Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Trailer Park Tuesdays - SDCC Edition - Mad Max: Fury Road

The wasteland that is Trailer Park Tuesdays is about to get its shit rocked. . .

Over the weekend at the annual Comic Con in San Diego, California the trailer for the new Mad Max film premiered.  It justifiably set a buzz on the internet.  This movie was long rumored before going into a long production with reshoots and etc, etc., but HOLY SHIT DOES IT LOOK AMAZING!

I was already very much looking forward to this movie.  Now I'm convinced Mad Max: Fury Road might very well be THE movie of summer 2015.  Feast!:

Some quick takeaways:


Tom Hardy looks cool and suitably badass.  Looks like Max is having a rough time in this one.
Also, I've read that he only has 19 lines of dialogue in the entire movie.  Very badass.

Lots of cool cars, cool car stunts, and crazy looking freaks.  Also, it's dusty, deserty, and apocalyptic.
Basically everything a Mad Max should have and be.

Whoa, check out Charlize Theron!

Hugh Keays-Byrne, who played Toecutter in the OG Max, here plays a new character and he looks CRAZY!

There's some CGI stuff in there, we'll see how that goes, I'll keep an open mind, 'cause..

HOLY SHIT!  This looks good.

Mad Max: Fury Road squeals its tires into theaters May 17th, 2015.  . . .Not soon enough.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Howling IV: The Original Nightmare

Welcome to part four of The Howling Series Retrospective Review.

Check out the previous installments:
The Howling
Howling II: Your Sister Grew a Beard
The Marsupials: Howling III: Pouch Babies

It seems like after the all-out wackiness of the previous two sequels, the decision was made to reel it back in for the next installment in the Howling series, Howling IV: The Original Nightmare (1988).  A new filmmaking team was brought in and they decided to go back to Gary Brandner's original source novel and readapt it (with changes of course) and make a more "serious" and character driven werewolf story.
The result is a werewolf film that has more mystery and atmosphere than it does scares or werewolf action.  The character driven stuff doesn't really work because, unfortunately, most of the cast isn't really up to the task.  While Howling IV is a step up from the previous two sequels in the departments of cinematic look and overall story cohesion (you can actually follow the plot!), it still manages to be not quite as entertaining as Part II or III.
Marie (Romy Windsor) is a successful best-selling author, but she is starting to have these bad dreams and visions (she sees the ghost of a nun) so she and her publicist friend Tom (Antony Hamilton) decide it would be best if maybe she took some time off.  The doctor blames fatigue and her vivid imagination, suggesting that she "go somewhere her imagination won't be stimulated."

It turns out Marie's visions are related to some deadly goings-ons that happened in a small town called Drago.  Of course, this happens to be exactly where her husband Richard (Michael T. Weiss) has coincidentally booked the two of them a nice stay at a remote country cabin.

Drago is your typical small, rural community, the kind that hides a dark secret.  Marie keeps having visions (of the nun, of the old couple that used to live in her cabin) and weird things keep happening (her dog disappears, she hears a "howling" at night) so of course she eventually begins to investigate what is going on with the nun, the old couple, and exactly what the deal with Drago is anyway.

Richard isn't much help.  He seems more interested in being a dick and wearing shirts that show off his manly chest hair regions (also note his fine 80s MacGuyver coif):

Marie gets assistance in her investigation from Janice (Susanne Severeid), a woman who is vacationing in the area and randomly stops by Marie's cabin hoping to meet her (she's a fan of her writing).

It turns out that Janice is a former nun who knew the nun from Marie's visions.  Her name was Sister Ruth (an homage to Black Narcissus [1947]?) and, as it turns out, she went crazy and died after visiting the small town of Drago.

All this mystery and investigation takes up the first hour of the movie.  There's not really any scares (other than when she finds her dead dog) and Marie's dream-visions are more moody and atmospheric than they are startling.  She does at one point dream some poltergeist-like activity in her cabin, chairs and tables flipping and smashing, and that was kinda neat, but it doesn't really supply what a werewolf movie should:  and that's werewolves.

