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Children of the Corn (2009)
Outlander! We have Your Woman! (Just kidding!)
I seem to be in the minority when it comes to loving the original 1984 film of Stephen King's CHILDREN OF THE CORN. Just watched the remake last night, and thought it was amazingly good.
If you're a fan of King's books, you *have* to see this film! It's easily the most book-accurate film ever made of King's work- it's almost page for page identical to the short story in NIGHT SHIFT. Burt and Vicky's marriage is on its last legs, the unhappy ending intact, the epilogue with Ruth dreaming of going into the dry corn with fire, the works! The dialogue is also 95% verbatim from the story ("Yes Burt; I know we're in Nebraska, Burt. But where the hell are we?" ) ("Hey, this is my row!") Even the look of the town is the same (the church organ is stopped up with corn and graffiti reads "Make no music except for the human tongue, sayeth the Lord"). The film also casts to type- there are actual kids here, not 20-somethings playing teens, and Isaac is only about ten (although he's not as good an actor as original Issac John Franklin). Pretty much the only deviation from the story is an out-of-nowhere sex scene between Adam and Eve (though the guy was cute, so that's okay!)
Neo- Malachai (Daniel Newman) is not as creepy as Courtney Gains, but he is true the character as found in the story, and he's the best actor in the film- and cute too! Best of wishes Daniel, on a quick recovery from your accident.
The only thing that I found a let down was that we never get to see a shot of He-Who-Walks-Behind-The-Rows. But the rest of the thing is so King canon, it's amazing! Let's hope this one puts down some roots for more CotC films!
Wrong Turn 3: Left for Dead (2009)
Aptly Titled Mess
I loved the original WRONG TURN and thought the sequel WRONG TURN 2:DEAD END was even better. However, WRONG TURN 3: LEFT FOR DEAD is not very good at all.
*Characters that you think are going to be vital (Three Toe, the Latino cop pretending to be a convict, the female deputy) are literally discarded a scene or two after they're introduced.
*There's only one cannibal killer (Three Finger) in the whole movie AND he seems to have suddenly developed the ability to teleport around the (strangely bright!) night-time woods at will.
*Two survivors go completely against their established characters for a gratuitously mean and grim-ended coda.
*The acting is pretty bad. Several British actors play American characters, and drop their accents in the middle of scenes Janet Montgomery plays basically the same character she played in the (far superior) HILLS RUN RED- her character exists solely to scream, cry, look like Selma Hayek and be placed in peril to get rescued by the hero.
The gore is far too reliant on CGI- the amateurish, obvious computer effects completely ruin the kills; it's also painfully obvious that characters "driving" are being subject to some woeful rear-projection CGI as well.
Poor writing, poor execution (and poor executions!) and woeful, overly digital gore. The sole high point in the film is Tom Frederic, who is the only good actor in the picture and manages to turn in a good, likable performance with a convincing accent.
If there is a WRONG TURN 4, I suggest bringing back Joe Lynch. At least he knows what he's doing...
The Ugly File (2009)
The UGLY Truth!
Yet another winning short-form horror from Mark Steensland! I saw Mr. Steensland's chilling PEEPERS as part of the Perth Night of Horror festival last year, and was delighted to find out he had another film on offer in this year's NOH as well. This time around sees a somewhat reluctant baby photographer and a mysterious affliction that has done something....awful... to infants.
Steensland's talent for subtly,slowly mounting chills leading to a devastating payoff is on display again in THE UGLY FILE. If he ever does a feature length movie, I'm not sure whether I'd be brave enough to sit through it! Tense, cunning and brilliant!
Van Diemen's Land (2009)
If You have no Scars, the Crows will come for Your Eyes...
Just saw this brilliant, grim little piece of Australian Gothic the other day as part of the 12 Perth Annual Revelation Film Festival here in West Australia.
As a Forensic scientist and a horror movie buff I have both a professional and personal curiosity regarding cases of anthrophagy/cannibalism, and the Pearce case is a fascinating one- clearly the Australian public/movie industry think so too- there are currently three films and a book about Pearse, all released within the past few years. Auf Der Heide has crafted the best of all the Pearse projects- stark and uncompromising, the film doesn't shy away from the brutal fates the eight convicts escaping into the Tasmanian outback suffered- the men butchered for meat don't die quick and easy, as in many a Hollywood film. Nor is the film a gratuitous, relentlessly grim affair- there are moments of eerie, quiet beauty- a soon-to-be-victim kneeling and waiting for the axe, stares up and out at the thick, green beauty of the rain forest around him; a sequence filmed on a hillside drenched in torrential rain, and Pearse's Gothic, Gaelic-language narration: "I have looked up at God looking down; he dances with an axe in his hand..." Brilliant film- beautifully directed, filmed and acted- with Mark Leonard Winter, in particular, a real stand-out as Dalton.
