New YouTube Video about a few new soundtracks

Grabbed some new soundtracks on Saturday, check out this video:

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Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (2016) Review

One from the to watch pile…
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (2016)


Film:  

A few years ago, the cool literary thing to do was to take a classic piece of literature, mix it with elements of horror and turn it into an amusing variation on the original text. The first of these was when Quirk Books’ editor Jason Redulak approached Seth Graeme-Smith with the title and idea of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies; the concept being taking Jane Austin’s public domain book and ‘remastering’ it with elements of a zombie apocalypse.

The idea took off, and a glut of like-minded sequels and imitators emerged, but this one stood out with its ability to maintain the ‘proper’ elements of Austin’s text with a refreshing tongue-in-cheekiness. It maintains the themes of the original, and the addition of the zombie apocalypse somehow fits seamlessly.

Of course, it was only a matter of time before it was adapted to the cinematic form, and what a victory it is!

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is set in England in the early 1800s, after a time where the undead have returned to life. Of course, proper society must prevail, but everyone; men, women and children, are taught combative ways to defend themselves and their families against the undead.


Our tale is of Elizabeth Bennett (Lily James) and her four sisters who reside on a country estate with their parents, and are well trained with gun, sword and in Chinese martial arts. Her mother has a fascination with making sure all her daughters marry well so they can be ‘taken care of’, but Elizabeth is a strong willed girl who resists.

She meets a well versed, and austere zombie killer named Colonel Darcy (Sam Riley) whom she immediately dislikes, but even more so after she meets an ex-friend of his, Lt George Wickham (Jack Hutson) who tells her tales of bastardry performed by Darcy upon him.

Wickham shows Elizabeth that the zombies aren’t all they seem, and that perhaps mankind can live alongside zombiekind, but wherever she goes, Darcy seems to show up, but is it accidental, or is he quite taken with Elizabeth?

Also, attacks by zombies seems to be coming more frequent… Is it just a coincidence, or is someone organising them to attack the living?

I must admit to having a lot of trouble reviewing this film as whilst I totally enjoy the zombie aspect of it, and it is quite funny, I wasn’t sure if it was a horror film, but instead a parody. Eventually I told my brain to shut up, and just flowed along its river.

The action and effects are great, though those who hate CGI for hates sake will probably criticise the blood splattering effects. The fighting is all well choreographed and played with great comedy timing, and the zombie make up is fantastic.

The zombie mythos within the confines of the story are a nice breath of fresh air over the usual ‘get bit and eat shit’ style. These zombies can maintain a sense of humanity, as long as they don’t eat human brains, which is a nice change from the modern day World War Z styled zombies who instantly turn into a berserk enraged hunger monster, which is just not what a proper educated zombie would do!


The casting is perfect as well, and all the girls (Bella Heathcoate, Suki Waterhouse, Millie Brady and Ellie Bamber) are played as coquettish as they should, and are all beautiful. The men are mostly square-jawed and bold, and the Bennett parents, played by Charles Dance and Sally Phillips are the perfect straight man and stooge. A special acknowledgement has to made of Lena Heady as zombie fighting heroine Lady Catherine De Bourgh who plays the tough type in the fashion she always does.


Truly the hero of the casting in that of ex-Doctor Who Matt Smith. His portrayal of the foppish Parson Collins, whom has hopes of making Elizabeth his bride,is so effeminate and precious that it would have made Hugh Grant jealous. Truly here he nailed a positively hilariously ‘English’ character.

All in all this film was a real fun and enjoyable watch, but is hardly a horror film. It really is a period drama that happens to have zombies in it.

Score: ***1/2

Format: This review was done with the Australian release, region B bluray. The image is presented in 2.40:1 with a DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack, and both are impeccable.

Score: *****

Extras: Heaps of extras on this disc. First, there is a blooper reel, and a few unnecessary deleted scenes, and then we get to the meat of the disc.


Creating the Unmentionables looks at the design and execution of the zombies.

From Austin to Zombies: Adapting a Classic is not just about adapting the book to the film, but also how it was completely necessary to keep the ‘Austin-ness’ to it for it to efficiently work.

Mr Collins Line-O-Rama gives Matt Smith the limelight as he delivers and re-delivers several of his lines.

