Category Archives: Special Features

News, trailers, things I like, in short all kinds of crazy but cool stuff

Special Features Presents: Kenji Kawai, the God of Anime and Asian cinema soundtracks

This is going to be a bit of a different kind of post than you are used to reading on my blog. Because this is a post about music, or to be more precise soundtracks. A great movie soundtrack stays in your mind, and actually helps to increase the enjoyment of a particular movie. In the Western world we ofcourse have legends like Hans Zimmer or John Williams, that have produced a great many memorable soundtracks.  Who can forget the dark sounds of the Dark Knight trilogy, or the impressive Imperial March from the Star Wars franchise.

As much as I love the sounds of these, I have come across one composer throughout my many years of watching movies and anime, that has impressed me the most. And  that is Kenji Kawai from Japan. His soundtracks are simply speaking completely out of this world, and have given me goosebumps all over, every time I hear the sounds of them. Today I thought I would share a few of his impressive music compositions, from various anime and Asian films. I hope you will enjoy listening to them. Here they are in no particular order.

Ghost in the Shell: Opening Theme

This one is probably his best known composition. The opening theme to the brilliant anime movie Ghost in the Shell, is hauntingly beautiful. The video below is a live performance that is absolutely amazing.

 

The Battle of Wits

Taken from the soundtrack of the Chinese historical martial arts epic, A Battle of Wits, this is one of my favorite songs from Kenji Kawai. It starts off slow, but then at 2:10 it becomes this incredibly epic orchestral piece, that literally produces goosebumps whenever I hear it. If there is only one video you have time for, this is the one you should listen to. Absolutely breathtaking.

 

The Sky Crawlers: Opening Theme

Another song from an anime movie, this one is called Sky Crawlers. I have not yet seen this movie, but I bought it just for the soundtrack. Yes, I kid you not, I bought a film solely for the soundtrack, not even caring if it’s any good. Another hauntingly beautiful song, this is almost dreamlike.

 

Avalon: Log in

This song is taken from the highly underrated 2001 live action movie Avalon. It was a brilliant movie with a truly epic scope, made even more impressive by the score. This song is another epic masterpiece, that comes to life at the 0:30 mark, when a choir and orchestra explode and produce a song that is not of this Earth. Another live performance, that only increases the awesomeness of this song.

 

Ghost in the Shell: Nightstalker

To close things off, I give you another song from the Ghost in the Shell soundtrack. It is the shortest song on the list, lasting only 1 minute and 34 seconds, but it is truly amazing. My only regret is that it’s so very short, but luckily you can always push the repeat button. A completely unique, very bleak but also very atmospheric song.

 

Final thoughts

For me Kenji Kawai is the absolute master of movie soundtracks. His compositions are simply amazing, and I can never get enough of them. He has a very recognisable sound, and usually whenever I see a new movie or Animeseries that Kenji Kawai has made the music for, I manage to identify it immediately. If you are interested in hearing more of his work, I suggest heading over to YouTube where you can find more of his amazing sounds. As mentioned in the beginning, this is the first time I have made a post like this, so I would love to hear your thoughts on it. Did you enjoy this post? Have you heard of Kenji Kawai? What do you think of his music, do you love it or hate it? Let me know in the comments section below. As always thank you for reading, and see you at the next post!

 

Special Features Presents: Stranger Things season 2 trailer.

Last year, Netflix released a television series that was so incredibly briljant, that I finished it twice in one weekend. Yes, I am not kidding. The series was an homage to everything 80’s and managed to create an atmosphere that I had not felt since movies like E.T. or Stand by me. That series was called Stranger Things and it was everything that an 80’s junkie like me could have dreamed of. Stranger Things was simply perfect, and it had only one negative point to it as far as I was concerned: it only had 8 episodes. Being such a huge succes, it would have been erm strange, if a second season would not have been announced. Ofcourse it was, and since then I have been eagerly awaiting news or the first images of the second series. Besides a very short 15 second  teaser, it all was deceptively quiet. Until now….

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When there is something strange, in your neighbourhood, who are you going to call? Erm..not them….

This morning I woke up, browsed through the YouTube video’s and then my eyes fell upon the Stranger Things season 2 thriller trailer. With a pounding heart, I clicked on the play button……and had a stupid grin on my face until it finished. I just had to share this with you guys. Unless I am mistaking this second season is going to be even more epic than the first. All of our favorite characters return, and oh man that wonderful 80’s vibe, you just can’t beat that! We still have to wait a few months for it’s final release, but until that time we can watch this trailer again….and again….and again! Hope you all enjoy it as much as I did. And if you haven’t yet seen the first season, go and watch it now. It is utterly amazing, and certainly the best tv series that Netflix has made so far.

Special Features Presents: Animecon 2017, part 2

Hello everyone, welcome to the second part of my report from Animecon 2017, which I attended this weekend. You can find the first part right Here. Without further ado let’s gets on with the second part.

The food

Ofcourse it would not be a good thing to go without food for three days, and luckily the con as well as the hotel had plenty of great things on offer. I especially enjoyed the tasty udon flavoured cup noodles. They were absolutely delicious, and I helped myself to these twice. There was a lot of variety to choose from, ranging from homemade ramen to hamburgers and vegan food. There was something tasty for everyone.

