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Sunday, 8 April 2012

Horror Remakes - Fright Night & A Nightmare on Elm Street

Horror remakes seem to becoming a trend these days, and they seem to cause ill feelings for followers of the originals.
I have my favorite films and there are plenty that I wouldn't mind seeing remade as long as they are remade well!

I recently went to see Fright Night August last year, and enjoyed the film because it didn't simply rewrite the original. It took the key characters of the original, such as Jerry - the vampire next door, as well as the fictional vampire killer Peter Vincent, and of course Charlie, Amy and Ed, except the story didn't follow the original game plan of the 1985 classic and took the viewer on a different track.

This time Jerry lives alone without his protector, and Charlie is a geek, turned popular kid overnight, by his new girlfriend Amy.

Peter Vincent is an over confident, and cocky illusionist, and fictional vampire hunter, with a history, and Ed is a geek who falls short of Charlie and his new friends and is turned a lot sooner than in the original.

The film does start with the old plot of Charlie trying to convince his girlfriend and mum that Jerry is a vampire, as well as snitching to the police, for them to only make mockery of the accusation.
Once Jerry is found out by Charlie, his girlfriend and mum the story starts to unfold in a much different way to the original, but it stays roughly with the chain of events from the original.
The final parts of the film see Charlie tracking down Amy in Jerry's house, but the scene is rather different to what happened in the old film, and Peter Vincent manages to fend off his fears and drop by to help Charlie bring down Jerry and get Amy back.

The original is a different film, and staying faithful to it, i have to say that it just beats the remake, but only just. I feel that horror films made during the 80s were something very different from the horror films that are released today. Its hard to say exactly why i feel this way, but one thing that i cannot stand in new films is the overuse of CGI effects.

When i look back to the work that was carried out in such films as Dawn of the Dead and The Burning (Tom Savini) i really do respect the work and effort that was made in creating such gore from make up and props. You cant fault it, and you take it more seriously.
The scene where Jerry's protector is killed in the original. It was disgusting watching him melt away, and even if not realistic, its more believable than watching Jerry, and his victims in the new film burn up and turn to ash.

The overall rating for the new Fright Night has to be a 7/10 due to its story, and action, but the original has to clock up a good 9/10 for its story and realistic killing scenes (all be it if Jerry's death is a little far fetched).

Saturday, 7 April 2012

The Fog 1980

The Fog (1980)

I own the DVD of the original, and before that I had it on VHS, and prior to that I had a dodgy old recording from BBC 1/2, so i clearly have a soft spot for this film, and feel that it deserves a quick post.

The film is criticized by some of not following a solid story throughout, but i feel there was enough to keep me watching till the end. The story becomes more interesting once Father Malone finds out the story behind the lepers and why they came to their deaths 100 years before, but it is not overly important as long as the film is keeping you hiding behind your cushions throughout.  

The general outline of the film, is that strange occurrences are happening around a small seaside town, including a missing fishing boat carrying 3 people that never returned back to the dock one night. The boat is found, and one body is found on board. A journal found in the church belonging to Father Malone reveals that a group of lepers were led to their death by a false beacon through a fog, that sent them crashing into the rocks and sinking out at sea, was lit by the 6 founders of Antonio Bay where the film takes place, including Father Malone's grandfather. The conspirators didn't want the lepers near their town, but were keen on the gold that was going to be used to purchase their settlement. The gold was seized from the sunken vessel, and hidden within the walls of the church.
A piece of driftwood is found by a young boy which has 'Dane' etched into it (the name of the ship that was sunk 100 years earlier by the founders, full name 'The Elizabeth Dane'). He gives it to his mother as a gift, but when she takes it to her radio station at the lighthouse, its words change to "6 must die" and engulfs in flames.
Fisherman storied that when the fog returns to their seaside town, the lepers would rise from the sea, and seek out the perpetrators of their death. Then on the towns 100 year birthday, the present townsfolk unaware of the true story regarding the lepers, celebrate the founders of the town, not realizing they are celebrating murderers.
Whilst the celebrations are being held, the fog moves inland, and  the lepers murder another two residents, before attacking another group of characters in the church, and another at the lighthouse.
Father Malone realizes that the fog is carrying the lepers, and attempts to give them back their gold as a peace offering, and offers his life to pay for his grandfathers wicked deed and fulfill the sixth position of the lepers revenge.
The gold appears to work, with the lepers vanishing with the fog back out to sea without taking their sixth victim, but this is not the end, as Father Malone walks back into his empty church and asks out loud "Why not me? Why not six?", the fog rolls back into the church behind Father Malone and he turns around to see the lepers back, before turning around again and being met by one of the lepers who decapitates him with a sword. Then the credits roll to the eerie theme tune of the film.

