Now we come not to the end of this Ronny Yu series, or to its peak, but at least to a watershed moment. If you read this whole series, or at least the BRIDE OF CHUCKY review, you don’t need to ask the question “how the hell does the guy who made THE BRIDE WITH WHITE HAIR end up making FREDDY VS. JASON?”
But at the risk of reptitition, let’s run through it again real quick. For starters, Yu had been making horror movies for 20 years (THE TRAIL, THE OCCUPANT, MUMMY DEAREST, BLESS THIS HOUSE), so that part wasn’t out of the blue. Then in the ‘90s two things happened: the new wave of Hong Kong cinema became popular around the world, and many Hong Kong filmmakers began to worry about what would happen to artistic freedom once colonial rule ended in 1997. That combination of circumstances led filmmakers like John Woo, Ringo Lam and Tsui Hark, as well actors like Jackie Chan, Chow Yun Fat, Michelle Yeoh, Donnie Yen and Sammo Hung, to start finding opportunities in Hollywood. (read the rest of this shit…)
HELLRAISER (2022) is the new straight-to-Hulu HELLRAISER movie. It’s a genuine, bonafide reboot, by the original definition of the term – it doesn’t seem to work as a sequel, but it’s certainly not a remake, it’s just starting over, I guess. And it’s certainly a new start in that it’s getting more attention and being treated more like a real, existing movie than the DTV sequels that came out in 2018, 2011, 2005, 2002 and 2000. That’s partly because it’s a polished, well-directed movie with plenty of production value, and it was intentionally written to be the new HELLRAISER. Much of the series, as you may know, was just a perpetual rights retention machine – the Weinsteins ramming Pinhead into an unrelated horror script and dumping one out so they could retain the rights to dump another one out to retain the rights further down the road. Now, at last, the rights have escaped Miramax Hell and are sheltering at Spyglass Media Group (who also got SCREAM and SPY KIDS. There must’ve been a sale). (read the rest of this shit…)
One night an amnesiac (Rufus Sewell, EXTREME OPS, JUDY) wakes up confused in the bath tub of a gloomy hotel in a gloomy city. The phone rings and some Peter-Lorre-sounding weirdy (Kiefer Sutherland, RENEGADES, MIRRORS) tells him he needs to get out of there because someone’s coming for him. Then he notices the dead lady with the spirals carved into her. Shit!
In the tradition of such films as FEAR IN THE NIGHT (1947) and NIGHTBREED (1990), Murdoch is unsure if he’s really a murderer. But we’ve seen stories like this before, so we figure he’s not. And it’s pretty clear that something unusual is going on here when the people the guy on the phone was warning about show up. They’re not cops, but “The Strangers,” a group of mysterious, pale, bald dudes in black coats and fedoras like a gang of Detective Nosferatus. They move strangely, have odd facial expressions and are a range of heights that make them look interesting walking around together. I’ll try to list them from tallest to shortest: (read the rest of this shit…)
I love THE TERMINATOR, but I loveTERMINATOR 2: JUDGMENT DAY. To me it’s one of the all time greats of sequels, summer event movies, action movies, movies in general. It came into the world at the right time to knock me on my ass, and has only grown with me. We’d never seen a movie like it; the technology had not existed for a character to do the things that the liquid metal T-1000 did, and no woman, not even Ripley in James Cameron’s own ALIENS, had returned to the screen as thoroughly transformed into an indelible badass as Sarah Connor.
At the time it seemed like the biggest, loudest, most over-the-top and technologically advanced action spectacle we’d ever seen. Now there’s a certain quaintness and groundedness to it. The then-show-stopping computer effects are only for a little bit of morphing – now we notice the huge amount of real stunts involving a semi-truck, motorcycles, a helicopter and various pyrotechnics that would never be so real in a modern movie. And the story is built on characters and emotions in a way that’s much more resonant to me than most subsequent movies of this type. (read the rest of this shit…)
I don’t remember ever hearing anybody say nice things about THE CROW part 2, CITY OF ANGELS, so let me start out with one: this is a gorgeous looking movie. Part 1 production designer Alex McDowell (LAWNMOWER MAN, CRYING FREEMAN, FEAR AND LOATHING IN LAS VEGAS, WATCHMEN) returns, this time with cinematographer Jean-Yves Escoffier (GUMMO, GOOD WILL HUNTING), to tweak and expand on the aggressively stylized gotholopolis look he created for Alex Proyas’ THE CROW.
