View Full Version : Article Contest Voting
06-29-2005, 12:35 AM
Months after promising we'd close up this contest, the articles have finally been grouped for voting. Included below are the ten article submissions given to Dave and I, and now it is your job to pick which one you like the best. The ten participants have all put a lot of hard work into these articles, so please take the time to read them all, and pick your favorite. Please don't base it solely on length or subject matter, but on the writing as a whole. Some of the submissions are from members of the forum, and some are not, but please do not ask who did what, because we won't tell until after the contest. If we find any of the writers telling others which their article is, there article will be disqualified. Let's keep this fair, let's keep this fun.
The winner, after the poll closes a week from now on Tuesday, July 12th, will receive a 40 dollar gift certificate to their online DVD retailer of choice. And they will naturally buy great movies like TROLL 2 and HOUSE OF THE DEAD with their winnings. Everyone else gets a nice and hearty pat on the back. So vote away, readers.
*** If you've entered this link via the front page, please click here (http://www.horrordvds.com/vb3forum/showthread.php?t=25619) to be able to vote.
Please be advised that there are potential SPOILERS on most of the articles, so proceed with caution.
06-29-2005, 12:39 AM
The Horror of Generation X: A Retrospective Look at Horror Fandom from the 70s Until Today
It all started for me, back in the seventies. I would catch the occasional monster film on TV, and I knew I was hooked. Then, the addiction only got worse. I remember the first time I saw it. I went down to the corner store for a piece of candy, and there it was on the stands, some gruesome monster transfixing the cover, articles promising the scoop on some unreleased delight, waiting for us to snatch it up and buy it...Famous Monsters of Film Land Magazine. I would rush home with that issue and marvel at the pictures of monster movies I never knew existed. I had to see these films! Then, in the back of the magazine, there was promise. In a beautiful spread, there was a collection of monster movies to be had by anyone who owned a Super 8 film projector. My grandfather had one of those. Maybe he would let me watch these films on it. When my grandfather looked at the ads, not only was he appalled by the prices, but also the fact that they were only about 12 minutes long, and were silent. Needless to say, I never got those films.
The years went by and I continued to get Famous Monsters magazine, still hopeful that someday I would see some of these films I had been reading about and seeing so many glorious pictures of. Living in the New York City area, I had the advantage of having access to some great TV stations and the opportunity to see some of those classics. On the weekends we had Chiller Theatre. After the stop motion, green, six-fingered hand emerged from the grave, it submerged me. Hopefully it would be one of the classics, I had longed to see. If I was lucky, the 4:30 movie, which came on conveniently, right after I got home from school, had monster week. A few weeks out of the year were devoted to such classic weeks as Godzilla week, King Kong week or Planet of the Apes week. Still there were many films that I longed for.
The 80s brought about much to be thankful for, if you were a horror fan. We still had Famous Monsters magazine, but we also had Fangoria. More movies to read about, more pictures to drool over, but still, no way of seeing them. I was old enough to go to the movies by myself, but the films were rated R and begging and / or pleading would not get most adults to see them with me. Then my family got HBO, and I was treated to the likes of Friday the 13th Parts 1 and 2, Mad Max and other classics. In 1981, the classic, Halloween was on network television. Finally, a chance to see one of the pinnacles of horror history! A lot of them were on late at night, so being the fan I was, I would set my alarm and wake up to watch them, knowing it was my only chance to see certain films. Then, no more sleepless nights, because hence came the greatest invention the film fan had ever seen, the VCR! My aunt bought one of the first. It was a huge clunker that weighed as much as a boat anchor, and was top loading, but it was movie lover’s heaven! Then, eventually, my family got one too. Now, I could tape movies on late at night, past my bedtime, but most importantly, there were videotapes to rent. I will never forget the first three tapes I rented. Night of the Living Dead, Dawn of the Dead and A Clockwork Orange were those three. All of them, films I had seen pictures of and read about in those magazines. A steady diet of horror, sci-fi and cult classics would soon follow. I was getting older now, and I could get into the movies I wanted to see, even if it took a little craftiness at the theatre. Now I could see all the new films coming out, and be treated to a steady stream of older ones being released to video, and of course cable TV, which began expanding to more and more stations, with more and more horror films being shown.
It still wasn’t the golden age for horror fans. As a matter of fact, things started to get bleak. The hard core horror films, without MPAA ratings, could not get the distribution they needed. Of course, there was still video release, but that venue was soon to suffer some setbacks. Big video chains were starting to come in, and with them, new standards, and what was perceived as more of what the customer wanted. This was farthest from the truth. These chains started to rent only edited versions of some of the horror classics. Some films wouldn’t be rented at all. We still had the smaller stores, but not for long. These businesses would soon be casualties of the expansion of these big chains. The horror market was dying again! Now horror fans were longing for complete versions of films they loved, instead of settling for the “family friendly” version. It became harder to get some of the older stuff, such as Euro horror, and smaller cult films. What started to spring from this were mail order tape companies that sold and rented through the mail. Now, if we were willing to pay the price, we could own a copy of many of these sought after films. If we were willing to pay a somewhat lower, but still hefty price, we could rent them from certain sources. This was the means for us to get the films we wanted. The problem was, first price, and second, the fact that a lot of these copies were poor quality bootlegs. We had no choice. Some of us, who had access to bigger cities, and the occasional horror convention, such as Fangoria’s Weekend of Horrors, had the option of buying from the plethora of bootleg dealers around. This gave us the chance to look at the films before we bought them, to access the quality, and also gave us a chance to haggle a bit, and get as many as we could for a discount. Still there was yet another option. Better, but even more expensive Laserdiscs. The quality was amazing, but the price was an issue. A lot of the cult and foreign horror was available, but through mail order, because many of them were foreign made discs, mostly from Japan. Laserdiscs had other great features such as director commentary tracks, movies trailers and making of documentaries. I, for one never opted to get a laserdisc player, thinking it was a format that wouldn’t last, and something I didn’t want to invest in. I was right to a degree. It didn’t last, but it took years for it to go under and there are still those who hang onto theirs, knowing that some movies are only available in that format.
In the nineties, things were looking up for us. A little thing called the Internet started to come into play. With the Internet, we had access, not only to news about horror films, but alternative methods to get them. There were Newsgroups and later, websites, devoted to tape trading, where we could hook up with fans around the country, the world, for that matter, and find the films we wanted and trade something in our collection for it. I, for one, expanded my collection immensely this way. They were still films in varying qualities, sometimes dubs of the aforementioned import laserdiscs, but it was a means to see the films, and see them cost effectively. The Internet was also a double-edged sword. It helped us obtain a lot of the films we longed for, but it also broadened our horizons, and introduced us to films we had never heard of. On fan sites we read about European and Asian films. We were introduced to directors with the names Dario Argento, Lucio Fulci, Jesse Franco among others. We had to have these films! Some were available in the venues aforementioned, but others were unobtainable, or the copies available were almost unwatchable. Then it happened again; another great innovation. The greatest invention for horror fans since the VCR hit the market...DVDs! It started small. A few titles here and there, then it snowballed. Companies like Anchor Bay realized the potential market of horror fans out there, and started to acquire rights to a lot of the forgotten classics of the cult and horror genres. Not only did they release them on DVD at affordable prices, but they were re-mastering them; sometimes even acquiring original negatives to do so by. They were gathering cast and crew and getting commentaries recorded. They were gathering up trailers, location footage and any other extras they could get their hands on, and giving us packages that true horror fanatics would die for. We were in heaven! There are still movies that aren’t available on these shores, but that gap was bridged as well. There are Region Free DVD players to satiate the appetites of fans who can’t wait for an American release. There are Video CDs, which are region free in their design, and give you another format with which to obtain these treasures. Then there’s still the Internet, where now, with high-speed connections one can download virtually any film they can think of and either watch it on the PC or burn it to Video CD and watch it on their DVD Player. Yes, for a horror fan, it seems like our time has finally come! Oh, the horror of it all!
