Entries Tagged 'movies' ↓

Guilty Pleasure

Look what I found. The first episode of Milla Jovovich's 2006 sci-fi/actioner, Ultraviolet, spun-off as an anime. I'm still not sure why anyone would want to adapt a box-office underperformer such as this. Ultraviolet did have an in-your-face comic book flair, so I guess it makes sense on some level. Maybe the series went into production before the film was released -- I hear anime can take a while to complete. I haven't watched the whole thing, but it appears to be a prequel.

I'm surprised the folks behind Underworld still haven't tried this. I mean, the Hellboy direct to DVD animated movies appear to be successful. They even have the original cast doing the voice work. It would probably be easier (and cheaper) getting Kate Beckinsale to voice Selene in an animated feature, than suiting up in latex at this point. Even Legion dipped its toe in the water, going the motion comic route with a trailer for a graphic novel.

I'm not totally sold on motion comics, but I thought that looked pretty decent -- the actual film was another story.

Vampire Weekend

Had seen I Thirst earlier, there's no question it would have made my twenty-five of the decade horror list. It's a thriller, horror and dark romance all seamlessly stitched together. A priest becomes infected with a bizarre virus that gives him an insatiable thirst for blood... among other things. A desperate housewife trapped in an unhappy marriage. Sparks -- er, blood flies when they cross paths. Think Let The Right One In with grown-ups. If you've seen Chan-wook Park's Oldboy, you know that he can go to some pretty dark places, so be warned. Still, it's good to see all these horror imports with complex characters.

Daybreakers is a slick sci-fi/horror film that sometimes feels a bit hindered by its modest twenty-something million dollar budget. The global vampire domination premise does sound like something from a discarded Blade script, but the likes of Ethan Hawke, Willem Dafoe and Sam Neill help keep the story grounded. Decent effects and action -- especially when you consider the budget. The (Blu-Ray) DVD promises cool extras like a feature-length documentary, so that might be worth checking out.

25 Screams

I think it's pretty safe to say that I'm the only person on the net who came up with a list of the Best Horror Films of the last decade. Originality, that's me! Why twenty-five? I wanted to go with ten, but there were just too many good films, especially the imports. Foreign Horror stepped its game up, while Hollywood was mostly content to remake.

I've never cared much for slasher flicks and torture porn, so don't be surprised by their omission. Even with twenty-five slots, it was still a difficult task -- I'm sure that I've still managed to miss a gem or two. Anyway, without further delay, I present the first installment: (25-21)

25. The Ring (remake)

Part of the first wave of Asian Horror remakes to hit American theaters. It was spooky, atmospheric and had one hell of a hook.

24. The Eye (original)

Better than The Ring in my opinion, the remake with Jessica Alba was huge letdown. The concept of "haunted" organ transplants is nothing new, but this South Korean film has some interesting twists along the way.

23. Brotherhood of the Wolf

Christophe Gans directed this stylish French action-horror flick about two men pursuing a murderous beast on the rampage. Part legend, part speculation, this is all fun. And anything with Monica Bellucci instantly increases its watchability.

22. Blood: The Last Vampire

I love the art, but often find anime characters and stories to be somewhat... lacking -- no, boring. Not the case here. A slick, little film that runs under an hour about a mysterious girl who hunts vampiric creatures. Ignore the awful live-action adaptation from earlier this year. See this instead.

21. Ginger Snaps

Effective low-budget Canadian horror about a teen female lycanthrope. Puts Wes Craven's bloated and over-cooked Cursed to shame.

(more to come...)

Write on!

Two weeks since my last post?! I almost feel like apologizing. A couple of recent (and not so recent) thoughts....

V and Flash Forward are both done until March, but I can't say that I'll miss them terribly. After a shaky start, V has settled into guilty pleasure viewing, nothing more. Flash Forward has always felt like a blatant attempt by ABC to catch lightning in a bottle. There's been a lot of flailing around in the last couple of weeks. Characters with inconsistent behavior, dumb plotting, and the overload of soap opera elements -- who really cares about the Doc's quest to find his Japanese true love? Lots of retooling during hiatus, but will viewers return to see the results? I still can't believe the network doesn't have supplemental content to keep fans engaged during that long of a break.