Too much stuff to buy

I knew going into this con that this would definitely not be good for my wallet. And it really wasn’t, lol. I bought way too much stuff, but it was all definitely worth it. Besides the entire manga series of Battle Angel Alita, I got a lot of Animeseries on dvd, some new, some old, but all of them pretty cool. Yes I know, as if I did not have too much stuff to watch already. I also got a great modelkit for a Mobile Suit Gundam Wing classic guntank, which will be great to put together. All in all I have really gotten soms terrific new stuff, and I could not be happier with it.

What I saw: movies

Besides anime there were also a lot of Asian movies to watch. Just as with the anime on offer I had to make a choice as to what to watch, and these three films were the ones I eventually ended up seeing.

imageTrain to Busan

This was the movie that I was looking forward to the most, and it did not disappoint. I had to stay up till three o’clock at night in order to see it, but wow was it worth it. This Korean zombie movie was a blockbuster back in it’s homeland, and it also became a huge succes worldwide. Suffice it say that for me it has been the best Korean movie that I have seen, and you can expect a review for this movie on my blog very soon.

 

 

 

imageGood Stripes!

The description for this movie said this was supposed to be a heartwarming  movie, that would leave no heart untouched. Well, I don’t know if whoever gave that description saw the same film that I did, but it was one of the most depressing movies that I have seen in quite a while. It tells the story of a couple that were about to break up, but end up staying together because the woman got pregnant. This film was really boring, and a great disappointment. Definitely wished I had avoided this one.

 

imageKen and Kazu!

The last movie I saw was Ken and Kazu! , which I highly enjoyed. This was a seriously brutal crime movie, but one that had a great storyline and some terrific acting. Ken and Kazu are lifelong friends, that make their living by drug smuggling for their boss. One day Kazu decides to start making money for himself, without their boss knowing this. This is the beginning of a violent spiral, that can only end in bloodshed. The two leadactors did a great job, and this film definitely stood out in the oversaturated Yakuza movie genre.

 

Final notes

To say that I had a great time this weekend is pretty much an understatement. I ended up seeing a lot of great films and anime, highly enjoyed all the things on offer, and the atmosphere was just terrific. My only regret was not attending any of the workshops that were organised. I decided to go for the movies and anime this year, but next year I’m probably going to turn this around and go to some of the workshops as well. My hats off to all the organisers of this con for making this such an entertaining weekend. I will leave you with a couple of pictures I took to give you an impression of this great weekend. As always thank you for reading and see you at the next post !

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Special Features Presents: Animecon 2017 Part 1

Hello everyone. As most of you that have been following my blog know, I have attended Animecon 2017 this weekend. To say that Animecon only focusses itself on anime would be selling it short. If I were to give a description for it, I would say it is more a celebration of all things Asian. Besides being able to watch a lot of anime, there are also all kinds of Asian movies to see, workshops to participate in, games to play, and a whole lot of other stuff. I have made this post to give you an impression of my weekend, and I hope you will enjoy reading it.

The Hotel

Animecon took place in The Hague, which is about a two hour drive from where I live. So in order to not travel back and forth the entire weekend, I decided to stay at a hotel. Normally this would be pretty expensive, but because of the con taking place, a special discount was granted. It was one of the most luxurious hotels that I have ever stayed at, and as you can see from the pictures above, the room itself as well as the view was pretty amazing.

Busy, busy, busy….

It was a very busy weekend with a lot of people attending. Checking in at the hotel took me almost 40 minutes, and getting in to the con itself also took me just about the same time. At least everyone was in very good spirits, and I got to admire a lot of cosplayers. The weather outside was luckily very good, so I honestly did not mind the wait.

What I saw: Anime

Ofcourse with a title like Animecon one should not be surprised that there was a lot of anime on offer. With four different movie theatres playing all kinds of different shows and movies at the same time, you had to make a selection. Down below is an overview of the anime that I chose to see.

imageMagic-Kyun Renaissance Episodes 1-4

This was a pretty fun series to start off with. For some reason it reminded me a bit of Harry Potter. It tells the story of a girl called Kohana who attends The Magical Arts High School. Upon her arrival she meets a number of people there, that throughout a variety of different arts can produce sparkles, a kind of magical effect. I don’t exactly know why, but I found this series to be quite enjoyable. It was beautifully animated, the characters looked great, and the story was pretty unique.

imageChaos;Child Episodes 1-5

This series seriously creeped me out. It was too bad they only showed the first 5 episodes because I could have continued watching this the entire evening. A massive earth quake destroys the city of Shibuya. Six years later the city has been rebuilt, and the survivors continue with their lives. But then a series of mysterious deaths begin to occur that happen to coincide with a string of murders that also happened six years ago. With genuinely disturbing imagery, and a very scary atmosphere, I absolutely loved this one.

imageThe Piano Forest

The Piano Forest was a very beautiful movie, that focussed on a young boy called Shuhei who moves from Tokyo to a smaller city. Shuhei’s dream is to become the best piano player in the world, but because of that he at first doesn’t fit in with his classmates at the local school. But then he comes in contact with the young boy Kai, who lives in the Red Light District. Kai also plays the piano, but in a nearby forest on a mysterious piano that only he seems to be able to get to work. A friendship is soon formed between the unlikely pair, but one that does not come easy. Although this movie was pretty slow, the story was very engaging, and just a great watch from beginning to end.

imageBubblegum Crisis OVA 1-3

This was old school anime at it’s best. A series that was made back in the 80’s, it has influences from classic movies like Blade Runner. It tells the story of four girls who make up the Knight Sabers, who fight crime in a future city in high powered exo suits. With blasting 80’s rockmusic, a great atmosphere, and a classic animation style, this was great to see back again after all these years.

