Movie Trailers


COMMENTS BY JONATHAN LEWIS:

   Marvel Comics’ Ghost Rider (2007) was a box office success, and it’s not difficult to see why. It’s fun, energetic, and doesn’t take itself too seriously. Plus, at that time, Nicholas Cage was still a major box office draw and not doing the types of indies and direct to streaming features he is doing now.

   The trailer pretty much gives away the whole story, although not some of the more convoluted parts of the often confusing plot. A guy makes a deal with the devil, becomes a successful stunt motorcycle rider, then has to face a group of bad demons and save the world. Got it? Good. I can’t say it’s a good film because it isn’t. The dialogue is pretty atrocious and the special effects look more silly than they do frightening. But seeing the recently departed Peter Fonda portray The Devil incarnate in a motorcycle movie was still worth the ride.


COMMENTS BY JONATHAN LEWIS:


   The trailer for Just Before Dawn (1981, directed by Jeff Lieberman) suggests that it’s a standard slasher film, one with perhaps some supernatural themes. While it’s true that the movie is undeniably a slasher film and part of that “craze” that swept drive-ins and cheap theaters in the early 1980s, it is also a survival film.

   Think: John Boorman’s Deliverance (1972), which Lieberman credits as a major influence on his work. The trailer decribes the plot pretty well, but it fails to capture how hauntingly atmospheric the movie is. How the natural outdoor setting in the movie – it was filmed on location in Oregon – is as much as a character in the film as are the doomed protagonists.

   But let’s be honest. Just Before Dawn is an exploitation film, designed to appeal to the suburban fear of the backwoods. Just who are those inbred people who live up there, all alone in the mountains? The fun-loving kids in this movie with their fashionable clothes and their love for Blondie and Debbie Harry will soon find out, much as Burt Reynolds and Jon Voight’s characters did in that seminal work of 1970s cinema.

   One final note: for a slasher film, Just Before Dawns is relatively bloodless. There’s some gore, of course, but Lieberman didn’t go for the cheap thrills as much as he did the psychological menace of being chased and hunted in an unfamiliar, dangerous setting.


COMMENTS BY JONATHAN LEWIS:


    Horror House aka The Haunted House of Horror is a strange movie that defies easy categorization. Essentially a British giallo film, this Tigon Productions release from 1969 stars a nearly thirty-year old Frankie Avalon as a hip British teen (!!) who becomes embroiled in a murder mystery outside swinging London.

   The trailer doesn’t do a particularly effective job in conveying just how stylish the movie is, nor how shockingly gory it is in a few particularly sequences. Apparently both David Bowie and Boris Karloff were considered for roles in the movie, with Dennis Price taking the role meant for the latter. I can’t say that the plot, after it unfolds, is all that coherent. But it isn’t easily forgotten.



COMMENTS BY JONATHAN LEWIS:


   This extended July 4th weekend, I decided to revisit one of the few horror movies set during this holiday season, I Know What You Did Last Summer. Based on the eponymous 1973 young adult novel written by Lois Duncan and with a screenplay penned by Kevin Williamson (Scream), the movie is a surprisingly effective, if somewhat vacuous, thriller.

   It’s perfect summer candy. Fun while you enjoy it, but nothing overly memorable. The trailer, with its voice-over narration, gives away the basic plot. Four friends accidentally run a man over and leave him for dead. But that’s not where their story ends. A year later, on Independence Day weekend, the man they thought had died returns with a vengeance.

   The vibe of the trailer is much like the movie: young and hip with a powerful soundtrack. My one complaint is that the trailer doesn’t fully capture how much Sarah Michelle Gellar (Buffy The Vampire Slayer) rather than Jennifer Love Hewitt carries the film. Without her, the movie really wouldn’t have worked.

   For NCIS fans, there is a special treat waiting for you in this one. Muse Watson, who portrayed the gruff Mike Franks on the show, plays the villain in this feature.


COMMENTS BY JONATHAN LEWIS:


   From the trailer, it would appear that The Proud Ones is just another 1950s frontier justice Western. That’s far from the case. It’s actually an exceptionally constructed film, due in large part to Robert Ryan’s acting and Lucien Ballard’s cinematography.

   In many ways, the trailer also fails to capture the core of the movie; namely, the friendship that develops between Ryan’s character, a town marshal, and the fiery young man portrayed by Jeffrey Hunter. The movie also reminded me of Jacques Tourneur’s Wichita (1955) which I reviewed here. A Western to be sure, but also a work of drama and cinematic artistry.


COMMENTS BY JONATHAN LEWIS:


   I just watched the Kino Lorber Blu-Ray release of Kidnapped (1971) starring Michael Caine. Despite some plot flaws and the fact that the film seems to require the viewer know something about the Jacobite Risings and the doomed struggle of the Scottish Highlanders for freedom from English rule, it’s a fun movie.

   It’s the type of adventure film that is rarely made anymore. A sort of timeless work that’s intended to appeal to both children and adults. Filmed on location in Scotland, the scenery is spectacular. Apparently, Kidnapped was originally designed as a television movie. But it works as a feature film too and was released as such in some countries.

   The trailer does a fairly good job in giving the would-be viewer a sense of what to expect from the movie. Some adventure, some drama, some romance, and a host of British character actors with names likely familiar to moviegoers at the time.