Saturday, May 29, 2010

Walking Dead TV

Produced by AMC the network responsible for Breaking Bad, Frank Darabont the Director of The Shawshank Redemption and The Green Mile and with the full involvment of the books creator Robert Kirkman who will be writing some episodes. The reasons for enthusiasm about this impending TV show just get more and more compelling.

The premise of The Walking Dead, for the uninitiated, is that the zombie movie never ends. The survivors just keep running, struggling to survive in an ongoing battle to live through the zombie apocalypse. It's made for the kind of edgy episodic television that cable TV has been producing so regularly in the last few years.

Friday, May 21, 2010

They Live... to kick ass!

I'm watching They Live, the John Carpenter political horror movie starring Rowdy Roddy Piper. The movie with the longest, most awesome fight scene in the history of cinema.

There are a lot of 'political' horror movies. Films that find the terror in class conflict and cultural conflict. A lot of zombie movies are thinly disguised metaphors, for commercialism and mindless consumption, authority, mass movements, hidden sins... the list is endless. Some are more overt than others.

Films based on classic dystopian novels like 1984 and Clockwork Orange and those inspired by them like Brazil and Equilibrium that explore the twin and opposite fears of chaos and tyranny can easily be classified as political horror, while existential nightmares like The Matrix co-opt the paranoia of political dread to narratives more vaguely metaphysical.

The perversely playful low budget horror Society offers the same kind of alien overlords metaphor for the power elite of society that They Live embraces, with an added frisson of the sexual panic of effects heavy Cronenberg style body horror. The Torchwood miniseries The Children of Earth comes full circle to the understanding that the real threat are our own human leaders.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Red Lantern on Fringe Finale

As Peter looks around his apartment given to him by Walternate and talking to Alternate Olivia, on his wall is a framed copy of Red Lantern/Red Arrow no. 76.

Nice touch.

Here it is next to the original.

Update: the rest of the Fringe alternate universe DC comic covers are up at Newsarama.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Monday, May 10, 2010

Frank Frazetta RIP

The Godfather of fantasy art. A master of dynamic action rendered with exquisite detail. Nobody could paint a battle-axe shearing though flesh and bone better. Dead at 82.

They should float him out to sea in a burning longboat.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Low Budget Gems

When it comes to fantasy, SF and horror, low budget more often than not makes you think of the failures. Spectacular failures, unintentionally hilarious failures, monumentally inept failures.

But the other side of the coin is that sometimes big budgets just means movies that are both bloated and bad and sometimes neophytes with microscopic budgets produce gripping, suspenseful minor classics that because of equally low budget promotion and distribution don't get the audiences they deserve.

Today's installments: Parasomnia and Freaky Faron.

is a dark fairy tale. A heightened reality where characters, behavior and setting bring the darker side of the brothers Grimm to the modern world.

It has a beautiful princess locked in a lifelong sleep, a dark sorcerer holding her prisoner and the hero who steals her away.

Or its about a desperately ill patient, the hypnotic serial killer chained up in the hospital room next to her telepathically torturing her in her dreams and the slacker clerk visiting his druggie brother in the hospital and stealing away the comatose patient in one of her rare moments of wakefulness.

It's a film of almost cartoonish, guignol excess and arch stylization. There are gory murders, an arch-villain who could have been auditioning to be the next horror icon, abductions, escapes and daring rescue attempts. A high point is B-movie warhorse Jeffery Coombs as world-weary Detective Garrett. The low point is a lame nod to the Saw movies with a creepy doll in an abandoned warehouse. It almost seems like, 'Hey we've got his neat prop left over from another movie, lets throw it in.' It's a minor plot point though, so I can live with it.

The director William Malone has a track record that includes House on Haunted Hill and Fear.Com. Cheesy, but glossy and visually inventive horror. In some ways this film seems to take his style to its logical extreme.

Freaky Faron from Writer/Director John Ross is a very different film. There are no grandly structured gothic set-pieces here. No inventive camera work or shoe-string visual effects. This is a talky, slow moving character study made up of conversations in offices, in classrooms and playgrounds under streetlamps.

When she was 11 years old, Faron Hallowell shot and nearly killed a local TV weatherman. It subsequently comes out that she had been operating as a highly successful vigilante for months, investigating, revealing and punishing criminals, by breaking into dozens of homes.

She tells the doctors that she was trained by an alien to protect Earth from alien prisoners marooned on Earth in human bodies and she has intense almost Sherlock Holmesian observational and deductive abilities. Five years later she is released from hospital and tries to re-build her life.

But some people won't let her forget and some clues lead to the mysteries of her own childhood.

It's hard not to wonder what Freaky Faron would be like with a bigger budget. Most of the story happens in exposition, in memories related by children and interviews with doctors. As it is, the film has to depend on the performance of Courtney Halverson an intense redhead playing an emotionally guarded girl trying to live a normal life with a history no one will let her forget and abilities that drive her to pursue mystery.

Remember the name, you'll be seeing more of her.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

The Crisis Begins

Hardcore DC comics fans know that the great Crisis that destroyed millions of alternate universes began when Krona of the Guardians of Oa broke their most sacred law and used his super science to peer back in time to the very origin of the universe.

Doing so introduced either evil or entropy into the universe depending which version of the story you read and led to the deadly conflict between the Monitor and the Anti-Monitor.

A dozen pan-dimensional Crisis's later the DC universe is only finally returning to much the same shape it was in 1985.

But now disaster stalks the multi-verse again with the same sign:

"I'm not normally a praying man, but if you're up there,
please save me, Superman!” - Homer Simpson

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Mooooon River

OK, so if they're letting through Brian tossing Stewie's salad - what exactly is Standards and Practices at Fox stopping?

Seriously, the whole episode seemed like the setup for a scat-fetishist's Family Guy slash fiction.

Saturday, May 1, 2010


I admit it, I love bombast and narrative melodrama in music, and Shakespear's Sister's 1992 hit 'Stay' provides both in spades. It's a fun goth opera slice of high grade cheese.

Particularly fun is Siobahn Fahey's over the top performance as whacked out angel of death come to steal Marcella Detroit's boyfriend away. Neil Gaiman's Sandman comic was just getting big at the time and Fahey's performance seemed to draw from his goth-girl personification of Death in the plot of the video at least.

The portrayal though, was miles away from Gaiman's perky and kindly Death, drawing more from Gloria Swanson in Sunset Boulevard and supposedly, the 50's 'classic' Cat-Women of the Moon.

Fahey was reportedly quite drunk when the video was filmed. Watch it and decide for yourself.

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