The 80’s and early 90’s were a really weird time. A movie would come out and the sequel inevitably went way crazier, larger, and more intense than anyone could possibly expect. If you think about it, that’s what happened with Alien and Aliens. It certainly happened with Gremlins and Gremlins 2: The New Batch. It could even be argued with Rambo and Terminator and their sequels. There was this delightful absurdity where no one really questioned going bigger. In fact, it became the norm and was what we expected pretty often. Looking back on it, it didn’t make a whole lot of sense but godDAMN was it fun!
Such was the case with Predator and it’s 1990 sequel Predator 2. The original was a tight and, in a way, understated sci-fi action/horror that created one of the most iconic movie villains to this day. However, being that it took place in a jungle, there wasn’t really all that much that director John McTiernan could do in terms of offering visual variety. That’s where the sequel came in.
Directed by Stephen Hopkins (The Ghost and the Darkness, A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child) and starring many of the actors from Aliens, such as Bill Paxton and María Conchita Alonso, Predator 2 went from the jungles of Central America to the concrete jungles of Los Angeles. Additionally, and for no good reason that I can think of, it took place in the future, specifically the year 1997.
Just like the first film, the plot is rather simple. LA is in the middle of a scorching heat wave AND is caught in the terror of an incredibly violent and destructive turf war between Colombian and Jamaican gangs. The Predator decides to make LA his hunting ground since it seems like there are a ton of potential competitors. One such competitor is Danny Glover, whose character “Lieutenant Michael Harrigan” is impulsive, headstrong, and intent on finding the “assassin” that ends up killing his detective Danny (Ruben Blades).
Meanwhile, Special Agent Peter Keyes (played by Gary Busey) is trying to keep Harrigan away from the crime scenes because he’s, in a totally foreseeable twist, fully aware that many of the deaths that are occurring are the result of the extraterrestrial hunter.
Everything culminates in a one-on-one battle inside the Predator’s spaceship. It’s a laughable segment because if Arnold couldn’t defeat a Predator without dropping a goddamn log on its fucking head, how are we supposed to believe that Danny Glover, who was already “…getting too old for this shit” in two Lethal Weapon movies prior to Predator 2, could whup its ass? Still, that’s part of the charm of Predator 2. It flat out didn’t give a fuck and, as a result, it’s a wildly entertaining mess!
The film wasn’t nearly as strong of a financial success as the original. This might explain why it took over 20 years for a sequel to arrive, although many of us know what a boring disaster THAT was. However, in the years since its release, Predator 2 has developed a strong cult following. Additionally, it created a HUGE stir when it was shown on the spaceship’s wall that the Predator had a Xenomorph skull as one of its trophies. The Alien vs Predator craze blew up, even though it began a year earlier in a Dark Horse comic. Ultimately, that concept created two films and has spawned several comics and books.
Before I end this, I want to draw attention to how goddamn ridiculous the Predator looks when its helmet is revealed. Specifically, it’s the eyes that kill it. They look like the eyes of those animatronics from Chuck E. Cheese, all super round and plastic-y. Just see for yourself in the below clip. The original Predator looked fucking pissed when it took its helmet off, with eyes that were sunken in and fierce. The sequel looked downright comical.
But once again, considering the almost playful and comic book-esque approach of the sequel, the almost playful look of the Predator kinda makes sense. It certainly fits the aesthetic of the film.
As I stated earlier, it took over 20 years to get an actual third film in the Predator series and it was a disappointing film indeed. However, with a new sequel in the works, it’s worth revisiting the original two and taking notes on what made them so fun. The first was an action masterpiece and the second was…well…special in its own maniacal way.
Steam sales are to the 21st century what monocles were to the 18th century. They’re everywhere, and if you’re not careful, you could end up with glass in your eye. They’ve swelled to the point that it’s transformed the normal price into a joke. It’s why I wasn’t going to dedicate an entire post to Dying Light, which is currently $29.99 (50% off) on Steam.
I wasn’t, and then I saw this.
It goes without saying at this point that I enthusiastically recommend you get this game, if you don’t already have it. It was an excellent game when I reviewed it in January, and it’s seen ten months of free content updates and paid DLC since that have made it so much better.
You may also want to get in on the fun, for the best has yet to come.
Oh boy, I’m excited for this one! You see, I love me some Alice In Chains. Their music was, in my opinion, the real epitome of what grunge was supposed to be. It was dirty, dark, dreary, and painfully, often depressingly, honest. So to highlight the band is something I feel has been a long time coming in this series and I decided it was time.
The video, which was directed by Paul Fedor, is a strange beast. Firstly, the visuals are pretty terrifying. It’s all about an old and disfigured scientist who creates his own version of the band to perform the track. Now, interestingly enough, the band that is “created” is not the actual members of AiC. When you see the band, it’s actually all footage from previous music videos that was cut in such a way to make it seem like they were performing the song.
“Get Born Again” is one of the last two songs that were recorded with vocalist Layne Staley, who passed away in 2002 after a long battle with drug addiction and depression. He is still sorely missed by many to this day and this video is a small tribute to his legacy.
Capcom is Unstoppable, as in that movie about a runaway train that was way better than a movie about a runaway train had any right to be. After a few failed attempts to make a Resident Evil game that didn’t piss everyone off, they’ve gone into overdrive. The 5-games-in-1 approach clearly didn’t work out for Resident Evil 6, so they’ve switched tactics.
Now they’re giving us all the Resident Evils.
It begins in January with the arrival of the Resident Evil 0 remaster and the Origins Collection it comes packaged in, followed by the Umbrella Corps spin-off soon after. Then we have the still far-off Resident Evil 2 remake and the unofficial-but-definitely-coming Resident Evil 7. And two feature-length films, which Capcom supervises.
