TRM -> Hall of Fame 15: The Whore of Fame (22/7/2012 1:35:55 AM)
Brazil - 1985 - Terry Gilliam
Widely, and correctly, regarded as Terry Gilliam's magnum opus; Brazil tells the tale of everyman and dreamer Sam Lowry as he fantasises about a world away from the stifling bureaucracy, rampant consumerism and hellish red tape of the one he inhabits, somewhere in the 20th century.
The first scene sets the tone brilliantly; this is a world full of ducts, upper class twattery and perceived terrorism. This is a world in which working off the grid gets you branded as an insurgent, where bureaucracy has run rampant, where Central Services runs the show completely and where Government mistakes, such as state sponsored murder (of the wrong person), are glossed over and bounced around from one department to the other with nobody willing to take responsibility. This is a world very much like our own to be honest.
The film proper starts with a clerical error (of sorts) that leads to the innocent Archibald (Harry) Buttle being accosted by government storm troopers in front of his family shortly before Christmas. Soon we discover that Buttle has been "deleted" and that the intended target was the brilliantly monikered Harry Tuttle, a freelance heating engineer (played to perfection by DeNiro) who left Central Services due to the red tape and form filling cramping his style (ironically he ends up being smothered by paperwork in the end). He now works under the grid and as such is perceived to be a terrorist by the state hence poor Harry Buttle's unfortunate fate. Through a series of events (the error is only discovered due to Buttle being overcharged for his "interrogation") it falls to our protagonist, the unambitious and unremarkable dreamer Sam Lowry (a career best performance by Jonathan Pryce) to get to the bottom of things. Unfortunately for him that's when things start to go wrong.
I think what makes Sam such a great character is that he's an idiot. He's a nice guy (relative to every other fucker working at Central Services) and he isn't stupid per se but pretty much everything that happens to him is a result of his own idiocy or social awkwardness. There are a number of times during the film where all he needs to do is take a deep breath, articulate himself and explain the situation and his life would be much easier (and the film much shorter). Some might find this frustrating but I think it adds to the charm of the character that he's flawed in this way as I hate having perfect heroes.
The supporting cast in Brazil is great as well. From Palin's charmingly sinister interrogator to DeNiro's Socialist Heating Engineer (we're all in this together kid) via Jim Broadbent's magnificent turn as plastic surgeon Dr. Jaffe (snip snip, slice slice ) and Bob Hoskins' sadistic, Central Services employed, plumber with a grudge there's a lot to enjoy here. An awesome script and a fantastically realised world probably help a great deal as well. Some of the dialogue is just hilarious; Mr Helpmann in particular makes me laugh every time I watch it, speaking seemingly in nothing but sporting clichés. The noir-esque visuals; suits, ties and fedoras lend the film a timeless quality despite the slightly dated visual effects. Again this just adds to its charm.
There's been a lot made of the ending, indeed due to the ending it nearly didn't get a release in its intended form but for me it's just perfect. There is just no way that a single man would be able to bring down a government over the time span the film takes place in. The only way he could possibly live the life he wanted, happy ending and all is in his own head. So basically the ending where the love of his life is killed and he's driven to blissful insanity is as happy as it could possibly get for him in the world we're presented with. The fact that Gilliam had the courage to not only do this to our hero but the balls to stick to his guns about it as well pretty much makes the film a perfect critique of bureaucracy, consumerism and fascism in my eyes. And that's despite the "bad guys" winning the day.
Dead Man's Shoes - 2004 - Shane Meadows
Richard (Paddy Considine) is a man on a mission. Fresh out of the army, he's returned to his small, isolated hometown in the wilds of Derbyshire to help his mentally-challenged brother, Anthony (Toby Kebbell). Anthony has been victimised and bullied over and over again by a small gang of thugs that have the run of the town. Led by the odious Sonny (Gary Stretch), they cruise arrogantly about, secure in the knowledge that no-one will stand up to them. No-one until Richard returns home, however, because we soon realise that Richard is not a man to piss off. And he is very, very pissed off indeed....