The Badass Bennett Sisters looks at the development of the various fighting styles of the actresses playing the Bennett sisters.

Courtship, Class and Carnage: Meet the Cast looks at the cast choices of the film.

Score: ****

WISIA: It’s charming, so I can see myself watching it again.

Anton Yelchin R.I.P.

Sadly, the To Watch Pile has to report of the tragic death of actor Anton Yelchin.


Yelchin was best known as Chekov in the re-imagining of the original Star Trek series, but horror fans would also know him from zom-rom-com Burying the Ex, the remake of Fright Night and his recasting of Kyle Reese in Terminator Salvation.

Oddly, just this morning I was watching an interview by Norm from Adam Savage’s Tested with Zachary Quinto, Chris Pine and Karl Urban, and they were talking about how the Star Trek family felt like a ‘real’ family. The To Watch Pile would like to extend our condolences to both Yelchin’s real and extended Star Trek family at this difficult time.

The Forest (2016) Review

One from the to watch pile…
The Forest (2016)


Film: I’m no fan of the cinematic ghost story, mainly due to the fact that I don’t believe in ghosts, so unfortunately with no threat, comes no horror.

That’s not to say that stupid jump scares don’t momentarily frighten me, it’s just the idea of impending doom coming from spiritual vengeance holds nothing over me.

My family, however, love a good (or bad) ghost story so I do on occasion find myself stuck in a darkened cinema being insulted by a Paranormal Activity or a Conjuring or one of their kin.

So why did I end up watching something that on the surface has all the hallmarks of a bad western remake of a j-horror classic? Well, that answer can be summed up in two words.

Natalie. Dormer.


Yep. Call me base. Call me sexist, but that is the sole reason why I wanted to see this film. The weird thing is, I haven’t actually seem her in anything else’ I don’t watch Game of Thrones, I never watched the Tudors and the only Hunger Games films I haven’t seen are the final two…which happen to be the ones she’s in!

Heck, I didn’t even know she was from the UK until I heard her real speaking voice in the sole extra on this disc.

I’d only ever seen images of her in magazines or the Internet, and have been fascinated by her half-smirk feline look…they should make her Ben Affleck’s Catwoman in the new DC cinematic universe… So when I saw her name appear as a cast member of a horror film, I decided to give it a go, even though normally I wouldn’t touch something like this with the pointy end of a P.K.E. meter.

Anyway, The Forest tells of Sara (Dormer) who has been informed by the Japanese police that her twin sister Jess (also Dormer) is dead. The police don’t actually have a body, but she went alone into the Aokigahara Forest, which is known for two things: legends of ghosts and demons inhabiting it, and the large amount of suicides that coincidently take place there.

So Sara goes to Japan to search for her sister and quickly learns of the local legends that the forest is haunted by yūrei, demons of the forest. At her hotel, she meets a travel journalist Aiden (Taylor Kinney) who offers to introduce her to a local guide Michi (Yukiyoshi Ozawa). Michi goes into the forest to look for bodies so he can report them to the police.


The three set off and they find one body, which he makes a note of and then a tent. He informs Sara and Aiden that people who take a tent into the forest are usual not sure about committing suicide, and he acts as somewhat of a councillor to them as well.

Towards the end of the day, the three find Jess’s tent. Sara insists on staying overnight even though Michi insists she doesn’t. Aiden offers to stay with her, but after a while she gets the idea that maybe Aiden had something to do with Jess’s disappearance…

Did he, or are the yūrei, ghosts of the forest, attempting to deceive her… If they even exist, that is…

Unfortunately this film never really stood a chance. The direction is ok, and director Jason Zada has created a wonderfully cold environment. The actors are mostly fine, though not much has been given to Dormer to really differentiate Sara and Jess from each other other than hair dye, and Kinney’s portrayal of Aiden can be somewhat pedestrian at times.

The problem with this film lies in how damned generic it is.

Several years ago, j-horror was huge, and quickly after that, the American’s started remaking every single one of them. Soon the entire horror market was flooded with this sub genre of films where’s blonde female American (usually TV) star would be terrorised by a little black haired ghost girl… Usually set in Japan so the whole stranger-in-a-strange-land alienation angle could be played to its fullest.

