Friday, December 24, 2010

Mondo Marvel #29 - Annuals 1964

Ring in the Holidays with me as Mondo Marvel #29 takes a look at Fantastic Four Annual #2 and The Amazing Spider-Man Annual #1 over at Comics Bulletin!

Motörhead - (Don't Need) Religion



Happy Birthday, Lemmy!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

MISFITS 2.07 Review


And with that, we say goodbye to our Misfits until next Fall sometime.  And from what I understand they're talking about extending the third season with more episodes and a variety of writers.

Which, I have to admit, I'm not very excited about.

On the one hand, I'd love to see more of our heroes, but on the other, it may spread the show out too thin.  It's impossible to tell at the moment, but I'm looking forward to the new season with a touch of hesitency.  Especially given how this season has wrapped.

But then again, maybe the way this season wrapped sets us up for a more extended approach next time.

We'll see, I guess.  But now, Spoiler Alert!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Film Review: BLACK DEATH (2010)

Black Death
Written by Dario Poloni
Directed by Christopher Smith

And our journey through the films of Christopher Smith comes to an end (for now), with his latest, Black Death.  This is a bit of a departure for Smith, as not only is it the first of his films that isn't straight horror, it's also the first time he's working from someone else's script.

As such, it doesn't demonstrate the leap in creative growth that we've seen through the course of his previous films (Creep (2004), Severance (2006), and Triangle (2009)), but it's still a sure-handed piece of work that lives up to its full potential.

For the uninitiated, Black Death is set during the late 14th Century during the height of the Bubonic Plague in England.  A young monk, Osmund (Eddie Redmayne) is struggling with his love of a young lady, Averill (Kimberley Nixon) and his duties to the monastery.  In order to save her from the spread of the disease, Osmund sends her away from the city, where she promises to wait for him in the nearby forest for a week.  If he doesn't decide to leave the monastery by then, he'll never see her again.

After praying for a sign from God to help him make his decision, Ulric (Sean Bean) arrives.  Ulric has been tasked with investigating a local village where it is rumored that the dead walk the earth and the plague has not struck, all thanks to the villagers' pact with the Devil.  As this village is very near where Averill is waiting, Osmund takes this as his sign and volunteers to lead Ulric and his motley band to the village.

Spoilers Ahead!

MISFITS 2.06 Review

When is a finale not a finale?

When there's an extra Christmas episode later in the week, that's when.

But technically, this is the Series Two finale, and we get the wrap-up of the major storylines of the previous five episodes.  Most of it is pretty entertaining, but I must confess to having narrative problems with the way everything comes together in the end.


Spoiler Shields Up!

Friday, December 10, 2010

MISFITS 2.05 Review

We're moving quickly toward the season finale (and the Christmas Bonus Episode!), and visions from Curtis' little jaunt to the future are starting to occur.  Last week's hanging from meathooks was the first event, and this week Simon becomes a man and we get to see what was actually happening up on the rooftop between Curtis and Nikki. 

Here's a hint, it's not superheroic at all, but is pretty graphic.  She wasn't kidding about not wanting to get cum on her dress.

And she's not the only one with that concern as this week; everyone is getting busy.  Ironically, except for Alisha.  Oh!  And except for Nathan.  Poor Nathan.  At least he gets murdered again.  What's all that about a connection between Death and Sex?  I don't think I'll ever get tired of watching Nathan get murdered over and over again.  Is that wrong?

But how was the episode, you ask?  Put your spoiler shields on to find out!

FRINGE 3.09 "Marionette" Review

Fringe
3.09 "Marionette"
Written by Alison Schapker & Monica Breen
Directed by Joe Chappelle

Say goodbye to Fringe for until January 21st, folks.  And when it returns, it's going to be on Friday nights.  You know, the Friday nights on FOX that signals the end of all things Sci-Fi on the damned channel.  Let's face it.  Nothing has survived Friday nights since The X-Files, and while one might argue that Fringe is the natural successor to that show, the ratings aren't great.  And if they're not great on Thursdays, what are they going to be like on Fridays?

Remember, Friday scheduling helped kill Firefly.  It helped kill The Sarah Conner Chronicles.  It helped kill Dollhouse.  Hell, just check out this: The Friday Night Death Slot.  While one might argue that Friday isn't instant death for a show, this is FOX we're talking about.  Look at those numbers.

Hopefully we'll at least get to see the rest of the season, but I have no hope for a fourth.  I mean, the first episode back on Friday the 21st is called "Firefly" for Pete's sake.

Anyway, back to this week's episode, "Marionette". 

Look!  Spoilers!

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

DEXTER 5.11 "Hop A Freighter" Review

Dexter 
Episode 5.11 "Hop a Freighter"



And here we are, one episode left in the season, and I'll be quite honest.  I have no idea what's going to happen next.

For those of you late to the party, Dexter (Michael C. Hall) is in love.  Sure, it's with supremely damaged Lumen (Julia Stiles), with whom he shares the urge to murder wrongdoers, but it's love nonetheless.  Last week we discovered that Jordan Chase (Jonny Lee Miller) was an alias and that his little group of rapists and thugs had been engaging in their funny games for years.  Maybe a decade or more.

And it all started this one time, at camp.

Dex and Lumen had tracked down the last of Chase's pals and, um, disposed of him, while Chase tried to set them up to be caught by Deb (Jennifer Carpenter) and Quinn (Desmond Harrington).  It was a near miss, but thanks to a stray footprint in the mud, Deb was able to start intuiting just what was going on.

Much to Dexter's dismay.

And oh yeah, Liddy's (Peter Weller) caught Dex and Lumen on tape, preparing for a kill.  Oops.

Spoiler Screens Up!

Monday, December 06, 2010

WHAT LOOKS GOOD #338: MULTIMEDIA POTPOURRI

I'm at the helm for this week's What Looks Good column over at Comics Bulletin, and there are lots of interesting things to see in comics, movies, and television this time around!

THE WALKING DEAD Episode 1.06 Review

The Walking Dead
Episode 1.06 "TS-19"
Written by Adam Fierro & Frank Darabont
Directed by Guy Ferland

And with that, we say goodbye to our cast of characters until sometime next year. 

And it's going to be a long year.  But not as long as it could have been, thanks to the convenient tying up of narrative lines that, if there had only been one season, would have been a nice, if bleak, open ending.  Instead, it serves as a way to start the Second Season with something of a clean slate. 

I'm a little surprised that the episode wrapped up as neatly as it did, to be honest.  And with nary a zombie in sight.

I was expecting some sort of crazy scientist twist, with Dr. Jenner (Noah Emmerich) deliberately infecting someone to continue his research into a cure, or something along those lines.  Instead we get something a little more believable, a little less melodramatic (in a pulpy way), and a little more disturbing.

Spoiler Shields On.


Saturday, December 04, 2010

MISFITS 2.04 Review

Misfits, Episode 4, took a dark turn this week, but it wasn't entirely unexpected.  I'm going to assume that folks have had enough time to get caught up with last week's revelation about the identity of Super Hoodie?  Well, this week we get a little more exploration of his character, the dynamic between he and Alisha, and the roles these characters are going to be assuming as the series goes on.

