Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Day Of The Dead (1985)

 Day Of The Dead (1985)

PLOT - A small group of soldiers and scientist hold up in an underground bunker down in Florida desperately searching for either other survivors, or a cure for the plague that's taken over the entire world. The undead have taken over all major cities, and surround the outside gates that protect the bunker. When tensions rise, the soldiers begin to retaliate against the scientist when no results have been shown. It isn't until one of the scientist reveals his latest project. A zombie by the name of Bub. A creature who still possesses his humanity and proves a threat to the newly appointed Captain, who is on the verge of madness.

LOWDOWN - I don't quite remember exactly when I first watched Day Of The Dead. All I remember was that at a young age I discovered George A Romero's Dead films, and instantly fell in love. There was Night which was an iconic black and white classic which I liked tell enough, but as much as this might be a surprise, I loved the 1990 remake a tad bit better. I adored Dawn, the splashy colorful comic book thrill ride adventure, and of course the third entry in the dead series, which branched off to be released at the perfect time in the 1980's. This third film in my eyes is the true closing of the Dead series (Sorry, Land, Diary, and Survival never quite did it for me) I have always said George should have made Dusk and perfectly ended the series full circle. Day took things in a different, and much different direction. This reflected the times perfectly, most of all between the character of Sarah, an intelligent, strong willed female character, the build up after the legacy left from bubbling Barbra, the pregnant Fran who finally found her voice, and finally Sarah. A scientist, who clearly seems detached by emotion, distancing herself to keep sane. One of the stronger members of the team, she's determined to find a cure, as well as showing that despite that fact she's sleeping with one of the soldiers, she senses how unstable and weak he is, yet fights for his life even if it costs her everything. This is a woman who isn't afraid to fight back, take action, as well as standing up to Rhodes. One of my favorite lines in the movie is her yelling "Yes sir! Fuck you sir!" 

As for characters, I feel four of Romero's strongest characters he's ever written are featured in this one film. There's Sarah of course, then John her friend. This Jamaican helicopter pilot is the voice of reason in the film. Wise years beyond his time, he represents yet again the strong African American presence shown in George's movies. His speeches are beyond iconic. In fact, I would say the man has the best lines in the entire movie. One of my favorites are "Forget we're making this a habit man? Pointing guns at each other you know?" Or his speech to Sarah on why he believes this time down in the bunker are a waste of time. I love how he stays true to his friend Sarah throughout the entire film. How protective he is of her during the "Sit down lady." scene, and of course how he proves a good point later telling Sarah and a few of the others to be careful, knowing that Rhodes is like any other human, and very dangerous.  Love his scene with Rhodes when he refuses to fly, and afterwards takes the higher road after looking down at Fisher heartbroken, not wanting to sink to his level, leaving him for a fate much worse. One of my favorite underrated heroes featured in a horror film.

Then Rhodes. The ultimate villain e-v-e-r. What makes Rhodes so famous is the fact he is human, very human in fact. Flawed yes. What makes him so scary is the fact he isn't this big guy, like his other men. He's this short Italian guy, who has a hair trigger temper. This man clearly is cracking under the pressure. His backstory unknown, all we see is that after taking over after Major Cooper dies, he becomes unhinged. Cruel, loud, and down right man spirited, he's exactly as John says. He's human, and he's dangerous. I guess it's honestly the way you look at it. It's a double sided coin. He was just trying to protect his men, and was pushed over the edge. Sadly, this was the downfall to one of the most iconic and famous deaths in horror history. He's a man we love to hate, and his showdown with Bub is something of horror history.

Speaking of Bub, he will and forever after Flyboy from Dawn be my favorite zombie. Dr. Logan's pet, it's shown this is a creature who's still just a little human. His scenes are honestly the best, and you can't help but love him like some adorable puppy. My favorites are of course when he has his headphones on and hears music, and of course when he first sees Rhodes. His showdown with him later is of course legendary, but my heart breaks every time he finds Logan in the freezer. Kills me. 

The deaths in this movie were top of the line. Savini had some of the young KNB crew working with him and in my eyes this is where he topped himself. The effects in this film were at the top of their game. Of course Dr. Logan's bloody experiments, and of course the gory showdown at the end with the hundreds of zombies coming down and feasting on the men. Each death tops the lasts, and is beyond unsettling. Rhodes of course has the best death, and his famous line "Choke on em!" is one of my favorites. Watching the zombie feast at the end of always something deeply disturbing that I can't help but smile at. This movie is so bloody that even my sister couldn't stomach watching it growing up. This movie's effects are the true highlight and even little moments like the zombie getting it's head cut off by the shovel, the brain zombie, and of course guts...lots and lots of guts. George's zombies have never looked so good before!

