Tag Archives: Monsters

The official making of Big Trouble in Little China, a book written by Tara Bennet & Paul Terry (2016)

Director John Carpenter will always be one of my favorite alltime horror movie directors. Best known for movies such as The Thing and Halloween he has made an impact on this genre that is felt even today. One of his lesser known, but no less fun movies is Big Trouble in Little China. While this one technically can not really be called a horror movie, it’s one of those films that has gathered a real cult status amongst fans, myself included. Two years ago, the movie celebrated it’s 30th anniversary, and as often happens during events like that some cool products were released to help celebrate it. One of the things I always enjoy reading is books that detail how a certain film was made, especially if they contain some cool facts and nice artwork. To my delight, finally John Carpenter’s classic got a book like that as well. And as Kurt Russel’s character Jack Burton from the movie would say: “Great, a six demon bag. What’s in it?”

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“Son of a bitch must pay!!” 

Within the pages of this 176 page book you will find a lot of awesome never before seen photographs, that could definitely be called the highlight of this book. Included are promotional photographs, behind the scenes pictures, stills from the movie itself, and a lot of detailed artwork. All of these are printed in very high quality resolution, and every photograph no matter how small, get’s a description of what it shows. The latter might seem very obvious, but trust me when I say that there have also been making of books that did not include this information. That always annoys me to no end, because there have truly been some occasions where I would have loved to have found out what a certain picture depicted. The entire layout of the book, breathes the atmosphere of this great film, and the designers of this did a great job on that department. The book pretty much follows along with the story of the film, and so you will find yourself taking a trip down memory lane when you flip through the book.

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The good old Pork-Chop Express.

But besides the photographs there is of course also a lot of information about what went on during the making of the movie itself. It is written in a clear and concise way, that includes insights from the cast and crew itself. Some of the text was a bit dry, especially when they went into details about which type of cameras were being used, and stuff like that. But that luckily doesn’t happen very often. There were two things I really enjoyed finding out about and had never known before, prior to reading this book. The first was that the actress that played the character of Margo Litzenberg, Kate Burton, was the daughter of the legendary actor Richard Burton. The other is the fact that this movie was really helpful in the promotion and use of Asian American actors. As we all know, there has been a lot of controversy over the “whitewashing” affairs of the American movie industry. This movie was way ahead of it’s time in the fact that it used almost primarily Asian American actors/actresses for it’s leading roles. A fact that the cast was very thankful of and that really becomes kind of a focal point throughout this book.

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Some people just don’t look their best when they just woke up. 

The book is presented in pretty thick glossy pages that really give it the look of a high quality product. To round out the book we get a foreword written by the legendary director himself, and an afterword penned by it’s leading man Kurt Russell. This is a book that is written for the fans, there’s no question about that. If you have never seen the film, there is little to no point in picking this up. Unless you really like reading books about all the details and hard work that is put into making a film like this. However if you have been a fan of this cult classic as much as I have been, this one is well worth it to add to your collection. Overall it was a very enjoyable read, that contains a wealth of good background information, great interviews with cast and crew, and of course the visual aspects of it were a delight. You can almost hear the Pork-Chop Express driving up to your home with old Jack Burton on the CB saying: “It’s all in the reflexes”.

I give the Official Making of Big Trouble in Little China a 8 out of 10 score.

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Stranger Things Season 2, American tv series (2017)

It is saturday morning, the 28th of October. I’m going through my checklist. Have I locked the door? Have I turned off my phone? Did I stock up on foodsupplies? Did I make sure that I have cancelled all my appointments for the day? I feel the fear swiftly take a hold of me. I did do all these things right? Calmly I exhale…yes, I have checked everything multiple times now. A grim smile crosses my face: I am ready. Quietly I walk towards the remote of my television set. With my heart pounding like thunder, I press the play button and see the Netflix logo appearing. I sit back, grab my cup of hot coffee and whoop with joy. Yes people season 2 of Stranger Things is finally here. I imagine the scene I just described has been playing across multiple homes across the globe this weekend. Albeit probably a bit less dramatic. So, in case you have yet to discover this tv series, I’ve got you covered. Last year I did a review for the first season, which you can find right here.

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Who are you gonna call? (Oh come on, what else did you expect me to say about a picture like this?)

What’s that? Can’t I just give a quick description? Sure. Stranger Things is pretty much a loveletter to everything that made the 80’s so awesome. The series is set in the 80’s and focusses on a group of friends that end up in the middle of a mystery that is out of this world. You will find references to all your favorite movies from that era, like the Goonies, E.T., Aliens, the Thing and a whole bunch more. To say that I am in love with this series is an understatement. So you are warned that this review for the second season is going to be me gushing pretty much over how awesome this show really is. But I will be doing that spoilerfree, and sure I will try and be as objective as I can. With a series that had such a strong opening season, there is always a lot of pressure. Will it be as good? Aren’t they going to ruin everything what you loved so much about the series in the first place? Well….they didn’t. In fact, at some points it was even better. Now of course I will get to that soon, but let’s first get to the story of the second season.