06-29-2005, 12:40 AM
Dean Cundey: A Cinematographic Genious
Dean Cundey is a cinematographer with great talent. His atmospheric cinematography sets him apart from all the rest. He has an ability to shoot films that present a certain mood to the viewer, whether it’s a late 70’s horror movie or a modern day romantic comedy.
Dean Cundey was John Carpenter’s helping hand. Carpenter’s Halloween, The Fog, Escape From New York, The Thing and Big Trouble In Little China are widely considered his best films, and all of them involved Dean’s amazing talent. Not to discredit Carpenter in any way, but he did work best with Dean.
Dean has an impressive filmography. He has shown off his cinematographic talent on everything from Halloween, Psycho 2, Back to the Future Trilogy, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Jurassic Park, Apollo 13 and What Woman Want, just to name a few diverse genres.
Dean deserves more recognition. Classics like Halloween, The Fog, The Thing and the beautifully shot (and underrated) Psycho 2 are some examples of what Dean was able to do when it comes to the horror genre. He is a master cinematographer. Just ask John Carpenter, Steven Spielberg or Robert Zemeckis.
06-29-2005, 12:41 AM
Der Wille Zur Angst
I want to be afraid.
I haven’t had the spine-tingling, spiders-on-your-legs, heavy-breathing-in-the-closet feeling since I was nine years old. That afternoon, I watched Halloween with my dad. I was so into the movie that it freaked the hell out of me. The Shape made an exceptionally frightening character, to my young eyes, and when he was gone at the end, I thought he could be anywhere, even my house. So did my old man. When I was getting ready for bed that night, Dad jumped out of my closet, wearing a plastic hockey mask and holding a rubber meat cleaver. I screamed loud enough to wake the dead. And ever since then, I’ve been trying to recapture that feeling of abject fear through film.
Being a child of the ‘80s, I started with the pop-culture horror Zeitgeist. I watched my way through every Halloween, Friday, and Nightmare movie I could find. Michael Myers quickly lost favor with me. Freddy held on a little longer, but I outgrew his one-liners. Jason stayed my favorite, because he only concerned himself with one thing: killing nubile teenagers and the various adults who got in his way. I appreciated his single-minded nature, almost Zen-like in application. But I wasn’t scared.
My next step was pure balls-out gore. I spent hundreds of dollars in dozens of seedy video stores, looking for bloody diamonds in vast rows of lifeless carbon. For every Evil Dead that I found, I had to waste my time with ten movies like Troll 2, Bloodsucking Freaks, or The Dead Hate the Living. In the end, though, it was worth it. Besides the amazing Evil Dead trilogy, I experienced other great films, like Re-Animator, Dead Alive, and Suspiria. They were full of true-blue (or -red, or -green) gore, well-made, and like nothing I had seen before. But I wasn’t scared.
Looking for answers from the masters, I watched many “classic” horror films. Comparing these films to modern one is an interesting experience. I don’t think many people of my generation can really get into older films like Nosferatu, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, or Psycho. Psychological horror is much harder for the average fan to comprehend then say a guy going crazy with a chainsaw. The older films have given me a great respect for the genre, and all the restrictions that have been placed upon it over the years. The Hays Code and World War II set the horror industry back decades, and yet it has persevered. And I can say that I truly enjoyed movies like Peeping Tom. But I wasn’t scared.
These days, I just go for anything that looks promising. Italian giallo from Bava, Fulci, Argento? Been there, enjoyed the visuals, not scared. Films from Japan, Hong Kong, and Taiwan? Very out-there and original, but still not scared. Modern movies like The Ring and House of 1000 Corpses? Creepy but not frightening. Modern movies like Darkness Falls and Resident Evil: Apocalypse? Pathetic crap that I wouldn t recommend anyone watch, let alone a wanna-be fright-flick aficionado. Zombies anyone? I love Romero’s movies, and many of the modern-day dead movies do a great job expanding and honoring the genre, like 28 Days Later (in a serious way) or Shaun of the Dead (more of a comic homage to the genre). But zombies just don’t scare me. I want that visceral feeling that I myself could be hacked to bits or chewed through like a piece of jerky, and it isn’t transferring through the screen.
Honestly, the closest I’ve come to feeling this way is on my Playstation 2. Horror games, or more specifically, survival horror, throw you into a town full of zombies, demon dogs, homicidal maniacs, things so terrible no Christian god would ever allow them into our world, and if you’re lucky you might find a lead pipe or gun to defend yourself. Some quick examples would be the Resident Evil and Silent Hill series’, and more recently, Manhunt. Things jump at you from every angle, areas are filled dark corners, locked doors, and stealthy sloughing sounds from somewhere in the background. Where I think video games succeed most is how they immerse you in their world, make you feel like you are a part of everything, and quite often, you will be killed. And killed. And killed. And eventually your desire to live and vanquish the head demon or sneak through the abandoned mall unscathed will focus your attention so closely on the screen, that you’ll be even more susceptible to the unknown it lurking in the shadows. It isn’t a full-blown scare, but it’s a start.
The horror film industry could learn a few things from these games. Most fans of the genre that I know are jaded and feel they’re above it all. I’ve felt that way myself at times, but no longer. It isn’t about name-brand recognition, or buckets of chunky red stuff, or even genre association. It’s about striking a chord with people on a personal level. I want to feel like I’m in the movie. Say what you will about the Blair Witch Project, that film succeeded not just because of a marketing campaign, but because the footage had a grainy voyeur-like feeling about it that really involves the viewer. While middle-America might have been scared witless by The Exorcist, give me the amazing POV and Steadi-Cam shots from The Evil Dead. I don t want cookie-cutter Hollywood junk like I Know What You Did Last Summer or Urban Legend. Give me something fun and way off the beaten path like Street Trash or a Troma gem like Terror Firmer.
By writing this, I’ve come to realize that maybe fear isn’t the benchmark I should strive for any longer. It’s an important part of my horror experience, but fear itself is not the experience. And maybe I should forget about trying to be afraid, and just enjoy the experience for what it is. There’s a world of amazing sick movies out there, and I have the knowledge to explore exactly what I like. I want to be afraid, but what I want even more is to enjoy great horror films.
06-29-2005, 12:42 AM
Remake or not to Remake that is the Question
It was announced today that they are remaking fill-in the blank. There is probably nothing on this Earth that a studio can say other of course than standard dvd release only that can piss off a fan of a horror film quicker than anything. So why do studio's feel the need to remake great horror films? That will be the point of this article as we drift into the mind of a studio.
