Category: Horror


Vampires, vampires and more vampires! One of these days, I hope for a Moonlight movie...

There are a few new places which I am roaming around on the ‘net, and lucky for me, none of them are MMOs. Yes, I do my share of online games, but not as much as a few years ago. They are, for the most part, too time consuming and when I step outside to get the snail mail I feel like a Morlock. In any case, since The Movie Blog is defunct for me, I decided to add to the links ‘Reel Time Movie’ Blog’ which is what the old ‘Movie Blog’ used to be. (re: IQ). Most likely I’ll be joining back up with those folks sometime soon. The link to that will be up when it goes live.

But since I was updating the links section, I threw in one more. That’s the Castle Dracula Podcast which recently started up on Talkshoe. For anyone who has visited places like NowLive LA, it’s kind of like that: a call in Podcast and live chatroom. Castle Dracula is hosted by “Sword of Dracula” author Jason Henderson, “Halloween Man” creator Drew Edwards, “Clockwerx” manga creator Tony Salvaggio, and Julia Guzman.

It just so happens that at this time I’m expanding a short script of mine ‘The Servant’, which deals with Vampires, Vampire Hunters and one unusal Ghoul. The concept is simple: if vampires can be updated and re-invented, why not the hunters? Why can’t the Ghouls? So listening to this podcast helps me in a few ways by getting into the ‘vampire mood’ if you will. Yes, I could pop in DVDs of ‘Near Dark’ ’30 Days Of Night’, ‘The Lost Boys’, ‘Shadow Of The Vampire’ the ‘Blade’ films and the ‘Moonlight’ TV series to get some styles in mind. It always helps; when wanting to write action films, shouldn’t you watch action films to study structure and what’s been done? When I want to write Horror, I’m not going to watching three of my favorite films, Lawrence Of Arabia, Star Wars and The Outlaw Josey Wales. Know what I’m saying? Okay, maybe Jaws. But I’m most likely to watch Stephen Kings’ Salem’s Lot – both the one with David Soul and the one with Rob Lowe. Or at least a film-noir thriller like ‘After Dark My Sweet’ or ‘House Of Games’ (a different kind of vampire: a con artist)because I do find that film noir can lend itself rather easily into a vampire horror.

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While it pales in comparison to the original, that does not mean Jaws 2 is a terrible film.

As much as I love the original Jaws (1975) I think that it’s sequel, Jaws 2 gets a bad rap. Sure, we don’t really get any memorable characters like Hooper or Quint, but we do have returning characters/actors and a handful of the production team of the first film. It must count for something. But there are three main reasons why I love Jaws 2, and several minor reasons.

Part of the magic of the first film is that, due to production challenges, there was a choice not to show too much of the killer shark. It gave us a unique lesson in film in that sometimes less is more. It also suggested that it is not always wise to always show your monster right away, but tease the viewer with glimpses. Granted, this is not an absolute. There have been effective thrillers and horror pictures where the threat is in the open and in front of you. But that’s usually reserved for “individual” monsters and killers, be it Chucky from ‘Child’s Play’, Freddy from ‘A Nightmare On Elm Street’ or the demonic car of ‘Chistine’. The ‘Jaws’ formula of not showing the ‘monster’ too much is more like Greg McLean’s ‘Rogue’, about a killer crocodile.

The success of the ‘Jaws’ structure did not follow up in the sequel; the shark is seen early and often. But one of the added bonuses of the film is that when Brody (Roy Scheider) has reason to believe that a new shark is picking up where the previous one left off. While additional safety measures have been added in between both films – most notably a shark tower- Brody has become the new Quint in a matter of speaking. He is obsessed with finding his foe once again. When Amity’s polititians fire Brody, it is with good reason. It isn’t that Brody may or may not be right. It is the mere fact that he himself caused a (well meaning) panic, drew his gun and fired in the water. We know there’s a new shark out there, He knows there’s a new shark out there. Maybe the city council is in denial. But they also know Brody is a paranoid loose cannon. The taking away of his job as Sheriff is a nice character blow. Added to that, we know he’s right, and so are his superiors.

