Friday, April 30, 2010

Kick Ass (2010)

Title: Kick Ass (2010)

Director: Matthew Vaughn

Writer: Matthew Vaughn, Jane Goldman based on the comic book by Mark Millar and John Romita Jr.

Cast: Aaron Johnson, Chloe Moretz, Nicolas Cage, Christopher Mintz Plasse


Here’s something you probably didn’t know about me: I'm a hardcore comic book collector. I used to buy every thing I could get my geek boy hands on, on a weekly basis! The latest issue, the latest special edition cover, the first appearance of this and that character. I stopped buying comics regularly because number one, it was getting expensive and number two, I was more interested in acquiring comics in which only the best comic book writers and artists worked on, I didn't want the weekly crap, I wanted the good stuff, the 'creme de la creme' as they say. If the art work and story weren’t exceptional, I just didn’t give a crap. Quality is #1 for me when it comes to reading comics. I like the good stuff. So now I just by the collected editions and graphic novels, and I only buy graphic novels from artists and writers that are worth a damn. As a result I have a massive collection of comics in boxes, waiting for the day when they will all suddenly sky rocket in value. Things are starting to look up, that first appearance of War Machine (Iron Man #282 ) is going up in price! But my love for reading comics has never died out. I know the excitement and joy of buying the latest issue of a comic you’ve been reading for a while. And that thrill of having that special edition that everyone else wants. Kick-Ass is a film whose storyline develops within this universe of comic book collectors and geeks. The kind of guys who love to hang out for hours and hours in a comic shop just talking comics.

Reading comics in a comic shop, comic book geek heaven

Kick-Ass is a film based on a comic book written by Mark Millar and drawn by the great John Romita Jr.; a comic book artist that I have always admired. His artwork has always had a style that I really enjoy. Romita Jr. has been working for Marvel Comics for years now, doing memorable runs on various Marvel comics. Amongst them The Amazing Spider-Man. But with Kick-Ass, Millar and Romita Jr. decided to take a stab at creating their own super-hero. This comic was released Marvel Comics Icon Imprint, a division of Marvel that produces creator owned titles. This means that Marvel prefers to produce comics which are still owned by their creators, as opposed to having these great artists and writers run off and self publish their own comics somewhere else. Kind of like what Todd McFarlane did with Spawn and Rob Liefeld did with Youngblood in the 90s. These two guys worked for Marvel Comics, got famous because of their splashy, stylish art then quit Marvel and went out on their own to print their own damn comics and subsequently, made millions while at it.

Issue #2 of Kick Ass. Prices have sky rocketed on back issues of this series!

Millar and Romita Jr. did their own take on a teenage superhero, and I got to hand it to them, they came up with something that is equal times familiar and equal times refreshingly original. I’m speaking only from what I saw in the film, because I have not had the pleasure of reading these comics. You can rest assured I will be searching out for that Kick Ass graphic novel as soon as I can!

Story for Kick-Ass concerns teenager Dave Lizewski, a dude who is fed up with being mugged and harassed by petty criminals. One day he decides he is going to make himself a superhero costume and go out and fight crime himself! The logic behind his actions is, why, if we watch so many super hero movies and read so many comics, does nobody ever actually dress up like a super hero and confront evil? The answer to that question is quickly handed to him when he confronts a pair of criminals trying to steal a car. He gets his ass handed to him for trying to stop them. But he doesn’t give up! After a quick recuperation period, he goes right back to the streets to fight crime. When his heroic escapades reach You Tube, he becomes an overnight sensation! He opens a MySpace page and suddenly requests for help start pouring in! Can Dave take on the responsibilities of being a hero? Or will it all prove to be a little too much for him?

Essentially, in its first few frames, this film feels a lot like Sam Raimi’s first Spider-Man movie. A nerdy teen (with glasses of course) decides he wants to be a superhero. He designs his own super suit on a little notebook, he goes to the roof tops to try and jump from one building to the other, he has a girl he likes but doesn’t dare tell her. He is poor. He lives with parents apparently oblivious to his super hero exploits. These similarities don’t surprise me since Romita has been working for marvel comics for years, and he himself has worked on a long run of Amazing Spider Man. But this movie takes one turn that makes everything else after that initial set-up completely original. It’s when our hero suddenly confronts brutal reality and gets his ass kicked by the criminals. His first adventure as a hero is a pretty brutal one! And that’s when the movie took me completely by surprise! I was like “no way did that just happen!” So the movie got me on its good side for surprising me like that.

