Thursday, January 29, 2015

Oh hell, I'm posting everything for February because PIFF After Dark returns to The Hollywood Theatre in Portland, The Joy Cinema in Tigard hosts a classic Weird Wednesday, Howl Con takes over Vancouver, WA, and Tacoma gets an Unrated Bloody Valentine. AND MORE!!!

February is turning into Second Halloween for Northwest Horror Fans.  And, as this is turning into such an AWESOME, HORRIFIC MONTH, I'm posting everything I have right now, because I know you'll want to mark your calendars!

Thursday, January 29



Okay, Horror Fans, WE NEED TO SUPPORT THIS ONE!!!  As reported at the Portland Mercury blog, a local high school student proposed a performance of Evil Dead: The Musical as her senior project.  Yet, after being approved for the performance, and holding rehearsals throughout December, the student was informed the performance was cancelled as the content was considered inappropriate for the school.

Okay, I'm not getting into the censorship debate, as I can see this production being inappropriate for a high school.  After all, one of the songs is entitled "What the Fuck Was That?" and the play is based on films released without an MPAA rating, in order to avoid the kiss of death X rating, and you had to be over 18 years of age to get into the theaters.  Even if the language was toned down, the play contains multiple scenes of graphic violence, including beheadings and shotgun blasts.

Still, the student was allowed to perform 110 hours of rehearsal over a six week period before the school pulled the plug on the production, eliciting a What the Fuck Was That response concerning the administration's sudden reluctance to let the performance continue.  What, no one decided to look into the play's content, especially one called Evil Dead?  No one bothered to read the script, or watch the movies the play is based on?  No one at the school decided to attend an early rehearsal and find out the production might not be one they want to be associated with?

I wouldn't have a problem had the school in question pulled the plug on the production after the first read through, but to let this student believe she would produce the play for over a month, only to forbid it at the last moment, makes the school administrators look like idiots.  So go see this show at The Funhouse Lounge on January 29, 30 and 31 and support this production.  The Funhouse Lounge will present the production at 7 pm.  Check the purple link for more details.

And if you can't make it this weekend, stay tuned to The Shadow Over Portland, as more local performances might occur at another venue.  And I hope to interview the student and get more details on this story.


Friday, January 30



The Babadook continues to spread across the Northwest.  If you're in Portland, OR, this week, you can catch it at The Living Room Theater and The Academy Theater.  DO NOT MISS THIS FILM!  It's the best psychological horror film since Rosemary's Baby (not the TV remake), with director/writer Jennifer Kent crafting one of the most amazing cinematic experiences in years.  And Essie Davis delivers one of the best performances in decades.  Seriously, it's that good, and expect a spoiler free review soon  So, if you're tired of the tired crap put out by Hollywood, get out and SUPPORT THIS FILM!

February, 2015

Wednesday, February 4



The Joy Cinema in Tigard, OR, celebrates another WEIRD WEDNESDAY with the 1922 classic Nosferatu.  And admission is FREE, though you have to be 21 or older to attend.  Come on, what Northwest Horror Fan wouldn't LOVE to see this film on the big screen?  The show starts at 9 pm, and be sure to spend the money you save on admission at the snack bar!

Friday, February 6



Howl Con, the convention for werewolf enthusiasts takes place on February 7 and 8 at The Red Lion Inn at The Quay in Vancouver, WA (just across the I-5 bridge).  And it appears the local cinema, The Kiggins Theater, is planning on a werewolf film festival on February 6, with discounts available for convention attendees.  Keep up with all the information on the link, or check later for more details.



UPDATE:  The Kiggins Theater has listed two films opening on February 6.  Teen Wolf, the Michael J. Fox 80s werewolf comedy, and the much more awesome sounding independent feature, Wolf Cop.  Dirty Harry, only HAIRIER! Hell YEAH!!!  Showtimes for both features have not been announced (though Wolf Cop is listed as a single night screening), so check back later, or visit The Kiggins Theater webpage later for more details.

Saturday, February 7



Not sure if this will interest Horror Fans, but The Portland International Film Festival (PIFF) After Dark Series returns to The Hollywood Theatre with a feature that's looks like a mix of Deliverance and The Edge.  The Canadian thriller, Backcountry, screens at 10:30 pm and might offer a few chills.  Tickets are $12 and you can find more information on the feature, as well as the trailer and a link for advanced ticket sales, at the link.  But I'd suggest saving your money for next Saturday, as the PIFF After Dark feature looks AWESOME!!! That's just my opinion.

