Sunday, August 29, 2010

Year of the Rat

Even though Willard was in my opinion a disappointment to watch, it was my first exposure to a specific branch of horror movies and it no less initiated my love for rats. Indeed the sequel Ben was a better movie by far, but I can forgive Willard falling short of my expectations, for it still paved the way that led me to appreciate the wonderful world of animal horror in general and “ratty” horror in special (I actually did see the brilliant Phase IV before I got to see Willard, but that is SF).

A few years later a friend recommended James Herbert’s The Rats trilogy to me, the first book of which, The Rats, got very loosely adapted to the screen under the title Night Eyes (re-titled in Germany to Deadly Eyes by the way, those crazy buggers love to think up new English titles).. I still hold this series to be the best, most entertaining work in the field despite a few major flaws in the writing,

closely followed by King’s excellent short story Graveyard Shift, which got adapted for the screen, too, under its story name and counts in my book as an unfairly overlooked, entertaining entry to the genre. As an aside, Lair, the second book in Herbert’s Rat trilogy seems to have been largely inspired by Ben, or maybe there is only so much you can do with the topic

Another genre favourite is the Italian production Rats – Notte di Terrore. One of the more original entries to the Post Apocalyptic genre. If one, as I like to, compares Herbert’s second rats novel Lair to Ben then the last book in Herbert’s cycle, Domain, should be compared to Notte… if only because they share a post world war setting. In terms of story both are refreshingly original, albeit Herbert shows a tendency to overuse similar character arcs for his books, and both are a treat for horror fans and fans of the Post Apocalyptic genre alike.

However, despite a obvious audience demand for more of these kind of movies (how else could one explain that one of the more boring entries became enough of a cult to regard a remake, namely speaking of Willard here? Too bad it seems not to have made enough money to justify a remake of Ben, too) the output in recent years was definitively meagre and mostly let to movies that got advertised with artwork showing far more promise than the movies hiding behind them could ever hope to muster up.

Or so,
at least, goes my opinion, I actually love Of unknown origin, although the movie fared so bad both among fans and critics that one shouldn’t talk to loud about that (I trust you not to rat me out), but found myself bored witless by the latest, praised independent horror escapee from the After Dark Horrorfest: Mulberry Street, a movie that promises with its zombie rat infection theme to revive the gory fun of Hell of the living dead, a classic opening sequence if there ever was one, but what we get is a dialogue heavy pseudo Shawn of the dead shakes hands with 28 Days later over Ben’s dead and vastly un-resurrected body.

If the above sounds like ranting to you then let me assure you it is because I am ranting.
Anyways, let’s leave on a positive note, like this promotional sketch for the poster artwork to The secret of Nihm, doesn’t it remind one a lot of the poster for the same year movie The Dark Crystal?In swear in terms of movies goes for the 80’s that “it was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness…”

*I realize we are not in the Year of the Rat, but what are you going to do? Sue me?

A Gallery of sorts:

A few notes on the used images:
Revenge of the Rats is the french DVD release of German made for TV thriller Ratten 2 I actually like both this and the original German design which its visual play on the "Pied Piper of Hamelin"; Die Stunde der Ratte is the German DVD release of Food of the gods, you sure noticed how it takes elements of both the artwork from part 1 & 2 to create a free melange that reminds of a particularly famous zombie movie by Lucio Fulci; For Night Eyes I used a UK DVD cover design, hence the title The Rats; And Unheimliche Begegnung (which would loosely translate to "Eerie Encounter") is naturally the German VHS cover for Of unknown origin, love that image.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

twilight's last gleaming

Ranting about twilight is popular.
And what are we here in this place if not followers of the popular trend?
I’m all that, but I’m also not ashamed to admit that I enjoyed twilight (the book), twilight (the movie) not so much.
And seriously, what’s not to love about a book that features a brooding (Steph missed to add tall & dark) teen vampire going on about how he has to fight to keep his urges under control whenever he’s close to his Bella, while she is practically begging him on her knees to ravish her…*

But then there’s the infamous Chapter 8 – Port Angeles.
If there’s one problem that Stephenie has, then it has to be her love for romance novels which clearly shows in the way she set-up twilight, it’s like she’s got a list she’s been ticking off:
Alpha male - check
Damsel - check
Threaten damsel with a faith worse than death - check.

