Archive | February, 2012

Grunting at the Screen (81)

23 Feb






The seventies were the years of Carrie, the Fury and other films about young psychics.

When you think of it, youth and psychic powers go together like…say duck and orange, they’re complimentary flavours. And they’ve been working together for decades, even before the films: Slan, The Chrysalids,  X-men, The Midwich Cuckoos; somehow the realm of the mind became the metaphor for our hopes of human evolution manifest in our children.     

For a long time they went out of favour. Could those days return?

With the success of Chronicle this is not unlikely. The best candidate in development is the Akira live action adaptation, but it is not the only one. It is not even the only manga adaptation with psychic kids; Mai the Psychic girl is also in contention. Apart from Japanese inspiration we have remakes of the Fury and Carrie in contention, a Firestarter update,  Beyond the Black Rainbow and Cillian Murphy’s Telepathy. I’d say we have a trend.




As Total Recall (the reboot) creeps up on us, we might consider what will Len Wiseman do next. This is particularly germane to me because I rather like his films.

In interview he has cagily intimated that he’ll be working on an action thriller “with supernatural elements.” That’s not specific enough for me so I looked in my files.

Wiseman has been linked to four or five projects, but I think the one he is referring to is Descendants, about a group with inherited electromagnetic powers. It has been described as a “supernatural thriller.”  

Most interesting to me, is that this may fit into the present trend for films with psychics. The electromagnetic aspect is a twist and that could prove interesting.



Some of my favourite movies of the last few years have been cheap. District 9,($30M) Chronicle ($12M), Skyline ($10m).

For years you were faced with a quandary, if you wanted independent genre cinema,   you were struck with something wasn’t just cheap, it looked cheep. But digital High Definition cameras and cheap CGI means it is anybody’s game now and it’s not down to money, it’s all about the talent.

This has not been the death of the big budget movie, not by far, this we have some behemoths coming at us: Prometheus, The Dark Knight Rises, Jon Carter and The Avengers. The barriers to entry however have lowered and I am cautiously optimistic. The future may bring films that are just a little more risky… the process may have already begun.

In issue 77 I spoke about the trend for arty Armageddons, this may be backwash from the revolution in cheap digital. The same could be said for films like Another Earth, and Upside Down (in case you haven’t heard of it, Upside Down is a romantic fantasy about two worlds inverted from each other, one down, one up, of course you have to have a romance separated by these worlds).

As interesting as this is, it’s not what I’m talking about. I’m hoping for a vigorous, young fantasy and science fiction cinema, one where the artistic choices are not dictated by a need for the widest audience appeal. Something similar to the American Horror Movie sector.

There is, of course a darkside. Budget is not just a burden, it is a gate keeper. The fact that film is and will remain a commercial medium demands a certain pause before commitment. Lowering the financial barrier also means a greater chance of low quality, ill considered and downright terrible films being made and even distributed. Pray for good filters.






Iron Sky is finished and it has had its first review from the  Berlinale festival.

The news is not exactly good, but I can discern some light among the gloom.

Apparently it is humorous, in fact more of a comedy than expected.

It does not stop there, they claim the humour is out of date, being aimed mainly at the Bush era this is more serious but not necessarily fatal (considering that we may have another republican in the white house soon, well soonish)

They also criticise the complex plot which may be more of a problem.

I’m not so concerned. The elements we need are there: ridiculous Nazi officers, bizarre tech, and the weird juxtapositions of a German army invading 21st century America.

Actually I’m relieved. So it’s a parody. It would have been worse done straight-faced. Way worse, with all of that Nazi imagery floating around it might have given aid and comfort to the terminally inadequate. But the way to deal with Fascists is to ridicule them. 

The review did acknowledge that after five years it was unlikely that Iron Sky would satisfy all expectations. Which is fair enough.

There are still other reviews to come.




You know… I saw Ghost Rider on TV the other day, and you know what? It wasn’t bad. Mediocre, yes. Crap CG, yes. Trivial…but not bad.

A lot of people forget, despite the fact that it was pillories, it made good money.

