Hello and welcome to the second edition of Movie Mind Melt. I had such good feedback from the last one I figured why not make this one even more spectacular. I hope you enjoy this list as much as I enjoyed making it. I fully recommend each of these great works of film. If you haven't seen them, take the time, be a pirate if you have too, get these gems and bask in their insanity.
Have you ever imagined how it would feel to wake up and remembering nothing? What about the concept of memory in general; are we nothing but our memories? Is that where our emotions come from; the sum of experiences equaling the appropriate emotional response? F**k me if I know, but the one thing I do know is that until I took a gander at this movie for the first time I had never asked myself those leering questions. This film was both written and directed by the same person. A fact that escaped me, because I knew that Proyas had written the screenplay, but would have never thought he could have envisioned what this concept of Plato’s’ “Allegory of the Cave” shot like a 50s noir. This dark film has enough sci-fi to keep you asking the question, “What in the living f**k is going on here?”. To me, even though Bruce Lee’s son died on the set of "The Crow", this is his best film and probably what he will be remembered for when moves to his own Shell Beach in the sky.
The story follows John Murdoch (Played by Rufus Sewell) who wakes up in a bathtub with no idea of where or who he is, and no wallet to pay what could be a hooker; that is if she were alive. Murdoch doesn’t let a little dead hooker syndrome keep him from getting the hell out of there and tumbling deeper into mystery. After a bit he finds out, not only is Kiefer Southerland really creepy when he wants to be, but the whole city could be run by a shit load of shady characters.
He is labeled as a murderer by the police lead by a fedora wearing, accordion playing William Hurt as the lead detective on the case. He eventually ends up with the decision of whether or not to follow Murdoch into the rabbit whole…. Keep in mind, the only other guy Hurts character knows that’s ever done anything like that…. was this guy:
You can see there is some conflict there….
In the meantime Murdoch is getting closer and closer to answers with every swing of his telekinetic dong. Oh, I didn’t mention that? Well I also didn’t really get into these guys either:
Yeah, I know right? These guys are the ones who…. Ya know what, just watch the movie and you’ll find out.
I really dug the hell out of this movie when I was younger. Even as an adult I still like to go back and watch it now and again: ol’ Kiefer weezing and Richard O’Brien (Rocky Horror Picture Show) being creepy, William Hurt being awesome, and Jennifer Connelly as a lounge singing confused super-hot wife…. It’s a great combination of both a great cast and fantastic story telling. This movie came out before The Matrix even existed. Although I can not say The Matrix was a Dark City rip off, that would Not be fair (But it was a rip off of the comic ‘The Invisibles’, I Will and Do say that). This movie is a deep concept told in a very entertaining and mind warping way, also very worth the watch if you enjoy sci-fi in general. Although, for anyone who enjoys a great story it is really a must see.
An alternative title to this movie could be “Sam Neil Goes Fucking Insane in 95 Minutes”. Oh yes, you too, because again not only does John Carpenter bring you the frightening, he brings it to you with a combination of both his own personal soundtrack and a story straight from the brain of HP Lovecraft. Not that HP wrote it, oh no that was up to Michael De Luca (American History X, Magnolia, Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare) he pinned this dark wonder on his own, but if I had to guess the movie was a love letter to both of these writers; Or of course it could just be that the combination of Carpenter, Luca, and the twisted mind of Greg Nicataro that makes me think of HP Lovecraft. I am not exactly sure if Sutter Kane is supposed to be Lovecraft or King. I will let you be the judge…. But in my opinion, it’s probably a little of both.
So Sam Neil is a sort of private investigator who takes on a case to find this writer a publisher is trying to find. Why? Because the weird bastard has seemingly skipped out on his advance. The thing is the public is absolutely batty for this authors next book. Reports of people going crazy, eating faces, shit... eating babies just to get a glimpse of the cover. Of course Sam Neil's no bullshit character wont let him believe in the guys bullshit propaganda. He takes the case and what he learns turns him into this.....
In my opinion, if you are a fan of the Twilight Zone you will see nothing wrong with this flick. Because that's what it seems like, just one long graphic episode where Sam Neil is trying to come to grips with realities reality; all under a John Carpenter composed soundtrack. God damn folks, I am telling ya this movie gets crazy, but its one of those endings where you will watch it that one time and then put the movie away. Later, around 5 years, you will catch a glimpse of the title and remember the craziness all over again. It sticks with you, not just because its a real original type of story, but because its one hell of a ride.
So when you are all alone on a dark and stormy night, remember this classic flick. But I'll be honest, this movie probably wont let you forget......
This movie is one of the craziest introductions into a science that is still wrapped in mystery. It asks many of the same questions Dark City asks, but it delves deeper through a combination of science and psychedelic mushrooms. I often show this to people and they don't seem to get the movie at all, but its really because you have to want to know whats going on. You have to get engaged, and turn your phone off. This may not have the special effects of a Michael Bay movie but the dialogue is solid and so is the acting. You take that concept, throw in a deep ass question of the origin of memory itself, a sensory deprivation tank, scientists crazy enough to risk their very sanity to get the answers and you have a recipe for one hell of a psychedelic ride.....trust me.
