Wednesday, 29 September 2010

The Crow: Salvation (2000)


"I want to be with your forever..."
"Only forever?"

The Crow series really didn't have an easy ride of it, did it? Brandon Lee lost his life while filming the iconic original, then came the all-style-no-substance sequel The Crow: City of Angels, then came the film I'll be talking about here, namely The Crow: Salvation. The less said about the fourth film (which could barely even be described as a film), The Crow: Wicked Prayer, the better. Salvation was the movie that was finally made when the 'other' third Crow movie, The Crow 2037 (which was to be directed by Rob Zombie) was aborted, and while it lacks originality, it is a much more satisfying flick that City Of Angels, and about as good a sequel as you could hope for.

Starring Eric Mabius and Kirsten Dunst, Salvation tells the story of Alex Corvis (Mabius), who is framed for the murder of his girlfriend and executed in the electric chair. The Crow resurrects him, now scarred with the trademark Crow makeup (which in this film is burned into his skin during his execution) and powers, so that he may clear his name and kill those people involved in both his girl's murder and his own death. It lacks the heady, breathtaking atmosphere of the Brandon Lee original, but it boasts a more polished production, a great lead cast and a typically brilliant soundtrack (the soundtrack albums to the first three films are absolutely fantastic and completely essential).

The script is rather lacklustre, with not really enough emphasis on Alex's return from the dead from a character standpoint. He just seems to accept it straight away. This is in contrast to the original, as you really got the feeling Eric Draven was freaked out and scared by his own new life, and thus more justification for his descent into partial madness. Eric Mabius plays the part of Alex well though, and does put across the character's determination to hunt down the bad guys very well.

Kirsten Dunst plays the sister of Alex's murdered girlfriend, and does well with what little she has to work with. The interplay between her character and the Alex character is interesting, but it could have been explored a little deeper as again, it all seems quite convenient. There are some woeful jumps in logic throughout the film, possibly down to some bad editing decisions, but as a whole it works. The ending is frustrating, in that it offers no real conclusion to the plot, but I must stress that these negative aspects don;t stop the film being an enjoyable little sequel that was less of a parody of the original than City of Angels was.

The direction and cinematography are rather pedestrian, but this can be explained by a tight budget. Director Bharat Nalluri did a great job with the resources he had. Now, if Dimension had left it alone after this one, the world would be a better place. Sadly, Wicked Prayer came along after it and completely buggered the franchise up. Mind you, the TV series didn't help much either. Stick to the original and Salvation. I guess The Crow has the opposite dilemma to the original Star Trek movies, in that the odd numbered ones are far superior to their even numbered (and somewhat deformed) brethren.

You Can purchase The Crow: Salvation on Amazon by clicking HERE!

(Unfortunately I can't find an upload of the trailer, so instead here are some clips from the movie and its soundtrack...)



Thursday, 23 September 2010

TRAILER TREASURES: JUDGE DREDD (1995)

Okay, I loved the 1995 Judge Dredd movie when it came out, and I still have a lot of affection for it, or at least the first twenty minutes. I've been a huge Judge Dredd fan ever since I picked up my first copy of 2000ad waaaaaaaay back in the mists of time. When the movie came out, it was like a religious experience. Then the reality set in. He took the helmet off. HE TOOK THE HELMET OFF. AAARGH!

Despite the issues I (and many other fans) had with the film, there really iss no denying that it looked amazing. Mega City One was perfect. The Judges looked fantastic. The ABC robot was awesome. The Justice Department HQ was stunning. It just suffered from a bit too much Hollywood, and not enough John Wagner/Carlos Esquerra. That aside, the trailer was drokking cool. See for yourself.

