Saturday, 31 March 2012

Revenge of Chucky on the Way?

According to cult actor Brad Douriff we will see another Child's Play film soon. The Actor, famous for playing the foul mouthed psychopathic doll, spoke at a recent convention of a sequel and/or a remake of the 1988 classic working it's way through developmental hell at the moment. The franchise has been dormant after descending into farce with 2004's Seed of Chucky, however the film makers have said they'd be keen to return to the more sinister tone of the original. Either way it will be the sixth installment of the franchise so don't expect anything original, but it will be great to see Chucky back on the big screen. Remember "We're friends to the end!".

Are you excited for this? Would you favour a sequel or a remake?

Friday, 30 March 2012

Superior Re-Makes #1: The Fly (1986)

The Fly is a 1986 sci-fi/horror film and is a remake of the 1958 film of the same name starring Vincent Price. Directed by body-horror auteur David Cronenberg (Scanners, Videodrome) and starring Jeff Goldblum (Jurassic Park, Independance Day) and Geena Davis (Thelma & Louise, Beetlejuice). The film won an Oscar in 1987 for Best Makeup Effects.

The Fly (much like the orginal) centres around a brilliant scientist attempting to invent a teleportation device. In this case it's Seth Brundle (Goldblum) who stumbles upon this miracle and agrees to share his discovery with Veronica Quaife (Davis), a journalist for Particle Magazine who soon becomes his lover. Brundle has built his custom pods and has teleported inanimate objects successfully, but teleportations of living animals have gone awry (as demonstrated by the famous "inside-out baboon"). After a row between the lovers, Brundle decides he can't wait any longer and after some tweaks to the device, teleports himself successfully. However, as the movie progresses it becomes clear that when Brundle was teleported, a fly had managed to get inside the machine thus splicing their DNA together. This results in a spectacular metamorphosis as Veronica watches the man she loves transform into the grotesque Brundlefly.

This film is well remembered (and won many awards) for it's groundbreaking special effects. In a time long before before CGI was commonplace, Chris Walas (makeup artist) created some of the most incredible practical effects of the 1980s (The Thing and American Werewolf in London not withstanding).  Combined with the twisted mind of Cronenberg, the film certainly stands as one of the most disgusting films ever made. I have my own peronal memories of watching this film as a kid and my brother having to leave the room as he couldn't stomach it and I'm sure many other people have had the same experience, particularly with the arm wrestling scene. I'm sure that the effects of the orginal film were groundbreaking for the time, but after seeing the fully transformed Brundlefly, a guy wearing a furry fly head can't help but be overshadowed by Cronenberg's disturbing vision.

Symbolically, the film represents a very different time in society when compared to the original. The 50s version was an allegory of scientific experimention, as were most sci-fi movies of that era, but wisely Cronenberg adapts the premise to act as a metaphor for degenerative disease which is widely seen as a response to the AIDS crisis of the 1980s. The Brundlefly is up there with King Kong as one of the most sympathetic movie monsters of all time. This was present in the original, but through Brundle's agonising transformation we really invest so much more into the character. As a result of this excellent writing and character development, the film manages to straddle a very bizarre line between revulsion and actually being moved by the tragic fate of the character.

The original is still well worth a watch, if only for the presence of Vincent Price, but Cronenberg's Fly is an absolute masterpiece in the body-horror sub genre that has come to define his work. The film did spawn a fairly decent sequel which followed the story of Brundle and Veronica's child, but for a really seminal 80s creature feature you must see this film. Just make sure you watch it after you've had your dinner.

5 stars *****

Have you ever seen the film? Do you think it's a superior remake?

New Cabin in the Woods Poster Ramps up the Hype

The hype machine for upcoming horror movie The Cabin in the Woods keeps on rolling. A new poster has been released featuring a plethora of overwhelming critical praise for the movie. We'll have to wait til Friday the 13th to find out for ourselves.

Are you hotly anticipating the movie? What do you think of the marketing campaign?

Thursday, 29 March 2012

Anchorman 2 is Official!

Will Farrel has officially announced (in character) that there will be a sequel to arguably the funniest movie of all time. The channel 4 news anchor Ron Burgundy appeared on the Conan O Brian show to make the official announcement (by yazz flute), that after nearly ten years the original cast have all agreed to reprise their roles in upcoming Anchorman 2!

Are you excited for this? Do you think it's been too long?

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Paranormal Activity 3 (2011): Review

Paranormal Activity 3 is a 2011 found-footage horror movie and is the third in the Paranormal Activity franchise. Directed by Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman (Catfish), and starring Christopher Nicholas Smith and Lauren Bittner (Bride Wars), as well as Chloe Csengery and Jessica Taylor Brown as the young Featherston sisters. The film is set in 1988 and serves as a prequel to the first two Paranormal Activity instalments.

Billed as being the movie in which you would "Discover how the activity began", the film follows Julie (Bittner), her daughters Katie and Christie and Dennis, Julie's new partner. As we’re aware from the first 2 films, the girls have been haunted by a malevolent poltergeist all their lives. PA3 reveals the origin of these hauntings via an old VHS tape discovered by the adult sisters. Rather conveniently, Dennis is a wedding videographer, which means he has all the equipment to document the ghostly happenings as they occur. As the film wears on, Dennis is able to capture the activity as it intensifies, leading to a revelatory climax supposedly explaining the true meaning behind the haunting.

Personally, I’m a big fan of the found-footage format and the original movie and with Schulman and Joost on board, I had sky high expectations. Therefore, it disappoints me to say that Paranormal Activity 3 is not even worth the cheap celluloid that it's supposed to be recorded on and is a thorough waste of 83 minutes of your life. Perhaps the biggest gripe I have with the film is it’s continuity with the rest of the franchise. It is an insult to the viewers' intelligence to propose that the characters of the first 2 films have absolutely no specific recollection or knowledge of the events of this film. It is the sort of retrofitting that saved the second film from becoming tedious and nonsensical that makes this film seem quite ridiculous. At the opening of the film we see the adult sisters discovering the tape, then some activity happens, and the tape is stolen (presumably by the ghost). If the tape has been swiped by a poltergeist then how on earth are we coming to view it? A simple police investigation graphic would have filled in this gaping plot-hole, as was present in the other films.