The first glimpse of a lycanthrope doesn't come until around the one hour mark in the movie.  It happens when dickhead Richard (I just realized his name correlates with what he is) is macking on the local artist/shop owner Eleanor from town.

She's an ethereal, eerily beautiful type, so you could argue that she seduces him magically, but it seems to me that Richard is all too willing to jump all over her and get busy.

While they're trysting in the woods, Eleanor wolfs-out (briefly seen) and bites Rich, sending him running back home to get patched up by Marie.  The next day, of course, everything is fine with Richard and he claims to have just "fallen down a gully."
Basically this all leads to Marie and Janice truly discovering that Drago is a town full of werewolves (!) and to Richard stumbling off into the woods, suffering the effects of his wolf-bite, and starting his transformation.  It's here that the movie decides to get just a little crazy.

Richard's transformation scene has got to be the sloppiest, gooiest, grossest werewolf transformation scene ever to be featured in a movie.  It looks like goopy, melty chocolate syrup is dumped all over him while he dissolves into a puddle.  It really is an impressive special effect, which is good because it takes up a lot of screen time.
When Richard finally puddles out, a wolf monster emerges (briefly seen).  The rest of the townspeople are standing around watching all this.  They're wolfed-out as well, but only halfway, so it is less impressive.  They look like this:
The movie ends with Marie and Janice escaping into the bell tower and setting it on fire, killing all the wolftownspeople (Janice sacrifices herself).  Before they do that, they encounter the local doctor, who I guess is the lead werewolf.  He looks like this:
And then he does this:
And then he transforms and looks like this:
Yeah, this movie is fairly boring and ho-hum for most of its running time, but the last 15 minutes really turn it up a notch.  Things get close to the level of craziness that was established in the previous two sequels and it ends with a big explosion, so at least they got that part right (although the jump-scare are the very end is kind of lame).

Overall though, Howling IV: The Original Nightmare is a subpar werewolf movie.  As far as the Howling series itself, this is a middle-of-the-road entry.  None of the acting is good enough to be noteworthy, nor is it terrible enough to be mistaken for interesting.  There's too much foggy dreaminess and suspenseless mystery, not enough fangs, claws, and hairiness (other than Richard, of course).

Other Notes and random things:

If you rent a remote cabin in the woods, and when you get there you notice that there are strange, giant claw marks on the door, maybe you should think about rescheduling your stay?  Just sayin'...
When Marie and Janice are being chased by the werewolves into the bell tower, it is clearly just a pack of dogs, German Shepherds mainly, but I think a Collie is in there too.
I mentioned Richard's penchant for open shirts.  He also likes to use his tongue a LOT during make-out sessions.
Marie encounters a couple hikers, John and Paula (aka: Victims #1 and #2), out in the woods and invites them inside.  John ends up telling her a little about Drago and the backstory of its famed bell tower and how it's a replica of one from the 16th century, etc, etc..  When asked if it's a true story, John replies, "Well, I read it in an old National Geographic."
"Let me give you a ride."
"Hey thanks, for your help (Marie) but my Chevy Camper is parked nearby."
Oh yeah, this is really weird.  Janice makes major progress in figuring out that Drago is a town full of werewolves when she decodes that the phrase that crazy Sister Ruth was repeating over and over before her death, "we're all in fear," was actually her saying, "werewolves here."  …uh, okay. . .wait, HUH?
The opening and closing credits song, "Something Evil, Something Dangerous," was written and performed by Justin Hayward, lead singer of The Moody Blues:

Director John Hough also directed one of my favorite haunted house movies, The Legend of Hell House (1973), as well as Escape to and Return from Witch Mountain (1975/1978), The Watcher in the Woods (1980), and American Gothic (1988), a film I've never seen but the video cover of which is forever burned into my brain.

Screenwriter Clive Turner would also write Howling V: The Rebirth (1989) as well as write and direct The Howling: New Moon Rising (1995).

Howling IV feels like a remake of the first film, but really it's just a readaptation of Gary Brandner's original novel (for some reason all three of his Howling novels get a "based on" screen credit in this).

