Tag Archives: sci-fi

Lizeth’s Picks – Volume 1

You get a lot of interesting responses when you ask people to name some of their favorite horror movies.

Some people enjoy horror movies for their humor or satire, others for the genuine frightfulness they invoke, still others just love watching the imagination of another person(s) run wild on the screen.
Last night my wife and I got into a discussion about horror movies and which ones we consider our favorites. She grew up watching monster movies as a child. My mother-in-law apparently forced her to watch all the scary films. My wife claims it scared her for life, something she stills teases my mother-in-law about to this day.
So here are some of her favorites and why she finds them so enjoyable:

   

sci-fi horror, space epic, time travel, monster and phycological mystery 
“Fun movie, that has an interesting setting. Shows how vulnerable the human mind is when put in a hopeless situation. Humans need each other, being alone can make a person snap.”



Horror slasher movie. Serial killers and survivalists. 
“The twist, that the girl is a survivalist. Seems girly but she’s badass.”


The Blob remake 1988. Sci-fi horror monster movie. 
“I like movies that leave you scared after their over. The Blob is something so empty, without reason. It doesn’t have a voice, it doesn’t have a face, it doesn’t have a shape. And it can go anywhere. It’s not killing because it’s enjoys killing, it’s eating. It’s following its instincts.”


Zombie love movie that has a beating heart. 
“I like the idea that love can be so strong it brings a zombie back to life so he can pursue his love.”


slasher serial  killer horror . Lots of teens die. 
“Suspenseful horror movie that keeps you on your toes. You never know who the killer is, every time you think you’ll figured it out you’re wrong. It makes you jump. Even though it’s a slasher movie it’s easy to watch because it’s so entertaining, Matthew Lillard is a hoot.”


Vampire gangster mash-up that is action packed, bloody as hell and down right fun. 
“I like how even though the main characters are two criminals and a Christian family, they come together to ward off evil. It shows how humans will come together no matter their differences to defeat a common enemy.”

sci-fi horror alien invasion movie, with clowns as the creepy monsters “I like it because I don’t like clowns and the clowns are creepy. They are so ugly it’s almost funny to watch them. They used clown cliques really well. The cotton candy cocoons that harvest human blood are cool and the circus tent space ship is inviting, not threatening. Everyone loves the circus so it’s the perfect trap.”
Thanks Bonita!

Banshee Chapter (2013) – Raw Review

Cosmic Horror Done Very Very Well


The banshee is a female spirit in Irish mythology, usually seen as an omen of death and a messenger from the Otherworld.horrorpedia.com

Banshee Chapter is cosmic horror movie based on concepts of H.P. Lovecraft. Things want to wear us.
The most overly used tagline in movie marketing nowadays is “Based on true events” or “Based on a true story” or “Inspired by true events” etc. It’s overused, misleading, and just plain unnecessary most of the time. Sure, telling people up front a film is “Based on true events” will increase sales and audience anticipation but in the end it can leave a bad taste in their mouths as well.

The synopsis for this film says it’s “Inspired by true events” but all that ends up meaning is the story incorporates historical references to secret government experiments from back in the 50s/60s/70s. Perhaps the studio was concerned audiences wouldn’t be aware or believe that MK-Ultra project existed. Possible, but marketing true stories is better for a films bottom line, and the bottom line drives the machine.

Fortunately Banshee Chapter, by writer/director Blair Erickson, is a decent enough cosmic horror film it doesn’t matter how it’s marketed. The movie is tackling fairly complex ideas that typically don’t translate well onto screen, but Erickson does a very good job in setting a dark and mysterious path for the characters to travel down while keeping the story at a solid pace.

Essentially Banshee Chapter is a mystery. When a journalist goes in search of her college friend who has gone missing after taking an experimental drug she finds something much more sinister than she could ever have imagined. Sound fun? It is.

