Posts Tagged ‘movie review’

I have to admit, I’d never heard of this movie until it landed in my mailbox; that said, I can’t believe something so undeniably awesome totally flew under my radar for thirty years. Yes, it’s schlock, but it’s old school schlock, and isn’t that really the best kind? Give me stop-motion and process shots any day, because at least they’re organic and we know someone was actually putting hands on the props to make them work.

Q – The Winged Serpent at Zombie Hamster

Further, marvel at the aerobatics involved in the final action sequence, and understand that the stuff they’re doing is no longer allowed.  I could rant for hours, but you get the idea. This movie was more fun than it had any right to be. Super big thanks to Larry Cohen for making such a great movie. Also, a big shout out to Shout Factory for their spankin’ new Blu-Ray release of Q – The Winged Serpent!

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It’s been a rotten week. I don’t even want to get into what made it bad, so I’ll just leave it at that.

Moving forward, I took a recent look at a couple of John Carpenter’s classics, and gave them a few scribbles.

The Fog

Prince of Darkness

With regard to Prince of Darkness, I’m going to take the soapbox for a moment, because I think way too many ‘fans’ claim disappointment with this film, and they seriously need to re-examine their reasons for liking his films. Carpenter is a goddamn visionary whose career is made up of more than just Halloween. Granted, Halloween is an excellent film and, for my money, the only slasher film worth a damn. Because it was the first, and not part of the crapalanche of ripoffs that followed it. He followed Halloween with The Fog, which is a traditional ghost story, and a damn good one. He’s done fantasy adventure (Big Trouble in Little China), romance (Starman), urban paranoia / class warfare (They Live), and so many others that are all different, all unique. Prince of Darkness attempts, and to my eye succeeds, in looking at theology from a scientific viewpoint, and does so quite intelligently. It is very much a Big Picture film, is worthy of repeat viewings, and will long be considered one of the great films in Carpenter’s oeuvre.  So there.

1980’s Terror Train. No matter how you slice it, it’s just not a great movie. Cheesy and wildly predictable, it was a quickie cash-in on the unfortunate ‘slasher film’ era. That said, for those of us coming of age during that time, the movies were simple fun, offering distraction without much thought; only with age do I realize that the Reagan-esque moralizing was so heavy handed, and that a jump-scare isn’t really a scare at all. It’s a startle at best, immediately recognized and quickly forgotten. For the viewer, there’s no terror on this train, but what the hell – at least we’re enjoying the ride.

Terror Train at Zombie Hamster

“And that’s the Critic’s Corner for this morning. Now please slow down, so that I may murder you in a creative fashion with my giant mustache.”

Scream Factory gave this 80’s flashback a nice Blu-Ray release and for that, I thank them. It’s great to showcase the smaller films, once considered throw-aways, because one never knows how they might age and, for we who are aging, they’re oftentimes accompanied by a flood of nostalgia.

And yes, the movie had me reduced to giggles most of the way through because, although they kept referring to the killer’s costume as Groucho Marx, I could not stop seeing his uncanny resemblance to beloved film critic Gene Shalit, and the notion of Gene running around a train causing mayhem just ruined me. I freely admit that this is my fault, as I’m fairly certain that the filmmakers didn’t do this intentionally. Unless they did, in which case, congratulations – you are now epic.

Last week, I had the delightful opportunity to check out a film called Cockneys vs Zombies, and found it to be quite fun, if perhaps a little light on the red and the ultraviolence. But what the hell, it has Brick Top and Pussy Galore killing the undead and the most suspenseful pensioner-with-a-walker chase sequence ever committed to film. Want to know more?

Cockneys vs Zombies at Zombie Hamster

Although the Zed-word genre may seem to be running on fumes, it appears there may still be some ideas to be mined, and this one does it pretty well. Shout Factory’s Scream Factory sub-label presents this nifty little film, packed with fun extras.

darkstarI recently took a look at an old favorite, which I had the absolute pleasure of seeing on the big screen in my younger days. This 1974 film revels in its low-budget glory, alternating seriousness with the type of goofiness that can only come with the profound boredom of protracted interstellar travel and the inescapable overfamiliarity of one’s shipmates.

The film wears its age like a gold star, and showcases the blooming brilliance of its young creators, one of whom we lost way too soon. Directed by John Carpenter and co-written by Carpenter and Dan O’Bannon, I present the philosophical, knuckleheaded odyssey that is Dark Star.

