Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Red Lights Review


Red Lights Review

 

Year: 2012
Stars: Sigourney Weaver, Robert De Niro and Cillian Murphy
Directed: Rodrigo Cortés
Running Time: 113 Mins Approx.

 



So here we go a big name movie with actors even people living under rocks will recognise, yes we have the crème de la crème here. A horror/thriller with a big name cast and a good budget so what are we in for?
Let’s delve into this film and see how it fares VS the B-movie or even the other cinema releases that star TV personalities or actors we haven’t seen anything for a while.
Rodrigo Cortés well, well here’s a familiar name the writer of apartment 143, and director of buried (psychological war thriller starring Ryan Reynolds) so this is a big stab at Hollywood for him then I guess with a modest budget of 14million euros.
This guy is used to working with and doing some decent things with much less so let’s start with the film.

Psychologist and paranormal investigator Dr. Margaret Matheson (Sigourney Weaver yes good old Sigourney we love you and most of people my age remember you as a kick ass Ripley in the alien franchise, a solid support role here in this film) and her assistant Dr. Tom Buckley (Cillian Murphy how you have grown from flashing todger in the opening scenes of 28 days later, the underrated sunshine to scarecrow in batman begins, a good actor who plays alongside Weavers character in their scenes with ease) who  is a physicist. They both travel around debunking supposed paranormal activity from bumps in the night to stage psychics, exposing anything from their tricks, noises and stage theatrics.
Dr. Buckley wants to investigate their most challenging person to date, Simon Silver (Robert De Niro who if you don’t know his old or even more recent filmography you sir/mam have been living under a rock for almost 50 years. Though nearing 80 the workhorse seems to show no signs of slowing down movie wise with over 6 films coming out next year alone!), a renowned psychic who is making a comeback after a thirty year absence from the stage.
Dr. Matheson warns Buckley against this though after having come up against him in the 1970s and failing to prove him a fraud. With the help of student Sally Owen (Elisabeth Olsen good old Olsen the other sister! Is slowly picking up steam in the movie world too, the strange and probably one day reviewed silent house springs to mind with her) Buckley defies Matheson and begins investigating the illusive Silver.

As an atheist and sceptic the film's ideas appealed to me I enjoy it whenever someone like Colin Fry or Derrick Acorah get snubbed, unfortunately my fiancée loves shit like that. I was delighted to watch the scientists make fun of and debunk people who claim to see ghosts and be able to read minds. The script treats these people with distain and isn't afraid to mention how these people can be responsible for giving stupid people false hope and can even cost lives, which is one of the things I hate they do, they reckon their helping grief etc., NO its false hope that something is there. Now I’m open minded IF there is a god or some higher being by even a % chance and their as forgiving as they say, I’m generally a good person and I hope that’s all they’d want, well I would bow down and accept my wrong judgement.
The cast is also amongst the best of any thriller/horror film this year as I said earlier. With actors such as Sigourney Weaver, Cillian Murphy, Toby Jones, Joely Richardson, the delightful Elizabeth Olsen and one of my favourite actors Robert De Niro, anything less than a great film would be a disappointment. Unfortunately, this isn't a great film but it isn't terrible either.

The cast are all great. It's nice to see Sigourney Weaver in a more substantial role for a change and not just popping up at the end of a sci-fi film. She is believable as a psychologist and its fun to see her spa with Toby Jones. Her character also has just the tiniest bit of doubt which makes her fallible and this is conveyed well by the actress this brought about most likely by the previous encounter with De Niro’s character.
Cillian Murphy is also excellent as the physicist but is a bit more mysterious than Weaver. He gets better as his character develops as the film progresses. Elisabeth Olsen gives another good performance but after her break out roles in Mary, Martha and Silent House takes a bit of a back seat here. De Niro doesn't embarrass himself for once which unfortunately in a few recent films he has, while we don't get De Niro of the 70s or 80s he's on good form here. The supporting cast of Submarine's Craig Roberts, Joely Richardson and Toby Jones help to round out a great cast with good performances.

