Archive for category Sequels

Alien 0? Tweenlight 4-1 and K.Smith’s attempt at Horror.

Since its been few months since either of us have had the time or drive to type anything short of an Amazon search query, I thought I’d take a look back at what we’ve missed.

Prometheus…After a bunch of comic-booky garbage, popularly known as the AVP films, Alien’s orginal director Ridley Scott returns to the franchise with a new vision that ambiguously holds the title of prequel, in the sense of an origin story, to the once beloved Sigourney Weaver space opera. Scott, and others involved with the project, have provided conflicting reports as to how much Prometheus will actually tie into the  franchise, but the  inspiration seemed to be to tell the story of the “Space Jockey” and his  derelict space vessel where the alien was initially encountered in the first film.

However, recent interviews with Scott provided further  confusion as he played down any connection with the Alien franchise saying that, “the keen fan will recognize strands of Alien‘s DNA,” but basically seems to suggest that it will have little to do with his signature acid blooded beasts. Despite all that noise, the marketing department seemed to not hesitate to use the classic slow forming ALIEN-style font in the trailer. Also, anyone who has 70 seconds to spare to watch the teaser might notice a few other familiar sights: people in Cryo-chambers, Giger style architecture, diseased crew members, and even the Space Jockey’s ship itself.  I wonder if we’ll all  be surprised if someone is secretly an android.

Even if it has as little to do with the sci-fi giant as Ridley seems to want everyone to believe, how can you go wrong with the guy that directed Alien, Blade Runner, and that oh so Witty 1984 Apple Macintosh Computer Superbowl ad.

Check out the trailer for yourself Here

Twilight Breaking Dawn Part 1… Yeah, I saw it. And as to be expected they dragged out a lot of the film’s teeny romantic aspects, especially the wedding and honeymoon, which droned on for a grueling while, but I must say that many aspects were done with a great deal more skill and grace than I would have expected. A perfectly controlled hyperbolic bloodbath dream sequence paved the way  for a darker film waiting to emerge, and as the tone soured the illustration of Bella Swan’s “sickness” was executed with a convincing transformation to an emaciated body  usually reserved for Holocaust victims. Unfortunately, one of the most painful exceptions to the rule was the presentation of the wolf-telepathy between Jacob and his pack which looked like a drunken argument between angry muppets after a long night of Kermit’s Green Jager shots.

Objectively, I would say the film was well done and probably a welcome entry for its fan base, albeit as hokey as usual.

Red StateI heard Jay and Silent Bob Fight God Nuts was the original title, but didn’t have quite the same ring. After seeing Smith’s fad-style of direction go out of favor and his originality wavier with it, I had been skeptical of Kevin’s Smith ability to direct anything well anymore let alone horror.  However, Red State had some merit to it . The plot follows three exaggerations of  high school boys that decide they  should all go do the same chick that they met on the internet at once. (Cause we all knew lots of straight Teen boys that would be cool with a Pseudo-homosexual experience for no good reason in the confines of the most judgmental  age bracket.)  Regardless , and unfortunately for them, the whole setup happens to be a ploy by an extremist church to kidnap the three of them and execute them in their church for being sexually unwholesome, I guess.

Enter-Abin Cooper…an interesting mix of bible-literalist, radical extremist, and cliche all wrapped into one. While Smith does a good job of creating tension with one of the boys  locked in cage, watching as Abin and his congregation mock and murder a homosexual man they’ve captured, every character in the room is pretty cookie cutter bible nut.  In all fairness, though, the piece is hardly intended as a character study.

Shortly after things are looking bleak for the ill-fated teens, the film shifts POV to John Goodman’s character, Joseph Keenan, an ATF agent that’s prepped for the audience as a red blooded typical American from the second he rolls out of bed and onto the screen. His cigarette smoking and coffee drinking self receives a call from his high ranking government superior while his wife cooks him a hardy breakfast of eggs and processed ham.  We soon learn that ATF has had their ever-watching eye on Abin’s cult for some time, and they want Goodman to perform a raid on their church. Despite Goodman’s warnings and concerns that ATF’s track record is a little tainted in such operations his superiors force him to mobilize a team to surround the church.