This time it looks more real, and has a yellow tint on its foggy (maybe it’s smoggy?), trash-strewn streets, representing the heat of Los Angeles, I hope, and not the piss that it clearly smells of. I don’t know my skylines, so I’m not sure I would’ve understood that they changed the location from Detroit without the subtitle or the cool shot where a row of palm trees burst into flame one-by-one as the crow (the bird that seems to be responsible for resurrecting murder victims, not the vengeful harlequin ghost he enables) flies past them. There’s a great tracking shot of the bird flying over the (model) city, and a profile shot of the ghost speeding on his motorcycle, his feathered friend right in front of him. The movie definitely achieves on levels of technical craftsmanship. (read the rest of this shit…)
“You obviously do not know who you are fucking with!”
On one hand, it’s hard to believe that BLADE II was fifteen damn years ago. I mean – I reviewed it when it came out. And I’d already been around for a few years. Am I really that old? On the other hand, an awful lot has changed since the movie came out.
Let’s start with Wesley Snipes (“Blade”). He made a part 3, had a falling out with the writer, they made a Blade TV show without him, he got relegated to DTV, got busted for tax evasion, did time, got out, now is sort of back and still the Man and hopefully will achieve more greatness. Guillermo del Toro (director) became better known and beloved for his specific visual style and obsessions, was nominated for a best screenplay Oscar for PAN’S LABYRINTH, continued to alternate between Spanish language art films and Hollywood productions, but never did a for-hire gig again, unless you count THE HOBBIT, which he toiled on for a few years before quitting. David S. Goyer (writer) directed part 3, co-wrote Christopher Nolan’s DARK KNIGHT trilogy and went on to mastermind the DC movie universe, as if trying to earn the extreme hatred many comic fans had long held for him for some reason. Donnie Yen (martial arts choreographer, “Snowman”) had a huge career resurgence at home in Hong Kong, particularly with the IP MAN series, and recently finally had success in English language movies playing the best characters in ROGUE ONE and xXx: RETURN OF XANDER CAGE. Norman Reedus (“Scud”) also became a geek icon by playing Daryl on The Walking Dead, as did Ron Perlman (“Reinhardt”) by reteaming with del Toro to play Hellboy in two live action films and two animated (plus starring in many seasons of Sons of Anarchy). Luke Goss (“Jared Nomak”) was a former pop star from the boy band Bros who had been in a few movies. This breakthrough role led to playing the elf equivalent of Nomak in del Toro’s HELLBOY 2 and eventually being a frequent face of DTV, including starring as Frankenstein in DEATH RACE 2 and 3. Matt Schulze (“Chupa”) – okay, he didn’t become a big thing, but to me he’s an icon because he’s the villain in Seagal’s OUT OF REACH and Vince in THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS and FAST FIVE.
Maybe more notably than any of this, the techniques del Toro pioneered to combine live action stunts with animated doubles for super-powered fights and camera moves evolved into the modern style of comic book action (and blockbusters in general). His smart ways of adding digital effects to practical ones have also been influential. Getting a genuine visionary to do the sequel to a movie like BLADE is one of those things you always wish for as a movie fan but shouldn’t hold your breath for. This time you could’ve, though. It happened. (read the rest of this shit…)
Before there was such a thing as Marvel Comics movies, there was BLADE.
Technically it wasn’t the first Marvel movie. It was the fourth. But nobody would’ve expected Marvel Comics to take over the movie business the way they have now. There had been the infamous flop HOWARD THE DUCK in 1986, and a few low rent b-action movies: THE PUNISHER starring Dolph Lundgren in 1989, then Albert Pyun’s DTV movie of CAPTAIN AMERICA in 1990. A Roger Corman production of FANTASTIC FOUR had been made in 1994 merely to extend the movie rights to the characters; it was never released, and the negatives have since been destroyed. I still kinda like THE PUNISHER, but until BLADE came along in 1998 none of these really connected with audiences, and there was no reason to think they would. James Cameron and Golan & Globus had an equal amount of success in trying to make a Spider-man movie, and Marvel had gone bankrupt.
Let’s be honest, most of us never heard of a Blade before the movie. He came from the ’70s series Tomb of Dracula, part of a team of Dracula-hunters made up of descendants of Mina Harker, Abraham Van Helsing and Dracula himself. He wore a red leather jacket and green pants and spoke what creator Marv Wolfman later admitted was “cliche ‘Marvel Black’ dialogue.” But screenwriter David S. Goyer was a fan of the character when New Line Cinema, inspired by the success of FRIDAY, wanted to do a black super hero movie.
At the time it was easier to compare to other vampire movies. Anne Rice style romantic bloodsuckers had dominated the image of the subgenre since at least the movie version of INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE in 1994, and BLADE was part of a pushback that included FROM DUSK TILL DAWN two years before and John Carpenter’s VAMPIRES two months after, all reminding audiences how much fun these creatures could be as vicious monsters that need to be exterminated. Each has their own version of the rules and their own leather-clad hunters with weapons made from silver, garlic, holy water or wood, but only BLADE (and Buffy the Vampire Slayer, then two seasons in) treated it as an opportunity for martial arts. (read the rest of this shit…)
She-Hulkgate, Day 3. As founder and president of the Motherfuckers Act Like They Forgot About BLADE Society, I feel compelled to weigh in on this mounting controversy.
