Stephen King’s Under The Dome comes to television!

CBS has announced that they are bringing Stephen King’s gigantic novel “Under The Dome” to your television this summer, with Steven Speilberg serving as an executive producer.

In case you never got around to reading it, the book follows the same basic premise as the Simpsons movie. It tells the story of a small New England town that’s suddenly and inexplicably sealed off from the rest of the world by an enormous transparent dome. The town’s residents need to survive the deteriorating post-apocalyptic conditions while searching for answers to what this barrier is, where it came from, and how to make it go away.

The series version was originally developed at Showtime. But in an unusual move, the ambitious project jumped from a cable network’s slate to the major broadcaster. It’s also a rather unique title for CBS, since the network has been traditionally more wary about betting on serialized dramas than its rivals. But with AMC’s The Walking Dead and NBC’s Revolution, apocalyptic serialized dramas have been delivering large numbers lately.

Fans of the novel shouldn’t expect an exact retelling of the same story.  Writer Brian K. Vaughan’s (Lost) script  is using the novel’s setup as a launch pad for its own TV-format-friendly version of the story and might even lay the groundwork for a different outcome than the novel’s ending. Also, the CBS version is definitely a series, not a mini-series, with a finale episode that will leave the story open for more seasons.

Although no cast is in place yet, CBS promises the show will be on your screen this summer. Looking forward to it!
What do you guys think?

Movie Poster Shop

Texas Chainsaw 2013

Hello everyone, Biscuits here.
After looking forward to the newest installment of this iconic horror franchise for the past few months, I finally got the chance to check out Texas Chainsaw 3D last night. However, in my opinion, 3D is very seldom worth the extra five bucks and uncomfortable glasses, so after posing the question to our Facebook page I decided to head out to our local drive-in theater for this one.

First things first, we need to understand where this film fits in the notoriously scattershot series of Texas Chainsaw films. This one claims to be a direct sequel to the original 1974 classic to be set in 2012. After Platinum Dunes announced that they were abandoning their (surprisingly watchable) TCM remake series in 2009, an idea was proposed to create an all-new trilogy of films to  be released out of chronological order, with the second film coming out first and being set almost entirely in a hospital. The next film would be a prequel explaining the events that led up to the hospital scenario. The third film would complete the storyline. Fearing it was too ambitious and risky, the producers opted for a follow up to the original instead.
(Fun Fact : Marilyn Burns, who played Sally Hardesty in the original film, plays Verna in this. It is her first role in 28 years, excluding an uncredited Cameo in Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation.)

“Thanks for dinner! Laters!”

Which brings us to Texas Chainsaw 2013 (3D). Starting off with a bang, and a quick run-through of the events of the original that we all know by heart, it brings us to just after Sally catches her lucky break and gets away as Leatherface does his frustrated dance. A squad of Texas police, accompanied by a mob of angry rednecks have arrived at the Sawyer home, prepared to make the family pay for what they have done.

The great Bill Moseley, who played Chop-Top in the “original sequel” ( and my personal favorite ) The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, steps in for the late Jim Siedow as Drayton Sawyer as they shout back and forth with the police. After a lively debate, violence erupts and the Sawyer home is destroyed and everyone is murdered. Everyone, that is, except for a baby that the vigilantes inexplicably decide to rescue and ship away from all of this.

Cut to 2012, and this baby has either grown into a hard-bodied twenty-something or a really really hot 40-year-old. I am not really sure how it works out that she was a baby in 1974, and barely looks out of her teens in 2012, but this is just one of the many gaps in logic this film is full of. Either way, she is cute and personable, and looks great in a blood-splattered half-shirt.

This is 40!

The film quickly sets up her disposable friends ( as Cabin In The Woods taught us, we have here the whore, the athlete, the scholar, the fool, and the virgin/final girl ) and arbitrary reason for a visit to the house of horror. It turns out that Heather Miller was the baby in question, and she learns quickly that she was adopted by abusive step-parents years ago, and her last remaining blood relation has passed away, leaving her a mansion in Texas.

She easily convinces the stereotypes (I meant to say her friends), to abandon their plans for New Orleans to join her on a trip to check out the new digs. They pick up a handsome hitchhiker on the way, after running over him, and trust him completely, giving him free reign of the new mansion while going to the store to be ogled by drooling rednecks.

Good old Leatherface makes his appearance at last. In a shocking twist, it turns out he wasn’t really killed all of those years ago, just hiding!
The flick moves along at a quick pace here, hitting all the beats we came to see as Heather’s group gets whittled down to nothing, and she runs, screams and trips over stuff. She leads her pursuer through town and right into a street carnival full of bystanders.
“Oh shit”, I thought, “It is on now!”