First in for most the obvious reason horror films get made is a quick return at the box office. Horror films often have very meager budgets. Take the recent horror hit The Grudge It is a remake of a Japanese film Ju-on: The Grudge(2000). With a budget of only 10 million dollars in it's first weekend grossed 39 million dollars which lead to a bunch of smiling faces on Monday morning. So happy that a sequel was announced shortly there after. The Grudge went on to gross a hefty 110 million for Sony Pictures. This of course should lead to big dvd sales and even more moola for Sony. Not bad for a remake huh?
Next Horror movies tend to be set to the times or close to the times we live in. If your journey back to the gothic style horror of the Universal Classics you would notice horse and carriages, small villages, and dark castles like in Frankenstein(1931). Since we weren't to far from that era people can relate to what they were seeing. Flash forward too Dawn of the Dead (2004) The zombies are super fast and the movie runs with a very quick pace. It reflects on the times of today were everyone is always in a hurry and time is never on our side.
Of course you can't forget the all important teenage demographic which horror films are targeted too. So how do you get them in the seats is the question?
It is a good bet that your average teenage viewer has never seen the original Dracula(1931) In fact If you went up to a 16 year old today and asked them if they have seen it you probably hear "It's old and Black and white IM not watching that." Of course you could tell them who is started but the replay would be "Bela who?"
So what a studio does is take a name like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, drop in a few teens from the WB and bingo they see someone they recognize and before you know it the studio's have an 80 million dollar hit on there hands. So the current formula looks like this. Famous Horror movie name plus teeny bopper actors equal cash for studios.
Last but certainly not least is my only reason to support remakes, time. As time passes special effects continue to become more elaborate and things that a director or studio envisioned has the chance of becoming reality. Take The Evil Dead from Sam Rami. Can you imagine what the film would look like if Sam had today's effects back then???? Well, you won't have to wonder long, Sam is remaking it soon.
06-29-2005, 12:43 AM
Remakes...A Necessary Evil?
Remakes... are they really necessary? Please take this thoughts as a personal review and not as a contradiction to your own formulated opinions because in each of us there is a critic and only we can decide our own likes and dislikes. Above all I think remakes are a reflection of our society, we all are a bunch of consumers and we do not waste any time to cash easy money.
Let´s see the remake version of “Night Of The Living Dead”, it´s in colour(the original is in black & white, for those of you who didn´t know the original is in black & white you should kill yourselves, buried yourselves and hope you turn into a zombie to see if your vision of the world is in colour our in black and white, the new version has plenty of gore, but hey, sometimes the gore isn´t the main factor for a movie to work (the original work in a claustrophobic feeling), is directed by the right arm of George Romero, Tom Savini (don´t get me wrong, I just love Tom Savini, but I think the guy only gets is kicks in the special effects, as I usually say, every monkey on it´s branch). Was it really necessary this new version of this classic??? Well, my answer is no and yes. No, because the original is a perfect movie all the way and it still lives up by today´s standarts. And then again yes, because someone decided to remake the wonderful “Dawn Of The Dead” (second in “The Living Dead” series and the sequel to “Night Of The Living Dead”). Let me just tell you guys that I just love both the original and the remake version of “Dawn Of The Dead”, they are very different movies on their own. Hell, the new version can be considered as a different movie. The remake makes a powerful transition of the living dead saga to our own days. The original movie is a die hard critic to the 70´s society and is very cartoonish and full of colour. It´s not an easy movie but still a great cassic and one of the best sequels to date. The remake version, the only thing that bugs me is the speed of the zombies, they look like Peter Jackson´s “Braindead” zombies after they took a couple of ecstasy pills. Man, they run like hell. If you put one of those zombies in a marathon race against any guy, the gold medal was for the zombie. By that very same reason I´m looking to see the upcoming fouth entry in “The Living Dead” saga to see if Romero will follow is origins or adapt himself to the remake version. By saying this and only because there is a remake version of “Dawn Of The Dead” is that the remake version of “Night Of The Living Dead” wins its own credit and wins life. C´mon, c´mon, somebody should be interested in remaking the lovely “Day Of The Dead” (third chapter in the original series, don´t leave the poor movie out. By doing a remake maybe the original movie will gain the status it deserves, pure classic.
Changing style, c´mon you guys, let´s get once again nostalgics and let´s dig up one gem from the 70´s. I admit that as I was writing these lines I was looking to my old vhs goodie. Ok, ok, ok, I´m talking about “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre”, that banned glory (I´m still trying to figure it out why they banned this kind of movies, they´re a bunch of stupid guys). The original, I just love it. I´ve seen it again and again, and still do. I just can´t get enough of that movie, it´s a great movie. I think it´s one of those movies wether we like it or not we still get a kick after we watch it. And what about the remake, I JUST LOVE IT, yes, I REALLY LOVE THE REMAKE, well, not as much as the original but I think the remake is a good movie. The original is a raw movie with a raw atmosphere made in a claustrophobic way, and the remake version reminds me of the 80´s slashers. I think it´s a great approach to the movie. I always thought Leatherface as a lonely slasher character the same way as Freddy, Jason, or Michael Myers and is with that thought in my mind that I love the new “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre”, a good old slasher.
I could be here talking hours and hours about remakes. Of course you already realise that the remakes that are mentioned above are the ones that I like but that is just my opinion. To me, remakes are just like Chinese fortune cookies, you never know what´s inside. Remakes are just as good as they are just as bad, it depends on your approach on the original movie. Sometimes you like the remakes better that the original and sometimes it´s the other way around. No one better than ourselves to judge that kind of opinion. I think every movie stands for it´s own. Sometimes the remake give us original ideas that we just loved to be on the original. I´m happy to say that I love about 20% of the remakes I saw. The more remakes they make, more important the originals became. And never forget that the good movies are the ones that we love.
06-29-2005, 12:44 AM
Lions Gate: The New Bite of Cinema
Over the past decade horror movies mostly consisted of a group of teens getting hacked up by a mysterious killer or monster. We rarely got treated to a good horror flick from Hollywood. After a while movies like Urban Legend, Scream, The Faculty, and I Know What You Did Last Summer got old. Enter Lions Gate Films.
Lions Gate started about 6 years ago. Back then they rarely had any wide theatrical releases. Lately it seems they have been releasing a film every month or so. Most of their films are acquisitions from different film festivals or occasionally other film studios. Many people believe that if it wasn’t for Lions Gate, films like Open Water, Saw, and Cabin Fever would never be able to be seen by a wide audience in theaters. All very cheaply made brought in a healthy box office prophet, with Saw being the most successful Lions Gate film ever. That is if you don’t count Fahrenheit 9/11 which was jointly distributed.
The studio has proven loyal to horror fans after realizing where they stand as far as today’s great horror films, most of them being from Lions Gate. House of 1000 Corpses belonged to two different studios before finally landing with the Gate. That film wasn’t a blockbuster, but got a great reaction from the people who did see it, and is now considered a cult favorite. The sequel promises to be just as good or better, and should make much more than the first at the box office. Lions Gate has even stated that they are going to give House of 1000 Corpses 2: The Devils Rejects it’s widest release yet, most likely as a favor to horror fans and Rob Zombie. The film is scheduled to open June 2005, and should play at or around 3000 theaters if Lions Gate keeps to their promise.
But, the biggest ‘thank you’ to Lions Gate from horror fans has been their acquisition of Haute Tension, a French horror movie. They plan to release the NC-17 film uncut in US theaters sometime this year. The film should open doors for other NC-17 horror films in the future, which is one of the reasons why Lions Gate says they are pushing it. Expect it to get the widest release possible, and a lot of TV talk on CNN. It will be one of the very few NC-17 films to ever hit theaters, and probably gross the most, as it is the first NC-17 horror film to hit theaters in the US, and people these days can’t get enough thrills at the movie theater.