What is most surprising about this movie is the blood and violence. The edginess it has, the profanity. The shits, fucks and cunts fly out of these kids’ mouths like there’s no tomorrow. Normally, this kind of super hero movie plays it really safe, I mean, just look at how squeaky clean the Spider Man movies are! There is not an ounce of blood in them. The violence is cartoonish, you never feel like the characters are in any real danger. But with Kick-Ass, characters bleed, they hurt, they end up in the hospital. They ache and pain.

Hit Girl, comic book version

One thing I always hated about comic book movies is the fear to show the “good guys” killing. This is normally a big no-no in comic book films because the target audience is almost always kids. That’s how Hollywood executives think. Comic book movie? Make it squeaky clean, and aim it at the kids. Look at Spider-Man and The Fantastic Four. How ‘safe’ were those movies? Super safe that’s how safe! Villains end up killing themselves most of the time, hero’s don’t kill the villains themselves. I’m guessing the logic behind that is that they are the good guys. They shouldn’t be doing any killing whatsoever. But not on Kick-Ass! Take the character of Hit Girl for example, she is twelve years old, her father is a vigilante called Big Daddy, a Batman of sorts. They both go villain hunting, and when villains are confronted, they get maimed in really gruesome ways. Hit Girl is a character that has gotten a lot of heat because she goes around with her daddy killing bad guys.

I see why this can be seen as ‘controversial’. Of course having a 12 year old girl chopping of arms and legs with a sword is controversial, but this is just a movie, not to be taken seriously. I had a blast, seeing this deadly little girl kicking so much ass. It was a complete thrill, simply because that’s not the type of thing we are used to seeing a twelve year old girl do. So it’s shocking that way. Hit Girl goes around on a first person shooting spree that was so freaking awesome! And in night vision no less! Anyhow; I think this controversy can only do the movie good. People will probably go see the movie just to see what the big deal is all about. I have to give kudos to this movie for being so ballsy. That edge is what makes this film interesting. Call it controversial or whatever you want, Hit Girl kicks ass! She handles guns, knives and swords like a real expert!

I did find something strange about it. The movie is called Kick Ass, yet you don’t really feel like it’s his journey. You kind of get the feeling that this movie should have been called “The Adventures of Hit Girl and Big Daddy, and their side kick Kick-Ass” Yeah, we do see Dave’s trip towards becoming a true hero, we do see him go from Zero to Hero, but I have to say that Hit Girl stole the show. I’m not bringing down Aaron Johnsons performance as Kick-Ass. I think he played nerdy and vulnerable very well, but the truth is the truth, the focus of the film is on Hit Girl and Big Daddy, Kick-Ass is just coming along for the ride, learning the ropes of becoming a hero.

The Nic Cage factor is underplayed here, by that I mean he doesnt get that much screen time because the movie focuses mostly on all the other characters. Cage plays Hit-Girl’s dad, Big Daddy. A Batman like character who has a burning rage for criminals. The idea that he has raised Hit-Girl in the ways of death and destruction is kind of crazy. Yeah, he is a hero, but he has essentially sabotaged Hit-Girls chance at a normal life, at a childhood. This wasn’t a big problem for me because this is one big comic book fantasy, its not reality, plus I found it funny and shocking at the same time, so I went with it. Plus, the villains in this movie were real villains; they deserved to get their asses kicked by Big Daddy and Hit Girl. Cage plays Big Daddy like a time bomb that’s just about to explode at any given second. You know how Cage can get when he gets into whacko mode.

One thing that I thought was peculiar was the inclusion of music from two of Danny Boyle’s films: 28 Days Later and Sunshine. I love both of those soundtracks, but couldn’t understand why this film couldn’t get its own musical score. But the music did fit in perfectly with the scenes. Speaking of the films director, Mathew Vaughn made the film interesting with his stylistic direction. The film plays with that idea that since this is a comic book movie, the colors should be vibrant and jump of the screen. I think he achieved it. The film also has some awesome shots like the first person shooter sequence in night vision.

