Saturday, May 30, 2009
Directed by: Marc Price
Starring: Alastair Kirton, Daisey Aitkens
Release date: ???
View the TRAILER
Plot synopsis (jacked from IMDb): Our hero Colin is bitten by a Zombie; he dies and returns from the dead. We follow him as he wanders through suburbia during the throes of a cadaverous apocalypse.
By now, I'm sure most of you have already seen something about this. After making the rounds at Cannes, this little bastard is getting hyped out the ass. The impressive thing? This is a no budget movie. By no budget I mean $70. Literally. I've seen several low-budget zombie films, rarely are they good, so I am patiently awaiting this one. It'll be interesting to see what these guys were able to pull off for just a little bit more than the price of an Xbox game.
Friday, May 29, 2009
"Metroid™ Prime 3: Corruption set a new standard for first-person motion controls in video games. Now it's bringing those controls to the rest of the celebrated series, allowing players to experience the entire Metroid Prime story arc with the peerless precision of the Wii Remote. Nintendo announces Metroid Prime Trilogy, a new premium three-game collection for the Wii console that bundles all three landmark Metroid Prime games onto one disc and revamps the first two installments with intuitive Wii Remote controls, wide-screen presentation and other enhancements. Metroid Prime Trilogy will be available exclusively for Wii on Aug. 24 at a suggested retail price of $49.99.
Each game maintains its original storyline and settings, but now Metroid Prime and Metroid Prime 2: Echoes let players use their Wii Remote to aim with precision as heroine Samus Aran. Based on the breakthrough control system that debuted in Metroid Prime 3: Corruption, these new Wii controls bring an entirely new level of immersion and freedom to these milestone games."
Thursday, May 28, 2009
These are my picks for the best horror flicks of the 1990s. There is a case to be made that suspense/crime dramas like Silence of the Lambs and Se7en should be considered, but for the purpose of my list, they are not.
10. The Blair Witch Project (1999) - Sometimes dumped on, other times overly lauded with praise, The Blair Witch Project stands as one of the most polarizing movies of the last twenty years. One thing that is irrefutable, however, is how great the hype machine behind it was. In 1999 I was actually able to convince my mother to go see this with me, that's how much it had permeated the mainstream. She didn't enjoy it, but I did. I never bought in to the "true story", but the experience and, yes, gimmick, were actually quite effective.
9. In the Mouth of Madness (1994) - In many ways, this movie feels like it was never fully realized. There's so much potential, and it feels like the best horror movie ever filmed is bubbling just below the surface, clamoring to get out, but it just never quite makes the leap. That's not to say that the film isn't good (and genuinely creepy), it just feels incomplete. That said, there is a lot to like about In the Mouth of Madness. First and foremost the story is a mindfuck that is an intricately woven web just waiting for an unsuspecting viewer to fall in. And ol' Johnny Carpenter is no slouch behind the wheel of a film, either.
8. Braindead (1992) - Known most commonly as Dead Alive in America, this is one of Peter Jackson's (Lord of the Rings) early efforts that comes all the way from New Zealand. An early zom/com (or zombedy), Braindead took a lot of growing on me. It's always been a big hit with the cult crowd, it just didn't hold my attention until I re-watched it most recently. Sometimes labelled as the "goriest film ever made", Braindead is pretty much a must-own for any genre fan, boasting such draws as a zombie baby and a lawnmower-zombie-massacre.
7. Cronos (1993) - This thrilling little Mexican film (directed by Guillermo Del Toro) is a wonderful piece of fantasy that is a great forerunner to Del Toro's later efforts like Pan's Labyrinth. A different take on the vampire film, Cronos is the story of an aging antique dealer that comes upon an anqique mechanical scaraab that has a secret. Better than, say, Interview with the Vampire, Cronos lends much needed creedence to the Mexican horror film here. The film is really dark and moody, and the effects (thanks to Del Torro) are magnificent!
6. Dust Devil (1992) - This strange, and brillaint, little South African films stars Robert John Burke (Simple Men) and is directed by Richard Stanley (Hardware). The tagline for the film is, "He's not a serial killer. He's much worse." and that's apt, probably enough of a description to entice you in. It's a very dark story, a supernatural tale of evil that you don't want to miss. The best thing about the film is the cinematography. Filmed in South Africa, the cinematography of Dust Devil is on par with some of the best American westerns of the sixties.