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Yes, that really is quite a disturbing sight.

Season 2 takes place a year after the events of the first season. Will Byers is safely back, and tries to pick up his life as best he can after the trauma he suffered. Supported by his group of friends, they get back into the things they love doing. However, soon Will is beginning to experience terrifying visions of the Upside Down. It seems that the supernatural forces are still out there, and are trying to get back into the world, with the intent of destroying it and humanity. But is Will just having after effects of his earlier experiences or is there something more sinister going on? In the meantime Sheriff Hopper is having problems of his own. He is trying to keep something a secret in order to protect the ones he loves the most. But in doing so, he might just be making things even worse. It is not long before all hell is going to break  loose and a terrifying presence from beyond is going to make itself known. Once again it will be up to Mike and the rest of his band of misfits to save the world. But this time, the stakes are much, much higher, and the question becomes if they are going to be up to this task…..

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Who says girls can’t play videogames is just very stupid.

The first thing you will notice when you are starting with the second season is that the pace has been changed. Events are moving at a much slower rate, and we are spending more time getting into the minds of the characters, instead of going into all out action mode. I did not think this was a bad thing though, but I can understand how some viewers might also consider some of it a bit too slow for their tastes. The strength of this show however is the characters. Whoever did the casting for this series should definitely get a raise. I am in awe of the acting abilities of some of these kids. We have to consider the fact that these are relatively young children, but from the way they are acting you would say they had been doing it for years. But next to the regulars we also get a bunch of new additions to the cast. This is always risky, as with a cast as awesome as this, you really wonder if any new ones don’t throw a wrench into the well oiled machine.

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There is going to be a season 3? Really?

But here there are also no problems, as they all work out incredibly well. My favorite had got to be tomboy Max who adds some much needed girlpower to the group. She is a feisty and spirited girl that you will fall in love with right from the start. Her stephbrother though is a whole other matter. A truly loathsome guy, who thinks he is God’s greatest gift to women, he is a seriously annoying presence, but in a very good way. It’s always terrific when you get a character that you truly hate, but also want to see more of because he is played so well. We also get a new love interest for Winona Ryder’s character namely the good guy Bob Newby. Played by Sean Astin, who once played in the Goonies, this is just one of those characters that basically can’t do anything wrong. Finally Paul Reiser portrays a new scientist called dr. Owens that works at the lab that started the whole mess. At the beginning it is pretty unclear just  what his motives are, and whether or not his intentions are evil or not. I always enjoy shady characters like that, and it’s nice to figure stuff like that out.

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Why did you not tell me there would be a third season sooner?

As you might have noticed I have kept things about the plot relatively in the dark. That’s because I really don’t want to spoil things for anyone that still has to see this. Don’t worry about the fact that things start off slow though. The pace will pick up soon enough, and there is still plenty of action. As mentioned above I thought this season at some points was even better. I loved finding out more about all the characters, and the special effects for all of these episodes were also a step up from the ones seen in Season 1. Clearly they just had a much bigger budget, and could therefore spent a lot more money. Overall though, one has to be honest and say that everything in this season was simply playing it very safe. There were no real surprises and they just made sure that the viewers got everything they loved about the first season and then some. Not that this was a bad thing though, but one has to wonder what they are going to be doing for season 3.

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Let’s have a little light in the darkness. 

Season 3 you say? Yes. Stranger Things will reportedly get at least three more seasons , with the next one already heading into the production phase. And I love it! Yes, the series has to be careful to not play it too safe, and hopefully will also try and bring a bit more surprises into the existing storyline next season. That being said, the mythology of this show along with the wonderful cast of characters, is something that I don’t mind spending more time with. This series is awesome, and simply the best series on Netflix at this moment. It’s one those shows that makes you sad when the credits start to roll on the final episode. Stranger Things season 2 is a terrific watch, and if you were already a fan, you will even be more of a fan after this one. The lack of surprises made me not give this season a 10/10 score like last year, but it was another amazing ride and one that I did not regret for even a single second. Well…time to unlock the door and plug in the phone again. Let’s get back to the real world.

I give season 2 of Stranger Things a 9 out of 10 score.

 

 

Demon City Shinjuku, Japanese (animated) movie (1988)

When anime was first introduced in my country, it was done in a way that was completely wrong. Even though that has been a long time ago, when I was in my early teens, I remember watching a news item that mentioned kids were being introduced to a new Japanese artform that focussed on strong violence and sex. As usual the media saw this as an opportunity to sensationalise this, and parents were in an uproar. The anime videotapes that you could buy back in those days, only seemed to bring out movies that were either hentai or contained incredibly graphic violence. And of course the tapes sold like crazy. Not a good way to start my introduction to the wonderful world of Japanese animation. A movie that was featured a lot in the news item I spoke of earlier was Wicked City. In it’s opening scene a man is making love to a gorgeous looking woman, that eventually turns into a spiderlike demonic creature. I swear that every man who saw this scene must have given up on sex pretty much right away….well maybe.

