Category Archives: Full Length

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Mortuary

Directed By: Tobe Hooper
Written By: Jace Anderson & Adam Gierasch
Starring:
Dan Byrd
Denise Crosby
Rocky Marquette

Tobe Hooper is a genuinely cool cat. With a filmography that boasts classics like The Texas Chain Saw Massacre 1 and 2Poltergeist, Salem’s Lot, andThe Mangler (to name only a few), you’d expect the man to be uptight, unapproachable, and unwilling to give fans the time of day. And although he’d have every right to be, he’s the opposite of that — laidback, easygoing, and modest. It was only a little over a year ago when I first saw Mr. Hooper in person: he was in attendance at the Bloor Street Cinema for a screening of Texas Chain Saw with a Q&A session to follow. I knew I had to be in attendence, since the chance to sit in the same theatre with the brilliant mind that made the world afraid of chainsaws — and incidentely any distant buzzing sounds — could perhaps be a once in a lifetime event. It was that evening that I learned something about our esteemed director:

Tobe Hooper is a genuinely cool cat. Eager to answer questions, forthcoming with behind-the-scenes information, and filled to the brim with interesting tales of the horror industry. Like George A. Romero, Hooper is the kind of guy you want to sit down and have a beer with, and just listen to his stories — and let me tell you, he has stories to tell.

Mortuary is one of those stories — a story that originated from Hooper’s mind and made its way to film by 2005. It tells the tale of a mother/undertaker (Denise Crosby), who settles in a new town with her two children in hopes of breathing new life into a now-decripit funeral home. Unbeknownst to them, town legend has it that their house is already occupied — by a disfigured boogeyman named Bobby Fowler. If it wasn’t enough to share a bathroom with a deformed mutant, a barrage of other challenges await the family: monsters, filth, awkward townsfolk, obnoxious teenagers, and mutant fungus (to name only a few).

As mentioned, the film came out in 2005, but you’d never know it. It’s an excellent throwback film with the visual look and feel of a late 70s early 80s horror film. The atmosphere is always well crafted, and overall the film is enjoyable to watch. It employs random bits of CGI, which aren’t seamlessly integrated into the scenes and unfortunately never wind up looking like they belong. That said, the make-up and visual effects are old school and extremely well done.

The movie takes a while to get going, but once it does, it’s actually quite decent. The problem with Hooper is that like Carpenter, Craven, and the other horror masters, they really go out on a limb more than any other directors when they make a film because the expectation for them to make another classic is so high. Mortuary, for the most part, was a good horror film (though arguably a bit unfocused and with perhaps a weak ending) but it would be crazy to say that it was in the same league as Poltergeist orThe Texas Chain Saw Massacre.

All things aside, Mortuary is very much a Tobe Hooper film, filled with scenes and characters that are 100% Hooper. While it probably won’t become a classic anytime soon, it’s a great reminder of what horror films were like twenty years ago. So if you find yourself in the mood for a trip down memory lane, toss in Mortuary and let yourself be entertained.

In the meanwhile, I anxiously await to hear the next story that Tobe Hooper has to tell.

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Night of the Living Dead Live

“They’re coming to get you, Barbra!”

In 1968 a young filmmaker named George Romero made a low-budget picture that explored a single premise: what would happen if the dead returned to life? His film painted a bleak, realistic, and unflattering portrait of humanity, and was responsible for not only launching his career, but also elevating him to the legendary status he possesses today: the grandfather of the zombie genre.

The influence of Romero’s Night of the Living Dead is undeniable; it shaped our modern understanding of the undead, and can be seen throughout the last forty-five years of cinema. And while filmmakers and artists have subtly paid homage to the master of horror in their own small ways, truly there can be no better compliment than to transform and adapt a beloved story into a new and exciting medium: in the case of NotLD, to lift it from celluloid and to place it on stage.

On a beautiful May evening, myself and co-editor Ali had the opportunity to visit the Theatre Passe Muraille in downtown Toronto to see a production of Night of the Living Dead Live. It’s difficult to walk into a re-enactment of a classic and beloved film without wondering “will they really be able to pull this off?” but my mind was set at ease when I opened the programme and saw that it had been written and directed by Christopher Bond, the brilliant mind who brought us Evil Dead: The Musical. Mr. Bond has proven in his previous endeavours that he is a horror fan through and through, and one that can also remain respectful and true to the original source material.

Upon entering the modest-sized theatre the viewer is immediately thrown back in time; retro, black-and-white parody ads are projected onto the stage while mock-vintage radio broadcasts play overtop, setting the tone and preparing you to enter Pittsburgh, 1968. The dim, open stage displays the living room of the infamous farmhouse — the set beautifully constructed and painted in subtle shades of black and white. Before we knew it, the room darkened, and the show began…

…and what a show it was! Divided into two acts, the first presents a faithful and well-adapted version of the original film. The performances were wonderful, and truly the work of talented and charismatic actors. Sound and lighting cues were particularly effective in recreating key moments from the film; the production overall was incredibly cinematic, no doubt influenced by the fact that Christopher Bond is also an accomplished screenwriter (A Little Bit Zombie). The second act deviated, and presented a barrage of hypothetical scenarios in an effort to discover what the group should have done in order to successfully survive the night; its tongue-in-cheek approach, coupled with fantastic comedic timing and smart writing led to a wonderful (and extremely memorable) production. The finale itself is worth going for!

When Mr. Romero himself calls it “terrific!”, who are we to argue? Don’t miss your chance to catch Night of the Living Dead Live during its Toronto run. You’ll never forgive yourself for missing a show this good.

Night of the Living Dead is directed and co-written by Christopher Bond, and features the talent of: Darryl Hinds, Mike “Nug” Nahrgang, Dale Boyer, Trevor Martin, Gwynne Phillips, and Andrew Fleming. It runs April 26th to May 19th.

Find tickets and showtimes here: http://nightofthelivingdeadlive.com/tickets/

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Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge

Directed By: Jack Sholder
Written By: David Chaskin
Starring:
Robert Englund
Mark Patton
Kim Myers

Some films are doomed. A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revengeis such a film — doomed to forever lie unappreciated in the shadow of its predecessor. And why not? After all, Wes Craven’s first Nightmare was unlike anything filmgoers had seen before; inventive, brutal, and memorable. Just like The Exorcist 2: The Heretic, despite whatever redeeming qualities the film may possess, it is cast off into the darkness of obscurity.

Okay, maybe that’s going too far. Freddy’s Revenge is far from obscure, but it’s certainly underrated. For as much as people complain about it, the movie is still leagues better than a lot of horror films being currently released, and in my opinion, was actually a worthy sequel to the first film (though part 3, which would re-unite Craven, Langenkamp, and Englund, is arguably the second best installment in the series).

Freddy’s Revenge works for me because it took a new direction to the Nightmare story — albeit an illogical one. While it was established in the first movie that Freddy Krueger, our favourite razor-weilding death-fiend, exists inside the dreamworld and through it can directly affect the physical world (i.e., if he kills you in the dream he kills you in reality), the second movie finds Krueger with the urge to relocate. Tired of being confined to the realm of dreams, he seeks to break through and once more exist in our reality (why a man who was brutally burned to death would want to experience physical pain again is beyond me…) How does he accomplish this? By using the newest resident of 1428 Elm Street as his vessel: high schooler Jesse Walsh (Mark Patton).

So what do you get when you take a dream-stalking boogeyman out of the dreamworld? Well, you get a movie that’s royally shunned. And maybe it’s just because of the plot that the film takes so much bad heat, because in all seriousness it has more than its share of redeeming qualities. For one, theatmosphere is bang on. I mean, this film is more 80s than the actual 80s! Additionally, the special effects – ranging from shocking to absurd — were creative and at times genuinely gruesome (the transformation scene was perhaps the highlight of the film). Lastly, this early installment of the series marks a point during which Freddy was still a dark, twisted bastard. He wasn’t the polished, almost comedic character that he slowly evolved into — here he was a guy who revelled in the fear of his victims, tearing the flesh off his skull just to get a scream. Critics of the one-liner spouting Freddy should at least appreciate the film on these grounds.

But I suppose the reality of it is that atmosphere and special effects can only do so much for a film, and if the story isn’t solid the movie will inevitably fail. While the film explores an interesting new angle (playing off the idea that perhaps Jesse is experiencing moments of violent psychoses and is not actually possessed by a long-dead child murderer) it wasn’t developed well, and winds up being unfocused at best. Ultimately, the film seems to be more about the hack-and-slash effects, which is unfortunate because a better developed story would have certainly helped elevate the status of the movie.

Freddy’s Revenge might be the black sheep of the series, but it is still deserving of a watch in this reviewer’s opinion. And if I haven’t been able to sell you on it yet, go watch it for no other reason than because it has baby-faced dogs in it. That’s right… dogs with human baby faces.

Sweet dreams.

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Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors

Directed By: Chuck Russell
Written By: Wes Craven
Starring:
Patricia Arquette
Robert Englund
Heather Langenkamp
Larry Fishbourne

I read the script for A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors before I rented the film — I went into the movie knowing every bit of dialogue, every death sequence, and every plot turn. And yet, even in a film that no longer held any surprises it still managed to freak the hell out of me.

Let’s backtrack here:

I started watching horror films in the days of BetaMax and VHS, where the horror section of movie stores were decorated with oldschool cover art. Where movie boxes looked exciting, let alone the films themselves. Where I lived, the local video store was a hopping place, and horror films were often difficult to get ahold of since they were constantly being circulated. And when I was first discovering the classics of horror, I was eager andimpatient to get ahold of every horror film I possibly could. When I was forced to wait for films to be returned to the rental place, it ultimately led me to discover one of the greatest resources out there: screenplay archives. Yes, when I wasn’t watching horror films, I could be found in front of the computer for long hours combing through the scripts for films that weren’t readily available. A horror geek in every sense of the word, but proud to be one.