To see Leatherface go completely wild in a crowd, committing a true massacre, flinging 3D body parts at the audience, this is going to be great! I was so wrong. He waggles his saw at a few passers-by, but is no more menacing than some jack-off jumping out of the bushes at Halloween Horror Nights.
In my opinion, this was the biggest missed opportunity of the whole ordeal. They should have gone wild with the film from this point, blood guts and carnage on a larger scale than ever before.
Sadly, no. Instead of jumping off like a madman raw horror flick should, the whole movie grinds to a halt here and never recovers.

Heather is taken into custody by the same sheriff that killed her whole family all those years ago. After reading through a huge file on the Sawyers conveniently left in front of her, she forgets about her freshly-murdered friends and joins Team Sawyer. The saw is family, as they say.

It goes on to get more depressing and ridiculous from here on out, as Leatherface continues his killing spree with Heather cheering him on now. The film-makers try hard to make us hate the mob-leading redneck vigilantes more than we hate the saw-weilding redneck cannibals, in a weird scenario flip that fails to connect at all.

In my opinion, this is the main problem with these remakes and prequels and re-imaginings that flood the current horror market. This generation is convinced that they want to understand the motivations of the monster, rather than just watching them be the monster. A note to film-makers : we don’t need to humanize the monsters, just let them be fucking monsters!
That is why the original film is such a success : it is about nothing. That’s right. No motivations, no back-story; just an unlucky group of kids that meet up with some crazy lunatics and try to survive. No frills, no explanations, only madness.

When we try to explain the monster, he ceases to be frightening.

This film was a mess, and not really what I wanted to see last night, but a few beers and a buzz at the Drive-In made for a good time. And the second half of the double feature was the surprisingly good “Jack Reacher”, so it was worth my seven bucks…
I just read that it unseated The Hobbit at the top of the box office this weekend, so I am sure we can look forward to more re-imagined sequels in the near future, probably featuring Heather and her good old “cuz” Leatherface teaming up to cause some good-natured tag-team chainsaw action.
If the “sting” after the credits is any evidence, that is what we have to look forward to next : “The Sawyer Family Vacation”. Ugh.

Grade : 3 D’s make a C.

Buy advance tickets on Fandango!
Movie Poster Shop

The Top Ten Films Of 2012 (Chosen by you!)

Well, 2013 is here, and it is sure to be the best year yet for all of us here in our demented little school-house of Horror Homework. The coming year looks to be filled with remakes, although it seemed like we were getting away from that trend this year.
The new year will get started off with a bang with Texas Chainsaw 3D, which is supposedly a sequel to the original not the remake. If this is successful, it could possibly weaken the remake trend and convince producers to go back to the source material. We will have to see. But, to have the chance for 3D in a Texas Chainsaw movie, I am sold!
The Evil Dead remake will follow in February, and although it seemed blasphemous in the beginning, the trailer is pretty convincing and Sam Raimi’s involvement as a producer is encouraging. As well as the fact that they committed to making the film the old school way, with NO CGI! Looking forward to it!
Then follows the Carrie remake in March, starring Hit-Girl herself as Carrie White and Julianne Moore as the crazy mom. I will see it, I am sure, but not exactly super-excited about it. If they wanted to get some attention, why not cast Sissy Spacek (the original Carrie) in the mom role this time? I would love to see that!
There are a lot more interesting new releases on the slate for the new year, including Mama and World War Z, but Rob Zombie’s Lords Of Salem might be on the top of this list next year. It will be nice to see Mr. Zombie tackle an original idea, and stop fucking with the classics. Only one way to find out, when the film releases in April!

Enough about next year, let’s take a look back at 2012!
This list is based on the poll we conducted on the Horror Homework Facebook page, which, at the time of this writing, has over 65,000 “likers”. I allowed everyone to add their own options, inane as many of them were, so that everything was covered and every one had their chance to say their piece. So, the lovely young “grammar nazis” and “genre police” that kept sending me messages about the things wrong with the list, wasted their fingers typing. This list was made and chosen by you, the students of Horror Homework, so if it sucks it is your own fault!
Without further ado, let’s count them down…

10) [REC] 3

A parallel sequel to the first two films, taking place before, during and after the first two excellent [REC] films. It was released in theaters in Spain on  March 30th, and on September 7th in the US. Taking a different direction from the originals, and with a much less serious and creepy tone, this chapter focuses on a gory and gruesome wedding party that gets wildly disrupted by the growing numbers of “infected”.

The film is available for sale through Amazon here. Be sure and check it out if you missed it on it’s very limited theatrical release!

9) The Raven

Set in the mid 1800s and involves Edgar Allan Poe, the poet. A serial killer is on the loose and murdering people using Poe’s descriptions from his published poems. So Poe teams up with Detective Fields, a Baltimore policeman to try and catch the killer by using his knowledge of the descriptions. Even though the poems are fictional, they start to become reality and the killer is a step ahead of them. Then it takes on a personal note as Poe’s lover becomes a target.
John  Cusack as Poe, and the goofy plot-line made this one a bore to me. I will just stick with the original poem for my entertainment!