It all begins with Resident Evil 0, so I’m going to shut up now so the game’s producer Tsukasa Takenaka can tell you all about it.
This is it. The end of the road. Dark Souls III, the fifth of its kind if you count Demon’s Souls and Bloodborne — and you should — will be the end of the series. It’s been quite the journey, and even though I died literally hundreds of times along the way, it’s been a blast.
From Software has changed the industry for the better, and they did it with brute force. They’re proof that a good game doesn’t need to treat its players like they’re idiots, that it can be challenging to the point of being aggressive without sacrificing commercial success. It’s sad to think that it could end with Dark Souls III, but we’ll get over it when they pull the sheet off their next game.
“I don’t think it’d be the right choice to continue indefinitely creating Souls and Bloodborne games,” explained From Software president Hidetaka Miyazaki in an interview with Gamespot. “I’m considering Dark Souls 3 to be the big closure on the series. That’s not just limited to me, but From Software and myself together want to aggressively make new things in the future.
Sounds like something Hideo Kojima said before his fifth attempt to free himself from the cardboard box Konami used to keep him in.
“Dark Souls 3 will mark the last game where the development project began before I became president. The next title will be a game that was conceived while I was president. I believe that From Software has to create new things. There will be new types of games coming from us, and Dark Souls 3 is an important marker in the evolution of From Software.”
Don’t fret, there’s still more Souls-crushing gaming goodness on the way. Bloodborne: The Old Hunters releases on the PS4 next week, followed by Dark Souls III in April.
Twentieth Century Fox has turned a corner that I didn’t see coming, and has since become extremely consistent in making quality films.
In addition to X-Men: First Class, Fox kicked 2011’s ass with Rupert Wyatt’s Rise of the Planet of the Apes, their prequel to the Planet of the Apes franchise. Even Matt Reeves’ Dawn of the Planet of the Apes was an extremely fun experience that set everything up for the “big one.”
In 2017, Reeves will be taking us to battle with Caesar in War of the Planet of the Apes, which could see the trailer premiere this coming Sunday during an episode of AMC’s “The Walking Dead.” Reeves teased the Sunday surprise in a tweet that also shared the film’s logo. It’s a bit early for a trailer, no? I guess maybe we’ll at least get to see a teaser.
Andy Serkis returns as Casear, with Judy Greer as Caesar’s wife, with Woody Harrelson and Steve Zahn added to the growing battle.
War of the Planet of the Apes is slated for release on July 14, 2017.
Earlier this week, Universal Studios once again stepped forward with a handful of statements about their intentions with their upcoming reboots of the classic Universal Monsters properties. The producers overseeing these films said a lot of the right things on the surface. The carried on about imperfect characters and the attractive darkness within all of us, which are certainly things to be found within the original films. The problem is that anyone with a deeper understanding of those originals cannot help but be concerned by what else is said. For instance, this early statement in the Variety piece comes to mind…
“The films are taking a page from Marvel in certain ways, however. Just as the comic book label launched its onscreen group of heroes in interconnected films before teaming them in one big superstream adventure with “The Avengers,” Universal is planning to create a shared universe for its creatures. “The characters will interact with each other across movies,” says Donna Langley, chair of Universal Pictures. “We’re incubating it at the moment, and we’re taking the time to get it right.”
Do you see a problem here? I certainly do. Even overlooking the fact that the Marvel model simply will not work here, since most of these monsters are meant to be antagonists or tragically-cursed protagonists, not heroes, there’s a huge disconnect on display. Universal is planning to create a shared universe for its creatures? Create what? They ALREADY exist within a shared universe. The original films and franchises were already interconnected and taking place within the same world 70+ years ago.
Hell, there’s even a distinct continuity running through the later entries. Why does Bela Lugosi play the Frankenstein Monster in Frankenstein Meets The Wolf Man (1943)? Was it simply in an effort to score another name after Boris Karloff had moved on and Lon Chaney Jr. was locked into play the Wolf Man? No. It’s because Lugosi played the malevolent hunchback Ygor in Son of Frankenstein (1939) and The Ghost of Frankenstein (1942). In the latter film, his brain is transferred into the Monster before the finale. Bela playing the Frankenstein Monster in the very next film makes absolute sense to anyone that has bothered to watch the whole franchise. Hell, it’d make even more sense if Lugosi’s dialogue hadn’t been cut out of the film!
The Wolf Man himself arrives on screen within a tomb after having his skull crushed years earlier after the events of his original 1941 film. When he, along with the Monster, is washed into the ruins of Castle Frankenstein, he is found there frozen within ice at the start of the next film, House of Frankenstein (1944). That film saw the Monster meet its temporary end in quicksand and sure enough, up he pops encased in the earth in the next entry, House of Dracula (1945).
While Larry Talbot waltzes in magically alive after being shot with a silver bullet at the end of House of Frankenstein, it’s not just for the hell of it. He’s coming from the events of an unmade film that was originally supposed to follow House of Frankenstein, the cancelled Dracula Meets The Wolf Man, whose script picked up from Talbot’s gunsmoke-filled demise. That unmade film also accounts for Talbot’s beef with Dracula, which carries over into Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948).
The connections don’t end there. Numerous entries in both the Frankenstein films and the eventual team-up pictures take place within a fictional place called Vasaria (occasionally also spelled Visaria). While initially posited as a village community, it becomes clear as time goes on that it is a larger area than originally thought and might well be a fictional county/province within some undisclosed European country.
Do you think that Vincent Price’s voice cameo as the Invisible Man at the end of Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein is a star power last minute goosing of the audience for kicks? While you are right to a degree, you should know better now that you have read this far. Price has played the role 8 years earlier in The Invisible Man Returns (1940) and his character had survived. While no explanation is given as to why he is invisible again, it stands to reason that he is reprising said character.