I thought those days were gone, but apparently the writers of this film, Nick Antosca, Sarah Cornwell and Ben Ketai, have decided they are still with us, and every single stereotypical beat made within those films is back with vengeance. Japanese schoolgirls, flickering lights, old white haired Japanese women appearing out of the darkness, the whole nine yards.

It’s for this reason that I just can’t think too highly of this film. I believe you could almost sit down with a checklist of supernatural j-horror impersonator tropes and tick every single one as you watched the film. At no time do I feel like I am seeing a new movie, rather a highlight reel from 10 years ago.

Score: *1/2

Format: The review copy of The Forest was presented on a multi-region Australian release bluray. The image is presented in an amazingly crisp 1.85:1 widescreen with a perfect, and moody DTS-HD 5.1 audio.

Score: *****


Extras: Stupidly, there is only one extra on this disc and that’s something called Exploring the Forest which basically takes everything you want to know about this place, mixes it with the making of the movie and compresses it to barely 7 minutes. The idea of the REAL forest is so fascinating you could have done a 90 minute doco just about that, but no… At least it’s not a stills gallery!

Score: **

WISIA: Like I said before, I’m not really a ghost story fan, and it’s difficult to want to rewatch something that is so generic. Even Dormer can’t help with that!

Celebrate ALIENS with Fright Rags

On the 22nd June, horror and sci-fi T shirt specialists Fright Rags are delivering us some fantastic ALIENS 30th anniversary product to celebrate our collective love for those chest-bursting bastards.

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6 different T shirt designs will be produced, including this limited to 500 box set above which comes with the version 1 T shirt, a ‘Bug-Stomper’ sticker and a set of 4 8×10 lobby cards.

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Also, there will be a baseball T available, and what I’m most excited about is ALIENS socks!!!

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I’ll finally be able to retire my current favorite socks from Call of Duty: Black Ops 3.

I haven’t shown all the designs here because you should go to Fright Rags and check it out for yourself before it’s game over, man… GAME OVER!!!!

 

(all images Copyright (c) Fright Rags)

 

Friday the 13th: The Video Game

It’s E3 time in America at the moment so of course, fans of video games’ Facebook and Twitter feeds are being flooded with stuff that’s causing heaps of oohs and aahs, but for horror fans, this ones a corker.

Game developers Gun Media have revealed about 5 odd minutes of their upcoming Friday the 13th game, where you get to play as either Jason or one of the campers/ councillors. 

This YouTube video has some cool stuff in it like Jason’s ability to teleport (so THAT’S how he got around so quick), which I am sure will cause some controversy, and a Tomb Raider/ Arkham Asylum styled ‘hunter’ vision so he can keep track of his escaping prey. Also, you’ll hear in the video that he is driven on by a ghostly voice of Mrs Voorhees to kill and maim.

If Jason’s movements seem familiar that’s because the motion capture has been performed by regular Jason actor Kane Hodder, and the game also has horror effects legend Tim Savini on board as the cinematographer!!

Now the footage here is a little clunky, but bear in mind this is early alpha stuff (for non game fans, that means it’s in very early stages of final development) and in no way reflects the final product. I have to say though, so far, this F13 fan is loving what he sees!!

Want more information? Try the Friday the 13th game page at http://www.f13game.com .

The Final Girls (2015) Review

One from the to watch pile…
The Final Girls (2015)


Film: For me, horror and comedy rarely mix well. Reanimator is an exception, Return of the Living Dead is another that works; generally though, the ‘horror comedy’ is actually a comedy movie with gore elements.

This film, The Final Girls, falls into the latter: it’s little more than a comedy film with slasher film aspirations in it, as one can tell by the cast inclusion of people like Thomas Middleditch from Silicon Valley and Adam DeVine from Workaholics, but for fans of 80s horror films, there is a lot here to like as it is a combination of the Friday the 13th series and Pleasantville.

Yeah. You read that right.

The Final Girls tells of Maxine Cartwright (Taissa Farmiga) a college student whose mother, an 80s horror movie star, Amanda (Malin Ackerman) died tragically three years ago. Today though, Max has been asked to represent her mother at a film festival where the slasher film her mother was in, Camp Bloodbath and its sequel, Camp Bloodbath II: Cruel Summer are being shown back to back. 