8) The Collection

A sequel to 200?’s The Collector, I will admit that I skipped this one.
In fact, I know that I saw the first one but I can’t recall a single thing about it…
But you guys voted for it, so here it is on the list.
One of the reviews I read said :
“There’s a bad movie every week, but it takes a special one to make you start anticipating the decline of Western civilization.” And another one called it “a pointless exercise in sadism”.
Wow. Now I am convinced to see this one!
What did you guys think of it?

7) Prometheus

This prequel to the Alien series was a huge disappointment for me.
I was, of course, very excited to see Ridley Scott’s return to the series, and was there on opening day for this one. Unfortunately I left unfulfilled ; the film just did not work for me. Full of admittedly gorgeous visuals, I think the movie just got weighed down by a bunch of lofty ideas jumbled together with some clumsy action sequences and a laughable “twist” ending.
Maybe I will pick up the Blu-ray and give it another shot. I want to like it…

6) Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter

Well, here is another one I was psyched to see during the pre-release hype, but didn’t make it to. Is it worth it?
What did you guys think of this film?

5) The Woman In Black

This one was a real snoozer, I thought. Harry Potter put me to sleep.
Although, in retrospect, it had its creepy moments, and atmosphere to spare…

4) Silent Hill : Revelations 3D

This film was another disappointment to me. I love the Silent Hill games, and even really enjoyed the first film, but this thing was just poorly-done on every level. The acting, even from Ned Stark/Boromir himself was clunky and wooden and unconvincing. The plot didn’t even exist, and the over-all look of them film was such a computer-generated mess, that turned out to be not very satisfying, in my opinion.
Oh, that is, aside from this scene :

Now available on DVD here, but for a much better experience, check out the remastered original games, right here!

3) V/H/S

Finally, one I liked!
This list was starting to really depress me…
Although it is definitely not perfect, and the opening scenes and characters of the “wrap-around” story were a big turn-off at first, I thought that each of the short films included in this anthology each had their own merits. Read my full review here, and pick up the flick on DVD here, if you still have not seen this one!
Definite recommendation!

2) Sinister

A very creepy and well-done flick starring Ethan Hawke!
Some interesting things about the production :
Writer C. Robert Cargill’s inspiration for the movie came from a nightmare he experienced after seeing The Ring, in which he discovered a film in his attic depicting the hanging of an entire family. This scenario became the setup for the plot of Sinister.  In creating a villain for the film, Cargill conceptualized a new take on the Bogeyman, calling the entity “Mr. Boogie”. Cargill’s idea was that the creature would be both terrifying and seductive to children, luring them to their dooms as a sinister Willy Wonka-like figure. Cargill and co-writer Scott Derickson ultimately decided to downplay the creature’s alluring nature, only intimating how it manipulates the children into murder. In further developing “Mr. Boogie,” the pair had lengthy discussions about its’ nature, deciding not to make it a demon but rather a Pagan deity, in order to place it outside the conceptual scope of any one particular religion. Consequently, the villain was given the proper name Bughuul, with only the child characters in the film referring to it as “Mr. Boogie.”

1) Cabin In The Woods

While most of this list I could take or leave, in this instance I have to agree with the good people of the Horror Homework page! After being finished with production in 2009 and sadly sitting on a shelf for the past few years, Cabin snuck into theaters in Spring 2012, slapping a huge grin across the faces of many long-time horror fans.
You can read my review here, and since I was trying not to ruin it at the time I kept it pretty spoiler-free. Now I have seen the film several times on Blu-Ray, and have found more to love and discuss with my fellow horror geeks. So if you still haven’t seen this new classic, order it directly from Amazon here, and come back later to join the discussion (and thank me).

For a movie with this title and reported genre, one would tend go in with certain…expectations. Cabin In The Woods lets you know it is not exactly what you thought it was right from the get-go, with a charismatic opening scene that introduces us to a couple of white-collar guys getting ready to pull some overtime on a big weekend job. The casual dialogue between these characters pulls you right in, and the head-scratching begins.

Then, the film cuts to the group of young people we are to inevitably see slaughtered in some (hopefully) unique and satisfying fashion. We follow the well-written and likeable young characters as they prepare for a weekend trip to a remote cabin owned by Kurt’s uncle,  and get to know them as they settle in for their stay, after ignoring the warnings of Malakai, a rude old gas station owner they crossed paths with.
As the film starts to cut back and forth between the group in the woods, and the staff of the control room, a bigger picture begins to open up. Strange things are happening at every instance, and we, the audience, is being shown exactly why.
All of those questions people always ask about the cliche motivations of characters in this type of film has a clever answer from these subversive film-makers.