And so we have a sequel. Sorry, it doesn’t follow the first or have any linear relation so I guess it’s a reboot. A reboot with the same lead actor… so not exactly a reboot.

It’s hard to say exactly what Ghost Rider Spirit of Vengeance is, except it’s the next Ghost Rider film.



Shock horror! Taylor without Neveldine! Brian Taylor is working on a film project without his always partner Mark Neveldine. Predictably it’s a Video Game Movie. Neveldine/Taylor have been longterm game fans as evinced in the title sequence of Crank and all of Gamer (which runs like a live-action Call of Duty campaign).

The project is Twisted Metal and we can look forward to a race between heavily armed cars in mortal combat. (Hme…sounds like Death Race…or Carmageddon…)

To be honest it looks like Neveldine and Taylor could do this kind of thing in their sleep… which is probably why they only need one of them. It may be interesting to what Brian Taylor looks like without his other half, but I am apprehensive. Look at what happened once Jeunet et Caro broke up. Jeunet mad whimsical romantic comedies like Amelie (hey, you might like it but I’ll tell you one thing, it ain’t no Delicatessen!) and Caro made that monstrosity Dante 01.

Genre has had its share of great double acts: Neveldine and Taylor, Jeunet et Caro The Wachowski Bros. The Brothers Strause. Let’s appreciate what we have, and hope Mark and Brian will soon be again making sweet psychopathic music together.



 Back in issue 73 I addressed the fact that Disney was incapable of putting a live action space movie into production.

I started thinking. They are not adverse to science fiction the huge, expensive and risky John Carter is snapping on our heels.

I am thinking they are in risk reduction mode. Tron did OK, but it was not the monster hit expected.

Disney are twice-shy. These movies are not cheap and they want confirmation that Science Fiction is not a flash in the pan.

The crucial test is whether John Carter does serious money. Not just a sold hit but Avatar money. At this point anything less than a Billion Dollars over all (and I blanch at these telephone number amounts) will be a failure. Why A billion? It sounds impressive and it it’s achievable: Avatar made Two Billion, Dark Knight a billion and half and Inception almost a billion. It can be done.

Should John Carter clean up. it opens the door to a slew of Disney science fiction languishing in development (But not Oblivion, which they passed on)





Reviews of Ghost Rider: Spirit  of Vengeance are coming in. The news is not entirely bad but it is mixed.

The film is pretty much as expected, take the manic style of Neveldine and Taylor and add the idiosyncratic acting of Nicholas Cage and you have an intense experience.

There misgivings about the plot structure, it is described as “blocky” and the editing, called “weird”.

This is interesting. The directors are known for being wildmen, but always have delivered story (something their detractors fail to notice) suggestions about the story and editing suggest the film may have been messed with. We shall see.

Everyone says it’s better than the first one.



It’s not a script, it’s not in preproduction or even production. Mars et Avril,

Quibec ‘s best Science fiction movie* is actually finished and doing the round of festivals.

People are emigrating to Mars, but back in Montreal the anti cybernetic movement is stirring things up. Lovers Jacob and Avril are torn apart when Jacob decided to go to Mars, however Jacob’s father insists Mars is just an illusion.


I’ve had half an eye on it a while what makes it worth mentioning is the involvement of Bande Desinee artist Francois Schuiten. The director Martin Villeneuve is heavily influenced by the artist and Schuiten actually came in to act as “production designer” (we are not sure what that actually means. the title is usually quite technical, much closer to “Engineer” than “Architect” the Production Designer is expected to produce the very blue prints from which the sets are build.

Which may be neither here nor there because  the film is largely shot in front of Green Screen.

This could be a good or bad thing, it has both worked and failed in the past, I liked the Sky Captain but I was in the minority on the other hand Sin City was both commercially and critically a success.




Not yet in production, the Spanish film, Automata, I’d like to get excited, but it just sounds too good. How good? It is produced by and stars Antonio Bandaras (the manliest man in the world)  and it’s a science fiction thriller full of cool stuff: the ecology is collapsing, civilisation is being overtaken by artificial intelligence and Bandaras plays an insurance agent investigating a case of robot manipulation which may turn out to change the whole world.