What’s my point? Don’t go on and on in your puff piece interview about how you are immersing yourself in these films as you prep your reboots, namedrop a few titles, and then expect fans to buy that you mean what you say when you actual words tell us something entirely different. Alex Kurtzman, Chris Morgan, and Donna Langley may well have their hearts in the right place and their is a chance of these revivals turning out well once they finally arrive. That said, don’t lie and pretend that you are studying all of these films and then turn around and tell me how excited you are to bring them all to life in a shared universe. They already exist within one and have coexisted there with one another successfully before in a series of films given to the world decades ago.
You shouldn’t be coming up with ways to change these characters for a modern audience. The character are beloved for a reason and should mostly remain intact. What you SHOULD be studying are the sequels that began world-building the original Monsterverse, what worked in terms of those combinations, and what did not. Unfortunately, I get to distinct feeling that those very films they should be studying are the ones they will never bother to watch. The need to stop worrying about changing the tone and genre of these films when both have already been perfected. Instead, focus on better ways in which to combine them while still retaining the original characters, tone, and style that audiences have loved for the past 80+ years.
And if they botch it? Well, at least I have “Penny Dreadful“! John Logan knows what he’s doing with these characters.
There’s a massive amount of disdain for Resident Evil 6 in the world, enough so that it’s retroactively ruined Resident Evil 4 — the first or second best Resident Evil, depending on who you ask — for many fans who see it as the reason why the series strayed from its roots in horror.
Even still, this unapologetically silly action game does have its supporters.
If you who don’t immediately fill with rage at the mere mention of it, you may be delighted to know that Resident Evil 6 could be playable on the PS4 and Xbox One in the near future. Capcom hasn’t announced anything yet, but Gematsu spotted a recent listing on the Korean Game Rating Board (GRAC) that might mean something.
None of this has been confirmed, but GRAC is the same ratings board that leaked the Resident Evil Revelations remaster, so it’s been right before. And with more than six million copies sold, it’s going to happen. It’s just a matter of time.
Superman is the worst of all big name superheroes, mostly because he lacks character. This is why I actually enjoy Richard Donner’s 1978 interpretation of the famous DC comic, which features Christopher Reeve as the title character.
Before CGI dominated Hollywood, Donner’s Superman was forced to focus on Reeve’s Clark Kent, which made the film more of a drama than an action movie. I adore Reeve’s performance as a goofy, lovable and relatable human, which helped make has transformation back into Supes more enjoyable.
By the time the stupid got to Superman III, they were rushing, and Richard Lester squeezed out a turd that’s widely considered one of the worst superhero movies ever made.
One Perfect Shot reimagined the sequel, in which synthetic kryptonite laced with tobacco tar splits Superman in two (good Clark Kent and bad Man of Steel), as a dead-pan serious genre film, jokingly titling it Superman III – From Horrible to Horror.
This is what a Superman movie targeted to horror fans may have looked like. It’s definitely more enjoyable that any Superman film following the Donner years.
“The X-Files” will be re-opened Sunday, January 24th on Fox 7/8c.
The first of the two-night season premiere begins with Episode 10.01, ‘My Struggle,’ which we now have an official synopsis for.
“Thirteen years after the original series run, the next mind-bending chapter of the thrilling series THE X-FILES has arrived.
FOX MULDER (David Duchovny) and DANA SCULLY (Gillian Anderson) have been contacted by TAD O’MALLEY (guest star Joel McHale), a popular conspiracy theorist web-TV show host who believes he has uncovered a significant government conspiracy. With the assistance of FBI Asst. Dir. WALTER SKINNER (Mitch Pileggi), O’Malley seeks to enlist the help of former X-Files agents Mulder and Scully, who have since severed ties with the FBI. Through O’Malley they are introduced to SVETA (guest star Annett Mahendru), a possible alien abductee who shares shocking information with them that will challenge everything that Mulder has ever believed about the existence of aliens and the government’s role in covering them up.”
“ARE YOU READY?????”
Hey Korn fans, we’ve got something pretty special here for you! Last year, the band celebrated the 20th anniversary of their debut album, the self-titled Korn. In honor of that milestone, the band released a stunning 300-page book just a few weeks ago that includes, “…images from two decades of archives paired with brand new notes, stories and commentary from band members.” Dubbed Korn: Est. 1994, the book gives fans unlimited access into a career that includes 11 seminal releases, countless sold-out shows, and 35 million albums sold worldwide.
We’ve got a copy of the book and we’re giving it away to one lucky reader! It’s an incredibly easy contest to enter and all the rules and details can be found below.
If you want, you can order a copy for yourself via Korn Merch.Rules
1) No purchase necessary
2) Contest only open to US residents
3) The winner will be randomly selected on November 27th
I’m a bloody freak on a leash! #BloodyKorn @BDisgusting @Korn @BD_JonnyB
That’s all it takes! I’ll contact the winner from my personal twitter account and we’ll make arrangements to get you the prize!
I normally don’t write often for the video game section of BD because Adam is so goddamn good at it that entering his domain is pretty much me aspiring to be even 1/10th of the genius he is. That being said, I saw this and knew that I just HAD to post something about it.
A new trailer for the side scrolling platformer Hollow Knight has been released and I’m enchanted by its visuals and design! It looks like a more cartoony version of what Tim Burton meets Edward Gorey would result in. The muted colors that subtly change throughout the trailer below show a world that is charming and intriguing with a lot of mystery.
The synopsis for the game reads:
“Vanquish a horde of bizarre and terrifying foes on your journey through the dark ruins of an ancient kingdom. Use skill and cunning to survive the depths and return changed to the surface.”
