A satisfying, disturbing ‘X-Files’ hits both the frightening and the familial in an episode that you shouldn’t even try to logically explain
“It’s not alive. It’s not dead.”
Oh, that episode of The X-Files where a homeless person’s thoughts manifest themselves into vengeful murderous trash? Yeah, I remember that one.
That very well might be the legacy that “Home Again” leaves behind. And that’s not a bad thing.
Officially past the halfway point now, this episode comes courtesy of Glen Morgan. Much like James Wong, Glen Morgan knows how to do horror, and the cold open for this episode is some classic slow burning dread. The stage is effectively set with the backdrop of relocating housing projects and the rolling progress of gentrification, but then before you know it you’re screaming at the legitimately terrifying stuff that’s happening on the screen. Much like what we saw with his brother last week, Morgan hasn’t lost his touch and seeing him tap into this heavy horror monster-of-the-week vein is deeply gratifying. If anyone checked out his promising-yet-cancelled Intruders, you got to see him flexing a bit of this muscle, but he really let’s loose here. The sequence set to Petula Clark’s “Downtown” or the final set piece with Landry are exercises in tension that show you how far Morgan has come. It really is a shame that he didn’t catch on as more of a horror feature director because the talent is obviously there. There are moments here where it feels like he’s intentionally trying to outdo and outgore his work in “Home” (if the title alone is any indication), and I’d say that he manages to pull it off…in fact he pulls both of them off, right from the torso.
Morgan’s directorial eye is also at display here, with a number of gorgeous shots and creative filming styles, like mounted cameras, adding some nice touches that amp up the atmosphere. There’s a particularly beautiful/gratuitous shot of Mulder and Scully’s flashlight beams (“Back in the day, is now.”) crossing and making an X as they descend into the unknown. It’s a very pretty episode to look at. Carter has gone on to say that this was the most expensive episode of the season to produce (which includes the crazy UFO and explosion special effects that went down in the premiere), but none of that money is that obvious (other than the ripping effect).
Once again, a very traditional sort of story sees itself being told here when a string of city officials are murdered in a way that defies all conventional logic. They’re murders that scream monster-of-the-week, and our intrepid FBI agents even acknowledge its on-its-sleeve-spookiness from the jump.
Morgan gets to push all of his favorite buttons here between inexplicable monsters, technology, and the big one—Scully’s family. I suppose it wouldn’t be a return to The X-Files without something horrible happening to one of Scully’s family members. Morgan effectively balances Scully opting out to deal with her ailing mother, while Mulder gets the opportunity to go “Full Mulder” here with a case that’s perfect for his limitless imagination. Not having Scully as the usual sounding board is exactly what he needs for these unexplainable murders. Also, for those that have been hungry for that snarky, sardonic Mulder, “Home Again” is going to make you happy. There are tons of instantly quotable one-liners at Mulder’s ready.
Scully delving back into her family life ends up seguing rather organically (which can be the case when pretty much every male in your family has the name “William”) into her woes of putting William up for adoption. Carter has spoken about how “Home Again” was originally slated to be the second episode of this revival, which means all of this William discussion here was meant to happen before what we saw in Wong’s “Founder’s Mutation.” This doesn’t change a lot, but it does show Scully dealing with this trauma alone, and unsure of herself, before she ultimately decides to push it further with Mulder, which we saw in the second episode. There’s heavier motivation to that action now. It’s got the weight of her mother’s last words, even. Those that have been looking for the entry of this season that gets to be the breakout Gillian Anderson vehicle where she gets to show what she’s capable of, look no further than “Home Again.” Anderson really kills it here, but Mulder’s pained looks at her as she compartmentalizes and forces herself back to work are equally devastating. And on the inverse, it’s nice to see that after thirteen years Bill Scully is just as much the asshole brother as he always was, too.
What I kind of love about this episode—and this isn’t necessarily saying that it’s a good thing—is the entry tying its monster to some ridiculous, unrelated concept. In this case: homeless people, graffiti, and tulku Buddhism. There are so many early X-Files that decide to throw in an element like some “Magical Homeless Man” and cryptic nomenclature like “The Band-Aid Nose Man” just to pad out the supernatural aspect that’s going on. Again, this might not be good writing per se (this honestly feels like Gilliam’s The Fisher King mixed with Guillermo Del Toro’s Mimic more than it should), but it distinctly feels X-Files-ian, and Morgan does a flawless job at harkening that tone. The idea of the collective plight of the homeless personifying itself into some horrible crusader doesn’t make any sense, but it fits, y’know? I mean, this whole thing is basically a big, fat parable for “People treat each other like trash”, but it somehow sells itself. The classic storytelling also only makes the horror of The Band-Aid Nose Man (or “Trash Man,” to each their own) hit all the harder when special effects and filmmaking have improved considerably since the show ended.
