Tag Archives: dystopian

The Blood of Heroes (1989) – Retro Review

The Blood of Heroes is one of those films that is far better than you would ever expect. Of course if you go by Rotten Tomatoes then this film is dreck, lacking in any real character development or entertainment value. Fortunately, the critics are not always right, and in this case they are more wrong than usual.

The cast of characters include:
Rutger Hauer as Sallow
Vincent D’Onofrio as Gar
Joan Chen as Kidda
Delroy Lindo as Mbulu
Anna Katarina as Big Cimber

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The Blood of Heroes (or Salute of the Juggers as its also known) is set in a post-apocalyptic wasteland. On the surface people live in small villages strewn across the blight, eking out survival by growing small crops and raising dogs for meat. Below the surface lay the nine cities. Sprawling industrial caverns, the remnants of an old world. Each city has a professional team they use to settle disputes and maintain their status. There are aristocratic groups that are highly privileged in the cities and while the Juggers are treated like gods, they are not royalty.

The story follows a team of Juggers as they travel the wasteland, moving from village to village, challenging each to compete in The Game. Victory means food, drink and sex are bestowed upon them. The team is lead by Sallow, a former Jugger in the nine cities who was banished for reasons we learn about through the film.

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The game is simple. Five players on each team attempt to place a dog skull on a pike at the opposite end of the playing field. The catch is that only the player known as the “Quick” is able to touch the skull. The other four players fight one another in an attempt to open space for the Quick to score. Each game last for “100 stones, 3 times.” The Quicks do not carry implements, relying on their own fighting skills to beat one another as they try to wrestle the skull from one another.

What makes this film rise above expectation is how screenwriter and director David Peoples establishes the importance of the game and how its woven into the social and political order of the world. Its clear from the get-go that the game is akin to a common law (an expectation if you will) that no one will ignore or disrespect.  The players and peasants sportsmanship and honor for those they compete against is unwavering. The Juggers will crush one another in competition, but after, they drink and celebrate whomever is the victor.

I won’t defend the acting, but the cast is made up of some very fine actors that obviously were taking risks early on in their careers. The stand out performance is Vincent D’Onofrio. Even this early on in his career he was killin it.

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Its not surprising the level of subtleties built into the screenplay. We are provided no explanation of how the world came to be as it is in the film. No history of the game or how it developed. No backstory for anyone save Sallow and Chen. A smart move that avoids the pitfall of making things too complex. Its not surprising. David Peoples is responsible for writing some pretty fantastic and revered screenplays, to include Blade Runner, 12 Monkeys, Ladyhawke, and Unforgiven (yes, THAT Unforgiven).

What the film suffers from is a painfully low budget along allegory on plutocracy that is a bit too on the nose. Fortunately, the game is engaging and fun to watch, which minimizes the faults. The set-up to the final act (a challenge against one of the professional teams form the nine cites) is strong, built up through the film.

In the end, The Blood of Heroes is a sports movie dressed in a post-apocalyptic theme, which is woven together nicely.  The game is engaging and handled deftly enough to make all the rest fall into place. Don’t let the bad reviews fool you, this film deserves cult status.

 

Raw Review: The Returned (2014)


This has really gotten out of hand and we (the mass audiences) have no one to blame but everyone else for letting it get as far as it has. So disclaimer…


Zombies are fun. Zombies are scary. Zombies are versatile. Zombies will get worn out eventually. Zombies will never, ever go away as a horror sub-genre. Zombies are especially cool when a new and creative take on the zombie trope is created.

Zombie infection social issues hate groups we love it.



The Returned presents a new and very interesting take on the zombie sub-genre. Basically, zombie-ism is a disease that is transmitted via fluid exchange between a living human and someone with the zombie virus. Yeah that’s not exactly new, but where this film gets interesting is that big pharma has figured out a way to harvest antibodies to the disease. They are given to infected people which keeps them from dying and coming back as flesh eating assholes.


Where the film gets really really interesting is it’s focus on societies reaction to the ‘Returned’ and how people living with the disease go about their day to day. Think about it. If your neighbor was infected with a zombie virus that required daily doses of antiviral medications to keep them from turning into a dangerous flesh eating monster how would you feel?


Would you let your kids go next door and play? Would you trust your neighbor to pick up their monthly medication and take it diligently each day? What if they were forgetful? Or just unorganized?


Scary right?


Well what if the big pharma companies started running out of the antiviral drugs? Queue panic!


The Returned is a very intelligent film that sets out to tell a story about living life with a dangerous and misunderstood disease. Themes of discrimination, class inequality, and prejudice are strong but subtle. They emerge naturally as part of a well written story, never intentionally and never artificially.


Q: Is there blood and guts and zombie madness in this movie?
A: Yes, there is zombie horror in the film, but the truly scary parts of the film come from how regular people react to the world in which they live. Remember, in any zombie apocalypse people are more dangerous than the actual zombies.


Q: Anyone I know in the film?
A:  Kris Holden-Ried. He was in the Tudors, Underworld: Awakening, and a bunch of other stuff.


