Tag Archives: horror

The Glory Days of Gore

Disclaimer: This article contains spoilers as well as several descriptions of violence and gore. If that’s not your thing, navigate to another article. I’ll try not to take it personally.

Gone are the days of the moldy-faced demon. (Source: www.blastr.com)

I don’t know why it took me so long to watch The Evil Dead. During my junior year of college, I lived with a friend who attended the live musical, read Bruce Campbell’s books, and coveted her boyfriend’s Army of Darkness t-shirt. This year, the IT guy at my workplace raved about Sam Raimi’s 1981 classic for months leading up to the release of the reboot. No matter where I turned, I saw evidence of the film’s cult followers. I decided it was time to join them.

Objectively, one could say the effects and storyline of The Evil Dead have not aged well. The gore occasionally looks a little too much like chocolate syrup, the bodily secretions too much like rice pudding. Cosmetics used for demonic effect often call to mind a Tammy Faye makeover gone awry. Yet, there’s something about its B-movie aesthetic that appeals to my sensibilities.

Through its innumerable campy chills, The Evil Dead reminds modern viewers—especially those accustomed to big budget, impersonal productions—that earnest filmmaking exists. Raimi’s attempts to scare and repulse are pure and unpretentious; The Evil Dead strives for nothing other than twisted entertainment. Often, that sort of straightforwardness relegates movies into a cinematic void. In the case of The Evil Dead, simplicity provides the substance. It makes the film worth appreciating decade after decade.

“It’s raining blood, Hallelu…” Wait. Are you serious? (Source: www.deadites.net)

Despite being produced by Raimi and Campbell, the new Evil Dead (in addition to ditching The in its title) fails to deliver the same charm as its predecessor. The plot is more developed, the effects more realistic, the violence more plentiful.

Overall, it’s just plain more. By the time the final skin-shredding, blood-spewing horrors take place, one feels slightly browbeaten. That’s because the outrageous happenings overwhelm instead of engage, isolate instead of invite. Somewhere within the process of modernizing the film, the filmmakers lost sight of what made the original so great.

If Raimi devotees are willing to wade through the gore, they might discover enough Easter eggs and homages to deem Evil Dead a worthy reboot. I wish those fanatics the best. In the mean time, I will look to Evil Dead II and Army of Darkness for another dose of hokey horror.

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What 2013 Has to Offer on the Big Screen

I thought I’d take a moment this week to briefly look at what’s hitting the box office this year and give a quick prediction on the outcome of each.

