Skinheads takes a particular place in my heart, not just because it’s one of Graydon Clarks better looking films, but also because of the era that it’s done in. With Clark I spend a lot of time in the 70s and 80s, but this is early 90s – right around the time I was a teenager. You can tell from the fashions and the hairstyles and that alone is enough to really make me enjoy it. The sort of commentary here is just a little bit better than a lot of stuff that Clark does – it’s still heavy-handed, but delivered with better efficiency and more entertainment. Clark himself will admit that he lifted the idea and most of the plot from his first film, but it plays better in this theme I think. Our plot involves a group of skinheads who are involved in a casual yet brutal murder, chasing down the last of the witnesses to it. I see some of the strongest performances in the villians here. In particular, the leader of the gang of skinheads – this guy is perfect, he is charismatic and articulate and when he speaks his voice just draws you in. The fact that what he’s actually saying is horrible and ugly is irrelevant, you just sink into his passion and his voice. With this strong performance I never ever lose my suspension of disbelief – I can absolutely see how this charismatic personality could’ve drawn people to his horrible cause. And make no mistake about it, he is absolutely charismatic and winning and beautiful – he is the perfect example of a sociopath. Great Kudos to both Clark and his actor for creating such a strong character – honestly a stronger character them our heroes.
Well perhaps not all of them, our old man played by Chuck Conners, he’s a little over the top but man is he entertaining and I am totally on his side from the word go. We get some of the best action set pieces from him and the events in his cabin – I absolutely love this. Indeed, it feels like there’s a lot more money spent on this and they are really wise – the action is fast and brutal and perfectly entertaining.
This could almost be a perfect movie for me – until we hit the rape scene towards the end. I genuinely don’t know why this was included – it does not really drive the narrator and if you want to give a female protagonist a better reason for wanting to extract revenge (something I don’t think she needs by the way, seeing her friend assaulted and gone down should be more than enough. And if it’s not, how about the fact that they planted them through this woods for a couple of days? We really don’t need to draw rape on top of all of this) but to me it seems ridiculous and excessive – it’s not even a matter of wanting to throw some nudity in there, we don’t see anything exposed… But we do see the act. It’s repulsive. Unfortunately this is a deal breaker for me, without the scene I probably would’ve recommended this film as a buy. It really is one of Clark’s better films and absolutely worth a watch.
It was slightly chilly for a spring afternoon as the creatures crawled out of their holes and congregated in the back patio of the 5 o’clock lounge for their annual food drive and monster walk. I was particularly excited this time around because my girls were both with me – but something was different this time… This year, instead of being zombies, they had chosen to arrive as hunters. Madeline carried her bow, and Lydia packed her crossbow under her purple survivor vest.
The monster walks at the 5 o’clock lounge are familiar – it’s where the first zombie walks I can remember started, and the rout is a traditional block of Lakewood that I’ve spent many years on. It’s probably the one that I’ve taken the kids on the most frequently as well – with familiar streets and faces. The umbrella corporation was there, as well as our typical field leader – this time decked out in a slightly more armoured persona of major iseue. The zombie hunter aspect is new for the kids though, it’s something I’ve been suggesting for years since they don’t always dig the make up… This time however, it’s fueled by a desire to play a little more into the world that Maddie is creating with her backyard zombie movie. Indeed, the girls cornered various zombies before the walk and got some footage for their web series…
I was actually a little disappointed with my own make up, but the kids decision to go was a last-minute one… Lydia informed me the night before that she wanted to go and wanted a costume, but she didn’t know what… Something like survival clothing – with tools and weapons on it… I cut up an old purple bag and added a walkie-talkie, spare arrows, and grenades to it (she was inexplicably excited about the grenades – a tool she recognises from some of her video games). On the back she requested a cute and tie zombie picture which I whipped up using gel markers, paint, and glitter.
With Maddie deciding the day of the zombie walk that she wanted to go, there is no time to really create much for her though I did build her some balsawood arrows with blunted foam tips, that way she can carry her bow though she wasn’t allowed to fire it. She was a little bummed, especially since Lydia was allowed to shoot her soft foam arrows from her crossbow.
While your average zombie walk brings out the typical undead featuring torn skin, splattered blood, and oozing sores, The 5 o’clock monster walk always seems to encourage a greater variety of creatures – you never quite know what kind of monsters will show up… Killer panders or demented Easter bunnies – Gas mask fiends, zombified dogs and Teen Titans, not to mention the star cars from the weaponised zombie Dodge, to the glitterati art car that pulled up behind it.
