Shocking Saturday: Ginger Snaps

This week’s Shocking Saturday is a film which takes the werewolf genre to a different level, even though it was released in 2000. Rather than having a high budget CGI amplified film, it’s a gritty, dark, energetic horror flick, with some cracking practical make-up effects.

gingersnapsmovie

The story follows two sisters Ginger (Katharine Isabelle) and Brigitte (Emily Perkins) who are both obsessed with death, and believe that the only people they can rely on is each other. There have been reports on the news of dogs being attacked and killed all over town but the girls don’t think anything of it, and after Brigitte is attacked by a girl at school they go out to get revenge. However whilst carrying out their plot, Ginger is brutally attacked by an animal but Brigette drags her to safety. Over the next few days Ginger begins to change, her moods change, her opinions change and her body begins to change. What is first thought of as puberty turns out to be something much more sinister.

As you can probably imagine, the story revolves around the werewolf theme, but it is not just your typical; person gets bitten, person turns into a werewolf and person is killed by a silver bullet story line. ‘Ginger Snaps’ adds in to the mix the feelings of growing up joined with the feelings of turning in to a werewolf. Also the transformation of Ginger in to the beast is shown so differently than what I have seen before in films, the change is slower than usual, so as the days pass by you can see the effect which the transformation is having on her. Ears get pointy, fur emerges and a tail is sprouted. All the while Ginger’s persona is also completely changing, instead of the socially awkward fully clothed girl who was close with her sister, she has become a typical slutty American teen, who is just after boys and is constantly arguing with her family. The sombre-toned lighting present throughout the film really goes well with the feeling which it gives off; a horror film with teenage-angst mixed in.

One of the greatest aspects about ‘Ginger Snaps’ has to be the make-up effects, although CGI can sometimes be vital to making a film work (Godzilla), this movie just wouldn’t be anywhere as good as it is without its effects created by hand. They really make you feel the pain of what Ginger is going through.

Katharine Isabelle and Emily Perkins take on their roles so well, both when they are close sisters and when they are driven apart. Isabelle will be forever remembered as her role as Ginger, even though recently she appeared in American Mary and gave a flawless portrayal. It is in this film that she truly wins the audience over.

I would definitely recommend ‘Ginger Snaps’ to any horror fan, it is a fast-paced, violent thrill-ride which does not let up until the finale.

Also if anyone is wondering about the sequel (Ginger Snaps 2: Unleashed), it is also amazing.

Tag Line: She’s Got The Curse.

Horror Rating: (:-O) (:-O) (:-O)

Star Rating:

Icon Of Horror: John Kramer/Jigsaw

Everything that goes into a horror film creates that feeling of fear, whether it’s the dialogue, settings, make-up or music. One thing is certain though, it is the main antagonist which gives us the ‘heebie jeebies’ the most; the way they talk, the way they move, how they kill and their back-story are all aspects which entice us to view their films. Where would horror be without its horror icons.

I’m sure a lot of horror fans are on the fence with the ‘Saw’ franchise, many saying that while the first film was great, they gradually went downhill from there. I couldn’t disagree more, while I do think that the first was the best due to its originality, the rest still kept me watching and wanting more.

saw_ver3_xlg

The main reason for this was because of the clever, ruthless and psychopathic villain of the franchise, ‘John Kramer’ – better known as the ‘Jigsaw’ killer (played by Tobin Bell). I don’t know where to start, firstly the way he kills his victims is just so imaginative, due to his former work as a civil engineer, Kramer is able to create amazing pieces of machinery in order to trap and torture his individuals. After being done with them he cuts a jigsaw puzzle piece out of their flesh to signify that a piece of them was missing. Their survival instinct.

Although an elderly man, do not doubt the power of Kramer’s mind. He has the audience and the characters all guessing at what to expect next in his labyrinth of complex puzzles and mazes – which he refers to as his ‘games’. He challenges his victims to try as hard as they can to save themselves, some do…but most don’t. The scariest thing is that he has created a puzzle so large and with so many people involved in it that even after his death, his games continue.

Although Kramer comes across as being a completely sadistic killer, as the story continues throughout the films we uncover that, after he lost his baby and found out that he had developed a tumour, he attempted to kill himself in a car crash. Failing this he came out with a new outlook on life, he decided that he wanted to help people. However he thought that the best way to do that was to torture them in machines, proving whether they want to live or die. He sees himself as giving his victims a second chance after they have made a huge mistake in their lives. Trying to make them appreciate their life, and get rid of their own demons.

tobinbell800751

One of the most iconic parts about Kramer is the fact that he never shows his face to his victims, he just uses a doll on a tricycle to do the talking for him. Imagine it, waking up in a strange, cold room, connected to some form of industrial machinery that could potentially kill you, and then a TV set turns on with the face of a creepy doll and a low-key grainy voice which tells you what is about to happen. As soon as you here the classic ‘I want to play a game’ quote, you know what is coming.

