Danielle Harris

Halloween II (2009, Rob Zombie)

The only good thing about Halloween II are the end credits. They run like nine minutes, meaning the movie is closer to ninety-five minutes than 105. Even though the ninety-five minutes feels like an eternity.

The movie starts with director Zombie making fun of the idea of making another Halloween II. He’s not remaking Halloween II; well, he does for the first twenty-five minutes of the movie but only to make fun of the idea of remaking Halloween II. It’s kind of the best sequence in the movie? If only because there’s not as much cynicism as the rest of the picture. Less cynicism, less “lead” Scout Taylor-Compton trying to emote, less Sheri Moon Zombie as a color inverted Morticia Adams ghost making scary-ish faces as she inspires Tyler Mane to kill people. It’s a hallucination but not. Chase Wright Vanek, as the young version of Mane, is also in the scenes. He could be worse. Moon Zombie couldn’t be worse, but Vanek has some lines in the prologue and he’s atrocious so it’s a surprise when he’s better later. Because he doesn’t get dialogue. It’s a good move from Zombie amid a film full of bad moves.

After the riff on the original Halloween II, Zombie jumps ahead a year to Taylor-Compton trying to recover from her trauma. Meanwhile, Malcolm McDowell is on a book tour capitalizing on Taylor-Compton’s trauma. McDowell’s not good and the part’s thinly written–all the parts in the film are paper thin–but he’s bad in entertaining ways. Taylor-Compton isn’t bad in entertaining ways. She’s got a terrible part and gives a terrible performance in it. She’s living with fellow Halloween I survivor Danielle Harris and her dad, sheriff Brad Dourif.

Harris is just about the only likable character in the film. She also doesn’t give a terrible performance. Many of the cast give terrible performances, so Harris is constant refreshing. Dourif’s haircut gives more of a performance than the actor, which is too bad. It’s a crappy part though.

The worst supporting performance is Angela Trimbur. She’s one of Taylor-Compton’s friends; she gets to personify Zombie’s prevailing conjecture in the film–empathy doesn’t exist, which is problematic because Taylor-Compton’s only in her current situation because of empathy. Halloween II is the perfect storm of cynicism and stupidity, with Zombie trying to cushion the stupidity in symbolism so he can get away with it. But it’s stupid symbolism so who cares.

The best cameo performance is Bill Fagerbakke as a deputy. The worst is Mark Boone Junior. Margot Kidder is somewhere in between, mostly because her therapist isn’t believable at all.

Technically, the film’s competent. Brandon Trost’s photography is definitely competent. Glenn Garland and Joel T. Pashby’s editing gets all the jump scares. Zombie relies heavily on them. He starts with gore, then he goes to jump scares. They’re effective but entirely cheap.

Tyler Bates’s music… could be worse.

Garreth Stover’s production design–presumably under Zombie’s instruction–is grungy to the point of absurdity. Since surviving their serial killer attacks, Taylor-Compton and Harris have apparently embraced nihilism based on their interior decorating but never in their characters. Taylor-Compton’s behavior sometimes flips scene-to-scene so Zombie can move things along. It’s not like she’d have essayed the role better if the writing were better.

Trost’s photography holds things together. Without it, the movie would be stagy. If the acting were better. And if Zombie cared about the acting. It’s really bad.

But it could be worse. It could be much, much worse. The end credits could run eight minutes instead of nine and there might be another whole insufferable minute of content to Halloween II.

0/4ⓏⒺⓇⓄ

CREDITS

Directed by Rob Zombie; screenplay by Zombie, based on characters created by John Carpenter and Debra Hill; director of photography, Brandon Trost; edited by Glenn Garland and Joel T. Pashby; music by Tyler Bates; production designer, Garreth Stover; produced by Malek Akkad, Andy Gould and Zombie; released by Dimension Films.