Q: Is it a good movie for the whole family?
A: The movie has a moderately slow pace. It’s engrossing and maintains tension from beginning to end, but anyone who wants lots and lots of action and/or guts might get a little impatient.


Q: Looks like a dark depressing film?
A: It’s dark. The relationships are strong and chemistry strong enough that it balances in places, but the film is grim from beginning to end and there is one scene in a hospital that is really gut wrenching. Happens off screen but it’s powerful nonetheless.


Q: Worth seeing?
A: Yes. The ending is fantastic and completely unexpected.

Top Five John Carpenter Films

 Top five John Carpenter films?

  1.  Possibly the best sci-fi horror movie ever made, The Thing is truly a masterpiece of suspense. The special effects are some of the best ever seen on film; combined with excellent performances from Kurt Russell, Wilford Brimley, and Keith David this movie is timeless. 
  2. A close runner up, Prince of Darkness is a creepy science/religious thriller that doesn’t disappoint. What if the fate of humanity were left in the hands grad students? What if Alice Cooper was leading an army of transients, intent on keeping you looked inside a building with the son of Satan? What if Satan and God weren’t living in the clouds, but in another dimension? What if? What if? What if? Love this movie. 
  3. Ah, The Fog. A slow burn creep-fest and wonderful example of how practical effects can be used to create amazing visuals. Anyone see the remake? Notice how they used CGI to create the fog? May have been cheaper and easier, but it looked like shit. Carpenter didn’t have the luxury of CGI back in the day and his film turned out far better than many contemporary movies in the same genre. Adrienne Barbeau , Jamie Lee Curtis, what’s not to like? Did I mention the soundtrack is awesome!
  4.  Whats not to like about the ‘Godfather’ of all slasher films. The atmosphere of this film is so thick with tension and well paced it can be watched over and over again. The Shape is a formidable threat to everyone in the film – men, women, dogs, kids. The decision to make him a composite of evil as apposed to a well understood and clearly motivated villain is genius, absolute genius. He’s evil, that’s all we know, that’s all we need to know. 
  5.  Tough decision on this one. I wanted to include Big Trouble in Little China but in the end Escape From New York won out the fifth spot. The deciding factors came down to the scope of the film and the soundtrack. Escape is a much larger movie in concept and execution, details a dystopian world that is intriguing and compelling, and has a sound track that perfectly compliments the setting. 
What do think of the list? Any changes you’d make? Let us know!

Top Five John Carpenter Films

 Top five John Carpenter films?

  1.  Possibly the best sci-fi horror movie ever made, The Thing is truly a masterpiece of suspense. The special effects are some of the best ever seen on film; combined with excellent performances from Kurt Russell, Wilford Brimley, and Keith David this movie is timeless. 
  2. A close runner up, Prince of Darkness is a creepy science/religious thriller that doesn’t disappoint. What if the fate of humanity were left in the hands grad students? What if Alice Cooper was leading an army of transients, intent on keeping you looked inside a building with the son of Satan? What if Satan and God weren’t living in the clouds, but in another dimension? What if? What if? What if? Love this movie. 
  3. Ah, The Fog. A slow burn creep-fest and wonderful example of how practical effects can be used to create amazing visuals. Anyone see the remake? Notice how they used CGI to create the fog? May have been cheaper and easier, but it looked like shit. Carpenter didn’t have the luxury of CGI back in the day and his film turned out far better than many contemporary movies in the same genre. Adrienne Barbeau , Jamie Lee Curtis, what’s not to like? Did I mention the soundtrack is awesome!
  4.  Whats not to like about the ‘Godfather’ of all slasher films. The atmosphere of this film is so thick with tension and well paced it can be watched over and over again. The Shape is a formidable threat to everyone in the film – men, women, dogs, kids. The decision to make him a composite of evil as apposed to a well understood and clearly motivated villain is genius, absolute genius. He’s evil, that’s all we know, that’s all we need to know. 
  5.  Tough decision on this one. I wanted to include Big Trouble in Little China but in the end Escape From New York won out the fifth spot. The deciding factors came down to the scope of the film and the soundtrack. Escape is a much larger movie in concept and execution, details a dystopian world that is intriguing and compelling, and has a sound track that perfectly compliments the setting. 
What do think of the list? Any changes you’d make? Let us know!

Shut Up and Take My Money!

Today’s Amazon Deal is Hard to Beat

With confirmation that Pacific Rim 2 coming (Yay!) it makes sense that endless versions of the Pacific Rim Blu-ray are being released. Money money money, right? Well in this case the deal includes a badass statuette of the Gypsy Danger. 

Seriously, who doesn’t want this thing? 

Mad Max Fury Road —- I think I just had an orgasm.

Let’s get one thing straight, The Road Warrior is the very best movie to ever come from the land down under. Period. 

Mel Gibson will forever be Max and G.I. Joe toys were only ever fun when playing out the final tanker chase all over the house.
Reboots, remakes, re-imaginings, bah. They are nothing more than Hollywood’s attempt to cash in on the past with little risk. Ya know, like risk vs reward. 
So don’t try and sway me with this new Mad Ma…. wait… is that Tom Hardy? Hmmm…

Oh my jesus lord. I’ve had an orgasm.