Max is joined by her best friend, Gertie (Alia Shawkat), Gertie’s step-brother (who also organised the film festival) Duncan (Middleditch), her potential love-interest Chris (Alexander Ludwig) and Chris ex (and Max’s ex-best friend), Vicki (Nina Dobrev) to see the film, but the cinema is accidentally set alight, and to escape, the group have to cut their way through the actual movie screen to escape…

…which transports them INTO the movie, and finds Max reunited with her mother, but it’s not her mother, it’s the character she played in the film, Nancy. 

The group realise that they are trapped not just with the badly written characters (played by Adam DeVine, Angela Trimbur, Chloe Bridges, Lauren Gros and Tory N. Thompson) but that the killer, Billy (Dan B. Norris) is well aware that he has more victims than usual… But how will they escape?

CAN they escape?!?

The tropes of horror films are treated with great humour in this film, and aren’t disrespected. There is some great physical comedy as well, and any scene with Middleditch or DeVine are lots of fun. The ‘real’ characters stand out brilliantly in the world of the 80s horror movie fantastically as the ‘bad actors’ as ‘real’ people still act like they do in the film.


That’s not to say the film is perfect though; there are a few cases of CGI that doesn’t quite work (although there is one CGI piece that is amazing!) and it does something that I detest in modern horror movies: it adds popular pop songs for familiarity to make the film easier to acclimatise to… Guardians of the Galaxy did it to sell itself and did a great job of it, but I don’t like that kind of psychological manipulation. I do admit to understanding both films had a grounding in the 80s so it’s not completely left-of-field, but I still find it manipulative.

The story of this film is heaps of fun for those who grew up with 80s slasher pics, or are fans of that genre. The director clearly loves this period of films, and, along with his cinematographer has created a film that is a joy to look at. The colours are vibrant and engaging, and if you watch… REALLY watch the film, you see heaps of great little clues and movie language that tells a far more clever story that a casual view might suggest.

Don’t be surprised though, this is 100% a comedy with a polite nod to horror films of the 80s. If you want a horror film, this ain’t it, but if you want to be entertained for a bit, this isn’t a bad way to do it.


Score: ***1/2

Format: This Australian release, multi-region bluray of The Final Girls runs for 91 minutes and is presented in a pristine 2.40:1 widescreen presentation with a matching DTS HD 5.1 audio track.

Score: *****

Extras: Nice bunch of extras on this disc including a cast and crew commentary performed by Strauss-Schulson, actors Middleditch, Farmiga and Trimbur, Production designer Katie Byron and Dirctor of Photography Elie Smilkin, a bunch of deleted, alternate and extended scenes with or without the director’s commentary (they are better with the commentary and have some unfinished special effects), Pre-Vis Animation (storyboards done with rough computer models), visual effects progression reel (shows layered footage of the special effects from the earliest pass to the final one) and a downloadable PDF of the Director’s shooting notes (unreviewed).


It’s a great and informative bunch of extras, though the commentary is a bit crowded with so many people involved… It is pretty funny though.

Score: *****

WISIA: It’s an easy to watch ‘comfort’ film that requires very little from the viewer to enjoy. I can see myself watching it again, but on a low priority rotation.

Marina Malfatti R.I.P.


Tragically, Florence actress Marina Malfatti, aka Marina Mulligan, known for several Italian horror films, including The Red Queen Kills Seven Times and The Night Evelyn Came Out Of The Grave, has passed away. The To Watch Pile would like to pass on our condolences to her family. 

For those who don’t know her work, Arrow Films recently released this box set, but you better grab it quick as its limited to 3000 copies.

Deep Red (1975) Review

We made it, the final day of our ‘three colours Italian’, and what better way to celebrate then ‘red’ stripe on the Italian flag than with a favourite film of mine, Dario Argento’s Profundo Russo aka Deep Red!
One from the re watch pile…

Deep Red (1975)


Film: It wasn’t until Umbrella Entertainment in Australia started releasing Dario Argento’s films in the early 10s that I really started paying attention to who Dario Argento was. Sure I’d had a casual dalliance with him via Suspiria and Creepers (aka Phenomena), but my go-to guy for Italian horror was Lucio Fulci and his zombie flicks. I had, however heard and read a lot about Argento in Fangoria and was interested in seeing his work, so when Umbrella his the accelerator on things like Suspiria, Phenomena, Tenebrae, Sleepless etc I was ready to roll.

