8:00 PM, 19th March, 2000
Malcolm Crowe (Willis) is a child psychologist who receives an award on the same night that he is visited by a very unhappy ex-patient. After this encounter, Crowe takes on the task of curing Cole (Osment), a young boy with similar ills to the ex-patient's. This boy has a secret that he can't tell, but it frightens him more than anything should. Crowe spends a lot of time with Cole as his marriage disintegrates. Cole's mum (Collette) is at her wit's end concerning what to do about her son's increasing problems. Crowe seems to be Cole and his mum's only hope.
This is a very good movie that no one should miss. Willis is excellent as the troubled psychologist, and Osment and Collette are wonderful as the troubled family. This is a very well written and directed film based on an abnormal idea. The plot moves along perfectly with more and more information being revealed to you about Cole and his life as the movie progresses. In some places the movie is intense and even scary but it all works together in a wonderful way that keeps you engrossed throughout.
8:30 PM, 19th March, 2000
The story, based on Shirley Jackson's novel 'The Haunting of Hill House', centers on the horror that befalls a group of people lured to a sprawlingly opulent but distinctly foreboding mansion (as one character puts it, "Citizen Kane meets The Addams Family") by a psychologist (Liam Neeson) who claims to be studying sleep disorders. He intends, instead, to observe his guinea pigs in an experiment on the dynamics of group fear. After telling them snippets of the macabre history of Hill House under the guise of casual conversation, he intends to sit back and watch the seeds he's planted germinate into full-blown paranoia.
Of the guinea pigs, Lili Taylor plays Eleanor, a sheltered young woman who starts hallucinating on her first night on the premises. Catherine Zeta-Jones is Theo, the sexy insomniac, who almost immediately announces that she has both a girlfriend and a boyfriend. What does her bisexuality add to the plot? Other than perhaps indulging the fantasies of all the men in the audience? I thought Zeta-Jones was bad in Entrapment, but I think she manages to be worse in this. However I think she served her purpose, which was to be something pretty to look at. In contrast to this, I found it difficult to watch scenes containing Owen Wilson, who plays the Generation-X wise guy Luke. What happened to this guy's nose? I found it so odd-looking that I was mesmerized.
This film was panned by reviewers and was named in 'Who' magazine as amongst the worst of 1999. The effects took over the film and were so over the top they couldn't possibly be scary. However, I am a wuss so I continued to be frightened by the cute little cherubs and the big bad ghosty man. If you come along I'm sure you will hear peals of laughter from the back row as my friends witness how easily frightened I am (and this will be my second viewing!).
9:00 PM, 19th March, 2000
Co-produced and co-written by Steven Spielberg and Tobe "Texas Chainsaw" Hooper, Poltergeist is the archetypal haunted-house story, with one important difference. This isn't some spooky old deserted mansion on a hill - this is a normal family home in the suburbs, surrounded by innumerable other houses just like it. This could be your house, and that's what is so scary about it.
The trouble all starts when Carol Anne (Heather O'Rourke), the youngest daughter of the Freeling family, begins talking to the television late at night after the close of programs (remember before they had infomercials?). Apparently, behind the white noise, she can hear people in the TV talking to her. Shortly after her family discovers this strange habit, things start moving around the house of their own accord, and Carol Anne disappears. Her frightened parents (Craig Nelson and Jo Beth Williams), still able to hear the girl but unable to see her, decide to call in a team of parapsychologists, and the battle against the malevolent presence in their house begins.
With more than a touch of Spielberg and fantastic special effects by George Lucas' Industrial Light and Magic, Poltergeist builds to a full-on ending which isn't too badly dated even twenty years later.
9:30 PM, 19th March, 2000
Adam (Alec Baldwin) and Barbara (Geena Davis) Maitland are content with their quaint little house on the hill and cannot be persuaded to sell it. That is until they find themselves in the next life after a freak accident and have no say in the matter. Lydia (Winona Ryder) and her family arrive at their house and begin to change it. The Maitlands not wanting the house to be taken over by these new inhabitants attempt to scare them out, with the help of a ghost handbook. Far from scaring the new inhabitants it amuses them, so much so that they plan to make money by showcasing these amusing ghosts. Lydia feels sorry for the Maitlands, and when they are in danger of being banished from the world forever she calls upon the help of the 'bio-exorcist', Beetlejuice (Michael Keaton) who proves, however, to be more than they bargained for.
Although a bit thin on plot in places Beetlejuice is a fun movie to watch, Keaton's performance in the title role is brilliant, and the rest of the cast is adequate. Tim Burton brings to life an array of weird characters from the next life as only he does best.
10:00 PM, 19th March, 2000
Michael J. Fox is a psychic private detective who consorts with deceased souls in order to have a thriving exorcism business. He becomes engaged in a mystery as members of the town community begin dying mysteriously. While investigating, he is aided by a friendly doctor who believes in his psychic abilities, and is hindered by a crazed G-Man, by a woman involved in an old serial killing, and by what may be the spirit of Death itself.
This sometimes funny, sometimes scary movie was quite fun to watch. The premise is new and different, not something you see too often in scary ghost movies nowadays. Fox is great as the not-in-control psychic with a secret, and the other actors carry the movie along well. The direction is lacking a bit in some sections, but overall the movie is quite fun. Combined with cool camera work and a very funky spirit of Death-evil-villain, this makes for a fun ride.