As I said, the characters are well-written and performed, and as the show continues, we see them being defined, even groomed, into the age-old archetypes of storytelling.
The whore, the athlete, the scholar, the fool, and the virgin.
Or a live-action Scooby-Doo gang, if you prefer…
Either way, the star of the show is Marty the “fool”, played to perfection by Fran Kranz. He is the guy nobody listens to when things go haywire and people start acting erratically. They all laugh at and mock Marty’s “cocoon of reefer” and his plausible conspiracy theories. Unfortunately he is right about what is going on, puppeteers are in fact pulling their strings and he proves that “just because your paranoid, it doesn’t mean they are not after you.”

The film makes more unpredictable turns, as the cleverly doped stereotypes are gently nudged in the right direction by the control room staff. Funny touches are aplenty, and when the cellar door blows itself open (?!) they unknowingly set the ritual into motion. The cellar is a detailed collection of well-placed  items, there to encourage the victims to choose their own object of demise.
Below, in the control room, the staff there is gleefully placing bets on what horror these kids are going to unleash.

A jarringly brutal scene follows, as the control room, believing their mission to be successful, celebrates with tequila and hugs and laughter, while the last remaining victim is being horrifically tortured on giant screens behind them. Not only does this scene work in the context of the plot of the film, but I believe it to be a statement about us, the fans of horror films, and the unique kind of joy we seem to get from watching horrible things happen to other human beings on a screen.
In fact, Cabin In The Woods has many levels to it, maybe some are only obvious after repeat viewings.

At this point, all hell breaks loose, since it turns out that the “fool” has fooled them all, and survived. He makes his way with Dana (the “virgin”) into an elevator beneath the grave of the inbred hillbilly zombie family that they unwittingly chose as their killers.
They descend into darkness, revealing the tools of this sacrifice, a ritual that has apparently been going on for a very long time. Here is where the film is at it’s most brutal fun, with all manners of monsters being gleefully unleashed upon the staff of the control room, as Marty and Dana fight for their lives. Writer Joss Whedon and director Drew Goddard are clearly having a blast here, and tons of monsters are on display for our enjoyment, and chaos truly ensues.
There are literally hundreds of different creatures that were created for these scenes of madness, some barely glimpsed, some right in the audience’s faces. There is something for everyone here if you don’t blink, including nods to classics like The Shining and Hellraiser, to creepy clowns and a jarringly-bad giant CGI snake, all the way to a real live Merman!

After all of this bloody good fun winds down, we are left with an ending so bleak and unforgiving, I can’t help but wonder if it was part of the reason this great flick went un-distrubuted for so long. Sigourney Weaver explains it all, since she is (of course) the Director of this whole operation that is set on keeping the Old Gods satiated with the blood of the young and innocent.
I mentioned the levels apparent here before, and this is a great example. The film is not literally about “Old Gods” demanding sacrifice.
We, the people who enjoy this type of film, are the old gods in question, and the very desire to watch horror films is being called into question by this fun-filled gore flick.
All in all, Cabin is a great, fun and clever addition to modern horror flicks. Smart and funny, with references to the classics and a ton of blood and boobies, along with something to think about.
They have satisfied me, for now…

Well, that is it for the top ten list of 2012, as chosen by you, the students of Horror Homework. A few glaring omissions here are The Loved Ones (released in Australia in 2009 and finally in the US last year), Paranormal Activity 4, Beyond The Black Rainbow, and Antiviral.
And, just so you know, Django Unchained was my favorite film all year.
See you next year, freaks and geeks!

— Faithfully submitted by Darth Biscuits

Buy advance tickets on Fandango!
Movie Poster Shop


Spend your holidays with The Loved Ones…

The Loved Ones is an Australian horror film produced in 2009, and finally released in the US this past year. Essentially a “torture porn” flick with an influence by the new French extremism, The Loved Ones has one thing that most films in that sub-genre are missing : a sense of humor. While I did enjoy this film (even more on the second viewing), the same problems I have with most torture porn flicks (like “Hostel” and the later entries in the “Saw” series) were evident here.
That is to say, I had a problem connecting with any of the main characters. Not as bad as Hostel (where all I wanted to see is those douchebags get tortured), but the main characters in The Loved Ones are for the most part, unlikeable assholes.
Thankfully, there are other redeeming qualities to the film…

In the opening scene, young Brent is learning to drive with his father. He swerves to miss a creepy figure that appears in the road, crashing into a tree and accidentally causing his father’s death. Cut to six months later, where Brent’s guilt has effectively turned him into a mopey emo kid who spends his time smoking weed and cutting himself.
Despite his gloomy personality and apparent isolation, Brent has a devoted girlfriend named Holly who lovingly refers to him as an “emotional retard.” This sad sack also has the attention of Lola, the “weird” girl, who obsesses over him, and sweetly asks him to the school dance. He makes the huge mistake of rejecting this young lady, and heads out to an isolated spot in the woods to chill alone, just him and his dog, with his bag of pot and trusty razor-blade, of course.