Director is Gabe Ibanez who made Hierro  back in 2009 (No I didn’t see it either).

Hopefully it will actually get made.




Now here is something.

Michael Fassbender is developing a script based on the old Irish superman,

Cuchulain. It is tentatively called “Irish Myths” I’m quite excited. I like a man with length of steel in his hand and I recall the legends of Cuchulain (very vaguely) from my youth. he was a fighter and joker an irascible ally and irritating enemy. This has a lot of potential as Celtic mythology is a largely unexplored territory on film. My only fear is they try to do it “realistically”. However if they take advantage of the wealth of mythology we could have something truly weird, most encouraging (and problematic) is the battle rage or ríastrad of Cuchulain. done imaginatively it could make Irish Myths into a bizarre hybrid of Conan and The Thing with Cuchulain’s body horribly distorted by his battle rage.  I await developments.





 John Carter will be a huge hit. How do we know?

The Kermode Conjecture: The Kermode Conjecture (invented by Mark Kermode, but named!) States a film will be a hit if: It has a star, it has spectacular stunts/FX and its budget becomes the story.

Now we know it has eye popping FX, as for stardom it has Taylor Kitsch (so what Sam Worthington was hardly known before Avatar) most crucially its budget just became the news. Rumour is circulating that director went wildly over budget and reshoots were necessary. The director shot off that that he came in Under budget and this is what allowed him to do necessary reshoots.

Now that the world is being awoken to the fact that John Carter is a ridiculously expensive film (with or without over-runs) it has become an Event Film, and they will flock to see just what the fuss is about.




Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance (Review)

To hell with the Devil!. OK, I’ve said it.

Lots has been written about this film.

The Ghost Rider has fled to Eastern Europe to be for from his friends and family and anyone else he might harm, but a drunken monk (hme!) named Moreau enlists him to save the Devil’s son (Danny) from his father who would use him to bring hell on earth. 

Let me put my card on the table: I like it.

But first of all what was wrong with it? Well it won’t get prizes for profundity, if you are looking for deep insights into the human conditions, forget it. But seeing it it’s the sidequel of a comic book movie I guess that won’t bother any of the audience. It’s pretty well paced, but to be honest it has some slow moments, I’m surprised. The last thing I expected from a Neveldine/Taylor film was it might slow down for plot or characterisation. But I actually zone out during a couple of the quiet moments. The whole matter of how the Devil’s powers work is kind of fudged, and Ciaran Hinds who plays him.. Will I like Ciaran, until now I would not have thought he was capable of delivering a bad performance, but between his strange Mid-Atlantic accent and the makeup which has half his face twisted… it’s not good.

And oh yes the 3D sucks of course.

All things considered that is not too bad. Because most of what is left works.

Nicholas Cage gives a predictably wild performance (one day he will blow a blood vessel right there on screen). Idris Elba plays a very capable Moreau (even with the French-African accent) The digital FX don’t look Digital. The story for the most part (the MOST part!) rockets along and the action set pieces are spectacular.

The interpolated animated sequences loaded with exposition are odd, but not disastrous.


Which brings to mind the criticisms this film has endured. It’s not badly edited. The story is not jerky or unclear, it is in fact a model of clarity (in fact it’s too simple to screw up).  Yes, it is a PG movie but more blood and dismemberment would not have improved it.

As for the general bitching about characterisation and dialogue, it’s a comic book movie and actually as such it does fine.

Pretty much the only thing the reviewers got right was that it was better than the first one.

That said Spirit of Vengeance is not the greatest movie this year, or even the greatest movie by Neveldine/Taylor. It is however damned good fun.




I’m Jack Eris and If you know me you know Jack.



My own favourite Film Blog is John Scalzi’s. Not much in the way of news but his opinion is on the point


And if you want some real news scoot over to Dark Horizons


* I really should stop doing this but probably won’t


Grunting at the Screen (80)

13 Feb

The information age has not finished with us yet




This year there is one blockbuster production I am very hopeful about.

It’s John Carter.

The irony is that I never read the books… not one.

