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Child's Play (2019)
Unfortunately this is not terrible.
I was really hoping, for Don Mancini's sake, that this 'remake' would be terrible and that audiences would quickly forget that it even existed, much like what happened with the Elm St remake of 2010.
In all honesty, I can't say that this is a bad movie, it's certainly not great but no one would be expecting that. It is however a satisfactory little bit of entertainment, a mild horror romp with a reasonable level of gore to keep it in the genre and quite a bit of humour that is admirably dark most of the time.
I'm very much a fan of the original and the following films, even the lesser instalments have their charms, so I was appalled when it was announced that MGM / Orion were going to exploit original creator Don Mancini's IP via a rights loop hole.
Though the final result in not the train-wreck I'd hoped for, it proves itself to be a shameless exploit of the original as this remake hardly bares any resemblance to the 1988 film aside from the title, character names and the look of Chucky.
This film could have easily existed on its own merits with no connection to the Child's Play franchise - and that's its biggest crime.
There is nothing worse than watching a remake that is just a pale comparison of the original, adding nothing new, so begrudgingly I would have to admit that Child's Play 2019 does do a great deal differently, for better or worse.
While this Chucky lacks the menace and personality of the original, he's a different character, one who you sympathise with rather than fear for a great deal of the film. Even when he goes completely psycho in the final act, I felt he had reasonable motives however flawed - he had been wronged and he was angry.
Like so many recent major studio horror movies (I'm looking at you The Conjuring universe) there is nothing scary in Child's Play 2019, it does better as a lowbrow satire and even lower brow Asimov knock off. The shooting style isn't very cinematic - the original was gritty and textured - this film is too clean and it just does't have the sense of threatening evil that made the original a genuine horror movie. Reason being is that this time round Chucky really isn't evil at all.
Also the doll effects are not great, particularly Chucky's face which apparently is a combination of practical and CG. The most recent film in the original series ,Cult Of Chucky, had a far smaller budget but in my opinion delivered superior doll effects than what we get here and certainly not a patch on what was achieved over 30 years ago in the original - those effects well and truly hold up today.
On one last positive note, Bear McCreary provides another fun, effective score - its been a busy year for him.
Who knows if sequels will follow? I hope to see more from Don Mancini and the original storyline. Maybe the two can co-exist? I'm sure Mancini won't be able to resist some reference to the corruption of his series in whatever he is cooking up next.
Just saw Hooked on iTunes and will keep this brief. It looks good, nicely shot but that's easier to achieve these days. The subject matter is honourable, LGBTI youth homelessness is an important issue. The central relationship is sweet and unique. The film's biggest flaw is some awkward acting, occasionally from the main couple but particularly from Terrance Murphy who plays the conflicted Ken - so wooden! Katie McClellan who plays his wife probably gives the most naturalistic performance in the film. There's certainly far worse queer cinema out there but there is better too.
