Wednesday 31 October 2007

Happy Halloween...

Well, it's been a productive October for the blog, I've fair blogged all over the shop.

Happy Halloween to everybody, particularly the Americans who do the season justice, not like here in Britain where people have already skipped over thinking about Guy Fawkes and are already spending for Xmas ... admittedly I've already bought some gifts, but that's a far cry from the norm. One seasonal holiday-type-deal at a time already!

Also, here in the UK we have teenagers wearing their normal clothes, coming two days early, in the middle of the day jangling spare change in their pocket as a not-so-subtle hint at what they want their treat to be. First of all - wankers. They should fuck off home and watch TV instead. Secondly - you kind of think that Halloween, in the UK at least, is pointless. Back in the day when my parents were doing it, it made sense. They didn't get Buzz Lightyear action figures for Xmas - back when it was known as Christmas for a reason too - so Halloween was a chance to get some pre-C'mas sweeties and have a bit of fun - plus they'd actually do a bloody trick, be it a joke, an extract from a play, do a bit on the piano or whatever. They actually earned their treats and didn't egg people's doors afterwards.

My point being, because we in the UK don't celebrate Halloween like the Americans do (e.g. adorning our porches with severed heads, zombies, witches and blood-dripping skeletons), there's pretty much absolutely no point in 'doing it' in the UK, beyond some dedicated souls who might host a fancy dress party...that's at least half-way to the spirit of the season. Get wankered whilst pretending to be Jason Voorhees.

Tuesday 30 October 2007

I took a Wrong Turn down Pleasantville and ended up in Ratatouille...

Ooh, that title gag was a bit forced wasn't it, or was it? Regardless...a few movie musings for you, my kind readers. Ratatouille: Pixar suffer the same fate as "Cars" with this one. It looks superb, has a solid story, but it's almost entirely devoid of any solid humour. There's the odd chuckle to be had here or there, but the focus on telling an epic animated story, rather than providing genuine entertainment means it comes out just as I've said - a beautiful looking film, with a moral and winning storyline, which unfortunately barely achieves a genuine guffaw. The design is creative, even inspired, the death-like food critic being a key example. The characterisation is top notch, even managing to evoke genuine emotion. I'm not sure why, but I was really impressed that his office - in an aerial shot - was shaped like a coffin. It's an entertaining film, but not in a very humorous's almost like a live-action coming-of-age drama, but you know, with rats. If only Pixar would rediscover their funny bone, the sheer onslaught of comedy mixed with their eye for emotional depth in films such as Toy Story was what made them great. They haven't lost this talent it seems, the shorts that they still produce are invariably a laugh riot - so why have their features become over-long gag-lite epics? For the love of Woody, give me something to laugh-till-I-cry at once again. Wrong Turn 2: First of all, I thought the original film was complete pish. A bunch of stupid characters with terrible dialogue making stupid decisions getting killed by woodland freaks. Admittedly there was one properly good scene - the silent escape attempt from the nutter's cabin - but beyond that (and oh yes, the really annoying woman getting something sharp in the head) it was pish. Similarly the straight-to-DVD Wrong Turn 2 is pish, but with a lower budget, shot on lower quality equipment, with lower caliber actors and yes you guessed it, a lower quality script. Nu-horror meets reality TV ... that sounds familiar but why? Oh yes - Halloween 8, another pile of fetid shit. There's a few good gore moments, but the overall tone of "who cares" washes over everything, including the cast of characters, the sort of people who deserve to be chewed up by mountain people. And why on earth is a retired Marine so shit at dodging in-coming fire? Pleasantville: At last, a film that didn't disappoint me this week. I've been meaning to get around to this film for years, but finally got around to it. An original story, solid or even great acting, a brilliant script and a technical marvel (at the time at least when the selective colour effect was new). I'll keep it brief, but the aspect that really impressed me was how the entire civil rights movement was re-enacted in the 'black-and-whites VS coloureds' unrest. In fact, it was so well captured it was often devastating, laying bare the simple fact that hating someone because of their skin colour is completely moronic. An act of the small-minded and ill-educated. We're all the human race, after all. It was a genuinely spell-binding watch, a quality piece of filmmaking in the truest sense. If only Hollywood would snap out of its remake fad and grow a set of balls again to invest in originality and imagination.

Michael Moore is a SiCKO...

Bowling For Columbine - it has its flaws, but there's a general good message about responsible gun control, ownership, and the utterly oddball surroundings of American gun culture. The idea that you can buy a gun and all the ammo you could want in a supermarket, but not an Unrated DVD of a horror movie, is just ludicrous.

Fahrenheit 9/11 - this is quite literally where I switched off to Michael Moore (having not seen anything he'd done prior to BFC, still haven't either). His own hatred for Bush just overflows unprofessionally as facts are thrown around as liberally as the lies are. It's all rather band-wagon-jumpy for my liking, and that's not to say I'm pro-Bush. I'm indifferent, he is a bit of an idiot, but I don't live in America so I won't pretend to know anything about American politics.

Sicko - once again the facts are as fudged as a Labour manifesto (now you see where my political vibes don't lie, hahaha). The truth is mixed with confusion and choice cuts - the key choice cut being the representation of the UK's NHS. Now while it's better to have a free public health service, Moore completely neglects to mention that it's all paid for by us ultimately through taxes. He also forgets that NHS Dentists are fewer and farther between than before, some people are electing to pull their own teeth out and you pay over £15 for a 2 minute, once-a-year check-up-fly-around-your-gob if you're lucky enough to have a place on an NHS Dentist's client list.