So when people wax nostalgic when reminiscing about their first time seeing Dream Warriors, I too think back to how I first experienced the movie: as black text on a white background. But even the script sent chills up my spine upon first read. Predominantly set in a psychiatric ward, a group of troubled teenagers all happen to share the symptom: Freddy Krueger. Unlike the children of the previous Elm Street films, these kids aren’t entirely powerless against the dreamwalker. Each one has a unique ability in the dreamworld which they can use to fight their crispy-skinned boogeyman. The Dream Warriors, led by veteran Krueger survivor Nancy Thompson, must band together and take on their worst nightmare. But Freddy has been growing stronger, fed by the many souls of his past victims. The question remains: will the Elm Street teens have what it takes to take down evil incarnate?

Well let’s face it, these films are about one thing and one thing only: Freddy Krueger. So how does he stack up in this film? As any fan of this series will tell you, Freddy is truly in his element here. Dream Warriors basically marks the point at which Freddy was the perfect blend between sadistic comedian and all-out fright icon. This is the film that many consider to be the true sequel to Wes Craven’s original, and maybe rightly so since they nailed the character of Freddy so perfectly. But Dream Warriors is about more than just creative killings and special effects (though the film boasts a variety of sick slayings and an ample share of memorable effects), the film is great because the story is so solid. It does for Freddy what Halloween 2did for Michael Myers, expanding the mythology and introducing the character of Krueger’s mother, as well as shining a dim ray of light on the formerly unknown origin of Freddy.

Lastly, the cast cannot be ignored. Dream Warriors is significant in that it marks the first feature film appearance by Patricia Arquette who takes the lead role as heroine Kristen Parker, as well as features a very early appearance by Morpheus himself, Laurence Fishburne (though credited as “Larry Fishburne”). It was also a very welcome sight to see the original cast reprising their roles, including Heather Langenkamp as Nancy Thompson, and John Saxon as her law-enforcing father.

I love this film, but it’s definitely one of (if not the most) intense installments of the series. It’s not something I can just toss on in the background because I wind up getting drawn into the story and the beautifully shot scenes. Unfortunately, fans of the series would be taken on a rollercoaster ride over the course of the next three installments and would have to wait almost a decade before the release of Wes Craven’s New Nightmare to see Krueger restored to his dark, sinister roots.

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Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master

Directed By: Renny Harlin
Written By: Willian Kotzwinkle
Starring:
Robert Englund
Rodney Eastman
Lisa Wilcox

It’s rounding 10:30 at night — a thick fog has rolled in, surrounding my apartment. Normally when I look off my balcony I see a city ninety-feet below me, expanding infinitely in all directions. Tonight it’s different… like being caught up on an enourmous weird cloud and drifting off into some unknown world. It’s eerie: the sky is pink from city lights, and there’s an unusual quiet that seems so foreign to life in a heavily populated area. Looking outside, it feels like I’m being carried away into an ominous and uncharted world. A dreamworld.

So I close the door to my balcony, pour a new drink, and sit down to write about horror films — specifically, the fourth installment of the Nightmare on Elm Street saga: The Dream Master. And to be perfectly honest, I don’t even know where to begin with this one.

The horror community seems to be split: while most can at least agree thatFreddy’s Revenge was an embarassment to the series, the concensus is less-than-unanimous on Dream Master. Why is this? Well let’s examine a few of the gruesome details, starting first with the man himself: Freddy Krueger. If you compared the Krueger of the first film to the Krueger of part 4, you’d pretty much be looking at two very different Freddies, physically and personality-wise. In the first film, his crisped flesh was almost dripping off his skull, and so much attention went into creating a grotesque but realistic impression of a burn victim. By part 4, Freddy is looking stylized, appearing in well-lit scenes and displaying the roughly sculpted skin and exposed muscle tissue that we have since come to recognize as his trademark look. Furthermore, in the first film he barely spoke, grunting a few guttural phrases like “this… is God” or “I’ll kill you slow.” Over the course of the sequels, Freddy got increasingly vocal — and also honed his skills as a savagely dark comedian. In Dream Master, the amount of one-liners is almost ridiculous.

It should be clear that the tone of Dream Master is obviously much different than the other films, verging on the comical (though not pushing it quite to the extremes that Freddy’s Dead went to). This is the main cause for the split decision: Freddy purists seem to prefer him when he’s at his darkest and most sadistic; others however don’t mind the tongue-in-cheek humour and the lighter side to this slasher franchise.

I’ll tell you what I do like about this one: Alice Johnson. Starring as the Dream Master herself, actress Lisa Wilcox really stepped up to the plate and brought a strong new heroine into the Elm Street saga. Not since Heather Langenkamp did we have a likeable, powerful female lead who really commands attention and had us rooting for her all-the-way. Her scenes, when playing off against Robert Englund, were really the best part of the film to me.

At this point, one can’t possibly have high expectations for the fourth film in a series — particularly an 80s slasher series. I love the Nightmare movies as much as the next person (and personally this is my favourite slasher franchise), but part 4 is really a typical slasher, through and through. While not unenjoyable to watch, it has the least amount of substance and, as I said, is saved mainly by the acting of Ms. Wilcox.

Surprisingly, this is more than I originally thought I had to say about the film. Peering outside, the fog is still heavy, and the city is still quiet. The kind of night that demands one drink whiskey and watch a classic horror film. Which is exactly what I’m going to do now.

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Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child

Directed By: Stephen Hopkins
Written By: John Skipp
Starring:
Robert Englund
Lisa Wilcox
Kelly Jo Minter

One year after the release of The Dream Master, director Stephen Hopkins took hold of the reigns and steered the Elm Street franchise into an entirely new direction. The film is so different stylistically, that it often seems to suffer the same fate as Freddy’s Revenge: neglect. But why? What makes this film so different than its predecessors? The best way to describe it may be as follows: imagine what it would look like if Tim Burtondirected a Freddy film.

The Dream Child, a heavily gothic-inspired and incredibly dark chapter to the series is even more underrated than part two. I don’t know why this film has a tendency to get glossed over, because as far as slasher films go, it’s damn well-made. I constantly hear people saying something to this effect: great effects but bad plot. This makes no sense to me, since the plot of this film is what makes it superior to many of the other installments in the series. The movie follows the previous lead heroine, Alice Johnson (Lisa Wilcox), now pregnant and once again the target of the maniacal Freddy Krueger. The catch? This time around, Krueger is able to get to Alice through the constant dreams of her unborn baby. Now tell me, how is that not a brilliant plot?

Don’t get me wrong, I understand there are still more than a handful of plotholes and things to pick apart storywise, but I think the overall concept is solid. It’s also the first time anyone attempted to do something different with the formula since the second film, and for that I commend the writers. We also get something that was only hinted at in the third film: the savage backstory of Freddy’s mother, and the origin of Krueger’s conception. For this reason, The Dream Child is undisputedly an essential film in the series.

But as a horror film reviewer, I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t discuss the makeup and special effects. Stylistically, this is where The Dream Childcompletely breaks free of the previous films and forges its own path. The Freddy Krueger depicted here is a Freddy that fits perfectly into the gothic atmosphere and scenery of the film. Physically he appears considerably older, sporting a sinister hooked nose, and is made to look more like a demented grandfather figure than the middle-aged man we’re accustomed to. The gothic sets — ranging from a dark and dirty asylum to a brilliantly horrifying reproduction of M. C. Escher’s Relativity – coupled with brilliantly executed special effects, are hard to ignore. They create a dreamworld which is no longer confined to just the boiler room setting that we’re used to seeing, but instead form a terrifying and inescapable bleak labyrinth. Lastly, the death scenes themselves are considerably darker, more drawn out, and far more sadistic than any of the earlier films — when was the last time you saw Freddy force-feed someone their own intestinal matter while a group of onlookers watched, laughing?

There’s no question that The Dream Child was trying to do something original and entirely new with the series, and I’m glad that Stephen Hopkins was ultimately chosen to direct the film (though it is interesting to note that both Stephen King and Frank Miller were both offered the role of writer/director). Without a doubt, it is unusual for the fifth film in any horror series to be as good as this one, so I encourage you to not wait any longer before checking it out. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

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Nightmare On Elm Street, A

Written & Directed By: Wes Craven
Starring:
Heather Langenkamp
Robert Englund
Johnny Depp

Outside the wind is howling and the moon is shining bright in the midnight sky. It stirs up nostalgic memories of my early youth, when I would go to video stores on nights like this and spend a couple hours looking through the horror section, being absolutely thrilled by the grotesque monsters depicted on the VHS boxes. Even though I was too young to actually watch the films, the great movie maniacs still haunted my nightmares: though there was one in particular who stalked my dreams almost relentlessly. A gangly man who wore a dirty red and green striped sweater, had a terribly disfigured face, and razor-tipped fingers that surely meant a grim death if you crossed his path. Yes, even my early adolescent dreams were visited regularly by the infamous Freddy Krueger.

My dad, an avid 1980′s slasher watcher, was always renting horror films, and was inevitably always being questioned by me: “what happens if Freddy kills you in your sleep?”, “how did he get all burned?”, and of course “how did he get the knives on his hand?” Eventually he must have grown tired of answering my questions, because one Halloween night, we sat down with a pile of the classics of modern horror: Halloween, Friday the 13th, and A Nightmare on Elm Street.

