Posted on: November 14th, 2010 BD REVIEW: A Nightmare On Elm Street (2010)

1000095410BRDFLTCOMBORead my original review, circa April of this year, here.

Of all the films of 2010 (so far), I’ve probably debated the remake of A Nightmare on Elm Street the most. Not because the films is unusually controversial or boundary-pushing, but because I seem to be in the minority. I really liked it.

As with any horror remake, the deck was stacked against this one from the beginning, especially considering the cultural impact Wes Craven’s film had on us and the horror genre. The original – and to a lesser degree its long, bumpy franchise – is considered a classic. And rightfully so; even though revisiting Craven’s 1984 film might show more cheese than you remembered, the Freddy character – his means, his methods and his mouth – is indelible. Did the remake even have a chance?

Hardly.

To me, Samuel Bayer’s re-imagination of the Springwood slasher does what every successful horror remake, as few as they are, strives to do: twist the film to be its own, in some way. Gone are the quips, the one-liners and the PG-13 cursing, and are instead replaced with a vile child-molester. Jackie Earle Haley’s Krueger plays out like the Freddy we all love, mixed in with a little To Catch A Predator.

The story is pretty much the same this time around, with exception to an added sub-plot questioning the validity of Freddy’s guilt; the film goes where the original only hinted, confirming Krueger to have dabbled in the diddling. The origin of the character, and the way he dispenses of the children of Elm St. is intact. Many of the scenes, like the bedroom murder of the post-coital blonde girl, are still in the film, albeit with a slick polish and modern teens (complete with dialogue that no youth would ever really spout). The film has been under plenty of fire for being saturated with unlikeable characters with no depth (or, in this case, Depp… har har). Not to defend this claim, but I ask, did the original? Has any big franchise slasher or remake (the original Halloween excluded) really shown any character development?

Whether you liked the film or not, you can’t refute the film has balls for taking such an iconic character and portraying him in a different way. Whether that’s the right way or not, this is a very different Freddy, both tonally and physically (though the trademark sweater, fedora and glove remains). The film is dark and gritty, with a layer of filth you’ll have to wash off afterwards. But it is also quite predictable and suffers from a rushed and anticlimactic third act. Jackie Earle’s Freddy is worth the watch alone though, if only to see how different the portrayal of one of the most iconic characters in pop-culture.

The  Blu-Ray – complete with DVD and digital copy – features a fantastic video transfer with acceptable audio quality. If you enjoyed the film, it’s well worth the extra dollars to pick up in hi-def.

Available NOW on Blu-ray Combo Pack, DVD, On Demand and for Download! http://bit.ly/nightfb

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Filed under: Movies, News, Review, dvd | 1 Comment »

Posted on: October 28th, 2010 DVD REVIEW: Jonah Hex

hexcoverJonah Hex. Now here’s a film that seemed to light a fire under fans of the long-running comic series. For the record, I have not read any of the series, my only familiarity with the disfigured outlaw is what I’ve seen on the comic book covers and the fervor overheard from those who hold Mr. Hex close to their hearts. With that in mind, I can’t compare the film to the source material, and a the end of the day nor should I. A film is its own and should stand, or fall, based on what it is.

So. What is Jonah Hex?

I will say this: it’s interesting. It’s not a good film by any means, but it also isn’t as horribly unwatchable as most have painted it to be. There are some redeeming elements and also some very detrimental elements, both of which I’ll get to. The film opens with the most compressed origin story of any comic book movie; confederate soldier Hex (Josh Brolin) betrays Quentin Turnbull (John Malkovich), his commanding officer, resulting in Turnbull burning down Hex’s house – with his wife and child inside – and branding his face, giving him that oh-so-un-leading-man-ish facial scar. From then we leap right into a brief animated intro, and we’re off to the races with Hex – now much more haggard and surly – trying to stop Turnbull from unleashing a horrific army while clearing his own not-so-savory record.

I like Josh Brolin a lot, and he’s probably the best person to touch the role of Jonah. There’s just something off in this flick. I like how his scar was achieved with practical makeup effects, but it does limit his performance. I can see that he’s delivering his lines well, he’s acting, sure, but the damn scar just makes his delivery look goofy most of the time. Across the board however, the performances – especially from Megan Fox – are close to that of a well done local theatre group. I blame a fair amount of this on poor dialogue. The script is just too typical of a period piece, with the cast not really nailing the nuance of the language. Brolin and Malkovich fit right in comfortable, but several stars, like Arrested Development’s Will Arnet and the aforementioned Fox, stick out like a very sore thumb.

Director Jimmy Hayward tries to do some interesting things in this film, and I’ll give him credit for making this hyper-post-civil-war-reality atmospheric.. kinda. The production ultimately feels cheap. There’s just too much conflicting style at work, and the film feels unguided because of it. It’s pretty clear that the real bad guy in the film isn’t Turnbull, but the screenplay from Crank masterminds Neveldine & Taylor. It’s just all over the place, paced erratically and insincere at every turn.

If you were looking for something to praise the film for, the costume and set design is quite good, lending some authenticity and aesthetic to an otherwise superfluous mashup of genres. And Mastodon’s soundtrack – though entirely unfitting, underused and watered down by Marco Beltrami – is worth listening to.

At the end of the day, Jonah Hex is an unremarkable-yet-on-par entry to the comic book film genre as seen five years ago. It’s the perfect companion to such grey-stained big-screen translations of Daredevil, Ghost Rider and Fantastic Four. The real crime here is that there was so much potential for a truly unique film, one that incorporated elements of action and sci-fi within a western.