The film scared me as a youngster, if there was a fog outside, you could be sure that I wouldn't be walking too far alone. This fear didn't last long, but the memories did, and even now certain scenes of the film get me.
The fishing boat scene had me the worst, it was the way that we saw the lepers for the first time. The fog blowing aside just enough for the viewer to make out figures in the smokey fog, before watching the three on board fishermen being hooked and butchered with not a drop of blood to be seen. The clever thing was that it wasn't needed. That scene scared  me as a boy, and the use of blood would have probably made the scene less terrifying.
I am one of these people who gets more scared of what i cant see, rather than what I can, and I think that some films (not all) would benefit from less gore to make an impact.

The other two deaths involving the weather man and the babysitter were less eventful, as you only really saw the outline of what was happening to the people, except you do see the weatherman get a hook in his neck, but again no gore, which was fine as the film built on the moment, rather than giving the viewer a blood fest.

As for Father Malone, you don't actually see him having his head cut off, but you see enough to realize that's what happened.

Basically John Carpenter done well with this film. Some people may have wanted more with this film coming off the back of Halloween, but i felt that it was typical of his style, in regards to keeping you on the edge of your seat with fear and throwing in little twists and turns along the way, as he did with Laurie Strode in Halloween, when you realize exactly what Micheal had come back to Haddonfield for, although as well as this film being good. It didn't quite do for horror, what Halloween did.

This is well worth a watch, and I was going to compare it to the remake, but i realized that i haven't seen the remake for some time and couldn't fairly, or accurately comment on it, only that it was poor, and relied on CGI throughout, and didn't really pull off any scares like the original did.

My next post will be my thoughts on some remakes like this was meant to be, but i got carried away talking about the original and went right off course (Sorry Cal!).

Thanks for reading!

Thursday, 15 March 2012

Follow me & ask me what I should write next?

I know my start to blogger hasn't exactly taken off and i have neglected it lately, but i would like to improve and hopefully get a small group of followers.

Follow me and let me know what i should do to improve my blogs, or simply request a subject (horror film related) which i could write about.

Bare in mind that i haven't got the best writing skills in the world, but i will try my best to make the blogs stand out a little.

Its a bit of fun that gets us all talking about the things we enjoy!

Hope to hear from someone soon!

Original Zombie Madness!

Welcome All

Firstly i would like to thank everyone who actually gets to this blog to read it, it may not blow your socks off, but I've been wanting to write something like this for a while, and have finally decided to give it a go.Horror films have become a big part of my life, not in a sick or perverse way, but they have entertained me for years, some through their ability to deliver fear, and others through such imaginative perspectives on what our world could (if unrealistically) be capable of...

Dawn of the Dead

                                   The British DVD cover.

I know everyone has their own opinion on their favourite film, and i have too many to really pick just one, but my memory will always recognise George A Romero's 1978 film Dawn of the Dead as a first time i was introduced to such a fun, yet such a real image of what a global pandemic could possibly be like.

I know flesh eating zombies are a little far fetched, but i guess they are the elements that form the transition between the film being serious, and  real to life.

As the trailer suggests "Imagine if you will, something has gone terribly wrong".

The film starts where Night of the living Dead left off, except there is no reference to the characters from the last film, Dawn of the Dead starts with another group of survivors, but the scale of the infection has grown, as the film launches you straight into the thick of the nightmare unravelling before your eyes.

The TV networks are struggling to keep it together, and are not doing very well in containing their emotions in light of the ever growing problems on the outside, with most of the rescue stations becoming inactive, the ratings hungry TV network boss is showing no remorse in leaving the knocked out stations posted to ensure people are still tuning in for help and advice, but knowingly sending them on a suicide mission.

Two members of the TV stations crew (Fran & Stephen) are plotting an escape via the news helicopter, before time runs out and they are stuck in the dangerous world that is becoming ever more deadly.

Meanwhile two SWAT teams have been dispatched into a gritty ghetto apartment block, to flush out and destroy the dead relatives of the remaining occupants that have been locked up in the basement of the building, refusing to comply with the SWAT teams, the living already held up in the apartment block open fire on the teams.

The dead are finally reached, and the doors are knocked in...

Floods of the dead spill out into the complex, giving the SWAT teams more to handle, needless to say, lives are lost, mostly in bloodthirsty gore, thanks to Tom Savini and his magical touches with the special effects (before the days when rubbish CGI was introduced).