Lydia mention to her mother that she wanted to go to the zombie walk because it was something that daddy liked and she wanted to do something with me… I think that’s the best part of these kind of things… We all had fun, and in the end the walk wrapped up too soon – leaving the girls asking when the next one was. We’ll find out soon.
Eaters : Rise of the dead is a by the number is zombie film.it’s right out of the Romero playbook, zombie outbreak and fall of society. Very standard fare, with a lot of actors who are definitely into horror and genre films. The zombies here are viral, not quite as fast as rage zombies but certainly that same origin done make up is good, the splatter is fun and the filmmakers are trying very hard to make an enjoyable film. They realise this is not art, and there are definately not trying for a high concept piece here. It’s good bloody fun to throw on and play in the background at a party or will you do something else.it’s exactly the sort of thing that I expect to see a compatible like cinema wasteland done it also exactly the sort of film that I could see myself renting back in my College days. It’s a recommend, but a shaky one. Go in with low expectations and you’ll have fun.
I don’t often have my family with me when I hit an advance screening, but in the case of Disney’s new documentary Born in China, it was a must. My youngest daughter loves pandas and that alone was enough to compel her to run out to the theater. I settled into the nice reclining chairs in Rocky River and ambivalently prepared myself for an hour and a half of nature channel on the big screen. I wasn’t expecting to be impressed and I had no idea the oddessy that we were all just about to embark on.
The first thing that strikes you about Born in China is just how lush it is. The vast panoramas that just seem to go on forever immediately draw you in and then take off on breathtaking aerial shots. It’s all of this before we are even introduced to the animals and Disney is obviously showing that they’ve put the maximum effort into this film. This isn’t just going to be any old nature documentary.
We follow a year in the life of several animal families, a group of monkeys, a panda mother and daughter, a snow leopard and her two cubs as well as a herd of elk. The leopard and monkeys get the lions share of the screen time, having the most story to follow, and yet there’s a certain charm to the way we cut back and forth between narratives and the bumbling panda never failed to make my Lydia laugh as it tumbled down the trees and hills time and time again.
The story about the skull faced monkeys in particular seemed to have the most characters and factions as our young subject explores other families and groups of monkeys before finally returning to it’s family and finally seeming to find his place.
My elder daughter Maddie found herself drawn more to the snow leopard’s segments. The story of the leopard is far more aggressive as the mother hunts and tries to provide for her cubs while defending her territory. The violence of the hunt is muted to keep us in a “G” rating, we see no blood and absent is the actual killing strike. I know it seems silly, but I kind of miss it.
The film makers work hard to craft a narrative from their years worth of filming. Some of the stories are a triumphant adventure, others are melancholy. Not everyone gets a happy ending, but they frame the movie with the Chinese myth about the Storks – the idea that they carry the spirit of the dead with them, perpetuating the cycle of life and death. It’s an adequate conceit, but honestly, the writing isn’t what you are here for. Born in China is beautifully filmed. It’s one of those rare films that you really need to see in a movie theater with a good screen – no drive-in theares (sorry Aut-O-Rama! I still love you and I’ll be out this summer, I promise!) or HD TVs for this, there’s too much detail and scope for any other platform to do it justice.
Stay for the credits by the way. There’s behind the scenes stuff, bloopers and general shenanigans with the animals as they explore the cameras and check inside the filmmakers bags.
Seriously, if you’re a fan of documentaries, or nature channel presentations, and especially if you have kids, take them to this. It’s a brilliant departure from the summer blockbusters full of superheros and lazers and by-the-numbers CGI cartoons.
Born in China opens in theaters nationwide this Friday
Satan’s cheerleaders is a very quintessential Graydon Clark film – its exploitation to the core, and it’s a grind house pedigree is unquestionable. A quick and easy description is the creepy janitor spying on the cheerleaders is actually into the occult and wants them as his own. I don’t know that we really need much more than that now do we?
This is a trashy B exploitation film, and to that end it works extremely well. Cheerleader films were in at the time and Clark wisely exploited the fashion of the day – but combining it with in a horror film is really where he gets my attention. He’s going old-fashioned with the satanic cult, robes and sacrifices and that sort of thing… It’s got a nice Hammer feel towards the end and that’s exactly what I want from this sort of film.