I defended the first film with terminal intensity when people said it was 90 minutes of waiting for a door to slam. I even stuck up for the second film when it was largely a rehash of the same scares, but three time is most definitely not the charm. There are no attempts to take the franchise in a different direction (unless you count the unconvincing 80s setting) and nothing in the way of new or original scares. At one point the ghost even appears under a white sheet appearing to pose for the camera! Combine this with the infuriating ending, and you get the impression that Paranormal Activity 3 is somewhat of a parody of it’s predecessors (Scary Movie 900 perhaps).

2011 wasn’t a great year for found-footage horror (Apollo 18 and Atrocious being notable failures) but this doesn’t necessarily mean that the end is near. Unfortunately, it seems a fourth Paranormal Activity film is already underway. The only for this is the profitability of the format as, regardless of what I think,  this movie was one of the most profitable openings of the year. This mirrors the success of the first film as the most profitable horror movie of all time but the difference is...that was a great movie that redefined the genre and this is a boring, repetitive and predictable way to spend an evening. There are plenty of great found-footage movies out there and this is certainly not one of them.

1 Star *

What did you think of Paranormal Activity 3? Were you as disappointed?

Total Recall Teaser

A teaser has been released for upcoming remake of classic Arnie movie Total Recall. The full trailer will be released on Sunday, but here is our first glimpse of the new adaptation of Phillip K. Dick's novel “We Can Remember It For You Wholesale”.

What are your first impressions?

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Moretz for Carrie Remake?

Rumours are wildly circulating in regards to the upcoming Carrie remake, being helmed by Kimberly Peirce (Boys Don't Cry). Chloe Grace Moretz (Let Me In, Kick-Ass) is rumoured to be taking up the role of the tortured telekinetic teen, and whilst I'm not necessarily in favour of another remake of a classic horror film, if they are going to do one, Moretz would be a pretty good fit.

What are you expecting from the remake? Do you think Moretz is suitable for the role?

Monday, 26 March 2012

Hugo (2011): Review

 Hugo is a 2011 3D film adapted from Brian Selznick's 2007 book The invention of Hugo Cabret. Directed by Martin Scorcese (Taxi Driver, Goodfellas) and starring Asa Butterfield, Chloe Grace Moretz (Kick-ass, Let Me In), Ben Kingsley (Ghandi) and Sacha Baron Cohen (Ali G Indahouse, Borat). The film is set in 1930s Paris and incorporates the real life story of cinema pioneer Georges Melies.

The film follows the story of Hugo Cabret (Butterfield), a young orphan who lives within the walls of the train station Gare Montparnasse, fixing clocks and stealing to eat. Hugo runs into a spot of bother with local shop owner Georges Melies (Kingsley) resulting in his prized sketchbook, belonging to his late father, being confiscated by the grumpy shop keep. In his quest to retrieve the notebook, Hugo befriends Melies God-daughter Isabelle (Moretz) who agrees to help. It is revealed that the notebook contains the knowledge to operate Hugo's automaton (a kind of mechanical robot) which was previously owned by his father. However the quest to repair the robot soon leads to a larger voyage of discovery into the origins of cinema, as the pair discover Melies true identity and attempt to restore his faith in the power of film.

In Hugo, Scorcese creates a vivid and charming world for his characters to inhabit. Even though the film is technically set in 1930s Paris it has a universal and ambiguous nature to it,  which defies any constrictions that could otherwise apply to a period piece. The film is a love letter not only to vintage cinema but also to a simpler time when things were mechanical in nature, this can be seen through clocks, cogs and springs in nearly every scene. As well as the actual footage from early 20th century films, there are also neat references within the story to scenes from Harold Lloyd's Safety Last (1923) and Arrival of a Train at La Ciotat (1896). Hugo is very much a film of two halves, the quest to repair the automaton and the birth of cinema, I favour the latter half as it has a real non linear and experimental feel to it as well as being thoroughly educational.

There is much debate as to whether Hugo is a kid's film. On the surface it has the look and feel of a film squarely aimed at children, but the themes, references and lengthy runtime suggest otherwise. It's fairer to say that this is a film with much more of a mass appeal. Whether it be the nerdy film references, the adventurous feel, Kingsley's emotional core or Baron Cohen's excellent comic relief, there is truly something for everyone here. Having said that, for me just over two hours was an unnecessarily long running time and I felt the first act took far too long to get going, ultimately stunting the momentum of the overall film. Great performances from Kingsley and Baron Cohen are contrasted by weak central performances from Butterfield and the usually consistent Moretz. It's possible that their delivery of the dialogue was intended to be slightly wooden as a nod to the actors of the day but even so, this didn't work and the scenes involving just the two main characters (of which there are many) suffer for it.

 Overall, Hugo is a magical and engaging film which will appeal to all ages and film tastes. I didn't view the film in 3D, but if you're into that sort of thing I'm sure that will  enhance the experience. Scorcese has created an involving family adventure film whilst also paying homage to the loves of his own childhood which will surely entertain 21st century kids and ageing film geeks alike.

4 Stars ****

What did you think of Hugo? Do you think it's exclusively a kids film?

Sunday, 25 March 2012

New Rise of the Animals Artwork

New artwork has been released for upcoming (presumably) horror-comedy Rise of the Animals. The film follows Wolf, a pizza delivery guy, and a group of teens who become stranded in a cabin in the woods as animals everywhere begin to turn on humans. This looks like it's going to be delightfully poor movie. If you can't wait til May 1st then check out the teaser.

Are you looking forward to this? Have you ever been attacked by a squirrel?

Saturday, 24 March 2012

Hell Baby Coming Soon

A new horror project has been announced entitled Hell Baby. Scheduled to be written and directed by Robert Ben Garant and Thomas Lennon (Night at the Museum), the film looks like it will be a horror-comedy following a young couple who become terrorised by a demon seed. The Vatican promptly send out their best exorcism team to put the little terror in his place, much hilarity will surely ensue. Personally I'm a big fan of the evil baby sub genre (see Sewage Baby or Braindead) and can't wait to see another spin on the format

Do you like evil baby movies? Do you think this will be funny?