Maybe it’s the Frazetta paintings, they always promised a level of exoticism that was too tasty to refuse.

John Carter as a movie has a long history, longer than most book-to-film adaptations. They were talking about bringing to the screen back in the thirties. Since then a dozen projects to make it a feature have crashed and burned.

It finally will hit the screen this year and this is why I think it is worth a try.

It looks luscious; fighting gorilla elephants in the arena? Armies of green-skinned giants? One human in an alien savage land. Why not.

Being an old story which has stood the test of time there might actually be a story in there. Being that SFX means we can depict anything, it is more important than ever that spectacular films must have the strong bones of story holding them up.

Pixar are behind it. It may be a Disney film but the driving force behind it is a Pixar director and the Pixar team; these guys know story and they know entertainment. Strangely enough the much lauded director Andrew Stanton is not part of my calculation. In truth, I haven’t seen his Finding Nemo, and I’m going to shock you… I didn’t like Wall-E. Despite this, I think I think he can pull it off; he has good support and the guiding hand of Edgar Rice Burroughs.


I have now seen the trailer in the cinema. It’s …impressive. The creature effects have the kind of solidity, reality we found in District 9 and the detail has the obsessive quality of someone, an artist who is insisting on the reality of their world with manic and immersive intensity. I am drawn to this variety of vision

In the meantime all of those failed adaptations produced their own brilliant  fall-out and there is artwork from some of them on line



After all of the reboot news last time we have something different. Shuffle; a man wakes up every day in another part of his time line each morning he is a different age, it all seems random until he starts to see a pattern…

I like this idea, it is different, it has the feel of a Groundhog Day or Replay without being a straight take-off and it feels like its full of potential. Star is TJ Thyne, director is Kurt Kuenne and we’ll get back to you once reviews start emerging.



This is only rumour, but you’ll hear anyway. Harrison Ford has entered negotiations to be in the forthcoming Blade Runner sequel.

My feelings? Won’t happen:

Harrison has not worked with Ridley Scott since the first one.

He had a terrible time while filming the movie.

He hates to talk about it and until a couple of years ago refused to answer questions about it.


My guess was we were looking at a wild rumour and nothing else. There isn’t even a screenplay yet. I would not be surprised to hear this was a  planted story.


Four days later the producer Andrew Kosove definitively denied the story “patently false,” was what he said. 

And a Day after that Ridley did an interview at Entertainment Weekly to promote Prometheus, he took a few moments to talk about Blade Runner: No one has been cast, no script has been started, and no decision has been made whether it will be a sequel or prequel (which rather precludes any talk of casting).

However Ridley has been talking to original Blade Runner screenwriter Hampton Fancher, not about a new screenplay just general ideas.


Now we know Zombies and Robots are mortal enemies… (What? Have you never seen Ashley Wood’s seminal Graphic Novel Zombies Verses Robots?)

Well the epic struggle between the mechanical menace and the walking dead is about to be celebrated in a film (well actually another film  since the aforementioned Z-Vs-R also has been optioned.)

Dolph Lundgren will be leading humans and a ragtag force of robots against the risen in Battle of the Damned. Director and writer is Christopher Hatton, who, interestingly enough  gave us last year’s Robot apocalypse film Robotropolis.


Enki Bilal is back! His film Immortels Ad Vitam left people bemused but that is not stopping him His next is Animal’Z, and animated post apocalyptic film: the earth itself has revolted the environment and animals are in chaos, a ragtag group of humans (Hey, why is it always ‘ragtag’, can’t humans ever retreat in dignity?) are trekking the world in search of the last fresh water.



Machete is mad. You tried to frame him, you tried to kill him you defamed his Hispanic culture. Well watch out because he’s back, and this time… Machete Kills!

Yes, the film no-one expected to get a sequel is on its way. The original was pointlessly and deliriously violent and I fervently hope the sequel is equally deranged.

This time he is returning to Mexico to seek out a cartel boss and when he finds him…



Chronicle (review)


Rule One: Don’t use it on anything living

Rule Two: Don’t do it when you’re angry

Rule Three: Don’t do it in public.


