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31 Days of Films and Frights – Day 25: Quarantine 2 – Terminal

31 Days of Films and Frights – Day 25: Quarantine 2 – Terminal

Occasionally a film comes along that is well received, that a sequel in instantly ordered, in order to capitalize on the momentum of the original.  Other times, a film is so original that it spawns remakes.  Sometimes, the remake is produced in an entirely different country and language (see Japan’s recent remakes of Sideways (Saidoweizu) and Ghost (Ghost: Mouichido Dakishimetai), for example).

Often times, a sequel or remake will match, or in some cases surpass, the excitement found in the original (see Aliens, Spiderman 2, or Godfather 2 for more examples).

Other times, you have today’s film.

In 2007, spanish directors Jaume Balagueró and Paco Plaza gave us [REC], a brilliantly crafted found footage film.  It quickly was followed by an American remake in 2008 titled Quarantine, from John Erick Dowdle, and a direct sequel from Balagueró in 2009 titled [REC]2.

The US remake closely followed the original in story, style, and direction.  It was as equally frightening and enjoyable as the original, much in the same way Let Me In (2010) was to Let the Right One In (2008).

Why then, did they go the direction they did with the US sequel?

31 Days of Films and Frights – Day 25: Quarantine 2 – Terminal

quarantine_two_terminalDirector: John Pogue
Year: 2011
Cast: Mercedes Masöhn, Josh Cooke, Mattie Liptak, Noree Victoria, Erin Smith
Language: English
Country: United States
Specs: 89 mins. / Color / OAR 1.78.1 / MPAA Rating: R
Rating: ★★ / D

A deadly virus infects the members of an airliner, causing a quarantine to be placed on the jumbo jet and its inhabitants.  The infected must work together in an attempt to overcome the virus, and escape safe and sound.

B-level acting, absurd character actions (the sneezing scene alone is worthy of a Razzie), and horrible camera work are only the beginning that I found wrong with this film.  The most bewildering aspect of the film was Pogue’s lack of style.  Jump cuts, extremely close and crazy close-ups, simply amateurish staging, and consistent shaky-cam are all inconsistent enough to bother even the most die-hard fan of those music video hold-overs.

If the script were any better, I may attempt to overlook those aforementioned problematic elements.  Instead, it simply adds to the unfortunate air of a student film that this production delivers.  For instance, why during a power outage does the plane also lose its power?  How is it possible for a lockdown of that magnitude to be instituted that quickly?  How did the airport possibly know that the airplane was infected?  Why was this film completely unrelated to the first film?  Why did they not follow the storyline of the sequel to [REC]?

If you want to see how NOT to make a sequel, then by all means give this a rental.  Otherwise, get the superior spanish language [REC]2 instead.  You won’t regret it.

 
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Posted by on October 25, 2013 in Movies

 

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31 Days of Films and Frights – Day 15: Love at First Bite

31 Days of Films and Frights – Day 15: Love at First Bite

When I was a child, I loved to visit my uncle and see what new toys he had acquired since my last visit.  Years before I knew who Ridley Scott or Sigorney Weaver was, he had a 18″ Alien action figure.  While I had dozens upon dozens of Luke Skywalkers, Darth Vaders, Stormtroopers and Snaggletooths, he was the only person I knew whose parents would spring for a Tie FIghter and Millenium Falcon.  However, with all the expensive, rare, and coveted toys that he had in his massive toy box, there was one gadget that he was in possession of that was a favorite of mine, The Laugh Bag.

The Laugh Bag was a small box within a small bag, no larger than my hand, which would produce an insanely annoying laugh with the simple press of a button.  We would press that button over and over, often walking around the basement mimicking the laugh ourselves, much to the consternation of my poor grandmother.

When I originally saw today’s film, I loved it for merely one reason.  There was a character in the film that had a memorable laugh, that I found to be equally as impressionable as my uncles giggle machine.

<span style=”color: red;”>31 Days of Films and Frights – Day 15: Love at First Bite</span>

love_at_first_biteDirector: Stan Dragoti
Year: 1979
Cast: George Hamilton, Susan Saint James, Richard Benjamin, Arte Johnson
Language: English
Country: United States
Specs: 94 mins. / Color / OAR 1.85.1 / MPAA Rating: PG
Rating: ★★★½ / C+

Having been evicted from his home in Transylvania, Count Dracula travels to New York, where he meets whom he believes to be his long lost love, Mina Harker, reincarnated.  As he pursues her, her former lover, a descendant of the famous Van Helsing, pursues the count.

Revisiting the film for the first time since I was a child, I only remembered that the film was a comedy.  If I were to be viewing the film for the first time, I may be surprised to find it as such at the beginning.  As the opening credits begin, a tech music track plays, giving the impression the film about to unroll is a film in the vein of The Lost Boys.  However, the moment we see Hamilton, accompanied by the overpowering sounds of howling wolves, and the line that he delivers, we know we are in for a film of a different genre entirely.

Within moments, I was shocked to see Hamilton looking pale, his bronzed skin nowhere in sight.  Johnson, as Renfeld, then delivers his memorable laugh, and the tone has been set.  There were a number of scenes in the film that were wonderfully crafted send ups, and others that were jovial attempts at juvenile humor.  The passage through customs was amongst the best, in pure Zucker Brothers fashion.  In fact, I was surprised that the film was not a product of the famous filmmakers (Kentucky Fried Movie, their first effort, preceded this film by 2 years).

