Thursday, 24 December 2009

30 Days of Night (Movie version - 2007)

These vampires don't sparkle. This is more like it. I've always wished there were more movies where vampires were utter beasts instead of woeful fops, and 30 Days of Night gave me exactly what I wanted.

The graphic novel, by the legendary team of Steve Niles and Ben Templesmith, was a masterpiece of twisted comics storytelling, with a tight script and disturbing artwork that perfectly captured the chill of the setting and the madness of events that unfold in its pages.

When the movie was greenlit, many fans were worried that the film would be a poor imitation of that stupendous first graphic novel in the 30 Day of Night series, but when the film hit, those worries were largely silenced. 30 Days of Night is a violent, brutal and scary movie that hits all of the beats of the graphic novel, and also does a grand job of translating Ben Templesmith's gorgeous and unnerving artwork into moving images.

Josh Hartnett and Melissa George are superb in the lead roles. I'm not a fan of either of them really, but they're on fine form here, as are the rest of the cast as their characters are put through all hell while fending off a horde of animalistic vampires.

The limited colour palette of the film gives the tale the same washed out, nightmarish quality as the source material, and the little CG touches on the faces of the vampires are subtle enough to pull them out of normal proportion while keeping them grounded in reality.

The pacing and direction are excellent, tension winding tighter and tighter until that marvelously downbeat ending. This is far from being a fluffy, romantic vampire flick. These vamps are utter, demented bastards that deserve to be feared. There's blood, characters you give a toss about, a frightening location and a relentlessly claustrophobic story that deserves every bit of praise it gets. 30 days of Night is certainly the best widely released vampire film that there's been in a very long time indeed. Take a bite.

Thursday, 17 December 2009

Mister X: Condemned (Dark Horse Books 2009)

The collected edition of the latest Mister X story, Condemned, brings together all four issues of the Dark Horse mini series and is a welcome return to Radiant City for fans of the mysterious architect and the dangers of psychetecture. The original run of Mister X is a genuine cult classic, and much beloved by me. I was too young to enjoy it the first time around, but after being introduced to the character by a close friend I was hooked and picked up a bunch of the original issues on eBay. Since then I've been hooked, soaking up every art deco flavoured panel.

If you're not familiar with the universe of Mister X and Radiant City, the story follows the mysterious Mister X as he returns to the city he designed, the architecture of which was intended to promote mental well-being, sort of feng shui on a massive scale. Unfortunately the city's design began to send its inhabitants insane, turning them into murderers, drug addicts and lunatics. Mister X returned to try and correct the problem and save the city before it descended into chaos. The Condemned mini series sees him back again, and getting wound up in a murder mystery to boot.

Dean Motter has brought the character and his universe back with every bit of the noir/art deco style that the classic issues contained, and grips the reader from start to finish with a tale full of the customary twists, turns and intrigue. Mister X is an enigmatic figure who loses little of his power no matter what the reader discovers about him, and that's one of Motter's greatest strengths. Even when you have all the facts in front of you, there always seems to be more to discover.

One of the great things about Mister X is that it hasn't aged much at all since its inception, largely down to the world it is set in being so complete and beautifully crafted. The art is gorgeous and pulpy, the script tight while having a great depth, and the overall package has left me clambering to dig out those classic issues again. The concept of a city driven mad by its own buildings is quite sinister, and the revelations about the 'Ninth Academy' in this series are superb.

It's a cool jumping on point for people who want to get the hang of the Mister X universe without forking out for the archive hardback, but once you've read Mister X: Condemned, that hardback will become very difficult to resist. A great work of comic art noir, and a superb story to boot. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have some shades and a long black coat to don, and some shadows to skulk around in.

Whoops/Format change

Wow, two weeks flew by quickly didn't they? After writing that review of From Beyond, I was deep into writing material for work, and The Genre Addict had to fall by the wayside for a while. I'm managing my time much better now, and the site can continue at last.

I'm going to take the site in a slightly different direction from this point. I will also be covering individual stories and episodes from TV shows in the Genre Addict reviews, as there is a wealth of incredible material from the small screen that deserves a mention, either for being phenomenal or for being turgid. Either end of the spectrum is cool with me.

I may well also include entire runs of TV shows that didn't air for long, just so I can bring up some issues as to why these shows failed as well as talk about what was great about them. I will, of course, be covering some of the best examples of genre TV, not just the duds.

I also realize that I'm yet to post a review of a comic or a book, which will be rectified shortly, and I'm also looking to cover more cartoons and anime. There's lots to look forward to, and while I may not post new content daily right now, I'll be doing so as often as I possibly can. Thanks for visiting The Genre Addict, and I hope you all have a great Christmas.

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

From Beyond (1986)

From Beyond is a curious film, almost forgotten by many horror fans who are only too familiar with the previous film made by the same team, namely the glorious Re-Animator. From Beyond reunites a bunch of people from that flick, including director Stuart Gordon and producer Brian Yuzna along with Jeffrey Combs and Barbara Crampton, and much like that previous film it is an adaptation of a story originally by H.P. Lovecraft.

Good credentials really. While the cover may make it look rather dark and unnerving, From Beyond is a blast. Full of outlandish gore and a very old fashioned 'mad scientist' style script, it is almost camp in its execution, but it's hugely entertaining too.

Jeffrey Combs is back as a mad scientist after his turn as Herbert West in the (quite deservedly) legendary first Re-Animator movie, but he's not quite as deranged in this flick. The lunatic genius of this piece is played by Ted Sorel, who hams it up to a huge level and is clearly having a blast, even when under thick layers of latex and gobs of gore.

The plot, if you're not familiar with the Lovecraft tale it takes its inspiration from, is simple. Nutjob scientist devises a machine that can open up other dimensions so they can be seen by regular humans. Of course, things go awry and ...something... crosses over. Cue possession, masses of insane gore, wiggly bits coming out of people's heads, and all the pink and green gels over the lights that you could possibly want. It's mental, but I lapped up every hideous, cheesy moment. Where Re-Animator was dark and grimy, From beyond is bright neon colours and 50s-style kitsch with 80s effects and photography.

By the end of the film, I was kind of wondering what I'd just seen. It's camp and silly, but it is also horrendously violent and very weird indeed. The thing I found strange about it is that there appears to be another film tacked onto the end of it. The end of the second act could almost be the end of the film, and then it goes off at a bit of a tangent and gives us more. Much more.

From Beyond is horror as entertainment, plain and simple. All of the ingredients are there for a genuine classic of 80s horror, but there's something missing from it that would elevate it to that status. It may be that with the cartoonish lighting and the distinct feeling that even the characters know they're in a B-movie, it's hard to take it seriously on any level. Then again, that may well have been the point. I found From beyond to be like a good takeaway- messy and satisfying, but something of a guilty pleasure.

THE ADDICT IS BACK IN ACTION

Hello my fellow addicts. NaNoWriMo is over, and I won by 64 words, leaving this early first-two-thirds of the novel at 50,064 words.

Lots of work to do until it's finished (such as the other 25k I need to write, then edit and polish the whole thing), but I hit the 50k mark for the event. Huzzah!
Anyway, the Genre Addict is back in business after my hiatus, and will continue today with......

Stay tuned!