It doesn’t take long for the obsessive Lola to find Brent and interrupt his “quiet time”. Her and her demented father show up, and cordially invite him to their own little school dance, located in an isolated living room, complete with streamers and disco ball. Brent slowly wakes up to see this, tied to a chair across the table from a zombiefied woman they refer to as “Bright Eyes”.

This is where the film is at its gleefully sadistic best. Lola proves herself to be an unapologetic psychopath, urged on by her lovingly deranged father. She treats him like a disturbed unsupervised child would terrorize an animal, joyfully teasing, harrassing and torturing him. She proudly shows him a scrapbook full of “Missing” photos and gory pictures of her previous victims. Dad jumps in at her requests to add extra force to her violence, but this is Lola’s game, and she goes about breaking her new toy with unapologetic glee.
This is the main thing The Loved Ones has going for it : the killer is the most charismatic character in the film.

In the meantime, the film cuts in and out to pointless minor characters, muddying the pace of the film. We see Brent’s girlfriend and mother moping around, a completely useless cop snooping into things, and Brent’s best friend going about taking a gorgeous goth girl to the real dance. None of these scenes really add anything to the film, other than run-time, and the chance to catch your breath in between the scenes as you wonder what the horrible family has in store for Brent next.

All in all, The Loved Ones is a great addition to this year’s pitiful list of horror releases, and gives us a subversively dangerous director to watch in Sean Byrne. The best thing to come out of Australia since Wolf Creek, be sure and check out this darkly comic gore-fest, and definitely watch it with someone special!

Grade : B

205627_No hidden fees to stream. None. Nada. Zippo.
Movie Poster Shop


Crossed is without a doubt the most depraved, stomach-churning, hopeless work of art currently circulating in the comics world. By that, of course, I mean it is the best thing ever.
Beginning with Crossed #0 on August 27, 2008, Crossed is a ground-breaking independent comic series owned by creators Garth Ennis and artist Jacen Burrows.

The story follows survivors dealing with a plague that causes its victims to carry out their most evil thoughts. Carriers of the virus are known as the Crossed due to a cross-like rash that appears on their faces. This contagion is primarily spread through bodily fluids, which the Crossed have used to great effect by treating their weapons with their fluids, as well as through other forms of direct fluidic contact such as rape and bites, assuming the victim lives long enough to turn.

The outbreak spread rapidly, apparently overwhelming the entire world. The infected run amok, killing, raping, and maiming for fun. Infected pilots crashed their aircraft into buildings whilst technicians who had also succumbed to the virus intentionally blew up nuclear power plants. Families and friends turned on one another and butchered each other with whatever weapons they could lay their hands on. Within hours, society was in a state of collapse as entire cities burned, government officials fled or became casualties along with the general public and police and military response dwindled to nothing. Outbreaks were reported in every city in every state of the US on the first day of the outbreak, rendering any attempt at quarantine pointless. Emergency bulletins on the radio from the White House urging citizens to remain indoors and avoid contact with the infected seems to do little if anything to slow the spread of the Crossed, and soon human civilization is all but gone, and mankind appears to be an endangered species.

It is the hopelessness and savage nature of the book that makes it so memorable.
Following Garth Ennis’ original run with his creation, he said, “To be honest, there was never really going to be a volume two- William [Christensen, editor-in-chief/publisher of Avatar] would ask me regularly about the possibility, but apart from one or two vague scenes I pretty soon realised I had no more Crossed stories in me. I didn’t want to force the issue, either, because I’m very pleased with Crossed and don’t want to dilute it with a sequel that I hadn’t the ideas to sustain. That said, it’s pretty obvious that what you have with Crossed is a ready-made fictional world with a good deal of potential for further development, and the Crossed themselves seem to be strong enough villains to maintain an audience.”

So, a series of excellent sequels and spin-offs have followed in the wake of the original series, starting with Family Values, which was written by David Lapham  with art by Javier Barreno.

The story continued with Crossed 3D, an experimental take on the story, available only in the innovative 3D format. The story follows SWAT veteran Lt. Hunt MacAvoy as he leads a rescue mission into the middle of Crossed-infected New York City to rescue a stranded doctor.

Crossed 3D was followed by Psycopath, which follows a group of survivors who pick up a man, Harold Lorre, who understands the way the Crossed think, and is tracking a specific group of Crossed who killed a woman he had stalked prior to the outbreak, and subsequently forced a relationship upon her as they survived and kept a fragment of her breast in a plastic bag when she was turned into a Crossed and killed. He is a psychopath and is killing members of the group as they discover his true nature, passing them off as the grisly acts of Crossed.

