3.30.2011

MTV's "Teen Wolf" Trailer finally unveiled - thoughts?

Well here it is - the new version of Teen Wolf, this time done by Viacom and MTV Networks. As a huge fan of the original 1985 TEEN WOLF film, this version seems to be influenced more by TWILIGHT and more modern teen horror [which is obviously what's selling these days]. I could bash it, but I'll save my thoughts once I finally see an episode or two of it. As for you guys, what are your thoughts on this trailer? Full moon or silver bullet?

3.28.2011

Scream (1996)

DIRECTED BY
Wes Craven

STARRING
Neve Campbell - Sidney Prescott
Courteney Cox - Gail Weathers

David Arquette - Deputy Dewey Riley

Jamie Kennedy - Randy Meeks

Skeet Ulrich - Billy Loomis

Matthew Lillard - Stu Macher

Rose McGowan - Tatum
Riley
Henry Winkler - Principal Hembry

Drew Barrymore - Casey Becker


Genre - Horror/Slasher

Running Time - 111 Minutes


During the first half of the 1990s, the horror genre's popularity had waned. Even though films such as MISERY, SILENCE OF THE LAMBS, SE7EN, INTERVIEW WITH A VAMPIRE, CANDYMAN, and a couple of others were popular and did well in the box office, the genre was suffering from the burnout of the slasher boom of the 1980s. The teenagers of that decade had grown up and were looking elsewhere, tired of seeing countless unnecessary [and most times, poor] sequels to major horror franchises, as well as countless imitators to these franchises that did nothing new for the genre. Also, horror was becoming more self-reflexive and cerebral - two things modern teenagers [whom seem to be the target demographic for these films] aren't really looking for in terms of horror entertainment.

It wasn't until 1996 that the horror genre started to breathe new life in terms of popularity. In the first half of the year, THE CRAFT was released. While it didn't set the box office on fire, teens flocked to it and showed that the genre's marketability for the key demographic was still there. But it wasn't until Wes Craven's SCREAM later that year that studios, critics, and audiences took notice that horror still had something fun and intelligent to offer. Instead of being self-reflexive or another sequel to a franchise that was on its last legs, SCREAM took an interesting approach: acknowledge horror films of the past, but in a tongue-in-cheek and ironic matter. The characters actually watched the horror films that audiences had already watched, making fun of them and actually acknowledging the rules on how to survive these kind of films as if they were real. It created a new scenario: horror characters that were exactly like the horror fans who loved these movies, sharing the same feelings about these films and having parties watching these films as a form of entertainment.

While SCREAM started out slow at the box office, massive word-of-mouth created a blockbuster horror success that revitalized the horror genre. Unfortunately like the slasher boom of the 1980s, SCREAM led to the creation of imitators and sequels that really didn't match the level of the film that inspired them. This fact is probably why fans have turned against SCREAM in modern times, calling it "overrated" and "not as good as people make it seem". While I respect their opinions, you gotta give some respect for SCREAM did for horror at the time. And even after 15 years, SCREAM is still a great horror film that entertains from beginning to end.

PLOT
Casey Becker (Drew Barrymore) is home alone, preparing popcorn for a night of watching horror films. She's interrupted by a telephone call that starts out flirtatious, but ends up getting creepier once the caller asks Casey about her favorite horror movies. As Casey tries to politely hang up on the caller, he makes it known that he can see her and will kill her if she doesn't answer a piece of horror trivia correctly. When she gets the question wrong [always remember that Jason's mother was the killer in the original FRIDAY THE 13TH, kiddies!], the killer strikes and murders Casey as her parents arrive home.

News of the murder spreads through Woodsboro High School. Reminded about her mother's vicious murder a year earlier, Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell) is unnerved by the whole thing. It doesn't help that cunning and bitchy reporter Gail Weathers (Courteney Cox) keeps reminding Sidney about the murder when she sees both murders connected. While Sidney deals with the media attention, her creepy boyfriend Billy Loomis (Skeet Ulrich), best friend Tatum Riley (Rose McGowan), her deputy brother Dewey (David Arquette), weirdo Stu Macher (Matthew Lillard), and horror film geek Randy Meeks (Jamie Kennedy) try to figure out who the killer could possibly be - even looking at each other as suspects. This distraction allows Sidney to be the killer's [who wears a black robe and a white Ghostface mask] ultimate target. Are the two murders related? Why is the killer so focused on killing Sidney and her friends? Is Ghostface really the Wayan Brothers?

REVIEW
The most successful film directed by Wes Craven, SCREAM brought back the teen audiences for the horror genre that had left during the tired releases for weak sequels starring Jason, Michael, and even Freddy. The film was hip, funny, entertaining, and was made for the typical horror fan who could share the same logic that the film's characters shared about horror films that we've all seen and loved. SCREAM acted as homage to earlier slasher films, while setting its sights to create a fresher horror experience.