The only part that occasionally irritates me is our virginal chaperone who is naive to the point of irritation – I understand, that’s really the point of the character but it’s still grates on me a little bit too much – it’s a little too on the nose…but then again it is the experimental era of the 70s and 80s and it’s a bit that probably worked a lot better at the time.
Satan’s Cheerleaders actually does not pass the watch test for me – it took a couple of tries to get through this and I’m not sure why… It’s not too long, it’s just not engaging enough for me. I’m glad to have seen it, but I probably will not be revisiting it. It’s one of the easier Clark films to find, in fact I’ve seen it streamed on YouTube once in a while as well as sold on DVD are conventions. If you can get a screening of it someplace like wasteland, you’re better off.
This film would be easy to put in a box – standard low-budget zombie fair but it kind of deserves better than that. It’s easy to dismiss it as another shot on tape, micro budget zombie flick – with credits crafted using the latest Windows movie maker plug-in and the trendiest fonts they could find from the free download sites on the internet. It really makes me want to dismiss it, but there IS a story in here somewhere, and it’s a genuinely good idea.
Two couples accompany their friend out to the lake, where they’re planning one last great weekend before he goes in therapy (No one seems to optimistic about his cancer). Army people in that same words, and one of them doesn’t look too well. One of the army men is affected, and discovers a cancer patient infecting him as well.
The clever thing is that while this is a great virus film it’s not a zombie virus. It doesn’t kill you, at least not right away down the range text over in trigger situations, and those bits of rage become more and more frequent. It’s a conciet that works extremely well for a micro budget production with fairly amateur actors stomping around a wooded area. It’s the sort of idea I genuinely like to see developed further and picked up by somebody who can give it a better production than it’s got. The script is smart enough to give include a bit of a twist ending and I honestly left the film feeling pretty satisfied. I’d have been completely okay buying this movie at a convention or at the discount bin – it’s definitely worth the time to watch. Despite the rocky start is more here than meets the eye.
April Fool’s has become so much worse since the advent of the internet hasn’t it? I spent last year just goofing on people.
Well Last year, Cinema Wasteland resident A. Ghastlee Ghoul from the Wackadoo Wax radio show announced that his station was changing format from classic rock to all POLKA all day! I immediately whipped this little ditty up just to further add to the lunacy.
The Void is a good movie, I liked it. I feel like it’s important to lead with that kind of positivity, because I really did enjoy it but I think a lot of people are going to be put off by my next statement that while a good movie, it’s not actually original but completely derivative.
The Void starts out with a bang, with cultists, people attacked, bodies on fire. They definitely want you to know exactly what kind of movie you’re walking into. We spend The bulk of the film at an urgent care emergency room (that is about to get shutdown) leaving us with only a skeleton crew; a doctor and a couple of nurses, and an intern. There are also a couple of patients – one of which is a pregnant teenager accompanied by her grandfather. Our main character, a bland, non-descript cop, bursts in with a suspect in tow and shortly thereafter the mayhem begins. When a couple of mysterious strangers appear, and the hospital is surrounded by cultists in white robes, the movie begins in earnest. After the first atrocity appears, it begs the question “Are the cultists trying to get into the hospital or are they trying to keep the people there from getting out? ”
The biggest problem with the void is some sloppy writing in places… Too often, I felt like I needed to know more, like I was expected to understand things that hadn’t yet been explained…
“Okay, so they’re husband and wife? I thought that might be the case but wasn’t sure. Are they estranged or just having problems?”