Hollow Knight is coming to PC, Mac, Linux and the Wii U in 2016. You can actually pre-order the game (there are three different bundle options) via the official website.
Personally, I’m a big fan of beautiful and interesting side scrollers. Games like Limbo and Ori and the Blind Forest are some stellar examples of titles that can do unique things with a tried and true formula, one that stretches back to the beginning of video games. I grew up playing Metroid and Castlevania as well as the Mega Man games, so these kinds of titles always have a delightful nostalgia for me.
Many classic PlayStation titles have already made it to the PS4 through remasters, PlayStation NOW, and even a few bundles, such as the Star Wars Battlefront bundle that comes with a handful of older Star Wars games. What’s interesting about the Star Wars bundle is that a handful of them aren’t just ports of old code, as Digital Foundry reported in their hands-on preview.
This suggests they’re running on emulation software, and that means Sony’s finally following through on their promise to bring PS1 and PS2 era games to the PS4. So are they? Yup.
“We are working on utilizing PS2 emulation technology to bring PS2 games forward to the current generation,” a Sony representative confirmed in an email to Wired.
Earlier this month, Microsoft brought 104 games from the Xbox 360 to the Xbox One, with another batch of backwards compatible games coming next month. It’s unlikely to make much of a difference for the Xbox One, which is still trailing the PS4 by a considerable margin, but that doesn’t mean Sony can’t match them with something like this.
In addition to being the most successful gaming console, the PS2 has a library of games that’s second to none. It hosted some of the greatest entries in series like Resident Evil, Fatal Frame and Silent Hill, and they could use some love.
Which PS2 horror game would you most like to see get emulation support on the PS4?
Bloody Knuckles is exactly the type of movie you want it to be. This is a crude, sometimes juvenile, gross-out horror/comedy hybrid, reminiscent of classic Troma. And the beautiful thing of it all is that the film clearly acknowledges that fact. At no point does Bloody Kuckles pretend to be something other than what it is.
Travis (Adam Boys) is the mastermind behind “Vulgar Invasions,” an underground comic set out to shock and offend. The comic knows no boundaries, making everyone and everything fair game. In the opening of the film we see a bunch of different covers for various issues of “Vulgar Invasions” and it’s clear that the name is apt. The latest issue of “Vulgar Invasions” attacks a local “businessman” named Leonard Fong (Kasey Ryne Mazak). It’s pretty clear from the start that Fong isn’t really a businessman but a criminal using money and violence to take control of the city. As you can imagine he’s none too happy about his comic book portrayal and seeks revenge on Travis. This results in Travis losing his dominant hand.
Now with only one hand Travis struggles to get by. Without his artistc expression he has nothing and does not know what to do. This obvisouly has a great impact on the rest of his life. Basically, Travis gives up. His severed hand, however, has a different mindset. His hand will not give up and tracks him down. After a lot of convicing, including a pretty hilarious fight between Travis and hand, the severed hand finally convinces Travis to stand up and fight back against Fong!
Let’s talk about this severed hand. It looks fantastic! And I don’t mean fantastic for a low-budget, indie movie, but just fantastic in general. This hand walks around, kills people and operates just like another character in the film and it looks pretty flawless. It doesn’t look shoddy and bad, which is what I was expecting when I put the movie on. I was very impressed and this is an important factor because the hand is a key component to the film. The rest of the effects look pretty solid as well, but there was one that I had a slight issue with. When Travis gets his hand cut off there isn’t as much blood as I would have liked. This is a little issue of course, but in a movie like this that is so over the top, I would have liked to see them go all out with the blood here. A bit of a missed opportunity.
Another concern I had coming into this one was with the humor. Movies like this often times force the issue a bit too much in an attempt to shock with vulgarity. I am very happy to say that is not the case here. Sure, not all the humor works, but for the most part the jokes land and I laughed out loud multiple times. So kudos to the Matt O. and the gang for not over doing it.
I will say for a movie about a comic book artist getting his hand cut off that it did start a little slow. It’s just passsed the halfwork mark when the movie really kicks it into high gear and never looks back. It’s at this point that Travis decides to work with his hand to fight back. This is about the time we’re introduced to a character named Homo Dynamous (Dwayne Bryshun). This guy is basically a homosexual superhero and he teams up with Travis and the hand. I honestly loved every second that Homo Dynamous was on the screen. It sounds silly and it shouldn’t work, but he was very funny and killed every line.
Bloody Knuckles also attempts to tackle a few social issues. Throughout the whole movie Travis is all about attacking censorship. Tossed in are a few moments on homophobia and corrupt businessmen. There are some good ideas here but nothing that’s really enforced. For me Bloody Knuckles is a fun, bloody mess that doesn’t take itself too seriously and is best enjoyed with friends.
The film is now out on Blu-ray courtesy of Artsploitation and it fits nicely in with their current library. A handful of special features are to be found including one in which director Matt O. takes a visit to the home of Diabolik DVD. If you’re a physical media freak like me, this is something you’ll love. Diabolik DVD is one of the very best online retailers for all your cult movie needs so it’s pretty rad to see how they operate.
A new thriller is on its way which features The Birds‘ Tippi Hedren alongside the voice of Jonathan Pryce as he breaths life into a big talking whale, entitled The Ghost and The Whale, and we have your first look at it right here.
Anthony Gaudioso and James Gaudioso co-direct the film, which stars Hedren, Pryce, Monica Keena, and The Human Centipede‘s Ashlynn Yennie.
A man, Joseph, loses his wife at sea, then spirals deep into a world of confusion. The wife’s brothers’ need revenge! Joseph tries to tell anyone who will listen that a whale killed his beautiful Annabel Lee, but even he doesn’t quite remember the truth. A journey into the depths of his mind, a conversation with a whale, and bloodthirsty brothers…
Love is forever; so is revenge.
