ENJOY THE SHOW
Obviously our focus on film is geared more towards feature length cinema, but every now and then a spectacular short film comes along that just deserves and even begs to be seen. Some of those even go on to get feature film deals like the recent short True Skin which just got picked up by Warner Bros. That brings us to No Way Out, a twisted, spooky horror short that played at Fantastic Fest last year. The film stars A.J. Bowen (The House of the Devil, You’re Next) as a man stuck and scared out of his mind in a basement where something unnatural seems to be with him. It's the scariest new film you'll watch this Halloween.
Wolverines! Yes, it's what the 1984 actioner Red Dawn is most known for. Yes, it's a line that's repeated in remake. And yes, it's every bit as cheesy as you remember. Thankfully, that moment in all of its '80s haze of nostalgia is NOT indicative of the remake. This version of Red Dawn works around its hokier tropes—of which there are several—and delivers a nice blast of a film by way of family drama, which is continuously supported by a quite amazing troupe of young actors. The bad guy mixup is well documented and noticeable, but that too falls aside to let sheer enjoyable action entertainment take over. I repeat. Wolverines!
The last half of Fantastic Fest is always a bittersweet one as the festival wraps up and everyone starts to head home. We did however have a couple of awesome films to look forward to, including the infamous Secret Screenings. As last time, we collected audio blogs with some colleagues regarding some of the final selections including Drafthouse Films' The ABC's of Death, Ben Wheatley's Sightseers, Cloud Atlas, Paranormal Activity 4 and MGM's Red Dawn remake. Joining us for these segments are the likes of Britt Hayes (ScreenCrush), Eric Lefenfeld (Brutal as Hell), Rob Hunter (Film School Rejects) and others. Listen in as we wrap up the wonderful experience of great films and great company at Fantastic Fest 2012!
Disaster movies don't usually come quite like this, and that's a good and bad move for Aftershock, the latest film written and produced by Eli Roth. He must have flipped over to some Irwin Allen movies between grimy exploitation movies, and though the guts and gore aesthetic is fresh for the sub-genre, Roth along with director Nicolas Lopez rarely keep a grip on the film's focus. What begins as a genuinely funny comedy turns not only violent but downright ugly, and ultimately the writer/producer seems to be retreading only Hostel territory to make what he feels is a dramatic and shocking story of survival. Read on!
Michael Stephenson has an effortless way of digging into fake scares and finding real humanity. His first documentary, Best Worst Movie, took the notoriety of starring in a schlocky horror movie and revealed the very genuine and heartfelt look of a man discovering his own celebrity. It was an excellent film and one his newest doc, The American Scream, absolutely lives up to and very likely surpasses. Laughs and tears both pack into this lighthearted film of a man's passion built on scaring the bejeebers out of people, and it hits a strong emotional chord, delivering something translucent and ultimately inspirational. More below!
Fantastic Fest is well underway in Austin and we've already seen tons of films including Frankenweenie, Sinister and more. Tim and Jeremy have been recording audio blogs for films they feel need discussion and have compiled them in a single episode from the first few days. The guys are joined by various critic friends (many of whom have been on the regular podcast) including the likes of FS' James Wallace, Brad McHargue (Dread Central), J.C. De Leon (ScreenInvasion), Eric D. Snider (Movie B.S.) and others. They also got to sit down with good friend of the show C. Robert Cargill (aka Massawyrm) and director Scott Derrickson to talk about their new horror film Sinister. Listen in for a recap of the first 4 days of Fantastic Fest 2012!
Conspiracy and paranoia go hand in hand. If "they" are powerful enough to control everything, "they" are powerful enough to control you. A shadowy government, one that secretly controls every historical events, is popular among conspiracy theorists, because it's just as frightening as it is unprovable. Writer/director Christopher MacBride takes this into account for The Conspiracy, a mockumentary about filmmakers uncovering answers to the secret government society mystery. Terrifying on many, many levels, it's a finely crafted film/documentary about seeking answers, and the paranoia that comes when you get them.
Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning - presented in 3D - is the fourth film in the Uni-Sol franchise. Sixth if you count the two made-for-Showtime sequels. But it's not the typical law of diminishing returns with the series. They've had missteps. Bill Goldberg is hardly ever a good choice, but in the hands of filmmaker John Hyams, 2009's Universal Soldier: Regeneration was a badass action movie of higher quality than anyone expected. His newest, Day of Reckoning, still has the hard-hitting action that makes these films entertaining, but the shitstorm of a screenplay keeps you praying for the next head to explode.
Dredd 3D succeeds in simplicity where the 1995 Sylvester Stallone action flick, Judge Dredd, failed in ambition. The comics clearly have a rich mythology, but when it comes to futuristic law enforcers taking out bad guys in a post-apocalyptic city, what more is needed than kickass, hard-hitting action? Dredd delivers in abundance. There isn't much depth here, but any ideas that should go further than the surface are quickly forgotten under hails of bullets, furies of hand-to-hand strikes, and awesome blasts of violence that make Punisher: War Zone comparisons more than flattering. Dredd kicks ass, and that's all it needs to do.
Tim Burton's uphill battle back into the good graces of his early fans has taken a step towards realization. Frankenweenie, his latest in stop-motion animation, is a sweet story of a boy's love for his dog and the lengths he goes once his best friend has been taken from him. It's a film about dealing with death, though not in the most pragmatic of ways. Using skills learned in science class — see, something can come from paying attention at school! — the boy becomes a scientist worthy of his name. The results, though slight, are cheerful and heartwarming, and Burton's clout has regained a few inches towards winning us over again.