Alas on paper it was too good to be true.

Posted on: August 12th, 2010 Full Details on GRINDHOUSE DVD/Blu-Ray

Finally we can relive the Grindhouse experience at home instead of popping in two separate DVDs without the intermission sequences and fake trailers.

The two-disc set will hit shelves on October 5th, in its full entirety and packed with special features. Here’s the breakdown on the discs and box art:

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Disc 1 – The Full Grindhouse Experience:

Planet Terror
Intermission Cards
Don’t Trailer
Werewolf Women of the S.S Trailer
Thanksgiving Trailer
Death Proof

Disc 2 – Special Features

Planet Terror Special Features

Robert Rodriguez’s 10-Minute Film School
The Badass Babes of Planet Terror
The Guys of Planet Terror
Casting Rebel
Sickos, Bullets, And Explosions: The Stunts of Planet Terror
The Friend, The Doctor, and the Real Estate Agent
Planet Terror Poster Gallery

Death Proof Special Features

Stunts On Wheels: The Legendary Drivers of Death Proof
Quentin’s Greatest Collaborator: Editor Sally Menke
The Guys of Death Proof
Kurt Russell as Stuntman Mike
Finding Quentin’s Gals
The Uncut Version of “Baby, It’s You” performed by Mary Elizabeth Winstead
Introducing Zoe Bell
Double Dare Trailer
Death Proof Extended Music
Death Proof Poster Gallery

Blu-Ray Exclusive Features:

Robert Rodriguez’s 10-Minute Cooking School
The Makeup Effects of Planet Terror
The Hot Rods of Death Proof
From Texas to Tennessee: The Production Design of Death Proof
Trailers
Extended Werewolf Women of The SS Trailer
View Extended Cut Of Werewolf Women of the SS Trailer with Commentary by Director Rob Zombie
The Making Of Werewolf Women of the SS Trailer
Extended Don’t Trailer
View Extended Cut Of Don’t Trailer with Commentary by Director Edgar Wright
The Making of Don’t Trailer
Don’t Storyboard/Trailer Comparison
View Don’t Storyboard/Trailer Comparison with Commentary by Director Edgar Wright
Don’t Storyboards Still Gallery
Don’t Poster
The Making of Thanksgiving Trailer
New York Times Talk with Quention Tarantino and Lynn Hirschberg at Comic Con 2006 Featuring the Directors and Cast of Grindhouse
Grindhouse Trailer Contest Winner Hobo With A Shotgun

Filed under: Movies, News, dvd | 1 Comment »

Posted on: August 5th, 2010 REVIEW: Batman – Under The Red Hood

redhoodcoverI’m not really a born comic geek. I’m a TV girl, and my love of comics started with DC Animation, namely, Batman The Animated Series. I can remember being so enthralled in the art and the drama of this cartoon, and I fell in love with Batman solely based on this series. When I’m reading comics, it’s Kevin Conroy who voices Bruce Wayne in my head.

Due to this, I am always genuinely excited to pick up any new DC animated films. They are just pure fun. The delicious Batman: Under the Red Hood Blu-Ray came in the mail today, and there were squeals of delight. I had to grab this one on pre-order because Supernatural’s Jensen Ackles is voicing Red Hood. He’s got a great sexy raspy voice, and that always makes for a good time.

Whenever I bring up these movies, people always squirm at the voice actors. Batman is different in everyone’s head and it is jarring to hear him in any other voice. I will admit that this is bothersome for about the first 10 minutes, and then you sink into the action, and it isn’t so bad.

Bruce Greenwood voices Bats, who will always be Nowhere Man to me, and does a decent job. Neil Patrick Harris was actually a really good and whiny Nightwing, but I question whether his range could have been better used by playing Joker. Joker was played by John Dimaggio, and there were definitely a few Bender the Robot moments that I couldn’t block out.

Story-wise, well this one has been done in the comics, so it wasn’t anything new for me. Red Hood comes to town, deciding to control crime for the forces of good, instead of wiping it out. Everyone wonders who Red Hood is. Big mystery. Bats figures out who it is. Drama Drama. Stand-off with the Joker. The end.

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I will admit that I was only half paying attention for the first hour. The ending, however, captured my full attention and was very touching, hitting on the Batman family relationship dynamics quite nicely. I like the gooey relationship stuff, what can I say?

Joker comes out with no great puns, but a very telling line aimed at Bats : “You manage to find a way to win and everybody still loses.” As much as I hate the campy Batman, the ending makes me weep for the happy-go-lucky Robins that are most likely a thing of the past.

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The Blu-Ray features a digital copy, several cool DC Universe trailers, and as I write, I’m enjoying the included four episodes of 90s era Batman animation hand-picked by Bruce Timm. I think if you buy the two-disc special edition DVD, it will have the most of the same features.

Batman: Under the Red Hood is pretty much in line with all the other recently released DC animation, and if you liked them, definitely pick this one up too.

Superman/Batman: Apocalypse is the next release from DC, coming out late September, featuring Summer Glau.

Posted on: April 15th, 2010 Comic Book Day Moving to Tuesday?

C2E2_Logo4aHere’s a little nugget of news:
This weekend marks the first Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo.  While Giant Killer Squid will be in attendance at the main convention, the retailers’ summit has already begun.  It seems Diamond Comic Distributors pitched the idea to the attending retailers that new comic books might go back to being distributed on Tuesdays.

