No, I’m not crazy. I know that this is October, Horrorfest VIII. But I couldn’t help it as this film takes place during Christmas.
So last December I watched a Christmas film every day up to the 25th. They were films I owned, or found on youtube, Netflix, and Amazon Prime. This one I found on Amazon Prime and enjoyed it so much, I had to add it…and as this mystery takes place on Christmas Eve, I’m posting it on the 24th.
The Last Christmas
The La Foret family is lead by their Patriarch, the wealthy tycoon, Grandfather La Foret. Every year he brings his family together: his children Stuart, Margaret, and Jean; along with Stuart’s daughter Natasha, and Jean’s kids: Ian and Claire- to his island, Shadow Island, for the holidays, in which Grandfather would create these incredibly hard puzzles to be solved at midnight.
Mystery, you say?
But one Christmas, Jean refused to play, and when the family all met up at the end of the night, they found her dead. Drowned. After that there were no more family gatherings. The family further fractured with Claire leaving to Shadow Island, her grandfather’s resort, and writing mysteries; Natasha sleeping with her Aunt Margaret’s husband; Margaret divorcing and sinking even further into her alcoholism; Ian disappearing off the face of the earth; and Grandfather retreating to France.
It has been five years, and Grandfather has decided that he wants to have another Christmas get-together. He sends invites to all those that were at the last Christmas (point for title), and makes sure all are coming.
Claire (Jennifer Finnigan) is excited to have them all come, and starts setting up the house with her friend, and resort runner, Monica. The first to arrive is an extremely drunk Aunt Margaret-who tries to abscomb with the silverware and the silver candlestick. Claire stops Aunt Margaret as she likes the candlestick, and is sad there is only one. All I could think is
I know that candlestick will become very important later, I can feel it.
Then Ian arrives, something Monica and Claire have been very excited for. Claire and her brother used to be very close, and she is puzzled why he has been silent for the last three years. Monica used to date him and is hoping to rekindle the flame.
Then we have Stuart and Natasha, which causes lots of fights as Margaret can’t stand to see the woman who cheated with her husband.
Then Grandfather arrives with his Italian doctor, Sergio Boniti. It turns out that this will be his last Christmas (2 points for title), as he is deathly sick and won’t be on the earth much longer. He has written a new will, and the winner of this year’s Christmas puzzle gets everything.
But this year’s puzzle is going to be extremely difficult and is called the Jean La Foret puzzle, in honor of her. You know what I’m thinking-she was murdered and it will be about solving the mystery of her death!!
All they need is for the person to give the Italian doctor, the answer and they win all the money. If they do not solve it-then all his money goes to charity.
The game is afoot and as they are trying to solve the mystery…
But then Grandfather dies!
Sergio calls the police and an ambulance, but encourages them to solve the puzzle-as until the police and EMTs arrive anyone can win. Once he is legally pronounced dead-no one gets the money.
The clues come out, accidents happen, someone takes a fall, and all are being watched…Then Claire discovers that Grandfather is not dead and Sergio is not a Doctor. Grandfather hired a private detective, Sergio, to look into the death of Jean. They believe her to be murdered and one of those on the Island being the murderer.
They have installed cameras throughout the resort, all the clues lead to the murder, and they are hoping one will confess as Grandfather needs the answer before he dies-he has to know. But which one is the murderer?
Stuart La Foret-Uncle Stuart is in investing and was in charge of Jean’s money. Jean discovered some funny business and was planning on pulling her funds out-and bringing to light his indiscretions. Did he murder her to protect himself and keep himself from being sent to jail?
Margaret La Foret- She and Jean have always fought about everything and everyone. That night they fought about Margaret’s husband, among other things. Could Margaret have killed her in a drunken rage?
Ian La Foret-Ian has always been a troublemaker and fought with his mom. These past few years he has been in jail for armed robbery. Did he kill her because she was bossing him around, or because he needed money and she wouldn’t give it to him?