The story follows Dr. Eddie Jessup played brilliantly by William Hurt, who has recently been introduced to the wonders of sensory deprivation. The visions -and they are fucking creepy- have him enthralled. Not for what they are but for where they might come from. Jessup in the middle of his research hits a wall that his mind wont let him get past.... that is until he goes to mexico and finds some old teleporting shamans. These guys hook him up with a ceremonial mushroom they call the "First Flower". The intense scenes woven together with badass casting and even better dialogue is a match made in some part of psychedelic new wave science heaven. Because the main character doesn't think they are hallucinations, but memories, genetic memories, and all his other scientific colleges think he's bat shit crazy. But, the thing is, he may be right....
The great thing about this movie is not the end result, because it really just leaves more for you to question. It is really about the ride. Because then you get to see what links an intelligent mind will go to find some sort of ultimate truth. Whether its Frankenstein searching for the formula to life, or Dr. Jekyll hunting for the seed of mans desires within his own genome. To me Dr. Jessup joins these men in the list of great fictional truth seekers. Which is what makes the character so fascinating. William Hurt seemed to have the perfect look in his eye, not to mention some sort of special connection with the guys working the effects, because he acted his ass off and even helped changed movie history.
Dick Smith created this effect with a giant combination of awesome and ingenuity. I'll bet when he went in that day and saw what the effect was supposed to be as described in the script, and was like "Shit, I can do that, I am Dick 'GodDamn' Smith after all!" and created this work out of either necessity or pure creative fun. Doesn't matter which it is though, just know that every movie after that with a transformation scene had this effect duplicated over and again. The most noted is the transformation scene in American Werewolf in London just a year later. Oh, no... Dick Smith didn't work on American Werewolf in London. Rick Baker did, and the guy who told him how to do the effect: Dick Smith. Did he charge him anything or was he credited? Fuck no, he is Dick Smith "Makeup Wizard", he gives this kind of knowledge away! For that we should all be thanking him... and William Hurt for interacting with all the effects so well in this film.
Cinemaphiles, I highly recommend this film both for its questions and its production. Hell, I even say, once you are finished watching it go pick up the book of the same name. Its well written and holds a lot more fun information that delves deeper into the characters motivations. So even when the power goes out, this story can remind you of some of what we don't know about or own consciousness.
Oh wow, where should I start.... hummmm, how about with this?
Yes folks, its Christopher Lee! Not just any Christopher Lee, but the black magic version. As you might know in some of my other articles I have expressed lamentation over Hollywood's terrible decision making when it comes to writing and casting a decent version of John Constantine. Well to be honest it should be Tim Roth, but that's beside the point. What I am saying is, if Hollywood wants to cast/write John Constantine all they have to do is watch Duc de Richleau (Christopher Lee) in this movie and they will have it!
The film tells the story of the dangers of devil worship no matter how much money you have. The bored rich seem to have a knack for this sort of trouble and Duc de Richleau knows all about it. So when he shows up to check on his now dead best friends son and finds him hanging around with some shady folks he instantly knows whats going on. Plus when you hang around with people saying they are an astrological society and wear tuxes, you can pretty much assume that shit is about to go down. Especially if this guy claims to be their leader...
Eventually Lee's character finds out his friend is mixed up in Devil Worship, but not just any kind. I mean, they aren't sacrificing babies, but they do summon Satan pretty easily. Which is funny, because they also make him look deformed a bit which makes me wonder if the Devil in this universe is just waiting for a party invite. Oh and what wild parties they throw....
The make-up aside, this movie has a lot going for it. An original story playing upon the fears of the time it was made that has Christopher Lee kicking evils ass with silver, incantations, and experience... Hell, he even summons and fights the angle of death. I mean what more could you ask for?! The coolest part is while researching this article I found out that this is actually based on a book by the same name. So, even if you can't stand the old school makeup effects, you should be able to pick up the book and imagine what you want. Even if I did I am pretty sure I would still see Lee as Duc de Richleau even inside my own head. Because, whether its imagination or the silver screen, Christopher Lee is what made this movie as badass as it is, just by being in it.
So if you are feeling bored and have the night in, go grab this flick from the internet somewhere, take a seat, and buckle the fuck up cuz you are gonna go for a fun ride to Black Magic city where Christopher Lee is the Mayor. Bask in its goofy make-up and movie magic all you want, but the movie itself is worth admiration. Not only because its Directed by a classic horror movie icon, and stars an even bigger one, but because it illustrates just how to magic should be displayed on screen. Not with flashy lights and pew pew lightning bolts shooting from their fingers. NO! Subtly and drenched in mystery. As anyone who is a fan of Star Wars knows, you don't have to know about midichlorian's to appreciate the force.
Thanks for reading!
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