Have You Ever Seen...
Updated: Mar 16, 2022
The Quick and the Dead (1995)
I remember enjoying this when I was younger despite not caring about Stone, DiCaprio, or Crowe at all. I think I was mostly chalking it up to Gene Hackman because, well, Gene Hackman. I was in my teens though, so I wasn't really paying attention to directors at all. Fast forward to now and I thought I would give it another shot, and all this time I totally didn't realize this was a Sam Raimi film. That explained a lot.
At first it doesn't really feel like your usual Raimi film, but then Sam Raimi totally Sam Raimies all over it and you're like, ah yeah, got it. And it is fantastic. Raimi's unique tone and style do wonders in this revisionist western that follows a female gunslinger as she seeks revenge in a small town named Redemption. The town is controlled by an outlaw named Herod who runs a fast-draw elimination tournament that attracts a varied cast of scum and murderers. This means getting some great cameos from the likes of Lance Henriksen, Keith David, Mark Boone Junior (Bobby Munson from Sons of Anarchy), and plenty more. You even get Gary Sinise popping up in a flashback, so that's nice. Oh and Stone, DiCaprio, and Crowe are all fine.
- The music is pretty great as well. At first I was like, geez, are they lifting from Predator? Then I realized Alan Silvestri was behind it so that jives.
- This has one of my favorite cinematic death scenes ever.
- Gene Hackman is great because he's just great, but I really, really enjoyed his character. They spend a lot of time with him and getting his motivations across, and offering a lot of various conflicts and dramas with all the other characters.
-Interestingly, Sharon Stone had approval over the choice of director and she said she wouldn't star if Raimi wasn't directing. Gotta hand it to her, because I seriously feel like this is one of my top favorite Raimi films.
I'm not the biggest Western guy but I really appreciated what Raimi brought to the table with this one. Highly recommend if you like his work and have never seen, or if you're just in the mood for an odd but engaging action/western.
8 out of 10
Quicksilver Highway (1997)
This one is such an oddity for me, because it's on the verge of almost hitting a couple good notes but never quite gets there. It's structured as if it was intended to become a new Tales From The Crypt anthology, complete with quirky 'host/storyteller' Christopher Lloyd as Aaron Quicksilver sharing the tales. But from what I can tell it was only ever going to be these two stories, so why bother with this particular form of framing device?
The set up has Lloyd telling the Stephen King short story 'Chattery Teeth' to a newly wed bride stranded on the side of a desert road, the tale following a salesman receiving a pair of giant metal novelty teeth at a roadside diner and then being attacked by a drifter. The teeth save him by murdering the drifter, and then we come back to the bride and her husband gets run over, and the teeth are present, for reasons.
The second story Lloyd tells is to a pickpocket at a carnival played by Matt Frewer, who also stars in his own non-cautionary Clive Barker tale 'The Body Politic' about a plastic surgeon who's hands rebel against him and go on a murdering spree. In both tales Lloyd makes it a point to say that not all stories need a morale or a lesson, and these certainly don't so....ok.
Director Mick Garris certainly has a passion for Stephen King properties that does shine through, as he worked on Sleepwalkers, Riding the Bullet, The Stand, the TV version of The Shining, and more. On an interesting side note and odd coincidence, he actually was an actor in The Quick and the Dead as well, popping up briefly as one of Gene Hackman's goons in a flashback.
I think the main issue is that at no point does this feel like horror. It feels more like dark comedy, but then if that's the case it's not really good comedy. Besides a couple ok gags here and there this entire film feels like a pointless project that depends too much on Lloyd's ill-defined role. And while Lloyd hams it up to the right degree so that his character is likable, he's sadly not memorable enough to make you clamor for a full series of him doing this schtick.
So, it's a thing you can watch if you want to be a King, Barker, Lloyd or even Garris completist. It's not great, but it's also not really offensive to the senses either. It's just sort of....there.
5 out of 10
Creepshow (1982) & Creepshow 2 (1987)
Considering this is all anthology material I'm just going to note some highlights I took away from this viewing:
- I can now appreciate that the kid reading the Creepshow comic at the start is Joe Hill, creator of Locke & Key (and Stephen King's son).
-The first tale, 'Father's Day', does feel the most EC of all of the stories, and I appreciate seeing a young Ed Harris crushed to death by a tombstone.
- I didn't get much out of 'The Lonesome Death of Jordy Verrill' as Stephen King's performance was a bit painful to sit through. I mean it has its slight Lovecraft vibe as a 'Colour Out of Space' tribute, but that's buried pretty deep underneath the yokel idiocy on display.
- I've always appreciated the Leslie Neilsen/Ted Danson 'Something to Tide You Over' piece, and I will always love seeing an evil Neilsen.
- I love Hal Holbrook daydreaming about murdering Adrienne Barbeau, more so than the actual monster elements of 'The Crate'.
- 'They're Creeping Up on You!' may be my favorite simply for its tone and the visual creepiness. It feels the most like a Romero piece as it actually tackles social elements of corporate greed, racism, paranoia, isolation, and so on. It's also the one story that works the most as a piece of horror and less like a dark comedy.
- I've always loved that poster art by Joann Daley.
All in all it's a fun mix and mash of oddball stories, all a bit goofy but with great Tom Savini effects and design elements.
7 out of 10
Trimmed down to just three stories, the sequel is a bit lackluster in comparison the the first with some decent cringe on top.
- 'Old Chief Wood'nhead' is a straightforward revenge segment, but the white actor in brownface as the antagonist is a fairly bleh move.
- 'The Raft' was always the most memorable for me and I still enjoy the special effects and the creature itself. We generally don't get enough sludge/blob monsters in films anymore so it's nice to see one even if it's mostly just a slimy tarp moving across a lake. Do not enjoy the main character molesting a girl in her sleep only to set her up to die horribly.
- I barely had any memory of 'The Hitchhiker' but I think on this viewing it's my favorite chapter now. The only problem is that it has a lot of potential to be a piece about race violence and privilege but it never completely steps up to plate. The story follows a rich adulterous white woman running over and killing a black hitchhiker, and after she thinks she gets away with it she's then haunted by his corpse that only repeats the line, "Thanks for the ride, lady". She keeps running over him again and again, driving his body through a forest and into trees and shooting him repeatedly. It's grisly with some decent effects and stunts, and it works as a solid EC-type horror story. It dances around that social element, which I guess is fine because it wasn't like I was expecting much depth from this film and if they tried to expand on it then it would probably be a clumsy mess anyway.
This one lacks a lot of the charm of the original, but it does hit a few decent notes despite its weaknesses.
6 out of 10