Friday, October 31, 2008

A Rundown of the 13 Best, Most Recent Horror Movies I’ve Seen
[13 of 13]

The horror in Midnight Meat Train can be found just as much in Leon’s descent into obsession and the gradual fraying of his relationship with Maya, as it can in the spectacularly over-the-top gore, delivered on-screen by a silently scowling Vinnie Jones, who plays the butcher Mahogany.

Read the entire review here.

Parting shot: Well, that’s it for this year’s list. Let’s see what the next dozen months have to offer horrorwise, so we can see how those titles will impact 2009’s rundown.
Happy Halloween!

(The Midnight Meat Train UK quad courtesy of

Thursday, October 30, 2008

A Rundown of the 13 Best, Most Recent Horror Movies I’ve Seen
[12 of 13]

… Bryan Bertino’s debut feature is one taut, nasty little motherfrakker. Once the thrills kick off, they don’t really let up.

Read the entire review here.

(The Strangers OS courtesy of [design by Ignition Print].)

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

A Rundown of the 13 Best, Most Recent Horror Movies I’ve Seen
[11 of 13]
THE RUINS (April 2008)

As for anyone who isn’t familiar with the story’s premise, I’d prefer not to spoil the nature of the temple’s threat here, so I’ll just say this: if you, like little old me, love your horror, treat yourself to a walking tour of The Ruins.
Fun, fun, fun!!!

Read the entire review here.

(The Ruins OS courtesy of [design by Ignition Print].)

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Season 1 Episode 2
“The Same Old Story”
Written by Jeff Pinkner & J.J. Abrams & Alex Kurtzman & Roberto Orci
Directed by Paul Edwards

“Massive Dynamic is one of the ten largest economic entities in the world. Our weapons technologies shape the Defense Department’s strategies. Our investments sway the markets and make or break presidential elections. Overseas, we have responsibilities traditionally sacred to the state: the right to direct private armies, to manage global affairs into stable equilibrium.”

Now, while a certain amount of fun was had with the short-lived Threshold, if there’s a show that’s to be crowned a successor to the late, great X-Files, it’s quickly looking to be Fringe, as it continues to display an excellent mix of speculative science and creepy horror.
And, as if to solidify that X-Files connection, X-alum Darin Morgan clambers on board as consulting producer on Fringe, which makes me a happy camper and even more eager to see what future episodes hold.

The episode’s main plot involves a serial killer/government super soldier mash-up, and writers Abrams, Kurtzman, Orci, and Alias and Lost alum Jeff Pinkner (also one of the show’s producers now) open the hour with a cracking prologue that recalls everything from Humanoids From The Deep to It’s Alive.
Of course, it really isn’t some killer mutant baby that gets born, but the horror movie echoes were welcome nonetheless. (I could have done without the subsequent Aliens–ish nightmare sequence though.)
We also get some fodder for the show’s main throughline (apparently, both Broyles and Massive Dynamic’s Nina Sharp are on a committee concerned with investigating the Pattern; this shadow cabinet, another bit that recalls The X-Files) as well as an intriguing allusion to Peter’s “medical history.”
Oh, and apparently, Dunham and company are a “new team,” and there’s a passing mention of a previous team. Hurm…

Anna Torv continues to impress, as does John Noble, who again, is the show’s MVP, nailing the script’s primo stuff (the seat warmer bit is hilarious) with apparent and enviable ease.
Joshua Jackson however, is still a tad shaky. Why a genius with an IQ of 190 (a fact repeated in this episode) would resort to using the term “magic old man baby” is a little beyond me… He just can’t seem to shake the ghost of Pacey.
At any rate, this one’s a winner and strengthens Fringe’s credentials as one of this season’s triumphs.
Bring on next week’s weirdness!

(Images courtesy of [Fringe OS, design by FOX IN],,, and

And the noteworthy winners at this year’s Scream Awards are…

The Dark Knight
The Ultimate Scream
Best Sequel
Best Comic Book Movie
Best Director (Christopher Nolan)
Best Screamplay (Christopher Nolan, Jonathan Nolan, & David S. Goyer)
Best Superhero (Christian Bale as Batman)
Best Villain (Heath Ledger as The Joker)
Best Actor in a Fantasy Movie or TV Show (Heath Ledger)
Best Supporting Performance (Gary Oldman)
The Holy Sh!t Scene of the Year (The Big Rig Flips Over)
Best F/X
Best Line (“I believe whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stranger.”: The Joker)

Best TV Show

Hellboy II: The Golden Army
Best Fantasy Movie

Iron Man
Best Science Fiction Movie
Best Actor in a Science Fiction Movie or TV Show (Robert Downey, Jr.)