 

 

And that’s it for the first part of this report. Join me again on the second part, where I will talk about the Asian films that I have seen this weekend. Also I will be showing you some of the great food on offer as well as the new things that I bought (and trust me when I say that my wallet was pretty empty after this weekend lol). As always thank you for reading, and I hope to see you back for part 2, that will be published later today.

 

Special Features Presents: In the valley of Elah, a collaboration post with Acacia Aurora!

About four weeks ago I was approached by Acacia Aurora, also known as Auri, to do a collaboration post. This is the first time I am doing something like this, so not only am I excited for it, but I am also honored to have been given this chance. Thank you Auri! For those of you that have yet to discover her wonderful blog, you can visit her here . The blog is filled with a lot of great posts about manga and anime, and also her great art. It is well worth the visit, and ofcourse once you are there you should definitely subscribe.

Now her idea for this collaboration was very cool. We have picked a movie, and I have watched the first part of the film, while Auri watches the second part. Based on what we have seen we try to predict what happens, and has happened in the first or second part of the film. And then ofcourse we get to see if we have been right about our predictions! The movie that we have chosen is the drama In the valley of Elah, a 2007 movie starring the fantastic Tommy Lee Jones and Charlize Theron. The film is 1 hour and 56 minutes long, so I have watched the first 58 minutes. Please note that what follows will be full of spoilers, so if you have not yet watched this movie, you have been warned!

In the valley of Elah, part 1

This movie is based on a true story. Tommy Lee Jones plays the retired military police officer Hank Deerfield. His son Mike, who is a soldier, is about to return from a tour of duty in Iraq. But then things begin to get weird. Hank gets a call from the military that his son has not returned, or at the very least has gone missing, and they are about to file him as having gone AWOL. That is the military term for Absent Without Official Leave. Hank does not believe Mike would go off just like that, and is determined to find him. He at first travels to the base where his son was stationed, but that really does not help him much. The only thing he did receive was his son’s cellphone which contains a few videos made by his son in Iraq. The videos are very damaged though, and he has to enlist the help of a specialist in order to decrypt them.

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That coffee must really be good for them to smile this much.

Hank next turns to the local police department. Once there he meets up with detective Emily Sanders, a role played by Charlize Theron. Unfortunately as Mike is in the military at first she does not want to help him, as the official procedure is to file a report with the military police. With Hank getting more desperate by the minute, things take a turn for the worse. A dismembered body has been found, heavily burned and mutilated. Soon the shocking confirmation comes that it is indeed Hank’s son. The body has been found on the terrain of the army, so technically it falls under the jurisdiction of the military. At least that is what is decided at first. The murder of Hank’s son appears to have been caused by a local drug cartel, and it seems that it looks like a drug deal that has gone bad.

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Don’t look at me as if I am an idiot.

Hank does not believe for one second that his son was into drugs, and insists to be taken to the crimescene where his son’s body was found. The military police does not want to offer any kind of help, but then help comes from an unexpected corner. Detective Sanders takes Hank to the crimescene, and once there they find out that the body was moved. This means that it now becomes a police matter again. Emily takes the case to her boss, who pulls some strings to get the jurisdiction back to them. Meanwhile Hank has received a few decrypted videos from his son’s cellphone. Looking through them it seems that Mike was involved in something horrible in Iraq, but exactly what has not yet become clear.

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I wonder what she is thinking about……

With the case now back in Emily’s hands, she tries to talk to to some witnesses, but is pretty much stonewalled by the military, saying that the matter is closed and they already have their statements. Hank and Emily finally begin to work together, and and are also getting some mutual respect for each other. Emily invites him over for dinner with her young son, and also to discuss their next move. After dinner Hank tries to read a bedtime story to Emily’s son…..and it is at this point that I hit the 58 minute mark!

My impressions

So far this movie has been incredibly entertaining. Tommy Lee Jones gives one of the best performances of his entire career as the desperate father who is determined to find out the truth. But Charlize also plays very well as the detective who is also despised by her colleagues. The atmosphere for this movie is very dark and gritty. I also love the way the story so far is having some really nice twists and turns, and really keeps you guessing what will happen next. I absolutely have to contain myself not to watch any further, but ofcourse I am not going to that. And now for the hard part!

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Erm, I really don’t wish to intrude, but I think you might need a bigger flashlight.

