Several of the black-and-white Big Critter films of the 1950s have received recent blu-ray releases that may or may not be a marked improvement on the original print but certainly cost more than a standard DVD release. Titles include, but are not limited to, It! The Terror from Beyond Space, The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms, Them!, and this particular little gem starring a beefy former western star, Tim Holt, along with veteran actors Audrey Dalton and Hans Conried (of the Fractured Flickers segment of Rocky and Bullwinkle TV series).
Rather than true horror, this film should be classified as science fiction since it deals with the tried-and-true 50s theme of genetic mutation from radioactive material. In this case, the beastie(s) in question are mutated molluscs living in the Salton Sea. Although the title is more than a little hyperbolic (original title, The Kraken, was shelved), the storyline offers the possibility of a wide-spread infestation of the monsters through prolific egg-laying coupled with the inability of human ingenuity to come up with a way to contain them.
The movie benefits from a number of positive aspects. The screenplay is written by David Duncan, who went on to write scripts for big-budget productions such as The Time Machine (1960), Fantastic Voyage (1966), and many TV series. The actors take their roles quite seriously and professionally. The location filming at Catalina Island, the Salton Sea, and other California sites features crisp, clear cinematography. And the special effects are practical, including a life-sized monster that towers over its human prey.
The quality of this first blu-ray release is not much better than other standard DVD recordings, if at all. Feature-wise, the disk is almost bare-bones, but does contain an informative commentary track by genre film historian, Tom Weaver. The age of the film (and others) does nothing to reduce the price point. It’s ultimately up to the viewer/collector to determine if this purchase is necessary. But the movie itself is worth collecting in any format. It’s one of the best of its kind.
Check out the trailer for Natalie Dormer’s upcoming horror movie The Forest. Set in the second the most popular place to commit suicide, the Aokigahara Forest at the base of Mt. Fuji in Japan, Natalie Dormer plays a young American woman Sara who is searching for her missing sister.
Well-known stand-up comics Dante and Joey Medina will shuffle behind the lens for Golden Artists Entertainment’s Nuclear Zombies from Area 51.
Scream Queen Rebekah Kochan leads a cast that includes Shandalia White, Chris Salvatore, Daniel Skelton, Tiara Lanai, Ash Hollywood and porn legend Ron Jeremy.
“The movie takes place at a diner on Halloween night that’s being robbed near Area 51 where a terrible accident takes place – that accident kills half the people in the town; the other half are either turned into zombies or, if they’re in an enclosed area, they live and have to fight off zombies”, says Dante.
Dante and Kochan wrote the project. Dante, Kochan and Justin L.Jones (The Ouija Exorcism) produce.
To help cinematically contain the outbreak of undead, Golden Artists Entertainment have gone the crowd-funding route to contribute to the budget. You can donate to their Kickstarter here and watch video testimonials from the cast, including Ron Jeremy, here. For as little as $500 you can even end up in the film – as a zombie!
Nuclear Zombies From Area 51 coming to a blood-soaked screen near you in 2016!
Halloween is just around the corner and if you are planning a monster movie marathon here are some excellent werewolf movies for your consideration.
The Company of Wolves
Neil Jordan is known for making some extremely provocative films and this one is no exception. If you enjoy Little Red Riding Hood but want to see it with a whole lot of sexual flare and some extremely major talent (Angela Lansbury, David Warner and Stephen Rea) then this one is right up your alley.
An American Werewolf in London
This is a classic. For a kid who grew up in the 80s you couldn’t ask for a more well rounded werewolf movie. It had great special effects, lots and lots of gore and enough nudity from the beautiful Jenny Agutter to make a school boy happy. For a guy who cut his teeth with mostly comedies, John Landis did an exceptional job.
Neil Marshall’s breakout horror hit is one helluva lot of fun. The siege survival setting of the film coupled by some outstanding special effects make this one a thrill ride from start to finish. Seeing Sean Pertwee (the current Alfred Pennyworth on FOX’s Gotham), Kevin McKidd (Rome), and Liam Cunningham (Game of Thrones) all on the same screen can’t be beat.
Yet another classic from the 1980s. Say what you will about this film, it’s one of the better Stephen King adaptations out there. Director Daniel Attias (whose directed episodes of just about every television show in the last twenty years) does a fine job, and horror favorite Everett McGill is fantastic as the unholy shapeshifter. This is really a film about family and the love they have for one another.
A relatively new submission to the werewolf genre, this one is as solid as they come. Set in France, the story follows the aftermath of a brutal series of slayings. What starts off as an investigative crime thriller turns full blown horror. A mix of hand cam and straight shooting makes this one a lot of fun and adds some TV style realism to what might otherwise be a standard monster movie.
Quite possibly the most revered werewolf movie, Joe Dante’s special effects laden monster movie is both campy and downright scary all at the same time. Dee Wallace, Patrick Macnee, and Kevin McCarthy round out what is really an exceptionally awesome cast for such a gore laden genre film. And of course it boasts one of the all time great horror movie endings.
