Monday, 31 October 2016






Fig.1 'House On Haunted Hill' Poster
'House On Haunted Hill' (1959), directed by William Castle and starring horror movie legend Vincent Price is a fantastically cheesy movie set within, well, a house on a haunted hill. This review will look at the redeeming points in the movie and a brief look at how it compares to horror movies of today.  A reviewer has said that 'This is a wonderful low-budget horror movie for the time and one that people went to see with their boy/girlfriends on a Friday night on the strength of Vincent Price's name.' (Mike, 2016)

Fig.2 Film Still
Now, 'House On Haunted Hill' has many redeeming qualities, first of all, Vincent Price. A gem within the Horror Genre, his performance within the film keeps everything level. His powerful and evocative voice is heard from start to finish. In a way it feels as if Vincent Price's character, Frederick Loren, is telling the story directly to the audience. He looks at the character as if he is asking questions to the audience, breaking the fourth wall and messing with the audience. Always one step ahead of his cast members and the viewing public.
Secondly, the set design is so great to look at, it's your typical haunted house. Cobwebs hang from the lights, there is a spooky cellar, and a cellar beyond that (which is full of acid). It's the aesthetic surrounding the cast that draws the viewer in, making them want to see more of this creepy house and learning about it's mysterious past. 
Sound design also adds to the films horror and tension. Created by Richard Kayne, Richard Loring and Von Dexter, they use the whaling cries of a ghostly woman throughout to lure the audience into a fearful state, add in the banging of piano keys and you'll sure enough be watching in terror.

Fig.3. Film Still
Practical effects are used throughout the film, some as simple as the shutting of doors, scaring the characters beginning their night of horror. One that stands out is the use of a plastic skeleton, this appears towards the end of the film. It's this use of practical effects that gives the movie it's fun, cheesy quality, which ultimately is its last redeeming point. Due to it's gimmicks and it's low budget effects 'House On Haunted Hill' somehow stands the test of time and is still quite appealing to new audiences. It's easy to watch and can give you a giggle or two. Reviewer Julia Merriam sums up the movie quite nicely, she says, 'It's not a benchmark of cinematic achievement, or even something to tell your friends about next week. But, when you've nothing better to do and a bowl of popcorn that needs eating, its a fantastic way to pass the time' (Merriam, 2009)


Merriam,  J (2009) 'House On Haunted Hill (1959) At: Accessed on: 31/10/2016

Mike (2016) 'House On Haunted Hill (1959) Review' At: Accessed on: 31/10/2016


Figure 1. 'House On Haunted Hill' (1959) [Poster] At: Accessed on: 31/10/2016

Figure 2. [Film Still] At: Accessed on: 31/10/2016

Figure 3. [Film Still] At: Accessed on: 31/10/2016

Monday, 24 October 2016





Fig.1 'The Little Mermaid' Poster

Walt Disney's 'The Little Mermaid' (1989) is a film full of wonder and delight. It follows the story of Ariel, a young mermaid who dreams of being on the surface and interacting with humans, which she does, but not without having to trade her beautiful singing voice to the evil sea witch Ursula. This Review will look at the opposing characters and how their roles work within the story.

Fig.2 Film Still

Ariel and Ursula are polar opposites within 'The Little Mermaid' story. Both having traits that give their characters different goals and flaws. 
Ariel is a young, mermaid who' has a goal of reaching the surface and being with the humans. She has a very naive and vague outlook on life. Her intentions are pure, but sometimes she goes about things in a slightly, unintentional yet rebellious way. Her inherited world is that of the ocean. Her place of both, but as the story progresses she begins to feel that the land is the place for her. Her outer appearance mirrors her internal traits, he is young which is reflected in her design and her personality. Her story arc leads her to her happy ending. She meets the man of her dreams, falls in love and gets married on the land.

Ursula on the other hand is Ariel's opposite. She is old, evil and scheming. Her main goal is to steal Ariel's voice for her own personal gain. Just like Ariel, Ursula's physical appearance reflects her inner traits. She has a face of pure evil, her multitude of octopus-like limbs float around her like a small personal army able of luring in any lost soul, in this case it's the poor, young Ariel.
Both characters have distinct differences and are quite clearly in opposition with one another. 
But there is another character that at one point in the film opposes Ariel. Her father, King Triton.

Fig.3 Film Still
There comes a point in the film when King Triton comes across as a villain. As a father to Ariel he is protective. He has his own values, he is king of the water and believes that a mermaids home is the water and that is it. He is stuck in his ways. Although his intentions are clearly for Ariel's benefit (in his opinion) he does come across villainous. If Ursula wasn't introduced to the audience, viewers could have the though of King Triton being the films main protagonist. 
Though his values are written into his DNA, King Triton gives in to the fact that he must let his daughter go for her to be truly happy. So in a closing scene of 'The Little Mermaid' he grants Ariel her wish and uses his powers to give her legs and marry her true love. 