The Strangers
Best Actress in a Horror Movie or TV Show (Liv Tyler)

Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
Best Horror Movie
Best Actor in a Horror Movie or TV Show (Johnny Depp)

Most Memorable Mutilation (Bitten By Vagina With Teeth)

Best Actress in a Fantasy Movie or TV Show (Angelina Jolie)

Rob Zombie’s Halloween was also pronounced Best Remake.
Congratulations, one and all. (All the winners can be accessed from here.)
Reviews of all the above films (as well as episodic recaps of Dexter) can be found in the Archive.

Parting shot: Congratulations must also go out to His Scottish Brilliance, Grant Morrison, for taking home Best Comic Book Writer, and to Gabriel Ba, for scooping up Best Comic Book Artist for his work on The Umbrella Academy: Apocalypse Suite.

(Images courtesy of,,, and


“I’m finding it hard to care about anything these days. In fact, the only thing I do care about is the fact that I can’t care about anything.
“Seriously, it worries me.”
-- Wesley

“Insanity is wasting your life as a nothing when you have the blood of a killer flowing in your veins. Insanity is being sh!t on, beat down, coasting through life in a miserable existence when you have a caged lion locked inside and the key to release it.”
-- Sloan

Wesley Allan Gibson (James McAvoy) is a sad, pathetic office drone abandoned by his father a mere seven days after he was born. Plagued by panic attacks and his unresolved daddy issues, Wesley sometimes wonders whether his father had in fact thought this mewling week-old infant was “the most insignificant a$hole of the 21st century.”
But all that changes when the lovely but deadly Fox (Angelina Jolie) enters his life, introducing Wesley to the Fraternity, and what appears to be Wesley’s own personal destiny.
Based on the comic book written by Mark Millar, Timur Bekmambetov’s Wanted takes the age-old tale of a young man’s journey of discovery as he comes into his own—as he realizes that he is, indeed, special—and turns it on its ear in a rollicking, madcap R-rated actioner.

Now, while I enjoyed the visual bravado Bekmambetov displayed in his previous films Nochnoy dozor (Night Watch) and Dvevnoy dozor (Day Watch), their scripts left much to be desired.
Here though, armed with a script by Michael Brandt, Derek Haas, and Chris Morgan (who, collectively, have worked on everything from Cellular to The Fast and the Furious sequels, to the 3:10 To Yuma remake), Bekmambetov manages to create his most solid work to date, fusing his volatile visual style with a narrative—certainly more coherent and propulsive than those of either of his past works—that explores a young man’s desire to find his proper place in the world, and in so doing, fulfilling every son’s need to step out from his father’s shadow, in order to truly find himself.

And helping Bekmambetov capture the rollicking imagery of this post-Matrix action thriller are the solid work of DP Mitchell Amundsen (who shot Transporter 2, Transformers, and, errr, the Hannah Montana and Jonas Brothers 3D concert films) and Oscar-winning editor David Brenner (a frequent collaborator of both Roland Emerich and Oliver Stone; talk about walking both sides of the fence).
Amudsen and Brenner are quite possibly the secret MVPs of Wanted.

“Now I know why I could never care about anything before this. I was living a lie.
“Finally, I have a chance to step into my father’s shoes. Grow a pair. Live the life I was born to live.
“I’ve been pissing it all away like it was another f*cking billing report.
“I have to train harder. I have to be as good as my father.”
-- Wesley

Despite Jolie being the biggest marquee name here, the key performers in Wanted are undoubtedly McAvoy and Morgan Freeman, who plays Sloan, the head of the Fraternity, who deciphers the hidden codes that identify the targets these assassins of Fate need to take down.
While Freeman plays Sloan with his veteran air of articulate self-possession, McAvoy seems to effortlessly nail the transformative arc that Wesley undergoes over the course of the film, from cubicle loser to bullet-bending action hero, informing the character with just the right amount of humour, and nary a trace of his own Scottish accent.