The more I hear and see about The Hollow the more excited I get. Having Sadler, Forsythe and Fahey in the same movie is awesome.
Synopsis: From Acclaimed filmmaker Miles Doleac and Academy Award Winning producer Lisa Bruce (The Theory of Everything), The Hollow fixes on a team of F.B.I. agents as they arrive in a small town in Mississippi to investigate the death of a U.S. congressman’s daughter in a mysterious triple homicide.
The ensemble cast includes James Callis (TV’s Battlestar Galactica, TV’s Eureka), Christiane Seidel (Boardwalk Empire), William Sadler (TV’s Hawaii Five-0, Machete Kills), William Forsythe (TV’s Boardwalk Empire, Halloween) and Jeff Fahey (TV’s Lost, TV’s From Dusk Till Dawn : The Series).
If you haven’t seen the trailer for Freaks of Nature then you’re in for a treat. There is no way to know how good this will be but it sure looks like a lot of fun. Release date is October 30th in select theaters.
Synopsis: In the town of Dillford, humans, vampires and zombies were all living in peace… until the alien apocalypse arrived. Now three teenagers – one human, one vampire, and one zombie – have to team up to figure out how to get rid of the visitors.
Fire is often touted as a potent weapon against all manner of evil. Seen as a cleansing agent, fire has been used in attempts to vanquish the big bad in more movies than I can count. Many of these movies show fire being used successfully. The villain goes down in flames – so to speak – the survivors go home, everyone’s happy again. Yay.
Not so fast. Kill It With Fire often doesn’t work, or shouldn’t work. Fire is a dangerous element. So dangerous in fact our societies have an entire branch of civil servants dedicated to the eradication of fire. We teach fire prevention, keep fire extinguishers in our homes, and tell our children to never play with fire.
So why is fire considered such a powerful weapon?
Lies. Lies told by movies. You have to admit, and I will as well, that fire looks cool. Explosions look cool. Volatile gases mixing with oxygen is cool. There is also an entire encyclopedia of cultural, mythic and biblical reasons everyone loves fire but I’m not opening that can of worms.
What’s the Reality?
Reality is that fire won’t do the job against a serial killer, xenomorph, zombie horde, shark, or any number of deadly movie monsters. Allow me to explain.
Guy is burned to death in his boiler room. BURNED TO DEATH. What happens? He comes back more powerful than they could have possibly imagined.
Nancy pulls him out of the dream and sets him on fire a second time. What happens? He follows her up the stairs then goes and kills her mother, THEN goes off to make six more movies. Seriously who are we kidding.
After watching Jason kill his friend the drunk party guy throws a pitcher of high proof alcohol on Jason lights him up using a tiki torch. What happens? Not only does it not slow Jason down, it makes him more fearsome. The partygoers see a flaming Jason (eh..a Jason on fire) and lose their shit, scattering into the corn field. What’s more, when the beer keg cools him off his hockey mask isn’t even singed.
Captain Dallas takes a flame thrower into the access tunnels to flush out the alien. What Happens? Dallas dies pretty damn quick. The Alien clearly doesn’t give a crap about his makeshift flamethrower.
Colonial Marines carry flamethrowers with them when they enter the hive in Aliens. Furthermore, the flame unit is the only one they are allowed to use. What happens? All but three marines die and that’s only due to three soldiers disobeying orders and using their guns anyway. To make matters worse, when Ripley the badass hero flames the eggs in the queens chamber she clearly feels compelled to use nearly an entire magazine of pulse rifle ammo just to be sure the eggs are dead.
One of the helpless victims in a last ditch effort to fend off attack sets the shark on fire. Not a great plan given shes in a boat…on the ocean, but she gets points for being bold. What happens? The shark ends up with a nasty burn scar on the right side of it’s head but is otherwise uneffected. It goes on to kill a bunch of teenagers and scare the shit out of the rest.
At the end of the movie Dr. Loomis detonates a room full of explosive gas in an attempt to kill Michael Myers once and for all. What happens? Well Loomis and Myers certainly go out with a boom. As if to emphasize just how unnatural the Shape is, Lori sees him coming walking out of the room completely engulfed in flames. He stumbles, falls and dies. Or so we think he dies… Halloween 4 happens and it turns out not only did the fire NOT kill Michael Myers, it didn’t even kill Dr. Loomis! Hell, he looks pretty good for a guy engulfed in a fireball.
Before you start screaming about how fire is the only thing that can kill The Thing let me point something out to you. Fire really doesn’t work consistently at all, throughout the entire movie. The slit-head corpse they bring back from the Norwegian Camp along with the burned dogs are the specimens Blair uses to determine their is still cellular activity. They burn Bennings, Palmer, Norris, and Windows. What happens? All of the burning seems to work until it quickly becomes apparent the situation is so hopeless. We never really know if fire is the end-all-be-all weapon against The Thing because no matter how many Things they burn more Things keep appearing. Furthermore, exploding and burning are two different things. Palmer and Blair both explode, we have no way of knowing if all those little pieces of them actually died. The only fire related death in the entire movie that we know for a fact works is Fuchs – and he most likely burned himself!