Friday, 23 March 2012

Movie B Bad #1: Story of Ricky (1991)

Story of Ricky AKA Riki-Oh is a 1991 exploitation kung-fu movie based on a 1980s manga comic of the same name. Produced in Hong Kong, the film is directed by Ngai Kai Lam and stars Siu-Wong Fan as the eponymous hero. The film is world famous for both it's excessive use of gore and poorly executed special effects and is considered a cult classic.

 The film is set in the bleak dystopian year of 2001 and (unsurprisingly) follows the story of Ricky, a mysterious young man who finds himself in one of the country's new privatised and brutal prison systems. Not one to quietly pay his debt to society, Ricky soon makes enemies amongst the small-time prison thugs and the one-eyed assistant warden. This rapidly escalates to involve Ricky in a deadly feud with the gang of four; Oscar, Rogan, Brandon and Tarzan. The gang of four are the respective leaders of each of the prison wings (north, south, east and west) and one-by-one Ricky rips through them in ultra-gorey and hilarious fashion. In between fight sequences, we learn of Ricky's background and how his uncle taught him the ancient martial art of Qigong. This explains Ricky's apparant invincibity and also how he avenged his girlfriends death, landing him in possibly the most violent prison ever seen on-screen. Through these mystical powers he's able to dismember the gang of four and confront the head warden. However, the warden has some unusual powers of his own and Ricky has to spill extremely large buckets of blood before he can set his fellow prisoners free.

 The only reason most people have heard of this film is the gore, even if you haven't seen the whole film, chances are you've seen a still, or a clip. The effects are certainly something to behold, whether shockingly violent or just shocking, and are very evenly distributed throughout the film. It's very difficult to become bored with the actual plot of the film as round every corner there's someone just waiting to have their head punched off, and even though the switch to a rubber dummy isn't very subtle, it is certainly enjoyable. Though this type of gore is synonymous with exploitation cinema, it also has a real comic-book feel to it due to the story being adapted from an actual manga. This stops the film from becoming too miserable, and the sheer creativity involved in some of the violence on display is nothing short of inspired.

The film also works very well as a kung-fu film. I don't ususally watch foreign films that are dubbed unless they're already bad movies, in which case it can only add to the hilarity. Most of these Chinese prisoners seem to have acquired a southern American accent, this makes nearly every line of dialogue far funnier than intended and is great fun. The basic plot of the film is also rooted in kung-fu tradition, a mighty warrior must defeat four other warriors in order to confront his nemesis and set his brothers free. It's actually quite a nice touch to update this Chinese folklore and apply it to a futuristic (circa 1991) prison setting.

Story of Ricky is shoddy, gory and super cheesy, and it's brilliant! The Ricky character is easy to get behind as an invincible bad ass, with just enough humanity to gain him a following amongst his fellow inmates. Poor dubbing, poor special effects and poor set design make this a great bad movie. For a similar more recent film I would reccomend Tokyo Gore Police (2008), an even bloodier film with even more surreal moments. Just remeber, if you can't repair your own forearm ligaments with your teeth, then you're clearly not cut out for prison.

4 Negative stars ****

Have you ever heard of the film? What's the goriest film you've seen?

Thursday, 22 March 2012

Dr Dre produces new horror film.

 Following the bizarre news that WWE were involved in a Leprechaun reboot, it has now emerged that rap legend Dr Dre will be producing an upcoming horror movie. Entitled Thaw, the movie will centre around "an ancient evil that emerges from the rapidly melting ice in the Yukon". No more details at this point but here's hoping for a yeti!

What do you expect from the movie? Would you like to see more music artists producing movies?

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

The Awakening (2011): Review


The Awakening is a 2011 British psychological horror film. Directed by Nick Murphy and starring Rebecca Hall (The Prestige, Vicky Cristina Barcelona), Dominic West (The Wire) and Imelda Staunton (Vera Drake). The movie is set in a post-war 1921 Britain, and follows the ghostly happenings at an all boys boarding school.

Florence Cathcart (Hall) is an author and a cynical paranormal investigator, who travels the country exposing hoaxes and con artists. She is approached by Robert Mallory (West), a teacher sent from an all boys boarding school to recruit Cathcart. There have been recent sightings of a ghostly boy at the school which have led to a suspicious death. This prompts Cathcart to visit the school to expose any pranks, finding out who is responsible for the death. However, the more Cathcart investigates, the more she is forced to re-assess her scepticism as she too begins to see the ghost of a previous student. The film then takes a shocking turn of events as major secrets are revealed about the school, Cathcart and the boy, in a twist that turns the film on it's ear.

 The Awakening is an atmospheric, chilling period horror film, but there is an elephant in the room here. The Woman in Black has been one of the most successful British horror films in recent memory (period or otherwise), and it's unfortunate timing that this film was released mere months before what will surely be a revival in period horror. However, putting that aside, The Awakening is a clever and engaging film, the thinking man's horror film if you will. Though the film does get off to a slow start, it doesn't take long for the scares to start once the investigation begins. Plot-wise the film struck me as a cross between The Devil's Backbone (2001) and Paranormal Activity (2007), in that there is a ghostly child at a boys boarding school and also much scepticism and paranormal monitering going on. The paranormal equipment (circa 1921) set up by Cathcart is an element I'd liked to have seen more of, as she proudly displays all manner of weather vanes, magnetic counters and state of the art photographic equipment. This equipment is probably not absolutely historically accurate, but it does provide an extra point of interest in the character as she attempts to expose the ghostly hoax.

This is also a visually impressive film with some really unique camera shots and a particularly good use of reflection. One of the most stunning sequences occurs when Cathcart is peering into a mysterious dollhouse replica of the school, featuring tiny dioramas of scenes that have already occured in the film. This is complete with minature furniture, characters and is a sort of micro set design that shows a real effort by the props department and created a completely unique sequence. Accompanying the impressive visuals is a traditional but effective score. The Hitchcockian staccato strings attack your senses during the jump scares,  and the slow groaning strings build tension throughout. This type of score works so well when applied to a period horror piece as opposed to any modern horror film. The only real drawback of the film is that there's very little intrigue in the plot and it's resolution until the final act when the twist is revealed. Up until this point it plods along as a fairly cliched piece with average supporting performances, so ultimately, it is a film of two halves disparate in quality.

I certainly predict a new wave of period horror is on the way in the wake of Woman in Black, and the Awakening would certainly make a fine companion piece. Though not nearly as well directed or scripted as that film, what it lacks in those areas it makes up for with it's neat twist that will keep you thinking after the credits roll. I also predict there will be some really poor period horror on the way, so before that wave starts to break, The Awakening is well worth a watch.

What did you think of The Awakening? Do you expect a period horror revival?

4 Stars ****

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Hobo With A Shotgun (2011): Review

Hobo With A Shotgun is part of a new wave of exploitation films originating from 2007's Grindhouse (Tarantino/Rodriguez) and the fake trailers that were filmed to connect that double feature. The film is the debut feature from Jason Eisener, who won the competition to have his fake trailer appear in the Grindhouse feature and follows Robert Rodriguez's Machete (2010) as the only other trailer to get the feature length treatment. Rutger Haur (Blade Runner, The Hitcher) stars as the eponymous anti-hero who takes it upon himself to "deliver justice one shell at a time" as he aims to clean up the colourfully named "Scum Town".

It's pretty obvious from the outset how Scum Town earned its title, as we're treated to a barrage of violent hoodlums, aggressive prostitutes, a paedophile Santa and organised "bum fights" round every corner. As the Hobo is from out-of-town he has some difficulty adapting to the way of life here and soon runs into trouble with the ultra-violent locals. After finding no recourse through the corrupt local law enforcement, he decides to take matters into is own hands and instead of buying the lawn mower he was saving up for, purchases a shotgun. One person who doesn't take kindly to the Hobo's vigilante killing spree is local crime lord The Drake, and his psychotic offspring. After issuing a citywide order for vagrant genocide he also enlists the help of "The Plague", a pair of metal-clad demon bounty hunters, to bring the Hobo down. As Scum Town descends into chaos it's down to the Hobo, and his new-found hooker sidekick Abby, to enforce some law and order.

The main thing that strikes you about this film is the extreme levels of violence used to drive the plot forward and create a vibrant world for the characters to exist in. People who are unfamiliar with the exploitation genre will be quick to dismiss this as gratuitous and the dialogue as cheesy, but there is a hidden depth to these elements. The violence straddles a very interesting line between comic-book gore and realism, absurd and upsetting. Though some scenes may push the envelope too far (the school bus scene for example) there is a definite bravery and ambition in this type of film making, leaving it's audience gasping and wondering what could possibly happen next. Hobo delivers excess. Ultra violence, ultra-bad language and ultra offensiveness create what feels like some kind of psychedelic sensory overload.

Rutger Haur gives his best performance since Blade Runner as the hobo-with-no-name. Whether menacing or vulnerable, Haur is the grounded realistic character in a very exaggerated world. Extra emotional depth is provided through the Hobo's friendship with Abby, after she offers him shelter. The pair talk about their hopes and dreams and maybe setting up a gardening business together.  This lends genuine warmth to the film and gives the viewer a breather from the relentless nihilism present throughout. This depth elevates the film far above the cheap video nasties that it's paying homage to and proves that extreme violence and gore can co-exist with a compelling storyline and genuine emotional core.

It is difficult to recommend Hobo With A Shotgun as I'm sure there are people out there that will be genuinely offended by the content and it's certainly not for the faint of heart. However for genre fans who seek out out kitsch, OTT grindhouse flicks this is destined for cult classic status. Eisener has publicly stated that he'd love to make a spin-off set in much the same universe but centred around The Plague and their historical bounty-hunting exploits, so we may yet see a quasi-sequel to the film. Extreme in every way possible Hobo will amuse, disgust, touch, offend and entertain, leaving viewers wide-eyed and amazed at this brilliant but volatile film.

5 stars *****

What did you think of Hobo? Was it too excessive?

Lovely Molly Poster

A poster has been released for upcoming possession flick Lovely Molly via Shock Til You Drop. Due to be directed by Eduardo Sanchez (co-creator of The Blair Witch Project) the film follows Molly, A newlywed who returns home only to be haunted by her own childhood, and begins a descent into madness. What's more intriguing about this poster is the mysterious symbol featured, some kind of dagger/horse head motif, we'll find out more on May 18th when the film receives a limited theatrical release.

Are you looking forward to this film? Do you like possession films?

Monday, 19 March 2012

Top 10 movies of 2011

1. Rise of the Planet of the Apes


2. Hobo With A Shotgun 

3. I Saw the Devil
4. Drive
5. The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo
6. Submarine
7. Kill List
8. Troll Hunter
9. Insidious
10. Human Centipede II (Full Sequence)

Honourable mentions to Attack the Block, I Spit on Your Grave, Source Code, Tucker and Dale vs Evil, 127 Hours, Grave Encounters and The Skin I Live In.
What were you favourites?

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Full Prometheus Trailer

At last a full trailer for upcoming sci-fi epic Prometheus has arrived! The trailer is the first we've seen with proper dialogue and reveals even more (but not too much) about the plot of the film including a very exciting snippet of the space jockey in action! We still have to wait an excruciating month and half for the film.

What do you think of the full trailer? Are you immensely looking forward to this film?

Saturday, 17 March 2012

Sci-Fi Alphabet.

In addition to Stephen Wildish's recent horror movie A-Z poster,  there is now a sci-fi alphabet poster. I struggled a little bit with this one, how many can you get?

Chernobyl Diaries Trailer Released

The trailer has been released today for upcoming Oren Peli (Paranormal Activity) project Chernobyl Diaries. The film is set in the abandoned city of Pripyat, the nearest settlement to the Chernobyl nuclear disaster of 1986, and follows a group of American tourists looking for an "alternative" holiday destination. However as night falls, they realise the city is not so abandoned after all. I've always been fascinated by the pictures of Pripyat and have been waiting for someone to make a horror movie set there for years.The film is released on May 25th.

