Thursday, December 31, 2009

25 Screams (part ii)

20. Constantine

Angels, Demons and a man caught in the middle. This supernatural-actioner was unfortunately more style than substance, but nevertheless entertaining.

19. Skeleton Key

Solid thriller about a hospice nurse who begins to suspect that her patient is the target of supernatural shenanigans -- almost wore out its welcome with some bump-in-the-night clich├ęs. It kind of plays out like an extended Twilight Zone episode with a nice twist at the end. Excellent incorporation of American folklore.

18. Nightwatch

Cool Russian import about warring factions of supernatural beings. A little hard to follow at times, but visually a treat.

17. Blade II

Some of the effects are dated and it doesn't quite match the intensity of the original, but this Guillermo Del Toro helmed sequel holds its own as the Daywalker reluctantly teams up with the Vampire Nation in order to deal with an even bigger threat.

16. Resident Evil

Haven't you heard? Women can't open movies. Apparently, neither has Milla Jovovich, because she was busy finishing the fourth installment of this popular video game adaptation -- one of the few successful video game adaptations. No deep story here. Decent build up though. Kill or be killed. Throw in Michelle Rodriguez's scowl and you've got a party.

(more to come...)

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

25 Screams

I think it's pretty safe to say that I'm the only person on the net who came up with a list of the Best Horror Films of the last decade. Originality, that's me! Why twenty-five? I wanted to go with ten, but there were just too many good films, especially the imports. Foreign Horror stepped its game up, while Hollywood was mostly content to remake.

I've never cared much for slasher flicks and torture porn, so don't be surprised by their omission. Even with twenty-five slots, it was still a difficult task -- I'm sure that I've still managed to miss a gem or two. Anyway, without further delay, I present the first installment: (25-21)

25. The Ring (remake)

Part of the first wave of Asian Horror remakes to hit American theaters. It was spooky, atmospheric and had one hell of a hook.

24. The Eye (original)

Better than The Ring in my opinion, the remake with Jessica Alba was huge letdown. The concept of "haunted" organ transplants is nothing new, but this South Korean film has some interesting twists along the way.

23. Brotherhood of the Wolf

Christophe Gans directed this stylish French action-horror flick about two men pursuing a murderous beast on the rampage. Part legend, part speculation, this is all fun. And anything with Monica Bellucci instantly increases its watchability.

22. Blood: The Last Vampire

I love the art, but often find anime characters and stories to be somewhat... lacking -- no, boring. Not the case here. A slick, little film that runs under an hour about a mysterious girl who hunts vampiric creatures. Ignore the awful live-action adaptation from earlier this year. See this instead.

21. Ginger Snaps

Effective low-budget Canadian horror about a teen female lycanthrope. Puts Wes Craven's bloated and over-cooked Cursed to shame.

(more to come...)

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Near Dark

Haven't seen this in ages, but I stumbled across it on IFC last week. First, I have to say, the trailer is god-awful, but surprisingly, the film still holds up -- save for some cheesy 80s synth music. Near Dark suffers the unfortunate fate of being overshadowed by that *other* vampire flick released earlier in 1987, The Lost Boys. Who could compete with the power of The Coreys back then?! The similar boy-meets-alluring-girl plot didn't help matters either. But once you get past that, there's a much more compelling story here. One uninterested in slick special effects or romanticizing vampirism. They're desperate, immortal junkies who sleep during the day, on the move at night, looking for their next fix. Their drug of choice just happens to be the blood of some poor, unfortunate soul. The vampires in Near Dark don't sparkle in sunlight, they catch fire and burn.

Really strong cast here. Lance Henriksen and Bill Paxton are the standouts.

Kathryn Bigelow's gritty and unpleasant take on bloodsuckers was a turn-off to moviegoers looking for cool escapism. Grossed a little over $3 million at the box office. 30 Days of Night tried the same feral vampire route and had some modest success, but audiences (tween girls) went gaga for the sparkly stuff. If you didn't know, there's a remake in the works... *shudder*

I've written scripts with ghosts, werewolves, zombies, etc. but nothing with vampires. Guess it goes on 2010 to-do list -- just what Hollywood's looking for, another vampire spec script!

Now I have to pick up the 2 disc DVD for Bigelow's commentary and the making-of documentary. Probably gonna check out The Hurt Locker as well...

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Thoughts on Franklyn

Been busy doing (attempting) screenwritery stuff, but I found time to throw up a few thoughts on one of the most challenging films ever to cross the path of marketing department, Franklyn. It's not hard to see why this wasn't released theatrically in the States. A weird hybrid with many masters: fantasy, quirky indie romance, psychological thriller, etc. I'm not even going to try explaining the plot. I will say that the one sheets play up fantasy element far too much. They look cool, but totally misrepresent the film. Nice character-driven, low-budget story. Don't pop in the DVD and expect to see a Stardust meets Edward Scissorhands fantasy/romance with elaborate sets and flashy effects.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Listen Up!

Remember when I trashed Jumper (film, not the script) a while back? Well, here's an excellent podcast from Creative Screenwriting Magazine with its co-writers, Simon Kinberg and Jim Uhls. It's fascinating to hear about all the changes the story went through. Quite a bit can happen to a script from sale to shoot (I owe them a huge apology) -- kind of ties into the recent debate that's set the scribosphere ablaze.

Geek Syndicate has a great interview with Howard Overman, the creator of the Heroish UK series, Mifits. Even though it's not yet available in the States, there's an online graphic novel that you can check out here.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Write on!

Two weeks since my last post?! I almost feel like apologizing. A couple of recent (and not so recent) thoughts....

V and Flash Forward are both done until March, but I can't say that I'll miss them terribly. After a shaky start, V has settled into guilty pleasure viewing, nothing more. Flash Forward has always felt like a blatant attempt by ABC to catch lightning in a bottle. There's been a lot of flailing around in the last couple of weeks. Characters with inconsistent behavior, dumb plotting, and the overload of soap opera elements -- who really cares about the Doc's quest to find his Japanese true love? Lots of retooling during hiatus, but will viewers return to see the results? I still can't believe the network doesn't have supplemental content to keep fans engaged during that long of a break.

Better than Twilight -- yeah, I know, that's not saying much, but still.. Occasionally, more often than we'd like to admit, bad/cheesy stories sell. But don't just dismiss it as dumb luck. Understand that these stories are bypassing the head and speaking directly to the hearts of their intended audience. Can your stories do the same?

So I (finally) settled on my procedural and I'm getting there. Made some huge strides a few days ago. Early on, I promised myself that I wouldn't hastily throw something together just for the sake of a contest. No need to add another ill conceived idea to my unfinished spec graveyard. If this contest doesn't work out, I still have a pretty good start for a feature. The details for the first act are almost fleshed out. My biggest adversary is time. I suspect the contest will reach 1500 entries well before the January deadline. A productive weekend is a must.


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