With a GREAT soundtrack via synthesizer, I think Day has the best soundtrack of them all. In fact, it's downright beautiful. With dreamy classic scenes (the arms bursting out, Miguel turning over pouring his insides, and of course the classic reaction of Rhodes and his men as the elevator slowly lowers, is why this film will and forever remain a classic.) I still to this day quote it. "What the fuck is wrong with you people? They're dead! They're fucking dead and you wanna teach em tricks?!" Shout Factory as well as Anchor Bay have released awesome SE of the DVD/Blu-Ray. I have only met a few people from this film, and my dream is someday to meet the whole cast. Has anyone seen that Mondo release of the soundtrack? Man oh man, something I drool over to get and have the cast/crew sign in the future. Always a comfort film of mine, I think Day is one of George's best films, as well as one of the best zombie and horror movies out there. The Walking Dead should take notes. This is how the undead are done. 

5 stars!!!

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Welcome back to a world both wonderful and strange - Twin Peaks The Return.

 Welcome back to a world both wonderful and strange - Twin Peaks The Return.

PLOT - 25 years have now passed, and Agent Cooper is still trapped inside The Black Lodge. With the possibility of escape, Cooper gets a small window in order to return to his own body that has been walking the Earth ever since that fateful night of the Miss. Twin Peak's contest. This doppelgänger possessed by an evil spirit has been committing unspeakable crimes for years, dropping off the map completely, and driving Cooper's body trying everything within it's spirit not to get taken back to the Black Lodge. With a series of brutal murders being committed in the midwest, all clues seem to be surrounding a mysterious glass box in New York City, as well as the original town of Twin Peaks where Deputy Hawk receives a message from the Log Lady that something is "missing" and that he's the one that has to find it. 

LOWDOWN - Even trying to write that summary, I kept stopping wondering if any of this made sense. Well guess what? It doesn't. I guess that's just another reminder why Twin Peaks and David Lynch's twisted and amazing mind is something of legend. Basically, long story short, years ago around 2000/2001 I showed my friend Mike the mini-series The Stand. While watching it, he remarked that several cast members were from the show Twin Peaks. That following weekend we sat down and watched the whole first season he had special ordered from the UK long before an official release. I still remember how floored I was over how much I loved it. I sorta knew a little bit about Mr. Lynch's work, mostly his 1986 crime cult classic film Blue Velvet. This was a very unusual and beautiful film I watched late one night and ended up loving. This was Lynch's mind stretched out into a TV series where we learned of Laura Palmer, the tragic beauty queen who's body washed ashore in the small quirky town with very colorful characters. Here we met Kyle Maclachlan aka the charming and strange F.B.I Agent Dale Cooper. I downright adored Kyle in Blue Velvet and seeing him play Cooper was a role he was born to play. Cooper is a kind, weird, coffee loving man who's values are solid, and is the strange hero we could all look up to. I've always loved Kyle in basically everything he's done, but in my eyes he will forever and always be Lynch's leading man. Cooper is brought into this small town and meets all of the characters who are all in some strange way connected. The first season was a soap opera/crime drama where the famous question "Who killed Laura Palmer?" was on everyone's mind. With a cast full of zany strange characters, affairs, crime, drama, and much more we were able to witness the darker side of this charming town, and the secrets beneath the late Miss. Palmer and what exactly she was involved with before she was brutally murdered. 

The first season was left with a massive cliffhanger, and season two continued the storylines of all these unusual characters as well as Cooper's investigation of Laura's murder. Over the course of this show we see how Cooper is unlike any other F.B.I agent. He uses his belief in the great unknown as well as visions and dreams to guide him to using the clues to help solve the murder. I honestly want to very soon to break down my love of this show, and what exactly made me fall in love with it. Between the strange characters, the drama, and of course Lynch's weird and down right gorgeous view of the world as Cooper goes deeper and deeper into this case is something I'll save for later. All I can say is once I finished season 2 like so many others I wanted more. I felt cheated that the show's main storyline was solved so quickly, and after another huge plot was opened up, we were left with more unanswered questions as well as a very unsettling cliffhanger worse than the season before. Twin Peaks became a cult hit, with more and more fans mourning the fact it became canceled. I myself instantly fell in love with it, and even watched the very strange prequel Fire Walk With Me (I originally hated this movie, now years later after re-watching it have grown fond of what exactly Lynch tried to do with it.) I received the gold boxset one holiday, and this series was something I constantly re-watched. It soon became my sick show, whenever I was laid up with a bad cold or flu I would re-watch these episodes, always joking that it made more sense when I had a high fever. 

Now I know this show wasn't for everyone. But I saw Lynch for what he was, and was more than happy as I met more and more people who were die hard fans of the legendary first two seasons, or had just discovered how unusual and strange it had been. In 2014 I even got a huge tattoo based off the show displaying Cooper in all his glory with coffee and pie. My friend Melissa who also loved the show got a stunning sleeve based off the show, and makes killer mugs based off designs now made so famous from this cult series. Time wore on, and I kept collecting as many Twin Peaks things as possible. I even bought the epic blu-ray set of the Missing Pieces which included Fire Walk With Me. Around this time rumors were flying high of Twin Peaks returning since after all, it was coming on 25 years since the show originally tried. I think we all remembered Laura Palmer promising Cooper that she would see him again in 25 years. Fans stayed hopeful, and finally a few years back Frost and Lynch broke the internet by tweeting that our favorite gum was coming back in style. After several more hints dropped by the original cast, it finally became confirmed that Twin Peaks was in fact returning.