The deadly and growing problem of MRSA and CDIF are also neglected. The fact that GPs got more money for doing less work is skipped over, same goes for the 'business hours medical care' vibe that's creeping in in some places. The issue of waiting lists is neglected, as is the closure of localised facilities, as is the deadly increase in beaurocracy and pen pushing, as is the increase in training medical practioners graduating and then failing to get a job whatsoever.

All issues that are shown time and again in the papers, on the news, and represented in the house of commons, not to mention my family's personal interaction with the NHS. Some will be lucky enough to have never run into any problems, but evidently many are running into problems - some of them large and life-endangering, even life-taking. When the staff themselves say something is rotten in the state of Denver, who are you going to believe? Government mouthpieces showering you with fudged statistics, or those working on the front line?

This brings me to a sidetrack for a moment, I would like to say that I have maximum respect for nursing staff. From what I've seen first hand, they're the front line of medical care - whether it's working or faltering - they get the shit end of the wedge for most definitely not enough money. Our absolute respect is owed to them (except the few bad apples there no doubt are in the nursing profession - call me a pessimist here, but every section of society and the workplace has a bad egg or two).

At the very least, if our fingers get severed we're quids in and pay nothing, but with the amount of public spending that's been lavished on the NHS (draining into silver-lined pockets, rather than clean wards where it's supposed to be going) we should have the best health service in the world - and yet we don't and it's worse than it was 10 years ago.

A bit of a tangent rant, but the fact that all these problems were completely ignored by Moore, and the NHS being painted as the messiah of health care (complete with a bunch of Brits mockingly-chortling into their six-quid-prescriptions cut together to shove a middle finger right into the eye of all Americans), is just offensive. This is my British point-of-view of the film, and the only one I can give.

My point is, Sicko is exploitative, it's selective in its attention and it's manipulative. The American health system certainly appears to be a dodgy old mare (I'll go no further as I don't live there and won't pretend to know of it first hand) - there's a solid and important message that must be heard in the film, but once again Moore loses his bottle for a fair, intelligent discussion and instead goes for populist entertainment - documentary-as-movie.

The guy even exploits the fact he ANONYMOUSLY sent a cheque to pay for the health care, of the partner of a man who runs an anti-Moore website, for this movie ... I mean come on.

There's a message within him somewhere, if only he wasn't such a bloated afford-to-be-Liberal do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do'er.

Price War!!!

An actual mini rant this time - what is it with supermarkets and other retailers flogging DVDs for prices like £12.74. I've just seen an advert for the Die Hard 4 DVD (ug, "Live Free or Die Hard" if you must insist).

Can't we just had a flat rate "£13 mate, boshty - sorted"?

If you're in a shop and you're having to deal with 26p of change getting handed to you every time you're going to end up with a clanging set of pockets. Online it doesn't matter much, but it's just pathetic on the other hand, shops trying to get the upper hand by cutting a few pence off the price to compete. If you wanna compete start cutting quids off, or offering something convenient or new or anything - or better yet, just admit it already. You'll find a better offer online most times.

Bah, it's all crazy I say.

Monday 29 October 2007

Long Way Down...

Nothing much to say except hooray for a new McGregor/Boorman motorbike adventure in "Long Way Down". I'm a massive fan of "Long Way Round" and likewise Boorman's solo effort in "Race to Dakar" (even though the latter's themetune was nowhere near as good as the superb Stereophonics track for LWR).

Strange though that they're using the same track from LWR for LWD, but it's been edited so that he warbles "down" rather than "round"...some sort of fancy jigger-pokery, but it's a bit uneven at the change...just thought it was kind of odd.

Anyway, just wanted to say something regarding the new show, it's a big inspiration and enjoyable to watch. Perhaps one day I'll get to play the Jimmy Simak role on something similar (Simak was the support crew cameraman by the way, also on LWR).

And I certainly know one thing I'll be wanting for Christmas - the LWD DVD, oh yes.

Sunday 28 October 2007

Oh...for a quippy title...

But alas no such humour graces my brain today.

Anyway - I've updated the DeadShed website, some new pics and a page for "I Am Zombie Man 3: The Inevitable Decomposition of Zombie Man", which I'm starting to think about more now, having taken a breather from it with a slew of script writing.

Did some planning for my latest script ("The End"), but still need to hammer out the rest of it. Things never go according to plan, I was going to hammer it out before November - which is when I was planning on starting to think about IAZM3 again, but when the gas mask turned up (a proper for IAZM3) I got all side-tracked and newly inspired for IAZM3...making somewhat-promo pictures for t'internet for it further side-tracked me.

Added a couple more vids to my YouTube, the original online trailers for IAZM2 and IAZM3.

Oh and finally, the second Underground Slacker blogcast is now out, check it out, it's good stuff. Like a British studenty version of SModcast, but with even more culturual references.

Monday 22 October 2007

The End! ...

No, not the end of the blog, but "The End" as in the title of my new short script I started hammering out today ... I say hammering, which is quite dramatic, but it's more ponderous and considered than that ...

