Oh, how I love it when I am right. From my little soap box on the interwebs, I’ve been haranguing Hollywood –Universal in particular – to stop making (or remaking) monster movies with big stars, over-the-top effects and bloated budgets in quest for a blockbuster. It’s a recipe for failure. Instead of putting all your monster eggs in one bucket of blood, make several smaller quality films. The risk is spread out and the profits are bigger. The proof, as they say, is in the pudding . . . and now for the pudding.
Last week I saw two movies that I want to contrast and compare. The first film is the 1969 Toho science fiction tour de force Latitude Zero. Its highlights include: guys in stupid looking man-bat costumes suspended on visible wires, obvious model submarines, hideous science-fiction futuristic clothing, terrible dialogue, Cesar Romero, brain transplants and lasers. Fun!
The second film was Transformers: Dark of the Moon, a Michael Bay tour de force which features: computer generated robots bouncing up and down like hyperactive children, a female lead that was she was freakin’ weird looking, terrible dialogue, John Turturro, energon transplants and explosions. Fun?
The Thing About The Thing:
A Few Words About the Hazards of Prequels, Sequels and Remakes
I want to take a moment to talk about last year’s prequel to John Carpenter’s 1982 classic film The Thing, which is also titled The Thing. No, this isn’t a review so much as it my thoughts on the merits and pitfalls of playing in John Carpenter’s domain.
Before we go on, there are a few things (ha!) I feel need to be pointed about Carpenter’s The Thing. When it was released in 1982, it was considered a failure by Universal Studios, the film’s production company. The Thing debuted at number 8, opening in nearly 900 theaters, before sliding out of the top ten three weeks later.
Yeah, the internet LOVES lists, so I made one : Captain Midnight’s Top 100 Horror Films. The criteria? I ranked them according to importance to the genre, how much I personally like them, and re-watchability. Feel free to correct me, argue and nominate your own suggestions. Read the rest of this entry »
I am seeing a pattern. It has dawned on me that a disturbing number of films I review are films I’ve seen before as a small child. Why would I characterize that as disturbing? I probably watched hundreds of monster movies at least once before I was even seven or eight-years-old. The Mole People is one of them. I first saw this much maligned John Agar movie when I was five or six. It’s about people who have lived for generations without seeing the sun; instead their world is lit only by some sort of peculiar luminescence found in certain rocks. As a fair skinned kid who spent too much time watching old movies in a room dimly lit by an ancient black & white television, I could relate to that.
Growing up, all the kids in my neighborhood wanted to be Steve Garvey or Roger Staubach – except one. Can you guess who that might be? Rather than spending my weekends playing football out in the street, I preferred to hide in my room, watching black and white monster movies on my black and white TV. For every one Bride of Frankenstein there are at least four B pictures. That was reflected in the movies shown on any given Creature Feature or Million Dollar Movie show, which ran on local independent TV stations all over the US. I was fine with wading through the muck to find the gems. Besides, not all B films are equal and I like muck.
One of the things I love about the internet is that between Amazon, Ebay, Netflix, IMDB and the various places where people congregate to talk about films, I can take the half remembered shadowy memories of movies from my childhood and reconstruct them, find them and recapture a tiny piece of home long lost. I’m not the only one who does this; other people do it too. Have you ever tracked down a movie from long ago that left you with nothing more than an ephemeral vision that occasionally dances in the back of your mind? Let me know. I digress . . . Read the rest of this entry »
Jonah Hex and Comic Book Movies
(Warning: I get on the big rant horse, complete with fist pounding and a heart attack at the end ala John Belushi on SNL.)
Hollywood’s mad conversion of comic book properties to film, spinning them Rumpelstiltskin-like into gold has hit a snag. Sadly this had to happen with one of the few titles that, to my mind, had the potential to be really interesting. Before I go on I should give you some disclosure: I used to read comic books as a kid, mostly horror comics and later, as an adolescent; I read the superhero titles. I am not one of those people who gets a nerd-rage when the movies deviate from the comic book source material. What works in one medium may not work in another – that is why we have both comic books and movies. If they have to modify things a bit to make a better movie, then so be it, I say. So when I say that I don’t care for most superhero movies, it’s not because they’ve deviated from the original material, it’s because these movies don’t work for me as movies.
How bad is Survival of the Dead? If you make the rounds among the various horror blogs, genre podcasts and sit in on the discussion panels at the various fan conventions around North America, you’d think that Survival ranks up there with the AIDS virus and 9-11 as scourges inflicted on humanity. Or is that just a bunch of hyperbole, like the second sentence of this paragraph? I’m not surprised that some people don’t like the movie. We all have different likes and dislikes. Some people are bound to like it and others not so much, with more people falling somewhere in between. What has surprised me is the emotional intensity of those who didn’t like it, which has gone beyond panning it as a sub par film, venturing more into taking it as a personal insult. Is Survival of the Dead really that bad?
While listening to sundry podcasts and trawling various forums I came across an unexpected kerfuffle over whether or not Jason Voorhees is a zombie. Jason a zombie? I have to admit, the notion of labeling Jason a zombie had never occurred to me. Coming across people investing time arguing the subject was something of a surprise, though I suppose it really shouldn’t be, should it? In any case, Jason Voorhees is clearly not a zombie.