The film style is done in hand cam and semi-hand cam. What I mean is there are recordings throughout the movie that provide clues to previous events which are entirely hand cam. The rest of the film is shot in third-person real time but the camera continues to follow the main character around as if the cameraman were standing next to her in the scene. For continuity purposes it works to keep the viewer feeling as if they are right alongside the protagonist. Then again, those who dislike hand cam will probably take issue with the semi-hand cam, finding it unnecessary. There isn’t a lot of shaky cam, other than in targeted places, so that’s a bonus.

Ted Levine pours some of the magical liquid that will allow them to see us.
“A little for you, a little for me…”
The main players in the film are Katia Winter and Ted Levine. Both  put 
Katia Winter hears something outside. Something that wat's to wear her.
“It wants to wear us…it wants to wear us!”
forth excellent performances from beginning to end. As some of you may know, Winter also played Katrina Crane on the show Sleepy Hollow. I promise she is much better in this than she was on the show. Levine you’ll remember from his iconic penis-tuck performance in Silence of the Lambs.

What made this movie far better than expected is the cosmic horror theme and homage to H.P. Lovecraft. The movie’s been out long enough that multiple articles and reviews have emphasized the connection, but Erickson cleary is a fan of Lovecraft’s work and drew considerable inspiration from the Lovecraft short From Beyond

MK Ultra test subject. Patient is about to see things, terrible things.
“Am I getting paid for this?”
The incorporation of the CIA’s MK-Ultra program creates an Area 51, Roswell conspiracy story well suited to cosmic horror concepts. If taking an experimental drug could allow you see things, things that can see you back what would you do? The concept and mystery is very nicely put together in this film, and some genuinely creepy moments will have a lot of people covering their eyes or just feeling uneasy.
Lovecraftian horror at your door. It arrives to wear the young man.
“Do you hear that?” 

Good movie?


Yes, it’s a good movie. Fans of horror, mystery, conspiracy, and even science fiction should find something about the film that resonates with their interests.

What if I don’t like hand cam?


You should watch the movie anyway. There is very little shaky cam, it’s only used where narratively it makes sense. Also, letting a filming style keep you from watching a movie at least once is kind of shallow and dismissive. Don’t be that fan.

Is this a good date movie?


First date…no. It’s too dark and if your date is unaware of cosmic horror tropes/concepts you’ll spend way too much time explaining the references. If your date is keen on those concepts or at least has an understanding then absolutely, you’ll have a lot to discuss in bed afterward.

What the heck is MK-Ultra?


Here is a link. Yes it was a real thing

Banshee Chapter (2013) – Raw Review

Cosmic Horror Done Very Very Well


The banshee is a female spirit in Irish mythology, usually seen as an omen of death and a messenger from the Otherworld.horrorpedia.com

Banshee Chapter is cosmic horror movie based on concepts of H.P. Lovecraft. Things want to wear us.
The most overly used tagline in movie marketing nowadays is “Based on true events” or “Based on a true story” or “Inspired by true events” etc. It’s overused, misleading, and just plain unnecessary most of the time. Sure, telling people up front a film is “Based on true events” will increase sales and audience anticipation but in the end it can leave a bad taste in their mouths as well.

The synopsis for this film says it’s “Inspired by true events” but all that ends up meaning is the story incorporates historical references to secret government experiments from back in the 50s/60s/70s. Perhaps the studio was concerned audiences wouldn’t be aware or believe that MK-Ultra project existed. Possible, but marketing true stories is better for a films bottom line, and the bottom line drives the machine.

Fortunately Banshee Chapter, by writer/director Blair Erickson, is a decent enough cosmic horror film it doesn’t matter how it’s marketed. The movie is tackling fairly complex ideas that typically don’t translate well onto screen, but Erickson does a very good job in setting a dark and mysterious path for the characters to travel down while keeping the story at a solid pace.

Essentially Banshee Chapter is a mystery. When a journalist goes in search of her college friend who has gone missing after taking an experimental drug she finds something much more sinister than she could ever have imagined. Sound fun? It is.

