Fright Night Collection (4 Discs) (Widescreen) product details page

Fright Night Collection (4 Discs) (Widescreen)

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Often cited as an homage to the infamous films of Hammer Studios, upon deeper investigation into the influences of director Tim Burton, it becomes increasingly clear that, while the film does indeed have much in common with the British horror classics, the majority of visual influence is instead derived from the lush, gothic films of Mario Bava. Bearing a striking resemblance to 1960s Black Sunday in particular, Burton's muted color palate, vividly splashed with abundant amounts of blood so unnaturally red it seems to drip from the screen, represents a masterful command of color scheme rarely seen since Bava's color-era heyday. While Sleepy Hollow may not retain the masterful balance of a striking visuals and solid characterization as skillfully as Burton's early efforts, Sleepy Hollow remains a remarkably beautiful film which offers both dark humor and some breathtaking set pieces. Burton's cast does as much as humanly possible to bring scribe Andrew Kevin Walker's characters to life, though without the proper foundation, the means to define the characters much further beyond the occasional meaningful gesture or enduring quirk are unfortunately absent. Despite this minor flaw, those willing to judge Sleepy Hollow on its own terms and forego the stratospheric expectations with which Burton films are generally greeted will find themselves in for a sumptuously visual and giddily macabre interpretation of an enduring tale that has chilled the bones of children for generations. Jason Buchanan, All Movie Guide

Much as it did to the freshman efforts of Brian De Palma two decades earlier, the spirit of legendary director Alfred Hitchcock seems to be guiding the path of this thriller from Robert Zemeckis that's overlong and too derivative but which does contain some effective chills. Genuine shocks and effective plot twists are to be found in the second half of What Lies Beneath, but the film suffers greatly from its elaborate red herring of a first act. While clever and reminiscent of Hitchcock's awe-inspiring, brief use of Janet Leigh in Psycho (1960), the film's intentionally misleading side road stretches on interminably, testing viewer patience once the equally complicated "real" ghost story gets underway. There is much to like in What Lies Beneath, however, including an excellent performance from the luminous Michelle Pfeiffer and a risk-taking, against-type role filled ably by Harrison Ford that's unmistakably reminiscent of some similar rolls of the dice performed during the career of another all-American icon, James Stewart. If What Lies Beneath feels rushed at times (a particular establishing shot of the film's main location is repeated endlessly from exactly the same angle and position), perhaps it's because Zemeckis filmed it while on hiatus from another production, Cast Away. Karl Williams, All Movie Guide

Wes Craven's Red Eye is an efficient and professional claustrophobic thriller, boosted by a strong, simple premise (along the lines of Speed or Phone Booth) and the director's unassailable skill at creating suspense and sustaining tension. While the focus of the story is two passengers on a commercial flight engaging in a life-or-death battle of wits and will while seated beside each other, screenwriter Carl Ellsworth and Craven open things up by having other, minor characters just involved enough in the action, highlighting both Lisa's (Rachel McAdams) need to connect with an outsider to her ordeal and Jackson's (Cillian Murphy) need to keep her isolated on the crowded plane. Lisa, played for maximum sympathy and audience identification by McAdams, is a surprisingly rich character for such a film, and it's gratifying to watch her natural resourcefulness come to bear as she faces down her pragmatic captor. The way Jackson sees it, he's simply doing his job, and while Lisa's job requires her to salve egos and smooth over mishaps, Jackson arranges to have people killed. With his ice-blue eyes, Murphy is effectively charming and creepy by turns until the movie leaves the plane, at which point things get a bit too ludicrous (not that his elaborate plot is ever quite convincing to begin with) and his performance veers off in an unfortunate over-the-top direction as the cat-and-mouse finale becomes more entrenched in the tropes of the genre. The film's purposefully muddled politics don't help. Still, Red Eye offers an expertly made, enjoyably suspenseful movie experience. Josh Ralske, All Movie Guide