My predictions for part 2

The big question is ofcourse: was Mike murdered by a local drug cartel? My guess is no. I think that Mike has seen something in Iraq that he was not supposed to see, and that he was murdered because of that. I also believe that this might have been done by members of his own unit. The stonewalling of the military throughout the movie so far, is making it clear to me, that they want to cover something up. It might be that  an attack in Iraq has gone bad, and they murdered civilians or something like that. I also think that both Hank and Emily will get in over their heads, and their lives will be in danger. In the end though, the truth will be revealed, and his son’s reputation restored. Emily will also finally get the respect she deserves from her colleagues, because of solving the case. Hank, though full of grief, will be able to move on and find peace. Well…at least that is what I think will happen. Let’s see if I am correct, or completely wrong. Auri: over to you! You can find out what happens next by reading Auri’s post, which you can find here.

A special thank you to Weekend Otaku.

It has now been almost a year since I started blogging. To say that I have been having fun throughout this period is really an understatement. One of the most rewarding things about running this blog, is that I have met a lot of very interesting and kind people. Even though we might never meet in real life, it has been a true blast exchanging thoughts with everyone.

A few weeks back, one of the coolest events that I have so far experienced was a rewatch feature on the blog of Weekend Otaku. All during April he featured the incredible Animeseries of Your Lie in April on his blog, and each day an episode was reviewed on which everyone could respond. Little did I know that there was also a contest for this feature with actual prices to be won. To my big surprise I was one of the winners, and even ended up receiving the first price. Today I received it in the mail (see the pictures down below), together with a very kind note, and I just had to find a way to express my gratitude. So what better way, than to write a blog post. I truly am incredibly humbled by the kindness in sending such a wonderful present. Truly I can’t thank you enough 😊 For those of you who are not yet following Weekend Otaku’s wonderful blog, please do so now. Just hit the link above, and subscribe.

Weekend Otaku, this post is for you! Keep writing those wonderful posts of yours, it has been a blast to follow your blog 😀

Special Features Presents: Macross

When I was a young boy (and wow this makes me sound really old), my favorite cartoon and toy was Transformers. I just loved it. Robots that could transform into cars, planes, weapons: it was just a seriously awesome concept. But then I was introduced to a series called Robotech. And that series took the concept of transformable robots to a whole new level. I did not know at the time that Robotech was made up of three totally unrelated animeseries. These three shows were completely rewritten into a new storyline that tied it all together. Robotech will always be holding a special place in my heart, as it introduced me to the wonderful world of anime.

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Yes this ship is seriously awesome.

One of the most popular segments of Robotech was the Macross saga. Macross has always been regarded as one of the anime series that laid the groundwork for the Mecha anime genre. In this special features post I intend to give a bit of an overview of the entire saga so far, although I will only be focussing on the tv series and OVA’s. There have also been a few movies, but as this post will already be pretty long, I decided not to include those. Before I start I will begin by talking about a few things that have always been common to pretty much every new series of the franchise.

Macross: common themes

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A love triangle can be very hard indeed.

One of the coolest things in Macross are the transformable fighter planes known as the Valkyries. All of these planes can transform into a robot, but also a hybrid version of the robot/fighter, known as the Gerwalk. With every series released there were new versions of these planes that were introduced. Another common theme in every show was the love triangle. Yes, romance is definitely a factor in Macross, but luckily it is usually not romance of the sappy kind. Lastly music is also very important to the Macross franchise, and in every series to date there has been some kind of singer or band, that takes the fight to the enemy. So now that I have adressed the common themes let’s start for real with the overview.

The Super Dimension Fortress Macross (1982)

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Just in case you are wondering, that is planet Earth these ships are firing at.

The show that started it all, tells the story of a gigantic spaceship crashlanding on Earth. Ten years after the crash, humanity has rebuild the enormous ship, now known as the SDF-1. But then the original owners of the ship return, the gigantic beings known as the Zentradi. Their mission is to retrieve the ship at all cost, and thus begins the first intergalactic war. With a cast of great characters, truly amazing fight sequences, a terrific story, and some heroic deaths, this series is still very much worth the watch. This 36 episode series is definitely your starting point. Even though it is a very old anime, don’t let yourself be held off by that, as it is has withstood the test of time very well.

Super Dimensional Fortress Macross II: Lovers again (1992)

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Sometimes you just get bored by it all and fall asleep.

Ten years after the original series, this six episode show takes place 80 years after the events of the original anime. We are introduced to a new enemy called the Mardook, who seem to be invulnerable to mankinds most powerful attacks. A young reporter is thrust right in the middle of the new war that is about to begin, and may eventually hold the key to stopping the conflict. This series was highly anticipated, but eventually was not well received by the original Macross saga fans. I quite liked it myself, but it definitely is not as good as the show that started it all. In the end this series is now not considered to be part of the Macross timeline anymore.

Macross Plus (1994)

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Who put that helmet on my back….seriously…..

With Macross II being dismissed as a sequel, Macross Plus was henceforth recognised as the first official sequel to the original series. This 4 part anime tells the story of two testpilots that have a deep rivalry between them, and also happen to like the same girl. Meanwhile a powerful A.I. has some very bad intentions when it plans to take over the battlefortress Macross itself. This series was pretty cool. It featured some truly terrific fightsequences, and great animation. The opening tune composed by legend Yoko Kanno, I still consider to be one of the most beautiful scores for an anime series.

Macross 7 (1994)

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I get annoyed just by looking at that guy….

