Friday, October 30, 2015

When A Family Is Eccentric

Tonight's marathon is all about exploring some of the strangest, the oddest, and yet most humble American families in cinema. All of them have made a transition from television to film and with film, they are glorified for all their memorable traits. However with each family there is now an antagonist that tries to: A) Throw them out of their house for reasons of gaining money. B) Marry a member of the family to gain access to their wealth. C) Chase the family because they don't have a green card. D) Attempt to murder the entire family so they can inherit their fortune. Film offers a real challenge for these memorable yet eccentric families to face, and most don't realize til the very end just what kind of schemes are happening go them. This is a fun and slick marathon that feels like a tribute to all the iconic American families one grew up watching on tv. We have on the following menu?

The Brady Bunch Movie 1995, The Beverly Hillbillies 1993, Richie Rich 1994, Coneheads 1993, The Addams Family 1991, and The Addams Family Values 1993

      This marathon just feels so perfect. One can argue that The Flintstones movie and The Simpsons film could've made it into this marathon and believe me yea i've thought about it. It all came down to I wanted to focus on the families that are not only eccentric but are facing real obstacles such as someone trying to swindle them out of their fortune, wealth, and ultimate of ultimate my their home. Getting these great characters onto film was half the challenge for the filmmakers but to give them an actual storyline for their respective films while providing real challenges and an antagonist is the rest of the battle. If you're gonna take an iconic family like The Addams Family or The Brady Bunch and put them on film, then you have to show the audience something that was never seen before on the show. You have to give them a real challenge and conflict that ultimately binds them all together. You must show off all the traits that make them iconic but also make the audience care for and root for them. It's also a great way to attract new fans to the show through the movie in hopes that they'll go back and see the source material.
      The first movie of the marathon is the 1995 surprise hit The Brady Bunch Movie based on the popular 1970's television show starring Florence Henderson and Robert Reed. Starring Shelly Long and Cary Cole in the lead roles, the film takes the Brady Bunch into the 1990's era where their style of family life is completely out of place with modern times. This becomes the twist to the storyline of The Brady Bunch along with the conflict of them possibly losing their house to a relentless scheming neighbor next door play by Conehead's Michael McKean. They have to come up with $20,000 to pay in back taxes or their house will be sold off at the next auction. The Brady Bunch Movie is a respectful upgrade of the iconic television show as it takes the family to modern times but never loses what the original show was all about. The film received acclaim from critics and was a surprise hit at the box office upon it's release.
      The second movie of the marathon is The Beverly Hillbillies starring Jim Varney, Dabney Coleman, and Rob Schneider. Based on the popular iconic 1960's tv show, a Hillbillie family strikes it rich when husband and father Jed Clampett strikes it rich when he comes across black oil. When he signs a contract that gives him 1 Billion dollars, he ends up moving his family to Beverly Hills. Upon arriving in Beverly Hills, Jed sets up the bank that's sponsoring him to find him a fiancĂ© which leads to one of the banks temps using his gf as a means to gain access to Jed's fortune played by both Rob Schneider and Lea Thompson. The Beverly Hillbillies movie didn't quite receive the same kind of critical and financial success as The Brady Bunch Movie but it maintains the spirit of the original television show and much like the Brady Bunch family, the casting is perfect.
      The third movie of the marathon is Richie Rich starring Macaulay Culkin and John Larroquette. Based on no television show like all the other marathons, the story centers around a rich young boy who not only longs for friends outside the premises of his mansion but finds his family targeted by a ruthless business partner in an inside job, forcing Richie to use his cunningness to save them and outsmart the films antagonist. Richie Rich qualifies as the ideal American family because it's a billionaire family of three who put the love of each other before their wealth, and genuinely care about society yet someone wants to assassinate the family in order to get to their fortune. This also remains one of the last childhood films of Macaulay Culkin back when he was in his prime from making Home Alone 1,2, and My Girl. Much like the Brady family and the Clampets, the Rich family are gullible to those who may try to hurt them but possess all the admirable traits of the past families in terms of being rich in love, family, happiness, and kind to others.
      The fourth movie of the marathon is the 1993 comedy titled Coneheads starring Dan Aykroyd and Jane Curtin that centers around aliens with conical crania for heads crash landing on Earth and attempting to blend in with the human race as one of them ultimately. While it works for a while. they begin to get pursued by the government whose bent on preventing illegal immigrants from living in the United States. Coneheads is based off a Saturday Night skit in the1980's featuring the same lead actors in the iconic title roles. The twist to this story is the  Coneheads are shown struggling to live on Earth and maintain a tight family life with the birth of a daughter. The Coneheads from the start appear to be eccentric like the previous families introduced in this marathon yet maintain a lot of their humble traits and being so gullible.
      The fifth movie of the marathon is The Addams Family starring Angelica Houston, Raul Julia, and Christopher Lloyd. From director Barry Sonnenfeld who helped both Addams Family films and the Men In Black trilogy, the story focuses on an eccentric yet gothic family being the target of a group of con artists with an accomplice who they use to claim as being Gomez Addams long lost brother named Uncle Fester, The Addams Family was a blockbuster and critical success in 1991 garnering an Oscar nomination for Best Costume Design, as well as praise for it's casting and technical qualities. The key to the success of the Addams Family films is that the casting hits the nail on coffin much like the other films. Can one picture someone else playing the roles of Morticia and Gomez Addams in the Addams Family movie? If the answer is no, then the filmmakers achieved exactly what they set out to do.
      The sixth movie of the marathon is The Addams Family Values reuniting Raul Julia and Angelica Houston with Joan Cusack joining the cast as a new love interest for Uncle Fester. What may seem as love at first sight is really a scheme to murder Uncle Fester and inherit his fortune as his widow. It is up to his family to rescue their gullible family member from his gold-digging wife. The Addams Family Values is one of the rare sequels that improves upon it's predecessor and garnered better reviews than it's first movie but did far less at the box office. Raul Julia's passing came soon after the release of this movie which is unqestionably one of the reasons they never did make a third film in the series. The Addams Family feels like the perfect finish to the series of eccentric families because you really can't get more strange then them. The Coneheads are out there but The Addams Family are on a whole other level of weird.

