Archive for April, 2011

Starting at the bottom has never been easy, but now it’s never been so competitive. I’ve covered the ‘who you know’ angle previously.
Starting my own company to support untapped talents has given me rewards, but none- financially. That said, I’ve met and worked with some cracking people and some in the most unlikely of industries. Some of which have gone onto do much bigger things. I know my limits and some of my promotion stuff is beyond what I could ever have produced.
I received a survey from an individual for a project as part their degree. It was about the UK film Industry pre and post 2008. It’s not through trying but I must admit I’ve never been supported by any UK bodies (and it’s a sad for the UK) but all my film has been US funded. Surprisingly, even viable commercial ideas are passed on in favour for ‘quirky’ films that have ‘named’ talent attached even though they have little return or success.
That’s fine don’t get me wrong art is art and other stories should be told, but as it is the public’s money,dramatic bold and different films can be made and can also appease a wider audience. It is a business after all. Again there are lots of angels and opinions on this and once again this up for debate, I’m speaking from my own experience. My hat goes off to ‘self financed’ indie-film makers who do there’s research and pre-pro and go out –  putting it crudely, in simplistic terms, just make it, and make a film well, like David Paul Baker and Oklahoma Ward to name a few.

Terminus

Presently, I’m looking to sell some of my foreign rights but it’s a back rubbing exercise that I’m just not willing to play.  People talk about being transparent but there’s almost no such thing.  So I’ll wait until the right sub-agent or literary Agent  one comes along. I’m not looking for Michael Landon’s Jonathan Smith to turn up and say hey we’ll do your horror travel reads in thirty-three other languages, I just don’t want another unscrupulous suit to make me an offer.
So when we talk about retaining rights and so on what do we mean?  I’ve said many times I’m happy for my work to be played with by the right creative people. Sean P. Parsons Terminus was wonderful and I’m proud to have been a part of it.

Star Wars: The Complete Saga (Episodes I-VI) [Blu-ray]The Hobbit: 70th Anniversary Edition

So what ‘s that got to do with the The Hobbit and Star Wars? Well if you are are fan of either you’ll probably know there’s a lot of fan made stuff out there, some good, some bad, some legal and some not. (Never support anything illegal, it costs people jobs, seriously). Those who are fans of the aforementioned and have missed these are in for a treat.These are fan made films in the truest sense and are not for profit or to infringe on the rights of the official films… Enjoy.
Makazie One is set in the Star Wars universe during the time period between Episodes III and IV, an elite soldier has been sent to track down and destroy a known threat to the Empire. http://www.makazieone.com
Award winning unofficial prequel to The Lord Of The Rings dramatising Aragorn &Gandalf’s long search for Gollum. This 40 minute film, made by fans for fans is based on the appendices of LOTR and was painstakingly shot on a low budget as a homage to Peter Jackson’s trilogy and the writing of J.R.R. Tolkien.
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 ;In 1982 Tron bombed at the Box office so much so Disney didn’t make a llive action film for another 10 years. I must admit I was never a huge fan of Tron,I don’t think I’ve ever revisited it since its release on VHS. It left your eye’s feeling they’d been assaulted by your Atari. It was a product of it’s time, but still was influential and left unfounded imagrey embedded in you mind. Still, it was hardly suprising the game ourgrossed the film as it was far more enjoyable. So three decades later comes part 2, and there was Gene Hackman sceptical of a French Connection II within a few years. Thankfully Jeff Bridges returned but how does the sequel fair? Remember opinions are like… Any how here’s my thoughts…

Tron: The Original Classic (Two-Disc Blu-ray/DVD Combo) ;The son of a virtual world designer goes looking for his father and ends up inside the digital world that his father designed called The Grid. ;Credit to Tron: Legacy’s writers including the ;Edward Kitsis and ;Adam Horowitz, it incorporates and builds the original idea which compliments the feeling of 1st nicely. ; Director Joseph Kosinski delivers a stylish looking film, heavy toned and rich in atmosphere. It fits the story and the films design, in addition, the neon look is not used as a gimmick. The music, effects and action scenes are well executed and stay with you after the film ends.

The story still remains basic like it’s predecessor. On the other hand, Disney again allows an edginess to shine through that gives it a little depth, it’s not all gloss with the themes quiet dark. ;This time visually everything is cooler, sleeker, less clunky and awkward than in Tron.

