Tag Archives: Ted Levine

Saturday is Horror Day #100 – Smile, Silence of the Lambs

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

I’d like to start by saying welcome to the 100th post of Saturday is Horror Day! Little did I know when I first began to write this weekly adventure into the horror genre that it would last this long, but here we are. My first review is for the movie Smile, but I am going to look for something I like better before I post this for a second review. Thanks for taking the journey with me, hope you are enjoying the reviews and plan to continue to ride along!


Psychiatrist Rose Cotter (Sosie Bacon) has a disturbing encounter with a patient who insists that she is being stalked by an entity who changes faces and forms, but has only one constant – its smile. Trying to probe further into the young woman’s problems, their session comes to a chilling end, traumatizing Rose.  Having witnessed her suicide, not only can Rose not get it out of her mind, but she is beginning to see strange things herself. The more she sees, the less people believe or trust her, and she is about to become a part of the same institution where she works, except for viewing it from the inside! Will no one save her from the creature who smiles?

I will admit this was a creepy film, but not anything extraordinary. Decent writing and acting, but a not

overly complex plot which isn’t even fully explained. I never did understand who or what the creature was. Nonetheless it’s worth watching at least once. If for no other reason, than to see Kal Penn as Rose’s boss. Also, Robin Weigert plays Rose’s therapist. A good evening’s entertainment. I’ll give it 3.5 Stars

I decided to rewatch one of my favorite films for this post, hope you enjoy it too!

Silence of the Lambs

FBI trainee Clarice Starling (Jodie Foster) is called into the office of her supervisor, Jack Crawford (Scott Glenn), the last thing she expects is to receive an actual field assignment. He tells her that they are doing a survey among a number of known and incarcerated serial killers for a study. Most of them have been cooperative, but one in particular has not and he wants Starling to approach him with the survey and to see if she can get answers out of him. Clarice is surprised that this seems to take priority right now, what with the killer Buffalo Bill on the loose – so-called because he likes to skin his humps. But what can she do but obey? So off to Baltimore she goes.

Hannibal Lecter (Anthony Hopkins) has been incarcerated at the Baltimore Hospital for the Criminally Insane for a dozen years. He is held securely behind a wall of glass at the end of the hall. The director of the hospital, Dr. Frederick Chilton (Anthony Heald) is not only obnoxious but ambitious. He’s miffed when Clarice snubs his advances and his assistance. Dr. Lecter becomes intrigued by Clarice and her naivete and toys with her. But when another inmate disrespects her, he gives her some actual information.

Clarice follows the clues Lecter obliquely gave her and discovers a severed head in the back seat of an

old car in a storage unit. Crawford takes her with him unexpectedly after the discovery of another corpse in West Virginia, and she suddenly realizes she has become part of the Buffalo Bill case. In the meantime, Catherine Martin  (Brooke Smith), daughter of Senator Ruth Martin (Diane Baker) is kidnapped, and finds herself at the bottom of a well, being told to put the lotion on her skin.

Jealous of Clarice’s continued association with Lecter, Dr Chilton bugs his cell and learns some interesting information that Crawford has fed to Lecter through Starling. But Chilton decides to make his own deal with the distraught senator in hopes of fostering his own career. However, he’ll learn soon enough what it means to make an enemy of Hannibal Lecter. Clarice is racing against time, as Buffalo Bill is known to kill his victims after three days. But why? And what is the meaning of the marks on their backs? And why a death’s head moth?

Tick tock, tick tock…time is ticking, Clarice…

Based on the novel by Thomas Harris, Silence of the Lambs is a magnificent thriller that keeps you guessing to the very last minute. Jodie Foster shines as Clarice, the naive young woman whose greatest desire is to be in the FBI, and aspires to be a profiler. Scott Glenn is her supervisor, Jack Crawford, who takes a chance on a trainee to entice Lecter into helping with the Buffalo Bill case, although he doesn’t tell her that. Ted Levine is incredible as Jame Gumb (I am a huge Ted Levine fan) and his dance is pretty amazing. But the star of the show, without a doubt, is Sir Anthony Hopkins as Hannibal Lecter, one of the most fascinating characters to be found both in the book and on the silver screen. Prior to this, there was a film of the novel Red Dragon, called Manhunter, which starred Brian Cox as Lecter. But once Hopkins assumed the role, it became his.

