Tag Archives: Donald Pleasence

The Passover Plot (1976, Michael Campus)

For the first few scenes, Alex North definitely composes The Passover Plot like a big Biblical epic of the fifties. It’s not, of course, and not just because Plot’s from the seventies. It’s cheap and director Campus uses that reduced budget interestingly. Maybe not well, but definitely interestingly. Actors get close-ups when they don’t need them, there aren’t any establishing shots for scene transitions (not right away anyway) and there’s no expository dialogue. The only frames of reference for the viewer are the opening and closing text scrawls. Plot feels like a low budget, subversive seventies movie, which is actually an exact description.

It just happens to be about Jesus.

Or Yeshua. I’m not sure if they went with Yeshua for accuracy or to be less controversial. Even though the film–with Plot right there in the title–is about how Yeshua (played by Zalman King) decides to fake his resurrection, he’s still really cares about people. It’s like if Jesus wasn’t magic and was just a good guy.

King’s effective, but not exactly good. There isn’t a lot of room to act in Plot, not with Campus’s strange choices regarding pacing and then there’s the script. It jumps all over the place and never gives the viewer a comfortable grounding.

Harry Andrews is a lot of fun, chewing away at the scenery, and Donald Pleasence is pretty good.

For what the filmmakers attempt, Plot’s a moderate success.

Except Adam Greenberg’s photography; he lights it too dark.

1.5/4★½

CREDITS

Directed by Michael Campus; screenplay by Millard Cohan and Patricia Louisianna Knop, inspired by the book by Hugh J. Schonfield; director of photography, Adam Greenberg; edited by Dov Hoenig; music by Alex North; produced by Wolf Schmidt; released by Atlas Film.

Starring Harry Andrews (Yohanan the Baptist), Hugh Griffith (Caiaphas), Zalman King (Yeshua), Donald Pleasence (Pontius Pilate), Scott Wilson (Judah), Daniel Ades (Andros), Michael Baseleon (Mattai), Lewis Van Bergen (Yoram), William Paul Burns (Shimon), Dan Hedaya (Yaocov), Helena Kallianiotes (Visionary Woman), Kevin O’Connor (Irijah), Robert Walker Jr. (Bar Talmi) and William Watson (Roman Captain).


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Halloween (1978, John Carpenter), the television version

The television version of Halloween has an interesting story–the original film ran so short, when the network wanted to run it on TV, there wasn’t enough film after they cut out the violence. Carpenter was producing Halloween II at the time so he came back and filmed some more scenes to pad it out.

Most of these scenes are with Donald Pleasence, which seriously throws the film off-balance. Besides the opening, Pleasence disappears for long stretches while Carpenter establishes Jamie Lee Curtis, Nancy Kyes and P.J. Soles. With so much more Pleasence at the beginning of the picture, one notices his absence more. He ought to be around, given his lengthy presence at the beginning.

The added scenes are also done with the sequel in mind, which means the film no longer makes sense if one has seen the second one and how the new scenes fit. However, during the final sequence everything happens at such an insistent pace it’s hard to dwell on the plot holes.

I’ve seen the television version a couple times and it always seemed like a lesser work, even though it does give Kyes (Halloween‘s unsung comedic star) another scene. This time’s no different.

This viewing must be my seventh or eighth of Halloween and I just now noticed the Psycho reference at the open and how Dean Cundey’s subjective camerawork does everything for the film’s mood.

In other words, awkwardly added scenes or not, Halloween‘s always got more to offer.

2.5/4★★½

CREDITS

Directed by John Carpenter; written by Carpenter and Debra Hill; director of photography, Dean Cundey; edited by Tommy Lee Wallace and Charles Bornstein; music by Carpenter; production designer, Wallace; produced by Hill; released by Compass International Pictures.

Starring Donald Pleasence (Dr. Sam Loomis), Jamie Lee Curtis (Laurie Strode), Nancy Kyes (Annie Brackett), P.J. Soles (Lynda van der Klok), Charles Cyphers (Sheriff Leigh Brackett), Kyle Richards (Lindsey Wallace), Brian Andrews (Tommy Doyle), John Michael Graham (Bob Simms), Nancy Stephens (Marion Chambers), Arthur Malet (Graveyard Keeper), Mickey Yablans (Richie), Brent Le Page (Lonnie Elamb), Adam Hollander (Keith), Robert Phalen (Dr. Terence Wynn), Tony Moran (Michael Myers, age 23), Will Sandin (Michael Myers, age 6), Sandy Johnson (Judith Margaret Myers), David Kyle (Judith’s Boyfriend), Peter Griffith (Morgan Strode) and Nick Castle (The Shape).


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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).


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Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers (1995, Joe Chappelle), the producer’s cut

Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers spends about twenty minutes resolving the previous movie in the series and, gingerly, setting up the characters for this one. Chappelle sets these events to a radio talk show–Curse screams early nineties–but there is an attempt to make it feel “real.” The shock jock is a ludicrously bad Howard Stern imitation.

When the movie does actually start, the setup isn’t terrible. It even reminds of the unproduced John Carpenter treatment about a town recovering from a masked spree killer. Sadly, Chappelle’s direction is laughable, the script’s terrible and the acting is mostly atrocious. Somehow Kim Darby manages to maintain some dignity.

Leading lady Marianne Hagan isn’t particularly believable as a young mother, but she’s not bad. The kid playing her son, Devin Gardner, is terrible. So’s Bradford English as Hagan’s abusive father. And Paul Rudd (in his first film)? He’s hilarious. If he were in it more, Curse might be worthwhile as comedy.

Poor Donald Pleasence looks exhausted; he died soon after production finished. Given he’s acting opposite Mitch Ryan (who gives English a run for the worst performance prize), he doesn’t come off too bad. Maybe because Pleasence doesn’t really need directing, which Chappelle’s incapable of providing anyway.

Daniel Farrands’s script is astoundingly stupid–it’s full of cults, basement lairs, eugenics and so on. Curse never has a chance; it blissfully ignores the solid town recovering concept.

Worst of all (comparatively), Alan Howarth’s score is terrible.

I’ll avoid a cursed pun.

0/4ⓏⒺⓇⓄ

CREDITS

Directed by Joe Chappelle; screenplay by Daniel Farrands, based on characters created by Debra Hill and John Carpenter; director of photography, Billy Dickson; edited by Randy Bricker; music by Alan Howarth; production designer, Bryan Ryman; produced by Paul Freeman; released by Dimension Films.

Starring Donald Pleasence (Dr. Sam Loomis), Paul Rudd (Tommy Doyle), Marianne Hagan (Kara Strode), Mitch Ryan (Dr. Terence Wynn), Devin Gardner (Danny Strode), Kim Darby (Debra Strode), Bradford English (John Strode), Keith Bogart (Tim Strode), Mariah O’Brien (Beth), Leo Geter (Barry Simms) and J.C. Brandy (Jamie Lloyd Carruthers).


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