Watching the mystery of “Home Again” unspool is part of the fun, and as you begin to connect the dots between these disparate elements and figure out how this Trash Man can be neither living nor dead, the madness only becomes more entertaining. The end of this sees Mulder and Scully tag-teaming the monster and basically getting a big ramble of nonsense to explain it all. Like so many X-Files episodes, this one doesn’t try to explain the specifics, and Mulder and Scully really don’t do anything to stop this carnage. Everyone on the Trash Man’s kill list gets theirs, and then this monstrosity ceases to be. Frankly, I didn’t need an explanation and the episode’s decision to coast more on tone than logic worked for me just fine.
What didn’t exactly work for me however are the connections that the episode tries to make between the enlightened nature of the Trash Man, and Mulder and Scully’s child. There are a lot of superfluous flashbacks and attempts to tie things together that are treated like there’s a larger pattern at work, but there really isn’t. I suppose it’s fair to reason that Scully is incredibly emotionally fragile at this moment, so these leaps in vulnerability that she’s taking aren’t exactly out of character. The show has certainly made bolder claims in the past, but this still felt a little inorganic to me.
The episode’s final thoughts focus on an introspective, albeit overdue, moment between Scully and Mulder. The idea of turning Scully’s “quest” for William and plaguing her with these unanswerable questions as her own “Samantha Mulder” equivalent is an interesting move by the show (“I want to believe—I need to believe—that we didn’t treat him like trash.”). This episode very much sets up William to be Scully’s ultimate payoff in the same way that The Truth is Mulder’s, and I suppose I’m okay with that. It’s really the biggest piece of lingering mythology for the show to address, so it’s focus makes plenty of sense. Any symmetry is nice, and more than anything it seems like this path is taking us down to a William reunion either when the finale, or inevitable next movie, take place. Mulder, Scully, and William somehow ending up as one happy family wouldn’t be the worst ending for the show that I can think of. They’ve certainly ended the solitude at this point.
Until then, let’s all keep searching for the dark wizards in our lives.
The folk over at Man At Arms: Reforged have done it again!
This time, the crew over at Baltimore Knife & Steel have taken the cover weapon from Bloodborne, which made Adam’s Top 5 games of 2015, and brought it to life using a ton of metal, grinding, and welding, ultimately creating a weapon that looks as weathered and battle-tested as it does vicious and devastating.
I love this show because even if I don’t know the weapon that they’re making I can still appreciate the vast amount of love and work that they put into the final product. Plus, you get to see the weapon in action, which is always fun!
Make sure to check out Adam’s review of Bloodborne here.
Check out the full image gallery and hi-res poster art for Travis Z’s Cabin Fever remake, which will be releasing in limited theaters (New York and Los Angeles) and on Digital HD February 12th.
IFC Midnight is behind the new Cabin Fever, which is a near word-for-word remake; Travis Z’s take is from a screenplay by Eli Roth & Randy Pearlstein (based on a story by Roth).
“The story is familiar: fresh out of college, a group of five friends retreat to a remote cabin in the woods for one last week of partying—only to become snacks for a gruesome, flesh-eating virus. What’s surprising are the ingenious new deaths, which offer a fresh spin on a horror-comedy milestone.”
The redo of Eli Roth’s 2002 film of the same name stars Gage Golightly, Matthew Daddario, Samuel Davis, Nadine Crocker, and Dustin Ingram.
If you recall, back in March Roth said he was “blown away” by the remake.
The film was produced by Evan Astrowsky, Christopher Lemole and Tim Zajaros, and was executive produced by Roth, Cassian Elwes, Jerry Fruchtman, Peter Fruchtman and Ike and Jaclyn Suri.
Back in 2004 Jigsaw became a household name when Lionsgate carved out a theatrical release for James Wan and Leigh Whannell’s low-budget festival fav Saw.
It was so successful that it became an annual tradition to expect a new Saw sequel each and every October.
The games came to an end with 2010’s Saw 3D (Saw: The Final Chapter), which was pegged as the end of the franchise. Yet, the final scene set up a world that could easily be expanded.
Since then, Lionsgate has been taking a breather. We’ve reported multiple times that the seventh Saw wasn’t the end, and that the studio has even considered remaking Wan and Whannell’s film that’s one of the most important horror films of all time.
After five years of pitches, and a re-release of the classic back in 2014, Lionsgate has decided to move forward with an eighth film in the franchise, according to a trustworthy tracking board.
Lionsgate has tapped writing duo Josh Stolberg and Pete Goldfinger – the duo behind Sorority Row, Piranha 3D and Piranha 3DD – to pen Saw: Legacy, although there’s no story details at this time.
James Wan, who has gone on to direct Insidious, The Conjuring, Dead Silence and Fast 7, will executive produce with Whannell.