…Well those don’t last very long…


Chronicle is something special. Three high school boys accidentally get telekinetic powers and …well they act as you’d expect high school boys with the  power of gods would. It all goes terribly wrong , one of them goes all Tetsuo on us and lots of big objects get thrown around.

The teaser on this is that it is filmed in the  found footage style. This leads to the usual conventions where get point of view shots , shaky cam, and video diary style confessionals. The addition of telekinesis gives us great Arial shots too.

However the “found footage ” aspect is in fact the  least interesting aspect of this film. It’s well acted and deftly directed.

To be honest it gets to a slow start, but after the first half hour the pace picks up and we get t know the characters, angst ridden teens where the need to fit it battles with the  will to power.

There have been a bunch of crass attempts to characterise this film by comparing it to others. I’d like to add my own: Its American Beauty Meets X-Men.

The pace accelerates towards the  end and we face an all out urban psi battle, and its surprisingly spectacular, the film makers use the city well and combine story and character with the action so we are not left with some low rent Michael Bay.

And here’s a surprise. The CGI is great! It’s almost unnoticeable. Once again I HAVE TO ask; why do low budget films have CG so much better than films that have a shed-load of cash thrown at them?


As I walk out of the  theatre I realise something. It’s February and we already have this year’s District 9. Damn! It makes it look easy; an original film without a huge budget which excites the critics (OK, so I read one bad review) and draws the Audience in.

It opened in the  US at number one and I hope word of mouth will keep it there.



The Paradise Lost project just tanked. So if you ever wondered how they were going to translate it to film…they are not.

I blame Bradley Cooper, the Crow remake also collapsed from under him.




DVD Roundup


Bought Cargo. Lots of anticipation here. First Swiss Space movie. Looking more expensive than it is, it comes carrying a lot of weight.

Also picked up Jackboots on Whitehall  and Drive Angry.


Jackboots on Whitehall.

It’s a puppet movie. Britain has a long history with puppet features, and I have a weakness for the adult puppet show.

The loose premise is an alternate WWII where the Nazis tunnel under the channel and successfully invade Britain.

The fight back starts in Scotland.

But this is an ahistorical Britain, one where Zeppelins roam the air and  the Romans never made it beyond a still-standing Hadrian’s Wall and the Scots are wild tartan tribes of legend.

Jackboots is an odd amalgam, a story with broad comic sweeps with unexpected moments of pathos, peppered with the elements of British sexual farce.

Broad? How about Hitler in Queen Elizabeth First’s dress? Pathos? The deaths are truly affecting. Farcical? Try Hitler’s rubber clad she-wolves getting a good seeing to by the Scots warriors.

Does it all work?

In part, the action scenes are brilliant and the explosions are as good as any live feature. The story is hokey and as it goes along gets more-so as the movie references kick in. the Empire Strikes Back, the Terminator,  Independence Day, Apocalypse Now, Braveheart (with a bizarre combination of Colonel Kurtz and William Wallace).

But it’s OK. By no means a classic but worth seeing once.



Drive Angry.

It was a meat eating, ball-breaking chunk of insane Southern Gothic and yes, I want to bone Amber Herd.

I’m not supposed to like this movie, it makes no sense, and the performances gnash the scenery to shreds the CG FX are really substandard. But it displays an inventiveness and maintains a pace that refuses to let me go.

It’s like the first terminator,

Like the Hidden.

Like Shoot ‘Em Up.

And yes the first Crank.

The director Patrick Lussier is a madman with a rabid monkey on his back and I’ll take a ride wherever he’s going next.




Talk about homage.

What do I mean? Its visual style is.. well imagine its 1978 and Ridley Scott has just lead his crew off the sets of Alien. Well it looks like the Swiss crew moved in two minutes later.

This is very much a love letter to Alien (and in small part to blade runner as well).

the action takes place in a vast dank space ship with dark metal corridors and huge mysterious spaces. the pace is also reminiscent of Scott’s original, not the manic rush of the sequel but the suspenseful gait of a film pre-George Lucas, pre-James Cameron.