Let the games begin…

Original Tag Line: How Much Blood Would You Shed To Stay Alive?

Film Franchise List:

Saw – 2004

Saw 2 – 2005

Saw 3 – 2006

Saw 4 – 2007

Saw 5 – 2008

Saw 6 – 2009

Saw: The Final Chapter – 2010

Shocking Saturday: Cockneys vs Zombies

Today’s Shocking Saturday is a film which I have been meaning to watch for a while, being a British, horror-comedy I was hoping that it might be the next ‘Shaun of the Dead’. Although it did offer some light British humour and great zombie kills, the poor dialogue and flimsy story-line really let it down.

663156-cockneys_vs_zombies

The story follows two brothers, Terry (Rasmus Hardiker) and Andy (Harry Treadaway), as they bring a team of petty criminals together to rob a local bank in order to save their grandfather’s (Alan Ford) retirement home. Unfortunately whilst they are attempting the robbery a zombie outbreak begins to take over London. The gang escape the bank but must find a way to, first get to their grandfather’s retirement home, and then fight off the undead and get out of the city. Along the way blowing off some heads and spewing out rhyming slang left, right and centre.

What probably holds most of this film together – including the reason why a lot of people will watch it – is because it stars British actor Alan Ford in it. You might recognise him as the loud-mouthed character ‘Brick Top’ from the Guy Ritchie’s gritty comedy ‘Snatch’. However, although he does make for a few laughs, it seemed as though there was more of his cockney slang than actual zombies in the film.

One high point has to be the starring of partially famous British actors/actresses. Along with Alan Ford we are also treated to the womanly macho-ness of Michelle Ryan who made her fame from Eastenders, I Want Candy, Merlin and Cashback. Also Tony Gardner, who we all know as the father from ‘My Parents Are Aliens’, and Lead Balloon.

I can’t say that Cockneys vs Zombies was terrible though, because for a small budget it was enjoyable, but it is another one of those – and horror fans will know what I am talking about – horror films where the plot really hasn’t been thought through enough. One which puts gore over the writing, in some films that can be good, but to do it well the story and effects really need to be level with each other.

I am still waiting on another British horror-comedy which can match up to ‘Shaun of the Dead’, alas Cockneys vs Zombies is not it.

Tag Line: The Undead Are Brown Bread

Horror Rating: (:-O) (:-O)

Star Rating:

We Interrupt This Programme…

Special Bulletin!

Every now and then I will be doing one of these special ‘bulletin reports’ about new news in horror, mainly for things which are not fully confirmed yet but will still wet your lips in anticipation hoping that the ideas will come to life. I will still be doing longer news pieces, but just on confirmed news.

Hellraiser Reboot

First things first, every horror fan must have seen the incredible slasher flick ‘Hellraiser’ from 1987, starring the lovely Doug Bradley as ‘Pin-Head’, the pin-headed, white-faced Cenobite Who returns from hell followed by a few other demons. Well over the years we have been treated to numerous sequels; 8 to be exact. Some great, and some not so great. Now there is some very exciting news, Clive Barker – the fellow who directed the original film – has claimed that he is on to direct the reboot, not only that but Doug Bradley is returning as Pinhead to terrify audiences once again. The film should hopefully do the original justice and we should see the same amazing make-up effects which we saw in 1987, as Barker has stated that he would much rather use practical effects than CGI. Thank god.

hellraiser

Estimated Release: Not Yet Known

Army of Darkness 2

Another great franchise, another great bit of news. ‘Evil Dead’, one of my favourite ‘video nasties’, has had some great sequels through the years, as it changed in to comedic horror with ‘Evil Dead 2’ in 1987 and ‘Army of Darkness’ in 1992. The 2013 remake by Fede Alverez was also an amazing effort, and because of this talks about a sequel to ‘Army of Darkness’ has been thrown in to the mix. With Sam Raimi – who directed the original trilogy – back in the director’s chair. I heard a rumour a while back that they may also be pursuing ‘Evil Dead’ sequels carrying on from the reboot, and are trying to make the two films intertwine. Can you imagine it, Bruce Campbell and Jane Levy fighting off the deadites together. At the moment it is only a dream, but one which will hopefully come true.