All in all, Kick Ass was rather refreshing actually. While it doesn’t bring us anything remarkably original or anything (its similarities with Spider Man are many) the violence and cussing and Hit Girl made the movie that much more entertaining. Its characters do stuff normal superheroes would never be caught dead doing, like killing. If you don’t mind cartoonish violence and profanity doesn’t phase you, then you should be okay.

Rating: 4 out of 5

Kick-AssKick-Ass #1Kick-Ass: Creating the Comic, Making the Movie

#1 of the Top Five Stand Alone Sci Fi Movies

Well, here we are! We've finally reached our #1 choice for our Top Five Stand Alone Sci-Fi Films! Shaun Anderson from The Celluloid Highway and I (The Film Connoisseur) each did our top five lists separetly and we came up with the five choices you've seen all through out the week. While getting these posts ready I realized that we had chosen the same #1 movie, Blade Runner. I think a lot of you will agree Blade Runner more than deserves its #1 spot. So basically, what you'll see below is our respective comments on this science fiction classic. I want to thank Shaun from The Celluloid Highway for collaborating with me on this countdown, its been great, and we will most likely do it again soon. Be on the look out for that! But for now, enjoy our #1 choice for Top Five Stand Alone Sci-Fi Films!

The Celluloid Highway's #1 Pic - BLADE RUNNER (Ridley Scott, USA, 1982)

The resurrection of Blade Runner from misinterpreted box office flop to one of the most important films made (in any genre) of the last thirty years is a testament to the durability of director Ridley Scott’s post-modern approach. The screenplay (which went through multiple drafts) by Hampton Fancher and David Peoples was based on the novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Phillip K. Dick. A challenging and bleak vision of a dystopian future in which artificiality and paranoia reign supreme. It wasn’t until British director Ridley Scott (fresh from the success of Alien (1979)) joined the project that the true visual scope of the production began to take shape - a scope that caused the producers nightmares and saw them desperately attempt to raise the large budget required. A budget which eventually came in at $28,000,000. Harrison Ford was cast against type as the morose and depressed Deckard, the Blade Runner (cops specializing in the retirement of replicant androids) of the title. Part of the films commercial failure is surely to do with the ambiguities and complexities of the Deckard character, who is by no means a conventional hero and by the films conclusion comes across as craven and cowardly. The acting plaudits go to the brilliant Dutchman Rutger Hauer who gives a subtle and nuanced performance as the lead replicant Roy Batty and invests in him more humanity and emotion than the human’s who seek his destruction. Batty seeks order in a chaotic universe, refuses to work as a slave on the outer planets, and seeks explanation from his ‘father’ Dr. Eldon Tyrell (Joe Turkel). He is a figure of radicalism whose destruction is required to maintain the status quo. The metaphysical battle between Batty and Deckard is brought to life in a polluted and overcrowded Los Angeles. An ethnic melting pot in which artificial animals are sold on the black market (an aspect of the novel which is almost entirely removed from the film.) A neon lit landscape in which adverts loom large over the populace like dominating sentinels. The film mixes the hard boiled detective element of film noir, with the iconography of science-fiction, and the result is a dark and grungy cyberpunk vision of the future which is married seamlessly to the beautiful music of Vangelis.

The Film Connoisseur's #1 pic - BLADE RUNNER (Ridley Scott, USA, 1982)

What hasn’t been said about this grand dame of a movie? I don’t know. I guess I can go a bit into the interpretations I personally give to the film and why I consider it to be one of the top science fiction films of all time. It was tough having to pick one, but I think Blade Runner more than deserves it. Blade Runner comes to us from legendary director Ridley Scott, one of the most important contemporary directors living today. What I personally love about his films is how no matter how fantastic or outlandish the setting of a film might be, Ridley Scott brings it to cinematic life in the most credible fashion possible. I mean honestly, one look at the landscape in Blade Runner and no matter how many special effects are involved, I am instantly transported to that world. The world of Blade Runner is one I constantly visit for various reasons. The first is of course that it is an excellent science fiction film! The futuristic yet decayed city landscapes. The flying cars, the murderous renegade androids! We have all the necessary elements for a satisfying sci-fi tale. And what a tale it is. I especially enjoy how the rebellious androids are after their creator, asking him to extend their lives! To me, this is the core of the film. Roy Batty, the leader of the murderous androids known as replicants is a being unwilling to accept his mortality. So what does he do? He walks right to the doorsteps of his creator and begs for more life! In this way, the film reveals to us what its really about. Life, death, and how we need to make the most of it now, while we are here. Its a film that speaks of mans frustrations with death. Why must our journey through life end? Why cant our lives continue forever? The movie commments on how life is a priceless thing we should never take for granted. The poetic words that Roy Batty says while he is disappearing (“I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe…”) makes me wonder if I am living my life to the fullest before I fade away as well. Deckard sums it up best for me: “All he’d wanted were the same answers the rest of us want. Where did I come from? Where am I going? How long have I got?” An interesting thing about this movie is that its based on a novel by Philip K. Dick called "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?". I read it, and the interesting part is that the movie couldn’t be any more different from the novel! They are two very different takes on the same premise. Both films have flying cars, murderous androids, but the book goes more into a religion called 'Mercerism' if you can believe it. Highly recommend you read the book, it’s a whole other trip! But kudos to Ridley Scott for creating a masterpiece that’s unique even though its very different than its source material.  This is a remarkable science fiction film, addressing one of the oldest questions that has haunted humanity: why do we die?