Ben Mears and Mark Petrie set fire to the Marsten house at the end of the movie in an attempt to cleans the town of the vampire horde. What happens? The wind catches the fire and sweeps over the town driving all the vampires from their hiding places. How is that a good thing? Now the vamps are homeless, pissed off and hungry. Mears and Petrie really didn’t think it through and as a result not only are they being hunted but a lot of people in their wake probably got butchered and turned who might not have otherwise.
The military blast a hole in the beast’s throat releasing a prehistoric virus that kills a whole bunch of additional people. Next they plan to set the beast on fire. What happens? Fortunately they are smart enough to realize setting fire to the beast could release the contagion worldwide (awesome science) and instead use isotopes. Moral of the story – fire would have made shit worse.
Zombies get their own section for a couple reasons.
First, the term zombie is used very loosely today. I’m not going to be picky here, I’m just throwing them all together. Dead, slightly dead, brain dead, undead, and dead-alive. Rage zombies aren’t really zombies but since they act and hunt like zombies it’s easier to lump them into the group as well.
There are a whole bunch of examples but let’s just go with the opening episode to season 5. Carol blows up the fuel tank as part of her master plan to free the group from Terminus, in the process setting numerous walkers on fire. What happens? The walkers don’t die. They walk right into the compound and start eating/attacking the living. Lighting zombies on fire while they are still mobile only makes them more dangerous, not to mention smell worse.
While trying to start the emergency generator in the parking garage the group is attacked by ‘fast-moving’ dead zombies. After getting boxed into the cage around the fuel station they decide to spray gas on the zombies and light them on fire. What happens? Well, the movie cheats is what happens. It works for narrative purposes but they never actually show the zombies burn long enough to stop being a threat. The fact they are fast moving zombies means they should be 10x more dangerous once set ablaze. This is an example of the divine hand of editing, otherwise the movie would have been a helluva lot shorter. A drop-kick might have been more effective.
In 28 Days Later Jim is pursued by a group of infected, Selena and Mark use molotovs to light them on fire. What happens? The infected don’t even slow down. They continue to pursue Jim until Selena and Mark blow the entire petrol station to hell. Considering the infected aren’t truly dead the fire probably would have worked, and much more quickly than if they were dead, but not until after they caught Jim. What’s worse than being attacked and infected? Being attacked by infected and set on fire all at once!
In 28 Weeks Later the U.S military calls in the Air Cav to firebomb the secure zone of downtown London. What happens? They light London up like a Christmas tree and still fail to contain the damn infection. Seriously, it’s their first decision and it fails. We’re not even talking about undead zombies who could mill around for god knows how long while burning. The infected are still alive which means they would succumb to fire damage much more quickly, but once again fire fails and the world goes to hell.
Unless you’re a pyro or have absolutely no alternative, fire isn’t a great option when fighting the big bad. It’s a tempting option due to it’s area of effect, especially when it’s weaponized in the form of a molotov, napalm, or flame thrower. Unfortunately it’s just too unreliable in most situations and too difficult to control. Lighting the bad guy ablaze you’re just as likely to set fire to other people, items or locations you never intended.
Special note for zombie hordes – during a zombie attack fire is incredibly destructive. Once on fire the horde is likely to spread said fire to anything and everything in the area. This is how you end up with scenes in movies like this one:
So what would you do if you found a sexy, naked, dead woman chained to a bed in the basement of an abandoned mental hospital?
Seriously, what would you do? She looks alive but isn’t. Does that mean the normal rules of law and order, not to mention morality, don’t apply to your actions?
Well this is the premise the audience is presented with in this film. You could argue that it glorifies rape, bondage, and sociopathic behavior in young people; or you could just watch the movie for its entertainment value. The movie is definitely graphic and disturbing at times. Not as disturbing as Human Centipede but close enough. Don’t get too wrapped up in analyzing this film, just enjoy it for what it is – a horror movie with an incredibly original idea and great execution.
Based upon Marvel Comics’ most unconventional anti-hero, DEADPOOL tells the origin story of former Special Forces operative turned mercenary Wade Wilson, who after being subjected to a rogue experiment that leaves him with accelerated healing powers, adopts the alter ego Deadpool. Armed with his new abilities and a dark, twisted sense of humor, Deadpool hunts down the man who nearly destroyed his life.
Earlier this week Tom Savini and Kane Hodder announced the development of a new Friday the 13th video game and it looks unbelievably awesome.
Working with Gun Media, Savini and Hodder along with Sean S. Cunning (original director of Friday the 13th) will be creating a multiplayer experience in which one player is the seminal slasher Jason Voorhees while up to seven other players play counselors working together to survive. Anyone who has fond (or not so find) memories of the original NES game will want to check this out.