A few days ago David S. Goyer, writer of the upcoming movie BATMAN V. SUPERMAN AND THE CASE OF THE DAWN OF JUSTICE, was one of several guests on a live panel of the Scriptnotes screenwriting podcast. Alan Kistler, a writer on “Girl Geek Culture” websight The Mary Sue, wrote a post objecting to comments Goyer made about the comic book characters She-Hulk and Martian Manhunter. The complaints were picked up by other websights (I first saw it on Badass Digest), the torches and pitchforks came out on Twitter and in long comment threads, and it snowballed so much it ended up covered by secular news outlets such as The Hollywood Reporter and Slate.The Washington Post actually got Stan Lee to respond. For fuck’s sake, Time Magazine (the web version at least) had a not-joking “The She-Hulk Scandal Explained” item, like they probly had to explain the Clarence Thomas hearings back in the day.
What did Goyer say that was so offensive? That the character was created to be a sex fantasy for male comic book fans.
I cannot tell a lie, I was really fuckin excited for the new Superman movie. I went to the midnight show and everything. I showed up way too early. I passed a guy dressed as Superman going into the john and might’ve given him a high five if I knew he’d washed his hands. I’m down for this. I wanted this to be great.
I’m not one of those people who shits on SUPERMAN RETURNS. I liked it, I just didn’t love it, mainly because I think it was shackled by nostalgia, held back by trying so hard to recapture the old Richard Donner movies. I know this is considered blasphemy in many circles (you’re gonna be hearing that a couple more times in this review) but I just don’t like those Superman pictures that much. They were great in the ’70s and early ’80s but to me they haven’t held up the way the Spielberg and Lucas joints of the era still do and will continue to. So as good of a job as Bryan Singer did of imitating that old version of Superman and goofball Lex Luthor and re-using the same font and music and all that, I feel like what I want to see now is start over and do a different take on Superman that’s made for the futuristic year of 2013. That’s what director Zack Snyder, writer David S. Goyer and producer Christopher Nolan have done with MAN OF STEEL and… well, I like not love this one also. But maybe like it a little more. Maybe a smidge closer to love on this one. I don’t feel high off it like I did off the Batman movies. But I am still thinking about it, and already want to see it again, see how it plays without all the baggage of expectations. (read the rest of this shit…)
Well, shit. I had been staying offline working on this review for a couple hours before I had to check a detail on IMDb and found out about the massacre in Colorado last night. Fucking horrible, man. Be safe everybody.
We had a fucked up tragedy in Seattle a few months ago, and even though that was on a smaller scale you see how many people it affects. For those of us blessed enough to be unscathed it still has a psychological effect, it forces you to think about yourself and your loved ones having to go through that. Because I walk by the place where it happened, I know people who went there all the time, I’ve dealt with mentally ill people that could’ve been that guy. Or in this case I love movies too, I went to a midnight showing too, alot of my friends did, alot of you guys did. It’s just as bad as all the other things we read about on the news but it seems more personal.
But I’ve also seen how the community has come together, has celebrated the lives and the art of the people who died, are continuing to hold benefit shows and fundraisers for the families and for the little cafe where it happened. You see that people really do care about their neighbors. And I hope we will also try to learn from these horrible things and figure out how to improve the system to identify the root causes and fix things, get sick people help or whatever needs to be done long before it comes to this.
Warner Brothers is pulling advertising for the weekend, canceled a premiere in France and all TV appearances for the stars, because it seems tacky to promote a movie during this. But instead this sick asshole gets to pretend he’s a super villain, he gets to be on TV, the whole world has to pay attention to him. He gets to stand in for the big summer event movie.
Is it wrong to let one psychopath intentionally take away this source of joy, this thing we’ve been looking forward to so long, that we we want to discuss and (possibly) celebrate? Or is it superficial to still want to do that in the face of this sickening loss of human life? I don’t think Batman movies are the most important thing in the world but shit, I want to talk about Batman movies!
I don’t know what the right thing to do is. Maybe it’s too depressing to think about right now, but when you’re ready for my review of the new Batman movie here it is.
THIS IS AN ALL SPOILERS, I’M-ASSUMING-YOU’VE-ALREADY-SEEN-IT REVIEW. If there’s anybody out there still deciding whether to see it or not this is not gonna help, don’t read it. (read the rest of this shit…)
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