Tuesday, 24 March 2009

New location, same old troubles...

How depressing does that sound. Next time I'll try for a better title.

Anyway, to bring anyone who doesn't know up to speed, I'm now living with Brother Chris. Yes I was naive to think everything would be different. In short, its not. I am closer to the sea though. I just haven't got used to it yet. But I will.

I recently saw My Name Is Bruce. Is very silly, but still good. I am somewhat biased towards Bruce Campbell though, however this was more enjoyable than The Man With The Screaming Brain which suffered quite a lot from its small budget and Bulgarian filming locations.

I'm also biased due to the fact that My Name Is Bruce slipped a Congo reference in, which as you know always gets a thumbs up in my book. So is it better than Congo. No, but I'd say its as good as.

Despite starting a new job, and therefore acquiring the inability to stay awake throughout a whole film, I've seen quite a few over the last couple of weeks. Special mention goes to Let The Right One In, a Swedish vampire film that plays with the concept of vampires a little more than others do. Not much is explained about the origins, and there's no foppishness involved. There's also a cool sequence concerning the whole "invitation in" rule that I don't think I've ever seen dealt with before.

I've also finally started watching Veronica Mars. A TV show that everyone seems to like and recommend, however at the moment it's nothing special but I am only 3 episodes in so hopefully things will look up.

I'm stopping no I have things to read and write other than blogs and really need to get some work done. However, I may just end up playing games. Who knows.

Sunday, 8 March 2009

Who Watches The Watchmen...

I do. Ok that was kind of a lame start. I'm only really posting as this marks my final post as a resident of Stoke-on-Trent. I shall soon be off on adventures to Brother Chris' abode and hopefully a bright future. However at the moment my head is exploding, and I'm trying to decide whether I'm taking too much stuff with me. Yes eventually I'll probably have my own place and all the space in the world (the contained world of said place that is), but as it goes I have a room. A room previously used as a computer room, with stuff still in it. Now I really am thinking I have too much. We all know there's no way I'll be using everything at once. And I bet some things I never even touch. It's difficult knowing this for certain though, so I like to be prepared. There doesn't seem any more than when I left for University so maybe that's it. I just haven't seen this much stuff piled up in a while.

Anyway, I went to see Watchmen tonight. It hasn't really sunk in yet so I can't decide if I liked it. I know for certain that the first half was cool, but I think it gets a bit dragged out. The problem with it is that the beginning has been reordered a bit, but as soon as you get into the origins of the characters you're just waiting for the next bit of the comic you remember.

So...the new ending. It's ok. Not great, but ok. I don't want to give anything away. I come from reading the comic and was really looking forward to seeing that particular end so it was always going to disappoint. However with the new ending, a guy I went with who has no idea of the comic didn't think it made sense, that the result was not much of a threat. In many ways he's right. They really needed to set it up through out the film, which in turn would change the story. But the base elements were there.

Finally I just want to mention the soundtrack. It's amazing. Zack Snyder couldn't really use much on his last film 300, but the soundtrack for the Dawn of the Dead remake was also amazing. Not the usual choices Hollywood films would make. Plus the Philips Glass track form the trailer is used in the film.

All in all, it is a cool film. I don't agree with other reviews where they've offered up alternative directors. IGN offered Ridley Scott or David Fincher and Mark Kermode suggested Terry Gilliam would have been an improvement. However these directors haven't really made a decent film for a while. Whoever was directing this film it still would've been a hard film to make. You can't please everyone, especially when each reader has there own interpretation, just like the adaptation of a book. I wasn't to keen on the comic elements of Mickey Rourke's Marv from Sin City as I'd always read him as a straight, hard bastard right to the end.

In closing I think Zack Snyder has done a great job. And I look forward to the rest of his career. And his soundtracks.

Tuesday, 3 March 2009

You Can't Dance on Someones Grave!

The remainder of the weekend was occupied with a variety of films of varying quality. We began with black & white version of The Mist. How good is this film? Rhetorical by the way as we all know The Mist is amazing. I'd forgotten how good it, and everyone in it, was. This is only emphasised when viewed in black and white. I captures the atmosphere of the mid-fifties horror/sci-fi films and also makes the creature effects more believable. The end is still one of the best I've seen in a long time, and possibly the only true horrific moment in the whole film.

This was followed by The Gravedancers. This film was chosen based on the delivery of the line, "You can't dance on someones grave!" Unfortunately I can't post it here as it only seems to be part of the trailer on V-Plus. The film stars Dominic Purcell of Prison Break fame, Clare Kramer of Buffy the Vampire Slayer fame and the always watchable Tcheky Karyo. The film begin as a rum of the mill haunting film. Friends get drunk, dance on graves and get haunted. About half way in though things started to get interesting. The ghost effects were pretty creepy, and by the end things get quite insane. Not to give anything away, but basically a giant head chases a car though the house. It's a pity the film takes so long before it gets interesting. So based on the 'matter of fact' delivery of one line, this film was pretty much a winner.