Two members from either SWAT teams (Peter & Roger) unite to join Fran and Stephen in a bid to fly out of the big city, and head for somewhere less affected by the madness that has taken over most parts of the world.

Once in the air, the four main characters of the film, move onto a small town for fuel, where the local townsfolk are taking full advantage of brushing up on their shooting skills with the sudden influx of ghouls on their homeland.
They find a fuel pump out near some hangers, and take the opportunity to check for any additional materials, or supplies.

Roger is left to fill the helicopter, while the other three characters check out the area, its not long before they all bump into a few unwanted visitors...

Peter gets attacked by some local 'undead' children (which you can only see in the uncut version of the film) while Stephen (Aka 'Flyboy') and Fran bump into a couple of ghouls on their search. Thankfully they all manage to come away unscathed.

Roger is unaware of his attacker due to the noise of the chopper as he is refuelling,  but thankfully (and in typical Savini fashion) the ghoul happens to be the perpetrator of his own demise, and happens to get a little too close to the propeller blades while climbing over some boxes in an attempt to get to Roger.

Just before you think its safe for Peter to relax, the best looking zombie in the film walks up to the door, and before Peter can even register the situation, hes also looking down the barrel of Flyboy's rifle in view beyond the ghoul. Peter leaps out the way as Flyboy opens fire with some awful shots (not really understanding the head shot rule!). Roger appears, and dispatches one single round from his assault rifle into the zombies cranium, bringing it to a swift stop.

The zombie that attacks Peter.

The characters take flight into the skies, after Flyboy gets a red ear from Peter about pointing guns at people, especially him, they eventually discover the Monroeville Mall which plays as the main backdrop for the rest of the film.

The rest I'm not going to ruin for anyone, as I'm starting to realise I'm just telling the film as opposed to telling you what i think about it. There you go, you have a taster.

What did i like about the film?

Firstly the great work, and effort that was put into the film, back when resources that are so readily available now, were probably more harder to get then. Yet Romero found ways to make it happen. Naturally he had more to play with on this film from the success of its predecessor NOTLD, which even today is a classic.

The filming inside the mall had to happen at night time naturally, which would have meant time was of the essence, and I'm sure the actors would have felt tired throughout the night making filming that slight amount more challenging.

Thirdly the gore, it wasn't till i bought the directors cut, that i realised how much i hadn't seen! Savini went mad on this film, and I'm sure it helped him into making effects for later films such as Friday the 13th and The Burning. The amount of fake blood that was splattered on those floors must have been a joy to clean up at the end of the day or night as the case may be.

The story itself unfolds in stages for me, you never really knew what was going to happen next, once the characters managed to lock down the mall, you had to ask what is going to be the next chapter? Are they going to move on in the future, or is this it?
                                                                Spoiler Alert!!!

Once Roger dies, you can feel the time is getting near where something is going to decide the fate for the remaining trio. You can feel the relationship between Flyboy and Fran starting to die, especially after she refuses his marriage proposal.
Peter seems lost without Roger, and the film does start to hit reality once again, that things are getting worse, regardless of the material world around the characters, especially when the TV broadcasts disappear, signalling that the end of civilisation is drawing closer.
Then out of nowhere, the story changes, when an army of looters attack the mall, leaving Peter and Flyboy to try their best efforts to save the world that they have made their own, when in reality it was stolen by them in the first place, ultimately the films final scenes show how greed becomes the downfall for the looters, and also Flyboy, who loses his life fighting to win back the Mall, in probably the goriest quarter of the film.

There was an alternative ending which was not used in the end, due to reasons unknown, but i feel it would have been better, in terms of closing off the stories of the characters.
Peter was meant to have shot himself in the head, in the hideout where the characters lived, and Fran was meant to put her head into the propeller blades, with the final credits rolling over the blades going round, till they slow to a halt showing that even had the two escaped, they would have run out of fuel, and probably died regardless.

The exploding head, that was going to be used in an alternative ending, when Fran was going to put her head into the propeller blades to end her life.

Thanks for reading guys, its nothing special but i just wanted to break the ice with a blog on a film i love, and i could have told so much more, but i would be here for weeks!

I will try to talk about another film in the near future.

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Vamp - A gem from 1986

Vamp (Directed by Richard Wenk)

If you are fond of 80s horror, then the chances are that you may have already watched this title already, and either love it and go back for more, or despise it and wish it wouldnt happen again.

Regardless, i thought it was a great movie, even though i find myself asking why?

The plot revolves around Keith and AJ, two college students who are searching for a stripper to impress their way into a new fraternity. They are also joined by the geeky, but amusing loser Duncan who they allow to tag along in exchange for one of his rental cars to get them into town.