Upon first viewing, all three became instant favourites, and I immediately understood why they were considered greats of the genre. ‘ Even at a young age I was able to recognize that ‘A Nightmare on Elm Street’ possessed all the elements that make a solid horror film: likeable characters, good atmosphere, a memorable monster, a well-planned story, and utterly repulsive death scenes. The early pioneers of the ‘slasher’ genre (Craven, Carpenter, Cunningham, Clark, etc) were making movies they wanted to make, and the low-budget wound up being more of a blessing than a curse. It forced them to do more with less, and what eventually wound up emerging were scenes that were financially affordable, but oh-so memorable (who can forget watching Freddy push through the seemingly solid wall above Nancy’s bed; or Tina’s bloodied body being dragged across the ceiling while her boyfriend stood by, unable to do anything but watch.)

The story is infamous and a lengthy description is not needed: the kids in the small American town of Springwood are having terrible nightmares, in which the same hideously deformed boogeyman is threatening their lives. The catch? If you die in your dream, you die in real life. The kids must figure out how to face an enemy that preys on you in your most vulnerable state before it’s too late.

I can’t say enough praises for this, nor should I have to. Accolades have been heaped on this film since its release, and you shouldn’t be spending another moment reading my nostalgic memories of it. You should be out making your own. It’s the perfect ‘feel-good’ horror film (yes, as any horror fan can tell you such a thing does exist), and a film that I find unable to turn away from whenever I see it playing on TV.

So tonight, as the wind continues to howl and the moon casts long sinister shadows across my floor, I feel a sudden desire to put in ‘A Nightmare on Elm Street’ and fall asleep. Though the immortal words of heroine Nancy Thompson ring loudly in my mind: “…whatever you do: don’t… fall… asleep.”

Good advice.

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On Location at Nightbreed: The Cabal Cut

On July 19th, I had the extreme pleasure of attending a screening of Clive Barker’s NIGHTBREED: THE CABAL CUT (or perhaps more appropriately titled,The Version You’ve Never Seen). As many fans of the original 1990 film already know, the movie we’ve come to revere as a cult classic is incomplete; reels and reels of additional footage were shot but ultimately not included in the final release. All existing copies of the unseen footage were thought to be lost, however, an extraordinarily rough cut was discovered on an old, PAL encoded VHS tape. Parts of it were missing soundtrack cues, other parts missing audio entirely, and the majority of it looking as if the celluloid was rubbed in dirt… and then backed over repeatedly with an 18-wheeler. We’re talking dirty.

Enter: Russell Cherrington, a filmmaker and a friend of Clive Barker’s. Unbeknownst to anyone else, he took it upon himself to re-edit the found footage and intersplice it with the already existing cut of NIGHTBREED. What emerged was an extended cut that included an additional 45 minutes of length. And although the quality varied as it jumped back and forth between industry-processed film and the hidden gems buried within a dilapidated VHS, the movie suddenly took form in a way it never had. To quote Russell himself:

“NIGHTBREED had evolved into CABAL.”

After seeing the newly edited film, Clive Barker was ecstatic. Though it had taken twenty years, his film was finally his again. Since the first time Russell Cherrington presented his version of NIGHTBREED to Clive, the film has been re-edited five times, taking every effort to remain as true to the original vision and spirit as possible. It is an obvious labour of love, driven by the independent efforts of people passionate about filmmaking and restoring integrity back into a movie that was so savagely ripped apart by the studio.

Unfortunately, THE CABAL CUT is hardly a finished product. It has not been digitally restored, only converted from the VHS copy and digitized into a format which allows it to be presented theatrically. It is plagued by dips in quality which range from barely noticeable all the way to a prominent “COPYRIGHT/89” written in big bold letters across the upper right hand of the screen. A true restoration could fix these issues, but like everything, it costs an incredible amount of money.

Russell Cherrington and those who care about the preservation of NIGHTBREED have created an initiative aptly titled Occupy Midian. It consists of a petition and a place to donate any small funds you may wish to give toward a good cause. If nothing else, please take the time to toss your name down and help a group of talented filmmakers. They need 10,000 signatures, and they’ve already received 6640 as of this moment. Don’t let them fall short of their goal.

For more information, check out their website at: http://www.occupymidian.com

It is a wonderfully inspiring reminder that there are still people out there who care about the preservation of our genre, and are willing to sacrifice their own time and money. Join us and show them you care. Every signature counts.

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Paranormal Activity

Written & Directed By: Oren Peli
Starring:
Katie Featherstone
Micah Sloat

The “P.O.V.” horror subgenre, first made popular by The Blair Witch Project in 1999, has slowly taken off with titles such as QuarantineREC,Cloverfield, and Paranormal Activity. Although the former deal with zombies and witches, Oren Peli’s Paranormal Activity rounds out the pack by dealing with a demonic “invasion” of a young couple’s life. Although suffering from some forced script writing, and an ending that is surpassed by its DVD bonus alternates, Paranormal Activity delivers genuine suspense and ends up a superbly tense and terrifying film.

Katie (Katie Featherston) and Micah (Micah Sloat), our protagonists, first appear as the normal everyday couple, Micah having just purchased the shiny new camera that provides our view. Through conversation between the couple we realize that things are not all they seem in the household, and that strange titular paranormal activity has been taking place justifying the purchase of the aforementioned camera. It’s revealed early on that whatever is causing this activity, it has followed Katie since she was eight years old. Micah has it in his mindset to set the camera up in the bedroom at night in order to catch whatever it is that’s disturbing them. A psychic’s visit reveals that this is no mere ghost that haunts the halls – a demon has targeted Katie for unknown reasons, and no amount of running or hiding will stop it.

Over the next three weeks, we watch as the activity escalates in size, duration, and terror. As is typical for the genre, the scares are short and sweet at the start. Footsteps are heard, accompanied by what can only be described as a low frequency “noise”, which becomes a recurring motif to signify all is not well. As the days progress, these events expand to include doors slamming, phantom banging, footprints, E.V.P.’s, (Electronic Voice Phenomena) and more. Although these are all tense, jump-worthy moments of themselves, one of the film’s highlights is what you don’t see or hear. Moments when Katie mysteriously awakens in the middle of the night, only to stand perfectly still beside the bed for hours (the clock fast-forwards) are just as disturbing, if not more so.

The cinematography is the one of the obvious stand out points, given the P.O.V. perspective. Handheld shakiness, light glare, and film grain (especially while using night vision) help add a sense of reality to the film. On blu-ray, with 1080p and 5.1 Dolby Digital surround sound, the high definition only highlights the “home video” aspect more (for better or worse, is up to you). It does portray a sense of “being there” rather well, despite a few moments when holding the camera is a priority for these characters, rather than dropping it and running (like I’m sure most of us would). Where the film stumbles ever so slightly is in the script.

For the most part, the dialogue is improvised, remarkably so. Katie and Micah convey their relationship in a realistic manner, whispering sweet nothings, making jokes, and even Micah asking for a strip-tease on night one (to no avail). But when the time comes to get important plot points around, the improv takes a back seat to scripted line delivery, which stands out rather obviously from the rest of the couple’s banter. It doesn’t ruin the experience; the audience is certainly not watching to listen to the couple speak for an hour and 20 minutes, but it is a noticeable hiccup.

The final flaw I have with this film is the ending. Obviously the scariest and most pertinent point in the film, the theatrical ending is rather abrupt. While still adding shock value, the final frame leans more towards Hollywood horror than the indie terror we’ve experienced until this point. The “alternate endings” that exist for this film actually improve the story, even while *SPOILER* effectively destroying any chance of a sequel.*END SPOILER* Without ruining anything else, I have seen three (two are on the blu-ray and DVD, the third one I saw was from an early screener copy) and oddly enough, the two that AREN’T the theatrical endings are much creepier, and less “Hollywood”. The alternate already on the DVD is my favourite, although if you get a chance to see the third, I recommend them both over the original ending.

All things considered, if you’ve ever watched a reality TV “ghost” show and enjoyed it for even a minute, you owe it to yourself to check out Paranormal Activity. It doesn’t revolutionize the horror genre by any means, but it certainly raises the bar of “P.O.V.” set by the Blair Witch Project. Despite some minor forced script issues, and slightly cop-out ending, the unnerving terror of having something in your home is well worth your time.

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Phantasm

Written & Directed By: Don Coscarelli
Starring:
A. Michael Baldwin
Bill Thornbury
Reggie Bannister

When young director Don Coscarelli set out to make a low-budget horror film in the early 1970s, he could not have imagined that he was giving birth to what we now consider a genre classic, as well as creating an iconic movie monster that continues to chill audiences to this very day. Set in an idyllic small American town, “Phantasm” focuses on a young boy (Mike), and how his life is changed when a sinister undertaker takes residence in the local mortuary. After a friend of his is murdered, Mike discovers that the undertaker (quickly dubbed “The Tall Man” due to his extraordinary height and unreal strength) is actually an evil graverobber, who travels from town to town ravaging cemeteries and shipping the dead back to his own ghastly dimension where he transforms them into his slaves. It becomes up to Mike, his brother Jody, and their friend Reggie to stop the Tall Man before he turns their town into just another empty graveyard.

Growing up, I lived in a house beside a cemetery. The first time I saw Phantasm, I was immediately able to associate with the film: the vast graveyard depicted in the film was so similar to the one just next door it was uncanny. From then on, I would walk through the cemetery at night with my cousins and tell them stories of the Tall Man and his army of deadly silver spheres (the end product of the bodies he ransacked). ‘Phantasm’ gave a new chilling atmosphere of horror to my nightly walks, dodging inbetween gravestones, and imagining that behind each one the Tall Man might be waiting for me, or worse yet, digging up the recently deceased. It is because of this that ‘Phantasm’ holds such a special place in my heart as a horror fan, and because of this that I used to review films and post on online forums under the name “The Tall Man”. It was an influential horror film in my life, and one that I could truly associate with at the time.