After four years, the worldwide phenomenon comes to a close with The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2, the second half the adaptation of Suzanne Collins’ third book in The Hunger Games young adult book trilogy. It isn’t the strongest entry in the series (that title would belong to 2013’s exceptional Catching Fire), but it does provide it a fitting, if somewhat drawn out, conclusion.
Picking up right where The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 left off, we begin the film with Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) recovering from her attack at the hands of Peeta. She is bruised and battered after having been betrayed by her friend and is then immediately thrust back into the war against the Capitol. After a rather laborious first half she, along with Gale (Liam Hemsworth), Finnick (Sam Claflin), and a slew of others enter into the Capitol, which has been booby-trapped beyond all over, prompting one character to declare it the 76th Annual Hunger Games (something the Part 1 was sorely lacking).
Jennifer Lawrence’s career has skyrocketed since she appeared in the first film four years ago, but she is still fully committed to the role that fully put her in the public’s eye. It is to Lawrence’s credit that Mockingjay Part 2 works as well as it does. She has always been the one to ground the films and give them an emotional depth when they could sometimes come off as melodramatic.
Director Francis Lawrence films the action sequences in Mockingjay Part 2 frantically, to the point where it almost feels like you are watching Saving Private Ryan. Sometimes it is so frantic that you can’t always tell what is going on or who is dying. Such is war, after all, so it fits the situations perfectly. When a major character dies about halfway through the film, it’s barely given a second thought. No one stops to mourn them because there isn’t any time.
The film has a few thrilling action sequences as well, with the two best ones involving a flood of tar and the other a vicious attack by mutts in the sewers. The latter stands out as one of the most horrific sequences the films have ever done and it plays out wonderfully.
Where Mockjay Part 2’s strength lies (and this was also a strength of the book) is that it doesn’t shy away from the harsh realities of war. Besides the aforementioned deaths, Mockingjay Part 2 serves up a bleak outlook on the repercussions of the rebellion and the toll that war can take on a society. While Mockingjay was the weakest part of the book trilogy, it’s ending is what set it apart from other YA novels of the same ilk, and this concluding chapter in the film franchise is no different. The final half of the film and, specifically, the closing 20 minutes, make up for many of the weaknesses that came before it
Unfortunately, Mockingjay Part 2 fails to justify splitting the 390-page novel up into two films totaling over four hours of films screen time. Much of the film’s first hour is spent in meetings between Katniss, President Coin (Julianne Moore) and Plutarch Heavensby (the late Phillip Seymour Hoffman), which is exactly what Mockingjay Part 1 consisted of. Hoffman’s absence due to his untimely death last year is especially felt at the end of the film, with Woody Harrelson’s Haymitch delivering a letter containing Plutarch’s parting words to Katniss.
With such a large cast, Mockingjay Part 2 attempts to give each character a proper sendoff, and while it may work for certain characters (Finnick and Jena Malone’s Johana), many other characters (Elizabeth Banks’ Effie and Stanley Tucci’s Caesar, among others) are underserved and it feels nothing more than a long game of roll call. Mockingjay Part 2 would have done better to just excise some of those characters in favor of giving others more screen time. This is all the more disappointing considering that the two films had over four hours of screen time to squeeze as many character moments in as it could. You have to give the film one thing: it doesn’t feel overstuffed.
One of the weaker parts of the previous films was the love triangle between Katniss, Peeta and Gale, and that problem continues to plague Mockingjay Part 2. The film grinds to a halt every time the characters discuss Peeta and Gale fighting for Katniss’ affection. The good news is that these scenes are few and far between, but since Gale is more present in this film than he ever was in any of the previous installments, they do occur more than you would like.
Overall, Mockingjay Part 2 does justice to the book and refuses to water down any of the harsher moments of its closing moments. Any worries fans may have had about the film watering down any parts of the novel can rest assured that the deaths hit hard and the ending is just as bittersweet as you remember. On its own, it still feels like half of a film. The first half is a bit of a slog to get through, but once they enter the city, it becomes an incredibly intense war movie. It still doesn’t surpass Catching Fire as the high point of the franchise, but it is a noble effort.
With The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 hitting theaters this weekend, Bloody Disgusting had a chance to catch up with actor Elden Henson, who plays the mute Avox Pollux in the film (for the uninitiated, Avoxes are Capitol traitors who have their tongues ripped out as punishment). We discussed his role in the film, the most horrific sequence in the entire Hunger Games franchise and Marvel’s Daredevil!
Bloody Disgusting: Hi!
Elden Henson: Hi!
BD: I got to see the film last night and I really enjoyed it!
EH: Oh good!
BD: So your character Pollux, being an Avox, doesn’t have any dialogue in the film. Is it difficult for you as an actor to play a character that has no lines?
EH: I think I probably had some fears when I first got the job but those fears quickly went away when I started working and talking with Francis [Lawrence] about the character. I was such a big fan of his before we worked together and he totally surpassed my expectations. The great thing about him is that he not only has a great visual style but he’s a great storyteller which is really important. We were having dinner before we started shooting and he said something that really resonated with me and helped me get into the character. He said “Just remember that with all the terrible things Pollux has gone through he still chooses to see the beauty in the world” and that really put me in a place where I thought I could do this. To have a director that you completely trust is a real luxury as an actor, and I trust Francis. And being able to work with someone like Jen, when she’s giving those impassioned speeches it’s like I don’t even have to act. They’re actually moving. So I’m not so much acting as much as I am being present.
BD: I can imagine. There are a lot of characters/actors in the film and I imagine it can be difficult to give everyone a special moment, but Pollux is the centerpiece in, in my opinion, what is one of the most thrilling sequences in the film with the mutt attack in the sewers. How was filming that scene? I guess what I’m asking is: was it fun?