The rest of the movie carries out as you would expect: all hell breaks loose in a manner that heavy handedly criticizes events like the Waco assault. As the ATF starts killing Abin’s followers more brutally than this film attempts subtlety, the remaining hostages dwindle away and the movie works its way to a  deus ex machina ending that’s sort of clever but sort of just pulled out of someone’s ass also. I guess Smith never heard of Chekhov’s gun or maybe it was just out of bullets.

Most offensive is the outro, where Goodman has to debrief with two high ranking government officials that make over the top “hot button issues” jokes about terrorism and how they can subvert due process because they’re the government. (PATRIOT ACT Blah Blah TERRIORISM Blah blah ENTER YOUR FAVORITE ANTI-USA BUZZWORD HERE.)  Smith myswell have given them black handle bar mustaches to twirl while they bellow out deep laughs. However, Goodman shuts them up by rambling off childlike dog metaphors in a manner eerily similar to the one-speech-a-movie Silent Bob used to give.  Curious.

Even though I sound like I hated it, Smith does pull off suspense, drama, and discomfort at a level that I enjoyed, but subtlety is not his forte. While the film’s commentary is a bit BIT too TOO much, I agree with most of what he trying to say. The theme that any extreme leads to evil is a timeless and good subject, especially when these acts are perpetrated by those in power, its just when you approach it with the skillful tact and subtlety of Donkey Kong tossing a barrel the message loses a smidgen of power, But I guess in a movie where you’re expected to believe that anyone could shoot at John Goodman from an elevated position less than 100 yards away and miss, you need to suspend disbelief a little.

Final thoughts…honestly that’s really all I’ve had time to watch on the horror front these days…If you feel like you were cheated a Paranormal Activity 3 review then it probably would have went like this.

Matt: “It’s the best thing ever”

Chris: “It’s the worst movie ever “

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Paranormal Activity 3? Please Stop, Oren Peli, You’re Just Embarassing Yourself

So, I finally got around to watching Paranormal Activity 2, and I went in to watching it with a simple thought, “It can’t be worse than the original.” The bar that it had to surmount was set low enough, just create a film where something happens…anything. With the demon, terrorizing a family of 4: husband, wife, teen girl, baby boy, and even dog; I figured there has to be something new and different that the demon can do. Right? Wrong. PA2 was so terrible that it actually made me appreciate the first one.

I’m not kidding. While Paranormal Activity is still about the worst attempt at acting on record, paired with a lot of hype for one punch line I can not deny its ability to create tension with one shot. That uniform close shot of the blue bedroom made the viewer dread Micha and Katie’s bedroom as much as the actors supposedly did. PA2 takes that ONE strength and tosses it out the window by trying to apply it to the entire house in the form of five cameras that are installed by the family after a supposed break-in, and the scares are stretched far too thin.

The five cameras record the same old garbage that we saw in the first one, the demon does mundane pranks for a while: making pans fall, slamming doors, opening cabinets, and ,worst of all, removing their automatic pool skimmer. There will be dead bugs a-plenty in the water in the morning HA HA HA. What an EVIL creature! Even scenes that are supposed to be scary, like the demon lifting the baby out the crib, feel like watching a bad magician perform a trick after he’s already shown you where he hides his strings. We’ve seen it all before.

As for the plot, the film is almost useless on its own and just really serves as a frame for part one. The teenager, after using Google, discovers that demons often will trade wealth for the first born male and she realized that her half-brother is the first born male since the 1930′s, and thus speculates that some far off great-ancestor made a deal with a demon that’s been waiting since. Of course, the plot follows from her to explain how the demons ends up over at Katie and Micha’s place, but for as many plot holes that the movies fills up, it opens up about fifty of its own. For one, if the demon has waited for the better part of a century for payment why doesn’t the demon just take the damn kid on the first night, or kill Micha and take over Katie on the first night? A creature motivated by evil that takes weeks to get anything accomplished is a government employee not a supernatural demon.

Most offensive is the climax which involves the husband chasing his possessed wife into the basement with a camera with night-vision for one of those claustrophobic scenes under that off green filter. What were the creators of PA watching, Quarantine or REC one night and decided, “hey, we can rip that off and put it in our horrible series. Our fans don’t really seem intelligent enough to notice.” Really? If nothing else, Paranormal Activity was definitely original but I guess we threw that out the window too.

And, of course, the movie ends with the same open ended “their whereabouts are unknown” as the original, all ready for PA3 that is apparently in the works. Why? The novelty is worn off, and somebody needs to stop them before they become another Saw, the last novel idea that was milked until it reached self parody.         