Interesting of note, was the timeliness of the scene with Sherman Hemsley, especially since the newest Oxygen show on prosperity gospel preachers (Preachers of L.A.) has been in the news. I also enjoyed seeing Isabel Sanford make a cameo as the fiery judge!

Something I did not remember from my childhood, but became instantly evident upon viewing with my more mature eyes, was the tone of the films comedy.  The swinging 70s are on display in full form, with much of the humor focusing on sex and drug use.

Some of the humor was a bit stale, perhaps in part due to its overabundance of use numerous satires since.  There have been no shortage of send ups to films in the horror genre, even those that contain the count himself (Dracula Dead & Loving It).  While the film surely was no Young Frankenstein, it certainly was more entertaining than Saturday the 14th.  I’m glad I revisited this pic.  Perhaps you may enjoy doing the same…

 
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Posted by on October 15, 2013 in Movies

 

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31 Days of Films and Frights – Day 11: House of Dark Shadows

31 Days of Films and Frights – Day 11:  House of Dark Shadows

As a young child, I would sit in front of the television, playing with my Imperious Leader, Ovion, and Daggit action figures as my father would watch The White Shadow. I remember my mother would also make comments about Dark Shadows, a soap opera that she enjoyed watching along with the likes of General Hospital and One Life to Live. I would often confuse the two well into my early adult years. It wasn’t until recently when I truly became aware of the distinction between the two. When Johnny Depp was announced as playing the star of the remake/reboot of today’s film and its universe, I moved to seek out the original to see exactly what Tim Burton was choosing to ape.

As an aside, I’m not sure, and I’ll save this for another day, why we keep getting comedic remakes of films that weren’t originally comedies. Who are they making these films for, the original audience? They’re bound to be disappointed. A new audience are less likely to have knowledge of the source material, thus entirely missing the satirical elements of the feature..

With that being said, onto today’s entry.

31 Days of Films and Frights – Day 11: House of Dark Shadows

house_of_dark_shadows_xlgDirector: Dan Curtis
Year: 1970
Cast: Jonathan Frid, Grayson Hall, Kathryn Leigh Scott, David Henesy, Roger Davis
Language: English
Country: United States
Specs: 97 mins. / Color / OAR 1.85.1 / MPAA Rating: PG
Rating: ★★★½
/ C+

Vampire Barnabas Collins, a member of an aristocratic family, returns from a long slumber, where he encounters a woman who resembles his long-lost love.  He embarks on a journey to find a cure for his curse, in order that he be allowed to live life as a human once again, and be reunited with his lover.

I’ve never seen an episode of the television show that this film was based upon. I’ve noticed that there are episodes available to stream on Hulu, and while I would like to go back and visit it at some point, having learned that it’s over 1200 episodes long, it is unlikely I’ll have much opportunity in my overworked life. Thus, going in, I knew little to nothing, as you’ve already seen in my opening paragraph, heading into today’s viewing. I eagerly sat down to see what the draw was to this long-running TV show and its 2 theatrical sequels. I was curious why it had spawned numerous books, games, television reboots, and other forms of merchandise.

Dark Shadows car

I’m happy to say that while I didn’t find the film a brilliant sortie into vampire fiction, I also didn’t find it deplorable. It was simply prosaic, lacking any nuances to justify a repeat viewing. Perhaps had I been familiar with the original series I may have gained more out of my viewing experience? I was a little confused as to who the characters were, and felt that they didn’t truly offer much exposition to clear my confusion.

The cinematography did stand out, as well as the sets and locale lending an air of authenticity. The spooks and blood also did play more like a film coming from Hammer Films than a 70s television sudser. However, the acting does come across like an extended episode of a soap opera, and is theatrical and over-the-top at moments.

House of Dark Shadows [1970]

The greatest thing that I experienced while watching the film was the desire to sacrifice some of my precious time set aside that I may catch up on other storied series to watch the original series. I also would like to watch the sequel, in the hopes that I may gain more clarification to the questions I had without resorting to 600+ hours and more searching for on googling. I’d actually love to hear what others who are familiar with the television show thought of the film, or if they believe it’s worth my time and effort to visit the original series.

Perhaps, as the Tootsie Owl once heard it said, the world [me] may never know. (That actually sounds like Elmo. Oy vey)

 
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Posted by on October 11, 2013 in Movies

 

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31 Days of Howl-oween: Day 29 – Night of the Demons

As I had watched “Night of the Comet”, I knew that I would have to also watch today’s film.  I’d heard what a cult classic today’s film was, having numerous sequels and a recent remake (starring Shannon Elizabeth and Edward Furlong) to take credit for.  It also starred one of the famous “scream queens”, as Fangoria Magazine has called her, and hadn’t ever seen one of her films for which she acquired the illustrious moniker.

In addition, I wanted to try to include at least a couple films in this 31 Days of 31 Horror Films blog, and there are very limited amounts of films that involve trick-or-treat festivities, other than the famous series of films titled “Halloween”.

I wasn’t sure if I should view the remake, as it’s very recent and likely to be a film movie fans haven’t see yet.  When it came down to the wire, however, I decided the original that started it all was the only way to go.

31 Days of Howl-oween

A Review of Films Filled with Frights

Day 29

Film #29


~ Night of the Demons ~

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Posted by on October 29, 2010 in Movies

 

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