The film style is done in hand cam and semi-hand cam. What I mean is there are recordings throughout the movie that provide clues to previous events which are entirely hand cam. The rest of the film is shot in third-person real time but the camera continues to follow the main character around as if the cameraman were standing next to her in the scene. For continuity purposes it works to keep the viewer feeling as if they are right alongside the protagonist. Then again, those who dislike hand cam will probably take issue with the semi-hand cam, finding it unnecessary. There isn’t a lot of shaky cam, other than in targeted places, so that’s a bonus.

Ted Levine pours some of the magical liquid that will allow them to see us.
“A little for you, a little for me…”
The main players in the film are Katia Winter and Ted Levine. Both  put 
Katia Winter hears something outside. Something that wat's to wear her.
“It wants to wear us…it wants to wear us!”
forth excellent performances from beginning to end. As some of you may know, Winter also played Katrina Crane on the show Sleepy Hollow. I promise she is much better in this than she was on the show. Levine you’ll remember from his iconic penis-tuck performance in Silence of the Lambs.

What made this movie far better than expected is the cosmic horror theme and homage to H.P. Lovecraft. The movie’s been out long enough that multiple articles and reviews have emphasized the connection, but Erickson cleary is a fan of Lovecraft’s work and drew considerable inspiration from the Lovecraft short From Beyond

MK Ultra test subject. Patient is about to see things, terrible things.
“Am I getting paid for this?”
The incorporation of the CIA’s MK-Ultra program creates an Area 51, Roswell conspiracy story well suited to cosmic horror concepts. If taking an experimental drug could allow you see things, things that can see you back what would you do? The concept and mystery is very nicely put together in this film, and some genuinely creepy moments will have a lot of people covering their eyes or just feeling uneasy.
Lovecraftian horror at your door. It arrives to wear the young man.
“Do you hear that?" 

Good movie?


Yes, it’s a good movie. Fans of horror, mystery, conspiracy, and even science fiction should find something about the film that resonates with their interests.

What if I don’t like hand cam?


You should watch the movie anyway. There is very little shaky cam, it’s only used where narratively it makes sense. Also, letting a filming style keep you from watching a movie at least once is kind of shallow and dismissive. Don’t be that fan.

Is this a good date movie?


First date…no. It’s too dark and if your date is unaware of cosmic horror tropes/concepts you’ll spend way too much time explaining the references. If your date is keen on those concepts or at least has an understanding then absolutely, you’ll have a lot to discuss in bed afterward.

What the heck is MK-Ultra?


Here is a link. Yes it was a real thing

Monsters Dark Continent – Review

War in the time of mosques and monsters. 

military fights monsters and terrorists in the middle east sci-fi action war movieSimply stated, Monsters: Dark Continent is a mess. Before sitting down to view this film I wondered why the producers decided to call the movie ‘Dark Continent.’ Two hours later while the credits rolled down my television I’m still not completely sure but I have a theory.

Monsters: Dark Continent is very different from it’s predecessor. It takes place in the same ‘universe’ as it’s predecessor, 10 years down the line, but in Dark Continent we are thrown into the Middle East as opposed to Central America and the movie is shown through the perspective of the U.S. military rather than civilians. In the film monsters have spread the the Middle East (the explanation so throw away that you could miss it if you blink) and are multiplying. So the U.S. takes it upon itself to bomb monsters wherever they are found. the only problem is the bombs kills civilians which creates more insurgents. See where this is going?

soldiers fight giant monster



Gareth Edwards, writer/director of the first film, was tied up with commitments to Godzilla and therefore couldn’t come back to direct on this one. He dodged a bullet and he’s probably thanking his lucky stars.

So whats the theory?

I think couple executives sat down early on and had a conversation that went something like this:

“Hey, did you see that Monsters movie? The one the guy wrote and directed on a shoestring.”

“Are you talking about the one with hardly any monsters?” 

“Yeah. We need a sequel.”  

“Okay, any ideas of what it would be about?”  

“Well you’re right, the first movie didn’t have enough monsters in it so we’d need to add a whole shit ton this time.” 

“So what, like the monsters are spreading around the world?”  

“Yeah…and we need army guys shooting and blowing them up.”  

“Army guys?”  

“Definately, the final scene in the first movie with the giant monster and the explosions was the best part of the film. And we had to wait through the entire movie to see it.”