For a long time, thanks to Diamond, new comics have been released on Wednesday while most entertainment media arrives on Tuesday (movies, music, video games).  It seems those retailers at C2E2 have taken a vote and if it were up to them, Wednesday comics might be no more.  Diamond also offered up the alternative that retailers could keep their new book shipment on Wednesday, but if they’d like them on Tuesday, it would be at a minor additional charge.  I’m not entirely sure why that would matter, to be honest.

Why is this a good idea? Well, this way comic book shops might be able to have better success selling other media.  You know those DC Animated DVDs? Well imagine that DVD for sale right next to the Secret Origins comic book it was based on.  It might mean variant covers for DVDs sold at comic book shops versus your local entertainment retailer.  Any number of marketing ideas could be concocted out of this idea.  It’s very possible that this would help save some of those comic shops struggling to make ends meet with just the sale of comics and toys.

With the dawn on the digital age of comics upon us, this new distribution setup might be what saves the print medium.  Let’s say that print comics are made available on Tuesday, while their digital copies are released on Wednesday.  How many would clamor to the store fronts to be among the first to read as opposed to waiting 24 hours for a less expensive, yet intangible copy?

What do you think?  Think you want to switch your favorite day of the week for Tuesday? Or will the addition of more marketable products just end up diluting the comic shops?  Right now it’s basically hypothetical, but this could very well mean I have to request a new day off at work.

Filed under: News, comics, dvd | No Comments »

Posted on: November 17th, 2009 [GIVEAWAY] Star Trek: The Art of the Film

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J.J. Abrams’ exceptionally-awesome Star Trek hits DVD and Blu-Ray today (go buy that now!) so in honor of that, we’re giving away three copies of Star Trek: The Art of the Film!

“What is this book?” you ask:

292px-Star_Trek_The_Art_of_the_Film_coverDirector J.J. Abrams’ new vision of the greatest space adventure of all time, Star Trek features a young, new crew venturing boldly where no man has gone before, as it tells the story of how the brash Starfleet cadet James T. Kirk first meets a Vulcan named Spock, and earns the Captain’s chair of the Starship Enterprise. The film quickly became a critical and commercial smash hit worldwide, as audiences — confirmed Trekkers and newcomers alike — thrilled to a state-of-the-art action epic which both respected the legacy of Gene Roddenberry’s archetypal modern myth and forged ahead into an exciting future of its own.

Star Trek: The Art of the Film is a lavishly illustrated celebration of that new vision, tracing the evolution of the movie’s look through a stunning array of previously unseen pre-production paintings, concept sketches, costume and set designs, unit photography and final frames.

Written by New York Times-bestselling author Mark Cotta Vaz in close co-operation with the film’s production team, and including a Foreword by J.J. Abrams, this is the essential companion to the film.

This 160 page book is pretty gorgeous and is the perfect companion to a near-perfect flick. There’s a ton of insight into what went into designing the film, and there’s even some stuff that wasn’t shown in the final cut.

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Thanks to the wonderful people of Titan Books, we’ve got three copies of Star Trek: The Art of the Film to give away!

Entering is easy, there’s three different ways!

1. Follow me on twitter and re-tweet this exactly:

RT @zombie_elvis GIVEAWAY! Star Trek: The Art of the Film http://bit.ly/cXATq RT this to enter!

Be sure to follow me on twitter so that I can DM you if you’ve won and collect your information.

OR

2. Leave a comment below. It’s that simple. If you do enter this way, you’re going to have to leave your email address so that we can get a hold of you to collect your information.

OR

3. Send an email over to contest [at] giantkillersquid [dot] com with ‘BEAM ME UP’ in the title – be sure to leave your full name and mailing address.

This giveaway ends on Monday, November 30, 2009.

Good luck, and may the best man, woman, droid or replicant win!

Filed under: Movies, News, contest, dvd | 4 Comments »

Posted on: November 11th, 2009 [REVIEW] Disney-Pixar’s ‘UP’ on Blu-Ray

pixar-up-posterI don’t care if you hate cartoons, hate Pixar (how could you?), are young, old, or miserable… UP is one of the best films of this year as well as one of the best animated films ever made.

Pixar has done it again and gone and created a film which sets the bar for story-telling to a new height. Granted Cars was kind of lame, Pixar has never failed to deliver a film with heart, excitement and character, and UP is a marvelous entry into the company’s near-pristine track-record.

UP is an adventure film, it is a coming of age film, but most importantly it’s a film about love and relationships. Unlike most animated films, UP doesn’t feature a bubbly young kid or wacky animal as the main character, but rather an old, curmudgeonly senior citizen, Carl Fredricksen. After the death of his wife and the loss of his house, Carl uproots his home (literally, with balloons) and floats off to South America to fulfill his wife’s dream of adventuring the amazonian Paradise Falls. When Russell, a young, high-strung boy from a wilderness troop, stows away on the airborne house, the adventure just begins as the two of them (and a talking dog named Dug) find themselves in a race to save a rare and magnificent bird from a twisted explorer.

