ROUGHING IT

With camping season in full swing, we decided to highlight a breed of films that are best avoided if you are heading into the wild.

We’re talking about movies that take place on back roads, deep in the woods and in far-flung, sparsely populated locales—the kind of places where opportunities for outdoor activities abound.  

But these are movies… Any protagonist who ventures into an unspoiled location is guaranteed to encounter something a lot more troublesome than pesky mosquitoes and spotty cellphone service.  

Happy Camping!!

Harriet Dyer appears in Killing Ground by Damien Power, an official selection of the Midnight program at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival. © 2016 Sundance Institute.

Ian and Samantha head to a national park, hoping the bush will give them space for some quiet time together. They arrive at an isolated campsite to find an SUV and a tent – no sign of the occupants.

As night falls and the campers fail to return, Ian and Sam grow increasingly uneasy. The discovery of a distressed child wandering in the woods unleashes a terrifying chain of events that test the young couple to breaking point.

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blairTHE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT (1999)

Yes, technically it’s a horror film, but any urbanite camper who ventures out into the woods is going to hear strange noises late at night – and think of this film.

This film combined Hi8 video with B&W 16mm film. The premise is 3 students go into the Maryland woods at night and are never seen again. All that remains is the “found footage” documenting their adventures leading up to their final minutes.

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intothewildINTO THE WILD (2007)

Based on the true story of Christopher McCandless, a young man who abandoned a traditional post-graduate life and attempted to live independently in the wilds of Alaska. What happened to him on the way transformed this young wanderer into an enduring symbol for anyone who has dreamed chucking it all and returning to nature.

In the end, he tested himself by heading alone into the wilds of the great North, where everything he had seen and learned and felt came to a head in ways he never could have expected.

It’s a sobering reminder to be prepared and humble before venturing into the wilderness; but many campers will also relate to McCandless’ sense of adventure and abandon.

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deliveranceDELIVERANCE (1972)

Adapted from poet James Dickey’s popular novel, John Boorman’s 1972 movie recounts the grueling psychological and physical journey taken by four city slickers down a river in the backwoods of Georgia. At the request of Iron John-esque Lewis (Burt Reynolds), Ed (Jon Voight), Bobby (Ned Beatty) and Drew (Ronny Cox) agree to canoe down wild, uncharted section of the river before a dam project ruins the region.

After warnings from the locals, and Drew’s ominous “Dueling Banjos” encounter with a mute inbred boy, the four men embark on their trip. On day 2, things take a turn for the worse when Bobby and Ed decide to rest on shore after becoming separated from Lewis and Drew. Two rifle-wielding mountain men (Bill McKinney and Herbert “Cowboy” Coward) emerge from the woods and capture the men. I won’t go into details on what happens next but if you haven’t seen the film — be warned.

Lewis and Drew rescue them, but the attack changes the nature of the journey. As the river gets rougher and rougher, the men come to nightmarish grips with what it means to survive outside the safety net of “civilization.”

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wolfWOLF CREEK (2005)

A dream vacation turns into a nightmare in this taut thriller from Australia. Ben (Nathan Phillips), Lizzie (Cassandra Magrath), and Kristy (Kestie Morassi) are three friends who, after a night of celebratory drinking, hit the road for a trip to Wolf Creek National Park, where they plan to spend a week hiking and surfing. The three friends are happy to be spending time together, especially after Ben makes the happy discovery that Lizzie is as infatuated with him as he is with her.

After a long day hiking, Ben, Lizzie, and Kristy make the unpleasant discovery that their car’s battery is dead, leaving them stuck in the middle of nowhere. Help arrives in the form of Mick (John Jarratt), a burly but good-natured outdoorsman who happens upon them; Mick tells them that he can fix their car, and offers to give them a ride to his place down the road.

Grateful but a bit nervous around the gregarious stranger, Ben, Lizzie, and Kristy offer Mick a wealth of thanks for his help, and give him some money for his troubles before they fall asleep around the campfire. The next morning, the travelers find themselves bound, gagged, drugged, and separated from one another, and they realize Mick is not the good Samaritan they imagined.

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race-with-the-devilRACE WITH THE DEVIL (1975)

Peter Fonda, Warren Oats, Lara Parker and Loretta Swit star as two couples who go on vacation together and drive their R.V. deep into the Texas hinterlands where they camp out, drink beer and tear up the backroads on their dirt bikes.

Their holiday turns deadly when they accidentally witness a secret ceremony of devil worshippers and a human sacrifice. Their presence is discovered and they barely elude the pursuing coven members.

When they report the incident to the local police, the investigation leads nowhere and the two couples are strongly urged to leave the area. Back on the road again, the vacationers soon realize they are not safe and are being stalked at every stop along their way.

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GHOSTLY

If there’s no such thing as ghosts, how come humans have been talking about them since the dawn of recorded history?  

When we were teens in Ireland, we used to hang out at a neighbor’s abandoned house – the brother and sister who lived there had passed away. One evening our candles extinguished en masse and the air went cold. After that, we stopped hanging out there….

