Since I spent all of last week eating, drinking and thinking about The Thing I’m guardedly optimistic on hearing the news that a prequel to the movie being made.
Now, they certainly have some challenges in making this film. For this film to be consistent with the other then everyone has to die by the end. That would be a deal-breaker for me if they weasel out and let someone escape. So, I would really expect a sense of inescapable doom hanging over this whole thing.
Also, the reason the 1982 movie stands up so well over time is that it isn’t really a movie about monsters or gore. Rather, John Carpenter really mastered the sense of paranoia and claustrophobia. If the new film is a simple gore fest it’ll be doomed to obscurity.
To round out this Thing theme, allow me to submit these pictures from EnglishRussia of a Soviet expedition to Antarctica.
Finally, if you want to go really old school, you can check out the original 1951 version of the film from google video:
Another Halloween season is down and I tried to delve into the season with mixed results. Here are my findings.
Trick or treating was rather tepid. We had some kids come by but nothing spectacular. I can’t blame them however. The community set Trick or Treating hours from 1-4pm on the 30th! It’s like they sat down to try to figure out how to suck all the fun out of the day.
We started our way through the Twilight Zone catalog. I thought I’d seen all of them but apparently not. What a brilliant show. Rod Serling was a particularly interesting guy and I highly recommend you check out this interview (parts 2 and 3 are on YouTube as well) with him circa 1959. You could see the struggles between ‘selling out’ and commercial success being fought out even in TV’s early days. I found his bluntness surprising and inviting. Could you imagine a producer today alienating so many potential demographics on the eve of launching a new show?
We watched a couple of movies. The first was titled Moon and the second was a Spanish movie called Timecrimes. Both movies had promise and weren’t bad but I think both suffered from spending too much time with their central idea. Both would have been much better had they been shorter (45 minutes or so…definitely less than an hour). It’s kind of a shame there isn’t much of a market for shorter films like there is for short stories or novellas. I’m not sure I could recommend these films but I wouldn’t actively dissuade someone from seeing them either. If you find yourself on a barren asteroid with lots of free time on your hands, go check them out.
But, something I most definitely can recommend is The Passage by Justin Cronin. The book has a number of similarities to Stephen King’s The Stand but without some of it’s flaws (primary among them the fact that Stephen King was the author). At 845 pages it’s just about a massive as the King book (and since it’s only the first of a proposed trilogy the final project will dwarf The Stand) but without the long descriptions King is famous for that convince you the guy is getting paid by the word. It also avoids the incredibly lame ending of the Stand (although to be fair, since this is only the first installment of the series comparing the end of the first book to the end of King’s entire project may not be appropriate). It’s got something for everyone: out of control military test projects, vampires, the apocalypse and cross country travel. What more could you want? There are some nice twists to the story, namely the way Cronin plays with the vampire mythology and adapts it to his universe. There was some interesting imagery used in the story and it might deserve a second read to see if there’s more than just a entertaining post apocalyptic yarn in there.
Mrs. TwShiloh and myself got to catch up on the new season of Dexter and we continue to be flummoxed at how this show manages to avoid jumping the shark. Every time we’re convinced the writers are going to have to go for the easy and predictable contrivances, they surprise us yet again.
And finally, I saw the pilot episode of The Walking Dead on AMC. As much as I enjoy the comic I have to admit I envy those who haven’t read it since the whole storyline will come as a surprise. Still, the series has a great deal of promise. The actors they’ve shown so far are quite good as are the effects and if they can keep the quality up this promises to be a great, plot heavy series.
Feels like it’s been too long since I’ve had some zombie news to write about but today, consider the dry spell officially over.
I was cruising through my ‘on demand’ section of cable and came across ‘Zombie Roadkill‘ which is an amazing 6 part mini-series (and when I say ‘mini’ I mean it, each installment is about 4 minutes long) about various roadkill victims which rise from the dead seeking revenge. It’s got that Evil Dead over the top, campy humor (which makes sense since Sam Rami was involved) and Thomas Hayden Church stars as a tougher than nails Park Ranger.
And in my book, any film that stars a zombie squirrel that rips out your eyes and then inserts one of them into its own socket is worth watching:
Freddie Kruger was a wussy!
Amazingly, for a 24 minute series, it looks like they made another 5-10 minutes of special features and behind the scenes stuff. All of which you can see here.