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It might not look like it, but this is one of the most touching scenes in the entire movie.

 

Wicked City was a horrormovie, but a truly disgusting one, with over the top violence and sexscenes that could almost be considered porn. It certainly showed the darker side of anime and is a film that while very infamous, is one you should pretty much avoid seeing. This rather long introduction serves as a stepping stone to the film I am about to review. Demon City Shinjuku is strangely enough directed by the same man that was responsible for the aforementioned movie. But it is a much better film, and could almost be considered as a mild version of the atrocious Wicked City. So there is really no need for concern, or to think that my blog has suddenly turned into a platform for promoting movies that push all the wrong buttons. Are your minds set at ease? Right, let’s get on with the review then.

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This is the prototype version of what we call Starbucks these days. 

High atop the roof of a building in Tokyo two men are locked in mortal combat. With supernatural energy dancing around them, swords clash back and forth, until eventually one of the men is defeated and dies. With a triumphant roar the victor, a man named Rebi Ra, sees the entire city going doing down in a powerful earthquake. He has been possessed by very strong demonic forces and promises that soon the entire world will be enslaved by demons from another realm. Ten years later the moment Rebi Ra spoke of is almost at hand. The World President, that is on a mission of peace to bring together the human race, suddenly gets captured by Ra. This is all part of his plan to stop the only person that might put an end to him, a young man called Kyoya Izayo, the son of the man he killed on the rooftops all those years ago. Meanwhile the president’s daughter, the beautiful Sayaka Rama, tries to enlist the help of Kyoya. At first he wants nothing to do with her, but when she enters the ruins of Tokyo alone, he decides to follow her in. The city is but a former shadow of itself though, and the horrors they find inside might be enough to stop them from preventing Rebi Ra’s plans to enter the entire world in eternal darkness…..

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I wonder what is going through their minds…..

One of the things I love the most about this movie is the incredible atmosphere it breathes out. The ruins of the destroyed city of Tokyo are brought to life in a truly breathtaking way. With subtle touches like still working traffic lights, skyscrapers that have fallen against each other, and other things like that, the city has become an almost living entity. You feel a constant sense of fear and dread, that is just perfect for a horrormovie. The story of the film is one of it’s weaker points. It simply serves to bring our heroes from point a to b, and encounter a new and potentially horrifying creature. And that is another thing this movie does well, the plethora of monsters it serves up. It’s not called Demon City for nothing, as our young hero Kyoya certainly has his hands full at fighting a number of horrifying abominations , while at the same trying to protect the girl.

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No way in hell would I ever enter a place like this. 

The two main characters of the film, Kyoya and Sayaka, are not exactly what you would call well developped. Kyoya is your basic cocky and kind of macho type male, that at first is rather annoying. In fact you kind of wonder how a guy like that can save the world. This all changes of course when he meets Sayaka. She brings an innocence with her, that tempers his bravado, and turns him into a different person. While Sayaka is, for lack of a better term, rather dull, she is certainly brave although also rather stupid. For her to be entering a demon infested city alone without any kind of weapon borders on suicide. All in all though, even though the pair won’t be winning the award for best anime characters ever created, they work just well enough to grow on you. In fact a certain scene with Sayaka near the end of the film is quite beautiful and rather touching.

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That really is a bad way to go out. 

Demon City Shinjuku is a pretty good horror anime film. While the animation is now almost thirty years old, it still looks good enough to draw in people who usually don’t like oldschool anime. With a great atmosphere, some cool fight scenes and horror that never turns gory, what we have here is a film that can be enjoyed by most people that like horrormovies. The only thing worth mentioning on the negative side of things, is that the end of the movie feels a bit anti-climactic. Still though, it doesn’t ruin the movie itself, and I highly recommend the film all the same. If you have trouble tracking down this movie, you can find it on YouTube for free in both a subbed and dubbed version.

I give Demon City Shinjuku a 8 out of 10 score.

Black Bullet, Anime tv series (2013)

You have to wonder what kind of fascination the Japanese seem to have with destroying Tokyo in increasingly inventive ways. We have seen earthquakes, tidal waves, supernatural disasters and even huge monsters laying waste to the city in countless anime and live action movies throughout the years. It provides great entertainment, I have to be honest in that, but it does make me want to know if there is just some kind of hate against this city. Whatever the reason is, in the animeseries I am about to review there is yet another threat against it. Although it is called the Tokyo area in this anime to be more specific.

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This guy certainly isn’t a likeable character in this series. 