Okay, that last bit is more speculation than anything, but I think there are clues already around that this episode kind of brought more into focus.

All that and a new member of the crew.  Sort of.  Two new members, really.  But really, kind of just one.

More on that below the break.  Spoilers Ahoy!

Friday, December 03, 2010

Film Review: TRIANGLE (2009)

Triangle (2009)
Written & Directed by Christopher Smith

I can remember seeing commercials for this movie when it was in the theaters and thought it looked like a lame "Bermuda Triangle" horror film with a masked killer involved.  As such, I promptly ignored it.

That was a mistake, because this movie is pretty amazing.

It was also before I knew who Christopher Smith was.

Smith has written and directed three films so far (follow the links to see my reviews of the first two), Creep (2004), Severance (2006), and Triangle.  He has a new film in production out on DVD in the UK as I type this (thanks Kelvin!), called Black Death, starring Sean Bean and David Warner.  According to IMDB, it's "set during the time of the first outbreak of bubonic plague in England, [where] a young monk is tasked with learning the truth about reports of people being brought back to life in a small village."  It seems to have premiered at Screamfest in October, but I haven't heard anything else about it on this side of the Atlantic.

You can bet your ass I will see that one in the theaters, if it comes to my crappy little town.

Hats off to good friend Mr. Martini for recommending this one.  His recommendation coincided with our viewing of Severance, proving once again that great minds think alike.

Spoilers Ahead!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

NEW UK HORROR BONUS: CREEP (2004) Review

Creep (2004)
Written & Directed by Christopher Smith

The night is still young (sort of) and I don't feel like crawling off to bed yet, so before the NaBloPoMo sands finish running through that hourglass, I guess I can throw one more review up for the month.

This time it's a look back at the way the month started, with another New UK Horror Film.  We were so impressed with writer/director Christopher Smith's horror-in-the-woods-while-on-a-team-building-exercise film, Severance, that Dr. Girlfriend and I decided to check out his earlier film, Creep

It's nowhere near as polished as Severance, which is to be expected, but it's still a bit of fun.  If only a bit.

Spoilers Ahoy!

The Finish Line

So NaBloPoMo is finally over!

And yes, I am going to wuss out with a final post that really doesn't accomplish much.

Thanks to everybody who's been reading.

There will be more soon, particularly once Dr. Girlfriend and I decide on our next film festival subject matter.  We'd appreciate any suggestions that you folks might make.  Right now I'm leaning toward Assassins in Film, or perhaps Director-Specific runs of films (David Cronenberg and/or John Carpenter are at the top of my list), but I'd love to hear some ideas of what others might want to watch, read and talk about.

Now I'm going to go pretend I don't have a blog for a couple of days.

See ya!

Monday, November 29, 2010

THE WALKING DEAD Episode 1.05 Review

The Walking Dead
1.05 "Wildfire"
Directed by Ernest R. Dickerson
Written by Glen Mazzara

I'm writing this just minutes after watching the latest episode of The Walking Dead, so I'm not sure how coherent it's going to be.  Up to this point, it's been kind of easy to discuss the show, since I've been intimately familiar with the comic and love the entire genre of zombie narratives.  Sure, a lot of the field is awful.  But there are gems in there, to be sure.

The best works tend to deal with the people realistically.  Which means with all the tragedy, anxiety, hope, fear, humor, successes, and failures.  That's one of the things that The Walking Dead does best in its comic format, and it's one of the things that the TV series is shaping up to do best, too.

Most of this episode is straight out of the comic, but we're getting a huge plot shift here, and I'm not sure how to react to it just yet.

Get your Spoiler Shields up, and let's see if I can figure out what it is I want to say.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

A LATE ZOMBIE REVIEW: DEAD SET

For the past three years, Dr. Girlfriend and I have initiated a yearly Easter Zombie Film Marathon (you know, to celebrate the Resurrection), and after watching each film, I've written up a blog post about it.  For the most part.  2009 was a rough year, schedule-wise, and all we really got to watch was the UK Zombie TV series, Dead Set.  And I never wrote it up.

So a friend was over last night, and he'd never seen it, so we watched it one more time.  And since we're nearing the end of NaBloPoMo, and my brain is starting to shut down, I figured now was as good a time as any to write it up.  But before we get to that, here's a list of the other Easter Zombie Film Marathon Entries so far:

2008:

2010:

As you can see, 2009 was a bit of a letdown with just Dead Set and some various television show episodes involving zombies.

Anyway, Spoiler Shields On, and away we go!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

CRONENBERGIAN DUEL: SPLICE vs HUMAN CENTIPEDE

Over the past few weeks I've finally caught up with a couple of films that, from what I'd heard, each attempted to stake a claim to the cinematic void left in Cronenberg's wake as he's moved on to more mainstream fare.  Both films were released in 2009 and both do decent jobs at what they set out to accomplish.  Critical reaction has been split with mostly positive reviews of Vincenzo Natali's Splice, and mostly negative reviews of Tom Six's The Human Centipede (First Sequence).

Of course, as usual, I had pretty much the opposite reactions.

I know both of these films have already been out for more than a year, and everyone I know has already seen them, but still, for those who are as far behind as I was, Spoilers Ahead!

Friday, November 26, 2010

MISFITS 2.03 Review

Misfits is back for another week of wacky hi-jinks.  Before we jump into that, though, I just want to say how glad I am that their viewing numbers are up and staying pretty steady.  Season 2 has consistently scored a higher viewership than Season 1 did, and with a One-Hour Christmas Special on the schedule now, and word that Season 3 has already been green-lit, things are looking good for what is, without a doubt, my favorite television superhero program ever.

Yeah, I said it.  Ever.

Come on.  It's not like there's a huge field of contenders.

Of course, as I've mentioned before, having the short UK seasons helps to eliminate a lot of the meandering that tends to deflate enthusiasm and water down dramatic tension we see in most American productions.  We're seeing a bit of a shift toward the tighter, more streamlined seasons over here, but it's pretty much entirely on the cable networks like FX, AMC, SHOWTIME, and HBO, where they're committing to 12 or 13 episode seasons and don't have the content limitations that the Big Four have (i.e. swearing, sex, violence, and all that other good stuff).

I firmly believe that this shift is a big part of what makes the best shows on television these days practically all cable dramas.  With Sons of Anarchy, Justified, Terriers, Mad Men, Breaking Bad, Rubicon, The Walking Dead, Dexter, Boardwalk Empire, all working on the shorter season model, all have consistently shattered boundaries and provided solid, ground-breaking quality programming (even when there's nobody watching - sorry Terriers and Rubicon).  And do I even have to mention shows like The Wire, Deadwood, and The Sopranos

This seems to be a no-brainer.