Here’s the trailer:
And the Thomas Hayden Church ‘PSA’
I’m finally able to catch up on some movies that have been in my queue for awhile…
The first was the Spanish movie [Rec] which was quite enjoyable. Think Alien except instead of occurring in space it takes place in a Barcelona apartment building. And instead of an Alien, it’s zombies (kinda sorta). There’s not much in the way of character development but you don’t really need that for this kind of movie which is really more about conveying a sense of dread and claustrophobia. There isn’t an excessive amount of gore, relying instead on good old fashioned suspense to deliver thrills and I found the subtitles to actually enhance the atmosphere of the film by adding an extra layer of anxiety. Not only do you not understand what’s going on within the plot of the movie but you don’t understand what people are saying either. I don’t think it’ll make ‘classic’ status but it’s a nice, solid movie that’s worth your time.
The next movie was Sunshine which had some interesting ideas but ended up being a mess. It really does look like they had two movies and just mashed them up which resulted in having two incomplete (and unsatisfactory movies). Even though the movie had some nice visuals I just can’t recommend it as the plot completely fell apart and made no sense.
Finally, Monsters is about an invasion of Northern Mexico by giant cephalopod sort of creatures. Yeah, I know that sounds lame but it was actually pretty good. The filmmakers appear to have had a rather limited budget so that had to go for a story rather than an effects driven film but that actually forced them to have a plot, which was a nice change of pace. Almost all of the ‘action’ is in the first five minutes (but it is a pretty cool way to open up the movie) and the rest focuses on two people trying to get back to the U.S. In that regard, it’s probably better to think of this as a relationship movie with a sci-fi backdrop. It won’t keep you up at night but if you enjoyed the near future realism look of District 9, the visuals should appeal to you.
We are approaching the best time of year with Halloween right around the corner. Let Me In is the American remake of ‘Let the Right One In‘, a Swedish vampire movie that I blogged about previously.
The original was quite good and the American version is not supposed to be an exact remake so do go and see the original. That being said, I’m pretty excited to see this one given that it’s getting positive reviews. Here’s the trailer:
The TwShiloh household recently began watching the BBC series Being Human and it’s pretty good stuff. The plot revolves around three people sharing a house and the twist is that they are a vampire, werewolf and a ghost.
The show follows their attempts to blend in and join humanity while struggling with their various trials and tribulations. One doesn’t need to have an overly analytical mind to realize that these three paranormal states are, in fact, metaphors for much more mundane (and common) plot lines that fill TV dramas. The vampire is an addictive personality (blood, cigarettes, bad girlfriends) and plays the role subtlety and well. Lycanthropy raises all sorts of issues of self loathing and struggling for hiding one’s identity and is clearly supposed to represent repressed homosexuality. Even though the character is hetero, he is just shy of Nathan Lane’s flamboyant Albert from the Birdcage with a lot of hysterics and startled exclamations. The ghost is a young woman who’s struggling to find (and establish) her own identity. In life she defined herself only through others and so had little independent existence.
Without the paranormal angle this could just be a bad soap opera. With it, however, the writers are able to do some interesting things with the characters without getting too heavy handed as well as introducing a bit of fun.
And it is fun. The series is styled as a comedy-drama and there are equal bits of both. The plot lines are fresh, with a nice amount of unexpected twists and some interesting ideas about the horror archetypes thrown in.
Two seasons have been broadcast thus far and a third is on the way. If things go as they have in the past, my positive review will be followed shortly by the BBC announcing that they’re canceling the show immediately.
The only thing I can really ding the series on thus far is that there’s far too much snarling going on. When the vampires are mad they bare their teeth and hiss (like we’ve all seen oh so many times before). But really, is that what they’d really do? How often have you seen a person hiss? Or make some incredibly contrived affectation? And for the few times you’ve seen someone try it, how often has it worked? Still, that’s a minor point….Check it out and enjoy.
Here’s the trailer:
Now that I’m back to kind of a regular schedule I can enjoy keeping up with my blogroll.
Jason has a kick-ass post about cognition in snakes that involves putting them in a weightless environment. I’m tired of these mother-flippin’ snakes on this mother-flippin’ Soyuz capsule.
Mike Bennett is starting part 2 of his vampire novel podcast Underwood and Flinch. I’ve recommended it before so I’m sure you’ve all listened to it but in the off chance you’ve ignored my previous recommendations, it’s not too late to catch up with part 1. Mike is a great audio performer and storyteller. There’s none of that namby pamby Twilight sort of vampire in here. Good stuff.