Look for Lions Gate to grow a lot with every successful film. They are the last big independent studio in Hollywood, and many other companies have their eye on LG as potential buying material. Business analyzers think that Lions Gate can’t afford to loose a great amount of money on a film or they might become prey to other companies. That shouldn’t be a big problem as they usually buy potential commercial films from festivals for cheap and when they produce in-house films they don’t go over a $20 to $40 million. The bottom line is that horror fans should be thankful while they are still around, as one of the reasons you get to see such grisly and original horror films is that Lions Gate doesn’t have anyone bigger than them telling them what to do (I.E. Disney and Miramax). So paying full price for a movie ticket or DVD of one of their movies is good for everyone.
06-29-2005, 12:45 AM
Dead Men Walking [and Running] - Why We Still Love Zombies.
[Note: This article contains spoilers regarding zombie films past and present.]
The Zombie is the rag-to-riches story of movie monsterdom. It was once considered more of a supporting creature, usually lost in the shuffle when it came to the traditional monsters of the Thirties and Forties. Until the late sixties, you could count on one hand the number of films that featured zombies as headliners. Since George Romero’s NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD, zombies have gnawed their way into the hearts of horror fans, and there’s a good argument for zombies being the most consistently popular horror characters over the last few decades. I feel that zombies have taken their rightful place in the horror pantheon, a unique archetype with their own rich themes. They are probably the most consistently popular horror character of the last few decades, their closest competitors being the various slashers and perhaps the vampire resurgence of the Nineties. But slasher franchises have without exception lost steam with each subsequent film, and even the most rabid fans will admit that the earlier films remain the best. The brief vampire craze didn’t give the public a film to really wrap their imagination around--only a moderately successful Anne Rice adaptation and several mediocre direct-to-video movies. Only the zombie remains.
Fans eagerly await each new zombie film with the same slavering anticipation the living dead have for the flesh of their victims. Even lesser efforts usually garner a few words of praise. Horror fans are the eternal optimists and can take gleeful pleasure in a bad movie if there are even a few fun scenes. And when a movie arrives that does fire on all cylinders fans practically explode in their eagerness to see it and eventually own it.
Why zombies and not something else? What is it about the zombie that makes it such an enduring character? First and foremost, these movies offer gory thrills like no other. There have been other films to push the envelope of violence. Films like KILL BILL, for example, are basically a sanitized version of Seventies grind house fare, and SAVING PRIVATE RYAN has enough gore to equal ten horror films and can still win critical acceptance. There are few taboos anymore, but at least one remains: graphic depiction of cannibalism on screen. The best zombie films do this early and often, and fans are loyal to the films that deliver the goods. One of the biggest appeals of horror and exploitation film in general is the idea that we will see something that is forbidden. The gut munching zombie flick is still too much for the mainstream.
In the case of Romero’s films, some will often say they appreciate the “social commentary.” Romero gets credit for this but it’s my belief that the nature of the modern zombie character is such that a lot of these themes are present in many of the subgenre’s films. Here are my reasons why the zombie continues to endure in popularity.
1. THEY ARE US: This is most obvious reason and probably the main thesis behind George Romero’s films. They are our friends, neighbors, and family members, but they are trying to eat us. Couple this with the natural fear of death and decay--an ordinary inanimate corpse is scary enough-- and you get some very frightened moviegoers. One of the weaknesses behind some of the Romero imitators is that since their settings are often outside Western industrialized regions they lack this key ingredient--the zombies in the BLIND DEAD films, HELL OF THE LIVING DEAD, or BURIAL GROUND don’t look much like most people, though I’ve often wondered if people who live in the Carribbean for example, view Fulci’s ZOMBIE the way Pennsylvanians view Romero’s trilogy.
Fulci and company do manage to tap a vein that Romero rarely explored--Romero’s walking corpses were most often the recent dead, which worked best for his “These are your friends and neighbors” premise. Although they sported some spectacularly gory wounds at times, seldom were they really decayed. But in many of the Italian films the filmmakers take advantage of our curiosity about what an exhumed corpse might look like, with lots of worms, bones, and dirt. These films probably exploit our fear and fascination with death much more than the movies which they imitate. And try as you might, it’s hard to deny that it’s fun watching a zombie take on a shark, even if it what is pouring from the zombie’s wounds looks more like motor oil than blood.
There is something so undeniably frightening about the idea of a slow, unstoppable zombie menace. It doesn’t matter what you do or how well you prepare, eventually they will find you, devour you, and make you one of them. Even if the living eventually escape and create a new existence for themselves, they will themselves eventually die and will become a potential threat. The fear of death is one of the most basic, and every great horror film exploits it in some way. The living dead are probably the best example of this: with corpses who at least somewhat resemble the audience shambling around, what better way to remind the viewers that they themselves will one day die? Even in the newer films work in this way. Although it might seem ridiculous to many longtime fans to have zombies running like Olympic sprinters, having them be so fast and impossible to escape or defeat just hammers home the point that eventually death catches up to all of us.
A lot of the thematic richness that the older films have is lost when you make the living dead as fast, if not faster, than the living. Genuine terror is sacrificed for shock effects [or in the case of RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD, one of the first appearances of the fast zombie, black humor.] However, there is a bleakness in these newer films that in some ways is more horrifying than Romero’s original vision. In Romero’s films, the living dead could be conquered or at least escaped so long as people worked together and made the right decisions. In the original DAWN OF THE DEAD, it is only Stephen’s greed that allows the zombies to re-take the mall and force the remaining characters to flee into an uncertain future. But in the DAWN remake, there is really no hope at all for the living characters who have largely cooperated throughout the film. The film‘s final scenes, featuring the grimacing faces of the ravenous dead who have apparently devoured the final characters, have a stark tone that is more depressing than terrifying. The struggle of the living throughout the film has been for nothing. But what works in the remake’s favor is that this harkens back to some of the Italian films like ZOMBIE or HELL OF THE LIVING DEAD, where it was almost a certainty that no one got out alive.
2. IT’S THE END OF THE WORLD AS WE KNOW IT: In his seminal work on horror, Danse Macabre, Stephen King stated that almost all horror could be reduced to a level of Apollonian vs. Dionysian conflict, the object of horror being whatever force has disrupted normality for the characters, and the conflict being the attempt to get things back to normal. But what if the world is permanently broken? Do we continue to pretend that our old social mores and morals are valid or do we start something else? At the very least, can we make out like bandits at the shopping mall or score free pints from the local pub? One of the unsung appeals of these films is that people really like the idea of everything falling apart and them being able to do whatever they want, assuming they can avoid whatever it is that caused society to fall in the first place. It’s the same impulse that causes kids to fantasize about the school burning down, or workers imagining their factory blowing up. One of the most common requests for zombie fans is for films that have more about the media reaction to the zombie outbreak or show more footage of the dead causing chaos around the globe.
In most zombie films, there’s a scene where the living characters confront a newly reanimated family member or former comrade. Usually the characters who refuse to treat their companion as just another zombie pay dearly for their mistake. In the better films, this extends to a radical change in society, and it’s up to the heroes to adapt or become a ghoul‘s dinner. In Romero’s films, attempts by characters to hold on the old society’s values are usually shown as foolish endeavors, such as the efforts to control the zombie plague in DAY OF THE DEAD, or the attachment to material possessions in DAWN. Only the characters who are willing to start anew have a chance at survival.