Anyway, yes, "Signing Off: The End" aka "The End: Signing Off" aka "The End" has begun being written. I was pacing about my room huffing and puffing with boredom and then just said "fuck it" and started writing ... this being the usual tact that gets me to start writing or editing, oddly enough. "Signing Off", the script I have in mind for Sean, is a spin off/prequel of this original idea. The idea with "Signing Off" is to have a version which I could film myself, whereas with the version I am now writing (the original idea), is an epic short. The central idea is very visual, and the visuals are vast and expansive. Ultimately I'd like to see it animated, in a quite graphic, somewhat-film-noir style - very dark and striking. With some of the visuals I'm putting down on the page, I can envision such a style suiting it down to the ground.

I might do some rough sketches of scenes from this, perhaps even get my paints out - which should hopefully still be okay and no all dried up (I did leave the caps screwed on tight!) ... I have been wanting something to have in mind that I could actually paint, really put some expression into it, rather than accuracy or realism - more an impression, a feeling for the scene. Back in high school/sixth form I took 2D and 3D art courses, so I used to do a lot of drawing/painting/etc ... but once I packed off to University that all went in sharp decline. Aside from rough storyboarding, the last thing I sketched was ... if memory serves ... in January - 2006. I feel quite guilty now, squandering a talent (although as the theory goes, the artist never likes their own stuff, or is at least ambiguous about their own artistic merits and success)...

Okay, getting too deep for this time of night ... perhaps an antithesis-reaction to a programme just on about Karl Pilkington? Hmmm...

Sunday 21 October 2007

Two's down, Three to go...

Well, I've literally just finished playing Half-Life 2: Episode Two for the second time through. For the past 4 days I've been completely addicted to this superb game. The single down side being the short length, something which plagued Episode One, but at least this one is a tad longer - but another couple of hours wouldn't hurt.

My only other minor niggle with it would have to be all the running around in underground caves in the first portion of the game, it's good, but perhaps there's a bit too much of it - something which is common in the Half-Life 2 series - too much of certain areas, but at least you're extra-pleased to see new ground once you've moved on.

Anyway, point being, it's a superb game. The graphics are perhaps a tad rusty around the edges now that the current-next-gen has come along, but in other areas the graphics have excelled - the key one being the use of High Dynamic Range lighting. It was obtrusive and sluggish-at-times in Episode One, so in-your-face in fact that it became a bit unrealistic and over-the-top, but thankfully it's been reigned in with Episode Two. Now it's used with subtlety, selection and realism.

The new car - the hot rod - is awesome fun to drive. The new countryside locale is fantastic fun to explore (even though you're a bit train-tracked, which was pretty much the case with the previous installments). But what is on offer along the way is so visually arresting that you wouldn't want to be bothered looking at other things because the scenes set before you are rich in texture and concept; key scenes if you will.

My main cheer for the game, however, has to be down to the story - the script and the performance by the voice actors (and likewise the 'acting' by the computer-generated characters). The key honour going to the character of Alyx Vance, you actually care for this character, which makes the ending all-the-more powerful - a rare feat in videogaming.

It's not often that you actually give a stuff about the characters, but the interplay is so finely tuned it's as if you're watching a movie (although here you're inside one). The quality of voice-acting, as well as how the creators have translated the performances into these CG characters is astonishingly good. If only more games had this much emotional investment and true sense of scale, of drama. It is indeed a true epic, and while Episode One was good (shakey, more-of-the-same, like a tacked-on second ending to the original game...admittedly), Episode Two is affecting. You're invested within the story, you actually care what is going on, rather than barging on to see what shit you can blow up next.

Although that said, when stuff does blow up it's awe-inspiring (the wooden buildings in the final battle with the Striders being the key example). Another enjoyable addition (or tweak) is the extent of puzzle solving throughout the game. It's not mind-breaking, far from it, but rather it's enjoyable and often results in something cool happening.

A bloody triumph, Episode Two is certainly the cream of the videogaming crop right now, and importantly - will stick close with me for a good while before it rightfully takes its place with the other classics of videogame history. Episode Three can't possibly come soon enough!

Friday 19 October 2007

A rant against outer-boxes...

I'm just about to sit down and re-watch "3000 Miles", and it reminded me of a DVD pet-peeve - companies who insist on (in addtion to the normal DVD case) adding a cardboard slip-sleeve which has the exact same packaging design as the standard DVD case within it.

Why on earth do we need this cardboard slip case? There's no reason beyond making it look more important that it actually is. Just perusing my DVD shelves (weighed down under, currently, somewhere over 300 titles) I spy many-a-DVD with this same outer-box syndrome - in some cases there are artwork alternatives, which makes me wonder whether the designer just couldn't decide which image was better, and so chose both:

1) 3000 Miles (as already mentioned)
2) Battle Royale 2: Requiem
3) CKY2K
4) Dawn of the Dead 2004 (aka "Yawn04", aka "Yawn-o-rama04")
5) Dead & Breakfast
6) The Descent
7) The Hills Have Eyes (original)
8) The Hills Have Eyes (remake)
9) Hot Fuzz
10) Jam
11) Land of the Dead
12) Last House on the Left
13) M*A*S*H
14) Predator 2
15) Scarface
16) Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2
17) Zombi 2

There are cases where an outer-box is justified, for example to keep a whole spread layout together in one piece, such as with the excellent "Ultimate Edition DVD" for the likewise excellent "Dawn of the Dead" (original, and best, matey).

My point being, what a waste of packaging and for what? To make the DVD look more special than it is or already is? Why bother? Who buys a DVD because of their packaging quality? Well ... apart from inbred idiots wearing Burberry.