It has it’s problems, though, like all films. It does have a slight tendency to drag at times, and the special effects are lacking, by today’s standards. Where other early horror films like ‘Halloween’ executed effective lighting techniques to further enhance the suspence, ‘Phantasm’ is a rougher looking picture, and certainly not as scary. But what it lacks in all-out terror, it more than makes up for in atmosphere. It is not an overly violent film — most of it’s special effects rely on the imagination to make them terrifying. It is a surrealistic nightmare, which draws you into a labyrinth of bizarre and chilling events all taking place in Anytown, U.S.A.

It is easy to enjoy Phantasm, if you approach it in the right way, with the right expectations. It’s low-budget look and occasionally silly special effects will turn off many filmgoers, but if you are able to look past these things and appreciate the film on a deeper level, you will no doubt see (as many “phans” of the film have already seen) there is much to be enjoyed. It features a great story with a memorable soundtrack and memorable characters. If you have not already experienced ‘Phantasm’, I urge you to do so as soon as possible.

“Boooooooooooooooooooooooy!”

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Prometheus

Director: Ridley Scott
Starring:
Michael Fassbender
Noomi Rapace
Logan Marshall-Green
Charlize Theron

Media Reviewed: 3D – In Theatre

It’s shaping up to be one hell of a successful summer for the Hollywood film industry. First THE AVENGERS assembled their way to a record-breaking $200.3 million opening weekend, and now, before the dust could even settle, Ridley Scott’s PROMETHEUS hit theatres. It’s a film so highly anticipated, hopeful rumours of its existence have been buzzing around the internet for years; a prequel to the movie that made it abundantly clear: in space, no one can hear you scream. With so much hype surrounding it, and with so many early (and mixed) reviews pouring in, I’ll admit I was nervous as the film began. Though I can’t really consider myself a top-calibre ALIEN fan like some people I’ve met, I do love the diversity and consistent quality of the films (alright, alright, RESURRECTION was the exception, I’ll admit). However, I’m pleased to report back: PROMETHEUS was absolutely brilliant.

Reader beware, this review is unfortunately not spoiler free.

PROMETHEUS is without a doubt the most visually stunning movie I’ve ever had the pleasure of watching. Beautifully animated CGI elements flowed flawlessly from one scene to the next, and interacted seamlessly with the real-life actors and elements onscreen. And while I wish I could say that the true stars of the film were the incredibly talented team behind the animation, in this film they were equally matched by the compelling story, the stunning ensemble cast, and the masterful direction of Ridley Scott. Perhaps the one thought above all others that continually lept to the forefront of my mind was simply the awe at how Mr. Scott has evolved into a director of such control and skill. He is a storyteller through-and-through, with the vision to bring his tales to life in a way that few directors can do. PROMETHEUS is an undeniably engrossing film: it is difficult to not be drawn into its fantastic world of alien terrain and terrifying creatures.

Be advised, this is more than a summer popcorn flick. Though it has all the visual action and excitement to satisfy the average filmgoer, there is an underlying substance to the movie that begs the viewer to consider deep and fundamental questions pertaining to our existence. It is these very questions which form the core plot. Two scientists, Elizabeth (Noomi Rapace) and Charlie (Logan Marshall-Green), discover a commonality in the artwork of primitive cultures. Though isolated from each other by time and location, their art reveals similar drawings of unknown tall humanoids and a set of stars which they identify to be halfway across the Universe. Funded by the Weyland Corporation, they travel for years through space, frozen in cryostasis and awaiting the arrival of their far-off destination. When they finally land, they begin their search for the most primal and important question human civilization has, and will ever face: where did we come from, who created us, and, perhaps most important: why?

The events that follow read like pages torn from the “Worst Case Survival Guide: Intergalactic Edition”. It’s just one crushing catastrophe after another as the crew is separated and eliminated, but without the hardships, we would never have the opportunity to see Noomi Rapace channel the spirit and strong femininity that we came to expect from Sigourney Weaver (though Ripley never had quite the same opportunity to be so clear on the topic of pro-choice.) Even bearing a striking physical resemblance from certain angles, her performance as Elizabeth Shaw was an all-around joy to watch.

Yes, PROMETHEUS has impressive scenes of ships exploding, people dying (in surprisingly) gruesome ways, aliens bursting from internal cavities and other visceral treats (who wants to play in the surgery machine?) But that’s not the only reason why it was so great. It was a movie about faith, determination, differing perceptions, and the definition of humanity. It fearlessly painted a picture of an imperfect future — and yet, despite the violence and the horror, it is a future I believe we would all want to be a part  of.  It raised unanswerable questions and, appropriately, left them unanswered. We can only speculate as to what purpose we all serve on this earth, during this lifetime, but the quest itself is what keeps us alive. Much like Elizabeth Shaw, we carry on, always reaching for an answer that lies just behind the horizon.

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Resident Evil: Retribution

Director: Paul W. S. Anderson
Writer: Paul W. S. Anderson
Starring:
Milla Jovovich
Sienna Guillory
Michelle Rodriguez
Bingbing Li
Johann Urb

Media reviewed: 3D – In Theatre

I’ve always liked Paul Anderson. EVENT HORIZON is a stroke of genius, and there aren’t many people who, at the mention of that film, don’t respond with: “Event Horizon! I loved that movie!” It’s a valid statement since the flick manages to so beautifully twist sci-fi and horror together — I’ve always said it was like “Hellraiser in space” (…of course, HELLRAISER 4 was legitimately that, but I digress). I’ve liked Paul Anderson ever since I saw the original MORTAL KOMBAT, and it’s been fun watching his filmmaking style evolve over the years, despite what critics may say.

RESIDENT EVIL, however, has been a hodgepodge series marked by a string of sequels that range drastically in quality. When the first film was released, as a fan of the video game series, I couldn’t help but be let down. In the place of a dusty old mansion and an undead ass-kicking Jill Valentine, there were sleek high-tech gizmos, a holographic sass-talking British girl, and some gal in a red dress named Alice. However, the film grew on me, and while it wasn’t a true faithful re-enactment of the game, it still had enough heart to warrant additional replays; over time I developed a real soft spot for it. Of course, as the sequels came around, more and more of the original game characters were introduced, and even some of the iconic monsters were pitted against our valiant heroes. Half the time when these monsters appeared they seemed to challenge all logic or movie continuity — but really, who cared? These movies are made for fans of the games, even if it didn’t necessarily start off that way.

RETRIBUTION is the fifth film in the series, and I’ll admit: it’s my favourite. Over the course of his career, I feel that Paul Anderson has been striving to make a true video-game movie, and I think in RETRIBUTION he was finally able to fully realize his vision. I mean, it really is like watching a live-action video game, and gamers will recognize how the plot is broken down into a set of solo (and co-op) missions and stages, all clearly defined by different characters and challenging boss battles. And it’s not just the Resident Evil game franchise that’s referenced, it’s the entire zombie-gaming sub-genre. One of my favourite scenes features a Call of Duty homage, wherein Leon Kennedy and his friends are forced to survive wave-after-wave of Nazi Zombies. Does it sound ridiculous? It is, and frankly, it’s awesome.

In my defence, this isn’t my most critical review. It’s the review of a fanboy, who loves the video games and was finally satisfied to see all his favourite characters (Leon Kennedy FTW!) run around and do what they do best: kill a helluva lot of zombie bastards. As a plus for the movie franchise, it manages to do all of this and still further the overall story arc of the series — uniting Alice, Jill, Leon, Ada, and Wesker as unlikely allies as they struggle to make a final stand against the zombie apocalypse.

The franchise still has a place to go, and Paul Anderson admitted that should they receive the greenlight to make a sixth film, it will be the concluding chapter (but since the game franchise is still going strong and the state of the Hollywood film industry, who knows… perhaps a remake of the original film isn’t far behind?) Either way, it’s been a fun ride, and I for one look forward to a balls-to-the-wall epic finale, should it ever happen. But if not, I’ll always have RETRIBUTION: what I will forever consider to be the first authentic video-game-to-film adaptation. For that, I applaud Mr. Paul Anderson.

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Room 237

Directed by: Rodney Ascher
Documentary featuring archive footage from THE SHINING and various interviews
Media Reviewed: Screening
Rating: skullskullskullskull

How much symbolism is buried in a film? And how much is this the director’s intention? Do we, as theorists, fans, fanatics, etc., choose to see certain symbols, a thrill of excitement running through us when we think we’ve cracked a film’s code? The new film, Room 237, might be the ultimate example of this type of fanboy private investigation.

Its title referring to the forbidden hotel room in Stanley Kubrick’s massively popular film The Shining, Room 237 is a new documentary that lays out several theories as to what mysteries and meanings the perfectionist director hid within each shot of his1980 horror classic. The documentary’s director, Rodney Ascher, is aided by several obsessives who all speak defiantly about their own views of what they think Kubrick was attempting to say with the film. From crackpot ideas to rather convincing bits of proof, Room 237 is pretty much a feast for the mind for anyone who considers her or himself a film buff or puzzle lover. Happily, I am both.

