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Wednesday, January 28, 2015

WTFW: Without Warning (1980)

Without Warning, which is also known as “It Came... Without Warning” and “Alien Shock” (German title), is a 1980 science fiction horror film starring Jack Palance, Martin Landau, Tarah Nutter, and Kevin Peter Hall, and directed by Greydon Clark.  Special effects designer Greg Cannom, who was later involved in major studio productions such as Jurassic Park, Hook and Titanic, created the aliens for this low-budget film.  The film released on September 26, 1980 and was released on home video for the first time on August 5, 2014 through Shout! Factory's Scream Factory label in a Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack.

Without Warning is credited with being an inspiration for the 1987 film Predator, both of which starred Kevin Peter Hall as a costumed alien hunter.

Without Warning (1980)

  • Genre: Sci-Fi – Horror
  • Directed: Greydon Clark
  • Produced:
    • Curtis Burch 
    • Greydon Clark 
    • Lyn Freeman 
    • Daniel Grodnik 
    • Paul Kimatian 
    • Milton Spencer 
    • Skip Steloff
  • Written:
    • Lyn Freeman 
    • Daniel Grodnik 
    • Bennett Tramer 
    • Steve Mathis
  • Starring: Jack Palance, Martin Landau, Tarah Nutter, Christopher S. Nelson, Cameron Mitchell, Neville Brand, Sue Ane Langdon, Ralph Meeker, Larry Storch, Lynn Theel, David Caruso, Mark Ness, Bert Davis, Jeffrey Sudzin, Darby Hinton, Kevin Peter Hall
  • Music: Dan Wyman
  • Cinematography: Dean Cundey
  • Editing: Curtis Burch
  • Studio:
    • Heritage Enterprises Inc.  
    • World Amusement Partnership #106
  • Distributed:
    • Filmways Pictures  
    • Columbia Broadcasting System  
    • Ambassador Film Distributors  
    • Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer  
    • Shout! Factory
  • Rated:
  • Release Date: 26 September 1980 (USA)
  • Running Time: 89 minutes
  • Country: USA
  • Language: English

A father and son go hunting in the mountains.  Before they can begin hunting, which the son does not want to do anyway, they are killed by flying jellyfish-like creatures, which penetrate their skin with needle-tipped tentacles.

Some time later, four teenagers, Tom, Greg, Beth and Sandy, hike in the same area, ignoring the warnings of local truck stop owner Joe Taylor.  A group of cub scouts is also in the area; their leader is also killed by the alien creatures, while his troop runs into an unidentified humanoid and flee.

The teenagers set up camp at a lake, but after a few hours, Tom and Beth disappear.  Sandy and Greg go looking for them and discover their bodies in an abandoned shack.  They drive away in their van, while being attacked by one of the starfish which tries to get through the car's windshield.  After they get rid of it, they arrive at the truck stop.  Greg tries to get help from the locals, but they do not believe him, except for Fred 'Sarge' Dobbs, who is a mentally ill veteran.  Meanwhile, Sandy encounters the humanoid and flees into the woods, where Joe Taylor finds and returns her to Greg.

While they discuss the situation, the sheriff arrives, but Sarge shoots him and begins to become more paranoid.  Greg and Sandy leave with Taylor, who reveals he has been attacked by the humanoid before and secretly keeps the flying jellyfish as trophies.  They search for the shack and once there, Taylor goes inside to only find the bodies of Tom, Beth and the cub scout leader.  They discuss waiting for the creature when Taylor is attacked by another "jellyfish".  The young people run once again, leaving him behind as ordered.  They stop a police car and get into the back seat, but find Sarge driving.  He abducts them, believing them to be aliens.  Greg plays along, telling the deranged man that an invasion force is on the way, thus distracting him enough to toss him aside, run away with Sandy and jump from a bridge.

They make it to a house where they find new clothing and try to relax.  In the night, Sandy wakes up and goes looking for Greg, only to discover that he has been killed by the alien, who is still in the room.  She flees to the basement and the creature is about to get her when Taylor arrives and saves her.  On the way to the shack, he tells her about the creature: it is a tall extraterrestrial who hunts humans for sport to keep as trophies, using the living creatures as living weapons against its prey.

They wait at the shack to ambush the hunter with dynamite when Sarge shows up, almost spoiling their plan.  He and Taylor fight, and Sandy is about to hit Sarge from behind when the alien arrives and kills Sarge.  Taylor then shoots the creature, with little to no effect.  Realizing the last chance of success, he lures it to the shack, which is then blown up by Sandy.  She alone survives the horrible night.



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Monday, January 26, 2015

ICFIFC: Joker (2012)

Joker is an 2012 Hindi science fiction comedy film directed by Shirish Kunder, and also his second directorial venture after Jaan-E-Mann.  The film stars Akshay Kumar opposite Sonakshi Sinha in lead roles.  This was the second film in which Sinha paired opposite Kumar after Rowdy Rathore (2012).  The film released worldwide on 31 August 2012, and received mixed to negative response upon release.  Despite collecting mediocre box office collections, the film was panned by the audience and was declared a 'disaster' at the box office.

Joker (2012)

  • Genre: Comedy – Sci-Fi
  • Directed: Shirish Kunder
  • Produced:
    • Rana Rakesh Bali 
    • Dipti Jindal 
    • Farah Khan 
    • Akshay Kumar 
    • Shirish Kunder 
    • Yogesh Tevatia
  • Written: Shirish Kunder
  • Starring: Asrani, Avtar Gill, Gurpreet Guggi, Greg Heffernan, Vrajesh Hirjee, Javed Jaffrey, Darshan Jariwala, Mansi Jhingran, Bikramjeet Kanwarpal, Farah Khan, Akshay Kumar, Minissha Lamba, Sanjay Mishra, Suzanna Mukherjee, Alexx O'Nell, Pitobash
  • Music:
    • G.V. Prakash Kumar 
    • Shirish Kunder
  • Cinematography: Sudeep Chatterjee
  • Editing: Shirish Kunder
  • Studio:
    • Hari Om Entertainment Company 
    • Three's Company Production
  • Distributed: UTV Motion Pictures
  • Rated:
  • Release Date: 31 August 2012 (India)
  • Running Time: 103 minutes
  • Country: India
  • Language: Hindi