Thursday, April 29, 2010

#2 of the Top Five Stand Alone Sci-Fi Movies

This blog post is part of a Top Five Stand Alone Sci-Fi Movies countdown that I collaborated on with Shaun Anderson from The Celluloid Highway, if you get a chance, visit his blog and check it out. Dont forget to return tomorrow for our #1 choices in the countdown!

The Celluloid Highways #2 Pick - THEM! (Gordon Douglas, USA, 1954)

In the 1950’s American science-fiction films fell into two distinct camps. The first saw alien creatures (be it blobs, monoliths, or flying saucers) penetrating our airspace and laying siege to the planet (or the country that stood in for the planet - America). The second saw creatures that were residents of the Earth (sometimes primordial throwbacks or dinosaurs) suffering freakish mutations and taking advantage of their new found condition to create chaos. Them! chronicles the attempts of the military and the scientific experts (unusually for a 50’s sci-fi film working in perfect harmony) to destroy an army of giant ants. The film opens in the desert landscape of New Mexico (a desert setting was very common for 50’s sci-fi - see Tarantula (1955), It came from Outer Space (1955) and numerous others) amid the mysterious death of an FBI agent. This just happens to be the inhospitable location the US military has chosen in the past to test Atomic bombs. The hunger of the ants for sugar has led to them being adventurous and pretty soon the experts from Washington (the local community never knows how to deal with the threat in these films) is on hand to reassure the idiot masses. In this film the military defers to the scientific expert Dr. Medford (Edmund Gwenn) as he tries to come up with a way to defeat a rapacious enemy that is soon on the march toward Los Angeles. This is one of the films that is often held up as functioning as a metaphor for the communist threat - the hive instinct of the ants doubling for the conformity of the Soviet Unions brand of socialism. But this is also a superb monster movie with some excellent action set pieces. The finale in the sewers of L.A. is taut and suspenseful, and the black and white cinematography by Sidney Hickox is a delight. The ants of course are unconvincing and daft, but retain a charm that present day CGI lacks. This is a film that both celebrates consensus and community, reinforces the importance of Washington as a reliable institution in the face of an invading force (one that is already present - thus confirming the paranoia around communist infiltrators ) celebrates the knowledge of scientific experts…but also challenges and criticizes atomic testing. Quite simply one of the most important (and fun) sci-fi films of all time.

The Film Connoisseur's #2 pick - CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND (Steven Spielberg, USA, 1977)