The screenplay by future Dawson's Creek creator, Kevin Williamson [who would also script I KNOW WHAT YOU DID LAST SUMMER, HALLOWEEN: H20, SCREAM 2, and CURSED], is extremely well-written and definitely contemporary for its time. The use of pop culture and having the characters be well aware of classic horror films is really smart because it allows us, as an audience, to connect with the story right away. As horror fans, we are these characters. Who would play us in a horror film? What exactly are the rules to survive a scary movie? What exactly is a PG-13 relationship compared to an R rated one? At one point in our lives, we have asked ourselves these really pointless questions, either to debate with friends or to connect with others who love the same type of films. Even the use of real horror film footage, like from HALLOWEEN (1978) makes the setting of SCREAM a bit more real than previous slasher films. From Randy's warning to others about "watching PROM NIGHT (1980)" to trust no one, to the group of teens arguing that a woman could be the killer due to Sharon Stone in BASIC INSTINCT, to Casey's remarks about loving the first A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET (1984) and hating the rest of them, and to Wes Craven himself playing "Fred" in a cameo while dressed in a red-and-green sweater with a matching fedora hat makes SCREAM easily accessible to those who have seen these films and understand exactly what they're talking about. It points out the rules for a horror film, makes fun of these rules, breaks these rules, and still manages to work as a neo-slasher film. It's strange that films that had done the same thing [movie-within-a-movie deal], like Wes Craven's previous work NEW NIGHTMARE and even LAST ACTION HERO, bombed at the box office. Maybe audiences weren't ready for that type of self-referential script back in 1994 and 1993 respectively. But they were more than ready for Rose McGowan worrying if she'd make the sequel by playing the stereotypical big-breasted horror victim for Ghostface in 1996.

I think one of the best things about SCREAM is really messing with the audience right from the beginning. Using what Alfred Hitchcock had done with PSYCHO, Williamson [and Wes Craven as well] had a major starlet get murdered in the first ten minutes of the film. Having Drew Barrymore die so viciously really sets the mood for the film, creating an atmosphere where anyone could die when you least expect it. Sure, Sidney is clearly set up to be the Final Girl of the film. But during that first scene where she's attacked by Ghostface, you're on the edge of your seat because it's very possible that she could die. The sequels attempted to recreate this level of tension and suspense, but none of them are as strong as this moment in the franchise. This was a different kind of opening for a slasher - one where the typical rules wouldn't apply.

I also love that Williamson managed to work two main sub-plots into one. Obviously, the main one involves the "whodunit" mystery of the Ghostface killer and why he is after Sidney. And the other involves Sidney's back story with her mother, where she realizes that her murder may have not been what she once thought it was. Also, maybe the rumors that her mother was a bit promiscuous were actually true, which eventually led to her death. Not only does this sub-plot bring about character for Sidney as she's constantly debating what's fact and what's fiction, but it also ties in with the killer's motives. Usually when a plot device such as backstory is used, it's just for character development. But in SCREAM, it's used not just for that, but to complete an arc and give reason to why Sidney is the prime target of the Ghostface killer. Hell, this plot was so effective that it became the centerpiece of the entire franchise, with all the characters playing Ghostface having some sort of connection to Sidney's mom's life and death. Whether this is was a good or bad thing is up to people who've seen these films. But at least it connects all the films together in an easy and interesting way.

The characters, while stereotypical slasher victims, are each given a bit more depth than what you would expect from a film like this. Sidney is the Final Girl, but has a toughness and edginess about her that makes her likable and believable. She's not the quiet type. She lets on how she feels and will punch you out if she doesn't like you. Gail Weathers is the cutthroat reporter who is pretty much a bitch, but seems to fall for the simple and goofy Dewey while trying to get information through him about the murders. Tatum is the ditzy and bitchy best friend, while Stu is the goofy friend you want to punch in the face for being annoying but love having him around anyway. Randy is the film geek who has a major crush on Sidney and lives by the rules of slasher films. And Billy is the mysterious, brooding boyfriend that may or may not be up to trouble. Each character has a place in the story and never overstay their welcome. None of them feel like cannon fodder, even though some of them are, which is refreshing in a slasher film. It also helps that the dialogue is snappy, witty, and hip - so we actually give a damn what they say to each other. Just a great screenplay by Kevin Williamson [let's hope SCREAM 4 is just as good].

The gore factor in SCREAM isn't over-the-top, but there is a lot of red stuff going on here. I think the most brutal murder was actually Drew Barrymore's, as she got stabbed, gutted, and then hung on a tree. Rose McGowan's crushing demise is also a highlight [sometimes having big boobs isn't all that's cracked up to be]. It's bloody enough to please fans who like their crimson and plasma in their horror.