The setup for the documentary is pretty straightforward. We are introduced to this panel of theorists, each arguing a major theme or communicating a devout interest in the film’s symbolism. Smartly, Ascher chooses not to show any “talking heads” throughout Room 237. He knows the audience is here for one thing, and it’s to watch The Shining through a new set of eyes. Any glimpse of what these people look like is unneeded and takes away from the Kubrick study period we all signed up for. Ascher also matches visual cues from other Kubrick films to specific lines in the various voiceovers as a sort of narrative motivator and way to add his own attempts at symbolism. At times they can feel a bit on the nose and uneven, but he also knows that any fan of the mysteries of The Shining is at least a devotee to another Kubrick work; glimpses of 2001: A Space Odyssey or A Clockwork Orange aren’t necessarily a bad thing. The music is also a bit distracting at times, the volume threatening to overwhelm the theorists, but the synth-like builds it contains, along with the blue interspersed titles, add an almost cult-like devotion to the source film that really plays home the idea that this documentary was created by a fan at heart.

So does the dissolve from one shot where there is a large pile of suitcases in the background to another shot where, in their place, stands a group of people, mean Kubrick was symbolizing the extermination of the Jews in World War II, the victims’ luggage strewn aside as they were shipped to the concentration camps by the Nazis? Or how about the famous blood gushing from the elevator’s closed doors, actually coming from the Native Americans buried deep beneath the Overlook Hotel, the closure of the doors representing our present need to repress the atrocities committed by our ancestors who massacred the First Nations people hundreds of years ago? Or does Danny’s space rocket sweater and Wendy’s inability to talk to Jack about his work both refer to Stanley Kubrick’s own secretive participation in the filming of the first moon landing? Room 237 never chooses one theory over another, but it does a marvelous job at giving each one a shot, examining The Shining frame by frame (and with the use of an incredible digital map of the Overlook). I have only seen The Shining twice, but more than anything, Room 237 has stirred up a great appreciation and awe for a director who was meticulous, artistic and detailed enough in his craft to create a mystery that will have many of us pondering, without a definitive answer, for a long time to come.

 

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Serbian Film, A

Directed By: Srdjan Spasojevic
Written By: Aleksandar Radivojevic
Starring:
Srdjan Todorovic
Sergej Trifunovic
Jelena Gavrilovic

Before I get into this review I would like to say that I am an incredibly jaded horror fan. I always feel a little like I’ve seen it all. I’ve been through all of the supposed “sickest” films with barely a pause in my popcorn consumption. I’ve seen all of the “real death” films (yes, even that one) all of the faux snuff films and I have a DVD collection that has my psychologist girlfriend questioning my mental state. But every so often a film comes along that genuinely affects me on an emotional and visceral level. This time, it’s A SERBIAN FILM. Not since Gaspar Noe’s IRREVERSIBLE have I seen a film that left me broken and ruined. And probably a bit more jaded.

This is the story of Milos, a semi-retired porn star who just wants to settle down with his wife and son. He gets lured (by a massive sum of cash) back into the business to make a conceptual art-porn film which turns out to be something far more disturbing to both Milos and the audience. I’m going to leave the plot summary there because the story is simple and nothing terribly new, especially to those who have “seen it all”. It is the presentation of the story and the way the film forces you to endure that make it effective. If the acting had been poor, if the effects had been cheesy, if the film was shot on video, any of these things would absolutely ruin the overall effect. A SERBIAN FILM is so well done on all fronts (directing, acting, editing, effects) that if you can stay in your seat and watch, you will be completely invested in Milos’s struggle. The reason this film is so terrifying is that by the end, the audience knows what is going to happen. It seems like such an abhorrent thought, but because the film has taken depravity so far, the audience knows it will go that one step farther and is powerless to stop it.

A SERBIAN FILM has drawn a considerable amount of controversy and rightfully so. The film wouldn’t work without it. The anticipation of seeing something that may test your bravery might as well be a triple-dog-dare to someone who has “seen it all”. The build up through the first half of the film almost had me drumming my fingers, waiting to see a hint, a glimpse of all this nastiness that everyone is so up in arms about. When I was finally “rewarded”, I had a truly great film before me because it actually accomplished its goal. It horrified a jaded horror fan.

I can’t responsibly recommend this film because you might blame me for what you see but if you fancy yourself a hardened, cynical, jaded fan who has “seen it all”, I guarantee, you haven’t seen anything like A SERBIAN FILM. I triple-dog-dare you.

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Shark Night 3D

Directed By: David R. Ellis
Written By: Will Hayes & Jesse Studenberg
Starring:
Sara Paxton
Dustin Milligan
Chris Carmack

A group of university students take off to a friends summer house for the weekend. Located on a private island, secluded from the surrounding small town community, it’s seemingly the perfect place to blow off some steam and have some fun in the sun. But… unbeknowst to them, there’s something lurking in the water, ready, and waiting to fuck them up! No, it’s not nerd-boy’s hard-on for the leading hottie… it’s something far more dangerous and unexpected (but don’t worry, you totally know it’s coming because it’s right there in the title): SHARKS!

I love Sharks, I love nighttime and I love 3D but most of all, I love a good campy horror flick – which is what this title promises right? Well it lied. I am an easy sell with this type of film. I loved SHARKTOPUS and PIRANHA 3D, so this one should have been a home run. Instead it had merunning home with the urge to watch something awesome like CABIN FEVER to get the taste of FAIL out of my mouth.

First of all, this is not a campy film. If it had been campy then maybe it would have been easier to watch. They actually took themselves and the content seriously. The dialogue and jokes weren’t funny, and the characters seemed to know that. Its one thing to make a bad joke and laugh at it awkwardly, in turn possibly getting a few laughs from the audience – like a campy film would do. It’s another thing to make a
bad joke and have none of the characters react. On occasion they would legitimately laugh which only made them come across as completely lame and somewhat socially retarded.

Dustin Milligan was quite bland on 90210 and nothing much has changed. I am not writing him off completely though, as I’m pretty sure the script itself may have had something to do with it this time around. What I was really distracted by was the “Sara” character. I found her to be extremely annoying which I originally thought was caused by a lack of experience. I knew she looked familiar but couldn’t really place her. It later dawned on me that she is the lead in the remake of THE LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT. Previous to LAST HOUSE…, her background was in children and tween films. She made the jump from kid content to adult content, and that can be hard. I feel that the director of THE LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT, Dennis Iliadis, did a much more graceful job with her transition than David R. Ellis did on SHARK NIGHT. His poor direction caused her lack of experience to shine through and I think she still has a long way to go. Either that or she’s going to have to lose her clothes in order to
balance it out.

While I’m on the topic of directing, I guess I should mention that I expected more. I mean David Ellis’ track record, albeit not the most epic of films, still has some decent accomplishments. When you look at the direction on his previous films — CELLULAR, THE FINAL DESTINATION and that classic – HOMEWARD BOUND 2: LOST IN SAN FRANCISCO (…okay so maybe not the last one), but my point is, he’s had time to grow and really come into his own style but he’s just not there. I would have used SNAKES ON A PLANE as a reference but I actually haven’t seen it… I know, I know, I should.

I am just really disappointed because I thought this film could be so much more than it was. Also, did it not seem like the trailer took it in a completely different direction than what actually happens? It just bummed me out.

What I will say, is that the sharks look pretty good and the 3D was enjoyable. The rest of the movie was lame and really distracted me from the good parts, which is why I almost forgot to mention them.

My opinion would be to skip this one, cause let’s face it, most of the appeal is the fact that’s it’s 3D so there’s just no point in even renting it. But I think everyone should really take the time to see things and decide for themselves. So if you do decide that you absolutely must see this one, I just suggest going to the theatre on cheap night.

After thought: Since most 3D films just aren’t the same out of theatres, I think it would be awesome to have a 3D movie night at local theatres once a month. Bring back something that’s been out of theatres for a while and give those who missed it another chance to catch it in all it’s 3D glory. I almost typed gory, but not all 3D films are horror and I will eventually have to accept that.

SILENT HOUSE  / Monday, November 1, 2010

Silent House

Directed By: Chris Kentis & Laura Lau
Written By: Gustavo Hernández & Laura Lau
Starring:
Elizabeth Olsen
Adam Trese
Eric Sheffer Stevens

There is nothing worse than fear: it is intangible, invisible, and irrepressible. Fear is the moment that lies between awareness and resolution — when we realize the horror of what is about to happen. Fear is the unknown: the how bad will it be, and the when will it happen? You cannot cope with fear… you can only bear it. It is the ultimate test. When a young woman (Sarah) becomes trapped inside a pitch black house with an unknown home invader, she must face her greatest fears, and fight to stay alive.

Touting itself as “88 minutes of real-time terror”, SILENT HOUSE successfully gives the impression that the entire movie is one continuous shot. It is in these ultra-extended scenes that actress Elizabeth Olson shines. Infusing her performance with a never-ceasing intensity, she takes us with her through every step of her nightmarish ordeal. With an expressive face and natural ability to emote, we feel every ounce of her dread, every quiver in her breath, and every tremble in her body.

SILENT HOUSE is a well executed and technically solid film from start to finish. By playing on our expectations of how jump-scares usually work, the filmmakers set-up scene after scene which lead us to believe the moment of payoff is just around the corner. Since the film is 90% close angle shots, we’re constantly wringing our hands waiting for something to leap out at us from behind a door, around a corner, through a window, or anywhere else in the darkened corridors of the house. Aware of this, the film becomes an exercise in build-up and denial, keeping us on the edge of our seats and refusing us a visible glimpse of what we’re so afraid of. Herein lies the brilliance of SILENT HOUSE.