Natasha La Foret-Natasha has never liked her aunt or her interference, and likes nice things and money. Could she have killed her aunt to protect her father’s business-and the money he gives her?
Then there is grandfather and Sergio-we know hardly anything about them…could there be more there?
And what about Monica? She has crazy eyes and is obsessive about Ian. If his mother tried to break them up, could she have come on the island unbeknownst to anyone and taken care of her?
I really enjoyed it and I recommend it. It was a cute mystery and had a few twists and turns.
So I first came across this film on Amazon Instant Watch, I marked it to be added to my watchlist in the hopes of seeing it soon. However, my watchlist is like my to-read list, I add more than I see.
Then one day some friends and I were hanging out trying to decide what to watch, but in the mood for something suspenseful but something none of us had ever seen before.
We were going through the list when I spotted:
Now the description wasn’t very…thorough. I thought the film was that this group of people are having a party, someone gets brained, and then they have to figure out who the murderer is.
Well we watched the trailer and I discovered that was not it at all, it was a very different story.
But having seen that, it just made me want to watch it more.
So we start off the film with our protagonist, Jack.
Jack is from a well-to-do family and is a writer. Jack loves the past, eschewing all modern technology and lifestyles. He has a old fashioned phone, record player, etc. No matter what anyone says, he will not be convinced to take hold of a cell phone, CD player, etc.
Jack is also having an affair with his cousin Frank’s wife: Vera.
While Vera does not (and has not ever) loved her husband, she will not leave him-instead getting what she wants from that relationship:
And stepping out with other men.The two spend time together and then she leaves for work.
After she goes, Jack calls up his cousin Frank, uncle (not Frank’s father) Major Burns, Vera, and good friend Inspector Marcus Evans to invite them over that night for a a small get together to play games.
But when he calls each person, he gives them a different times to come. All agree except Inspector Evans as he might not be able to make it until later.
So it is clear that Jack has something in mind, some game, but what is he playing at?
The first to arrive is Frank.
Frank is a very kind, thoughtful, sweet, easily manipulated, and an insecure guy. You know the sweetest guy ever but never feels he is good enough and tries all he can to be even sweeter and kinder. It is easy to see how a shark like Vera could capture him.
But when Frank arrives it is clear that he is the center of the “game” Jack is playing. Jack tells Frank his wife is having an affair, giving him details (but of course leaving himself out of the equation). The rest of the night becomes a game of cat and mouse as Jack continues to try and see how far he can push Frank, hoping to have him kill Vera; and in front of the rest of the party guests.
Can he create the perfect murder of killing someone, but being unconnected in the crime by not having a motive yet also not being the one to have done the deed?
This Rope inspired setup wouldn’t be complete without someone for Jack to declare victory over. In Jack’s case his Rupert Cadell is his uncle, Major Burns.
Major Burns has always been able to outsmart, outmaneuver, outthink, and outdo Jack in every game they have played-whether physical or philosophical. Jack secretly hates him, but knows that if he pulls off this murder, it won’t really feel like winning unless he can pull the wool over Major Burn’s eyes. Plus Major Burn will be the perfect witness at Frank’s trial, if Frank does the deed.
The night starts off according to plan with Frank’s arrival, the dropping of the bomb (letting him know of the affair), the perfectly worded comments, and the pièce de résistance: placing a large heavy candlestick on the table (the perfect weapon).
But things don’t go exactly as planned. First, Vera arrived early and upsets some of Jack’s planned maneuvers, and Inspector Evans fails to show up. Yes, Jack has quickly discovered the fault of planning the perfect murder:
Mark Halliday: Well, because in stories things usually turn out the way the author wants them to; and in real life they don’t… always. (Dial M for Murder)
But Jack decides to salvage his plan and continues to try and see if his idea of the perfect murder will succeed.
I thought this film was amazing and I strongly recommend anyone interested in thrillers or suspense films to check it out.