This one holds a special place in my heart because it was one of the first films I ever saw in a theater. My parents took me to see it when I was a baby, so I’ve always had this kind of special connection to it. Since then, I’ve watched Close Encounters of the Third Kind on countless occasions and it still remains one of my favorite science fiction films ever. Why? Well, it kind of feels real at times. The way everything unfolds in the story just feels true. The family we meet in the film feels like a real middle class struggling family. Richard Dreyfus plays the goofball dad that we feel pity for, but at the same time, we are rooting for him to discover the awesome truth! And speaking of the truth, this film was actually channeling all those anxieties that people were feeling during the 70's. I like that whole angle in the film where we see how the governments lie to the people about a decease that’s killing the animals, just so they can evacuate a whole area. Spielberg commenting on how the governments manipulate the masses through lies, because believe it or not, there was a whole "swine flu" scare during '79 as well, and people were running like crazy putting on this 'vaccine' that would 'protect' them from this killer virus. Many called bullshit on that one. In the film we  find out that this decease was a lie, the air is fine, and that it was all part of the “story” that they tell the general population just to get them to do what they want them to. The alien encounters are both terrifying and awe inspiring. And Spielberg simply knows how to play with our emotions when directing a film. He knows how to play with peoples fears about aliens, about the unknown. The visual effects still hold up incredibly well, even after all these years. The scenes where we finally see the alien mother ship is one of the most amazing movie moments on any film. After this film came out, UFO sightings were through the roof! Spielberg rooted himself firmly in the minds of his audience, so much so that he got people seeing UFO’s left and right during the 70s! Spielberg captured that feeling of terror of the unknown, but also of amazement and adventure. A true sci-fi classic that will undoubtedly live on through the ages.

Close Encounters of the Third Kind (30th Anniversary Ultimate Edition)Them! (Snap Case)

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Freddy Krueger: An Unauthorized Biography or "Why is Freddy so messed up?"

Freddy Krueger has had one ass backwards messed up life! It’s not much of a surprise that he’s ended up being such a nut case. Each Nightmare on Elm Street  film has given us little bit of Freddy’s back story through a series of brief flashbacks, but they have never given us the whole story in what we might call a linear fashion . Since every writer/director that's worked on this franchise wants to add a little more to the story, and a more messed up angle to spice up their film, the amalgamation of all those additions has resulted in what we now know as Freddy Krueger's messed up life story! Since The Film Connoisseur doesn’t want to get left out on the whole Freddy Krueger craze, I decided to do a blog post on Freddy Krueger's life story. Chronologically! In seven chapters! And with pictures!

Freddy’s conception

One of the most disturbing parts of Freddy Krueger’s background is his conception. That moment when a males sperm reaches a female egg and voila! Life begins! In Freddy’s case, his mom (Amanda Krueger) was a nun, who renamed herself Sister Mary Helena when she gave herself to the church. If that isn’t fucked up enough, she works in an insane asylum. One fine day, while she is working in the tower of the insane asylum, where the most dangerous crazies are kept, the asylum personnel forgets that she is working inside, and she gets locked up with a healthy group of homicidal maniacs! Now, these guys might be complete whack jobs, but their libidos are still working over time! Which is why they collectively decide to rape Amanda Krueger. And so, Freddy Krueger was conceived! This is the reason why his own mother calls Freddy “bastard son of a thousand maniacs!”. It gets worse. Amanda Krueger actually ends up rasing Freddy but is later horrified at the fact that he turns out to be a child killer/rapist! When Freddy is sent to court and prosecuted by the Elm Street parents, she hangs herself when he is let go on a technicality! Bummer huh?

Freddy’s childhood upbringing.

So, Freddy is left without a family. His mother hung herself, and his father, well, who the hell knows who he was. It could have been any of the maniacs in the insane asylum. Actually, you can get a glimpse of the maniac who’s lucky sperm impregnated Amanda Krueger’s during a dream sequence on Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child.

So anyhows, Freddy is adopted by a man who looks like Alice Cooper. Oh wait, it is Alice Cooper! I always thought it was hilarious how Freddy Krueger’s step dad was played by the legendary rock singer.

But anyhow, Freddy’s legal guardian enjoys saying nice things to Freddy like “You’ve been a waste since they day I took you in! Now its time to take your medicine!” after saying those wonderfully inspiring words to Freddy, he begins to whip him mercilessly with a belt! Freddy cant cope with his disturbing family life, so he begins to act rather strangely in school. For example, at one point, he takes the class pet hamster and begins to smash it to death with a sledge hammer! His school mates see his strange behavior and begin to call him “son of a hundred maniacs, son of a hundred maniacs!” I guess, word spreads around town rather easily when you are the offspring of a nun and a looney from the insane asylum.

Freddy as a teenager

After a while, Freddy gets used to the constant abuse from his step father. So much so that when his father whips him with a belt, he doesn’t feel it any more! Actually, he begins to like it! As his step father whips him over and over again, he says “Thank You Sir! May I have another?” His step father continues to whip him and then he says “You want to know the secret of pain? If you stop feeling it, you can start using it!” And then he proceeds to kill his own step father with a razorblade. Touching. And in 3-D no less! Poor Alice Cooper!