The plot develops at a good pace and it gets darker and scarier as it goes on. I wasn't able to get the main twist which was a satisfying if ever so slightly confusing one but De Niro's twists were ridiculously obvious and pointed to far too much. Anyone can see what is going on, you just have to watch. The camera work is far too busy for my liking. One scene featuring Murphy and Olsen having a conversation in a café used about seven different camera angles and it became a little distracting. After filming Ryan Reynolds in a box for his last feature Buried, director Rodrigo Cortes could have done with making his latest film a bit more confined.

The first hour is definitely better than the second and there was an echo of "oh, well then" as the lights went up in the cinema. The film loses its way slightly in the second half and the somewhat pedestrian script comes to the forefront. While the actors do a good job and while there is plenty to like the ending isn't brilliant and doesn't do the opening justice. Even so, it's nice to watch some great actors delivering good performances and the twists should keep most people guessing the ending really isn’t something you’d guess, I’ve said countless times on here that I’m fed up of not being surprised anymore. I was generally like oh! With this film.

 Giving this film for a mainstream film a solid 3 stars but it is definitely worth a watch over a choice of this or some of the other b-movie/cinema tripe out there.
 
 

Monday, 19 November 2012

An interview with Mark Tufo, Author of Zombie Apocalypse book series


Mark Tufo Interview
Mark Tuffo is an author, who has wrote a successful Zombie apocalypse series called Zombie Fallout there is at current seven books in this series. He recently got nominated for a good reads choice award as well. Zombie Fallout follows a premise that a defective vaccine for the swine flu epidemic we had a few years back kills and reanimated 95% of the world’s population. Michael Talbot is the main protagonist and fights his way through these books protecting friends and family. Mark also is the author of Indian Hill another book series, in the sci-fi genre.

I have here a few questions Mark has graciously agreed to answer for my blog.

Q. Hi Mark, first off how long have you been writing for?

A. Hi Daniel, first off thank you for taking the time to do an interview with me. As for how long I’ve been writing, if you’re talking professionally then three years. But I’ve always loved to write, even when I was in school and my classmates would groan about getting a creative writing assignment I would be smiling inwardly.

A few questions from my co-writer on this blog Mark,

Q. when did you realise you wanted to write horror?

A. I think sub-consciously it was the first time I read a Stephen King book back when I was maybe ten or eleven. I’m fascinated by the genre and it just seemed like a natural transition to write about it.

Q. And one more in an overcrowded sub-genre how do you keep things fresh?

A. I’ve received my fair share of criticism for NOT keeping my books going the traditional route. But I’ve always thought why would folks want to read the same thing over and over again? My books are character driven, I let them tell how the nature of the story is going to go and I think that is how I keep them fresh.

Back to me now

Q. What influences if any have had an impact on your work?

A. Some authors believe it to be a bitter pill to swallow and perhaps that they are above it, but constructive criticism has had a major impact on my work. I constantly strive to put out the best product that I can produce.

Q. What information can you give anyone who hasn’t read or is undecided on reading your series?

A. Well Zombie Fallout is a full length novel for 99 cents, you’ll know from that book if you want to go further into the series. The worst that anyone is out is an item off the value menu at McDonald’s. And I am saving them from eating that saturated fat. So read Zombie Fallout and stay healthy! I think that will be my new marketing campaign.

Q. How popular do you think literature is in the world at moment, as in popular, less popular or on the come back? In my views thanks to kindle/E-readers it’s making a come back

A. I’m with you on this one. I think before ebooks the written word was heading the way of 8 tracks and cassettes. E-readers have completely reenergized and simultaneously turned the literary community on its ear.

Q. Do you have a favourite book or series of books if so what is it?

A. I friggen love the Harry Potter books, there is also a series by John Christopher called the White Mountains, that I discovered in the 6th grade, I have been fascinated with Science Fiction since.

Q. I am currently trying my hand at writing I find it hard to concentrate on it for any long amount of time though, so I write it bit by bit on a blog, how do you stay focused or what are your tricks for sustained and successful writing?

A. Carving out time for writing in our busy lives can be difficult, there is ALWAYS other things to do. I have discovered that extremely loud music is my saving grace, it just drowns out the world around me and lets me focus on my craft.