Channeling the intensity of HAUTE TENSION and the atmosphere of REC, SILENT HOUSE proves in almost every way that it has learned from the past forty years of horror cinema, and is able to effectively drive an audience to the brink of unbridled terror. The most primal fear of humankind — the fear of the unknown — is the driving force behind SILENT HOUSE. Neither Sarah, nor we, are able to rationalize or understand the pressing question of why these events are unfolding. The need for closure and explanation is the bane of the modern horror film, and although sadly SILENT HOUSE falls victim to this by the end, the first 60 minutes are pure, untainted fear.

By sprinkling a few explanatory breadcrumbs throughout the film, we are able to piece together enough to hazard a guess, but not enough to ascertain the truth with any reasonable degree of certainty. If they had simply cut the last ten minutes of the film and skipped the explanatory resolution, they would have created a perfect horror movie. It should be noted, that SILENT HOUSE is a remake of the original LA CASA MUDA (THE SILENT HOUSE) which is an Argentinian horror film released only in 2010. Currently, I have not had the opportunity to see it, so I can’t say how the remake compares or differs. In past situations (a la QUARANTINE vs. REC, or LET THE RIGHT ONE IN vs. LET ME IN) I tend to heavily prefer the original, regardless of how often times the remakes are almost shot-for-shot. What continually astounds me is how little time it takes for foreign horror films to receive the Hollywood remake treatment. But I digress…

SILENT HOUSE is nonetheless worthy of your time and attention. Prepare to be thrilled, scared, and once again, afraid of the dark (for the first hour, at any rate).

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Stendhal Syndrome

Written & Directed By: Dario Argento
Starring:
Asia Argento
Thomas Kretschmann
Marco Leonardi

As great as weekends are, there’s another night of the week that I look forward to: Monster Movie Mondays. These nights consist of a selection of diverse people coming together, armed with essentials (generally pizza, beer, and occasionally 3D glasses), and a desire to watch good horror films. Sure, the group isn’t always the same (sometimes there’s only three or four of us sitting around my small apartment) and we don’t all like the same types of horror films (my motto might be “keep it sick, keep it bloody, and keep the gore flowing” but it’s certainly not everyone’s) but it always makes for a memorable get-together. It didn’t take long, however, before we decied to try and create themed movie nights. It also didn’t take long before we decided to have an evening entirely devoted to the horror classics of Italian horror maestro Dario Argento.

I can remember the first time I saw Suspiria – many years ago when I was lurking horror forums trying to expand my knowledge of horror, two names continually emerged: Dario Argento and Lucio Fulci. I was fortunate enough to find a copy of Suspiria (having no real experience of foreign horror films I had no idea what to expect), but without a doubt I’m glad that it was the first Argento film I saw. In my mind, it’s still the best movie he’s made — certainly the most profound and shocking. And don’t get me wrong, I consider myself fully an Argento fan — I just mean that Suspiria is so good, it casts a dark shadow across the majority of his other films. All of that said, Argento is consistent in that he has a style all his own (love it or hate it) and Stendhal Syndrome is pure Argento.

As with other reviews, I hate delving too deep into the plot for risk of ruining any details (those looking for plot synopses alone should instead frequent the IMDB) but essentially the film explores and seeks to capture the effects of the illness from which the movie derived it’s name: the Stendhal Syndrome. Named after the 19th century writer Henri-Marie Beyle (better known by his pseudonym Stendhal), the Stendhal Syndrome is a psychosomatic condition which can induce dizziness and even hallucinations when exposed to art. The person afflicted with this condition in the film is Anna Manni (played by the director’s daughter, Asia Argento) who finds herself in Florence in pursuit of a brutal serial murderer and rapist (Thomas Kretschmann). Needless to say, in typical Argento style the film is filled with an enormous amount of uncomfortable scenes, generally involving the abnormally sweaty sociopath assaulting, mutilating, or murdering women. More plot than this is really not essential.

Argento himself has stated that he experienced Stendhal Syndrome as a child; when climbing the steps of the Parthenon in Athens he was placed into a daze which lasted for hours. In 1989, author Graziella Magherini released her book “La sindrome di Stendhal“, which Argento immediately identified with and sought to translate to film. Argento intended to direct a follow-up sequel, but when it came time to do so his daughter Asia was unavailable. Thus, he was forced to change the main character’s name to Anna Mari, and the film was released under the name The Card Player.

While the film is generally remembered for it’s graphic visual effects, it is interesting to note that Stendhal Syndrome was the first Italian film to employ the use of CGI. Although in this reviewer’s opinion, the film would have been better without certain CGI moments (the early computer effects were used to create out-of-place, pseudo-C.S.I. scenes). But in addition to being a forerunner in CGI, the film also employs an effective plot twist that has been used again in recent horror films.

Overall, Stendhal Syndrome is recommended, but not as an introduction to Argento. It may put some people off, and is certainly not for the squeamish or easily offended.

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Suspiria

Written & Directed By: Dario Argento
Starring:
Jessica Harper
Stefania Casini
Flavio Bucci

Anyone who knows me, or has read any of my other reviews, knows that I consider myself to be quite the Argento fan. And why wouldn’t I be — he is an undisputed master of the horror genre with an original style and a flair for creating incredibly memorable and intense death scenes. One doesn’t have to be an Argento fan however, to have an appreciation for — what is arguably his greatest cinematic achievement – Suspiria. Boasting stark colours, brilliantly chosen sets, and amazing cinematography, Suspiria was the beginning for a trilogy of films that took 30 years of Argento’s life to complete.

So what, you ask, makes Suspiria so great? A difficult question to answer for sure, since there isn’t just one thing that made it successful; rather a unique combination of elements that contributed to the masterpiece we hold so close to our twisted hearts. High among these elements would certainly be Argento’s painstaking attention to colour — his stark contrasts comprise a great deal of what we refer to as his style. It is easy to identify an Argento film from the rich blues and reds which are prevalent (often in the same scene) throughout the film. It is also noteworthy that Suspiria was the final film to be shot in Technicolor before the processing plant was closed. Furthermore, Argento’s brilliant choice of sets is also what adds to the often surrealistic atmosphere of his films: symmetry and patterns, coupled with creative angles and filming techniques lead to one unforgettable scene after another. Argento is a director who doesn’t waste film. Instead, you are left with the distinct impression that every scene; every second was shot according to his genius master plan.

Suspiria, largely inspired by Thomas De Quincey’s Suspiria De Profundis, tells the story of an American girl (Jessica Harper as Suzy Banyon) travelling to Germany to attend a prestigious ballet school. Once she arrives, brutal murders and bizarre scenarios rapidly unfold, ultimately drawing her into a hidden world of dark magic and witchcraft. Having so far withstood the test of time, and making it’s way onto numerous “best of horror” lists (Entertainment Weekly ranked it 18/25 and added that it had the most “vicious murder scene ever filmed”, Bravo listed it as 24/100, and critics from the Village Voice named it the 100th greatest film of the 20th century), it is clear that Suspiria is widely recognized as a gem in the horror genre.

Ignoring for a moment the visual aspect to the film, it would be unfair not to draw attention to the soundtrack. It has been said on numerous Halloween behind-the-scenes featurettes that when people went to see John Carpenter’s classic in the theatre, during particularly tense moments they would be seen covering their ears. His soundtrack, which is generally recognized as being one of the most simple yet effective soundtracks in the history of horror films, contributed greatly to the terrifying impact and high tension of many of the scenes. The same can be said for Claudio Simonetti’s soundtrack to Suspiria — a soundtrack which, in my opinion, certainly rivals that of Carpenter’s. Combining traditional instruments with electronic elements and eerie vocal effects, the music is as relentless and shocking as the images the film displays. Yet another example of how all the components came together to create a genre classic.

It would be unfair, and pointless, to continue talking about the film. This is a film that is meant to be seen, and heard. It is the perfect introduction to the works of Dario Argento, and is the best example of why he is considered one of the greatest horror directors of our time.

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Texas Chain-Saw Massacre, The (1974)

Directed By: Tobe Hooper
Written By: Kim Henkel
Starring:
Marylin Burns
Gunnar Hansen
Edwin Neal

In the old days of horror, before we were being desensatized by the blatant sadism and on-screen gore of Hostel and Saw, it was what you didn’t see that made a film terrifying. And what could be more terrifying than the thought of roadtripping with your friends, only to wind up being relentlessly pursued and butchered by a man wearing a mask of sewn human flesh whose dismemberment tool of choice is a chainsaw.

The film, it’s plot, or it’s well-known psychopath lovingly termed “Leatherface” should certainly not be new to the public, especially with the more recent string of Michael Bay remakes. But for those who are only familiar with the remake, you should realize that you’re missing out. The original Tobe Hooper classic is far more terrifying for a number of reasons: the first, and possibly the biggest factor in the horror of the original, was the backstory. Or should I say, the lack of backstory. Here we were introduced to a small band of friends who are thrown into a terrifying ordeal in which they are hunted like animals by family that actively practices cannibalism. And worse yet, the butcher of the family is a hulking six-foot tall brute who chases them down while wearing a home-made mask of human skin. And the whole while the events are unfolding, we are left to wonder: “why does he wear the mask? is he disfigured underneath? how can a family live like this?” Additionally, the pseudo-documentary atmosphere caused by the grainy and scratched celluloid, added to the striking realism of the situation. They have released a newly restored print of the film, but much the same as Friday the 13th (and for that matter Evil Dead) I would still maintain that an old VHS copy is the way to properly enjoy the movie.