Tron: Legacy - Sam & Quorra - in The Grid 11x17 Poster

Garrett Hedlund is an effective enough lead as Sam Flynn Kevin’s  ;son. Jeff Bridges returns to the Kevin Flynn role and also plays his nemesis Clu. The veteran actor is on top form. ;Olivia Wilde is simply stunning as Quorra, oddly her demeanour is reminiscent of Sean Young in the original Bladerunner especially as the film closes. Notable, is memorable Beau Garrett as Gem. There’s a few cameo appearances and Michael Sheen shows up part ‘Ziggy stardust’ and ‘the Riddler’ as Castor.
This time it feels story driven as appose to effects driven. Nevertheless, like Tron the special effects were a product of it’s time, in Legacy’s case the 1989 ‘young’ Bridges is not perfected just yet, and the film may have befitted from having the young Kevin in the ‘blurred’ grid flashbacks with him not really being seen with young Sam in the opening. That said, the Clu character another version of a young Bridges works in the confines of the grid as it’s digitalised look debatable fits the story.

Tron Movie (Reaching for Light) Poster Print - 22x34 Poster Print, 22x34

Overall, ;Kosinski ;builds on the 1982 Tron concept and coupled with some appeasing writing Legacy arguably excels original as a piece of wider-appealing digestible family entertainment.

Curse of the Demon / Night of the DemonRichard Gladman presents a classic horror double bill. The man and his team have gone to the trouble not just to show what great films, stories and plots are out there, but to demonstrate that these classic film should be shown, to excite and stimulate. Er, um, and this is why the BBC should show these classics again.

There’s a big difference between watching a classic horror film with an audience to viewing it on TV. The red curtains, a darkened auditorium and an excitment in the air. It’s great that people chose to go out and see a film. They haven’t ordered a VHS or DVD, even a blu-ray, it’s not just for an individual to enjoy. The individual choses the showing, to watch something as a collective and enjoy a cinematic experience.

Possibly though it’s unlikely a person would seek these classics out unless they already have an interest. What was good about horror being shown on terrestrial TV is that you may settle down to watch something accidentally. The BBC exposed viewers to these horrors, broadening horizons indirectly igniting the imagination.

The Ninth Gate [Blu-ray] Nostalgia aside a lot can be experienced and discovered with classic movies, not just horror. Although it’s surprising how much a seed of and idea can create a tree… Watching Night of the Demon (1957) arguably there are so many elements that are reminiscent of Arturo Peres-Reverte paperback ‘Club DumasEl Club Dumas / Club Dumas (Spanish Edition)‘ which inspired, and was source material for Roman Polanski’s ‘The Ninth Gate’… My sibling was so surprised.

I’m partial to a great horror movie, especially because it’s the darker side of us, the unimaginable. The Classic Horror Campaigns aim is to bring classic horror back, to viewers new and old… So why not sign the petition?