The director was clearly influenced by Alfred Hitchcock, with many parts of the film alluding to some of Hitchcock’s famous films, but at the same time not feeling overdone, a cliché, or blatant copying.
The musical score builds just the right amount of tension, so that you can feel what the characters are feeling, but doesn’t give away what will be happening next.
Everything about the film just worked perfectly. The spacing of the film and character stories, the limited characters and their emotions, reactions, and energy were all just spot on. The angles and shots built the intimacy of the moment, making you feel as if you were a part of the room instead of a voyeur. And the ending I thought was a spectacular twist. If you are able to, I would check it out today.
And our banner (the first one I’ve been able to make so far):
That’s what we’re trying to find out! We’re trying to find out who killed him, and where, and with what!
So last year I had planned to review this film as it had just reached its 30th anniversary, but unfortunately I didn’t get a chance to and it was pushed back to this year.
I love the game Clue. I have been playing it as a child and still do. Out of everything this is my game. I didn’t read/watch all those mysteries for nothing!
I rarely ever lose, that’s how good I am at this.
I’m on FIRE!
So one day after playing, my friend Stella asked if we had ever seen the film version of the game.
I DIDN’T KNOW THAT THERE WAS A FILM!!! We decided that we must watch it immediately.
So six strangers are invited to a mansion on a hill. There they meet the English Butler, Wadsworth (Tim Curry), and French maid Yvette (Colleen Camp). It turns out that all are being blackmailed and have been invited here.
Miss Scarlet (Lesley Ann Warren) is the owner of an escort business and was found out by Mr. Boddy. Mrs. White (Madeline Kahn) has had five husbands who “disappeared”, the last having “killed” himself by cutting off his head and manhood. Professor Plum (Christopher Lloyd) lost his psychiatric license when he slept with his patients. Colonel Mustard (Martin Mull) has been caught in the act with prostitutes, Mr. Green (Michael McKean) is a homosexual, and Mrs Peacock (Eileen Brennan) was taking bribes.
When Mr. Boddy (Lee Ving) shows up, he gives each of the six invited guests a weapon.
Mr. Boddy reveals his plan:
Mr. Boddy: In your hands, you each have a lethal weapon. If you denounce me to the police, you will also be exposed and humiliated. I’ll see to that in court. But, if one of you kills Wadsworth now, no one but the seven of us will ever know. He has the key to the front door, which he said would only be opened over his dead body. I suggest we take him up on that offer. The only way to avoid finding yourselves on the front pages is for one of you to kill Wadsworth. NOW.
The lights go out but Wadsworth hasn’t been killed, instead it was Mr. Boddy. With all having a reason to kill him, there is only one question.
I won’t continue as this is a film you should see on your own. It is comedic, mysterious, and has a good sense of drama. The only thing I didn’t care for was that the characters don’t dress in the colors they are in the game. The beginning introduction moves a bit slow, although the dialogue is fast, but otherwise I thought it was a fun film.
What do you know about trilogies? You mean like movie trilogies…Well, all I know about trilogies is that in the third one, all bets are off.
So welcome to another Scream-tastic Saturday! (For the previous Saturdays, go to Scream and Scream 2)
Yep the third installment in this now trilogy, Scream 3.
While this was a great horror parody, it wasn’t my favorite of the three. I thought it was okay, as it had Patrick Dempsey, but didn’t like how it was missing one of the best characters: Randy.
So this one is a complete throw out of left field, as it is the third film. This time we have the secret backstory that changes all that was ever given to us in the first two.
In fact Wes Craven actually filmed three different endings and didn’t tell the cast which one he was going to use. It was one big surprise.
Scream 3 takes place three years after Scream 2. If you recall from Scream 2, Cotton Weary is exonerated and Sidney agreed to do that interview with him. Well, that really helped as now Cotton hosts his own nationally syndicated talk show, called 100% Cotton.
That’s really the name they went with? I know its catchy, but it sounds more like an underwear commercial than a real show.
Anyways, back to the plot. He gets a phone call that starts out benign, but then quickly turns deadly.
