Breakdown (1997)

break1

Jeffrey Taylor (Kurt Russell) and his wife Amy are driving cross country to California when their car stutters and grinds to a halt at the side of the road. Stranded and with no phone signal, they can’t call for a tow truck. As they are trying to figure out what to do a truck comes down the road. The driver, Red (J.T. Walsh) offers to take Amy to the next town so she can call for a tow truck. Amy gets into Red’s truck while Jeff waits with the car.

break4

Hours pass and there is still no sign of Amy returning with a tow truck. Jeff becomes worried and manages to get his car working. He drives to the next stop to see if his wife is there. The folks inside the cafe say that there was no woman fitting the description of Amy that passed through. Jeff goes to the police to report his wife missing. Later on when Jeff is driving he sees Red’s truck. He gets Red to pull over. Only when Jeff asks Red where Amy is, Red claims he has never met Jeff before in his life. Jeff leaves puzzled. He is then contacted and told that if he ever wants to see his wife alive he will have to pay a ransom.

break3

Jeff is then faced with a race against time to get the money, which he doesn’t have, and pay it to the kidnappers. The only problem is he doesn’t know who to trust, as the police could be in on it too. Jeff knows he must take matters into his own hands if Amy stands a chance of surviving her ordeal.

break5

I really dig this movie. First reason is that the story is very plausible. It’s done in such a way that you really think something like this could happen to anyone. Everything is played to such believable effect, that it just heightens the suspense that already permeates throughout the movie. Kurt Russell is always worth watching, and he really lends Jeff a really believable everyman quality, that you are urging him to succeed. The late  J.T. Walsh was always brilliantly cast as the sneering villain, and he delivers again here. As Red he really gives the film a sense of menace, that you doubt if Jeff will succeed in his plight. I really, really recommend this movie. It is a solid little thriller that is well worth a watch.

4/5

JM

break2

In the Mouth of Madness (1994)

mad5

My second John Carpenter review brings us to this under-looked gem from 1994. The opening credits music is quite possibly one of the most bad ass fucking pieces of music ever. It’s music that seems like it belongs in a totally different movie. Check it out on YouTube and see why. Kicking things off we find John Trent (Sam Neill) being committed to a mental institution, despite protests from him that he’s not crazy. Soon after Dr. Wrenn (David Warner) stops by John’s padded cell to speak to him. Upon entering he finds the room, and John, covered in strange markings. John begins to tell Dr. Wrenn how he ended up in a mental institute all began when he was asked to look for a missing writer called Sutter Cane (Jurgen Prochnow).

mad2

Strange things have been happening in town and some people seem to think that it’s the writings of Sutter Cane that are responsible, only he’s nowhere to be found. People are being murdered and seem to be going crazy after reading the books by Cane. John Trent is asked by Cane’s publisher Jackson Harglow (Charlton Heston), to track down Cane and bring him back. Trent is accompanied by Linda Styles (Julie Carmen) in tracking down Cane. The investigation into Cane’s whereabouts bring John and Linda to a town called Hobbes End, which just so happens to be straight out of Cane’s novels. Finding the town almost empty, John and Linda find out what has happened to Cane, and what will soon happen to the rest of the world.

mad4

Cane has been chosen to usher forth the ‘Old Ones’, beings that lived long before humans ever walked the Earth. However bringing them back will not bode well for humankind. This is another one of my favourite John Carpenter films. To be fair to Carpenter, the only film of his I wasn’t keen on was ‘Ghosts of Mars’. Yes I am one of those people who liked ‘Escape From L.A.’ believe it or not. This has a lot going for it too. It has a great cast, great script and brilliant direction from Carpenter. The storyline borrows some bits from H.P. Lovecraft lore which only helps the film in my opinion.

mad3

It’s another one that I recommend to people when I get the chance. I know many haven’t heard of it, and it is also one I will have to import from Germany if I want the blu ray. Sadly there is not even a UK release of this on DVD, so it will require importing, I’d recommend Amazon.de as your first port of call. If you haven’t seen it then track it down, I think you’ll like it.

4/5

JM

mad1

 

Prince of Darkness (1987)

dark2

For hundreds of years a dark secret has been kept in a church basement in Los Angeles. After the death of a priest who was guarding it, the key to the basement is entrusted to a priest (Donald Pleasence). He goes down to the basement and finds a large vat of green liquid. The priest hires a group of physics students let by their professor Howard Birack (Victor Wong).

dark1

With the vat of liquid is also an ancient book which has been rewritten time and again, each passage warning of the return of the Devil. Through translating the book the students find that the green liquid is the very essence of the Devil himself. The area in and around the church has also attracted some strange people and other odd occurrences. A group of homeless people led by Alice Cooper no less, have congregated outside the church, resorting to murder to make sure that nobody leaves. One by one the students are snared by the evil essence leaving a small group fighting to survive.

dark3

This is one of, if not my favourite John Carpenter films. The sense of unrelenting dread that runs throughout this movie is stifling. John Carpenter creates a mood where you know something is coming and there is noting you can do to escape it. There are a few familiar faces that tend to crop up in John Carpenter’s movies like Victor Wong, Dennis Dun, Donald Pleasence and Peter Jason. It is such a brilliant movie. I had to import the blu ray from Germany as the U.S version is region locked and no company as of yet has released it on blu ray, though I’m hoping Arrow Films give it a release as their stuff is always top notch.

dark4

There are some incredibly unsettling effects and heart pounding moments that make this such an awesome horror movie that I do find myself constantly revisiting. It’s one of the rare horror movies that is genuinely scary, which is not a moniker you can attach to some of the shit floating around now. If you haven’t seen it then definitely give it a go. If you do watch it then pop back and leave a comment, would love to hear your thoughts.

5/5

JM

dark5