Meadows' film is one that is actually hard to categorise easily. It shares the same aesthetic qualities of his previous films, but is much more than a kitchen sink drama. Some have termed it a horror, and that's understandable, when you consider the ugly and bloody fates that Richard unleashes against the gang and how he haunts their every move like Michael Myers stalking Laurie; but even that doesn't quite sum its qualities up best. No, to my mind, it's like an urban Western, relocated to the arsehole of nowhere, as a mysterious and terrifying stranger arrives to clean up his hometown gone bad (it even has a contemporary spin on the 'bar falls suddenley quiet when a stranger walks in' scene). However, that still doesn't tell you just how skillfully Meadows plays with expectations and conventions. The unnamed town itself is a mixture of rugged and untamed wild beauty, and a desperately run down town of rotting farms and snooker halls on the point of collapse. The thugs themselves are no great villains, just simple bullies in a place that is so tired and defeated that they have the run of it with ease. And while a lesser film - think of something superficially similar from the '80s starring the likes of Sylvester Stallone or Schwarzenegger - would glory in the bloodshed and killings of these thugs, Dead Man's Shoes is more intelligent than that; instead showing that this is a mission undertaken by Richard that holds no real victory for him, only a regret that he has to lower himself to their level to get his revenge.
That wouldn't work without a great performance at the heart of the film and Considine gives it. Rapidly becoming one of the greatest living British actors, Considine is simply stunning. Heartbreaking and terrifying in equal measure, the one scene that shows just what a talent he is comes in his first face-to-face meeting with Sonny, as Richard simply refuses to be intimidated and mocks Sonny's pretensions at trying to stare him down. You know when people tried to convince themselves that the meeting between De Niro and Pacino in Heat was full of electricity and acting sparks, when it really wasn't? This scene is what that scene desperately wanted to be.
With each new film, Shane Meadows is increasingly proving himself to be perhaps the greatest British director of his generation, and one of the greatest full stop. This is his masterpiece and fully deserving of a place in the Hall Of Fame.
He Who Gets Slapped - 1924 - Victor Sjöström.
Not only was this film my first real watch of the fantastic Lon Chaney, but it reminded me how powerful the silent film era was. A testament to what must be a brilliantly written play, what struck me in the film was the striking imagery of a sad clown, using his guise as a form of brutal honesty in making a repetitious, larger than life spectacle of a deep rooted psychological trauma. There are moments in this film that just shine so brutally and also sports a fantastically twisted opportunity for revenge and redemption. This film for me has it all, and should be watched by everyone.
Jaws - 1975 - Steven Spielberg
DUUUH DUH, DUUUUH DUH, DUH DU< DUH DU< DUH DU DUUUUDUDDUUUUUUUHHH!. Why am I nominating Jaws for the Matty's Mum of Fame? Well after my pretty crappy showing in recent rounds...I'm gonna need a bigger vote.
The Jungle Book - 1967 - Wolfgang Reitherman
The Empire Hall of Fame is lacking something important – a Disney film. Even if you are a soulless, wretched shell of a human who scoffs at joy, you cannot deny that Disney are one of the most influential film studios of all time, and have produced some great films. And no Disney film deserves a Hall of Fame spot more so than The Jungle Book.
The Jungle Book is Disney at their best. Taking on the classic Kipling stories, the film is almost flawless - I suppose its main fault is that drippy girl at the end, but that's not big deal as the rest of the film is so amazing. The animation is gorgeous – the background of the Indian jungle scenery is just lush, whilst the monkeys' dance is wonderfully done.
The voice work is absolutely perfect. George Sanders as Shere Khan is quite possibly the greatest casting decision in animated history – every line is laced with such wonderful disdain, making him simultaneously loathsome and awesome. Disney regulars Phil Harris and Sebastian Cabot are fantastic as Baloo and Bagheera respectively, whilst Sterling Holloway is a great Kaa. The mop-top vultures are a stroke of genius.
But if I had to choose one reason why The Jungle Book deserves a place in the HoF it would be, without a shadow of a doubt, the music. From the gloriously warm and comfortable The Bare Necessities to Louis Prima's pièce de résistance "I Wanna Be Like You", the music makes the film into something spectacular. These are Disney songs at their best – insanely catchy and every note is perfect. The instrumental score is pretty wicked too.
The Jungle Book is no intricately plotted thriller or three hour epic. Yet it is still a film worthy of the Hall of Fame. It's just so entertaining, so full of joy and humour and love, that it becomes something incredible – not just Disney's best film but a truly great film in its own right.
Midnight Run - 1988 - Martin Brest
Jack Walsh (Robert DeNiro), a disgraced former cop who is unpopular with the Chicago Police Department, is living a miserable existence as a bounty hunter. However, he sees a way out of his predicament when bail bondsman Eddie Mascone offers him the highly lucrative last job of tracking down Jonathan "The Duke" Mardukas (Charles Grodin), a neurotic and annoying accountant who has just embezzled a substantial amount of money from a very dangerous gangster named Jimmy Serrano (Dennis Farina).