“I see, he’s the kids father… That makes sense, but it would help if I knew that half an hour ago”
Stuff like that leads to confusion and pushes you out of the story. I can usually figure it out and get myself back on track but it seems like more work and I should have to do in a film like this…
We also really need better characterization – the characters are all stereotypical cardboard cutouts. The strong nurse, the dutiful cop, wise old doctor, the teen mother, and the slacker (and slightly morbid?) millennial intern. There just isn’t any more depth to these characters than that. They aren’t developed at all… I’d like to know more about the teenager, do we think somebody else is the father? Is there a mystery about it or regret? When we discover the identity of the child’s father near the end of the third act, it feels almost tacked on as an afterthought… It ties things up in a tidy little bow, but doesn’t feel like it was planned. The story didn’t lead us there. I’d like to know more about the father-son relationship, I’d like to know more about the sheriffs secrets, all of those kind of things could’ve developed these characters. I’d have liked to connect to these people a great deal more instead of them just being fodder for the monster chase. These characters alone can’t carry The film without the added attraction of blood and gore…
Fortunately for us, there are buckets of blood and piles of gore spread generously throughout this film. These filmmakers are obviously heavily influenced by David Cronenberg and practical effects showcases like Rob Bottin’s work on The Thing. It’s evident in the trailer as well, and it’s the sort of film remind you just how effective practical work is. There’s a weight and sheen there that computer FX just don’t quite match in visceral terror. Where CGI is used in this film, it’s appropriate – enhancing what was already on the screen, and taking us places that practical can’t quite reach…
Part of me really wants to watch this over again, in a well lit room with a pad and pencil in one hand and my copy of the Psychotronic Encyclopedia in the other to keep score with. The homages come fast and furious… You may remember a few years back when somebody took Quinton Tarantino’s work and paired it up side-by-side with the films that they claimed he had ripped off… This is very much a similar situation, where the filmmakers have taken the best elements and scenes from their favorite horror films and woven them together into a brilliant yet derivative patchwork of classic horror’s greatest hits.
There are definite callbacks and homage to Reanimator in our main villain. The discovery of the mysterious staircase that wasn’t there before, leading deep into the bowels of the subbasement and beyond – I could swear I’m watching Michele Soavi‘s The Church. There are moments where blue strobes give me an Aliens feel. The framing of the scene when the monstrosity’s leg comes down is pulled straight from Cronenberg’s The Fly. The victim racing down the closing hallway with the monster hot on his heels is absolutely pulled from Hellraiser. The discovery of the failed experiments that come to life and come after you reminded me a great deal of Dr Satan’s lair in House of 1000 Corpses (though it’s more likely they were homaging what ever Rob Zombie was pulling from there himself). There are elements that reminded me a great deal the Blind Dead and some of Fulchi’s zombie films… The face of one of the creatures towards the end, I’m not even sure WHAT it reminds me of – but it certainly reminds me of something, and I bet Doctor Who based the Ood on it… Apparently we all read the same books. One of the end scenes is straight out of The Beyond – in fact, I think they may have actually pulled it off better than in The Beyond!
In the end, it works… It works because they’re doing it correctly – capturing the feel and the moment rather than the clumsy way too many people try to to homage by naming their characters “Mr Craven “or “Mr Romero “and slapping up horror posters all over their sets. There is none of that here, but rather respectful re-creations of elements from tried-and-true horror films that work and bring you back to those moments. But as I said, the over reliance on this kind of homage mentality keeps it from being original, and that does limit it. The extreme gore, directly aims it at a specific audience that is probably going to get a lot of these references, but may keep away others that could’ve used this as a gateway to horror. Ultimately, I suspect this will keep it from becoming a classic though I’m sure it will still eventually end up in my own collection…
The ultimately, it may keep it from becoming a classic though I suspect it will still eventually end up in my own collection…
The void is playing in select theatres on a limited run right now – The Capitol will be running at one more time this Saturday at midnight! Do yourself a favor and catch this while you still have the chance of seeing on the big screen!
As the blue skull face alien stepped up to the urinal, a blood soaked priest burst out of one of the stalls. The crimson stains on his white vestments matched the red pus oozing out of the recesses in the zombie-like aliens face.
“Is that Skelly over there?” The priest yelled out as he was joined by another man slowly been eaten by the zombie on his shoulder.
What’s funny is the part I find most disturbing about the scene, is that there are guys actually talking to each other in the bathroom – it’s kind of a violation of bro code, whereas everything else I’ve described here is perfectly normal for Cinema Wasteland. Strap in. You know it’s going to be a long post when I can’t get it out on Monday….
Sometimes Fridays are a slow night, where you ease yourself in with the short film block and panels, other times it’s just as busy as Saturday. This time around I came in, greeted friends and grabbed my autographs because it looked like it was going to be a busy day. They had already been busy, braving the snow that Cleveland had dumped on us overnight. As I sat at work Friday morning I watched as Wastelanders built a snowman in the hotel yard. My friend Bruce Wayne was in attendance this year and I had his room number, so as soon as I arrived, I started to post Superman pictures on the door to his weekend batcave. Then it was time to pop over to some of the guests – this time round we were doing a Night of the Living Dead Reunion, and Wasteland had brought in a number of the stars. It just so happens that my daughter is making her own zombie video at this very moment and I spent some time securing cameos for her movie. Stuff like this is one of the joys of small conventions; you have time to spend with the guests and get a greater connection.