5. Scream (1996) - In one deft, brilliant move Wes Craven takes the modern horror tale, which he helped weave, and turns it on its head. One of the first, and the most notable, instances of post-modern horror in the mainstream. More have been made since, Behind the Mask comes to mind, but none better than the original Scream. The story is a retread, purposefully, up until the final reel where we find out that there's a fairly big twist. For better or worse, this is the film that really kickstarted Dimension, started a whole new slew of bad slashers, and birthed the other two films in the franchise.
4. The Sixth Sense (1999) - M. Night who? Another surprise hit in 1999, the Sixth Sense was everywhere. From the catchphrase ("I see dead people") to people wanting to blow the surprise ending, you couldn't get away from this film if you wanted to. Luckily, I didn't want to. I was able to see this one in the theater as well, and the experience was quite rewarding. I won't say what the ending entails, on the very off chance that you still don't know, but it did blow me away the first time I watched it. Luckily, the film is well built enough, and utilizes a very creepy atmosphere and great turns by that precocious little kid and Bruce Willis to make it rewatchable, even with a spoiled ending.
3. Army of Darkness (1993) - This sequel to Evil Dead II finds the completely inept Ash once again fending off deadites...only the this time on a much grander scale. Taking the Evil Dead formula and blowing it up into epic proportions, Army of Darkness succeeds as a formidable successor to the second film, but is still unable to capture the same charm that the second film had. Bruce Campbell is a wonderfully hokey leading man that I wish had gotten more play in the early to mid nineties, and the set pieces are pretty magnificently constructed. Throw in Danny Elfman's score, and we've got a winner.
2. Jacob's Ladder (1990) - More psychological in nature than most of the other films on this list, Jacob's Ladder is the tale of a Vietnam veteran who begins to see ghosts and is attacked by horned demons. Extremely visceral, the tale is so engaging and the final act so engrossing that you will absolutely have to finish the film once you start it. The film features Tim Robbins, Danny Aielo, Ving Rhames, and is directed, brilliantly, by Adrian Lynne (it fits snugly in between all of his sexual thrillers/dramas). I'm not sure why Jacob's Ladder doesn't get more play, but it is a fantastic piece of film making that deserves to be shared.
1. Dellamorte Dellamore (1994) - Horror just got incredibly cerebral. Someone based on the Dylan Dog comic series, Cemetery Man (the film's inept US title) is the story of Francesco Dellamorte and Gnaghi, caretakers of a cemetery with a secret. The film, directed by Michele Soavi, takes the philosophical conondrums that are intrinsic to zombie films and makes them explicit, forcing the viewer to deal with issues of love, and of death. If you don't want to be bothered by all of that, then here's the tagline: "Zombies, guns, and sex, oh my!", and the film actually delivers on that promise. If you've never seen it, watch it. You'll be doing yourself a huge favor.
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
Speaking of the Joes, check out the new international theatrical poster for the upcoming GI Joe: The Rise of Cobra. Looks like a freaking video game to me, but as a Joe-a-phile, I'm going to have to watch it, even if it is against my better judgement.
I was first introduced to these cutesy little replicas of my favorite comic book and movie characters by our very own Pop Newmo. He's got quite the collection at his abode, and, I must say, I am a little jealous. The one on display here is none other than that nefarious ne'er-do-well Destro from GI Joe. He can be found at Big Bad Toy Store, or pretty much anywhere that toys are sold.
In addition to GI Joe, there are Transformers, Marvel Comics, and Star Wars Mighty Muggs that can be picked up at your local toy store as well. These things are really good additions to any collection, though I'm not sure how much any kid would ever want to play with them.
Some of the characters that are harder to find can run you $18-$25 and can probably only be found at online retailers. Most of them will cost you from $10-$12 at your local Target or Wal-Mart or wherever it is that you go when you want to purchase frivolous stuff. But, hey, you know you want that Destro.
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
Films from the Crypt: Episode 5 - Blood Diner (1987)
Tagline: "First they greet you, then they eat you."
Director: Jackie Kong
View the FILM ONLINE
Starring: Carl Crew, Rick Burks
When someone asks you what the best horror remake is, what do you say? Usually it's going to be The Thing. Some might say Dawn of the Dead. The misguided might say Halloween. But there's one film that rarely, if ever, comes into the conversation, but most definitely should, and that's Blood Diner.
