The special effects used in Fright Night are pretty good and along with the treatment of the source material are a highlight of the film as at the time the option of CGI wasn’t available and animation effects had backfired too often to be really usable leaving only physical models as the best option for creature effects, and they’re used really well. The creatures like the bat-like monster near the end and the vampire skeleton are excellent but some of the make-up effects don’t stand up to scrutiny (or High Definition) as well as they might.
Imagine you were a vampire, with all the advantages of immortality and the intrinsic beauty that comes with being a nasty little goblin of the underworld. With all that power at your disposal, would you spend your days being a miserable bastard in some shitty small town in chilly northern America with a girl who looks like a horse hanging out of you the whole time? Of course not, it wasn’t believable in one film so I was curious as to how you’d get another go at the cinema out of this bullshit…
As her eighteenth birthday approaches, New Moon opens with Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart) struggling to deal with one of the practicalities of loving a vampire. She dreams of her dear old Granny meeting Edward (Robert Pattinson) in a field one day but she realises that it’s not her Gran but actually herself as an old woman having aged naturally while Eddie stayed his youthful immortal self. With this on her mind, Bella tries to go about the normal business of girls her age which basically consists of going to school and looking moody.
Edward’s family, the Cullen’s (a group of adopted vampire kids looked after by Dr. And Mrs. Cullen) throw a little party for Bella’s birthday at their house and during the giving of the presents Bella gets a paper cut which sets off one of the vampires who isn’t fully house trained. This gets Edward thinking about just how wise it is keeping a human about the place when he and his kind have such murderous instincts. About this time Carlisle Cullen decides that he has to move on as he looks a lot younger than he’s supposed to be and people around him are starting to notice. Edward decides that he’s going to go as well and put some distance between him and Bella as he feels she should have a normal life and not have to worry about the technicalities of going out with a disgusting bloodsucker like himself. Eddie has also been thinking about their situation and he’s come to the conclusion that the only way it could work is to make Bella a vampire and that’s something he can’t do as it would damn her soul.
With Edward out of the picture, Bella gets down to doing some serious moping about and manages to sit in the same chair looking out the window for about four months without ever changing her clothes. When she’s not busy being a moody drink of piss, she’s flat out screaming her head off in her sleep as she’s haunted with terrible nightmares of her lost love. Her days at school are filled with avoiding her friends which only serves to demonstrate just how useless a bunch they are when things get tough. She finally manages to get a grip on herself and slowly tries to deal with her plight by hanging out with Jacob, a local native American boy she knows from when she was much younger. She picks up two wrecked motorbikes and gets Jacob to restore them while she sits and watches for a few weeks in an example of exploitation of the red man not seen in America since some Europeans purchased the continent for a handful of beads and a dose of smallpox.
Bella begins to experience hallucinations of Edward whenever she might be in danger, like going down the wrong street in a bad part of town or riding a restored motorbike without a crash helmet. Bella puts herself in increasingly dangerous situations in an effort to see more of Edward instead of doing the rational thing of seeing a psychiatrist or other mental health professional to help her with the fact that she’s seeing things and hearing voices. Her friend Jacob also turns out to be in need of some medical help as he develops a bad fever one night and disappears for a while, though Bella thinks that Jacob is in fact just avoiding her as she rejected his romantic advances. Bella goes to find Jacob down on the reservation (apparently the only reservation in the US without a casino) and finds that he’s a changed man, with his hair cut short, sporting a tattoo, and running with the wrong sort of people all the while not wearing much clothes. After a bit of back and forth it turns out that Jacob is a werewolf and so are his mates and that they’ve been hunting some vampires (left over from the first film) who’ve been knocking about with plans to kill Bella.
Off in exile Edward has gotten wind of Bella’s daredevil antics and believes that one of her little vision-inducing activities has actually killed her and so he decides to top himself as immortality isn’t worth enduring if the girl he dumped, who was probably going to snuff it sometime in the next seventy or eighty years anyway, has died – as long as no-one stops him in the nick of time…
I shall cut to the inevitable chase; New Moon is an overly long and deeply unoriginal piece of shit film. It’s two desperately boring hours of a mopey bitch pining for a creepy girly boy who you know will turn up again before the film is over and very little else. Edward just pisses off as soon as he could at the start of the wretched movie, in fact he ran away so fast I half expected him to have knocked Bella up or something. Edward’s departure is too much of a convenience and is only offered up so that Jacob could be properly introduced as a character. Jacob is actually not that bad a character but he seems to unfortunately suffer from the same problem as everyone else in the small town of Forks – he seems to think Bella is the only woman in the entire world worth a damn and that is frankly too unbelievable even for a movie where vampires sparkle and werewolves prowl around whether there’s a full moon or not.
Kristen Stewart’s Bella is too unattractive and uninteresting a person for it to be realistic that everyone in town is chasing after her. The Cullen’s are fawning over her from the start (though to be fair one of them openly wants to eat her), the kids in school are obsessed with her, and now the werewolves are all into Bella-mania. Love triangles are the staple of many’s a fine story but the apex of this one is a droopy faced misery – the lads in Forks must have been really hard up.
Speaking of the love aspect leads me to the real horror of New Moon. The film rips off one major source and that’s Mr. William Shakespeare and his tragic play Romeo and Juliet.What makes this crime so heinous is that New Moon flaunts the fact from early on that it’s lifting it’s central theme from that play, the only twist being that Edward’s already dead. What I want to know is, seeing as Romeo and Juliet is a short play, why did it take two long fucking hours to re-tell that story? And why even pretend that the poor teen wolf Jacob was ever in with a chance with a go on Bella?
Just like the fist Twilight film there is very little to redeem New Moon. Sadly, the decent music from the first movie is absent, replaced with a succession of radio-friendly but easily forgotten tunes that no doubt sold well on iTunes, easily forgotten except for the song “Meet Me on the Equinox” by Death Cab For Cutie – I really like that song and it’s a shame it only featured on the end credits. The film is slightly better made than its predecessor, the lighting is better, the effects have been given some thought, and the locations are well used. The big redemption for me however was the fact that the Cullen’s began to address the whole damnation of the soul thing that bothered me so much about the first Twilight. New Moon doesn’t really resolve this problem but it at least admits that it’s there.
Doesn’t stop New Moon from being shit though.
Two Thumbs Down for New Moon.
Click the links for more info about Vampires and Werewolves that are afraid of the dark:
Documentaries are not boring. Many of them involve killing and lately loads of them are about big scary aliens!
The Fourth Kind (2009) presents itself as a documentary that has certain scenes dramatised for the purposes of telling the story of events that occurred in Nome, in northern Alaska in the year 2000. The Film begins with Mila Jovovich addressing the audience directly and outlining what they are about to see.
The First Kind: Links to email
The Second Kind: Links to news sites
The Third Kind: Porn, of course!
The Fourth Kind: Links to details of last nights film
High-concept horror is a rare thing. Most horror films focus on building dread over time and then reaching a scary and/or action packed ending, or they go for the jump out of your seat type of fright where things happen suddenly giving the audience a shock; those types of film are more like roller coasters despite whatever artistic content they may contain. There are a few thinking man’s horror films out there but the majority of studios, film-makers, and audiences find that intelligence and horror don’t tend to make good bedfellows. Of course, there are clever horror films but rarely does the genre go beyond that, perhaps because if the story deals with horrific situations then it can be better dealt with in a more traditional drama, or if the story is going for a supernatural slant then too much has to be accepted on faith for any highbrow thought to be able to accept what’s going on.
It may seem obvious but it needs saying: In a movie so much rests on the actors. Bad acting can ruin a great story, and while nothing can really salvage a poor story good acting can at least numb the pain of the viewing. In horror you do tend to see some decent actors occasionally strutting their stuff. I’m not sure why but they all take a crack at it, maybe they’re looking for a challenge, or maybe they’re slumming it for the sake of a rounded CV, or more likely for a rounded paycheque.
After.Life is something of a horror and something of a thriller but it’s hard to figure out which it is and that’s the whole point of the film. After.Life is deliberately ambiguous as the audience are supposed to decide for themselves just what exactly the fuck is going on. The choices boil down to this: either Anna is dead and Deacon has a terrible gift that he tries to do his best with, or Anna is alive and Deacon is a serial killer burying people alive when he thinks they haven’t lived as full a life as they should have. After watching the film the choice is very much yours as there’s plenty of evidence both ways while logic (not something often present in Hollywood) gets in the way just to muddy the waters further.
I read an article recently about Kevin Smith, the bloke behind such films as Dogma, Clerks, Mallrats, and Jersey Girl. In the article it stated that Smith was pulling away from making movies within the studio system, the inference being that he’d go back to the small-scale indie style that made him such as success in the first place. Smith said he liked doing things that way as kids who see those movies are encouraged to try making their own films with their friends as it all feels like something anyone could do and be successful at. Once you add in some big name actors or other expensive element it makes movie-making feel like the domain of only those with the money to pay for it. I wonder then if, in addition to the perceived “realism”, there’s something to be said for the first-person, shot on a video camera and recovered later, style of film made famous by the likes of Blair Witch that might actually redeem that shitty style of film? With the exception of Cloverfield and one or two others, this style produces films that anyone could take a crack at themselves.
(and I don’t care if the picture has copyright, I nicked it, and I’d do it again!)
Two Thumbs Up for [REC]2
The horror of war is a cliché that like most clichés, catchphrases, and stereotypes, has some basis in truth no matter how small. In the case of warfare there is no doubting just how horrific the experience is even for those who luckily have no direct exposure to such violence. Considering how awful the concept of war is it’s no surprise that there are so few actual horror films with a wartime setting. There’s no real need for them. Just make a regular war film and you have all the elements necessary – oftentimes including a supernatural disregard for life on behalf of most involved.
Horror is a funny old business. Setting out to make a career in this particular genre requires a certain mindset. No matter the media, be it books, comics, music, TV, or cinema, when you decide that horror is for you then you just have to accept a few fundamental truths. You will wear a lot of black. You will start talking in an overly dramatic fashion and say the word “Greetings” instead of “Hello”. You will get funny looks from people in the street, especially small children and elderly women. You might get a tattoo. Of a bat.
There are some obvious and famous folk who have made successful careers from Horror. Stephen King, Ozzy Ozbourne, Garth Marenghi, Dani Flith, and the musician and director of last nights film, Rob Zombie – a man so dedicated to horror that he changed his name to Zombie, for crying out loud.
Once upon a time I was a city dweller. I grew up in a major metropolis that can sometimes be beautiful and sometimes brutal. In the modern urban jungle man has adapted his ways to suit his environment, but man is a creature of habit and one of those long established habits is the use of stories to pass along history and to teach acceptable behaviours, hence the urban myth.
Candyman (1992) stars Virgina Madsen as Helen Lyle, a researcher at a university in Chicago who is writing a thesis on urban myths with her friend Bernadette. During the course of her research she encounters the myth of Candyman to whom some local murders have been attributed. The Candyman story is concentrated on a parcel of land that had been developed into a housing project. In the late 1800’s, while the area was still farms and plantations, a young black man had been brutally murdered after knocking up a local white chick. Now, according to the myth, it’s possible to summon the vengeful spirit of Candyman by saying his name five times into a mirror.
Helen digs into the story when she discovers that, unlike the usual urban myths that all seem to be removed from the person who tells them (in a “it happened to a friend of my sisters room-mates cousins barber” type way) this legend has some verifiable facts as do the murders that have been blamed on it. Venturing into the gang-controlled projects Helen meets with the neighbour of a murder-victim who firmly believes that Candyman is the killer.
Things turn sour for Helen when she runs afoul of a local gang-banger who’s been using the name Candyman to instil fear in the locals. Thinking that that was all there was to the story Helen gets the shock of her life when she is stalked by a tall man with a distinctive voice and a hook for a hand who demands that Helen believe in him and who sets about destroying her life by framing her for a series of crimes and getting her locked away in the local asylum. Helen slowly realises that perhaps she shouldn’t have said Candyman five times when in front of her mirror, not even for a joke…
Candyman is a flick I hadn’t seen in years, and as distanced as I was from the film it was easy to get hung up on the saying his name in the mirror idea which is just a re-work of the Bloody Mary myth. However, imagine my surprise when I watched Candyman last night and it dawned on me that this is a brilliant movie!
This is a film where everything works as it should. The music by Philip Glass sets each scene perfectly, the casting choices were inspired, the setting was ideally modern and creepy, and the story by Clive Barker is solid. Virginia Madsen is great as Helen and she carries her scenes well, but she is utterly upstaged by Tony Todd who plays Candyman himself. Todd is a very tall man and is able therefore to be imposing and scary, but add in the amazing deep voice he carries around with him and you’re onto a total winner with him as a baddie from beyond the grave. Cut off his arm and stick a hook into the stump and you’re in Oscar territory!
The gore and horror that’s present in the film are understated considering that Candyman is very firmly a slasher movie though more time is given over to the urban myth aspect then the cutting people up with hooks aspect. The urban myth hadn’t really been tapped for too many films when Candyman hit the theatres so it was a refreshing way of conjuring up a villain to go an a killing spree in the windy city, it also meant that more thought went into the film-making as they didn’t want to screw up the opportunity of making a mark with urban legends. There are some very clever touches in Candyman, especially the racial and social commentary that’s present in every discussion of housing projects, though also in the little touches like the baby licking Candyman’s finger (it would have tasted of honey as he’d been covered in the stuff as he was tortured to death).
Sadly though the familiarity of the method for getting Candyman to appear, that is to say his name into the mirror five times, is a direct lift from Bloody Mary and it’s a legend that is too familiar to be overwritten by an unknown like Candyman, every time someone says “Candyman” into a mirror a voice in your head corrects them to “Bloody Mary”. This is really the films only failing but mercifully it doesn’t get in the way too much and never robs from the enjoyment. So when you get a chance, find yourself a decent sized mirror, dim the lights, and stick on a Christina Aguilera CD and let the dozy cow say his name five times!
Two Thumbs Firmly Up for Candyman.
He’s a one stop shop, makes my panties drop, He’s a sweet talkin’ sugar coated Candyman…. wait, what? Here are some links:
The final days of September 2011 were, in Ireland and the UK, unseasonally warm with the all too short days sunny and hot. This unusual weather is far from what we’re used to but no one missed the chance at some point to enjoy the heat, if only for a little while. The first of October has arrived and brought with it the wet and grey conditions we’re far more accustomed to. Looking back over the past week it feels like summer had one last dying gasp and that October has turned up in its funeral clothes to mourn the seasons loss and trumpet the impending winter. In a matter of hours thoughts that were sunny and bright have turned to darkness.
The darkness of a winter in the northern hemisphere is welcome as it brings the chance to sit by the fire and enjoy hearty foods and strong drink to fortify against the cold gloom. It also brings the quiet fear of what may lurk in those long nights and that makes it the perfect time to play to those fears and enjoy a series of horror films that can only make matters worse!
My annual quest to bleat on about films most people don’t care about in a funny manner has morphed from an interesting distraction in the weeks before Halloween into a full-blown crusade to bring the true value of these films to the masses in a funny manner. I’m also keen to find out how long I can keep this type of bullshit going for!
Like the very best self-imposed nonsense a small collection of rules and procedures have sprung up around the 30 Days of Fright, and these rules are once again unchanged. I’ve assembled a small collection of DVD’s and recordings off the TV and compiled a list of films to be viewed and reviewed. Should something interesting cross my path then it’ll get snuck in, especially if someone makes a suggestion or request for a particular film to get the treatment.
The previous years reviews are available for your consideration here: 2008, here: 2009, and here: 2010 and hopefully like the first three years you’ll find year four to be entertaining, a bit of a laugh, and maybe just maybe a little bit interesting.
The scoring system is the same as it ever was, with each film rated on it’s merits and assigned a final score on my rather unusual thumb-based scale:
Two Thumbs Firmly Down = One of the worst films ever, never mention this film to anyone nevermind actually watching it!
Two Thumbs Down = A crap fest
One Thumb Up, One Thumb Down = Meh, don’t go out of your way for it but don’t try to avoid it either
Two Thumbs Up = A brilliant movie, well worth a look
Two Thumbs Firmly Up = A must see, a trully excellent motion picture you should make it your business to see as soon as you can
There is another score that is only used in the most extreme of cases: No Thumbs = no rating as the film is beneath contempt due to the handling of its subject matter – when you consider that these are horror films then that’s a pretty extreme rating to get and has so far, only been applied to one nasty little film.
Now the fun starts as the first film gets its showing tonight… let the 30 Days of Fright begin!