October 31, 2013 13 Nights of Hallowe'en 2013: Night #13 Alien (1979)
In space, no one can hear you scream. Iconic words for an iconic movie. It isn't the first horror in space movie, but it is the first that comes to mind, and with good reason. If you've never seen it, let me give you the spoiler free description. A mining ship out a vast distance away from Earth answers a distress call from the surface of a planet. They find an alien ship and run afoul of a creature in the ship's hold. You'll just have to see for yourself what terror awaits as the crew struggles to survive. This is one of the classics, and its obvious why there are so many sequels, as well as the prequel from Night#2.
Ridley Scott directed Alien, and then went on to direct Blade Runner (1982) (movie), Legend (1985) (movie), Hannibal (2001) (movie), and of course Prometheus (2012) (movie). The Alien script was written by Dan O'Bannon and Ronald Shusett. Dan wrote some part of Dead & Buried (1981) (movie), but how much is hard to ascertain, as he also did with Total Recall (1990) (movie). However, Dan is the principal writer, and the director of The Return of the Living Dead (1985) (movie). Meanwhile Ronald Shusett worked with O'Bannon on writing Dead & Buried and is credited for it. Ronald and was also a writer for Total Recall as well. For cast I have to mention that Tom Skerritt starred in Poltergeist III (1988). We also have Sigourney Weaver who is in all of the Alien sequels, as well as I'll mention Ghostbusters (1984), Ghostbusters II (1989), The Village (2004), and The Cabin in the Woods (2012) out of her long list of film credits. Since it came up before, Ian Holm was also in Time Bandits (1981), and of course in Night #5's Frankenstein (1994). Last but not least I want you to know that Yaphet Kotto was in The Running Man (1987) (movie), and Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare (1991) (movie).
Happy Hallowe'en everyone! Stay safe and have fun!
October 30, 2013 13 Nights of Hallowe'en 2013: Night #12 Event Horizon (1997)
Even space isn't free of supernatural horror. Event Horizon (1997) (movie) is about a ship of the same name. It was built to test out a faster than light propulsion system. On its test voyage the ship vanished. It reappeared 7 years later in a decaying orbit around Neptune. The movie begins with the ship's engineer, Dr. William Weir, travelling out with a salvage crew to investigate what happened. Where did the ship go? What happened to the crew? Those two mysteries can only lead to horror. The quick and easy way to describe this movie is Hellraiser in space, without the copious hook bearing chains, or Cenobites. Yes, it that's nicely nasty. It also has a nice mix of mundane space danger horror added.
There are some good connections to other movies from the cast and crew. Paul W.S. Anderson who only directed Event Horizon also both wrote and directed Resident Evil (2002) (movie), AVP: Alien vs. Predator (2004) (movie), and Resident Evil: Retribution (2012) (movie). Event Horizon's screenwriter Philip Eisner also wrote Firestarter 2: Rekindled (2002) (TV), and Mutant Chronicles (2008) (movie). Laurence Fishburne plays the investigating ship's captain and he is of course famous for his role in The Matrix (1999) (movie) and its sequels. You may also have seen Laurence way back in the day in A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors (1987) (movie), and you may have recently seen him in Hannibal (2013) (TV). Dr Weir is played by Sam Neill from Omen III: The Final Conflict (1981) (movie), Jurassic Park (1993) (movie), and In the Mouth of Madness (1994) (movie). Kathleen Quinlan plays the ship's medic and you may remember her from The Hills Have Eyes (2006) (movie) remake with Ted Levine from yesterday's Night #11. Enjoy your nightmares!
October 29, 2013 13 Nights of Hallowe'en 2013: Night #11 The Mangler (1995)
This is one of my favourite movies. It is way more horrific than the rest of this year's movies. You'd better be ready for gore and madness this time out. Based on a story by Stephen King. Directed by Tobe Hooper--also a partial screenplay credit. Starring Ted Levine and Robert Englund. Additionally you've never seen so much scenery chewing! I'll also admit there's a bit of excessive screaming toward the end too. Ted plays Officer Hutton. Hutton is called in to an industrial laundry where there has been an accident with the speed ironer, called the Mangler. It isn't really a spoiler that the machine is possessed. Robert plays the laundry's aged owner Bill Gartley. Also of note is Demetre Phillips as George Stanner, even though I have no credits to share of his. You can also look back to my previous post about this movie from 2008.