Shirish Kunder had the project in development for several years before finding financial backing and hit films, and had to negotiate for use of the specific title which Kunder stated is important to the script itself.  The film is being produced by Farah Khan, Shirish Kunder, and Akshay Kumar under the banner of Three's Company and Hari Om Entertainment.  The film was shot in 3D using 3D cameras, however in June 2012, it was announced that the film was no longer in 3D any more, since Ra.One and Don 2 have taken the goals, if Joker flopped it would be a loss on the whole crew, therefore the film will only be released in 2D format.  According to director, Shirish Kunder, "It is an underdog story about how individuals make it big in life and in the process, get help from aliens from a fictional planet".

Agastya is a scientist, working on the development of a communication system, to communicate with aliens.  But Agastya loses the faith of his seniors and is allotted with a deadline of one month to conclude his project with some substantial results.

In the mean time Agastya is informed by his girlfriend Diva about his father's illness.  On hearing this they both depart for his native village Paglapur, whose colorful inhabitants include a man who speaks in gibberish, another who thinks he is a lamp post and everyone else who think that the World War II is still going on.

Soon after reaching there, Agastya finds that he was called on a false pretext of illness by his father.

On getting apprised about truth, Agastya decides to move back to the US, but after hearing the plight of the inhabitants of Paglapur, due to the brushing aside of the village by the government because of its being absent from the demarcated map of India, he makes his mind to come out with some solution for the problem.

As the story proceeds, Agastya comes up with a quaint idea pertaining to the crop circle and arrival of aliens in his village, in order to fetch a recognition for his otherwise isolated village undergoing a plight of neglect ever since the independence.

With frames moving ahead, Agastya along with other villagers creates crop circle in Paglapur and spreads the rumor about the arrival of aliens in the village.  And from there, amid tremendous media hype, takes over some hilarious sequences knitted around UFO and fictitious man made aliens.

In the end, the whole joke about the fake aliens is found out and at the end of the movie real aliens come and give the village the gift of oil.

Joker received negative reviews from critics.  Based on 16 reviews, review aggregate site desimartini.com gave the film the verdict, "Apart from an interesting concept and a handful of funny moments, Joker is drag and doesn't work as a comedy or as a sci-fi caper.  Skip it!"  The site's average audience rating is 2/5.  Independent Bollywood gave 2.5 out of 5 stars and said "A Funny and weird entertainer with message".  Soumyadipta Banerjee of In.com gave 0.5 out of 5 stars and said "Not only that the aliens are weird, the whole movie seems be in some weird planet after a point of time".  Saibal Chatterjee of NDTV Movies.com gave the film 1 out of 5 stars and wrote, "Joker is a crude joke of a film that will leave you in tears unless you have a stomach strong enough to digest such unmitigated junk."  Noted film critic Taran Adarsh also gave it 1 out of 5 stars and labeled it as a complete "disaster" and a "joke of a film".

And the answer is…Yes, there are elaborate dance routines for no good reason!



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Wednesday, January 21, 2015

WTFW: Tammy and the T-Rex (1994)

Tammy and the T-Rex is a 1994 science fiction/comedy starring future stars and celebrities Denise Richards, Paul Walker and George Pilgrim.  The low-budget film centers around the life of small town high school student Tammy, Michael (Tammy's boyfriend), and Billy Bad (Tammy's Ex-boyfriend).

Tammy and the T-Rex (1994)

  • Genre: Comedy – Sci-Fi
  • Directed: Stewart Raffill
  • Produced:
    • Gary Brockette 
    • Fernando Celis 
    • Joleen Deatherage 
    • Diane Kirman 
    • Etka Sarlui 
    • Laura Tateishi
  • Written:
    • Gary Brockette 
    • Stewart Raffill
  • Starring: Denise Richards, Theo Forsett, Paul Walker, Ellen Dubin, Terry Kiser, George 'Buck' Flower, Ken Carpenter, George Pilgrim, Sean Whalen, J. Jay Saunders, John Edmondson, John Franklin, Michele Maika, Ken Chandler, Shevonne Durkin, John F. Goff
  • Music:
    • Tyler Bates 
    • Jack Conrad 
    • Anthony Riparetti
  • Cinematography: Roger Olkowski
  • Editing: Terry Kelley
  • Studio:
    • Greenline Productions 
    • Platinic Films Inc.
  • Distributed:
    • C/FP Video  
    • Imperial Entertainment
  • Rated:
  • Release Date: 21 December 1994 (USA)
  • Running Time: 82 minutes
  • Country: USA
  • Language: English

Cheerleading for the "Panthers" sets us in an affluent high school.  Michael fights Billy over Tammy; gay black friend Byron looks on.  We cut to Dr. Wachenstein testing his mechanical T-Rex model (why is it smoky?) and wanting to proceed beyond the "limitations of that stupid computer."

Michael sneaks into Tammy's room, but “schoolchicks” rat him out to Billy, who attacks with his gang and leaves Michael in the local suburban wild animal park where lions run loose.  Billy asks him, irrelevantly, "What would you do if you had the power to do anything?"  In any case, a male lion chases and mauls Michael before a game warden can shoot the animal.  Michael remains comatose in the hospital, watched over by a drunken Uncle Bob, his only relative.  Dr. Wachenstein and his assistant Helga intrude and declare Michael dead in order to steal his brain and hook it up to the T-Rex.

The T-Rex with Michael's brain sees Michael's body and then itself in a mirror.  It stomps Karl, another assistant, and tries to phone Tammy, and terrorizes drunks.  Tammy is weepy but at a party, and when the dinosaur hides in the trees, Billy's friend urinates on its leg and gets killed.  The dinosaur terrorizes the crowd, but lets Byron go.  The cops afterwards eat disgustingly at the scene of the massacre and laugh about gutting deer.

