October Horrorshow, Retroactive: The Last Man on Earth, The Omega Man, I Am Legend

The Omega ManThe three films adapted from Richard Matheson’s 1954 novel I Am Legend vary widely in scope, story, and distance from the original source material. They are all shaky and mostly forgettable, but The Omega Man maintains a special place in cinema as one of star Charlton Heston’s many 1970s forays into post-apocalyptic science fiction. For that, it is the most interesting of the three adaptations, if not the best, edging The Last Man on Earth by a close margin.

The Last Man on Earth was the first of the adaptations, released in 1964. It was an Italian production following the spaghetti western model, and was credited with two directors, Ubaldo Ragona and Sidney Salkow. The film stars Vincent Price, at his Priciest, as it were. Price’s acting style takes some getting used to. He was a consummate professional who was more than capable in most of his roles. In Theatre of Blood, he was excellent. But he was victimized not just by type casting, but his own insistence on becoming a caricature of himself at times. The Last Man on Earth is b-cinema, and unfortunately, Price, playing protagonist Robert Morgan, fits right in. His many solitary scenes all seem to play like the boat deck scene in King Kong, where Robert Armstrong screen tests Fay Wray, giving audible directions for her first off camera encounter with a wild beast, finally yelling for her to “scream, Ann, scream for your life!” Continue readingOctober Horrorshow, Retroactive: The Last Man on Earth, The Omega Man, I Am Legend”

October Horrorshow, Retroactive: Prince of Darkness

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Victor Wong will kick your ass with a chopstick and a can of Shasta.

This is attempt number five. The fifth time I’ve begun a review of John Carpenter’s Prince of Darkness. Hopefully, I’ll be able to finish this effort. Suppose I start with a declarative statement, then justify it with an argument? Sounds like a plan. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow, Retroactive: Prince of Darkness”

October Horrorshow, Retroactive: The Thing

Last week saw a unique event in film. Four John Carpenter films landed in Brooklyn as part of a mini-retrospective at the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM). The featured films were Big Trouble in Little China, The Thing, They Live, and Escape from New York. All unique films from a unique filmmaker. B-movie schlock artist or perennially misunderstood genius, depending upon who’s doing the watching, Carpenter is a knowledgeable director who draws on his education, talents, and the best aspects of low-grade cinema to craft films that are unmistakably his. As soon as the opening credits roll, one enters Carpenter’s world. Viewer hears music (usually) from Carpenter’s own synthesizer, and the credits themselves are all the same white serif font on a black background, no matter which of his films is playing. Anamorphic lens effects and dark lighting cross among his works. Finally there is the thematic distrust of authority as a conceptual continuity throughout. All of this makes Carpenter’s films easily recognizable to anyone with even a cursory knowledge of his oeuvre. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow, Retroactive: The Thing”

October Horrorshow, Retroactive: 30 Days of Night

The film 30 Days of Night, adapted from the popular graphic novel, was marketed as a modern update on classical vampires. A break from pattern, these creatures of the night were more fearsome, more violent, more bloodthirsty, than any that had been onscreen before. Indeed, the vampires of 30 Days of Night are not Anne Rice’s cultured charmers, nor are they the stealthy apparitions of Bram Stoker, although their physical appearance pays homage to the Dracula of the classic film Nosferatu. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow, Retroactive: 30 Days of Night”

Shitty Movie Sundays: Resident Evil: Extinction

Oh, man. Just...oh, man. Resident Evil: Extinction is one of the worst wide-release films ever made. It’s a film so lacking in quality that the fact it found success at the box office has whittled away a bit more of my confidence in the judgment of mankind.

The voiceover after the opening scene is the first indication that a viewer is in for a long, torturous ride. Star Milla Jovovich’s reading of the narration is sluggish and amateurish. That seemed to be a basic theme throughout the film. Normally, I would be willing to forgive much in a failed film if it had performances that rose to the minimum level of professionalism expected from a major release, but this film just does not have it. From bit players to main characters, all are bad. Continue readingShitty Movie Sundays: Resident Evil: Extinction”

Shitty Movie Sundays: Doom

Sundays are usually pretty slow for me. The day and evening tend to drift by, lost in the newspaper, a book, televised sports, leisurely cooking, and the occasional shitty movie. It was late one Sunday that I came across an awful latter-day Godzilla film dubbed into Spanish (that I subsequently reviewed, along with its sequel). I usually get all heavy thinking out of the way before the sun goes down, and a mindless movie is a great complement to the relaxed nature of a Sunday evening. Paradoxically, this past Sunday’s fare, while mindless, was also frenetic and violent. But it was enough to satisfy the craving for bad cinema that I think all of us have a weak spot for. Continue readingShitty Movie Sundays: Doom”

October Horrorshow, Retroactive: Aliens

Alien is an artful film. It is frightening and suspenseful, but it also has operatic grace and gritty realism, despite being set mostly aboard a spaceship. It’s hard to imagine Alien spawning a sequel so tonally different yet still so successful, but Aliens does just that. The two films are poles apart, sharing with each other only the alien creatures and Sigourney Weaver, who reprises her role from the first film as Ripley. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow, Retroactive: Aliens”

October Horrorshow, Retroactive: Alien

Always beware when a series of films has been labeled a franchise. Often it can mean that any effort to bring quality to the screen has been abandoned to embrace the industry’s insulting perceptions of mass taste. Such has been the fate of the Alien series of movies. The last entry that remained within the original continuity, Alien: Resurrection, was so awful it effectively killed the series. Since then, it has truly embraced the franchise label, making reality longstanding plans to team up with the Predator franchise, following a trail the comic book wings of the two brands began blazing in the 1980’s. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow, Retroactive: Alien”