There was always a certain taboo surrounding the movie, especially when I was young. The film is marketed as being based on real life accounts — and to a degree, there is an element of truth in that. The actual murders by the infamous serial killer Ed Gein inspired the cannibalism and body-part furniture decorations that are prevalent throughout the film. But the horror of the film isn’t found in tacky jump-tactics or cheap scares. The horror is in the suspense that is masterfully built by Tobe Hooper; the believeable performances from the small cast; and certainly, in the concept itself. It is a vicious, severe portrayal of a vile family and their apparent killing spree spanning generations. In the end, we are left to wonder how intact our own sanity would be were we to find ourselves in an identical situation.

The Texas Chain-Saw Massacre is an American horror classic. It is responsible for a slew of extremely varied sequels, as well as countless imitators. Without a doubt, it impacted the course of American horror filmmaking, and for that it is completely deserving of the praise it receives.

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Texas Chainsaw Massacre: 3D

Written & Directed by: John Luessenhop
Starring:
Alexandra Daddario
Dan Yeager
Trey Songz
Scott Eastwood
Tania Raymonde

I’ve said it before: I’m a sucker for gimmicks. THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE is a franchise that has spanned over three decades, and finally, seven instalments later, we are rewarded with a 3D film. Of course the question is, was it worth the wait? Or does this sequel fall into the heap of lacklustre efforts, the likes of which we’ve grown all-too-accustomed to seeing from long-running franchises?

Surprise surprise, this was the moviegoing experience of trying to make a bonfire with damp wood: every so often there’s a spark and a promise of something great, but instead it fizzles out and leaves you disappointed and frustrated.

It’s a shame, really, because I was absolutely jazzed after the first two minutes. They manage to recap the entire 1974 classic in mere moments, digitally restoring the picture and infusing it with surprisingly phenomenal 3D. I honestly would have left satisfied watching the entirety of the original film in 3D of that quality, but sadly, it was just a saw-tease.

TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE 3D is unique in the sense that it more-or-less gives the finger to its franchise predecessors and says: “Fuck you guys, Imma do my own thing.” Which it does… just poorly. Aiming to be a direct sequel to the original ’74 film, it picks up directly where the first film leaves off: exit Sally deliriously screaming in the back of a pickup truck, enter the police sherif on his way to the Sawyer Family’s House of Horrors. At this point I was still okay with it, but what happened next made my brain respond with, “Okay Matt, I’m checking out, buddy! I’ll see you when the end credits are rolling!”

The sherif, having arrived at the house, coaxes the family to come out and surrender. Inside the house, in a pseudo-DEVIL’S REJECTS scene, we see the family huddled together, prepared to defend themselves from the evil authorities. Bill Moseley replaces Jim Siedow, which made for a nice touch, and Gunnar Hansen also has a brief cameo, as the bearded man with a rifle. Oh, what’s that? You don’t remember there being a bearded man with a rifle living in the house with Leatherface and his family? Oh right, that’s because there was none! Somehow they managed to add a whole handful of extras into the house, making no explanation for who they were, or why they were even necessary. It simply didn’t make sense.

Let’s fast-track, so try and stay with me here. Inside the house, amongst those new bearded men with guns who miraculously appeared, is a woman holding her baby. Enter: a lynch mob. Apparently not content with the sherif trying to uphold the law, they decide to open up their own can of vigilante justice — taking a cue from the angry Elm Street parents — torching the house and murdering the family. The dirty work seems to be done, until one of the mob members finds the baby and proceeds to take it in secret, as a gift for his wife.

With the backstory complete, we then flash-forward to the present day, where we see the baby has grown up into the charmingly goth Heather Miller (Alexandra Daddario). I’d like to take a moment to just point something out, here. If she was a baby in 1974, and the film jumps to present day… should she not be, oh, forty years old? Why then does she look like she’s in her early twenties?

And on that note, simply because I can’t stomach to think about this film anymore, I’m going to start wrapping up this review. Suffice it to say, she learns of her unsettling lineage, and returns to Texas for what becomes another — you guessed it — massacre (with a chain-saw, in case that wasn’t implied). The plot is so contrived and ludicrous I could go on and on, but I’ll force myself not to, simply because I’d rather use my time to review better, more worthwhile films.

If you find yourself watching it — purely out of morbid curiosity, or because you’re a completist — it will do nothing more than make you realize how much you love the original 1974 gem. As cliched as it sounds, they just don’t make ‘em like that anymore.

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The Corridor

I first heard rumblings of THE CORRIDOR about a year ago over Facebook. For those of you who doubt the power of social media marketing, take that! Post after post showed up in my feed, linking me to some fantastic early reviews. When the trailer for the film first appeared, I couldn’t be more excited. I bookmarked everything and patiently waited for the festival notices to roll in. One after another notices for screenings in the U.S. came through and awards quickly followed – Best Picture (2011 Flickers Rhode Island Int’l Film Fest), Best Lead Actor, Stephen Chambers (Tulsa Int’l Film Fest) and Best Screenplay (Fantastic Fest, Austin TX). Then a screening at Montreal’s Fantasia Film Festival was announced where THE CORRIDOR ended up taking The Audience Award for Best Canadian Feature.


THE FILM

THE CORRIDOR is the story of five lifelong friends re-uniting and continuing a well-worn tradition after a recent tragedy that could have potentially torn them apart. I hate spoilers but there is so much I want to say that could easily ruin a lot of the subtle twists and turns that occur. So here is the trailer. Watch it and then I’ll go on –

 

The corridor itself is the central point of this story; while it is visually stunning and adds a very surreal aspect to the film, it is not what drives the story forward. In my guide to gore review I used to word subtle to describe the twists, sci-fi elements and violence within the film– but maybe that wasn’t the right word. I think the word I was looking for was controlled. There was a good amount of show and tell but it was rolled out in such a way that implied much worse was to come. They showed you what they were capable of and then sat back, allowing your mind to fill in the blanks, and to fear where they would go next.

Even with the corridor–an unknown source of powerful evil–present through most of the film, the danger is most prominent in the company kept. The characters are what truly drive the story. This is what allows you to walk away from the film with a very frightening realization – you don’t need the supernatural, an escaped mental patient or a stranger with a knife to follow you out into the middle of nowhere; being isolated with a group of friends can be terrifying enough. How well do you really know your friends?

Shooting on location in Canning, Halifax and Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, allowed for the cold and isolating backdrop. While this country has some very gorgeous scenery to work with, a lot of films do not really showcase it due to our Canadian winters being extremely unpredictable. This production did face such difficultly making exterior shooting  frustrating at times. Luckily this does not reflect on screen. The exteriors were effective in creating the perfect atmosphere. Every outdoor shot forced you to feel cold, lonely and distant – as if the journey and torment is never going to end. You know that dream where you are running towards a door that keeps moving further and further away? That is an image I feel relates to this film.

Regardless of their differing tastes, writer Josh MacDonald, producer Mike Masters and director Evan Kelly worked together beautifully to create an interesting and terrifying exploration into human connection and the fragile mind. What translates onto screen is the product of a strong team and we look forward to seeing more of their work in the future.

Check out our official GUIDE TO GORE  review for the film and an INTERVIEW with stars Stephen Chambers and Glenn Matthews.

 

 

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The Human Centipede 2

Written & Directed By: Tom Six
Starring:
Laurence R. Harvey
Ashlynn Yennie
Maddi Black

ATTN: Spoiler Alert!

The Human Centipede 2 is the most disgusting film I have ever seen. It may seem odd, having a relatively inexperienced horror fan like myself writing this review in place of the wiser and more experienced staff members, but I think that works in my favor; I haven’t yet been completely desensitized to film violence, and Tom Six proved it. Many who saw the first film complained of its “tame” nature, relying more on psychological horror than actual blood and violence. Well, those who complained the first time around should be delighted by the inclusion of all the “blood and shit” the first film neglected.

The premise of THC2 is similar to that of Blair Witch 2; the first film in both universes was just that: a film. In this instance, we’re introduced to a middle-aged man called Martin, who is overweight and asthmatic. Watching The Human Centipede while working in a London car park, we learn quickly that Martin is obsessed with the film. He has a scrapbook dedicated to the film, in particular, the surgery itself. After seeing an arguing couple on one of the security cameras, Martin ends the quarrel by shooting the man in his foot, the woman in her legs, and knocking both out with a crowbar. By capturing people in the car park and storing them in a rented warehouse (whose landlord he kills), it doesn’t take long to figure out Martin’s intention of recreating the Human Centipede with 12 people instead of just three.

Six has crafted a dark tale, with a complete lack of optimism. There is no hope in this story. Shot in color, but changed to black and white in post-production, the gritty darkness of THC2 is always at the forefront. Martin lives surrounded by the obscene: with his suicidal and verbally abusive mother after his father was sent to prison for sexually abusing him, a violent, tattooed upstairs neighbor (who also becomes part of the ‘pede), even Martin’s psychiatrist touches him inappropriately. You’re in for a bleak and depressing world, one Tom Six doesn’t hold back on.

The actual violence is noteworthy in and of itself. There are a multitude of kills and spills: gunshots, stabbings, bludgeoning. But it’s Martin’s “surgery” that really set me over the edge. I wondered how on earth he planned to get 12 people attached when he’s A) not a doctor and B) doesn’t have the equipment. Who needs a scalpel, stitches and anesthetic when you have a knife, staple gun and a crowbar? If there’s any sort of drinking game to be made from this film, it’s a shot for every time Martin clubs someone in the head with that crowbar. In this reviewer’s opinion, Martin’s de-teething of the centipede ranks as the absolute worst part (I had several teeth pulled at a young age and it’s bothered me ever since). Hell, even listening to it was enough to make me cringe. The worst part differs from person to person, however. Ask our own Ali and she’ll tell you her least favorite part was a funnel tube going down Ashlynn Yennie’s throat. It’s either that, or the tendons in the knees getting cut. Or perhaps even the scene with the baby…

If you watched the first one and hated how non-violent it was, Tom Six made THC2 just for you. If, however, the first film was enough to put you off eating and crawling around on all fours, avoid this one at all costs. For someone who hasn’t yet seen A Serbian Film (stupid lack of subtitles in my copy!) or Salò, The Human Centipede 2 will remain the most disgusting film I’ve ever seen…for now. Yet, being a fan of the first one, I’ll give Tom Six credit for maintaining the unnerving feeling of the series, even while pulling a complete 180 in the gore department.