Helga rolls up a flattened Karl.  Tammy disappears out the window after the T-Rex shows up and, in a barn, is made to realize about the dinosaur: "You have Michael's brain?"

Dr. Wachenstein later views Tammy as bait to retrieve the dinosaur, but Tammy and Byron plan to retrieve Michael's body after the funeral.  The T-Rex cries at Uncle Bob's eulogy.  Unfortunately, the body is gross and rats are involved, so after an attempted kidnapping by the Doctor and Helga, Tammy and Byron try to find a body that will suit Michael's brain.  With the scientists tied up and the T-Rex in a truck, they display their findings at the local morgue. ("They're all old over here." "Dead is as old as you're gonna get, honey.")

After a chase sequence, the three are trapped in a barn.  Dr. Wachenstein wants to tranquilize the dinosaur, which he nevertheless claims is merely mechanical.  The T-Rex is able to kill the Doctor, but the cops open fire and kill it.

We cut to a happy home scene.  Tammy has the brain hooked up to her computer and video camera and does erotic dancing for this bodiless version of Michael, unto a sort of electrical orgasm.



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Monday, January 19, 2015

ICFIFC: The Touch of Satan (1971)

The Touch of Satan is a 1971 horror film.  It was directed by Don Henderson, and it starred Michael Berry and Emby Mellay in their debut roles.  The film was shot in 1970 in the Santa Ynez, California area and featured early work by movie makeup artist Joe Blasco.  The film was relatively obscure, playing only in drive-in theaters and dollar movie houses until a 1998 appearance on the series Mystery Science Theater 3000.

The Touch of Satan (1971)

  • A.K.A. Title: Night of The Demon
  • A.K.A. Title: The Touch of Melissa
  • Genre: Horror
  • Directed: Don Henderson
  • Produced: George E. Carey
  • Written: James E. McLarty
  • Starring: Michael Berry, Emby Mellay, Lee Amber, Yvonne Winslow, Jeanne Gerson, Robert Easton, Lew Horn, Sharon Crabtree, John J. Fox, Hal K. Dawson, Frank Jansen, Ellen Bailey
  • Music: Robert O. Ragland
  • Cinematography: Jordan Cronenweth
  • Editing: Dick Elliott
  • Studio: Stupendous Talking Pictures International
  • Distributed:
    • Futurama International  
    • Dundee Productions  
    • International Film Distributors  
    • Parker National Distributing  
    • Shout! Factory  
    • Cinefear  
    • King of Video
  • Rated:
  • Release Date: 23 August 1971 (USA)
  • Running Time: 90 minutes
  • Country: USA
  • Language: English

The Touch of Melissa?  Was someone working through a bad breakup and wanted the world to equate “The Horned One” with some poor girl who broke your heart?

The movie begins with the murder of a farmer by an elderly insane woman with terribly burned facial features.  After stabbing the farmer and accidentally setting his barn on fire, the woman stumbles home to her family.  The family, an older couple and a teenage woman, argue about the best way to handle the situation and make vague references that the elderly woman may have killed people in the past.

The scene then switches to the main character, a young man named Jodie who is on an open-ended car trip across America to find himself and discover whether or not he wishes to follow in his father's footsteps as a lawyer.  Jodie stops at a small pond to have lunch and meets Melissa, the teenage girl from the previous scene.  They banter briefly and she convinces him to come visit her family on their walnut farm, despite the intense distress this offer causes her parents.  The young couple grows increasingly close, despite the frightening presence of the elderly woman and various clues dropped along the way that Melissa is, in fact, a 127-year-old witch and the birth sister of the elderly insane woman.

When the old woman murders a deputy policeman in front of Jodie, Melissa confesses that she is a cursed witch and is possessed by Satan.  Jodie refuses to believe this, so Melissa reveals in a dream-sequence that her sister was burned as a witch by an angry mob of villagers in the 19th century.  Melissa was so distressed by the sight of her sister being burned at the stake that she offered her soul to Satan in order to gain the power to save her.  Satan agreed and allowed Melissa to save her sister.  Melissa was given eternal life and youth as a result of this bargain, but the gift was a curse as she watched her now-insane sister grow old and homicidal.  The old woman tries to kill Jodie, but Melissa uses her powers to stop her and her sister dies in a fire that she started.  Jodie eventually believes Melissa and has sex with her, effectively "freeing" her from Satan.  Unexpectedly, however, she instantly ages to her "actual" age and Jodie must sell his soul to Satan in order to restore Melissa's youth and save her life.  The movie ends with the realization that each are bound to Satan and that Melissa's attempt to save herself has only managed to draw Jodie into the evil contract as well.

The film was featured on a season nine episode of the movie-mocking show Mystery Science Theater 3000 where it was "riffed".  The episode makes frequent references to dialogue gaffes in the film, such as Jodie referring to the Strickland family farm as a "walnut ranch."



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Friday, January 16, 2015

CC: Let The Right One In (2004)(2008) & Let Me In (2010)

Tonight I want to talk about what is easily one of my favorite vampire stories of all time.  I had access to both versions of the movie and decided to start with the original and enjoy the subtitlely goodness.  I was blown away by how amazing Let The Right One In is.  Expecting the English adaptation to not live up to it’s source material I was pleasantly surprised to find Let Me In to be one of the best adaptations I have ever seen of a foreign film.  As much as I believe the two films to be perfection, the novel is even better.

Let the Right One In (Swedish: Låt den rätte komma in) is a 2004 vampire fiction novel by Swedish writer John Ajvide Lindqvist.  The story centers on the relationship between a 12-year-old boy, Oskar, and a centuries-old vampire child, Eli.  It takes place in Blackeberg, a working class suburb of Stockholm, in the early 1980s.  The book focuses on the darker side of humanity, dealing with issues such as existential anxiety, fatherlessness, alcoholism, school bullying, pedophilia, child transgenderism, and murder.