Hello and GOODBYE!

Yes, the family and character moments in Jaws 2 do have some depth to them, and when Brody pretty much goes it alone, he’s got almost no support aside from his wife and his deputy (now called ‘Jeff’ instead of ‘Leonard’ for some reason) who are left behind when the third act kicks in. The events leading up to that third act is what makes this film. It’s a given, isn’t it? Gimmie a sequel and I’ll give you more shark. But what a bonus! See folks, it’s really simple here. We have got, in disgise, a Dead Teenager Movie. The teens rebel, sneak out, must pay the price for lust, and will sacrifice themselves for friends or a young kid. The death toll is a bit higher, and we got four memorable demises. One is really stupid where, after Mr. Shark snaps away a water-skier he goes after the person in the boat. That person, for some oddball reason, pours gasoline all over herself (although in a panic) and indirectly causes the boat to explode. Luckily, she also scars up the shark a bit as well. Later we find that woman’s burned up body as Brody faces (again) his fear of water. Another is Eddie, but only because of the aftermath when his girlfriend Tina is severely traumatized. This makes us have some feeling for the poor kid. The next best “death” is that of Marge, who dies heroically. (Even if,in the days of my youth and HBO at my friend’s house, this was actually a stupid way to go, although not as dumb as gas can woman) But there is THE HIGHLIGHT of Jaws 2, where in the few years after viewing on cable, me and my friends actually thought the shark lept out of the water and clamped down on the heliocopter. Yes it did chomp down, but it didn’t shoot up like a dancing dolphin either. By today’s standards, this event is not as interesting as, say, what would have the attack on the Killer Whale might have been. It also was a lame way to go overall (a deleted DVD scene shows the pilot becoming the sandwich) but back then in the late 70s/early 80s? On the box? Golden moment, folks.

The teens pray to God, and vow never to sail near dangerous underwater power lines again.

But there’s something more for me than all this and just the classic tagline (“Just When You Thought It Was Safe To Go Back In The Water”) and that is those days of geek youth. Sure, we loved Star Wars, Rocky, got into Conan a little bit . But then there was Jaws, and specifically, Jaws 2. I still recall my best buddy Shawn, in front of the TV and the HBO box, proclaiming with every shark snack…

Bye, Bye, Bab-eeeeee

and it was tough not to get a smile. And yes, we all thought the death of the shark by electric cable was nothing short of badass. In passing years, I love the first Jaws more and more, as I think it has aged better than Jaws 2. But while not every filmmaker will follow the ‘less is more’ guideline, there is one thing I would love to see filmmakers take from Jaws 2. A Dead Teenager film that has dead teenagers we not only care about – but having the main protagonist be someone who faces problems and who knows a little more than the kids do. That’s not a bad thing folks, if that character has thier best intrests at heart.

I will admit to having a guilty liking to 2006’s Silent Hill which was based on the video game. I didn’t go to see it because I’m a fan of the game. I went because it looked like a good horror film at the time and due to admiring director Christophe Gans’ Brotherhood Of The Wolf a great deal. Silent Hill, however, was trashed by critics overall. The response from the fanbase was “if you follow the game you’ll understand” which was an insult to my own intelligence because I actually though the film was effective as a horror film overall and yet, I never played the game. So if I didn’t play the game and still liked the film, what does that say? Not to mention that good horror doesn’t need to be all explained anyway. The more you reveal the supernatural and throw away the mystery, the fear of the unknown loses punch. Also, it is adaptation.