A similar conflict is at work in LET SLEEPING CORPSES LIE, where the boneheaded Inspector refuses to believe the young protagonist George’s warning of the zombie menace, instead blaming him for the deaths in the small village. The Inspector is unable to look beyond George’s hippie appearance and makes statements throughout the film about how he mistrusts the values of the younger generation and advocates a return to law and order. It is only fitting at the film’s end that the Inspector finds the newly-undead George waiting for him, the older man’s worst fears about the younger generation realized.
On a more positive note, using a global zombie crisis as an impetus to change one’s life is the underlying theme behind SHAUN OF THE DEAD. Shaun begins the film as a loser in a dead-end job with his relationships with his family and girlfriend on shaky ground. It takes the zombie threat to cause him to get off the couch and do something. Shaun shows a capacity for bravery and action that was early in the movie. He ends the film in full charge of his life and relationships, the struggle against the zombies being the best thing that ever happened to him. Although rarely mentioned by fans, the theme of the old world being destroyed and something new taking its place is a common enough theme in these films for me to believe it’s a key element in their success.
3. TERROR FOR OUR TIMES: The political implications of the zombie archetype have existed almost from the beginning. Critics have often bandied about the comparison with the zombies of NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD with Richard Nixon‘s “silent majority” of the 1960s. Romero adapted it to compare the zombies with mall-bound consumers in the 1970s. Zombies are a very useful archetype; they can become a metaphor for any group behavior that one disapproves of. In these divisive political times it’s surprising that the various political factions in the United States haven’t made more use of the zombie metaphor to describe their opponents.
The newer films are less overtly political, but the DAWN remake does edge into the political realm at one point, when the survivors realize that the authorities have chosen to abandon them to the zombie hordes. In a time when terrorists have attacked American soil the fear that some sort of national catastrophe could cause society to collapse overnight is a very relevant one, and probably as good of a social comment as Romero’s concerns about consumerism were in the late Seventies. It’s doubtful this was on the minds of the filmmakers, but then, George Romero never intended NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD to have as much social comment as it did. Many times in horror films, the best social comment is unintentional.
SHAUN OF THE DEAD goes for a more sociological approach. We are well into the zombie crisis before Shaun and his friend Ed realize anything is amiss. The implication of course is that regular people are already zombie-like in their behavior. It’s worth noting that SHAUN is one of the few zombie films where the humans end up defeating the zombies . The remaining zombies are integrated into society, performing menial chores and appearing on game shows. The zombie outbreak becomes nothing but talk show fodder by the end of the film, either showing that humanity can overcome anything if people stick together, or that people are already too far gone for a zombie invasion to have any impact.
CONCLUSION: I’m sure most viewers might not even notice all the things I see working in these films, other than the desire to see zombies chowing down and wreaking havoc. But I feel that like all good horror archetypes, the zombie has a lot more going on underneath the surface. The things we’re afraid of are a good barometer for what we’re thinking and feeling as a society, and the zombie encapsulates these fears as well as the classic horror archetypes of the past. With the success of the DAWN remake and of SHAUN OF THE DEAD the zombie film seems to be coming into a resurgence. SHAUN’s success is particularly encouraging because so much of the film relies on a knowledge of the zombie films of the past. It shows that there is a audience for these films. NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD is nearly 40 years old. It’s amazing that so many movies have been made over the subsequent decades using Romero’s basic premise; it’s amazing that the fans still clamor for more as the years go by. The dead may not ever rise up to seek the flesh of the living, but they’ve already captured our imaginations.
06-29-2005, 12:47 AM
Dario Argento and his Failure to Slay America
Bizarre imagery, unnatural lighting or color schemes and camera angles that come from every direction and move in unexpected ways are sure signs that you are watching a Dario Argento film. Remarkably, though a household name in his homeland of Italy and other areas of the globe, Argento has remained more of a cult figure in the United States. His devoted fans are rabid in their enthusiasm, but to the general public he is a virtual unknown. Fans in the United States are left wondering how to account for this tragic lack of attention for such a key cinematic figure.
Some of this can be credited with the stigma applied to the genre he has chosen to work in, the horror/thriller. Elitist critics often looked at the genre as being less important and of little artistic value. However, Argento’s films have faced another obstacle outside of Italy. Until recently, with the advent of the DVD age, it has been rare to see them in their original form. The ratings boards have typically not been kind to the violence that is an integral part of an Argento film. The cuts have resulted not only in sacrifice of bloody violence, but loss of important plot lines as well. For example in the U.S. theatrical version of Argento’s seminal Suspiria, a character’s demise is presented without the preceding scene that explains why someone would want to kill him!
Argento also has difficulty in attaining an audience in the U.S. due to the dubbing that is often characteristic of his work. In regards to Suspiria, one reviewer wrote, “the voice-overs…have a hollow eeriness-a calculated flatness-that really got to me and I think was absolutely intentional…” In reality, the post-dubbed soundtracks contain a defamiliarizing sound due to the commonly used Italian dubbing system. To U.S. viewers the result of this Italian film industry standard is a distanced, unnatural sound.
Often, Argento’s films stress visual style over narrative logic. The power of his work lies in his obsession with mise-en-scene, and U.S. viewers do not always seem as able to overlook the image over plot approach. For example, while Profondo Rosso is a tightly plotted giallo, is there really any explanation for the bizarre marionette that dramatically appears before a key characters death? Yet this has become an iconic image of the film. How can one explain the camera’s point of view in the amazing crane shot that tracks the exterior of a house in Tenebre? Fans consider it a highlight. This style makes the viewer very aware of the filmmaking process at the same time it draws us into Argento’s world. When the camera moves in an odd, flashy way, or we see an odd framing, the technique is flagged and the process is on display. Somehow, however, those who follow Argento find this effect to be enticing, rather than distancing or distracting.
The images and motifs that weave their way in and out of Argento’s body of work can also be off-putting. The images of the eye and sight or lack thereof are a particular point of interest. For example, there are blind characters in both Cat O’ Nine Tails and Suspiria. In the former, the blind man is an ex reporter who has lost his sight and now spends his time creating and solving puzzles by touch. He is a key player in unraveling the mystery of the killer. The only part of the killer that we glimpse throughout the film is his eye. In this way, the film seems to construct an opposition between sight and blindness. In the end it is the blind man who triumphs, showing that we cannot always trust our sight.
In Suspiria the blind character is a piano player in a dance school. The academy is run by a coven of witches; a fact the viewer slowly catches onto as the plot unfolds. When one of the schools’ mistresses fire him because his seeing-eye dog has bitten her nephew, the piano player responds, “I’m blind, not deaf…” The line is emphasized, implying that the pianist knows more about what is going on than the sighted people around him. Again Argento questions our reliance on sight as our basis for gathering knowledge. It is often deceptive. Similarly, it is through listening to footsteps later in the film, rather than any visual clue, that our hero Suzie takes her first steps toward discovering the school’s secrets. And it is the memory of the words spoken earlier in the film that finally reveal the secret entrance to the witches’ lair.