To date this is the only Macross series that I have not completely finished. With 49 episodes it is also the longest. It takes place on the colonyship Macross 7, that is exploring the galaxy, when it encounters the hostile alien force called Protodeviln. I have seen the first few episodes of this series many years ago when I was attending an Animecon. All I remember from it, is that I got seriously annoyed by the rockband Firebomber, that played a major role in this series. I can’t really say much about this series, but from what I have read about it, it is regarded by most fans of Macross as not one of the best installments.

Macross Zero (2002)

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If you only knew what this guy was looking at….

This series is a prequel to the original Macross saga. As I have recently done a review for this anime, I won’t say too much about this one, but instead I will provide a link to my review, which you can find here.

Macross Frontier (2008)

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This picture was just to cool not to include. 

This new 25 part anime series was made for the 25th anniversary of Macross, and it is truly awesome. The best way to describe this one is as a kind of reboot for the entire series, and you can pretty much watch it, without ever having seen any of the previous shows. A Frontier fleet comes under attack by a strange new enemy, and a group of young fighter pilots get caught up in the middle. It featured some of the best characters and music from the franchise, and it has truly become one my favorite Macross anime series to date.

Macross Delta (2015)

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Spice girls: the reboot. 

This is the final series that has been made so far. It was unfortunately not as good as Frontier, and this was mainly because the plot was at times hard to follow and it featured way too many characters. I have also done a review for this series, which you can find here.

Final thoughts.

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Can’t we all be friends? 

Macross is still one of my favorite anime franchises to date. While not every installment is good, there is always something included that makes it worth watching. One of the best things about it will always be the music, and the incredible fightsequences. Those are pretty much the trademarks of the entire franchise. If you like science fiction space opera, than I highly recommend these shows. I hope this post will serve as a handy reference for you, whenever you might feel a bit overwhelmed by the enormous amount of shows that are out there. Currently work has begun on a new series to coincide with the 35th anniversary of Macross. There has so far been very little news about it, except for the fact that it will be released in 2018.

So over to you! Have you ever watched Macross? If so did you enjoy it? Do you have any favorite series or characters? Let me know in the comments section below. As always thank you for reading, and see you at the next post!

Special Features Presents: My favorite creature feature movies (part 2)

Last week, on part 1 of this special feature, I presented my favorite monster movies that had at least a bit of a realistic feel to it. For those of you that might have missed this post, you can find it here. Now though, all hell breaks loose, as I am now going to feature the terrible creatures that are not of this world. And some of these are so incredible frightening, that at times you wonder what on Earth must have gone through the mind of the person that thought these things up in the first place. Anyways, sit back, grab a cold drink, and prepare to scream.

1. The Thing (1982)

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I sure have a headache today, I really wonder why?

John Carpenter’s remake of the 1951 classic movie The Thing from another world, is one of the best monster movies ever made. In The Thing members of a research facility in Antarctica are under attack by a creature that can take on the same shape as anything it touches. As nobody is able to trust one another, paranoia soon grows rampant. The creature effects in this movie are stunning and absolutely disgusting. Even to this day, they are very impressive to say the least. But the true strength in this film, lies in the concept itself. With literally anyone who could be the monster, who can you trust? Great stuff, and in my opinion this is an absolute must see movie.

2. Tremors (1990)

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Did anyone order fried snakes?

This movie has fun written all over it. Starring a young Kevin Bacon, a small town is threatened by a group of gigantic worms that live under ground and are attracted by noise. This movie has a lot of funny and scary scenes at the same time, and with great creature effects, this is just another highly enjoyable movie. This film has spawned four sequels and even a tv series. Supposedly a second tv series is currently under development, with Kevin Bacon reprising his role. The original movie is still the best though, and after 27 years it has withstood the test of time very well.

3. The Relic (1997)

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I really wonder what his dentist has to say about his teeth.

This is a pretty underrated movie, that might not even be known to a lot of people. Based on the novel of the same name, the Relic tells the story of a frightening creature that has unknowingly been transported to the basement of a Chicago museum. When people start to die, a homicide detective joins forces with a anthropologist to find out the truth. I honestly have to admit that the novel was better than the movie, but still this is a very enjoyable monster romp. The creature itself, designed by legend Stan Winston is amazing, and the dark atmosphere and unique setting ensure that you will definitely be entertained throughout this movie.

4. The Host (2006)

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The things you find in the river these days.

The Korean movie The Host, is one of the more unusual monstermovies on this list. In Seoul’s Han river a truly repulsive monster resides, that suddenly emerges and begins to attack people on the shore. A father fights to protect his family from the creature at all cost. Usually, in a film such as this, we get to see the monster later on in the film. But here the creature is shown right from the start and in full daylight. With a story that is part comedy, part horrormovie, and also part drama this really is a very unique monster film, and one that I was highly impressed by.

5. Cloverfield (2008)

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Hey…no need to run away, he really doesn’t bite, trust me.

Cloverfield was steeped in secrecy before it was released. Nobody quite knew what to expect from this film, as the trailers showed very little of what was going on. This was a movie in the found footage category. A group of friends in New York get caught up right in the middle of what at first is presumed to be a natural disaster. However it turns out that a gigantic monster has invaded the Big Apple and is on a rampage. We get a lot of shaky cam shots, that actually made people ill while watching it in theatres. I had no such problems however, and found it to be a fantastic experience with a very well designed creature.

