The horror director talks Holliston, Hatchet III, and his future in horror
Tuesday, December 18, 2012
Nothing can be worse than being stuck on vacation with your clueless father and his overly sexual girlfriend. Until, of course, you take a detour at a quaint diner famous for its organic burgers, and come to find that its specialty is turning people into angry drones with a case of mad cow disease.
The 2007 horror comedy, The Mad, stars Billy Zane (Demon Knight) and Maggie Castle (Todd and the Book of Pure Evil) as a father and daughter trying their best to get along and adjust to each other’s significant others while on a road trip. The tension between the pair is already heightened when they make the fateful stop that forces them to put their differences aside and work together to survive. The duo faces their issues and rebuilds their relationship all while slaughtering the grazing mad.
The Mad is easily overlooked by moviegoers because on the surface, it doesn’t have much that makes it stand out against the competition. The premise, along with the DVD artwork, is enough to make a person prematurely decide that it’s not worth watching. However, upon viewing the campy film, there are unique and genuinely funny moments that make the movie an enjoyable experience and actually better than some bigger budget horror flicks that are released today.
The pairing of Zane and Castle as the father and daughter was spot on. Both characters had quirky personalities that meshed well together and both actors’ deliveries in specific scenes were done perfectly enough that the jokes were understandable—and funny.
It was refreshing to see Zane in a fatherly role, one that he played with the right amount of wit and dry humor, showing off his comedic chops and range of character, which was completely different than his character in Demon Knight. Castle is also naturally funny as she played the moody teen effortlessly, showcasing the talent that landed her the role of Jenny in Todd and the Book of Pure Evil.
Zane and Castle’s performances in the film are enough to keep you watching and it is clear that the pair understood the point of the film and the way that the characters were meant to be presented. The Mad is an intentionally cheesy and campy horror that did not want to be taken seriously. Because the actors understood what the director wanted to present, they were able to give off the comedic feel to audiences, making the exaggerated scenes seem reasonable.
One particular scene, a dialogue between the group of characters on the issue of zombies and the undead, is the highlight of the film. In most zombie movies the characters are completely clueless as to what the monsters are; in The Mad, they poke fun of this and actually question what they are dealing with. One cannot help but laugh as Zane and the others question what zombies actually are and how one becomes a zombie. The use and misuse of the term, along with the word “undead,” is talked about in a way that is subtle enough to make you laugh and not make you want to roll your eyes.
Along with the zombie discussion, there is another scene where Zane’s character, a doctor, insists that he needs to get an infected person to examine and somehow use the information to create a cure. Zane’s deadpan delivery, along with the immediate laughter from the rest of the group, makes for another hilarious moment, mostly for its self-awareness of the genre. The scene acknowledges the over-the-top situation and includes a ridiculous scenario that characters in similar movies often say, poking fun of it and balancing out the situation.
From there, Zane and Castle’s relationship grows stronger and their comfortableness with each other really shows on the screen. The pair is very good at playing off one another, which works well in another scene where they have to kill the mad people while simultaneously having a heart-to-heart conversation in a field. The way in which the scene was done is memorable because it was both funny and somewhat serious at the same time, allowing the characters to get “sappy” with each other without taking away from the rest of the film’s “horror” element.
There are several moments that are worth mentioning about The Mad because it is a creative movie, despite its overly-done “zombie” story. Although the movie isn’t entirely laudable due to a slow start and some unnecessary scenes, it is a decent campy horror overall. The atmosphere had a very 50’s/60’s monster-movie feel, similar to Attack of the Killer Tomatoes.
Yes, the premise is ridiculous but that was the point; the film is supposed to be unbelievable and exaggerated for the sake of making one laugh. Horror fans will appreciate the bits of humor and references sprinkled throughout the film and even though they may not enjoy the entire movie, they will be able to get a good laugh at certain moments that were specifically made for them to understand.
Saturday, December 15, 2012
The NiceThe Cabin in the Woods
Where do I even begin? The Cabin in the Woods is a movie created by horror fans, for horror fans and it does not disappoint. The film, written by Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard (who also directs), is filled with everything that horror fans normally expect but it is executed in a very smart and respectful way. Although there are moments where the film pokes fun of the genre, it also praises it for the things that it can create and the emotions it produces from fans. It contains balanced humor and scares, and it has the best final act of any movie I have ever seen. Not only is the movie entertaining, it is intelligent and makes you think about the genre as a whole and how we as an audience effect the things that are being churned out by production companies. To read my review of the film, click here.