This brings me to another point, mis-labelled special editions, again bringing me back full-circle to "3000 Miles". The box reads "Special Edition", yet there's nothing special about it, it's the film with a standard (or sub-standard, one might say) list of extra features (which aren't much cop to be honest, except the extended 'Bam's Revenge' sequence.

Either stick to the standard DVD case, or put some proper effort in, honourable mentions going to (again, ascending my peepers towards the wall-mounted-mountain of 'doovdes':

1) Dawn of the Dead: Ultimate Edition DVD (as already mentioned)
2) Fight Club: 2-disc
3) The Good, The Bad & The Ugly: Special Edition
4) The Lord of the Rings trilogy (extended cuts)
5) Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2003
6) Sin City: Re-Cut & Extended
7) The Evil Dead: Book of the Dead edition
8) The Omen Trilogy: Fox Classic edition
9) Sleepaway Camp trilogy

Oh, and don't get me started on those fucking spiteful seal-clips now appearing on some DVD cases, e.g. "Land of the Dead" and "Jackass Number Two" - WHY???!!! Is the standard 'click-closed' not good enough anymore, is this the half-assed DVD equivalent of the child-proof cap?!


Thursday 18 October 2007

A rant against "next up" idents...

Recently watching Top Gear I got incredibly angry - not at Top Gear, of course not, because the show is awesome - but rather at whoever at the Big British Castle (hat tip to Adam Buxton, that always makes me smile) dreamt up this stupid new way of showing what is either coming up next or tomorrow or later in the week.

The show comes to an end, the credits are rolling, the bastion of praise and credit where-it's-due ... but oh no, the channels have to pimp their next show (as if advertising their own TV shows on their own talk shows wasn't bad enough), thus shrinking the image of the end credits to a piddly little window in the corner, next to which is usually a box where almost nothing resides, above which is another box with barely anything in it, and then all around that is an empty border ... thus making the names on the credits absolutely tiny, ergo robbing the poor folks who toiled on the show of their right-to-credit.

I think it's disrespectful to the respective production crews, it's not as if the credits drag on for 10 minutes, it's between 30 and 60 seconds...come on for crying out loud!


Okay, rant over...

Manhunt 2 media bashing UK...

Saw a report on Sky News last night regarding "Manhunt 2", I was absolutely disgusted, it was like the Daily Mail on television, going on about "YOUNG KIDS ARE PLAYING THIS IN THEIR THOUSANDS!!!"


For a starter, when downloading a game off the net, you've got to have a chipped/modified console - that costs money - little kids don't have money, nor the ability to send their consoles off for modding.

Also, they completely ignore the fact that the version banned again in the UK was the same cut version that got an "M" rating in America (which is for 17 year olds and up), we get the cut version, aimed for 18 year olds and up, and it's still banned.

Regardless of whether you like it or not, some people enjoy the games, hell I played the first one a couple of times out of interest and I liked the vibe and style of the game, but it just wasn't made very well.

Also - the more mis-guided reports like this float around a title, the more cache it receives and the more attention it would otherwise not have achieved - it happened with the first "Manhunt", the sales in the UK went through the roof after the fuss in 2004 over it. A complete failure to understand the medium is what is continuing to go on here, and it's sickening and downright childish/flat-out-switched-off.

The first game to be banned for 10 years, the last one being "Carmageddon", and even that was overturned on appeal - I've even got the uncut version in a special edition, which was bought for me when I was several years below the age rating on the game - am I running people over in the streets? Am I running into schools with guns? Am I dribbling in a corner awaiting the arrival of Satan so I can go on a killing spree? No, I enjoyed it as a game and then enjoyed the movie on which it was based - "Death Race 2000".

Far from games causing violence, they lessen it - much like pornography has been shown to decrease incidences of rape - violent videogames allow you to exert aggression you might have otherwise put upon someone in real life. I can't tell you how many times I've been steamed over something, whether it was something at university that pissed me off, or whether it was an argument with someone after they did something annoying, or whatever, and have then gone onto "Grand Theft Auto" and just blasted about for 30 to 60 minutes and come out feeling calm, relaxed and perfectly fine.

I will also note I've never been in a fight, and I've been watching horror movies since the age of 9 and playing violent videogames since before they ever had age ratings on them. If games make everyone go mental - where is the legion of yoof-maniacs slicing up people? They're nowhere, instead it's normal, average and everyday young people enjoying a past-time that's barely different to watching a movie.

Just fancied venting, I thought it was the most ill-informed, mis-guided scare-mongering I've seen for quite some time, masquerading as a news report.

Sunday 14 October 2007

I've got the scripting bug, people...

Well, the third draft of "Signing Off" is done, I've done a 'write up to bank' of "Penalty" (an idea I never followed through with back in 2005) - by which I mean, have a short script for something that could be filmed as-and-when, in the 'bank' so-to-speak, rather than having nothing 'in the bank' never know when you might need to whip out a short script for something.

So with that in mind, and with the short script for "VHS-2" also banked, I'm going to write yet another short script, which will be a write-up of the original idea for "Signing Off", but I'll re-title it "The End: Signing Off" or "Signing Off: The End" or just "The End" ... my thoughts being that I'd seek to have it animated by someone (because the scale of the idea is huge, compared to the small-scale-low-key vibe of "Signing Off", which is kind of a live-action-prequel to "The End"). I'd also be thinking of setting "The End" in America, so I'd be on the look out for an American to do the voice over work...again, this is for the DeadShed Productions script bank, so who knows when it'll get done - or if - if you wanna be 'glass half empty' about it all, ha!