Friday, 17 September 2010

Resident Evil: Afterlife 3D

Jeez, the Resident Evil movie series is already at its fourth instalment? Where do the years go? I went to see this today knowing pretty much exactly what to expect. Y'see, I do enjoy the Resident Evil movies, but I probably get a bit more out of them than fans of the games as I have never really been much of a gamer. Thus I don't have to compare the films to the games. I know who the characters are that have shown up in the games, and the various plot points, but only through pop culture osmosis rather than an active interest in the source material. I love the Resident Evil movies as they are pure entertainment, which really isn't trying to masquerade as anything else.

Resident Evil: Afterlife 3D was filmed with the same technology that James Cameron used to bring us the sci-fi epic Avatar, and writer/director Paul W.S. Anderson (HEY! LESS HISSING AT THE BACK! AT LEAST HE'S NOT UWE BOLL!) has pulled out every trick in the book to ensure value for money. This is the perfect sort of film for 3D- plenty of set pieces and some really rather impressive photography, as well as some frankly awesome explosions. Gotta love those explosions. Resident Evil: Afterlife picks up the thread from the climactic moments of Resident Evil: Extinction, where we got to see the clones of Alice (Milla Jovovich) waking up in their cocoons.

Afterlife starts off with a bang as those clones set about laying waste to the Umbrellaa Corporation's headquarters. That sequence is kinda odd, really, as while it is undoubtedly awesome, it also feels like the ending to a movie we haven't seen, added onto the start of this one. It kind of ties up the loose threads of the clones and Alice's superpowers, and then the film really gets started. This film is apparently much more in keeping with the games, and features a number of creatures from Resident Evil 5 (or so I'm hearing), and those elements really add some shock power to the horror scenes.

Something odd about this film is that it's a zombie movie without much in the way of zombie action, but when the zombies do show up, those scenes are fantastic. Ali Larter and Wentworth Miller are a little hammy as videogame fan-favourites Claire and Chris Redfield, but a Resident Evil movie is hardly the place to be deadly serious. The tension is kept up, the pace is nice and brisk, and Milla Jovovich gets to outdo all of her previous performances with some spectacular action scenes.

One thing I'll say is that this ain't a movie for people who suffer from claustrophobia, as a few scenes will have you chewing off your own arms with fear. Resident Evil: Afterlife looks amazing, and while the plot is a little thin, it is brilliantly entertaining. Where the film suffers is the overly silly Albert Wesker (Shawn Roberts) character, who is the epitome of the cartoon villain. Does the film do the series proud? Hell yes. As with the others, it has a different feel to the previous entry, but it takes the action to another level entirely and the 3D really adds, erm, another dimension. Is this the last one? Stick around and during the credits you'll find out that no, it really isn't. Mind you, on the strength of this preposterously silly but wonderfully fun movie, I can't wait for the next one.

Thursday, 16 September 2010

Diary: Rescuing VHS Tapes

I am addicted to rescuing cult VHS tapes from falling into oblivion. I can;t help it. I see them there in second hand shops and charity shops, and I can feel them watching me, begging me to take them home. This week alone I have added about a dozen VHS tapes and seven DVDs to my addict stash, and it feels like the right thing to do. I can't shake the feeling that if I don't buy these things, then they will either be thrown away or go to someone that won't appreciate them properly.

Hell, I picked up another copy of Dawn of the Dead on VHS this week as the cover art was gorgeous and I hadn't had one of that edition before. What would have happened to that poor tape if I hadn't rescued it? The poor thing could have been bought by someone that would have watched it once and chucked it away, mocked for its crappy picture quality and muffled sound and then discarded. That's just wrong.

I don't always have to seek them out, though. My friends are fully aware of how obsessed I am with old cult horror and SF, and when they throw away their VHS tapes they offer me a big list of stuff. I gleefully accept and add the precious boxed hunks of plastic and magnetic tape to the stacks that grow behind the Diary of a Genre Addict TV.

I'm not a VHS diehard, although I do very much appreciate them right now. I mean, I love DVD and digital formats, but I grew up with VHS tapes, and those things shaped the geek that I became, so in their elderly days and times of becoming more than obsolete, I feel it is my duty to give them a home. I love them as if they were my family, but know this: Tracking remains the bane of my life. The tricksy little bastard.