Cut the episode numbers, focus on tightly plotted, well-written stories, and don't worry about offending people with your content and language.  Is it any wonder that mainstream networks continue to pander to old people and children (or the psychological equivalents) with authority figure melodramas (cops, doctors, lawyers) and unscripted "reality" shows?  There's very little imagination or creativity in the vast majority of American network television, and the viewing numbers are showing just how creatively (and perhaps morally, but that's another discussion) bankrupt they really are.

But enough of my soapbox ranting/wanking.  What about this week's Misfits, you ask?

Well, it's not the strongest episode in terms of done-in-one plot, but there are huge revelations about what's going on and where it's all heading.  And we find out who Super-Hoodie is.

As always, Spoilers Ahoy!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thanksgiving Post

I just wanted to take a few moments out of our Thanksgiving festivities (food, football, more food, more football, etc.) to type up a quick Thank You to all the friends and family who help to keep my life from spiraling off into chaos and depression.  You're all greatly loved and appreciated.

That's particularly true of Dr. Girlfriend, the love of my life.  There ain't nobody better.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Catching Up With DEXTER: Episodes: 5.07, 5.08, 5.09


I'm a big fan of Dexter. Been watching since the beginning or thereabouts. At the IDM household, we'd heard a lot about the first season, but didn't have Showtime, so it was sometime during the second season or so that we started catching up.

It's a show I wasn't sure about at first. I loved the concept, but the execution sometimes left something to be desired. This was especially evident when compared to the show Michael C. Hall's previously headlined, Six Feet Under. And let's face it. The main reason I gave the series a shot was because of him.

It took about halfway through that first season to start seeing Dexter Morgan instead of David Fisher.

But the story won me over, and by the time the first season ended, I was on board. It wasn't great, and at times it was pretty freaking bad, but it had something special. The novelty of the idea gave way to a more nuanced and interesting narrative.

It was only recently that I read the first couple of Dexter books and realized that while they're not too bad, the show really took the initial concept and ran with it in creative ways that the books didn't seem capable of. I don't know if that's just the difference between the singular work of a novelist compared to the collaborative work of a television series cast and crew, or what, but Dexter, the show, outgrew its literary source exponentially.

And now we're almost through Season 5, and the show just keeps getting better and better. I didn't think they'd be able to top Season 3 with Jimmy Smits, and then along came Season 4 with John Lithgow, which is still, no matter how good the current season is, the pinnacle of the show so far.

But on to these past few episodes.

Oh yeah. Spoiler alert!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

What I'm Listening To...

I'm taking the day off from serious blogging, so in order to keep up with NaBloPoMo, here's a list of the music I'm listening to these days.  That still counts, right?

And for easier loading, I'll even keep them below the cut!

Enjoy!

Monday, November 22, 2010

THE WALKING DEAD Episode 1.04 Review

This episode is entitled "Vatos" and was written by Robert Kirkman, the co-creator and writer of The Walking Dead comic upon which the series is based.

Earlier this week, I spent the day re-reading the early issues of the comic, and was surprised to find just how close the pacing was between the source material and the television series.  There are changes, sure.  Some are pretty substantial changes, but key plot points are being hit in the show at just about the same pace as they were in the comic, with each issue corresponding pretty closely to the episode breakdown.

All of which is to say that I knew what was coming with tonight's episode of The Walking Dead.  For the most part.  But I have to admit, even though I knew what was coming (and hell, the previews were enough to let anyone paying attention know), it didn't lessen the impact.

Spoiler Screens Up!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

ENTER THE VOID (2009) Review

Enter The Void (2009)
Directed by Gaspar Noé
Written by Gaspar Noé and Lucile Hadzihalilovic

If I were to review this in one sentence, that sentence would be: "Well, I've never seen that in a film before."

Note the fact that there's no positive or negative connotation in the sentence that you could arguably walk away with.  That's probably the most telling thing about my reaction.

But first, some back story.  Apparently, Gaspar Noé has been wanting to make this film since his adolescence, and actively trying to get funding for it since the early 2000s.  However, it was deemed too expensive and at least one false start ended with producers dropping out, even though they liked the script.  It was the financial success of Noé's 2002 film, Irréversible, that changed things.

Enter the Void is a French film cast with English-speaking actors, mainly because Noé didn't want viewers distracted from the visual elements of the film with subtitles.  He has also approved the use of dubbing for releases in non-English speaking countries.

And now, Spoilers.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

SUPERNATURAL 6.09 Review

This week Supernatural takes a brief pause from the ongoing story of the coming Monster War and gives us one of the most enjoyable episodes of the season.  Which shouldn't come as much of a surprise, given that it was written by Ben Edlund, creator of The Tick, and writer/producer of Angel,and Firefly.  He's been a writer and producer of Supernatural since the first season and is responsible for some of the most entertaining episodes (including this season's "The Third Man", which focused on Castiel's return to the show).

The episode is entitled, "Clap Your Hands If You Believe", and yes, that is a reference to Tinkerbell.

Spoiler Shields Up!

Friday, November 19, 2010

FRINGE 3.07 "The Abducted" Review

Fringe closes out November (there's no episode next week, due to the Thanksgiving holiday) by shifting the Two Worlds story line into high gear, but I'm afraid it's at the cost of logic, scripting, and acting.  I'd say this is easily the worst episode of the season, but I think those shortcomings come at the insistence of moving the plot forward.

As friends will note, I've been a defender of this series, even when the writing and acting hasn't been entirely up to snuff.  Mainly this is because of the strength of the ideas behind the show.

"The Abducted", however, was lacking in nearly every department.

Spoilers ahoy!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

MISFITS Season 2.02 Review

It's that time again!  Misfits time, that is.

So we're into the second episode, and as with the first season, the first Misfit that we spend some serious time with is Nathan (Robert Sheehan) and, as with the first season, we get to see him actually showing some emotion instead of just being a wanker.  After a particularly disturbing opening sequence of Nathan stripping down from his orange jumpsuit to just his bikini briefs and slathering himself with suntan lotion, we get to the real meat of the episode (no pun intended); the arrival of the brother Nathan didn't know he had.

Jamie (Sam Keeley) came to town to meet his father for the first time, and now is wanting to meet his older brother.  Of course, hitting his dad in the head with a toaster, duct taping him up, and tossing him in the boot of the car, probably wasn't the best way of introducing himself.  But let's face it.  Their dad is a twat.

Okay, Spoilers ahead!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

THE WALKING DEAD: COMPARE & CONTRAST

I spent my day today (in between answering phone calls at my crappy job) re-reading the first 24 issues of The Walking Dead.  This is the first time I've gone back to these comics since reading them for the first time.  The first issue was released all the way back in October of 2003, so we're talking about quite a bit of time between then and now.

Well, the biggest surprise is that I remembered those comics in absurd detail.  I hadn't forgotten a single page in the past 7 years.  Part of the reason for that is that writer Robert Kirkman did a fantastic job of crafting scene after scene of horror and dread and psychological portraiture.  That's really the main strength of the comics over the first three episodes of the TV show.