It is the year 2021, and the human race has almost been destroyed by the parasitic virus known as Gastrea that turns it’s host into horrifying monsters. What’s left of mankind now lives in cities protected by huge stone Monolith walls that are made from a special material called Varanium, which is able to subdue them. Not long after, children were born that carried the virus within them, but did not turn into monsters. Instead they gained superhuman abilities which were incredibly useful in fighting the Gastrea. Known as the Cursed Children, they were only females. A special fighting force is formed, the Civil Securities, that pairs these children with a handler called a Promoter. The highschool student Rentaro Satomi is one of these Promoters who operates in the Tokyo Area. Rentaro is paired with the loveable Enju Aihara, who has a complete crush on him. But soon things become grim as the Gastrea are beginning to gain ground. Will the remainder of mankind finally fall into oblivion?

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What?! We are not getting a second season?!

Black Bullet is a 13 episode animeseries that for lack of a better term to describe it was just, well, fun. It isn’t the best thing that I have ever seen mind you, but quite honestly it’s one of those series that just doesn’t seem to do much wrong. From a story point of view I can’t say it will win the price for originality. A virus is ofcourse nothing new, although the way it is handled in this series is different from what you might be used to. Another thing that I found that was very cool was the use of the Cursed Children. Here we have young girls ranging from 10-13 years old that have all kinds of superpowers and act as though they are adults. Which ofcourse they are not. It provides both comedic but also at times very grim moments. The story unfolds  rather nicely, and has a few tricks up it’s sleeves along the way, although there were not a lot of surprises.

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If you have a fear of spiders I would definitely watch this….

The characters in the series are not it’s strongest point. The bond between Rentaro and Enju is pretty fun to watch at times. Although some people might also find some of the situations between them a little bit unsettling to watch, as Enju is of course still a child. I don’t think the series crosses any serious lines though, and for the most part it certainly gave a few laughs. During the later episodes a lot of new Cursed Children, also called Initiators are introduced together with their Promoters. And they just don’t get enough screentime to grow any real attachment to them. I felt the series could have used a bit more time to focus on it’s characters instead of throwing them at us without giving us time to get used to them.

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Do you really have to move so close to me? 

What the series may lack in character development it more than makes up for in the action department. If you like action featuring superpowered beings fighting huge and horrifying monsters, this is a show that will certainly give you that. Some of the bigger Gastrea monsters had very cool designs, and it was incredibly satisfying to watch them get taken down in some of the more spectacular fights the series has on offer. But it’s not all monster fighting though, as Rentaro and Enju get to deal with a lot of different situations including assassination attempts and prejudice against the Cursed Children. The animation of the show is pretty good as well, and together with the music serves up a nice and pleasurable viewing experience. All in all I really enjoyed this one. The story for a change gets wrapped up for the most part in the end, although there was certainly room for a second season. Seeing it’s been almost 4 years since the release of this one, I doubt that will happen though. Black Bullet may not be for everyone, but if you like a bit of action coupled with cool monsters and interesting fight scenes, you might give this one a shot.

I give Black Bullet a 8 out of 10 score.

Kong Skull Island, American movie (2017)

There are some Hollywood creations that have simply become icons in their own way. Never mind having never seen the movie it appeared in, everyone seems to know about it anyway. One of those icons is the legendary ape King Kong. It made it’s first onscreen appearance in the 1933 movie with the same name, and it has since then become the stuff of legend. One of it’s most famous scenes was King Kong being on top of the Empire State building and getting shot at by airplanes. Moviemaking certainly has come a long way since then, and when you look at that scene now it may look dated in terms of special effects. But it definitely still is every bit as powerful as when it was first shown to the public. These days we get a lot of movies that have terrific special effects, but fall short when it comes to showcasing any kind of emotions or story. That does not mean that a movie like that can’t be entertaining though.

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There was a sale on fresh tentacles, he just could not resist.

Kong Skull Island starts in the year 1944 when two fighter pilots, one American and one Japanese, parachute onto a mysterious island, after having lost both of their planes to each other. While continuing the fight on the ground, they are interrupted when a gigantic and monstrous ape appears. In the year 1973, 29 years later, we meet up with a US government agent called Bill Randa. He is trying to get approval to get an expedition formed to visit the island known as Skull Island. Eventually his superiors give in, and Bill hires skilled tracker James Conrad to help with the undertaking. Accompanied by a group of soldiers led by the tough Lieutenant Colonel Preston Packard and a female photojournalist named Mason Weaver, the expedition takes off for the island. But once they arrive there, they are about to discover that mankind may not be on top of the food chain anymore. If they manage to survive the wrath of the King of Monsters that is…..

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Where is Thor when you need him?