Psychopath is followed by “Wish You Were Here”, which began life as a weekly webcomic you can read for FREE here. The story is increasingly desolate here, following the daily life of a group of survivors trying to get buy on a remote island off the coast of Scotland. It is written in a journal style by “Shaky” (short for Shakespeare) and has an enthralling storyline, which is a great expansion to the Crossed universe.
You would think that doesn’t get much more  depraved than a maniac fucking a dolphin in the blowhole while screaming for his Mommy, but that happens on the first page of this sick and twisted work of art, and things degenerate from there…

A newer monthly series called Crossed : Badlands is out now, and focuses on a different group of survivors every few issues. If you have never checked out Crossed, do your homework!
Thank me later.
Find them for sale directly through Amazon below, and be sure and dig on the free webcomic right here.

236405_Games on Demand -
Movie Poster Shop

5 reasons John Carpenter’s original “Halloween” still holds up

I had the good fortune of having a theater close to me playing the re-release of the original Halloween last week. Seeing it in the theater for the first time, with an excited crowd on the eve of the holiday was a great experience. Of course, as a professor of horror, I have seen this film many times, mostly a grainy old VHS copy on a shitty tube TV.

Preceding the classic film was a short documentary called “You Can’t Kill The Boogeyman”, which focused on the legacy and influence of the film over the years, and served as a great primer before it started.

What follows are the things that struck me as being most effective, especially for a nearly-35-year-old film to still be able to hit a nerve in a theater full of cell-phones and  teenagers. Of course, there were a few good-natured snickers at some of the 70’s styles and dialogue, but the gasps and screams still came in at the right places, too. Not to mention the round of applause as the films credits rolled.

Here we go. Five reasons the original Halloween still holds up (and never needed a remake in the first place…)

1) The incredible camera work.

The film begins with one of the most iconic opening scenes ever. Shot in first person with a shaky camera, the audience is creeping through a house, watching some horny teenagers. We look all around, slip on a mask, and stab a young girl to death violently, and the camera pulls out of the first person view to reveal a little boy standing catatonic with a bloody knife.

This opening scene sets the conspiratorial tone for the rest of the film, and I think it is this feeling of being a silent partner to young Michael Myers that gives the film’s viewers that uneasy feeling. Right from the beginning, we are seeing through the eyes of the killer, identifying with him on some level for the rest of the film (and series of films, to a lesser extent). Similar camera work continues throughout the film, for example when Michael Myers is following Tommy home from school driving slowly in his station-wagon, the audience’s view is from the back seat of the car. Another way the film-makers masterfully make us feel as if we are along for the ride with the crazed killer.

2) The character Laurie Strode, played by Jamie Lee Curtis.

In her first, and most famous, film role Jamie Lee Curtis shines as teenaged babysitter Laurie Strode. She is beautiful and natural in the part, just a sweet young girl, and no one in the audience would wish anything bad to happen to her. She radiates innocence and simple “goodness” in the role, unlike her annoying friends. She is the prototype for the “final girl” in all the slasher films to follow in Halloween’s success. The concept is so simple, after all : an unstoppable maniac terrorizes a sweet innocent girl until she must fight back, for the sake of the children and herself.

When she does fight back, she is confident and smart. The still-thrilling climax of the film is the epitome of tense film-making. We know “The Shape” is a vicious killing machine, and we know Laurie is a sweet innocent girl fighting for her life. Their final battle is as epic and haunting as it should be.

3) “The Shape”.

In design and execution, the haunting image of Michael Myers, at first known only as “The Shape”, is something the audience never forgets. The simple workman’s jumpsuit and painted William Shatner mask are now and forever icons of horror.

The movement and ever-presence of “The Shape” is what is so haunting. He is always there, lurking around the corner or behind a bush. The victims catch glimpses of him, and look again and he is gone. Then he is behind them again, causing some of the best jump-scares ever.

Then there is the playful nature to the killer, which suggests that he is still a boy trapped in the body of this hulking murderer. The scene where he takes out Annie, dressed in a silly ghost under a sheet with her boyfriend’s glasses over it, is a good example.

Or the curious look he gives his victim, Bob. Somehow with that simple tilt of the head, so much is injected into the character who should just be considered a dangerous psychopath. Carpenter and the team give this madman such personality in such a minimalist way, it is so refreshing in its subtlety.

Which brings me to my biggest problem with Rob Zombie’s remake. That film wastes so much time trying to explain young Michael’s madness with such cliches. So his mommy was a stripper and step-daddy was a drunk. Who cares?
The original was much more effective, because John Carpenter knew that what is scary is the unknown. “The Shape” was a complete mystery in 1978. Hell, him and Laurie aren’t even related in the original, that was an idea that was developed in the sequels. This film is lean and mean, and about a killer who just wants to kill, no more no less.
Maybe it speaks to the change in generations and the fact that we are seeing so many prequels and re-imaginings of our favorite films. Modern audiences seem to want to know “why” these characters do what they do. Sometimes, the simplicity of a well-executed story and the ambiguous nature of the slasher is much more effective. People think the back story is more interesting, but as we all know, when the monster is unmasked, he is much less frightening.

4) Dr. Loomis, as portrayed by Donald Pleasance.

Dr. Loomis is Myer’s doctor, and the prototype for the “Ahab” character to follow in the newly-created slasher formula. His scenes in the original are all great, as he is always in a state of urgency and frustration.

Every time the film cuts to Loomis’ hunt for his escaped patient, he is spewing doom and anger at whoever is in the scene with him. He seems to be the only one who knows what Myer’s is capable of, and his frustration is abundantly clear to the audience watching his efforts as he goes above and beyond, trying desperately to find the maniac before he strikes again.

This quote from Loomis says it all,and really drives home the point from #3 about keeping the explanations to a minimum and letting the audience fear the unknown.

“I met him, fifteen years ago. I was told there was nothing left. No reason, no conscience, no understanding; even the most rudimentary sense of life or death, good or evil, right or wrong. I met this six-year-old child, with this blank, pale, emotionless face and, the blackest eyes… the devil’s eyes. I spent eight years trying to reach him, and then another seven trying to keep him locked up because I realized what was living behind that boy’s eyes was purely and simply…evil.”

Dr. Sam Loomis – Halloween (1978)

5) The soundtrack.

Few films have ever had a score so iconic and instantly-recognizable.
It is a rare occasion that the director himself wrote the theme song that has implanted itself so well into the collective psyche of several generations.
Thank you, John Carpenter!

Great Halloween Costumes for the whole family.

Movie Poster Shop

Film review : Paranormal Activity 4

Love them or hate them,  the Paranormal Activity films aren’t going anywhere. Although I usually don’t pay much attention to box office figures (especially in relation to the quality of the film), the money made on this franchise is unbelievable. For example, the production budget on the first PA film was $15,000, the US distribution rights sold for 350,000 and the film grossed $193,876,403 worldwide. With that kind of profit margin, of course we we are going to get some sequels, and it wouldn’t surprise me to see the producers milk this concept in to the ground, which some people would claim they already have…

I have been on the favorable side of this film series, they really seem to work on me on some basic level. The scenes from the original that really struck me as creepy and stuck with me are the shots of Katie standing over Micah for hours in the middle of the night ; and particularly when he wakes her sleeping on the porch and she is barely even there anymore. Sure there was some hokey stuff too, but there were some scenes that really worked.

Also, I think the progression of the series of stories, told in reverse on various recording devices has been interesting. The coven of witches from the 80’s in PA3 was particularly haunting, and it was a fascinating move to go further back to see where this curse originated.

Which brings us to the new film, which jumps back to 2011. We get a quick reminder that Demon Katie disappeared with her nephew Hunter, and their whereabouts are still unknown. Then we are thrust into the shaky-cam POV of a likeable and media-savvy teenage girl, Alex.

We meet her family (non-committal dad, overworked mom, cute little brother) and charmingly geeky boyfriend, Ben. Then the weird kid shows up. “Robbie” is a little boy she keeps spotting walking alone and lurking in her treehouse. He is creepy, but vulnerable and alone, and when the news comes that his mother inexplicably had to go to the hospital, the family takes the kid in.

Shit gets weird from there, of course, and as a viewer you get entranced by the progression of days and various points of view. While watching these films, I notice that I instinctively now scan every scene, watching and waiting for what may jump out from which angle. The feeling of dread and tension that these films bring with them is sometimes almost unbearable to me. I know that some people call them boring, but they really work on me and my nerves.

The problem with the slow-burn is that sometimes the pay-off doesn’t match the build-up. When the action ramps up at the end of this chapter in the series, despite some questionable reactions and lack of follow-through from the characters, it really works. And the climactic scenes had me on the edge of my seat right up until the abrupt ending. Honestly, I was relieved it was over, because I could not take much more at that point.

This was the first PA film that I have seen in a theater, but my theory is that this series and most “found footage” films work better at home, in the dark curled up on your couch in the middle of the night. Still, it is a tense and unnerving good time, and a good continuation of the original storyline, even though the script leaves us with more questions than answers…

Not surprisingly, Paranormal Activity 5 has already been announced for next Halloween, and a Latino spin-off is currently in production for early next year. For films that get so much negative reaction from horror fans, they sure seem to be popular. Looking forward to part 5!

Grade : B

Great Halloween Costumes for the whole family.