Freddy as a husband and a dad

So, somehow, in spite of the shit storm of a childhood that Freddy Krueger endured, he ends up getting married and becoming a dad! He has a little daughter by the name of Maggie. It looks like Freddy has finally found happiness in family life. He has a wife, a child, and a home with a white picket fence. But wait, apparently Freddy’s pent up anger wont stay hidden for long! He secretly abuses and murders children in his own home town! He has a dungeon beneath his home where he burns the bodies of the little kids that he kills! Soon, his wife finds out and to keep his secret safe, he ends up strangling his wife to death right in front of Maggie's 6 year old eyes! Freddy makes Maggie promise to keep the secret to herself, but Maggie can't keep this secret for too long! She ends up telling on her dad and so Freddy is taken away by the autorities for trial. Freddy's daughter, Maggie ends up raised in an orphanage for sometime, just like her daddy. I guess it’s true what they say “history repeats itself!”

Freddy goes to court

Freddy's murder of the Elm Street kids got him taken to jail and sent to trial. It was at this time that he was known as 'The Springwood Slasher', because the children he killed all lived in the town of Springwood, where he too resided. Reports say that he killed at least 20 kids in the neighborhood. Sadly, Freddy was actually set free because he was not read his Miranda Rights by the cops who brought him in! So The Springwood Slasher was set free again on a technicality! When he's mother, Amanda Krueger learned this, she hung herself in shame. 

Freddy gets burned alive

So, the parents of the children who had died (basically Freddy’s neighbors) decide to take justice into their own hands and decide to burn him alive! Which they do by tossing Molotov cocktails through the windows of his home. That is, if we are talking about that flashback sequence in Freddy's Dead. If we look at this moment in Freddy's life on the short lived Freddy's Nightmares T.V. show, Freddy actually gets caught by the parents and some cops in his boiler room. He taunts a cop, telling him that he likes his little daughter, and that he is going to finish what he started with her. Thats when they decide to pour gasoline all over Freddy and light him up! Freddy burns and screams: "Ill be baaaack! Im freee! Freeee!" 

Freddy gets visited by the dream demons

As Freddy begins to burn alive, mere moments before his death, three dream demons appear before him and offer him the power to control the dreams of humans. Just what the hell is a dream demon? I don’t know, but they exist in the Nightmare on Elm Street universe, and they are the ones who give Freddy his power. “We know what you want Freddy!” and Freddy’s like “I want it all!” and they go “Of course you do, then open up, and you shall be foreveeeer!” Why did these dream demons choose Freddy? Because that’s what dream demons do, they “look for the most evil, twisted human imaginable. Then they give him the power to cross the line and turn our nightmares into reality.”

After receiving the power from the dream demons, its Freddy’s chance for revenge. And so, the first film begins, with Freddy in complete control of his reality/dream altering powers. He goes after the children of the parents who tried to kill him. Why not go for the parents themselves? The ones who burned him alive? I don’t know, I guess it’s more fun to get their children instead, cause that’s what Freddy does best!

So that’s it ladies and gents, the full history of Freddy Kruger. This time line adheres itself to the logic set by the first batch of Freddy movies. These include:

Nightmare on Elm Street
Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge
Nightmare on Elm Street 3: The Dream Warriors
Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master
Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child
Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare
Wes Craven’s New Nightmare
Freddy's Nightmares (TV Series)  

The upcoming remake might change a thing or two about Freddy’s back story, but as far as I know, this is what those brilliant writers and directors from the 80s and 90s came up with to entertain teens across the world with. Gotta say, this isn’t a bad bunch of movies. The first three pretty much treated Freddy as a scary character…until the Dream Master came along and turned Freddy into a one-liner spewing, one man comedy show. I mean, from Dream Master onwards, we’ve had the pleasure of seeing all sorts of comedic variations on Freddy Kruger. We had Beach going Freddy, Meatball eating Freddy, Super Freddy, Kung Fu Freddy, Chef Freddy, Nurse Freddy...but whatever. I love these movies exactly for what they are. Fun, entertaining horror movies from the 80’s. Gotta love ‘em!