Guilty pleasure as it may be, needless to say I wasn’t holding my breath on a sequel, and when the sequel plans fell through a few years ago, I felt that was it. Most video games adapted to films don’t do all that great for some reason. Either the filmmakers overestimate the fanbase and make that film “for the fans” without doing much of a headcount and therefore alienate the majority of the average film goer or they will aim for the average filmgoer and alienate to fans who want it to be “just like the game”. You can’t win. It’s more fun to play video games as opposed to watching them. This year’s Prince Of Persia wasn’t too bad, until the final reel anyway. But back to Silent Hill. What about it? It’s getting a sequel!

The The Escapist reports:

British film maker Michael J. Bassett has signed on to write and direct the sequel to the 2006 Silent Hill movie. Bassett’s previous work includes writing and directorial duties on World War I horror Deathwatch, and last year’s Solomon Kane.

The movie’s working title is Silent Hill 2: Revelation 3D, which will hopefully change before it gets to theaters. The movie will follow 18-year-old Heather Mason, who, along with her father, has spent her whole life fleeing from something that she doesn’t understand. After her father goes missing, she learns that she isn’t who she thought she was, a revelation that threatens to trap her in Silent Hill forever. If that sounds familiar, it’s because it’s basically the plot of Silent Hill 3, with a few tweaks here and there.

Radha Mitchell in 'Silent Hill'.Interesting that they pick another director who has a film widely talked about but not seen in the States theatrically. Gans had Crying Freeman before Brotherhood– and now here’s Bassett, whose biggest film to date is Solomon Kane, which sits on a shelf, despite some UK exposure.

However, it is also the 3D angle that has me a bit concerned. The folks behind Hill are the same behind the moderately successful Resident Evil franchise, the fourth film of which was in 3D- and made the film a big yawn. If anything, it might inspire rival studio Warner Bros to re-release The Matrix films with a 3D conversion (why not? everyone else seems to hop on the boat) or New Line with a 3D version of John Carpenter’s In The Mouth Of Madness, which has A LOT in common with the first Silent Hill film in terms of a gateway into a hellish dimension with Lovecraftian like overtones, minus Laurie Holden’s hot leather pants. One thing is for sure: the sequel to Silent Hill does have one strike already against it.

No returning cast members that we know of.
Hmmmm…

Does anyone really care about a Silent Hill sequel anyway?

The Fly (1986)

On a subconscious level the opening title sequence of David Cronenberg’s 1986 remake of ‘The Fly’ is explained late in the film. At the time, it went over the heads of the critics who were more than quick to tear the film apart due to the disturbing appeal of the makeup and creature effects. Over time, Cronenberg’s remake, like John Carpenter’s “The Thing” remake from 1982, (which was also savaged by critics at the time) has earned more respect and like the original film it is based on, has become a sci-fi horror classic in its own right. Both films had something going for them in narrative than just piles of slime, blood and mucus. Both films had the main action and drama take place in or surrounding one general location; the characters are a small handful in number and are over 25 years old and are developed enough that they are worth caring about.

The only real difference theatrically between the two is that ‘Fly’ was a hit, and ‘Thing’ was not. These also happen to be the two best years (82 and 86) for these genres.

In the opening credits of 1986’s “The Fly”, the POV is that of an insect might see as color distortion and multiple, near kaleidoscope like images. Seth Brundle, (Jeff Goldblum) well into his altered state, takes a self reflective view as the fly which merged with his DNA as the result of the experiment gone wrong. Brundle observes that his condition was really the fly, dreaming what it was like to be a man (or human). To me, that was the thesis of what the film really wanted to convey, and use it as a social commentary of sorts. The first lines of dialog back this up further as Seth and Veronica get acquainted:

“What am I working on? I’m working on something that will change the world and human life as we know it” –Seth
“Change it a bit? You’ll have to be more specific”– Veronica

After convincing Veronica to come to his place to see what he was working on (and because he can make a great cup of cappuccino) it must be noted that she is driving him home. He does not own a car due to a lifelong problem of motion sickness. During the remainder of the film, this will never be brought up again. It is the attraction to Veronica that drives Seth, as well as the scientist geek coming out of a box to not only attempt to socialize, but to impress a woman.

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