Thursday, February 12, 2009

Friday the 13th Take Two (this one's verbose)

Full disclosure: For all of my love of horror, I'm not a big fan of the slasher subgenre in general. I find them to be puerile and unimaginative, again, generally. That said, I do like the original Friday the 13th and a couple of the sequels that follow, but my heart belongs to A Nightmare on Elm Street which is actually a huge reason why I decided to go ahead and watch the Friday the 13th remake. Platinum Dunes and Warner Bros / New Line, the people behind this flick, will be tackling one of the main reasons I write and direct horror. They already remade The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, which I rather liked in spite of quite a few issues with their plot additions. Marcus Nispel, the director of both of the TCM and F13 remakes, will not be directing the Nightmare redux; music video director Samuel Bayer will be making his feature directing debut with ANoES...and if you think I'm rough on the Friday the 13th redux, you haven't seen anything yet.

Also, while I have strong opinions about these movies, I'm not a "Freddy's better than Jason!" type person. It's all about personal preference. I prefer the Nightmare series to Friday the 13th, but I do like a couple of the F13 movies.

Friday the 13th was helmed by Marcus Nispel, director of other such fare as Pathfinder, the teevee movie Frankenstein, and lots of music videos. That might sound dismissive, but while I haven't seen Pathfinder (and I strain to admit to the "yet") or his Franenstein, he's really quite good in the action and tension departments which is good for a horror flick.

In this pre-sequel, no one's trying to reopen Camp Blood; all of the victims are just out looking for a good time and all that sex and all those drugs make Jason a sad boy. He goes from the burlap sack of Part 2 right into a well-aged hockey mask whilst wielding the family heirloom, a machete. While I know that the machete is inextricably linked to Jason as His Weapon, from what I remember of the sequels (and it's been a while since I saw them), he rarely used one. He's the type of slasher who'll use whatever's at hand, and he does so here, but the first group of horny teens specifically point out the machete in a painful bit of exposition telling exactly what the viewer saw not even ten minutes previous.

This film was written by the guys who wrote the mostly abysmal Freddy vs. Jason, Damian Shannon and Mark Swift. That, right there, explains everything that's wrong with the Friday redux. It's obvious that these guys are fanboys. It's also obvious that they barely have an original bone in their bodies. They stole at least three plot devices / kills / sequences from Friday sequels, stole the ending of the original film for the initial hook and the final scare and stole the ending of another sequel for the initial part of the ending. The worst part is that what was original in the script was painfully predictable. Not to mention all of the predictable jump scares.

In another irritating script issue, there was an awful lot of talking in this flick and I mean useless, wasted dialogue. Sheep separated from the flock talking to themselves about what they were doing or were going to do and a lot of repetitious exposition as previously mentioned.

The score. Oh dear God, the score. Not good. Jarring, brought me right out of the flick several times.

Most of the actors were really there to be pretty and die in "inventive" ways which is typical of slasher flicks. Some of them could have been good if the writers had maybe pulled back on the tropes a little. However, high marks have to be given to leads Jared Padalecki and Danielle Panabaker. They were much better than the majority of their co-stars, and were believable in every way that counts, a breath of fresh air in the flick.

Other highlights include the cinematography and lighting (although, I'm not aware of a light bulb that can continue to burn when broken; the filament burns itself out once the glass is breached and CFLs are just gas-filled glass tubes) and the editing was ace. When I have to pick something I normally don't notice unless it's bad in order to say something positive about a flick, you know that I was pretty annoyed.

But, let's look at it another way. As I wrote in the booth log that I'd previewed it, I asked myself, "If I were a Jason fan, would I be satisfied?" and "If I were just looking for a rollicking good time at the horror show, would I be satisfied?" The short answer is yes. Generally, Jason fans aren't watching for the story, they want to see pretty people get killed for having premarital sex and smoking pot then the villain get his or her comeuppance. The first film, at least, had a semblance of a plot.