Are you looking forward to the film? Do you think it's a good setting?

Friday, 16 March 2012

IT!....Came From the 50s #1: Gojira (1954)

Gojira is a 1954 kaiju (giant monster) film produced by Toho studios. Originally released in Japanese with English subtitles, the film was re-released in America in 1956 with English dubbing and additional scenes under the title Godzilla, King of the Monsters!. Directed by Ishirō Honda and starring Momoko Kōchi, Akihiko Hirata and Takashi Shimura, the film follows the rampage of a giant radioactive lizard through the city of Tokyo. The film spawned a whopping 27 sequels spanning a 50 year period and remains one of the most iconic characters in Japanese culture.

The film opens (as many Godzilla films do) with a small fishing boat being attacked whilst out at sea. After another ship is sunk, mainland authorities and scientists soon flock to the small island of Odo to investigate. Amongst the investigators is Dr Yamane (Shimura) his daughter Emiko (Kochi) and her fiancé, and fellow scientist, Dr Serizawa (Hirata). Not long after the arrival of our protagonists, Odo island experiences a massive storm, at which point Godzilla reveals himself to the characters and the viewer. After some quick research, the official scientific opinion reached is that Godzilla is a giant lizard that has been mutated by nuclear radiation.

Comparitively, the folklore angle is that Japan is being punished by the Gods for meddling with nature, and experimenting with nuclear bombs. Either way Godzilla makes a break straight for Tokyo and, over the course of two nights, lays waste to the city (despite an ingenious electric pylon fence). Luckily Dr Serizawa has developed the deadly "oxygen bomb", an aquatic weapon designed to destroy the oxygen atoms in water and suffocate any nearby creatures. After seeing the destruction caused by the monster, all three characters head out to sea to confront a submerged Godzilla and put an end to the destruction.

A lot of people's impression of the Godzilla franchise is the inherent silliness of watching two men in rubber suits wrestle each other whilst smashing tiny buildings. The tone of the original film couldn't be further from that. A bleak and poignant allegory of nuclear technology, a mere 9 years after the events of Hiroshima/Nagasaki, Godzilla is punishment for man inflicting suffering on his fellow man. A particularly sombre moment occurs when Dr Serizawa is refusing to use his oxygen destroyer for fear of reprisals from the monster. However, he is convinced by seeing a news report on the television documenting Tokyo's devastation set to the eerie sound of a children's choir. When he uses the oxygen destroyer, he insists that all knowledge of the device be erased and Dr Yamane's final anti-nuclear monologue chills the viewer to the bone.

The design of the monster is absolutely timeless. The look of the suit, the atomic breath and the iconic roar all contribute to the impact of the film and the franchise's longevity. The action sequences are as impressive now as I'm sure they were in 1954. It's certainly quite obvious that the buildings and vehicles are miniatures, but the grainy black and white style and epic classical score are more than enough to help you suspend your disbelief. The film also paces itself well and firmly establishes the moral of the story by the time Godzilla unleashes his fury on the city, which makes it all the more dramatic. As with most foreign films, it is advisable to watch it subtitled to get the most engaging experience, as dubbing only has the ability to make the film seem like a parody of the genre.

I've only seen around a third of the 28 Godzilla films, and only in the last few years which makes me somewhat of novice with the franchise. I started with the original and it's still one of the best of the series and of the 50s science fiction era. Whilst the other films can be a lot of fun, none were able to deliver such a harrowing fable whilst simultaneously featuring a giant monster smashing up the landscape. Most of the Godzilla films have never gotten a DVD release in the UK but this one has, so go check it out and see where the legend began.

5 Stars *****

How many Godzilla films have you seen? Have you seen the original?

More Leprechauns for St Patrick's Day

Hot on the heels of the recent unrelated Leprechaun's Revenge movie, a planned reboot of the original Leprechaun franchise has been announced! Unfortunately, it has not yet been confirmed whether original star Warwick Davis will reprise his role as the evil, gold stealing dwarf. In a bizarre move, Lionsgate studios have teamed up with WWE studios to produce the reboot, which will be followed by an undisclosed second picture between the two media giants. The question is, what's next for the leprechaun? He's already been to the ghetto to rap with Ice-T and travelled to outer space! I would also be surprised if we didn't see a cameo from WWE's resident half pint brawler Hornswoggle, but we'll have to wait until next year to see what kind of adventure the little green man embarks on.

What do you want from the Leprechaun franchise?

Thursday, 15 March 2012

Longest Human Centipede Ever!

New details have emerged on the conclusive part of the Human Centipede trilogy via director Tom Six's Twitter account. Six was quoted as saying "#humancentipede3 will have a 500+ person pede. XXXXL American style!". This certainly sounds like an epic pay off to the trilogy, but is this just more of the hype we've come to expect from Six? Will this be a return to the absurd exploitation tone of the first film? We'll have to wait until next year to find out.

How do you think this will work? Is this what you want from the franchise?

The (vampire) war on terror!

New details have emerged in regards to upcoming vampire flick Blood Shot. In what is surely a sci-fi/horror dream team, the film will star Christopher Lambert (Highlander), Lance Henrikson (Aliens) and Brad Douriff (Child's Play). The story follows a mysterious vampire who has been assigned a secret mission, to bring down the head of an international terrorist organisation!

What do you think of the cast? Will you be looking forward to this?

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Don't Be Afraid of the Dark (2011): Review

Don't Be Afraid of the Dark is a 2011 remake of a 1973 made-for-TV horror film, directed by Troy Nixey and starring Guy Pearce (Memento) and Katie Holmes (wife of Tom Cruise). The movie is actually a Guillermo Del Toro vehicle, as he produces and co-writes the script. Del Toro himself admits he became involved in the project because he was terrified by the original film when he was a child. Here, he brings the story forward 39 years as a professional couple and their small child move into a 19th century mansion, with more than a few secrets beneath the floorboards.