The characters in the comic are constructed to carefully avoid cliches.  However, because of the emphasis on character, a weakness does become apparent after a while.  And it's not even much of a weakness, but is a repercussion of working in the comics medium.  The characters are too damn talky at times for my tastes.  It didn't bother me the first time through, before I was familiar with the characters and their personalities, but this time around, it was a little tedious.

This is probably one of the main reasons the television show incorporated more broad-stroke characterization over the first two episodes, at least with the newer characters.  But in a world where you can't swing your dick without hitting a zombie narrative, this isn't really a problem in the grand scheme of things.  That both versions are at least trying to focus on character before gore is where the real strength of the story lies.  Particularly given the fact that the gore isn't avoided at all.  This is why, I think, The Walking Dead connected with so many readers and is now connecting with so many viewers.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

WHAT LOOKS GOOD #335: FAST, FURIOUS, AND LOOKING GOOD

Well, we've reached the halfway point for National Blog Posting Month (I don't feel right calling it NaBloPoMo, as that sounds kind of dirty), and I'm going to take this opportunity to relax a little bit and post something a little shorter than normal.

Over on the Most Diverse Comics Webzine on the Internet, Comicsbulletin.com, I am one of three writers who regularly contribute to a weekly column called, What Looks Good.  (Short Plug: I also contribute to Flashbacks of Ol' Marvel, or F.O.O.M., which looks back at classic moments from Marvel Comics (I've been focusing on critiquing the Marvel Live Action Films from the very beginning and am just about to hit the 1990 Captain America movie) and am the sole writer of Mondo Marvel, where I am reading all of Marvel's 1960s comic output in chronological order and writing about it.)  The three of us take trade off weeks and, Matt Spatola, Chris Murman, and myself, all have very different approaches to our weeks at bat.

Monday, November 15, 2010

THE WALKING DEAD Episode 1.03 Review

The Walking Dead
1.03 "Tell It To The Frogs"
Director: Gwyneth Horder-Payton
Writers: Frank Darabont, Charles H. Eglee, & Jack LoGiudice

If it's going to take a committee of writers to keep the quality up, then by all means, bring on the committees.

After the ham-handed dialogue and broad-stroke characterization of "Guts" I was seriously worried about the quality control on this series.  I know they went into it with only a six-episode commitment, which couldn't have been good for their confidence.  I know that they probably wanted to get the show off and running and felt they could afford to take some short-cuts here and there in order to get into the meat of the show.

But I'll be damned if last week wasn't painful to watch at times.  It got better once they moved beyond the character "work" on the roof and concentrated on the logistics of getting out of Atlanta alive, but there were definite cracks in the foundation of The Walking Dead.

Cracks that never showed up in other AMC series.

Well, this week, those cracks are patched up, sealed over, repainted, and/or whatever other construction metaphor you want to throw at it.

And yes, here come the Spoilers!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

TERRIERS NEEDS YOU

I watch a lot of TV, as anyone who knows me can attest to (or anyone who's been keeping up with this blog will know).  When I like a show, I tend to support it through thick and thin.  When there are weak episodes, I don't pile on, or start looking elsewhere for a new fix, because I understand that the process of making a television series involves so many variables that it's amazing anything good ever makes it to the screen.

My favorite shows right now, all have weaknesses.  Stargate Universe takes itself too seriously and has some poor acting at times.  Sons of Anarchy is ridiculously melodramatic, which sometimes undercuts the reality of the narrative.  Fringe has a healthy amount of goofiness and weak writing, but the strength of its core concepts and John Noble's performance redeems all of that for me.  The Mentalist is mostly trite and cliche, but again, the charisma of the main characters keep me coming back.  Dexter is hampered at times by trying to push the whole family aspect and there is some horrible writing now and then.  Even Boardwalk Empire, while high-quality all around, just doesn't hold my interest for long stretches at a time.

Terriers, which airs on FX every Wednesday at 10:00 (EST) has no weakness to speak of, and is the most consistently excellent program on television.

Oh yeah.  I said it.

But none of you bastards are watching it, so its chances of being renewed for a second season are plummeting.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

GENRE TV ROUNDUP: SGU, FRINGE, SUPERNATURAL

I just caught up with a few shows from this week, Stargate Universe, Fringe, and Supernatural, that I thought I'd chat a bit about today.  Every one of them moved their respective series' Seasonal Story Arcs forward with big revelations and while they were all kind of low-key otherwise, each episode was pretty characteristic of the ongoing series.

I'm not going to dance around some of the details of the episodes, since they're from all through the week, but I'll go ahead and say, SPOILER WARNING.  At the same time, if you haven't seen the episodes, or the shows, some of this might not make much sense to you.  But that's okay with me.

Here we go!

Friday, November 12, 2010

MONDO MARVEL #28 - AUGUST 1964

Once more Mondo Marvel makes it's Marvel-ous way onto the Interwebs.  Check it out and let me know if it's worth paying attention to, or am I just pounding my head against a huge 1960s rock!

MISFITS Season 2.01 Review

I wanted to like Heroes.  Really, I did.

But it was all smoke and mirrors.  It was all cliches, already told stories, and extraordinarily boring characters.

And I don't even want to think about No Ordinary Family.

No.  Everything I want from a superhero story was captured in the UK series Misfits.

You haven't heard of Misfits?  Well, if you're on this side of the Atlantic, I can't fault you.  It's a British show, airing on E4 about a group of juvenile delinquents who are out doing their community service when a mysterious storm hits.  It turns out, everyone caught out in the storm gained strange powers.  Not just our protagonists, but everyone who was caught in the storm.

Our "heroes" include Simon (who turns invisible), Kelly (who can read minds), Alisha (who can make people desire her by touching them), Curtis (who can turn back time), and Nathan (who, after an entire season of trying to discover what his power was, discovered he could not be killed after waking up in his coffin, six feet under).  Most of them are virtually unlikable, although they all have their own distinctive charismatic charms.  But best of all, they don't immediately decided to be "superheroes" or "super-villains" or super-anythings really.  They just want to get their lives together and not have to keep killing their probation workers.

Spoilers Ahead!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

TOWER PREP Review

Tower Prep is a new live-action show on The Cartoon Network, created by Paul Dini.  For those who care, Dini is responsible writing just about every cool, well-received animated series since 1979.  Sure, there were duds like The Gary Coleman Show, or the occasional Pound Puppies episode, but he also had his hands in (pauses for a deep breath):
  • Tarzan, Lord of the Jungle
  • The New Adventures of Mighty Mouse and Heckle and Jeckle
  • Flash Gordon
  • Dungeons & Dragons
  • He-Man and the Masters of the Universe
  • Tiny Toon Adventures
  • Animaniacs
  • Freakazoid!
  • Batman
  • Superman
  • The New Batman Adventures
  • Batman Beyond
  • Clerks
  • Justice League
  • Star Wars: The Clone Wars
  • Batman: The Brave and the Bold
And now, he's venturing into Live-Action with a show that is a cross between Harry Potter, The X-Men, and The Prisoner.