Cult of Chucky (2017)
It's better than ALIEN: Covenant
It might seem odd to compare Cult Of Chucky to ALIEN: Covenant. I happen to watch both films only days apart, Covenant for the second time, and it dawned on me that there were a number of parallels. Foremost, they are both genre franchises that have been around for multiple decades with a similar number of installments that are generally a product of the time they were produced. And both feature iconic creations that continue to influence pop culture to this very day. Comparing these two films, released only a hand full of months apart, highlights the virtues of one and the short-coming of the other. I am one of a growing group that loved 2012's Prometheus. Ridley Scott took back the world he had created with ALIEN and gave us something new, not a rehash but something bold, grand and daring – it was no wonder the film was meet with such a polarizing response. It has its flaws, but they have diminished over time, particularly of late in comparison to Covenant. This is where we can look to Cult Of Chucky, the 6th sequel to a film from 1988. Where Covenant rehashes elements from all of its predecessors in the vein hope of satisfying fans of the original and detractors of Prometheus, yet satisfies no one – Cult, amasses story cues from all its predecessors, inventively stringing them together to create something new, fun and satisfying, with the convenient by-product of actually pushing the whole franchise forward in an unpredictable direction. Dare I say that such an out-come was what Ridley Scott had been hoping for. Another interesting comparison between the two is budget. Covenant is obviously a huge studio production and to Ridley's credit, everything always looks amazing. On the other hand, Cult had a fraction of the budget, not being destined for theatrical release. What director and series creator Don Mancini achieves on such a small budget is admirable. The film looks so slick and stylized. Aesthetically not for a minute did I feel I was watching something cheap or inferior. The ALIEN franchise is known for its grotesque beauty and somehow, even amid its highly designed elements, Covenant doesn't achieve the poetry in the horror that previous installments had. Back to Cult – there is one particular sequence / death (the skylight scene) which is captured with breathtaking beauty. You'd be very hard pressed to find such craftsmanship in another direct-to-home-ent production. It also shows the influence Hannibal the series had on Don Mancini as a filmmaker. He directed a number of episodes. Yet another comparison between the two is the horror trope of 'cannon fodder' characters. Covenant seems to have a huge cast of faceless victims – it's hard to even tell most of them apart and you learn next to nothing about them, at least nothing that makes you care about their plight or demise. The same can't be said for Cult. In less time, Mancini somehow establishes his cast of 'crazies' with enough info and emotion for us to actually care when they are finally dispatched. It's not like his periphery characters are given massively expansive backstories but Mancini manages to give the audience what they need which is a hell of a lot more than Ridley and his writers managed. I'm realistic, Cult Of Chucky is a crazy little film about a talking murderous doll and it's not perfect but there has been a lot of thought, effort and consideration put into it to satisfy fans and create something fun, new and memorable. I certainly had much more fun watching Cult than I did watching Covenant, which just made me lament what it could and should have been. One last thing to note about Cult, and it's not a comparison to Covenant, is Alex Vincent! Wow, what a great performance. Vincent plays this grown up, damaged Andy exactly right. He plays Andy with absolute conviction, not as a tokenistic call back to the original but as a fully evolved character who has been greatly affected by years of loss and torment. I'd really love to see Vincent in more productions. If you're a Chucky fan and particularly enjoyed Curse Of Chucky a few years back, I think you'll really appreciate what Mancini and friends have managed to conjure this time round.
Lazy Eye (2016)
Is this the queer cinema renaissance we have been waiting for?
Much like LGBTI people, Queer cinema has struggled to find its place, often disadvantaged and dismissed by the mainstream. Making movies is expensive and generally queer cinema never has access to the same kind of budgets as its hetero-normative counterparts resulting in, at times, distractingly poor production standards which fans of the genre generally forgive, hungry for any kind of representation on screen. Actors can be afraid to be associated with 'gay roles' whether they are gay, straight, closet, etc in real life. And stories can be safe, not wanting to miss the chance of catching that stray, curious, 'straight' viewer. But lately, in my opinion, some of these concerns are disappearing. Though film-making is still an expensive endeavor, high-quality cameras, audio and editing equipment is cheaper than ever – resulting in higher production standards. Need an aerial shot of a car on a desert highway? No need to hire a chopper. Hire or even buy outright a drone for that spectacular opening, closing or establishing shot. The myriad of ways we can now watch 'cinema' also helps, as streaming services (and alike) are hungry for content, making them far more willing to take risks on 'niche' titles to fill their catalog. All this brings me to Lazy Eye, which has its fair share of striking drone shots (of the Mohave Desert) and that I saw via iTunes after reading about it in a festival program – the kind of instant access to queer cinema I never had only a few years ago. There's no need to give a synopsis here but Lazy Eye (ironically) looks great, uses its locations well and is, for the most part, well-acted in what is essentially a two-hand-er. Another positive is the story, one that deals with gay men who are completely at ease with their sexuality, the drama coming from their tumble towards middle age and the physical, mental and emotional changes that come with it. We've seen the coming out, first love story countless times – Lazy Eye is what happens 15 plus years down the track, when you've had a number of relationships, you're out to everyone around you and might even be in a same sex marriage. Lazy Eye also doesn't reply on overt, titillating or unrealistic sex scenes where some queer cinema makes the mistake of being more like a porno. That's not to say Lazy Eye doesn't have sex scenes, there are two, but both have a distinct storytelling purpose and are all the more emotionally arousing for it. While it's not a perfect film (the 'Lazy Eye' of the title ends up having little bearing on the story despite the opening scene) it is an example of a certain maturity Queer cinema has reached both in production technique and story content. Another recent film, 'Retake', is very similar. Well shot, well- acted, set partially in a desert and deals with characters who are not tormented by their sexuality but who are dealing with life issues common to everyone. Retake too is very much worth a look as is 'Those People'. Again, it's well shot, in this case beautifully with characters not dealing with the singular issue of 'being gay' but dealing with life issues from a gay perspective. Yet another example is 'Akron'. On the surface it has all the hallmarks of the coming-out, first love story but quickly and refreshingly our very young characters are revealed to be utterly at ease with being gay as are their family and friends. While probably the weaker of the films mentioned here, Akron is worth seeing for the absolute normalcy of the gay relationship, accentuated by amazingly natural and uninhibited performances from the two leads. If these films are any indication, the future of Queer cinema is indeed bright.