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The Thing (2011)

Directed by: Matthijs van Heijningen Jr
Written by: Eric Heisserer, John W. Campbell Jr.
Starring:
Mary Elizabeth Winstead
Ulrich Thomsen
Joel Edgerton
Jørgen Langhelle

When remakes of films are announced, you’re usually left moaning and groaning: “Why does Hollywood have to do this again?” It stings the worst when it’s a film you actually enjoy. John Carpenter’s THE THING is sheer brilliance. It’s scary, it’s unknown, it’s definitely not in need of a reboot.

But what if that reboot is masked as a prequel?

Director Matthijs van Heijningen Jr. takes the familiarity of Carpenter’s film and cleverly uses its story as a platform. Re-creating the previous events at the Norwegian Antarctic outpost, THE THING was able to structure itself on the base of a solid backstory that was never fully explored in the original film, but one that fans can still thoroughly appreciate.

Unlike the ambiguity of some prequels like PROMETHEUS, THE THING clearly states it’s intention by recreating set pieces from the original film, as well as some charred bodies to boot. While it’s not apparent at first, the THE THING is not only a remake of the original film, it is also a transitional piece into Carpenter’s version, and a respectful nod to it as well.

Scientist Kate Lloyd (Winstead) is hired by Dr. Sander Halvorson (Thomsen) to assist with the exploration of a newly discovered alien spacecraft and its pilot who is preserved in a block of ice. Naturally, things begin to fall apart as the alien pilot escapes, and the crew quickly learns that not everyone is who they seem to be.

Much like that in the first film, trust becomes a major issue. Is everyone really who they say they are? How do you know? Once confronted, the creature begins to run amok, attempting to eliminate everyone in the camp. While some people die instantly, others become absorbed by the monster, which really makes for some intense scenes- each containing creatively graphic displays of special effects.

When watching the alien try to replicate others in this digital-effect era, things become a lot more interesting. Watching live skin graft itself onto another person’s face its quite the awesome feat. While the monster on its own looks unrealistic, it is really the thought of what is actually happening on screen that can give you the willies.

Speaking of effects, the sound in THE THING is terrific. From the horrific screams of the monster, to the melding of two voice boxes, props have to be given to the original idea of literally putting two people together and seeing what could possibly happen next.

THE THING certainly has a lot of merits going for it. While the story is not original, the fact that it is trying new things with an old idea is refreshing. It is unfortunate, however, that things like special effects and knowing the movie is a prequel (thus telling you how the movie ends) take away from the overall experience. Not to mention, I did not once feel scared while watching this film. It was as if I had anticipated all of the “jump” moments. After all, with a limited cast, there’s only so much one can do with a shape shifting alien.

For what it’s worth though, THE THING certainly ups the ante with gore and violence. It’s just a shame none of it is really that scary – it’s just neat to watch.

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The Walking Dead (Season Two) Review

Developed by: Frank Darabont
Media reviewed: Blu-ray

After the short but sweet six-episode first season, zombie fans were undoubtedly excited to learn that AMC’s The Walking Dead’s second season would be longer — by seven episodes. Okay, so that’s still not a full season, but hey — more zombies, right? Sadly, more episodes doesn’t always mean more action/plot/character development. The departure of series developer Frank Darabont didn’t help; fired after “differences” with AMC, the new showrunner, Glen Mazzara had some tough shoes to fill. There are some intense highlights from this season, but there’s also a large abundance of (forgive the pun) dead time, where not much really happens. If you can get through it, however, you won’t be disappointed.

"Riiick! Dinnertime!"

“Riiick! Dinnertime!”

STORY ARC AND BIG BAD
Just like in season one, the Big Bad is a hybrid of zombies and human nature. This season, human nature is personified in a certain member of the group. If you’ve seen the first season, or read the comics, you’ll know who I’m talking about. After the CDC’s explosion, the group decides to hightail it out of Atlanta and head to Fort Benning. After getting caught in the world’s deadliest traffic jam, the group loses Carol’s daughter Sophia when walkers attack. Carl is shot in the ensuing search for her and Otis, the hunter responsible, leads Rick and the group to Hershel’s farm. Fans of the comic know this place. They’ll recall the group’s relatively short stay with Hershel’s family. The show’s writers, however, decided that the group needs to spend the remainder of the season here. It’s a questionable choice and after some of the mid-episodes begin to drag on, even non-comic fans will begin to wonder what’s up. It comes together in the season finale though, and even confused comic fans will smile upon seeing the direction to which season three is headed.

CAST
Andrew Lincoln as Rick Grimes: Rick’s leadership is developed this season as he struggles to keep the group safe and on Hershel’s farm. Constantly butting heads with Shane, Rick tries to keep his “good for the group” mentality in check.

Jon Bernthal as Shane Walsh: Shane takes on a completely new tone right from episode one. His love affair with Lori now over, Shane tries desperately and subtly to win her back, while trying to wrest control of the group from Rick. Bernthal displays an awesome transformation from hero, to anti-hero, to antagonist.

Sarah Wayne Callies as Lori Grimes: Yup, still hate her. A major revelation midway through the season (comic fans know) threatens the relationship between her, Rick and Shane.

Scott Wilson as Hershel Greene: The owner of the farm, Hershel is a likeable and old-fashioned farmer that helps nurse Carl back to health.

The remainder of the cast stays largely unchanged from season one. Hershel’s family are added, but other than Maggie and Beth, you’ll forget about them.

See? Still fashionable.

See? Still fashionable.

BESTS AND WORSTS

[Spoiler Alert]

I don’t have a favourite episode per se, but I DO have favourite moments: Shane’s gradual transformation after shooting Otis was darkly forboding and as I mentioned earlier, really well done. The scenes in “18 Miles Out” between Rick and Shane were just awesome and the final scene of episode seven, “Pretty Much Dead Already” was absolutely heart (and gut) wrenching.

Worst is another tough call, as there were just so many draggy parts. If I had to pick one episode, however, it would be number five, “Chupacabra”. Merle fans were delighted to see Michael Rooker’s character appear again (if only in hallucinations), but the entire episode felt rather pointless and trite.

FINAL WORDS
This season had it’s ups and downs, but if you’re a zombie-fan (and who isn’t?) you’ll look past the slower moments and enjoy the intense ones. Comic fans know what’s coming next in season three and are perhaps most excited (nervous?) to see what happens next when The Governor appears…

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Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me Review

Well, after two seasons before its cancellation, Twin Peaks was a series that fans desperately wanted closure to. So when series co-creator David Lynch announced a film, fans went wild — until the word “prequel” popped up. This was in 1992.

Now, as a huge fan of Twin Peaks, not to mention all things Lynch, I don’t particularly mind a prequel. I actually enjoyed Fire Walk With Me. Any excuse to get back into that town is fine by me. After sitting through it, however, it’s obvious that this harkens more to a classic David Lynch film and less like a Twin Peaks production, which will turn off fans of the series.

Chris Isaak 's Special Agent Chester Desmond knows when somebody's lying and hates this wicked game (couldn't resist).

Chris Isaak ‘s Special Agent Chester Desmond knows when somebody’s lying and hates this wicked game (couldn’t resist).

Set both one year and one week before the events of the show, FWwM begins with the investigation into the murder of Teresa Banks, given the briefest of mentions on the show. Chris Isaak and Kiefer Sutherland portray the FBI agents sent by fan-favourite Gordon Cole (David Lynch) to look into the murder.

It flashes forward to the days prior to Laura’s death and how it happens. This may claim to be Twin Peaks, but it doesn’t feel like it. The locations used are almost unfamiliar, or underused. The R&R diner gets a 30-second shot and the Sheriff’s Station (along with the entire police force) isn’t seen at all.

From there, things just get…well, weird. As this is a film and not network television, Lynch gets away with the sex and violence, but it just feels wrong, somehow. Seeing Laura Palmer (Sheryl Lee)  topless may fit well with her character, but it’s uncomfortable to watch.

Fun fact: David Lynch has said that Lil the Dancer is (quiet literally) a red herring whose sole purpose is to spark debate about her meaning.

Fun fact: David Lynch has said that Lil the Dancer is (quiet literally) a red herring whose sole purpose is to spark debate about her meaning.

As for the cast: while many townsfolk return, there are noticeable exceptions: Lara Flynn Boyle chose not to reprise her role of Donna Hayward. Her replacement, Moira Kelly, certainly dresses the part, but the change is obvious. Kyle MacLachlan’s part is reduced to almost cameo status (he feared being typecast) and other favourites such as Audrey, Big Ed, Pete, etc. are nowhere to be found.

As for closure, well, without spoiling anything, you get pretty much next to nothing in terms of what happened after the events of the series finale. But that’s David Lynch for ya!

If you enjoyed the show, or if you just love David Lynch, you might as well give Twin Peaks Fire Walk With Me a go. It’s by no means a bad film, just be warned: this isn’t the same trip you took and things are going to get a helluva lot weirder before the credits roll.

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