Watched years after the series has faded away, it’s easier to appreciate how well done A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET (1984) was, as four teens (including a newbie called Johnny Depp) discover someone stalking them in their dreams and protagonist Heather Langenkamp learns about the terrible local horror of Freddie Krueger (Robert Englund). Acting is so-so (Englund aside) but still a well-executed film, all the more refreshing for having a competent heroine who finds a way to fight back instead of screaming. I am puzzled that even in director Wes Craven’s original happy ending (included as an extra), all the kids survive, but still first-rate. There are several good special features, including a documentary on Craven and the series and one on New Line, which went from a literal two-person company to a serious movie player. “I’m your boyfriend now.”
As I mentioned this week, I saw OZ THE GREAT AND POWERFUL (2013) is the prequel in which seedy carnie conjurer James Franco gets swept by tornado to a Technicolor fantasy kingdom that assumes he’s the invincible wizard prophesied to liberate them from the Wicked Witch’s tyranny. Witches include Rachel Weisz (who gets the acting honors) Michelle Williams and Mila Kunis (on her second visit to Oz, having appeared in That Seventies Show: Tornado Prom). I enjoyed it (as a friend says, not great or powerful, but fun), but I wish they’d drawn more on the books and less on MGM (maybe the negative reaction to Return to Oz gave Disney cold feet about deviating from the film version?). “The pain you feel is merely your heart withering away.”
As I’ve enjoyed A. Lee Martinez’ writing in the past, I was disappointed in A NAMELESS WITCH, a flat fantasy in which a beautiful but undead witch (with the added burden of being cursed with a desire for human flesh) sets out to avenge her mentor, which leads her into an alliance of necessity (and possibly romance) with a heroic paladin. I’m not quite sure why this didn’t work but it came off very listless, despite some nicely humorous touches.
THE MANTICORE is the second novel in Robertson Davies’ Deptford Trilogy, wherein the son of Canadian millionaire Boy Staunton consults with a psychiatrist to work out his feelings over his father’s death and the determining incidents that led him to become a brilliant but drunken barrister. Davies’ characters and their complex relationships fascinate me just as much as the first book, but this suffers by comparison due to the heavy discussion of Jungian archetypes. TYG says the third volume is outstanding though, so I’m looking forward to it.
DOCTOR WHO: The Chase has the Daleks building their own timeship to hunt down the TARDIS, leading to battles in a haunted house, a desert-world’s abandoned city and finally on the isolated planet of the Mechanoids, where the Doctor picks up a new companion (Steven, a stranded astronaut) and loses two (Barbara and Ian finally get home). A solid story. “Everything that ever happened still exists in the form of light neutrons.”