EH: [laughs] It was but it was a little bit challenging, especially for Liam because he’s so tall. You couldn’t really stand up all the way in those tunnels and there was water in all the tunnels so I just remember being wet for a couple of weeks. I was really excited about that sequence because when we were shooting Francis sometimes listens to music when we’re shooting something that doesn’t have any dialogue in it so there’s this shot of us running through the tunnels and he called me to the side to show me some playback while listening to the music he was listening to and I remember thinking “Man, this sequence is going to be awesome!” And then when I saw it in the final product I was totally blown away. I mean I was there shooting it and I was still blown away. The mutts came out great to, because on the day of shooting it was a bunch of stunt people in onesies with green dots all over them. It was hilarious but we all had to try to be scared and it was just a fun sequence to shoot.
BD: Did they have sound effects for them as you were shooting or was it just people in the onesies running around?
EH: You know the funny thing was is that everything sound-wise was so heightened because they built all these tunnels on the soundstage so sound really bounces around in there and even just when you’re walking through with all the water created so much noise that I think all of those things put us in the mindset of the situation. And I’m also pretty claustrophobic in real life so I was really ready to get out of the tunnel. That wasn’t acting!
BD: How long did that sequence take to shoot?
EH: I don’t really remember. I think it was maybe a couple of weeks. I know the main junction where the main fight happens took quite a bit of time but it’s hard to remember because we finished so long ago and it was such a long shoot because we shot both of the movies at the same time. It’s definitely my favorite sequence in the film.
BD: Yeah mine too. I don’t know if you’ve read the books but that’s the one sequence I was looking forward to the most in the series. It’s a great standout moment for your character and to fit so many characters into one movie, they definitely pulled off a standout moment for you.
EH: You know again it’s a credit to Francis. He’s so detail-oriented and I remember him pulling Wes [Chatham] and I aside and you start thinking about how we need to find these moments to connect so that when Wes does die it does feel as devastating as it does for Pollux. Francis is able to layer in a lot of things to help in the end product.
BD: Well I mean you get to do a lot more action in this as opposed to a less action-y role in Daredevil. Is there a big difference between working on something like this for a major studio and working on Daredevil for Netflix?
EH: Yes! There is a huge difference. You know Foggy talks a lot, so there were many days where I was thinking to myself “Hmmm…I wish I was back playing Pollux who’s not having to say anything and not having to get mic’d” and then you know the reverse was that playing the Foggy character it’s like “Man, I’m just so happy not to be running anymore.”
BD: That actually leads into my next question. Do you have more fun doing an action scene or do you prefer dialogue-driven scenes?
EH: It really just depends. I wish I could choose. The truth is I really love getting to do the action stuff. I rarely get to run around with a gun or look cool in black fatigues, you know what I mean? But then there is a part of me that loves getting into dialogue-driven scenes and thinking about how best to phrase something so it’s really telling the story. Dude I’ve been really lucky to play a lot of different types of roles.
BD: You’ve had a very wide variety of roles, going all the way back to The Mighty Ducks when you were younger. I think I first saw you in The Mighty when I was a kid.
EH: Oh cool!
BD: Yeah! It must be rewarding to play so many different characters, and also to have Hollywood want you for those type of roles because I imagine its easy to get typecast.
EH: Yeah honestly I feel lucky with every job that I get. This business is filled with really talented actors and I’m sure there’s a lot of guys out there who could have also brought something really special to the role I have played. I just feel lucky that I get a chance to do them. I just try to not disappoint or get fired. I just try to do justice to the scripts that are written
BD: Can you tell us anything about Season 2 of Daredevil?
EH: The truth is Jeph Loeb, who is the head of Marvel television, is holding my son hostage right now so I don’t say anything, but what I can tell you is that what Jon [Bernthal] is doing with the Punisher is really going to make people happy and we’re really stoked to have Elodie [Yung] playing Elektra. She is a really talented martial artist, and also gorgeous, so I’m really excited for people to get to see Season 2.
BD: Are you done filming the season?
EH: No, not yet.
BD: Do you have anything lined up after that?
EH: I don’t. Honestly as soon as we finish Daredevil I’m just looking to spending some time with my son because you know there’s a lot of days I go to work before he’s up and then I come home after he’s asleep so I’m just looking forward to going back to Los Angeles for Christmas and New Year’s.
BD: Well you’ve been very busy.
EH: Yeah it’s been crazy, man. You know on top of having a son it’s just that the last year or two of my life have been incredible. I’m just so grateful and happy, especially now that I have a kid, to be employed.
BD: I’m sure. So I’m going to backtrack for a second. You mentioned how you try not to get fired on your jobs, but have you ever been fired from an acting gig?
EH: I’ve never been fired from an acting job. I’ve tried to get fired–No I’m totally kidding. But I started acting so young so I know from a very young age how lucky I was, and especially to have a job that I loved. With each job I get I try my hardest to do it in a way that people will like and will also do justice to the script, but no I’ve never gotten fired.
BD: Last question: Is there a certain type of movie or genre that you haven’t done that you would like to try?
EH: I think it would be fun to play a young Ozzy Osbourne in a movie about the formation of Black Sabbath. How awesome would that be? [Henson tells his agent, who is sitting nearby, to write that down and make it happen]. But I would love to do a western!
BD: They’re making a comeback now with Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight and Kurt Russell’s new film Bone Tomahawk.
EH: Dude I can’t wait for The Hateful Eight. I cannot wait. I know people are talking about the things that Quentin said but he’s just that type of a person so I don’t think people should be surprised. In my opinion he’s one of the most talented filmmakers. I would die of happiness if I ever got a chance to work with him. I would be terrified and excited. I have so much respect for him that I would be afraid that I would let him down.