Now, before you point out the shortcomings of the Nightmare series, let me say that I know them. I know them very, very well. Part 2 sucked, I never watch it (though I have to say that the effects and the score were excellent), and while it's dramatic, Nancy should never have been killed in part 3. From there, it's all downhill, but at least they had really great actors throughout from Heather Langenkamp on down. Wise-cracking Freddy, while funny, isn't scary in the least. I often wonder if Freddy fans have forgotten that their "hero" is a paedophiliac child murderer who wouldn't care that they thought he was awesome. See? This is part of the reason why I'm so dubious about the Nightmare remake...

In summary: This remake feels just like any other sequel in the F13 pantheon offering nothing new or unique to the series. If you don't mind that, you'll like it. If you're me and would like to see something more in a horror flick, even a remake, you're going to be disappointed, or indifferent at the very least. I can't be too disappointed, though. I knew what I was watching when I decided to preview it.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

"Donuts don't wear alligator shoes..."

Every once in a while, as a public service, I will post trailers for some upcoming movies that seem to be made of awesome, things that the general public may miss because they're too cool for colour teevee. This is one of those posts. These trailers are generally not safe for work mostly because the awesome may in fact singe your eyebrows and possibly set off the fire alarm.

First up is Black Dynamite:

Next is a trailer for which there are no words except Chocolate:

Finally, Bitch Slap:

Monday, February 9, 2009

Sukiyaki Western Django among other things...

Okay, so the movie's done and will be sent out to cast and festivals starting tomorrow. I finished a day after the last deadline for the Sarasota Film Festival. Ah well. There's always next year depending on how well this year goes. The sound mix went well. Basically, my brother and I realized that whatever he would do to make the songs flow together, I'd already done so we decided to just keep the music edits I did. :D So, out it goes and where it stops I'll post here.

Anyway, as today is sort of a day off, I've decided to watch movies. The other day, I picked up a newer film from one of my favourite directors, Takashi Miike; he was behind such intense, amazing, bizarre fare as Audition, Ichi the Killer, The Happiness of the Katakuris, and Visitor Q (the only one of his flicks thus far that I haven't liked.)

The flick I picked up was Sukiyaki Western Django and it is the best Japanese Western ever made. Unfortunately, the American DVD had something like twenty minutes cut from the original film. Normally, I don't buy cut versions, and there is one part in particular where you feel it, but apparently the Malaysian subtitles for the looped track (the film was made with Japanese actors speaking English) are terrible. Since it was never released here theatrically, I really wonder why First Look cut it up, but whatever.

The flick is long as you don't mind that it's really weird and sometimes a little hard to understand; I had to turn on the subtitles a couple of times. Since I don't mind that in the least, I freaking loved it.

I hate Westerns, but lately I find myself drawn to a few modern interpretations of the classic tropes in the genre: Stephen King's Gunslinger, Joss Whedon's Firefly, and now this. It was beautifully shot, the music was awesome, the performances were fantastic, and the direction superb. I LOVED it, but it's definitely not for everyone.


I hate doing the review dumps so here's a quick round-up of the flick's I've watched during post:

I saw My Bloody Valentine 3D and hated it, though the 3D was great. I saw Coraline and loved it. Last Chance Harvey was wonderful; I love Emma Thompson so so so much. The Life Before Her Eyes was good, but the ending was a little "eh."

Repo! The Genetic Opera -- I hated the lyrics and Paris Hilton makes me vomit a little, but all else was awesome. Too bad the lyrics are EVERYTHING in a rock opera. I think I'm the only Goth who doesn't think this flick is the Bee's Knees.

Ghost Town -- Much better than I thought it was going to be.

I Vampiri -- Cinematography by Mario Bava. Beautifully shot, pretty good story having very little to do with vampires.

Superstar in a Housedress -- A documentary about Jackie Curtis, one of Andy Warhol's entourage. It was good. I had no idea who Jackie Curtis was before I saw this. Never heard the name before, haven't heard the name since. You learn something new every day.

I think that's everything. I'm slowly trying to break out of my production cocoon, too... :D I've had enough of sitting in front of this computer for one night, I'mo go watch a movie.