The child in question is 8 year old Sally (Bailee Madison), who's been sent to live in Blackwood Manor with her architect father Alex (Pearce) and his interior designer girlfriend Kim (Holmes), Sally's potential wicked step-mother. Soon enough, Sally starts to hear strange voices from the walls and vents telling her to "come and play with us Sally", which inevitably prompts her to explore the house and yes, go down to the basement. She finds that the voices are originating from the house's sealed ash pit and decides it'd be a great idea to unseal the pit's hatch. This unleashes hordes of "scary gnomes" (actual dialogue) who proceed to terrorise her in order to obtain her tiny child teeth.

That's right, it would appear that these small creatures are actually modern day manifestations of the tooth fairy, and they will stop at nothing to obtain children's teeth. Quite rightly, Alex and Kim think that Sally is suffering from a case of juvenile insanity and immediately get the psychiatrist in to set things straight. However, the little imps soon become a bit too big for their impy boots and start attacking the adults as well, leading to a final confrontation by the ash pit.

As you may have already concluded this is a profoundly silly film and it should be noted that there were no mentions of the tooth fairy in the original film (though the creatures were still very impy). It is Del Toro's obsession with fairytales, exhibited in the greatly overrated Pan's Labyrinth (2006), that drags this film down, attempting to add an unnecessary dimension to a perfectly serviceable concept. In the original film it was the Kim character who was being tormented by the creatures, and the addition of a daughter-stepmother dynamic is certainly a welcome one. In fact, Bailee Madison is the star of the film, acting rings round a dull Holmes and a wooden Pearce and is one of the few enjoyable elements on offer here.

As silly as the fairy concept is, the creature design and special effects are outstanding. Looking halfway between a rat and a monkey (a Sumatran rat-monkey perhaps) , the creatures still manage to be quite intimidating despite their small stature. This is certainly an improvement on the original creature design, which I can only describe as tiny men in gorilla suits with peanuts for heads. As a result of the effects and the brilliant set design of the mansion, there is a certain eerie quality to the film but unfortunately it comes nowhere close to being a scary movie and is largely a very boring affair.

If Hollywood has to remake movies it's certainly better to pick obscure low-budget TV movies, however I would maintain that in this case, the original film is superior. The bold changes made are ambitious, and if you can watch a movie about tiny killer tooth fairies with a straight face then this may be for you. This film is bad, but unfortunately not so bad that it's good and as a result there was minimal enjoyment to be had here.

2 Stars **  

Did you like Don't Be Afraid of the Dark? Have you heard of the original?

100 (5 second) horror films

A brand new website has been launched with the misson statement of compiling the 100 greatest horror films. The only catch is they have to be under 5 seconds long! This is probably both incredibly difficult and incredibly easy but should attract some interesting entrants, including the great Lee Hardcastle. This will eventually be compiled into a 13 minute short film entitled "100 horror films" and will be shown at horror festivals around the world. What are you waiting for? Hit the link and get filming!

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Drive (2011): Review

Drive is a 2011 genre-mashing film adapted from the 2005 novel of the same name written by James Sallis. Directed by Nicolas Winding Refn (Bronson, Pusher trilogy) and starring Ryan Gosling (Blue Valentine), Carey Mulligan (An Education) and Albert Brooks, the film is set in L.A in an ambiguous time period and follows the Driver, a movie stuntman by day and a getaway driver by night.

The prologue and first scene proper show both a robbery getaway and a dangerous movie stunt being performed, immediately establishing up the split occupations of the character.  Whilst the Driver's manager Shannon (Bryan Cranston) attempts to negotiate a racing career as well, a relationship is struck up between the Driver and his neighbour Irene (Mulligan) and son Benicio. However the budding romance is soon put on hold when Irene's husband Standard is released from prison and is forced to do one more job to pay off his debts and protect his family. As the Driver is already emotionally attached to Irene and Benicio he's forced to provide his driving services to get the job done and resolve the families problems. Of course, things aren't that simple and a quick getaway job leads the Driver to become involved in a mob war and a brutal fight for survival.

Gosling's performance is the outstanding centrepiece of the film. His brilliantly underplayed delivery of what little dialogue he has creates a real enigma around the character which is fascinating to watch. Most of the time, it's what the Driver doesn't say that tells you the most about the character and his motive. Initially played as a quiet but honourable man, the more violent the film becomes, the more we see the true nature of the character and what he's capable of. The fact that you never really get to know the character is a brave and interesting technique, used to great effect.

Stylistically the film also excels, not set in any particular era but clearly influenced by the 80s. This results in one of the best soundtracks in quite some time (depending on your penchant for synthesized music) whether it be uber-cool synth pop songs provided by College and Kavinsky or Cliff Martinez's brooding original score. The diversity of genres is something to behold. It is reasonable to call Drive a film noir, a crime thriller, a horror movie, a B-movie and an action film but never does the film linger on any of these long enough to be pigeon-holed. Drive takes all these elements and forges it's own style becoming an instantly iconic work.

This is a film influenced by so many genres, styles and cultural elements but through it's ambition and bravery manages to achieve something so rarely seen in contemporary cinema, it is a completely original piece of film. I watched the film twice in the same week and both times it knocked me back and delivered what every movie fan is looking for. When those credits roll, you know you've seen something really special. It's definitely worth checking out Winding Refn's other notable film Bronson (2008) as it's thematically closest to this film. However, it is Drive that has made stars out of the director and Gosling and will stand as the first instant classic of the decade and a benchmark for other films to follow in the coming years.

5 Stars *****

What did you think of Drive? Has it been over-hyped?

Monday, 12 March 2012

Dracula Prince of Darkness re-release

Tomorrow sees the release of the Hammer horror classic Dracula: Prince of Darkness on special edition Blu-Ray/DVD. The 1966 film was the follow up to Hammer's seminal 1958 Horror of Dracula movie which put both the studio and Christopher Lee on the cinematic map. Though not as good as the original movie, it is still well worth a watch if only for another legendary performance from Lee. In fact, he manages to give a mesmerising performance without saying a word. Lee famously stated that after seeing the script he felt it best to remain silent. If you liked Woman in Black go check out this classic slice of Hammer.