I discovered I had some time to kill between panels and movies so I made my way over to the Mummy and the Monkeys show. They were screening King of the Zombies, a film I’m very fond of – Mantan Moreland was a genius and because this is in the public domain it’s a horror host staple. As the mummy, Janet Decay did her segment I gasped with delight. She covered one of our local zombie walks, and I found myself appearing in the video – a zombie clad in iron man out armor carrying around a skeletal Spiderman. This is actually the Second time I’ve appeared on the Mummy and the Monkey, and that’s not even counting my appearance on Janet’s previous show.
I slipped out of there in time to catch the first panel – Rick Cazoine is an animator whose work you seen even if you don’t realize it. He did the end credits for Night of the Living Dead, as well as the animation for Creepshow, and even some work on Evil Dead two. With that kind of a filmography under his belt, you can imagine this was a fascinating talk. Rick came prepared, complete with a slideshow covering his career – it was a really fun way of transcending the normal movie panel chitchat, and made it all the more engrossing.
After pasting more Superman on Bruce’s door, I snuck into to Gunga Jim’s screening. I really like Jim and his approach to her hosting, the commentary that he lays over tracks is always hilarious – unexpectedly so sometimes. He passed out graduation caps and introuced his presentation for the evening. Cinema Wasteland is basically a show that celebrates bad movies, but the Bigfoot movie that Gunga was screening this weekend was so terrible I couldn’t even manage to get past the half an hour mark. I struggled from the room in search of my team for that nights trivia challenge.
The Red Robsters were all huddled around a table in the bar as Nicole tried in vain to set up a Skype session with Angelique and her sainted fiancé – the two of them had to unexpectedly cancel their trip wasteland this year and we were all missing them back in Georgia. We got the video working, but the audio never came through which was just as well – the noise level in the bar was so high that she probably wouldn’t of been able to hear us anyhow. We communicated through Skype by holding up handwritten notes to each other, jokes and sketches and general wasteland like conversation. It was by far my favorite part of the night.
The trivia contest itself was a bust, taking too long, with the organization too confusing not to mention the questions being really stinking hard! I figured the questions would be similar to the ones we used to get during Ghastlee night at the movies, when we played 42nd Street Pete’s 42 questions. No such luck, these questions were truly obscure and crazy difficult stuff. I threw my graduation cap down in disgust
“It’s like this doesn’t work at all! Look this cap comes right off!” I exclamed as Nicole grabbed a knife and tried to take out the competition.
The game ran long and I missed the final movie of the night leaving me tired and about ready to be done for the day. I politely declined everybody’s invitation to head back to the hotel room and eat junk food while watching the Greasy Strangler in favor of running home and heading the hay, to be fresh for the next day.
After getting up, making the girls breakfast, and then presenting them and my wife with the surprises I had brought them from Wasteland I was back in the car and ready for day two.
Saturday is always the big day in Wasteland. There are movies galore, not to mention panels and events. With two Night of the Living Dead panels, split between the actress and the original investors, even the most diehard fan was going to learn something new about the seminal classic.
I managed to sneak out for lunch with friends and then shuffle into my make up between panels. I was trying out a They Live look…it’s a make-up I’ve never quite perfected – and Saturday was no exception. Everything is still a little bit too big, the chin hangs down to low, and the eyes are too bulky. They also didn’t want to stay in place. I had tried these out at home previously, but only for a short while – just to see if they would stay when I put them in and to discover whether or not is was possible to hold them in with my eyebrows and cheeks; much like a monocle. It was okay at first, but after 20 minutes they started popping up and did not want to stay in any longer. I ended up sealing them in with liquid latex (Spirit Gum didn’t hold either), which meant the bug eyes would render everything around me somewhat blurry for the next six hours.
Outside the convention hotel, I grabbed Rhonda and Criss and we sat and played her new board game “go to hell! “. Rhonda is the only person that I know who brings card games and board games to a convention, but really it’s a brilliant idea. It’s a great way to fill some of the dead spots between movies and panels, not to mention giving the smokers something to do while they feed their addiction in exile.
I slapped some more Superman stuff on Bruce’s door, only to discover that I wasn’t the only one doing this now! There were superman towels and stuff there that I hadn’t taped up there. I added a few more contributions and headed back down the hall, because it was time for Ghastlee Night at the Movies.
