Halloween Month continues here at Balladeer’s Blog, this time with the definitive horror/ sci-fi/ monster franchise in cinema. 2019 is the 40th anniversary of the original movie Alien and earlier this year six authorized (not fan-made) short films were released to mark the occasion.
Bill Paxton’s son is in two of them, but just his voice on the radio in one.
The six films range from okay to excellent but they ALL capture the feel of the creepy Alien universe far better than most of the sequels. To get you in the mood here is Alien: Harvest. The others are titled Alone, Containment, Ore, Species and Night Shift. Check out Harvest below then check out the others HERE
MAD MAX (1979) – Balladeer’s Blog’s “Weirdness at the End of the World” takes a look at one of the best movies in the best franchise in the crowded Post-Apocalypse sub-genre.
I recently re-watched this 1979 gem in the full 93 minute Aussie “language” version. Using the sub-titles to make sure I missed nothing from the heavy accents, I was struck once again by how part of the post-apocalyptic atmosphere is filled in via the full text of what the Main Force Patrol radio operators are saying AND by the news reports. Outside of those brief touches Mad Max perfectly embodies the cinematic principle of “show don’t tell.”
In a dying world after a limited nuclear war over oil between world powers, Mad Max is set in a few Australian towns which escaped destruction presumably because they were safely away from strategic sites targeted by missiles. Supplies are tight and citizens are warned not to abuse their food rationing privileges.
Law and order have become very tenuous concepts amid this spreading societal collapse. There is no evidence of anyone except local authorities being in charge, including their law enforcement arm, the Main Force Patrol (MFP) which includes Max Rockatansky, brought to life by Mel Gibson.
Though in real life this sense of no larger government having control may have been a function of the film’s low budget, I find it adds nicely to the uncertain atmosphere. In just a few years the American telefilm The Day After would come close to presenting that same air of confusion about the new state of affairs following a catastrophic war.
Who’s in charge? And who – if anyone – won? Like the opening song One of the Living in Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome would later remind us, a very old saying pointed out that following a nuclear war the living would envy the dead.
Getting back to the Main Force Patrol, their “uniform” is the all-black outfit with thigh holsters for their shotguns that became Mad Max’s signature look. Their bronze badges are why the lawless element derisively refers to them as “the bronze.” Continue reading
Halloween Month continues here at Balladeer’s Blog with my take on the top four (of ten) movies in the Hellraiser franchise.
HELLRAISER (1987) – “Jee-zuz WEPT!” Clive Barker helped translate his novel The Hellbound Heart to the big screen in this film. It’s incredibly rare for a novelist to get to DIRECT a movie version of one of his own works but Barker made the most of it.
Frank Cotton (Sean Chapman) has exhausted sexual sensation with women, men, corpses and animals. Seeking new stimulation he solves LeMerchand’s Puzzle Box, a “Rubik’s Cube From Hell” which leaves him at the mercy of the demonic inter-dimensional sadomasochists called the Cenobites of the Order of the Gash.
Suffering unimaginable torments as the M in this S&M relationship, Frank struggles to escape the Cenobites for good, even if it means sacrificing his brother Larry plus Larry’s wife Julia (Clare Higgins) and daughter Kirsty (Ashley Laurence). Continue reading
The living dead emerging from The Dead Pit (1989)
Balladeer’s Blog’s month-long celebration of Halloween continues! If you’re like me you’re bored with zombies and pseudo-zombies. The 21st Century is as mired in tiresome, cookie-cutter zombie flicks as the 1980s were in tiresome, cookie-cutter slasher flicks.
Here is a look at seven films which, while technically classified as zombie movies at least adopt unique perspectives and don’t follow established formulas.
THE DEAD PIT (1989) – This horror film was the directorial debut of the very prolific director Brett Leonard. While not a four-star movie The Dead Pit is enjoyable enough for the Halloween Season and should certainly appeal to anyone into 1980s horror flicks. This movie’s hybrid of zombie elements and slasher elements is both its charm AND the reason behind its love-it-or-hate-it status.
Don’t expect non-stop Resident Evil-level action but DO expect to see some in-your-face gore very early in the flick for lovers of guts and decomposition. A physician (Dr Swan) at a mental hospital discovers the secret sub-basement where a rival MD (Dr Ramzi) is subjecting hopeless patients to horrific experiments involving a combination of science and the supernatural. Continue reading
Balladeer’s Blog’s month-long celebration of Halloween will as usual feature reviews of horror stories and movies sprinkled in with my usual topics. This year I’m starting off with Brightburn.
BRIGHTBURN (2019) – This mid-level budget movie has been criminally underrated in my opinion. Its horror twist on the usual superhero story (especially Superman) is well-handled and should have been just the thing audiences flocked to for a change of pace from the flood of superhero movies in recent years.
The film skillfully combines horror with science fiction and Jackson A Dunn as the alien child Brandon makes for the creepiest kid this side of Damien in The Omen. The kills in Brightburn are fairly gory but only in one instance is it dwelt upon, and the scene definitely earns that emphasis.
Right up front I’ll mention that you do have to make with a BIG suspension of disbelief. The movie asks viewers to accept the premise that in this age of unending documentation and requirements for child vaccinations that a childless couple could successfully do a fake adoption of a baby from outer space whose spaceship crashed near their farmhouse.
At any rate the couple, the Breyers, live in a remote small-town in Kansas, so if you really have to, you can assume that has helped them carry out their deception. That town is named Brightburn, which provides the film with its title. Continue reading
I have been getting a lot of readers asking me to review some of the more recent releases from major studios. Balladeer’s Blog regulars know that I tend to focus on incredibly obscure items or hilariously bad movies from decades ago.
Since a lot has already been written about the following several films I won’t bother with one of my in-depth looks. These will be more general takes on the movies.
SOLO: A STAR WARS STORY – Thankfully someone FINALLY addressed the elephant in the room of the Star Wars universe: the origin of Han Solo’s last name.
That’s right, in a cinematic setting which features multiple characters sporting the unusual surname Skywalker, Disney decided that the world needed a back-story for the last name “Solo.”
I sure as hell didn’t PAY to see this movie so you can insert your own joke about “not even getting my money’s worth” here. For the most part this was a waste of time because it made Han Solo a bit too goody-goody. Continue reading
NO SURVIVORS PLEASE (1964) – This obscure black & white wonder from West Germany is one of the most memorably weird movies of its time. It’s not easy to describe what makes it so appealing. The fundamental story – aliens plan to wipe out all life on Earth – has been done too many times to count. Not even their method is all that unique – the ET’s project their consciousness into the bodies of freshly-dead human beings – which has been done in other movies.
No Survivors Please is certainly not cheap, either. The action takes place in various international locations, the actors were all reasonably big in Europe at the time and the production values are impressive. There are no laughable spaceships, no goofy-looking aliens and no lame monsters on the loose.
There’s just something about this film, though. While not colossally bad it still keeps you laughing the entire running time. A large part of the reason is the fact that the people who get possessed by the aliens often behave LESS weirdly than the supposedly “normal” people do.
We join the story with the aliens’ plot already pretty far along. They’ve been engineering the deaths of assorted scientists, politicians and military figures from around the world and then possessing their bodies. From there they manipulated global events to the degree that they are on the verge of secretly provoking a nuclear war that will annihilate all life on Earth. Continue reading