Spellbound 1945 is, well, Hitchcock; a lesser known film from the master, but a solid entry into his canon nonetheless. Spellbound 2002 is a solid documentary, shedding light (as most successful documentaries do) on a very interesting, unexplored topic, that being the surprisingly competitive world of the spelling bee. Hell, I remember a late night study session watching one of those on ESPN and seeing a kid pass out from the pressure. Like any good documentary, this one doesn't choose sides, opting instead to let the story speak for itself.

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