The build up over the last two years have been huge, and just two weeks ago I was completely pumped to witness TV history. After buying tons of donuts and coffee, Mike and I binge watched the older episodes, and got ready as we returned to a world both wonderful and strange.

Now able to process what I've watched, re-watching all four episodes for the third time now, I think I have finally wrapped my mind around what exactly I had saw. When it first aired, I was sorta in shock. I didn't know if I loved or hated it. Showtime was behind The Return, and I felt honestly it seemed to be in good hands. Still, there wasn't a lot of promotional material behind it, and it really didn't seem to kick into overdrive until a few weeks before. Still after loosely following the production (not wanting anything to be spoiled) I was on the edge of my seat, praying this wouldn't let me down. When it aired, I watched as characters I've loved so dearly over the years return, as we followed the confusing and tragic story of Agent Cooper. Some scenes really did leave me scratching my head, wondering what in the world was I watching? Then I remembered to just sit back and enjoy the ride. Lynch knew exactly what he was doing, and has all ready claimed that this will be an 18 hour long movie. Will all loose plot holes be solved? Most likely not. Will more open up? Of course. Still, with four episodes in, I really am not bothered that we haven't seen much of the iconic town. Cooper has always been my favorite and watching this three-part storyline of Cooper finally able to escape The Black Lodge, trying to return to his original body where Evil Cooper (sporting really sexy long hair) aka BOB has been living as a crazed murdering manic with plenty of people willing to work and kill for him. (His intro was AMAZING) 

Here we see Cooper's body doing unspeakable crimes, knowing that his time may be short since 25 years are in fact up and The Black Lodge will be trying to take him back. With Cooper still strapped in the lodge (the scenes between him and Laura gave me chills) he's able to escape, first unable to jump back into his original body, only to take over the body of an overweight man named Dougie. Here it's shown Dougie's purpose was to exist in case this had to happen. After 25 years being trapped between both worlds, he possesses Dougie's body, but seems to have suffered from trauma looking more like his former self. Barley able to speak or function, we watch him clearly still connected to the Black Lodge. The question remains...when will he snap out of it and remember? I've been having the time of my life watching him, and got total chills when he reached into his pocket and found the Great Northern key. This laughable storyline of Cooper adjusting and slowly remembering had me dying. Loved the Mister Jackpots scenes. "Hellooooooo!" as well as him waking up slightly when he tries coffee. I can't wait to see what's next.

The other massive storyline is of his original body, the evil Cooper blocking off Cooper from returning to his body, and crashing his car, only to be collected by the F.B.I. Loved the scene of him speaking with Albert and Gordon (part of me is still holding off that Shelly and him somehow ended up together. Wishful thinking, I know.) the entire interview scene gave me chills. I never thought Cooper aka Kyle could be so terrifying. Boy was I wrong. 

And of course we're trying to follow two separate storylines. The series of murders we know the evil Cooper was involved in in the midwest, and of course back at Twin Peaks as Hawk tries to figure out what's exactly missing? In the first four episodes we've only been treated to several original cast members being shown, but I'm sure the payoff will be worth it's wait. What little we've seen I've loved, and couldn't help but feel my heart break when the log lady wished Hawk goodnight. Also anyone else get total chills when Bobby saw Laura's photo and completely broke down? Chills. Total chills.

So I await episode 5. Honestly I haven't been this excited for anything TV wise since I placed a major bet at my work on who Negan killed this past season for The Walking Dead. I'm sure I'll continue posting since I've yet again caught the Twin Peaks fever. This summer I plan on updating on the show's return, as well as several other Twin Peaks themed posts. All I have to say is that as strange and different as these new episodes feel, I can't express enough how this is a love letter from Lynch to us. Can't wait to see what happens next!

Friday, May 26, 2017

15 years of Rose Red. A Memorial Weekend tradition!

 15 years of Rose Red. A Memorial Weekend tradition!

Like so many others, Stephen King was a big part of my childhood growing up. My late mother, who was a avid fan basically brought my sister and I up on his amazing dark storytelling. I have vivid memories of her telling me about the latest books of his she just read, and of course enjoying his films, and being completely terrified and amazed by his mini-series. There was IT, which I believe completely took years off my life whenever I would see Pennywise pop up from the sewer. (The novel later on became one of my all time favorites.) The epic otherwise known as The Stand (one of his best novels) was a film that was constantly played in my house. In fact, you basically had to devote a day to viewing this movie in it's entirety. A few years later there was the strange and unusual The Langoliers, and another great mini series Storm Of The Century, which I still remember staying up late watching with my sister on her 13th birthday. Well, around 2002 when I was in middle school, buzz began going about that Stephen King was making the ultimate haunted house movie and it was by the same director as Storm Of The Century. Seeing constant ads running for this massive event, it was of course the talk among all of us during MCAS Prep in the 7th grade. Everyone knew Stephen King was the master of horror, and another huge TV event airing on ABC seemed to have enough build up to make anyone excited. 