Blood Diner is the 1987 redux of the classic HG Lewis flick Blood Feast. To be fair, if there ever was a film to warrant the term "re-imagining", this is it. If you've seen the Lewis film, you know it can be a little tedious and kind of drag on a little bit. I don't mean to take anything away from Mr. Lewis and his importance to the genre, it's just sometimes difficult to watch. Blood Diner on the other hand is a film meant for viewers with ADD. Or that are on copious amounts of drugs.
The film is a pitch dark comedy featuring two brothers, Michael Tutman (Rick Burks) and George Tutman (Carl Crew) that take on the task of completing the resurrection the Lumerian goddess Sheetar, after their serial killer uncle Anwar Namtut (Drew Goddars) fails to do so (and is killed in the process).In order to ressurrect Sheetar,the two brothers must piece together different body parts from nefarious women, and invoke the goddess at a "blood buffet" with a virgin on hand for Sheetar to eat when she awakens. The brothers, all the while, are running the very popular Tutman Cafe, which serves health food that's "too good to be true". Hmm. Two goofball detectives are hard at work trying to track down the brothers the whole time.
I'll be honest with you, this is one of the most ludicrous films I've ever seen. Don't believe me? Watch this clip and find out for yourself. And that's only the half of it, other insane moments in the film include George's wresting match with "Jimmy Hitler" (pictured), a 400 pound health food critic that vomits on all of the patrons of the Tutman Cafe, an insane competitor to the cafe that talks to and through a life-sized dummy, and a topless cheerleader massacre. And if that's not enough reasons for you to watch this film, wait until you see the party scene in the final act. Pure gold.
I really don't want to spoil the film. Let me take that back, I don't want to spoil the great gags in the film, because you need to see this one relatively fresh. As it was, the first time I watched it I was completely unsure of what to expect. The film starts off innocently enough, two kids at home in the 1950s are interrupted by a bloody, meat clever wielding killer as the play in their homes. Turns out the man holding the clever is none other than the kids Uncle Amwar! Amwar goes off on a small rant about how he had to cut off his own dick and then makes the two kids promise they will finish his work for him. They agree, the cops show up, he goes out to greet them and...well, just watch it.
Finding this film on a home video format would be easier said than done, because the film has only officially been released on VHS. You can maybe find a bootleg DVD on Amazon or eBay every now and then, surely it's just a VHS transfer, but better than nothing. Of course, there's a link at the top of this post that will take you to the film in its entirety on Youtube, if you can stomach watching it in that format. Again, it's better than nothing. And this Blood Diner is a must watch.
It's difficult to find the words to accurately describe Blood Diner. I don't want to give the impression that there is unintentional comedy here, they knew what they were doing when they made this flick. Most of the camp in this film is definitely by design, except for maybe some of the worst acting - namely Detective Shepard. A lot of movies that "know" they are bad, and play that aspect up, end up really sucking (a lot of Full Moon pictures come to mind), but Blood Diner really works. It ain't Re-Animator, but it's a great unheralded gem just waiting to be discovered.
Monday, May 25, 2009
1. Kanye West - The College Dropout - Sure in recent years Kanye has made himself to be one of the biggest asses in show business, but when this record first dropped, so did my jaw. So this was where all the good beats went? Clever, creative, braggadocios, and bold, Kanye sky rocketed into stardom after this record and then began his steady descent into megalomania, but if you go back and listen to The College Dropout again, I'm sure you'll fall right back in love.
Stand-out tracks: Jesus Walks, Graduation Day, School Spirit
2. Arcade Fire - Funeral - The Arcade Fire are most certainly five supremely ambitious Canadians. Funeral was their debut feature length and it was absolutely brilliant, combining frighteningly lonely imagery with baroque musical sensibilities. There are few records that actually can change my mood, and make me feel desperate, but Funeral is one of them. Fortunately, the band chose to sprinkle silver linings into their songs, both musically and lyrically, to keep me from killing myself. Written amidst a barrage of the band members family deaths, the album does feel dirgey, and wouldn't be out of place to play at an actual funeral.