Well the set up is that the earth’s ecosystem has been poisoned, the  remainder of the population live in Orbital Slums (there is a beautiful flyby of the massive space station reminiscent of the aerial sequences of Blade Runner)


Laura is on a regular cargo run from the Orbital station to somewhere called Station 42. It is a journey of years, requiring that some crew stay in hibernation.


In the process of her long and lonely vigil she finds out that there is something wrong with the Cargo, there is something or someone else in the ship.


She wakes the crew, but the quest to unravel the mystery results in two deaths before the truth emerges. they find out where they have really been going and what they’ve been carrying in the cargo (and that would be telling)


It’s a slow moving but hardly static film with solid ideas, perhaps predicable after a point (but hardly as egregiously as some French science fiction films).


The rare and beautiful thing is this is really science fiction, it actually turns on its ideas and while not the nest (or the warmest ) film you will encounter is worth a look for its fine craftsmanship.




I’m Jack Eris and If you know me you know Jack.



My own favourite Film Blog is John Scalzi’s. Not much in the way of news but his opinion is on the point


And if you want some real news scoot over to Dark Horizons

Index Page







Grunting at the Screen (79)

6 Feb



The information age has not finished with us yet

Reviews of The Woman in Black are emerging. Largely positive. In fact with this and Let Me In last year it really seems that Hammer films has made a triumphant return, they are making horror films and they are making them well.


Except there seems to be something missing. The schlocky element. Hammer was famous not just for it scares but its high camp and gratuitous nudity. This reincarnation of the studio is disturbingly ….high quality. It’s Hammer but not as we know it. There is a certain poignancy that we will never know the like of Dr Jekyll and Sister Hyde, or the sublime Countess Dracula. 


This is unexpected. Timur Bekmambetov has acquired the rights to Stephen Tunney’s novel One Hundred Percent Lunar Boy, It’s coming of age story set a thousand years in the future.

Now teen lit is hot property in the movie world. Do I have to mention a certain boy wizard and angst ridden vampires at this point? But Bekmambetov has not been known for his family-friendly movies (and we love him so much for that…) Maybe he’s expanding his repertoire.

On the other hand he is a producer as well as director: he produced Black Lightning and The Darkest Hour, he may be holding this for another director.


Rumours of rumours. Daniel H. Wilson has pulled ahead of his deadly rival Ashley Wood. Spielberg is committed to Robopocalypse after he finishes his current project Lincoln.

With none of Ashley Wood’s present projects in production, Wilson is in position to become the Lord of Robots.

In case no one knows what I am talking about,  Daniel H. Wilson and Ashley Wood are two robot obsessed writers, Wilson writes regular books, Wood writes comics and between them they’ve created a handful of robot based properties almost all of which have been optioned as films.

As usual most of these projects have been languishing in development forever.

Eventually one or the other is likely to break out and get the ball rolling, and one  of them may be a hit. In the meantime we’ve manufactured, er intuited a blood rivalry between the pair which may or more likely may not have any basis in reality.

 So, let the war of the robots commence.

 Incidentally, if Spielberg is doing Robopocalypse it is unlikely he will do that cyborg heavy Ghost in the Shell adaptation he’s been kicking around.


 It’s five months ’till release but already publicity is ramping up for the Alien kind-of-quel Prometheus. Is it a prequel, is it not? Doesn’t matter. What matters is the hype surrounding the film. The actors, some very respectable names like Michael Fassbender  and Noomi Rapace are pumping expectations. I worry if any film can possible meet them. They say the script is exceptional and the director is a visionary.

At this point we are forced to consider Ridley Scott’s recent output and dial down the level of anticipation to reasonable levels.

Robin Hood, Body of Lies and Kingdom of Heaven are watchable but hardly classics. We live in hope he can produce something as powerful as Gladiator again and we fervently hope the genius of Blade Runner might again emerge; but realistically if Prometheus is a watchable as say Body of Lies then we will be content.

And until then we’ll forget Scott directed two of the greatest science fiction films of all time…


 First reviews of Underworld: Awakening are coming out. The newspapers are not hugely impressed.