Wednesday, February 11



Part of the German Film Festival (presented by Zeitgeist Northwest), 1964's East German production of The Flying Dutchman will screen at The Clinton Street Theater tonight only at 7 pm.  The first complete Wagner opera ever filmed, the movie focuses on the daughter of a rich shipowner seeking refuse from her constricted life in her fantasies.  Imagining the captain of the Flying Dutchman, a ship doomed to wander the seas forever, she sets out to free the man through her love.  Director Joachim Herz uses varying aspects throughout the film to differentiate reality from fantasy, and the soundtrack was recorded on a groundbreaking 4-channel magnetic process.  According to The Clinton Street website, this is the only East German film to include elements of horror and vampirism, a special treat for horror fans.  Get more information at The Clinton Street Theater website.

Friday, February 13


If you were expecting Jason to make an appearance as part of the Friday Night Frights series, well, Reverend Joe has a more appropriate slasher choice.  George Mihalka's seasonal classic, My Bloody Valentine, screens at 10 pm at The Blue Mouse Theatre (2611 N. Proctor St) in Tacoma.  Even better, this will be the UNRATED VERSION, not the butchered R-rated Theatrical Release.  More information will be posted as soon as it's available, or follow the Facebook Event Page for the latest details.


Saturday, February 14



Oh boy, The Portland International Film Festival (PIFF) After Dark Series returns to The Hollywood Theatre with an Australian NAIL GUN TO THE HEAD ZOMBIE THRILLER!  Wyrmwood is the tale of an outback mechanic teaming up with a bunch of zombie killers to save his puck rock sister from a sinister government group during the zombie-pocalypse.  If that isn't enticing enough, The Hollywood Theatre website proclaims the film to be "... a zombie comedy with visual thrills reminiscent of the best early works by Peter Jackson and Sam Raimi."  Okay, I'm sold.  The show starts at 10:30 pm, and tickets are $12.  For more information, and advance ticket sales, visit the link.

Sunday, February 15



Local horror filmmaker Joe Sherlock will premiere his latest movie, Odd Noggins, at The Clinton Street Theater in Portland, OR, at 4 pm.  Admission is $5 in cash.  I'll post more information as it becomes available.

Saturday, February 21



The Portland International Film Festival (PIFF) After Dark Series continues at The Hollywood Theatre with a screening of Darkness by Day at 10:30 pm.  The trailer has a serious vampire feel to it, and this Argentinian film might wash out the bad memories of the more recent US vampire films released in the past few years.  More information, including a trailer and advanced ticket sales (admission is $12) can be found at the link.

Thursday, February 26



First The Craft, now Tales from the Crypt: Demon Knight gets the Hecklevision treatment at The Hollywood Theatre.  Seriously, Hollywood programmers, I can thing of a lot better films to heckle than this terrific, over-the-top gore fest.  Sure, it's campy and a TON OF FUN, but it's not heckle worthy.  Have you folks never heard of Zaat or Dario Argento's Dracula?  Now THOSE are heckle-worthy.  Should you want to see this film in a theater, and don't mind comments from the audience being posted on the screen, the show starts at 9:30 pm.  I'll just stay home and enjoy my DVD version, thank you.  More information and advanced ticket sales at the link.

Friday, February 27



If you're up for some Gothic revenge, The Hollywood Theatre presents, in conjunction with Projeck Records and Movies in the Dark, a 35mm screening of The Crow.  Yep, the Brandon Lee classic on the big screen in glorious 35mm!  Showtime is 9:30 pm, and you can buy advanced tickets here.

______________________________________________

That's all I have for now, but if you know of any event that might interest Northwest Horror Fans, email me at shadowoverportland@live.com and I'll include it on the Horror Calendar, as well as future posts (or maybe even an Special Edition)!

And, should you attend any of these events, let the organizers know you read about it at The Shadow Over Portland!!

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Well, February is shaping up to be a big bloody Valentine for Northwest Horror Fans!

Okay, so 2015 started out a little slow for horror fans, but February promises some gooey, gory treats for Pacific Northwest Horror Fans, with slashers, high school Deadites, werewolves and demons from Hell in Hecklevision.  And, as always, The Shadow Over Portland is spreading the horrific news!