6. Virus (1999)

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Hey, who are you calling ugly?

Virus tells the tale of the crew of the salvage ship “Sea Star”, that during a storm comes across a Russian vessel seemingly abandoned at sea. However it soon becomes clear that a terrible evil has invaded the ship. This movie features some great actors including Jamie Lee Curtis and Donald Sutherland. But the real stars for this film are the very well designed robotic/organic creatures. This is a highly underrated gem of a movie, with some terrific performances by the cast, and a truly frightening atmosphere. This is one of those films where you wonder why it received so many negative reviews at the time.

7. Aliens (1986)

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Why the hell do they make these ceilings so low?

I have featured this movie a couple of times on my blog, on all kinds of different posts. But if I were to leave this one out of this list, I would really be doing something wrong. Yes the original alien movie was great, but this sequel was superior in every way. When a group of marines travel to the newly established colony on planet LV 426, they encounter a breed of deadly alien xenomorphs. Together with Ripley, the sole survivor of the spaceship Nostromo, and who has encountered the creatures before, they must find a way off planet before it’s too late. I have seen this movie too many times that I can count, and I am honestly still in awe of the incredible creature effects that are featured in this film. This movie is just simply put an alltime classic.

8. The Descent (2005)

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A candle light dinner sure isn’t what it used to be.

The small British horrormovie the Descent is a truly frightening and claustrophobic experience. A group of girls travel down into an unexplored cavesystem, but encounter a horrifying breed of creatures. A struggle for survival begins, but with the way back pretty much cut off, their chances of getting out alive are slim. This movie is definitely the most terrifying one of this list, and that is in part because of the truly tense atmosphere that this movie has. Even though this film had a pretty low budget, it does not show that in the least. If you like to be truly scared this movie is definitely for you.

Final thoughts

And that as they say, is that. Now is this list complete, and does it feature all of my favorite creature feature movies? I would have to answer that one with a big and resounding no. Predator, King Kong, Godzilla to name but a few, are also favorites of mine. But as this post is already pretty long, I have decided to stick with the 8 movies that are featured on this post. Maybe in the future I will do another one of these, as I really had some fun writing this.

But these are my favorites, and as always I am looking forward to the “out of this world monster films” that you like the most. Are any of them featured above? Are there any others you like? Let me know in the comments section below. Thank you for reading this one, and I will see you all at the next post!

 

Special Features Presents: My favorite creature feature movies (part 1)

It has been quite a while since I did a special features post. A couple of weeks ago I was trading thoughts with Karandi from 100wordanime (and yes this is also a shameless plug to get you to follow her blog if you have not done so already), after she reviewed the movie Deep Blue Sea. I thought it might be interesting to write a post about my favorite movies that feature some kind of creature scaring the crap out of people. After having recently seen the movie Anaconda, I recalled this conversation, and now finally I have gotten around to writing this post. Sorry it has taken me a while to do so, but I still hope you will enjoy reading it. Why part 1? Well, in this post I will focus on movies that are at least somewhat realistic, and part 2 will focus on science fiction movies that feature terrible creatures from beyond. Well, enough small talk, let’s get on with it!

1. Jaws (1975)

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Hmmmmm….tasty……

To not include this classic Steven Spielberg movie, would simply be impossible. For maybe the only soul on this planet who has yet to see this film, I will give a short description of what it is about. The summer town of Amityville is all of a sudden being terrified by a great white shark, with a taste for human flesh. After a number of people have been attacked, it is up to the local sheriff, a marine biologist and a shark hunter to take care of the beast. A titanic struggle between man and shark soon begins. Yes, this movie is now 42 years old, but wow it is still one of the best monster movies ever. Even though the sharkeffects may, at times, feel a bit dated, the movie is still very effective in bringing up the scares and the tension. A classic film in every sense of the word, this is an absolute must see movie.

2. Alligator (1980)

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Did someone call the police?

After Jaws there were a lot of attempts to cash in on the success of that film. Most of these were very bad, but there were also a few movies that were quite entertaining. Alligator definitely fell into that last category. The premise for this film was pretty simple: a baby alligator was flushed down the toilet, but managed to survive and grow into a gigantic monstrosity. The beast eventually left the sewers and began attacking the local residents. This movie is a bit of a cult classic, but highly enjoyable. It does not take itself very seriously, but there are enough tense moments in this film, that will have you hang on to the edge of your seat. In no way will this one beat Jaws, but it is definitely not a bad movie.

3. Rogue (2007)

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Here’s Johny!!

Staying with reptiles, the 2007 Australian movie Rogue features a giant crocodile. An American journalist encounters a giant man eating crocodile while on assignment in the Australian outback. He is trapped on a small island that is beginning to flood. And with a hungry crocodile nearby, that is really not a good place to be. This movie starts of somewhat slow, but makes up for it in the second half of the film. The creature effects for this one are truly astonishing, and especially near the end of the film you start to wonder how on Earth they managed to accomplish that. This is a relatively small, but very tense and exciting movie.

4. Arachnophobia (1990)

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Itsy bitsy spider….