The direction by Wes Craven is pretty top-notch here and this film showcases some of his finest work in cinema. The pacing is quick, the editing [by future director Patrick Lussier] is sharp, and the cinematography [by Mark Irwin] looks great. He also manages to get a lot of tension and suspense out of the story visually, giving viewers several moments of chills that will please horror fans. I do think the scene where Sidney and Tatum are at the supermarket, with Ghostface hiding behind an aisle listening to their conversation, is a bit out of place though. It really makes no sense for the killer to be in broad daylight, standing inside a store in full costume, without someone taking notice. I mean, the murders is top news and no one found this guy suspicious? This is probably a screenwriting error [apparently the scene was cut down from its original length, foreshadowing Tatum's death later on by the killer over what she says to Sidney], but as a director, Craven should have just cut it out completely. It doesn't ruin the film at all but it just seems odd to be there. Other than that, I can't complain about Craven's direction here.

The acting is excellent here. Neve Campbell, in the role that truly made her a star at the time [which was also helped by Party of Five], is perfect as Sidney. Campbell proves a level of innocence, toughness, and vulnerability that makes Sidney a character we can relate to, believe in, and root for. Courteney Cox is great as Gail Weathers. She plays the part just right - she's conniving enough for us to want to hate her for her actions, but compassionate enough for us to like her and want her to succeed. David Arquette plays the clumsy, dimwitted Dewey in such a charming way that you can't help but like him. And him and Cox have great chemistry with each other. Skeet Ulrich brings mystery and brooding sex appeal [I know a lot of men and woman who crush on this dude] as Billy. You're never sure whether to like this guy or not. Matthew Lillard is pretty annoying, yet hilarious as the really weird Stu. The final act is probably his finest moment in the film. Jamie Kennedy is perfect as Randy, the horror film geek. I think I am Randy, as we speak the same language. Rose McGowan brings sexiness as Tatum, letting her boobs do much of the acting for her. Two nipples up! And we get some nice cameos from Henry Winkler as the principal and Drew Barrymore, in her very memorable role as Casey Becker. Just a really great cast that Wes Craven certainly directed well.

And I also have to give mention to the soundtrack, which is used really well in the film. The score is very dark and eerie at times. And the songs, such as Gus' cover of Blue Oyster Cult's "(Don't Fear) The Reaper" [which was used in the original HALLOWEEN - nice homage] and SoHo's cover of The Icicle Works' "Whisper to a Scream", really give the film a voice.

THINGS I'VE LEARNED WHILE PISSING GHOSTFACE OFF BY ANSWERING EVERY QUESTION OF HIS HORROR TRIVIA CORRECTLY

- Casey's favorite horror film was HALLOWEEN, yet she was killed in the film's opening. I think I'll refrain from making stops at Woodsboro from now on.

- I don't feel sorry for Casey getting killed by Ghostface. Not only was she a FIRESTARTER for leaving popcorn on the stove longer than necessary, but she should have had a CAT'S EYE on the situation and "phone(d) home." Lazy bitch.

- Sidney had an Indigo Girls poster in her room. Looks like her Party of Five involves her and four other ladies. There's nothing wrong with that.

*takes out baby oil*

NOTHING WRONG WITH THAT.

- Sidney punched out Gail Weathers after she tried to interview her. For someone who was on Friends, Gail sure has trouble making them.

- Henry Winkler was murdered by Ghostface. I guess the killer didn't want the franchise to jump the shark. He obviously didn't live long enough to watch the ending the SCREAM 2 and the entire runtime of SCREAM 3.

- Sidney considers herself "sexually anorexic". I guess that's a nicer way of saying she spits instead of swallows.

- Tatum got her body stuck in the garage door and her head crushed by Ghostface. Not only did the Power of Three not set her free, but she probably would've survived if she was banging the director.

THE FINAL HOWL
SCREAM isn't a perfect horror movie, but how many movies are? That being said, I can see why people would be against SCREAM and call it overrated. But it did a lot for modern horror, for better or worse. Also, it's a great horror film on its own merit that entertains for 111 minutes. I think after fifteen years, SCREAM still holds up just as well as it did in 1996. And this is from a guy who hasn't seen this film since 2000. Sue me, but I like what SCREAM brings to the table. I'm looking forward to SCREAM 4 and see how this Ghostface story continues.