Friday, January 23



The Babadook continues to spread across the Northwest.  If you're in Portland, OR, this week, you can catch it at The Living Room Theater, The Laurelhurst Theater and The Academy Theater (which has matinee times).  DO NOT MISS THIS FILM!  It's the best psychological horror film since Rosemary's Baby (not the TV remake), with director/writer Jennifer Kent crafting one of the most amazing cinematic experiences in years.  And Essie Davis delivers one of the best performances in decades.  Seriously, it's that good, and expect a spoiler free review soon  So, if you're tired of the tired crap put out by Hollywood, get out and SUPPORT THIS FILM!



The Wizard World Portland Comic Con returns to the Rose City on January 25 with guests Eliza Dushku (Faith from BTVS and Angel),  Steven Yeun (The Walking Dead), Ksenia Solo (Lost Girl) and Alan Tudyk (Tucker and Dale vs. Evil and Firefly) among the guests scheduled to appear.  I’ll do my best to keep you up to date with as much information as I can post, or you can follow the link.

UPDATE: The Walking Dead stars Norman Reedus, Jon Bernthal and Scott Wilson have cancelled their appearances, due to scheduling conflicts.  The convention still offers quite a few horror fan favorites, so check the link for more information.



International horror hits the Olympic Film Society with a screening of A Girl Walks Home at Night.  This Iranian vampire flick sounds tasty, and you can catch showtimes and a trailer for the film at the link.

Sunday, January 25



VHS Uber Alles returns to horror films with a screening of the low budget classic, Basket Case, in glorious VHS.  The show starts at 6 pm at The Highland Bar (210 Broadway E) in Seattle, WA.  As the screening is at a bar, you must be 21 or older to attend.  And be sure to spend some money on libations and food, to show you're happy to support them as long as they keep showing great films!  You'll find more information at the link, but you must be 21 or older to attend.

Monday, January 26



Seattle gets into the Hecklevision craze with a screening of Troll 2 at the Central Cinema (1411 21st Ave.) in Seattle, WA.  Yep, that's a PERFECT movie for heckling.  Join the crowd at 10 pm for your chance to add your best heckles into the mix.  Visit the Facebook Event page for more details.


Thursday, January 29



Okay, Horror Fans, WE NEED TO SUPPORT THIS ONE!!!  As reported at the Portland Mercury blog, a local high school student proposed a performance of Evil Dead: The Musical as her senior project.  Yet, after being approved for the performance, and holding rehearsals throughout December, the student was informed the performance was cancelled as the content was considered inappropriate for the school.

Okay, I'm not getting into the censorship debate, as I can see this production being inappropriate for a high school.  After all, one of the songs is entitled "What the Fuck Was That?" and the play is based on films released without an MPAA rating, in order to avoid the kiss of death X rating, and you had to be over 18 years of age to get into the theaters.  Even if the language was toned down, the play contains multiple scenes of graphic violence, including beheadings and shotgun blasts.

Still, the student was allowed to perform 110 hours of rehearsal over a six week period before the school pulled the plug on the production, eliciting a What the Fuck Was That response concerning the administration's sudden reluctance to let the performance continue.  What, no one decided to look into the play's content, especially one called Evil Dead?  No one bothered to read the script, or watch the movies the play is based on?  No one at the school decided to attend an early rehearsal and find out the production might not be one they want to be associated with?

I wouldn't have a problem had the school in question pulled the plug on the production after the first read through, but to let this student believe she would produce the play for over a month, only to forbid it at the last moment, makes the school administrators look like idiots.  So go see this show at The Funhouse Lounge on January 29, 30 and 31 and support this production.  The Funhouse Lounge has no showtimes at this time, but you know I'll post them as soon as I know about them.

And if you can't make it then, stay tuned to The Shadow Over Portland, as more local performances might occur at another venue.  And stay tuned, as I hope to interview the student and get more details on this story.


February, 2015

Friday, February 6



Howl Con, the convention for werewolf enthusiasts takes place on February 7 and 8 at The Red Lion Inn at The Quay in Vancouver, WA (just across the I-5 bridge).  And it appears the local cinema, The Kiggins Theater, is planning on a werewolf film festival on February 6, with discounts available for convention attendees.  Keep up with all the information on the link, or check later for more details.