Will Saw: Legacy start at the beginning? Could it follow an entirely new cult of Jigsaw followers? What do you guys think will happen next?!
STX won the film after a heated bidding war out of the Toronto International Film Festival, and will now release it in theaters on April 8th.
This afternoon the official poster was dropped out of a plane and free-falls right here to Bloody Disgusting. The art in insane, displaying the title character falling out of the sky with his guns a blazing. It’s a tease of the opening scene which is straight up bananas.
District 9‘s Sharlto Copley stars with Danila Kozlovsky, Haley Bennett, Andrey Dementyev,Dasha Charusha, and Sveta Ustinova.
Its producers include Timur Bekmambetov (Wanted, Night Watch).
“Resurrected with no recollection of his past, a cyborg named Henry (the audience’s POV) and his ally, Jimmy (Copley) must fight through the streets of Moscow in pursuit of Henry’s kidnapped wife in the world’s first action-adventure film to be entirely shot from the first person perspective.”
Freaks of Nature will be abducted on Blu-ray, DVD and Digital February 9, 2016, from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.
This exclusive trailer mashup takes us to beginning and the end of the apocalypse filled with aliens, vampires and a zombie!
Robbie Pickering’s horror comedy takes place in the town of Dillford where humans, vampires and zombies were all living in peace… until the alien apocalypse arrived. Now three teenagers – one human, one vampire, and one zombie – have to team up to figure out how to get rid of the visitors.
The massive cast includes Nicholas Braun, Mackenzie Davis, Josh Fadem, Joan Cusack, Bob Odenkirk, Keegan-Michael Key, Ed Westwick, Patton Oswalt, and even Vanessa Hudgens and Denis Leary!
In ‘Freaks of Nature,’ we welcome you to Dillford, where three days ago, everything was peaceful and business as usual: the vampires were at the top of the social order, the zombies were at the bottom, and the humans were getting along in the middle. But this delicate balance was ripped apart when the alien apocalypse arrived in Dillford and put an end to all the harmony. Now it’s humans vs. vampires vs. zombies in all-out, blood-sucking, brain-eating, vamp-staking mortal combat – and all of them are on the run from the aliens. It is up to three teenagers – one human, one vampire, and one zombie – to team up, figure out how to get rid of the interplanetary visitors, and try to restore order to this “normal” little town.
A detective on the trail of a terrorist finds himself in a supernaturally charged trap where all the rules of police work go out the window in director Drew Hall’s Convergence.
The film arrives in select theaters on February 5, 2016 and on Digital Download, Blu-ray & DVD on February 9, 2016.
Check out this exclusive clip in which Ethan Embry’s character, “The Hand of God,” administers some really effed up lessons in faith.
“Detective Ben Walls (Clayne Crawford, Rectify, A Walk to Remember) lives a quiet life with his wife and newborn daughter. But he’s called into action after an explosion at a local women’s health clinic – and explosion that may be the work of a terrorist bomber Ben has been tracking. While investigating the scene, another shocking event lands Ben himself in the hospital. When he awakens he is surprisingly uninjured and ready to go back into the field. But at the behest of his captain (Mykelti Williamson, Forrest Gump, Con Air) and the hospital’s few but eerily incongruous patients and staff, Ben is forced to remain inside the building.
As Ben navigates the hospital’s alarmingly empty hallways, he soon finds himself hunted by a self-proclaimed avenging angel (Ethan Embry, Eagle Eye, Vacancy), who may be the terrorist he has been looking for, and haunted by apparitions whose deadly motives remain a mystery. As Ben’s sense of reality begins to spiral out of control and the demons that surround him close in, he must find a way to both stop the supernatural forces that want him dead and catch the bomber before he strikes again.“
A modern-day myth about redemption that’s equal parts crime thriller, supernatural horror and action spectacle, Convergence is said to keep you guessing at every turn of its twisting plot right up until the last shocking frame.
Also starring in this gripping and unsettling film are Chelsea Bruland (Left Behind), Gary Grubbs (JFK), Laura Cayouette (Django Unchained) and Catalina Soto-Aguilar (Sons of Liberty).
William Friedkin’s 1973 film The Exorcist is considered by many to be the ultimate horror film. It has topped “Best Horror Films of All Time” lists for years now and it has been entered into the National Film Registry in 2010 after being selected by the Library of Congress.
The film not only ushered in a new wave of horror, one that was more extreme and visceral than anything that had been seen before, it also had a big impact on music. The usage of Mike Oldfield’s “Tubular Bells” sent that track into the stratosphere in terms of popularity. Furthermore, it utilized many modern composers and their unsettling, uneasy pieces to create an aura of dread and terror.
