Strange things occur as a tiny California coastal town prepares to commemorate its centennial. Inanimate objects spring eerily to life. The Reverand Malone (Hal Holbrook) stumbles upon a dark secret regarding the town’s founding. A radio announcer, Stevie Wayne (Adrienne Barbeau), witnesses a mystical fire. A hitchhiker (Jamie Lee Curtis) discovers the mutilated corpse of a fisherman. Accompanying these occurrences is a mysterious, iridescent fog that descends upon the village. Soon, people die.
Happy Carpenter Christmas to us all. The Fog (1980) is a keeper. This one is steeped in nostalgia for both David and me and, though it has flaws, it is a lushly shot mood piece that remains suspenseful even today. Join us as we discuss the reasons Carpenter was so good in his early days and speculate why his brilliance has dissipated with more current films. Listen, as Johnny Has the Keys prepares to celebrate the forty-two-year-old classic for the holidays, hopefully avoiding angry wronged ghosts (or the director himself) seeking vengeance.
When horror novelist Sutter Cane (Jürgen Prochnow) goes missing, insurance investigator John Trent (Sam Neill) scrutinizes the claim made by his publisher, Jackson Harglow (Charlton Heston), and endeavors to retrieve a yet-to-be-released manuscript and find out the writer’s whereabouts. Accompanied by the novelist’s editor, Linda Styles (Julie Carmen), and disturbed by nightmares from reading Cane’s other novels, Trent makes an eerie nighttime trek to a supernatural town in New Hampshire.
John Carpenter has made some wonderful movies. In the Mouth of Madness (1995) is not one of them. Join us as we discuss the many reasons this third entry into Carpenter’s self-proclaimed “apocalypse trilogy” falls short of his past brilliance. Listen as Johnny Has the Keys travels to the creepy little hamlet of Hobb’s End where, though awful things lurk, there is much more to dread than Lovecraftian monstrosities.
In 1997, a major war between the United States and the Soviet Union is concluding, and the entire island of Manhattan has been converted into a giant maximum security prison. When Air Force One is hijacked and crashes into the island, the president (Donald Pleasence) is taken hostage by a group of inmates. Snake Plissken (Kurt Russell), a former Special Forces soldier turned criminal, is recruited to retrieve the president in exchange for his own freedom.
Welcome to dystopian Manhattan in 1997, where only the savvy and savage survive. Escape from New York (1981) is one of those wonderful early Carpenter films with a certain je nais se quois (unlike many of his latter efforts). Join us as we discuss the film’s strengths and weaknesses, including the solid cast, crew, and cinematography. Listen, as Johnny Has the Keys has 24 hours to infiltrate the maximum security prison of Manhattan, rescue the President of the United States, and avoid global annihilation!
While investigating a series of mysterious deaths, Sergeant Ben Peterson (James Whitmore) finds a young girl (Sandy Descher) who cannot speak. As Peterson joins forces with FBI agent Robert Graham (James Arness) and scientist Dr. Harold Medford (Edmund Gwenn), he discovers that all the incidents are because of giant ants that atomic radiation has mutated. Peterson and Graham, with the aid of the military, attempt to find the queen ants and destroy the nests before the danger spreads.
It’s been a while since we covered a Big Bug movie, so why not start with the one that started them all? Them! (1954) is a picnic basket of wonderful cinematic nostalgia and we all know what crashes a pleasant picnic in the 1950s: giant ants! Join us as we discuss why this film is a gold standard genre classic, including the star-studded cast (both primary and secondary), the script, and the fantastic (for the time) special effects. Listen, and Johnny Has the Keys goes deep down in the tunnels of Los Angeles, fighting enormous lethal insectoids, searching for the queen’s nest before the eggs hatch, migrate, and wipe out humanity!