SCORE4 Howls Outta 4


3.18.2011

Original vs. Remake: The Blob (1958 & 1988)


DIRECTED BY
Irvin S. Yeaworth Jr. (1958)
Chuck Russell (1988)

STARRING
(1958)
Steve McQueen - Steve Andrews
Aneta Corseaut - Jane Martin
Earl Rowe - Sheriff Dave
John Benson - Burt
Steven Chase - Dr. Hallen
Olin Howlin - Old Man

(1988)
Kevin Dillon - Brian Flagg
Shawnee Smith - Meg Penny
Joe Seneca - Dr. Meddows
Donovan Leitch - Paul Taylor
Del Close - Reverend Meeker
Paul McCrane - Deputy Bill Briggs
Jeffrey De Munn - Sheriff Herb Geller
Candy Clark - Fran Hewitt
Ricky Paull Goldin - Scott Jesky
Michael Kenworthy - Kevin Penny

Genre - Sci-Fi/Horror/B-Movie/Remake

Running Time - 86 Minutes (1958 film)/ 95 Minutes (1988 film)


The B-movies of the 1950s - cheesy, low budget, science-fiction films catered to a teenage audience who enjoyed them either on television or within the atmosphere of a drive-in theater. 1950s B-movies used monsters and mutations to tell stories based on a number of issues, such as the threat of nuclear energy [the giant ants in THEM! (1954)],
teenage rebellion [1957's I WAS A TEENAGE WEREWOLF], and the fear of Communism [1956's INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS]. 1958's THE BLOB seems to reflect the last one, as the title character slowly invades a small town to devour the norms and social order that Americans tried to maintain during the Cold War right under many people's noses. Being Steve McQueen's first feature, THE BLOB was a hit at drive-ins after the actor starred on his hit show, Wanted: Dead or Alive from 1958 to 1961. And with its jelly-like title character, THE BLOB has become a classic science-fiction film that has been appreciated across several generational gaps.

Thirty years after the original was released, the remake to THE BLOB was filmed and released as well. This time, with its much larger budget [$17 million compared to the $240,000 of the original], THE BLOB was given a horror feel, showing exactly what that slime can do once it grabs hold of an unsuspecting victim. Directed by Chuck Russell, who was seen as the newest "it" horror director after his success on A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 3: DREAM WARRIORS (1987), truly updated the story of this alien ooze destroying a small town for the 1980s, along with DREAM WARRIORS co-screenwriter Frank Darabont [who has become a very successful director in his own right with works such as THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION, THE GREEN MILE, THE MIST, and a producer recently on AMC's The Walking Dead]. Proving that THE BLOB could change, yet still tell the same story in any decade, the remake has been considered one of the good ones [as it shows what a remake SHOULD do with its source material by improving on the original film] and the lesser third of the 80s remake trifecta that includes John Carpenter's 1982 THE THING and David Cronenberg's 1986 THE FLY [all three original films 50s B-movies in their own right].

It had been years since I had seen either version of THE BLOB, so I figured it would be a great time to whip out the Original vs. Remake section of the blog to see which film stands taller than the other. Is the 1958 original the Slime King of BLOB movies? Or does the 1988 remake disintegrate its predecessor? Grab some CO2 because this review is about to get messy!

PLOT
Both versions of the film pretty much tell the same story. A meteorite crashes on Earth, where a red/pink blob emerges to create havoc on a small community. An old homeless man finds the blob leaving its rock, poking it with a long stick until the blob sticks onto his hand. Our main "teenage" protagonists [Steve Andrews (Steve McQueen) and Jane Martin (Aneta Corseaut) in the original/ Brian Flagg (Kevin Dillon), Meg Penny (Shawnee Smith) and Paul Taylor (Donovan Leitch) in the remake] find the man and take him directly to the hospital, where the blob completely devours him and grows in size. The blob escapes, leaving the surviving teenagers to talk with authorities, who don't happen to believe a word they say [or in the remake's case, a military squad who want to use the townspeople as collateral damage just to contain the blob]. But when the blob grows stronger, more out of control, and more deadly as it starts wiping out the town, the teenagers must take it amongst themselves to end the blob's terror once and for all.

REVIEW


(1958)
THE BLOB ended up being a more interesting rewatch than I had anticipated. I remember digging the original 1958 film a lot more when I was younger than I had a few days ago. If it weren't for a mutating blob attacking movie theaters, hobos, as well as the presence of Steve McQueen, I doubt THE BLOB would have earned its B-movie classic status. I'm not saying it's a horrible film, because it's far from it. But THE BLOB really isn't all that and it has nothing to do with the fact that it cost $240,000 [in 1958 dollars] to make.

Like most of the films I've been reviewing lately, the problem with the original THE BLOB is due to its narrative. Now let's get the positives out of the way: THE BLOB is a film made for its time and it definitely shows. The subtext of the film, for me, is the most interesting. The blob obviously represents the growing fear of Communism during this era, thanks to Joseph McCarthy and his McCarthyism during the beginning of the Cold War between the United States and the then-Soviet Union. The monster arrives into a quiet town under the radar from a place no one understands, or even cares to. It spreads itself [or the belief of Communism] to unsuspecting victims, devouring them and increasing in size and power. It seems to aim towards settings that have a lot of influence on people, like the movie theater, a clinic, and a diner. The only way you could stop the spread of this monster is by ganging together and freezing it with cold [like you would do with Communism, freezing it with the coldness of free will]. Just the fact that I understood what this film was trying to tell underneath its surface quite clearly means that the subtext worked well.