  1. Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters – January 25th. Premise: Hansel (Jeremy Renner) and Gretel (Gemma Arterton) play the fairy tale brother and sister who are all grown up and have become professional witch hunters. Prediction: Van Helsing meets Brothers Grimm, which means a lot of action with an intriguing story but hopefully with more Grimm and less Helsing.
  2. John Dies at the End – January 25th. Premise: You take a drug, it sends you through time and space, you might come back normal, or you might come back as something else. Something otherworldly. Now the world is in danger of a sinister invasion and it’s up to two college dropouts to save it. Prediction: Dude, Where’s My Car? meets Buckaroo Banzai but with Paul Giamatti for added effect. Definitely worth a viewing, high or not.
  3. A Good Day to Die Hard – February 15th. Premise: John McClane (Bruce Willis) and his son travel to Russia to fight Russians and stop a nuclear weapons heist. Prediction: I think it might be getting to the point where it might be a good idea for John to die. Hard.
  4. Warm Bodies – February 1st. Premise: A zombie becomes human again through the power of love, other zombies follow suit. Possible hilarity, horror, and action ensues. Prediction: I think someone might be trying to “Twilight-ize” zombies. Let’s hope not.
  5. Oz: The Great and Powerful – March 8th. Premise: A prequel to The Wizard of Oz telling the story of how Oz (James Franco) becomes the Wizard. And it’s directed by Sam Raimi. Win win. Predictions: I think this film will be fantastic and be the magical wonder that Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland failed to be.
  6. G.I. Joe: Retaliation – March 29th. Premise: All but a few Joes are killed off by Cobra. Now it’s up to the remaining Joes (The Rock, Channing Tatum, some other people), including the original Joe (Bruce Willis) to, for lack of a better word, retaliate. Prediction: Hopefully this film will offer some retribution for the let down that was G.I. Joe: Rise of Cobra.
  7. Evil Dead – April 12th. Premise: A remake of the original with a female lead (Jane Levy) in place of Bruce Campbell’s Ash. It’s also promising less humor and schtick and more blood and gore. Sounds promising. Predictions: Hardcore fans will be difficult to convince, but from what I’ve seen so far of this flick, they’ll be won over. It looks wicked.
  8. Iron Man 3 – May 3rd. Premise: Tony Stark/Iron Man (Robert Downey, Jr.) returns to take on his greatest foe yet, The Mandarin (Ben Kingsley). From the looks of things, this might be the Dark Knight Rises of the Iron Man series. Ya know, a very powerful foe shows up, strips him of everything, and then Tony must find the hero in himself to defeat his enemy. This also begins Marvel’s Phase II. Prediction: Probably won’t be the best of the three films but I’m sure it’ll outdo Iron Man 2. And make Marvel a lot of money.
  9. Star Trek Into Darkness – May 17th. Premise: Kirk (Chris Pine), Spock (Zachary Quinto), and the rest of the Enterprise crew return to take on a most deadly foe, possibly Kahn, played by Benedict Cumberbatch. Prediction: This film will be epic, just like the first, and seeing Benedict as a bad guy is going to be sweet. This is a can’t miss flick.
  10. Now You See Me – June 7th. Premise: A film about bank-robbing illusionists, directed by Louis Leterrier and scored by The Chemical Brothers. Enough said. Prediction: I have a feeling this is going to be one of those twist-and-turns, mind-f*ck types of film. But with bank-robbing illusionists.
  11. Much Ado About Nothing – June 7th. Premise: Joss Whedon adapted this classic Shakespearean tale while making The Avengers. He cast it with people from Firefly, Buffy, Angel, and The Avengers. He made it because of his insecurities with taking on a huge project like The Avengers. It’s Joss Whedon’s take on Shakespeare….do I really need to say anything else? Prediction: I love Joss Whedon. I love Shakespeare. Without even seeing it, I love this film.
  12. Man of Steel – June 14th. Premise: Zack Snyder directs, Christopher Nolan produces, and a bunch of great actors star in what is sure to be the best Superman film ever. And a film that will hopefully restart the series and lead into a Justice League film. Prediction: The more I see of this, the more I believe that this film will be one of the greatest comic book films of all time. But I’ve been wrong before.
  13. World War Z – June 21st. Premise: Brad Pitt stars in this adaptation of Max Brooks’ bestselling novel about a U.N. employee trying to stop a worldwide zombie outbreak. Prediction: I’m pretty much done with the whole zombie genre, and I haven’t read the book, so I’ll probably wait until this comes out on Blu-ray.
  14. Pacific Rim – July 12th. Premise: Guillermo del Toro writes and directs this film about giant robots fighting to save the world from giant alien monsters. Prediction: I was sold at Guillermo del Toro. The rest is just icing on the cake.
  15. wolverine_jackman_660The Wolverine – July 26th. Premise: Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) travels to Japan to train with samurais and take on a powerful new foe, The Silver Samurai. Prediction: This has to be better than Wolverine Origins. If not, I give up on Hugh Jackman. And Wolverine.
  16. Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters – August 16th. Premise: Part 2 of the series finds Percy (Logan Lerman) and his friends searching for the mythical Golden Fleece. Prediction: I enjoyed the first film, so I may go see this one. I’m hoping this film will fill some of the void that Harry Potter left, but I doubt it.
  17. Riddick – September 6th. Premise: Vin Diesel returns to his most badass character to take on new alien predators, new mercs, and an old foe. Prediction: I will watch this film because I love the others. I will hope this film is the last in the series because I don’t want this series to be run into the ground like Diesel’s other popular series, Fast and Furious.
  18. Cloudy 2: Revenge of the Leftovers – September 27th. Premise: Flint Lockwood (Bill Hader) discovers that the machine he’s created is still creating food-animal hybrids and wreaking havoc. Now it’s up to him to stop it once and for all. Prediction: If you don’t like the first film, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, you have no soul. No but seriously, the first film was hilarious and great for the whole family. This one will be too. I can’t wait.
  19. Oldboy – October 11th. Premise: Spike Lee’s remake of the ultraviolent Korean cult classic about a man (Josh Brolin) who has five days to figure out why he was imprisoned for 15 years without explanation. Prediction: Of all the films on the list, this is one I’m looking forward to the most. I love the original, and I cannot wait for this remake.
  20. The World’s End – October 25th. Premise: Edgar Wright directs a film about five friends who reunite in an attempt to top their epic pub crawl from 20 years earlier unwittingly become humankind’s only hope for survival. Prediction: This is the final film in Simon Pegg and Nick Frost’s “blood and ice cream” trilogy, so I hope it’ll be pretty damn good. I have a feeling it will be.
  21. Ender’s Game – November 1st. Premise: Based on the novel by Orson Scott Card, 70 years after a horrific alien war, an unusually gifted child is sent to an advanced military school in space to prepare for a future invasion. Prediction: Die-hard scifi fans will go ape over this film and then probably rip it apart. That’s how it works. I want to read the book before I watch it.
  22. Thor: The Dark World – November 8th. Premise: Thor (Chris Hemsworth) battles an ancient race of Dark Elves led by the vengeful Malekith (Christopher Eccleston) who threatens to plunge the universe back into darkness. Prediction: Part two of Marvel’s Phase II looks to be another epic win with the addition of Doctor Who number nine as a baddie. Get ready to nerd out, kids.
  23. The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug – December 13th. Premise: The journey continues for the Dwarves, Bilbo (Martin Freeman), and Gandalf (Ian McKellen) as they seek to retrieve their gold from the dragon, Smaug (voice by Benedict Cumberbatch). Prediction: Do I really need to predict anything for this? People will flock and empty their wallets for this film. We all know what’s going to happen.
  24. Anchorman: The Legend Continues – December 20th. Premise: The Channel 4 News Team returns for more crazy on-set adventures. Predictions: Probably won’t be a hilarious as the first but I’m sure it will be freakin’ hilarious! And filled with many great one-liners that will be quoted for years to come.

