Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Fasting Horror.

Jose here.

Robert Zemeckis is no Steven Soderbergh (whatever that actually means...even if in my head it makes sense) so, when ten years ago he took on the rare enterprise of releasing two films within a calendar year, people actually chose one of them and pretty much forgot about the other.

But if anyone had told me ten years ago that I'd have such a soft spot for What Lies Beneath and all but forgotten about Cast Away, I would've said they were insane. I clearly remember how the Tom Hanks movie almost got a Best Picture Oscar nomination while this little horror gem (released on a day like today ten years ago) was a relatively successful summer flick which received no end of the year accolades.

If you ask me, its smart combination of Hitchcock psycho-sexual intrigue, old fashioned thrilling fun and Michelle Pfeiffer doing Amber Valletta in a red dress (totally not what you're imagining if you haven't seen it). And it's one of the most clever ghost stories told in the last decade.

It's funny that Zemeckis shot it while Tom Hanks fasted to get skeletal for Cast Away, because speaking in strictly cinematic terms this is a much more accomplished work. It's weird to think that now Zemeckis seems to have taken on the mission of turning every actor into CGI, Michelle Pfeiffer hasn't been this much fun since (no not even in Hairspray) and Harrison Ford is a married man.

What movie related twists did you never see coming ten years ago?


Dan said...

I actually look back at What Lies Beneath as a more accomplished piece of work than I did at the time. But then that goes for both the films released that year - I wasn't particularly fond of either. But now I marvel at Hanks' discipline and dedication in Cast Away, and Zemeckis' technical skill in What Lies.

Thais Afonso said...

I love What Lies Beneath. Specially the end, which I think a little bit superior to the first half and so freaking scary.

Luke said...

Thank you! This was easily one of my personal favorites of the last decade. Pfeiffer is so much better than the "woman in trouble" in the typical thriller - she should really release another film in this vein, I think.

ferdi said...

Pfeiffer charisma in WLB is sensational. I can't live in a world where the same year Julia Roberts wins her Oscar for Erin Brockovic (ok...she was great, but you know what I mean) and Michelle doesn't even get a nod for her work in this movie. It's a true showcase for Pfeiffer, phisical and emotional, one of her last great performances.

mrripley said...

too true pfeiffer is excellent in this and it was one of the last proper grown up horrors now all we get is teens in reamkes.

Volvagia said...

The Original "Dead Teenager" movies? Some classics (especially Freddy Kruger). But mostly junk.

The ten best horror films I've seen.

1. Eraserhead
2. Don't Look Now
3. The Exorcist
4. Psycho
5. A Nightmare on Elm Street
6. Dead Man's Shoes
7. Night of the Living Dead
8. Halloween
9. Frankenstein
10. The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari

(If you're wondering about Evil Dead 2, Bride of Frankenstein, An American Werewolf in London and Dawn of the Dead, I classify those as "horror-comedies", not plain horror films. Shaun of the Dead is a comedy above all.)

Anonymous said...

Michelle Pfieffer and Harrison Ford were so hot in this movie.

And you don't remember Wilson from Cast Away? Surely, the best supporting actor of his year.

Hayden said...

This should have been Michelle Pfeiffer's 9th (of 10 thusfar) Oscar nomination at a point in her career when she should've already been a double-winner. Her third win was only four years away!

As it were(n't).

Anonymous said...

Relatively successful? It's not often a director holds two spots in the Top 10 Grossing Films for a certain year.

chris na Taraja said...

I really like WHAT LIES BENEATH. At the time, (and still now) I liked it better than CASTAWAY. I actually gave up on that movie when he started talking to the ball. Yes, I realize that it's probably more realistic that someone alone on an island would talk to a ball rather than (SPOILER) some one being haunted by the girl your husband killed.

(note the use of "SPOILER", even though the movie is ten years old, some folks haven't seen it. Be considerate, and not like Ebert)

Around the same time was that Kevin Bacon flick STIR OF ECHOES, which I liked a lot too. But I'm sort of bias...."I see dead people...ALL the time. They're everywhere!"

JoFo said...

I want to smother this post with kisses. I love this film so much, and it scared that pants off me the first time I saw and I find new ways to enjoy it every time.

Pfiffer is scrumptious and Zemeckis cast Ford perfectly as the audience arrives with preconcieved notions of the roles Ford plays. Love it. Love it. Love it.

Josh said...

Wow, this post (and comments thread) makes me so happy. I seriously thought I was the only one who thought WLB was (is!) an underappreciated gem. And I totally agree with the previous sentiments - that this is the dashed off genre quicky Zemeckis made while on a layoff from Cast Away is astonishing. I wish more directors would throw themselves into this kind of fun genre fare just to keep their chops up between more 'serious' gigs.