Dark Star at Zombie Hamster

I recently viewed Lotte Reiniger’s 1926 film The Adventures of Prince Achmed (soon to be released on DVD by the British Film Institute) for the first time recently, and was completely taken by surprise. It was one of those rare events in which an animated feature thoroughly engaged my attention and imagination, and the result was, frankly, enchanting. This is not a film to be missed.

The Adventures of Prince Achmed at Zombie Hamster

Films like this are why I love movies; in the right hands, we can be whisked away to new and different worlds, given a fresh perspective, and stare in wonder at the work of true visionaries.

wickerman_burnsI’ve got a new essay over at Zombie Hamster, after a brief hiatus. This time, I took a look at what is considered by many to be the greatest of all British horror films, The Wicker Man (1973). This was a perennial favorite at the local repertory movie house in the town where I grew up, playing several times a year in the 1970s and 1980s, before the theatre changed into an independent / art house cinema. Being a natural-born horror geek, it intrigued me, but was one of those few films that I wasn’t allowed to see just yet.

Anyway, I eventually saw it in my late teens, and just didn’t get it. Most of the film takes place in broad daylight, there are no obvious monsters, no blood, none of the traditional earmarks of what most of us consider horror. Fast forward to now, and I got my hands on the out-of-print director’s cut, which restored around eleven minutes from the theatrical release.

This time, I got it. Now, I count this amazing film as one of my personal favorites. Check it out:

The Wicker Man at Zombie Hamster

250px-SerpentandtherainbowI am not a fan of Wes Craven. While I do like The Hills Have Eyes and The Serpent and the Rainbow, I think the majority of his work is derivative and extremely overrated. In particular, Last House on the Left troubles me. While part of it is intensely personal horror, focusing on the loss of control over one’s sanity and one’s self (truly horrifying, to say the least), the other part is this lame schtick-laden goofy cop thing that subverts the intensity of the bad stuff. I just don’t understand why he felt it necessary to do that.

The Scream movies are basically Craven’s way of saying, “I have nothing new to bring to this party, so I’m gonna re-package the same old crap and feed it to you. But I’ll feed it to you with a smug wink to let you know that I know that you know it’s the same old crap, and that’ll make it new.”

I digress.

I recently watched The Serpent and the Rainbow for the first time since its premiere, and found that it has only gotten better with age. Read on, if you dare:

Happy Happy Island People at Zombie Hamster

PassionI’ll be the first to admit, I was pretty stoked to see that De Palma had a new film coming out, and that it looked like a return to the kind of voyeuristic, warped, erotic thrillers with which he had made a name for himself all those years ago. However, after having seen his new film, Passion, I was left to wonder if maybe I was expecting too much, and had to consider that sometimes, one’s own shoes might be the most difficult to fill.

Passion at Zombie Hamster 

bigstock_story_2226743Okay, I finally have a bit of news to share on the book front. My novel, Revival, is at the final draft stage. It is at this point that I would upload it to the e-book aggregator and let them have at it. Except I’ve decided against going that route. Let me explain. No, there’s not enough time.

Let me sum up.

I gave the manuscript to a trusted colleague for review, and the feedback I received far surpassed any expectations I held, so much so that I am now going to take the admittedly more difficult track, which is to find a literary agent who will shop the manuscript around to various publishers. Yes, this way takes patience and perseverance, two things which, historically, I have in short supply. I am, however, held aloft on a cloud of positivity which, again, is a rather precious commodity for me. but this is how we grow, or so I’m told.

Seriously, his review of my work is something I want to frame and hang on my wall, it’s that amazing and if all goes well, he’ll get cover blurbs if I have anything to do with it. After reading it, I just sat there for a while in a daze, amazed at how well things are going of late. I guess I spent enough time waiting for something to happen and am finally ready to actually take charge of this life.

However, getting the story published the traditional way will allow me an inroad to organizations that electronic self-publishing will not, and will give me that most desired thing, treasured by all writers: legitimacy. There is nothing wrong with e-publishing; many have done it, and some have done well. To my mind, at this point in my life, I want to be able to walk into a bookstore and see Revival on a shelf, to pick it up and pretend to be engrossed in it, to tell some innocent shopper that they might want to check it out and walk away giggling. Because I’m that mature.

So yes, there will likely be rejection letters, because that’s how things work. If I am to try to make a life of writing, however, I have to do it this way, if only to say that I tried.

So…Revival will not be available this summer for Kindle, Nook, iBooks or any other platform. It’s written and done, and now comes the hard part: shifting out of creative mode and into marketing mode. Wish me well, it’s going to be tough. But if it pays off, it will be awesome.