Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Quentin Tarantino and Horror

After watching Inglorious Basterds this weekend, I was suddenly struck with a little bit of wonder: does Tarantino actually know how to make a movie anymore?

While the shots are great and the acting quite good, the action of Basterds falls quite short, with a lot of boring exposition between some truly great action scenes. I wanted to like Basterds, I really did, but ultimately, it was Tarantino trying to write Tarantino-esque dialogue... and failing.

I was not enthralled by the characters (aside from Brad Pitt's Aldo Raine and the Jew Hunter) and it was just overall very bland film making. It was too bad, but almost worth sitting through 2 hours of stuff for the 45 minutes of awesome action scenes that were contained within. Sorry Johnny, but I just can't get behind this movie. I know this all seems like a bit of a tangent, but it brings me to my previous point of Tarantino knowing how to make a movie.

He started off with a couple of bangs: Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction. Then Jackie Brown and Kill Bill followed up more than amply. Then we get to the grindhouse feature of Death Proof.

Much like Basterds, Death Proof, to me at least, was Tarantino trying too hard to write the dialogue that made him famous. But he failed. And the thing about Death Proof wasn't that it was a bad movie. I would have liked it a lot more if it wasn't a part of the Grindhouse features. I can handle a bit of dialogue. I can even handle the inordinately large amount of dialogue in Death Proof. But what I cannot handle is a "grindhouse" film that is 2/3 dialogue.

Grindhouse films, by definition, are all about one thing: exploitation. Whether it be sex, violence, or both (or maybe race), something has to be entirely blown out of proportions. It's over the top, it's action packed, it's fast moving and quick to be done. Death Proof is none of that. A grindhouse film with what amounts to basically 2 action scenes is not a grindhouse film. It's a dull horror film that gets praised because of a name attached to it. Look at the other half: Planet Terror. It's fast moving, gross as hell, and full of stupid one liners. It's quick to kill anyone off, you see a kid die, and all kinds of pus is splattered everywhere. It's basically the perfect homage to a grindhouse film.

Death Proof plods along (especially the extended version of the film) and fails miserably as a grindhouse flick. The worst part of that is the fact that we know Tarantino can write grindhouse. You want proof?

From Dusk Til Dawn, while directed by Robert "Planet Terror" Rodriguez, was written by Tarantino. It was amazing. It was fun. It was what a good grindhouse film should be. Why can't he do that again?

I think what has happened is that Tarantino has lost some of his fun in filmmaking. I will never dispute that he has made some amazing films. In fact, he doesn't make movies, he makes films. He is an auteur. But sometimes I feel like he is losing his focus on having a little fun and trying too hard with his dialogue. You see glimpses in Basterds, but unfortunately, he can't keep it focused. It's too bad, because it could have been so much more...

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Zombie Politics and Other Quick Updates

I just read a nice little piece about how different political parties would react to a zombie attack. I have to say, it's an interesting read. You can find the article here.

Also, I apologize for my lack of updates. Life has been a bit of a hectic experience lately and I am starting to figure some of it out, I think. I won't bore you with details, but it's akin to a soap opera right now (due to my own doings).

I did see Orphan and District 9 recently, both of which I had heard good things about. My general thoughts:

Orphan: An interesting flick with some pretty good scenes in it. The problem was that ultimately it wasn't anything for me that really caught my attention. It was okay, but I really don't have any desire to see it again. For me it was a fairly bland entry that I would recommend, but not extol the virtues of.

District 9: Yep, I really liked it like most everyone else. The parallels to apartheid, the acting, the story, and the gun that explodes people were all incredibly enjoyable for me. Yes, a gun that literally just blows people up is featured. I really liked it. I do realize that it is more Sci-fi than anything else, but it's still good for horror fans to see.

That's all I have for now!

Friday, August 7, 2009

I Love Sarah Jane

Johnny over at Freddy In Space put this up a couple days ago, but I have to steal it for my blog too. It's a little too good.

Enjoy the zombie short I Love Sarah Jane!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Horror's Best Graveyards

It's not a big deal for a scene in a horror movie to be based in a graveyard. Hell, some movies revolve around the premise of being in a graveyard. But not all cinematic graveyards are created equal. Most are pretty standard, bland offerings of granite tombstones and boring backgrounds. But every so often, you get a truly spectacular collection of mausoleums, an ossuary or two, and wonderful headstones. Or maybe it just happens to be placed in a great setting. In any event, here are some really wonderful examples of what a graveyard should look like:

Night of the Living Dead (1968): This cemetery really isn't anything spectacular in the terms of the actual headstones or structures, but the scenery around it is very nice. A serene, hilly setting makes for the perfect dichotomy of peaceful, resting dead and shambling, restless undead. The actual cemetery is known as Evans City Cemetery and is located in Pennsylvania (as everything Romero practically is). There is actually a great site showing the scenes from the movie next to what it looks like today.

Cemetery Man (1994):

The cemetery in this flick is pretty much the quintessential horror movie resting place: gothic statues of angels and death, ornate mausoleums, strange people tending to it, and zombies. I really like this movie and have watched it many times, but the cemetery scenery never ceases to amaze me. I love watching it over and over again to find some new building or bit of scenery every time. A nice contrast to the simple NOTLD cemetery mentioned previously.

Pet Sematary (1989):

The "sematary" in question is deep in the woods, the entrance is marked by creepy rock formations, and is mired by the loss of beloved family friends. It doesn't get much sadder or freakier than this folks. The movie itself is very good and has so many creepy things going for it anyway, but the set design of the cemetery itself just makes it all the better. And that little kid. It makes me shudder just thinking about it.

The Omen (1976):

One the most classic graveyard scenes of all time is the dog attack from the original Omen movie. The fog hangs thick, the walls are huge, and the scare factor is a 10. Gregory Peck goes searching for his child's true mother to discover the grave is inhabited by a decaying dog corpse. With brambles and eerie trees jutting out from every corner, The Omen's graveyard might have easily overdone the ominous scenery, but instead finds a nice balance and makes for a picturesque horror cemetery.

Sleepy Hollow (1999):

I am a sucker for anything Tim Burton, but I can't help it. Everything about his movies reeks of style and thought. I love this particular graveyard because of the New England cottages behind and the creepy woods surrounding it. On the one hand, you get this serene village, on the other, a foggy, desolate wood. Tim Burton could make a DMV look stylistic and I would love every minute of it.

Some honorable mentions: Dead Alive, Dead Silence, Repo! The Genetic Opera, and Zombie.

These are the ones that I could come up with, so now I open up the comments for my readers' suggestions.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

There Are Zombies in My Living Room

Yep, you read that title correctly. Every so often, I get together with some friends and we kill zombies in my living room. And no, there are no video games involved. We actually do this...

... with some dice. The board game is called "Last Night on Earth" and in a nutshell, it's Risk, but with zombies.

Go ahead and re-read that last sentence and tell me that's not awesome.

So it is a bit more complex than that, but essentially, you have four people that are heroes and two that are zombies (you can play with fewer than six, but it's best with a full 6). The game involves different scenarios playing out in a number of turns and the heroes having to accomplish specific goals. Sometimes they have to find gas to get into a truck and drive off, sometimes they have to defend a house from the horde, and other times they merely have to kill off a certain number of zombies. It's a really fun time and I would recommend it to anyone.

Check out the game's website to order it or go to your local game shop to get a copy! It's well worth it!

And did I mention the game comes with IT'S OWN FREAKING SOUNDTRACK?

And also, I apologize for the lack of updates lately. I promise to remedy this!