This movie is a part of the Legendary film company’s attempt to create a new cinematic universe, with this film being the second offering. (The 2014 version of Godzilla was the first) And quite honestly I had a monster, pun intended, of a good time with this film. What it lacked in story it certainly made up for in entertainment value. Yes people, this is a special effects driven movie, I am not even going to deny that fact, but boy was it a lot of fun. The creatures infesting the island the group lands on are gloriously designed and the absolute highlight of the film. Kong of course will get to fight a few of them, and it is these scenes that impress the most. You can’t help but get a big grin on your face when the creatures start bashing each other’s skulls in. It never gets gory at any point, but it provides some solid fight scenes all realised through computer, and the effects are truly convincing to say the least.

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Smile, you are on Candid Camera.

The cast that was assembled for this film is quite impressive. John Goodman plays the role of Bill Randa, and it is a more serious role that you usually see him play. He is an actor that I always think is pretty underrated, and he did yet another fine job in this movie. Tom Hiddleston who most people probably know from playing the evil yet incredibly fun role of Loki in Thor, plays the character of James Conrad in this movie. His natural charisma makes him instantly likeable and the role of Conrad is certainly one that suits him. And then ofcourse we have Samuel L. Jackson as Lt. Col. Preston Packard. I always like Jackson’s performances, and the best way to describe his character is a new version of Captain Ahab from Moby Dick. He will stop at absolutely nothing to kill Kong, no matter what the cost might be. Even though the human factor in this film was minimal, all actors in this played very well and certainly contributed enough to the movie to make it a worthwhile experience.

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I love the smell of ape in the morning.

As I said in the beginning, this is a special effects driven movie, and that’s why the story isn’t really worth mentioning. It does get the job done though, and there is enough tension, occasional humor, and excitement that makes this movie a solid piece of entertainment. The after credits scene hints at the next installment for Legendary’s monsterverse, and I do honestly have to say that I am excited for it. There are pretty much no really bad things in this film that I can think off that are worth mentioning. It’s just two hours of mindless monsterbashing fun, and only if you don’t really like these sort of films will you be disappointed by it. So put on some popcorn, crank up the volume of your television and go sit down in your favorite chair to watch the King of Monsters back in action. Hail to the King, baby.

I give Kong Skull Island a 8 out of 10 score.

The Thing, American/Canadian movie (2011)

Now, I can hear you thinking : “The guy has finally lost it, he’s doing reviews now for movies that he has already reviewed before”. I admit, I’m getting older, and my mind may not be what it used to be, but no this is not the same film that I did a post for two weeks ago. No ladies and gentlemen, even though the movie bears the same name as the 1982 original, what he have here is a prequel. I am usually not really a fan of prequels. The thing is (yes here we go again with the puns), as you already know what happens in the film that comes after the prequel, sometimes that robs you of some excitement. That is especially true with characters that might appear in both movies. If someone is alive in the original film, you can’t very well kill him or her off in the prequel. But as always there are certain exceptions and this is definitely one of them.

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This is why I don’t go on blind dates anymore.

It is the year 1982 and in Antarctica a group of Norwegian researchers make a startling discovery. A gigantic alien spacecraft that has been buried for hundreds of years under the ice has been uncovered. As if this wasn’t enough, the sole occupant of the ship is found frozen in a block of ice nearby. One of the Norwegians, Dr. Sander Halvorson calls in the help of the American paleontologist Kate Lloyd, to assist with what is undoubtely the find of the century. When she arrives at the Norwegian base together with a group of Americans, she is stunned by what they have found. Soon however, the amazement turns into sheer horror. It appears that the thing that has been found frozen in the ice, isn’t dead. What’s more, it has escaped, and is now loose in the base able to take on any organic form it absorbs. Kate will have to fight in order to stay alive, but who can she trust…..?

Thing, The
Go Ripley…..erm Kate.

For the life of me I still don’t understand why this movie got so much negative press at the time of it’s release. Is it as good as the original 1982 film? No it isn’t. The original is a classic and it is hard to reach the same level as a movie that many consider to be one of the best horrorfilms ever made. Does it come close though? I would say: absolutely! One of the things that this film does incredibly well is pay attention to some of the details of the classic movie. Did you ever wonder how the axe that was found by Kurt Russell in the 1982 version got stuck in the wall? This movie gives you an answer to that. As an enormous fan of the original, I loved little details like that.

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Yes……this is definitely disturbing, I could not agree more. 

The characters for this prequel were not as interesting as the ones found in the 1982 movie. That said I absolutely loved the role of Kate played by actress Mary Elizabeth Winstead. If I were to make a comparison, she reminded me a lot of Ellen Ripley from the Alien franchise. Kate is a strong woman, able to keep a clear head in a truly horrifying situation. And what’s more she can really take of herself, which she demonstrates quite often throughout the film. Most of the other characters just did not have enough depth to grow real attached to, despite being played by some well known actors like Joel Edgerton and Ulrich Thomsen. But it was not something that bothered me as there were enough other things to enjoy in this movie.

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It’s really okay to be afraid Kate. 