With all this script-banking in mind, I've even dug out some other rough-note ideas I've had hanging around, including one for an exploitation type comedy-parody-thing, an idea I came up with long before I'd even heard mention of "Grindhouse", so no - the idea isn't a rip-off.

So this kind of puts my feature comedy script - which admittedly is a long-term project, as opposed to the short-time vibes of these short scripts I've been hammering out 'for the DeadShed bank' - is currently living up to it's name ("Generation Procrastination"), because I've been faffing about with it a bit - however, when I do get into a session writing it (after all, it's something I'm chipping away at) then I bash out the pages like nobody's business - anyway, point being it'll get done all in good time, when it feels right to continue writing it, as-and-when that might be, then well ... that's how it'll be. And as I've said before most likely, once that is done, I've got a feature horror script in mind I want to write.

Then of course ... there's the issue of "I Am Zombie Man 3" ... a project which is on the horizon in a "when we can get to it" sort of situation, I don't want to force it, because I want to make it a fantastic cap-off to the trilogy, really push the boat out - certainly because I'll be dropping some cash on it, unlike previous shorts I've made which have been 'done-for-nout' experiments/works of passion.

Okay, I've rambled on again, so I'll shut up and go prepare for the brand new Top Gear episode, a mere hour away! :)

Saturday 13 October 2007

Scripting round the bend...

Tried to create a funky title, but failed on with the blog-juice.

Finished my "Round the Bend" memory-lane sesh, it has to be said that Doc Croc is officially awesome, nuff said.

Also fancied a re-watch of Jake West's excellent "Evil Aliens", after reading an interview with him in the Guerrilla Filmmaker's Handbook. I loved the film when I first saw it, still love it. It's superb British indie horror-comedy at it's finest, plenty of gore, plenty of flesh, plenty of gags, and plenty good ideas well executed.

Also recently re-watched the cast commentary on "Deadlands: The Rising", all inspired to do so after seeing some of the behind the scenes pics and video for "Trapped", Gary Ugarek's new indie zombie flick that's currently filming and is sure to be awesome. I certainly look forward to seeing it.

But what with being ousted from the TV room because of the Rugby, I sat down to do some script writing. Both 'banking' a one-page-script for a football-themed comic short (strange for me as I despise football), but it's based on (or really just a proper script write-up of) an idea I had for the Nokia Shorts 2005 competition - something which I ended up not getting around to filming. I'd entered the year before with an experimental short using footage shot during a location scout for "my NIGHTMARE" in the summer of 2004.

The main thing though, is that I knuckled down - again with a reluctant muse evading me - and bashed out the second draft of "Signing Off". I might do a small polish for a third draft, but I don't know - depends if there's anything I suddenly think of wanting to add to the monologue. I think I said before, but can't be arsed to look, but I'm writing it for Sean Connell, brother of Ben Connell who played 'BenZee' in "I Am Zombie Man 2", and appeared in the likes of "Smack Addict" and "Trapped" - speaking of "Trapped", Sean also appeared in that and officially became a legend when he took a throat-load of fake blood (food colouring & washing up liquid) after his brother over-zealously gushed a load of it in his face. Bravo to Sean for providing some quality gory-blood-dribble shots before literally washing his mouth out with soap - ergo - LEGEND.

More information on "Signing Off" will be posted as-and-when, same goes for "I Am Zombie Man 3", on which I've been trying out some rough ideas for the title sequence, rendering out raw shots to use later - get some of the leg work out of the way, you know.

Wednesday 10 October 2007

Scathing about RE3, Raving about PT...

A zombie double bill right here, right now ... although "zombie" being loosely employed, as Greg Nicotero points out in the 'making of' book for "Grindhouse", most of the gloopy hellions in "Planet Terror" don't actually die...they're more a different road, a departure in terms of zombie theming...

Anyway, first up - the good: "Planet Terror"...

Still waiting for word of a proper "Grindhouse" DVD release with both versions of each film (including "as intended") and all the trimmings, but I digress, I recently got to revist Rodriguez's "Planet Terror", and it's still excellent fun - really digustingly gory, but a hell of a lot of fun - although my earlier thoughts of it being not that true to grindhouse conventions (i.e. shoot fast and free, as well as the sheer scale of "PT" itself), and being less well-rounded than Tarantino's "Death Proof" remain. By this I mean that "PT" was an idea RR had long before "Grindhouse" came to being, and as a result it somewhat of a square peg that's been mashed about a bit to fit into a round hole, whereas "DP" was specifically intended for "Grindhouse" from the off (as well as being released in two versions from the off).

"PT" takes the vibe of grindhouse films - i.e. the rampant sexuality and violence - and updates them to a modern day film, whereas "DP" attempts to recreate a grindhouse film as strictly as possible (within certain parameters of course, such as names like Rosario Dawson and the mighty Kurt Russell being involved). But my point with "DP" is that it feels the most like a true grindhouse experience, even down to the advertising which focusses on the exploitative elements and leads you away from the sheer amount of dialogue there is in the film, I maintain that "Death Proof" is quite a clever recreation of grindhouse cinema, albeit not 100% there (it had an epic budget by comparison and featured stars, was directed by a famous director and so on)...the true days of grindhouse are long gone (I wish it would come back, we could do with it ... mind you, the indie scene is the modern day equivalent...different, but in the same sort of ball park).