Cotton Weary: Who’s this?
Female Caller: Who’s this?
Cotton Weary: Who are you calling?
Female Caller: Oh, you know what, I’ve got the wrong number.
Cotton Weary: That’s okay.
Female Caller: Wait, your voice. You sound a lot like that guy on TV, uh, Cotton Weary.
Cotton Weary: I do huh?
Female Caller: Yeah, I think he’s got a really sexy voice.
Cotton Weary: [laughs] Okay, well, thank you.
Female Caller: Wait a minute. You are Cotton, aren’t you? Oh my God, I am talking to Cotton Weary.
Cotton Weary: [laugh] You caught me. Listen can you hold on for a minute? I got someone on the other line.
Female Caller: Yeah…
Cotton Weary: Hold on.
Cotton Weary: [switches to car phone] Andrea, I got someone on the other line. I’ll have to call you back [switches back to cell phone] So… you a 100% Cotton fan?
Female Caller: Yeah, 110%.
Cotton Weary: [chuckle] That’s very good. So, uh… Why don’t you tell me your name?
Female Caller: Ooh, you’re a naughty boy, Cotton. Now, what would your girlfriend think?
Cotton Weary: What makes you think I have a girlfriend?
Phone Voice: [click] I know you do. I’m right outside her bathroom door. She’s in the shower. She’s got a nice little… voice. Let’s go in for a closer look. Ooh, she’s very, very pretty, Cotton. A step up from Maureen Prescott. Speaking of which, let’s play a game. Answer right, your girlfriend lives, answer wrong she dies. Where’s Maureen’s daughter, Sidney?
Cotton Weary: Who the f*** is this?
Phone Voice: Someone who would kill to know where Sidney Prescott is. You’ve got connections. One chance, Cotton. Where is she?
Cotton Weary: Listen to me, you son of a b****, if you touch Christine, I’ll f****** kill you.
Phone Voice: Wrong answer! [click; dead line]
LOL Cotton and Cotton 100% Cotton
Cotton rushes home to try and reach his girlfriend.
Now Christine the girlfriend is pretty stupid. She doesn’t lock her bathroom when she takes a shower? Who does that? Everyone does!
Ren Stevens: What? Honey, you’re chased by six mutants, and you just decided to take a shower?
Pretty much she gets killed, Psycho-style.
Cotton is soon to follow.
Now that begs the question, where is Sidney? What happened to her?
So Sidney had a major breakdown and faced a lot of changes since the last film. Let’s review. She had a killer target her again. She thought it might be her boyfriend. She watched her best friend die. She watched her boyfriend die. Someone who she thought was her friend, turned out to be a “sleeper agent” and tried to murder her. She almost died.
Yeah…that’s a lot to deal with a lot.
In fact, so much to deal with that Sidney has moved very, very far away to a secluded spot and only a handful have an idea of where she is. What she does for a living is work with a suicide prevention hotline. She gets one call a day. Today’s call isn’t the usual…its THE caller.
When a Stranger Calls
She hears about what happened to Cotton and realizes, it’s happening again.
Currently in Hollywood they are creating another Stab film, Stab 3, based on the true events of Scream 2. Cotton was one of the producers, so the cops have been checking it out. One cop is Mark Kincaid, played by Patrick Dempsey. In fact just like Mark Wahlberg in The Lovely Bones, Dempsey was hired the night before and had to figure the character out without any real ideas of the script. Anyways, Kincaid has been using Gale Weathers for background info as they found a photo of Sidney’s mother Maureen at the crime scene. Gale journeys out to Hollywood and when she gets there she discovers Dewey is there. Yep, the two broke up as Dewey didn’t like how she treats people. He is working as a consultant for the film, and dating the actress playing Gale Weathers that looks just like her, Jennifer Jolie.
Meanwhile on the set of Stab 3, one of the blond bimbos enters an office looking for someone and gets murdered.