The book was a bestseller in the author's home country of Sweden and was translated into several languages, including English.  A Swedish-language film, Let the Right One In, directed by Tomas Alfredson, was released in 2008.  An English-language film adaptation titled Let Me In, directed by Matt Reeves, was released in 2010.

The title refers to the Morrissey song "Let the Right One Slip In", and the element of vampire folklore which says that vampires cannot enter a house unless invited.  The American version is called Let Me In because the publishers believed that the original title was too long.  They first suggested the title be changed to Let Her In, but Lindqvist suggested Let Me In instead given that 'Her' was inaccurate.  A paperback with the original title was later released to promote the film.

In 1981 Blackeberg, Stockholm, Oskar is a 12-year old boy who lives with his mother, who is loving and with whom he initially seems to have a close connection.  His father, whom Oskar visits occasionally, is an alcoholic living in the countryside.  Because the boy is the victim of merciless bullying, Oskar has gained morbid interests, which include crime and forensics, and keeps a scrapbook filled with newspaper articles about murders.

One day, he befriends Eli, a child of about the same age, who just moved in next door.  Eli lives with an older man named Håkan, a former teacher who was fired when caught with possession of child pornography and has since become a vagrant.  Eli is revealed to be a vampire who was turned as a child and therefore stuck forever in a young body and mind.  Oskar and Eli develop a close relationship, and Eli helps Oskar fight back against his tormentors.  Throughout the book their relationship gradually becomes closer, and they reveal more of themselves and in particular fragments of Eli's human life.  Among the details revealed is that Eli is a boy who was castrated when he was turned into a vampire over 200 years ago.  However, Eli dresses in female clothing and is perceived by outsiders as a young girl.

Håkan serves Eli, whom he loves, by procuring blood from the living, fighting against his conscience and choosing victims whom he can physically trap, but who are not too young.  Eli gives him money for doing this, though Håkan makes it clear he would do it for nothing if Eli allowed them to be physically intimate.  Håkan offers to go out one last time under the condition that he spend a night with Eli after he gets the blood, but with the caveat that he may only touch Eli.

Håkan's last attempt to get blood fails and he is caught.  Just before capture, however, he intentionally disfigures himself with acid so that the police will not be able to trace Eli through him.  When Eli finds him in the hospital, Håkan offers his blood and is drunk dry while sitting on the window ledge, but a guard interrupts them and Eli fails to kill him.  So that he will not end up becoming a vampire also, Håkan throws himself out of the window to the ground below.  Despite this, he soon reanimates as a mindless vampire driven only by his desire for Eli.  Then relentlessly pursuing him, Håkan manages to trap Eli in a basement and tries to rape Eli, but Eli fights him off and escapes.  Later, the wounded Håkan is destroyed by a youth from the neighborhood who accidentally gets locked in the basement with him.

Meanwhile, the Blackeberg local Lacke suspects a child is responsible for the murder of his best friend, Jocke (whom Eli has killed for blood).  Later, Lacke witnesses Eli attack his sometime-girlfriend, Virginia.  He attempts to drink her blood, but is fought off by Lacke.  Virginia survives, but starts turning into a vampire.  She does not realize her "infection" until she tries to prolong her life by drinking her own blood, and finds that exposure to the sun causes boils on her skin.  Upon being hospitalized, Virginia realizes what she has turned into and kills herself in her bed by deliberately exposing herself to daylight.

Oskar eventually fights back and injures his tormentor, Jonny, for which the boy's older brother Jimmy hunts down and attempts to hurt Oskar in retaliation.  Oskar further incurs their wrath when he sets fire to their desks, destroying a treasured photo album belonging to their father.  They corner Oskar at night at the local swimming pool and attempt to drown him; however, Eli rescues Oskar and decapitates the two brothers, and together they flee the city with Eli's money and possessions.

Let the Right One In (2008)

  • Original Title: Låt den rätte komma in
  • Genre: Drama – Horror
  • Directed: Tomas Alfredson
  • Produced:
    • Frida Asp 
    • Gunnar Carlsson 
    • Ricard Constantinou 
    • Suzanne Hamilton 
    • Henric Larsson 
    • Carl Molinder 
    • John Nordling 
    • Lena Rehnberg 
    • Per-Erik Svensson
  • Written: John Ajvide Lindqvist (Novel & Screenplay)
  • Starring: Kåre Hedebrant, Lina Leandersson, Per Ragnar, Henrik Dahl, Karin Bergquist, Peter Carlberg, Ika Nord, Mikael Rahm, Karl-Robert Lindgren, Anders T. Peedu, Pale Olofsson, Cayetano Ruiz, Patrik Rydmark, Johan Sömnes, Mikael Erhardsson, Rasmus Luthander
  • Music: Johan Söderqvist
  • Cinematography: Hoyte Van Hoytema
  • Editing:
    • Tomas Alfredson 
    • Dino Jonsäter
  • Studio:
    • EFTI  
    • Sandrew Metronome Distribution Sverige  
    • Filmpool Nord  
    • Sveriges Television  
    • WAG  
    • Canal+  
    • The Chimney Pot  
    • Fido Film  
    • Ljudligan
  • Distributed:
    • Sandrew Metronome Distribution  
    • Magnet Releasing  
    • Magnolia Home Entertainment  
    • Mongrel Media  
    • Sandrews
  • Rated:
  • Release Date:
    • 24 October 2008 (Sweden) 
    • 24 October 2008 (USA)
  • Running Time: 115 minutes
  • Country: Sweden
  • Language:
    • Swedish 
    • Spanish

The film tells the story of a bullied 12-year-old boy who develops a friendship with a vampire child in Blackeberg, a suburb of Stockholm, in the early 1980s.  Alfredson, unconcerned with the horror and vampire conventions, decided to tone down many elements of the novel and focus primarily on the relationship between the two main characters.  Selecting the lead actors involved a year-long process with open castings held all over Sweden.  In the end, the 11-year-olds Kåre Hedebrant and Lina Leandersson were chosen for the leading roles.  They were subsequently commended by both Alfredson and film reviewers for their performances.