“So military fighting monsters, sounds good.” 

“We can show how brutal fighting the monsters are, and we can have the writer incorporate military jargon into the script so it sounds more authentic.” 

“That’s still not a story, what should the movie be about?”  

“How about a platoon of soldiers who are in the shit, learning it’s not all fun and games?”  

“So Platoon with monsters? That’s big budget.” 

“A squad then. Or maybe a small special forces unit. But either way, they’re fighting monsters.”  

“Just monsters?”  

“Maybe…no, oh no I have it! The military isn’t just fighting monsters, they are fighting terrorists.”  

“Hmmm…doesn’t sound very original.” 

“We can make it just like all the other middle east war movies. Squad of young soldiers sign-up all gung-ho, then find out war sucks. The monsters can be an extra threat that will add some cool sci-fi elements to what is otherwise a war picture.”  

“Now that sounds interesting, but we need to get this into production soon so we don’t have a lot of time to be creative.”  

“It’s okay, we’ll hire a couple of no-name guys, guys with credits but no major commitments, and we’ll instruct them to write a dark gritty war film with lots of monsters sprinkled throughout.” 

“Sounds like a solid plan.”  

“If we’re lucky the writers will come back with something like Apocalypse Now, only with monsters.” 

“That would be awesome!”

So basically my theory is the title is a semi-ripoff of Apocalypse Now source material Heart of Darkness.

Dark Continent suffers from several major problems but the worst, and one that brought the entire movie down, is the first person narration. One member of the squad (who are all friends from the same town and join to get away from poverty, crime, and numerous cliches) provides a voice over throughout the movie, giving us his feelings, thoughts, and growing disillusionment as reality does what it does. It’s really annoying and not done very well.

Had Dark Continent simply tried to present a military perspective without all the stylistic bullshit it would have been a better film. The monsters are cool as hell and the idea that the U.S is still in the middle east and still fucking shit up works, mainly because it’s not far fetched.

Johnny Harris (Black Death, Snow White and the Huntsman) and Nicholas Pinnock (Eastenders, Fortitude)  give great performances as the veteran Sergeants. The rest of the cast are pretty forgettable, including the stereotypical Islamic terrorists.

I really wanted to like this movie and it had/has a lot going for it, but the contrived voice over and unlikeable soldiers serve to undermine the better aspects of the film.


war movie with monsters terrorists and death

So it’s a war movie with Monsters? 

Think of the monsters as a force of nature. In westerns the good guys and bad guys have to fend off a stampede on occasion.

Good date movie?

Naw. Other than the half naked hookers in the opening twenty minutes I’m not sure there is another female role of any substance in the film.  

How do the monsters look? Good CGI?

The monsters are cool as hell. They add some new monsters into the mix and show people interacting with them as they would other animals. 

So you wouldn’t recommend the movie? 

I did not like the movie, although I wanted too badly. I’m all for supporting genre flicks, especially sci-fi, but it’s not anywhere near as good as the first film and not an especially good war movie either. If you’re going to watch it wait till it’s on Netflix or Amazon Prime. 

If you’re looking for a good monster movie that captures the darker aspects of human nature/survival check out Stake Land


Monsters Dark Continent – Review

War in the time of mosques and monsters. 

military fights monsters and terrorists in the middle east sci-fi action war movieSimply stated, Monsters: Dark Continent is a mess. Before sitting down to view this film I wondered why the producers decided to call the movie ‘Dark Continent.’ Two hours later while the credits rolled down my television I’m still not completely sure but I have a theory.

Monsters: Dark Continent is very different from it’s predecessor. It takes place in the same ‘universe’ as it’s predecessor, 10 years down the line, but in Dark Continent we are thrown into the Middle East as opposed to Central America and the movie is shown through the perspective of the U.S. military rather than civilians. In the film monsters have spread the the Middle East (the explanation so throw away that you could miss it if you blink) and are multiplying. So the U.S. takes it upon itself to bomb monsters wherever they are found. the only problem is the bombs kills civilians which creates more insurgents. See where this is going?

soldiers fight giant monster



Gareth Edwards, writer/director of the first film, was tied up with commitments to Godzilla and therefore couldn’t come back to direct on this one. He dodged a bullet and he’s probably thanking his lucky stars.

