Man things were bad for the horror genre pack in the dawn of the new millennium. Having FINALLY distanced itself from the slasher-a-minute trope started by Scream in 1996, and still some breathing room until the flux of Japanese remakes that’d plague the box office like a cursed video tape in a frat house, horror needed a new craze popularising. Many movie executives would have frowned at the idea of borrowing the entire plot from The Thirteen Ghosts of Scooby Doo and updating it for a teen audience, calling it foolish and unlikely to reinvent the haunted house genre, and they were right. Thir13en Ghosts (does my spellchecker love this title) took every used, worn, predictable character made possible by Screams’ meta-humour and polished them to perfection, and dropped them into a story so contradictory the Riddler himself armed with a hole-punch couldn’t have riddled the plot with more holes. Not only that but the film wasn’t scary; over-reliant on quick cuts and sudden-jump sound effects rather than running with the idea that A GLASS HOUSE IN THE MIDDLE OF THE WOODS FILLED WITH THE GHOSTS OF PSYCHOPATHS COULD BE USED FOR INSTILLING TERROR IN VIEWERS. Up yours Microsoft spelling & grammar, this is Thir13en Ghosts.
Imagine my “uhg :(” upon hearing that not only would one of my all time most loved films (John Carpenter’s 1982 The Thing, a remake of the 1951 The Thing From Another World, based on the short 1938 ‘Who Goes There?’) was about to receive the prequel treatment, but it would share the SAME EXACT TITLE OF THE ORIGINAL [REMAKE] in order to totally fuck with my DVD filing system. Despite my initial scepticism I lowered my axe and stopped Google mapping the houses of the production team upon learning that the crew were obsessive fan boys who’d gone over the 5 min scene of that smouldering Norwegian base with an anally attentive eye, weeding out all possibilities of how the shit went down at the camp 24 hours before it hit the American base. This was no half-assed studio grab for cash (….not entirely) but a Hollywood financed fan fiction by a duo of fanatics. And best of all it would show the alien in its first form before it added people and dogs to its lexicon. So why did it suck?
Well mainly it’s the story, a retread of the 1982 movie with a few variations of the familiar sequences. The biggest let down is that we learn nothing new about the creature who demands a film dedicated to exploring the physiology alone, and its true alien form is quickly ditched in favour of humanoid designs – seen that back in ‘82, now show us more lobstrocities from Planet X! The characters feel like nothing more than underdeveloped monster fodder and it’s all too predictable to know who the hidden alien is, which is never a good aspect in a narrative centred on paranoia and guess work. Most damming of all though was the decision to use CGI rather than practical effects. The 1982 films’ puppets/robots were the finest of it’s time, and although their quality may appear dated to modern audiences the masterful direction skills of John Carpenter made use of light/shadows and camera positions to minimise obvious puppetry while maximising gross-out scares. The fact theses were fully automated animatronics bound in rubbery flesh and oozing all manner of vile viscous fluids gives them an off-putting ‘almost real’ vibe, which is why 30 years on they are still much more frightening than computer generated creatures, because no matter how convincing the CGI it’ll always lack that crude physicality (those who doubt should compare the slug-turds of Shivers to those in Slither).
The shame of all this is that this [p]re-make’s producers went to the trouble of crafting fully working animatronics, only to then overlay them with postproduction flesh tones to better match them to the lighting, rather than adapting their lighting to better hide their imperfections. The end result is a film with blockbuster glitz and glamour that undermines the horrific designs, and tries to tries to follow in the footsteps of its forbearer with a few new twists that fail to distract from the fact this is a fan love letter to Carpenter. A letter written from the heart and with some creative flair, but nothing more. This is The Thing….2011.
Up to this point, Ticket Stub Refund has been about fun (okay, vicious bitching) and the mocking of films generally of low quality but redeeming comedic value. In fact I’d suggest having watched the films under scrutiny at some point before, even watching them again before or after to re-familiarise yourself with the details. HOWEVER, today I offer a proviso that by providing you with this run through you DO NOT SEE PIRANHA 3DD!!! By God this film is a travesty, and not just for its dire script (desperately in need of an editor during writing), atrocious editing (same goes), bad direction (not helped by the script or editing), lack-lusted use of 3D[D], limp CG, and piss-poor excuse for characters, picked straight from the rosta of Eight Legged Freaks, only without the charm or self-referential 1950s B-movie admiration evident from the production crew. No, these things do not make a cinematic abomination – a bad film certainly (just look at anything Michael Bay has developed this decade), but not so bad that I’d advise avoiding it – ever for laughs. “Why?” you ask?, because it’s the most misogynistic, woman objectifying, sleaze piece of trash ever to be given a budget, and before you say “But what about the porno parody films that release alongside Blockbusters like Pirates of the Caribbean XXX, and This Ain’t the Smurfs XXX?”, it’s because at no point during those films did I feel uncomfortably like those involved hated women.
Piranha 3DD is utterly, abhorrently shameless about its treatment of female characters, reduced to faceless torsos and legs thanks to cropping shots that de-personify them into walking breasts and asses, whored out, talked down to by the male cast yet never rising up against or proving them wrong, showing them as ditzy morons, and for one particular character cruelly mocked for being physically sick and in pain, willingly debasing herself for a man she knows only wants her for her body, and made to endure painful humiliations (one with rape overtones played for laughs AGAINST HER and with the male being the figure of sympathy). I’m no raging feminist, but this film is such a step in the wrong direction towards entrenched equality of the sexes, in addition to being a poorly produced dreg unfit to use as fish bait.
You know why I think 2010’s Piranha 3D worked, it had a tongue-in-cheek understanding of what it was; goofy monster movie premise fun, with enough blood to drown a herd of elephants and some inventive gore effects that made the Feast Trilogy look reservedly tame, that happened to work wet tee-shirts and nudity INTO the plot BECAUSE it was a parody/tribute of what these genre films are renown for: inventively gory deaths, killer creatures, a plot devoid of any reality, and female flesh on display. And it was a hell of a film, capturing the tone perfectly to create a homage to B-movie horror of the 80’s, yet with that postmodernism self-mocking tone. 3DD lacks any of this, reeking of committee; a committee that evidently didn’t get the parodying tones and instead attributed the influx of earrings of its predecessor to it being a film about wet tits in 3D. This film is Nightmare on Elm Street (2010) bad, with a portrayal of women as odious as that of a white guy in a Spike Lee movie, and has encouraged plans for a video segment accompaniment to go along side this to fully delve into the problems on display, so look forward to that in the following weeks. Until then I promise to work in some jokes along the way, if only to lighten the potentially bitterly dark tone.
Last time on Ticket Stub Refund…
“We’re going into the HIVE.” SECURITY ALARMS. “I. HAVE. AMNESIA!” “Deactivate the little girl laser robot, stat!” GUN FIRE. “Zombies!!!” “You’re all going to die down here.” GROANS and UNDEAD MOANS. “*Gasp*, my amnesia has amnesia!” “The Pokémon has gone AWOL. Repeat, Lickitongue is on the loose!” TRAIN WHOOSH. “Oh Christ, we lost the generic sassy Latino.” “We’re free!” “Haha! Double-cross.” “Noooo~!” Zompocalypse………..
Last time I decided to pit two mighty game franchise fanbases of the past decade against each other, by comparing the underwhelmingly pedestrian Resident Evil movie to the blandness that is today’s post, Silent Hill. Without wanting to pick sides, based on the only good game either franchise have ever produced (churning out poorly concived sequels and prequels like parents that have kids for the tax benefits rather than because they want them and are proud of their achievements), I prefer Silent Hill . While Resident Evil  has action, story and swashbuckling action in abundance, Silent Hill  was steeped in atmosphere, psychosexual imagery, and purpose. Sure it handles like a remote controlled shopping trolly operated by a drunken, thumbless 85 year old with sever cerebral palsy, and yes its central character had the unfortunate personality, spine and likability of post-election Nick Clegg, but the game itself crafted a world that was unique to it and used it to scare the living shit out of the player. Now I’m not going to waffle on about how deep, meaningful and symbolic Silent Hill 2 is (a much more concise and hilarious account can be found on Zero Punctuation: (http://www.escapistmagazine.com/videos/view/zero-punctuation/878-Silent-Hill-2) because it’d only hammer home the utter disappointment of the 2005 movie. When I say the town of Silent Hill is the most interesting character in the game it’s a compliment; when said about the film it’s an indication of how truly dull and lifeless this entire production is. Perhaps it’s fitting that thick fog should be so prominently featured, as these 90-odd minutes are about as interesting as flying through clouds on a 16 hour direct flight to Australia – and the only onboard movie is Silent Hill! Man this is going to be an arduous one…
*WARNING: for the purpose of Silent Hill-esque atmosphere, this review will feature moments of tension and scare tactics – in HD, DTS, 3D!!! Readers with nervous conditions should buckle their sphincters now*
Marvel vs DC; Xbox vs Play Station (fuck off Nintendo Wii); Family Guy vs South Park; Coke vs Pepsi, no matter what it is people like to insist upon brand/franchise loyalty, forgetting or overlooking that it’s actually halving their enjoyment factor by denying them certain pleasures they’re getting from the medium. I mean, does it matter if a life-long Marvel fanboy picks up a copy of Suicide Squad in the greater scheme of things? Of course not, but we do it anyway because as a species we are fundamentally retarded like that. Thus to kick start 2012, I figured I’d do the first in a possibly recurring line of joint-part postings with one of the most hotly defended console gamer rivalries from the first decade of the millennium: Resident Evil vs Silent Hill. For the record, both franchises only have onE stand out/good game between them (4 and 2 respectively of the series), yet there was a time when this fractious rivalry rocked the gaming community who clearly had nothing better to do between gaming sessions while waiting for broadband porn to be invented.
Then in 2002 the me-against-them ball really got rolling when Sony released the first of its Resident Evil films, which have proliferated like zombies and have proved to be every bit as unlikable, unkillable and annoying as a plague of shambling corpses – and when fans of Umbrella Chronicles and Resident Evil 0 think the films suck you know they must suck more than your sister at the docks come shore-leave. Not that Silent Hill the movie fared any better (if Resident Evil blows like the pro that is your sister, Silent Hill is as unstimulating as a hand job from your arthritic grandmother), but at least to date we’ve only had two of them – Res now has film 5 on the production slate 😦
So whether you be a fan of the gun-toting adrenaline fuelled shoot-em horrors, or someone who favours that warm trickle of fear (at least I think it’s fear) that comes from the paranoia-oriented slow-burner titles, join me to see which film comes out…well not #1 – that implies there are true winners here -, but not as unwelcome on our screens as a turd in the bathtub. Come one, come all to the Ticket Stub Refund Horror Smack-Down 2012!!!
Deep Blue Sea is one of those wonderful films that loves to point out that any scientific venture intended to help ease the suffering of simply being unfortunate enough to be mortal, no matter how much anguish it wishes to eliminate, can only end with disastrous results that threaten all life on Earth. Possibly deep down God feels envious that we’ve noticed the problems in his designs which we have taken it upon ourselves to correct, thus proving his fallibility by addressing the glitches, which is why all these attempts to eradicate feline AIDs or the effects of aging are always met with such heavy-handed side-effects. In this case, our wish to cure Alzheimer’s is greeted with megalomaniac sharks – a fitting punishment if you ignore the logic but not the context. God’s sense of humour is as cruel as natures’ idea of perfection (sharks are pretty much immune to evolution, they’re THAT perfect), and the anti-scientific community producers behind this film are all too quick to show us the error of our ways. So shut down your TV, laptops and iPods and return to worshiping the One God from your cave like a good sheep, and just maybe it’ll end the tyranny of hyper-intelligent animals that have been sent to show us the retribution for trying to make the world a better place.
I could pretend this is all part of some build up to Halloween, but instead it’s a reaction to this statement: trailers SUCK! We all know what it’s like to hear about a film in production we really want to see, followed months later by the first teaser, and then finally the big jizz-inducing trailer. When Ghost Rider underwent his new millennium comic book make-over I was hooked on his Hellblazer-esque adventures as he threw rogue demons back to Hell as he rode the lonely road to damnation, so when the film was announced, teaser leaked and trailer aired during 2006, I was giddy as a paedophile at a park. So how disappointed was I to discover the film was a steaming pile of Batman & Robin after a promising ad campaign? VERY, that’s how much. I don’t know if this is a relatively new thing I was too young and optimistic to notice until then or whether it’s always been this way, but what I do know is that Ghost Rider was the first time the penny dropped at how marketing really works to sell shit like it’s toothpaste, leaving you short changed and with a vile taste in your mouth. With Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance now threatening cinema screen with a 2012 release (isn’t it enough we might be facing an apocalypse next year without this to further dampen our spirits?), I figured it was time again to tongue the wretched turd stains on my teeth left by its’ predecessor. Taste buds at the ready…