Now, I am not afraid of spiders, but after seeing this film, I could definitely develop a fear for them. A doctor discovers a new species of spider in the South American jungle. Travelling back to the States, the spider eventually manages to breed with a domestic species, and this is the beginning of a nightmare for the residents of a small town. Now, if you like movies with jumpscares, this one will give you more than you might have bargained for. I remember when I saw this film in the theatres for the first time. I had never seen an audience jump out of their seats so many times, myself included. It is a great and fun film, with a lot of tense moments, and some very decent special effects.

5. Cujo (1983)

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No worries, he doesn’t bite……

Cujo is a movie that is based on the novel by Stephen King. A friendly St.Bernard gets bitten by a bat and contracts rabies. A mother and her son are trapped in a car, while the dog stalks them. It is the middle of summer, so the heat is scorching and time is running out for the both of them. This is a truly tense movie, and one of the better Stephen King films out there. What is interesting to note, is that they used a real dog for this movie. You really wonder how they have managed to train an animal to do all the things you see in this film. It is all very convincing and very scary.

6. The Ghost and the Darkness (1996)

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Are you looking at us?

This movie is a very underrated gem. A bridge engineer while on assignment in Africa, has to enlist the help of an old hunter as his crew gets attacked by a pair of lions. It is not long though that the two of them discover that these are no ordinary lions. What is really interesting about this movie, is that this film is based on a true story. With veteran actors Val Kilmer and Michael Douglas cast for the two lead roles, this film really is a joy to watch from beginning to end. Filmed mostly in Africa, the scenery alone is one of the reasons to watch this movie.

7. Bait (2012)

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The things you can find in a supermarket these days..

After the release of Jaws there have been so many sharkmovies that I have really lost count. Amongst all these it is very hard to find something original, but Bait really tries to be different. A tsunami strikes at an Australian town, and a number of people become trapped inside a supermarket. To add to their problems a couple of great white sharks have become trapped with them….This was really a very unique sharkmovie, simply because of the truly original setting. It was simply a blast to see people taking the fight to the sharks with only supermarket appliances. The result was a fun and exciting film, that was a really enjoyable watch.

8. Burning Bright (2010)

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Here kitty, kitty, kitty…..

This small, and relatively unknown film was truly a surprise. A woman together with her autistic younger brother becomes trapped inside a house during a storm. This would not be so bad, except for the fact that a tiger has been let loose inside the house as well,  in order to kill them. This tense thriller really had some seriously scary scenes. Again filmed with a live animal, it served up some very realistic and horrifying moments. It is always nice when you don’t expect much from a film, and it turns into something totally awesome. Burning Bright is such a film, and I highly recommend seeking this one out.

Final Thoughts

Well, that just about does it for part 1 of this special features post. Ofcourse this list is by no means complete, as there are definitely a lot of other animal movies out there, that are every bit as enjoyable as the ones on this list. However for me, these movies were definitely my favorites. Coming up somewhere next week, will be part 2 of this post where I am going to focus on my favorite science fiction monsterfilms.

But now, it is over to you, my readers. What is your favorite animal monster movie? Are any of those movies perhaps included on my list? Let me know in the comments section below. As always thank you very much for reading, and see you at the next post!

 

 

 

Special Features Presents: Action Movies of the 80’s

The other day I was sharing comments with fellow blogger Hermione Flavia from Wildfiremovies . Now before I get into that, I first want to give a big shout out to her blog. If you love movies as much as I do, then one thing you should do is check out her blog and subscribe. She is an award-winning filmmaker and screenwriter, and her movie reviews are seriously topnotch. From classics movies, to action films and horrormovies, there is almost no end to the movies featured on her blog. Not only that, she is also one of the kindest persons you will ever talk to, so really what are you waiting for: press on the link provided above and subscribe.

Now we were talking about how lately we spent a lot of time in the past and feeling nostalgic, and how so many great action movies were made in the 80’s. This is pretty much how the idea for this post came about. Now I have focussed myself only on the non-science fiction action movies of that era. I might at sometime in the future do a follow up for those kind of films, but right now I am simply going to stick to the good old fashioned normal 80’s action flicks. So grab a seat, take a drink and some popcorn, and let us travel back in time to the wonderful 80’s.

Rambo: First Blood (1982)

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I have seriously lost count on how many times I have seen this briljant action film. Starring Sylvester Stallone as Vietnam veteran John Rambo, this movie is simple in it’s story telling, but incredibly effective. When John returns home to visit an old friend, the local sheriff thinks off him as a drifter, and tries to force him to leave town. It is not long before things escalate into violence, and the small town becomes a warzone. Stallone is absolutely amazing in his role, and the movie eventually spawned three sequels. The original movie is still the best though, featuring terrific action sequences, a dark atmosphere and the brilliant score of Jerry Goldsmith.

Beverly Hills Cop (1984)

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Beverly Hills Cop is one of the greatest action comedies ever made. Starring Eddie Murphy as the loudmouth cop Axel Foley, the numerous comedy scenes featured in this film, are even now still every bit as funny as back then. Axel is a cop in Detroit, but pursuing a murder case eventually ends up in Beverly Hills. Meeting two local cops, the three of them set out to find out the truth about the murder. Murphy steals the show in the leadrole, and could not have been cast any better. Featuring great action pieces mixed with perfectly timed comedy, this is also one of those movies that will never get old.