Anyway, I digress on a rant once more..."PT" is a hell of a lot of fun, and it's simply awesome to see Michael Biehn back on the big screen in something properly worthwhile (the likes of "Cherry Falls" and that film about stopping time don't really cut the mustard against a career that's includes the balls-out heroes of Kyle Reese and Dwayne Hicks - so fingers crossed for MB's involvement in Cameron's next flick!).

SHIT-FUCK-BASTERDISATION! I've digressed once more - terms of "Grindhouse", I also still think that perhaps "PT" would have been better suited to taking second billing, scenes as the majority of it acts better as the third act of "Grindhouse", than "DP" did. "PT" is a joy to watch, it's sheer Rodriguez and it's one of those films that will hang around in the back of your mind for some time, the gore and John Carpenter vibes that run throughout are just balls-out-and-swinging-in-the-gentle-breeze-of-late-summer awesome.

...and now the bad, as well as the downright fugly...

"Resident Evil: Extinction" - or in the nicest possible way - the *least shit* of all three films. The first was utter pish-tosh-tosh-pish, the second was pish-tosh, the third is just pish. I did like the idea of "Mad Max meets the original Day of the Dead script", but for the most part that vibe just comes across as more plagiarism than proper entertainment, at the very least for me, the mega-zombie-nerd Romero-fan. Yes, Jovovich is fit, and whats'ername from "Heroes/Jay & Bob Strike Back/Final Destination" ... Ali Larter, that's 'ername ... yes, some parts are visually interesting, like the idea of Vegas being swamped in an extraordinary amount of sand ... even thought the money shot is blown wide open via a shaking-injection of ineptitude/tired out pandering to idiots who still watch "Newlyweds" years after they were even Newly-divorced', on with a list of griping:

1) RE2 - Racoon City has gone to sh*t, it was even at the end of RE1 for Mila's sake! Now all of a sudden the ENTIRE PLANET IS SHIT-TOSSED, and for some reason the earth is covered in sand...okay Mila, we'll just blindly accept this A) Huge leap forward in the 'story' and B) rather "eh?" plot point of Sand World ... be careful, "Water World" ... you know ... yeah ... nyah...see...

2) Convoy of vagabond drifters - cool yes - but the bulk of said drifters are either idiots, have barely any purpose or dialogue, or are linked into unused 'love stories' that are chucked in as aimlessly as a 'fraidy-cat should be shooting at a hoarde of zombies in a PROPER zombie film.

3) Umbrella's underground complex - how on earth is that even possible, just flat out - HOW?

4) Pishy explanation of why these zombies will drag around for DECADES in a scene that completely rapes a similar scene in Romero's far superior "Day of the Dead", which predates it by 22 friggin' years!

5) Yes, the shots of LOADS of zeds around that fenced off complex-type-area are cool, but again - rip off of "Day of the Dead" and the original script of said zombie masterpiece.

6) The key advertising point of 'IT'S VEGAS UNDER LOADS OF SAND, HOW COOL IS THAT, KIDS?!' is washed over too quickly, and nor is it examined in any kind of depth, because they're too busy having knife-fights with Jump-Suit-Judo-Zombies.

7) Unashamedly wide open for a sequel, thus making the 'stuff that happened' in this film near pointless, or rather, just 'stuff that happens so we can hurry up and get to make another sequel'.

8) The audio is completely obnoxious - the dialogue, despite being near-unnecessary, is too quiet - and then just as you're straining to hear what's being said, SMASH-RARGH-YA-BASTARD-BOO!!!, something really loud explodes your ear drums and you have to go to the doctor's - the odd 'scary noise' is okay in a horror film (even though this is an action-horror), but dispensing with any sense of atmosphere, suspense or tension in favour of just a bunch of easy-as-pie, moron-loving bangs is just wrong ... it's wrooooooooong...

9) Am I surprised by the film or by anything I've said? Nope.

10) It's still pish, the genre deserves better, but no studio nob'eds are willing to stump up the cash to do the genre justice ... perhaps "World War Z" will give us this Holy Grail - a truly global zombie war.

Harsh on "RE3"? Maybe ... but I was kind at the start - least pish of them all, remember? For this flick, that's a pretty nice thing to say!

My war isn't over, Adrian...

Well, after finishing "A Bridge Too Far", I decided to re-visit the "Rambo" trilogy (soon to join the legion of "4th in the series of" sequels of recent times (the trailer looking awesome), and I have to say, the first movie is awesome. The 2nd and 3rd are good, but not awesome, nor shite...but not superb, although I get their reason for being - 2nd movie is Rambo returning to Vietnam, 3rd movie is Rambo's modern day Vietnam, after ending his personal war with Vietnam he needed a new war to fight, so it ended up being in Afghanistan ... although being thoroughly perplexed by Middle Eastern politics, I don't know where "Rambo 3" fits in with all the shite going on over there now.

All this talk of "Rambo" though, does remind me of the hilarious, yet fully justified, rant from the Angry Nintendo Nerd regarding film franchises and the titles - such as these films:

1) First Blood
2) Rambo: First Blood 2
3) Rambo 3
4) John Rambo

There's not the consistency of Stallone's other franchise, that is the utterly superb "Rocky" series - solid Roman Numberals all the way till the last one, which as we all should know is "Rocky Balboa" - although that is fully justified, it was such a long gap since "Rocky V", and it exists in a different time, whereas the previous films were all quite quick-fired out, or within the same range of time ... it's why I guess "Live Free or Die Hard/Die Hard 4.0" makes sense ... technically ... I say technically, because both those titles suck - just call THAT film "DIE HARD 4" and leave it be, but as Stallone is actually a Jack of several trades, he does inject his own soul into his heroes - particularly Rocky - so I think it makes complete sense of cap-off his two biggest characters by titling their final films after the protagonist.