Unlike Sickle, which only cost a single British pound, but was just poor. It was filmed on digital so it looked bad, and not a lot happened. Shots were repeated, characters reappeared in scenes even though they'd just left, and there was a hell of a lot of walking. I should really be careful here, I don't want to just sound mean as the issue of reviews is hitting close to home since the DVD release of Ten Dead Men. However, Sickle was pretty rubbish. However, on the DVD was a trailer, fortunately not for Sickle, but for Skinned Deep, a 2004 horror film directed by Gabriel Bartalos, the special effect/make-up artist on films such as Leprechaun and Basket Case 2. It also stars Warwick Davis as a guy called Plates, and, you guessed it, he throws plates at people. This film looked mental, and was worth the pound spent on the DVD.

We ended on Earth Alien, starring Eric Roberts and Arnold Vosloo. This was also only a pound, but far better than Sickle. It's about a cop who teams up with an alien to hunt down another alien who is killing humans for their skin. Poacher style. I don't have much more to say on this. It was ok, things exploded, cars were chased, guns were shot. Pretty straight forward really.

In between these viewings we seemed to watch the trailer for Clifford over and over. For some reason this film only seems to be available on Xbox Live and nowhere else. It still looks bizarre and will be tracked down eventually. If only to fit in with a screening of Shakma.

Anyway the weekend came to a close, and onto the trains we went. And what a crappy journey. The train I was on somehow let off the emergency brakes stopping the train only after about an hour of travel. Then we couldn't get the brakes off and just had to wait for a technician. Finally we moved to the next station, all got off and awaited the replacement train, which then had to alter its journey to include all the stops form the original train. I ended up getting in about two late. Which nicely brings my February tour of Britain to a close, and fuels my temporary hate for trains. I know Brother Chris eventually had some problems also on his journey. It just goes to show, no one should travel on a Sunday.

Oh, and you can't dance on someones grave.

I swallowed my soul...

I've just returned from an exciting weekend of Theatre and Film with Brother Chris visiting one of his friends from University, Mr Geraint D'arcy. The reason for this visit, The Evil Dead. Well sort off. Geraint was involved in the combined theatre production of The Evil Dead and Evil Dead 2 by the drama students of University of Glamorgan, and this being my favourite film, was excited to have been invited. You can see the stage design and a couple of other pictures at Geraint's blog here. So anyway, only a day after returning from Brother Chris' I was off on another train journey.

The show, entitled Dead By Dawn to avoid and copyright issues, was preceded by a cautionary notice in the pub before we went across to the theatre. This was not going to be The Evil Dead we all knew and loved, but more like a re-imagining, set in the Welsh Valleys. Hearing this I wasn't quite sure what to expect. So we buy our tickets and wait in line ready to hopefully enjoy Dead By Dawn.

And enjoy I did. Being a part student production not everything was perfect, but then, if you start looking closely, not every part of Evil Dead is perfect. The stage design was simple yet effective, there are only two settings in the film really, inside the cabin and outside the cabin, and the stage and its surroundings were used to great effect. Every major aspect of the films featured in the production, Chainsaw, possessed humans, Henrietta and yes, even the tree rape, handled perfectly as the character is dragged beneath the stage and thrown out the other side, battle damaged. Unfortunately there was no possessed hand ans therefore no arm mounted chainsaw but cuts had to be made somewhere. So excellent stage design, but what about the acting.

The acting was pretty strong across the board. Nothing perfect mind, the fights did seem pretty loose at times, but the characters were believable. Unfortunately the lead playing Ash managed to get the cowardly Evil Dead Ash down, but failed to grasp the coolness of Evil Dead 2 Ash. There were a couple of other problems with certain actors but I rather not start nit picking.

So finally, the effects. No Evil Dead production would be accurate without a shed load of gore, and this production had it. Brains exploded, heads cut off, intestines ripped out. Obviously all done in a stylistic fashion. No one got hurt. One of the highlights was definitely seeing the possessed Henrietta emerge from the cellar, long neck and all. This scene was so manic that it resulted in excited audience applause.

I may have missed stuff out but I can't remember everything. It was a cool show though, a lot better than a couple of professional productions I've attended in the past. It's a pity it only ran for three days, and now it's over with, never to be seen again. I doubt those involved will ever forget it and they all should definitely be proud of what they achieved.