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Quarantine 2 to “Fly Off” In New Direction

When Matt and I spoke with Paco Plaza, REC 2 writer/director, over the summer we had asked him if REC 2 or any other installments in his planned quadrilogy would be remade/Americanized. He said, “It depends on American producers.” Recent news has confirmed that a Quarantine 2 is happening, but its story has completely deviated from REC 2′s scripts. Normally, We are all for originally here at No Room in Hell, but the new direction of the American “Rabid Zombie Franchise” has me a little concerned.

Instead of continuing the storyline of the ill-fated apartment, as Rec 2 did, “Q2″ will take place on a plane where a stewardess and a kindergarten teacher will have to team up to stop the horde of rabid zombies and save the uninfected. Sounds brilliant, right? I don’t know about the rest of you, but after Flight of the Living Dead, Snakes on a Plane, and even Twilight Zone: The Movie’s remake of the classic “Terror at 20,000 Feet,” let’s just say “I’ve had it with these Mutha Fuckin Horror Movies on these Mutha Fuckin Planes.”

Heading up this instant classic will be John Pogue, who is probably most famous for writing Ghost Ship, a film that had the most awesome opening scene ever with “that wire trick” and then was pretty much a bore fest the rest of the way. His other work, that you may be familiar with, was writing the scripts for all three Skulls movies. Not exactly an inspiring resume, but Q2 with its snazzy subtitle: Terminal will mark his directorial debut, so for the moment I’ll put my skepticism aside and wait to see what he can do.

While Q2 doesn’t have a set release date, but principal shooting has already finished, so with the project in post-production we should expect more details soon.

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Horror Fans Want Formulaic Garbage.

I’ve come to the conclusion that except for myself, my co-writer Matt, and a handful of our readers that the majority of horror fans embrace repetitive swill as cinema. For the past thirties years, the only ingredients one needed to invent a horror frachise was to create a character that people might want to watch kill other people, over and over again. While I’d like to blame the slasher franchises of the eighties I recognize that Universal and Hammer would recycle their classic characters: Frankenstein, Dracula, The Wolfman into dozens of scenarios and even cross-overs, long before anyone conceived a predator aiming three red dots at an alien, and while Freddy verse Jason was probably just the description of two yokel idiots duking it out behind a bowling alley. While the same could be said for Godzilla fans, or Rocky fans for that matter, (maybe those two should fight) I still find it the invasion of formulaic sequels, remakes, crossover, and sequels of remakes and sequel cross over most offensive since horror is dripping wet, saturated with them as of late.

To prove my point, let’s see what’s on the docket for the near future of the genre. Hmmm.. Let’s start with Scream 4, I really don’t think I need to type any more than that, but I think it’s a safe bet to say that any horror movie featuring a cast member from Friends (Leprechaun included!) should not be watched. While I respect, in retrospect, the original Scream for its tongue and cheek commentary on the genre I think it should have stopped there. Who out there was just dying for the next Scream movie, anyway?

YOUR ASS IS MINE!

Next up Final Destination 5. I never thought this franchise would release enough movies to screw up their numbering method, but here where are. While the franchise’s latest entry not only returns to standard numbering practices it also convinces genre Rockstar Tony-”Have you got any shotguns in there” -Todd to return to playing…what the hell was the point of his character, again? Anyhow, part of me kinda liked this series for removing “the middle man” from the slasher movie “Victim-Killer-Death” dynamic, but the other part of me finds this franchise plays out like the angry ghosts of Rube Goldberg and Wile Coyote teamed up to reek overly complex havoc on stupid teens. Does it always have to be a nineteen step process to lock two stupid blonds in the tanning booths can’t we just drop some anvils on their heads?

Children of the Corn: The Dweller is in the works, which, horrifically, is the seventh or eighth “COTC” movie depending on if you count the TV remake of the original. I find the fact that this yellow undigestable grain looks identical in your toilet to how it begins on your plate more terrifying than any moment of this unnecessarily inflated franchise. If King knew what his story would have become I think he would have eaten the paper he typed it on and let it fall into his toilet with the yellow vegetable impersonator in question. Another one of these movies? Really?

