London 1888; the Jack the Ripper murders are gripping the nation and the people of Whitechapel are growing increasingly scared. Chief Inspector Abberline is struggling to figure out who the killer is, and with the added pressure from above to catch the murderer his demons begin to get the better of him. But there is someone out there who wants to help…watching…in the shadows…waiting to strike. Mixing Jack the Ripper and Batman is a formula I’ve been waiting for since reading the steampunk/superhero mash-up Gotham by Gaslight back in 1989.
I don’t do New Year’s resolutions. However, I decided I’d take the opportunity to look back at some movies that didn’t particularly float my boat and see if I can find some good points in them. With the best intentions in mind, I picked the 2010 remake of A Nightmare on Elm Street as the first movie to give a second watch. I was aghast when I heard this movie was being made. But, I like to have an opinion about things so, I gave it a watch. On that first go I was just as disappointed as I expected to be. Let’s face it, the original film is a genre defining classic…
“Welcome to your new nightmare.”
Does comparing Pat Tremblay’s Atmo HorroX to John Boorman’s classic Zardoz elevate one, diminish the other, or condemn both? Both films are psychedelic, trippy, and include protagonists that wander around in outlandish costumes that show rather more skin than most of us would like to see. Both are infused with timely messages, expressed through grotesquerie. Despite the dubious value of the venture, reams could be written deconstructing both films. If nothing else, we know that movies like Atmo HorroX are extremely rare…
“Engineering the strings of your mind puzzle.”
Class of 1999 is a spiritual successor to Mark L. Lester’s Class of 1984; a tale of revenge that depicted an increasingly violent gang clashing with the music teacher of a troubled inner-city high school. The tagline for Class of 1984 – “Look at us. We are the future. You can’t stop us. Don’t even try.” – was derived from a comment made in the film by the leader of the gang, Peter Stegman (played by director Timothy Van Patten): “I am the future!”
But that was 1984. The year is now 1999…
“The ultimate teaching machine… out of control.”
People have been raving about this Netflix series for a while now. Even Stephen King has praised it, so I’ve given it a go. The Netflix series differs from the novel. The advantage of only being loosely based on the novel is with the differences the Netflix series has made. Eleanor “Nell” Vance, for example, was the main character in the novel, but by mid-season the dynamic changes, so you don’t know what is going to happen.
“A ghost can be a lot of things. A memory, a daydream, a secret. Grief, anger, guilt. But, in my experience, most times they’re just what we want to see.”
Written and directed by Shinichiro Ueda, One Cut of the Dead begins with an impressive 37 minute long take set in an abandoned Japanese water filtration plant. “It’s just an urban legend… On record, this place was built for water filtration. But the Japanese army used here for some sort of experimentation… Human experimentation. Like…bringing the dead back to life.” Shinichiro Ueda’s movie injects the zombie trope with new life; thus reanimating the sub-genre. This is not Dawn of the Dead, nor is it Shaun of the Dead. Instead, One Cut of the Dead celebrates low-budget filmmaking.
“Making a zombie movie, on a live broadcast, in one take?”
When I first watched Hell House LLC I’ll be totally honest, I wasn’t expecting much. Found footage movies have run their course, but I was genuinely impressed. It had some genuinely creepy moments. Two years later we are given its sequel, Hell House LLC II: The Abaddon Hotel. Now, because I was so surprised by the first installment I was really looking forward to this. Unfortunately after a mere ten minutes into the movie it was evident this wasn’t going to fulfill me with the same joy.
“This hotel has a long history of unexplained events being caught on camera…”
By now, everyone should be familiar with the Slenderman phenomenon. The internet is full of stories and videos claiming that it is a real creature or being. Slenderman’s background and motivations have never been satisfactorily explained and there are lots of stories that contradict one another. It is in this vein that Flay was created. Seeking to explain the origins of Slenderman and tying it into the genocide of the Native American people by European settlers, Flay gives us an origin for Slenderman that is brutal, sad and rather unsatisfying.
“Come out and flay with me.”
Growing up isn’t easy and if I’m honest, I’m still having trouble coming to terms with it. But sometimes the decision to live as an eternal kidult is taken away from us, with youngsters shouldering the responsibility of primary caregiver. Such is the case for twelve year old Jonas, who finds the transition to enforced adulthood a struggle in Mara Eibl-Eibesfeldt’s bittersweet gothic fable The Spiderwebhouse. Gentle and ponderous The Spiderwebhouse is a charming portrayal, exploring the complexities of depression, and the harshness of a world as seen through a child’s eyes.
“Oh spider, oh spider, oh bring me to the place where I’m not.”
We are here to discuss a horror movie that uses the formula of found-footage. No matter how many times you review a film that uses this technique you can’t help bring up The Blair Witch Project. Unfortunately there will always be comparisons. Films have tried to replicate this style, but rarely succeeded in finding that magic ingredient The Blair Witch Project possesses. Fortunately Hell House LLC breaks the mold. Going into this movie I’ll be perfectly honest I didn’t expect much. In my defense I have had to suffer numerous found-footage movies over the years that are absolute trollope.
“New York’s scariest haunted house tour.”
In the original series you could really root for Sabrina as she learns witchcraft and all the negative aspects that came with it but here the stakes are much higher, not just regarding whether she will be a mortal or witch, but to be a witch she has to sign her name in Satan’s book and he could call on her at any time. There’s a stronger sense of Sabrina’s desperation to learn about her family history and what had happened to her parents, along with the struggles of being a half witch, giving the series a bit of a Harry Potter feel, even though the original Sabrina comics and 90s series predate it.
“Happy birthday, witch.”
When Netflix dropped Spanish director Paco Plaza’s new film Veronica earlier this year, I doubt even they predicted it would get the attention it’s had? Some people have dubbed it “the scariest film ever!” and it’s supposedly based on a real events, so naturally I had to check it out to see what all the fuss was about. I’m a fan of Plaza’s [•REC] movie so I knew he would cook up some decent scares.
The story is set in Madrid in 1991 and focuses on teenager Veronica.