Better than Twilight -- yeah, I know, that's not saying much, but still.. Occasionally, more often than we'd like to admit, bad/cheesy stories sell. But don't just dismiss it as dumb luck. Understand that these stories are bypassing the head and speaking directly to the hearts of their intended audience. Can your stories do the same?

So I (finally) settled on my procedural and I'm getting there. Made some huge strides a few days ago. Early on, I promised myself that I wouldn't hastily throw something together just for the sake of a contest. No need to add another ill conceived idea to my unfinished spec graveyard. If this contest doesn't work out, I still have a pretty good start for a feature. The details for the first act are almost fleshed out. My biggest adversary is time. I suspect the contest will reach 1500 entries well before the January deadline. A productive weekend is a must.


In search of inspiration, I revisited Raines on Hulu, the short-lived Jeff Goldblum series from a couple years ago about a detective who interacts with hallucinations of murder victims as he works their cases. More grounded than something like Ghost Whisperer, it's an intriguing premise that doesn't quite take off. Goldblum's great as a man battling to maintain his sanity, but too many of the episodes were hit or miss.

I also caught Mad Detective on Sundance's Asia Extreme. A brilliant-but-not-all-there former cop (there was an "incident" involving an ear) who claims he can see people's inner personalities, as well as the ghost of his wife. Think an insane Asian Columbo. A young detective enlists his help with a baffling case. Surprised this hasn't been remade for the States, probably just a matter of time... *googling* ... which will be sooner than later, according to this blurb in Variety.

I got bored with straight procedurals like Law & Order and C.S.I. years ago, but audiences still can't seem to get enough of them. The challenge for me is to find a happy medium -- hey, that's a thought...

Trick ‘r Treat

Anna Paquin stars on one of the hottest shows on cable TV, which happens to feature vampires as well other supernatural creatures, so her involvement in a Halloween-themed horror flick exec produced by X-Men's Bryan Singer sounds like a no-brainer for a theater near you, right? BZZZT! Nope. Trick 'r Treat's straight to DVD release is downright puzzling. Some might find a scene or two objectionable, but it's a mostly solid collection of tales about the spirit of Halloween:

a) Respect the symbols of Halloween.

b) Burying secrets.

c) A prank goes horribly wrong.

d) The spirit of Halloween pays a grumpy old man a visit.

e) A naive young woman in search of a date.

The film feels a lot like an updated Tales From The Darkside. Makes the most of its rumored 12 million dollar budget. The move to bypass theaters must be a result of behind the scenes machinations that we're not privy to, someone won/lost a power play? I mean, even the subpar Blood:The Last Vampire got a limited release. Regardless, this should do well on DVD...

First 5 mins of Colin

Check out the first five minutes of the small budget ($70) zombie flick that made big waves at Cannes. Looks okay, but I was expecting a stronger opening...

Paranormal Activity

Not gonna give up any spoilers, but scariest movie of all time? I think not. You can find scarier clips on online, in fact, I'll give you a head start:

The 10 Scariest videos on the internet.

(watch out for #2!)

The Blair Witch comparisons are apt. Low budget, high concept horror goes on to become an "overnight" box office sensation. Not bad for a film that's been sitting on the shelf for a few years. ..

Nice idea with adequate execution and a FEW tense moments. Unlike BW, Paranormal Activity doesn't feel like a bunch of actors riffing for 90+ minutes. There's definitely a three act structure to the story. I could almost describe it as an extended episode of Supernatural where the Winchester brothers *don't* show up. If you ignore the hype and lower your expectations, it should be a decent experience... but you still might hate it with every fiber of your being...


The marketing folks are the real stars here. They've managed to create buzz by turning a tiny film into an event, which is no small feat. After that, the bandwagon effect took over.

I tweeted earlier about a possible Paranormal Activity 2. Who didn't see that coming?

And get ready for the imitators...


You wouldn't believe how many hits my blog gets from the Wolvesbayne trailer that I posted back in May. Who knew it had such a following? Anyway, I checked out last night's premiere on SyFy.... kind of what I expected... a man -- last name Bayne, get it? --- is attacked by a werewolf and gets caught up in a long running feud between humans and vampires.