Once upon a time independent film was just that, Independent. And in most cases still is.
Taxi Driver [Blu-ray]Usually independent filmmakers would beg, scrimp and borrow to get a vision on screen and it would be shown at a limited to a number of cinema screens. This has forced many independent studios to close or to be snapped up by bigger players. Even though the line has become more blurred between big Studio’s and independent ones in terms of look and feel it really isn’t a new thing. In the 70’s Hollywood simply produced films that looked like indie movies for example, Taxi Driver.
The big players and Hollywood system has adjusted making more changes to appease the movie goer with darker films and fewer happy endings, these have usually been produced under a subsidiarity company. Usually these films are more thought provoking, have a certain visual grit and are not PG friendly. Something that indie films have always lived up to. Also there is a difference between low budget film making and low budget indie films. It’s impossible for me to wrap it’s all up neatly and it would be pretentious to even think one could fit all the intracity of film making. in a small blog post.
Pot luck with Film festival and showcases aside it is so difficult to get a film on the big screen, especially in the UK.The process of film making is pretty much the same indie-film or not. Those who go blindly into it aways discover there’s a process that needs to be followed to achieve the completion of a great film. And don’t even get me started on distribution, another minefield of pros and cons. I digress…
Blood Hunger’s development is only aided slightly by the novel as a template, it means that research had been carried out, the characters are already broken down, motivations have already been explored etc. It’s just makes it slighty easier for an objective screen writer. There’s only so much a great glossy photo-shoot and a fantastic neo-noir indie-film Terminus can help the subject matters adataption. So Blood Hunger is now at a stage where the screen-play is being developed. I’ll be posting further updates so you can benefit and learn for our experiences.
Twilight (The Twilight Saga, Book 1)Remember novel source material is just that, the screenplay doesn’t have to be a true representation of the book. Most writers find this difficult to let go, it’s their baby and I can relate to that, however, I can see that it would be difficult to get everything on screen. I’ve also never professed to be a great writer, just a decent story teller. (ah the humbling noise of modesty)
Set in the present day I envisage and strive for Blood Hungers adaptation to be a grittier than the book and far removed from the recent popular vampire incarnations; Twilight; Vampire Dairies; True Blood to name a few. For example the flash back 1477 A.D segments have already been stripped out, not only for budget reasons (for it to have a wider investment appeal) but also because the screen play would become too long and possibly have to be trimmed so much it would loose it’s impact. Besides dependant on the budget, the detailed 15th chapters could always be revisited. It’s a shame they have to be omitted as Europe’s and America’s 1477 is very different. Most striking is the difference of London in mid 15th Century to Bram Stoker’s 19th century London that is so often portrayed.
So while the screenwriter(s) crack on, I’ll be on the hunt for further interested parties in order to deliver you a quality horror thriller. Over and out.
If you’re a horror fan or have an interest in history you’ve most likely heard of Elizabeth Bathory. There’s been many films that incorporates the legend including Countess Dracula (1970) to recent teen supernatural slasher Stay Alive (2006). I couldn’t miss the opportunity to see a version that had originally cast Bond Girl baddie Famke Janssen as Báthory... Replaced by Brit chick talent, London Boulevards Anna Friel.
FAMKE JANSSEN 24x36 COLOR POSTER PRINTThis story follows the rise and fall of one of history’s most prolific serial killers, Countess Báthory who supposedly bathed in virgins blood to stay youthful.
This is a comprehensive fictionalised TV version directed and written by Juraj Jakubisko with mixed production values in both tone and atmosphere. The setting is fantastic and breathtaking, however, the exterior scenes lack the Gothic feel that the interiors have.
As a TV film, in several parts, the Monks narration and involvement arguably fits, however, as a film it may have benefited from the omission of the character entirely. You’ll also either love or hate the involvement of painter Caravaggio. Historical inaccuracies aside and the unnecessary humour injected usually by the monk, this incarnation of the legend is very interesting and adds food for thought to the tale of Báthory. In addition, it gives an interesting portrayal of politics,religion and royalty.

Anna Friel is fantastic as the miss-judged Erzsébet Báthory and gives a wonderful performance, full of range and emotional depth. It’s not all out horror, a possible nod to Ingrid Pitt in Countess Dracula. Co-Star Karel Roden is on top form as Juraj Thurzo and Vincent Regan is notable. The supporting cast do just that. The principle characters have strong motivations for their actions and the morale choices are at times shades of grey.

Bathory [Blu-ray]It’s not without its faults but there’s a handful of interesting dream and hallucination sequences and enough twists on the tale to keep you watching. This coupled with some fine locations, costumes and performances makes Bathory worth your time.

Hunter PreyAfter a crash landing an escape human prisoner must avoid being recaptured by humanoid aliens or caught by a bounty hunter.

A low-budget sci-fi reminiscent of Enemy Mines (1985), Pitch Black (2000), Planet of the Apes (1968), Star Wars (1977) and Star Trek’s 1967 ‘Arena’ episode to name a few.

While it may not have the production design or sleekness of some of the aforementioned, Hunter Prey has some nice make-up design and subtle effects. Lead alien performer Poitier is note-worthy as Centauri 7 shows depth and bearded Simon Potter as Logan is entertaining enough as the prisoner on the run in a desert landscape.

The costume design is effective and fan-boy cool but is let down by the original sound design that doesn’t give them weight leaving them plastic and hollow rather than heavy pieces of armour, guns and helmets. Director writer Sandy Collora delivers a watchable sci-fi but it still has the feel of limited budget filmmaking rather than a low budget with a cinematic feel.Hunter Prey Poster Movie 11x17 Isaac C. Singleton Jr. Clark Bartram Damion Poitier Simon Potter

Despite an abrupt ending there’s a few story twists and double crossings that are mainly played out in dialogue rather than action and enough visuals to keep you entertained.