That last point! That’s all Chapter 8 serves for.
The gist of it is thus:
Bella and her girls drive into town, she separates from the rest and promptly finds herself attracting some street rabble that conveniently herd her up a dark side street.
Cue in Edward, storming to the rescue with, uhm, blazing headlights…

One of the problems with this constructed hero’s scene is that Edward’s „heroism“ is a shallow gesture, because as a immortal he’s never really putting himself in any danger whatsoever. He actually just gets his Bella and hightails it out of there.
Some hero there, leaving the rabble to stake out another victim…

Vampire guy certainly pales in comparison to the shiny knights and bold adventurers that went over this ground before him. Well, yes, he claims that the vileness of their intentions was threatening to make him lose control of his human side, threatening what’s possibly left of his immortal soul.
We get to hear that line a lot from him, he’s very fond of using it, see above.
And the more I think about that scene and why it never worked for me, beyond as a annoyance, the more I can’t help to think that this is symptomatic for the whole Bella/Edward relation, there’s a lot of talk from Edward’s side, and he’s so quick at hand with assuring Bella that her mere presence alone is enough for him to have to fight the beast inside… so much so that I have to wonder whom is he really trying to convince?
Bella or himself?

However, the actual reason why I gnashed my teeth when the scene came up and played out in all its tired predictability, and I’m usually not one to bemoan predictability, is not just that this scene is for the most part useless to the story at hand, it’s how it uses some of the worst tropes ever:
Country girl, big town, alone on her own = rape, murder or worse…

It creates an unsavoury mix of “Girls should not be left to stray on their own” myths and the undying suspicion harboured by every small towner ever of the big cities and their invariably evil, tainting character.

Well, Stephenie’s a lot of things, being subtle is not among them.
But twilight (the book) was her debut (that and she’s Mormon), so I’m willing to cut her some slack. Neither the script writers working on twilight (the movie) nor Hardwicke can claim either of that for themselves. Which makes finding the same stupid, useless scene playing out in the same useless, stupid way all the more infuriating… grrr.

On a side note:
You know what else I find disturbing about twilight (the movie)?
The only poster I can stand, shows the only people I cared for in the movie**: The bad guys and girl.

*Most guys you wouldn’t have to beg twice, but with Edward it takes four long books of begging!
**With the exception of Alice, but who doesn’t care about her!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Art Evolution

What happens we you take the artwork for the movie The Deep,
and cross it with the artwork for Cunningham's Deep Star Six?

Why, you get Casaro's Leviathan of course:

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Where is this headed?

Sucker Punch looks delicious, from flawless artwork, to tantalizing plotline, to a trailer that has me positively hooked.

But three’s a row, and in the face of a row of titles like Kick-Ass; Bitch Slap and Sucker Punch I simply have to pose the question where we are bound with those.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Hellooo- Wolfman

Who'd a have thought that we'd meet this scene again so soon?

Kinda makes you worry when the tagline talks about originality put in such a context.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Noblesse oblige

“Now I will die like the gangsters in the movies!”
This quote is given as having been the final words of a young delinquent facing death penalty in the first half of the past century. Illustrating the impact the new medium, and Hollywood’s romanticized view of the underworld had on our culture.

The quote always reminds me of the end of “Angels with dirty faces” and how as a child I was completely fascinated by this shady, yet honourable character James Cagney played in the movie.
I’m aware that viewers have differing opinions about the end, but me, I still prefer to believe that it’s not fear which rules Cagney’s final moments in the movie, but the same noble core that made him protect his friend in one way or other through the whole movie. In the end he even sacrifices his hard earned criminal renown, which could have made him a minor legend in the place he grew up. Instead he chooses to go out knowing that non will remember him ‘cept for Pat O’Brien and Ann Sheridan.
There’s a sort of bitter ironic to be found in how early Hollywood’s idea of noble criminals stands in direct contrast not only to our above quoted young friend, but to today’s youth an their unhealthy fascination with a gang culture that holds no values, and knows no honour.

Art imitates life imitates art?
If only it was that easy at times…

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Picture perfect moment

While taking a shower and contemplating how The strange case of Dr Jeckyll and Mr Hyde can be related to a philosophers quote that I like to paraphrase as “All that keeps us in check is our fear of punishment”, it occurred to me how perfectly this scene from The Mexican illustrates the truth of it, when Brad Pitt stops in the middle of nowhere at an empty crossroads, in front of a red light.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Art comparison

I honestly hope they do not have more in common!

I'm aware that Ghost Ship would have fitted better against Death Ship, but Black OPs (Dead Water, for EU release) shares more than just a similar poster design with Death Ship. And that made my desicsion.