Some fun questions now Mark if you would

Q. Do you have a Zombie Apocalypse plan?

A. Hell yeah, read Zombie Fallout 1.

Q. What is your favourite zombie film and/or series?

A. I love the Walking Dead, and I know some might groan at this but the Resident Evil franchise. But my props will always go to Mr. Romero who scared the crap out of an impressionable seven year old.

Q. I believe out of the major horror icons or even apocalypse settings that the zombie isn’t too far off in reality with all the chemicals and other types of ways zombies can be created isn’t it just an accident waiting to happen, what’s your views?

A. My hope is that the apocalypse does not happen. That’s right you read it here first. I do not think I am nearly as equipped to deal with it as my lead character Michael Talbot is. With that being said, do I believe we are heading to some sort of global disaster? Sadly I think we are.

Q. On that note you’ve used viral as your reanimate, is that your favourite reanimation way or do you like/prefer any of the following and what are your views, God/Supernatural, Chemical, Radiation, Voodoo or Extra-Terrestrial?

A. I love a good zombie story and I generally don’t get too hung up in the details of how it started, I suspend all believability anyway, as long as it’s SOMEWHAT plausible I’m cool with it.

Finally Mark

Q. Where do see your series and writing going in the future

A. As for the Zombie Fallout series, I’m not sure ZF6 just came out on October 1st and I had meant for that to be the last, but I left a few threads hanging so who knows. Currently I am writing my second paranormal book and ‘spreading’ my wings so to speak.

Thank you for the Interview Mark, is there anything you would like to add for your fans and readers of this?
Just a big hearty and sincere thank you to all of my fans and readers, without them I would just be some random guy slamming on a keyboard.

Again Daniel thank you for your time.
 
No problem Mark hope this gives your readers a little insight into your world and new comers a better understanding. Hope you've enjoyed the interview The Horror Nation peace out!

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Spellbinder Retro Review


Spellbinder Retro Review

Year: 1988
Stars: Tim Daly, Kelly Preston and Rick Rossovich
Directed: Janet Greek
Running Time:  99 Mins Approx.

 

Have I got 80’s b-movie classic gold for you here today Spellbinder a brilliant late 80’s film with a nasty shock ending that when I first watched this a good few years back when I was thirteen or fourteen I was like wow.
So today we travel back in time to a land when movies were a shot in the dark and a dime a dozen, a time when anything made can become a cult icon today. Unfortunately this movie did not do amazingly well at the time of its release.
Being as the films old I also cannot find the budget for the movie, what I was able to find was conflicting reports on how much the movie made from Wikipedia only $660,000 and IMDB also a paltry just over $1million.
Even for an 80’s film this wasn’t a lot as its budget would have been anywhere from 500k to 2million that’s all the technical mumbo jumbo on with the film.

Janet Greek directs this she’s got quite a few TV series credentials under her belt, from episodes of Max Headroom to Babylon 5 episodes and a made for TV movie, River of Souls.
When Los Angeles attorney Jeff Mills, Tim Daly who does superman’s voice in a lot of animated DTV offerings not only that but a lot of series bit parts and TV movies as well he has quite an impressive list to him. His friend Derek Clayton, Rick Rossovich who stared in a hell of a lot of stuff throughout the 80’s. Film wise most notably as Matt Buchanan. Jeff and Derek seem to have a strained friendship throughout this film right from the outset. They rescue a young beautiful woman, Miranda Reed, Kelly Preston (rocking a brunette look) whose film and TV career has been non-stop since, not surprising she has a strong performance in here probably the best and she’s a real good looking woman too.
So as said they have rescued her from an apparently abusive boyfriend Derek is cut in the process. Talking Jeff realises Miranda has no home so he offers her to stay at his house.
Jeff unknowing becomes involved with Miranda and the web of intrigue that follows her which further drives a wedge into his friendship with Derek. But as the two become lovers, Jeff learns that Miranda is on the run from the witches’ coven (to which she belongs). Got to love witchcraft films there’s not enough of them around, one of my favourites from around this time as well is warlock though that’s for another time.