We also have the subtext of teenage rebellion. The teenagers and the adults, like in real life, see the same things quite differently. While the adults are too busy trying to protect the youth and prove their right, the teenagers are the first to see the blob and try to save the town, even though the adults have a hard time believing what the teens are saying. It's a classic trope in storytelling that many people can relate to, and definitely meaningful and popular within this time frame after 1955's REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE. As usual in these type of films, the teens are the ones who are right as the adults finally get their clue towards the final act of the film. Even in 2011, the trope works remarkably well.

However, as great as the subtext of THE BLOB is, the surface level of the film is pretty poor. The dialogue is very campy and cheesy, sort of taking away the seriousness of the blob threat. The character development is very minimal [although I found the characters to be pretty charming for the most part]. The characters are pretty much stereotypical, even if it does work well for the film [could have been a little deeper]. There are many scenes that have nothing to do with the major plot of the film at all. The drag race scene just, well, drags the pace. The scenes with the annoying kid brother, well, annoyed me. Why did I need to know that a certain police officer played chess over his radio with another police officer again? The film is called THE BLOB. It should be about the terror of THE BLOB. For a while, you forget it's about an evil slime when the characters haven't interacted or even mentioned it, focusing on their romance and guarding parents. While there are effective moments [like the 'poking with the stick' scene, the theater attack, the toy gun scene, and the dinner attack], there shouldn't have been this much filler. I could have left the room during these scenes, come back, and realize I didn't miss anything substantial to the story. I understand the budget was so low that they couldn't really show the blob at all times. But that doesn't excuse a shoddy script.

Speaking of the blob, the special effects are very primitive for 2011 standards. But for 1958, they're pretty alright. Then again, it's some of the simplest SFX you'll ever see on film. The blob was nothing more than dyed silicone gel, placed on top of model sets so it would look bigger than it really was. How they got this gel to move the way it did probably took a lot of hard work, so I have to applaud the filmmakers for doing a very good job. Considering the lack of technology and budget compared to modern films, I think the blob looks great for its time.

The direction by Irvin S. Yeaworth Jr. is what it is - a point and shoot affair. Yeaworth Jr. shys away from showing the effects of the blob's terror [smart due to its low budget] and has an issue with pacing, especially in the middle portion of the film. However, the final act, where the blob goes on a full attack of the town, is paced and works really well. So it's not a visually stunning feature, but it gets the job done for the most part.

The acting is okay. Steve McQueen, in his first feature film, pretty much shines through as Steve Andrews. Unfortunately, McQueen [who was 28 at the time] plays a pretty unconvincing teenager as he looks like he could be someone's dad instead. Even though it's pretty clear his career would get a bit better after this, I gotta say that his skill at wrinkling his forehead is quite an amazing feat. But he's definitely watchable and charming enough to carry a film. Aneta Corseau plays the stereotypical 1950s teenage girlfriend, Jane. She has those lovey-dovey eyes, cries and screams well, and has decent chemistry with McQueen. Earl Rowe, as Sheriff Dave, is probably the best actor in the film. He's also very charming and likable. And he looks his character's age! What a shocker! The other actors do fine with what they're given, but no one really sticks out.

And I can't conclude talking about the 1958 version of THE BLOB without talking about the cheesy, yet very cool Hal David and Burt Bacharach theme song. Tapping my foot and snapping my fingers to kitsch lyrics, such as "Beware of The Blob, it creeps and leaps and glides and slides across the floor," definitely gives the film an identity. It's probably the best part of the film, to be seriously honest.


(1988)
The 1988 remake of THE BLOB is the epitome of a great remake. It keeps the main story intact while improving on the previous film's limitations, such as better special effects, some better acting, and a better paced narrative that won't bore you halfway through. While it's no THE THING or THE FLY, THE BLOB proves that you can take an old film and make it new again thirty years later for a younger generation.

The improved narrative still shares the teen rebellion subtext of the original, with bad boy Brian shunning every authority figure in the film while still being the likable hero of the film. Like I wrote before, it's a storytelling trope that never gets old - especially when it creates development for a flawed hero who feels the world has abandoned him but won't return the favor, saving the day. Unlike in the original, the whole 'rebel' deal actually moves the story forward instead of being a sign of the times. It's almost as if the film is sort of making fun of the whole 'bad boy' shtick in a way.