I still remember originally missing it when it aired. A few months later my mother rented Critters, and Rose Red at our local video store just a few years before it went out of business. Instantly I knew this was exactly the type of movie I would love. With the beautiful setting of Seattle, the all star cast, the haunting score, the likable characters, the amazing effects, and of course the rich backstory surrounding this beyond stunning house. It devastates me that this wasn't actually a real mansion. Based loosely off the Winchester Mansion, Rose Red became a character itself, and of course made me chuckle when years later down the line when I listened to the commentary, when I heard the director mention that several people contacted him wanting to buy the house, having no idea that it was actually a house and the wide shots of it sitting in the middle of downtown Seattle were digital! Haunted house stories have always sparked my interest, one of my all time favorites is the 1970's supernatural film Burnt Offerings were you yet again feel as if the house is a living breathing being. This was what Rose Red was. Instead of being a run down creepy mansion, the house was actually gorgeous. I loved how it was written that nobody could quite count how many rooms the house had exactly, and that once woken up it would actually change itself (another nod to such films like The Haunting, and Burnt Offerings) and continue to build itself by the owner's spirit who was originally told if she continued to build the house she would never truly die. This takes nods to such films like again The Haunting, and yes even Puppet Master where we round up a group of psychics ranging with all different talents by a professor who has put everything on the line to prove that this house is in fact haunted. A location she's been obsessed with most of her life and has put her career in danger to finally prove her theories are in fact true. With time running out since the house which was originally built at the turn of the century is set to be destroyed in a few months to make way for condos, the professor rounds up these psychics to wake the house up. You see Rose Red is abandoned, and after the disappearance of yet another person years ago during a tour, the house was shut down for good. With no energy to feed off of, the house became a dead cell, needing new energy aka life to wake itself up.

The professor ends up hiring seven psychics, one of which is a young autistic girl who is the most powerful of all. She's the key to actually wake the house up.

What I loved of course was yet again King's focus on children that hold dangerous and wonderful power (Carrie, Firestarter, IT, ect.) This little girl, Annie is brought in and right away the house starts to wake up with vengeful spirits ready to tango. 

What makes Rose Red so wonderful are three things. The first is the rich backstory I mentioned. Here we learn of Ellen Rimbauer, the owner of Rose Red which was built for her by her oil tycoon husband John. We learn how right from the start the house seemed to be cured even back when it was in the early days of construction. How a man choked to death on site, another was killed by falling glass, and another blacked out and shot another man later claiming he had zero memory of even doing so. We hear about Ellen mostly by the professor's stories to the team via flashbacks. (Gotta hand it to that actress, great voice for storytelling.) and we see how Ellen was married off very young to her husband who was almost twenty years her senior. How while on a year long honeymoon she became very ill (hinted at being a sexual transmitted illness due to her husband's sexual appetite.) while suffering from a horrible fever, she's nursed back to health by a nurse named Sukeena in Africa who she later brings back home with her. Here we learn that Sukeena becomes her friend, delivering both of her children, and becoming her companion and hinted (and basically said flat on if you read the book of Ellen's Diary) lover. These two characters were written very well. I love how the professor states that in Ellen's Diary she never once refers to Sukeena as her servant. First as her friend, and then her sister. We learn that John was one of the richest men in the country at the time, and built this mansion for Ellen, never knowing the house would never be finished in her lifetime or his. After giving her husband two children, a boy, and a young girl with a withered arm named April, Ellen has served her duty as a wife and is allowed to go about life as she pleases while her husband carries on very open affairs, being referred as a mean spirited abusive man. After speaking with a psychic, fearing her fever that has returned off and on for years, she's told that she'll never die if she continues building the house. That it will never be finished until she says so. She takes this warning seriously since her fever never returns. Right away she begins construction on the house, allowed to spend as much money as she wanted. Over the years even Sukeena helped her design the house. Trick doorways, upside down rooms, a mirrored floor library, never ending hallways, a beautiful indoor garden, towers, and much, much more. These sets are truly amazing with the huge attention to detail. I legit wish this was such a house, it was breathtaking, and beautiful. 

Well after Ellen's daughter disappears and is never seen or heard from again, Ellen is convinced it was the house that took her. Over the years Rose Red seems to "eat" women who enter the house, causing them to disappear out of thin air, and men to land up dead in a series of freak accidents. We're shown that even John's business partner came to the house to kill himself, that years later a famous 1920's silent film actress disappeared never to be seen from again, and worse. Dismissed as accidents, the house gains it's reputation, and after John mysteriously falls from one of the house's towers, Ellen makes sure that even after her death the house would continue to be built. It wasn't until years later when Ellen was an old woman that she disappeared and was never seen from again when a maid saw her walking down a hallway. 

Here we meet the psychics as they learn more and more about this house and spend Memorial Day Weekend where being paid by the professor to investigate the house. Of course as said above the young girl Annie is the key and almost instantly the house begins to wake up, and it's not happy.