Direction, acting, writing – this film has it all. And it stands up to repeated viewings. I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of this. I’ll give this film 5 Stars.

Saturday is Horror Day #19 – The Hills Have Eyes (2006), Host (2020)

The Hills Have Eyes (2006)

Big Bob (Ted Levine) and his wife Ethel (Kathleen Quinlan) have packed up their family for a drive to California to celebrate their anniversary. Their kids include little Bob (Dan Byrd), Brenda (Emilie de Ravin) and Lynn (Vinessa Shaw) and her husband Doug (Aaron Stanford) and their infant daughter Catherine. Stopping at a ramshackle gas station in the middle of nowhere, the creepy owner tells Big Bob of a short cut through the desert that will cut a couple of hours off their trip. He decides to go for it.

The trouble begins when their truck, which is hauling a large RV, runs over a line of spikes that have been deliberately set. The axle is bent beyond any simple repair. To compound their problems, there is no cell reception. Big Bob tells Doug that the two of them will head out, Bob back to the gas station, Doug ahead to the highway. Little do they know that there are people in these hills, and they are far from friendly.

This film is a remake of the 1978 version, which I reviewed previously (SIHD #14). While Wes Craven is credited as a writer, due to the first film, this one has a different director and writers. It’s the same characters, same scenario, but updated, and with an actual explanation of this mutant family in the desert. At the beginning of the movie, we learn about nuclear tests performed in New Mexico, with uncertainty regarding genetic effects. Well, I’m here to tell you, they aren’t pretty.

It’s obviously a more updated film, as is reflected in the language the characters use, and also that they even have cell phones, which certainly wasn’t a thin in 1978. The blood is definitely more realistic, as is the make-up of the cannibals. The acting is better too. Of course, you have Ted Levine leading the way, how can you go wrong? I think the writers have tightened the action and done a good job of bringing the story into more modern times.

Look for the scene in the nuclear test site dummy housing (if you saw the last and worst Indiana Jones movie, there is a similar scene, but far more awful). According to the sign at the entrance to the fake town, this was courtesy of the Department of Energy. If you are interested in the actual atomic testing, I suggest you read Bomb by Steve Sheinkin, and also find books about Robert Oppenheimer and Richard Feynman.
This version was pretty well done. I was very pleasantly surprised, especially considered how bad the sequel was. I have hopes for the modern sequel and will let you know. I give this version a solid 4 Stars.
Host (2020)

During the COVID lockdown, six friends hire a medium to hold a séance via Zoom. Jemma (Jemma Moore) decides to prank her friends with a fake story about a boy she knew who allegedly committed suicide. Little does she realize that by disrespecting the spirits, she has unintentionally invited in a random spirit. Whether good or evil remains to be seen.

This is the first film I’ve seen that actually is set during the pandemic. I’m sure there will be more to follow, and books as well. This one is rather realistic looking, as the friends all gather on their laptops on Zoom, with the usual Internet mishaps and foibles. Freezing in place, losing the Internet… all things we’ve seen before and can relate to.

At first, some of the friends take the séance more seriously than others, as is obvious by Jemma’s ill-timed prank. The medium finds herself without Internet so they go on without her guidance. But then strange things begin to happen, and little by little everything falls apart.

The dialogue is realistic, and a portion of it is actually improvised, which also lends to the air of reality.

There is a definite scary vibe to this film as everyone tries to grapple with what is happening. I absolutely love the tagline: Someone new has joined the meeting.  How perfect is that?

This film is a Shudder original, and I think it was well done. I have a subscription to Shudder. If you enjoy horror films, I recommend them. They have classic horror films as well as newer ones, and some you’ve probably never even heard. I give Host a solid 4 stars.