Friday, March 5, 2010

Hellstorm's Horror TV Calendar

I just created a calendar of (mostly) horror movies on TV, basic cable and "basic" HD channels at:

Check it out and let me know what you think.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Top 10 Reasons Why It's Hard Being A Horror Fan

(This is slightly modified from when my blog used to be hosted on Fangoria’s website.)

10. You have to complain when directors take the basic plot from an older film and tell an otherwise different story, yet list The THING (1982), THE FLY (1986) and/or 1972'S LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT (with its basic plot "inspired" by 1960's THE VIRGIN SPRING) among your favorite horror films.

9. You have to complain when American films rip off older horror movies, yet praise films from other countries that do the same thing because they're either "homages" or "responses" to these films.

8. When a new horror film comes out, you have to point out how "unoriginal" it is based upon any plot point or camera angle that bears any resemblance to an older film, while also complaining about how new horror films aren’t more like older films. Again, non-American films are typically exceptions to this rule.

7. You have to complain about how new horror directors "suck", even though your "all-time favorite director" hasn't put out a decent film in years. When this director finally releases a new film, you have to point out how much it also "sucks" based upon all of the ways it's both unlike his previous films and how he has no new ideas.

6. You have to complain when horror films have no character development or when they spend too much time focusing on the characters before the horror finally starts, but only when this happens in new films, not older films.

5. You have to complain about "neutered" PG-13 horror films and gratuitous nudity, violence and/or gore in R-rated films.

4. You have to complain about how new horror films either "aren't scary" or "have an inconsistent tone" (usually by saying, "it can't decide if it wants to be a horror movie or a comedy"), while listing BRAINDEAD/DEAD ALIVE, SHAUN OF THE DEAD, and/or RE-ANIMATOR among your favorite films.

3. You have to complain that "torture porn" films feature violence and gore in place of character development and how they aren't nearly as violent or bloody as your favorite "classic gorefest".

2. You have to complain when CGI looks fake in new films, while praising older films with obviously fake-looking blood, latex/make-up effects, monster suits or stop-motion animation.

1. As if this wasn't hard enough, you have to do all of these things while at the same time complaining about how mainstream critics don't respect the genre and the intelligence of its fans.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Review of Triangle (2009)

Ever since I saw Stanley Kubrick's THE KILLING, I've been a fan of films with nonlinear narratives - from Quentin Tarantino and David Lynch's films to MEMENTO and IRRÉVERSIBLE. Like these films, writer/director Christopher Smith's recently released TRIANGLE is a film that not merely uses nonlinear storytelling, but uses it well.

Much has been made of TRIANGLE'S similarities to the Spanish film TIMECRIMES (LOS CRONOCRÍMENES), which was released on DVD in the U.S. 11 months earlier. While there are admittedly surface similarities - in the same way that zombie, vampire and slasher films tend to have surface similarities - closer attention reveals that these are much different films.

In TIMECRIMES, after his good-natured and affectionate wife leaves to buy them dinner, Hector goes in search of a woman he sees (using binoculars) undressing in the woods behind their home. Mayhem ensues, and Hector ultimately finds himself in a time machine that seems too easily accessible (and conveniently located) at a facility nearby.

In TRIANGLE, we see Jess - a single-mother/waitress played by Melissa George - trying to get her autistic son ready for school so she can take one of her customers up on his offer to join him and some friends on his boat. As in TIMECRIMES, things don't work out as planned, but unlike Hector, Jess doesn't practically stumble into a time-machine, over and over again.

In fact, there's no definitive explanation given for what Jess experiences, though it's suggested during a conversation early in the film. When Jess and the other passengers flee their storm-ravaged boat (named Triangle) for what appears to be an abandoned cruise ship named Aeolus, a comment is made - seemingly in passing - about the mythological origin of the ship's name. This scene, and a vaguely odd cab ride towards the end of the film, seem to be the twists that connect TRIANGLE's Möbius strip-like story.

As Jess relives earlier events from different points-of-view, new information is revealed that explains scenes from earlier in the film. It's easy to understand why Christopher Smith claims it took him nearly four years to work out the story.

The cast did an admirable job making an occasionally difficult film seem believable. The cinematography was appropriately (not distractingly) washed out when a character emerged on deck from the ship's dark interior, and the characters' isolation was emphasized through the use of long shots both outside the ship and within it's corridors.

My only criticism is the lack of surround sound. Besides making the storm, gunshots and chases more immersive, it could have been used when re-visiting earlier scenes to emphasize that we're seeing them from a different perspective.

Even still, this is a minor criticism against a film I strongly recommend to anyone looking for something different from Hollywood's popcorn flick of the week.