I know I’ve missed a few films here and there, but I don’t really care. I think the list is long enough as it is now. It doesn’t need any more.

What films are you looking forward to this year?

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My Favorite Horror Remakes

This week, I thought I’d chat about horror remakes that I love and why I like some even more than the originals.

Most of the time, I hate remakes. To me, it just seems like a cop-out, and way for someone to make a film (and money) without having to come up with an original idea. This is primarily because the new writers and directors and producers will follow the steps of the old film to the letter, only replacing it with a new cast and an updated look. No changes, just a refresh. The good remakes are the ones that will retrace some of the steps of the old film while making their own new footprints without completely going off the beaten path and getting everyone lost. Do you understanding what I’m saying? I hope so. This is especially important when it comes to horror films. You want a film that will scare as much as the original… and then some.

So without further ado, here’s some of my favorite horror remakes:

“One, two, Freddy’s coming for you.” [source: IMDB]

1: A Nightmare On Elm Street (2010). I wanna start off with my favorite remake, Nightmare. The original is one of my all-time favorite horror flicks with one of my all-time favorite horror villains, so for someone to remake this is a big deal to me. I was a little leery about this at first because Michael “Baysplosions” Bay was attached to produce it. Not to mention the director Samuel Bayer had only directed music videos prior to this. It’s quite a leap to jump from quick music videos to full-length major motion pictures. and making that jump on a horror classic such as Nightmare is a bit unnerving. However, Bay had done a great job with the Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Friday the 13th remakes and Bayer had directed some pretty great music videos (i.e. Marilyn Manson’s “Coma White” and The Smashing Pumpkins’ “Bullet with Butterfly Wings”), so I gave the team the benefit of the doubt. The result turned out better than expected. Jackie Earle Haley was an excellent casting choice for Freddy, adding depth and even more depravity to the character, as well as some much needed creepiness (Near the end of the original series of films, Robert Englund’s Freddy had become more comical than scary). If I can leave a film more scared than I was of the original, then it’s a successful remake.

 

Ch ch ch ch Ha ha ha ha [source: hometheaterforums.com]

2. Friday the 13th (2009). Once again, Michael Bay and a music video director (Marcus Nispel) team up. This time though, I wasn’t as worried. Jason Voorhies was never really a favorite of mine. I liked the look of him but that was about it. He was just a mindless killing machine, no flare, no panache. The remake changed that. It gave him a little something extra that got me to pay attention – Intelligence. I’m not saying he’s a brainiac or anything, but he’s not a mindless twit either. He sets up elaborate traps and alarms and underground tunnels all over the camp in order to snare unsuspecting visitors. And you know what else is great about “new” Jason… he runs! That’s right – he freakin’ runs! No longer does he move with a slow gait while you sit and wonder how the hell he managed to catch up to, and sometimes get ahead of, someone running faster than him. His new ability to run, along with the tunnels, made it completely feasible for him to “magically” appear in front of someone after they thought they lost him. Not sure why it took so long for someone to make Jason run, but someone needs to buy that person a beer. Thanks for bringing logic to work that day. And let me just say that when the ending came around, I was expecting it, but it still scared the crap out of me. That, added with making J. Voorhies interesting to me, AND skipping over the ridiculous “revenge-seeking, killer Momma Voorhies” storyline makes for a damn fine remake in my book.

 

Prepare to stay indoors on Halloween. [source: awesomebmovies.com]

3. Halloween (2007). I may or may not have mentioned this to you before, readers, but pretty much anything Rob Zombie does is golden to me. Music, movies, artwork, whatever – it’s all golden! Some of it may not be as shiny as the rest (Halloween II), but it’s still valuable. This film is no exception.

The original Halloween was already as scary as could be, how do you top that? Michael Myers: a deranged serial killer who grew up in a mental institution, escaped from said institution, and is hellbent on slaughtering his family, anyone who gets in his way, and anyone who goes into his old house. And he’s out-and-about on Halloween night, dressed in a mechanic’s jumpsuit and a mask, so you can’t tell if he’s a killer or an adult who really loves Halloween, until he kills you. As a kid, watching this, I’ll admit that I was a bit freaked out to go trick or treating when Halloween night rolled around. I kept a watchful eye on everyone.