Walsh manages to find and apprehend Mardukas with very little effort, but things get complicated when Walsh finds out the Duke is not only wanted by Mascone, but by the FBI who want Mardukas for their own case and by Serrano's men who are trying to kill Mardukas. Oh, and if that wasn't enough, knuckle headed rival bounty hunter Marvin Dorfler (John Ashton) is also on Mardukas' trail.
Simply put, Midnight Run is one of the best and most underrated comedies of the late eighties. George Gallo's script is tight, concise and contains some of the most poetic uses of profanity I have ever heard, and director Martin Brest turned in some of the best work of his career with this film. But what really makes Midnight Run so memorable is the acting. After the horrors of the Meet the Parents trilogy and Analyse This and That, it's easy to forget the DeNiro can be funny, and in Midnight Run he is funny. Very funny. Grodin is also amazing as the exasperating Duke and he and DeNiro work together brilliantly. There's also some sterling work from Yaphet Kotto as FBI agent Alonzo Moseley and John Ashton is great as the boorish bounty hunter Marvin. Another thing about Midnight Run is that it has a lot of heart. The scene when Walsh makes a pit stop to visit his divorced wife and daughter is a very emotional moment, and when Walsh and Mardukas finally start to warm up to each other, some genuinely touching moments come out of that.
So yeah, vote Midnight Run for Hall of Fame 15, please.
Peeping Tom - 1960 - Michael Powell
Don't dare tell the ending to anyone - you'll be blamed for nightmares! (Peeping Tom)
Don't give away the ending - it's the only one we have! (Psycho)
As a boy Mark was the focus of his psychologist father's research and the subject of a video journal documenting his upbringing and childhood. Now an adult handsome Mark (Karl Böhm) is a focus-puller, an occasional photographer and a somewhat compulsive amateur film-maker. He has over the years accumulated a vast snuff-porn collection showing the murders of numerous prostitutes that he himself has dispatched.
Whether Peeping Tom is your standard garden variety Freudian take on a father/son relationship, a scathing, dirty, lurid look at the complicity of cinema audiences' or a clever satire about the madness of filmmaking and filmmakers, one thing that remains clear is that it is a fantastic piece of horror and a film deserving of praise. It's a fantastically unsettling film that is deceptively beautiful, along with an attractive male lead and some lovely looking women it's a stunningly colourful film.
Why the Peeping Tom/Psycho tags? Well I'm probably just being lazy as both works were subject to negative critical responses and yet the fate of the films (for a long while) and their respective directors couldn't be any more different or frustrating. The controversy with Psycho seemed to be more about Janet Leigh's character, her promiscuity, that shower and the use of a toilet and not the psychologically damaged character of Norman Bates who has gone on to become one of the most celebrated psychopaths in cinema history. Now Anthony Perkins is superb but it's a great shame Karl Böhm doesn't appear to get the same recognition, as Mark he is terrific. One of the curious strengths of Peeping Tom is that it manages to make Mark a likeable character he is a monster but Böhm makes the awkward mild mannered man sympathetic.
Hitchcock's tastes were called into question yet his fame and popularity merely increased as Psycho became a monstrous hit worldwide with audiences flocking to the cinema. The mauling Peeping Tom received remains astonishing and it didn't so much destroy Michael Powell's career as rob cinema of one of its finest practitioners. I suppose that's what you get for having the balls to show audiences the darker side of cinema, the harrowing invasion a camera can have and the voyeuristic culpable nature of a willing audience.
Released a few months before Psycho, Peeping Tom is a gloriously tawdry film it's not perfect there are some outdated notions and it has no doubt been overly praised at times as is it's due given the ridiculously harsh initial reaction but I've no problem throwing the word masterpiece at it because it will stick because Peeping Tom is a work of genius.
Psycho - 1960 - Alfred Hitchcock
It seems to come up quite often with the cannon of greatest ever films such as Citizen Kane that there is a real divide between the people who just appreciate how good a film it is, and those who love the film and would place it among their own favourites. This is something I havent experienced very often (I tend to be a love it or hate it kind of person when it comes to these cannon films), but Psycho is an exception.
After my first viewing of Psycho, I was left with a feeling of slight disappointment. It was a film which seemed to have everything going for it from the key shower scene that is so often talked about, to the music, to the performance of Perkins, but it seemed to clinical and tidy. I just never managed to feel the excitement as the film went on as it was one which perhaps I knew too much about before going in (who hadnt seen the shower scene for instance before watching the film?).