And while the fear of Communism was pretty much a non-issue during the late-80s, that subtext is replaced with the distrust of the government and its agencies. It seems Chuck Russell and Frank Darabont were still on their Post-Watergate high here, making the government agency the true villains of the film. While they appear to be the ones to save this town, the group of government scientists is led by a corrupt leader who wants to see what the Blob can do before they try to contain it, not caring how many casualties there are. And once we learn how this group and the Blob are related, the more they become hated for the events that occur. Like in most horror films, the ones we're supposed to trust and look at for the answers [parents, the church, the government, the local authorities] don't have a grasp of the situation and don't have the power to stop the terror, while the ones who are believed not to know any better [the children] are the ones who see things for what they are and stop the menace. The parents try to protect their children in vain. The police believe in the government and follow their orders, not stopping to wonder why these scientists showed up pretty quickly after the fact. And the one reverend in town claims the Blob represents Armageddon, collecting pieces of the Blob while letting it destroy his town. All the institutions we're supposed to trust don't do a damn thing to stop the terror. It's obvious that Russell and Darabont really wanted to make that subtext clear - don't trust anyone but yourself to get the job done.

As for the stuff on the surface level, the film is excellently paced due to the fact that every scene in the film leads to something. Even filler scenes, such as Sheriff Herb asking out the diner owner, Fran, out on a date, leads to their last meeting at the hands of the Blob. There's always a purpose as to why a character behaves a certain way or does a certain thing, making the film extremely watchable, even today. And a child actually gets devoured by the Blob - and we see it! That's a pretty ballsy move in a horror film. The character development is decent [pretty much stereotypical, as usual in these 80s horror films], due to the performances of the actors really. I did think there were more side characters than the story really allowed because we barely got to know most of them really [especially since the majority of them actually survived]. And the dialogue, while not perfect and pretty dated at times, is still written well and fun to listen to. But the most important part was that the story was taken seriously, truly creating a better horror feel than its predecessor could.

A major improvement in the remake is obviously the special effects, allowed by a $17 million budget. Lyle Conway and Stuart Ziff did some pretty awesome creature FX for this film. Instead of just slowly moving, this Blob moves in every which way it can, creating tentacles to grab its victims before devouring them. And those devouring effects - old school and pretty great to watch. I love the fact that we can see through the Blob's slimy body to watch the remains of its victims before it kills others. This is a pretty gory flick at times, which really made this monster look and feel like a threat. Conway and Ziff did an excellent job giving the Blob life and character, especially in the final act.

The direction by Chuck Russell is very effective. The chase sequences [there are a lot of them in the last half of the film] are filmed very well, with lots of tension, suspense, and well-timed jump scares for the faint of heart. The film moves in a rapid pace, proven when an hour passed by that really felt like twenty minutes at most. And some shots really had great visual style. We do have that dreaded green effect though [which I never noticed before until watching it in high definition] at the end of the film, but it doesn't bug me too much [although I did chuckle at it - sigh, the good old days of filmmaking]. Russell really treated the source material with a lot of love and respect, while definitely making THE BLOB into his own signature work.

The acting, just like in the original, is okay. Kevin Dillon, best known as Johnny Drama on HBO's Entourage, isn't as good of an actor as his famous older brother. But he's certainly likable and plays the brooding bad boy who turns good quite well. And that mullet he sported deserves an award...for something. There are some things the 80s can keep and that's one of them. Shawnee Smith, before her SAW fame, is very good as Meg. She plays the sweet-yet-tough role very well, plus she is definitely more than nice to look at. Joe Seneca made me hate Dr. Meddows, which is a good thing because he was a major villain. Seneca did a good job. Candy Clark and Jeffrey DeMunn as Fran and Sheriff Herb respectively, did a lot with minor characters. I actually gave a damn about both of them, giving what happens to them more impact. We also have a decent side cast with Paul McCrabe as the tough deputy, Beau Billingslea as Brian's mechanic friend, Del Close as the delusional and drunk reverend, and Michael Kenworthy [the kid from RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD PART II] as Meg's younger brother. Plus we have future soap star Ricky Paull Goldin in the mix, as well as cameos from Erika Elaniak of Baywatch fame, Jamison Newlander of THE LOST BOYS, Douglas Emerson from Beverly Hills 90210, and Bill Moseley as one of the government soldiers. A pretty awesome cast for a pretty awesome remake.

THINGS I'VE LEARNED WHILE EATING A BOWL OF ACIDIC JELL-O

- "My name is Jane. Just Jane." This girl would be a lot more fun if she "Mary" attached to her name.

- The slimy, sticky Blob dripped along a long stick. K, Y does this remind me of sex? I guess this alien jelly makes dirty thoughts slide into my tight mind a bit easier...

- Dr. Hallen believes putting a blanket over the Blob will make it go away. Obviously the man graduated in the same class as Dr. Kavorkian, Dr. Pepper, and Dr. Dre.

- One of the officers enjoyed playing Chess on his free time with another dispatcher. I guess he took up the hobby "One Night in Bangkok".

- In 1958, buying a movie ticket cost you 80 cents. Most films today aren't even worth 80 cents, let alone 15 bucks.

- Fran turned down Sheriff Herb's offer for a date. Even though he's great with a six-shooter, Fran is still that kind of girl that hopes for an eight or above.

- Paul and Meg's first date involved filling out hospital forms for the old man attacked by the Blob. One of my first dates involved the same thing, only it ended with me filling a cup with goo instead of being digested by it.

- Don't lock yourself in a phone booth. You'll get swallowed up by the Blob. Or you'll see Superman's junk mid-change. Obviously the cold is everyone's kryptonite.

- The Blob attacked a movie theater showing a slasher film starring a villain wearing a hockey mask who kills his victims with a chainsaw. Looks like the Blob hates BLOODY MURDER as much as I do. And he's the villain?

- Eddie was killed by the Blob while in the sewers. Eh, it's okay. He comes back as David Silver's best friend on the first two seasons of Beverly Hills 90210 - only to accidentally kill himself while playing with his dad's gun. Damn...

THE FINAL HOWL
While both versions of THE BLOB are well worth the watch, it's obvious which one is the better film. You really can't fault the original for that, since it had limitations for its time. But it's a bit too campy and unevenly paced for me to totally invest in. The remake, however, is what I would envision this story to look like visually, proving that remakes can work if the right people are behind it. I recommend both versions, but if I had to choose one of them, the 1988 version is the way to go.


SCORE

THE BLOB (1958)2.5 Howls Outta 4


THE BLOB (1988)
3.5 Howls Outta 4


WINNER:

THE BLOB (1988)



THE BLOB (1958) Trailer


THE BLOB (1988) Trailer

3.01.2011

Shameless Promotion: Grim Charles

I received an email a few days ago from a musician who calls himself Grim Charles. His music has an acoustic, folk rock sound that's actually quite good. Since he wants me to shamelessly promote his music [and because he's a fan of the blog], his wish is my command. Please check out Grim Charles' work on iTunes, MySpace, and Facebook. He even has a YouTube page. He sings about zombies and other horror stuff. How can I not support someone who sings a song called "Trick or Treat or Worse"? Spread the word! Thanks!

Press Release: "Scream of the Banshee" - SyFy's 200th Original Film!


After Dark Films sent Full Moon Reviews information for its upcoming (and sure to be) SyFy Channel classic original, SCREAM OF THE BANSHEE. It will premiere March 26th at 9PM (ET/PT). Spread the word and support our favorite SyFy originals.

Here's the press release:
"Since 2002, Syfy viewers have experienced mutated sharks, mosquito men, alligators as big as blimps, vengeful demon moths, pterodactyls, werewolves, dragons and really, really big snakes. Plus earthquakes that split the U.S. in half, man-made volcanoes, space storms, tornados made of ice, magnetic meteors and plagues of killer locusts -- every unnatural disaster imaginable. Now Syfy celebrates its bi-weekly assault on humanity with the premiere of its 200th Saturday Original Movie, Scream of the Banshee, on Saturday, March 26, at 9PM (ET/PT).

In Scream of the Banshee, when a college professor opens a mysterious and ornate box
discovered hidden in the tunnels under her university, she and her students hear the horrifying scream of a bloodthirsty Banshee. Everyone who hears the scream is fated to die a strange and terrible death. Now the professor, her daughter and a few of her students must try to stop the Banshee.

A production of After Dark Films, Scream of the
Banshee stars Lauren Holly (NCIS) and Lance Henriksen (Alien). Said Thomas Vitale, Executive Vice President, Programming and Original Movies: “Over the years, the growing popularity of Syfy’s original movie franchise has transformed the Syfy Saturday Original Movies into a pop culture staple. As the largest producer of original movies on television, we’re delighted to be the Saturday night viewing destination for millions of fans of independent sci-fi, creature feature and horror films.”

To mark the occasion, Syfy.com will launch March Monster Madness, the ultimate
tournament to determine the king of all Syfy monsters. Thirty-two of our fun and frantic abominations, ranging from Mansquito to Sharktopus, Mega Shark to Gatoroid, and Rock Monster to Basilisk will square off, with users voting to determine the winner of each round and, ultimately, the champion of the Syfy creature pantheon. Fans will be able to see custom trading cards featuring their favorite monsters, share their votes with friends across social media platforms and enter a sweepstakes to win monster-themed prizes.

Enjoying a robust ratings surge, a Syfy Saturday Original Movie has broken the two
million total viewers mark for six straight months (August-January). Overall, the movies have averaged nearly two million viewers in 2011.