Changes made to the story include all the character's names and adding the stuff about the nun.  Also, the character of Max Quist, who assaults the main character in the novel, sending her on the need for a retreat, is taken out of this version of the story entirely (he was repurposed in the original film by director Joe Dante and writer John Sayles).
Howling IV: The Original Nightmare was the first film in the series to be released directly to video (handled by International Video Entertainment), even though the previous two sequels looked very much the part (I still can't believe Part III had a theatrical release).  From here on out, it's all direct-to-video (DTV) werewolf action.

For what it's worth, Fangoria gave the film its 1988 Golden Chainsaw award for Best Direct-to-Video Feature.

When released on DVD in 2004, the back cover of Howling IV featured scenes from Howling III.  :(
Hi, Tom!
Bye, Tom!
Here's some behind-the-scenes footage, courtesy of the YouTube and William Forsche, featuring the werewolf suit used in the film (specifically the werewolf the town doctor turns into).  The special effects crew also discuss Dunhill cigarettes and shooting in South Africa.  

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Trailer Park Tuesdays - Borgman

Trailer Park Tuesdays, a place that seems tailor-made for a creep like the BORGMAN.

Borgman is a Dutch thriller that looks guaranteed to be creepy, a bit off-kilter, and darkly comic. This is a combination that I approve of.  Here's the official synopsis:

"A dark suburban fable exploring the nature of evil in unexpected places, BORGMAN follows an enigmatic vagrant who enters the lives of an upper-class family and quickly unravels their carefully curated lifestyle.

Charming and mysterious, Camiel Borgman seems almost otherworldly, and it isn't long before he has the wife, children, and nanny under his spell in a calculated bid to take over their home life.  However, his domestic assimilation takes a malevolent turn as his ultimate plan comes to bear, igniting a series of increasingly maddening and menacing events."

Sounds like a winner.  The comparison films being mentioned are Dogtooth (2009) and Funny Games (1997) . That's pretty good company.  Check out the trailer below.  Some of these images are amazing.  The shot of people with buckets on their heads in the lake is a knockout:

Also, that shot of him eating in the bathtub reminds me of Gummo (1997).

Borgman screened at Cannes last year and was immediately snatched up by Drafthouse Films.  It's playing right now in select cities and should be out on VOD, Blu-ray, and DVD before year's end (I'd imagine).

Official one-sheet:
and the Mondo poster:

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Trailer Park Tuesdays - Coherence

Trailer Park Tuesdays:  Back open for business.

This week's trailer is for an indie sci-fi mind-bender.


Here's the official synopsis:

On the night of an astrological anomaly, eight friends at a dinner party experience a troubling chain of reality bending events.  Part cerebral sci-fi and part relationship drama, COHERENCE is a tightly focused, intimately shot film that quickly ratchets up with tension and mystery.

Sounds good, right?  This looks to be one of those low budget, puzzle box kind of movies.  It has been getting some good press after doing the festival circuit earlier this year and, to me, this is one to definitely check out.  I'm always looking and rooting for an underdog picture to come out of nowhere and knock it out of the park (or at least solidly entertain).  Is Coherence one of those movies?  Maybe.
Check out the official movie trailer:

Yeah.  I'll see that.

For further evidence of the film's mood and premise, here's a teaser clip:

Coherence was written and directed by James Ward Byrkit, who has been working with Gore Verbinski for a number of years in a conceptual consultant capacity (he also has co-story credit on Rango [2011]).  This was his first feature film.

The cast includes Emily Baldoni, Maury Sterling (Homeland), Nicholas Brendon (Buffy the Vampire Slayer), Elizabeth Gracen (Marked for Death), Lauren Maher (Scarlett in the Pirates movies), Hugo Armstrong, Lorene Scafaria, and Alex Manugian (who also conceived of the story for Coherence).

Coherence is being released by Oscilloscope Laboratories and will be playing select cities (LA and NY) starting June 20th before spreading out elsewhere along the west coast (it opens in my neck of the woods July 11th).

For everybody else, the film is also available on VOD.  Check out the official website for more info.

Here's the one-sheet.  It's rad: