Archive for October, 2009

When Halloween loses its spook…

30 October, 2009

Modern horror films are rubbish. There I’ve said it, it’s a fact.

The problem is, as with so much of Hollywood these days, a lack of imagination. Horror films in their giddy, slash-filled glory days were gloriously damaging; long, controlled lessons in  building tension and fear to such a point that you would willing stave your own face in on the chair in front just to save yourself from the thundering, inevitable crescendo.

Horror films fell out of favour in the 80s and 90s but have always been much of a hit and miss genre. But when they are done well there’s few other films that can affect you as much as a horror good enough to leave you checking the door three times and leaving the lights on ‘just to be sure’.

The point is that the time for peering at a film through iron clasped fingers has been and gone, so much so that it is now a cliche used in awful adverts for awful horror films which show the ‘terrified audience’ throwing their popcorn into the air whilst watching scenes far too startling to show on your whimpering, cowardly television.

Don’t get me wrong, I love horror films. But the reason I love them is the way they can get into your head like no other type of film. Modern horror has increasingly drifted away from this idea and opted to run away with shocking an audience rather than scaring them. Films like the never-ending Saw saga and the two Hostel films are uncomfortable to watch, but not because they make your mind play tricks on you and terrify you into imagining what could be there. These films are all about the sharp sudden shock of watching the face jolt up behind the window, or watching some squawking damsel lose an arm with a fountain of haemoglobin.

Now this is all well and good, but I can get a sudden shock by slamming my foot in a door. And I get tired of that quickly too.

So this Halloween, rather than going to watch Saw VI or Rob Zombie’s horrendous looking Halloween II, why not hunt down one of these classic horror films.

The classic as good as everyone says it is:

Psycho

Alfred Hitchcock’s old school horror can still throw it’s weight around today. Rather than going for outright scares and violence, Hitchcock eeks out the suspense and keeps you guessing at what the hell is actually happening right up until the finalé. It’s easy to snub a film like this by today’s break-neck standards, but I dare you to go back to this monochrome gem and dive in without preconceptions or an adequate source of lighting. Steer clear of Gus Van Saints’ god awful 1998 remake mind, for christ’s sake…

The one that crossed the genres best:

Alien

Ridley Scott’s space horror brought a new lease of life to both horror films and sci-fi. It basically reinvented a dying genre by turning it into a new style of horror, where a fear of the vast unknown and utter, utter isolation could be utilised to scare the living crap out of you. The first film of the franchise, Alien took a slow, meticulously controlled pace from start to finish and re-set the benchmark for horror.

The one you might not have heard of:

À l’intérieur  (Inside)

This magnificently monstrous French horror from 2007 centres on a heavily pregnant mother-to-be who is involved a horrific car crash which kills her husband, leaving only her and her unborn child alive. The film picks up four months later at when, alone in her home at christmas,  the woman receives a knock at the door from an utter, utter, nutcase of a woman who attempts to steal her unborn child and kills anyone and everyone that might be able to offer help to our rotund protagonist. Relatively unknown, this is a magnificent piece of horror film-making and, at best, brutally unforgiving.

The one to make you lose your appetite:

Night of the living dead

George A Romero’s first film of his ongoing saga and the zombie film that fathered all zombie films. Romero’s iconic film is another masterclass in misdirection and suspense, distracting you from the real message of the film which only hammers home in the final sequence. Buckets of offal and chocolate sauce were used to create the eerily realistic effects on Romero’s super-tight budget, and it still makes for uneasy viewing today.

The British Benchmark:

The Wicker Man

Worth watching alone for Christopher Lee’s mightiest of performances, this post-Hammer horror Brit production is still one of the greatest and most unsettling horror films ever made. Robin Hardy’s trick here is the way he effortlessly eases the audience in to Edward Woodward’s shoes as Sgt Howie, gradually unveiling the unsettling reality of Howie’s predicament into the iconic final sequence.

Edit: Alternatively you could watch this, indefinitely.

He now runs California…

20 October, 2009

Yes, I have completely stolen this from Empire, but sometimes the world needs to see something incredible.

Ten points go to whoever can tell me what the hell is so funny

ATTENTION WORLD – There is an Expendables trailer.

15 October, 2009

In the past I may have sounded over-excited about the impending release of The Expendables next year. But now the evidence is here, in three-minutes of pure, ball kicking glory. And it’s awesome.

There is always a place in my heart for mindless, shallow, thrill-seeking action films and from the looks of it The Expendables ticks all the boxes.

Make no mistake, there is more testosterone here than gym full of rhinos. But I think we should all take a gleeful delight in the fact that the majority of this trailer involves watching things get blown up, shot at, or beaten up.

The trailer first emerged last night at the movie blog and shows Stallone et al getting stuck in to a hefty glimpse of the final film. The banter between the cast looks good (Statham’s ‘I’m getting a text’ line and Jet Li’s small man complex stand-out here, as well as his ‘I would have winned’ line) and harks back to the glory days of muscle bound action one-liners that made the original 80s action films so amazing.

There’s a few interesting plot teases as well, why are Jet Li and Dolph Lundgren fighting at the end? Aren’t they both on the same side? Mickey Rourke looks ace as the group’s leader. The Stath and Li look great in the high kicking roles. Also interesting is Danny Trejo, conspicuous here by his absence, who many assumed would be the bad guy head honcho – we can just hope that the world’s baddest Mexican will be getting all the screen time he deserves.

Colour me excited.

Stallone’s new Death Wish

1 October, 2009

Hollywood iron man Sylvester Stallone is all over the place at the moment. If he’s not drawing together the world’s most amazing cast of arse-kicking hard-as-nails I-drink-beer-while-I’m-smashing-things-to-pieces action stars for upcoming super-actioner The Expendables, or working out how to be the meanest looking 63-year-old on the planet in the next Rambo film, he’s deciding whether or not remake 1974 Charles Bronson classic, Death Wish.

The Italian Stallion has been speaking to Empire about how he hopes to put together a remake of the brutal exploitation flick, but at least he seems fairly grounded about the whole idea and is fully aware of just how much he could mess up, and just how much Charles Bronson would come back from the dead just to kick his arse if he did.

“It’s a classic morality tale, where you take a civilised man and take away everything that matters to him so he becomes primitive again,” he said, speaking in the interview.  “The story’s been done many times, and when it’s done well, it’s an emotionally engaging film. The trouble with remakes is that people fall in love with the original. It’s like peanut butter. If you try to change the taste of peanut butter, you’re in trouble.”

The more I hear from the Slyster these days the more I like him. At least he’s fully aware of how carefully he would have to tread about such a loved piece of cinema. Not only does he blatently know what he’s good at and what people want from him (ie smashing people’s heads in and killing generic South Americans with a machine gun the size of a cow) – but he does it exceptionally well. And how could you not love a man who can make peanut butter analogies and bring together Bruce Willis, Mickey Rourke, Jason Statham, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, Steve Austin, Sly himself and Arnold Schwarzenegger for at least an hour and a half of gun fights and explosions?

But I digress, here is a chance to see Bronson in all of his Death Wish, no-nonsense ass-kickery. If there’s a better way to get a seat on the subway I don’t know about it.