But what many don’t know is that the film was meant to have an original score by renowned composer Lalo Schifrin (“Mission Impossible”, Bullitt). Well, that is until Friedkin had a temper tantrum and quite literally threw the original audio reels out of the studio window.
Let’s talk a bit about the series of events that led to such an extreme reaction.
While the film was being worked on, Friedkin hired Schifrin to compose a score for the movie, including a trailer that was shown to advance audiences to gauge their reaction (see below). Apparently they reacted so strongly that some people were allegedly running to the bathrooms to vomit. Others had strong physical reactions to the strong flashing images, resulting in possible seizures. This led the studio to demand a new score, one that was softer and more relaxed.
Several years ago, Schifrin spoke to Score Magazine and explained how the full experience was less than cordial, to put it mildly:
The truth is that it was one of the most unpleasant experiences of my life, but I have recently read that in order to triumph in your life, you may previously have some fails.
What happened is that the director, William Friedkin, hired me to write the music for the trailer, six minutes were recorded for the Warner’s edition of the trailer. The people who saw the trailer reacted against the film, because the scenes were heavy and frightening, so most of them went to the toilet to vomit. The trailer was terrific, but the mix of those frightening scenes and my music, which was also a very difficult and heavy score, scared the audiences away.
So, the Warner Brothers executives said Friedkin to tell me that I must write less dramatic and softer score. I could easily and perfectly do what they wanted because it was way too simple in relevance to what I have previously written, but Friedkin didn’t tell me what they said. I´m sure he did it deliberately. In the past we had an incident, caused by other reasons, and I think he wanted vengeance. This is my theory.
This is the first time I speak of this matter, my attorney recommended me not to talk about it, but I think this is a good time to reveal the truth.
Finally, I wrote the music for the film in the same vein as that of the trailer. In fact, when I wrote the trailer I was in the studio with Friendkin and he congratulated me for it. So, I thought I was in the right way… but the truth was very different.
Apparently that differing truth was that Friedkin was so displeased with the score that he decided defenestration was the only viable option, tossing the material right out the window. His loss, as I feel that the music Schifrin composed is nothing short of terrifying, leaving me unsettled even as I write this in the middle of the day.
While listening to the opening piece of the score, I can see how it inspired other composers, such as Roque Baños’ for 2013’s Evil Dead as well as Joseph Bishara’s Insidious.
If you get a chance to listen to the above rejected score, make sure to tell us your thoughts in the comments. Would it have made a substantial difference had they used Schifrin’s score instead of the array of composers we’re so used to hearing?
[H/T Dangerous Minds]
Dark Sky Films has announced Emelie (review), directed by Michael Thelin and written by Richard Raymond Harry Herbeck, for release in theaters and on VOD platforms March 4th.
Here’s the previously released trailer that introduce us to the babysitter, which looks like a parent’s nightmare.
“After their regular babysitter Maggie can’t make it, the Thompson family turns to her friend Anna to supervise their children while the parents go out to celebrate their anniversary. At first Anna seems like a dream come true to the kids, allowing them to eat extra cookies and play with things that are usually off-limits, but as her behavior becomes increasingly odd, the kids soon find out that her intentions are dark and twisted, and she is not who she seems to be.“
Some tragic news as Daniel Gerson, who co-wrote Monsters Inc., Monsters University, and Big Hero 6, has passed away after a battle with brain cancer, according to his family. He was 49 years old.
We don’t talk too much about horror movies for kids here on BD, probably for a good reason. We’re mainly a site that covers films that adults absorb. That’s just what we do.
But there’s something magical about introducing your children to the world that you love, even if it’s not in the style that you yourself enjoy. After all, who thinks it’s a good idea to show a wee little one Cannibal Holocaust? Hopefully none of you.
Instead, we show movies like Monsters Inc., which shows that the bad guys aren’t exactly who we always think. We show them Gremlins so that they know evil can come from good, which is why we have to keep ourselves in check. We show them Monster Squad to prove that you can be brave and victorious, no matter your age.
Gerson helped write movies that may very well have paved the path for a whole new generation of horror fans with movies that appealed to an audience far wider than our genre could ever hope to accomplish. And for that I give him thanks.
Rest in peace, Mr. Gerson. Our deepest condolences to your family and friends.
From demons to zombies, Jane Levy, who starred in Evil Dead and reteamed with director Fede Alvarez for Sony’s A Man in the Dark, will battle the undead in Office Uprising, Bloody Disgusting can exclusively report.
Levy joins previously announced Australian actor Brenton Thwaites (Blue Lagoon: The Awakening, Maleficent, Oculus) in the zombie actioneer directed by Steven C. Miller (Aggression Scale, Under the Bed, Submerged, Marauders) from a script written by Ian Shorr and Peter Gamble.