I find it funny that Robert Englund has almost a much makeup work done to him to play Mr. Gartley as he does for Freddy Krueger in A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) (movie) and its sequels. Robert has a huge list of horror credits, of course, so I'd just like to point out Strangeland (1998) (movie), Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon (2006) (movie), and Inkubus (2011) (movie). Ted Levine of course is famous for his role in The Silence of the Lambs (1991) (movie). If you like that unique voice of his don't miss Ted in Joy Ride (2001) (movie). You can also see him in The Hills Have Eyes (2006) (movie), and Shutter Island (2010) (movie). Besides The Mangler, Tobe Hooper directed and also wrote the screenplay for The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974) (movie). He also directed Salem's Lot (1979), Poltergeist (1982) (movie), and Toolbox Murders (2004), among other horrors. Okay, go get your scare on!
October 28, 2013 13 Nights of Hallowe'en 2013: Night #10 Death Machine (1994)
This is maybe the most horrific and sci-fi at one time of this year's movies. Hayden is an executive at a company that makes military hardware. She comes under fire by the news media for the company committing war crimes with the supposedly cancelled Hardman project that marries man and machine with disastrous results. When Hayden goes to confront the lead scientist for the company she gets more than she bargained for. Jack Dante isn't only brilliant, he's completely psychotic. He sics his pet project the Warbeast on her. The Warbeast is a robot monster that smells fear and attacks its source. At the same time a small team of eco-terrorist thieves infiltrate the building, but they may be Hayden's only hope.
There are only a few names that I wanted to highlight from Death Machine. The first is Stephen Norrington who directed and wrote Death Machine. He also directed only for Blade (1998) (movie). Ely Pouget plays our starring heroine, Hayden. Ely also starred in Lawnmower Man 2: Beyond Cyberspace (1996) (movie). Then there is horror icon Brad Dourif as Dante. Out of his many horror credits I want to point out Child's Play (1988) (movie) and all of it's sequels. Brad also created some very interesting characters in movies such as Graveyard Shift (1990) (movie), Body Parts (1991) (movie), and the Halloween (2007) (movie) remake, and its sequel Halloween II (2009) (movie). Also, pay attention to the names of characters in this movie. Stephen Norrington stuffed in a number of homages with the names.
October 27, 2013 13 Nights of Hallowe'en 2013: Night #9 Thir13en Ghosts (2001)
Why is a ghost movie in this list of science fiction and machine horror movies? Well that second part just answered the question. Thir13en Ghosts (2001) (movie) is about a single father who inherits his uncle's fancy glass house. The house is fancier than just glass though. The walls are inscribed with spells that can be seen with special glasses. The spells aren't the only thing the glasses allow people to see; there are thirteen angry, and malevolently violent, ghosts trapped inside. When the house's walls start moving the horror begins. For me this movie stands as the best remake of this millenium so far. I had to include it in this year's movies even though I used it back in 2007.
The star of this movie is Tony Shalhoub. The other of Tony's roles of the type to mention here is a smaller part in 1408 (2007) (movie). Playing Tony's daughter is Shannon Elizabeth from Cursed (2005) (movie) and Night of the Demons (2009) (movie). You can hardly miss Matthew Lillard from Scream (1996) (movie) with an even more unforgettable performance--so much fun. If you're like me you'll find Embeth Davidtz familiar, but not know from where. Embeth was Sheila in Army of Darkness (1992) (movie)! The lawyer played by JR Bourne is from The Exorcism of Emily Rose (2005) (movie) and of course he is on Teen Wolf (2011) (TV). You may not recognise her, but Laura Mennell plays the ghost known as The Bound Woman--wearing a prom dress and with her arms tied behind her back. Laura can also be seen in Trick 'r Treat (2007) (movie), Hard Ride to Hell (2010) (movie), and Alphas (2011) (TV). Speaking of unrecognisable Craig Olejnik from The Listener (2009) (TV) plays the ghost known as The Torn Prince--the mangled baseball player.
October 26, 2013 13 Nights of Hallowe'en 2013: Night #8 Cloverfield (2008)
Based on past experience you normally might not think of these thirteen nights including a giant monster/disaster movie like Cloverfield (2008) (movie). Horror is often as much about how a movie is approached as it is about the nature of the threats and challenges to the characters. Cloverfield is just one such example of the approaches reigning. A group of friends are at a going away party for their friend Rob. Hud is recording the party and collecting messages from friends for Rob. The party is interrupted by what seems to be an earthquake but turns out to be something far worse. What follows is a lot of first hand mayhem and horror as Rob and the others try to rescue Rob's true love and survive the on-going monster attack. Sit back and strap in for the ride.
My first thought about this movie and what I would find for connections was that there were would be few if any. Its seems like a fresh cast and creative team, but they have given us some things to talk about, both old and new. First off is Drew Goddard who wrote the screenplay for Cloverfield. Drew also partially wrote and partially directed The Cabin in the Woods (2012) (movie). In the cast category Lizzy Caplan has been in a few episodes of True Blood (2008) (TV) the same year as Cloverfield. Jessica Lucas can be seen in the recent Evil Dead (2013) (movie) remake--you won't forget her afterward. Mike Vogel was in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003) (movie), and recently recurring in Bates Motel (2013) (TV). Meanwhile Odette Annable starred in The Unborn (2009) (movie).