So what is the message behind this marathon when you put all the movies together? The message says that even though a certain American family may come off as a bit odd to the typical person walking the street, they deserve to be treated with respect and dignity. Sometimes the oddest family on the block can end up being more humble and honest than everyone else on your street. Just because an eccentric family has a pile of money doesn't give con artists and Judases the right to try and steal their fortune. A boy like Ritchie Rich values friends moreso than money in regards to wealth. The Bradys view their family as being more important than a house, The Coneheads are harmless aliens who turn out to be one of the most American of families. Two brothers like Gomez and Uncle Fester can put aside their differences and rejuvenate a relationship again. No fight can keep the love of two brothers away from each other in the end. In regards to Addams Family Values, be careful of the girl you end up falling for.

RIP Raul Julia

Monday, October 26, 2015

When Evil Rises

Tonight's marathon is an epic one for Halloween week that centers around the presence of evil and the ultimate rise of it. The concept of evil varies in the different kinds of films chosen for this marathon with themes of witchcraft, the birth of the antichrist, a girl who uses her telepathic powers to get back at the society that shunned her, a sick twisted corporation that practices witchcraft by having young kids purchase their masks and wearing them on only to discover that the masks have a chip that's controlled by a televised commercial bent on scaring millions of people to death, and the arrival of Satan in modern times. These are just a few of the concepts of evil that run rampant throughout tonight's powerful marathon. For this dark, scary, and ultimately powerful marathon, we have the following films on the menu:

Rosemarys' Baby 1968, Carrie 1976, The Exorcist 1973, The Omen 1976, Halloween lll Season Of The Witch 1982, and End Of Days 1999