The movie blogs are not happy either, they find it cold and unappealing. God news is it’s short, it’s very violent and of course Kate Beckensale looks great in rubber.

 Here’s something; an independent science fiction movie called “Life

Tracker” what it’s about is a new device that predicts the exact time of death of anyone (Isn’t there a website for that..?) Director is Joe McClean.


 It’s official, there is a trend.

Horror directors are turning to science fiction, so far in limited numbers, but who knows a trickle could become a flood.

So far we have Ti West, a highly respected and successful director in his own field who is now going for the “drug testing in space ” film. The Side Effects.

Eli Roth is threatening to make the large scaled robots and monsters film Endangered Species.

Rupert Glasson’s  has Skylab; there is a horror, guess where it is?

Now we have  Ben Wheatley who directed the acclaimed and obscure British flick Kill List. He wants to do a science fiction film called Freakshift, described as  “Hill Street Blues with monsters” Wheatley compared it to Doom, (the game not the film I presume.)


Richard Stanley is at it again. He hasn’t directed a feature in a while but he has slid sideways into making segments for anthologies. The latest one is for something called The Profane Exhibit (Hme, sounds like some ‘thirties surrealism…) No word on what the anthology theme is but Stanley’s segment will be set in Africa, and there will be atrocities.


Here’s some real news.

For the past two years film makers have been yanking our chain with hints and promises of Iron Sky. Yes, we have all been waiting to see this Finnish movie about  a Nazi invasion from the moon (it makes perfect sense…I think)

Well now we have actual progress. The film will get a premier at Berlinale 2012:


I swear I’m not Nazi Obsessed, it’s the rest of the world. Over the last four-five years we have seen the rise of Nazi horror movies. For some reason they are saying the most gruesome force of the twentieth century is…just not evil enough. So, spicing up the Nazis lately has been some vampirism.

Fangs of War  takes us back to Transylvania where the Third Reich is attempting to prise the secret of immortality from Dracula himself. Don’t worry a force of allied commandos are in there to make sure they don’t get it.

What is interesting is that this is not a sequel or take-off of Bram Stoker’s Dracula but a re-telling complete with Jonathan Harker Quincey Morris, Renfield and most of the original personnel. The action is transplanted to wartime 1940’s.


This is not the only game in town, the latest sequel to The Puppet Master mines this vein with  Puppet Master X: Axis Rising.  


Nazi Horror is a current trend, but it’s not the only one in town; most unexpected is the return of the Horror Anthology. Perhaps the heyday of the anthology format was the early seventies, since then many have tried to bring back, the Twilight Zone etc. However in the last year they have been popping up like mushrooms.

We’ve already mentioned Theatre Bizarre  which will open soon  and the ABC of Death (twenty-six, count ’em, twenty-six segments!),  . Of course I have not even mentioned V/H/S, the Reality Horror Anthology…


Speaking of which Reality Horror is far from dead. It looks like there will be Paranormal Activity sequels for the foreseeable future. Much more interesting to me  is the Reality Superhero movie: Chronicle. Most of the reviews are worryingly optimistic.


Now I don’t usually cover the remakes and sequels. Movie goers complain endlessly about them, but this is strictly in their hands. I was sent an article that said seven out of last Year’s Top Ten US box office hits were sequels, remakes, reboots or adaptations from some other visual medium.

The future is very much in our hands.

Anyway, sometimes the remake bandwagon gets so loud you cannot ignore it.

Paul Verhoeven. I have been made aware that three of Verhoeven’s US films are now being rebooted. It has become a joke (OK, he has fewer remakes in the works the works than John Carpenter), pundits are sneering the next Verhoeven reboot will be his famous flop Showgirls (of course that is absurd, but I would not bet against a remake of The Hollow Man).

In production is at the moment is Total Recall; at the script stage is RoboCop and Starship Troopers.

Starship Troopers! Are they serious? The rationale behind rebooting a film is that technology can make it so much better. Or at least look so much better. But do they seriously think they can improve on the groundbreaking FX of Starship Troopers? (One of the few films not to disgust fans with crap CG.)  And the film is still very much  in “living memory.”

While I am on my hobby horse. I may not have mentioned it but I have been keeping an eye on the progress of Total Recall. Now I like all of the elements. The ones other than the fact they are needlessly remaking an eighties blockbuster: I like the Director, Len Wiseman made the very acceptable Underworld films and Die Hard 4.0. The script is by  Kurt Wimmer, also a director, he made one of my favourite films Equilibrium, and wrote the very smart Law Abiding Citizen.

On paper this is a very encouraging project.

Except for all of the lies.

Huh? Every article on the Total Recall reboot has emphasised how different it will be from the original. In fact they say it will be closer to the original short story.

Perhaps they don’t know that we can read.

So here is a catalogue of Total Recall lies.

 Kate Beckinsale is playing an amalgam of the characters Lori and Richter. Ricter does not appear in the short story.

Jessica Biel plays Melina. There’s no Melina in the short story.

There is a catfight between Melina Lori: just like in the first film.

Bryan Cranston plays Cohaagen.  There’s no Cohaagen in the short story.

(Are you bored yet?)

The only way this is similar to the story is that we never get to Mars.

That said, the film promises a ton of incidental futuristic design detail which might make it worth watching. It may even be quite fun, but I only wish they would quit spreading  disinformation and admit this is largely a remake of the original film. Then we’d walk in without expectations.


Underworld : Awakening: Review.

In the words of the immortal Whitney Houston “It’s not right, but it’s OK.”

What do we mean? Underworld Awakening is not a great  film  by no means, and here is why.

It’s kind of hokey, I mean all the melodrama of our hero Seline on the run from humans who have at last discovered the existence of vampires and lycans (and are not happy), all of shock and angst of her awakening 12 years after. And the daughter she never knew. It’s pretty cheesy.

The CG is terrible, but we expected this.* The 3D is worse, really, 3D has deteriorated since Avatar, it’s the one example of receding media technology. It looks like it’s made of animated cardboard cut-outs set at various distances from the camera. Utterly unconvincing.

And there are the derivative parts: which means pretty much all of it. The inclusion of a young girl (plus the deeply cool Evanescence song at the end) gives it an Electra Assassin feel. The initial set up with Seline awakening after years and putting together the puzzle of her own capture and imprisonment, makes it highly reminiscent of the Resident Evil movies. There are moments evocative of the Blade films, and at moments you feel this film would really like to be The Matrix Reloaded (which would be a first…) but just hasn’t the budget.

There is all this and the additional fact that this film takes no prisoners; it rushes headlong assuming you will pick up the threads from the first three films; a seven-hundred year old war between vampires and werewolves deriving from the rivalry between the sons of an immortal named Corvenus. The Love story between Seline and Michael.  It’s a lot to swallow.

But you know, as cheesy and derivative as it is..? It’s still OK. You sit down to an Underworld film and you accept the premise then you go with it, and the initial ten minutes just doesn’t let up with relentless action and even bloodier than usual violence.  Even after the opening they allow very little time for exposition or to draw breath, and it develops into all out guns, claws and teeth conflict.

I see no wrong in this.

Of course this leaves no room for character development… a good thing in my estimation. (I suspect a great deal of fat has been left on the cutting room floor here).

But if you liked the first three films (goodness, has it been that many already?), and we do, you will be getting exactly what you expect, only faster louder and harder.

By the end of the film you know it’s been set up for yet another sequel (hopefully we can get Scott Speedman back for that one.) And why shouldn’t we? Len Wiseman (director of the first, and producer of this one) has cracked the formula for these things and so long as he keeps to the plan we should all be fine.

But here’s a mystery, It gives no concessions to latecomers to the series yet it’s a big hit, audience can’t get enough. What’s that about?




*It pains me to be moaning about CGI character animation again, but there you go. I stayed for the credits on this film and there were a half dozen VFX companies involved here, based everywhere from France to Scandinavia (and taking in India in-between). It must have been a major undertaking to wrangle all those companies and get them all to match (and yes they do). However the CG still sucks, in that it still looks exactly like CG.



I’m Jack Eris and If you know me you know Jack.



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