I recently re-watched the second half of "Rocky II", recent as in yesterday morning when I was waiting to use the internet, and it just reminded me of how awesome those films are (well, the fifth is a bit tosh, but with all the Tommy Gun crap taken about, it's actually still pretty good, because it advances the story of Rocky Balboa onwards). Plus - the soundtrack is just awesome, I listened to the 'best of' compilation whilst doing some title sequence tests for "I Am Zombie Man 3", and considering the story of "IAZM3", whilst listening to the "Rocky" soundtrack, it just fit really well ... the vibes being somewhat similar.

Another charge through a bunch of stuff...

As I sit here re-listening to the excellent "Venus Doom" album by HIM, I figured I'd catch up on some blogging and barge out some thoughts...

1) Danny's Underground Slacker Blogcast was actually rather entertaining and enjoyable (even if I didn't get all the stuff about Japanese videogames and such), bring more on says I, it's like a UK version of SModcast, but all about nerdy media-based chit-chat.

2) Having finally tracked down "Blastazoid" online, I can now agree with many by saying that yes, it's a complete load of tosh - I think even Dico, one of the chaps behind it, thought it was pish.

3) Recently I've been on a PGR3 mish, barging through it some more after having had a brief return to the excellent Crackdown so I could jump around more rooftops and go orb collecting. However, I've suddenly had a change of heart and returned to Rainbow Six Vegas to try and get past a bit that caused me to put it on my shelf after getting stuck and huffing & puffing with frustration, dropping the f-bomb every-other-word ... and as per usual, once returning, another 3 or 4 tries and I'm past the bit that stuck me so often before, with ease (it happened at two points on Gears of War - the first Beserker and then at the petrol station). So now I'm all about R6V again.

4) The reason I'd gone back to bosh out some more PGR3 being, I wanted to get more out of it in case I decided to take the plunge and cash-out for PGR4, which does look lush, it has to be said...but now I'm figuring I might hold off, because of playing PGR3 - I'm now on the lookout for more shooting, hence a return to R6V ... but does this mean after Vegas I will go for PGR4, or does it still mean I'd fancy dropping the dosh on Call of Duty 4, which - again - looks absolutely 'tastic-groovy. It was a 50/50 for a while there, until earlier when I spied the Limited Edition, which does look tasty for an extra fiver ... so perhaps the deal is already sealed in my head, who knows ... yes I know, it's all about the major, key decisions in life with me isn't it?! HA!

5) As said recently, I've been on a scripting mish of late, but battling the lack of creative muse most of the way, well, sine last time I've actually sat down and powered out the rest (which was the majority) of the first draft of "Signing Off", a script for a short film that's kind of about zombies, but doesn't feature any zombies - it's a short that I want to make which is almost entirely based around the central performance. The idea is it would be a nice 5 minute short, something easy to achieve, but something that will look and play well and add to the over all filmmaking experience - this time I want to focus more on performance.

6) It seems to all be about text recently, either I'm writing it or I'm reading it. With the latest Total Film dispensed with, bar a couple of features I've still got to bosh through, there's been "World War Z", which I've been thoroughly enjoying (here's hoping the film adaption, should it happen, will be rather spiffing and put some much-needed thought back into the zombie genre without having to wait for George A. Romero to come back and do some good, but GAR will always be the zombie master). Anyway - then at the same time I'm pouring over "Grindhouse: The Sleaze-Filled Saga of an Exploitation Double Feature" making-of book regarding, well, "Grindhouse"...the superb, yet Weinstein-wasted, slice of underappreciated genius.

7) South Park is back - and fucking-dick-shit-blood-belchingly hilarious...not my words, Eric Cartman's words ... okay that's not true, but he did swear a shitting boat load throughout, which yes, I found absolutely hilarious, while still maintaining that tourettes is a terrible affliction (hey, Big Brother 7 - I was behind Pete all the way) ... but you know how it is, South Park nails another great episode - you've got to love a stream of unsuspecting paedophiles blowing their brains out in front of Chriiiiiis Haaaansaaaaaahhhn, roflburgers!

8) Top Gear is back! Oh yes!

Blog juice, it doesn't come in a jar...

That's right, blog juice comes from who you are ... if you don't remember or appreciate that kids summer camp-based reality TV show for kids, that used to be shown in the UK on Channel 4 during the summer holidays, then you're a ... a ... nob, ha!

Why the random glance back in TV time? I've been strolling down TV memory lane at Homepage of the Dead with fellow TV afficianados, and was promptly over-joyed when I was kindly reminded of the glory that was "Pugwall's Summer", again a Channel 4 summer holiday must-watch ... at least I think it was Channel 4, most shows were - like the likes of "Alex Mack", that toxic teen who'd puddle under doors and so forth.

Anyway - point being, I've been on a massive Round the Bend bender, yes pun-tastic wasn't it...and actually surprisingly anarchic and non-PC ... oh those were the days, back when a Cockney crocodile living in a sewer could call his viewers "benders" and not mean it to mean anything other than someone who watched Round the BEND...glorious. You can't beat a show which runs a horror serial styled like a 1950s B-Movie called "False Teeth from Beyond the Stars", to be honest.