I could legit go on and on about this movie, but without fail this weekend I plan on celebrating in style with a tradition I've carried out for years. Here I re-watch this mini-series, falling in love with it all over again. This year is extra special since it's been 15 years since it originally aired! Man oh man! Do I feel old! This movie is a major comfort film of mine. I love everything about it, and it's the perfect telling of a haunted house. We get major talent of course by it's cast. Nancy Travis (Who I'll always remember playing the mother in Three Men And A Little Baby as Joyce, the professor who has put everything on the line about Rose Red. This woman rocks this slightly unstable bitchy role. You feel bad for her, but at the same time can't help but gulp when she begins to slowly unhinge. I love the little nods of her being slightly unstable. One of the best moments is when she confronts one of the deans at the college who is determined to ruin her career after she cuts her hand on a pin in her purse. This is the ultimate bad ass moment in the mini series, and something I'm sure you could get sued for doing in real life. Nevertheless, beyond awesome. 

There's Matt Keeslar as Steve, the last living ancestor of Ellen who is sadly being blinded by Joyce. Kimberly Brown as Annie, the gifted girl who is the key behind waking Rose Red up. Then there's the rest of the supporting cast. The late David Dukes (Who I remember from Dawson's Creek) Sadly he died during production, but played such an asshole in this movie, and I loved it. Melanie Lynskey who played Annie's sister, Judith Ivery, Kevin Tighe, Emity Deschanel (years before Bones), Matt Ross who did SUCH a great job as Emery. His relationship with his mother was the most frighting thing about this movie. This guy was playing for the back row and did one HELL of a job doing it! And of course last but never least the charming Julian Sands (Warlock) I love Sands, and even had the pleasure of meeting him (ah memories) he plays the handsome and mysterious Nick, one of the more powerful psychics in the film and is someone who is a major highlight to watch. I proudly have a Rose Red poster autographed by him that I still have framed to this day. Watching all these powerhouse performances, goes to show you how emotional invested you become watching mini series like this. I always care for King's characters, and this is yet another example of how well he writes them. The movie even for being aired on ABC and now 15 years still holds up. I hate to admit I never really cared for the prequel or even the Diary of Ellen. I feel a true direct sequel would have been ten times better. This movie pretty much wrapped everything up for us with what originally went down. Sure it was interesting, but nothing beats the original. I remember years ago there was a site I stumbled upon which sadly is no longer up that was written as a sequel based off this film following one of the psychic's loved ones and how they are searching for what really happened at the house, even going so far as moving into one of the condos that now sits where Rose Red once stood. Man oh man, that would have made one HELL of a great sequel.

So this weekend I plan on knocking back a few drinks, smelling the roses, and dive into one of my all time favorite made for TV King movies. Happy 15 Rose Red!!!

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Dawn Of The Dead 2004 - A rare gem in a barrel of remakes.

 Dawn Of The Dead 2004 - A rare gem in a barrel of remakes.

PLOT -  A young nurse awakes one morning to witness her next door neighbor violently attack and kill her husband. Moments after, her father appears to come back to life and goes after her, nearly killing her before she's able to jump into her car and escape. As she speeds away she watches as her neighborhood is in complete chaos as people are attacking each other. Trying to flee the city, she gets into an accident, where she stumbles upon a police officer, a young couple, and a salesman who decide to seek refuge at a local shopping mall as thousands of the undead, caused by a virus close in, fast moving, and blood thirsty. 


LOWDOWN - I was brought up right. I downright adored the George A. Romero zombie films growing up. (Night Of The Living Dead, Creepshow, Day Of The Dead...and yes Dawn Of The Dead.) One of my all time favorite zombie movies was the splashy colorful comic book like sequel to the black and white cult classic Night Of The Living Dead. This was a movie I don't exactly remember watching for the first time, but falling completely in love with it, buying it on VHS and watching countless times. I'll admit, I've never been a huge fan of the original Night Of The Living Dead. (Gasp, I know) I actually prefer the 1990 remake instead. I always LOVED Day Of The Dead for countless reasons, but Dawn always struck me as my all time favorite. I feel it's for three main reasons. The setting of the shopping mall, the catchy 1970's theme, and the likable characters. Peter, Flyboy, Fran, and Rodger felt like family to me. I loved watching them all work as a team, making sure this mall was safe so they could live in it. The movie is iconic and a classic for sure. I do know back in 2003 or so I legit felt so frustrated when I first heard about it being remade. Remakes were really just starting to get cranked out, and hearing this movie was getting the remake treatment I couldn't understand why? I guess I didn't think of the 1990 remake to Night and how well that worked out. Instead I threw a little hissy fit, and didn't want to give it a chance. The worst was hearing about how suddenly the famous slow moving zombies that had stumbled around for most of the 1960's, 70's, and 80's were now going to be running. Yep, fast moving zombies like in Return Of The Living Dead. After watching the mess otherwise known as Land Of The Dead, I had a feeling it was time to pass the torch. I still to this day feel that George should have made Dusk Of The Dead instead. Still, I couldn't help but feel sour over one of my all time favorite movies being remade. I instantly dismissed this as a horrible idea.