So whats the theory?

I think couple executives sat down early on and had a conversation that went something like this:

“Hey, did you see that Monsters movie? The one the guy wrote and directed on a shoestring.”

“Are you talking about the one with hardly any monsters?" 

"Yeah. We need a sequel.”  

“Okay, any ideas of what it would be about?”  

“Well you’re right, the first movie didn’t have enough monsters in it so we’d need to add a whole shit ton this time." 

"So what, like the monsters are spreading around the world?”  

“Yeah…and we need army guys shooting and blowing them up.”  

“Army guys?”  

“Definately, the final scene in the first movie with the giant monster and the explosions was the best part of the film. And we had to wait through the entire movie to see it.”

“So military fighting monsters, sounds good." 

"We can show how brutal fighting the monsters are, and we can have the writer incorporate military jargon into the script so it sounds more authentic." 

"That’s still not a story, what should the movie be about?”  

“How about a platoon of soldiers who are in the shit, learning it’s not all fun and games?”  

“So Platoon with monsters? That’s big budget." 

"A squad then. Or maybe a small special forces unit. But either way, they’re fighting monsters.”  

“Just monsters?”  

“Maybe…no, oh no I have it! The military isn’t just fighting monsters, they are fighting terrorists.”  

“Hmmm…doesn’t sound very original." 

"We can make it just like all the other middle east war movies. Squad of young soldiers sign-up all gung-ho, then find out war sucks. The monsters can be an extra threat that will add some cool sci-fi elements to what is otherwise a war picture."  

"Now that sounds interesting, but we need to get this into production soon so we don’t have a lot of time to be creative.”  

“It’s okay, we’ll hire a couple of no-name guys, guys with credits but no major commitments, and we’ll instruct them to write a dark gritty war film with lots of monsters sprinkled throughout." 

"Sounds like a solid plan.”  

“If we’re lucky the writers will come back with something like Apocalypse Now, only with monsters." 

"That would be awesome!”

So basically my theory is the title is a semi-ripoff of Apocalypse Now source material Heart of Darkness.

Dark Continent suffers from several major problems but the worst, and one that brought the entire movie down, is the first person narration. One member of the squad (who are all friends from the same town and join to get away from poverty, crime, and numerous cliches) provides a voice over throughout the movie, giving us his feelings, thoughts, and growing disillusionment as reality does what it does. It’s really annoying and not done very well.

Had Dark Continent simply tried to present a military perspective without all the stylistic bullshit it would have been a better film. The monsters are cool as hell and the idea that the U.S is still in the middle east and still fucking shit up works, mainly because it’s not far fetched.

Johnny Harris (Black Death, Snow White and the Huntsman) and Nicholas Pinnock (Eastenders, Fortitude)  give great performances as the veteran Sergeants. The rest of the cast are pretty forgettable, including the stereotypical Islamic terrorists.

I really wanted to like this movie and it had/has a lot going for it, but the contrived voice over and unlikeable soldiers serve to undermine the better aspects of the film.


war movie with monsters terrorists and death

So it’s a war movie with Monsters? 

Think of the monsters as a force of nature. In westerns the good guys and bad guys have to fend off a stampede on occasion.

Good date movie?

Naw. Other than the half naked hookers in the opening twenty minutes I’m not sure there is another female role of any substance in the film.  

How do the monsters look? Good CGI?

The monsters are cool as hell. They add some new monsters into the mix and show people interacting with them as they would other animals. 

So you wouldn’t recommend the movie? 

I did not like the movie, although I wanted too badly. I’m all for supporting genre flicks, especially sci-fi, but it’s not anywhere near as good as the first film and not an especially good war movie either. If you’re going to watch it wait till it’s on Netflix or Amazon Prime. 

If you’re looking for a good monster movie that captures the darker aspects of human nature/survival check out Stake Land


Book Review – The Frozen Sky by Jeff Carlson

Action packed science fiction thriller.

