Wednesday, August 15, 2012
It seems like THE HORROR SHOW has been doing a little WALKING DEAD bashing of late. Well, that's only because of the disappointment involved in watching the last few seasons of the show. We're sure the feeling of disappointment will pass...if they raise the level of writing....or....we stop watching. :)
With that said, the one WALKING DEAD associated item I was really rather happy about were the WALKING DEAD WEBISODES that were popped up into their webspace months ago. I caught wind of these a while back and watched during a lunch break one afternoon and was pleasantly surprised by them. The writing and production value was great and, honestly, I preferred them to the main show. (More bashing? Really?) They were more engaging and involved than the show - especially looking at the last season with the endless farmhouse drama and that HORRID, HORRID LORI WHO IS WORSE THAN ANY ZOMBIE! :::ahem:::
So, the webisodes take a look at "one of the show's most famous walkers" (I'll stick to what the site states) and are directed by Greg Nicotero. Now, I love me some Greg Nicotero. His effects work is fantastic and he does a grand job directing these shorts. Now, don't get me wrong - we still have some drama and some slower moments here, but the overall flow is far better than the WALKING DEAD series. And, yes, I know that it may be easier dealing with tiny webisode pacing over a whole show. I get that. However, the writing is far more engaging and the world that's created is more fun and feels more...alive (:::giggle:::) than the series world in general.
These are well worth a view. Take a look!
Webisodes 1 The Walking Dead: A New Day
Webisodes 2 The Walking Dead: Family Matters
Webisodes 3 The Walking Dead: Domestic Violence
Webisodes 4 The Walking Dead: Neighborly Advice
Webisodes 5 The Walking Dead: Step-Mother
Webisodes 6 The Walking Dead: Everything Dies
It makes me sad sometimes. I think about how I used to LOVE a good zombie or walking dead film and now it's so mainstream it hurts. Everything has zombies now. Car commercials, kid shows.... However, there are a few choice zom nuggets in the world - still clawing there way up into the light of day and away from the swell of zombie poop in the world. DEAD SET is one of those prize picks that will fill you with love for the genre again.
First off, this is from the UK. It automatically gets a point for being foreign. :) They also don't mess about with trying to hide the gore and violence. (Again, see UK) It's a zombie film and they put it all out there. ALL...like intestines and blood. All over the place. The original air date was October 25, 2010 and there are a total of five episodes at about 45 minutes and episode. So, if you're crazy for zombies like I am, you can watch the whole of this amazing epic in one sitting!
The BIG BROTHER house is having a big event. Cameras, crowds and fantastic live TV times are being had. In the control room, the head prick in charge is doing his best to keep his pack of idiots in line and making sure they all know who's in charge. The Big Brother occupants are being their glorious selves. The crowd is eating it up with a spoon. The cameras...are rolling.
And, like a flash fire, all hell-on-Earth breaks out and the beginning of the end rushes over everything. This mini series hits the ground running and doesn't stop. It juggles multiple characters and multiple locations as it shows us the horrors of a full scale zombie outbreak. Brilliant writing and a simple setup shows that you don't need a WORLD WAR Z budget to knock out a quality product if you have good writing and a committed group of actors.
WALKING DEAD, take note! I'm not sure what the budget was for DEAD SET, but man...it had far better writing and pacing than WALKING DEAD does. And, it really was about the writing. It made things interesting and showed us a very small section of what was happening, but presented it in a grand and shocking way. I wish these folks were doing the WALKING DEAD instead.
WALKING DEAD bashing aside, DEAD SET is a must for horror and zombie fans. You need to seek it out. The whole set is available on AMAZON for $8 on Instant Download and DVDs are out there, though it might be slightly harder to find.
Watch this at once!
Friday, August 10, 2012
Hill House has caused a lot of trouble for a lot of people over the years. It rattles the soul and jars the nerves. Some people never leave Hill House...alive.
It started back with The Haunting of Hill House (1959) by Shirley Jackson. The story involves a scientist and three "research assistants" spending time in old Hill House looking into the things that go bump in the night there.
THE HAUNTING (1963) was a film based on Jackson's book. The film is rather well done. A simple, yet effective "Old, Dark House" tale directed by Robert Wise (The Sound Of Music, West Side Story, Run Silent Run Deep AND MORE!) and staring Julie Harris, Claire Bloom and Richard Johnson. The film was made before big special effects and gimics, so all the thrills take place in camera with the use of odd angles and zooms and the like. This makes it more enjoyable for me than some of it's other incarnations. It has that fantastic, black and white play-like set up where people interact and exchanges may mean more than their face value. And the scares - a la 1963 - are enough to make you cringe a little. Especially if you put yourself into their shoes. Little things, unseen in the shadows and heard through the walls, add to the atmosphere and the thrills.
Julie Harris is fantastic. She's our main character. We follow her out of her horrible life and into Hill House. We hear her thoughts. We know she's not 100%...balanced. And the poor thing... :)
THE HAUNTING a great, old haunted house film with some good twists and turns within it.