Hellraiser: Revelations. I know people love this franchise, and Pinhead is awesome in that dry-wit, dark humor Freddy-esque way, but I never really understood this franchise. You have torture horror headed up by an angry pin cushion from hell who gets owned in every film when somebody solves a puzzle box. Why don’t they just do a YouTube search for the Rubik Cube Champion. I easily found a guy that could solve one with one hand in seventeen seconds. Fly him over, and Pinhead will be back in hell before the opening credits finish. Love it or hate it, the ninth entry in this franchise is on its way.

LeatherFace 3D. I hate 3D. It has finally come to that. Once a novelty, now a cheap selling point, 3D is just another excuse for crappy writing and lazy cinematography, not to mention, it’s the last thing a franchise that’s been a mess since its legendary original, needed. The three sequels in the original chain of movies, Dennis Hopper and Bill Mosley antics aside, have been mostly unwatchable even with a cameo from Ken Foree. Now, they’re pushing the remade chain of movies up to the third link and put the 3D stamp on it? Count me out.

Next up, my co-author Matt will be ecstatic to learn that one of his all time favorites, Shrooms, will soon have a sequel that is also allegedly in 3D…more details to follow.

Also in remake-sequel news, Friday the 13th Part 2 (take II 2011?) is still in development talks, which makes you wonder what happens in 2041? Will the next generation of Jason watchers remake the franchise for a third time and shouldn’t they, soon or later, update the mask to one of those new-fangled modern goalie masks that looks like a football helmet and a motorcycle helmet cross bred? That might be the fresh start this franchise needs.

I could go on… There’s talks of Candyman 5, a Child’s Play remake, A Pet Semetary Remake, another Cloverfield, a fourth Underworld etc…

The very existence of these many remakes, rehashes, redos, re-imaginings, reboots, and sequels that won’t die illustrates the truth that people are paying for anything with their franchises tag on it. If we have indeed become that simple of fans of than what aspect of these movies keep filling the seats? Perhaps, it is the ancient Greek tradition of the anti-hero, also often adopted by Shakespeare, which allows the viewer to identify with a flawed creature who we simultaneous love and hate as we take pride and pity in their ruination. Yeah, probably not. However, we do form a dysfunctional “buddy” relationship with our slashers, be they silent or wisecracking, enjoying in their homicidal success and the finesse they do it with, but secretly rooting for them to fail, be defeated. Bizarre, but totally, true.

While I’d like to believe that the whole depreciation of the American horror genre’s intelligence could be as simple as identifying with comic-book like super-villians, constantly waiting for the next issues no matter how bad they are, the truth is that the formula itself has its own attraction. For example, for some ungodly reason, Matt and I sat down and watched the original April Fools Day, which actually boasts a body count of ZERO, but plays out the slasher formula in the same manner. Of course, there’s the previously mentioned Final Destination which has no killer proving further it isn’t about the post-mortem punchlines or the looming silence of a hulking man. Maybe, we just liked to watched people get offed.

That concept is pretty easy to believe in a society that worships pathetic reality talent shows that are set up in the same format: a group of people that are going to be eliminated one by one in the next twelve weeks…scary isn’t it? Maybe, if they come up with a show where they actually kill these idiotic participants then I’ll actually have something to watch in lieu of the crappy horror industry. In the  meantime, one of the only original horror flicks on the horizon in the American horror genre is Kevin Smith’s Red State, and waiting for him to breathe some life into the genre is just sad.

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Zomedies, body part dolls, rotting humans, and Adrian Paul: My latest review of the rental market

Cabin Fever 2: Spring Fever. I know plenty of people who couldn’t even stand the first one, but don’t worry, this is your typical straight to Beta-max, barely related sequel that tries to bridge the gap with the return of a barely memorable character, Deputy Winston, and has little to do with the original. This sequel takes Eli Roth’s original vision of isolation and paranoia and mutates his virus story into a teeny, but sometimes stylistic gore fest that tests your winch and gag reflexes throughout. However, the characters and writing is mostly horrible, and the terror relies heavily on gross out factors, but Spring Fever does have Noah Segan the stand-out villain from Dead Girl, however this role gives him a lot less depth to explore.

Final Grade: Ok-nothing-else-on-movie, but don’t watch it while eating if you have a weak stomach.