UPDATE:  The Kiggins Theater has listed two films opening on February 6.  Teen Wolf, the Michael J. Fox 80s werewolf comedy, and the much more awesome sounding independent feature, Wolf Cop.  Dirty Harry, only HAIRIER! Hell YEAH!!!  Showtimes for both features have not been announced (though Wolf Cop is listed as a single night screening), so check back next week or visit The Kiggins Theater webpage later for more details.

Wednesday, February 11



Part of the German Film Festival (presented by Zeitgeist Northwest), 1964's East German production of The Flying Dutchman will screen at The Clinton Street Theater tonight only at 7 pm.  The first complete Wagner opera ever filmed, the movie focuses on the daughter of a rich shipowner seeking refuse from her constricted life in her fantasies.  Imagining the captain of the Flying Dutchman, a ship doomed to wander the seas forever, she sets out to free the man through her love.  Director Joachim Herz uses varying aspects throughout the film to differentiate reality from fantasy, and the soundtrack was recorded on a groundbreaking 4-channel magnetic process.  According to The Clinton Street website, this is the only East German film to include elements of horror and vampirism, a special treat for horror fans.  Get more information at The Clinton Street Theater website.

Friday, February 13



If you were expecting Jason to make an appearance as part of the Friday Night Frights series, well, Reverend Joe has a more appropriate slasher choice.  George Mihalka's seasonal classic, My Bloody Valentine, screens at 10 pm at The Blue Mouse Theatre (2611 N. Proctor St) in Tacoma.  Even better, this will be the UNRATED VERSION, not the butchered R-rated Theatrical Release.  More information will be posted as soon as it's available, or follow the Facebook Event Page for the latest details.


Sunday, February 15



Local horror filmmaker Joe Sherlock will premiere his latest movie, Odd Noggins, at The Clinton Street Theater in Portland, OR, at 4 pm.  Admission is $5 in cash.  I'll post more information as it becomes available.

Thursday, February 26



First The Craft, now Tales from the Crypt: Demon Knight gets the Hecklevision treatment at The Hollywood Theatre.  Seriously, Hollywood programmers, I can thing of a lot better films to heckle than this terrific, over-the-top gore fest.  Sure, it's campy and a TON OF FUN, but it's not heckle worthy.  Have you folks never heard of Zaat or Dario Argento's Dracula?  Now THOSE are heckle-worthy.

Still, if you want to see this film in a theater, and don't mind comments from the audience being posted on the screen, the show starts at 9:30 pm.  I'll just stay home and enjoy my DVD version, thank you.  More information and advanced ticket sales at the link.


-----------------------------------

Well, that's what I have for now.  Be sure to check back next week for updates and remember, if you know of, or are running, a horror event (or even a sci fi or fantasy themed event), email me at shadowoverportland@live.com and I'll include it on the site.

And, should you attend any of these events, let the organizers know you read about it at The Shadow Over Portland!

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

How to refute the claims about horror fans made by Alice Robb at The New Republic


We knew you were like this, and now we have proof!
Um, NO, YOU DON'T!! 


We all know it will happen.  You’ll be at a family gathering, with co-workers in the lunchroom, or hanging out with friends at a bar.  And someone who knows you like horror films will bring up this online story from The New Republicand wonder how you could be such a monster. 

You can say the author had preconceived notions of horror fans (which she obviously does, but I’ll get to that).  However, I’m sure the person bringing up the article will mention all the studies cited in the story, so what Alice Robb wrote about horror fans must be true.

Well, here at The Shadow Over Portland, we share your concerns.  And while I can offer numerous personal rebuttals, I’m sure anyone mentioning this article will not be swayed by such antidotal insights.  So I’ve taken upon myself to offer some rebuttals to the article and the studies involved.  

Now, I only read the abstracts from the links provided by the article.  But these summations, along with the tone of the article and how the author twists the studies to support her conclusion, is enough to deflate her argument.  So, here’s five simple ways to show Robb got horror fans wrong.

Admit Robb was right on one minor point.  

To be fair, admit that Robb did get one thing right.  Horror films do invoke the sympathetic nervous system, resulting in an increased heart rate and the release of stress hormones into one’s circulatory system.   The problem is, she follows with the statement, “For some, horror movies can even be fatal.”


It's just like a cardio workout....
with POPCORN!