“Office Uprising is set inside one of the world’s leading arms manufacturers where a substance is slipped into the employees’ drinks by the board of directors that supposedly makes them work more efficiently. Due to a slacker within the company, though, they are fed the wrong formula and start turning into homicidal maniacs — leaving the slacker needing to step up his game to rescue himself and his friends from the growing zombie plague inside the company compound.”
The Exchange is selling Office Uprising at the EFM in Berlin.
“Fear the Walking Dead” will return with its second season on Sunday, April 10 at 9 p.m.
AMC heads to sea in the first trailer that also teases a tie-in to the online series, Flight 462.
The 15-episode season will be split into two parts with the first seven episodes airing in the spring, starting in April, and the back half airing later in 2016.
Season one left off with Madison (Kim Dickens), Travis (Cliff Curtis) and their extended family taking temporary shelter in Strand’s (Colman Domingo) gated estate overlooking the Pacific Ocean. As civil unrest continues to grow and the dead take over Los Angeles, Strand prepares to escape to “Abigail,” his large yacht moored offshore.
“Fear the Walking Dead” takes us back to the beginning of the zombie apocalypse – a time when the world was changing rapidly for reasons unknown, before anyone understood exactly what was happening, when life as everyone knew it was upended and altered in ways no one could have ever imagined.
Didn’t their parents tell them to never talk to strangers?
Those of you keeping up with the film know that I produced Southbound (in the interest of full disclosure), which is now in limited theaters (and expanding this coming weekend) and launching on all VOD and digital platforms tomorrow, February 9th.
Southbound includes stories directed by Roxanne Benjamin, David Bruckner (The Signal), Patrick Horvath (Entrance) and Radio Silence, several of whom were involved in Tom and my V/H/S films.
The below clip comes courtesy of Deadline and showcases the directing of Benjamin in “Siren,” where a band gets stranded in the middle of nowhere. Should they trust the couple who offer them a ride?
In Southbound, “On a desolate stretch of road, weary travelers — two men on the run from their past, a band on their way to the next gig, a man struggling to get home, a brother in search of his long-lost sister and a family on vacation — are forced to confront their worst fears and darkest secrets in these interwoven tales of terror and remorse on the open road.”
Get full release info at the Facebook page.
The Big Game Super Bowl trailer for Roland Emmerich’s Independence Day: Resurgence has arrived and it brings back familiar faces, new technology, and a swath of destruction that makes the original 1996 film pale in comparison!
“We always knew they were coming back. After ‘Independence Day’ redefined the event movie genre, the next epic chapter delivers global spectacle on an unimaginable scale. Using recovered alien technology, the nations of Earth have collaborated on an immense defense program to protect the planet. But nothing can prepare us for the aliens’ advanced and unprecedented force. Only the ingenuity of a few brave men and women can bring our world back from the brink of extinction.”
Jeff Goldblum’s “David Levinson” is featured and tosses out a hilarious one-liner as London falls from the sky: “what goes up, must come down.”
Directed by Roland Emmerich, the film stars Liam Hemsworth, Jeff Goldblum, Bill Pullman, Judd Hirsch, Vivica A. Fox, Brent Spiner, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Jessie Usher, Maika Monroe, and Sela Ward.
Independence Day: Resurgence invades theaters on June 24th, 2016.
BRINKvision will release Dan Riesser’s independent Bigfoot horror Stomping Ground on DVD and VOD platforms March 8th, Bloody Disgusting learned.
The official trailer has been discovered from Stomping Ground, which is “The story of Ben and Annie, a young couple on a weekend trip to Annie’s small North Carolina hometown. At the local bar they run into Paul, a charming old friend of Annie’s, and Ben learns something he never knew about his girlfriend: She believes in Bigfoot. In fact, she and her friends used to “hunt” for the creature when they were kids. Before Ben knows it, he’s off on an impromptu Squatchin’ trip deep in the Carolina backwoods. Amidst the Squatch calls, campfire stories and beers, Ben quickly realizes that Paul may have an ulterior motive in bringing Annie to the woods. And something else out here seems to be after her as well. Everyone but Ben thinks its Bigfoot. But it can’t be, can it? After all, Bigfoot isn’t real.”
Limited edition DVDs which include an 11×17 cast & crew signed film poster will be available directly from BRINKvision.com on March 8th. The film will also be available digitally from Amazon Prime and Google Play, with additional VOD outlets coming soon. The film is available for Cinema-On-Demand screenings through Tugg.com.
The film features a cameo performance from Theresa Tilly, best known as one of the original “Ladies of the Evil Dead” from Sam Raimi’s horror classic, The Evil Dead. Stomping Ground world premiered at the 2014 Dances With Films Festival in Hollywood, CA and received the “Soul of Southern Film Jury Award” at the 2014 Indie Memphis Film Festival. Filmmaker Dan Riesser, formerly an Emmy- nominated producer on E! Entertainment’s “The Soup” with Joel McHale, wrote, directed and produced Stomping Ground as his first feature film. Mike De Trana produced through Anvil Entertainment.