The Last of the Living- Another average tongue and rotted-cheek zombie film that falls short in a Post-Shaun of the Dead and Zombie Land world. Borrowing heavily from both, the plot follows three lazy New Zealanders that have made the best of the apocalypse by house-hopping and playing other people’s video game collections. Except for the zombies, life is great, until the trio of unlikely heros discover a living girl who claims to possess the cure for infection, leaving these unlikely heroes with the task of saving the world; typical plot conventions follow.

While Last of the Living has some bright spots, the flick is mostly unoriginal for about ninety percent of its running time as that “the apocalypse is fun and cool” has been done to, well… death. The finale on the other hand has a bold edge to it that I enjoyed, but I wouldn’t crawl over a pile of corpses to watch it.

Final Grade: Average, if nothing else is on and you already watched Cabin Fever 2…. then maybe check this out.

Romeo and Juliet Vs. The Undead- How you could go wrong with a title like that is beyond me, but honestly I strapped myself in for this one expecting something quite awful. Instead of garbage, “Romeo” proved to be a very clever spoof on the Shakespearean Classic. Any dolt with even the most limited knowledge of the most cliched and over quoted lines from the play should find themselves laughing hysterically at this film’s clever twist on Shakespearean language and scenes of the play as sophomoric humor meets high brow allusions and Romeo and Juliet meet the undead. Haven’t you always wanted to see The Nurse devoured by zombies when she delivers Juliet’s message or see a Zombie Rosaline have it out with Juliet? Hasn’t everyone? Check it out or suffer a plague on both your houses!

Final Grade: Very Enjoyable. Maybe not Instant Classic status but pretty damn close.

The Mad- Another Zomedy. This one has Billy Zane (yes the bad guy from Titanic or more preferably Demon Knight) dragging his daughter on a vacation in banjo country with her boyfriend and his girlfriend. While tensions clash between Zane’s daughter and her would-be step mother their “ideal” vacation stop-off starts to suffer a zombie plague induced by hamburger patties from infected cattle. Hilarity follows.

The Mad has a stylist approach to the genre but never takes itself serious enough to seem pompous as its clever and often corny humor is often self deprecating by picking apart overused conventions and other cliches. Most notable is a two minute discussion on the hard-to-define-zombie debate that the survivors have as they argue over whether  a zombie has to be undead. Undead or not, corny or not, The Mad is still worth a watch.

Final Grade: Enjoyable. Nice to see a post-Shaun of the Dead Zomedy that doesn’t suck or isn’t a complete rip off.

May- Another one of those social-invert turned serial killer movies, but this one does have a little bit of charm. Angela Bettis( most famous for playing Carrie in the TV remake) does an excellent job of making the audience empathize with a social awkward girl with a lazy eye who was forced to grow up with a doll as her only friend. The plot follows May’s miscues as she tries to grasp the inter-working of human companionship, but continues to fail miserably through sexual misadventures with men and women, and then ultimately shifts her strategy to working with blind children to find fufillment. This, of course, backfires in one of the more artistically disturbing scenes I’ve watched for some time. Overall, the awkward girl gets revenge plot has been done quite a bit, Carrie included, but I found May to have some depth in its vision, symbolism, and quirky humor.

Otherwise, I guess the only bright spot is watching Anna Faris of Scary Movie fame play an amusing lesbian.

Final Grade: Decent, I’m on the fence on this one, but I think I’m leaning toward the positive.

Seance- Oh Boy. Hard to find anything good to say about this one as Seance plays on the typical misunderstood ghost plot and tries to used Ring-esque little girl creepiness to sell itself. Either way, turns out the girl isn’t the villain, and she’s only trying to deliver the truth about her murder from a child rapist named Spence played by Adrian Paul. So, the girl that’s living in the former apartment turned college dorm holds a seance that fails to obtain the little girls motivations, but succeeds in summoning Spence, and Looney Toons follows.

Spence mostly walks around making stupid faces and whistling “The Itsy Bitsy Spider” leaving Adrian Paul with about three lines of dialogue, occurring in a flashback. Everything else about this yawn-fest is typical and not scary. The most horrific part of Seance is having to watch the remains of Adrian Paul’s career lurch around screen. SIGH.

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Interview With REC 2 Writer/Director Paco Plaza!

