Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Day of the Triffids

I’ve just started reading The Day of the Triffids again. For those who haven’t heard of this John Wyndham masterpiece, here’s a quick synopsis:

The world is treated to a magnificent display of green meteors that light up the night sky. The next day everyone who watched is blind. That’s bad.

Previously to this event was the discovery of a new plant called a “triffid”. It’s discovered that they are carnivores, killing with a whip-like sting and eating the decomposing corpse. That’s worse.

The triffids can walk and communicate. They have been shown to posses some form of intelligence. So the basic idea is that the biggest threat to the triffid (humans) has lost the only thing that made them superior (sight). Oh dear.

I read it for the first time when I was a tween. I’ve always thought of it as a science fiction novel, which it undoubtedly is, but reading it again now with my horror-impacted imagination…

There’s some disturbing shit in this book.

Seriously. I’m up to chapter 3 and there’s already been 2 suicides. We haven’t even gotten to the triffids yet! There is a movie that was made, but it’s a little dated and doesn’t really focus on scarier aspects of the book (though the poster above is frikken classic!). But it is being remade. Hmmm. Maybe it’s because I’ve been on a “all horror, all the time” bender, but this could really benefit from the subtle, slow-burn of Grace, or the eerie, silent isolation of 28 Days Later.

Basically, I think The Day of the Triffids needs to be remade by one filmmakers referred to in my post about Budget Horror Films. Or Danny Boyle. Whoever’s free first will be fine.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Movie Review – Capitalism: A Love Story

I went and saw Capitalism: A Love Story on Monday night at a free screening. I like Michael Moore’s movies. He’s heavy-handed and has a tendency to exaggerate, but he does it for the right reasons. The worlds apparent apathy means he needs to exaggerated in order to get anyone to  move.

This film tries to cancel out the propaganda surrounding capitalism. I really hadn’t thought about it before but over time people have been led to think that capitalism = democracy. This movie tries to negate that. I think it succeeds, but now it’s just a matter of getting everyone to go and see it.

The point that I found resonated the most with me is that the working class allows the rich to treat them like this because they’re optimists. Everybody is waiting for their ship to come in, so they work like dogs thinking one day they’ll get their share. Insert film reference:

 “There is only one Lord of the Ring, only one who can bend it to his will. And he does not share power.”

It’s a well made film, creating a bit of a rollercoaster running your emotions through shock, anger, shock, pity, shock, amusement, and back to shock again. I will say that there is about half and hour in the middle that didn’t need to be there.

As an Australian, it’s tempting to say “Pffft. Good thing I don’t live in America” but I think that about as short-sighted as you can get.  Australians are just as vulnerable to propaganda, and we’re just as guilty of voting in the corporate lapdog as the US.

Just something to think about.

Horror and Budgets: part the third

Hihi once more. I’m back for what will hopefully be the last post about why low budget = good, high budget = bad in regards to horror films.

In my last post I talked about Stephen Kings opinion on why Hollywood can’t make a good horror. This post is my  theory explaining why (damn it, WHY???) great independent filmmakers keep backing up their genuinely frightening low-budget movies with shitty blockbusters.  I will finish with a plea to the existing low-budget horror film makers. I’m gonna name names. Just watch me.

But first, my theory.

Well, I think it’s a combination of a few thing (I know, I know, thanks a lot Captain Obvious. I’ll get there). Firstly, these great filmmakers get given a stupid amount of money. They accept it because they’re told that they’re the boss and it’s their movie. By the time they’ve figured out that a multi-million dollar production means multiple millionaires looking over your shoulder, it’s too late. Suddenly, all the things that King lists as the problems with big budget horrors are forced in.

Secondly, the filmmakers find themselves in a situation where they are scared to rock the boat in case they wind up back where they were. Flat broke, making movies with a handy cam.

And thirdly, and this is the part that’s difficult to counteract, they lose touch. They forget that less is more and start to agree with the producers that they need to add more effects, more explosions, more stars. This step is complete when the once desperate filmmaker loses their anger. Their frustration at not being able to get funding is gone along with their hunger pains, disappointment, and their fury that the world just won’t cut them a break. Because they got their break. It’s hard to think up new and imaginative ways to kill people when you’re actually enjoying life.

So does that mean there’s no hope? Can we only hope to get a couple of good, terrifying horror films per director? Nope. Call me optimistic but the new batch seem to be less focused on “making it” and more on scaring the bejesus out of as many people as possible. I don’t doubt that they will each do their share of blockbusters, but they seem to know not to call them “horror”.  Even better, they also seem to be capable of sticking to their guns.

But I could be wrong. Just  in case, I’d like to issue this plea to the new (relatively) film makers that have been rocking my socks recently. I’m talking to Eli Roth, Paul Solet, James Wan, Oren Peli, David Slade, Jonathan Auf Der Heide, Alexandre Aja, and any up and coming fright fiends.

Please. Don’t. Forget.

I’m begging you. I’m on my knees (read into that what you will).

Less is more. Life’s hard. People are crazy.


Monday, October 26, 2009

Horror Movies and Budgets part 2

Howdy imaginary readers. As promised, here is the second part to my theory on why low-budget independent horror films are so much better than their big budget Hollywood counterparts.

I stated in my previous post that my theory was backed up by Stephen King. That's not technically correct. He wrote his article before me, and I'm kinda building on it, so the foundation of my theory comes from the lord of all things scary.

King writes articles for EW magazine called The Pop of King. I highly recommend it. The article in question is called Horror Movies: Why Big Studio Releases Are Rare to Scare. His basic theory is that blockbusters are ruined by the need to fit too much in (to justify the budget). Too many effects, to much action, too much story.

Those movies blast our emotions and imaginations, instead of caressing them with a knife edge.

I couldn't agree more. Especially about too much story killing the fear. All the scariest characters in film (and books) are the ones where you just don't know why. Or that the answer is frighteningly simple.

But I'm not going to repeat his article, he writes infinitely better than I do. I'd just like to take it a step further. You see, I keep seeing horror film makers make fantastic, independent first films, and then follow them up with shitty, big budget numbers. You know they have talent, so why do they even accept the bigger budget when they know what is required to make a good horror movie? It's tempting to put it down to greed, but I think that's a little simplistic.

I'll let you know my own personal opinion tomorrow :D Tags: ,,

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Horror movies and budgets

Hello invaders. This is the third day in a row I've posted. Personal Best!! I’m gonna go for 4 by making this a 2 part post :D

I'm writing (ranting) about horror movies and budgets. I'll  let you know up front, my basic hypothesis for this little rant is that horror films with big budgets don't work. There are a few exceptions, but not many. I know it's not a new idea. In fact it's something I've believed for a while now, but over the last couple of days I started thinking about what it is that makes that so.

Before I go into my theory (which will happen tomorrow) lets take a look at some figures. We’ll start with the man  considered one of the most profitable directors in Hollywood, Eli Roth. Roth's first venture cost he and his private investors $1.5 million and Hostel cost $4.5 million.  One of the most profitable horror films, Saw, was made for $1.2 million. In fact, the franchise (or 1-5 anyway) was made for $36 million. But by far the most impressive film is Paranormal Activity. It was made for $15000. So far it has made $19 million.

Now, I know $19 million isn’t much compared to the ridiculous amounts brought in by the blockbusters, but think about it. This film has earned $19 million through  word of mouth alone.  The only reason for that happening is that the film scared a lot of people shitless.  So what is it about the lower budget movies that makes them so much scarier?

Well, I have a theory. It’s backed up by Stephen King. Come back tomorrow to check it out.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Friday Top 5: Songs you like to sing along to.

  1. Coconut - Harry Nilsson - Reservoir Dogs Soundtrack
    Can never get it out of my head once it's in.

  2. Coin Laundry - Lisa Mitchell
    Just too singable!

  3. Needles & Pins - The Ramones
    Good pitch to belt it out, simple melody so you can keep up :P

  4. Back and Forth - Dr. Steel - Read Along Album

  5. All These Things I've Done - The Killers
    Good for singing loudly. Very loudly :)

Movie Review - Grace

The ending of this film left me with my mouth wide open. A nice ending, I've gotta say. But I'm getting way ahead of myself.

First, the short synopsis.
Madeline (Jordan Ladd) is 8 months pregnant and (after having 2 miscarriages previously) is determined to give birth to her daughter. Tragedy strikes in the form of a car accident and Madeline is informed that her husband was killed and that her baby will be stillborn. She decides to carry the child to term anyway, and somehow Grace is born alive and seemingly healthy. Emotional, desperate and disturbing hi-jinks ensue.

I loved this film. It's a "get under your skin" number instead of a "shock you silly" one, and it definitely succeeds. There's a little factoid that springs to mind in trying to describe "Grace". You the one about how if you throw a frog in boiling water it will jump straight out but if you put it in cold water and heat it up it will boil to death? Yeah. That's what this film does. About 3/4 of the way through I realised I was incredibly tense and unsettled. Then, before you know it, it smacks you with the ending.

I loved the way the real horror is found in the most subtle moments, like the apparent ability of a 60 year old woman to breast feed. *shudder*. Creepy.
And I love the characters. Given the subject matter, it's good to see a female dominated cast. Furthermore, it's fantastic to see a riveting film where none of the female characters can be mistaken as weak, sex isn't used as a weapon, the guys aren't out to dominate the gals and neither is the opposite. If any film deserves the genre of "feminist horror" it's this one.
Watch it, yo'.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Oh Heroes, why are you so hated???

I'm a big heroes fan. Have been since the first season. I'm a realist about it though. I can acknowledge that season 2 had some pretty crappy moments, and that one or two characters were just annoying (ok, more than that). But lately I'm finding that people are being pretty damn harsh. Specifically the recapper at TWoP (

They've given 2 of the episodes a D- and a D. Seriously, why is Heroes being recapped by someone who doesn't like the show?
The episode "Acceptance" is the D. What the hell was so wrong with that episode? I thought it was great. A great number of our heroes were left lost at the end of the last season. Is it so much to ask for a little time for them to figure themselves out? I like the Nathan/Sylar storyline. Yes, it's complicated, that's WHY I like it. No, if you haven't watched previous episodes you probably won't know what's going on. That's why we have dvd releases and

Sheesh! If you don't like it, let someone else do the job!

Monday, October 5, 2009

The Lost Symbol - the end review

Ok, so I finished this a little while ago but needed some space before I wrote about it.

My review in basic terms is that it did what was always going to do, tell an entertaining tale with no groundbreaking surprises. I liken reading a Dan Brown book to going to see the next installment of an Indiana Jones movie. It's not (or shouldn't) going to win awards and it's not going to stretch your mind, but it is going to entertain you if you let it.

Ok, so the "Big Twist" was so fricken obvious that he might as well have printed it on the page halfway through the book instead of the end. And yes, the one time it surprises you and you think "Wow! What a great twist!" it turns out to not be a twist and lets you down. But the fact is, you read it. You enjoyed it. Now put it on the "glad I read it, now I can forget about it" pile and and move on.

DO NOT start posting on anti-Freemason sites.
DO NOT start trying to join the Freemasons.
DO NOT start searching for the Masonic Pyramid.

It wasn't that good a book.