However, as further viewings have come and gone, the film now has me completely hooked from start to finish. There isnt anything there which I could put as an explanation for this happening, but to try and find one would be too look at the film as clinically as I first did.
Now it is just a pleasure to let this classic grip me from start to finish, and appreciate the smaller scenes as time goes on. It is after all within these moments that the film truly shines
Ran - 1985 - Akira Kurosawa
Ran depicts the fall from power of Hidetora Ichimonji (Nakadai), an aging warlord who decides to abdicate his throne and give the power to his three sons, Taro, Jiro and Saburo. Taro is given leadership of the clan while Jiro and Saburo are given other castles and told to support their brother, while Hidetora remains leader in name only. Saburo disagrees with his logic, thinking it is too easy for his sons to betray him, an act Hidetora mistakes for a threat, something that leads to Saburo's banishment. Once Hidetora abdicates, Taro's wife starts pushing for him to take complete control of the clan. When Hidetora kills one of Taro's guards after he threatens his fool, Taro demands that Hidetora renounce his title. He seeks refuge with Jiro, only to find he is only interested in using him as a pawn against Taro. Hidetora tries to travel to the Third Castle, vacant after Saburo's banishment, only to be attacked by his sons. Hidetora's bodyguards are massacred and Hidetora left to commit seppuku. He descends into insanity, left to wander in the wilderness. Hidetora discovers the few that remain loyal to him and they hide out in the ruins of a castle but he begins to hallucinate visions of the people he destroyed to gain power. When Saburo learns of his father's plight, he returns to aid him and go to war with his brothers.
Kurosawa's final epic was the most expensive film produced in Japan up until that point and it's one of the most astonishing visual spectacles in cinema. The magnificent battle sequences are quite possible the finest ever filmed. But unlike so much bad cinema where spectacle is mistaken for great film-making, Ran also tells a great and tragic story, filled with intelligent writing and sublime acting. The story takes its inspiration from legends of the warlord Mori Motonari. Monotari was famous for having three loyal sons, but Kurosawa tried to picture the results if the sons were disloyal. Kurosawa merged the story of Motonari with Shakespeare's King Lear in order to create one of cinema's great tragedies. Kurosawa had already proved himself capable of directing great Shakespearean adaptations and Ran is the pinnacle of not just his Shakespearean films, but also of his epic, period cinema.
Tatsuya Nakadai gives a remarkable, vanity-free performance as Hidetora. He is vain, arrogant and a ruthless warmonger who acquired his power through slaughter and treachery. We should despise him, and Nakadai refuses to play for audience sympathy. When Hidetora slips into insanity we begin to feel pity for him through the power of Nakadai's performance, a lesser actor may just have left the viewer with the feeling that Hidetora is getting exactly what he deserves. Nakadai shows us the warlord's regret and his sadness and creates a great sense of empathy with the character. He's ably supported by a strong cast, but the only performance that comes near to his level is Mieko Harada's astounding turn as the power-hungry and murderous Lady Kaede. This tale of ambition, pride, loyalty, betrayal and regret is one of cinema's true, undisputed classics.
Taxi Driver - 1976 - Martin Scorsese
"Now I see this clearly. My whole life is pointed in one direction. There never has been a choice for me." (Robert De Niro as Travis Bickle, Taxi Driver, 1976.) It is with this unity of purpose that we see a film that takes a man's life and fractures it until we see it refracted in other's lives. It is a film that has a single story strand which touches on many secondary stories. It is a film about a man who believes he has utter control over his life, when in fact he has none. Travis Bickle is "God's lonely man", wandering through life in some picaresque nightmare. He is at odds with the world. Jaded by Vietnam, he is undeniably a different person to before his war experiences. Although Vietnam is never specifically referenced, it looms over the film like a leering uncle: it is seen in Travis' dress, his familiarity with weaponry, with the political content of the presidential election. And it would have been omnipresent on the film's release. These experiences inform his character, and set him against the world, unable to sleep, to settle, to relax. It is, curiously, a theme explored in the more recent Fight Club (1999): The protagonist and narrator is unable to sleep and seeks a solution to it. Disillusioned with the world, each protagonist looks for a cure and finds it in different ways, yet both are destructive at their heart, and heroic on the surface. It is this duality I hope to explore here. Throughout the film (and not just in the much-discussed ending) there are aspects of the monstrous and the heroic, and Travis exhibits, I will demonstrate, both of these.