I’m not sure how my lucky number came up when the promoters of REC 2 were looking for bloggers to write about their film, but a couple weeks ago I was offered an advanced screener and an interview with writer/director Paco Plaza.  Surely, our humble blog here doesn’t rank amongst the horror blogosphere elite (check out our current HorrorBlips ranking haha), but I like to think that we do a good job with the limited time we have to devote.  So, that said, I was very pleased to receive the interview invite.  Chris and I watched the film and came up with some (I think) thoughtful questions that we figured would interest our readers.  As I’m sure you already know, REC 2 picks up right where the first film left off, placing us behind the lenses in the same apartment complex overrun with its killer residents.  Here is the interview:

I was interested to see that there are plans to make this series into a foursome with “Apocalypse” and “Genesis.” What aspects about REC inspired a saga and what concepts do you think will hold an audience through four films?

After the release and success of the first film, we began to think it was worth developing the cosmology we had created. When we thought about it, we decided to rescue some ideas that were already planted. For the example, the demonic possession left a lot to explore. And that’s what we’re now doing, with each film we want to give twists and turns and have the story go beyond imagination.

Recently, the first person hand held camera style has become popular. What do you think it is about this style that has captivated audiences?

I don’t know; maybe the POV offers a deeper implication, linked with other languages like TV or videogames that a young audience is familiar with. And it’s much cheaper, and that has no doubt captivated producers.

Will all four movies maintain the “first person” hand-held camera style?

No, that will change.

Anything you can tell about the direction the saga is going to take?

No, sorry. We think part of the success has been hiding our cards until the premiere, and we want to keep it like that. All I can say is that I’m writing the prequel with Luis Berdejo, we’re working really hard in making it the funniest and scariest of the three.

Should American audiences expect to see any of the three new films finding themselves into American remakes?

I don’t know.  It depends on American producers.

What makes REC 2 unique from its predecessor and the other films of the first person camera style?

I think its mix of genres; in fact, it is a film spliced in two. Our model on this was James Cameron’s Aliens and its turn into action.  We wanted to play with different POV’s and have flash-back, a bunch of new and playful elements. It’s not as strict as the first one.

Zombie horror has become a leading genre these days and I feel REC was pigeonholed into that genre. What about the REC saga transcends that genre?

Possibly that both REC films contain really strong views on Spanish society. They deal important matters such as racism and media manipulation.

What do you envision as being the “next big thing” (genre, style, etc) in horror?

I don’t know. What I’ve enjoyed is the end of those awful torture movies with pointless violence involved. We’re lucky that is over.

What did you use as blood in REC 2?  It’s very realistic.

At certain moments its real pig blood; many times (when in contact with the actors) is just a special composition, a secret formula David Ambit (FX) will never share.

During the writing process of the first film, was the religious/demon angle always the intended direction?

Yes, that is the background we created; at the end of the first REC we somehow gave a lot of clues, in the tape, in the newspapers on the wall…everything was already there.

Some might view REC and REC 2 as critical of the Catholic church.  Was it your intention to make a statement about the church?

Not at all. We both are big fans of The Exorcist, I agree it’s one of the best films ever made; we loved the idea of showing that our creatures were not zombies, and in the end of REC we had sawed the idea of a demonic possession happened in Portugal. I’m a practicing Catholic, but Jaume is not, and I think the approach to the subject of possession for us was more aesthetic than religious.

[End Interview]

First, a statement – I greatly appreciate being offered this interview and I think Mr. Plaza gave us good, honest answers to the questions.  However, I’d be remiss if I didn’t say that he omitted some of our more “difficult” questions, namely:

  • The Catholic Church is an organization founded on spirituality and uses it to explain our reality.  Given this, in REC 2, why are they trying to find a scientific explanation for something that is always considered a religious/spiritual matter?
  • There seems to be a bit of confusion regarding the role the viewer is supposed to play in REC 2 considering we are watching several different pieces of video captured from multiple devices.  Is this “found footage”?  And if so, why did the editor of the footage choose to keep elements like battery meters and other viewfinder text on the final print?

As you may guess, these two questions reflect my main criticisms of REC 2 and I would love to have had Plaza’s opinion on them, but I can understand that there are plot holes and certain leaps of faith (no pun intended) that we’re expected to take as viewers.  What did you think of REC 2 and were you able to get past these flaws?

[REC] 2 is now available on VOD, VUDU, Xbox Marketplace Playstation Network, Amazon and will be in theaters July 9th.  Check out the official website at Rec2themovie.com and if you haven’t already seen it, watch the trailer below.

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Alone In The Dark II – Disgraceful. Will The Real Edward Carnby Please Stand Up?

Carnby1The other day I sat down and watched, against my better judgment, Alone in the Dark II (2008). I got nostalgic and soon found myself suckered in with the mentality that it couldn’t ruin one of my favorite childhood franchises worse than Uwe Boll did. I was dreadfully wrong.

Growing up, Alone in the Dark’s signature hero, Edward Carnby, was the Chris Redfield before there was a Chris Redfield. He could shoot his way through a house full of zombies, and if he ran out of bullets he’d a grab a knife from the cutting board or even the cutting board itself and crack open some rotted heads. If that didn’t work he would just throw some killer head-butts and crescent kicks. Let’s see Redfield do that.alonedark_nightmare_screen001

However, with superior graphics, the Resident Evil franchise took the spotlight away from its spiritual grandfather, so Alone in the Dark attempted to revamp for the new millennium with Alone in the Dark: The New Nightmare (2001) which moved Carnby and the franchise out of prohibition era America into modern day with some lame explanation about the character being a descendant in some secret organization that passes down the name… really a load of marketing garbage to try to compete with Resident Evil. Carnby, himself, was transformed into a Fox Mulderish wise cracking, early thirty-something, and if that wasn’t bad enough they even paired him with a red-head love interest and threw some government agency conspiracy into the mix.

Unfortunately, this “X-file” that no one should have opened gave Uwe Boll, the worst German since WWII, an idea. And when Uwe Boll gets an idea, a beloved survival horror title becomes a disgrace.

aloneinthedarkslaterBoll’s “brilliant” vision of bringing Alone in the Dark (2005) to the screen cast Christian-we thought your career was over-Slater as Carnby while Tara-bad boob job-Reid played the Dana Scully-ish character. The movie was mess of bad slow motion, half-assed CGI monsters,  plot holes, and Stephen Dorff – the guy you wouldn’t know if he wasn’t the villan in the first Blade movie – who brought plenty of terrible over-acting as the psudeo-villian that, of course, turns good just in time to save the day. While Slater was, in retrospect, a passible Carnby, the movie itself was terrible and only loosely based on anything anywhere in the games.

After the dust cleared from that mess, I was content on going back to playing the original trilogy on an old laptop and forgetting about the other two massacres until Atari decided they were going to try to make everything better by resurrecting Carnby in 2008 with the simply titled Alone in the Dark, which did its best to try to create a plot that would completely discount everything that happened in The New Nightmare and Boll’s piece of trash by simply pretending the game, and the horrible movie based on it, never happened -what I like to refer to as the Highlander 3 maneuver. Nevertheless, this new Alone in the Dark expected us to swallow the fact that Carnby Rip-Van-Winkled it sometime during the Hoover administration and woke up in modern times.  Iwould be wiling to swallow this if the gameplay wasn’t a mess of innovation for the sake of it, an over extended mutli-genre debacle, and filled with more bugs than an apartment in Baltimore. At least, I was sure now that the franchise couldn’t get any worse?Carnby 5

Then I sat down and watched Alone in the Dark II (2008). Although, why it has the right to be a “2″ to anything still remains cryptic. The original game to bear that title was about zombie pirates turned bootleggers kidnapping a little girl during prohibition and this is definitely not that. You could try to make the case that it’s a sequel to the Boll monstrosity, but honestly you would have to get some military quality bungee to make a stretch like that since the plot bares no resemblance to anything Alone in the Dark. Maybe most insulting is that Carnby is now portrayed by Rick Yune, whose ethnic background is completely different than that of the character he is portraying. Real good continuity, people! Perhaps the producers should just be honest about the fact that they just stamped the franchise name on their crappy movie and put Carnby’s dog tags on Yune’s horrible character because they wanted people like myself to get suckered into watching it.

RICK YUNEHowever, if the film was even average I wouldn’t have cared. Instead, it unloads its abysmal writing by kicking off with a shootout/chase scene that has something to do with a witch, a dagger, and some group of demon hunters that run around firing big guns at bad blurs of CGI while yelling poorly acted lines to each other through cool stylish headsets. Carnby somehow, which remains puzzling  (yes five minutes in and its already confusing)  becomes involved with the dagger, gets stabbed with it, and spends the next half hour being carried around by the demon hunters group. While Carnby is lying around bed whining, Lance Henriksen – who we want to like because he was Bishop from Aliens – goes on this whole rant about how he’s not going to get involved, probably setting up the reluctant hero that has sacrifice himself cliche. Then we cut to more shootouts with the CGI blur.

If you haven’t surmised it, the film was unwatchable, made Uwe Boll look like Martin Scorsese, and I couldn’t even force myCarn1self to finish it, which leaves me with one nagging question. Do I want there be to another Alone in the Dark anything?  It’s a really sad reality because this series had some strong potential back in 1992. Back then, there wasn’t anything like it. Dark halls, puzzles, guns, and Lovecraft style creepiness: footprints in the distance and macabre sneaking up on you from behind every corner had never rooted itself in the world of gaming. This franchise should have developed into something fantastic as technology improved. Instead, we get a character that’s completely revamped too many times, too far separated from his tough-as-nails Charles Bronson meets Macgyver roots, and four bad attempts at trying to have this franchise claim a foothold with a new generation. Can the real Edward Carnby please start cracking some more heads with a frying pan, and maybe box the hell out of Uwe Boll, until we get another decent entry into the franchise?

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Descent 2 Clip/Synopsis Surface And I’m Scared

dposterI’ve said it a dozen times on here before and I’ll do it one more time – Neil Marshall’s The Descent (2005) is one of the best horror movies of all time.  It worked on nearly every level – strong characters, incredibly tense and claustrophobic setting, the right amount of gore, great effects, and an awesome ending (talking about the original U.K. one).  It gets under my skin even after repeated viewings and that’s saying a lot.  So, kudos, Mr. Marshall.

When I first got wind of the impending sequel, The Descent: Part 2, which opens in the U.K. this week, I was apprehensive.  If you hold the U.K. ending as the film’s true ending (which I do), there’s really no reason to continue the story.  It’s already wrapped up in a neatly morbid little package.  Maybe I’ve been avoiding doing research on the sequel, but I just stumbled upon the synopsis:

Emerging from the cave system alone, distraught and covered in the blood of her missing companions, Sarah is incoherent and half-wild with fear. Sceptical about her account of events and convinced Sarah’s psychosis hides far darker secrets, Sheriff Vaines (Gavan O’Herlihy) doesn’t waste time. Along with his partner Rios (Krysten Cummings), and their cave rescue team Dan (Douglas Hodge), Greg (Joshua Dallas), and Cath (Anna Skellern), Vaines forces Sarah back into the caves to help the rescuers find her friends.

I know it’s a horror movie but this is ridiculous!  First of all, I hate the fact that Sarah is emerging from the cave after her encounter with the creatures/Juno.  That means we’re going with the U.S. ending which was a total cop-out from the original idea.  On the DVD commentary, Marshall said they used the “Sarah gets out” ending for U.S. audiences because they reacted better to it.  I guess that means most of the U.S. test audiences were idiots.  Damn you!

Even if you concede that we have to use the U.S. ending, this synopsis is still a bit asinine.  So she emerges alone, tells the cops what happened, and then is forced to go back into the cave by the cops!? What kind of cops are these!?  In case you don’t remember, this is how Sarah looked when we last saw her:

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Now that looks like a woman ready to go back into a cave with blind, flesh eating, half-human monsters, doesn’t it?  If we’re to believe anything of what we learned about Sarah in the first film, it’d be pretty reasonable to believe she’d quickly dispatch these sadistic cops with a pickaxe to the thigh or die trying rather than go back in.  But this is a horror sequel after all, right?  So we’re supposed to have an even bigger suspension of disbelief.  Bullshit, I say.

One of the reasons why The Descent was so great was because it was believable (aside from the monsters existing, I guess, but you never know).  There wasn’t anything over-the-top about what happens on screen.  The characters are realistic and they become trapped in a situation that has happened in real life – being trapped in a cave.  The whole film has a gritty, claustrophobic realism that scares the shit out of me.

All of this aside, Marshall is not directing The Descent: Part 2 and I’m afraid that it may cheapen the impact of the first film.  Based on the clip below, this sequel seems to be sticking with the claustrophobia themes but I’m scared it’s just going to be a rehash of old (but excellent) ideas.  Regardless, I’ll be there on opening night for this one.  Check out the clip and let us know what you think.

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