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 is in theaters everywhere today!
Directed by Francis Lawrence
Though our coverage of The Hunger Games film franchise has lessened over the years as its chapters have distanced themselves from the Battle Royale-influence that first drew us to the series, we have admittedly still kept a keen interest in where Suzanne Collins’ dystopian novels-turned-films would ultimately lead. With Francis Lawrence’s The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 finally bringing the saga to a close, we find the sci-fi/adventure series taking a notably bleak turn, a tonal shift that conclusively works in the favor of the series. However, as a 137-minute long film adaptation that is mining source material from only the second half of a 400-page book, there is an awful lot of wheel-spinning to endure before reaching that explosively emotional conclusion.
In the midst of a revolutionary war within the futuristic nation of Panem, the film finds Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) reeling from an unexpected attack from her former friend and sometimes romantic interest Peeta (Hutcherson), who has been “hijacked” by the nation’s menacing dictator President Snow (Donald Sutherland) in an effort to thwart Katniss’ charge against the corrupt powers-that-be within the Capitol. Recognizing that Snow will stop at nothing until the revolution is halted, President Alma Coin (Julianne Moore) of the rebel city District 13 tasks Katniss with a mission to infiltrate the Capitol with a star squad of other skilled soldiers, including an unpredictable Peeta and her lifelong friend/second potential romantic interest Gale (Hemsworth). As the rebels battle their way through the streets of the Capitol, which have been armed with dangerous pods set to inflict varying degrees of destruction and terror, it becomes clear that Katniss may have to sacrifice much more than she bargained for in order to finally see Snow’s evil reign brought to an end.
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 is in fact the best kind of thrill ride you would hope to find in such an action-packed popcorn flick, but only once it stops retreading the contemplative slow-burn territory that the previous film so tirelessly covered. The finale’s most conspicuous problems are (still) inherent in the decision to split up the final book between two movies, which individually feel like two drawn-out halves of a whole. As Mockingjay – Part 1 focused on a dialogue-heavy, uncertainty-laden setup building towards an expectedly massive battle, the fact that we find much of the same “What should we do?” banter still so predominate in the first half of Mockingjay – Part 2 becomes frustrating — even for viewers like myself who have read and thoroughly enjoyed Collins’ divisive final book in the series. There are only so many empowering speeches and introspective exchanges that you can tolerate before you want to shout, “Just get on with it!”
To its credit, the story spanning across the two Mockingjay films is not a mind-numbing extension of a thin narrative yarn. Rather, it just spends a bit too much time focusing on what we have already established when it could have very easily left the more repetitive scenes on the cutting room floor, such as Katniss meeting with Coin and Plutarch Heavensbee (the late Philip Seymour Hoffman in his final role) more than once. Additionally, screenwriters Danny Strong and Peter Craig questionably retain some of the book’s more on-the-nose dialogue that spells out the state of the Katniss-Peeta-Gale love triangle a bit too obviously. Such moments don’t feel nearly as silly in the novel, but in the midst of the dismal tone that ultimately overtakes the film, they just don’t translate well to screen. Luckily, these moments are brief and are not the focal point of the film, which ultimately does Mockingjay – Part 2 and the character of Katniss a great service.
Once the action really gets going, Lawrence’s film consistently delivers. His directorial approach to the action sequences is gritty and unforgiving, capturing some of the more war-like battles scenes with commendable skill. The most notable of these is a thrilling chase sequence involving monstrously engineered “mutations” pursuing the rebels through an underground tunnel system. The front-lines camerawork in this section is effectively disorienting in the rebels’ race for survival, and the intensely suspenseful scene solidifies the unapologetically dark tone of the film as two notable characters meet tragic deaths quickly and mercilessly. I would have loved to see more sequences like this and those in which the group encounters the deadly pods throughout the city.
While the promise of an action-packed final battle may draw many in to Mockingjay – Part 2, the strongest aspect of the film lies in the decidedly grim and subdued direction its final act takes. This is a great credit to Strong and Craig, who wisely do not veer from Collins’ heartrending turns of plot that culminate in Katniss finally facing President Snow, once again chillingly portrayed by Sutherland as a relentless despot whose humanity has decayed as much as his health. Jennifer Lawrence shines once again as Katniss, who faces an inescapable, isolating darkness that she eventually accepts as a part of life in a world that has long been collapsing around her. In the film’s more emotionally raw scenes — like one in which she returns to her war-torn home and encounters her family cat — the actress is moving in her conveyance of exhaustion and heartache. The story’s final outcome may surprise many viewers who are not familiar with the books, as it makes very bold moves for a young adult series in regard to how it approaches survival, power, and the ways in which people are scarred by tragedy.
Conclusively, it’s difficult not to dwell on how much the decision to split the final book ultimately hampers would could have likely been an exhilarating single-film conclusion, as opposed to two solidly decent, if not occasionally uneven, efforts. In any case, viewers who walk into theaters with their franchise fandom intact are certain to leave feeling satisfied, as Lawrence’s faithful adaptation brings Collins’ final chapter to a satisfyingly dystopian realization. As big time Hollywood blockbusters go, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 does succeed in the end by solidifying the series’ more provocative attributes in way that is ultimately quite refreshing, as opposed to watering them down with syrupy romance or attaching to them an incongruously buoyant sense of closure. If unsuspecting audiences who are not aware of how the journey ends feel notably despondent as the final credits roll, the film will have most definitely succeeded as a work far more significant in its intentions that most would give it credit for.
Edited by Andy Cox
Published by TTA Press
Backed up by some seriously freaky photo-realistic artwork by Joachim Luetke, Jeffrey Thomas’ Distinguished Mole kicks off the fiction in issue 48 of Black Static. Telling the tale of Dr. Bendo Tin, a skilled physician passing his days in a Far Eastern health centre and lamenting the consistent lack of respect and recognition that his work receives, Thomas’ story takes us on an icky ride into existentially-tinged body horror.