October 25, 2013 13 Nights of Hallowe'en 2013: Night #7 The Thing (2011)
The Thing (2011) (movie) is the prequel to the John Carpenter's The Thing (1982) (movie). As a prequel there are less things to be considered spoilers. Still, if you haven't seen the 1982 movie let me only tell you about this one. A scientist is called in to study the remains of an alien found in the ice of Antarctica. The alien is alive and it can metamorphose into anything that it samples the biology of. You don't need to see the original to enjoy this, and it could be fun to see the original for the first time after seeing this prequel. One of the most interesting things about this movie as a prequel is that it runs all of the way up to the chase scene in the beginning of the original movie--don't miss these scenes during the end credits. They did it that way so that it covers all of the points we know about what happened at the Norwegian camp in The Thing (1982).
There aren't a lot of connections between this movie and a lot of other horror productions that I can name. Part of this may be because of the large number of Norwegian cast members. Mary Elizabeth Winstead stars in this movie. You can also see Mary in Final Destination 3 (2006) (movie) and Black Christmas (2006) (movie). You may recognise Eric Christian Olsen from NCIS: Los Angeles (2010) (TV). I couldn't find any more horror credits for him. Meanwhile showing just how horror movies and the people who make them connect up in interesting ways, Eric Heisserer screenwriter for The Thing (2011) also wrote Final Destination 5 (2011) (movie), and was among the writers for the A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010) (movie) remake.
October 24, 2013 13 Nights of Hallowe'en 2013: Night #6 Dreamcatcher (2003)
What starts off as a standard Stephen King movie quickly takes a turn into something exceedingly different while keeping all of the Kingly flourishes you expect and want. A group of friends takes a trip to their hunting cabin in the woods. The fun is interrupted by an alien invasion and the military assault on the invaders. I told you this was a different kind of Stephen King movie. These aren't your run of the mill aliens. They're definitely horror aliens. The only other definitive thing I'll say about the aliens (to avoid spoilers) is that there are different stages of the aliens life cycle or a couple different organisms involved.
There are a few people to shine a light on in this movie. First up is definitely Morgan Freeman as the General leading up the military forces. You might want to see Morgan in the famous horror Se7en (1995) (movie) or in the movie adaption of Stephen King's The Shawshank Redemption (1994) (movie), plus lots of other great movies of course. Also on deck is Donnie Wahlberg from The Sixth Sense (1999) (movie). Again Donnie stands out for a markedly different appearance than in his regular life, plus his role is definitely one of those iconic Stephen King characters that everyone always remembers. Tom Sizemore plays Morgan's right hand man. You should also see Tom in Ring Around the Rosie (2006) (movie). One final connection of note is that Dreamcatcher's screenwriter, William Goldman, also wrote the screenplay for Misery (1990) (movie). Enjoy!
October 23, 2013 13 Nights of Hallowe'en 2013: Night #5 Mary Shelley's Frankenstein (1994)
I've always had a soft spot for the novel--the first sci-fi horror. This movie version is a great adaptation that doesn't stray too far. The look of the entire movie is something to behold whether it's disease ridden slums, or the Frankenstein mansion, or the icebound exploration ship. In case you don't know anything about the story, it begins with a boy who will become a doctor. He won't just be any doctor though, he wants to cure death, and he's not afraid to sew pieces of corpses together to make a man. It's no spoiler that he succeeds and it's from there that things spiral even further out of control. You have to see it.
This version of Frankenstein is directed by Kenneth Branagh. Kenneth also stars in the film as Victor Frankenstein. His bride-to-be is played by Helena Bonham Carter. Helena can be heard as the title character in Corpse Bride (2005) (movie). She also does an amazing turn in Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007) (movie). Now hold onto your hats. The monster is played by Robert De Niro! As you'd expect, he's awesome. [The monster has no name; Frankenstein is the mad doctor.] Also keep an eye out for John Cleese as one of the doctors/professors at the school Victor Frankenstein attends. Lastly, Ian Holm from Alien (1979) (movie) plays Victor's father.
October 22, 2013 13 Nights of Hallowe'en 2013: Night #4 Return of the Living Dead: Necropolis (2005)
If you've watched the very different, but I think very cool if dated, Return of the Living Dead 3 (1993) (movie), then strap in for this one. Interestingly enough, Necropolis was partially filmed around the Chernobyl area. Some different thrills are added this time out. There's riding around on dirt bikes on trails, doing tricks, and roaring down concrete hallways. There's hard rock, weapons play, homemade flame throwers, and zombie cyborgs--way more refined cyborgs than previously in the franchise. Look for some in-jokes from the series, and as usual expect a good dose of camp. There's no lack of zombies and mayhem. Enjoy the ride!