This theme is repeated in many of Argento’s films, such as in the infamous mirror confusion that is the premise of Profondo Rosso. In that case, the protagonist is unable to realize that he has known the identity of the murderer all along because he mistakes a face seen in a mirror for a framed painting. In fact, it is typical for Argento’s protagonists to witness something early in the film that is not what it appears to be. The Bird with the Crystal Plumage opens with a man vacationing in Italy witnessing a stabbing through the glass window of a gallery. He believes he has seen a man stabbing a woman. However it is not until the end that he realizes that his eyes have deceived him. The woman was in fact stabbing the man.
One of Dario’s more recent films, Sleepless, sees him return yet again to the giallo formula, but with a light spin on his usual construction. The film opens with images from a past murder, but in the end we learn that it is what we are hearing that isn’t quite what we thought. Can any of our senses be trusted in Argento’s world?
In General though, it is the eye that Argento fixates on. In Opera, the villain tapes needles to a girl’s eyelids, forcing her to keep her eyes open and watch as he commits grisly acts. (This also raises questions about ourselves; she is FORCED to watch the graphic violence but we WANT to.) In Suspiria, water swirling down a drain resembles an eye (an homage to Psycho?) The Bird with the Crystal Plumage’s heroine sees the eye of the killer through a hold made by a knife through a door. The same film features an unusual close-up of the protagonists’ eye at a moment where his unaware of what is going on around him. These fetishes of detail are not something the uninitiated easily adjust to.
Of course, there is one more major reason Argento’s films are not for everyone. They often contain stunning, prolonged scenes of graphic violence. The opening murder of the girl who flees the academy in Suspiria is most notable. Looking out a window she sees, of course, eyes. Hands soon break through the window and press her head against the glass. (Interestingly there are similarly constructed deaths framed by windows in Phenomena and Profondo Rosso) She is then stabbed. We cut to an odd long shot of her friend trying to get to her. We then see the girl repeatedly stabbed, including one of those attention-grabbing shots where we see the knife penetrate the heart (a detail that there is no way we should be able to see). The girl is then sent hurling through a stained glass sky-light, with a rope around her neck that leaves her hanging dead from the support beams We pan down the blood dripping off her onto the floor and see that the falling glass and metal have impaled and killed her friend. It is a tour-de-force of cinematic violence.
Interestingly, Argento’s most recent film, The Card Player, leaves much of this type of violence off camera. And yet something about an Argento film, even without the excess violence, still marks the work as different and unusual. The film failed to please many of those looking for his trademark symphonies of excess, yet was still too strange to find widespread U.S. distribution. Of course the diehard still found much to enjoy, including a suspenseful scene in which our heroine notices the killers reflection on an ashtray, leading to a devilish stalking scenario.
Argento has an incredible talent for making us examine the way in which we look at things and for showing us the darkness hidden beneath the surface of every day life. His style alone warrants more attention than the U.S. has given him, and perhaps if he were to use his unique outlook to tell a more conventional tale he would gain greater respect. Even his attempt at working in the U.S., Trauma, yielded a very Argentoish giallo. It neither gained an audience here nor was particularly appreciated by his fans at home that felt betrayed. However he has rarely expressed an interest in leaving his beloved genre, and so while us fans may rejoice he will probably remain undiscovered by the American masses.
06-29-2005, 12:49 AM
On John Carpenter's Vampires
According to reviews in imdb, many people think this movie is one of the worst. People give several kinds of reasons for their dislike, from bad special effects to bad acting to bad scripting. However, none of these allegations bear resemblence with truth. That is to say, no matter what movie is the target of criticism, someone will always say it has bad this and that, while anyone with two open eyes will see that it is not true. Yet it can not be ignored that there was something about the movie the audience did in fact dislike, and were projecting their unarticulated dislike toward a random object. One common attribute more articulate reviewers complain about, is the apparent misogynism. All the women in the movie are either whores or vampires, and to make matters worse there are some sexually alluring shots of them, and some violence toward women, and for moralists it is convenient to make easy conclusions.
But the point in the movie is not misogony. It doesn't depict whores as moral degenerates, but as people just as any other kind, and at most suggests that all women have that aspect within them. Neither is there a reason to be so upset about violence toward women, a common theme in horror movies to be fair (Dario Argento explained this aspect of his movies with lucidity and common sense), because there is also just as much violence toward men. Violence toward men doesn't automatically mean there is general hatred toward men, and the same should be said about women. Violence toward women can be more difficult to watch to some viewers of questionable sensibilities, but it shouldn't be. This movie, and Carpenter's movies in general, is not merely unpretentious in the way it presents itself as a popcorn-flick instead of a turgid art-work (which it really is, but without self-appraisal), but also refuses moral and social pretension.
Also, within the context of this movie, women of "higher moral standards" are irrelevant for two reasons. They are not relevant to the story, and there is nothing wrong with the moral standards of the women in the movie. The men in the movie, save for the priest, who is not an asexual person either (he still gets a hard-on), are after the whores, not a housewife and a mother. The immorality cuts two ways, the men are not after women of higher moral standards. Should i then be insulted as a man at the way men in the movie are shown? But i am not. After all, there is also some truth to the way the men, and women, are shown. It takes courage today to depict characters without consideration for political correctness, because you risk alienating much of your audience by doing that, but Carpenter's artistic integrity is strong enough. The point is not, necessarily, that men and women are merely sexual objects, but if that point seems excessivelly represented here, it is a counterbalancing act against the trend of the times when free'er sexuality is repressed and seen as immoral. In a certain level of reality, every woman is at the same time a whore and a mother, and every man is a sexual predator, and a father. In the end, I would think that Carpenter doesn't see whores as morally degenerate people, and thus doesn't see the need to place more morally upstanding women in the movie.
Certainly, these aspects make this movie unpleasant for moralistically-minded audiences, but it really deserves a much more sensitive audience who are willing to look deeper without prejudices. Only thing which may be seen as Carpenter's fault regarding this movie, is that he thought he could so easily get away with bringing such subject matters to general audiences while saying it's only a popcorn movie. People want it much easier to swallow, and if it's not, they'll spit it out.
06-29-2005, 12:50 AM
DVD saves horror
Right now, one might notice a disturbing trend in horror movies. With the releases of films like "The Grudge" and "Boogeyman" by Ghost House pictures both being released with PG-13 ratings, and films like "Darkness" being intentionally cut down to receive a PG-13 rating all faring relatively well at the box-office, one may feel this is bad news for the true horror fan. Yes and no. Perhaps theatrically, but not in general, and let me tell you why.
Theatrical audiences need to be as wide as possible to be able to recoup the studios investments, however DVD's are creating a market and possibilities for films that never existed before, and are helping to bring about the true horror revival we have been waiting for. VHS never saw this kind of popularity even in its hey-dey, and this is very much due to the limitations of the format, both quality and content-wise. DVD's do not have the time restraints of VHS leaving much more space for extended cuts of films, commentaries and special features. The same revolution is going on in the music industry right now with record companies putting money into packaging and bonus CDs and DVDs to help answer the consumer's question :"Why would I want to buy this, especially when I can just download it?" This DVD is creating a whole new market even for films tapped out in the VHS market. People are rebuying older titles for the extra content thanks to companies like Anchor Bay ! and Blue Underground. Movies like "Freaked" and "Cemetery Man" will finally be seeing the wide releases they deserved which was never truly done even on VHS forcing afficianatos to scour video store closings or pay exhorbitantly on Ebay for titles like these. Not to mention the ploethora of "Evil Dead" releases and "Army of Darkness" versions on Anchor Bay may even bring about a sequel which may not have been possible before (I won't mention the impending remake). VHS was not the proper medium for many of these nor was Laserdisc (although someone needs to release the Laserdisk special edition of the "Frighteners" on DVD right frigging now!) but this was due merely to the size of the disks. We would have never seen the four-disk "Dawn of the Dead" or a three-disk "Suspiria" were it not for the advent of DVD. We'd be forced to rewatch our crappy VHS bootlegs forever. Now we have finally a uniform standard that looks like it will be here awhile.