The Loved Ones
This film was technically released in 2009; however, it didn't reach US audiences until Summer 2012. The Australian export won the Toronto International Film Festival Midnight Madness Peoples Choice award and has received praise from critics and fans alike, and for good reason. Director and writer, Sean Byrne, created a cinematically beautiful horror full of bright colors and eighties-esque music, transporting audiences back to the days of high school and John Hughes...only psychologically darker. The film's protagonist is a female, played amazingly well by Robin McLeavy, showcasing that men are not the only ones to be feared in the genre. Although the hype machine let me down slightly, I was impressed by the performances and visuals that the film had to offer. Check out my review here.
With found-footage films being release almost every other week, it's tough to find one that is unique and a genuinely great horror film. V/H/S took the found-footage format and put an anthology spin on it, creating a creepy, unsettling, and totally entertaining movie. Not all of the stories were home-runs (Tuesday the 17th, anyone?) but some were awesome and were capable of producing HOLY SHIT moments--at least from me, anyway. My favorite tale of the five is, without a doubt, Second Honeymoon, directed by Ti West. The story was extremely subtle and realistic, mostly in part from the actors' performances. When the climax finally comes, it seems almost unexpected due to the way that West paced the story and played with audiences throughout the segment. Other filmmakers involved in the project include, Adam Wingard, David Bruckner, Joe Swanberg, Glenn McQuaid, and Radio Silence.
The Walking Dead
The Walking Dead has taken so much flak from viewers and IMDb trolls, trashing the series for being too slow and not having enough zombie action. Well, the third season of the hit series attempted to shut the haters up (but, lets be real, IMDb trolls will never die) by starting off at full speed and continuing all the way until the mid-season finale. The season so far was filled with major character deaths just four episodes in, and so many brutal head shots that one could barely keep count. The third season also introduced fans to the beloved and infamous governor, who has lived up to his reputation so far. David Morrissey plays the character with enough charm and menace to make it hard for fans of the series not to love him. The rest of the season will pick back up in February and considering that the Governor lost his eye and Darryl has been captured, shit is going to get even crazier.
Horror fans finally got a sitcom made specifically for them. The lovechild of Adam Green and Joe Lynch, Holliston is executed as a typical sitcom with a laugh track and occasional sentimental moments, and it also includes horror references and storylines that only true genre fans will know and enjoy. The series is based on Green's life and is set in his hometown of Holliston, Ma (represent!). The hilarious series also stars Corri English and Laura Ortiz as the pair's lovable gal pals. The show is sprinkled with guest appearances from horror icons, as well as New Englander references, which I can appreciate. A Christmas holiday special will air on FEARnet, Tuesday, December 18. For more on the series, read my review here and check out my interview with director Adam Green!
NaughtySpace Channel (Canada)
One of Canada's best horror-comedy exports, Todd and the Book of Pure Evil, was cancelled in the Summer, leaving horror fans crushed. The series contained everything that a horror fan could love: metal, horror, sex, and comedy, all set in high school, everyone's one-time hell on earth. The series perfectly balanced coming-of-age issues with horror fantasies, allowing fans to escape with their favorite group of misfits each week. Sadly, the Space Channel was blind to this perfection and cancelled the series before letting it fully establish itself and find its groove. Shame on you, Space channel. To read my love letter to the late series, click here.
The Tall Man
Here's a bit of advice to advertisers: don't advertise your movie as a horror movie if it isn't; you will only anger true horror fans if you do. The Tall Man presented itself as a horror that revolved around the legend of the tall man; an entity who kidnaps children in the middle of the night. However, halfway through the film, everything goes in a completely different direction and the movie becomes something unexpected--and not in a good way. The big reveal is given away far too early, making viewers question why they should bother finishing the movie. The film was trying to be a lot deeper and give a powerful message, except it sucked in doing so. To read my review of the awful movie, click here.
True Blood started off so strong in the first two seasons but lately, it seems to have lost its spark. The series showrunner, Alan Ball, departed from the HBO hit last season and although I doubt his departure had an effect on the series (it wasn't any better with him), the show is sinking slowly. There are elements of the series that are still enjoyable and there are likeable characters; however, the things that those characters are being forced to do is preposterous (I always wanted to use that word!). Lafayette has been totally neglected and abused with his storylines and Bill has become unlikeable. Alcide's character is almost pointless, especially if he's not going to have a relationship with Sookie. And Jason, well, Jason doesn't love Jess anymore and he hates all vampires. Whatever. The series is becoming too ridiculous and cheesy for my standards and the storylines have no payoff at the end. Let's hope that the next season is an improvement.
I love Rooney Mara, I really do. She is a talented actress and she proved herself in the US version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. That being said, I think she can occasionally say stupid things when she's trying too hard to seem effortless and totally opposite of the "Hollywood type" in the industry. Case and point, in an interview with Entertainment Weekly, the football heiress made some questionable comments regarding her portrayal of Nancy in the remake of A Nightmare on Elm Street, the film that gave her a start in the industry. Mara casually explained that she didn't even want the role, almost as if it were beneath her, but she auditioned for it anyway. She stated, "Sometimes you don't want to get something but you do a really good job and you get in anyway. That's kind of [what happened] with A Nightmare on Elm Street-I didn't even really want it. And then I went in [to audition] and I was like, [whispering] "F---. I definitely got that." Oh, Rooney. You are lucky that I like you.
During the Summer, the country was abuzz over a cannibalistic attack on a homeless man in Miami. The attacker ate the man's face and was unresponsive to police when they demanded he stop. The situation becomes even more interesting when the police officers shot the attacker and he proceeded to attack, completely unfazed by the bullets. Everyone cried ZOMBIE! Someone eats another person and doesn't respond to bullets is pretty unusual and horror fans know never to dismiss anything peculiar. In actuality, the man was suspected of being on bath salts (a designer drug similar to cocaine and meth); however, the drug was never found in his system. This attack started a slew of drug-related attacks all over the US and even in China! The news reports that poured in detailing the unfortunate ones to become victim to cannibals only reinforces the idea that DRUGS ARE BAD. Bath salts--and all other drugs--are definitely on the naughty list this year. Here's to hoping that there will be no future face-eating happening in 2013.
He knows when you are sleeping. He knows when you are awake. He knows when you've been bad or good and in case he missed you, I compiled this list for Santa as a guide. What have been your favorite and least favorite horror movies and/or moments of 2012?
Friday, December 7, 2012
The book's synopsis is as follows:
"Heidi Hawthorne is a thirty-seven-year-old FM radio DJ and a recovering drug addict. Struggling with her new-found sobriety and creeping depression, Heidi suddenly receives an anonymous gift at the station-a mysteriously shaped wooden box branded with a strange symbol. Inside the box is a promotional record for a band that identifies themselves only as The Lords. There is no other information. She decides to play it on the radio show as a joke, and the moment she does, horrible things begin to happen. The strange music awakens something evil in the town. Soon enough, terrifying murders begin to happen all around Heidi. Who are The Lords? What do they want?”
The movie stars Sheri Moon Zombie, Ken Foree, Meg Foster, Dee Wallace, Sid Haig, Michael Berryman, and more.
According to Deadline, the series will follow two agents named Morgan and Rosetta as they investigate the paranormal, supernatural, and sometimes extra-terrestrial occurrences that are happening across the world. The series, written by Stargate's Carl Binder and The Librarian's David Titcher, has been ordered for 13 episodes.
Weird Desk is not the only "horror" series slated to premiere this Summer; Stephen King's bestselling novel, Under the Dome, has just been greenlit to be turned into a series to premiere on CBS. The show, which will be produced by Steven Speilberg, will also have 13 episodes.
Under the Dome will follow a similar storyline to the book it is based on, focusing on a small New England town that is mysteriously sheilded from the world by a transparent dome. Appocalyptic maddness soon ensues as residents try to uncover the mystery that surrounds them. I can't wait to hear all of the awful New England accents!
Are you excited about the upcoming series? My guess is that they won't last, at least Weird Desk won't. ABC never gives its programming a chance to grow and find its audience. Under the Dome may last a little bit longer, but eventually get cancelled, similar to Jericho.
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