George A. Romero’s masterful Dawn of the Dead is an intuitive, alarming, clever horror film. Beyond providing some serious scares and nourishing gore, the movie features sheets of social commentary and character development that exceeds many horror movies. It suggests a truly worrisome world, one of disorder and despair, and introduces genuine characters that afford slender slivers of hope.
Posts from the ‘1978’ Category
Gates of Heaven is more than a movie about pet cemeteries, although that subject actually proves to be most interesting in and of itself. This Errol Morris documentary is about how human beings handle life and about how human beings find meaning in, yes, running pet cemeteries. The magic in this movie is in how its humans love and cherish the memories of their pets, sure, but the wonder is in how the humans that run and operate and fail to operate pet cemeteries come to find understanding of their “calling.”
The standard Morris style is here, with no narration or flashy stuff. It’s told through raw interviews, neatly put together without the use of effects or other distractions. The real human beings tell the story, as they should, with real emotions and real humour sitting at the core of the tales they weave. As it is, Gates of Heaven doesn’t instruct its viewers at all. Is it a satire? Or is it a love story? Or is it just about dead pets? The choice is yours.
An immersive, intelligent motion picture, Watership Down is a fantastic treat. Based on the book by Richard Adams, Martin Rosen’s picture is beautiful and stunning and brutal all at once. There are those who will say that this movie isn’t for children due to the gore and blood involved, but I think older kids will get a lot out of this thought-provoking animated picture. It’s about time we stopped pandering to kids; they’re a lot smarter than we give them credit for.
Watership Down is more than a movie about rabbits, that’s for sure. It’s a movie about society, leadership, relationships, courage, democracy, and freedom. It’s a movie about running through the fields, breathing the air, exploring the world. It’s also a movie about fear and encountering evil. Rosen’s picture engages because it doesn’t skimp on giving us Adams’ full work, creating a complete world where more than just bunnies dwell.
John Carpenter’s Halloween is one of the finest independent horror flicks in history. Released in 1978 to an unsuspecting audience, Halloween is often credited for starting the whole lumbering stalker era in horror and slasher movies (some may rightly give that credit to Black Christmas). Produced on a budget of just $320,000, Halloween has gone on to become a franchise and has recently been retackled with a bit of a different flavour by Rob Zombie.
The beauty of Halloween lies not in overt gore or bloody and gruesome setups. Instead, Carpenter plays havoc with open spaces, windows and doors to create a sense of dread and terror that lingers long after the closing credits have rolled. The now-ubiquitous score, written by Carpenter, fills the movie like a haze of constant tension and doesn’t provide much relief.
Terrence Malick is one of my favourite directors, so it was with an incredible amount of excitement that I took to watching his 1978 picture Days of Heaven. The visual style of Malick is apparent from the outset, as the environment of the 1916 Texas Panhandle comes to life. The Ennio Morricone score adds to the experience, as the music’s sparing use helps in creating an immersive, overwhelming experience.
Now Malick’s Days of Heaven is a film of subdued emotions and of time. It is not a bold, adventurous sort of picture. It moves gracefully, logically. Malick doesn’t impose his characters or his visuals on us like other filmmakers and I think that’s part of what draws me to him. He allows the scene to manipulate us naturally, organically transforming us with every passing image.