Another bonus for horror fans is that DVD is not limited by content as much as theatrical releases (I guess until they start to enforce this whole age/rating thing in stores). Obvious exceptions being Wal-Mart stores and large chains like Blockbuster and Hollywood refusing to carry unrated versions and definately NC-17 cuts. However, we are even starting to see this stigma relax. Hollywood finally got in the Director's cut of "Chronicles of Riddick" and Blockbuster has been carrying unrated versions even longer. Even Wal-Mart is following suit. I even hear the makers of "Seed of Chucky" are going to test this new trend by INTENTIONALLY trying to garner an NC-17 release for their film rather than opting to go unrated (You go guys! May the NC-17 go straight to #1 on DVD sales!). This is the time to be a horror fan right now.
Also don't think I'm knocking VHS either! Here's the best part, horror fans... VHS are now DIRT CHEAP. I urge go to your local video stores and stock up your collections today. Buy up those dusty big-box versions of "Motel Hell" or "Stage Fright" for about 2 bucks! Oh yeah, and that beat up video store copy of "Eraserhead" you've been wanting to own all these years, but you didn't want to spend $40 bucks on... you can have it on DVD for that price now OR expect to pay maybe $10 bucks on video now. I have been doing this very thing now. I will still get the Millenium Edition of "Re-Animator" on DVD but I can certainly stand to watch the "Subspecies" movies or "Puppet Master" on VHS.
So, you can all complain about the remakes or the PG-13 horror flicks making it big, but remember what counts: the horror. The blood and the intestines, impalings and beheadings (and the occasional tit shot)... that is what is truly important. And it is thanks to the DVD now that we are able to see all of those in their full and gruesome detail. And it is also thanks to the DVD that we can walk into our local video store and buy up all those old horror films we've come to know and love for a buck or two. This is the best time to be a horror fan and I will stick by that and there's so much more to go. Long live DVD (and don't ever forget about the VHS!).
06-29-2005, 02:19 AM
06-29-2005, 04:31 AM
06-29-2005, 10:25 AM
But what about the reviews section of the contest? there was an articles section and a reviews section.
06-29-2005, 02:53 PM
That will follow shortly.
06-29-2005, 02:58 PM
The “Alien” Explanation: 4 Films of Horror, Science, and One of the Other
“Alien” was conceived by Dan O’Bannon and Ronald Shussett. O’Bannon had previously worked on John Carpenter’s sci-fi spoof, “Dark Star.” He liked the story, but the film ultimately failed as both a spoof and a thriller, mainly, according to Shussett, because the alien looked like “A big beach ball.” Why couldn’t someone develop an alien flick where the most important aspect was the alien? One that had mood. One that had something you could be truly terrified of, in the cold, dark reaches of the place where no one can hear you scream…
O’Bannon had a problem with movies where the monster just snuck on board and was allowed to take out the entire ship. And who wouldn’t? It’s the future; people should be smart, right? Ha ha, WRONG. While it is ultimately the majority of the group’s idiocy that gets them knocked off, the way it comes about sprung from a stroke of genius.
Shussett, while trying to get some sleep one night after developing the first part of the story with O’Bannon, couldn’t stop thinking, “How does it get on the ship?” He thought, and thought, and thought some more, and then!… No, he didn’t figure it out, he fell asleep. AND THEN! He dreamt it, he saw the sequence. He woke up, ran to O’Bannon’s room, and said, “I’ve got it.” “Well, let’s hear it,” Dan said enthusiastically. “The alien, screws the guy.” As you can imagine, the next word out of O’Bannon’s mouth was, “…. What?” “The alien bursts out of the egg, grasps onto the guy’s face, plants his seed on him and they take him on board, and then it bursts out of the guy’s chest!” So the $64,000 dollar question is, “What were the next two words out of O’Bannon’s mouth?” I’ll tell you, they were, “… That’s…. genius.”
So, thanks to that one incredible scene, that the cast and crew pulled off so well that it’s tough to watch, incredible pacing, the fact that almost nothing happens for the first 20 minutes, and one of the more frightening technologically-involved scenes of all time, which, amazingly, the studio added, “Alien” became not only the break of Sigourney Weaver and James Cameron, but also one of the most beloved sci-fi films of all time. In the now infamous “Chest-burster” scene, viewers of the first run in 1979 were so frightened, many of them they fainted, ran out of the theater and/or vomited in the lobby. The scene is so difficult to watch because of the way it is portrayed, that even though it was the sole reason the film was produced, many theaters cut it out of the first run.
A film that was supposed to be a cheap indie B-monster flick, has such power in its presentation, that for 25 years it has freaked out audiences like few others, and it doesn’t even really qualify as a “horror movie.” That, and its given new meaning to the term, “Labor pains.”
Picking up some 55 years after the events of “Alien,” its first sequel falls more into the category of “Action-Adventure” than it’s predecessor. That’s not to say it doesn’t still have some of the emotional power of the first film in the series, but it’s almost an entirely different kind of movie. Almost none of the claustrophobia fully survives, traded instead for a more traditional sci-fi/action crossbreed. It’s still a fine movie. And the production value is astonishing.
After being in hyper-sleep for 50-odd years, Ripley has awakened in the hands of the company she works for, but tried to kill her to get a hold of the… um…. Organism, all those years ago. If you are watching the good version, Ripley is soon reminded of her 10-year-old child…. Who has died since she has last seen her. This aspect, while never mentioned in the first film in the series, adds tremendous meaning to the bond Ripley shares with the last surviving member of the colony which has been taken over by the… um… “Species of Doom.” This is getting tough.
Uh, right, so, Ripley is sent on a mission with a gang of grunts to take out the species once and for all. What she doesn’t know is (cue the dramatic music), when Weyland-Yutani, or, The Company, as they call it, said they were going to “Take them out,” they really meant “For a sandwich and glass of Pepsi.” They want to experiment on them, no matter what that means. There’s a massacre of half the soldiers, and the rest start to realize just what they’re up against. The last remaining soldier and an android get onto a ship, and Ripley goes looking for Newt, the little girl. She finds her, and another,
more enraged female. The Alien Queen.
The Alien Queen has 2 people inside it, and 6 more puppeteering the legs and head. It is truly a sight to behold, especially when it’s ripping Lance Henrikson (the android), in half, while hanging onto the ship. The androids in the “Alien” series are fueled by a sort of white fluid. It’s made up of yogurt and milk. Well, under the hot studio lights, drinking milk and yogurt can be pretty… sickening. Lance got sick as a dog but couldn’t stop the shoot; it’s a miracle they didn’t have to keep cleaning up vomit. So, back on track, Ripley fights the queen alien in a sort of robotic lifting suit. There’s a guy behind her using the limbs, who’s about 7 feet tall. So now you’ve got 2 bodies fighting each other, but there’s actually 10 people in and controlling the scene. It’s an amazing sequence, and a great way to lead the saga into its proposed final chapter, on a new planet, in a new environment, in a new artistic vision of fear.