The film received widespread international critical acclaim and won numerous awards, including the "Founders Award for Best Narrative Feature" at the 2008 Tribeca Film Festival and the European Fantastic Film Festivals Federation's 2008 Méliès d'Or (Golden Méliès) for the "Best European Fantastic Feature Film", as well as four Guldbagge Awards from the Swedish Film Institute and the Saturn Award for Best International Film.

Oskar, a meek 12-year-old boy, resides with his mother Yvonne in the western Stockholm suburb of Blackeberg in 1981 and occasionally visits his father Erik in the countryside.  It is not clear why Erik is living apart from Yvonne, but on one such visit, when Oskar and Erik are enjoying a cozy night playing games, a drunken neighbor arrives and Erik starts to drink heavily with him, breaking up the cozy father/son evening.  Oskar collects clippings from newspapers and magazines about grisly murders and pictures of hunting knives.  He keeps a large hunting knife under his mattress.

Oskar's classmates regularly bully him, and he spends his evenings imagining revenge.  One night he meets Eli, who appears to be a pale girl of his age.  Eli has recently moved into the next-door apartment with an older man, Håkan.  Eli initially informs Oskar that they cannot be friends.  Over time, however, they begin to form a close relationship, with Oskar lending his Rubik's Cube to Eli, and the two exchanging Morse code messages through their adjoining wall.  Håkan requests that Eli stop seeing Oskar.  After questioning Oskar about a cut on his cheek, Eli learns from him about his being bullied by schoolmates and encourages him to stand up for himself.  This inspires Oskar to enroll for weight-training classes after school.

Meanwhile the otherwise well-prepared Håkan stops and kills a passerby on a busy footpath near a main road to harvest fresh blood for Eli.  But he fails to return with any when he is interrupted by an oncoming dog walker.  Eli subsequently waylays and kills a local man, Jocke, making his drunken way home from a bar after having said goodnight to his best friend, Lacke.  A local cat-loving recluse, Gösta, witnesses the attack from his flat, but hardly believes what he has seen.  Håkan hides Jocke's body in an ice-hole in the local lake.  Håkan later makes another well-prepared but incompetently executed effort to obtain blood for Eli by trapping a teenage boy in a changing room after school.  The boy's friends are waiting for him to emerge, and go to see what is holding him up.  Before he is discovered, Håkan pours concentrated hydrochloric acid onto his own face, disfiguring it to prevent the authorities from identifying him and tracing Eli.  Eli learns that Håkan has been taken to the hospital and scales the building to access his restricted room.  Håkan opens the window for Eli and offers his neck to her for feeding.  After she has fed, Håkan falls out of the window.  He lies on the snow supposedly breathing his last breaths.  Now alone, Eli goes to Oskar's apartment and spends the night with him, during which time they agree to "go steady".  While Eli states, "I'm not a girl", Oskar (ambiguously) either ignores this or accepts the homoerotic status of the relationship.

During an ice skating field trip at the lake, some of Oskar's fellow students discover Jocke's body, hidden by Håkan.  At the same time, Oskar finally stands up to his tormentors.  He strikes the leader of the bullies, Conny, on the side of the head with a pole, splitting his ear.  Some time later, Oskar shows Eli a private place he knows.  Unaware that Eli is a vampire, Oskar suggests that they form a blood bond, and cuts his hand, asking Eli to do the same.  Eli, thirsting for blood but not wanting to harm Oskar, laps up his spilt blood before running away.

Gösta tells his neighbors that he saw a kid attack Jocke.  They urge him to tell the police, but he does not.  In a drunken state, Lacke tells his friends that Jocke was his only friend.  His girlfriend, Virginia leaves but is attacked by Eli.  Lacke turns up in time to interrupt the attack.  Virginia survives, but she soon discovers that she has become painfully sensitive to sunlight.  Thirsting for blood, she pays a visit to Gösta, only to be fiercely attacked by his many cats.  In the hospital, Virginia, who has realized what she has become, asks an orderly to open the blinds in her room.  When the sunlight streams in, she bursts into flames.

On realizing her true nature, Oskar confronts Eli, who admits to being a vampire.  Their trust for each other grows and Eli appears in front of his apartment.  When Oskar questions the consequences of Eli entering without his expressed verbal invitation, Eli passes the threshold to his apartment and begins to profusely bleed until Oskar panics and cries out a verbal invitation.  After their embrace, Oskar is initially upset by Eli's need to kill people for survival.  However, Eli insists that their bloodthirsty natures are alike, in that Oskar wants to kill and Eli needs to kill, and she encourages Oskar to "be me, for a little while."  Afterwards, Eli changes out of bloody clothes and Oskar, deciding to sneak a peek, revealing a scar where Eli's genitalia should be (here at last Oskar runs ahead of the audience, he already knows because of the "be me, for a little while").  Eli quickly leaves his apartment through his window when his mother returns home.

Lacke, who has lost everything because of Eli, seeks out Håkan and Eli's apartment.  He is suspicious of the apartment with the makeshift covered-up windows.  Breaking in, he discovers Eli asleep in the bathtub.  Lacke holds a knife to Eli's neck while she is still sleeping.  Oskar, who was hiding inside the apartment, sees what Lacke is doing and takes out his own knife.  When Lacke finds it hard to see and lets sunlight into the room, Oskar shouts and Eli wakes up.  A startled Lacke turns and throws his knife away when he sees Oskar.  Eli immediately jumps on Lacke and kills him, feeding on his blood.  Eli thanks Oskar and kisses him in gratitude.  However, an upstairs neighbor is angrily knocking on the ceiling due to the disturbance the fight has caused.  Eli realizes that it is no longer safe to stay and leaves the same night.