Resentful of treatment by his peers, Dr. Tin decides that what he really needs is an impressive mole on his face – a cultural sign of mental and spiritual wisdom gauged by the size of the mole and the hairs that grow from it. Chance comes in the form of a mortally wounded monk who is wheeled into the operating theatre – sporting a gloriously distinguished growth on his chin.
Utilising his scientific know-how, Dr. Tin creates a tonic of sorts using cells from the monk’s mole… but he is in no way prepared for the surprisingly gruesome results.
Distinguished Mole is a speedy and very easy to enjoy nugget of body horror which takes a pleasantly unforeseen detour into a little bit of existential exploration for the final stretch. Most striking about it is the sense of place, which Thomas admirably creates not through focus on physical description or geographical details, but rather the cultural and local social attitudes revealed by his protagonist’s thoughts and character interaction.
Stephen Bacon’s Bandersnatch is up next. Our narrator, Lawrence, is currently in the midst of a pleasant walk alongside his sister, Michelle. Having just been reunited after a decade apart – owing to the death of their mother – the both of them find themselves working back into the familial groove.
Lawrence gets on just swell with Michelle’s dog, Roscoe… but not so much with her boyfriend, Scott. And let’s just say that Scott’s worries aren’t unfounded. Lawrence is one seriously twisted piece of work – a fact that Bacon gradually lays out for all to see, with excruciating inevitability that’s as calculated as his narrator’s grim intent.
Bandersnatch is uncomfortable stuff. Black as night and superbly unfolded throughout its short length, this is well-tuned human horror that will make you squirm.
In The Suffering, author Steven J. Dines introduces us to his narrator, Julia, a bereaved mother tortured by not only the memories of her beloved daughter’s death but by regular visions of her. As Julia sits nightly and looks from the window of her home, slicing and eating apples, she witnesses her young daughter run for her life – or afterlife, as it may be – from a demonic entity that stalks her though the woods behind the house.
The Suffering feels incredibly personal – reeking with an authentic sense of grief that works on one hand, but tends to drag the proceedings into something of a dirge on the other. The sense of hopelessness seems exactly the point, however, and Dines’ imagery is top notch, including a fearsome-feeling antagonist in the form of the creature – an otherworldly construct of rotting flora and fauna.
Up next, Andrew Hook’s Blood for your Mother is a lovingly old-school kind of family-ties shocker that keeps its revelatory punch for the finish. In it, Miriam Hubbard returns to the home of her all-but-estranged elderly parents in order to care for her father on what appears to be his deathbed.
Struggling with her inability to properly take care of the frail old man – owing to her own commitments elsewhere in life, and the refusal of the social services to intervene without her father’s permission – Miriam discovers a horrible truth about what’s going on beneath the roof of her old home.
And it’s a cracker. Consistently intriguing, all the way to the eye-widening finale, Blood for your Mother feels straight from Tales from the Crypt and would make for an excellent candidate for short film adaptation.
The lengthiest entry in this issue, Cate Garnder’s When the Moon Man Knocks rounds out the fiction with its fantastical approach to grief. Here, recently widowed Olive finds her life turned upside down when she gets an unsolicited phone call from Hector Wynter – The Moon Man – who wants to deliver her a particularly strange bit of news: that the dead live on the Moon, speaking to him by way of messages written on origami birds… and Olive’s deceased husband, Ben, has a message for her.
It’s certainly an inventive premise, and Gardner builds the drama admirably with the introduction of another woman with whom Ben may have been having an affair – putting the two ladies and Hector at a triangle of loggerheads whilst the supernatural tension also grows. With paper birds suddenly being received by all of them, and the actions of said birds becoming ever more autonomous and forceful, everything seems to be building to more threatening intent than Ben’s initial messages proffered.
Unfortunately Gardner does take a little too long building up to the final bombastic set-piece, so that When the Moon Man Knocks often threatens to lose its grip amidst the meandering dramatic threads. The author’s presentations of Olive’s grief and the confusion and denial that accompany the revelation of infidelity are well rounded and authentic, however, and manage to provide a solid anchor through to the darkly poetic finish.
Elsewhere this issue we have the usual wealth of film and book reviews to help you fill up your “to buy” list, along with a great Q&A with author Simon Kurt Unsworth, and columnists Stephen Volk and Lynda E. Rucker continue to uphold their usual high standards – the former assuredly tackling the advance of technology and hyper-reality bleed of film at once via the themes of classic sci-fi thriller Westworld.
All in all, here’s yet another excellent issue for Black Static. The threaded theme of grief and familial fracture makes it a heavy one… but it’s more than worth inviting the darkness in.
I cannot remember a time when horror was more prevalent on TV than it is right now, and we’re all the better for it. Another genre show is on its way as Deadline is reporting that Fox has put in development “Haunted,” a horror drama series written, executive produced, and directed by The Devil Inside co-writer/director William Brent Bell and executive produced by Chris Morgan.
Loosely based on the Bob Cranmer book The Demon of Brownsville Road, “Haunted” is described as a chilling horror series about a military agent who is partnered with her ex-boyfriend, now a rogue demonologist, to help a family overcome a deadly demonic infestation of their home.
The season-long case investigates the true story of one the most haunted houses in America. The believer-vs.-nonbeliever duo, by solving the mystery of the present, will solve the mystery of their damaged past. At its core the series will explore the age-old question, “Is evil real?”
Ainsley Davies also executive produces, while Lisa Arianna serves as a producer. 20th Century Fox TV, where Morgan is based, is the studio.