It's basically a mishmash of various action/horror movie plots: Underworld, Underworld: Evolution, Queen of the Damned, etc. Jeremy London is fine as the reluctant monster/hero, while Yancy Butler and Mark Dacascos chew up scenery like nobody's business as evil vamps. The opening is actually pretty decent. We get a brief shot of a full fledged werewolf in attack mode -- don't remember another one. The main problem with most werewolf flicks, especially the low budget variety, is the lack of a decent looking creature. All you need is some fangs and maybe a pair of funky contacts to be a vampire. It's no surprise that the vamps get the majority of screen time. In Wolvesbayne, we have to settle for kinda-werewolf-like-if-you-squint-real-hard.

I thought the plot was a little too complicated for its own good, and the story was too ambitious for the limited budget. Based on the ending, someone is obviously trying to start a little direct to video franchise. Not the best low budget werewolf flick, that prize goes to Dog Soldiers or Ginger Snaps, but more interesting than stuff like Big Bad Wolf and Warwolves.

Daybreakers One Sheet

Don't know about you, but this reminds me of the human farms/batteries in The Matrix and Blade: Trinity. A lot. The last thing you want to do is evoke memories of a really bad vampire film. Still, I like the premise, so I'll try to block out any thoughts of vampires strutting around in red leather pants.


I've always loved the concept of a claustrophobic action/thriller set on a spaceship, and Pandorum starts off with the best of intentions. Crew members (or are they?) wake up from hyper-sleep aboard the Elysium, suffering from temporary amnesia. Something's gone wrong with the ship and to top it off, bloodthirsty creatures are everywhere. Oh yeah, extended periods in space can lead to a condition called SPACE MAD-- er, Pandorum.

This is a dark film. Very dark. Is that a boob? No, it's her knee. Where are they!? WHO'S TALKING!? Pandorum isn't bad, you've just seen it before. Bits and pieces of other films like Event Horizon, Sunshine, Resident Evil, Alien, etc. stitched together into an uneven genre quilt. Hard to say more without giving away spoilers, but the performances were pretty solid -- newcomer Antje Traue has a Milla Jovovich vibe working really well for her. It's easy to dismiss this as a mindless sci-fi actioner, but there's a decent attempt at the thriller aspect, some okay twists along the way. The ending is alright. Gotta check out the script for a little compare and contrast.

The film's main selling point, the creatures, was probably the most unnecessary. I think it would've worked just fine with paranoid humans vs. paranoid humans. There were a couple of non-sci-fi scripts that used the temporary amnesia angle -- but ironically enough, I'm blanking on the names...

Even with its flaws, I was sorry to see the low box office returns.

Freddy vs. Freddy

Shocks me to say this, but we really do have a tendency to remember our childhood as being sweeter than it actually was. I say shocking because that quote comes from the always introspective Michael Bay, one of the producers of the remake/re-imagining/whatever they call it these days, who's bringing us back to Elm Street in 2010. I can't believe how cheesy the original looks to my grownup eyes. The laughable scares, dated music and cheap special effects now make me groan more than anything else -- does this count as one of my semi-weekly throwbacks? Hey, there goes a young Johnny Depp! The new trailer, on the other hand, looks like the business. Love Englund, but New Freddy has a creepy vibe and a genuine menace about him. I know Bay's fingerprints are all over this, but maybe, just maybe...

Jennifer’s Autopsy

I don't get all the Diablo Cody hate -- especially the sour grapes from unsold screenwriters. Her first screenplay became a hit film that grossed over 200 million dollars worldwide and netted her an Oscar... oh yeah, she used to be a stripper. What's the big deal?

'The dialogue in Juno was unrealistic and annoying!'
'She's just a flash in the pan!'
'Who calls themselves Diablo Cody?'
'She only gets attention because she's an attractive woman.'

Who cares!? Don't you have better things to do, you know, like writing? For the record, I didn't care for "Juno," but I think it's a good thing when *anyone* sells a spec that becomes a critical and commercial success. Increases our odds just a bit. Anyway, the film...