Yes, that Prisoner.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

BNS PRESENTS THE BILLY NAYER SHOW

BNS Presents The Billy Nayer Show
By The Billy Nayer Show

I was surprised a few weeks ago by an email from artist extraordinaire Cory McAbee saying that there was a new Billy Nayer Show CD finished and available for download.  It has been too long since there was new material from the band, so, needless to say, I jumped over to the site and immediately downloaded BNS Presents The Billy Nayer Show.

It was not a bad decision.

In fact, it was a damn fine decision, and one I heartily encourage others to make.

It's kind of strange listening to McAbee and Co. performing music that isn't related to one of their film ventures.  Granted, there have only been two feature releases (and one bizarre musical performance/art piece) before this, but those are the past works that really made me love this band.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

THE BURROWERS (2008)

The Burrowers (2008)
Directed by J.T. Petty

At the urgings of my good friend Mr. Martini (and no, that is not a drinking joke), I finally settled in and queued up writer/director J.T. Petty's western horror film, The Burrowers.

Not to be confused with The Borrowers, about the adorable tiny people who live in your walls.

Mr. Martini had been singing the praises of this film for quite some time, but I always found one reason or another to put off watching it.  I'm not sure why.  His track record is pretty good when it comes to horror films, so I really should have watched this a long time ago.

Because it was just that good.

So good, in fact, that I think all of you should watch it now, too.  Especially if you're a fan of westerns, a fan of monsters, and/or a fan of Clancy Brown.

Yes, the man who played The Kurgan, Sgt. Zim, Lex Luthor, and Mr. Krabs is in this. That should justify the viewing in its own right.  But wait!  There's more!  Starring alongside Brown, is William Mapother, who is probably most recognized these days for playing Ethan on Lost.  He's joined by another Lost vet, Doug Hutchison (who also played Loony Bin Jim in Punisher: War Zone).

Monday, November 08, 2010

THE WALKING DEAD Episode 1.02 Review

I've been reading The Walking Dead since the day it premiered, back in 2003.  I haven't missed an issue.  There have been highs and lows in the comic, but overall, it is one of the most consistent series on the market, releasing its 79th issue this month.

But that's not why I'm watching The Walking Dead on AMC.

I'm of the school of thought that you can't let the source material influence one's critical reception of an adaptation.  You can't let the source material fill in the blanks that might be left in the adaptation.  The adaptation has to stand on its own.  So, I don't care about the comic when I'm watching the show.  The show is it's own entity.

I'm watching The Walking Dead on AMC because Frank Darabont can do no wrong.  Well, almost no wrong, but more about that later.  This is the man who gave us The Shawshank Redemption and The Green Mile, after all.  But to be honest, I don't give a shit about that, either.  Never watched either film.  I understand that they are apparently great films, but I have no interest in them at all.

What won me over to the Darabont camp was The Mist.  Or, more specifically, the black and white version of The Mist.  If there is any kind of tentacled thingy up in the sky watching down on us and granting wishes, I'm going to go out on a limb and offer up something for a black and white release of The Walking Dead on Blu-ray/DVD.

It has to be.

But that's the future.  What about the now?  What about Episode 2, "Guts"?

Okay, let's talk about that, warts and all.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

PSYCHOVILLE HALLOWEEN SPECIAL REVIEW

Yes, it's true.  Not only did we turn our clocks back an hour last night, we also seem to have slipped back a week in our Halloween Viewing!

In actual fact, we just kept forgetting that we had the Psychoville Halloween Special to watch, and finally remembered yesterday.  I've really got to start writing this stuff down.

For those unfamiliar, Psychoville is the brainchild of Reece Shearsmith and Steve Pemberton, formerly of The League of Gentlemen.  Series One ran last year on the BBC and was a brilliant mixture of horror and comedy as five character, most of them played by Shearsmith and Pemberton themselves, received haunting messages threatening to expose their secrets.  And those secrets involved madness, murder, and a mysterious locket.

It was one of the best shows I watched in 2009, particularly Episode Four, which was an inspired retelling of Hitchcock's Rope, as mother/son murder-team David and Maureen do their best to hide their victim from a surprise guest, and it's all done entirely in one shot.  That episode was perhaps the best single viewing experience of the year.

Series Two is on the way and scheduled for airing sometime next year.  But to hold us over until then, the BBC commissioned a Halloween Special and if the ratings were any indication, I'm not the only person anxiously awaiting the return of this series.

Saturday, November 06, 2010

SUPER GENIUS AT WORK

Thursday nights at the Infernal Desire Machine Household are packed with TV.  Our poor DVR can barely handle the load, to be quite honest.  I'm not sure why Thursdays are the days most of the good shows are on, but it's kind of annoying.

Yes, Sundays are bad, too.  But it's Thursday that causes the most blockage in our viewing schedule.

I mean, we've got The Office, Parks and Recreation (when it returns), It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, The League, Fringe, and my guilty pleasure, The Mentalist The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack was on Thursdays, but I'm afraid it was too weird for kids to latch on to, and is now gone.  I hope I'm wrong about that, though.

Thursdays are also home to Nikita, a show I sampled and found to be okay, but so lacking in personality and innovation that it was just boring.  And I haven't been even remotely tempted to try The Vampire Diaries.

Please don't mention Big Bang Theory, 30 Rock, or Community to me at this point.  I've tried them and they never even made me chuckle.  I just don't think they're funny.  And if you mention Survivor, then you're dead to me.

But, as you can see, there's a plethora of stuff just begging for attention on Thursdays.

Anyway, after catching up with this week's Thursday night crop, I wanted to mention one of my absolute all-time favorite television characters: Dr. Walter Bishop from Fringe.

Friday, November 05, 2010

SUPERNATURAL IN HD!!

I was late to the Supernatural party.  I admit it.

I thought the show looked stupid and I really wasn't interested in another Monster-of-the-Week show when it debuted.  And much like Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel before it, I skipped it and was forced to go back and catch up once my dumb-ass realized I was missing out on something good.

Hmmm.  I'm noticing a pattern developing in my TV Viewing History.  Nearly all of my favorite all-time shows are shows that I sampled in their first season, or just dismissed without trying.  Then, when some trick of fate forced me to sit and pay attention, I was hooked.

That might be why I'm more lenient towards shows over the past few years during their debut seasons.  Not that I'm averse to quitting a show if it gets annoying (See: Bionic Woman, Dollhouse, and The Event), but if the core concept is innovative or imaginative, I'm more likely to stick out that first season and see what shakes out (See: Surface, Threshold, and Caprica).  Unfortunately, the shows tend to get canceled after one season anyway.

Anyway, back to Supernatural.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

TV SCI-FI RUMINATIONS

After watching this week's STARGATE UNIVERSE, I felt compelled to sit down and write up some thoughts on the current crop of Sci-Fi Television.  I've already touched on some of these shows over in my contributions to Comicsbulletin.com's What Looks Good column, but I only write for that every third week.  Here's what I'm thinking at the moment.