            

The Frozen Sky by Jeff Carlson is a fine example of how the price of a book can result in a wonderful read and discovery of a new favorite. Let’s not kid ourselves, books are expensive. You may not agree with such a generalization but money is money and out of pocket costs for entertainment demand return on investment.

In this case the price is what resulted in the purchase. $3.99 for an e-book isn’t too bad, and certainly isn’t a gouge by the publisher (as so many other book prices clearly are). So once the book was downloaded and opened and the words began to spill out off the pages several things became instantly clear.

First, Jeff Carlson can write. Maybe not the best in the business, but the ability to write well stands out in the crowd, and Carlson has skill.

Second, The story is hard science fiction. Before anyone starts throwing rotten lettuce and tomatoes, the differing positions on what constitutes ‘hard science’ in novels is understood by the meat men here at Raw Movie Reviews. Our position is this – the story is closer to hard science than no science or pseudo-science or christian science, or Scientology. So drop it and move on to the next point, which is…

Third, the story is great. It’s intriguing from the first sentence. The action begins and doesn’t really stop. The points of view are extremely limited establishing the feeling of isolation that is critical to the tone and really helps set the stage for the entire story.

For the price it’s more than worth the read. Bonus – if you have Amazon Prime you can check it our for free. Awesome right? What don’t have Amazon Prime? You should… click here.

Q: What’s the story?
A: It’s a first contact story on Jupiter’s moon Europa.

Q: Is it hard science fiction?
A: You’re just trying to start an argument. 😛 We stick my tongues out at you.  …and waggle several other tongues we have lying around the shop.

Q: Has Carlson written anything else of note?
A: This is the only book we’ve read by this author, however we just discovered he has written a squeal to this book. So now we have a new book to read. Yay!

Q: Is there nudity??
A; Dude it’s a book.

Check out some other great books on the Recommended Reading page.

Book Review – The Frozen Sky by Jeff Carlson

Action packed science fiction thriller.

            

The Frozen Sky by Jeff Carlson is a fine example of how the price of a book can result in a wonderful read and discovery of a new favorite. Let’s not kid ourselves, books are expensive. You may not agree with such a generalization but money is money and out of pocket costs for entertainment demand return on investment.

In this case the price is what resulted in the purchase. $3.99 for an e-book isn’t too bad, and certainly isn’t a gouge by the publisher (as so many other book prices clearly are). So once the book was downloaded and opened and the words began to spill out off the pages several things became instantly clear.

First, Jeff Carlson can write. Maybe not the best in the business, but the ability to write well stands out in the crowd, and Carlson has skill.

Second, The story is hard science fiction. Before anyone starts throwing rotten lettuce and tomatoes, the differing positions on what constitutes ‘hard science’ in novels is understood by the meat men here at Raw Movie Reviews. Our position is this – the story is closer to hard science than no science or pseudo-science or christian science, or Scientology. So drop it and move on to the next point, which is…

Third, the story is great. It’s intriguing from the first sentence. The action begins and doesn’t really stop. The points of view are extremely limited establishing the feeling of isolation that is critical to the tone and really helps set the stage for the entire story.

For the price it’s more than worth the read. Bonus – if you have Amazon Prime you can check it our for free. Awesome right? What don’t have Amazon Prime? You should… click here.

Q: What’s the story?
A: It’s a first contact story on Jupiter’s moon Europa.

Q: Is it hard science fiction?
A: You’re just trying to start an argument. 😛 We stick my tongues out at you.  …and waggle several other tongues we have lying around the shop.

Q: Has Carlson written anything else of note?
A: This is the only book we’ve read by this author, however we just discovered he has written a squeal to this book. So now we have a new book to read. Yay!

Q: Is there nudity??
A; Dude it’s a book.

Check out some other great books on the Recommended Reading page.

Sharknado 3 Leaked Poster!!!

Sorry but this looks freakin awesome!

Sharks in space? Space sharks? Laser sharks? Sharks with cosmic powers? Sharknado to the moon?!