It’s the presence of McAvoy and Freeman, the script’s streaks of wickedly black humour, and the genuine undercurrent of emotion that plays beneath Bekmambetov’s visual bombast, that make Wanted the wild—and ultimately satisfying—cinematic ride that it is.

“We don’t know how far the ripples of our decisions go. Kill one, and maybe, save a thousand. That’s the code of the Fraternity.
“That’s what we believe in, and that’s why we do it.”
-- Fox

(Wanted UK quad courtesy of; images courtesy of and

A Rundown of the 13 Best, Most Recent Horror Movies I’ve Seen
[10 of 13]
CLOVERFIELD (January 2008)

… following in the wake of Bong Joon-ho’s Gwoemul and Frank Darabont’s The Mist, Cloverfield is clearly another towering entry in the annals of creature features, a pulse-pounding monster movie for our post-9/11, YouTube world of instant documentation, upload, and access, where creatures can exist and wreak havoc on both the silver screen and the World Wide Web.

Read the entire review here.

(Cloverfield OS courtesy of

Monday, October 27, 2008

Season 1 Episode 6
“New Year’s Day”
Story by Steve Niles; teleplay by Steve Niles and Ben Sokolowski
Directed by Darren Lynn Bousman

Written by Steve Niles (responsible for the 30 Days of Night comic upon which the film of the same title was based) and helmed by Darren Lynn Bousman (who brought the second through fourth installments of the Saw franchise to the screen), this episode follows Helen (Step Up 2: The Streets’ Briana Evigan, soon to be seen in S. Darko, the Richard Kelly-less sequel to Donnie Darko), who awakens early morning New Year’s Day, to the sounds of sirens and a disaster quickly unfolding outside her apartment.
What we then get is a zombie outbreak (no further explanation required), as the narrative switches back and forth between Helen’s predicament as she makes her way to the man she believes she loves, James (Kyle XY ’s Cory Monteith), and the New Year’s Eve party she was at the night before.

Now, while “Family Man” was a Fear Itself episode that we probably wouldn’t have seen on Masters of Horror, “New Year’s Day” is a FI installment that might very well have been more effective on MoH.
Network television just doesn’t support zombies very well, considering the gore and bloodshed will naturally be kept to a bare minimum. And nobody wants neutered zombies, do they?

Sadly, Bousman’s direction doesn’t really mine the material for all its inherent tension.
Admittedly, it doesn’t help that since the zombie film is the horror sub-genre du jour, there are examples aplenty of genuine white-knuckle, edge-of-your-seat deadhead thrill rides all over the place. (Not to mention that those examples will also undoubtedly sport fountains of fake blood and guts, which makes for a large portion of what we love about the sub-genre…)
And while Niles’ teleplay (co-written with Ben Sokolowski) does make a narrative attempt at something more than your average zombie movie, it’s a twist that you could see coming, thus blunting the over-all impact.
The zombies here aren’t terribly scary, either, so that’s another big con for the episode.

Ultimately, “New Year’s Day” doesn’t really amount to much, and if you’re jonesing for a good deadhead fix, you’d perhaps be better served taking in another viewing of Zack Snyder’s Dawn of the Dead remake (if you don’t mind the running zombies), or Edgar Wright’s zom-rom-com Shaun of the Dead (if you don’t mind the comedy), or the 28 films (Danny Boyle’s Days Later and Juan Carlos Fresnadillo’s Weeks Later; if you don’t mind the fact that, technically, they’re not actually zombies).
Or, you could go completely old school and dig up George Romero’s classic Dead trilogy—Night of the Living Dead, Dawn of the Dead, and Day of the Dead. Land of the Dead is passable, but I’d steer clear of Diary of the Dead.
The Day of the Dead remake is also best avoided, though Tom Savini’s colour redux of Night of the Living Dead is a pretty good watch.

Parting shot: Reviews of a number of the zombie films I mention above are contained in the Archive.