(By the way, I'm experimenting with the format of the blog this time out, and hiding the long text beyond the jump, below - Click on the Read More to, um, you know, read more)


Wednesday, November 03, 2010

NEW UK HORROR Day Seven (Finale): THE REEDS (2009)

The Reeds (2009)
Directed by Nick Cohen

Our Halloween Horror Festival winds to a close a few days late (thanks to poor planning, a lazy mail carrier, and life in general), with The Reeds, a tale of six friends (3 couples) who have rented a boat for a weekend, um, somewhere.

It's never really all that clear just where they plan on going, other than to a pub and maybe a hotel where they have rooms booked?  That vagueness is, I think, intentional and comes into play as we reach the gory end of our story.

Sort of.

As with most of the other films reviewed over the past week or so, this is very nicely shot.  In fact, except for Wild Country, every one of the films we've watched for this festival has looked great.  Even when the story left something to be desired.

Unfortunately, this is one of the films with a less than spectacular story.

For the most part, it's pretty boring and kind of what one might expect from a low-budget slasher film.  But, with that said, there was enough visual and narrative flair to keep us interested.  At first we thought we were getting a Ghost Story.  Then it seemed like it might be a Monster In The Shadows story.  Then there's a hint of Scary Teen Killers thrown in, along with a healthy dose of Crazy Old Murderer added, to boot.

My biggest complaint about the film is this, actually.  It never seems to settle on just what kind of story it wants to tell.  By the time we realize that it really is a Ghost Story, we're at the climax, and that's when Cohen and writers Chris Baker and Mark Anthony Galluzzo decide to go for broke and really start throwing ideas at us.  There's a surprise revelation that's completely out of left field, a weird torture scenario that implies some sort of supernatural curse, there are weird things going on with time and space, and before you know it, we're back at the beginning of the film.

Sort of.

The best thing about the film is the look.  The Norfolk Broads is a very moody, atmospheric setting and as the boat struggles to make its way along the winding river it becomes more and more claustrophobic.  The actors all give functional performances, even if they don't have much to work with by way of character.  They all have distinctive looks, even the creepy teens, and don't really fit the generic molds one might expect to find in the casting.

In the end, though, the film was disappointing.  There were a few good scares and gorgeous riverscapes, and one very nice surprise burst of gore, but the story wasn't great and it just seemed to be trying too hard when it was all said and done.

I'd still recommend taking a look, but I wouldn't go building an evening around it.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

THE WALKING DEAD Episode 1.01 Review

THE WALKING DEAD (AMC) 1.01 "Days Gone By" Sunday 10:00
A group of survivors led by police officer Rick Grimes travel in search of a safe and secure home after a zombie apocalypse.


(With the news over the past day or two that AMC's The Walking Dead was the highest rated show EVER on AMC, and that it beat out just about everything else on TV Halloween night, I figured I'd go ahead and share my take on the pilot episode, as originally presented over on Comicsbulletin.com last week)

If you've ever read anything on this blog (especially around Easter), you know that I consider myself a connoisseur of zombie cinema. My tastes are distinctively my own, I admit, and what I look for in a zombie film may not be what you look for. For instance, gore is appreciated, but not a game-changer for me. A film with fantastic gore but little story, isn't going to make it high up my list.

I look for three things in a good zombie film. A unique approach to the medium and the concept of zombies. This is why Pontypool is one of my favorites. The idea of a zombie virus spread via language is something I'd never seen nor heard of before. It's also what makes Night of the Living Dead an uncontested classic. It changed the game. Hell, it invented the game.

Secondly, I appreciate a sense of humor, but not humor that overpowers the emotional impact of the horrific events going on. This is why Shaun of the Dead beats out every other film on my list as the favorite. And it's why Dead Alive lands in my top three. In both cases, the humor serves to illuminate character and emphasize the absurdity of each film's respective narratives. The humor humanizes the characters. But both films also bring the horror, and that's essential.

Lastly, we need characters and stakes that are presented realistically enough for them to matter. We need to care about these people and we need to believe that the threat is real. This is why the remake of Dawn of the Dead charts so highly for me; That sense of impending doom. When I left the theater after seeing that film for the first time, I could have easily walked right back inside and watched it again. It was invigorating. And oddly enough, it was the same with Shaun of the Dead. I cared about those characters.

They were, quite simply, the most believable characters I've ever seen in a zombie film, reacting in ways that were equally believable. Dead Set had something of that, too, with characters reacting in ways that I could see real people reacting. Any acts of heroism were as equally motivated by self-preservation as they were by any sense of morality. It made the characters hard to like, but fascinating to watch.

Plus, as I mentioned above, Dead Set gave us time to really get to know the people and explore their situation.

All of which brings me to The Walking Dead.

Monday, November 01, 2010

NEW UK HORROR Day Six: MONSTERS (2010)

With NEW UK HORROR-FEST on hold, Dr. Girlfriend and I settled in last night for a sneak peek at MONSTERS.  (Thanks, Kelvin!)

Monsters (2010)
Directed by Gareth Edwards

15,000 Dollars.  That's how much this movie cost to make.

That alone makes this a film worth watching.  If only to drive home just how much more can be done with low-budget films that we normally see.

But even with the low-budget, what we get here is a nicely-paced love story set against a backdrop of alien invasion.

For those not familiar, Monsters is the story of two people, trying to make their way back from Central America to the US, through what is now a quarantine zone making up most up Northern Mexico.  It seems that six years ago, a space probe crash landed, seeding alien life throughout the region.  Now, giant quid-like monsters roam the countryside, occasionally running rampant in Mexican cities.  Luckily, the US built a giant wall to keep them out.

Or will it?

But all of that is really background.  Setting.

The real story is about two people who slowly fall in love as they make their way through the quarantined area, in an attempt to get back to the US.

It's not a great story.  It's not much of a story at all, really.  And there's some sort of political subtext about US/Central American relations where the giant wall serves as a metaphor for an ultimately pointless attempt to keep "aliens" from entering the States.

But what it does have is heart.  The characters are natural, with a great deal of improved dialogue.  The threats are interesting.  And the monsters are gorgeous.

Yes, it's a little slow, but this is an attempt at a beautiful, thoughtful film with a very nice sci-fi setting, and in my opinion succeeds far more than last year's District 9 - which is the film I've most heard compared to this one.

District 9 was more entertaining, don't get me wrong.  But District 9 was a pretty stupid film at its core.  Monsters has a bit more intelligence to it (despite some cringe-worthy moments) and doesn't fall back on gore and slapstick to keep the audience entertained.  Here, the entertainment comes from the actual film-making, cinematography, and effects.

This is well worth a look.  More satisfying than District 9, but not as entertaining.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

NEW UK HORROR Day Five: THE DISAPPEARED (2008)

The Disappeared (2008)
Directed by Johnny Kevorkian

This is the first feature length film by Johnny Kevorkian.  If that is his real name.

I wanted to like this film.  I really did.

There's something good here, but unfortunately it gets lost under a forced supernatural narrative.  I understand that they wanted to make a ghost story, but someone somewhere along the way needed to tell them that it really wasn't necessary.  The story about a young man going crazy with guilt over his missing little brother is much more effective and scary than a story about ghosts and a cliched serial killer.