For clarity I will look at each of the two main character considerations separately. Firstly then, Travis the hero. Films with a narrator invariably show a skewed aspect of reality. We are seeing events through our narrator's eyes, and see his version of events. (More on that later.) More than a simple disembodied narration, this is a diarised text: he is narrating what he is writing as the events of the day. This lends a notion of reliability to an unreliable source. History, so the saying goes, is written by the victors. To extrapolate then, this film is written by Travis, which invariably will give a positive spin to events. Quite how far that spin extends is a matter for personal reflection and conclusion. Nevertheless it is clear that Travis sees himself as a normal, regular guy who has a need to "clean up" the streets. One can see how the mentality might have come about. Simplistically, Travis was in Vietnam, the conflict in which was a case of the United States "cleaning up" a problem. The war Travis wages, on a microcosmic scale, on the streets of New York is as little his concern as Vietnam was to America. The heroic complex is borne out of Travis' experiences; it is realised on the streets of the world to which he has returned, which he defended, and – to quote that other film of male disillusionment – he is very, very pissed off. Travis obtains employment as a taxi driver, succeeding because he does not discriminate between the fares he accepts, nor the places to which he takes them. This in turn leads him to see Betsy, a volunteer for Senator Pallantine's Presidential campaign, and a symbol for what can be saved in a world devoid of beauty. Indeed, the manner in which the film is shot is almost documentary at times – rough, unpolished, raw. It heightens the gritty desolation that fills New York at the time, and is neatly contrasting with the vision of Betsy refracted through the glass door of the campaign headquarters as Travis looks on. Travis latches on, fixates on Betsy. And, because he appears ordinary and charming in a peculiar way, Betsy agrees to a coffee. Albert Brooks, as Betsy's co-volunteer, provides a stark relief against which Travis is seen. Here is a man with good nature, good humour, imperfect, yet sincere – perfectly ordinary. Perhaps it is this man who, without ever realising it, Travis desires to be like. He has an easy-going friendship with Betsy, something that Travis never attains. It is Betsy's rejection of Travis that focuses his intent. He sees her as being potentially corrupted by this world he so detests, and centres his efforts around the man who is garnering most of her attention – Senator Pallantine. Contrary to his assertion that "they…cannot…touch…her", she is "cold and distant". The angelic image has gone – the spell, broken. By removing him 'from the picture', Travis might be thinking, he looses the hold the world has on Betsy and might free her up to be with him. It is an erroneous, twisted logic, but infallible to him. By freeing one innocent life from the scum on the streets, he can save the world and maybe himself.
With Betsy's rejection leading to a misguided attempted assassination, and Travis already having the weaponry available, Iris' (Jodie Foster) appearance is almost a deus ex machina were it not for the previous brief meeting. Travis shifts his focus to this 12 year old prostitute, and a chance to extricate this child from the sordid world she inhabits and return her to her parents. All the components are in place to enable Travis to go through with his plan to rid the streets of the criminals that afflict the innocent: He has the guns, and the ability to use them. He has experienced rejection by someone he feels has been tainted by the world. He has gained the confidence to go through with a plan, even if it was foiled at the last minute. And he has gained a taste for murder having killed the would-be-thief in the convenience store. All these come together to form the mental and physical capability, and the – for Travis – moral need to go ahead with his plan. It is after the washed-out, bloody finale that critics and fans alike question the veracity of events. In the "heroic" version of events, and the one depicted "as is" on screen, Travis survives the massacre to reunite Iris with her parents, as notated by a letter to Travis from her father and press cuttings of the heroic taxi driver recuperating in hospital. He meets Betsy again, who is pleased with Travis' heroics. This scene allows Travis to not only see Betsy again and have her be proud of him, in a way, but also for him to be sure that there is nothing left between them – to be the bigger person. It shows him at ease with his fellow taxi drivers. In short, it shows Travis being that which he has aspired to become throughout the events of the film – normal.