I Want to Believe... That I Can Get My 90 Minutes Back
A truly disappointing film, that in no way makes up for the lackluster final two seasons of a once great TV show. The whole thing seems to be mostly composed of people going through the motions for a quick buck- it didn't 'feel' like an X FILES at all (no conspiracies or aliens is fine- but no monsters or even definitively paranormal events? What's the point?) Everyone except David Duchovny, who tries his best to introduce some passion and humour into a film markedly devoid of it otherwise, and an underused but great Billy Connolly, is just doing this on autopilot. Particularly bad is a career-worst Gillian Anderson as Scully- the formerly capable and clever scientist now only comes across as a strident, argumentative,whiny roadblock for Mulder to overcome, which she never was in the TV show, and which makes their re-kindled love affair as unbelievable(and unwelcome) as it was in the series. Anderson's whole performance is so...unwilling... that she might as well be wearing a tee-shirt reading "I Do Not Want To Be Here". As for the lame "paranormal" goings on- shady Russian Doctors experimenting with severed limbs would have been a great place to reintroduce the sorely missed Alex Krycek to the franchise, but instead we get a tired (and quite offensive to Gay folk) subplot involving married,Gay psychopaths. Admittedly, Callum Keith Rennie does his best to inject some humanity into an otherwise cartoon cutout Queer villain. Rennie's performance makes you believe (heh) that he's doing what he's doing out of love and fear for his (non-speaking role) boyfriend. Although if Rennie's character is trying to transplant his cancer-riddled boyfriend's head onto a younger, healthier body, surely he should be targeting young men instead of young women? Like the film, the operation seems rushed and pointless.
Three out of ten. One star each for Duchovny, Rennie and Connolly. If you're a hardcore fan of the show like me this will only disappoint you, much like seasons Eight through Nine. Resist. Don't serve!
Play With Me!
Just saw this excellent short horror film PEEKERS as part of the NIGHT OF HORROR at the 2008 Revelation film festival in Perth, West Australia.
Of the eight film shown, this one was one of the three ( along with others KIRKSDALE and THE ANCIENT RITE OF COREY MCGILLIS) that managed to terrify me- and I see a *lot* of Horror films. Bonus points to Mr. Steensland was for making PEEKERS such an awesome, unsettling, truly creepy film a] in such a short running time and b] without shedding one drop of blood! I found myself genuinely frightened by the concept, especially by the line "She wasn't threatening, but I felt threatened" and the shot of the newsreader 'peeking', suggesting it's happening everywhere.
give it a peek!
"How does it feel to be Probed?!!"
Eduardo Sanchez has been biding his time since THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT, but he's back now with ALTERED and it was worth the wait! It's a fascinating, scary and tense take on the "Evil Aliens" sub-genre that also includes XTRO, DREAMCATCHER, SIGNS and, well, EVIL ALIENS *g*. But unlike the latter film, ALTERED is no comedy. Four backwoods buddies were abducted by aliens. 15 year before, and are still traumatized. Cut to the present day, and they manage to catch one of their tormentors, and extract some payback. Only this alien has a pathogen-delivering bite, loooong claws and Psi-Powers, and doesn't take kindly to having the tables turned on it...
I've loved Adam Kaufman (Wyatt) ever since he played Jack's boyfriend Ethan on DAWSON'S CREEK and Parker on BUFFY, and this film is a real tour de force for him- he's great. It was also nice to see Mike Williams has escaped from the clutches of Elly Kedward at least long enough to deliver a sympathetic turn as Otis! The special effects in the film are also excellent- there's a scene involving a flesh-devouring virus that includes the most hideous and realistic depiction of contagion I've ever seen, and a tug of war with a loop of intestine that starts out blackly funny, but ends up being very touching when the character, devastated by the extent of the wound, repeatedly cries out for his mother.
Keep watching the Skies!
Subject Two (2006)
(Literally) Cool Horror!
Just finished watching SUBJECT TWO and loved it. Very interesting little film which mixes two of the current darlings of Popular Science, Nanotechnology and Cryogenics. I have nothing against loud, screaming, chainsaw-revving gore-fests, but it was nice to see that SUBJECT TWO took the opposite approach- it's a very quiet, meditative film, with mostly suggested violence and a chilling dispassion to events that more than matches both the two lead characters and the bleakly gorgeous, snowbound setting. Dean Stapleton really does look like a CUCKOO'S NEST-era Jack Nicholson, especially in his beanie hat, but his acting is more restrained than Jack's. And Christian Oliver as Adam was also excellent. As a Gay Man, I was also pleased (if somewhat disturbed!) to find that Adam got more attractive the longer the experiments went on! Those hoar-frost eyes were eerily beautiful...
A History of Violence (2005)
History of Cronenberg
Hey, This was a good film from mainstream standards, but a big letdown from David Cronenberg. Very mainstream and predictable- none of his usual themes of bodily/organ rebellion, disintegration and mutated renewal. Didn't "feel" like a Cronenberg film at all (much like the remake of PLANET OF THE APES didn't seem like a Tim Burton). I never thought I'd see a Cronenberg film with wifey, hubby and 2.5 perfect kids sitting down to a meatloaf...and the meatloaf wasn't even an insect/primate hybrid or made from talking cancer cells! I hope David's next film takes him back to his Sci-fi/Horror "Body themed" movies... That being said, Viggo Mortensen was very good, and Ed Harris was superb, as always.