The next morning, Oskar receives a phone call from Conny's friend, Martin, who lures Oskar out to resume the after-school fitness program at the local swimming pool.  The bullies, led by Conny and his sadistic older brother Jimmy, start a fire to draw Mr Ávila, the teacher in charge, outside.  While Ávila is distracted, they storm the pool-area and order the other children to clear out, which leaves Oskar trapped alone in the pool.  Jimmy forces Oskar under the water, threatening to stab his eye out if he does not hold his breath for three minutes.  While Oskar is underwater, however, a crash is heard from above the surface, followed by screaming.  Martin's feet are seen dangling just under the surface of the water as he is dragged over the pool, and then his severed head falls into the pool.  Next, Jimmy's torn-off right arm, which had held Oskar underwater, falls into the pool.  Eli then immediately pulls Oskar out of the water, and they both smile as they look into each other's eyes.  The decapitated bodies of Martin, Jimmy, and Conny lie around the pool, while Andreas, the reluctant fourth bully, sobs on a bench.

Later, Oskar is traveling on a train with Eli in a box beside him, safe from sunlight.  From inside, Eli taps the word "kiss" to Oskar in Morse code, to which he taps back "puss" (small kiss in Swedish).

Let Me In (2010)

  • Genre: Drama – Horror – Mystery
  • Directed: Matt Reeves
  • Produced:
    • Tobin Armbrust 
    • Alexander Yves Brunner 
    • Guy East 
    • Philip Elway 
    • Donna Gigliotti 
    • Jillian Longnecker 
    • Fredrik Malmberg 
    • Andy Mayson 
    • Carl Molinder 
    • John Nordling 
    • Simon Oakes 
    • John Ptak 
    • Vicki Dee Rock 
    • Marc Schipper 
    • Nigel Sinclair 
    • Robert Kessel
  • Written:
    • John Ajvide Lindqvist (Novel & Screenplay) 
    • Matt Reeves (Adapted Screenplay)
  • Starring: Kodi Smit-McPhee, Chloë Grace Moretz, Richard Jenkins, Cara Buono, Elias Koteas, Sasha Barrese, Dylan Kenin, Chris Browning, Ritchie Coster, Dylan Minnette, Jimmy 'Jax' Pinchak, Nicolai Dorian
  • Music: Michael Giacchino
  • Cinematography: Greig Fraser
  • Editing: Stan Salfas
  • Studio:
    • Overture Films  
    • Exclusive Media Group  
    • Hammer Film Productions  
    • EFTI
  • Distributed:
    • Alliance Films  
    • Icon Film Distribution  
    • Overture Films  
    • Relativity Media  
    • Exclusive Film Distribution  
    • Icon Home Entertainment
  • Rated:
  • Release Date: 1 October 2010 (USA)
  • Running Time: 116 minutes
  • Country:
    • United Kingdom 
    • USA
  • Language: English

Interest in producing an English version of Let the Right One In began in 2007 shortly before it was released to audiences.  In 2008, Hammer Films acquired the rights for the English adaptation and initially offered Tomas Alfredson, the director of the Swedish film, the opportunity to direct, which he declined.  Matt Reeves was then signed to direct and write the screenplay.  Reeves made several changes for the English version such as altering the setting from Stockholm to New Mexico and renaming the lead characters.  The film's producers stated that their intent was to keep the plot similar to the original, yet make it more accessible to a wider audience.  Principal photography began in early November 2009, and concluded in January 2010.  The film's budget was estimated to be $20 million.

Let Me In premiered at the Toronto Film Festival on September 13, 2010, and was opened wide in North America on October 1, 2010.  The film received highly positive reviews from critics, becoming one of the best critically reviewed films of 2010 and was placed on several critics' top-ten list.  Many critics noted it as a rare Hollywood remake which stayed true to the original film from which it was based, while others criticized it for being too derivative of the Swedish film.  The film earned $24 million in box office revenue worldwide, of which $12 million was earned in the United States and Canada.  Chloë Grace Moretz won several awards for her performance with critics praising the on-screen chemistry with her co-star, Kodi Smit-McPhee.  Let Me In was released on DVD and Blu-ray in North America on February 1, 2011, and in the UK on March 14, 2011.  An official comic book miniseries prequel titled Let Me In: Crossroads was released after the film which establishes the back-story of Abby and ends where the theatrical film begins.

In March 1983, in Los Alamos, New Mexico, a disfigured man is taken to the hospital.  An unnamed police detective tries to question him about a recent murder for which he is a suspect.  The detective is told that the man's daughter was just downstairs.  While he is on the phone to reception, a scream is heard and the detective finds the nurse in shock.  He spots the man, who jumped out of the window, having left behind a scrawled note that reads "I'm sorry Abby."

Two weeks earlier, Owen, an unhappy and lonely 12-year-old boy who is neglected by his divorcing parents and continually harassed at school by bullies, sees a young girl named Abby and her father Thomas moving in next door and notices that she is barefoot despite the snow.  Owen and Abby become close friends and start communicating by Morse code through the walls of their apartments.  At school, the main bully Kenny, and two of his friends Donald and Mark constantly terrorize Owen, who lies to his mother about it but tells Abby the truth.

Thomas murders a man and collects the blood, but accidentally spills it.  Hungry, Abby attacks a concerned neighbor named Jack to drink his blood revealing that she is in fact a vampire.  On another night, her father hides in the back of a teenager's car, murders the passenger, and tries to flee, but crashes the car and becomes trapped inside.  He pours concentrated sulfuric acid on his face, disfiguring himself to prevent his identification.  He is taken to the hospital, bringing the story back up to March 1983.

Abby learns what happened and climbs up the hospital building to see Thomas.  She knocks on the window and he points to his throat, unable to speak, and leans out of the window; Abby drinks his blood.  Thomas passes out and falls to his death.

That night, Owen is awakened by Abby, who insists he verbally invite her in.  She spends the night in his bed and agrees to be his girlfriend.  Later, Owen cuts his finger, hoping to make a blood pact with her.  Unable to control herself, Abby laps up a drop of Owen's blood, revealing her vampire form.  Not wanting to hurt Owen, she flees and instead attacks another woman named Virginia.  Virginia's boyfriend, Larry witnesses the attack.  Abby later admits to Owen that she is a vampire and that the man with her was not really her father.  Owen discovers an aged photo of her with a young boy, revealing that Thomas had met her when they were about the same age.  As he continued to age, he posed as her father while she, because of the vampire curse, did not physically age past twelve.