In conclusion, 'The Little Mermaid' is a very simple film with a simple plot and disposable villain, but it's story and the characters and the way they are portrayed gives the film a richness that entices the viewer to watch and then watch again. Roger Ebert says, 'Walt Disney's 'The Little Mermaid' is a jolly and inventive animated fantasy - a movie that's so creative and so much fun it deserves comparison with the best Disney work of the past.' (Ebert, 1989) 'The Little Mermaid' A true classic within the Walt Disney animated features. 


Ebert, R (1989) 'The Little Mermaid' At: Accessed on: 24/10/2016


Figure 1. 'The Little Mermaid' (1989) [Film Poster] At: Accessed on: 24/10/2016 

Figure 2. [Film Still] At: Accessed on: 24/10/2016

Figure 3. [Film Still] At: Accessed on: 24/10/2016

Sunday, 16 October 2016




Fig.1 'Honey I Shrunk The Kids' Poster
'Honey, I Shrunk The Kids' (1989) is an adventurous, sci-fi, family movie that follows the lives of two families. The Szalinski's the kooky and slightly disjointed family and the Thompsons, the all american fishing trip and also slightly disjointed family. Both families have their own troubles, but when a certain science experiment goes wrong a particular problem is something they share. This review will look at the structure of the film and the way in which that cutting the film into 'acts' helps to pace the film and give the audience a better viewing experience. 

Fig.2 Film Still

Act I - During this act we are welcomed into the lives of the two families. We see the Szalinski's family children go about their days under the supervision of their wacky, science fuelled father. A man who has created the invention of a lifetime, a shrinking/growing-laser. If you haven't guessed it already, the laser plays a BIG part in the movie.
The Thompson's come across as a truly american family. This is shown instantly as an american flag I can be seen attached to their mailbox and the mail man goes about his daily routine. 
Both families have young children and both groups of children are seemingly at war with each other. 
Now that the exposition has been put in place the story can begin. 
The 'incident' happens, after a mishap with the neighbours ball smashing through the window into the Szalinski's attic, the laser is powered up and, long story short, the children are shrunk. 
Mr Szalinski arrives home after a meeting to propose his idea for a shrinking/growing laser but is turned away due to his lack of proof. Little does he know his proof is at home. 

Act II - Act 2 begins with Mr Szalinski inadvertently throwing both his children ,and the Thompson's children, in the trash and into the backyard. This is where their journey begins. Their lack of size now turns the garden into a jungle full of danger, they must over come this to get back to the house and gain the attention of their parents. 'The special effects used for these scenes are incentive and first-rate; we see blades of grass that tower over the tiny kids, a cigarette butt that looks like a glowing slag heap and an ant so big that all four kids can ride on it' (Ebert, 1989) These uses of special effects give the film its spectacular charm and help immerse the audience into a world that we all know but don't know what really happens down deep within the grass of our backyards.
Act II Part 2 - This could be the parents realisation of the incident and the catalyst for reaching the climax and saving their children. 

Fig.3 Film Still
Act III - The climax of the film, this is the time when the plot of the story comes to a close and the adventure reaches its end. But not without it's own setbacks. In the climax of 'Honey I Shrunk The Kids' the two families have put aside their differences and have started to work together to save their children. The father of the Thompson's even sacrifices himself to test the laser before using it on his children, as it is prone to blowing things up. Luckily all is fine and he successfully shrinks and grows in a matter of minutes. The laser works on the children and the families are reunited.

Act IIII - The final act, the conclusion to the story shows the Szalinski's and the Thompson's sat down at the dinner table enjoying what seems to be a thanksgiving dinner, alongside a gigantic turkey. Clearly putting the laser to good use. This scene ties all the loose ends together in the film, everyone is happy. A lovely ending to a fun adventurous film.

All in all, 'Honey, I Shrunk The Kids' is a fun and magical film that has such charm. 'Honey I shrunk the kids, is as sweet, straightforward and funny as its title' (James, 1989) as said by reviewer Caryn James. It's dated special effects are still such fun to look at and its use of practical effects is a joy to see after seeing so many films today bombarded with CGI sets and characters. David Hepworth of Empire says 'In his first feature director Joe Johnston Achieves a happy balance between the FX and the humans' (Hepworth, 2015)  It's a movie that is fun for the whole family. 


James, C (1989) 'Review/Film: Honey I shrunk The Kid's' At: Accessed on: 16/10/2016

Ebert, R (1989) 'Honey, I Shrunk The Kids' At: Accessed on: 16/10/2016

Hepworth, D (2015) 'Honey I Shrunk The Kids Review' At: Accessed on: 16/10/2016


Figure 1. 'Honey I Shrunk The kids' [Film Poster] At: Accessed on: 16/10/2016]

Figure 2. [Film Still] At: Accessed on: 16/10/2016

Figure 3. [Film Still] At: Accessed on: 16/10/2016

Saturday, 15 October 2016

Friday, 14 October 2016