What seems a fun and harmless journey soon becomes a nightmare, as they find themselves in a dark underworld, where law and order appears slack, and gangsters run riot and of course vampires run the local strip club.

The story is fun, and the gore is pretty decent in places. I think Grace Jones plays the part of lead vampire Katrina well even if she doesn't talk throughout the film, apart from a sadistic laugh when shes ripping out throats, and hearts.

Once the boys have fought their way past a local albino gangster Snow (Billy Drago, Papa Jupiter from The Hills Have Eyes 2006) and his friends they get to the 'After Dark Club' and find stripper (Katrina - Grace Jones) who they are convinced will get them their place in a new fraternity, but she turns out to be rather undead and hungry for blood.
AJ falls victim to her and his body is chucked in the trash by the strange and violent looking Vlad.

AJ is finally found in a dumpster by Keith, and assumed dead, till he makes another appearance at the club once the police are called in by Keith, and the vampires need to hide the fact he was ever dead. Keith, Duncan and club waitress Amaretto soon realise the truth of the club when back to life AJ reveals his undead secret to Keith and is killed with a stake.
The group are thwarted by the undead staff, and other local vampires around the town, as well as gangster Snow who is angry and searching the streets with a few more friends to hunt them down.

Its now a fight for survival, as the group need to find a way out of the club and get out of the city.

They manage to get out of the club by burning the place down, but once on the outside they are soon aware that their problems do not just affect them on the inside, as they are soon attacked by local bloodsuckers aiming to halt them from leaving town.

Duncan soon changes into a vampire from a bite he got in the club (which you don't see happen) and is killed when the car they are driving crashes, leaving poor Duncan to roast.

Now down to two, Keith and Amaretto have to escape the monsters as they appear from the burning club, and the around the streets. They manage to escape into the sewers to burn down the lair of the vampires and have a final conflict with Katrina before being attacked once more in the film by Vlad (Katrinas boyfriend from the club) who is taken care of by... AJ! Yes it turns out the stake contained an artificial wood, which means AJ didn't die. Unfortunately for him though he remains a vampire and cannot escape like Keith and Amaretto, and follows them from under the streets as the credits roll.

Keith (Chris Makepeace) seems to play his part well enough as the hero of the film, but for some reason didn't appear in anything bigger after, except a few TV programs and a couple of seemingly rubbish straight to DVD movies.

Robert Rusler was before and is after a well known actor, and has been credited in many films and programs since Vamp but his golden years seem to lie in the 80s with Nightmare on Elm Street part 2 and Weird Science. He plays the role of cocky and confident AJ, who finds himself joining the vampire coven, when he falls victim to the dark but strangely sexy Katrina (Great body anyway!).

Katrina is played by Grace Jones, who doesn't really need much of an introduction, as people will know of her from her music and i guess weird and wonderful ways. Shes gone from model, to film and music star. This film will probably not be a best highlight from her career, but its collected a big cult following, which means that it wont be a film that disappears from the face of the earth anytime soon.
Her character is a dark, and mysterious vampire, who keeps a low profile during the film except from her dance then turning AJ, and a final conflict with Keith and Amaretto at the end of the film. Oh and a part where she teaches one of her waitresses a valuable lesson for feeding her AJ, who unlike the other club goers hasn't come to the club alone and his friends are waiting for him still. Hence why the vampires are keen to stop his friends from leaving the club with their secret in jeopardy.

Dedee Pfiffer plays the role of Amaretto, who is a sexy, if stereotypical blonde, with a past involving Keith which is a secret till the final third of the film. It doesn't really shape the film in anyway, as its just a school romance which blossomed between the two, which Amaretto hopes Keith will remember. Keith takes a liking to Amaretto when they first meet in the film, and she helps him to try and locate AJ.

Duncan is played by Gedde Watanabe who actually, aside from Grace Jones has had a rather high profile film career, including Gremlins 2, and some more recent films such as Forgetting Sarah Marshall, and a appearance in The Simpson's.
Duncan is the geeky, yet lovable loser from the campus, who spends the best part if the film roaming around the club, while Keith and Amaretto are on their search for AJ.
He also becomes a bloodsucker at the end, and is cut short in an explosive car crash. 

Overall i think this film rates 8 out of 10, and if not for being wonderful, i guess its because it was one of the first vampire films i ever watched, and it kind of takes me back when i watch it. The whole green and pink lighting, and the cheesy humour. The story is fun too, its worth a watch, even if it may be just the once for a lot of people out there.

Give it a go!