Monday, 18 September 2017

Jamie Lee Curtis returns to Halloween franchise

News has broken this week that the original final girl Jamie Lee Curtis is returning to the Halloween franchise to reprise the role of Laurie strode one last time. The long suffering younger sister of horror icon Michael Myers, Strode/curtis was last seen in the dire Halloween: Resurrection (2002). The character also appeared in the somehow even more dire Rob Zombie rebooted films but the less said about that the better. 

This is the latest in a series of exciting updates about the upcoming sequel being produced by series mastermind John Carpenter, directed by David Gordon Green and written by Danny Mcbride. We'll still have to wait a while though as the film will be released next year to mark the 40th anniversary of the seminal 1978 film. 

What do you think of Curtis' return? Who else would you like to see cast? 

Friday, 15 September 2017

IT (2017): Review

 IT is a 2017 American Horror film. Directed by Andy Muschietti (Mama) and starring Bill Skarsgard (Hemlock Grove), Finn Wolfhard (Stranger Things), Jaeden Lieberher (Midnight Special) and Sophia Lillis (37). The film is an adaptation of the Stephen King novel of the same name and a remake of the 1990 TV mini series.

IT opens with the infamous scene involving Bill's (Lieberher) younger brother Georgie, a paper boat and the iconic Pennywise the clown (Skarsgard). Everything seems pretty much the same as the original TV movie, that is, until Georgie is left crawling through the rain bleeding to death after having his arm removed. It quickly becomes clear that this is going to be a much more intense experience than the original as Bill, Richie (Wolfhard), Beverley (Lillis), Ben, Stan, Mike and Eddie assemble to form "The Losers Club. As more and more kids go missing in the town of Derry, the losers club discover a malevolent entity known as "IT" is murdering local youngsters by assuming the form of their worst fears, most commonly Pennywise. The kids have to band together to face their fears and confront Pennywise on his own turf, vowing to come back to Derry should IT ever resurface.

Those who are able to take their rose tinted glasses off for a second will admit that IT (1990) is not a very good movie. IT is, in fact, a poor made for TV movie with terrible acting and the cheesiest music centred around a singularly iconic performance from Tim Curry. So to say that IT (2017) is an improvement on this is not really doing the film justice and this is a remake i've been in favour of for a long time. The child actors in this version are superb and you believe their sincerity and friendship just as much as you believe their fear. And IT is a terrifying movie, not just through jump scares, but through creative sequences that play with the kind of paranoid fantasies and phobias that are never stronger than when you're a child.

Bill Skarsgard had the highly unenviable task of tackling Tim Curry's Pennywise and, for the most part, does a great job of putting his own spin on the creature and the filmmakers wisely pull back on the clown character, choosing to balance him with other manifestations of IT. The only time I felt Skarsgard's Pennywise fell significantly short of Curry's Pennywise was when he had extended lines of dialogue and didn't feel they carried the same dread as when delivered in Curry's traumatising New Jersey drawl. It must also be said that, for a big budget film, the CGI and visual effects are simply not up to scratch and this took me out of the movie a few times but, on the whole, the ambition and creativity of the effects make up for this.

It is rare that a mainstream horror film dazzles in this way, and even rarer that a remake satisfies almost the entire horror community. But it is well deserved, as are the record breaking figures that are rolling in from box offices across the world. IT is a fantastic re interpretation of a classic Stephen King novel and can proudly take it's place among such cornerstones as The Shining, Carrie, Stand by me and The Mist. 2017 continues to be a year that horror fans can be proud of.

**** 4 Stars

What did you think of IT? How do you think it compares to the original?

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

War for the Planet of the Apes (2017): Review (spoiler free)

War for the Planet of the Apes is a 2017 post apocalyptic action film. Directed by Matt Reeves (Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, Cloverfield) and starring Andy Serkis (Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Lord of the Rings), Woody Harrelson (Natural Born Killers), Steve Zahn (Dallas Buyers Club) and Karin Konoval (Planet of the Apes series). The film acts as the final film in the rebooted trilogy, as well as a prequel to the original Planet of the Apes series.

War for the Planet of the Apes picks up 5 years after the events of Dawn, and 15 years after the events of Rise. The man made virus has almost entirely wiped out the human race and given the apes the evolved intelligence to form their own society, and army, after relations broke down in the previous film. Led by the trilogy's hero Caesar (Serkis), the ape colony are under constant attack and seek to permanently move to a more remote location. However, catastrophic actions taken by the leader of the human army, "The Colonel" (Harrelson), spark a full blown war as Caesar seeks blind revenge and the balance of apes and humanity hangs in the balance.

Perhaps the most unexpected thing about War, is how it simultaneously manages to be a war film of epic proportions whilst also remaining a very cerebral and personal story that has been played out of the course of three incredible films. Matt Reeves, and series masterminds Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver, have never been interested in the conventional action/sci-fi or action/war film and this shows more than ever as the trilogy concludes just as it started, from the perspective of the apes. This, of course, absolutely hinges on Serkis' central performance as protagonist Caesar, as well as an excellent  supporting performance from Konoval as the much loved Maurice the Orangutan.

Luckily, this is a career best performance from Serkis as Weta digital push the mo cap performance to it's absolute limits and you never once consider that this might not be a Chimpanzee. Harrelson turns in the second best Colonel Kurtz impression of the year (after Samuel L Jackson in Skull Island) and, I have to admit, executes a much darker performance than I thought he was capable of (it's been a long time since Natural Born Killers). Though Toby Kebbel's Koba is missed from Dawn, the new character of "Bad Ape" (Zahn) breathes a new sense of fun into the mix that was noticeably absent from the last film and the comic relief is well judged and very welcome.

Mad Max, Star Wars, Back to the Future, The Godfather...stand aside. The Planet of the Apes "Caesar" trilogy is the most consistently incredible and breathtaking movie trilogy ever crafted. And that would not have been possible if War had gone the way of many bungled and ill judged threequels. War for the Planet of the Apes does not falter or buckle under the enormous pressure placed upon it by the previous 2 films (or indeed the original 5 films). War sticks to it's guns and spits in the face of the brainless Michael Bay blockbuster, proving you can make a big budget action movie with brains and heart, told entirely from the perspective of non human characters. This might not be the end for the Apes franchise, but Reeves and Serkis can stand by this trilogy and say they made the absolute best films of this decade.

***** 5 Stars

What did you think of WFTPOTA? What's your favourite trilogy?

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Leatherface gets a red band trailer

A new red band trailer has dropped for the upcoming Texas Chainsaw Massacre prequel "Leatherface". Covering the early teenage years, the film follows the young Thomas Sawyer as he escapes from a mental hospital and goes on a state wide rampage, pursued by Stephen Dorff's Texas ranger. check it out...

I'm no fan of over explaining the origins of one of horror's great icons, and this has more than a whiff of Rob Zombie's dreadful Halloween remake. Plus, the Texas Chainsaw has had an extraordinarily bad run of sequels, arguably only the first sequel measured up to the brilliance of the original. 

However, the movie is being directed by Alexandre Bustillo and Julien Maury, the pairing that brought you Inside (2007), Livid (2011) and the Texas Chainsaw-esque Among the Living (2014). This is sure to guarantee excessive levels of violence if nothing else! We'll find out when the movie is released in October

What do you think of another Texas Chainsaw sequel/prequel? Are you a fan of any of the other sequels?

Tuesday, 27 June 2017

James Wan and David Leslie Johnson on board for Conjuring 3

In addition to the spinoffs Annabelle: Creation, The Nun and The Crooked Man, The Conjuring franchise is still set to receive a third instalment to the main series. Fortunately, it has been announced that David Leslie Johnson, writer of the second film, and James Wan, the man behind the franchise, are coming back for me. 

While Wan is not neccessarily se to direct, he will still have heavy involvement in the film with Johnson continuing writing duties from the last movie. No release dae for this one yet but stay tuned.

Are you excited for another Conjuring movie? Do you think the franchise is being oversaturated?

Thursday, 15 June 2017

Pool Party Massacre (2017): Review

Pool Party Massacre is a 2017 slasher film. Directed by Drew Marvick and starring Alexis Adams, Dora Deceuninck and Mark Justice. This is Marvick's directorial debut and he also wrote and appeared in the film.

The film centres around Tiffany (Adams), a spoiled suburbanite who throws an impromptu pool party while her parents are away on vacation. Among her friends is Dora (Deceuninck), who has long since outgrown their shallow high school friendship and is starting to pull away from Tiffany. After a boyfriend and his half wit brother crash the party, things start to go wrong and people start to dissapear as a mysterious handyman dispatches the attendees of the pool party massacre. It's down to the final girl to avoid being dispatched and escape the deadly LA suburbs.

Pool Party Massacre is an overt homage to the cheesy teen slashers of the 80s, such as Slumber Party Massacre (1982), Sleepaway Camp (1983) and The Mutilator (1984). In this it is very successful, complete with splatter kills and porno dialogue, and wisely walks more on the side of parody so you can laugh with it, rather than at it. A lot of attention is paid to the gruesome murders and, although initially they involve basic stabby techniques, they do advance to various gardening tools and there's a nice bit of dramatic irony as we get to see the unknown killer pick his weapon from a wall rack.

The movie comes with a great electro/metal soundtrack and always feels like the cast and crew are having a great time making the film. The authentic cheesy dialogue does tend to grate after a while and not all the jokes land in the way I believe they were intended to, but there's a decent central performance from Deceuninck and Marvick's own character is delightfully over the top. The film rattles on at an advisable pace, not leaving you time to get bored of the brainless plot, but I have to say I guessed the identity of the killer about halfway through, leaving the resolution somewhat lacking.

A great film for a friday night with a few friends and a few beers, Pool Party Massacre is exactly the kind of enjoyably dumb trash that was churned out at an alarming rate in the 80s. As long as you don't take the film any more seriously than any of the cast and crew, you'll be on the right side of the joke and have a lot of fun.

*** 3 Stars

What did you think of Pool Party Massacre? Are you a fan of 80s slashers?

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Flatliners remake gets a trailer

The upcoming remake of Joel Schumacher's Flatliners has released it's first trailer. The 1990 supernatural thriller helped to turn Julia Roberts, Kevin Bacon and Kiefer Sutherland into huge 90s movie stars and has now received a modern update. Seemingly following the same plot as the original, the film follows a group of young medical students as they experiment with pushing themselves to the brink of death, and beyond.

With a much more underwhelming cast in the form of Ellen Paige, Nina Dobrev and Diego Luna, although Sutherland is also credited, the film would appear to be scraping the very bottom of the barrel when it comes to unnecessary remakes. However, the aesthetics are at least a change from the grungy, gritty original and, you would assume, there will be some incorporation of new scientific ideas that have emerged since the early 90s. The film is released this September.

What do you think of the trailer? Does Flatliners need to be remade?