The film is as bold visually as it is as a narrative; it is definitely Pixar’s most adult film – no, not that kind of adult, ya perv – touching on themes of death and loss. Dare I say UP might go slightly over the heads of the really young crowd that got into Cars and Toy Story. That being said, it most definitely is a family film, and an important one at that: it’s damn near impossible to not want to hug those closes to you after the film. The opening scene in UP could be one of the most emotional expositions put to film; I’m not going to lie, the first ten minutes had me in tears. It’s that reason that Pixar is so good at what they do, and so important for film right now. Don’t think that UP is all emotion and no action though, the film definitely delivers on the adventure theme in a very big way. It rivals the excitement of any previous Pixar romp, even out-actioning Finding Nemo or Wall-E.

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So the blu-ray came out this Tuesday and I eagerly picked this up and watched it. Here in Canada the big electronics store Futureshop has a steel-book exclusive (which I doubt is either exclusive or steel, really). My first thought upon picking up the product is how ridiculously large the package is. If you’ve seen these steel-book cases before, imagine four of those stacked together, and that’s just how wide the UP steel-book blu-ray is. I figured there wold be a collectible book inside, necessitating such a wide case, but no, it was merely to accommodate the blu-ray copy of the film, the DVD copy of the film, the digital copy of the film and the disc of bonus features. While I understand Disney’s need to saturate a single household with multiple copies of their product, it looks quite ridiculous (see pic below).

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Awkward packaging aside however, Disney/Pixar really pulled the stops for this release and put out a phenomenal product once more. The film is jaw-dropping in 1080p hi-definition – this is a must-own if you’re a blu-ray enthusiast like myself. The audio on the disc is breath-taking; I don’t even have a decent surround-sound setup, and I could still tell that the sound engineering on this is of the highest calibre.

The bonus disc that comes with the film is stuffed to the gills with goodies including:

  • Commentary by director Pete Doctor and co-director Bob Peterson
  • Dug’s Special Mission – An all new original short film that follows the misadventures of Dug as he attempts to complete his “special mission.” The short is directed by Up Story Supervisor, Ronnie Del Carmen.
  • The Many Endings of Muntz – Many ideas were hatched about how to dispose of the film’s arch villain, Muntz, and now viewers can see the many alternate endings proposed during story development.
  • Partly Cloudy – The hilarious short film that preceded screenings of Up. Everyone knows that the stork delivers babies, but where do the storks get the babies? The answer lies up in the stratosphere where the cloud Gus is a master at creating “dangerous” babies, which prove to be more than a handful for his loval delivery stork Peck. Directed by Pixar story artist, animator and voice actor Peter Sohn.
  • Adventure is Out There – This action-packed documentary tells the story of the filmmakers’ own trek to the tepuis mountains of South America to research the design and story of the film.
  • Cine-Explore – A visual montage of concept art, clips and documentary coverage that illustrates the directors’ commentary.
  • Geriatric Hero – A character study of Carl, from research to realization including art and design, rigging, animation and story. It focuses on the issues of aging, “simplexity”, shape-language and compelling character arcs.
  • Canine Companions – For anyone who ever wondered where CG puppies come from, an introduction to the design, behavior and language of dogs.
  • Russell: Wilderness Explorer – A character study of Russell from inspiration and design to finding the character arc and authentic voice for this wilderness ranger.
  • Our Giant Flightless Friend, Kevin – Find out how avian research and development at Pixar helped bring a mythical, 13-foot tall iridescent bird to life.
  • Homemakers of Pixar – Carl and Ellie’s house is an important “character” in the film. Fans follow the development of the house from story to art to its ultimate realization in the computer.
  • Balloons and Flight – Carl’s house and Muntz’s dirigible presented the filmmakers with two different problems—how could they make a physical impossibility possible? And, in the case of the dirigible, how would they unearth a fallen giant and let it soar?
  • Composing for Characters – Composer Michael Giacchino returns to score his third Disney•Pixar feature film. See how the Up filmmakers collaborated with Giacchino to create the memorable score and compelling musical themes.
  • Married Life – The original story concept that became the powerful “Married Life” scene, showing Carl and Ellie’s love story.
  • Global Guardian Badge Game – Players try to locate countries, states and capitals around the globe in a multi-layered BD-Exclusive geography game enhanced by BD-Live.

It will take you hours upon hours to get through all that, and Disney really knows how to make this extra content entertaining and something that will enrich the experience of the film.

This could be one of the blu-ray purchases of the year, kids, so head out and buy it for yourself and all your friends. And for those of you still living in the stone age, UP is available on single or two-disc DVD.

Wonderful film.

Source: Disney

Filed under: Movies, News, Review, dvd | 8 Comments »

Posted on: October 26th, 2009 TEN OF TERROR: Top 10 Retro Horror Flicks

I’ve never been what one might call “current”.  It’s not like I live under a rock but my preferences in movies and music have always prepped me more for a conversation with my grandmother than one with my friends.

So my contribution to the Ten Of Terror?  Well, why not do a retro list?  Alright, great-What do you base the list on?  The most enjoyable?  That’s kind of hard to justify.  I like a lot of movies for no particular reason.  Scariest?  Not so much.  It’s a little hard to be scared of creatures when you can see the strings that hold them up.  How about the most influential?  Makes sense.

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#10.  “She will tear up the whole town until she finds Harry.”  “And then she’ll tear up Harry.”-Attack of the 50 ft Woman (1958):

Hell hath no fury like an alcoholic 50-foot tall woman’s scorn. It’s a simple enough idea: man cheats on rich wife, wife gets angry and takes a drive, she sees an alien ship, goes back to prove to everyone she’s not crazy, radiation makes her a giant, woman seeks revenge on husband. There’s a giant paper-mache hand, the acting is terrible and the giant alien, and later the woman, are fairly transparent due to the overlap of film reels. But, hey. It’s 1958. All things considered, it’s pretty impressive.

