Ghostbusters

It's an opening that practically everybody who grew up or went to the movies in the 80's remembers: The camera drifts along the stacks of a huge, dark library. Ahead a librarian is butting books away, blithely unaware that they are quietly rearranging themselves behind her back. The creepy synthesizer plays out it's haunting note as we get closer and closer to the woman as she finally starts to realize something's amiss. She turns to the camera, the screen flares in a bright flash and she screams as her hair is blown back. Cue the  world-famous theme by Ray Parker Jr.

It's been a long-time coming, but the Cavalcade finally got around to Ghosts, choosing this theme to close out the "Year of the Creature Feature". And to be totally frank, there was absolutely NO way we were going to not screen this movie. It was written by and stars Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis and features fantastic turns by Bill Murray, Ernie Hudson, Rick Moranis, and Annie Potts.  One also cannot discount the memorable role played by Sigourney Weaver in her second Cavalcade appearance (first being Aliens), the only actor to do that so far aside from Casper Van Dien. Auspicious company indeed.

The film is an origin story of sorts, focusing on the discovery of the spirits and the founding of the titular capture and removal service. Some of the best scenes of the film involve the early use of the equipment, which hasn't really been field-tested. But as Murray's Peter Venkman states with more than a little fear-induced sarcasm:

"Why worry? Each one of us is carrying an unlicensed nuclear accelerator on his back."

Fortunately the tests prove successful, as does the business model. Eventually the group garners the unwelcome attention of two hostile forces: The E.P.A. and an ancient Sumerian god of destruction named Gozer. Both reak havok on the lives of our heroes, and are responsible for untold millions in damages and loss of life.  But only one is responsible for one of the most memorable moments in film history:

The 50-foot tall Stay-Pufft Marshmallow man stomping through New York City, raining down sugary destruction.

Thereby, Gozer wins on cool points.

This leads us to the special effects, which were beyond amazing in their day, are finally starting to show their age.  They are by no means "bad", mind you, still managing to surpass a healthy chunk of the low-budget fare of today.  I'd actually be interested in a "special edition" that cleaned them up ala the one or two good parts of the Star Wars re-releases (hint hint).  The proton blasts, ghosts, goblins, zombie cabbies, and afore-mentioned confectionary monsters-all look good... or as good as such things can look, being dead and/or demonic hell-beasts.

There's so much more to say about this movie! But rather than wax poetic about it for another umpteen paragrahs, I'll close this with a clear recommendation for any Cavalcade event.  It's a fantastic ride, hilariously funny with some genuine chills here and there, and your audience will thank you for it.

Aliens: Director’s Cut

I've been wracking my brain on this review for the better part of a week and a half now, trying desperately for a way to talk about the gob-smacking rocksauce awesome that is this film without degenerating into a quivering mass of gelatonous gibbering fanboyism.  I finally decided that it most likely wouldn't be possible, but I had to give it the old college try.

Following Ridley Scott's atmospheric and downright creepy Alien (1979)-Director James Cameron took an entirely different tack with his sequel. Whereas the first film focused on a small crew of miners being hunted by a solitary predatory Xenomorph, this film would see a crack team of mercenaries facing down hundreds of bone-gnawing extra-terrestrials. But anyone heading to this site knows this already. Because any film fan who claims to like Sci-Fi action, Sci-Fi horror, or movies in general has already seen this movie: Because it. Is. AWESOME.

Damn, almost made it through the first paragraph. Ok, let's try that one again.

Set fifty-seven years after the original, Ellen Riply (Sigourney Weaver), the sole-survivor of the alien attack aboard the space freighter Nostromo, wakes to a new world where all of her friends and family have long-since passed on. With no physical evidence to back up her reasons for blowing up a multi-billion dollar spacecraft, no one believes her tale of extra-terrestrial infestation, leaving her stripped of rank and marginalized. One of the most damning things against her is that the planet from whence the original alien was acquired has since been colonized, and no one has seen anything out of the ordinary for over 20 years.

Of course, before long, lots of out of the ordinary things happen, and the colony stops responding to calls from home. Time to send in the Space Marines! With Ripley along as a "Technical Alien Advisor", this rag-tag group heads down to LV-426 to find... well, you've got the idea.

I can feel the fanboy raging to get out, wanting to talk about the visual effects that still (for the most part) stand-up. Or the sheer number of genre-defining set pieces that would go on to become benchmarks for every space movie (indeed most Sci-Fi/Action movies) that followed. Or the unforgettable characters like Hudson (Bill Paxton), Vasquezz (Jenette Goldstein), Bishop (Lance Henriksen), and Hicks (Michale Biehn). Or the kick-ass final showdown between Ripley and the Alien Queen over the rousingly explosive score by James Horner! OR THE AMAZING CHASE WHERE BISHOP-

Ahh...there I go again. If I smoked, I'd need a cigarette. So let's bring it down a notch.

The Director's cut expands on the setup with the inclusion of a scene explaining the beginning of the infestation. While it's technically compitent, it slows down the pace of the film lessens the effect of seeing the planet and certain characters for the first time with the rest of the marines. However, this version also includes some other scenes that overall, make it a better experience than the theatrical version.

It goes without  saying that this film comes highly recommended for the Cavalcade, family dinners, wedding anniversaries, or any other occasion. It's beyond a crowd-pleaser. It's quality entertainment that succeeds on all levels. It's safe to say: If your group of friends don't love you for screening this film... you need new friends.