So how exactly was Zombie going to make this film any more scarier? Well, for starters, he was gonna give us a little more backstory on Michael, show us what led him to become the way he was, and even show us his first kill. There is nothing more unsettling than watching a little kid slit a grown man’s throat. From there he explores his time in the mental institution and his downward spiral into madness. After that, he just makes him non-stop brutal. So brutal that you almost feel every hit or stab, you cringe even more at the sound of a skull cracking or a neck snapping, and when he pops out of nowhere or crashes through a wall in an attempt to murder someone, you jump higher than you ever have. Zombie made this new Halloween so brutal, so violent, that I was actually desensitized to the original. I watched the 1978 version months later and was actually bored by it. That’s how you make a remake better – make the original seem boring and safe.

Make everyone look badass on the poster. Check. [source: Wikipedia]

4. Fright Night (2011). Here’s what sold me on this film from the very beginning: David Tennant as Peter Vincent, the magician/vampire slayer. That’s it. The fact that the Tenth Doctor was in this film was enough for me. I mean, Colin Farrell (one of my favorite actors) as the vampire Jerry was a nice addition as well, but it didn’t compare to the Doctor being cast. With that being said, I’d also like to add that, like the Friday the 13th remake, I wasn’t really worried if they messed up this film. I wasn’t a big fan of the original. I had maybe only watched it once when I was younger, and it never really latched on as one of my favorites. It wasn’t a bad flick, just wasn’t a favorite. The actual reasons I wanted it to do well was because it would introduce more people to the greatness that is David Tennant, and it might usher in a new wave of quality vampire films that might save us from the crap that is Twilight. Honestly, I think it did more of the former and less of the latter, which is fine by me, but it would be nice to see less sparkly vampires and more slaughter-y vampires. I was starting to get bored with the vampire genre, but this film managed to rekindle a bit of the love for the bloodsuckers. It was scary (I jumped a few times), it was witty (Tennant is quite funny), and it was incredibly well done (vampires that kill and don’t sparkle). It managed to make itself one of my favorite horror films, which is more than I can say for it’s predecessor. High five for that.

“Ooooo gurl! He crazy!” [allmoviephoto.com]

5. The Amityville Horror (2005). This film is one of those “Wow, I really didn’t expect that!” type of films. By that I mean it was actually a good remake and Ryan Reynolds proved that he can do more than just act like a goof. He was legitimately scary, like frighteningly scary. At no point was I thinking “Oh Ryan, put that ax down and stop acting like an idiot,” it was more like “HOLY SHITE! He’s gonna kill them! He has lost his damn mind!” Don’t get me wrong, I like Ryan as an actor but he’s always been the funny guy. This film was the first time I had seen him in something where he wasn’t trying to be comical. And it worked. Since then, I’ve seen him do more than just comedy and the guy can actually act, he’s got range. This film was proof of it. The rest of the cast was solid too (Melissa George, Chloe Grace Moretz, and Philip Baker Hall, just to name a few). And the film itself was well written, suspenseful, and quite scary. Just as good as the original, if not better. I mean, it makes me not want to be a home owner. Well, that and high mortgage rates and interest on home loans, finding safe areas to live in with good schools, and the fact that my credit isn’t so great right now. But mostly possessed houses.

 

You better run, and run fast. [source: Wikipedia]

6. Dawn of the Dead (2004). I wanna just start by saying that I hate zombies, especially in film. I find them quite boring and pointless. In the gallery of movie monsters, they are the lamest, right there with possessed dolls and baked goods. By saying this, I hope you can assume that I have a great dislike for anything with zombies with the exception of Shaun of the Dead, The Walking Dead, and Dead Rising. Oh, and this movie. This is an excellent movie. The best thing about the zombies in this flick is the fact that they’re quick. They’re the “Carl Lewis”-type zombies, which in real life, you don’t want to encounter but in movie life, it makes things more exciting. Here are some other great things about Dawn: First off, it was Zack Snyder’s feature film debut (one of my favorite directors). Secondly, it’s a solid remake of an already classic zombie film (Ok, I enjoy the original too. Happy now?). Thirdly, it takes place in a mall, which is the perfect place for a zombie film because it allows for the zombies as well as the people to die in so many strange and incredible ways (especially in the food court). Fourthly, it has Ving Rhames. Doesn’t mean it’s going to be good (Day of the Dead) but then again, it could be (Pulp Fiction). Finally, and most importantly, I made me enjoy zombie films just a little bit more. That’s not an easy thing to do and if someone or something can do that, even just a little bit, than something great has been accomplished and praise is deserved.

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