“Hell is empty and the devils are here.” – Shakespeare
What the hell is the Tension Experience?
This morning we awoke to the following flyer and website link that led us to something sinister brewing in Los Angeles.
“There is a beast in a man that needs to be excerised, not exorcised.” – Anton LaVey
By clicking on the aforementioned link, you’ll be directed to a website riddled in quotes and symbolism that’s the beginning of a puzzle. Solve this one, and you get added to some sort of list that teases you’ll be “indoctrinating yourself.”
It’s accompanied by the following quote:
“We are what fear aspires to be…
The are the dread that proceeds the dreadful..
All that was dark, will soon be light..
The path to illumination begins here.”
The Tension Experience is both terrifying and enlightening? Please, tell me more!
Even though Krang was created as part of the animated “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” cartoon series just to sell toys, the alien villain has become the most memorable character in the franchise.
Krang was inspired by the alien beings (the Utrom) in Eastman and Laird’s original “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” comics, and are responsible for the TCRI canister that created the iconic turtles.
It was reported months ago that Krang will be making his live-action debut in TMNT 2, with the site reporting that the production filmed a scene involving a number of extras and the character’s arrival on Earth through a portal of some sort.
While Krang was all but confirmed via an early look at the accompany Playmates action figures, the new Super Bowl TV Spot shared our first ever look at the alien overlord and his Technodrome!
Those who never read the original comics should know a few things: Shredder dies in the debut issue. The Turtles are created by alien ooze known as TCRI. And there’s no “Krang”, just aliens overtaking the Earth. Oh, and there’s no Bebop and Rocksteady. The new movie is pandering to fans of the cartoon, and that’s okay with me!
I love the fleshy and bizarre nature of the new “Kraang,” which goes hand-in-hand with the cartoon-y Technodrome. It’s pretty faithful to the cartoon and even the bizarre spinoff to the old action figures that created all sorts of weird ass mutants that never appeared in the series. I’m just curious if there’s only one Krang, or if the Kraang is the main antagonist?
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2 is directed by David Green (Earth to Echo) and is scripted by screenwriters Josh Applebaum and Andre Nemec. The film stars Megan Fox (Transformers), Will Arnett (“Arrested Development”), Stephen Amell (“Arrow”), Tyler Perry (Gone Girl), Brian Tee (The Wolverine), Laura Linney (“The Big C”), and William Fichtner (Armageddon).
A&E shared this new trailer for their upcoming supernatural drama/thriller “Damien,” which reflects back to the series’ direct tie-in to The Omen, where the title character is apparently trying to outrun the demons in his past.
“Bates Motel” returns March 7 at 9 p.m. ET, followed by the debut of “Damien” at 10 p.m. ET.
The teasers have all hearkened back to an iconic line from the 1976 original, which stated, “Damien… It’s all for you.”
“The ten-episode “Damien” follows the adult life of Damien Thorn (James), the mysterious child from the 1976 film who has grown up, seemingly unaware of the satanic forces around him. Haunted by his past, Damien must now come to terms with his true destiny — that he is the Antichrist, the most feared man throughout the ages.”
Bradley James plays the titular character “Damien” and Glen Mazzara (“The Walking Dead”) acts as showrunner.
Oh, those wacky Aussies. The people from The Land Down Under have gifted the world of horror with the likes of Rogue, Snowtown, The Babadook and Wolf Creek, to name a few. Speaking of wolves, after years of directing commercials and shorts, Nick Robertson has gifted horror fans with The Pack (no relation to the 1977 film of the same name). The idea of a group of killer dogs always gets people going, and is far more believable than the oft-quoted stereotype of dingoes running away with your baby. It’s even scarier when they start doing it for fun, rather than sustenance. And this pack doesn’t mess around.
At a remote farm in rural Australia, Carla and Adam Wilson (Anna Lise Phillips and Jack Campbell) are finding life a bit rough. While Carla’s animal clinic is faring well, an increasing number of Adam’s livestock are being munched on. Throw in the bank becoming more insistent with money and their 18-year-old daughter Sophie (Katie Moore) resenting their decision to live out in the country, things aren’t so great. The sole member of the family who doesn’t mind is Henry (Hamish Phillips), who spends much of his time wandering around the property. However, the same pack of dogs that have been going after Adam’s livestock have decided that humans are much more tempting.
Atmosphere is always a key thing for films like this, and The Pack brings it in spades. Getting the expected night attacks in a pitch-black barn with only a flashlight out of the way, the film’s isolated and picturesque setting gets things off to a good start. Countless films have demonstrated that an isolated area is not only beautiful, but also leaves you stranded if things go south. From the establishing aerial shots at the start of the film and the various ground shots of Adam patrolling the property, it’s almost a no-brainer for Robertson to have this easy of a time communicating that to the viewer. Of course, things dramatically change once the sun goes down, and the tension and feeling of dread is increased. It helps that we don’t get a good look at the dogs when they attack (which seems odd given that everyone knows what a dog looks like), leaving the mind to fill in the blanks in its oh-so-devious ways. Purists will be happy that there’s little in the way of CGI, but at the same time, many attacks are suggested with quick shots of blood and snarling teeth. It’s not gratuitous, and does leave the mind to do its thing, but at the same time, you want to see the goods. Oh well.
As far as the cast goes, there’s nothing offensive about the performances here. Anna Lise Phillips and Jack Campbell turn in adequate performances, and the film gives us time to actually grow to like them. Thankfully, newcomers Hamish Phillips and Katie Moore don’t fall into the trap of annoying young actors, whose sole existence is to be one-note plot vehicles. Really, they too turn in appropriate performances. While the performances do well, the script starts to lead The Pack astray with some questionable happenings.
Getting the whole predictability of The Pack out of the way (quiet establishing first act, family bands together to fend off the siege for the rest of the film), the problems occur start with some rather unbelievable things, starting with the dogs themselves. While it’s established that the dogs are to the point of killing just for fun, apparently they also take joy in toying with the family. Prior to descending upon the farmhouse, the pack is seen to simply scare Adam while he’s out in the woods, rather than ripping him apart. Once they do reach the farmhouse, one dog is particularly keen to sneak past Carla and the kids rather than outright attacking them. Even the humans aren’t immune to the script. When an officer shows up at the house looking around for the dogs, Carla decides to just watch him instead of opening the window and yelling at him to get back in the car. Then you have Adam being attacked in his truck and surviving as the dog runs off, leaving Adam bloodied and vulnerable instead of dead. Oh, did I mention that for plot’s sake, Adam runs his truck into the cop car, effectively leaving the group no working vehicles to escape? Then you have Carla putting the kids in the cupboard to hide, forgetting that dogs can smell better than humans. Seems the script thought it was dealing with a human antagonist…
By this point, you’re probably thinking that The Pack is a throwaway waste of time. Well, it kind of is, but it’s at least somewhat entertaining. Getting the lame plot devices and nonsensical script elements out of the way, it’s a decent way to spend an evening if your expectations aren’t too high. The atmosphere and locale were definitely the highlights, and the acting by everyone involved won’t insult your intelligence if you don’t think beyond the individual characters. It’s not going to replace Cujo as one of the best “killer animal” movies, but you could do a lot worse.
Nikkatsu is the oldest major movie studio in Japan having got their start in 1912. In the hundred plus year Nikkatsu has been active they’ve dabbled in a number of different genres, changing focus every so often. Their Golden Age came in the mid-50’s when they released a number of successful films that were a little mystery, a little noir, a little action and so forth. During this time they had a stable of actors that they referred to as their Diamond Guys. These were their franchise guys, the big faces that brought in the money.
Arrow Video has released a number of Nikkatsu films over the years and their newest release is Nikkatsu Diamond Guys Volume 1, which is a set of 3 films, each one starring one of the Diamond Guys. The 3 films included are Voice Without a Shadow, Red Pier and The Rambling Guitarist and they all offer up a little something different.
Voice Without a Shadow (1958)
The first film on the set is 1958’s Voice Without a Shadow from director Seijun Suzuki. Asako is the phone operator for a local newspaper. One evening while placing a call to a local pawn shop a strange voice answers. Concerned that the voice on the other line isn’t that of the owner, she calls the police to investigate. When the police arrive on the scene they find the owner of the shop dead. The only clue and witness they have is Asako and the voice she heard. After failing to catch the culprit, Asako eventually leaves the newspaper and settles down with her new husband. Three years later when her husband brings business associates home to entertain she hears the voice that has been haunting her for all these years.
Not expecting anyone else to believe her, Asako places a call to Ishikawa (played by Diamond Guy Hideaki Nitani), a journalist at her old newspaper. Ishikawa takes on the case hoping to prove that Asako’s husband’s business partner is the voice Asako heard three years ago. Ishikawa ends up chewing off more than he had bargained for as he unravels a tale of murder, mystery and blackmail.
I was absolutely blown away by Voice Without a Shadow, finding it to be far and away to be the best film on this set. The whole approach is very Hitchcock-ian or similar to something you’d see from Brian DePalma. The film is a ticking time bomb. There is suspense in the reveal of the killer and then suspense as you wait for the killer to figure out that Asako is on to him. Plus it all ends with a twist!
Nitani is really good, but it’s not your typical lead role. I wouldn’t call him the focus of the story, but he definitely drives it. He has a sort of calmness to him, which allows you to trust him to take you through this tale and get you to finish line. The star for me is Jô Shishido, who pretty much steals the show in every movie he plays in. He plays the business partner of Asako’s husband and he’s just so obnoxious. He has little to no respect for Asako, her husband and pretty much everyone else he comes in contact with. He’s so easy to hate that he becomes the perfect villain.
If you’re a fan of Hitchcock or DePalma I think Voice Without a Shadow is a film you will definitely love. It’s an intriguing mystery that plays out quickly and grips you from the start. I wouldn’t say it’s ever scary, but it keeps you on edge.
Red Pier (1958)
The second film on the set comes in the form of Red Pier from director Toshio Masuda. This film stars Yujiro Ishihara as Jiro the Lefty and the synopsis labels him as a killer with a special talent. I’m not entirely sure what that means, but I think it may refer to his suave attitude. Jiro definitely has way with the ladies and is extremely confident to the point that I’d say it’s a bit arrogant. He returns home to Kobe where he sees a man get killed by a crane in what appears to be an accident out on the pier. Soon after we learn that it was a cover-up for murder and Jiro finds himself stuck in the middle all with a cop closely tailing him.
Out of the three films on the set Red Pier seemed like it would be the most action-packed going into it, but that actually turned out not to be the case at all. At least from my perspective it felt a bit slower than the other two movies. Maybe I’m a bit biased because it was simply my least favorite of the three. The film just didn’t hook me as much and I think that may be because Jiro is sort of a hard guy to like. He’s basically a dick and treats girls like shit. To make matters worse he appears to get a kick out of the way he treats these women by laughing in their face when he embarrasses them in public. It was a bit off-putting.
The cop who is constantly tailing Jiro is a bit weird too. Because by tailing him he’s actually just hanging out with him and Jiro knows he’s a cop and the cop knows Jiro participates in illegal activities. The cop constantly says he doesn’t have enough to book Jiro yet he beats people up right in front of him. It’s just kind of weird to digest.
I wouldn’t call Red Pier a bad movie, it’s just something that is kind of there. It would probably fair better standing on its own but I can’t help compare it to Voice Without a Shadow and The Rambling Guitarist. Looking at the film in that regard and it certainly falls a bit short.
The Rambling Guitarist (1959)
The final film on this wonderful set is 1959’s The Rambling Guitarist. The Rambling Guitarist comes from director Takeichi Saitô and stars arguably the biggest star on this set of films in Akira Kobayashi as Taki, a wandering musician. Taki stumbles into a small town and finds himself in a bar fight defending some seemingly innocent men who are getting picked on by a couple of Americans. Little does Taki know that the men he saves are actually henchmen for a mob boss named Akitsu. Akitsu offers Taki a job which he initially rejects before later finding himself in a position where he can’t really say no. Akitsu’s first major assignment for Taki is to evict an offshore fishery which turns out to be a very strange domestic dispute.
The Rambling Guitarist is without a doubt heavily influenced by Western cinema. This could easily be any American film from the 50’s. In fact it feels a lot like the type of movies Elvis starred in. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if some of those Elvis films served as an influence for Saitô when he was making this. As I result the movie felt very familiar to me and definitely resonated with me from the start. In a way it was very comforting for this to be a new experience for me while still being something I very much knew.
Taki is such an interesting character and Kobayashi plays him perfectly. He’s a quiet drifter who you can tell wants to keep to himself. He seems like an unassuming guy that just wants to play his guitar and travel the world. When hectic situations arise, however, he always manages to have the upper hand, hinting to a darker, more sinister past. His backstory plays out very well.
Jô Shishido appears once again in a supporting role. In what I believe to be a further nod to American cinema Shishido plays a character named George and again he is a very ruthless gangster. He works for Akitsu and he’s sort of your wild card. You can tell he’s ready to go off at any moment. He plays a crucial part in unraveling Taki’s history. George knows Taki from somewhere, but he just can’t remember where. When he finally figures it out, the fireworks really begin.
The Rambling Guitarist is a lot of fun, but a little on the short side. It clocks in at just less than 80 minutes and that disappointed me a bit. I thought the characters were very fascinating and I could have spent a lot more time with them.
For a three film set from Arrow this doesn’t have a ton of special features, but what’s there is really good. There are some discussions with Jasper Sharp, a Japanese cinema expert, on Nikkatsu and their various diamond guys. The booklet also includes essays by Stuart Galbraith, Tom Mes and Mark Shilling on each film. Like you would expect from Arrow the picture quality on all three films is very good, but I think you can tell the source material here wasn’t as good as what Arrow normally has to work with. You could see some more scratches and imperfections that you don’t see in a typical Arrow release. With that said these films all still look awesome. I think this is a great starting point for Japanese cinema and would highly recommend it.