This is always my favorite part of the convention, with bizarre games and activities going on after the house band opens the ceremonies. I jumped up for the first game, and found myself standing on the stage with Rhonda and another young man who was attending wasteland for the very first time. We played a game where they revealed movie posters and characters on the screen, one small part at a time – the goal was to guess the character with as little of it showing as possible. Ghastlee came up to me to introduce me as one of the players and ask my name. “My name is Matt, “I replied. Ghastlee stepped back for a second, aghast.
“Oh my God, it really is Matt! “He turned to the audience. “Matt’s a friend, and I didn’t recognize him with all that stuff on his face! “. Yes, the game is off to a roaring start.
“And the picture is – Ghastlee’s wedding night video! ”
“Oh God, I hope not – if that’s the case EVERYONE loses! ”
“Hey, YOU wanna come up here and host this thing? I didn’t think so! ”
Of course, keep in mind that my vision is impaired – and we are playing a picture game. How I won this one by correctly identifying Tarman from Return of the Living Dead is absolutely beyond me. It may have had to do with me clapping my hands over Rhonda’s eyes when it was her turn to guess…. The festivities carried on with murder mysteries, appalling displays, and of course the S@#%heel of the year award. I tried with all my might to sway the vote for Ryan, but alas it was to no avail.
As things wound down, I ran to the bathroom to peel off my make up before the late nights screenings. It was clinging much harder to my face then I had expected and had dried into something somewhat different than the look I had intended. Like I said earlier, I really need to refine this particular lock.
Sundays are always a bit melancholy and I frequently skip them. It’s a day to say goodbye to everybody, and catch up on any films that you may have missed throughout the weekend. It’s also cheaper day so people like my friend Sean will pop in just to shop on those days. Still, everyone is moving just a bit slower than usual – my friend Jason refers to Sundays at Wasteland as “the unofficial Strongsville zombie walk”. The film selection this Sunday gave me a very VHS vibe. They really felt like the sort of movies that I’d pull off the shelf at Heights Video on the Friday evening to take home with a pizza and friends. Let Sleeping Corpses Lie is a slower film but has moments of magnificent gore, and the style that is very distinct. The same can’t be said for Nightmare City, which seems to break all rules of zombies by having them cognizant, fast, and using tools and weapons. Really not sure what I was watching here!
In between my two features, I managed to sneak back in for the tail end of the 16 mm screening of Night of the Living Dead – it was about half over, but still worth watching. Midafternoon on Sunday feels like a good time for this movie and I let myself be drawn in with the familiar faces – faces that I had just spoken to over the weekend.
I tried not to glance at the dealers room as I left. It always feel sad to see them packing everything up and to watch people checking out of the hotel, but it’s okay – because it will all be back in just six months. My friend Nicole says “You know why Wasteland is only three days? Any longer and God would notice and rain fire on us.”
See you in October.
This is my last of the army men, and I needed him to be a tank. Big muscles and again, a very Roadblock look, but even moreso.
It’s the first weekend in April, so you know what means…I’m headed to Strongsville after work and spending the weekend at Cinema Wasteland. Of all the cons I go to, this is my favorite. If you’re in the northeastern Ohio region, come on down! Hope to see you there!
You know, it’s kind of a shame that Dracula versus Frankenstein is probably my favorite of all Graydon Clark’s films. It’s a shame, because it’s the one that he probably has the least to do with. Clark wrote the original script, but the original script is somewhat far cry from what film eventually morphed into. There are still elements of horror and bodysnatching in this film, Lon Cheney Junior was still a fiendish best and Carol Nash was still chewing the scenery, but it was a last-minute decision to turn this into a Dracula film. While Clark feels that was a mistake, I personally am grateful for it – I love the interplay here, and it makes for a wonderful trashy movie. I first caught this at the midnight showing doing Cinema Wasteland, and that’s exactly where belongs. Our Dracula here is not necessarily a traditional Dracula, indeed he is a very 70s looking fella – with a huge white-man ‘fro, and a dark beard. Still, he is very scary looking, intimidating – they’ve dressed him well including a distinctive ring that the Nash character recognizes. It’s almost comical how matter of fact he is one he discovers Dracula – no one is surprised to find this immortal blood sucking monster actually exists. In this error of Buffy and true blood and Twilight, that may seem commonplace, but in the era when the universal monsters reigned supreme and hammer was the innovator – this approach was practically unheard of. For all my love of Dracula in this film, I must say Frankenstein is a little disappointing. We get a dreadful rubber mask that squishes a little too much, and an actor that feels just a teensy bit too short for the role. I do have to wonder if there was no room in the budget for platform shoes all lifts.