army

Estimated Release: Not Yet Known

Monster Cinematic Universe

Now the piece de resistance, although I did really enjoy the 2004 film ‘Van Helsing’, it does appear time for a reboot, which is exactly what is happening. Tom Cruise is rumoured at the moment to be starring, and Rupert Sanders (Snow white and the Hunstman) is on to direct. That is not the best part though, due to the recent success of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Universal are on the fence about deciding whether to do a Monster Cinematic Universe, let’s hope they do. Can you imagine it Dracula, Frankenstein’s Monster, Bride of Frankenstein, The invisible Man, The Mummy, The Wolfman, The Creature From the Black Lagoon, Phantom of the Opera and Van Helsing all in one film together. I know that these types of films happened thanks to ‘Hammer Horror’ back in the 50s, 60s and 70s, but imagine them being re-imagined today, and all with their own film to proceed it. Even though The Wolfman and The Mummy were re-created quite recently, they should really be rebooted in order to link in with this new set of films, if they ever happen.

universal-monsters

Estimated Release: Not Yet Known

Shocking Saturday: American Mary

This weeks Shocking Saturday film has me torn between whether or not I really enjoyed it. There’s no doubt that American Mary keeps you gripped to the screen for the duration of the film. However by the end it may make you pose the question…What was the actual story line?

American-Mary-UK-Poster

Mary is a lonely, young woman who is studying to become a surgeon. All she wants to do is prove herself worthy to her grandmother and judgemental teacher, however money problems cause her to attempt to find work in a strip club. She presents her CV to the employer who explains that she can make $5000 if she performs a quick surgery on someone. With the extra money in her pocket and after being invited to have drinks with several of the other surgeons she thinks that everything is looking up. That is until a certain event changes her way of thinking completely, and forces her into the world of body modification. As the films continues Mary changes her entire morals and ends up performing procedures which she had never even dreamed of.

I did really enjoy the first half of the film because the plot was so imaginative and original, but after we progressed in to the second half of the film it seemed to me as though they were just trying to glamorise body modification. This is no stab at that line of work, but it felt as though I was watching a completely different film. Although to be fair Sylvia and Jen Soskia, the director’s, have said that they wanted to create a film which showed off people who are looked at as different in society, which it does.

Katharine Isabelle plays a brilliant role for the horror genre, emerging from the lonely medical student to a strong woman who enjoys the occasional murder and changing people’s features to that of which god did not intend. Isabelle was first introduced to horror cinema – in what will probably always be remembered as her most remarkable role – in the 2000 film ‘Ginger Snaps’ where she played the lead role of ‘Ginger’, another movie which saw her change from two different characters throughout. Both characters (American Mary and Ginger Snaps) slightly mimic each other, with their ‘don’t-really-give-a-f**k’ attitude.

The make-up effects and acting is flawless throughout, but it is just the fact that the plot appears to whither away towards the end of the film. Plus I thought that the ending had been rushed, as though the writers couldn’t really figure out how to conclude the film so they created something which I didn’t think had any real relevance to the rest of the film.

Do not let the fact that the story doesn’t stay compelling throughout the whole film put you off though, as many horror fans will definitely enjoy American Mary. Mainly due to the original plot and the amazing graphic effects, so give it a watch but just don’t expect a spectacular ending.

Tage Line: Appearances Are Everything.

Horror Rating: (:-O) (:-O) (:-O)

Star Rating:

Empire of the Dead

Any true horror fan will know the name ‘George A. Romero’, he helped put zombie films on the mainstream map with his 1968 classic ‘Night of the Living Dead’, which spread fear through the hearts and minds of many generations afterwards. In 1978 he punched everything up a notch with ‘Dawn of the Dead’. Better dialogue, characters, effects and plot gave this film a secure place on every horror fans favourite film list. Romero rounded off his official trilogy with ‘Day of the Dead’ in 1985, which showed a band of scientists and soldiers attempt to understand and cure the infection; the ‘godfather of zombies’ claims this to be his favourite of the three.

Empire_of_the_Dead_Maleev_Cover-610x926

Romero has since worked on other projects such as ‘Land of the Dead’ (2005), ‘Diary of the Dead’ (2007) and ‘Survival of the Dead’ (2009); none of which have matched up to his original ‘dead’ trilogy. Now we are wondering what the film-great has in store for us next, although another film is not clear at the moment, Romero is working on quite an exciting project.