Starring Scout Taylor-Compton (Laurie Strode), Tyler Mane (Michael Myers), Malcolm McDowell (Dr. Samuel Loomis), Brad Dourif (Sheriff Lee Brackett), Sheri Moon Zombie (Deborah Myers), Danielle Harris (Annie Brackett) and Brea Grant (Mya Rockwell)


Halloween (2007, Rob Zombie)

Halloween is very loud. It’s about the only thing director Zombie keeps consistent throughout. It gets loud. It starts kind of quiet–comparatively–then gets loud. Jump scares always have some noise. But once the jump scares are every two seconds, there’s just loud noise. Giant spree killer Tyler Mane destroys a house in the third act, with his bare hands. Because it’s loud to destroy a house. A different filmmaker with different goals might try to have the destruction of his childhood home, where he became a tween spree killer, mean something. Especially since Mane’s current target is long lost baby sister Scout Taylor-Compton (now a teenager). He’s destroying her house too.

But not Zombie. He’s just being loud. The only reason they’re at the house is because Zombie wanted to avoid similarities to the original Halloween. It’s a very strange remake, because you always get the feeling Zombie would rather be doing anything else. Zombie’s not enthusiastic about anything. The noise, sure, and the violence–sort of, it’s violent and bloody as all hell, but not really creatively. Cynically. Zombie condescends to his own film, which is interesting. You can’t really dwell on it too long because loud noises interrupt reflection.

The film spends almost the first hour outside remake expectations. Zombie’s doing his own origin story for Michael Myers (played by Daeg Faerch as a kid). It’s the late seventies. They’re kind of white trash. Mom (Sheri Moon Zombie) is a stripper with a heart of gold. Sister Hanna Hall is a jerk. William Forsythe is Mom’s abusive, drunken, live-in boyfriend who’s immobilized from injury. Zombie’s really bad at the writing of the family. He can’t take it seriously.

Moon Zombie’s almost all right as the mom. She takes it seriously in a way no one else does. Not the stunt cameos, not Forsythe, who’s kind of funny but also clearly very cynical in his performance. Zombie does all these things in Halloween’s first section but he doesn’t do any of them right. It’s not exactly potential, but the most similar thing to potential the film’s ever going to have. Because once it gets to the “present”–the early-to-mid nineties–Halloween’s got zilch. Eventually you hope–remembering the plot of the original–it’ll end after this next riff on a scene from the original but it never does. Zombie keeps it going for ages, just to mess with expectations of the target audience. And also for those viewers who just want to believe sometime it’ll finally end.

And then it gets so loud.

Until the last third or so, the film relies entirely on John Carpenter’s original Halloween score. Maybe a little louder, set to all sorts of scenes it doesn’t fit, over and over. It’s omnipresent. The finale is just Tyler Bates being loud. Because it’s all about being loud in Halloween.

It’s not about Halloween at all though. Loudness, sure. Halloween, not so much. Even though there’s a kid dressed up as a skeleton boy or something, Halloween doesn’t play in during the present day stuff. Not even as Taylor-Compton being too old for it or whatever. Zombie doesn’t care about Halloween. How appropriate for the movie, Halloween.

He likes his cameos, but he doesn’t care about them. Ken Foree has the best one. Though Sid Haig’s isn’t terrible either. Zombie’s got no more enthusiasm for the successful ones than the bad ones. Sometimes they work, most times they don’t. Udo Kier’s is the most superfluous and Danny Trejo’s the most disappointing. Trejo’s turns out to be Zombie at his most painfully obvious and trying. It’s one of the first exhausting elements in the film.

By the time Taylor-Compton comes in, the movie’s only got a few moments of narrative drive left. Zombie burns it all up with the transition from past to present. It gets so long in such a short amount of time. Maybe because Malcolm McDowell can’t even pretend to try. Of course he goes away for most of the film, which doesn’t turn out to improve anything because Taylor-Compton is so unlikable. Zombie doesn’t care about any of the characters so it’s hard to care much for them either. Big problem given Taylor-Compton is the “lead.”

Technically, the film’s competent. Zombie’s not a good director and he composes poorly for the Panavision, but he’s not incompetent. Phil Parmet’s photography is fine. It’s not any good or ever interesting, but it’s not any good. Glenn Garland’s editing is effective. It’s cheap, but it’s effective. Anton Tremblay’s production design is phenomenal. As crappy as the film gets, it always looks amazing. Even when Zombie’s not showing it in an amazing light.

Occasionally it seems like Zombie wants to spoof Halloween, but instead tries to let his contempt inform the film instead. He never succeeds, because it’s bad, but there are missed opportunities. They all have caveats, but they’re around.

The closest thing to good performances are from Danielle Harris and Brad Dourif. Neither have any good material per se, but they at least try with what they’ve got. It’s more than most anyone else is doing. Even the bad actors seem to know not to try too hard with a lousy script.

Dee Wallace goes all out though.

Halloween is long, loud, unpleasant, and underwhelming. If Zombie can’t convince himself his ideas are good and explore them, how can he convince an audience.

0/4ⓏⒺⓇⓄ

CREDITS

Directed by Rob Zombie; screenplay by Zombie, based on the film written by John Carpenter and Debra Hill; director of photography, Phil Parmet; edited by Glenn Garland; music by Tyler Bates; production designer, Anton Tremblay; produced by Malek Akkad, Andy Gould and Zombie; released by Dimension Films.

Starring Malcolm McDowell (Samuel), Scout Taylor-Compton (Laurie), Danielle Harris (Annie Brackett), Kristina Klebe (Lynda), Brad Dourif (Lee), Jenny Gregg Stewart (Lindsey), Skyler Gisondo (Tommy), Nick Mennell (Bob), Danny Trejo (Ismael), Sid Haig (Chester), Dee Wallace (Cynthia), Pat Skipper (Mason), Hanna Hall (Judith), Sheri Moon Zombie (Deborah), William Forsythe (Ronnie) and Daeg Faerch & Tyler Mane (Michael).


Halloween II (2009, Rob Zombie), the director’s cut

Halloween II is terrible. Unquestionably terrible. It sounds as though the director’s cut, which I watched, is even worse than the theatrical cut, based on the items director Zombie added back to the film.

But I wanted Halloween II to be good. It can’t be good–even with Zombie’s dumb ideas, there’s terrible writing and an awful performance from Scout Taylor-Compton in the lead–but I wanted it to be good. Because Zombie, after teasing the audience with a direct remake of the original Halloween II as an opener, does come up with an interesting concept. What happens to Taylor-Compton after the horrific events of the first film, with all “real life” psychology thrown in–including Malcolm McDowell making a jackass of himself as “famous TV psychiatrist”–it could be really interesting.

Zombie has all the pieces–Taylor-Compton’s friend, played by Danielle Harris, and her dad, an excellent Brad Dourif, take her in, which creates all sorts of problems and new situations. Juxtaposed against McDowell tormenting his media handler (Mary Birdsong), it all could have worked out. There’s some good stuff with Harris and Dourif, Birdsong and McDowell, but it’s all accidental. It’s actors with ability transcending terribly written material.

Oddly enough, Zombie cares. He cares about his dumb story invalidating every idea of the Halloween franchise–instead of a soulless shape, Michael Myers is driven to kill by his mystically evil (and undead) mother. Zombie spends most of the movie upset he can’t show Tyler Mane’s face until the end. Zombie puts it off so long, the reveal has no point–not as commentary on the Halloween franchise, which the film could’ve been perfect for, and not for his dumb evil, mystical Myers family thing.

Great photography from Brandon Trost on 16 mm. Occasionally okay music from Tyler Bates.

And, real quick, Sheri Moon Zombie is awful in it (though not worse than Taylor-Compton); it’s sad since the film opens with a flashback where Moon Zombie’s actually good.

Halloween II is not at all worth watching, but it should have been.

0/4ⓏⒺⓇⓄ

CREDITS

Directed by Rob Zombie; screenplay by Zombie, based on characters created by John Carpenter and Debra Hill; director of photography, Brandon Trost; edited by Glenn Garland and Joel T. Pashby; music by Tyler Bates; production designer, Garreth Stover; produced by Malek Akkad, Andy Gould and Zombie; released by Dimension Films.

Starring Scout Taylor-Compton (Laurie Strode), Tyler Mane (Michael Myers), Malcolm McDowell (Dr. Samuel Loomis), Brad Dourif (Sheriff Lee Brackett), Sheri Moon Zombie (Deborah Myers), Danielle Harris (Annie Brackett) and Brea Grant (Mya Rockwell)


Halloween (2007, Rob Zombie), the director’s cut

Halloween is a very bad film. It’s an ambitious film but it fails with everything it’s trying to do. Director Zombie wants to do a revisionist look at the original film (and franchise to some extent). He wants to make it real. He wants to write long monologues for Malcolm McDowell’s psychiatrist, long, ridiculous monologues. They make McDowell seem like a joke. Except the script doesn’t function if he’s a joke. Zombie wants to make fun of the original Halloween. Halloween, the remake, is the idea of remake as overcompensation.

Of course, Halloween isn’t just a remake–though it is, for the majority of its runtime, a terrible updating of the original film. Zombie (intentionally) doesn’t give years, but it seems to take place in the mid-nineties, which makes it a reference to the release of the original film. There’s so much symbolism, both visually and in the narrative, it actually gets uncomfortable. I’m not sure if Zombie could make the film more desperately obvious.

Zombie front loads a back story for Michael Myers (played as an adult by Tyler Mane–who actually gives an okay performance given the nonsense going on–and Daeg Faerch in the opening). Personifying Faerch, while teasing his “true” nature, might–in the second part of the film–lead to some audience curiosity about Mane’s actions (instead of focusing on his intended victims’ fright), but it doesn’t do anything. Zombie does a crappy TV movie version of an abusive home life, generic bullies, evil older sisters, drunk stepdads (a hilarious William Forsythe). And even though cinematographer Phil Parmet appears able to handle the lighting, Zombie doesn’t have a style for it. He does a bland Panavision, nothing else. The handful of okay shots in the movie are just because Mane’s really tall and he’s breaking down walls because–to be realistic, of course–the monster has to be an actual monster.

But front loading Mane’s backstory distracts from Halloween’s biggest problem. “Lead” Scout Taylor-Compton is terrible. Zombie writes the teen girls terribly. Intentionally. He wants to get rid of the artifice, he wants to get rid of the sympathy. Because without sympathy, the audience has to get it from the terrible fates of the characters. It’s a slasher movie, right? But it doesn’t work. Zombie’s approaches to the slasher set pieces are all terrible. He even tries to distract from them with ludicrous plotting to keep those viewers familiar with the original (you know, the target audience) guessing where the story is going.

And then Zombie wants it all to be about the death and beauty of the American family. Sincerely. He even gets Dee Wallace to play Taylor-Compton’s mom. Halloween is a movie made for people who get E.T. references. It would’ve been better with more, because at least with bad cameos and lame jokes, Zombie is appearing interested.

Brad Dourif’s okay as the sheriff. He’s not in it enough. Sheri Moon Zombie is almost good as Faerch’s mom. Danny Trejo gets casted for the visual recognition but does a fine job. Danielle Harris probably gives the film’s best performance. Well, except the little kids. Both Skyler Gisondo and Jenny Gregg Stewart are fantastic.

Malcolm McDowell is bad. Zombie doesn’t know how to direct him and he’s got the film’s worst role, which is saying a lot, but McDowell is still bad.

On the other hand, even though I can’t stand the movie, I really want to see it pan and scan. I want to see Rob Zombie’s Halloween cropped to 4:3. Maybe he’s directing for 4:3. I doubt it, because the script would still be terrible and the acting awful and Tyler Bates’s music lame (though not as lame as the soundtrack selections–from Zombie). But maybe.

Wait, I almost forgot–even though her acting is unbelievably bad and anyone would have been better–Taylor-Compton is good at pretending to be scared.

0/4ⓏⒺⓇⓄ

CREDITS

Directed by Rob Zombie; screenplay by Zombie, based on the film written by John Carpenter and Debra Hill; director of photography, Phil Parmet; edited by Glenn Garland; music by Tyler Bates; production designer, Anton Tremblay; produced by Malek Akkad, Andy Gould and Zombie; released by Dimension Films.

Starring Malcolm McDowell (Samuel), Scout Taylor-Compton (Laurie), Danielle Harris (Annie Brackett), Kristina Klebe (Lynda), Brad Dourif (Lee), Jenny Gregg Stewart (Lindsey), Skyler Gisondo (Tommy), Nick Mennell (Bob), Danny Trejo (Ismael), Sid Haig (Chester), Dee Wallace (Cynthia), Pat Skipper (Mason), Hanna Hall (Judith), Sheri Moon Zombie (Deborah), William Forsythe (Ronnie) and Daeg Faerch & Tyler Mane (Michael).


Ghost of Goodnight Lane (2014, Alin Bijan)

Ghost of Goodnight Lane is nearly okay. It's definitely amusing throughout–director and co-writer Bijan inexplicably throws on a terrible epilogue thing–and the constant joking really helps it. Most of the scenes play like a horror movie spoof, only one where the movie doesn't take the time to laugh at itself. There's a joke, there's a moment for the viewer to laugh or smile, but there's a prolonged delay. It moves. But then there are also these lame insert shots of the haunted house with bad CG ominous weather. And the movie's about a small film production company, so there should be some acknowledgment of the disconnect–a movie changing in editing.

There are a couple good running jokes and they're always coming at the most inappropriate time. It's set in Dallas, not Hollywood, which makes the apathy somehow more grounded. And funny.

The most important component are the leads. Billy Zane plays the dimwit narcissist director and producer. He's hilarious. Every line delivery is played for maximum effect (and humor). Lacey Chabert and Matt Dallas are the young couple working for him. They're both good. Neither has much to do, but they're likable and play off Zane's silliness well.

Christine Bently is surprisingly solid as the bimbo actress. Actually, all of the supporting players are fine except Lynn Andrews III. He's bad (and is in the first act a lot).

Bijan occasionally has some good shots.

Ghost goes on too long, but thanks to cast and script, it has its moments.

0/4ⓏⒺⓇⓄ

CREDITS

Produced and directed by Alin Bijan; written by Bijan and Amy Acosta; director of photography, David Blood; edited by Bijan and Jonny Revolt; music by Amin Emam; production designers, Adam Dietrich and Matthew Englebert; released by Inception Media Group, LLC.

Starring Billy Zane (Alan), Lacey Chabert (Dani), Matt Dallas (Ben), Adam Whittington (Johnny), Christine Bently (Laurel Matthews), Danielle Harris (Chloe), Brina Palencia (Micah), Lynn Andrews III (Amin), John Franklin (Nico), Allyn Carrell (Thelma) and Richard Tyson (Ron).


Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead (1991, Stephen Herek)

Wait, Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead made money? It didn’t make a lot of money, but it probably turned a profit.

The movie’s a star vehicle for Christina Applegate, who clearly doesn’t deserve one. Her performance is laughably awful and amateurish; it’s as though the filmmakers realized she wasn’t likable and just went ahead anyway. Every frame of her performance gives way to a far worse one.

The plot–the titular Babysitter angle quickly gives way to teenage Applegate lying her way into a job–requires a reasonable performance from the lead. Between Applegate and director Herek’s incompetence, it’s not happening here.

There’s a complete disconnect with reality in Babysitter, whether it’s Concetta Tomei being believable as having five kids or Keith Coogan’s stoner being younger than sister Applegate. Herek and the screenwriters also coat over the mean-spirited, reprehensible natural of the characters. Whether it’s Tomei leaving her kids with a babysitter without references, the kids disposing of the body and covering up the death and just the movie’s general apathy.

The audience is supposed to like Applegate because she meets a cute boy (Josh Charles, who’s clearly leagues ahead talent-wise than his costars) and changes outfits and hairstyles every scene.

Poor Joanna Cassidy shows up and humiliates herself as Applegate’s boss.

Between Herek’s unbelievably lousy direction and David Newman’s awful score, the movie doesn’t even have any passable technical qualities.

It’s artistically tragic prints of Babysitter exist. I wish I could forget every millisecond of it.

