Hi folks and welcome to the The Friday Film Club where both myself and Kim will be highlighting a film which we feel is worth checking out. At the same time we would love to hear your own selections whether your choosing to just name them in the comments section or join us in arguing the case for your film on your blog, let us know and we will share it below.
Elwood’s Pick – Rollercoaster (1977)
A film probably best known for its rather spectacular opening roller coaster crash than the film the footage was actually taken from this would be one of the few feature films that James Goldstone directed spending most of his career directing TV Pilots for Ironside and the original Star Trek were his work was not only noted for its momentum but also the “fifteen-minute cliffhangers” he brought to them. This is a film equally noteworthy for being one of the four films which Universal presented in “Sensurround” were selected theatres were low-frequency bass speakers were used to create vibrations at key moments, which ultimately proved to be so successful that it cracked the plaster of some of the theatres which choose to use it.
Despite the impressive opening crash this is surprisingly a much more subtle film than you might expect as Goldstone instead here chooses to craft a tense thriller with the rest of the film plays off the tension of not knowing were the bomber has hidden his next device let alone the mind games between Timothy Bottoms unnamed bomber and George Segal’s Safety inspector Harry. Bottoms however was criticised for being too boring as a villain in reviews for the film when it was originally released but here he gives a performance reminisant of Kevin Spacey’s John Doe in Seven which here really works for the film, especially when he is spending the majority of the film taunting Harry over the phone or a walkie talkie, all the time knowing that he holds the power in this situation with Harry left to play the unwilling puppet in the proceedings.
Segal meanwhile is an engaging leading man as the frustrated safety inspector he works in humorous subtle digs at his incompitant bosses while also having to work with the local police chief and Richard Widmark’s tough FBI agent. While it might seem that his talents are perhaps alittle wasted here seeing how he spends most of the film talking to the Bomber over the walkie talkie while moving through a variety of amusement rides which for theme park fans provides its own enjoyment with the film being shot on location at Ocean View Park, Kings Dominion and Six Flags.
The Cinematography throughout is extremely impressive especially with the rollercoaster footage were large portions are shot from the front of the carriage creating that simulator feel of being on the ride which is a nice touch especially when Goldstone isn’t planning on giving the audience any more crashes. The fact that they are shot from so many angles including some impressive profile shots is really add to the excitement, especially during the finale were the cat and mouse games are played out on the opening of the six flags Revolution the world’s first coaster to use a clothoid-shaped vertical loop and more fun against the backdrop of a Sparks concert a gig which had rumoured to had been offered to both the Bay City Rollers and KISS the later turning it down in favour of doing KISS Meet The Phantom of the Park. Sparks would later recall doing the film as one of the worst things they have ever done which I had to wonder if this was before or after they did their 2006’s album Hello Young Lovers. Despite what they feel about it, the high energy performance here really play well against the tension of this final game between the bomber and police.
While it might initially be a little disappointing to see what seems to be setup as another disaster movie dissolve into a thriller it ultimately proves to be the right move here, especially with Segal’s performance certainly able to carry the film so that such shocks are never required even though the film had originally been planned to be a lot more gruesome with both the opening crash and how the bomber ultimately meets his demise, a plaque for which can still be found on the rollercoaster at Six Flags. While perhaps not a film that rewards repeat viewing it’s one still worth checking out especially for the opening crash as you wonder just how they pulled it off.
Kim’s Pick – Anna and the Apocalypse (2017)
Mixing genres is a lot of fun and nothing quite sells like the idea of mashing zombies, musical and a Christmas setting together and its one of the reasons that 2017’s Scottish film Anna and the Apocalypse first landed on anyone’s radar during its festival circuit. While the idea sounds a bit odd, just like Shaun of the Dead worked out, Anna and the Apocalypse is very much a teen horror comedy musical. Its not very scary but does offer a lot of alternate Christmas and zombies elements.
Starring a fairly unknown young cast, Anna and the Apocalypse works because it does what it needs well. The first is the musical numbers. The music itself is a lot of fun, probably more for people who like musicals but there’s a lot of entertaining moments in the songs and the background. There are some downright ridiculous moments and yet because it’s a musical, it does work. Second, the friendship element and character bonding here also delivers. The characters really are known more through how they react and are and gives space for them to grow. Third, the pacing and execution is pretty fast-paced because of its compact run time that gives time for things to just keep happening and not spend a lot of time on the dramatic things like dwelling on past issues.
Overall, Anna and the Apocalypse is a movie suitable for Halloween and Christmas and is surprising entertaining with some very addictive songs and fun numbers. The characters are few but all are quite endearing especially with their different personalities. Its rare that the “bad boy” Nick, played by Ben Wiggins is not repulsive but while he starts that way, he also has quite a nice presence here along with main lead Anna, played by Ella Hunt (who suitably is now part of the Apple TV show Dickinson) as well as the fairly awkward presence of their friend, Steph, played by Sarah Swire, who is really witty and a great character in the film as a whole. Catchy tunes, fun characters and zombie apocalypse breakout during Christmas is a really great mashup that’s well worth a watch.
So you’ve seen our picks for this week’s double feature but what are your movie watching plans this weekend?
Let us know in the comments section below.