He is teaming up with Marvel comics to create a 15-issue mini series centred around a zombie apocalypse, Romero is writing the comics and Alex Maleev is illustrating them. The series will not feature any actual Marvel characters, however what the story will feature is vampires. Romero explains that it is not only zombies trying to survive, but also vampires as well.

The great thing about doing a comic book rather than a film, is that if you have an idea in your head of what you want the scene/panel to look like then you can create it exactly, whereas on-screen it may slightly differ from what you wanted.

What the series is going to look at more – which ‘Day of the Dead’ touched upon – are the characteristics of each individual zombie. Each zombie had a different personality when they were alive, and still do now that they are dead. Those personalities are going to emerge through the zombies as the series goes on.

Maybe this series will finally solve the question of what would happen if a zombie bites a vampire… here’s hoping.

Shocking Saturday: Bug

The film that I viewed for this weeks Shocking Saturday was absolutely superb, although not an all round horror – more of a psychological thriller, it still had horrific parts to it and was very enjoyable. Plus the fact that it is was directed by William Friedkin (director of The Exorcist) enticed me even more.

BugMoviePoster

The story centres around Agnes (Ashley Judd) who is living a lonely life in a motel room, drinking, smoking, doing drugs and living in fear of her violent ex-husband. After her child went missing 10 years ago she lets the days pass by without a thought. That is until she is introduced to Peter (Michael Shannon) who explains that all he is looking for is a friend to talk to. Although when the two talk there are a lot of awkward moments, Agnes still lets him stay with her. As the two become closer, she learns of Peter’s terrifying past and wants to help him in any way she can. That begins to proves difficult as Peter starts to complain about there being Aphids (a type of plant lice) crawling about in her room and biting him at night. At first it just appears to be a harmless bug infestation, but as the bug bites become more present and violent, it seems that something more sinister is at work here. Agnes has two options, believe Peter and think there are bugs crawling all over the room and under their skin, or consider the fact that it is all in his mind.

The film not only makes Agnes try to determine what is real and what is not, but is also makes the audience try to decipher between what is a delusion and what is reality. As we try to find out what is happening, ‘Bug’ makes us believe that what Peter is saying is true, and that perhaps he isn’t just a psychotic schizophrenic.

What really carries this film are the stellar performances from Michael Shannon and Ashley Judd. As Agnes (Judd) spends more and more time with Peter (Shannon) she begins to spiral down in to his madness and believe every word that he is saying. Judd did such a great job in showing this, from a lonely, single and probably alcoholic woman to a delusional, paranoid woman.

However it has to said that it is the performance of Michael Shannon which steals the show here. First coming across as a timid, awkward conspiracy theorist and evolving throughout the film in to a full-blown schizophrenic, who will do anything to himself to stop these bugs. Although we don’t want him to take Agnes down as well, when we first meet him his velvety-toned voice and the fact that he only wants a friend makes us sympathise with him, and continue to as the film goes on.

Michael Shannon is one of my favourite actors, I have seen him gradually go up on the silver screen since the early 2000s and always knew that his amazing acting capabilities would eventually be noticed. Now they have been, as his most recent role was as General Zod in the new ‘Man of Steel’ film. Throughout the years he has starred in: Pearl Harbor, 8 Mile, Bad Boys 2, Revolutionary Road, Boardwalk Empire and The Iceman among others.

‘Bug’ proves that William Friedkin can still shock viewers even after all these years. The Exorcist terrified audiences all over the world in 1973 and although viewers have become more desensitized to horror films since then, Bug proves that the genre still has a few tricks up its sleeve.

Tag Line: Paranoia Is Contagious.

Horror Rating: (:-O) (:-O) (:-O)

Star Rating:

Friday the 13th New Film Update

Franchises have always been connected to horror films, some of the greatest classics have had them: Halloween, Childs Play, A Nightmare on Elm Street and also Friday the 13th. Jason Voorhees has had a special place in our nightmares with his bulking figure, blood-soaked machete and hockey mask, ever since he began slicing, dicing and chopping up victims at Camp Crystal Lake. Over the years his franchise has taken him to some strange settings – including outer-space. He was also the subject of a terrible remake in 2009, as were Halloween and A Nightmare on Elm Street. It seemed that the writers just could not bring our terrifying antagonist back to the screen with that punch which the original films did.

Friday-the-13th-80s-films-328140_1024_768

So after I heard that Sean S. Cunningham (the director of the original Friday the 13th in 1980) was back into the directing chair, I got rather excited. I was – and I’m sure many other fans were too – hoping that we were going to get our old school Jason back in a film which would be worthy of his franchise.

Sadly – although this is just my opinion – that is not the case, as the film-makers are thinking around the idea of using the found-footage idea for Friday the 13th. That’s right you heard me correctly…FOUND FOOTAGE!

I love hand-held camera films, but this is a slasher, and one of horrors classics which works so well because we are able to see everything going on in the scene. I really don’t know how they expect this to work, all the greatest aspects of Friday the 13 are that we can see Jason, his victims, the settings and then their mutilated corpses after he has killed them.

Just to infuriate any fans out there even more, if you count how many films there have been in the franchise; Friday the 13th Parts 1-8, Friday the 13th 9: Jason Goes to Hell, Jason X, Freddy vs Jason and the 2009 reboot, you will probably notice that this is the thirteenth film in the franchise. Surely this should mean that an incredible plot and movie is required, not a completely different type of film.

There are talks about a TV show in the works called ‘The Crystal Lake Chronicles’, which will hopefully do the old Jason justice. In the mean time they will hopefully reconsider this terrible option for the 13th movie.

The Walking Dead Renewed for 5th Season

Ever since The Walking Dead was adapted on to the screen from graphic novels in 2010 it has been constantly gaining viewers with each season. So it has come as no surprise that the series has been renewed for a fifth season – before season 4 has even finished being broadcast.

the-walking-dead-season-4-key-art-1280jpg-e94356_400w

The main reason for this is probably because The Walking Dead is one of the most popular shows on television at the moment; due to its likeable and diverse characters who are portrayed by numerous great actors. The story lines have got better, the settings have got bigger and let’s face it the zombies are just incredible now. All this has amounted to a world now obsessed with the show, even those who aren’t fans of the comic books, or zombies in general.

According to ‘AMC’ – the channel which broadcasts the show – it is the most popular television show for viewers aged 18-49, and, as Charlie Collier the AMC President said, it “broke viewer-ship records for the series and become the biggest non-sports telecast in cable history.”

Reading of this news has excited me, and I think that I can speak for all the fans out there when I say…please renew it for a sixth season.

Information accessed from:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/10/29/the-walking-dead-renewed_n_4174448.html

 

Shocking Saturday: Snuff-Movie

This weeks Shocking Saturday is a film which I wished would’ve had a lot more to it; it’s not that this movie was all round terrible, it just offered much more than it gave. I was hoping for a shocking exploitation film, with buckets of gore and perhaps a gripping story line – although since ‘A Serbian Film‘ I highly doubt many films will come close to giving me that same sickening feeling – unfortunately Snuff-Movie did not deliver.

snuffmovie6gk

The film revolves around a horror director named Boris Arkadin, who is making his first film since his pregnant wife and crew were murdered at his mansion many years ago, a crime which he blames his own films for – now he is back and wants to make a horror movie like no other. Without knowing the official plot, the actors enter Arkadin’s mansion that is rigged with hundreds of cameras which are streaming live to the internet. At this point I was getting rather intrigued as it felt a lot like the story line from the films ‘Feardotcom’ and ‘Untraceable’, which I thought were excellent. As the cameras begin to roll it seems as if Arkadin really does want to create a horror film like no other; the actors start to become too intertwined with their roles and wonder if they have signed on for something much more sinister than what they were led to believe.

Snuff-Movie had so much potential to be a great horror film, especially with the title of the film you would expect something of a horrific nature, but although when there is gore it is top-notch, that can’t make up for the confusing plot and ending. Don’t get me wrong, I love a thought-provoking film, but this seems to be muddled up just for the sake of it, and the intentions of the main antagonist are never really explained. The reasons for his actions are crammed in at the film’s climax, right before an end scene jumbles everything up even more, which leaves us with even more unanswered questions.

The talents of the main actors differ in my opinion, the portrayal of Boris Arkadin by Jeroen Krabbe, could quite possibly the finest part about this film, as he constantly has us change our feelings towards him. From sympathetic to empathetic to fear, he makes us see him in a different light with a snap of his fingers. However it is his performance which carries the film, as for the other actors this seems to be their first big film they have worked on due to their, at some points, terribly spoken lines which fail to make the viewer feel their emotions.

Quite a disappointment from, Bernard Rose, director of the great horror flick Candyman, I really expected more from a horror great such as him. I can’t crap all over the film though; yes it didn’t really develop an official plot or the characters (apart from Arkadin), but for a late night watch it worked fine. It just needed to give a little more than what it did.

At least it wasn’t as bad as Paranormal Activity 4.

Horror Rating: (:-O) (:-O) (:-O)

Star Rating: