Archive for February, 2012

Having been confined to the USA as a download only I am pleased to announce anyone worldwide can now watch Terminus the film for free.
From director and writer Sean P. Parsons and myself the novelist of Dead Pulse and Blood Hunger comes Terminus – an existential vampire tale which crosses violent supernatural hijinks with an arthouse aesthetic to produce a new take on a worn-out genre.
The Story
Ellicott City, a condemned paper mill, home of Anushka – a vampire assassin haunted by self-imposed isolation. Her vow to never feed on humans is tried when a chance meeting tests her resolve. Her first bite could be your last.
Terminus is an original film that plays as prelude capturing the spirit of my book Blood Hunger. Sean P. Parsons’ screenplay features the sub character of the novel Anushka, who an important part of the Serbian plot. Marquise, played by Stacey Jackson, is an incarnation of the character Monica from the novel.

Watch this wonderful slow-burning vampire short by Sean P. Parsons here:

CAST

Philip Fletcher … Hauer
Katherine DuBois … Anushka
Stacey Jackson … Marquise
Sarah Taurchini … Caelum
Ben Cunis … Jacob
Ryan Sellers … Target 2
Bruce Allen Dawson … Bodyguard
Theo ‘Rick Vick’ Johnson … Target 1


Hammer Films appears to be reinventing itself (check out Wakewood and The Resident here) while returning to likeable form with its latest ghost story offering The Woman in Black…
Mr. Kipp is assigned to handle the estate of Alice Drablow who owned Eel Marsh. The longer he stays on at Drablow estate the more horror he witnesses which pushes him on to uncover what is taking the lives of the local children.
Not to be confused with 1989’s competent made for TV film, Hammer films production boasts a terrific cast, looks and sounds great with real locations assisting the gravity. Set in early 1920’s, the period is wonderfully recreated – a time where séance and superstition is rife.

Opening with a creepy melodic score and an eerie children’s party which ends mysteriously tragic you know your on somber solid ground and in good horror hands. There are plenty of scares, spine chilling moments and jump scares which have the quality to make hairs stand-up on the back of necks thanks to the fantastic sound design and visuals.

Lamp lit sets, odd grim town folk, rolling fog, graveyards, ghosts, creepy dolls and photos, this version of Woman in Blank oozes atmosphere. James Watkins delivers a slow burning chiller which allows the tragic character of widower Kipp time to breathe.
Based on Susan Hill’s novel The Woman in Black’s excellent writer Jane Goldman includes the old horror clichés in the screenplay but injects realism along side. It all comes together thanks to the great casting. A mature Daniel Radcliffe as defiant Mr Kipps is surprising effective, veteran Ciarán Hinds is on top form as wealthy land owner Daily and Janet McTeer, Sophie Stuckey, and Liz White are all wonderful. The supporting cast even down to the child actors are effective. Nevertheless, Radcliffe is very much the focus.

It’s refreshing like the recent Innkeepers (2011) with it’s back to basics approach of little blood and simple chills. Arguably surpassing the Haunted (1995), The Others (2001) and reminiscent of the Haunting (1963) Woman in Black harks back to the days of old school horror and scares with a modern slick execution.
The icing on the cake is its horrible, yet, brave heart wrenching downbeat or debatably upbeat ending which will stay with you long after the credits roll.
I was introduced to Lord of the Rings mainly because of curiosity of  a jigsaw with a bearded man that later found out was Gandalf.
Later as a boy the 1978 animated movie stuck with me mainly because of its creepy Rotoscope figures, I’d never been a huge fan John Ronald Reuel Tolkien or one of those that reads his work at least every year, I’m certainly not a Middle-earth guru either, but I love fantasy and the genre is usually tied to Tolkien in some way.
On first viewing of the long awaited film adaptation Fellowship of the Ring brought to life by Peter Jackson, I was initially disheartened, I thought it was a watered down version of the book and a bloated movie that could have been edited to tighter 90 minutes in a zipping ride, a digestible chunk of entertainment. How wrong I was, I should have applauded Fellowship. On revisiting film along with The Two Towers and Return of the King, I’ve grown to appreciate them more and more with each viewing, not only for the genius usage of every film technique in the book but for their ability to take you away to another time and place.  The extended versions offer an epic saga – it’s perfect escapism.
*With a film adaptation Hobbit imminent it seems fitting to revisit Middle-Earth not for the celebrated Award Winning Jackson visions but to share a few everyday man’s  thoughts on the animated versions of Tolkien’s work, the ones that got away.
*[Edited 2016]  Bilbo journey, The Hobbit trilogy, while financially a success were not as well received. Nevertheless like their predecessors the extended versions are much more rounded and are fitting companion pieces to the prequels connecting the two trilogies.
The Hobbit (1977) (TV)
Prompted by Gandalf the Wizard, Bilbo the ‘burglar’ reluctantly goes on an adventure to aid a band of dwarfs get back their treasure from a dragon.
Naturally this 1977 incarnation is of its time and suffers from the trappings of made for TV animation. It’s look is that of a pre-cursor ‘Flight of the Dragons’ (1982). It’s hard to believe it budget was 3 million.
The pace is slow, while it feels close to the book its a shame the makers didn’t read the other Rings books to realise that Gollum was once a Hobbit. The Hobbit boasts John Huston’s talent as Gandalf and Brother Theodore painfully voices the lethargic Gollum who both return of The Return of the King (1980).
While clearly made for children it’s 70’s colour scheme, animation gives it an unintentional eerie quality and tone. The music and songs certainly capture the spirit of The Hobbit book but the folk-ballad soundtrack quickly becomes arguably  tiresome.
It’s not as stylistic or as interesting Lord of the Rings (1978) and while it doesn’t follow The Hobbit to the letter Tolkien fans may enjoy this a little more than the casual viewer or young child.
The Lord of the Rings (1978)
Frodo and friends embark on a journey to destroy the One Ring and end Sauron’s reign over Middle Earth.
Ralph Bakshi brings Middle-Earth to life in this 1978 adaptation which still retains an eerie quality that spooked me as a child thanks to its usage of Rotoscope. Costing 4 million The Lord of the Rings is a little more slicker than its unlinked Rankin/ Bass’ 3 million budgeted predecessor The Hobbit (1977). In addition, Gollum is realised better in this incarnation.

Even back then John Hurts voice would have been suited for Gandalf more than Aragorn, that said, the voices are all cast well including Anthony Daniels as Legolas and the production tries it’s best to stay true to the source material. Despite errors with names (notably Saruman being referred to as Aruman at times), the pacing being a little off, the animation/art far from perfect and an abrupt ending there’s adequate entertainment to be found. While it’s a long slog for the causal viewer and too dark for young children there’s something charming about the production.

For the most part The Lord of the Rings is enjoyable thanks to its elusive atmospheric tone and made memorable due to its ethereal visuals.

The Return of the King (1980) (TV)
Two Hobbits struggle to destroy the Ring while their friends desperately Sauron’s forces in a final battle.
In amongst an over complicated exposition opening accompanied by some folk music Return of the King is a direct sequel to The Hobbit (1977) which loosely follows the Lord of The Rings (1978) – all complicated stuff. Between these three animated features they haphazardly form Hobbit through to The Return of the King.
The animation and artistry has improved since the 1977 outing but the pacing is choppy. There’s some great background plates and swordplay even if a bit skimmed over and brief. There’s flashbacks, dreams and visions that are unnecessary, adding nothing to the already wishy-washy narrative.
Roddy McDowall is the perfect voice of Samwise Gamgee and a great talent. John Huston’s Gandalf (voice) serves for the most part as narrator purely for exposition. Gollum voice is once again Brother Theodore.
Ultimately, it’s all a little jumbled. There’s lots missing as you’d expect for screen adaptation, but music at times doesn’t fit and harks back to the The Hobbit’s hippie/folk music which would be fine if it fit the on screen going-ons. Also if the great dramatic score wasn’t included it may have faired better being one or the other.
Overall, like it’s predecessor and source material it’s a little to dark for young children, nevertheless, it’s good introduction to Tolkien even if somewhat disjointed.
Flash Gordon is the hero of one of the oldest science fiction adventure comic strips and originally drawn by Alex Raymond. First published January 7, 1934, the strip was inspired by and created to compete Buck Rogers adventure strip.
I must admit Defenders of the Earth (1986) other TV series’ since the 1980’s film outing never rocked my boat and I wasn’t particularly fond of the comic strip or black and white serial reruns. That said, I have a childhood fondness for the feature animated (part rehash of the 70’s cartoon series) Flash Gordon The Greatest Adventure of All (1982). Ah the geek in me.
Without further ado here’s a few thoughts on Flash Gordon revisited without the childhood nostalgia.
A football player is tricked to travel the planet Mongo and finds himself forging friendships while fighting a tyrant, Ming the Merciless, to save Earth.
Lacking the production values and execution of the comparable Star Wars, Flash Gordon retains its comic-strip and Saturday morning matinee serial feel, possibly thanks to a troubled production and Lorenzo Semple Jr. screenplay.
Peter Wyngarde plays masked villain Klytus elegantly creepy (possibly and inspiration for He-Man’s Skeletor) and with Mariangela Melato Kala’s (oddly He-Man borrows another character this time Evil-Lynn) leads the assault while The Emperor Ming played subtly by Max von Sydow takes a back seat. It’s this distance between the protagonist and antagonist that hampers the film but on the other hand it’s works to its credit allowing an array of colourful characters to line the screen including Brian Blessed as Prince Vultan who’s delivers a barrage of classic lines while Timothy Dalton to graces the screen as dashing Errol Flynn alike Prince Barin.
Flash’s love interest Dale Arden is played by Melody Anderson and is the perfect 1950’s style every day New Yorker. Flash lacks Charisma, history may have been different should Kurt Russell had committed. Either way Sam J. Jones Flash Gordon does the job. There’s tones of familiar faces including UK’s Richard O’Brien, Robbie Coltrane
and Blue Peter’s Peter Duncan.
Sultry Ornella Muti is perfect as Ming’s daughter Princess Aura nevertheless there’s no doubt Topol steals every scene as unhinged science ‘genius’ Dr. Hans Zarkov.
While characters arcs change pacer than Queen’s memorable pumping and notable soundtrack amongst themes of forging friendships, suicide, death, sacrifice and resurrection to name a few there’s spaceships, poisonous creatures, red-clad guards and enough sequins to start a cabaret show all the things you’d expect from a science fiction. Beneath the bright and lustre costumes there’s a dark and rebel subtext.
Director Mike Hodges gives us many stand out scenes including a battle to the death on a remote control tilting platform with retractable spikes, an American football inspired fight, a space shuttle assault, gooey spider-monster and girls cat fight. There’s also some nice touches during Zarkov and prince escape that stay in the mind.
The effects are a mixed bag with projection and composites heavy utilised, again it gives it’s that hammy serial feel but hampers Flash’s longevity as a rounded work of art. Even so it packs in so many memorable characters, lines and moments that it retains a must seem charm.
Flash Gordon is flawed as much as the actor title role, it never fully explores the characters, yet, it’s well defined and still is a lot of fun. Gordon’s alive!