One night, Owen sneaks out to spend the night at Abby's.  The next morning, the detective forces his way into Abby's apartment and finds her asleep.  Abby awakes upon the detective letting the sun in and murders him to drain and feed on his blood.  Owen watches but doesn't intervene.  Abby tells Owen she will have to leave town and he watches tearfully as she enters a taxi and leaves.

During Owen's swim class, Kenny, his sadistic older brother, Jimmy, and their friends ambush Owen to get their revenge and throw him into the pool.  Owen is told that he will only be cut on the cheek if he can hold his breath underwater for three minutes - But if he cannot do so, one of his eyes will be poked out.  Kenny and his friends realize the weight of the situation and try telling Jimmy to stop but he angrily refuses.  Just then, a winged figure comes toward them.  As Owen is suffocating underwater, he hears the sounds of the struggle above.  Jimmy's severed head and dismembered limbs of the bullies fall into the water.  Owen emerges from the surface, looks up and faintly smiles, revealing that the winged attacker is Abby.

Owen is next seen on a train leaving town in broad daylight, traveling with a large trunk.  A message is tapped out inside the trunk in Morse code.  Owen taps out a response in Morse code.  He then looks out the window and quietly sings to himself "Eat some now, save some for later."



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Wednesday, January 14, 2015

WTFW: Silent Rage (1982)

What if I told you Mr. Walker Texas Ranger Chuck Norris made a science fiction movie?  Insert favorite “Chuck Norris Fact” about aliens, mine is Extra Terrestrials often visit Earth from other galaxies - they're here to see if Chuck Norris really exists.  Ha ha, I kid.  No really, Chuck Norris made a science fiction film.

Silent Rage (1982)

  • Genre: Action – Horror – Sci-Fi
  • Directed: Michael Miller
  • Produced:
    • Andy Howard 
    • Paul Lewis 
    • Aaron Norris 
    • Anthony B. Unger
  • Written:
    • Joseph Fraley 
    • Edward Di Lorenzo
  • Starring: Chuck Norris, Ron Silver, Steven Keats, Toni Kalem, William Finley, Brian Libby, Stephen Furst, Stephanie Dunnam, Joyce Ingle
  • Music:
    • Peter Bernstein 
    • Mark Goldenberg
  • Cinematography:
    • Robert C. Jessup 
    • Neil Roach
  • Editing: Richard C. Meyer
  • Studio:
    • Columbia Pictures Corporation 
    • Topkick Productions
  • Distributed:
    • Columbia Pictures  
    • Columbia Home Video  
    • Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment  
    • GoodTimes Home Video
  • Rated:
  • Release Date: 2 April 1982 (USA)
  • Running Time: 103 minutes
  • Country: USA
  • Language: English

Silent Rage is a 1982 romantic / action / science fiction / horror movie starring Chuck Norris and directed by Michael Miller.  Think Species but with way more roundhouse kicks to the face to initiate coupling.  Ok, this movie is actually nothing like that.

In a small Texas town, the mentally ill John Kirby goes insane (ed: wouldn’t he already be insane and just succumbing to his mental illness?) and kills two members of a family he was staying with.  Sheriff Daniel "Dan" Stevens and his deputy Charlie respond and eventually arrest Kirby, but Kirby breaks out of the handcuffs, overpowers other officers and grabs one of their guns, forcing the officers to open fire and shoot Kirby.  Kirby suffers severe gunshot wounds and is near death.

Kirby is transported to an institute where his psychiatrist, Thomas "Tom" Halman, works along with medical doctors Spires and Vaughn, who are also genetic engineers (ed: Psychology and Genetics are often taught together you know.).  In an attempt to save Kirby, Dr. Spires suggests that they use the formula they created (ed: To hell with testing and drug trials!  Those suits at the FDA are always trying to keep a brother down.).  However, Dr. Halman objects in light of Kirby's psychosis.  Dr. Spires first decides that Halman is right, but then ignores the consequences and proceeds to use the formula once Dr. Halman leaves.  The formula revives Kirby and renders him nearly invulnerable (ed: Testing that stuff on a lab rat would have prepared you for this situation, but what do I or the FDA know right? Damn the man and fight the power!).  Kirby then escapes from the institute and tracks Dr Halman at his home.  Halman attempts to kill Kirby, but Kirby kills him first.  Nancy, Halman's wife, discovers Halman's body and tries to run away from Kirby but is killed as well.

Allison arrives at the Halman's to pick up some gear for a trip she and Stevens are going on only to discover the Halmans' corpses.  Kirby escapes and Stevens and the police arrive at the scene and Allison is taken to the Institute by Stevens and Charlie.  Kirby returns to the institute to get his wounds treated by Dr Spires and Dr Vaughn.  However, Spires and Vaughn realize the situation is out of control.  Spires leaves to go and look through some samples leaving Vaughn with Kirby.  Vaughn injects Kirby with a fatal dose of poison.  However Kirby survives and catches up with Vaughn and in a brief struggle Kirby kills Vaughn by stabbing him in the neck with the same syringe.  Spires then discovers Vaughn's body and goes to his office where Kirby tracks him down and kills him by breaking his neck.  Meanwhile, Charlie is watching Allison while Stevens is out.  Charlie and Allison leave the office and come across Kirby killing one of the workers.  Charlie tries to make Kirby surrender but Kirby attacks Charlie and kills him by breaking Charlie's back in a bear hug.  Stevens arrives and finds Charlie fatally injured.  Stevens saves Allison From Kirby's attack in Spires office.  Sheriff Stevens tracks down Kirby in the hope that he can put an end to the carnage.  He finally finds Kirby and is able to crash his car, light him on fire, throw him into a lake, roundhouse kick him several times, and eventually throws him down a well.  As Stevens leaves, however, Kirby's head comes out of the water, at which point the film ends.

Now a series of words that I hope scare you as much as it scared me, the film was remade in 2009 as “Indestructible”.