Of course, for some that coda is a little too perfect. It is everything Travis wanted, all wrapped up neatly. Others believe that Travis did indeed die at the massacre (there is no neck wound in the last taxi scene, despite Travis being shot in the neck) and that the coda is an idealised way that Travis would lead his life. Rather than having his past life flash before his eyes, Travis had a potentially happy future flash before them. A future in which he is not lonely, nor misunderstood, but a hero, a friend. Certainly there is much to support this theory, understanding first that the theory is rooted in the presupposition that Travis is a monster, and not a hero. Going back to one of the earlier scenes, Scorsese has spoken of the aspirin, saying that if something is focused on long enough, meaning begins to be attributed to it. Certainly whether intended at the time, or a product of the editing process (one of the few Scorsese projects not edited by Thelma Schoonmaker, but by Tom Rolf and Melvin Shapiro) but the line immediately preceding the aspirin shot is of one of Travis' colleagues talking about guns. One could see the long stare at the aspirin as Travis' mind wandering as he thinks about guns. Further on, the jittery man in the back of the cab who is spying on his wife's affair (played famously by Scorsese himself) mentions a '44 Magnum, and an interesting knowledge of its effects, which is followed by Travis purchasing a number of guns, including the '44. External sources create internal connections that lead down a slippery path to destructive obsession. Travis' actions are not those of someone on a heroic path, but a murderous, monstrous one. He is deliberate, detailed, inventive, methodical – he plans, he scouts out locations, sounds out people. He prepares physically for the event, and alters his appearance. This is a man who is so out of touch with society that he has forgotten how to interact with it, only how to manipulate it from the outside, looking in. From the opening scenes he has professed his desire to see a "real rain come and wash the scum off the streets" – there is no word of his actions being in aid of someone needing saving. No, contrary to that reading, he is using Betsy, and then Iris, as a reason, an excuse, to mentally justify his actions to himself. He's doing it, he believes, "to save Betsy/Iris", not to cleanse himself in some way. Considering his actions are to save Iris, they result in her being physically surrounded by horrific death, violence, murder. While I would not presume to compare that to any previous horrors in her short life, what we see is undeniably horrific. The "Travis as monster" argument is further consolidated by a simple consideration of police procedure. A man lies dying surrounded by mafia, a pimp, and a prostitute. He is armed to the teeth with personalised weaponry and release mechanisms, and sports a Mohawk – not a hairstyle worn by conservative personalities. Is "heroic taxi driver" truly going to be a realistic headline? I fear not.
So, where do I stand on this question? Is Travis a hero or a monster? Perhaps predictably, I would like to think he is somewhere between the two. While one cannot deny the violence of his acts, at some level his motivation was honourable. There is real chemistry between Travis and Iris – a true concern. Similarly, Travis is innocent in his intents with Betsy. It is his disassociation with reality that creates the Most Awkward Date Movie scene, not some lewd intent – even though that is Betsy's lasting impression. Bernard Herrmann's score (sadly, his last one) does nothing to make a decision any easier. It buoys up the protagonist with a jazz-based, smooth theme that is pure class. Yet underneath is an unmistakable undertone of dread and expectation. When we should be repulsed the music is at its most beautiful. For instance, when Sport (Harvey Keitel) is dancing with Iris, convincing her to stay, he puts on a record of the main theme. The score is an absolute masterpiece, and simultaneously represents the connection between Travis, Betsy, Iris, and New York itself. Whether or not the post-massacre scenes happened or not is something I still cannot decide. I want them to be true, as that enables Travis to be a hero, and is an idealised ending. Yet logic and the harsh reality of life dictates that they are unlikely at best. In a film that twists the idea of reality and splits it between what is happening and what Travis sees, perhaps the ending is as real as any of the film: it is, after all, Travis' perspective of events and this is undeniably Travis' film.
Toy Story - 1995 - John Lasseter
Van Helsing - 2004 - Stephen Sommers
Dracula. The Wolfman. Frankenstein's Monster. Screen icons made famous by Universal Studios with their classic horror movies from the 30s and 40s and it's these films that Stephen Sommers pays a most loving tribute to with Van Helsing. Much like the ensemble monster movies House Of Frankenstein and House of Dracula, Van Helsing brings together the big three Universal monsters in a beautiful, exciting, emotional and vibrant homage to the original series. It retains their sense of mystery and intrigue and is steeped in the same creepy atmosphere yet adds a dash of modern technology in order to combine rousing action with the old-age horror. The visionary genius that is Sommers populated his film with the finest actors of the age and delivered a truly amazing and heartfelt spectacle, but one which failed to find the critical acclaim is so clearly deserves. We here are in the unique position of being able to rectify this film's most ignoble fate by placing it amongst the pantheon of greats that currently reside with the Empire Hall Of Film. As film fans it is your responsibility, nay, your duty to vote for this masterpiece for the ages.