0/4ⓏⒺⓇⓄ

CREDITS

Directed by Stephen Herek; written by Neil Landau and Tara Ison; director of photography, Tim Suhrstedt; edited by Larry Bock; music by David Newman; production designer, Stephen Marsh; produced by Robert F. Newmyer, Julia Phillips, Brian Reilly and Jeffrey Silver; released by Warner Bros.

Starring Christina Applegate (Sue Ellen Crandell), Joanna Cassidy (Rose Lindsey), John Getz (Gus), Josh Charles (Bryan), Keith Coogan (Kenny Crandell), Concetta Tomei (Mom), David Duchovny (Bruce), Kimmy Robertson (Cathy), Jayne Brook (Carolyn), Eda Reiss Merin (Mrs. Sturak), Robert Hy Gorman (Walter Crandell), Danielle Harris (Melissa Crandell) and Christopher Pettiet (Zach Crandell).


Halloween 5 (1989, Dominique Othenin-Girard)

Halloween 5 shouldn’t be mind-numbingly boring. There’s no chance something called Halloween 5 is going to be smart, so I was expecting mind-numbing stupidity… but not boredom.

The movie opens with a recap of the previous entry, with some changes to the ending to keep Michael Myers alive (he escapes in a manner straight out of an old Universal monster movie) and to make his nine year-old niece, Danielle Harris, retain sympathy.

Of course, she’s been rendered mute, which helps Harris’s acting quite a bit.

Halloween 5 has some really bad acting. It’s dumb and all, but there’s just some godawful acting. Ellie Cornell, returning from the last one too (where she was bad), shines in comparison. But director Othenin-Girard underuses any of the more capable (and capable is a stretch) actors and gives more attention to people like Wendy Foxworth, who’s atrocious.

Poor Beau Starr doesn’t have enough of a presence either, with the film promising him better screen time and then failing to deliver.

As for the always present Donald Pleasence? Halloween 5 is, apparently, the one where he’s willing to burn his acting legacy. It’s hard to say what’s more unbelievable… a hermit nursing Michael Myers to health or Pleasence getting away with roughing up Harris every chance he gets.

Composition-wise, Othenin-Girard could be worse. Alan Howarth’s score has its moments too.

But Halloween 5 can’t overcome its stupidity or its repetitiveness. Every “homage” is lame and everything original is horrendous.

0/4ⓏⒺⓇⓄ

CREDITS

Directed by Dominique Othenin-Girard; screenplay by Michael Jocobs, Othenin-Girard and Shem Bitterman, based on characters created by John Carpenter and Debra Hill; director of photography, Robert Draper; edited by Jerry Brady and Charles Tetoni; music by Alan Howarth; production designer, Brenton Swift; produced by Ramsey Thomas; released by Galaxy International Releasing.

Starring Donald Pleasence (Dr. Sam Loomis), Danielle Harris (Jamie Lloyd), Ellie Cornell (Rachel Carruthers), Beau Starr (Sheriff Ben Meeker), Jeffrey Landman (Billy Hill), Tamara Glynn (Samantha Thomas), Jonathan Chapin (Mikey), Matthew Walker (Spitz) and Wendy Foxworth (Tina Williams).


Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers (1988, Dwight H. Little)

While still bad, Halloween 4 is better than I ever expected. It’s barely ninety minutes and forty or so minutes are of people in crisis, which passes the time fairly well.

It takes place in an interesting version of the original film’s town, where the moon (even when it isn’t full) is apparently so bright, it can light entire blocks and buildings. One of the plot points is the power being out, yet cinematographer Peter Lyons Collister always manages to locate a directional source.

Oh, wait, maybe Collister is just incompetent. That explanation makes more sense. Especially considering how almost every night shot is flooded with bright blue light.

The film’s a strange mix of character actors and ingenues, with the character actors the only reasonable actors. Donald Pleasence starts trashing his career legacy, but he’s not terrible. Beau Starr’s quite good.

As for the ingenues, they’re uniformly awful. Empirically speaking, director Little appears to have told Danielle Harris (the child in distress) to look like she’s holding in a fart. Her performance is terrible, though probably better than Ellie Cornell as her protector. Cornell lacks any affect whatsoever.