There really wasn't a single "ghostly" moment in this film that was necessary.  If the visions and whatnot had been in the kid's head, then it would have been disturbing.  And much more powerful.  There was no need to reveal the killer (especially with a brief shot of glowing red eyes), much less have him mysteriously escape in the end.

Oh yeah.  Spoiler alert.

I really don't understand the urge to put these supernatural elements into the films when the basic ideas are plenty disturbing.

Harry Treadaway's performance as Matthew was admirable.  He did a lot with a weak script and elevated the material into something that could have been much more effective if the writers and director had been willing to take a chance.  Indeed, if they had ditched the whole supernatural element and left the ending as an unsolved mystery disappearance, this could have been something altogether different.  The sort of film that people pay attention to.  The sort of film that makes careers.

Instead, it turns into a hodge-podge of ghost story cliches that the Japanese grew tired of 10 years ago.

Although, to be honest, the Japanese films worked better because there was never any question about whether or not the ghosts were real.  In J-Horror, the ghosts are most definitely real, therefore the threat isn't entirely psychological.  When you're watching, you know what's going on, even if the characters don't.  That's what makes the horror work.

If you're going to pretend that the ghosts might not be real, but then have them save the day by revealing important information that can't be discerned by other means, then the ghosts become a plot device rather than a conflict.  The ghosts become a shortcut way to solve the mystery, rather than anything scary, and any psychological depth becomes two-dimensional, shifting the storytelling focus from character to plot.

Character is always superior to plot.

Madness trumps ghosts any day.

Unless, of course, you stop dicking around and focus on making the ghosts an obvious part of the narrative with as much reality as the living characters.

At least, that's my opinion on the matter.

And this forcing of the supernatural into situations that are scary and disturbing enough without them, just cheapens the drama, the performances, and the overall effect of the stories.  Deathwatch did it first this week, and now The Disappeared follows suit.

Serious horror is difficult to pull off.  You can't afford to cheapen the experiences and emotions of the characters with cliches and easy-outs.  That's why horror, infused with comedy to humanize the characters, is so much more satisfying.  Trying to be serious, but then copping out with absurdities, just makes your work pretentious and laughable.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

NEW UK HORROR Day Four: THE COTTAGE (2008)

The Cottage (2008)
Directed by Paul Andrew Williams

I didn't really look into what this film was about before adding it to the list.  It was just one of a batch of UK Horror films from the past few years that was getting some buzz.  Then, upon receiving it from Netflix, I realized that it had Andy Serkis in it.

I've not been a huge fan of the man.  I mean Gollum was a nice performance, but I didn't really know anything about him, and honestly couldn't remember seeing him in anything else.  But then, earlier this week, he was one of my favorite parts about the film Deathwatch.  His crazed character was maybe the most distinctive character in the film.  He was certainly the most memorable.

The name Reece Shearsmith was familiar, but I couldn't place it.  Then, as the movie was about the start, Dr. Girlfriend placed him.  He's one of the talents behind The League of Gentlemen and Psychoville!

Boy did I feel dumb.

Serkis and Shearsmith play feuding brothers who've gotten together to do a shady deal, make a load of cash, and never have to see each other again.  Serkis does a pretty good job of playing a thug, and Shearsmith is perfect as a nebbish, whipped husband.  Together, they kidnap the daughter of a local club-owner (who's clearly more dangerous than anyone they have any right messing with), and hold her for ransom in a small house in the country.

But, as one might expect, there's danger in the country.  This time it's not werewolves or terrorists (as in the last two films), but a mangled, insane farmer.  And after about an hour of very entertaining bickering and absolutely clueless attempts at criminal activity, the horror-show begins.

The gore is extreme and surprising after the long build-up, and when death is being dealt, writer/director Williams doesn't hold anything back.

Now, I'll admit.  I'm biased toward this film based on the casting.  For some viewers, the first part of the film may drag a bit, but I found it a joy to watch.  Serkis and Shearsmith work with each other beautifully.  Whether it's the little things like Shearsmith lighting cigarettes for the both of them, or Serkis trying desperately not to beat his brother to death over every little annoying thing that he does.  Their relationship is funny, tragic, and the heart of the film.

Like I've said repeatedly this week, little bits of humor and humanizing elevate what could be a standard film to something special.  And that's the case here.

I really enjoyed this film.  I didn't think it was as visually and narratively creative as Severance, but it was just as enjoyable.  Both as an entertaining comedy and as a gruesome horror film.

This is turning out to be a pretty successful film festival, if I do say so myself.

Postscript:

Yeah, tonight was supposed to be a rewatch/reevaluation of Neil Marshall's The Descent, but we just couldn't bring ourselves to watch it again.  We didn't care for it the first time through, and figured our time was better spent watching something new.

Oh well.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

NEW UK HORROR Day Three: SEVERANCE (2006)

Severance (2006)
Directed by Christopher Smith

This film is awesome!

Easily the best film so far, and quite possibly the best horror film I've seen in a good long while.

The story is simple enough: A sales group for an international weapons company are off for a Team-Building Retreat, when they are sidetracked, hunted, and murdered by... well, I'll let you watch the film to see what's what.

Christopher Smith is without question the most inventive and entertaining young director of any of the films we've watched so far.  Not only is the writing clever and frightening at the same time, the direction is inventive and energetic, bringing a flair to the storytelling that neither of the previous films came close to even attempting.

I truly believe that the best, the most enjoyable, horror films are the ones that use humor to soften us up and make us like the characters before the really violent and horrible stuff starts happening, and this film is a textbook example of this technique.

The cast is diverse and funny.  The writing is intelligent and clever.  The violence is bloody and disturbing.

What more could one want?

I can safely say, without hesitation, that I will watch anything Christopher Smith directs from this point on.  As soon as we were finished watching this film, I immediately put his earlier film, Creep, and his later film, Triangle, into my Netflix queue.  I can't wait to see them!

And as soon as Black Death is available, I'm all over it, too.

NEW UK HORROR Day Two: WILD COUNTRY (2005)

Wild Country (2005)
Directed by Craig Strachan

This is a film with a lot of promise.

It tells the story of a 16-year old girl, who's just given up her baby for adoption.  Shortly after this occurs, she goes on a Church Youth Group overnight hike, and that's where things go off the rails.

Not with the filmmaking, but with the story itself.

This group of kids (two girls and three boys - one of whom is the father of Kelly Ann's baby and isn't supposed to be there), are accosted by a perverted shepherd and then hunted down in the darkness by a massive wolf-like beast.

A good portion of the first half of the film is set during the first night and a combination of poor lighting and overly restrained filmmaking instincts make it virtually unwatchable.  Not for the quality of the performances of the story itself, but it's literally too dark to make anything out.  There are a couple of murders, but we can just barely see what happens.  There's a huge monster, but we really don't see much of it at all.

There's a lot of pointing and shouting as if we should be able to see what's happening, but we can't.

