Empty Balcony: Undisputed

Monroe Hutchens (Wesley Snipes) is a hell of a boxer. In fact, he has never lost a fight. The big problem for Hutchens, though, is that all the boxing he’s done for the past ten years has been care of the California Department of Corrections. Once the California state champ for his weight class, Hutchens was poised to enter into a lucrative professional boxing career when he came home to find his woman in bed with another man. Hutchens beat the paramour to death and was sentenced to life without parole for the murder. While in prison, he continues to ply his trade, doing his time and beating up on the boxing champions from other prisons around the state. Continue readingEmpty Balcony: Undisputed”

October Horrorshow: Alien: Covenant, or, An Endless String of Stupid Decisions: The Movie

Every artist reaches, and then passes, their creative peak. It happens to everyone involved in creative endeavors should they survive long enough. Bands grow stale, the words of authors lose their ferocity, and auteurs show their viewers passable films where once there were epics. Declaring an artist as being past their prime is a bit like writing an obituary while a person is still alive, but those are the feelings that are evoked by watching a film like Alien: Covenant. It’s gorgeous to look at, and is still obviously the construction of a master filmmaker, but the deft touch and tight focus that made Alien a classic is all gone. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: Alien: Covenant, or, An Endless String of Stupid Decisions: The Movie”

Stallone Month: Bullet to the Head

If there is one positive from Hurricane Katrina, one not worth the cost yet still a positive, it has been the emergence of a Louisiana style of crime filmmaking — a bayou noir. Filmmakers have been drawn to the state in a show of solidarity with the residents of Louisiana and to take advantage of tax credits. It’s a win-win for the film industry and for local economies. Whether or not it’s a win for audiences rests on whether or not these films are worth watching. Continue readingStallone Month: Bullet to the Head”

October Horrorshow: Alien vs. Predator: Requiem

In the canon of the Alien franchise, it’s always been assumed that if the aliens made their way to civilization, they would be an unstoppable force, toppling everything we’ve built. Such was the case among the small pocket of colonists in Aliens. But that film took place in the future, far away in time and place from contemporary earth. The first Alien vs. Predator film took place in modern times, but writer/director Paul W.S. Anderson went to some lengths to ensure there was no plausible chance the aliens could threaten civilization, placing the action in his film on a remote Antarctic island under 2,000 feet of ice. Why such reluctance to show aliens tearing up Times Square, say, or climbing the towers of the Golden Gate Bridge? Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: Alien vs. Predator: Requiem”

October Horrorshow: Alien vs. Predator

Alien vs. Predator, the 2004 film that brought together the two franchises for the big screen, has its roots way back in the 1980s. In 1989, Dark Horse Presents ran a short Aliens vs. Predator story for three issues, written by Randy Stradley with art by Phill Norwood and Karl Story, which served as an introduction to a standalone miniseries Dark Horse subsequently published. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: Alien vs. Predator”

October Horrorshow: Alien 3

Alien 3This is the film that started the long decline of the Alien franchise, but much of the bad feeling this film generates is misplaced, I think. There’s a lot of love out there for the first two films in the series, so any continuation of the story is going to face both closer scrutiny and higher expectations. I don’t believe there is anything inherently wrong with that, so long as opinions aren’t magnified beyond a reasonable consideration of a film’s quality. Luckily for the filmmakers of Alien 3, it was made in a simpler time — the 1990s — when a franchise flick wasn’t judged with any sort of finality before it was even released.

Alien 3 hails from 1992, and was director David Fincher’s first feature film. He worked from a screenplay cobbled together by David Giler, Walter Hill, and Larry Ferguson, after the project had been bouncing around in development since shortly after Aliens hit it big at the box office. At one point, sci-fi legend William Gibson was hired to write a script by Giler and Hill (who also served as producers on the film). Gibson’s script was wildly different from what was eventually filmed, so much so that he received no writing credit. For the curious, Gibson’s screenplay can be found online. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: Alien 3″

Schwarzenegger Month: Red Heat

Most anyone who became aware of both self and American culture after the 1980s has heard of Arnold Schwarzenegger. They’ve probably seen at least one of his films, or maybe heard that he ran California and had terrible taste in SUVs. That’s not all these people would have in common. They would also all be collectively unaware that, once upon a time, Jim Belushi was famous. That’s right, Millennials and those from the generation-yet-to-be-adequately-named, once upon a time there was a mediocre actor and comedian who punched well above his weight, starring in such films as The Principal, Real Men, K-9, and Red Heat, all of which made money. Continue readingSchwarzenegger Month: Red Heat”

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”