Its cultural popularity is nothing to argue over. We just saw Susan from Monsters Vs. Aliens as a direct tribute to the 50 foot original, not to mention the remake with Bridget Bardot back in 1993. Why should this classic B-movie even reach the list? It was the first massively popular horror movies that revolved around a female antagonist. While true she’s actually treated as more of an anti-hero, she’s still ultimately the cause of death and destruction in the small town. All in all, this movie was the start of the sexy villains in horror flicks back in the 50s and 60s. And trust me, after this one they flooded onto the screen.

HOW#9.  “To you they are wax, but to me their creator, they live and breathe.”-House of Wax (1953):

Probably just an excuse to get Vincent Price on this list, this one hits the Number 9 on the basis that it was the first movie to give you the classic 3-D experience. I say classic because those goofy transparent glasses that we have today are not cool. Red and blue pieces of plastic glued to cardboard, now that’s cool. Pair those bad boys up with stereophonic goodness? You start the beginning of a history filled with cheap promotional techniques that become more of a pull than the movies themselves. From this we got chairs with electric shock systems installed, vibrating chairs, smell-o-vision and random giveaways. Thanks, Marketing Department.

It was the start of Vincent Price’s horror legacy. You could see it in 3-D, and it’s honestly and legitimately creepy. Please, let me have this one.

#8.  “It’s alive….IT’S ALIVE!”-Frankenstein (1931):

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You have a brilliant novel about the monster, a couple movie adaptations prior to your own, and you decide not to follow any earlier depictions and just make up your own esthetics.  In the meantime, you are held responsible for the most iconic character in horror history.  A gutsy move paid off.

Frankenstein1910The first movie adaptation of Mary Shelly’s novel was all the way back in 1910.  This ultra-quick silent movie actually followed the novel description fairly close.  Granted, you see that monster now (pictured left) and he’s hilarious and I suppose it’s possible Universal felt the same way. The movie isn’t ground breaking; it hits the Top Ten simply for the fact that it caused a cultural phenomenon.  Boris Karloff’s role as the monster has inspired an unimaginable number of works from Mel Brooks to Konomi’s Castlevania.


WOTW#7.  “All radio is dead, which means that these tape recordings I’m making are for the sake of future history…if any.”-War of the Worlds (1953):

The horrors of a space invasion in beautiful Technicolor.  In my humble opinion, the greatest science fiction movie to date.  In fact, if someday I were to meet my demise by an alien ship that resembled an athletic cup with lights, I think I’d go with a smile on my face.  Okay, that might be because the sound the lasers make is the same sound of Starfleet phasers in ST:TOS, but my bright green disintegration would be beautiful at any rate.

Like any solid horror movie, this treasure has serious moral and religious undertones.  Okay, not really undertones-this one hits you over the head with it.  The military doesn’t retaliate on the aliens until the pastor is killed, you’ll find what you’re looking for in a church, evil isn’t destroyed until it attacks God, and never underestimate the power of prayer.  I’ve always found apocalyptic films especially terrifying.  Not because the world is ending; that doesn’t matter.  It’s the fear of what happens to your fellow man when a crisis is upon you.  Here you are, trying to do what’s right and you get attacked by a guy scared out of his mind that wants to steal your truck full of scientific instruments.  It makes you not only scared of strangers or people you know, but it makes you truly question yourself and what you could become if frightened enough.

Nosferatu#6.  “Recently I discovered that to preserve their diabolic power, vampires must sleep during the day in the same unhallowed ground in which they had been buried.”-Nosferatu (1922):

Before there were sexy vampires, there were creatures that kill instead of recruit.  Undead rat-like monsters that were creepy more so than sinful.

This silent German ditty was actually done illegally in that the screenplay was written without film rights to Bram Stoker’s “Dracula”.  That eventually led to one hell of a lawsuit but the affects of such were barely enough to keep us from seeing the movie today.

By no means the first vampire movie, the production is not what makes this movie important.  This movie is the reason we believe sunlight and vampires don’t mix.  Count Orlok (the vampire) is destroyed in the end by an open window.  Not exactly thrilling but a little obscure when you think that wasn’t ever a part of the novel.  Maybe Galeen had a deadline and just came up with it randomly; whatever the reason, he changed our perception of vampires and their weaknesses.

POTO#5.  “If I am the Phantom, it is because man’s hatred has made me so…If I shall be saved, it will be because your love redeems me.”-Phantom of the Opera (1925):

Here it is 1925, speakeasies as far the eye can see, and none of them hold enough alcohol for you when you see Lon Chaney, Sr..

My mom has a motionette figure of this phantom that she’s had for years.  It used to give me nightmares.  That fact alone may have pushed this one up to number five.  Now, is this technically a horror film?  Eh.  You give me a deformed man living in an opera house in Paris stalking a young singer and holding her captive while trying to murder her lover, then you have just handed me a scary movie.  Especially in 1925 when action and love stories reigned supreme in silent movies.

