Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Is It Halloween Yet?

Might as well be Halloween already, I've seen Christmas ads on the TV lately.  Boy, they keep bumping it up earlier and earlier.  I was in Hobby Lobby a few weeks back and they had already put out the Christmas decorating stuff, along with the Halloween stuff.  Perhaps it has to do with the economy, I dunno.

The other night I caught several horror movies on the Syfy Channel.  They were all jumbled in together.  But I caught The Omen, The Omen II, and The Final Conflict: Omen III.  There was actually an Omen IV as well, but I heard it wasn't very good.  I thought Omen and Omen II were pretty good, but by the third installment it was starting to run a little dry, though it was still worth a watch, and an interesting concept for a movie and its sequels back then.  Sort of a demonic Harry Potter, watching the character grow up and develop during different stages of his life.

They also showed Friday the 13th, as well as the sequel, and the third film, which was in 3D.  I've seen parts to them before, and I know some people love them, and I enjoy them too on some level depending up on my mood, but they get to be a one trick pony if you watch too many of them consecutively in a row.  The same goes for the Halloween franchise films.

 Last night I watched an old Sherlock Holmes movie, The House of Fear.  Basil Rathbone, played the titular detective, and Nigel Bruce played his sidekick, Dr. Watson.  A lot of Holmes fans tend to dismiss this series because they are a bit lighter fare when compared to some of the other versions of the sleuth, but I find them pretty appealing.  I think some criticize Bruce's characterization of Watson for the comic relief it is, but occasionally he makes me laugh, and hey, it works for me.  I'm not a fan of the Robert Downey Jr. take on the detective.  I don't know if it's all the CG effects or Downey's manic performance of the character, or trying to turn them into some sort of action character, but they aren't for me.

At any rate, in The House of Fear, Sherlock and Watson get summoned to an old mansion on a cliff in Scotland.  Several odd murders have taken place there, and before each murder, the female caretaker for the mansion gets an envelope addressed to one of the recipients, and then the unlucky recipient dies in a horrible manner.  I enjoy stories that use the set up of the old isolated manor house off in the boonies or being along a desolate shoreline.  (If you have a favorite film that use that device, let me know.)  At any rate, the team of Rathbone and Bruce have played in many other shorter film versions of the duo, and I've enjoyed watching a few of them lately.

While still on the subject of Sherlock Holmes.  I ran across a new story about the detective.

MR. HOLMES will tell a new story in the adventures of the great detective Sherlock Holmes, with McKellen taking on the role. Previous titled A SLIGHT TRICK OF THE MIND, this film will catch up with a retired, 93-year-old Holmes in 1947, living with his housekeeper and her detective son, as a cold case from years before continues to prey on his mind.

Ian McKellan taking on the role of one of literature's most iconic characters is a prospect that, frankly, sounds awesome!

Oh, least I forget.  To go full circle and tie-in with the Halloween record above, I ran into it on  It sounds like it would be fun to listen to as Halloween approaches, so I've included a link here.  I listened to a bit of it already, and it's typical for that sort of chiller thing--sort of spooky and fun.   You can check it out here.  


At 1:34 PM, Blogger Richard Bellush said...

I love the Basil Rathbone series of Holmes. Part of that no doubt is nostalgia: they are the ones I grew up with and just strike me as the "real" ones. I even like the completely unexplained 50 year shift in time, during which Holmes and Watson aged not at all, in the six months between the release of The Hound of the Baskervilles (19th century) and The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. The reason, of course, was WW2. Holmes was needed to fight Nazis, who included Moriarty.

I guess it is time to break out Disney's The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad. It contains what still is the best version of Sleepy Hollow.

At 9:47 PM, Blogger El Vox said...

Oddly, I'm sitting here tonight re-watching an Agatha Christie bio, which I'd caught before at the beginning of the week, but it's a good one. It's on PBS called Extraordinary Women. If you run across it and enjoy her characters check it out.

At any rate, if you enjoy Holmes, there are many different variations to choose from for sure. The first version of him that I ran across that had impact is the PBS Jeremy Brett and Edward Hardwicke versions. Those are done really well, and I have them on DVD. The production values on them are second to none, and I probably should give a few of them a re-watch while I'm at it.

The next version to Holmes I was made aware of is the Hammer studios version starring Peter Cushing in Hound of the Baskervilles, and I have to admit I enjoy that version a lot of that particularly story. It has a lot of gothic atmosphere in it.

The Rathbone series is newer to me, but I enjoy them quite a bit already. I've also run across another version starring Ronald Howard. I've seen a few of them on late night TV and elsewhere, and they're fine too. Guess I'm just a Holmes fan.

Of course there are other offshoots. I remember there was a Young Sherlock Holmes movie, and there's also the newer BBC version just called Sherlock with Benedict Cumberbatch. They put Sherlock into modern day London and are pretty fast paced but fun. And there are several movies like Without A Clue or The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes, and many others I'm probably unaware of.

I'll have to check out your Disney film. I've been also meaning to check out The Great Mouse Detective, which iirc, is another takeoff on Holmes.

At 8:13 AM, Blogger Roman J. Martel said...

Ah The Omen movies. I've only seen the first and the third. The first one held up pretty well, and I think the acting really gave it the boast it needed. The third film had some interesting ideas but it has a badly structured script and the ending was really anticlimactic. Oh well, can't win them all.

Of course, I have to mention the music. Jerry Goldsmith did the scores for all three films and he really does an amazing job. He pretty much pioneered the evil chorus as a primary driver in a horror score. And "The Omen" is one of the best examples of that style. "Final Conflict" is an excellent score, much better than the film. In fact if you played it for someone they would think it was for some kind of fantasy adventure saga with a dark twist. Anyway, don't get me started on Goldsmith or I never stop. :)

I think my first exposure to Sherlock Holmes was the movie you mentioned "Young Sherlock Holmes". It is a lot of fun (and has a great score by Bruce Broughton), but is pretty much Sherlock Holmes and the Temple of Doom. My wife loves to read and she read all the Holmes stories when she was a kid. She grew up with the Jeremy Brett adventures, and she forced me to watch one... and I was hooked. Those are really the definitive versions of the story. We also like the updated BBC version, those are a lot of fun, and my wife loves Cumberbatch and his floppy hair. :)

At 9:17 AM, Blogger El Vox said...

Roman, if you haven't seen Omen II, check it out maybe around Halloween time. I really thought it was a pretty decent sequel, and better than the Final Conflict. Damien begins to learn more who he is, and starts to use his powers willingly. You are right about the Goldsmith scores, they mesh well with the films. I tend to think of parts of them as being operatic, but yes, they give the movies a nice feel to them. You certainly know your soundtracks.

Been a while since I've seen Young Sherlock Holmes, but you described it pretty well, and pretty much a product of the time it was released.

If your wife enjoys Cumberbatch, check out the Van Gosh bio portrayal he made. I knew a bit about the artist, but learned a few more things about him, and his characterization on the artist was well done indeed.


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