So indeed, it's been a slew of YouTube visits for the likes of Fun House, Finders Keepers, Huxley Pig ("oink oink"), Crapston Villas (although yes, that was an adult animation back in the day that I'd try my utmost to craftily record or watch whenever possible like any other self-respecting kid my age) and most importantly above all (yes, even above Round the Bend) - The Real Ghostbusters, my absolute favourite cartoon from my kid-hood...all the better for the nerdgasm being that Bill Murray (who played real-life Peter Venkman) played the voice of Garfield in the CGI movie, a character who was voiced (in the cartoon version) by proper leg-end Lorenzo Music, who also voiced the cartoon version of Peter Venkman ... even more nerd-tastic (yet kinda naff), was that apparently (according to fellow Ghostbuster obsessive Bassman311 at HPOTD) Murray had LM fired as the voice of cartoon Venkman because it made him sound too much like Garfield! Now that's some crazy shit ... I hope I got that last bit correct, it's new to me - just going to show that my chap Bassman311 is a larger GB fan that I, well not necessarily larger, he just obsesses more than I over it ... and I absolutely love the movies and show and had a shedload of the toys as a kid (most of which I still have in my possession)...

Anyway ... onwards ... to something, I duno...

Friday 5 October 2007

Oh memory lane...

I've recently discovered 12 episodes of "Round the Bend" on YouTube, gawd bless it, and have been watching my way through those gradually...well, I've done 3 so far. Anyway, oh the memories that came flooding back, some quality kids TV with a real anarchic bite - moreso than I remember - plus it's quite politically incorrect and has a lot of toilet humour, which is just what you want as a kid ... then that bitch Mary-fucking-Whitehouse came along and spoiled everyone's fun and it got shafted off the air, thanks a lot.

Still - "False Teeth from Beyond the Stars" - how could you not love this show?!

Oh well, "A Bridge Too Far" has been polished off, very good indeed, next up I'm going to go on a "Rambo" bender with all three films...


Otherwise, I've been in a bit of a creative dip these last couple of weeks, the muse has escaped me. After ploughing through to the end of the first act in my feature script, I took a break and started thinking of another script idea - for a short I'd wanna film - it's called "Signing Off", and I started writing it, but again, the muse fucked off home. So I forced myself to plan some of it out, and I'm going to make a concerted effort in the next few days to sit down and right the damn thing, it's only a short piece, so I just want to get it written and "in the bank" so-to-speak.

Then I can go back to the feature script, after which I've got another feature to write, as well as an alternate version/sequel/follow up to "Signing Off" fact, the short idea I'm writing is actually a prequel/alternate version of the original idea in fact. The original idea being of quite a large scale (I was thinking of it in terms of animation too), but the version I'm trying to get written at the moment would be live action.

Let's just hope I can get that bloody muse to get off her arse and lodge back in my brain...oh delicious...

Now though - new My Name Is Earl and Danny's Underground Slacker blogcast.

Thursday 4 October 2007

Reaper...and you know, stuff...

Well, the monster sesh of American TV has kicked off with the likes of all the classic 'toons (especially South Park - woohoo), but of all the shows kicking off recently, "Reaper" fucking rocks more than most, and actually has me laughing out loud, which is something I rarely do when viewing stuff on my own.

So if you haven't seen it, check it out. I forget the character's name, but the lazy chunky side-kick guy is pure genius and the funniest thing on the planet right now for me pretty much.


On other things, I'm still watching "A Bridge Too Far", rather good stuff - an odd mix between classic British stiff-upper-lips, American bravado and 'early Saving Private Ryan'-ish focus on bloody deaths...a true epic, back in the day before CGI came along and made everything easy, no...these guys were actually out there with a shedload of planes parachuting people and blowing up buildings, respect where respect is due.


Also, "Contempt of Conscience" is almost finished, it's just a case of plugging some small gaps and the final editing sessions, then it's all about getting it out there, so I'll be posting up new info as-and-when on that project.


And now ... off to see the new episode of "South Park", play more PGR3 (gotta get some more money's worth out of it before PGR4 turns up and no doubt "pwns" ass left-right-and-centre), get some reading done (juggling the new issue of Total Film, "World War Z" and the 'making of' book of "Grindhouse").

Monday 1 October 2007


Crude joke? Sure - but better than what was on offer in "Mr Woodcock". I know, I know...maybe it seems like I watch a hell of a lot of shit movies sometimes, but I don't really...however I did watch "Mr Woodcock" and it was a load of old cock, that's for sure.

It literally was a case of 'all the best bits were in the trailer', which I always considered a bit of a harsh and wise-arse term, but in this case it's honestly true. I actually laughed at the film's trailer prior to seeing "Run, Fatboy, Run" (which was actually good), but those gags were about the only gags in the film, let alone gags worth laughing at in the film.

It felt like a desperate reach to recreate the brilliance of "Bad Santa", but with the lude japes of "American Pie", but it just wasn't funny - a comedy without any jokes, a comedy which wastes the talent on offer - those involved either struggling to find work or being left floating in the water waiting for something to do. least it makes me appreciate good movies even more - so it's not entirely useless...


And now - onwards to see "A Bridge Too Far" which I've had sitting on a VHS taped-off-TV for years, and then a re-barge through the Rambo trilogy to refresh my memory prior to the excellent-looking "John Rambo" next year (if you haven't seen the gore-drenched teaser, go and YouTube it up now - a freaking anti-aircraft canon blasting a dude in the face at point blank range - that's what I'm freaking talking about!)