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Review of the day for the week of November 2, 1998.

Monday:
Man Trouble

Man Trouble
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Animal lovers will enjoy Man Trouble, a comedy more about dog than man.

Jack Nicholson is a dog trainer with ads that say something like, "Get a big ferocious dog to guard your home."

When a timid little wimp of an opera singer finds her apartment burglarized - obviously the work of her estranged husband, whom she is in the process of divorcing - she decides she needs a dog. That, of course, is how she meets Nicholson, whom she immediately falls for. Meanwhile, she is staying at her nutty sister's house and has a few unexpected guests.

Man Trouble was jocular but a bit too predictable. While the dogs turned out to be more interesting than the human characters, Jack Nicholson is a fine actor and certainly benefited this film.

My Rating = Three Stars

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Tuesday:
Apt Pupil

Apt Pupil
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Stephen King movies are always so clever. Such is the case with Apt Pupil, based on one of his novellas.

Sixteen year old Todd Bowden (Brad Renfro ) manages to track down former Nazi Kurt Dussander (Ian McKellen) responsible for the death of about ninety thousand Jews - even though the FBI hasn't been able to find him. (Yeah, right.) Now an old man, Dussander lives near Todd, so it's a great setup for blackmail.

That's right, although Todd has proof that he could get Dussander deported and tried for war crimes, he is perfectly willing to keep quiet about it if the old guy will tell him all the horrible war stories. Now the audience gets to play the fun guessing game, "Who's more twisted?" with these characters!

I found Apt Pupil captivating, although I would have liked a logical explanation for the boy's obsession by the end. The acting, however, was superb, and the scenes were well played out. Even though there was nothing really supernatural in Apt Pupil, it is an excellent, spooky movie to see this Halloween - or anytime.

My Rating = Three Stars

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Wednesday:
Pet Sematary

Pet Sematary
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Stephen King's Pet Sematary is flawless except for the obviously intentional spelling error in its title. I watched this film the night before Samhain - an old word for Halloween - when the line between living and dead is supposed to be thinnest.

What a night I picked to watch a movie about dead people - and animals - that don't stay dead.

A doctor, Louis, and his family, move into a new home, which is rather close to a "pet cemetery" for animals. His new neighbor Judd Crandall helps Louis bury his daughter Ellie's cat.

But they don't use the pet cemetery - instead, they use an old Indian burial ground, and the cat soon comes back to life - its personality is just a bit altered.

Later, when Louis' son Gage is killed, Louis buries him. He, too, comes back - with some rather violent tendencies - this reminded me of the Chucky films.

You don't have to watch Pet Sematary on the night before Halloween to enjoy a spooky, well thought out thriller. I'd gladly watch this film again anytime. The acting was terrific, and I especially enjoyed the cameo by Fred Ward, whom you might remember from The Munsters - he was the perfect supporting actor.

My Rating = Four Stars

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Thursday:
Animal House

Animal House
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Animal House is a hilarious depiction of idiotic college students and the ridiculous things they do.

A couple of obvious losers are trying to get into a fraternity - but the only one that will pledge them is Delta. This fraternity is known for pulling more pranks and creating more problems than any other house on campus.

The characters are basicly one-dimensional, but amusing. One of them, for example, gets drunk and his girlfriend asks, "Are you going to spend your life like this? Getting drunk with your friends every weekend?"

"No, of course not," he replies. "After I graduate, I'm going to get drunk every night!"

Such is the general attitude of the foolish students in this movie. And talk about food fights! While Animal House may lack character development, and is rather unrealistic, it is still an amusing film to watch.

My Rating = Three Stars

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Friday:
Vampires

Vampires
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John Carpenter's Vampires should have been more aptly titled Count Dracula Goes to Country Music Hell, because that's basically the plot.

James Woods plays a cowboy who chases vampires around the southwest. First he stakes them, then drags them out into the sunlight where they spontaneously combust. (Talk about being sensitive to the sun!)

For years he has been doing this for the Catholic Church, and now, he finds out that the first vampire ever made needs to get his hands on a black cross. If he does, the greatest vampire of all time will become even greater: he can finish a ritual started centuries ago, enabling himself to walk around in sunlight.

Did I mention that there's also a subplot with Daniel Baldwin - the chubbiest of the Baldwin brothers I believe - another vampire slayer who suddenly falls for a new vampire?

Vampires was entertaining, but I've seen better vampire movies - for example, Interview with the Vampire and recently Blade. Although the characters lack emotional depth or character development, the film has enough special effects, blood, and gore to distract viewers from this flaw.

My Rating = Two Stars

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