As for the special effects, they were absolutely amazing. Where the original film did not always show the creature in all it’s horrifying glory, this movie did the exact opposite. Pretty much right from the start, we are shown a few truly terrifying versions of the monster. Lovers of creepy creatures definitely will get their fix in this film. The original only used practical effects, while the prequel also relied on CGI special effects. But these pretty much looked almost the same as the effects in the classic movie, something that I also loved about this film. Last but not least the end of this movie is simply put absolutely perfect, and the first time I saw it, I had goosebumps all over. It was a great homage to the original movie, and as a fan I could not have asked for a better ending.

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Even a good old fashioned autopsy isn’t what it used to be. 

If it has not already become clear, I really loved this film. While not as good as the original, this was a movie that really had respect for it’s source material which in my opinion it definitely showed. Being a huge fan of the original movie (if you haven’t yet read my review for that one you can find it here), I could not have wished for a better film. Yes it had characters that could have been handled a little better maybe, but other than that this movie is great entertainment for horror-and science fiction fans alike. I highly recommend this film to anyone who loves the original and is willing to at least keep an open mind for this one. I guarantee that this movie is a thrill ride from start to finish.

I give The Thing (2011) a 9 out of 10 score.

 

The Thing, American movie (1982)

If there is one thing (pun intended) that I like in horrormovies, it is a good monster. The more disgusting or horrifying a creature is, the better I like it. Yes, I can be weird that way but really, honestly I am a nice guy. Yes, I would not have believed myself after a comment like that either. Okay, moving on. Director John Carpenter has certainly made some of my favorite alltime horrormovies. Halloween, Christine and Prince of Darkness are just some examples of his talent for making great and chilling films, that will scare the life out of you. Sadly he has not been having such a great track record recently. His last film, The Ward dates back to 2010, and is a mostly forgettable experience. Luckily we still have his old movies to rewatch and enjoy, and the film I am about to review will always be my absolute favorite film made by this director.

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Talk to the hand really doesn’t work in this case…

In the icy cold of Antarctica we see a domestic dog running across the snowy landscape. This in itself would not be such a strange sight, were it not for the fact that a helicopter from a Norwegian camp is in hot pursuit. The dog manages to reach an American research station, where it’s occupants are roused by the noise outside. The helicopter has meanwhile settled down on the ice, and one of it’s male passengers comes out guns blazing at the terrified dog. The pilot of the chopper accidentally blows himself up, while trying to throw a thermite charge. Eventually the shooter gets killed by a member of the research station. The dog is taken in by the bewildered Americans, that are left wondering what in blazes would cause two grown men to act the way they did. The members of the research station send out their helicopter pilot MacReady together with a doctor to the Norwegian station in order to get some answers. However what they are going to find out is something more terrible than they could have imagined. A thing that is not of this world has taken refuge amongst them…..

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Man’s best friend….yeah …right….

The Thing is quite possibly one of the best horrormovies ever made. There are so many reasons that make this movie an alltime classic that it is almost impossible to name them all. But I will at least give you some of the most important ones. For one thing it’s the characters, most notably MacReady, played by a young Kurt Russell. With The Thing being able to take on any living form whatsoever, paranoia soon begins to run rampant across the station. MacReady seems to be the only one that keeps a level head, despite his colleagues that seem to mistrust pretty much everyone. Kurt does an excellent job in portraying this desperation, but he is also the true hero of this film. Russell has always excelled at playing characters that are a bit of a loner and anti-hero, and this role is no exception.

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Hey, pssst….look behind you…..

Another thing (yes these puns keep on coming, but are also unavoidable really), that is the main reason to watch this movie are the truly horrific special effects. This was an era that had no CGI effects to speak off, so all of the effects you see are practical. But they are no less impressive, or disgusting for that matter. The monster itself, in all it’s different shapes and forms is a truly horrific creature. Some of the designs seem to have come straight out of the deepest pits of hell, and are amazing to look at. Even after all these years, the effects still hold up, and manage to outdo many modern day horrorfilms.

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Yes, I know, this picture is truly disgusting….you don’t have to tell me that. 

Last but definitely not least is the story itself, that manages to truly cause a frightening atmosphere. With a creature that is able to take on any human form, simply everyone can be the monster. And that is the true strength of this film. Who can you trust? Director John Carpenter plays masterfully with this intriguing feature, with characters that slowly become more and more paranoid of each other, with every waking second. If you are a fan of horrormovies, and have yet to see this true classic I urge you to track this one down as soon as you can. It is a film that will have you in it’s clutches throughout the entire runtime, and will have moments that will leave you gasping for air. In 2011 a prequel film for this movie was made, that received some very negative reviews. But in my opinion those were pretty unfair, as I found the prequel to be every bit as enjoyable. But that is a story for another time.

I give The Thing a 10 out of 10 score.