The most familiar face in this film is Peter Coyote from The Inside (2005) (TV). I haven't seen it yet, but Cory Hardrict is in Warm Bodies (2013) (movies) as well. It's on my list, but I also haven't seen Aimee-Lynn Chadwick in ChromeSkull: Laid to Rest 2 (2011) (movie). Meanwhile, Necropolis' director, Ellory Elkayem, previously directed and wrote Eight Legged Freaks (2002) (movie). Ellory also directed the follow-up, Return of the Living Dead: Rave to the Grave (2005) (movie), back to back with Necropolis. Pardon the spoilers, but also returning from Necropolis to Rave are lead actor John Keefe, as well as Aimee-Lynn Chadwick, Cory Hardrict, and Peter Coyote.
October 21, 2013 13 Nights of Hallowe'en: Night #3 Phantoms (1998)
A woman brings her younger sister to her home for a vacation only to find the town deserted. Bodies with a strange affliction are here and there. If it's an infection though, why is the police station littered with spent bullet casings? Soliders with hazmats suits, rolling fortress laboratories, and a mysterious message to a professor stuck working at a tabloid round out the mayhem and madness that is Phantoms. This is an adaption of the novel by the same name written by none other than Dean R. Koontz. I don't remember how close the movie is to the book after about the half point--it's been some time since I read it, instead I pull out the movie.
This movie was directed by Joe Chappelle who also directed Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers (1995) (movie)--don't run away. Both Rose McGowan and Liev Schreiber from Scream (1996) (movie) are present as well. Rose is the younger sister. Liev is a creepy deputy who, no spoiler, obviously isn't quite right to begin with. In a nice twist of casting this film also boasts Ben Affleck as the Sheriff, and Peter O'Toole as the professor. If you like Koontz and the particular brand of horror from the novel then you're going to want to see it on-screen, whatever screen you have.
October 20, 2013 13 Nights of Hallowe'en: Night #2 Prometheus (2012)
This is Ridley Scott's prequel to Alien (1979) (movie). It had massive shoes to try and fill. Your mileage may vary wildly. It generated a bit of controversy with a supposed hidden meaning that I just don't really see in the movie. It has similar elements out front and center though, since the basic premise is a crew follows a star map left behind by aliens that the lead scientists, and their benefactor, believe created the human species. What follows of course is tough choices, body horror, and indirect history to the originating Alien film. I've seen this movie twice since acquiring it at the end of last year. I'd say its everything I expected it to be for a prequel.
Out of the cast I wanted to call attention to Idris Elba whom I recommend seeing in The Reaping (2007) (movie). Michael Fassbender was a standout previous to the release of the film as the android David. David was prominent in promotion of the film involving a timeline for the Weyland corporation funding the mission to the alien planet, and a set-in-the-movie-universe promotional ad for the release of the David model androids. Michael Fassbender also has a great role in X-Men: First Class (20110) (movie) that you may want to see--he's Magento.
October 19, 2013 13 Nights of Hallowe'en: Night #1 Skyline (2010)
Hello and welcome to the first of the 13 Nights of Hallowe'en! This year I am going back to an older format of the thirteen nights. I like having all of the connection splayed out in the posts, but it is time consuming and my work focus has changed. I will try to point out some other interesting movies that the acting staff or the producers (in the loose sense of people making the film, not producer credit people per se) have also worked on, but I won't dig too deep. I make no promises but I may go back and do that digging later and update the posts. I also may go a little bit into spoiler territory, but hopefully not too far, and certainly not for the climaxes or major final act of the movie twists.
Skyline is an alien invasion movie, but not like a lot of them. I had the fortune of noticing that someone compared it to zombie movies-without any living dead of course. The invasion begins with a mysterious infectious light that mesmerises people before they are taken. The alien action moves on to small abduction craft and giant lumbering tanks, both of which are part machine, part biological. There are holed-up survival elements, massive alien ships, and end of the world goodness. This is all in the trailer that made me immediately want to see this movie. Since getting a copy of the film I've seen it more times than anything I've acquired in recent history.
Our lead characters are played by Eric Balfour and Scottie Thompson, as the couple trying to escape with their lives. One of Eric Balfour's films that I wanted to highlight was Rise of the Gargoyles (2009) (TV Movie), and of course he was in the remake,The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003) (movie)--coverd in 13 Nights of Hallowe'en 2011: Night 3. The cast is pretty sparse as far as speaking roles of any real length. However we do have David Zayas from Dexter (2006) (TV) in a nice meaty role in the film. There are a lot of special effects and a lot of cool action and sci-fi scenes to go with the horror and dread.