Brit Hume is an asshat. My god. Are lobotomies required to work at Fox news?
Sven talks about how small countries can think about defense.
Amazing video of that volcano in Iceland.
Oh…how I wish this was a real movie…
Unfortunately it was just an entry in a contest. Still, a guy can dream. Go to the website and check out the close up shots to see all the B-movie awesomeness
And finally, I’m the motha-flippin’….
Have you ever seen Carpenter’s ‘In the Mouth of Madness? (If not, you should but it appears you can watch the whole movie on YouTube if you don’t mind seeing it in 10 minutes bits)’
That’s what came to mind when I saw this two headlines from opposite sides of the globe…
Yeah…lock you doors….
More on Peter Kalm and his travels through North America:
October 22, 749. Here, Peter and some companions (French guides who he had never met before) were traveling through the wilds of Northern New York, returning from a trip to the French colony of Canada and on his way back to Philadelphia. The weather was extremely unhelpful, delaying the waterborne portion of his trip for days. I imagine sitting around in the same uninhabited area for days at a time, while the days are getting shorter and colder, among people who you are barely acquainted with and knowing that there remains a long way to go to the next settlement would begin to wear on anyone’s nerves.
Tales of Horror. During the evenings my companions were busy telling one another how they had gone forth in the last war to attack the English; how they had had Indians among and how they had beaten to death the enemy and scalped him. They also told how the natives often scalped the enemy while he was still alive; how they did the same thing with prisoners who were too weak to follow them, and of other gruesome deeds which it was horrible for me to listen to in these wildernesses, where the forests were now full of Indians who to-day might be at peace with one another and to-morrow at war, killing and beating to death whomsoever they could steal upon. A little while ago there was a crackling sound in the woods just as if something had walked or approached slowly in order to steal upon us. Almost everyone arose to see what was the matter, but we heard nothing more. It was said that we had just been talking about scalping and that we could suffer the same fate before we were aware of it. The long autumn nights are rather terrifying in these vast wildernesses. May God be with us!
I can almost picture Kalm sitting around the fire with his compatriots, scribbling away furiously in his notes and trying like hell not to hear the stories about ambushes in the middle of the night and scalping the unsuspecting. I’m guessing he didn’t sleep that well that night.
This continues my occasional writing about Peter Kalm
‘s (the 18th century Swedish botanist, naturalist and blogger*) travels in the American colonies between 1748-1750. Given we’re fast approaching the Halloween season, I thought it appropriate to bring the one instance (so far) of Kalm’s reporting on the supernatural in his wonderful book
The following is an excerpt he made from some newspaper archives he reviewed while in Philadelphia during the winter of 1749.
A Curious Phenomenon. The American Weekly Mercury N. 122, Newport, Phode Island, March 30, 1722. There has lately a surprising appearance been seen at Narraganset, which is the occasion of much discourse here, and is variously represented; but for the substance of it, it is a matter of fact beyond dispute, it having been seen by abundance of people, and one night about 20 persons at the same time, who came together for that purpose. The truth, as near as we can gather from the relations of several persons, is as follows. This last winter there was a woman died at Narraganset of the small pox, and since she was buried, there has appeared, upon her grave chiefly, and in various other places, a bright light as the appearance of fire. This appearance commonly begins about 9 or 10 of the clock at night, and sometimes as soon as it was dark. It appears variously as to time, place, shape and magnitude, but commonly on or about the grave, and sometimes about and upon the barn and trees adjacent; sometimes in several parts, but commonly in one entire body. The first appearance is commonly small, bbut increases to a great bigness and brightness, so that in a dark night they can see the grass and bark of the trees very plainly; and when it is at the height, they can see sparks fly from the appearance like sparks of fire, and the lieness of a person in the midst wrapt in a sheet with its arms folded. This appearance moves with incredible swiftness, sometimes the distance of a half a mile from one place to another in the twinkling of an eye. It commonly appears every night, and continues till break of day. A woman in that neighbourhood says she has seen it every night for these six weeks past.
*I say Kalm was a blogger only slightly tongue in cheek. It seems to be a stylistic method of writing (in days long past) that incorporates many of the same techniques that now are regarded as a model for good blog writing. I’m also thinking of the letters of the younger Pliny and some of the works of Machiavelli in this category but I’m sure there are scads of such works.
If I’m correct, I wonder if this might lead to a resurgence of interest in the style of writing and therefore and increase in reading such works. Gee, that would be great.