But even if there were no such thing, it seems that authors and filmmakers would have had to invent them as a way for us to deal with mortality.

a-ghost-story 

A GHOST STORY (2017) 

With his latest film, director David Lowery (Ain’t Them Bodies Saints, Pete’s Dragon) returns with an exploration of legacy, loss, and the human longing for meaning and connection.

Recently deceased, a white-sheeted ghost (Casey Affleck) returns to his suburban home to console his grieving wife (Rooney Mara), only to find that in his ghostly state he has become unstuck in time, forced to watch passively as the life he knew and the woman he loves slowly slip away.

Increasingly unmoored, the ghost embarks on a cosmic journey through memory and history, confronting life’s deep questions and the enormity of existence. A haunting meditation on love and grief, the film itself is a haunting experience that lingers long after the credits roll.

The ever inventive A24 Films have opened A Ghost Story in NYC’s Chinatown—you can get your own customized Ghost Sheet—here is the link: https://aghost.store/shop/welcome

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FILE - In this image released by Paramount Pictures, Demi Moore, left, and Patrick Swayze are shown in a scene from "Ghost." Swayze's publicist Annett Wolf says the 57-year-old "Dirty Dancing" actor died Monday, Sept. 14, 2009, after a nearly two-year battle with pancreatic cancer. (AP Photo/Paramount Pictures, file) ** NO SALES **

GHOST (1990)

The late, iconic Patrick Swayze returns as a ghost in an attempt to protect Demi Moore, his wife, from impending danger with the help of a reluctant psychic, played by Whoopi Goldberg.

This tearjerker is a staple for many women; but the compelling depiction of the afterlife (screenwriter Bruce Jay Rubin based it on theon the Tibetan Book of the Dead) and the comic relief of Goldberg’s Oscar-winning performance combined to make it the highest-grossing film of 1990.

The track “Unchained Melody,” originated as the theme to an obscure 1955 prison film. Multiple versions charted in the US and UK before the 1965 Righteous Brothers cover became a jukebox staple. But after Demi and Patrick’s romantic/erotic potting wheel scene, in the summer of 1990 it was suddenly everywhere again. 

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bjuice BEETLEJUICE (1988) 

Tim Burton’s dark comedy is about a married couple who die thanks to the carelessness of a cute dog in a freak auto accident. At the gates to heaven they discover they are on a long celestial waiting list and must return to their old home as ghosts for the next 50 years.

Alec Baldwin and Geena Davis are horrified to see their home is now occupied by a rich, dysfunctional family who move in and begin to change everything. In an attempt to scare the new family from the house they engage the services of a veteran yellow haired and profane ghost, Michael Keaton, aka Beetlejuice.

iTunes    Amazon    YouTube    Google Play 

The-Sixth-Sense-1-1 THE SIXTH SENSE (1999)

The indelible line “I see dead people” combined with the big reveal of M. Night Shyamalan’s film—that Bruce Willis’ Dr. Malcolm Crowe is in fact one of the ghosts that little Haley Joel Osment sees –to nail the film’s rank as one of the best modern ghost stories.

Amazingly Shyamalan’s first two features were an ethnic drama and a family comedy. Sixth Sense was a career-maker for him, so much so that he’s always struggle to top it.

The role of the sensitive therapist was a huge change-up for macho action star Willis — one of the best and most emotionally resonant of his career. While the ending is memorable, the chemistry between the film’s haunted boy and ghostly leading man is what makes the picture enduring, even after you’re in on the surprise twist.

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madly TRULY, MADLY, DEEPLY (1991)

Anthony Minghella’s (The English Patient, The Reader) directorial debut is universally loved by the critics and was referred to as the British version of Ghost.

The charming love story of a woman, Nina, (Juliet Stephenson) who’s inconsolable with grief over the death of her partner and celloist, Jamie (Alan Rickman). Just when Nina thinks she’ll never recover from her loss, Jamie’s ghost returns and, much to her dismay, begins to muck about in her daily life, which includes bringing other ghosts along to watch, of all things, videos to pass the time.

Netflix    Amazon 

mrsmuir THE GHOST AND MRS. MUIR (1947) 

The Ghost and Mrs. Muir is the improbable love story between a widow, Mrs. Lucy Muir (Gene Tierney) and the deceased Sea Captain Daniel Gregg (Rex Harrison). Being a penniless widow, Mrs. Muir, along with her young daughter Anna (Natalie Wood), move into Gull Cottage on the English coast only to discover that it’s haunted by the previous owner, a loud-mouthed ghost.

Reluctantly, the two form a friendship (Lucy is the only one who can see the Captain) and when seeing that she’s in need of money, the captain persuades her to be the ghostwriter for his memoirs—they end up falling in love.

Joseph L. Mankiewicz had already had an incredible career, but this is one of his earliest films as director. He’d go on to direct All About Eve, Guys and Dolls, Suddenly Last Summer, and Cleopatra.

With a great, moody score from Bernard Hermann and the Oscar- nominated cinematography from Charles Lang, The Ghost and Mrs Muir is one of those incredibly entrancing ghost stories and a fan favorite – it gets one of the highest ratings we’ve ever seen on Amazon.

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