Hellraiser - Clive Barker - Movie Poster Lobby Card - 8 x 10

As a horror fan the Hellraiser Series elludes me, it has such an interesting premise and concepts, puzzles, keepers of hell, resurrection and redemption to name a few. The first two films have excellent raw, wet, blood effects that few horror movies, especially at the time offered. Still despite all it’s allure the Hellraiser series has been so unjustly realised which is simply hellraising considering the fan following of the character Pinhead (wonderfully played by Doug Bradley) and the Cenobites that have captured the imagination of horror goers.
Both Hellraiser: Inferno (2000) (#5) and Hellseeker (2002) (#6) are above average productions with their fair share of blood and chills. Hellseeker sees the return of Kirsty briefly but both amount to nothing more than Creepshow Twilight zone tales with Pinhead featuring in a bookend capacity with more of the same in Hellraiser: Deader (#7) and Hellraiser: Hellworld (#8).
Hellraiser - Hellworld
A 9th, Revelations was filmed without Bradley which was produced in a matter of weeks due to an obligation on Dimension Films’ part to release another Hellraiser film or risk losing the rights to the franchise. It was the pin in the coffin for the direct to video entries. Nevertheless, there is hope with a possible Hellraiser remake, ghastly or entertaining time will tell but look what became of Freddy, Jason and Leatherface… Below are my thoughts on the theatrical released instalments…
The remains of a man rise from the dead and is aided by his sister-in-law to regenerate his body. However, he is being chased by demons who want to return him to their hell.

Hellraiser

A modestly budgeted horror with memorable cult impact, fantastically realised by writer, director Clive Barker. It’s sadomasochism, blood and gore influenced many films to follow. The music complements the claustrophobic atmosphere and adds to the films tension. 80’s poor lightening visuals aside the practical effects are excellent, including skinned, pinned and mutilated people.
Hellraiser - Clive Barker - Movie Poster Lobby Card - 8 x 10Surprisingly it’s Kirsty Cotton’s (Ashley Laurence) fight against her uncle and stepmother that is at the core story. Lead Cenobite ‘Pinhhead’ (that the series is synonymous for) is calmly played by Doug Bradley and has very little screen-time, yet leaves an impact. There’s great characterisation executed admirably by Andrew Robinson as wimpy Larry, Clare Higgins as adulteress Julia and Sean Chapman as power hungry Frank.
Hellraiser is creepy, bloody and eerie. It’s just a shame that neither this or any of the sequels capitalise on its greatest assets, that is Frank and Pinhead.
Hellbound: Hellraiser II - 20th Anniversary Edition Kirsty is brought to an institution after the death of her family, where the occult-obsessive Dr. Philip Channard resurrects Julia and unleashes the Cenobites once again.
It’s no surprise it was released the same year as Phantasm II, Friday the 13th Part VII and A Nightmare on Elm Street 4, having one of horrors most surprising memorable and bankable protagonists. However, Hellbound borrows some elements from A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors (1987) and feels as if it had money thrown at it and was rushed to capitalise on the success of the first.
Hellbound: Hellraiser II Poster Movie (11 x 17 Inches - 28cm x 44cm)As a side note director Tony Randel arguably captures the imagination of Clive Barker correctly as its style appears to be the foundation for Barker’s own Nightbreed (1990).
There’s plenty to enjoy, the dark oozing blood effects, the return of almost all the original cast and of course the Cenobites and Pinhead himself. The music is fantastic, as too are the costumes and SFX. That said, the story is disjointed on occasion causing it to feel longer than it’s running time, almost never-ending with one crescendo after another.
Overall, compared to the first and traditional movie styled Hellraiser third Hellbound: Hellraiser II is average and hellishly overrated.
Hellraiser III: Hell on EarthA work of art contains ‘Pinhead’ who is hellbent on escaping and unleashing hell on earth, armed with a puzzle box can reporter Joey Summerskill stop his evil?
Clive Barker is absent from a writing role which leaves Peter Akins to take up the reigns and to his credit this screen-play connects the previous films via various flash backs and recordings. However, the story follows a more linear narrative than it’s predecessor. Follow up Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth swaps the grittiness of the modestly budgeted first for a glossier grander slicker 3rd. Pinhead is given more story, dialogue and exposition – possibly to appease a wider audience.
Hellraiser 3 - Movie Poster (Size: 27'' x 40'')Hell on earth is really a one-man-show, British actor Doug Bradley is allowed to give a pleasing head-to-head performance as both Pinhead and his former-self Captain Elliot Spencer. Terry Ferrell as the snooping reporter who walks the film playing the genre piece like an 80s thriller. There are some new less-menacing cenobites, that said,Terri/Female Cenobite played by Paula Marshall is noteworthy but her appearance is all too brief. The rest of the cast are forgettable, mainly their purpose is to allow Pinhead some elaborate torture kills.
The special effects (although now dated) are digestible and oddly even though this film was made in 1992 it feels late eighties. Director Anthony Hickox competently delivers an entertaining instalment despite the choppy editing, lack of tension and gore. Nevertheless, there are enough dream sequences, dead bodies and bloody scenes to keep most chill seekers happy until the explosive final act.
Overall, in a traditional movie sense Hellraiser III is arguably a very strong sequel and viewer is left with tantalising closing scene, but in retrospect the concept is an empty promise.
Hellraiser - BloodlineThis instalment of Hellraiser IV follows the bloodline of the creator of the puzzle box the ‘Toy Maker’ and his plan to summon and to destroy Pinhead forever.
Despite a theatrical release, bloodline looks and feels TV movie-like and the acting is below average, possibly due to the script. That said, Doug Bradley is fine as Pinhead and Valentina Vargas is note-worthy as the demon Angelique.
The story’s concept is quite good, and includes (one assumes) the building in the 3rd and the history of the box. It is told in flash-backs by Dr. Paul Merchant in the year 2127 and follows his descendants Phillip L’Merchant in the 18th century and John Merchant in 1996. Sadly, it’s just poorly executed and let down by an uneven screenplay, bland direction and sub-par sets. The effects are a mixed bag, some are well done while others are less-convincing and tame.
Hellraiser 4 - Movie Poster (Size: 27'' x 40'')
It appears to have a troubled shooting history as there were two directors Alan Smithee (under an alias Kevin Yagher) and Joe Chappelle (uncredited). This maybe one cause and result of such a less than satisfying fourth.
Overall, producers didn’t give such a bankable character as Pinhead the attention he deserved leaving the viewer as empty as the 22nd century space setting.