Yep, this killer wastes very little time as later at Jennifer Jolie’s house her bodyguard gets a phone call and is murdered by ghostface.
The bodies are just dropping like flies. I wasn’t going to post this, but I feel like I can’t go any farther as this song is running through my brain nonstop.
To add to the intensity of this particular Ghostface is that he then blows up Jennifer Jolie’s house
The killer tries to attack Gale, but Dewey saves her by shooting at him.
Meanwhile, Sidney’s back. The attacks and calls encouraged her to come back and help find the killer. She and Mark clash at first a bit.
Sidney: What do you know about trilogies?
Mark: You mean like movie trilogies?
Sidney: You seem to like movies, Detective.
Mark: Call me “Mark”, will you? ‘Cause I’m gonna keep calling you Sidney.
Sidney: I’ll call you “Mark” when you catch the killer, Detective.
Mark: Well, all I know about trilogies is that in the third one, all bets are off.
Sidney: Did you request this case?
Mark: No. They tend to put me on the ones that deal with the business. I grew up here and I know my way around the studios.
Sidney: Must be exciting. Beautiful place, beautiful people.
Mark: To me, Hollywood is about death.
Sidney: Excuse me?
Mark: I’m a homicide cop. When you see what I see day in and day out, the violence that people do to each other, you get haunted. I think you know about that.
Sidney: What do you mean?
Mark: I know what it’s like to see ghosts that don’t go away, to be watching a scary movie in your head, whether you want to or not, watching it alone.
Sidney: Ghosts are tough. You can’t shoot ghosts.
Mark: Can’t arrest ghosts. But the trick to keep from getting haunted is to be with people. You’re here, you’re not in hiding. You’ve done the right thing… Miss Prescott. What did you know about your Mother?
Sidney: I always thought I had the perfect Mom, the perfect family until I found out I was wrong. She had a secret life and I tried to understand that. And… soon as I thought… then I had more secrets. I don’t know who my Mom was.
Mark: You knew who she was to you. Here’s the deal: I’m off to search the set. I think that what you saw is real. That’s the good news.
Sidney: How’s that good news?
Mark: Because it means that we are dealing with a flesh and blood killer, and I know how to handle guys like that.
Sidney: Oh, yeah. How?
Mark: Catch him or kill him.
Sidney: Hey, Detective? What’s your favorite scary movie?
Mark: My life.
Sidney: Mine, too.”
And that brings up a very interesting concept. What are the rules for a trilogy? How should we do this? Last time we had Randy to lead us, but now what are we going to do? Poor Randy! Best character ever! Oh, Randy! Randy nooooooooo!
So what Craven decided to do is to bring Randy into the film via video recording.
That’s how you gonna do it? That’s it? That’s really it?
The original idea was to have Randy survive the stabbing in Scream 2, his family having rescued him secretly. This was ultimately deemed to be too far-fetched so Randy was resurrected via a post-mortem video appearance instead. They knew they had to bring him back as the fans loved him. In fact Wes Craven got a ton of hate mail for killing off Randy, and thought this would appease the fans. Yeah you dunderheads, you made a big mistake.
Well you know what would have been an even better idea? NOT KILLING HIM!!!!!!!!
So here we go. Rules for a trilogy.
So Gale is eager to do some investigative reporting and finds herself being followed by Jennifer Jolie. Jolie wants to really “get into” her role. Great for Jolie, bad for Gale.
I’m sure she would rather be punched in the face by Sidney.
So they go down to the archives and we have the funniest scene in the whole film.
Sidney also gets attacked by the killer.
She gets away and goes down to police headquarters to make a statement. At this point in time Sidney discovers that Mark Kincaid has a lot of newspaper clips and info on her. It creeps her out and makes her wonder whether or not he is the killer.
But it turns out her story and survival had intrigued him and he fell for her. Just like Det. Lt. Mark McPherson in Laura (1944). Which causes this earlier statement to make a lot more sense.
“Mark: I’m gonna talk to the studio guys about those photos.