#3 of the Top Five Stand Alone Sci-Fi Movies

This blog post is part of a Top Five Stand Alone Sci-Fi Movies countdown that I collaborated on with Shaun Anderson from The Celluloid Highway, if you get a chance, visit his blog and check it out. Dont forget to return tomorrow for our #2 choices in the countdown!

The Celluloid Highways #3 pick - THE INCREDIBLE SHRINKING MAN (Jack Arnold, USA, 1957)

In the 1950’s Jack Arnold was the undisputed king of the science-fiction/horror film. His contributions to the genre included It Came from Outer Space (1953), Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954), Revenge of the Creature (1955), Tarantula (1955), The Space Children (1958), Monster on Campus (1958) and four episodes of Science Fiction Theatre (1955). But overshadowing all of these enjoyable and entertaining productions was his helming of Richard Matheson’s adaptation of his own novel The Shrinking Man. It was Arnold’s only science-fiction film to truly explore with some measure of success the philosophical and metaphysical questions of a human beings place in the pecking order of the universe. Arnold’s own principal thematic concern which was learning to tolerate and accept difference - be it physical or mental also finds its way into a film rich in depth and symbolism. The hazy and glittering cloud of dust which envelops Scott Carey (Grant Williams) whilst he is holidaying and heralds his slow shrinkage only hints that radiation or some other scientific disaster is to blame. The film is consistently vague on how and why Carey picks up this condition. This is not the primary concern of the narrative. Instead the film is concerned with Carey’s adjustment and behaviour within the framework of dull suburbia. In his interaction with forces no longer under his control (sex, money, status) and his frustrations with the failures of modern medicine to reverse the effects. The film dramatises brilliantly Freud’s concept of the uncanny. Familiar things such as a dolls house, a pet cat, a cellar, and most terrifying of all a spider (the battle of wits between Carey and the spider is masterful) become unfamiliar fragments from our worst nightmares. The monochrome photography only aids the brilliant in camera visual effects, which make wonderful use of distance and perspective. In the final scene Carey’s escape from the confines of the cellar is a metaphor for his own escape from the dull orthodoxy of suburban middle class America.

The Film Connoisseur's #3 pick - DUNE (David Lynch, USA, 1984)

David Lynch’s Dune is such a misunderstood film. From the very beginning, this film had a problematic production. The first attempt to bring Frank Herbert's gargantuan science fiction tale to the silver screen, was going to be directed by Alejandro Jodorowsky. You know, the guy responsible for such cult films as The Holy Mountain (1973) and El Topo (1970). So you can begin to imagine just how different this version might have turned out. Jodorowksy wanted Salvador Dahli to star as the Emperor of the known Universe, but problems arouse when Dali's price for his performance was unrealistcally high.  Sadly,  that film never came to be even though a lot of money had been spent in post production. But producer Dino de Laurentis wouldnt give up with Dune, he was determined to make the next sci-fi spectacular. So, the project was presented to Lynch, who accepted directing duties. Dune was not an easy one to tackle. Frank Herbert’s Novel is dense and epic. Its not something you can just shoot and film without an effort. Nope, whoever was going to accept to direct this film was accepting a daunting task. But Lynch did it. And honestly, I applaud him for it. This film does adhere very well to the novel, though when you compare the book vs. the film, Lynch’s movie feels like a fast forward version of the novel, omitting many important moments and situations. But the core of the story is there, and it is still epic in scope which is why I love the movie so much. For its 'epicness'. I love the fact that its such a lush production. This film deals with feuding royal families across the universe, so the production had to be one worthy of royalty. And it is, everything had this expensive regal look to it. There’s not an ounce of cheesiness here! Another thing that attracts me to this movie is that at its core, this film is one of rebellion against an evil empire. The Fremen are the rebels that go against the despotic “Emperor of the known Universe”, Emperor Shaddam the IV. Paul Maudib is the Christ like figure that rises to free the people, lead them and take back planet Arakis! The cast is an interesting one. Kyle MacLachlan, Brad Dourif, Virginia Madsen, Jack Nance (a David Lynch regular) and Jurgen Prochnow. In my opinion, even though Lynch publicly disowns this film (“they took it from me!”) I still love it very much. Lynch gave it that weird, spooky vibe he gives to a lot of his films. Its epic, big scale, filled with heavy themes. It has tons of political and religious intrigue, this film has a huge scope. Not to be missed.


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