Because this is one script that went through several mutations eventually evolving into something radically different, the narrative frequently takes left turns and doesn’t always make a lot of sense. That’s okay, because we’re not really coming to the film for a lot of sense. We’re coming to this to watch Dracula and Frankenstein and Lon Chaney Junior, and to revel in our love of these monsters. It’s a film to watch together with drunk friends late at night, schlock to watch and laugh at and enjoy. And that’s exactly how I experienced it – and I’d have no other way.
Usually when we see a sequel to a remake, it’s a whole new story. It becomes it’s own thing with the license to depart from the franchise source material – so from this I expected the Fly 2 to have very little in common with Return of the Fly ( the sequel to the original Fly film). I was surprised at just how many similarities I found instead.
The Fly 2 is still very much a descendant from Cronenberg‘s Fly. Indeed, despite the fact that we pretty much have an entirely new cast and crew, they manage to match the tone and transgressive levels that the 1986 film presented, making a very strong connection visually.
The son of Jeff Goldblum and Geena Davis’ characters is being raised by the corporation that seized the Telepods after Goldblum’s death – the boy, Martin is raised as a sort of human gunia pig – watched to see what happens to the warped genes he inherited from his father. It’s a good conceit to avoid a simple retread of the previous film’s plot device.
Still, there’s more similarities here than you may expect. Much like in the Fly Returns, the monster makeup is bigger, there’s a definite attempt to be far more gruesome (though it kind of comes off as cartoonish). This monster is definitely more of a killer as well, taking revenge on those who wronged him. It’s an interesting parallel, creating once again, a more straightforward story. The ending mirrors the Fly Returns as well, with us against all odds, finding a cure for the mutation and living happily ever after. Probably.
As good as this is though, I must say, this is another reason to reboot the franchise. I like the look and feel of the film, but it’s extremely dated. One look and you instantly see you’re still in the 80’s, along with the stereotypical “evil corporation” being the villian in three piece suits. Driopping Princess Vespa from Spaceballs in as the love intrest dosen’t help it any.
Still, I really do enjoy this film and honestly this entire series. Plowing through a franchise like this has been fun.
We should do this again sometime.
Way back In 2011, I mentioned how I thought The Fly should be remade by someone other than Cronenberg. It’s a thought I still stand by because of how the movie is tied very much to Cronenberg‘s style and I’d like to see something that is more about the Fly than Cronenberg.
That’s not to say I don’t like the film. Indeed, considering t he central premise of the Fly movies is body horror, Cronenberg is really a logical choice and what he gave us was a terrifying update of the story. His invented some iconic images, the telepods themselves in particular.
Remakes were different in the 80s, when video was still in it’s infancy and the internet didn’t exist in it’s current form. Old movies weren’t as readily accessible, and sometimes a remake was the only way for a new generation to experience a story – yet in a lot of cases they really went thier own directions with the remakes. It’s a mix of those things here; this isn’t the tense mystery that the original was. We’re not searching for a fly with a white head to try and reverse this acciedent. We’re focused more on the transformation. It’s not about body part swapping, but corrupt genes and the horror of losing control of your own form.
The relationship between Jeff Goldbum and Geena Davis is a flirtation and romance rather than an established marriage like in the original – it provides it’s own tension as we add the factor of a budding relationship to the trauma of mutating into something else. It comes off as more real because of the fact that Goldblum and Davis were in a relationship at the time in real life as well.
Despite the creature effect being far more horrifying that anything we’d seen in previous Fly films, the heart of the story is here (by the way, this is something I’ve only come to realize lately…so I was wrong back in this post when I said he missed the heart of the film. Consider this my retraction of that one statement). It’s not about a crazed monster killing people. It’s a far more personal story and the ending here is just as heartbreaking as it was in the original.
I think this stands alone – you don’t need any knowledge coming it, it dosen’t stand on the source material, but is certianly enhanced by it. I was fortunate enough to catch this at the Capitol on the big screen, and it’s always going to be a recommend.
Okay now- four movies down…one to go.