Stand-out tracks: Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels), Wake Up, Rebellion (Lies)
3. TV on the Radio - Desperate Youth, Blood Thirsty Babes - The avant-garde band's first full studio album release is a very good one. Critically acclaimed, the album featuring a surprisingly popular single in "Staring at the Sun". Desperate Youth really showcases all that was good about the group on their previous album (OK Calculator, har har) but cutting out the fat. Upon first hearing the record, I expected great things from this band and they have not disappointed me so far.
Stand-out tracks: Staring at the Sun, Ambulance
4. Modest Mouse - Good News for People Who Love Bad News - I remember driving around my college town one day in late April of 2004, with the windows down on my truck, when I came to a stop sign. I was listening to this record, fairly loudly, minding my own business, when some guy leaves his front porch and approaches the truck. I was unsure what he wanted, so I prepared myself for anything, but he just calmly said, "Nice album". And you know what, he was right. There's something so summery and fun about Good News that when the it's drive-around-with-the-windows-down weather, there's something so right about this album being on.
Stand-out tracks: Ocean Breathes Salty, Black Cadillacs, Bukowski
5. Air - Talkie Walkie - Air's fourth release is my personal favorite. Produced by Nigel Godrich, Talkie Walkie is an intimate affair that showcases the best of Air. Sounding like a mixture of Brian Wilson, Serge Gainsbourg, and David Bowie, the record just oozes a subtle coolness, like some kind of electronic philosophy caught on wax. And, yes, "Alone in Kyoto" is best known for being the song from Lost in Translation. And, yes, it's still really good.
Stand-out Tracks: Alone in Kyoto, Cherry Blossom Girl
6. The Streets - A Grand Don't Come for Free - I was first introduced to The Streets (aka Michael Skinner) with Original Pirate Material by none other than our very own Pop Newmo. By the time A Grand came out, it seemed like The Streets was only getting better. This time Skinner went bigger, more grandiose, making a concept album about a guy that loses £1000 and is looking to recoup his losses. The whole, fairly uneventful thing plays out on the record, ending with the final track "Empty Cans" that actually has two different endings to choose from. Smooth as ever, The Streets delivers not only a great concept, but a great album.
Stand-out tracks: Fit But You Know It, Could Well Be In
7. Blonde Redhead - Misery is a Butterfly - Marking a fairly large shift in the band's career, Misery is a Butterfly is Blonde Redhead's best album to date. Departing from Touch & Go records, and recording this one on their own dime, the band were really able to make the album they were capable of without having to worry about a label. Of course, the album was later picked up by 4AD, which seems to be the right fit, being the formal label of bands like the Cocteau Twins. Misery is delicately romantic, even while dealing with the sometimes tragic subject matter of loss and woe.
Stand-out tracks: Falling Man, Elephant Woman
8. Madvillain - Madvillainy - This collabo between MF DOOM and Madlib really exemplifies everything that is good about the MC and the producer. There's a real DIY aesthetic to the album that is particularly endearing. Decidedly radio un-friendly, the duo often eschew with choruses, and keep most of the songs short. The mixture of Madlib's unstoppable beats and Doom's intelligent, clever lyrics makes this one of the best albums of the year.
Stand-out tracks: Rainbows, Great Day
9. Get Up Kids - Guilt Show - Getting a little more synth heavy with this their last record, The Get Up Kids shuffled off a lot of the bareness present on the superior On a Wire, but kept things weirdly intimate with tracks like "Is There a Way Out". Overall, the band's final showing is a very good one that is more haunting, and more ambient than any of their previous works.
Stand-out tracks: How Long is Too Long, Is There a Way Out, The One You Want
10. Rilo Kiley - More Adventurous - Jenny Lewis (Troop Beverly Hills) and Blake Sennett are back on this, Rilo Kiley's third full length record. The album actually ended up doing pretty successful both with critics and commercially. The main problem that Rilo Kiley has had since inception is how fumbling the lyrics can be, fortunately Lewis vocals are evocative and more powerful than ever on More Adventurous, giving the record some added "umph".
Stand-out tracks: It's a Hit, Portions for Foxes
Saturday, May 23, 2009
Directed by: Ti West
Starring: Jocelin Donahue, Dee Wallace
Release date: ???