Boy was I wrong.

In my freshmen year of high school Dawn Of The Dead was released by newcomer Zach Snyder. I still remember how blown away I felt sitting in the audience. The second Johnny Cash's music floated over the opening credits I knew I was in store for a treat. I still can't believe that this movie is thirteen years old. Boy...I feel like a fucking dinosaur when I say that. Zach Snyder was the right man for the job since he wasn't trying to completely remake the 70's classic, he made his own version of Dawn. In my eyes it's the action version of the original film. Instead of being a shot by shot remake like the awful Psycho, or the very amazing Night Of The Living Dead version, this took the basic story and transformed it into a new re-telling. We got a bunch of characters who take shelter in a shopping mall, there are zombies, and in the end they need to escape. 

In this one we have the beautiful Ana played by Sarah Polley (Still blows my mind this is the little girl from the very first episode of Friday the 13th the series!). Looking much like our Fran from the original movie she isn't some helpless victim. Instead of playing the pregnant girlfriend who finally finds her own voice, she plays a strong willed nurse who has the ability to survive, as well as to fight back. We get strong background with this character, showing her everyday life as a nurse, coming home to her husband, having vanilla straight laced shower sex, and having the movie switch into high gear the moment she opens her eyes. Sure there's some digital effects that are border-line about to look dated, but for the most part all of the CGI was perfectly blended with some great practical effects. The choice of showing fast moving zombies as a high risk move, but for this sort of movie it was the right choice. I don't look at these creatures as zombies, but more as infected people who come back due to this virus. Very 28 days later if you may. This makes the movie ten times scarier with these things moving at full speed. There's little to no chance of being able to escape or survive. We watch as Ana stumble upon Ving Rhames (Pulp Fiction and Con Air) who pretty much takes over the Peter role. African Americans have always played a strong role in George A. Romero's films, and this is the same case with movie. Kenneth is the strong silent type that ends up being a huge help and aid to the other survivors. I still all these years later quote his "Fuck ya'll" line and die every time I hear it. 

They come upon three other survivors. Michael the salesmen played by Jake Weber (Medium) Michael ends up really coming out as the every day Joe who actually is both the heart and the brains of the team. He slowly knows how to handle the security officers, making them feel as if they came up with the plan on what to do next, and kinda seems the most like a real person. He briefly states how he's worked countless 9-5 jobs including selling televisions at Best Buy (My sister and I still joke about that...sorry inside joke.) and how he's a divorced man who actually lost children of his own when the attacks happened. A tragic background for a nice character who we root for right until the heartbreaking end. This is what makes this movie not fell into the same line as other remakes. They had characters you actually cared about. Whenever Michael shows his bite, after risking his life and has to stay behind gets me every time. A very powerful image of him staying on the dock watching Ana before pointing the gun under his chin. I feel Michael was the Rick Grimes before there was Rick Grimes. In fact I think Jake would have done wonderful in The Walking Dead. In fact, I still remember in 2010 when I was living at school that this movie played right before the very first episode of The Walking Dead aired. Fitting.

They also meet small time thief Andre played by Mekhi Phifer (8 Mile and ER) and his Russian wife Luda (Inna Korobkina) Here they head to Crossroads Mall. The one thing I didn't like about this movie was how fast paced things were. I understand the faster the movie goes the more action we get but I loved the original because of how realistic it felt. In the first movie we watched these characters carefully plan out how to clear out the zombies, clean up, block the doors with the trucks, build false walls, secure everything, ect. Instead, in this movie the mall is instantly secure by one simple line "Shatterproof asshole." = Biggest eye roll in the history of eye rolls.

Still, we meet security guards who pose as a threat themselves two of which are played by Michael Kelly (House Of Cards) and Terry played by Kevin Zegers (Frozen) once the characters have taken over the mall and welcome in several other survivors (always felt there was way too many people in that mall, but enjoyed Ty Burrell's character) they begin settling in thanks to a montage with the catchy song Down With The Sickness playing. I feel sure a little more character development could have been good here, but we watch as these people becomes comfortable by having all these things right at their fingertips including TVs, clothes, coffee (Hollowed Grounds, aka Starbucks) and show how driven everyone really is by material things, being much like zombies themselves.) We get cameos by some of the original cast members Scott H Reiniger, Tom Savini, and Ken Foree. We get little nods to the original as well as some famous lines being repeated, as well as a store being named after the original actress who played Fran, as well as seeing Flyboy's chopper. These little nods were Easter Eggs for hardcore fans like myself and I loved seeing them. 

We also get some pretty memorable moments. Zombies like the giant woman running through the store only to be killed by a fireplace poker, legless and armless zombies, Andy who's across the street communicating with the gang via a white bored while playing Hollywood Squares with them killing movie star lookalike zombies, and of course the zombie pregnancy storyline. Ever wonder what would happen if a pregnant woman was bitten? Guess what? We get the answer. ZOMBIE BABY!