Chaney1925Nothing, and I mean NOTHING, had ever come close to the gruesome makeup design in Phantom of the Opera.  Lon Chaney was given the opportunity to create his own makeup design after his work in The Hunchback of Notre Dame in 1923.  So with some false teeth, wires, pins and heavy makeup, Chaney created iconic Phantom.  The man looked like a living deformed skeleton and it is reported (although easily fabricated) that there were several instances of fainting in the audience when the face was revealed from under The Phantom’s mask.  The best part of all is that the horrific reveal was kept a secret from the public until the film premiere.  Think of the hype that the Cloverfield monster generated before the premiere, and now think of how it would have been if there were no internet.  There, that’s how The Phantom of the Opera release happened.  This just happened to be a much better movie.  The huge success of this film almost single-handedly built the Universal Horror Empire.

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#4. “As if men don’t desire strangers! As if… oh, I refuse to speak of disgusting things, because they disgust me! You understand, boy? Go on; go tell her she’ll not be appeasing her ugly appetite with MY food… or my son! Or do I have to tell her because you don’t have the guts? Huh, boy? You have the guts, boy?”-Psycho (1960):

Sex and horror movies, they go together like…me and a nap.  Why’s that?  Outside of maybe time on the toilet, when are you the most vulnerable?  So it’s only natural that a killer comes a calling when you’re naked.  In the shower.  In a hotel.  In the middle of nowhere.

Throw in the force of a controlling mother with her sexually repressed son, and you get the creepiest hotel ever.  This Hitchcock thriller offered up the threat of the human mind.  Yeah, sure-practically every noir film dealt with the twists and turns of the human mind, but a killer with a split personality that snaps when he meets a woman that part of him wants and the other part fears?  Brilliant.  Opens up a whole new realm of horrors dealing not with monsters or aliens but a Mama’s Boy smothered to the point of insanity.

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#3.  “They are not men, Madame.  They are dead bodies!”-White Zombie (1932):

They don’t feed on flesh.  They don’t have any natural instincts.  They don’t have a union.

This flick was really a starting point for zombies as we see them.  Similar films prior to this have typically relied upon a ghost or spirits being raised from the dead.  This movie was the one most accepted as a pioneer in corpses being raised from the dead.  Brought about via special poison and dark arts telepathy, these corpses are controlled by one man.  He just so happens to operate a sugar mill…free labor!  The big differentiating factor in these zombies from modern zombies is that these can come back from being undead and be their old selves again.

This is a prime example of zombies that can be controlled for personal gain.  We see a rich man fall in love with an engaged woman after meeting her once.  Well, honestly, what says “I love you” more than turning your object of affection into an undead slave?

RB#2.  “Hail Satan!”-Rosemary’s Baby (1968):

You’re just lying in bed trying to sleep one off and suddenly, you’re getting raped by the devil.  It happens.

There’s God and there’s Satan.  It’s good and evil, light and dark, Jedi and Sith.  Somehow we humans just muddle along among the gray area. Then along comes Rosemary’s Baby; the first movie to show us Satan as not only flesh but as an infant-typically deemed as the essence of innocence.

Without heavily relying upon gore and violence (although the rape scene is incredibly horrific) this brought on a whole new list of fears to the general public: neighborhood cults, devil spawn, child abduction by doctors and little old ladies distributing chocolate mousse as a date-rape drug.

#1. A widespread investigation of funeral homes, morgues, and hospitals has concluded that the unburied dead have been returning to life and seeking human victims.”-Night of the Living Dead (1968):

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Basically the “So You’re Living In The Zombie Apocalypse” preparation guide.  THE ZOMBIE MOVIE.

Now, it’s true-this all started because of Russo and Romero wanted to do something similar to Richard Matheson’s novel “I Am Legend” but this hokey low-budget wonder caused a cultural phenomenon.  Whereas Matheson dealt with the scenario where everybody had been turned into monsters, Russo and Romero started at the beginning of humanity’s end during all its stages of panic and chaos.

In my eyes, it stands as the first truly scary movie.  You have to figure, before this there were never any movies about a catastrophe this horrifying in a setting that could be your rural or suburban town.  Sure, we had alien invasions and shady people but this isn’t campy acting and cheap theatrics.  This is terrifying imagery of former humans acting on the carnal instinct of hunger.  It’s not like people in the 60s saw a lot of children eating corpses. The moviegoer also has to deal with evil triumphing over good with the deaths of every main character regardless of race, sex and education.  To put anything else in the Number 1 spot would be a crime against humanity.

Posted on: October 21st, 2009 Basterds Hits Blu-Ray This December

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You read that right, Tarantino’s latest opus, the hard-hitting, nazi-killing romp Inglourious Basterds, is indeed hitting DVD and Blu-Ray before year’s end.

Why so early you ask? Who the fuck cares, that’s awesome! But if you must know, the Weinstein company sent out plenty of screeners of the film to critics in order to fuel the Oscar buzz, so releasing the film to the market on home video will accommodate that and fuel the award-fire even more. I can get behind this, as I’m jonesin’ to watch this flick in glourious 1080p over and over and show it to all those chumps who missed out in the theater.

Inglourious Basterds will be available this December 15th on one-disc, two-disc and Blu-Ray versions with a bunch of extra content including:

  • Alternate & extended scenes
  • The complete film-within-the-film Nation’s Pride (directed by the Bear Jew himself, Eli Roth)
  • Domestic & international trailers

The two-disc, extra-special, Blu-Ray will include all of the above plus:

  • A roundtable conversation with Quentin Tarantino, Brad Pitt and film historian Elvis Mitchell
  • A making-of for Nation’s Pride
  • The Original Bastards – A retrospective of the original film from 1978
  • Gag Reel
  • Film poster tour with Elvis Mitchell
  • Digital Copy of the film
  • and a bunch more…

No word on any future re-releases of Basterds, but it’s probably safe to assume that there won’t be a double-dip on this for quite some time. We’re still waiting on Kill Bill: The Whole Bloody Affair and the full theatrical cut of Grindhouse, so you’re gonna want to pick this up or you’ll no doubt be waiting indefinitely.