Plot synopsis: Set in the eighties, The House of the Devil is the story of college student Samantha Hughes. Samantha takes on a job babysitting on a night when there just so happens to be a lunar eclipse. Slowly, Samantha begins to realize that her clients have something more in store for her than just babysitting, something far more sinister.
I'm not sick of these eighties throw back type films, at least in horror, yet, especially if they manage to capture some of that eighties charm. I'm a huge fan of the poster art, which harkens back to the early eighties, and does it well. This thing has the chance of being a pretty decent little flick. Most of the people involved here are relative new-comers, including the writer/director Ti West (The Roost) and starlet Jocelin Donahue. Of course the exception to that is Dee Wallace, who is no stranger to horror cinema.
Friday, May 22, 2009
It would appear that surrealist Alejandro Jodorowsky's King Shot, his first film since 1990, may actually be getting some backing. Being dubbed as a "surrealist spaghetti western", so color me excited.
King Shot, which would star Nick Nolte, Marilyn Manson, Udo Kier, and Asia Argento has been in the works for a while now, but according to ScreenDaily, Laszlo Kantor of UJ Budapest FilmStudio is well on his way to securing the $7.4 million required to get it off the ground. The backers include an "array" of different partners, including another legendary surreal film maker in David Lynch.
Let's hope this picture finally becomes a reality, because I don't think I've heard of a more interesting sounding film than this in years. And you want to see it, too, even if you don't know it yet.
Thursday, May 21, 2009
That blog is none other than THE CRITERION GRINDHOUSE COLLECTION. It seems to be the baby of graphic designer Matthew Lute, and he does a fantastic job picking out staples of genre film that, I assume, he considers worthy of enshrinement in his canon of great "grindhouse" cinema. He deftly creates box art for his own spin on that cineaste favorite, the Criterion Collection. I sure hope someone at Criterion Co is listening! I hope he doesn't mind, but here's an example of his work:
Great stuff. Head on over to HIS BLOG and check it out.
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
Directed by: John Hillcoat
Starring: Charlize Theron, Viggo Mortensen, Guy Pearce, Robert Duvall
Release date: 10/09
View the TRAILER
Plot synopsis: A father and his son traverse through the burned out hull of America. Headed for the coast to escape the cold, dark winter, they have just a pistol to defend themselves against the lawless bands of brigands that stalk the road.
Well, the trailer for this just hit the net a couple of days ago, and I must say I'm impressed. I've never read the Cormac McCarthy book, but I've only heard good things, so I hope that the films lives up to the expectations. The cast is pretty star-studded and I'm always up for a post-apocalyptic adventure!
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
Today though, we're just going to trace back to the beginning of what I consider to be the best time for horror on film (that being from 1974-1984). After thinking a little bit about the list, it's just too easy. So, I'm going to take away some of my options here. This should make it more interesting.
So here lie THE TOP TEN HORROR FILMS OF THE '70s THAT AREN'T DAWN OF THE DEAD, JAWS, THE EXORCIST, HALLOWEEN, or THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE:
10. Let Sleeping Corpses Lie (1974) - Sometimes known as The Living Dead in the Manchester Morgue, this 1974 zombie flick is one of the more effective ones of the seventies that isn't called Dawn of the Dead. The story itself is rather forgetabble, police are investigating the murder of a man, they detain a handful of suspects, but the real culprits are the undead whom have been brought back to life due to radiation that's being used as an alternative to pesticide. Not that interesting, but the film, a Spanish/Italian production, actually manages to make up for that by having effective make up effects, strong underlying anti-establishment themes, an eerie score, and a very tense atmosphere.
9. Profondo Rosso (1975) - Known as Deep Red in America, Profondo Rosso is an exceptionally well-made Dario Argento giallo (gialli are generally more "slasher-y" suspense/thriller Italian pictures). I would definitely choose it on my list over the hyper-stylized Suspiria, because unlike that picture, Profondo Rosso is able to balance style and story to come together with the whole package. It's the story of a musician who witnesses the murder of a famous psychic and is befriended by a reporter. As they investigate the murder together, they find that they, too, are now in danger. The film also has one of the greatest scores ever, courtesy of Italy's Goblin.