It’s a bold assertion, one she is unable to justify.  Her first example of a death by fright involves a woman dying of a heart attack at a screening of The Passion of the Christ.  Sure, the film utilizes makeup effects similar to a horror film, but it’s wrong to imply the death in a religious film, no matter how gory or horrific, in any way backs up her statement.

The next example is a man with high blood pressure dying during a screening of Avatar.  Again, this is not a horror film.  And, though I make no claim to being able to provide the math to prove it, I think the statistical probability of someone dying during the run of the top grossing movie of all time is pretty high, based only on the number of people in the world who saw it in the theaters. 

And neither movie is directly linked to any deaths.  The first example is based on a CNN article, with no details about the woman’s medical history.  The movie could have triggered the event, or maybe it was just bad timing for her to be in the theater.

As for the latter example, the man had high blood pressure, and (according to the link provided in the article) the attending doctor speculated that the stroke was “likely” caused by “over-excitement from watching the movie.”  Such a statement is in no way conclusive evidence supporting Robb’s statement that, “Avatar was the last straw.”

But this isn’t the first time the author makes a leap of logic that rivals Evil Knievel’s jump over the Snake River Canyon.  Following is my rebuttal to each subheading in Robb’s article.

Liking horror films does not imply a lack of empathy


Of course, this is an unrealistic portrait of a horror fan.
Most of us wish we were this good looking!

Robb’s next claim is that horror fans lack empathy.  Again, I only read the abstract to this paper, but her assertion isn’t supported by the study. 

She writes, “Students who scored higher on measures of empathy- agreeing more strongly with statements like, ‘I am often touched by things I see happen’ and ‘I really get involved with the feelings of a character in a novel’- were more likely (emphasis added) to report negative responses like sleep disturbances and feelings of distress.” 

This does not imply that horror fans lack empathy, only that viewers who score higher on a psychological test tend to have negative reactions.  And, as far as the abstract goes, the study doesn’t suggest the possibility that these people might have similar reactions to dramas with bad endings, or classic tragedies. 

Instead, one could suggest that people who score higher on the test administered by the researchers might have a difficult time showing a disconnection between real tragedies and fictional portrayals in the media.  Perhaps horror fans have a better grasp of the difference between fictional horrors and those in real life, but neither the abstract, nor Robb, suggest that possibility.

Liking horror films does not imply aggression or thrill seeking behavior.

Robb cites a 1998 study of eighth-grade children exposed to cartoon clips, than were asked whether they found the scene funny, thrilling or violent.  The researchers asked the children’s teachers to evaluate the student’s personality traits and discovered the children who thought the “…violent scenes were thrilling or funny were likely to be perceived as more aggressive and excitable by their teachers.”

The abstract of this study raises several problems.  As I did not read the study, I do not know if the clips were from classic Looney Tunes shorts or 80s toy commercial like G. I. Joe or Transformers..  Also, the researchers asked the children if they thought the clips were “funny, thrilling or violent,” yet Robb assures readers twice in the article the clips were violent. 

But violence does not mean the clips had anything to do with horror.  As I mentioned earlier, the clips could have come from The Transformers or Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.  And, had the clips came from a Road Runner cartoon, most people would have laughed when the coyote fell off a cliff. 


Yeah, doesn't matter if you're in the eighth grade or an adult.  
If you like The Three Stooges, you're snickering right now.

And proclaiming the children who found the “violent scenes” thrilling or funny were considered unruly by their teachers is rather subjective assessment to say the least.  

And be sure to mention eighth graders are not adults. 

Next, Robb mentions a 1985 study of “over 300 undergraduates” showed that students who sought out horror films were “…more likely than others to say they would like to watch an autopsy being performed, would attend gladiator fights if they could travel back in time, and would slow down to watch a car accident.”

I can’t dispute her statement about the autopsy or gladiator fights, but the abstract to this study is quite reveling.   According to the link Robb provided:

“The study was designed to examine the relationships of sensation seeking, extraversion, neuroticism and psychoticism with an interest in the presentation of violent or morbid and sexual events in the media and in live sports.  Scales of curiosity about morbid and sexual events and self-ratings of attendance of horror and X-rated erotic movies were developed and given to 89 male and 213 female undergraduates, along with the personality scale.”
In the article, Robb fails to mention the researchers also included pornographic material in their questions.  And, as this was an autobiographical survey, it opens up the possibility of the subjects (male or female) sculpting their responses to fit societal gender expectations.  And the researchers might have stacked the deck, as most of the 300 students in the study were female. 