The most watched Saturday Original
Movie ever is Lake Placid 2 (2007) with 3.2 million viewers."


For those interested, here's the complete list of SyFy original films:

2002
Interceptor Force 2

2003
Dragon Fighter; Control Factor; Antibody; Do or Die; Cube 2: Hypercube; Threshold; Silent Warnings; Deathlands; Encrypt; Webs; Alien Hunter; Momentum; Deep Shock; Absolon; Bugs; Deadly Swarm; Beyond Re-Animator; The Bone Snatcher; Epoch: Evolution

2004
Dark Waters; Dragon Storm; Alien Lockdown; Curse of The Komodo; Snakehead Terror; Phantom Force; Dinocroc; Boa vs. Python; Post Impact; Decoys; They Are Among Us; Out For Blood; Raptor Island; Darklight; Frankenfish; Gargoyles: Wings Darkness; Species III; Puppetmaster vs. Demon Toys

2005
Larva; Chupacabra: Dark Seas; Slipstream; Alien Siege; Mansquito; Alien Apocalypse; Snake King; Man-Thing; The Fallen Ones; Descent; Crimson Force; Hammerhead: Shark Frenzy; Attack of the Sabretooth; Bloodsuckers; Alien Express; Pterodactyl; Man with the Screaming Brain; Path of Destruction; Dungeons & Dragons: Wrath of the Dragon God; Return of the Living Dead: Necropolis; Return of the Living Dead: Rave to the Grave; Cerberus; Locusts: The 8th Plague; Manticore

2006
Caved In: Prehistoric Terror; Magma: Volcanic Disaster; House of the Dead 2; Disaster Zone: Volcano in NY; Minotaur; SS Doomtrooper; Mammoth; A.I. Assault; Abominable; Black Hole; Android Apocalypse; Slayer; Dragon Dynasty; Stan Lee’s Lightspeed; Savage Planet; Dragon Sword; Sasquatch Mountain; Kraken: Tentacles of the Deep; Haunted Prison; Pumpkinhead: Ashes to Ashes; Basilisk: Serpent King; Dead and Deader

2007
Grendel; Gryphon; Pumpkinhead: Blood Feud; Fire Serpent; Earthstorm; Reign of the Gargoyles; Kaw; Lake Placid 2; Ice Spiders; Harpies; Supergator; Sands of Oblivion; Stir of Echoes 2; Mega Snake; Highlander: The Source; Species: The Awakening; Wraiths of Roanoke; Headless Horseman; Bats: Human Harvest; Showdown at Area 51

2008
Beyond Loch Ness; Ghost Voyage; Blood Monkey; The Bone Eater; The Hive; Living Hell; Ogre Hybrid; Rock Monster; Odysseus: Voyage to the Underworld; Warbirds; Infected; Aztec Rex; Never Cry Werewolf; Heatstroke; 100 Million BC; Copperhead; Ghouls; Termination Point; Anaconda 3; Monster Ark; Black Swarm; Flu Bird Horror; Baal: The Storm God; Vipers; Riddles of the Sphinx; NYC Tornado Terror; Swamp Devil; Fire and Ice; Battle Planet; Yeti; Lost City Raiders; Cyclops; Sharks in Venice; Lost Treasure of the Grand Canyon

2009
The Immortal Voyage of Captain Drake; Planet Raptor; Wyvern; Splinter; Hydra; Anacondas: Trail of Blood; War Wolves; Sea Beast; Polar Storm; Thor: Hammer of the Gods; Carny; 100 Feet; Fireball; The Book of Beasts; Star Runners; Rise of the Gargoyles; Mutant Chronicles; Sand Serpents; Hellhounds; Malibu Shark Attack; Infestation; Phantom Racer; High Plains Invaders; Lightning Strikes; Clive Barker’s Book of Blood; Children of the Corn (Remake); Megafault; Wolvesbayne; Ghost Town; Ice Twisters; Fire From Below; Beyond Sherwood Forest; Annihilation Earth

2010
House of Bones; Meteor Storm; Beauty and the Beast: A Dark Tale; Dinoshark; Dark Relic; Mega Piranha; Mothman; Mongolian Death Worm; Witchville; Stonehenge Apocalypse; Dinocroc vs. Supergator; Goblin; Jack Hunter and the Lost Treasure of Ugarit; Frost Giant; Lake Placid 3; Mandrake; Sharktopus; Monsterwolf; Red: Werewolf Hunter; The Lost Future; Triassic Attack; Ice Quake

2011
Behemoth; Mega Python vs. Gatoroid; Iron Invader; Area 51; Battle of Los Angeles; Scream of the Banshee

I can't believe it's been 200 already. Thanks for giving us laughs and C-list celebrities every Saturday night, Syfy!
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