The movie goes yet again into high gear when a rescue mission goes wrong (Lindy Booth was so annoying with that stupid dog.) so the gang decides to leave the mall and use shuttle buses to escape into the sea of zombies in the parking-lot to head to the coast where they plan on going to a boat and finding an island. Um, okay. Well of course things don't go as planned, and after lots of shooting, explosions, and deaths, they make it to the boats only to have to leave Michael behind. = Cue to crying my eyes out and getting on board. At the end we see via a camera the rest of the survivors on the boat as it runs out of gas and supplies. (Hum, maybe leaving the mall wasn't the best idea...) and boom...they find an island only to have it become overrun by zombies. = Shitty. Here the epic cover from Disturbed of Down With The Sickness plays. 

Talk about an ending!

The only other remake from the early to mid 2000's that even matched how enjoyable this film was had to be the Hills Have Eyes one. Besides that so many remakes that followed just didn't seem to have any effort left in them. Well, besides the 2009 My Bloody Valentine one. This movie was colorful, flashy, violent, gory, and tons of run. I saw this countless times when it was playing, and a favorite of mine to still watch. In fact I remember in high school having a poster of this movie hanging in my bedroom. In college I played a drinking game to this which it's only rule was...drink everyone a gun is fired. Bye liver!

This movie had strong points all over, and I remembered all the reasons why I loved it when I rematched it last weekend. A total blast for sure, and another reminder on why I'm still waiting or a true remake to be done for Day.

5 stars!

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Remakes Vs. The Originals

 Remakes Vs. The Originals.

Oh remakes. There have been quite a few in the last twenty years. For a brief period of time it seemed absolutely hopeless as classics were being retold with little to no effort. Here they were just simply being cashed in simply for the title. As much as remakes get a bad name, some are actually really good. It's rare that they are better than the original, but sometimes they are actually half way decent. Almost as a good re-telling, or as a stand alone film. Here we'll list off twenty remakes going against the originals and see which ones were better, worse, or came to a tie!

1) The Thing Vs. The Thing = Remake
- Crazy effects that seriously haven't been able to be topped, Kurt drinking giving zero fucks, and one HELL of an ending! This brilliant update from the 1950's sci-fi movie is complete and utter perfection.

2) The Shinning Vs. The Shinning = Original 
- Hard to believe that I actually don't like the novel. Maybe that's why I prefer the original than the mini series remake that's closer to the book King wrote. I'm sorry, but nothing can capture this creepy down right terrifying tale of a man possessed by a haunted hotel. King, I love you...but Stanley knew exactly what he was doing with this one.

3) Psycho Vs. Psycho = Original
- Nothing will ever defeat Hitchcock's classic. I down right LOVE the sequel, and of course the prequel of Bates Motel that just ended a few weeks ago, but sadly the artsy colored remake in 98 suffered from bad casting, and fell flat not being able to capture the shock valve the original held.

4) Invasion Of The Body Snatchers Vs. Invasion Of The Body Snatchers = Tie
- Not counting the made for TV 90's version, or the morning as hell re-telling from the mid 2000's, we're talking the 50's and 70's version. The 1950's story is actually super creepy, and if only they had ended with the scene of the lead screaming at the cars on the highway I think this would have been a near perfect film. Still, it was years ahead of it's time, and one of the best science fiction/horror films out there. The 70's film ups the creep factor up to a million. With a stellar cast, and modern updates, this re-telling is very enjoyable. My favorite of course has to be the ending. Love the credits over silence. Get's me every time.

5) The Hills Have Eyes Vs. The Hills Have Eyes = Tie
- Love Wes Craven's original Hills Have Eyes. It's a gritty brutal horror film that hands down is one of the best from the 1970's. The remake was released when remakes were actually half way decent and besides Dawn Of The Dead, this in my eyes is one of the other better remakes there are. They took the same overall storyline but cranked it up to 11 with it's violence and gore.

6) Friday the 13th Vs. Friday the 13th = Original
- A lot of Friday the 13th fans actually forget the original film that started it all. In fact lots of friends of mine have complained that this film is too slow. WHAT?! I'm sorry, but the pacing of the original was just fine. We have a creepy setting of the campy that's legit in the middle of nowhere, the unseen killer, and the huge twist in the end. In fact I would say the original Friday the 13th has one of the greatest pop-outs of all time. The remake felt like just a bad sequel. I feel they really could have done something here and instead we just got another dumb slasher film where Jason was basically just a pot farmer.

7) Halloween Vs. Halloween = Original
- I'll admit. I actually really enjoyed Rob Zombie's Halloween. Was it a great movie? No. Still, I have lots of great memories seeing this when it came out on my 19th birthday with my mother who was a massive Halloween fan. Still, as fun as this remake was with all of it's uber violence, nothing quite captures John Carpenter's elegant slasher. Between the small town, Michael Myers, Jamie Lee Curtis, Loomis, and the heat beating score, this hands down is one of the best horror films ever made. Simple, but very effective. 

8) My Bloody Valentine Vs. My Bloody Valentine = Tie
- My Bloody Valentine is one of my all time favorite slasher/horror films of all time. The remake was just as good. Both films take place in a small town, have likable characters, tons of gore, and of course the awesome fact it takes place on Valentine's Day. Both films have great endings, and yet again is one of the rare times when a remake is just as good as the original. Also it was one of the few times a movie in 3D was really awesome. 