And I want my scalps.

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Posted on: September 15th, 2009 DC Reveals ‘Crisis’ Animated Feature

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DC announced it’s next full-length animated feature today, and this should make DC fans giddy as we’re finally getting the multiverse. No, it’s not Crisis on Infinite Earths, nor is it Infinite Crisis, but it’s close… Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths!

Alright, so maybe it’s not a multiverse, but two earths is a step forwards. Here’s the official synopsis:

in Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths, a “good” Lex Luthor arrives from an alternate universe to recruit the Justice League to help save his Earth from the Crime Syndicate, a gang of villainous characters with virtually identical super powers to the Justice League. What ensues is the ultimate battle of good versus evil in a war that threatens both planets and, through a diabolical plan launched by Owlman, puts the balance of all existence in peril.

The story is written by Dwayne McDuffie (Justice League Unlimited, Static Shock) and Bruce Timm* is one of the executive producers, naturally. 

Sounds pretty kick-ass to me; although I love the recurring multiverse Crisis stories, how hard would it be to pull off a Crisis on Infinite Earths animated feature. This seems like a nice balance between simple action and a somewhat linear storytelling, and the ideas and elements from DC comics that have entertained us for years.

The voice cast is also pretty impressive:

Superman – Mark Harmon
William Baldwin – Batman
Chris Noth – Lex Luthor
Owlman – James Woods
Bruce Davison – The President
Super Woman – Gina Torres

Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths is set for release direct-to-video sometime  next spring. Hitting the shelves at the end of this month is Superman/Batman: Public Enemies, the animated feature based on the popular comic series, and if you haven’t watched the last DC animated feature, Green Lantern: First Flight, you don’t know what you’re missing.

*Bruce Timm has been pretty important in sculpting quality superhero cartoons, just don’t bother saying hello to him at a convention unless you want a face full of asshole. 

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Posted on: July 23rd, 2009 Transformers: Returning to a Childhood Love

We all have those fond childhood memories – trick or treating at Halloween, first kisses, getting that really cool toy. I think I speak for just about everyone when I say the one thing we all remember the most are our childhood cartoons. I grew up in the 80’s with shows like SilverHawks and He-Man. I was always, always a He-Man fan. Never missed it. Now though when you look back you see these shows for what they really were, and usually they were not as good as you remember them.

Or at least I used to think. Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted on: July 16th, 2009 WIN a Copy of WATCHMEN on DVD!

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CONTEST WINNER:
Congratulations to Adam of Joppa, MD for winning this here giveaway! 

You smell that in the air?

That’s Watchmen fever coming back, as we gear up for next week’s release of Watchmen – The Director’s Cut on DVD and Blu-Ray.

Well to celebrate this epic event in home video release we here at Giant Killer Squid are giving away a copy of the two-disc DVD to one lucky reader.

What do you have to do? Nothing!

Between now and next Thursday, July 23rd, send an email over to contest [at] giantkillersquid [dot] com with ‘WATCHMEN DVD’ in the subject line. Be sure to 

include your full name and address and while you’re at it tell us your favorite scene in the movie.

The winner will be announced next Friday, July 24th and will also notified via email.

Check out the specs below for the DVD in question:

Someone’s killing our super heroes. The year is 1985 and super heroes have banded together to respond to the murder of one of their own. They soon uncover a sinister plot that puts all of humanity in grave danger. The super heroes fight to stop the impending doom only to find themselves a target for annihilation. But, if our super heroes are gone, who will save us?

Disc 1:
Director’s cut of the film (186 minutes)
Disc 2:
The Phenomenon: The Comic that Changed Comics (30 min.)
Webisodes (38 min.)
Music Video: My Chemical Romance Desolation Row (3 min.)
Digital Copy – Theatrical version

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Posted on: June 30th, 2009 Watchmen DVD & Blu-Ray Details

blu-rayThe wait is almost over for Zach Snyder’s incredible film adaptation of Watchmen to hit DVD and Blu-Ray. The film will be released to retailers this July 21st and this one is a must-own for fans, Blu-Ray-philes and Watchmen fiends alike. As with most comic-book-super-fan-summer films, this movie will no doubt see an endless amount of releases and re-releases each with the most superficial of differences. But to us mega-fans, does it really even matter.

The film will initially be released in a two-disc Director’s Cut – a theatrical version is available on DVD only – with a third, coaster-worthy digital copy disc. This Director’s Cut has a run-time of over 3 hours; that’s approximately 30 mins of more footage than was shown in the theatrical version. Full details on what these scenes will include are still pretty unknown with the exception being the well-known-filmed on-screen death of the original Nite Owl, Hollis Mason.