I Spit on Your Grave [Blu-ray]Meir Zarchi’s Day of the Woman, better known as I Spit on your Grave was a longtime banned VHS in the UK. Later passed by BBFC like Evil Dead (laugh) and The Last House on the Left to name a few ‘video nasties’.

It’s a basic tale also written by Meir Zarchi, a New Yorker Jennifer Hills (Camille Keaton) rents a lakeside cottage in the woods of Connecticut, however, later is she gang raped and thought dead. However, alive and recovered she takes her revenge against the rapists.

Those who say it’s a feminism film are off the mark. It’s nasty, needless and arguably gratuitous exploitation. The rape scenes are graphic and I feel unfairly more intense than the revenge scenes later. A product of its time and made to shock, it certainly does that. It’s not a film I would want to watch again or have in my collection. However, I’m sure there is a strange audience out there who would.
The film is well constructed and directed. The locations are for the most part picturesque and ooze the 70’s vibe of that time gone by, in contrast,the lack of a music score sinisterly adds to the realism of the barbaric violence. The cast are below average, however, the unknown lead Keaton gives an amazing performance, and it’s a shame she’s only known for this film. As a side-note I was surprised to find out that she is the granddaughter of actor Buster Keaton.

Only watch for curiosity, Keaton’s performance or possibly the revenge kills. That said, it’s not recommended.

The remake of Meir Zarchi’s Day of the Woman, better known as I Spit on your Grave follows a surge of ‘video nasties’ been re-done unnecessarily including the likes of The Last House on the Left.

I Spit on Your Grave [Blu-ray]Naturally it follows the basics of the original, city girl Jennifer (Sarah Butler) retreats to a secluded lodge to write her book, but she is gang raped and thought dead. However, alive and recovered she takes her revenge against the rapists.

Just like its predecessor it’s nasty, needless and border gratuitous exploitation and compared to what she endures the revenge kills even though elaborate and (Hostel/Saw-like) bloody never satisfy. Where as 1978’s version has a place in history being a gritty product of its time and was made to shock, this time round it just feels like a money-maker for controversy’s sake.

That said, director Steven R. Monroe’s film looks fantastic and is well executed. Stuart Morse’s screenplay at times improves the dialogue, some characterisations of the original and a few tweaks inject some freshness, especially the inclusion of the sheriff and his family. Neverless, its initial feel is reminiscent of Texas Chainsaw Massacre.

The supporting cast surpass the original actors and lead Sarah Butler on the trail of revenge arguably equals Keaton seductive first-rate performance but instead with a coolness edge.

Only watch for compatible curiosity if you must but it’s not recommended especially these days.