9) A Nightmare On Elm Street Vs. A Nightmare On Elm Street = Original 
- There's only one other film on this list that has the worst remake to it. This is a simple case of such a wasted opportunity. I remember seeing this with a huge group of friends, and couldn't believe what I was watching. Between the shitty CGI, the really horrible acting, and the fact I can barley remember shit about this movie. The original was decades ahead of it's time, terrifying, effective, scary, and had a whole different view on slashers. 1984 forever.

10) Dawn Of The Dead Vs. Dawn Of The Dead = Tie
- I worship the original 1978 Dawn Of The Dead. (And this is coming from a huge Day Of The Dead) Nothing will beat the score, the mall setting, and there four characters you become part of as they set of a home for themselves. At first I was bullshit hearing this movie was getting remade, but in my freshman year of high school I was stunned to see how awesome the 2004 remake ended up being. This is a stand alone film. I always look at it as a action version of the first film. We have great characters, tons of action (running zombies, holy shit.), lots of gore, and a heartbreaking ending. One of the better remakes from that decade if so the best.

11) Night Of The Living Dead Vs. Night Of The Living Dead = Remake
- I will give credit where credit is due. knew what you were doing. I know people might gasp that I prefer the 1990 remake over the classic black and white original that changed the game of horror in the first place...but I gotta be honest. This film showcased a female lead and instead of crawling into a ball on the floor crying she actually kicked ass. Love the ending to this, as well as the amazing acting from Tony Todd. This man can ACT!

12) The Texas Chainsaw Massacre Vs. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre = Original
- Eh, I might be alone here but as visually stunning as the remake is, nothing can capture the gritty feeling the original had. This film makes you feel like you are watching a snuff film. It's 1970's horror at it's greatest and even though I adore part 2 and 3 nothing bill beat the original. Nothing.

13) When A Stranger Calls Vs. When A Stranger Calls = Tie
- Believe it or not I like When A Stranger Calls Back the made for TV sequel to the original. I like the original. It's creepy, has a clever twist, but I've always felt the beginning and very end of the film were the strongest elements to the first film. The remake could have been more violent, and I feel an R ratting would have made it a million times better (this came out at a time when PG13 horror was the new thing to make money) I loved the lead actress, the beautiful house, as well as how suspenseful the film was. So yeah, clear tie here.

14) The Hitcher Vs The Hitcher = Original 
- Argh, I HATE the remake...HATE IT. So many people loved it, but I'm sorry, the original 1986 film not only is one of my all time favorite films, it's beautiful. The settings are almost dreamlike. The soundtrack haunting, the acting on point, and of course the deeper storyline that's there. C. Thomas Howell's expression when poor Jennifer Jason Leigh is tied up between two moving trucks says it all. This film was legit.

15) The Evil Dead vs The Evil Dead = Original 
- I didn't hate the remake. It was super gory, lots of blood, and followed the overall storyline. Still, blood doesn't make up for a good film. Nothing will beat Sam's original film, as well as the stellar sequel.

16) Fright Night Vs. Fright Night = Original 
- Again, didn't mind the remake. It had it's moments, but Fright Night was one of the best remakes to come out of the 1980's. It had great effects, a great cast, a wonderful soundtrack, and a very attractive vampire. I feel more horror films need to be more original like this one. At least the sequel in 1987 tried to follow it's footsteps better than the remake.

17) Prom Night Vs Prom Night = Tie
- I love the Prom Night films (most of all the highly underrated sequel) Prom Night was one of the first horror movies I ever rented, but I've always seen it as a thriller. It has Jamie Leigh Curtis of course, a masked killer, a great soundtrack, and some pretty memorable moments. Some people say it's slow, but it's a truly great slasher. The remake of course was PG13, but still was pretty creepy. Call it the Lifetime Movie version of the first. Come on guys, that's not always a bad thing.

18) The Fog Vs. The Fog = Original 
- What's my most hated remake? THE FOG. Arghhhhhhhhh. I hate it. PG13 stupid piece of shit. Anyways, just to tell you how I really feel...nothing will beat Carpenter's original. This is one of my favorite ghost stories, and sadly the magic of the original was never captured with this shitty excuse of a movie.

19) The Blob Vs. The Blob = Remake 
- This 80's version of the 50's science fiction film is awesome. It showcases some of the best effects ever. This takes a simple story, and for once uses a good modern take to it. If they ever do remake this film again, take notes from this one. Practical effects all the way!

20) Black Christmas Vs. Black X-Mas = Original
- I like Black X-Mas. It's a guilty pleasure of mine. Hey, I'm telling the truth here. That movie is a mess, but who cares. Around the holidays it's fun to watch after a few drinks. The original of the scariest movies ever made. Bob Clark really showed how talented it was and this is coming from the dude who made A Christmas Story. One of the scariest twists and moments ever in a horror movie. Just something about the 1970' was scary shit!