Have you seen the film? Would you like to see more horror classics released on Blu-Ray?

Sunday, 11 March 2012

Noomi Rapace in Babycall

A trailer has been released today for upcoming Norwegian horror film Babycall. Starring Noomi Rapace, of Millennium trilogy and upcoming Prometheus fame, the film follows an abused mother and her 8 year old son as they try and hide from her violent husband. However, they are not alone in their secret location and strange noises start emanating from the baby monitor. This does seem to draw inspiration from Asian horror ie haunted video tape, haunted phone, haunted internet etc, but do we really need a haunted baby monitor? We'll find out when the film's released on March 30th.

Do you think it's a good concept? What would you like to see Noomi do next?

Saturday, 10 March 2012

Stephen Wildish Designs the Horror Alphabet

Graphic designer Stephen Wildish has created a horror movie alphabet poster. After having designed similar minimalist posters for the 50s, 60s and 70s he's now turned his hand to the A-Z of horror. I managed about 24, how about you?

Do you know your horror? How many did you get?

New Hoody Horror movie: Citadel

A trailer has been released for new Irish hoody horror Citadel. Directed by newcomer Ciaran Foy, the film follows a man who's wife was stabbed to death by vicious feral children and who is now confined to his home due to agoraphobia. However, the gang of hoodies are now trying to take his baby too and he must confront them in the derelict tower block known as the citadel. Disturbingly, the film is based around Foy's real life experience of being attacked by a gang of youths and his subsequent confinement.

What do you think of the trailer? Is hoody horror too close to the bone?

Friday, 9 March 2012

Rare Imports #1: I Saw the Devil (2011)

I Saw the Devil is the latest in a line of acclaimed South Korean horror/violent thriller films to emerge in the last ten years, giving the Japanese a run for their money. Directed by Kim Ji-Woon(Tale of Two Sisters) the film stars Choi Min-Sik(Oldboy) and Lee Byung-Hun as two incredibly violent men engaged in a bitter feud in a tale of cruelty, suffering and revenge.

The film grips immediately when Kyung-Chul(Min-Sik) brutally murders a young woman who has broken down in the snowy Korean countryside and savagely dismembers her, redistributing her body parts in a local river. The young woman in question happens to be the fiance of Soo-Hyun(Byung-Hun), a special forces agent who upon discovering the crime enters into a vengeful catatonic state. Due to his connections, Soo-Hyun manages to obtain a list of suspects and violently works his way through them until he tracks down Kyung-Chul. Unusually the expected climax of the film occurs about about third of the way in when Soo-Hyun confronts Kyung-Chul in his greenhouse lair, resulting in Kyung-Chul being incapacitated and fed a high-tech tracking device as well as being injured but not incapacitated by his assailant. What follows is a thrilling cat and mouse chase that spans the rest of the film's ample 144 minute running time as Soo-Hyun tortures Kyung-Chul in act of poetic justice.

Ji-Woon proves to be an extremely competent as director ensuring the pursuit and exchanges between Soo-Hyun and Kyung-Chul thrill the audience and compel you to see the task through to the end just as you know Soo-Hyun will. More compelling is Soo-Hyun's methodical torture of his target even as Kyung-Chul continues to try and appease his apparent addiction to rape and murder by targeting other victims. Soo-Hyun's constant interrupting of Kyung-Chul's attempted attacks provide just enough conflict between the two without spoiling the spectacular climax as Soo-Hyun attempts to exact his final revenge. However the drawback of this focus on the two main characters does leave the Police force's minimal attempts to enforce the law looking feeble and a bit silly and the space between the gripping intro and tremendous ending does feel a little stunted.

The most fascinating thing about I Saw the Devil are the performances and exposition of the two main characters. At the beginning of the film, the roles of hero and villain are quite clear but as the brutality wears on, a moral ambiguity is introduced causing the two characters to blur together. Soo-Hyun's cold and emotionless delivery of violence create a real anti-hero wheras Kyung-Chul becomes an almost sympathetic character through his perpetual suffering. The jaw-dropping climax somewhat restores the balance between the two but the manipulation of morality is the lasting impression the film has on the viewer.

I Saw the Devil blends classic thriller elements with the stylish ultra-violence of 21st Century cinema to create a near perfect film. However, it is ultimately let down by it's over-long running time of nearly two and a half hours. This definitely lends an epic feel to the film but the middle act slumps as a result and the scene where Kyung-Chul visits his cannibal buddy could certainly have been cut as the momentum really suffers in this portion. The more patient fan of Asian cinema will be rewarded greatly by sticking with the film but casual viewers may find the film inaccessible. I, however, was fully gripped and for me I Saw the Devil sits rightfully amongst the best films of 2011.

4 Stars ****

What did you think of I Saw the Devil? Is it too long for a subtitled film?

New SyFy channel movie: Leprechaun's Revenge

A trailer for the SyFy channel's Leprechaun's Revenge has emerged . Directed by Drew Daywalt and starring Billy Zane the film follows the story of an evil leprechaun who was once incarcerated in a magical tree, but has now been unleashed on St Patrick's day to wreak havoc on the local townspeople. Sadly the film is not a continuation of the long running Leprechaun franchise starring Warwick Davis, which spawned 6 movies throughout the 90s, but some kind of new take on the killer leprechaun shtick. Oh well, as I always say it's better to have a rebooted killer leprechaun than no killer leprechaun at all...

Are you looking forward to some leprechaun action? Have you ever seen any of the Warwick Davis films?

Thursday, 8 March 2012

Alexandre Aja to Direct New Vampire Movie?

Alaxandre Aja could possibly be signing up to direct upcoming vampire film Undying Love. The Frenchman , best know for horror gems Haute Tension (2003), The Hills Have Eyes (2006) and Piranha 3D (2010), is currently in talks to direct the big screen adaptation of the vampire graphic novel. The book follows the story of a soldier who whilst in South East Asia falls in love with a beautiful woman only to discover she's a vampire. He must then take on her vampire overlord and his army of minions in order to win her hand.