Those People (2015)
Those People... are really good.
As many fans of Queer cinema would know, the good ones are few and far between. Be it the reluctance of big studios to produce purely LGBTI content resulting in next-to-no- budget features in the Queer cinema genre or not, often the movies for us gay folk are pretty terrible - poor production standards, bad acting and cliché upon cliché upon cliché. Lately though, there has been some shining lights in this small genre. 'Henry Gamble's Birthday Party' is one and so is 'Those People'. Production standards here are very high, beautiful wide screen photography, particularly in low light night scenes; lush and appropriate music choices; and above average acting among a number of other merits. I stumbled across this gem on Apple TV and was immediately taken in by the seductive and moody trailer; and I wasn't disappointed - far from it. Some viewers might not like the lack of backstory here, as we are dropped into the lives of a clutch of arty and (mostly) wealthy young New Yorkers but slowly details are revealed, enough to really feel one among these characters at this pivotal time in their lives. There's plenty of tension and angst, and mercifully a lack of the usual queer cinema clichés. Questions (and loves) are left unanswered. I really don't won't to say too much about the story as it could spoil your immersion into the delicate world created here. Looking forward to seeing what this director and his leads show us next. Search this one out.
Exodus: Gods and Kings (2014)
Why so little Sigourney Weaver?
While I would have to agree with most of the reviews posted here regarding this film's inadequacies, something no one has raised is why Sigourney Weaver is barely in this film? Seriously this most wonderful of actresses appears fleetingly in a couple of scenes near the beginning with NO DIALOG, then in two more very inconsequential scenes later where she actually gets to say something that pretty much any character in the film could have fulfilled. Obviously Ms. Weaver and Mr. Scott have a past working together and is why she appears here but you would think Mr. Scott would have more respect for his friend and colleague to at least give her something significant to do. I hope Ms. Weaver laughed all the way to the bank because it must have been the easiest pay check she ever earned. While there is much to be disappointed about in this Exodus, I am most disappointed by the extreme under used of one of the industry's most talented and respected actors. One positive note: It was very touching to see that Mr. Scott dedicated this film to his late brother Tony.
Curse of Chucky (2013)
Good but cursed by connections to previous films
Raises the bar for direct-to-DVD releases and for the Chucky series in general. Only let down by a desperate need to tie into previous films in the series resulting in occurrences that don't make much sense. In particular is the inclusion of Jennifer Tilly. When she first appears its in a reenactment of the opening scene from 'Bride'. So that begs the question as to when this film takes place. We clearly see Nica use a smart phone near the beginning of the film so its not the late 90s when 'Bride' took place. And is Tilly playing herself or Tiffany? Its all unnecessarily confusing and drops the ball for an otherwise well made and tense little movie. Well shot, well acted, great design (the house is a Gothic wonder) just a bit of excess baggage.
Now that the storm has past, enjoy Prometheus for the amazing film that it is.
I'm writing this a year after the theatrical release of Prometheus, a film that was preceded by, and ultimately fell victim to, a manic level of hype and expectation. A prequel, or as it turned out, not-so-distant-cousin to Ridley Scott's landmark sci-fi horror masterpiece ALIEN, Prometheus was an audacious endeavor from the get-go. Bestowed with the impossible task of living up to its for-bearer who over more than 30 years spawned three official sequels, two bastard spin offs (those AVP abortions) near countless comic book iterations, and influenced filmmakers, designers and pop culture in general. Prometheus also saw the return of Scott to the genre he helped define in cinematic terms so how could it ever completely satisfy such a sprawling legacy? Scott and 20th Century Fox did successfully maintained a high level of secrecy throughout production with Scott cleverly saying on numerous occasions that his new film stemmed from the 'DNA of Alien'. At the time we had no idea what he meant. After a long period of silence an aggressive marketing campaign kicked in. The posters and trailers were fantastic and awe inspiring, spawning endless viral videos and images online all the while maintaining the mystery. Was Prometheus actually an Alien prequel after all? How did all these pieces fit together with the aforementioned 30 year legacy? A year on from the release of Prometheus some are still asking these and countless other questions. What seemingly all could agree on was that visually, Scott had again crafted a film of sweeping majesty. From the opening frame Prometheus is splendor to behold. Unanimous praise was also given to Michael Fassbender for his portrayal of the android David. Where the film found its greatest criticism was in the script. Many legitimate film reviewers and thousands of online postings decried a myriad of so-called 'plot holes', unresolved ideas and just plain stupidity in the behavior of characters. The finger became squarely pointed at Damon Lindelof who had already upset fan boys with his writing of the conclusion to the TV series LOST. The online crucifixion of Lindelof was brutal and completely unfair. Lindelof was one of only two writers on the project, very little for a studio film when many summer blockbusters have upwards of ten writers and they're just the ones who actually get credited. The one constant and the man literally steering the (space) ship was Ridley Scott. If anyone should have been in the firing line it should have been him but for whatever reason the director was given a pass and Lindelof became the scapegoat for everyone's apparent disappointment in the film. I, like many, was so excited in the lead up to Prometheus to finally have a new entry in the world of ALIEN. I liked the film immediately but agreed with some of the criticism. There were certainly parts of the film I didn't understand and a few character motivations seemed very odd. What I really liked however was the film's ominous sense of dread and by its end, a sense of almost complete futility. I could see that this was an unusual and bold 'Hollywood' movie. Despite the negativity that surrounded the film, it created such intense debate online the likes of which I hadn't really ever seen. I don't think anyone has ever debated the meaning of a Transformers or Fast And Furious film but with Prometheus the criticizing and theorizing went on for months. I saw the film a second time in cinemas and got a lot more out of it, subtitle hints and lines of dialog I had missed the first time brought more sense to the film and its characters. I wouldn't say I found any 'answers' upon second viewing but I wasn't really looking for any. In fact I enjoyed and respected the film's ambiguity even more. As a reaction to what many claimed was a film full of frustratingly unanswered questions, Fox's marketing campaign around the Prometheus DVD / Blu-ray release promised that 'Questions would be answered'. The truth was both yes and no. In my opinion, Scott's only crime with Prometheus was his appeasing of the studio and modern movie audiences by cutting down the film to the 2 hour make and increasing the pace by omitting a host of integral scenes. Considering how bold Scott's choices were in other areas concerning Prometheus it's a shame he caved in on duration and pacing. Never have I seen a collection of deleted and alternate scenes that were SO integral to the overall film. Every questionable character motivation in Prometheus is put the rest in these AMAZING deleted scenes. We get a far greater understanding of Charlize Theron's Vickers and Idris Elba's Captain Janek. We get a massively better understanding of the motivations of Guy Pearce's Peter Weyland. And most importantly, the scene that bugged me the most where Fifield and Millburn behave so strangely toward an obviously dangerous snake alien now made sense due to a preceding delete scene. With these delete scenes in mind I watched the entire film again for a third time and completely fell in love with it. This wasn't because the 'big questions' had been answered, quite the opposite, I actually had even more questions because now I felt I really understood the characters and could see the film operating on an entirely new level. I'm looking forward to a Prometheus sequel, whenever that may come, not for answers but for more questions. The most enjoyable and addictive part of the journey so far in the world of Prometheus is examining the questions it has thrown up, looking for signs and clues as to what it may mean and coming to your own conclusions whether they be the filmmakers intention or not. Sadly too few films elicit such a long lasting debate as to its meaning and merit, forgotten as the house light rise and we return to mundane normality.
Is It Just Me? (2010)
Rarely a good gay movie since the 90s
Yes 'is it just me' is a well intentioned little film. But when did watching a gay movie become like watching a Christian film, or even worse a Tyler Perry movie! So many gay films of the last 10+ years have been so limp and predictable and this one is no exception. You know exactly what is going to happen and it features the usual gallery of gay indie clichés, the fag-hag, the slutty friend and the dryly funny/ miserable old queen. Thankfully the performances are good and characters likable. Believe me I get it, there's little money in gay cinema and we need our rom-coms too but we need more genre benders like Hellbent and Another Gay Movie, I can't keep watching the same story just to support gay indie films. Shelter did it best, that felt like a 90s movie, the glory days of gay cinema. Is it just me? I don't think so.
Pet Sematary (1989)
This dog needs resurrecting
* Warning: Major Spoilers ahead* Watching Pet Semetary has made me understand why Hollywood does remakes. While the title has cache as a brand name and clout by association, originating from the pen of one Stephen King, this 1989 creep show is a strong candidate for re-incarnation. Let me just say that I completely understand the rose coloured glasses with which we sometimes remember films first seen in our youth. Even the best examples of horror, (Halloween, A Nightmare On Elm St. and alike) can often look dated, crappy and lame to eyes witnessing them for the first time, many, many years after their release. Sometimes these judgements can be unfair, not considering the time when the film was first relevant. Other times it can give clarity to a film's short coming and missed opportunities. Now, with my self-justifying out of the way, let's turn our attention back to Pet Semetary. Adapted from King's popular novel of the same name, box-office wise this film is probably his most successful page to screen horror adaptation, King even wrote the script. This alone is reason for a remake. It appears as though King may have been too close to the project, as the pace is slow, taking way too much to time to get to the inevitable and the subplots seem pointless. King seemingly didn't have the objectivity to self edit. The Shining and Carrie, while based on King's books were written for the screen by other writers, namely filmmakers, who could cut away the fat and get to the guts of the story all the while keeping a visual language in mind. From the very beginning of Pet Semetary we know the cat will die, the kid will die and everything will go horribly wrong for this generic family. It just takes so long to get there. A remake could pace it up, get to the kid dying quicker, which is the real drama of the story, and maybe spend more time with this evil re-incarnated baby. Another thing a remake could address is the numerous subplots. The whole thing about the wife's complex with death and her strange back story involving a hideously disabled sister can go or be made relevant in some way to the main plot. There's also the seemingly unnecessary feuding between the father and the wife's family which comes to a ridiculously over the top head at the baby's funeral. And what about the freaky house keeper who commits suicide? What was the point of her? Was she some sort of red herring? Perhaps this is all explained and relevant in King's book, but on screen it really doesn't work. I also thought that the resurrecting should have taken place in the actual pet cemetery instead of miles away in the sacred Navajo site. Despite rendering the title pointless, it is hard to believe the father could be convinced to trek all the way to this site not being told where he is going and what will happen there, let alone dragging a body with him. Maybe all this could have been made more palatable had the actors been better. While Fred Gwynne (of The Munsters) is probably the best of a bad bunch, the rest are terrible, especially the mother (Denise Crosby of Star Trek the Next Gen.) and who ever the little girl was who played the whining brat of a daughter, she should have been the one hit by the truck! At the heart of it all I really think there is a good story, creepy, dramatic and full of the kind of conundrums that make an audience think "Would I do the same?" it just deserves to be presented in a more considered and cinematic way.
The Haunting in Connecticut (2009)
Unbelievable True Story
According to the logline for 'The Haunting In Connecticut' some things just can't be explain. Well in the course of this film its makers dam well try to explain everything, obliterating any chance the film has of being genuinely scary. While the story is quite good and apparently based on fact, the way in which it is presented to us as a film works completely against the idea of reality and truth. Rapid cuts, flashes of ghostly figures, sharp stings of music to highlight moments that are intended to be frightening (these are the canned laughter of horror movies) are all very redundant, as the crux of the story is already quite terrifying. A boy with cancer, close to death himself, becomes a magnet for ill-at-ease spectres in an old Connecticut home. This film falls folly to the same temptations faced by many modern horror tales, when filmmakers, producers and studios are afraid to take time to tell their story, build gradually to a climax and let the viewers mind imagine how terrifying the situation presented can be. What disappointed me most of all about this film was the over visualising of the boy's ghostly visions. They just seemed too detailed and specific, even logical. The filmmakers seemingly forgot that the epicentre of fear is the unknown and unexplainable. Here everything is given a reason and the characters seem to understand exactly who the ghosts are, where they came from and what they want. So the film's ominous logline is actually a lie. To be fair, this film is a cut above most recent horror fare despite its short comings. What works about the film rides almost solely on the performance of Kyle Gallner as Matt, the boy at the centre of all this ghostly attention. Gallner has gone on to appear in Jennifer's Body and the Nightmare On Elm St. remake, and I'm sure landed those subsequent horror roles because of his turn in this film. If only the same could be said for the seasoned performers that surround him. Virginia Madsen as his mother, Martin Donovan as his father and Elias Koteas as a priest also stricken with cancer, all seem to struggle abit. Unlike Gallner, their performances didn't seem very real. I know these actors can be good, so I'm putting it down to direction, sorry Peter Cornwell. It's funny. Recently I've been watching a series on Discovery call 'A Haunting'. Each episode concerns a real haunting and how people deal with the supernatural. Despite often local-theatre-company standard re-enactments this low budget series regularly provides the chills so many films can't seem to muster.
All the Boys Love Mandy Lane (2006)
Lot's to love about Mandy Lane
All The Boys Love Mandy Lane is a movie with a checkered past. As legend has it, Mandy Lane was picked up by the Weinsteins and thrown on a shelf to rot. Theories abound as to why, but the presumption was that a shotgun wielding teen killer was a little too Columbine for the Weinsteins to market, schedule and release. Aside from some festival screenings Mandy Lane has never seen the light of day in the US. Thankfully here in Australia, and in the UK, Mandy suddenly arrived out of nowhere on DVD to little fanfare. Shame, Shame. This film is a rare antidote to almost every teen horror, by essentially not being a horror film at all. Maybe its an overstatement to call Mandy a drama, but she's definitely a thriller and a genuine critique of the modern teen, prone to ugliness and violence wrapped in smooth skin, blonde hair and a tan. Often these teen horrors, of which there are SO many, purport to be 'saying something' about the teen culture exhibited but actually don't and instead use the hot bods to lure in a teen audience negating the chance to make them look at themselves and possibly even consider, hey maybe I deserve to be hatched up by a slasher. Again, this is what may have made the Weinsteins cautious of Mandy, teen retribution at the end of a shotgun - it is a terrifyingly REAL scenario. And here in lays a contradiction about Mandy Lane. You can see the ending coming a mile off, however, instead of being disappointed, you so hope you are right. Amber Heard as Mandy does a good job with a difficult role, Mandy is not a cut and dry kinda gal. The supporting players also keep it real, no over acting in the stoner scenes. You get a sense that these actors know what it's like, no 'Whoa man' moments. It's to the credit of director Jonathan Levine for keeping it real, he's not a horror director, going on to make The Wackness (2008) and it shows, all for the good of his film. One last positive is the film's use of music. No metal here, 60's teen idols instead, more evidence that Levine is blissfully unaware of teen horror trappings.
Die Laughing: The Deadly Art of Horror Comedy
Watching Zombieland (2009) for the first time on DVD recently reminded me how tenuous the sub genre of horror comedy can be. While it seems ever more difficult to craft a horror movie that is actually scary and a comedy that is actually funny, some filmmakers willingly set themselves the task of combining the two opposing genres. In the case of Zombieland, though successful in box office terms, it fails as a sub genre candidate. It's really just a comedy with some outrageously gory FX, which are played as sight gags rather than shock moments. In my opinion, a successful horror comedy should be just that, the horror before the comedy. Some of the best horror films have often incorporated humour to ballast the terror. In many ways the throwing of the girl into the river by Frankenstein's monster had a degree of humour to it (it's sequel Bride Of Frankenstein (1935) may well be the first ever horror comedy) and films like Steven Spielberg's Poltergeist (1982) and Joe Dante's The Howling (1981) are punctuated with humour threw out, the later more darkly so. The same could be said for any number of stalwarts of the horror genre. An American Werewolf In London (1981), Re-Animator (1985), Piranha (1978), Fright Night (1985), Gremlins (1984) and Critters (1986) are just some that use the push-pull of horror and comedy, some weighted to one side more than the other. However none of this films forgot to be scary, even the more innocuous (dare I say cute) examples like Gremlins and its inferior doppelganger Critters, both had death, blood and an overwhelmingly multiplying menace. Perhaps Ghostbusters (1984) could be branded as the sub genre's greatest success. I don't think anyone would find Ghostbusters sitting in the horror section of their local video store (if you still go to one), it's definitely a comedy, but in a couple of scenes, we are reminded of the 'evil' our heroes are up against. The scene in which Sigourney Weaver's character is abducted, demon claws ripping from her couch, hell hound drooling at the ready, is definitely not played for laughs. There is a certain air of doom in Ghostbusters. While the characters deliver comic dialogue, we understand that the ghosts they are busting are nasty and that the events are spiralling towards some kind of apocalypse. The point being, the film is serious and scary when it needs to be, something Zombieland and many others didn't quite grasp. *SPOILER* Ironically Bill Murray makes a cameo in Zombieland, and the characters actually watch Ghostbusters, as if saying, "Hey, we love that movie and this is our version of it". Frankly, they have nothing in common and Bill Murray looks pained for the short scene he appears.
Jack Brooks: Monster Slayer (2007)
A great beginning for the filmmakers
Its taken awhile to get around to this one, led by positive reaction on pretty much every horror site during Jack Brooks' festival circuit run. For the most part the positive reactions were valid. The film has a lot that many zero budget horror offerings don't. Most impressive, and most important of all in my opinion, is that the film looks good. It's well shot, not too much hand-held, dynamic framing and good light/dark contrast in the many night time scenes. The acting, dodgy at best even in studio horror fare, is pretty good here, the stand out being of course Trevor Matthews as the titular Jack Brooks. That's saying a lot considering Matthews in a stuntman by trade and though he is put through his paces on the physical front, there are a number of scenes where Matthews elicits genuine empathy for Jack. While its always nice to see horror veterans like Robert Englund working, he hams it up alittle too much, and its especially noticeable in scenes with the 'playing-it-straight' Matthews. Actually, there's a very curious scene that involves the two actors that is played so dead pan, I'm still not sure If I was reading it right. It involves a lot of talk of Jack coming around to 'unblock' the professor's (Englund) pipes. I read homoerotic, but you be the judge. The all important FX in Jack Brooks is also handled very well, when not in tight close-up. It is here the film's inspirations are laid bare, Evil Dead II and Peter Jackson's Brain Dead, to an almost blinding degree, but director Knautz can be forgiven for this indulgence as he has his fun with such glowing reverence. However, all the above doesn't not a cult classic make. Jack Brooks is a one note, one idea story stretched out to nearly 90 minutes. It should be half that. We really only get to the good stuff in the last half an hour. It really feels like many scenes are just padding, especially those with Jack's anger management councilor and all the classroom scenes with Englund. This excess of scenes over states minor story and character developments making everything more predictable and in turn the viewer more impatient to get to there foregone conclusion. While it really should have been a short film (though I know they would have never got the funding for it) the filmmakers behind Jack Brooks should still be proud, as the elements that do work, work well.
A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010)
'A Nightmare On Elm Street' circa 2010 suffers from a split personality. It's a remake of a modern horror classic, remade one presumes to utilize a known brand that not only attracts those familiar with it but also those who are not (Who are you by the way?). If this is true then our most dire fears are realized. Yes this remake, re-imagining, homage whatever you may call it, exists solely to make money. There in lays the irony. How do you make money on a film that fans hold the very idea of in contempt and new comers are ever harder to impress? Poor Elm St. 2010 was off to a bad start long before it even hit the screens. While the casting of Jackie Earle Haley as Freddy garnered some approval it never seemed enough to give fans a good night's sleep. Nightmare creator Wes Craven was not only nowhere to be seen in relation to the production, it seemed that he was actually being majorly screwed over in regard to intellectual property. This definitely didn't sit well with his loyal fans, the same fans this new film would need the support of to be successful. Another flag was raised when Platinum Dunes, the makers of this new Nightmare released their take on Freddy's horror brethren Jason Voorhees. Friday The 13th 2009 was beyond terrible and the fate of Freddy in Platinum's hands looked less than hopeful. Jump ahead to evasive glimpses of the new Freddy online, so-so trailers, and the film finally hits screens. Despite opening at No.1 in the US and making twice its budget back in one weekend, the horror community, ready for a fight, pretty much unanimously wrote it off. Why? Well, here's where the film's continues it's somewhat fatal duality. The story is pretty much the same yet vastly different to its forbearer. There's still a girl called Nancy, she still has nightmares about a burnt man, she still takes a bath, her mother is again played by a bad actress and all her friends keep dying in their sleep. What's different? Pretty much everything else. It's no wonder Craven is not given a story credit. Names and motivations have changed. Characters are deleted (Nancy's father is nowhere to be seen but played a pivotal role in Craven's original). We are also introduced to the notion of micro-naps but most importantly it is made very clear what kind of monster this Freddy actually is where the original only claimed him as a killer. It seems this shaking up of elements from the original is what has upset fans so much, although, had this new film been a complete 'faithful' replica of the original it would have likely been derided for that too. Which brings us back to the question of why. For money remember. Is this film unnecessary? Yes. Is it bad? No, not in my opinion. Though we pretty much know where the story is headed, I felt there were still surprises to be had. The story structure takes on more of a mystery solving rhythm as Nancy and her friends not only try to figure out what is happening to them but why they are all connected to each other. The acting is all quite good from the young cast though they are little over preened in appearance. The film is also quite threatening, which is a significant achievement considering we have lived with this character and concept for over 25 years. While the evil clowning of Robert Englund's Freddy is ever so slightly missed, Jackie Earle Haley's Freddy is much more of a monster, especially as this film at first makes you feel he is the victim and his dream stalking is in some way a justifiable revenge. Maybe the film does suffer a little from over rationalizing. In an attempt to make the proceedings more real and less camp, some of the surreal creativity the series was known for has been sapped out. Pretty much every character has the same dream environment, though this is important to the 'mystery' of the story. In all this rationalizing of the story it isn't made clear why this Freddy would have his trademark glove. In the original he was a child killer and the glove was a self fashioned weapon of choice, which we see him construct in the opening sequence. Here, there is no real reason why Freddy would need the glove. We are not told he kills children, we never see him make the glove and we don't seem him use it for any specific reason during the flashbacks of the 'living' Freddy Krueger. As this film is left open for a sequel in much the same way as the original was (I quite like how they did this) we may yet be given reason for the glove and some indulging in good old fashioned nightmare fantasy. Perhaps by finding more of a middle ground with the Elm St of the past, the Elm St of the future will be a road more fans care to visit.