Full Disc Specs:

  • Disc 1 (BD-50):
  • Director’s cut of the film (186 minutes)
  • Interactive “Ultimate Watchmen Experience”
  • BD-Live
  • Disc 2 (BD-25):
  • The Phenomenon: The Comic that Changed Comics (30 min.)
  • Real Super Heroes, Real Vigilantes (27 min.)
  • Mechanics: Technologies of a Fantastic World (27 min.)
  • Webisodes (38 min.)
  • Music Video: My Chemical Romance Desolation Row (3 min.)
  • Disc 3 (DVD):
  • Digital Copy – Theatrical version

If you’re more of a collector, there are some special-er editions of this release. Blu-Ray owners can pick up Amazon.com’s exclusive Nite Owl Ship collector’s set which features the three Director’s Cut discs hidden inside a pretty cool looking statuette of Nite Owl’s ship, Archie. Apparently this beaut has lights and sounds. Again, it’s only exclusive to those shopping online at Amazon.com, and has a fairly hefty price tag of $79.99.

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My local Best Buy is also advertising this hideous Rorschach mask packaging for both DVD and Blu-Ray,while HMV UK is offering a similar package with the lifeless face of Dr. Manhattan. Creepy.

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Zach Snyder has also been dropping hints for a “Black Freighter” cut of the film, essentially the Director’s Cut with the previously released animated story-within-a-story, The Black Freighter, cut into the film throughout the full run-time. This edition, which really only has appeal to hardcore fans, would run approximately 3 hours and 45 minutes. No release date or further details have been released.

I know I will be having one hell of a Watchmen party on July 21st, and you’re all welcome to come over and enjoy Watchmen on Blu-Ray in all it’s glory.

Posted on: June 30th, 2009 DVD FIX: June 30th

Ahoy sea men and women, welcome to this week’s DVD FIX, your source for what’s new in DVD/Blu-Ray land.

To say this week’s releases are weak is an understatement. Here’s the major titles hitting retail and rental shelves this week – and hey, if you buy any of these items through the Amazon.com links in this here post, you’re helping Giant Killer Squid save up for that shiny new bike we’ve been wanting. So thanks.

NEW RELEASES FOR JUNE 30th

Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun Li
Smallville’s Lana Lang (Kristin Kreuk) stars in this unfathomable movie based on the super successful arcade/console video game. Kreuk plays the deadly Chun Li, who must resist the evil forces of Father’s telling their kids to “play that game on mute”. I can’t believe someone made another Street Fighter movie.

12 Rounds (Rated + Unrated)
WWE superstar John Cena comes to home video in his second “major” starring role. I’m sure this film is just “great”.

Eastbound & Down: The Complete First Season
I myself haven’t seen any of this little show, but it stars Danny McBride who just so happens to steal every movie he’s in. Featuring creative talent from Will Ferrel, Jody Hill and Adam McKay, how can you go wrong? Bonus: If you haven’t yet seen The Foot Fist Way also starring Danny McBride, you are missing out.

That’s really all I even want to mention this week. Next week ain’t much better we’ll see new releases featuring Nic Cage, some wannabe superheroes, and a frightening fetus?

Finally, good news for fans of the X-Men animated series from the 90’s Fox Kids programming – the final two volumes of the show, 3 & 4 respectively, are set for release on September15th. Just like the first two volumes (which are really, really good) each volume features two discs of 15 episodes. I recently watched volumes 1 & 2, and this show is one of the very few that holds up since my childhood, and dare I say, the best comic-book cartoon in terms of faithfulness of tone to the source material.

Posted on: June 17th, 2009 Friday the 13th on DVD: Rent It

Friday13th2009It’s been a long time since I’ve seen a movie that truly made me scared.  The only movie that comes to mind was Lady in White (1988).  That movie kept me up for weeks.  Granted, I saw it when I was around five.  In hindsight, it was pretty terrible but it involved the ghost of a molested and murdered little girl that was looking for her dead mother.  That’s fairly heavy for a five year old.

Modern scary movies don’t do it for me.  I’ve seen some quality gore in recent years but that’s hardly frightening.  I’m in a constant search for the movie that’s going to keep me up at night or checking the locks on my doors.  The latest attempt was the re-imagining of Friday the 13th on DVD.  Okay, so I went in knowing it was a feeble attempt.  The first one didn’t get so much as a jump out of me; but who can be startled when you’re irritated that anyone would ever agree to play Strip-Monopoly?  Pure nonsense.

I liked the reboot.  Scary?  Oh no.  Good Old-Fashioned slasher movie?  You bet.  I can respect the fact that they didn’t try to remake the original movie.  Could you remake it since everyone knows about Mommy? Probably.  We live in a time where remakes are repulsively being churned out as cutting edge. Damian Shannon and Mark Swift went another way though.  Explain some previously obscure plot holes, tip your hat to the originals and let the actors have some fun.  I really enjoyed the obscure moments of improv in the movie.  Aaron Yoo was by far the best; I kind of wish they would have put off his death a little longer.  Turns out when you let actors do their own thing in a horror movie, you can get more than “Ohmygodpleasedon’tkillmeIdon’twanttodie”.  Who knew?

My favorite part of the DVD was the short behind-the-scenes footage in the Special Features.  Practically the only Special Feature, in fact.  It’s just some quick interviews with the cast and crew but they offer some relatively intriguing insight on the Friday the 13th franchise.  You get to see some of the makeup application and the story behind the mask(s).  They even touched on how the decision for Jason to run or not run was crucial in creating the ‘new’ Voorhees character.  Neat!

So, if you were like me and refused to see the new Friday the 13th in theaters, you may want to add it to your Netflix cue (It’s not really worth buying).  It doesn’t take away anything from the original-it’s cheesy and it’s fun.  Plus, there’s a lot of pot and boobs in it.  Certainly not necessary for a win, but it doesn’t hurt.

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