8. Martin (1977) - The other great Romero flick from the seventies, Martin is the story of a young man sent to Pittsburgh to live with his uncle. Oh, yeah, and he believes himself a vampire, drinking human blood and the like. Martin begins calling in to a local radio show and unveils himself to the world, leaving himself open to ridicule. Undaunted, Martin continues to use his razor blade (he has no fangs) to prepare his lunch. But is Martin really a vampire? Watch for yourself. A very stylish film, until Let The Right One In, Martin was probably the most thoughtful and artful vampire movie I'd ever seen.
7. The Abominable Dr. Phibes (1971) - One of Vincent Price's last great films, Phibes is a revenge film at it's sweetest. In the film, Price's Phibes is a mad scientist who decides to calculatingly take revenge on nine doctors that he considers responsible for the death of his wife. Weapon of choice: plagues. That's right. Phibes, being the Biblical scholar that he is, opts to exact his revenge by re-enacting the nine plagues from the Old Testament. The film also stars the always entertaining Joesph Cotton. I would also recommend the sequel Dr. Phibes Rises Again!
6. The Wicker Man (1973) - Forget Nicholas Cage, travel back to 1973 if you want to see The Wicker Man. The extremely interesting Christopher Lee/Edward Woodward piece tells the tale of a police officer sent from Scotland to an island village after the disappearance of a young girl. Once the God-fearing sergeant learns of the locals pagan ways, things get a little bit scary. The Wicker Man is tension done right, if you're not on the edge of your seat by the surprising final reel, something's wrong with you.
5. Shivers (1975) - This early Cronenberg "body horror" fright fest sees an apartment building being seized and taken over by slug-like parasitic creatures that turn their hosts into sex-crazed zombies. The infection then begins to spread through sexual contact. While it's not exactly Cronenberg's debut, Shivers is still the first time that he really made a Cronenberg film, if that makes sense. A very original film, this little visceral Canadian baby still manages to be effective to date. The tension mounts and the effects are more than serviceable, plus you can read all kinds of metaphor into it, but just remember they didn't know what AIDs was yet.
4. The Brood (1979) - Another Cronenberg sci-fi/horror masterpiece, The Brood is even stranger than Shivers. Still in his "body horror" period, Cronenberg delivers the goods here in this story about a man investigating his wife's institutionalization while a bizarre string of violent attacks are perpetrated by a brood of mutant children. It gets weirder, but I don't want to spoil it for you. And if those damned little ugnauts don't hijack your dreams, then I'll eat my hat, beause they are freaky. If you've seen and liked Videodrome, I think it's safe to say that you would like The Brood. Suffice it to say that it's not your run of the mill film.
3. Phantasm (1979) - Director/Writer Don Coscarelli weaves together a fever-dream tapestry of bizarre images in this his debut film. Even with two Cronenberg entries on this list, I think Phantasm takes the cake for strangest film. I still don't think I've fully deciphered the narrative here, but here's a plot summary off of IMDb: "Mike, a young teenage boy who has just lost his parents, is afraid to lose his brother. This fear causes him to follow his brother to a funeral, where Mike witnesses the Tall Man lift a coffin on his own. Mike decides to investigate and discovers a horrible world where the Tall Man, along with his flying spheres, shrink the to half their normal size and reanimate them as slaves. It is then up to Mike, his brother, and Reggie the ice cream man to stop the Tall man."
2. Alien (1979) - The most effective sci-fi/horror film produced to date, Ridley Scott's film is a masterpiece of slimy, claustrophobic terror. Written by Dan O'Bannon (Dark Star, Return of the Living Dead), Alien perhaps takes a cue from David Cronenberg, as the film contains a little bit of "body horror". The first time you see a "chestbuster", you're going to be in love with the film forever. I don't really know how much I have to say about Alien, because odds are you've seen it. And if you haven't what the hell is wrong with you? Go rent it today.
1. Zombi 2 (1979) - My my 1979 was a good year for horror. Anyway, I won't get into the confusing story of how the picture got its name, but Zombi 2 (or Zombie) is as fantastic a piece of horror cinema as you're ever likely to see. The comparisons to Dawn of the Dead are just sitting there and pretty much have to be made. Fabio Frizzi's score to the film rivals Goblin's Dawn of the Dead score, and the grue is probably more effective than Savini's work on that film (to be fair, Savini's is more stylized). Not to mention the film includes one of the most epic fights of all time: Zombie vs. Shark.