Horror fans do not have to be male


We're girls, and we don't like horror.
RIGHT...

Robb states (thanks to a 15 year old study by Harris and Hoekstra, with no link provided) that men are more tolerant of horror films than women.  Yet she denounces her statement a few lines later, admitting that women “…may be catching up to men in horror film attendance.” 

Perhaps Robb is unwilling to admit that women are as interested in horror films as men, but might not have revelled it to researchers back in the 80s, for fear of being judged.   

Horror fans are not men looking for distressed women


Yes, it's funny,  But it's a stereotype and
not reflective of horror fans!

Oh, this one is annoying.  Robb’s final declaration shows that she is just not willing to let go of her stereotypical view of horror fans as men, only this time she ups the ante by claiming they want to be “…accompanied by a frightened woman.”

Yes, she went there, citing a 80s study by Zillmann et al.  Again, I did not read the study, but the language of the abstract speaks volumes:

“Exposed 36 male and 36 female undergraduates to a horror movie in the presence of a same age, opposite-gender companion of low or high initial appeal who expressed mastery, affective indifference, or distress. 
“We found the men enjoyed the movie most in the company of a distressed woman and least in the company of a mastering woman.  Women, in contrast, enjoyed the movie most in the company of a mastering man and least in the company of a distressed man.  Mastery did not enhance the female companions’ physical appeal.  However, it significantly enhanced that of the low-appeal male companion.”

Okay, aside from the appalling sexism in the abstract’s language, nothing suggests that male horror fans want to spend their time with a “distressed” woman.  The important thing to mention is the subjects were college students, not horror fans.  No mention is made that either party involved in the experiment wanted to see a horror film, or how such a desire might affect the outcome of the study. 

Instead, the study suggests that undergraduates of both genders, when picked up off the street, will fall into stereotypical gender roles during a horror film (and 36 couples is a very small sample when compared to the general population).  And such men liked the attention given to them by a scared (distressed) woman, while the women wanted the man to not be as scared as they were during the film. 

Robb plays off a stereotypical view of horror movie fans being male, attending such movies with the intention of driving their “distressed” dates into a state that encouraged close physical contact, and perhaps more.  This might be true of young men in general (perhaps explaining the large draw of horror movies during opening weekend that are roundly criticized by horror fans and experience a significant drop the following week), but is not a portrait of a horror fan.


Seriously, did anyone at The New Republic even see The Babadook before writing the headline for Robb's article?

Robb’s biggest crime, however, is the headline linking this article to The Babadook, one of the most critically acclaimed horror film in recent years.  Had Robb spent a little time on Goggle, she might have discovered her article is out of date and sexist.  Women not only like horror films, as she grudgingly admits, they are making them.  

Be sure to mention to your distressed friends/family members that The Babadook was written and directed by Jennifer Kent, than mention other women in horror like The Soska Twins, Lori Bowen and Jovanka Vuckovic, to name just a few. 

And don’t forget to point out the studies cited in the article used children and undergraduates as their subjects.  Nothing in any of the studies she mentions implies that horror fans fall into Robb’s opinion of them, no matter how she tries to weave her misguided assertions. 


Robb might not like horror films, which is fine.  To each their own.  But she has no business telling people what she thinks horror fans are like, as it’s obvious she has no clue.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Portland Horror Fans can bring The Fly to The Hollywood Theatre this month



Yes, it's time for the monthly This is Your Theater vote, where patrons can pick what movie they want screened at The Hollywood Theatre in Portland, OR.  And, while the choices include Dune, I think most Horror Fans will go for David Cronenberg's The Fly.

Yep, The Fly, on the BIG SCREAM, I mean SCREEN.  It's a multistep process, but it starts by clicking on this link and voting for the film.

Now, should it be selected, your job isn't over yet.  You'll need to buy an advance ticket to the film, which will screen on Friday, January 23, at 7 pm.  Just because the film wins the popular vote doesn't mean it will be screened, as The Hollywood has to sell enough advanced tickets to assure the film will be shown.

The ballot box closes on January 16, so get out there and VOTE!

Sunday, January 11, 2015

iZombie looks nothing like the comic and that's a shame.



Okay, the first trailer for the CW show, iZombie, has dropped and I can't say I won't watch it for a while.  But it looks nothing like the comic and that's a damn shame.  The trailer is below:




Okay, aside from changing the setting from Eugene to Seattle, or that her name is now Liv, the series keeps the basic premise.  Liv must eat brains and, in doing so, gains the memories of the people whose cranium she's digging into.  That bit is from the comic, but my problem is the trailer suggests that little else has made it into the series.


Yes, Gwen/Liv is gorgeous in the comic, when you don't see her zombie side


In the short lived Vertigo comic, Gwen is a grave digger in an "organic" cemetery (no formaldehyde), which allows her access to the monthly dose of brains she needs to keep from going "full Romero."  She gains the memories of those whose brains she consumes, but the comic is less a police procedural and more an entry into cosmic horror, as Gwen discovers her role in defeating "Xitaiu, a soul-devouring monster from beyond space and time."

She's aided by her friends, Ellie, a ghost who died in the 60s and is stuck haunting only the places she'd seen when alive, and Scott, a were-terrier (no, that is not a misspelling).  She also meets vampires, mad scientists, a holy order hell bend on killing the creatures of the night, and the Dead Presidents, a government sanctioned group of monsters fighting to stop the apocalypse.


Come on, a ghost, vampires, demon hunters and a were-terrier in a TV show would be a rating hit


That's a very brief summery of a complex story, full of under and over souls, a talking chimp and some really wacky stuff.  Probably not the storyline that makes for a good TV show, especially as the series ended after 28 issues.  But it's more interesting than a standard police procedural.

And I think a decent writing team could have crafted something better than what the trailer hints at.  Instead, it's as if the CW mashed together their other two DC comic shows and forced iZombie to fit the mold.  We have the hero, the coworker who knows her secret (Arrow), the clueless cop who will figure it out eventually (The Flash) and, just for some romance, a hot zombie dude.

Okay, that last one was a WHAT THE HELL moment for me, as the comic's other zombies are the basic walking dead we all know.  So this idea was obviously forced into the story to generate, I don't know, a Vampire Dairy vibe, I guess.


Yeah, because TV executives need to let you know even a zombie girl is hot by setting her up in a living/undead love triangle.  God, I really hope that doesn't happen.


As I said, I'll give it a shot.  Hey, it may surprise me, but I suspect I'll give up after a few episodes.  Which, as I mentioned in the headline, is a shame, as the comic is exceptional.  Writer Chris Roberson and artist Michael Allred crafted one hell of a tale, and If you haven't read it, I suggest you do before the show premieres in March.  I suspect iZombie might not do a lot to interest in one of the more interesting, and unusual, zombie comics published.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Ruthless Pictures beats Universal to the punch with Frankenstein vs. The Mummy



Yeah, I thought The Asylum would be the studio involved with the first of the Universal Monster Universe mashups.  But it appears the first is coming soon from Ruthless Pictures.  The studio responsible for Day of the Mummy, The Black Water Vampire and All Hallows' Eve is getting the jump on Universal with Frankenstein vs. The Mummy.  Check out the trailer below....


It appears a young, handsome Dr. Frankenstein is conducting his experiments at the same university where a young, pretty archeologist is studying a mummy that comes to life.  The bandaged corpse may have his eyes on the fetching scientist, while the good doctor is working to bring life to his collection of human parts.  Either way, the stage is set for an "epic" smackdown.

I'm not saying the film will be bad, though the trailer don't make me want to see the film the day it's released on home video or VOD.  But I am surprised a studio is trying to beat Universal Studios to the punch so early.  Perhaps this film was plannned before the Unified Monster Universe was announced.  But, after watching the trailer, I suspect the film was rushed into production soon after the Unified Monster Universe was announced.

And I think The Asylum is happy to let Ruthless Pictures get the first Universal Monsters mockbuster out, as I suspect they plan to release their own films closer to the Universal release dates, given the studio's past history.

Still, if this first one does well, expect Ruthless Pictures to start releasing more public domain monster smackdowns in the future.  Too bad the studio won't be able to add the Gillman into the mix, unless they get more creative with their creature designs.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

The Giant Claw (1957)




If you’ve ever watched a bad movie and wondered how talented actors could wind up in an awful flick, The Giant Claw is a cautionary tale of good intentions gone bad.  This film contains effects so horrid that star Jeff Morrow walked out of the screening, in his hometown, midway through the movie.  Then, depending on the story you want to believe, he either went home or found a bar to drown his sorrow concerning the audience’s laughter at the sight of the titular monster.
And you can’t blame the audience, as the monster looks like this….


I'm SCARY!  FEAR ME!!!
Wait, why is everyone laughing?


Which, for some reason, reminds me of this….


"I'm bringing home a baby bumblebee...."

It didn't help the movie that Beaky Buzzard was introduced over a decade earlier, and the audience for The Giant Claw probably remembered the goofy bird from their youth.  And, as the promotional artwork hides the titular critter, one has to expect the studio heads knew the bird would lay an egg.  But it’s a shame, as this was a decent B-movie in the making. 

Morrow plays Mitch MacAlee, a pilot and electronic whiz, is testing some science thing for the Air Force.  He happens to see an Unidentified Flying Object, as big as a battleship, but radar searches and a bunch of scrambled jets find no trace of the object.  Mitch is ridiculed, for a bit, but a series of attacks on aircrafts convinces the government that he might be telling the truth. 
The threat is a giant bird from space, deciding to make Earth its nesting ground. Now Mitch and his assistant Sally Caldwell (Mara Corday) must find a way to get around the bird’s anti matter shield so the US military can blast it.



Which should give the movie ample opportunity to wow you
with effects like this!

Okay, the science is wonky, as it searches for a way to make the creature near invulnerable.  It’s a common troupe in the giant monster movies of the 50s.  The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms had radioactive blood, It Came From Beneath The Sea was only vulnerable with an short range targeting system and as for Them!,well, it’s a big colony, and flying queen ants and, whatever.  The idea is that most of the giant monsters of the era had abilities to protect them from the normal weapons of humanity, making the film more suspenseful than if we could just wipe them out with a single cannon blast.

I shouldn’t need to mention the plot is pretty stereotypical.  Mitch and Sally bicker, the Armed Forces don’t believe Mitch’s UFO report until several other disasters occur, and Mitch learns to calm his anger with a few healthy swigs of Canadian apple cider.



Yeah, it was the 50s and the solution to most of life’s problems was a stiff drink away.

The downfall to this movie isn’t the script or the acting.  The cast is quite good, delivering wacky lines about anti-matter and UFOs with convincing dedication.  And it might surprise modern audiences that Sally is a pretty good 50s heroine.  Despite falling for stereotypically loutish Mitch, she displays scientific knowledge that sets her above the typical damsel in distress common to movies of the time.  And she's a damn good shot with a rifle, an equal to Mitch.

No, the film fails with the first clear glimpse of the extraterrestrial bird.  Ray Harryhausen was slated to do the effects, but declined (for budgetary reasons).  So producer Sam Katzman went with a low-budget special effects crew to create the titular monster, and the rest is bad movie history.  Morrow has gone on record that none of the actors knew about the creature's appearance until the film hit theaters.  One can only imagine the shame they felt being involved in a project that promised top notch effects and delivered a monster that might have you singing, "I'm bringing home a baby bumblebee."  Yep, that will sink your film right away.


Come on, quit laughing.  I'm scary, SCARY...

I’m not suggesting a puppet wouldn't be effective in a giant creature flick.  Hell, I love movies like The Giant Shrews or The Green Slime, so you know my standards are rather low when it comes to the presentation of the monster.  But the design, not the execution, of the monster in The Giant Claw is so bad, so goofy, that it’s hard not to laugh, even as the beast gobbles up helpless parachutist. 



Hey, movie audience.  I’m being eaten alive!!  Why are you all laughing?

There is a big difference between a goofy looking monster (like those in The Green Slime) and a creature that is just goofy.  Sure, the audience can chuckle at it's first appearance, but if they continue to laugh as the monster tries to bring humanity to it's knees, it's time to pull a Morrow and walk out of the theater to the nearest drinking hole.  

And yes, I saw several shots lifted from other films.  But that was a common practice, along with recycling music cues, and even that doesn’t sink the film.  The Giant Claw is a rare low budget horror feature, derailed not by the acting or screenplay, but the effects alone.  Had the monster looked better, this film might have become a beloved B-Movie classic.  Instead, it’s a stark example of how the best intentions of a cast and crew can be derailed by the choices made by a producer in the creation of the titular monster.