Sunday Short Reviews

Every Sunday, Gill delves into his archive of over 800 movie reviews and randomly selects three for your enjoyment! Here are this week’s…

House of Dark Shadows
Tim Burton’s dull Dark Shadows was a big-screen adaptation of the 1960s-70s TV series of the same name, but not many people know that the Dark Shadows television show already had a movie. House of Dark Shadows was released right in the middle of the show’s popularity, and is essentially a summation of all the series’ major plot points. What’s remarkable is how much better House of Dark shadows is than Tim Burton’s modern re-imagining, hitting all the right plot beats and proving that Johnny Depp, though talented, will never compare to Jonathan Frid’s original performance as Barnabas Collins. House of Dark Shadows is a pleasure for horror fans (especially if you love Hammer Horror, for this movie is dripping with British sensibilities), regardless of whether or not you’re familiar with the televised source material. This is a perfect little supernatural soap opera, and it’s a crime that it is not better known.
3.75 out of 5

Cult director John Carpenter jumped on the vampire bandwagon early in 1998 with this tale of a team of vampire hunters squaring off against a goth-y uber-vampire. Carpenter is clearly playing around with the Western genre, and James Woods’ vampire slaying cowboy character might as well have been named Clint. It’s extremely pulpy material, but unfortunately I don’t think it’s anywhere near Carpenter’s strongest. The script goes a bit too far portraying its protagonists as anti-heroes, to the point where Daniel Baldwin’s bloated sidekick character is downright repugnant. There are some fun moments here and there, but overall I was underwhelmed by Vampires. Still, it’s probably one of the better stories about professional vampire killers.
2.5 out of 5

Take Shelter
Take Shelter explores an emotion that is rarely the focus of a film: that of dread. Michael Shannon plays Curtis, a husband and father who suddenly begins to experience apocalyptic visions of a massive storm. Convinced that the visions are prophetic, Curtis begins to build a fallout shelter in his back yard. But is he crazy? Or has he seen the future? It’s a brilliant set up, and Shannon delivers a powerhouse performance in the lead role. The story unfolds at a perfect pace, wrapping up with an ending that insures you’ll find yourself thinking about Take Shelter for a long time after the credits roll. It’s also worth mentioning the beautiful cinematography and strong supporting performances from Jessica Chastain and Shea Whigham. This is a movie that gets better every time I think about it.
4 out of 5

See you next Sunday for three more thrilling short reviews!

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