The coven apparently wants Miranda back as a sacrifice at the winter solstice. She must come to them of her own free will, and the coven try to force her into doing so, using sorcery to taunt and terrify the two of them. Miranda tells Jeff of her situation, but not the entire truth, and Jeff willingly helps Miranda out of her troubles, but creates his own.
Which by the end of the movie these troubles have all been a big set up as means to an end as the final gruesome, very nasty trick is pulled. As I said I really felt cheated and quite gutted by the end of this film and even though I was only 13-14 at the time it genuinely surprised me.
How does this film fair the test of time?
Well re-watching this made me realise the film is really predictable at some points, thankfully at no point until near the end would you ever get an inkling that what happens would happen even now.

Acting wise the film has some weak and some strong points it’s clear who outshines others in this film. Kelly is obviously one of the strongest followed closely by Tim, Rick is a close contender for the second spot, possibly spoilt by not being a fantastically written character. Everyone else in the movie is just b-movie fodder though. A few shine through the rest are middling to mediocre.

Effects wise you can’t expect a lot from a low budget 80’s film, 88 to be exact it would only be a few years later some ground breaking CGI would emerge. Take the t1000 in T2 only two years and a half later.
So this film relies a lot on off camera and sleight of hand with some other early film effects techniques thrown in the mix for example the initial knife fight you don’t see a cut its only implied by sound and acting, there’s not even any blood on the knife.
A lot of the effects are just implied in this movie in this way, which isn’t a bad thing as some of the crappy effects we see in other big motion films of the era detract somewhat from their likability these days.
In the 80’s or when I first watched this film I would have given it a solid four star rating. In my sage like 30’s and how the film has aged I’ll give it a understandable knocked down 3 star rating I still enjoyed it just a few things grated me this time. Hope you enjoyed our Retro review!


Friday, 16 November 2012

Dark Mirror Review


Dark Mirror Review

 

Year: 2007 made, 2009 DTV release

Stars: Lisa Vidal, David Chisum and Joshua Pelegrin

Directed: Pablo Proenza

Running Time:  86 Mins Approx.

 

Dark Mirror, initially shown to a small Latino audience in 2007, it was then debuted direct to video in 2009 for the rest of us.
Another film I cannot find a budget for despite looking high and low on the internet!
Directed by Pablo Proenza who before and since this film has very little else under his belt either writing or directing.
The plot follows a family of three; mother Deborah, Lisa Vidal she has some minor film roles and TV series parts to her credit and some good ones at that too such as southland, the Event and a bit part in American horror story.
Father Jim, David Chisum who was in zombie movie Flight of the Living Dead the same year, which I’m sure I’ll get round to reviewing one day, also some less notable TV series parts most notable recent Castle episodes.
Son Ian, Joshua Pelegrin. He has nothing past or up to date under his belt in the way of movies. This movie is one of them ones that start with the end at the beginning briefly then suddenly 3 months earlier.
They all move to L.A. from Seattle after Deb is entranced by a house with beautiful glass pane windows, where we see our first evidence of something not quite right as an apparition is seen in one window as the family walk up, though we aren’t quite sure if Deb sees it. Not surprising Joshua doesn’t have much else in his repertoire he is a young child actor we may yet see him pop up in future stuff. He is playing your typical naughty boy in this film more on that later though.

As the family settles in, Deb attempts to resume her career as a photographer which we see proof of near the beginning of the film, while simultaneously taking care of her son as Jim is usually working late. Her job searching doesn’t go to well so she gets drawn into the house as a focus more over the course of the film.
The acting in this movie is near bad to middling to me, I’ve seen worse in b-movies I’ve also seen a lot better though some of the middling is good and there’s more of it than bad.
Some poorly delivered lines which seem to be purposely there to build character in some situations make it just feel more like the actors are trying to remember lines rather than deliver a character enhancing insight.
Over all acting though isn’t too bad some good family moments at the beginning, which as usual in b-movies involving families it deteriorates throughout the film.
After having some strange experiences with the mirrors and windows in the house, first one being she takes a picture of herself in the bathroom mirror which gets reflected a number of times back and forth through a mirror at her back to. She decides to talk to her chatty neighbour, who we see first in a shot looking dead! She isn’t and looks out the window at Deb beckoning her over.
She tells her a famous artist and his family used to reside there (a fact we know from the estate agent) until they mysteriously disappeared. We also occasionally see a black mackintosh wearing man. Later her mother visits they’ve had a minor argument at some point, though nothing 30 seconds of dialogue doesn’t clean up. Debs son seems irrationally scared of his gran, but then what boy isn’t? Seemingly spiritual she tells Deb that in Feng-Shui window panes are used to trap evil spirits and stop them from harming anyone.

