Baby the Rain Must Fall (1965) Review

Director: Robert Mulligan

Genre(s): Drama, Romance

Runtime: 100 minutes

MPAA Rating: Not Rated

IMDb Page

Opinions vary on the Steve McQueen drama Baby the Rain Must Fall, but you can put me down in the “hated it” category. The plot of this sleep-inducing film is about impulsive, down-on-his-luck rockabilly singer Henry Thomas (Steve McQueen) getting out of prison to meet his wife, Georgette Thomas (Lee Remick), and his daughter, Margaret Rose (Kimberly Block), in rural Texas. I suppose that this flick is supposed to be an existential “mood piece,” but it didn’t make me feel anything other than the minutes ticking away.

The thing about Baby the Rain Must Fall is just that it’s so boring. Some reviewers have pointed out that it’s depressing, too, but I have no problems with a downer of a movie if it engages the emotions. This one doesn’t. There’s nothing wrong with the picture’s performances, but the end product meanders around aimlessly. Eventually, the feature decides to call it quits and ends.

The film in question was based on the 1954 play The Traveling Lady, and, to its credit, it doesn’t feel like it was based off of something as confining as a work of theater. Also, we need to talk about Steve McQueen’s lip-syncing during the musical numbers. It’s pretty atrocious, and probably would’ve been laughable in a less dour movie. The song with the same title as the movie, written by Elmer Bernstein and sung by Glenn Yarbrough, was a commercial success, though, reaching number twelve on the Billboard Top 100 and number two on the easy listening charts.

Baby the Rain Must Fall is tedious and uneventful more than anything else. Obviously, this is not one for fans of McQueen’s most action-oriented side (although there is a brief fight involving his character). Instead, it will probably only appeal to those looking for an ultra-low-key slice-of-rural-life drama. There’s an audience for this sort of thing, but it certainly isn’t me.

My rating is 3 outta 10.

Halloween II (2009) Review

Director: Rob Zombie

Genre(s): Horror, Thriller

Runtime: 105 minutes (standard version), 119 minutes (unrated version)

MPAA Rating: R (standard version), Not Rated (unrated version)

IMDb Page

Director Rob Zombie continues his reign of terror over the Halloween series with 2009’s Halloween II. In the tenth movie in the series, killer Michael Myers (Tyler Mane) returns to his hometown of Haddonfield, Illinois, to kill again. Wait, isn’t that the plot of every Halloween film? Yyyyyaaaaawwwwwnnnnn. I’ll get straight to the point: this picture is abysmal.

This feature opens with a sequence that reminds you of the original Halloween II (1981). Remember how great that one was? [Sigh], those were good times. Anyway, as I was saying, this hunk of junk opens with Michael Myers, who resembles a hillbilly mountain man, stalking Laurie Strode (Scout Taylor-Compton) around a hospital. That’s something we’ve never seen before. Little stands out here from the rest of the franchise.

Well, the flick’s ultra-gore is more noticeable than any of the other entries in the Halloween series. This one also has some surrealist touches, because why the Hell not? Myers here constantly has hallucinations of his late, stripper mother, Deborah Myers (Sheri Moon Zombie), and of himself as a child (Chase Wright Vanek). There’s also a white horse. Make of it what you will.

2009’s Halloween II is a nasty, tasteless piece of cinema that goes on forever (by Halloween standards). Myers is seen too often without his mask, and – holy shit! – is that “Weird Al” Yankovic? Okay, okay, okay, I just have to make some sort of “Weird Al” joke here. After Halloween (2007), this one should’ve just been titled “Even Worse.”

My rating is 3 outta 10.

Halloween (2007) Review

Director: Rob Zombie

Genre(s): Horror, Thriller

Runtime: 109 minutes (rated cut), 121 minutes (unrated cut)

MPAA Rating: R (rated cut), Not Rated (unrated cut)

IMDb Page

Michael Myers is now a redneck. Thank you, Rob Zombie. After the so-bad-it’s-good disaster that was Halloween: Resurrection (2002), it was decided to try to make Myers scary again, and Zombie was hired to helm the project, bringing his alternative rock aesthetic to the proceedings. This film, set in a different timeline than the rest of the previous Halloween pictures, is the unnecessary origin story of notorious psychopath Michael Myers (Tyler Mane and Daeg Faerch), going from his childhood in a white trash family to his serial-killing heyday. It’s a piece of garbage.

As I’ve already noted, this attempt to explain Myers’ backstory and sociopathy is completely pointless. The original Halloween (1978) worked magnificently because the audience knew virtually nothing about Michael other than that he was pure evil. He was “the Shape.” “The Bogeyman.” Demystifying the character was a huge mistake, even if this picture exists in an alternate timeline. At least Myers can still burst through walls like he’s the Kool-Aid Man.

Director Rob Zombie has created a thoroughly unpleasant universe for his characters to inhabit. Almost every person in his world has a cartoonishly ugly soul. You’ll probably find yourself rooting for ol’ Myers on a couple of occasions. It’s a grungy, graphic film that’s overlong by Halloween standards (around two hours) and makes you wish you were deaf from all the screaming.

So, does 2007’s Halloween do anything right? Well, Danny Trejo’s in it, playing Ismael Cruz, one of Myers’ sanitarium guards. That guy’s always fun to see. Uhhhh…well, it does ape a few moments from the previous Halloween flicks, making you remember better times. Yeah, this one’s no good. Where’s Busta Rhymes when you need him?

My rating is 3 outta 10.

War and Peace (1956) Review

Director: King Vidor

Genre(s): Drama, Romance, War

Runtime: 208 minutes

MPAA Rating: PG

IMDb Page

This three-and-a-half-hour melodrama set against the backdrop of the French invasion of Russia during the Napoleonic Wars is an endurance test. This opulent epic is one of those films where you wish everybody would die so the picture can end. It even appears the critics were cool to this one, if the 43% score on Rotten Tomatoes is to be believed, which is a bit of a surprise, considering that they love boring movies that go on forever.

I’ve never read the book that War and Peace is based on (and I never will), but this flick feels like a Russian nationalist version of Gone with the Wind (1939) or something (Moscow? Atlanta? What difference does it make?). Much of it is all about rich people doing rich people stuff, and the audience is supposed to sympathize. Fortunately for the viewer, a war breaks out, giving him or her some carnage to gawk at. The war-related scenes are the best ones in the movie, but the battles are generally of low quality (despite their massive size) and sometimes the antics on the frontlines feel like a completely different film from the aristocratic bullshit the audience is otherwise subjected to.

The 1956 version of War and Peace features endless, weepy-eyed romance scenes that might cause a viewer to almost nod off. The long-winded dialogue usually attempts to be philosophical, with characters talking in ways that few normal humans would. With all the politics related to the war and all the romances and whatnot, this picture has a lot to juggle…and it drops every ball.

War and Peace is a trainwreck that the overwhelming majority of casual moviegoers will find little-to-no redeeming value in. It’s a torturously tedious hunk of junk with a big budget that only results in big-time boredom. If you’re looking for a good historical epic set during the Napoleonic Wars, I plead with you to watch Waterloo (1970) instead. War and Peace is for insomniacs only.

My rating is 3 outta 10.