      This marathon is essentially what the doctor ordered in celebration of Halloween. It hits all the right notes in terms of being creepy and suspenseful. Religion plays an underlying theme in these films with the main focus being satanic worshipping, birth of the antichrist, overbearing religious parents likethe mother in Carrie, and the loss of one's faith and regaining of it. The main objective with this marathon is to show an evil that is ultimately rising and getting more sinister.  The downside to this marathon is the films ultimately have endings that get more cynical as they go. End Of Days conclusion delivers an uplifting beat with one mans faith overcoming the power of Satan and saving humanity ultimately through self sacrifice.
       The first movie of the evening is Roman Polanski's 1968 horror movie classic titled Rosemary's Baby starring Ruth Gordon and John Cassavettes. Winner of an Academy Award for Best Actress for Ruth Gordon and nominated for Best Written Screenplay, Rosemary's Baby centers around a young couple moving into an apartment, and soon find themselves surrounded by questionable neighbors and strange occurrences. The wife becomes pregnant mysteriously as well as paranoid over the safety of her unborn child that ultimately takes over her life. Rosemary's Baby is a classic horror film that tackles the conflict of  a man making a pact with the devil, which in this case is Rosemary's husband in hopes that his career will skyrocket. The birth of Rosemary's Baby and the twist at the end of the film serves as the perfect prelude into Richard Donner's 1976 horror movie classic titled The Omen.
      The second movie of the marathon is Richard Donner's pre Superman classic titled The Omen. Starring Gregory Peck, Lee Rimick, and David Warner. The story centers around an American ambassador and his lovely wife receiving a child from the hospital after his own died during birth. What starts off as a loving family trio begins to take a turn for the worse as mysterious deaths begin to surround the American ambassador and questionable characters such as their newly hired maid, and an erratic priest who tries to warn the ambassador about the antichrist. The ambassador slowly begins to realize that the child he is raising could actually be the antichrist? Nominated for two academy awards and winner of best score, The Omen feels like the perfect follow up to Rosemary's Baby and is an excellent film about the birth of the devils child, powered by strong performances from it's leads and Richard Donner's fast paced directing.
      The third movie of the marathon is the 1973 classic titled Carrie starring Sissy Spacek, and Piper Laurie in two Academy Award nominated roles. The story centers around a 17 year old shy and outcasted girl named Carrie White, who gets constantly bullied by her fellow female peers in high school while also being sheltered by a domineering, religious mother. When she receives the ultimate humiliation from her classmates at her senior prom, her telekinetic powers begin to get unleashed and targets those who shunned her as well as her overbearing mother. Carrie feels like it works as the third film in this lineup because whereas the first two movies center around a baby being born into unusual circumstances, this one centers around a young teenage girl who carries with her special powers that she finally unleashes when pushed into the limit. The film presents a good moral story that begs to ask the question of whether Carrie was truly evil for what she did in the end, or a victim of being pushed into her actions.
      The fourth movie of the marathon is the 1973 blockbuster and critically acclaimed horror film titled The Exorcist starring Max Von Sydow, Linda Blair, and Ellen Burstyn. Nominated for ten Academy Awards and winner of two including Best Screenplay and Best Sound, the story centers around a teenage girl being possessed by a powerful demonic force leaving her mother with no choice but to seek the help of two priests to save the life of her daughter. The Exorcist is the true follow up to Rosemary's Baby and The Omen in regards to  maintaining the similar dark atmosphere and story arc. The film remains one of the defining horror films of all time and was a phenomenal box office success upon it's release in 1973. The film continues to set the bar for all recent and future horror films to match in quality with no recent film coming close to touching it's critical and box office stature.
      The fifth film of the lineup is the massively underrated horror thriller directed by Tommy Lee Wallace titled Halloween lll Season Of The Witch. Starring Tom Atkins and Dan O Herlihy, the story centers around a doctor attempting to uncover a plot by Silver Shamrock owner Conal Cochran in which millions of kids will purchase the mask and be drawn to a mysterious television commercial that has a special supernatural power to scare them to death. It is revealed in the film that Cochran is practicing a form of ritual sacrifice using witchcraft to kill off children. The film was made with the intention of distancing itself from the Michael Myers storyline and creating a series of Halloween stories every year with no connection to the previous one by Halloween filmmakers John Carpenter and Debra Hill. Generally hated upon it's release due to it being labeled as the third film in the popular Halloween slasher series while having nothing to do with the storyline of the first two movies, the film has received reevaluation over the last few decades leading it to become an official cult classic. One wonders what it's legacy would've ended up like if it was just called Season Of The Witch.
      The sixth movie of the marathon is the one that brings it all together to an explosive and reasonably satisfying conclusion with End Of Days starring Arnold Schwarzeneggar, Gabriel Byrne, and Robin Tunney. The story centers around the end of the 20th century with the devil emerging in human form in New York in search of the woman chosen to bear his child. His plans are thwarted by a suicidal ex-cop who runs an elite security outfit to stop him by protecting the woman chosen as his bride. His mission is to keep her hidden from the devil until after midnight on New Years eve and not a moment sooner otherwise mankind will come to an end with the young woman bearing his child. End Of Days is a striking film for Arnold Schwarzeneggar as it marks a unique departure from his typical action movie formula. Here he plays a more serious and human role as a man whose lost his faith in God due to the murders of his wife and daughter but through his experience with battling the devil, slowly begins to rediscover his faith and uses it as the ultimate weapon in the battle against Satan. End Of Days was critically panned upon it's release by critics but has become a cult classic among Schwarzeneggar fans with many noting his strong performance. It also feels like a fitting end to the story arcs set up by Rosemary's Baby, The Omen, and The Exorcist.

So what are these movies trying to say ultimately when you put them all together? The message behind these films is that there are forces at work that are far darker than anyone could imagine and in some cases, they can only be defeated through faith. The moral behind a story like Carrie is not to bully or cast out someone you presume to be inferior because you never know what they would do when pushed to their limit. The Omen's message is that even though killing a child is absolutely wrong, it is necessary if it centers around the rise of evil,which in this case is the birth of the anti-Christ. Rosemary's Baby says that a mother will never abandon her child no matter what the circumstances are. The moral behind The Exorcist is that sometimes things that you thought you would never believe in are actually the things that turn out to be true and more terrifying than you could ever imagine. You don't have to be religious in order to be possessed by a demonic force and experience an exorcism. Season Of The Witch says that sometimes the good guys don't always win, and End Of Days preaches that the greatest weapon against Satan is not guns but one's own faith. Sometimes  a self sacrifice is necessary in order to keep others from being harmed or evil winning in the end.