By the time we get down to three survivors (mum, dad, and extraneous boy), I had lost interest.

Along the way, Kelly Ann finds a baby, takes it, and essentially sets off the killing that follows.  Because, of course, it's a baby Werewolf.  The monsters are mainly just trying to get their baby back, but this concept is never really brought to the forefront of the storytelling.

In fact, it's only driven home when we get to the end, with a finale that was just ridiculous and silly.

It seems that while breast-feeding the found child, Kelly Ann is bitten, and thus when we reach the climax of the film, she turns into a werewolf, with a werewolf pup hanging from her teet, and then strolls off into the wilderness with her werewolf mate, taking the place of the she-wolf she'd murdered earlier in the film.

It's all rather silly, and isn't helped by the design of the monsters.

If the first half of the film was hampered by a lack of lighting and avoidance of showing the monster, the back half gives us way too much monster to be enjoyed.  The design is big and bulky, more bear than wolf, with a huge, thick head with a nose that kept reminding me of something phallic and disturbing.

That might just be me, though, I admit.

In the end, this was a pretty average concept without much visual flair or inventiveness.  There are good bones here, and the story had potential, but ultimately it just couldn't find a way to tell the story that was the least bit interesting.  There's not even any good gore, which, while it's not a necessity, could have helped distract from the passionless presentation.

NEW UK HORROR Day One: DEATHWATCH (2002)

Deathwatch (2002)
Directed by Michael J. Bassett

There just aren't enough films set during World War One.

Especially when it comes to horror films.  Because, if you ask me, there's not much more horrifying than the reality of life in the trenches during WWI.  What with the mud, the stagnant water, the rats, the corpses, the shelling, the gas, the barbed wire, the madness, and the mindless killing, it's the perfect setting for a horror story.

Of course, in that setting you don't really need anything supernatural.  You just need the setting.

And with that said, we have Deathwatch: a film that could be so much better than it is, but is still pretty good.

Warning: There are spoilers on the way!

Deathwatch is the story of a group of British soldiers in WWI who survive a devastating attack, only to stumble out of the fog to discover a German trench, which they then take and feel obligated to fortify and defend.

But they're not alone in the trench.  They have a German prisoner who pleads with them to leave, telling them that there is Evil there and they're all going to die.

As one might expect, the soldiers slowly begin turning on one another, and one by one kill each other, until finally one one man survives.  And by man, I mean the 15 year-old who lied about his age so he could go off to war.

There's a lot to like in this film.  Gollum himself, Andy Serkis plays a thoroughly demented chap with a penchant for violence and murder, and Billy Elliot star, Jamie Bell plays our hero. The filth of life in the trenches is scary enough without the supernatural elements and, ultimately, that becomes the film's main shortcoming.

I just didn't think we needed the supernatural element at all for this to be an effective horror film.  Watching these soldiers turn on one another in what is clearly an extremely disturbed situation would have been enough. Instead, we get a story where our characters all turn out to be dead, and the German soldier is testing them to see who is damned and who gets to move on.

All in all, it's a very disappointing ending to an extremely promising idea.  But depending on one's mindset going in, it's still a nicely done piece of work.  The horrors of WWI are honest and disturbing, and there's not really a poor performance in the lot.  I enjoyed the film quite a bit, but just wished the ending had been more realistic instead of the fantastic ghost story twist it seemed to feel obligated to provide.

Halloween Film Festival: NEW UK HORROR!

Back in June I read this in The Guardian.  It's a very interesting article about a new wave of British Horror Film and the directors involved.  And with that, a future film festival concept was born.

And with Halloween coming up, Dr. Girlfriend and I decided to launch ourselves into a New UK Horror film fest and see what happens.

I'll be posting reviews of each of the films we watch, as we go along.  I might not be all that speedy, but I hope to be fairly thorough.

Here's the schedule:
Sunday: Deathwatch (2002) - Dir. Michael J. Bassett
Monday: Wild Country (2005) - Dir. Craig Strachan
Tuesday: Severance (2006) - Dir. Christopher Smith
Wednesday: The Descent (2006) - Dir. Neil Marshall
Thursday: The Cottage (2008) - Dir. Andrew Williams
Friday: The Disappeared (2008) - Dir. Johnny Kevorkian
Saturday: The Reeds (2009) - Dir. Nick Cohen

And if we have time, I'm interested in seeing The Dead Outside (2010), directed by Kerry Anne Mullany, and maybe more by Christopher Smith.

And to be quite honest, we're only watching The Descent to re-evaluate it, as neither Dr. Girlfriend nor myself enjoyed it the first time around, but just about everyone else we know seems to have loved it.  We might watch Dog Soldiers instead if the urge hits (since they're both directed by Neil Marshall and we both already know it's good).

And we're off!

What Looks Good #332: The Walking Dead Are Coming!

This week's What Looks Good is a Halloween Hootenanny of awesome holiday television, DVD, BluRay, and Movies!



Plus, an extra special ADVANCE REVIEW OF THE FIRST EPISODE OF THE WALKING DEAD!!!

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

What Looks Good #329: TV Eye on the Fall Schedule

This week's What Looks Good is pretty much devoid of comics talk.  Sorry about that.  But it's got a list of 10 Hour-Long Shows I think people should be checking out.  At least so far.

Saturday, October 02, 2010

Mondo Marvel #27 - July 1964

I'm back with another installment of Mondo Marvel, where I look at the origins of the Marvel Universe, one book at a time.  Until it kills me.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

What Looks Good #326: Twenty-Six Hour Days, Please

In which I briefly mention a few comics before concentrating almost entirely on TV and DVD/Bluray releases.

Saturday, September 04, 2010

F.O.O.M. (Flashbacks of Ol' Marvel) #16: "I'm Free Now – The Incredible Hulk (1988-1990)"

Aw yeah boyeee!  F.O.O.M. is back!  This time with a look at three, count 'em, THREE, Incredible Hulk films!  The Incredible Hulk Returns (with Thor!), The Trial of the Incredible Hulk (with Daredevil!), and The Death of the Incredible Hulk (with Death!)!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Saturday, August 21, 2010

F.O.O.M. (Flashbacks of Ol' Marvel) #15: Marvel Treasury Edition - The Mighty Thor

It's been a while, but last night I freaked out and wrote a new F.O.O.M. column on the 1976 Marvel Treasury Edition #10: The Mighty Thor.  It's a 4-issue story where Thor and the Asgardians face certain doom from a giant space alien with the power of a Billion, Billion Entities!

Things don't look good for our heroes!  But eight year-old me learned a few things about life, honor, and being a Man.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Sunday, August 08, 2010

What Looks Good #320: Cut to the Chase

My turn on the What Looks Good mary-go-round went live last week. And here it is...

Saturday, July 17, 2010

What Looks Good #317: The Lurking Fear

In which I lose my mind and my life to some sort of lurking madness. Yes, it is still What Looks Good. I was just bored.

What Looks Good #314: Bored With Comics or Boring Comics?

Better late than never, here's What Looks Good from a few weeks back.