Little is an inept director, but not wholly incompetent. The real fault for Halloween 4 lies with writer Alan B. McElroy. McElroy can’t just not write dialogue, he can’t plot either. He also plagiarizes King Kong Lives‘s rednecks with shotguns subplot.

And then Little ruins McElroy’s one good scene.

It’s awful, but–again, shockingly–Halloween 4 could be much worse.

0/4ⓏⒺⓇⓄ

CREDITS

Directed by Dwight H. Little; screenplay by Alan B. McElroy, based on a story by Danny Lipsius, Larry Rattner, Benjamin Ruffner and McElroy and characters created by John Carpenter and Debra Hill; director of photography, Peter Lyons Collister; edited by Curtiss Clayton; music by Alan Howarth; produced by Paul Freeman; released by Galaxy International Releasing.

Starring Donald Pleasence (Dr. Sam Loomis), Ellie Cornell (Rachel Carruthers), Danielle Harris (Jamie Lloyd), George P. Wilbur (Michael Myers), Michael Pataki (Dr. Hoffman), Beau Starr (Sheriff Ben Meeker), Kathleen Kinmont (Kelly Meeker), Sasha Jenson (Brady) and Gene Ross (Earl).


Daylight (1996, Rob Cohen)

Stallone is Kit Latura, disgraced EMS chief (he cared too much). Besides the name, Stallone’s just the disaster movie lead and not even any interesting one (besides the caring too much). There aren’t even any Stallone grunts in the movie and he plays it straight and as well as anyone can play the terrible script. Daylight is a terrible attempt at a disaster movie as it forgets a couple of the golden rules of the genre. First, have a recognizable cast. Jay O. Sanders might barely qualify, but whoever plays his wife (Karen Young–and she’s awful) is not. And the less said about Sage Stallone the better. The second broken rule is to make the characters likable. With the exception of Stallone and security guard Stan Shaw, there isn’t a single sympathetic character trapped in the (unnamed) tunnel. In fact, when Viggo Mortensen dies, it’s a relief, since it’d have been awful to spend the rest of the movie with him around.

Besides the plotting problems, the script’s generally awful–bad dialogue, bad characters–but Daylight‘s not abjectly bad. Rob Cohen is a boring director, but he’s not bad. The sets are all very intricate and impressive (the other visual effects, terrible CG and silly composites, are not), even if the action occurring on them is mediocre at best.

When he’s not spouting off terrible character development dialogue, Stallone’s keeping the movie going. At the beginning, when it’s amusingly ludicrous, he gets some help from Dan Hedaya. Then, in the tunnel, a little from Shaw. Eventually, he’s got to push ahead himself and, at that point, Daylight gets particularly long. Maybe it’s because the ending is straight out of The Goonies.

Randy Edelman’s score is awful, Amy Brenneman is awful, Barry Newman is hilariously awful. Trina McGee is okay in one of the smaller roles and Vanessa Bell Calloway’s fake Caribbean accent (it goes in and out of course)–at least makes her scenes funny.

It’s funny to think of disaster movies as a complicated art form, but Daylight certainly proves they’re far from easy to make successful.

0/4ⓏⒺⓇⓄ

CREDITS

Directed by Rob Cohen; written by Leslie Bohem; director of photography, David Eggby; edited by Peter Amundson; music by Randy Edelman; production designer, Benjamin Fernandez; produced by John David, Joseph M. Singer and David T. Friendly; released by Universal Pictures.

Starring Sylvester Stallone (Kit Latura), Amy Brenneman (Madelyne Thompson), Dan Hedaya (Frank Kraft), Viggo Mortensen (Roy Nord), Jay O. Sanders (Steven Crighton), Karen Young (Sarah Crighton), Danielle Harris (Ashley Crighton), Trina McGee (LaTonya), Claire Bloom (Eleanor Trilling), Colin Fox (Roger Trilling), Vanessa Bell Calloway (Grace), Stan Shaw (George Tyrell), Sage Stallone (Vincent), Barry Newman (Norman Bassett) and Mark Rolston (Chief Dennis Wilson).


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