The ones that really captured my imagination though, were this film, Deep Red, and the aforementioned Tenebrae, which turned me from casual English speaking thriller fan to full tilt lover of Gialli.

This film, directed by Argento, was written by him along with Bernardino Zapponi, a writer who also worked on such legendary pieces of Italian cinema as Fellini’s Satyricon and Roma.


Deep Red tells of pianist Marcus Daly (David Hemmings) who has witnessed the murder of renowned psychic Helga Ulman (March Méril), a Oman who recently publicly outed a mystery person as a murderer. In the back of his mind, Marcus feels he has seen something important to the identity of Ulman’s killer, but can’t quite put his finger on it. He enlists the help of friend Carlo (Gabriele Lavia) and annoying, but tenaciously cute reporter Gianna (Daria Nicolodi) to dos little private investigation, but what he finds is that maybe the killer is closer than he ever suspected…

This disc has two versions of the film in the packaging, both remastered in hi definition. Disc 1 contains the director’s cut of the film which is longer and tells a more intimate version of the tale. The second version on the film on disc 2, is the shorter English version of the film. Even though each tell more or less the same story, I do prefer this one, and watch it more often than the other. Why? Well my reason is, and this is an affront to everything we as cinemaphiles think and that is, what is cut isn’t really necessary to move the story along. Sure some of it is character building stuff, but you don’t miss it in the theatrical version, and to me it tells the story more efficiently. Also, in the director’s cut, the police seem buffoonish and don’t suit the overall tone of the film.

My love of Argento films is defined by this film and two others: Suspiria and Tenebrae. As a murder mystery, it’s perfect and the violence shocking and sudden. It engages with the topic of homosexuality that films of this era rarely did without being insulting, nor with any trace of ‘whoopsie’, you know: the John Inman-ish mincing. The best thing about this film though is the staging of each scene; Argento appears to be a frustrated painter as each scene has a rhythm, and a layout that is visually striking.

A special note has to be made for the inclusion of someone whom I think is the Princess of Gialli, Nicoletta Elmi. This young redhead girl appears in many films of this era, and judging by her appearance in Demons, grew to be a beautiful lady. For my she’s like a ‘Where’s Wally? special guest star.


The soundtrack is amazing too. I’ll bring up Tenebrae here again as the Goblin score on Deep Red is second only to that one. Most modern day soundtracks seem to disappear within the background, but the score here is like a palpable character whose presence effects the viewers state of mind, like a good score should.

All in all, I love this film. It’s a great watch, a sound thriller and has an epic score. You really need to have this in your collection!

Score: *****

Format: The Arrow bluray release of the film is presented in the 127 minute director’s cut, or the 105 minute theatrical cut, and is presented in a well restored 2.35:1 anamorphic image with various choices of sound, the best being the director’s cut Italian 5.1. If you watch the director’s cut in the English 5.1 audio you have to be aware of the fact that the dialogue switches from English to Italian. Across the board though both image and sound are great.

Score: ****

Extras

This disc has some really awesome extras across two discs, and for an Argento fan (like me) it’s quite entertaining.


Disc 1 has both a US and Italian Trailer, Lady In Red – Daria Nicolodi Remembers Profundo Russo, Music to Murder For – Claudio Simonetti on Deep Red and Rosso Recollections – Dario Argento’s Deep Genius

Disc 2 has the documentary Rosso: From Celluloid to Shop which is basically an interview with Luigi Cozzi, director and the gentleman who runs the horror store/ museum in Rome, Profundo Rosso.

This Arrow edition also came with a choice of 4 different covers for the sleeve, a double sided poster featuring the new artwork and a booklet by Alan Jones, the author of Dario Argento – The Man, The Myth & The Magic. There is also a commentary by Argento specialist Thomas Rostock, which sounds very stilted by is quite fascinating.

For a fan of gialli and/ or Argento there is heaps to enjoy here!

Score: *****

WISIA: It is one of my all time favourite movies,and I probably watch it once every 6 months, so definitely!