A botched human sacrifice transforms a bitchy teen into a bitchy, demonic teen who feeds on (mostly male) human flesh, and it's up to Jennifer's B.F.F. to stop her before it's too late. Not bad. A throwback to 80s B-movies. Kind of lacking in the suspense department. If you're going to turn the tables on the boys in a horror flick, go all the way. Break out all the old clichés and have fun with them -- I kept waiting for some big, macho football player to twist an ankle while attempting to run away from the hot monster-chick. All in all, Megan Fox doesn't embarrass herself. It's not the best role to showcase her skills, but who in their right mind would turn down the opportunity to star in a flick written by a screenwriter coming off an Academy Award?

Based on the names involved, the Box Office was a disappointment. But I wouldn't be so quick to start dancing on the grave of Cody's screenwriting career. People underestimate how hard it is to market a horror-comedy. With the exception of "Shaun of the Dead," most of the recent attempts have flopped. The trailer should have focused more on scares rather than one-liners. The "R" rating was a huge mistake -- probably the result of one too many (unnecessary) f-bombs. David Goyer's "The Unborn" (PG-13) had a 19 million dollar opening weekend with Odette Yustman (who?) as the lead -- not a good film, but they certainly knew how to sell the goods. JB's budget was around 16 million, so at the end of the day, the film will eventually make a profit. If the DVD has a commentary track with Cody and Kusama, I'll definitely check it out.

District 9

Before seeing the film, I was lucky enough to hear a radio interview with Writer/Director Neil Blomkamp. He described how he wanted to combine his love of Sci-Fi with the experience of growing up in a "crazy" place like South Africa. In that regard, I'd have to say, mission accomplished.

It's incredible what Blomkamp was able to accomplish with a modest budget, under 40 million dollars. Okay, we're not exactly talking about a shoe-string production with Grandma doubling as cinematographer and chief stunt woman, but for the scope of the film, the final result is still pretty impressive. I'm not gonna name names, but a couple of the effects exceeded the work seen in a recent summer blockbuster or two *cough* G.I. Joe *cough*. Stuff gets blown up real good with lots of cool alien weaponry as our "hero" fights to regain his humanity -- it's highly debatable how much he had in the first place.

While entertaining, I didn't think the film had some deep, resonating message. "Alien Nation" already covered the oppressed-minorities-substituted-with-aliens-thing. Here, I don't think the aliens are supposed to represent anything but aliens -- who get high off cat food. There's a good bit of satire in the beginning, but aside from saying that earthlings of all colors are scum, "District 9" settles into your basic Sci-Fi actioner worthy of rabid fanboy adoration. Now it's more than possible that my American eyes didn't pick up on all the nuances, but I think I got the gist of it. I don't foresee a Best Picture nomination in its future, although anything is possible with ten open slots, but one for visual effects certainly wouldn't surprise me.

A Perfect Getaway

"A Perfect Getaway" is hardly a perfect film -- couldn't resist that one -- but it aspires to be a thriller of Hitchcockian proportions with lots of juicy twists and unexpected turns, inviting viewers to play along and solve the mystery.

The story goes something like this: Honeymooners in Hawaii become aware of a murderous couple on the loose, cutting off fingers and pulling teeth. Who could it be? The hitchhikers they rebuffed? The friendly Southerner with his over-the-top war stories and perky girlfriend? Or maybe that shady pair from the supply store? Hmmm...

Good concept, but the story doesn't quite deliver. The twists aren't that juicy and the turns are fairly predictable. The trailer gives the impression of an action-packed, suspenseful thriller, which is hardly the case. Lots of walking, climbing and talking for maybe an hour and change. The dialogue just isn't strong enough to carry the film for that length of time. Sure, it wants to be self-aware by talking about red herrings and screenwriting, but that stuff is like death warmed over to non-writers. "Getaway" tries to make up for the slow pace with a knock-down, drag-down last 15 minutes, but it's too late by then.

The big reveal is pretty silly because it hinges on an illogical scene that served no purpose -- except to fool (or outright lie to) the audience. The backstory makes even less sense. Still, I can appreciate the fact that the film tried to be different rather than resort to torture porn or some other inane route.