Deb continues to experience strange occurrences and explores the dark history of the house becoming convinced that something evil resides in the mirrors and windows. It takes so long for this film to get proper rolling which is one of its major flaws. Yes not a long film but it takes till nearly 50% of the way through to start anything significant. In an 86 minute film you don’t want a build-up of almost forty minutes thirty maybe, though this is just my tastes and the beginning being the end does help the slow build up somewhat.
Anyway when people she has photographed start dying, she is convinced that the evil spirit has infiltrated her camera lens and is killing people.
The effects in this film aren’t too bad, they are certainly low budget that doesn’t stand up to anything these days, but for a 2007 film not bad for a b-movie at all. With some clever uses of light streaming through windows just gives a good effect to some of it.
Some of the filming looks a little grainy from time to time mainly on the long shots though so nothing to serious there.

So the film comes full circle and we learn what happens to get Deb into the state she’s in at the start of the film. Which as usual I won’t spoil for you but I’ll just say it isn’t half bad just like the rest of the film.
I would definitely give this film a go if you see it on Netflix or I love film, maybe even in a cheap bin somewhere, not a bad one to spend your ninety minutes free time on for sure. This film gets a good three star rating from me.

As usual thanks and peace out The Horror Nation.

Friday, 9 November 2012

Barricade Review


Barricade Review

Year: 2012
Stars: Eric McCormack, Jody Thompson and Dalias Blake
Directed: Andrew Currie
Running Time: 81 Mins Approx.

 

Eric McCormack aah Will and Grace, how I never watched you! Aside from TV series appearances since Will and Grace and some animation voices he’s not been a busy bee since that series, though keeping his floating above water with them.
Jody Thompson Is in a similar boat, with a few more bit parts in movies and no major series’ under her belt she’s mainly a bit part player in anything she’s in. Though those parts are in some pretty major things such as 2012 and way back mission to mars.
Andrew Currie has nothing major under his belt as a director either, other than a favourite zombie film of mine, which I may do a retro review of on here some day and that is 2006’s Fido. Most of his other work is TV movies or Shorts.
I can’t find any budget info, though being made in Canada I’m guessing it wasn’t huge but they will get a lot for their money.

 
So the film starts off with mum Leah Shade (Jody) convincing dad Terrance Shade (Eric) that they should take the kids to a remote cabin in the woods to celebrate white Christmas with them. He reluctantly agrees playing the I’m not a good dad I’m just the provider card, which is quickly rebuked by the mum’s it’s not that hard to be a good dad card. All this is done in good spirits no hard feelings. They seem like parents that get on.

 
One year later in a car ride we meet the kids, the son Jake Shade played by Ryan Grantham who has a surprising repertoire of films under his little belt from 2009’s The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus to 2010’s Diary of a Wimpy Kid there’s some other gems in there to!
The daughter Cynthia Shade. She’s played by Conner Dwelly who doesn’t have anything worth mentioning under her belt. They seem like generally good kids at this point and not any typical type cast, no stroppy teen daughter etc.
They pull up to a gas station that’s apparently deserted Terry proceeds with a little trepidation to knock on the stations door. Films first jump scare we meet the sheriff and we also learn that in the year that’s past Leah Shade has died (what an amazingly big part Jody had there) Terry and the Sheriff reminisce as the kids go about choosing some snacks. Picking up the keys and taking his instructions they leave for the cabin.
There’s some genuinely good writing and acting in this movie as we see in the drive up to the cabin dialogue between the dad and daughter is genuinely heartfelt. During this conversation the next jump scare happens when Terry hits something unknown on the road.
Of course in true horror movie fashion he then gets out leaves his kids along in the car and follows a trail of blood to boom the next jump scare and the first of flashbacks.