(Images courtesy of

Season 1 Episode 4
“The Manicoid Teleportation Conundrum”
Written by Tracey Stern
Directed by Jeremiah Chechik

So Ben, Wendy’s “sexually ambiguous doorknob of a boyfriend,” posts that video he took of his breakup with Wendy (the one he claimed was for a class project) on the Internet, and it’s gotten 750,000 hits in a single day.
And that’s just the start of it…
Then, while Wendy’s cyberspace humiliation rages, she’s in for a Pop Quiz Day, courtesy of the Middleman, while some curiously odd-looking rich people are disappearing, only to reappear on the exact spot of their disappearance, minus their heads…

On the heels of the previous episode’s luchador hijinx, this one isn’t quite the quantum improvement I was hoping for.
Yes, there’re some references to Tears For Fears and Italian zombie movies (in particular, Zombi 2; go, Lucio Fulci!), as well as some 24, but those don’t a good episode make.
And the Dr. Phil jab really isn’t all that funny either…

(Middleman images courtesy of; Zombi 2 25th Anniversary Special Edition 2-Disc Set DVD cover art courtesy of

A Rundown of the 13 Best, Most Recent Horror Movies I’ve Seen
[9 of 13]
THE MIST (November 2007)

More so than being a monster movie—and it is that, a rather exceptional one, to boot—The Mist is really about the desperation and insanity that can grab hold of people who are suddenly faced with the disastrous and the inexplicable.

Read the entire review here.

(The Mist OS courtesy of [design by BLT & Associates].)

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Season 1 Episode 1
“Strange Love”
Written & directed by Alan Ball

So there’s a whole lotta lustin’—bar owner Sam Merlotte (Sam Trammell) carries a torch for mind-reading waitress Sookie Stackhouse (Anna Paquin); Sookie’s best friend Tara Thornton (Rutina Wesley) carries a torch for Sookie’s horndog brother Jason (Ryan Kwanten, whom horrorheads may recall from Dead Silence)—and a whole lotta sexin’—courtesy of the horndog Stackhouse—goin’ on in Alan Ball’s latest HBO offering, True Blood.
There’s also, in case you weren’t aware, vampires here, the show based on the Sookie Stackhouse novels by Charlaine Harris.
Yup. HBO’s giving us vampires.

As a pilot, this first taste of the show is fine, certainly not on the level of Six Feet Under’s debut, but an interesting slice of vampiric pop culture nonetheless.
As with Bryan Singer’s approach to the X-Men, Ball uses vampires as metaphors for those prejudiced against by society, while simultaneously casting them in the darker, kinkier shadows of human sexuality.
Yes, they’re currently being put upon and discriminated against, but boy, are they wicked lays!

Now, despite the glib and the snark, I am having fun with True Blood. It may not have the depth and the profundity of Six Feet Under or American Beauty, but it’s got a down-home charm all its own.
And did I mention the sex?

Funnily enough, though I’m digging some of the supporting cast—particularly Wesley; Lois Smith as Granny Stackhouse; J.F. Sebastian himself, William Sanderson, as Sheriff Dearborne; and Chris Bauer as Andy Bellefleur—it’s the leads, Paquin and Stephen Moyer (as vampire Bill), who’ve yet to win me over.
Particularly Paquin, who got a black mark from me a long time ago when she stole the Best Supporting Actress Oscar away from Winona Ryder…
Maybe it’s time for me to forget that slight.
Now if only Paquin would actually come across as genuine and earnest…

On the plus side though, the opening credits, orchestrated to Jace Everett’s “Bad Things,” are a blast…

(Images courtesy of and

Season 5 Episode 1
“Fantasy Island”
Written by Doug Ellin
Directed by Mark Mylod

Well, that was okay. Not particularly the opening bang I was hoping for, but not terrible either.
I suppose what annoyed the frak out of me was the apparent irresponsibility of Vince, and in particular, Turtle, as they whiled away their time in Mexico, as Vince licked his wounds from the Medellin disaster, its Cannes screening likened to the Hindenberg by episode guests Roeper and Phillips, even as E and Ari busted their a$$es back in L.A.
Though I guess I should give our boy some slack, given the bomb his vanity project turned out to be…
And though it was nice to see Drama continuing his Jacqueline thing over the laptop, his whole “my right side is my bad side” thing grated.

Meanwhile, yay, Rex Lee is in the main opening credits now! Of course, the same thing happened to Debi Mazar and she subsequently seemed to just fall off the show that season.
Let’s hope Lloyd’s fate is a whole lot sunnier!

Not much else seemed to go on in this one: some sly Hollywood tactics involving a genre project called Danger Beach (“It’s a working title!”) which gets Vince back to L.A. under false pretenses; a slight awkwardness to Vince and E’s friendship in the wake of Medellin.
Far more interesting is the portrait of Vince as La-La Land pariah, untouchable following his fall from grace.
Where to from here, boys?

(Images courtesy of