Are you familiar with the novel? How do you think Aja will adapt it?

Halloween 3D Shelved

Fans everywhere of the original Halloween today breathed a sigh of relief, as it was announced the scheduled remake/reboot/mess Halloween 3D will not be getting a release date this year. Although scheduled to be written by Drive Angry scribes, I'm pretty sure that anyone who loves and reveres the original film does not want to see it prostituted in this way and would prefer it's legacy not be tarnished any further after Rob Zombie's diabolical remakes.. Sadly Texas Chainsaw Massacre 3D will go ahead.

Were you looking forward to this? Should the Halloween franchise be left alone?

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Fright Night(2011): Review

There have been a lot of poor and unnecessary horror remakes over the last decade and it seems Hollywood is now having to delve into the more obscure realms of camp 1980s horror-comedy. Fright Night is the remake of the 1985 film and is directed by Craig Gillespie starring Anton Yelchin and David Tennant(Doctor Who) along with Colin Farrell(In Bruges) as the ancient vampire next door causing chaos in the small Nevada town. 

Charley Brewster (Yelchin) is a small town kid dealing with the usual trials being a teenager presents. He has been forced to compromise his friendship with best friend Ed (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) who is no longer cool enough to be seen with, as Charley attempts to climb the tricky high school social ladder and continue to impress popular girlfriend Amy. The duo’s friendship takes a further nose-dive when Ed breaks the difficult news that Charley’s new neighbour Jerry (Farrell) is a vampire, which Charley doesn’t exactly take seriously (“That’s a terrible vampire name! Jerry?!”).

As the film progresses, the questionably named Jerry engages in a series of mind games with Charley including sniffing (literally) around his single mother and new girlfriend, which prompts Charley to seek professional advice from phony vampire slayer Peter Vincent (Tennant). Though initially revealed to be a bit of a wimpy fraud Vincent eventually agrees to aid Charley in his quest to slay Jerry the vampire and free all of his enslaved victims, which ultimately includes most of the neighbourhood.
The main aspect of the film that lets it down is undoubtedly the acting. Farrell is dull and wooden as the villain and though valiant efforts are made to portray the character as a cool and modern vampire his mumbling dialogue is embarrassing and feels clumsy and improvised. Yelchin is adequate in his role as hero but doesn’t dazzle. On the other hand there is excellent comic relief provided by both Mintz-Plasse and Tennant in their respective roles as vampire minion and vampire slayer. Mintz-Plasse is once again cast in the put-upon geek role he fills so well. Tennant pulls the film back from the brink as he features more prominently in the third act, making up for the much weaker earlier scenes featuring only Charley and Jerry. Of the few script highlights, most go to Tennant, whose portrayal is the most three dimensional and believable of the characters.
Another mixed bag is the script which veers wildly between witty one liners and tumbleweed moments as at least half the gags fall absolutely flat. Granted, jokes only need to make up half of a horror-comedy combo but there’s also a real lack of any legitimate scary moments which will inevitably leave genre fans dissatisfied. I can’t help but feel the filmmakers wanted to make a comedy much more than a horror film, in much the same vein as genre classics Braindead(1992) or even fellow 80’s vamp flick The Lost Boys(1987). I would certainly have preferred this to be the case as I wanted to laugh a lot more than I actually did and the afore-mentioned films do a much better job of straddling the horror-comedy balance.

The main problem with this remake is that it replicates all the faults of the original. It’s still cheesy, full of hammy dialogue and acting. I certainly wasn’t looking for a serious, poe-faced re-imagining, but at the same time I feel there was a lot of wasted potential with what was essentially a faithfully mediocre remake. Ultimately it wasn’t a poor remake but it was certainly an unnecessary one and if you’ve seen one version then you’ve seen them both. If you’re a fan of the original movie or vampire films in general then it doesn’t offer anything new or original but otherwise it’s a fun, enjoyable but instantly forgettable viewing experience.

3 stars***

What did you think of Fright Night? Was it worth remaking?

More Con Air 2 Rumblings!

John Cusack has publicly stated he would appear in a Con Air sequel if asked. Combine this with Nic Cage's comments last month that a sequel would be "interesting" and director Simon West expressing an interest in the project last year, Con Air 2 could become a reality. West stated that he'd love to reunite Cage, Cusack and John Malkovich for a sequel to the 1997 cult classic. If you've seen Con Air you might wonder how Malkovich would possibly reprise his role but for me it's one of my favourite Nicolas Cage films and I would love to see it.

Are you interested in Con Air 2? Have they left it too long?

Danny Trejo Is Bad Ass!

Following up on the trailer at the beginning of the year, there is now an official trailer for the upcoming film Bad Ass starring Danny Trejo and  Ron Perlman. The exploitation film based on the real life YouTube sensation "Epic Beard Man"  follows Trejo as a Vietnam veteran, who is pushed too far on a local bus and becomes embroiled in a violent quest for revenge. The film is slated for an April 13th release.

What do you think of the trailer? Will we ever get tired of Danny Trejo kicking ass?

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

New Prometheus viral site launched

In addition to the recent Peter Weyland viral video (scroll down to watch) there has now been an official Weyland Industries website launched. This is basically an elaborate promotional site to build excitement for Prometheus' release in June but it's a great concept and it's good to see Ridley Scott embracing viral style marketing. There is also the ability to register for information if you are interested in becoming an investor in Weyland Industries, which is an interesting twist on the mailing list format. Check out the website below.

Do you like this sort of marketing? Does it make you excited for the movie?

Frankenstein's Army begins filming

After years in developmental purgatory, principal photography has begun in the Czech Republic on Richard Raaphorst's Frankenstein's Army. The film is set towards the end of World War II and follows Russian soldiers as they stumble upon a secret Nazi lab where scientists have been re-animating cobbled together dead soldiers after discovering the long lost journal of Victor Frankenstein. Along with Iron Sky, this could be a renaissance year for Nazi-sploitation films, check out the frankly disturbing teaser below.

Are you looking forward to Frankenstein's Army? What do you think the tone of the film will be?