In 1971, Richard Matheson took a pass at the tale with Hell House. Evidently, it's close to the original book, but has more violence and situations of a sexual nature. It makes sense seeing as it was written in the 70s. I think this was more of the take of the film made shortly after Matheson's book was written.
THE LEGEND OF HELL HOUSE (1973) was the first HILL HOUSE film I saw. It was featured on CREATURE FEATURES and I remember it sending shivers through me a bit as a child. Bob Wilkins assured us that the film was going to be fun and it was. Creepy music and a fantastic old house made this a fave of mine for years.
John Hough was the Director on this film and he holds a little space in my heart for his film ESCAPE FROM WITCH MOUNTAIN. It's funny, he was a Disney guy for a long while, but also directed TWINS OF EVIL and DIRTY MARY CRAZY LARRY.
Roddy McDowall, Gayle Hunnicutt and Pamela Franklin star and they do a great job bringing the characters to life. The film sports more effects and more thrills. And, more sexual naughtiness as found in films of the 70s. Poor Pamela Franklin goes through quiet a series of mishaps. And the story is fleshed out differently with more mystery behind it in many ways. There's something wrong in Hill House - affectionately referred to as HELL HOUSE - and it involves ghosts for sure. And, more science and more psychics. The team is still the same, but more is made about their abilities and they bring WAY more equipment with them to check out the house.
After seeing THE HAUNTING, I'm not sure which I like more - the old, dark house feel or the "There DEFINITELY is a ghost here!" feel this 1973 version has. I think they are both good in their ways, but if you want more punch, this is the version for you.
THE HAUNTING (1999) is fine. It's just...fine. It's a classic example of "more is not necessarily better". You have some heavy hitters in this film. Liam Neeson, Catherine...ZETA-Jones, Owen Wilson and Lili "Nutty" Taylor all do their best with the inflated script and try their best to be scared by the effects, but it's just...too much of everything. Too much attention placed on scares, too many special effects and not enough haunted house simplicity. You move through the movie and are beaten about the face and neck with effect after effect and it's distracting. Of course, if you like your scares generated by a computer, you'll love this film. It managed to take everything I loved about HELL HOUSE and added exclamation points, bells, whistles and fire to them all.
All in all, I put my money on...well, the books first - I plan to pick them up. Books always give a lot more than films. But, see THE HAUNTING, then watch THE LEGEND OF HELL HOUSE. You'll be happy you did. It's a great double feature!
THE HAUNTING TRAILER
THE LEGEND OF HELL HOUSE
And, if you've seen the Tarantino / Rodriguez film GRINDHOUSE, you've seen the fantastic parody of the HELL HOUSE trailer. I love it!
Wednesday, August 8, 2012
They have managed to combine two of my favorite things - cockney accents and zombies - into a gore filled, fun fest. I think they are trying to create another SHAUN OF THE DEAD and by the look of this redband trailer, they might have something close.
Granted, this is not SHAUN. They don't have the same powerhouse team behind it. However they do have some heavy hitters.
• Director Matthias Hoene has not really done anything before. While some see this as a downside, I see it as a new director making an extra effort to not have his first outing suck, so I think he'll be going the extra mile to make this film work.
• Honor "Pussy Galore" Blackman. Enough said.
• Alan Ford - the cockney accent KING is always fun to watch as he growls across the silver screen.
I'm excited! How about you?
Monday, August 6, 2012
ARGENTO DOUBLE FEATURE:
DO YOU LIKE HITCHCOCK? and GIALLO
I was really happy with DO YOU LIKE HITCHCOCK? (2005) Dario Argento's homage to Hitchcock turned out to be a lot of fun for me. It's a rather basic story, but the execution is fun and entertaining. The story line is very "giallo" feeling and is really nothing new. There's been a murder and someone has witnessed it. Who did it and why? Will our witness live to tell the tale?
The Hitchcock aspect is fun. You can really see the call outs to Hitch throughout the film. Is it brilliant? Is it another SUSPIRIA? Nope - not at all. But, it was an entertaining romp with some fun twists and turns and some grand tension throughout. And, it was made for TV, so people with a short acceptance of gore won't be too agitated with this one. It's far from SUSPIRIA levels when it comes to the viscera. It's well worth a viewing.
I think this is one that is held up as "the last good Argento film". I was going to say the same thing, but after seeing GIALLO, I'm not so sure.
The film score by Marco Werba struck me and stuck with me as well. I'm not sure why, but I really loved it. It has a striking, big sound that made the film something special. It took it into an old school direction that worked really well with the way the film presented itself. I felt like I was watching older, cooler Argento right off the bat.
The film manages to entertain and there are some good moments mixed in with the bad. The bad moments really are what made the film. It went from ok, to bad, to worth the viewing bad within minutes for me. I found myself blurting out, "Wait...WHAT?!" a few times while viewing it.
I told a friend about it and he watched it at once. I was immediately flooded with updates while he watched - most of which were comical, "WTF?!" exclamations while the film washed over him. I thought it was a lot of fun and pure Argento madness that was also well worth a viewing.
Keep an open mind and give these a view!