My long-time collaborator, director of Terminus Sean P. Parsons returns with this dark science fiction film short Syntrifica.

The not so distant future, Chinzera a war veteran is diagnosed with PTSD but shows no signs of the disorder. Find out why… Before 2019 and Bladerunners there was Chinzera and Syntrifica.

Watch it here:


SYNTRIFICA

THE CAST:
THEO JOHNSON
CLINT HERRING
ELAINE SEWARD
PATRICK HALE
SHAUN SCHROTH
DORIAN RUCKER
JON LAWLOR

WRITER/DIRECTOR/SHOOTER/EDITOR/SOUND/GRAPHICS:
SEAN PARSONS

GAFFER:
DORIAN RUCKER

MUSIC BY:
CLIFF MARTINEZ
oOoOO
THE FENDERMEN
JASON ALDEAN
THE KNIFE

Please check the following site for cast interviews and news on the film: http://www.seanparsonshome.com

Not my best post I admit, but I love some of FullMoon’s films so I thought I’d indulge in some of there lesser known nuggets…
Oblivion  (1994)
Set in the year 3031 on a frontier planet light years away from Earth, a bizarre gang of desperadoes set on turning the tumbleweed town of Oblivion into their own private haven.
Made nearly 20 years before the pretentious Cowboys and Aliens Oblivion is an obscure FullMoon nugget.

Although the costumes and sets appear cheap they’re fitting enough in this outlandish western futuristic alien tale. Despite the offbeat humour and pacing director Sam Irvin gives us forcefields, cyborgs, fistfights, spaceships, guns, gadgets and giant Harryhausen- like scorpions. Oblivion is an 90s film with and 1980’s b-feel and 70s stock soundtrack heart.

The ‘Biff Tannen’ villain Redeye played by Andrew Divoff makeup is effective. There’s an odd mix pop-culture cast including Batman’s Julie Newmar, Star Treks George Takei, singing legend Isaac Hayes, Master of the Universe and They Live’s Meg Foster to name a few. There’s also a leather-clad whip sporting Musetta Vander who looks particularly fetching.

If you like B-films and enjoy the unlikely list of genre crossovers Oblivion is the closest you’ll get to a live action BraveStarr.
Oblivion 2 – Backlash (1996 release)
The wild desert planet of Oblivion, bounty hunter Sweeny is search for a saboteur and all hell breaks out in town when the mark strikes a deal to control the mining of Derconium.
Backlash, is padded with a lengthy title sequence and a seven-minute round up of the FullMoon original Oblivion but still crams in plenty of what looks like made for TV action, as the Lash (Musetta Vander) joins with Jaggar (again Andrew Divoff) evil twin of reptilian Redeye.
There’s a barrage of flimsy in-jokes (Star Trek’s George Takei flashing the Vulcan greeting) Meg Foster, Julie Newmar, Isaac Hayes and the rest of the original cast return (as the films were conveniently shot back to back). There’s a new addition Maxwell Caulfield as Sweeney but like its predecessor Vander steals the show.
Director Sam Irvin delivers more campy Western, Science Fiction fun but you have to be a lover of B-films to enjoy.