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Diary: DVD Sequels

I love straight-to-DVD sequels. They're deliciously awful things that seem to be universally hated by prety much everyone that pays money to watch them. Folks who download them seem nonplussed, but I couldn't vouch for them as I have honestly never downloaded a film illegally. DVD sequels have a huge amount of allure for me, and I have consumed far too many of them in the past few years.

Be they sequels to Hellraiser, Pumpkinhead, Wrong Turn, The Net (it still amazes me there was a sequel to The Net at all...) or whatever, I love those tacky 90 minute cash-ins like long-lost family members. I mean, these things either have very tenuous links to their big screen brethren or simply rehash the originals completely.

They're cheap, nasty and generally badly made, but they still hold a huge amount of
entertainment value for me. You see, trapped in those low budget frames there lies a great film trying to burst its way out. You can't deny that the art of the b-movie sequel should be admired. The people behind these films have to take on a popular franchise and recreate it for the small screen on a fraction of the budget, while still remaining close enough to the look of the original for fans to take it seriously.

Sure, you probably shouldn't take many genre films seriously at all (Hell, I know I don't, and I spend much of my time watching the things), but you can still let yourself be entertained. Yes, the production values have sunk and the cast is all different and the effects suck and the music is all nicked from other films, but who cares? It's YOU that has created the DVD sequels phenomenon yourself! They're cheap to make and they provide studios with something new to peddle that can drag out the last few pennies from any remotely popular franchise. Give DVD sequels a chance.

Apart from the American Pie sequels. They should be burned, the ashes fashioned into the shape of a turd, and burned again.

Then ground into a paste.

And burned again.

In wee.

Friday, 10 September 2010

Friday The 13th Part 3 (1982)

The edition I just picked up of Friday the 13th Part 3 is a pretty cool package for any fan of ol' Jason's merry escapades from back before he became a joke. The movie itself, presented in 2D rather than the original 3D, is a solid horror flick with an almost believable take on Jason (remember, this is before he became some kind of undead tank). The lack of the original release's 3D is a good thing, as 3D didn't really add much to the film unless it's one of the many shots that were specifically designed for 3D. In 2D though, they look forced and very oddly composed.

Still, the film itself is a great example of the Friday the 13th series, and is about as archetypal as it gets. This is the film in the original series of Jason yarns where he gets the famous hockey mask. Yeah, that's right noobs, he didn't wear the mask until, the third film (in part 2 it was a rudimentary bag over his head with a hole cut out for his good eye).

As far as the story goes, it is possibly the most generic of the bunch- Bunch of teenagers being teenagers at Crystal Lake and getting butchered. That's no bad thing really, and if you're in the mood for some brainless slasher fun, then you can do much worse than picking up Friday the 13th part 3.

Favourite moments? How about the head-crushing scene in which an eyeball hurtles at the screen, or possibly the machete-to-the-balls scene. Ouch. Jason is a big scary hick in this movie, which is probably the last one of the F13 movies that were made before the series got very silly indeed. The extras on this slipcase edition are fantastic, with a feature on the 3D and features on the mask, documentaries, a look a the slasher film genre and the theatrical trailer. They really don't make films like this any more. Want the real thing instead of a pale imitation? Here you go. Altogether now- ch-ch-ch-ah-ah-ah!

Monday, 6 September 2010

TRAILER TREASURES: THE LAST STARFIGHTER

The Last Starfighter is awesome. That's a fact. The trailer doesn't really have the same gung-ho Star Wars/Buck Rogers rip-off majesty of the film itself, but gives you a glimpse of one of the early adventures the film industry had with CG effects. To this day it remains a brilliant thing to watch. It's a weird combo of Back To The Future and the aformentioned space operas, following the exploits of a young man who is recruited by aliens via a video game (seriously!) to defend the universe against evil. Stuff explodes. There are spaceships. It has a fantastic theme tune. What more need I say?