Detective Wallace: Yeah right, I know where you’re going.
Mark: Yeah keep an eye on Sidney.
Detective Wallace: I know where you’re going, you’re gonna get her some flowers and candy, right? Huh?
Mark: Gimme a break!”
The main producer of the film, John Milton, invites everyone over for a cast party at his house. Unfortunately, they have been dragged to that house for one reason alone, the killer is going to kill them all!
Time to prepare yourself.
Sidney in the parlor with a candlestick
Now this is where the bodies really start hitting the floor.
Dewey and Gale discover the film’s director, Roman, stuffed in a chest.
Angeline, an actress, runs off and is murdered.
Then Tyson (another actor)
The killer then attacks Gale and Dewey, knocking them out and tying them up. In a surprising twist, Ghostface doesn’t murder them but uses them to bait Sidney to the house.
Sidney shoots him, but he ends up escaping. Kincaid comes in to save the day, but gets knocked out by the killer. The killer then chases Sidney and reveals himself to be Roman.
Yep he had faked his own death. Now you may be wondering why would a famous film director want to murder Sidney Prescott? Well it turns out that he is Maureen’s illegitimate son.
This is actually radically different than any of the other Scream films. All the others have two killers; Scream-Billy & Stu, Scream 2-Mrs. Loomis & Mickey, Scream 4 had two but I won’t reveal until next week. Now the reason that this film had only one was that it was supposed to be the last film. That is until Wes got greedy and made the atrocity Scream 4 which I will review next week.
So know not only do we have the villain monologue, but the big reveal.
Phone Voice: You’re not going anywhere Sidney. It’s time you came to terms with me, and with mother. Maybe you never knew her at all Sidney… maybe you just can’t get past the surface of things.
Sidney: Who the hell are you?
Phone Voice: The other half of you. I searched for a mother too, an actress named “Reena Reynolds” tried to find her my whole LIFE, and four years ago I actually tracked her down. Knocked at her door thinking she’d welcome me with open arms, but she had a new life and a new name, Maureen Prescott! You were the only child she claimed Sidney. She shut me out into the cold forever! Her own son [takes off mask to reveal he is Roman Bridger] Roman Bridger, director, and brother. She slammed the door in my face, Sid. She said I was “Reena’s” child and Reena was dead… and then it struck me. What a good idea, so I watched her. I made a little movie, a little family film. Seems Maureen…”Mom”… she really got around. I mean Cotton was one thing; everybody knew about that. But Billy’s father – that was the key. Your boyfriend didn’t like seeing his daddy in my film too much. He didn’t like it at all. And once I supplied the motivation… all the kid needed was a few pointers. Have a partner to sell out incase you got caught, find someone to frame, it was like he was making a movie.
Sidney: You… this is all because of you.
Roman: I’m a director Sid, I direct.
Roman: I had no idea, that they were gonna make a film of their own. I mean intoducing Sidney the victim, Sidney the survivor, SIDNEY THE STAR!
He also reveals that John the producer raped Maureen, and Roman was their child. He kills John for revenge, bringing the body count to
Sidney is just tired of this.
Tired of hearing another killer blaming the circumstances of their life on her. Sidney berates Roman who gets angered enough to attack her leading to a fight. Roman manages to gain the upper hand but a distraction by Kincaid allows Sidney to grab his knife. He takes Kincaid’s gun and shoots her.
However, it turns out that she is wearing a bulletproof vest. She uses the knife and stabs him several times in the back and heart. Dewey takes his gun and shoots him several times, making sure he gets in a headshot.
The four-Gale, Dewey, Kincaid, and Sidney head out to her secluded mountain home. There Dewey proposes to Gale, by carving out her book and placing the ring inside. Now I know this is “romantic”, but to me it sounds horrible. You just destroyed a book!
Sidney also starts a relationship with Kincaid, and it ends on a happy note. At last it is all over.
That is until this horrible thing comes up:
Well that was Scream 3. Tune in next week for the final chapter.