Now nearing its proposed final chapter, the Alien saga was set to go back to the original formula: 1 monster in a claustrophobic setting. The question was, "Where would that claustrophobic environment be?"
Vincent Ward was the proposed director for Alien3. He designed a sort of church, which was the whole of a man-made wooden planetoid. The structure would have a core that would control the environment and gravity.
The idea for Vincent Ward’s Alien3 was that on this planetoid, in the far reaches of space, Monks kept life at the “Bare essentials” level. They would have no weapons besides farming implements, and so they would be no match for the alien, now known to the world as a Xenomorph, when it got loose. The idea was for them to lure it into a glassmaker, and kill it with the molten glass. But the structure wouldn’t work the way it was conceived, since gravity wouldn’t affect something that small and hollow in space, and so the production had to be canned.
The production crew had already invested countless dollars and time building enormous sets, so they couldn’t start over. There was an absolutely horrid re-write, and literally every person on set-construction walked off the project.
David Fincher, an unknown director, was hired by Fox to take hold of the production. He decided to use the already-constructed sets, and make the church into a prison, paint all the structures brown and rusty and so-forth, and build new sets to go along with the existing ones.
So, all the set-builders returned, and they used Ward’s original idea to have Ripley be impregnated by the Xenomorph in hyper-sleep. This added tension, as The Company soon found out about Ripley’s, um… “Child,” and tried to persuade her into having it removed. She knew what they were going to do, and she couldn’t let The Company allow the Organism to escape and cause a new sequel. She spreads her arms, and falls into the molten lead she and the remaining inmates had just melted the Xenomorph in. But that didn’t stop Fox…
The main character is dead. The species that puts the entire Universe at risk is extinct. And the studio still finds a way to make another hundred million bucks. Don’t you just love creativity?
Jean-Pierre Jeunet, a French indie director who had never made a Hollywood feature, was noticed by the Fox executives for his incredible cinematography, and called in for a meeting. Jeunet had no idea why they wanted him to do the new Alien, but he went along with it.
When he got the job, he went out and rented a bunch of blockbusters from over the years, and then, of course, Alien. He counted the total number of camera placements in the film, and got about 800. As opposed to the typical Hollywood blockbuster which has about 1600. He wanted to match the pacing of the common action-adventure film, and so he went for the larger number.
So, fast-forward a couple-hundred years from Alien3. The Company’s still thriving from all of their ships, but they’re trying to bring Ripley back. Well, not so much Ripley as what was inside her when she died. They make an absolutely perfect specimen, and surgically remove the Xenomorph. Lo and behold, that wasn’t such a good idea.
It’s the oldest story: Alien is extracted from the clone of someone who died 200 years ago, it grows up, gives birth to a dozen babies, and they escape. Man, I hate when Hollywood uses the same stuff over and over again. Anyway, Ripley saw it coming, and so did the obligatory android-who-we-don’t-know-is-an-android, played fairly by Ms. Hollywood Shoplifter Wynona Ryder.
Ryder’s character is part of a crew of violent… uh… actually; I’m not really sure what they do. But anyway, they get on board the main ship, and of course, the aliens escape, and start raisin’ all sorts of hoopla on them and the scientists. They start to be picked off one by one, and then a weird feeling “Ripley” gets leads to the best scene of the film: She, being the 8th attempt at a clone, looking at the other 7. Some of them look like mutated Xenomorphs, some of them look like mutated Sigourney Weavers, and before long, #8 makes it so they all are very toasty.
The film is an action extravaganza, and is very different from the slow, claustrophobic atmosphere of Alien 1 and 3. Not to say it’s bad, but it’s a lot more like Aliens than Alien, which some die-hard fans may not have appreciated. And aside from the “clone” scene, there’s really not much to remark about. Save for maybe the brief moment Ripley shares with the Xenomorph who thinks she’s her mother, it’s pretty much a standard sci-fi effects show, made better by the superb cinematography by Jeunet.
The Alien films have always been great, and with the new Alien VS. Predator flick having taken in the amount it did at the box office, we should be expecting a true Alien 5 pretty soon. I’d personally like another in the style of 1 and 3. It’d be nice to have, once again, a bunch of stuff for the true cinema buffs, as well as an equal amount for the action crowd. No film in the series is bad, and when you’re getting into your fifth sequel, that’s something you should always be thankful for.
06-30-2005, 03:01 AM
another submission after I've already voted. that's not really fair for the person who wrote #11.
07-01-2005, 09:29 PM
quick question who wrote all of these entries?
also even though I have seen every movie listed. The writer or writers succeeded to give away most plots, secrets , endings, etc...
Feel kind of bad for anyone who hasn't seen some of these movies.
07-01-2005, 09:32 PM
quick question who wrote all of these entries?
also even though I have seen every movie listed. The writer or writers succeeded to give away most plots, secrets , endings, etc...
Feel kind of bad for anyone who hasn't seen some of these movies.
Some of the submissions are from members of the forum, and some are not, but please do not ask who did what, because we won't tell until after the contest.
You've read all the articles and spoilers, but not the very first post in the thread? Tsk tsk. :D
07-01-2005, 09:44 PM
You've read all the articles and spoilers, but not the very first post in the thread? Tsk tsk. :D
whoops, :eek: sorry I didn't realize it answered my question right there.
But what about potential spoilers?
You know whats wierd to me? They all have that feeling they are from the same writer. :) At first I thought one person wrote them all. Very similar writing.
07-01-2005, 10:12 PM
I put a disclaimer in my first post, so if people don't catch it, it's on their own conscience. ;)
07-02-2005, 12:48 AM
I too feel #11 got a bit screwed over, I didn't even see that one until after I had voted. I didn't realize there were more on the next page. It was also one of the better ones, IMO.
07-03-2005, 11:21 PM
How about extending this contest another week? You had the articles for months now, and then put the contest up on a holiday weekend, where a lot of posters will be away!! It's a bit unfair!
07-04-2005, 12:52 AM
This contest is for you guys, so it doesn't matter to me when it closes. I'll leave it open another week, that should rectify any problems people have with the holiday weekend or with the "screwing" of #11.
The new close date is July 12th, 2005.
07-15-2005, 05:05 PM
The contest is now over, and congratulations go to forum member allmessedup, whose Dead Men Walking [and Running] - Why We Still Love Zombies article took the top prize. Honorable mentions go to Marcx for placing second with Dario Argento and his Failure to Slay America and Shannafey for placing third with The Horror of Generation X: A Retrospective Look at Horror Fandom from the 70s Until Today. allmessedup will be receiving a 40 dollar gift certificate, and you all will likely see his contributions here in the future. Thanks all for taking the time to submit articles, it was a pleasure.
07-15-2005, 08:59 PM
Great job guys! Allmessedup can I borrow $20? ;)
Congrats, allmessedup! :banana:
07-15-2005, 09:17 PM
Allmessedup nice job!
And thanks to whoever voted for mine!
07-15-2005, 09:18 PM
07-15-2005, 09:27 PM
07-15-2005, 09:31 PM
Evil Dead Guy
07-15-2005, 09:39 PM
07-16-2005, 05:51 AM
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