Horror. Worldview. Faith.

George Romero Answers Questions

George Romero Answers Questions

May 30, 2010

Time Magazine features an article in their June 7, 2010 edition highlighting some answers horror legend George Romero offered to reader’s questions.  Below are some of the more interesting comments.

Romero admits to not having a racial “agenda” with his classic 1968 Night of the Living Dead.  He mentions that Duane Jones, the black lead actor, was much more aware of the social significance than was Romero.

Apparently Romero is not into the newer horror trends.  I can’t say I blame him on this one.  The “torture stuff” is not what he is interested in.

The Thing from Another World was the first film to really Scare Romero, but it was The Tales of Hoffman that made him to make movies.

Romero considers turning down the opportunity to direct Scream as his one career misstep.  Frankly, I’m glad he did.

Romero says that his zombies will never take over the world because he needs the humans, which are the ones that really annoy him.  The zombies are just mosquitoes.

The Unborn – Review

The Unborn – Review

May 28, 2010

reviewed by Danny
directed by David S. Goyer, 2009

Some films wear their influences on their sleeves;  The Unborn is fairly well clothed in them.  David S. Goyer’s supernatural yarn has scenes lifted from (or, to put it nicely, inspired by) dozens of earlier, better horror films.  Still, the film has some cool horror imagery that would likely be thought highly of if it was it service of a better, more original plot.

Right from the beginning I liked the way the plot got off and running without the background drivel often seen in modern horror.  The film may well be about the sins of the father being revisited  on the son (or, in this case, it is Grandmother/Granddaughter), but The Unborn skips the exposition and gets right to the creepy bits.   Casey (played by the lovely and game Odette Yustman) is jogging along a park road when she notices a single glove in her path.  She turns to see a creepy young boy (imagine Santi from The Devil’s Backbone minus the GGI).  The boy quickly turns into a dog wearing a plain white mask.  Casey follows the dog into the woods, where she finds the mask.  When she tries to pick up the mask, she reveals a jar with a fetus in formaldehyde.  While she is staring at it, the fetus opens its eyes.  Cut.

“So what do you think the dream means?”

It is a good opening.  Stylish.  Creepy.  It establishes a tone that the film manages to hold on to… for about thirty minutes.  The stuff happening around Casey is truly creepy when we have no clue what is going on.  The scene with the young boy, the baby, and the hand mirror is particularly effective even in its brevity.  The problem with the cool imagery is that, eventually, the plot comes along and renders it cliché and overdone.

Soon, we learn that Casey had been a twin and her twin brother had died in the womb after having her umbilical cord wrapped around his neck.  That would probably have been enough, but we are also treated to Nazi experimentation, Jewish mysticism, genetic mosaicism, and a ton of references to myths and folklore.  It all becomes a mess of tropes and cliches familiar to any horror film fan.

Unfortunately, even the visual tone of the film falls apart about the same time the plot unravels.  For the last half of the film nearly every supernatural image is one we have seen before.  I’m not talking obscure movies.  The references here are to films like The Exorcist and Ringu.

By the time the film wrapped up, I had little emotional connection to the characters.  Things had simply become too absurd and unbelievable.  The set up for the exorcism itself is as unbelievable as any element I’ve seen in a horror film in years.  It seems to exist only to provide more bodies for the demon to kill in gruesome ways.  It is also nice to note that you only actually have to read the first and last paragraphs of the exorcism ritual in the presence of the demon.  All of that middle stuff is apparently filler that can be done off screen.  That is going to allow me to cut a lot of useless pages out of my “How to Survive in Horror Film Situations” compendium.

After a strong opening, The Unborn falls apart.  It wastes a good core performance from Yustman and gives the brilliant Gary Oldman nothing interesting to do or say.  Worst, it wastes an excellent opening that led me to expect a much better film than I actually ended up seeing.

The Fourth Kind – Review

The Fourth Kind – Review

May 27, 2010

reviewed by Skot
directed by Olatunde Osunsanmi, 2009

The Fourth Kind is a sci-fi horror picture starring action movie princess, Milla Jovovich.  I don’t know how many reviewers would classify it as science fiction, but I do so, though with hesitation, because U.F.O. movies tend to be a sci-fi sub-genre.  The director of Fourth Kind attempts to follow the examples of The Blair Witch Project, Cloverfield, Quarantine, and Paranormal Activity by presenting supposed documentary on-the-scene footage.  Then Fourth takes the technique to the next level by adding in dramatized re-enactments portrayed by Hollywood stars, cutting back and forth between the documentary footage and dramatizations, even occasionally running the two side by side for certain scenes.

Milla Jovovich plays psychologist, Abigail Tyler, who is investigating a series of unexplained phenomena she hears about from a number of her patients.  Early in the film, Dr. Tyler notices that several of her patients report trouble sleeping and peculiar images in their dreams, including that of a white owl watching over them.  We’ve all had weird dreams that we couldn’t quite shake off the next day.  So it is mildly creepy to hear different people describe seeing the same detail, and an unusual one at that, in their night terrors.  (Allow me to say that I was watching this movie with my 14-year-old son who was opening an eighth grade graduation card he received at this point in the film.  The card had an owl on it.  Woooooo-oooo).  The patients are all plagued with the feeling of not being able to remember something significant that happens during their dreams.

Dr. Tyler tries using hypnosis to bring these repressed memories into the light of day.  Not good.  Bad things happen.  People die.  Could it be that some things are so terrible that the memory of them causes madness?  An incomplete memory is bliss after all.

I applaud the filmmakers for taking a risk and doing something out of the ordinary.  It’s not exactly a nail-biter but there are a few genuinely disturbing moments.

The Fourth Kind is a different kind of U.F.O. movie that has more in common with supernatural chillers like The Exorcist than it does with sci-fi adventures like Star Trek or War of the Worlds or television’s V. This movie suggests that inhabitants of Nome, Alaska, and possibly millions of other earthlings, are being visited and even abducted by other-worldly entities which may or may not have arrived in your run-of-the-mill spacecraft.  Some scenes resemble episodes of demonic possession or spiritists channeling otherwordly intelligences more than merely patients in psychoanalysis coping with painful recovered memories.  This opens the possibility that these extraterrestrials could be from another dimension or universe instead of merely a distant galaxy.  The influence of Erich von Däniken’s Chariots of the Gods and The Mothman Prophecies by John Keel can be seen.  Like a good postmodern sci-fi horror movie, The Fourth Kind delves more into metaphysics than astrophysics.

Like many examples of the horror genre, The Fourth Kind challenges the ability of reason to explain every aspect of human experience.  This movie explicitly argues the point that some phenomena, real and true, lie outside the scope of the scientific method.  Those who cling irrationally to the sufficiency of rationalism are the bad guys here.

Unfortunately, the interspersing of documentary style footage in and around the dramatized parts of the movie failed.  It didn’t make the movie scarier.  It was just distracting at first, but became annoying later on.  The filmmakers should have been forced to make a decision.  Either go the Blair Witch route entirely or scrap that technique altogether and just give the audience a solid dramatization.  It’s possible to have too much of a good thing.  And what works in one scenario, one project, in the hands of certain artists, might not work elsewhere.

I don’t usually use a star system to rank movies, but for this I’d give it a 2.5 out of 5.  Now, if Milla Jovovich had gone all Jack Bauer on the aliens, that might’ve been worth the full five stars.

American Psycho – Review

American Psycho – Review

May 22, 2010

reviewed by hallo
directed by Mary Harron, 2000

I acknowledge from the outset that I am setting myself up for some pretty nasty comments on this review.  I have a hunch that unless you have anything but rave reviews for Mary Harron’s American Psycho, you risk being seen as “uncool” in the horror review world.  Alas, I am willing to sacrifice my apparent “cool” factor to provide what will be a sub-par review of the film.

American Psycho is the film adaptation of Bret Easton Ellis’ novel about 80’s corporate America and the emptiness it embodies.  Christian Bale (now famous for Batman) portrays Patrick Bateman, a successful businessman who rates his own worth based on the style of his business card and his ability to make last-minute reservations at the city’s most upscale restaurants.  Bateman looks exactly like all the other “suits” in the film, underscoring the loss of any true identity or free-thinking.  Thus, American Psycho is a satire in every sense of the word, reminding us all that our worth and value must be placed at a standard beyond the office next door.  Because Bateman actually has no real influence or meaning apart from the office competitions, he finds his influence and power in the use of extreme violence among women, prostitutes, etc.

The theme of the movie (and novel) has some merit.  And to Bateman’s credit, he provides a good performance with a script that would seem to limit his ability to give one.  The problem is that the film continues to leave the viewer wondering:  “What?”  This is a movie that depends greatly on the need for graphic, over-the-top gore and violence which provides the critical juxtaposition of Bateman’s character.  Unfortunately, the film stays away from the graphic, descriptive elements and funnels into an annoying story of Bateman losing his mind to the point where the ending makes little sense.  This movie needs to get in the hands of the great Italian directors or even a satire master like Romero.  I think then the power of the theme might make more of an impact.  As it is, I was left underwhelmed and disappointed.

If that’s not cool, please forgive me.

Disney Studios’ Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater Movies Review

Disney Studios’ Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater Movies Review

May 18, 2010

Followers of The Blackest Eyes know that I have been reviewing the Friday the 13th Series slowly but surely. I am adding another series alongside that one, making my work even more demanding. But, this will be fun.

I am going to review all the movies that are represented inside Disney Hollywood Studios’ Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater. If you aren’t familiar with that theme park restaurant, then let me explain. Here is the official description from the Walt Disney World website: Like a night at the old drive-ins, servers at the Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater restaurant bring food to vintage ’50s “convertible” tables as you watch ’50s and ’60s sci-fi and monster flicks on the big screen.

Yes, as you sit in your “car” tables, you watch a big “Drive-In” style screen that shows vintage trailers from old school sci-fi and horror B movies.  I am going to watch and review those movies that are shown.  Thus far, I have the following list available from the Dine-In Theater.  If you know of any additiona movies that I am missing, please let me know.

Robot Monster
The Amazing Colossal Man
Attack of the 50 Foot Woman
It Conquered the World
The Cat Who Hated People
Frankenstein Meets the Space Monster
Plan 9 From Outer Space

I will be watching the first film this week – so get ready for some old school fun!