Alien Covenant, American movie (2017)

In 2015 fans of Alien received word that Neill Blomkamp, director of the fantastic science fiction movie District 9, had plans to make a fifth Alien movie. Supposedly it would take place after the second Alien film, and pretty much ignore the events of Alien 3, a movie that many fans were disappointed by. It would also see the return of both Sigourney Weaver and Michael Biehn to reprise their roles as Ripley and Hicks. However, when director Ridley Scott made it clear that he had plans to make a sequel to Prometheus, the project for Alien 5 was put on hold. A real shame if you ask me, for I would have loved to see Ripley and Hicks back in action. And that brings us in a roundabout way to Alien Covenant, which is a sequel to Prometheus, but a prequel to the first Alien movie. You still with me on this? Okay, now if you want some more information about Prometheus, you can find it here. Without further ado let’s dive into Ridley Scott’s new film.

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Camping trips in the future are definitely not what we are used to right now. 

Alien Covenant takes place ten years after the events of Prometheus. We join the crew of a gigantic colony ship called Covenant, which is on a mission to a distant planet to raise a new human civilisation. During the trip something goes horribly wrong and the ship get’s damaged, waking the crew from their cryosleep. While they are trying to make repairs to the ship, a transmission is intercepted from an unknown planet. A transmission that appears to be of human origin. Abandoning their original plans, the inexperienced captain of the ship decides to check out the origin of the signal. When they finally arrive on the planet, it seems to be a match made in heaven. The planet appears to be perfect for colonisation. But looks can be very deceiving as the crew of the ship is about to find out. For the planet hides a horrifying secret. A secret so terrible that they will all soon have to fight for their lives and survival is by no means certain….

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There really is no reason to show me something like this. Put your clothes back on. 

One of the biggest complaints that people had about Prometheus is that it focussed very little on the Alien Xenomorphs. With this film, Ridley Scott brings the alien monsters back with a vengeance. From a story point of view, the movie does an okay job. We definitely get some more answers to the questions about the origins of the Alien species, as well as the fate of the survivors of the Prometheus. Still, the story is not one of it’s stronger points. This movie really brings back the horror to the franchise and in that regard it succeeds. Their are some truly terrifying and very gory scenes in the movie, that really are not for the faint at heart. Some of the new creatures in the film, are incredibly well designed. The movie starts off a bit slow, but picks up the pace in the second act, and ends in a satisfactory way.

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You really need to wipe your mouth.

The actors in the movie are all relatively unknowns, except for Michael Fassbender, who this time around also plays a different android called Walter. As in Prometheus, Fassbender again steals the show, with a very good role. The female lead this time is played by actress Katherine Waterstone, who plays the role of Daniels. Daniels can be compared to Ripley in many ways, as she is also a strong woman that eventually gets to fight against the horrifying monsters. The rest of the cast was okay, but the characters they played had little to no substance to to them, and as such were pretty forgettable. In the end the movie was a good addition to the Alien franchise, but I did not enjoy it as much as Prometheus. Still, it was nice to see the Xenomorphs back in action, and with the script for the third installment already finished, I can’t wait to find out what will happen next.

I give Alien:Covenant a 8 out of 10 score.

 

 

 

Prometheus, American/UK movie (2012)

Why are we here? It is a question that has not really been answered throughout human history. No matter what you believe in, I think everybody will agree that there are a lot of things in this world, that can’t and probably never will be explained. But there will be certain points in your life when you will find yourself asking that very same question. Why am I here? One thing is for sure, I am still looking for that answer. Well, before you start to think that I have completely lost it, and my blog is turning into a centre for philosophical debates, let me quickly put your minds at ease. This small introduction served as a stepping stone to my review for Prometheus, the prequel to Aliens. For it is exactly this question, and many others like it, that are featured heavily in this movie.

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Bowling in the future certainly looks different.

In the year 2089, the archeologists Elizabeth Shaw and Charlie Holloway, make a discovery in Scotland that may very well alter the course of human history. Certain cave paintings give clues to the origins of the human species, and seem to include an invitation for mankind to travel towards a distant moon in the far reaches of the galaxy. The invitation seems to have been made by the creators of the human race, a mysterious species called the Engineers. Soon an expedition is funded to travel towards the distant moon, and find out the origins of humanity. Both Elizabeth and Charlie are joining this expedition and travel in stasis aboard the science vessel Prometheus. After a long journey they arrive at their destination, and together with the rest of the crew of the ship, begin to make preparations to explore the moon. However in the ancient ruins of the planet, lies a terrible secret. One that may very well mean the end of human life as we know it….

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Now if this doesn’t look cool, I don’t know what does.

Prometheus was a movie that was received with very mixed reviews at the time of it’s release. Fans of the Aliens franchise, expected a film that was very different from the movie that it turned out to be. As such a lot of fans were extremely disappointed by it. I do not count myself as one of them, for I absolutely loved this film. Even though there are enough scenes in the movie that are truly horrific, this movie simply isn’t a horrorfilm in the style of the first Alien movie. Instead it provides a background story for that film, while it also stands completely on it’s own. This is science fiction at it’s best. The way the movie looks is simply amazing, and that alone is a reason why this film is worth the watch.