Missing in Action (1984)

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Now for every good movie, there usually also is a bad one. Missing in action is an action movie that is so bad, that it is actually good and fun to watch. Ofcourse cashing in on the succes of Rambo, this movie starred Chuck Norris in the role of James Braddock. Believing that there are still POW’s being held in a prisoner camp in Vietnam, Braddock returns to the jungle to try and free them. The movie is filled with cliches, bad acting and cheesy oneliners. But honestly that is what makes this B-movie so much fun to watch. Chuck would reprise his role two more times in the sequels that followed this one, and those are every bit as bad. Seriously, what is not to love about that?

Commando (1985)

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Now, not featuring any Schwarzenegger movies in this post would ofcourse be a big mistake. After the enormous succes of Conan and the Terminator, Arnold was definitely on a roll. In Commando he plays the role of John Matrix, a Black Ops Commando who is happily retired and now lives with his daughter (a very young Alyssa Milano). But when his daughter is kidnapped by criminals, John begins his personal war to bring his girl back safely. With an over the top bodycount, and such classic oneliners as ” Don’t disturb my friend, he is DEAD-tired” this is one of Arnold’s best. Yes, the action is completely crazy, and at times completely unrealistic, but man is this movie a lot of fun to watch.

Cobra (1986)

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Back in the 80’s Schwarzenegger and Stallone were not exactly the best of friends, and both tried to outdo each other with bringing out numerous films. Cobra is a brutal Stallone movie, where he plays the role of the tough as nails cop Marion Cobretti. In this film he has become the protector of a witness, who is being chased by a murderous cult in order to prevent her from testifying. Crime is a disease, and he is the cure was this movie’s tagline, so you pretty much know what to expect. Lots of shooting, chases and fight scenes, make this film a wonderful addition to Stallone’s already impressive action resumé.

Lethal Weapon (1987)

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This movie is one of my own personal favorites. This fantastic buddy cop movie, eventually resulted in three sequels which were every bit as fun as the original. Mel Gibson plays the role of the completely crazy cop Martin Riggs, who has to partner up with the close to retirement Roger Murtaugh played by Danny Glover. At first they hate each other’s guts, but eventually a close friendship develops, while they are on the hunt for a brutal gang of drug smugglers. With seriously fantastic action sequences combined with great humor, this movie is a roller coaster ride from start to finish. An absolute must see for every action junkie out there.

Bloodsport (1988)

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This movie pretty much introduced the world to the “Muscles from Brussels”, mister Jean Claude van Damme. This movie has a very simple storyline, where van Damme plays Frank Dux, a martial artist who has set off to compete in a lethal tournament in Hong Kong. The acting is terrible, but you take that for granted as the action choreagraphy for this film’s incredible fight sequences, is the reason why you need to watch this movie. Brutal martial arts fights, with deadly consequences result in a movie that is not for the faint of heart. One of Van Damme’s oldest, but also one of his best movies.

Above the Law (1988)

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In Above the Law another martial artist is introduced to the world, the man called Steven Seagal. Above the Law (also known as Nico), sees Seagal playing the role of a Vietnam veteran turned cop, that uncovers a sinister CIA conspiracy. Seagal is not known for his acting skills (I at times seriously wondered if this man had any facial expressions, no offense), but his martial arts skills were formidable. Sadly, these days Seagal is but a shadow of his former self, and plays mainly in (very bad) B-movies. Luckily we will always have his classic movies to look back on, and for an introductory film, this one was highly enjoyable.

Die Hard (1988)

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To not include this movie, would seriously be a sin. One of the best action movies ever made, it made Bruce Willis an action star overnight. In Die Hard he plays police officer John McClane, who accidentally is caught up in a hostage situation during a Christmas party in a huge skyscraper building called Nakatomi Plaza. His wife is amongst the hostages, and McClane take the fight single handedly to the terrorists. Not a good way to spend the holidays. This movie is simply put: brilliant. Great acting, wonderful oneliners, and very imaginative action sequences make this movie a must watch for any movie lover. The sequels that followed were also very enjoyable, except for part 5 which was absolute garbage.

Black Rain (1989)

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Black Rain is a movie that might not be known by everyone, but is definitely worth checking out. Directed by Ridley Scott (yes, that guy), it stars Michael Douglas in the role of New York City cop Nick Conlin. When he and his partner arrest a Yakuza member, they eventually end up in Japan. It is not long before they get caught up in the dark and criminal underworld of this unfamiliair country. Black Rain is a very dark but fantastic movie, and features a great storyline and incredible tension that is combined with spectacular action sequences. Michael Douglas pretty much never disappoints and also does a more than decent job in this movie.

Final Thoughts

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And that brings us to the end of this post, which I now realise has become my longest one to date. I know that this list is by no means complete. A lot of other great action movies were made back in the 80’s and maybe one day I will do a follow up to this post. I had a lot of fun writing this, and it was great to revisit a few of these classic films.

And now it is over to you guys and girls. Did any of your favorites make the list? Were any of them missing? Let me know in the comments section below. As always thank you very much for reading, and see you on the next post!