Sunday, 5 September 2010

WONDER WOMAN 602

The ever-reliable J. Michael Straczynski has turned in another great script for this issue of the rejuvenated Wonder Woman title. Diana looks cool in her new, more modest/practical costume, and the story has her slap bang in the middle of the action, just how fans like it. The Amazons are being decimated by soldiers, and must do all they can to escape their formerly hidden home in order to survive. Thankfully, Wonder Woman is on hand to kick some infantry ass for them and help provide the remaining Amazons with an escape window. The story is sharp and nicely paced, and while the art is a little patchy in some frames, there are some truly fabulous splash pages. With two pencillers and three inkers, the issue is rather visually disjointed, but the sturdy script from JMS helps things along nicely. All in all, Wonder Woman's new era is shaping up quite well.

Friday, 3 September 2010

KILLER KLOWNS FROM OUTER SPACE (1988)

That is the greatest title for any film in the history of cinema. Look at it. It's a thing of beauty, and the film itself is every bit as insane as the title would suggest. Behind the glorious and perfect cover art on this big box VHS tape is contained what can only be described as a work of genius. This is one of those movies that only the 1980s could have spawned, and it's a delicious treat for anyone with a taste for the absurd depths that eighties comedy/horror would sink to or indeed strive for. Quite frankly, if you don't enjoy this movie, then I have no respect for your opinion.

Let's take stock. Alien clowns with huge animatronic rubber heads. A 'big top' spaceship. Popcorn guns. Candy floss cocoons that look like massive rubber scrotums. Insane special effects. An insane script. A cast that is clearly having an absolute blast. An ending that is so very silly that it's hard to put it into words.

To put it in simple terms, Killer Klowns From Outer Space has everything and more. It barely runs 85 minutes, but in that time it grabs you, slaps you with a custard pie and has you begging for more again and again. You really haven't lived until you have seen a huge alien clown sticking a bendy straw into a candy floss cocoon and sucking blood and gore out of the victim within.

The story? Basically, a cast of eighties stereotypes come face to face with a gang of demented marauding alien clowns who have landed on Earth in order to imprison humans and suck out their blood and brains. Erm, that's about it. Chaos ensues, but chaos of the most deliciously colourful variety.

Director Stephen Chiodo must have been sniffing paint thinner for the whole shoot- it's absolutely mental, and absolutely wonderful. This is the sort of film that reminds me just why I love the odd, the mad and the downright weird in film, and it gleefully eviscerates dumbasses left, right and centre. Oh yeah, and Clownzilla has a fight with an ice cream van. On a spaceship. I mean, come on, what more do I need to say to get you to track this gem down? It's brilliant.


If you don't like clowns, belt up, these aren't scary (unless you're Suzanne Snyder and still having flashbacks to the filming). They're silly and a bit twisted, but this ain't CLOWNHOUSE. Killer Klowns From Outer Space is one off the absolute pinnacles of stupid 80s comedy horror films, and it is a wondrous thing to behold. I'd suggest tracking it down on big box VHS rather than DVD, so you can get the real effect of the film. The Chiodo brothers have stated that the film wasn't intended as a spoof, and while that claim may well be dubious, it nevertheless helps the film be much more enjoyable than a parody flick.

There are far too many favourite moments to pick from (the shadow puppet eating people that were looking at it, the Willy Wonka styled spaceship interior, the Klowns themselves, the straight performances of actors being chased by folks in rubber clown suits with popcorn guns...), and I urge you to find it and enjoy it for exactly what it is- a delirious, zany (a word that definitely fits the film), brilliant and utterly mad eighties science fiction-horror-comedy. Yeah, the film does live up to that glorious title and cover art. YOU NEED THIS IN YOUR LIFE.