Movie Poster Shop
Killer Reads

The Goon

Another week, another Kickstarter.
Blame it on rampant piracy or corporate greed or whatever you like to blame it on, but “crowd-funding” has become the only way for truly independent artists to get their projects made. I guess it is the wave of the future…
Well, so be it.
This week’s Kickstarter is for a film I know I would love to see. A feature-length animated adaptation of Eric Powell’s excellent comic book, The Goon, directed by none other than David Fincher!

That’s right, this is your chance to help bring everyone’s favorite zombie smasher to the big screen! For over 12 years, Eric Powell’s comic book “The Goon” has thrilled readers around the globe with its fantastic world of mobsters, zombies, killer robots, giant fish-men, and every outrageous thing in between. The time has come to bring this great comic to theaters!

If you are not familiar with the Goon comic book series, you have really been missing out!
The Goon debuted in Dreamwalker #0 (March 1998, Avatar Press) in a 4-page Preview (later reprinted as the third story in the Goon #1, which is the true first appearance of the character). Powell was unhappy with the quality of the Avatar Press comics after just 3 issues, so he stopped handing in new material and waited for his contract to expire. Once that happened, he was unable to find another publisher, so he moved into self-publishing in 2002 with Albatross Exploding Funny Books. These self-published issues caught the eye of Dark Horse Comics, which approached Powell by telling him that they didn’t know why they passed on the book, and in 2003 publication of The Goon moved to Dark Horse.

For the Kickstarter, they have included all kinds of incentives for us fans to recieve with our donations, from blog access to t-shirts, limited edition posters and original artwork to high-powered fondue parties at David Fincher’s Hollywood mansion. (that’s a joke, David lives in a top secret Dick Cheney-like subterranean lair). But they ARE offering a day at Blur Studio where’ll you’ll get a meet-and-greet with the filmmakers… along with a special screening of the finished story reel!

A teaser / short film showcasing what the film-makers and Blur Studio aspire to has been floating around youtube for the last few years. Who here doesn’t want to see this film get made?

Still not convinced?
Well, be sure and pick up a copy of the excellent trade paperbacks available here, or via the widget at the end of this post!
And be sure to stop by The Goon’s Kickstarter page and give them your two cents…

236405_Games on Demand -

First trailer for Black Ops 2 Zombie mode!

Today, Treyarch let loose with some of their well-guarded secrets regarding the Zombie mode of the upcoming Call Of Duty : Black Ops 2.

They released this quick teaser last week to perk up some eyeballs :

Now they have let loose a full trailer, detailing the chaotic madness to come when this game finally releases in November!
Here it is, breaking news for all of you horror gamers out there!

More info is sure to be coming out, especially in regards to who those playable characters are, how many maps there are, and what the new “Zombie campaign” mode entails.
Check back right here at Horror Homework, or The official Black Ops website for more details as we get them.


One week until Resident Evil 6

Hi everyone!
I am sure that all of you gamer geeks out there know that Resident Evil 6 releases on PS3 and XBox next Tuesday October 2nd. To get everyone hyped about it, Capcom has released a slew of new gameplay videos and a downloadable hands-on demo.

Not to mention, they have released a brand new CG film that tells more of the intricate back-story weaving all of these plot-lines together. Check out the trailer for Resident Evil : Damnation.

The storyline for this one weaves three sets of partners through their quest to save the zombified President of the USA.
Resident Evil 6 will allow players to select between three scenarios with connected storylines, each with their own feel. Each scenario follows one of three main protagonists – Leon Kennedy, Chris Redfield and Jake Muller. The player characters from each scenario will have their own partners which are controlled by either the computer AI or another human player via local or online multiplayer. When playing in single player, the player can allow another player to join in online at any time.A fourth scenario is unlocked after the player has finished the other three, in which the player controls Ada Wong (without a partner).

Sounds like a big step up from the multiplayer from part 5, and as long as there are at least 10 awesome “Mercenaries” maps, I am certain I will be getting my money’s worth from this one!

I just played through the demo on PS3 and this is a very ambitious game.
The graphics are very impressive, with no gory detail spared from view. The demo gives us a small taste of each character’s storyline with a chance to get a feel for the new moves.
First off, shooting while moving is an obvious plus, that the limitations of old school games didn’t allow. The “Guide” system, showing players which direction to head next with a simple button-push, will certainly prove to be helpful. The new cover system, however, did not appear to be functioning properly (but it was certainly better than Operation : Raccoon City’s) . The melee system was greatly improved, with a wide variety of new deadly moves available. At one point, I back-handed a zombie’s head right off (!).
The demo is chaotic, but gives a good feeling about what the finished product will be like, and all of the co-op modes are a great addition.
Check out the demo for free on PSN and XBox LIVE right now, and be sure and pre-order this baby for when it goes live next week!

I am very much looking forward to this new chapter in the Resident Evil mythology. See you guys online for some zombie-slaying co-op action!
Next Tuesday, all hope is lost…

Great Halloween Costumes for the whole family.

Movie Poster Shop

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...