Indestructible (2009)

  • Genre: Horror
  • Directed: Matt Spease
  • Produced:
    • Roxanne Burnett 
    • Charlie Spease 
    • Matt Spease
  • Written:
    • Matt Spease 
    • John Vasiliou
  • Starring: Phil Giourousis, Mimi Tran, Jade Michael LaFont, Mitch Mason, Rufus English, Matt Spease, Lilith Stabs, Sarah Teed, Daniel Ramme, Ashley Rebecca Hicks, Daisy Owings, Melissa Jecker, Haley Voiles, Chris Randall, Charlie Spease, Steve Troup, Steven Scott Austin
  • Music:
    • Chris Rey 
    • Matt Spease 
    • Paul Zlotucha
  • Cinematography: Matt Spease
  • Editing: Matt Spease
  • Studio: Dark Night Films
  • Distributed: Dark Night Films
  • Rated:
  • Release Date: 31 July 2009 (USA)
  • Running Time: 83 min
  • Country: USA
  • Language: English

A man with horrible psychological problems snaps and goes on a short murder spree before being gunned down by the local Sheriff and his deputy.  What should be the end of the story is only the beginning as a ambitious doctor decides to test his latest experimental drug on the body of the man.  In a Frankenstein-like twist the drug works all too well and the man comes back, now with super human strength and is near indestructible.

Written by Canada's John Vasiliou, this feature film is the resurrection of one of Matt's earliest short films, Killseeker.  This is a sequel “Indestructible: Afterlife” but unfortunately had to cook dinner and was unable to watch it in time for this article.



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Monday, January 12, 2015

ICFIFC: The Falls (1980)

Peter Greenaway, CBE (5 April 1942) is a British film director.  His films are noted for the distinct influence of Renaissance and Baroque painting, and Flemish painting in particular.  Common traits in his film are the scenic composition and illumination and the contrasts of costume and nudity, nature and architecture, furniture and people, sexual pleasure and painful death.

In 1962, Greenaway began studies at Walthamstow College of Art, where a fellow student was musician Ian Dury (later cast in The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover).  Greenaway trained as a muralist for three years; he made his first film, Death of Sentiment, a churchyard furniture essay filmed in four large London cemeteries.  In 1965, he joined the Central Office of Information (COI), working there fifteen years as a film editor and director.  In that time he created a filmography of experimental films, starting with Train (1966), footage of the last steam trains at Waterloo station, (situated behind the COI), edited to a musique concrète composition.  Tree (1966), is a homage to the embattled tree growing in concrete outside the Royal Festival Hall on the South Bank in London.  By the 1970s he was confident and ambitious and made Vertical Features Remake and A Walk Through H.  The former is an examination of various arithmetical editing structures, and the latter is a journey through the maps of a fictitious country.

In 1980, Greenaway delivered The Falls (his first feature-length film) – a mammoth, fantastical, absurdist encyclopedia of flight-associated material all relating to ninety-two victims of what is referred to as the Violent Unknown Event (VUE).

The Falls (1980)

  • Genre: Drama – Sci-Fi
  • Directed: Peter Greenaway
  • Produced: Peter Greenaway
  • Written: Peter Greenaway
  • Starring: Peter Westley, Aad Wirtz, Michael Murray, Lorna Poulter, Patricia Carr, Adam Leys, Mary Howard, Sheila Canfield, Evelyn Owen, Hilary Thompson, Carole Meyer, Monica Hyde, Colleen Thomas, Neil Hopkins, Dewi Thomas
  • Music: Michael Nyman
  • Cinematography:
    • Mike Coles 
    • John Rosenberg
  • Editing: Peter Greenaway
  • Studio: British Film Institute
  • Distributed: British Film Institute
  • Rated: Conflicting Data
  • Release Date:
    • 1980 (UK) 
    • 3 May 1983 (USA)
  • Running Time: 195 minutes
  • Country: United Kingdom
  • Language:
    • English 
    • Dutch 
    • French 
    • German

The Falls is a 1980 film directed by Peter Greenaway.  It was Greenaway's first feature-length film after many years making shorts.  It does not have a traditional dramatic narrative; it takes the form of a mock documentary in 92 short parts.

The world has been struck by a mysterious incident called the "Violent Unknown Event" or VUE, which has killed many people and left a great many survivors suffering from a common set of symptoms: mysterious ailments (some appearing to be mutations of evolving into a bird-like form), dreaming of water (categorized by form, such as Category 1, Flight, or Category 3, Waves) and becoming obsessed with birds and flight.  Many of the survivors have been gifted with new languages.  They have also stopped ageing, making them immortal (barring disease or injury).

A directory of these survivors has been compiled, and The Falls is presented as a film version of an excerpt from that directory, corresponding to the 92 entries for persons whose surnames begin with the letters FALL-.  Not all of the 92 entries correspond to a person – some correspond to deleted entries, cross references and other oddities of the administrative process that has produced the directory.  One biography concerns two people – the twin brothers Ipson and Pulat Fallari, who are played (in still photographs) by the Brothers Quay.

In addition to the common VUE symptoms mentioned above, a number of themes run through the film.  Among these are references to a number of bureaucratic organizations including the VUE Commission and the Bird Facilities Investments (a parody of the British Film Institute), the history of manned flight from Daedalus with the suggestion that birds may be responsible for the VUE (and that the film may thus be seen as a sequel to Hitchcock's The Birds), complex debates over the location of the epicenter of the VUE, and repeated references to Tulse Luper.  Luper is a recurring off-stage character in Greenaway's early films, and would eventually appear on film in the epic series The Tulse Luper Suitcases (2003 onwards).

The Falls includes clips of a number of Greenaway's early shorts.  It also anticipates some of his later films: the subject of biography 27, Propine Fallax, is a pseudonym for Cissie Colpitts, the central figure of Drowning by Numbers (1988), while the car accident in biography 28 prefigures that in A Zed and Two Noughts (1985).

The largely formal and deadpan manner of the narration contrasts with the absurdity of the content.

I don’t know what I’m watching but I think I like it!



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