 
They finally come upon the cabin where we have the usual modern kid’s reactions. What no TV or sky dish? Followed by the typical parent reaction we’ll have lots of fun doing out doors stuff to notice no TV. Yeah right.
Oh taxidermy jump scare, yes as you can tell by only 14 minutes in we have a film that’s going to be mainly loud noise jump scares, though done right these work relatively well and lots of movies with them are good films.
Here the fathers surprise is revealed a lovely Christmas set up for the kids. After a small look around we get our first spooky scare a door closing on its own!
We then find our freezer full of essentials hotdogs, pizza and mac n cheese. With that sorted a slumber party in the family room is declared. Here we find out Terry is on some serious happy pill medication.
When the kids are asleep we see the suffering sad father come out, which I’m sure a lot of us over a certain age or experience can relate to. Of course Jody didn’t just have a tiny starting part! She’s through the movie in flashbacks here she is in the second one of the movie.
We are then treated to a spooky, freaky jump scare which is a kind of good one and forces Terry to run outside to see what it was.
This possibly starts the first few cracks in his mental stability. Then bam he wakes up in the chair he was in before it all happened. At the start the sheriff had a nasty cough; we now see that Terry seems to be cough intermittently too now.

 
All the things in this film though standard thriller/horror fare are just done at the right intervals at least for me. I found myself at this point slowly slipping into the film watching mode where you just wait to see what happens next. Though I have like most people by the age of thirty the ability to now watch a film and tell exactly what’s going to happen with at least a 75% probably margin, I watched this film absorbing every bit that came next.
The usual fare includes the phones not working, a scary attic and things seen out in the woods. There’s a case of a huge snow fall while sleeping, so Terry decides they should go make a snowman before it gets to deep.
The effects though a little few and far between are well done in this movie too and don’t subtract from it rather they add which is always a bonus to films when they can work in such good tandem like this.
Jake disappears during a snowball fight this was a little off because he blatantly walks off; this was just a tiny flaw I had with this scene. Coughing Terry decides they should all go to see a doctor, entering the house and collapsing by the door the kids run up stairs to pee and there’s another flashback. Terry suddenly comes too and runs outside to discover the car is now buried under about eight foot of snow; this makes him a little manic and wonders how this happened.
After digging out a section of the car and door he tries to start the car and mixed with flashbacks and the car not starting his mental state degrades a bit more as he notices his kids looking on at him from the doorway of the cabin.
By midway through the film Terry’s mind is slowly circling the plug hole and we get the first signature glimpse of the films name, he starts to barricade them into the cabin. Time seems to be slipping away faster and faster as well, I was genuinely a tad puzzled by now as to what was going on, I loved it as my aforementioned note on being able to guess films. Also they all seem to be looking rather sickly by now as well.
After a few more spooky scares and jump scares and coughing and a little obvious insanity the movie seemed to end really quickly. Don’t get me wrong this film has some odd parts and isn’t great all the way through. I did like it though and have seen films worse or even on par with this get into the cinema and this was a straight to video affair.
From start to finish it does degrade in quality the horror aspect isn’t as well written as the family parts and the shaky type camera action and screaming coughing sounds thrown in were the most annoying bits.
Anyway towards the end of the film we see due his mental state Terry has been cutting parts out of his memory, now we see how it really played out in the last few minutes. I won’t spoil it too much but thanks to a fever they all contracted is why it seemed like so much odd stuff was going on.
Suffice to say the dad who thought he couldn’t look after his kids pulls through for them in a misguided way at least. Why Dalias Blake is credited I have no idea as he only shows up as the deputy at the end of the film.
Thing is, was it just a fever or was there really something in the cabin after all?
A definite 4 out of 5 stars for this b-movies effort and managing to keep me focused on it from start to finish, like I said I’ve seen worse cinema releases than this.


Thursday, 8 November 2012

World war Z official trailer : the break down

Hey folks got you the World war Z trailer here i've read a few max brooks things, unfortunately world war z is not one of them though in the items i have read survival guide and the numerous stories one thing sticks out he uses slow zombies not fast ones.
Weather this is just a name only film or in world war z there actually fast zombies i dont know, i do know it looks reasonably decent. the new take of legions of undead rather than gangs mobs or hordes is the next step i think but a roiling wave of fast undead?
meh dont know about that, heres the trailer:


Reserving judgement for when i see it though could just turn into a white wash of bodies and with no substance, but i guess we'll see.