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Guess who’s coming to dinner?

Another reason is the acting that was on display for this film, especially by the amazing Michael Fassbender. He plays the role of the cold but highly intelligent android David. The chilling way that he portrays this character is absolutely stunning, and I think it is one of the best roles of his career. The role of Elizabeth Shaw is filled by actress Noomi Rapace, who also does a fine job. She is not Ellen Ripley ofcourse, but a powerful woman nonetheless who tries to make the best of it in a very hostile environment. The rest of the supporting cast, most notably Idris Elba and Charlize Theron, are great as well, even though their roles are relatively minor.

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You know that you are being watched right?

As far as filling in the blanks for the Alien movies, this movie does not completely succeed in that mission. A lot of answers that one might hope to find here, are left unanswered. As mentioned above this movie is not Alien, but it does not pretend to be so either. It is however a great piece of science fiction storytelling, with some very cool special effects and terrific acting. Those that hope to find the same experience as the original Alien movie, might have to steer clear of this film. If you love science fiction, with a light touch of horror thrown in the mix though, this film is well worth checking out.

I give Prometheus a 9 out of 10 score.

Aliens the original comics series (30th anniversary Edition), a Dark Horse Comics Graphic Novel (2016)

In 1979 director Ridley Scott unleashed a science fiction horror movie called Alien onto the unsuspecting human race. With the tagline “In space no one can hear you scream”, there was plenty of screaming that was done in the movie theatres. Needless to say, the movie became an instant classic and set up a new benchmark for horrorfilms. Seven years later the sequel Aliens was released, and it has become my alltime favorite science fiction movie. Not only did it feature a great story, fantastic special effects, and plenty of exciting and thrilling scenes, but there were also a bunch of unforgettable characters. Two of them, Corporal Hicks and the young girl Newt, actually survived at the end of the film. Unfortunately in Alien 3 they were killed off in 10 seconds at the start of that movie. There were many fans that were very mad at the way that this was done, and it did not show those characters the respect they deserved.

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Well, I guess it’s safe to say this guy is pretty much toast. 

In 1987 Dark Horse comics was approached to do a comicbook series that continued the storyline from Aliens. That black and white comic became a huge succes and afterwards many more books were produced. Last year the first six issues were reprinted and released in a very beautiful hardcover graphic novel. Since these comics were made before the release of Alien 3, it tells a completely different story. As such you could compare it to the books of the Star Wars Expanded Universe, that now officially aren’t canon anymore since Disney took over. But honestly I could not care less about that, as this book was highly enjoyable to read.

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Nope, still seeing monsters. 

The comics take place on Earth, a few years after the events of Aliens. Newt is now a grown woman, and Hicks is still with the Colonial Marines, even though his colleagues seem to despise him. Both Newt and Hicks have their own traumas to deal with, and find it really difficult to cope with their experiences on the doomed colony of LV-426. But dark forces are at work on Earth. It seems that the Aliens are highly wanted material for the bioweapons industry. Certain things are being set into motion to bring the creatures to Earth. Hicks meanwhile is hired for a mission to the homeworld of the Aliens, and along the way will get reunited with Newt. But time seems to be running out for everyone, as something goes horribly wrong while trying to capture the Aliens. And soon Earth will become the target for a new hive…..

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The coastguard sure has changed. 

This 30th anniversary edition is a truly beautiful graphic novel. All the pages have a black finish on the outside, and every page is made of very sturdy paper. As mentioned the book contains issues 1-6 of the original comic. Also included is a short story called Lucky, and a pin-up gallery of the covers and some additional art. Rounding out the book is a fore-and afterword by both author Mark Verheiden and artist Mark A. Nelson. The black and white art for these comics is truly amazing and really recaptures the spirit of the movies. Ofcourse the movies were, at times, pretty graphic, and that also comes back in this book. That’s why this certainly won’t be for the faint at heart. The storyline is very good, and honestly much better than the Alien 3 movie. Sadly the company at the time did not have the rights to the Ripley character, so you won’t be seeing her in any of these pages.

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Game over man, game over! 

This book is simply put a must buy for every Aliens fan. The book looks great and has been a joy to read from start to finish. Even though most of the storylines are complete, the ending has left things wide open. Ofcourse the series was later continued with further issues. What might interest you to know, is that after Alien 3 was released, Dark Horse decided to change the names of Newt and Hicks to Billie and Wilks. This was ofcourse done to ensure that the comicbook could still remain canon. Here though, they reprinted the books in the way they were originally released. I highly recommend this book to every Alien and science fiction comics fan out there.

I give Aliens: the original comics series (30th Anniversary Edition), a 9 out of 10 score.