Tag Archives: Movies

Frozen: A Scary & Innovative Horror Flick

Go see this movie.

Watch the trailer for Frozen, and then check out the official site.

I had the pleasure of meeting the writer & director, Adam Green, this past weekend. My friend Robert and he are old buddies from college who just reconnected. Adam invited us to go to a screening in Santa Monica on Saturday after which there was a meet & greet with the cast & crew. After that we went out for drinks and I had a really good time. Ahhh, schmoozing, the second-oldest profession.

So, not only do I like the guy and want to see his movie succeed, but I genuinely thought the movie was a good time and I want to get more people out there to see it!

It’s an independently produced horror movie, which already stacks the odds against it. It is also an original production, not a remake, which further hardens the sell. It seems most horror fans out there cry for new original stories over remakes, but when it comes time to show their support, movies like Frozen get overlooked. This is sad.

I am a huge horror fan, and I am one of those people who is disappointed with the glut of remakes out there. So I am taking some of my time to get the word out there about Frozen because we need more movies like it!

It was an intense flick that had me gripping the edge of my seat for most of the movie. It grabbed me and didn’t let go, had me cringing and going “OHHHHHH” at some of the gory scenes. At a few moments I was so uncomfortable that I had to disengage by looking away or pretending I was in a happy place. To me, that is a sign of a good movie. It affected me. It wasn’t hum-drum, boring, or predictable. It still had a few of those campy, horror movie moments and I think that is where its charm is. If a horror movie can be charming, that is.

The acting was really good, and I think that Adam’s directing style had a lot to do with this. The entire movie was shot “practically” which means “on location”. There was no green-screen, no studio, no tricks. It was all filmed outdoors, on a ski slope, with the actors IN the gondola.

During the meet & greet they said that the actors had to be up on the gondola for six hours at a time. The filming was done on a ski resort in Utah and the lift was so long that to get off they had to ride all the way to the top of the mountain and all the way down, which took over an hour. So they had to limit the amount of interruptions in order to maximize filming time.

All the scenes in which it is snowing outside are real. When you can no longer see the actors’ breath, that’s because they are running out of body heat. That seems brutal to have endured that during filming for the actors, but I don’t feel too bad for them. THIS IS HORROR!

I felt like some of the scenarios were a little over-the-top, but I am ok with it. Isn’t that the point of a good horror film? Personally, I don’t want too much realism. I want fear, death, blood, and other delicious things that would probably never happen in real life. I definitely wouldn’t enjoy seeing people die in real life, I promise.

If you’re in for a good thrill, check your local movie listings and check out Frozen. I mean, come on, being that the majority of the Northeastern U.S. is under feet of snow & ice right now, how appropriate is this film?


District 9 is the Best Sci-Fi Flick I’ve Ever Seen

See title.

District 9 is the first sci-fi movie I’ve seen in recent memory that wasn’t a (multi-)hundred-million dollar money shot.  I’m looking at you Transformers 2!  Strangely if you didn’t know that the film was produced on a meager $30M USD budget, you wouldn’t know.  It’s that good.  From start to finish the polish never wears off, but that’s just the thing:  It’s not really polished at all.   I mean the effects look superb but the gritty, realistic style remains consistent throughout the duration of the film.

First of all, the relationship between the humans and the prawns (what they call the aliens) really draws you in.  The pain and sympathy I felt for the prawns was tangible.  I really felt bad for them.  There was an obvious commentary about Apartheid equating the prawns to the native Africans that really is very thinly veiled.  Set in the slums of Johannesburg where the prawns have been isolated, it doesn’t take much effort to imagine how many millions of native African people are actually living like that today.

One of the biggest pieces of imagery on that tip was at the gates to District 9 itself.  At base the gates are two large statues of a human and a prawn holding hands with their arms raised in an arch over the entrance.  Across the bottom of the gates is a motto that says “District 9:  Paving the Way to Unity”.   Oh the irony!  Get it?  Because the aliens are being oppressed?  Oh nevermind…

If you are close enough to see this, you are fucked.

If you are close enough to see this, you are fucked.

And then there was the ALIEN WEAPONRY.  Holy shit, y’all.  I think the best weapon was probably the arc gun which basically shot a lightning bolt which upon hitting the target made the target explode like a hot dog in a microwave.  There were missiles and machine-gun style weapons, some sort of sonic blast gun and I think even some lasers (pew pew), but it was all about the arc gun, dude.  Seriously.  I giggled like a school girl whenever someone on-screen was vaporized into pink mist or a burst of guts.  It was just so awesome.

The aliens are being oppressed so that we can get at their weapons.  The catch being that the weapons are bio-activated by their DNA, so we humans can’t use them.  It gets interesting when the main character (Wikus) encounters some black goo (there’s more to it, but I don’t want to ruin it) that slowly starts turning him into a prawn.  This allows him to use the alien weapons and thereby makes him the target of the powers that be and also our unsuspecting human/alien hybrid hero.  See the twist developing there?

If you haven’t seen the movie, stop reading… NOW.  I have some questions and observations that you might consider to be spoilers:

  • WTF is the black fluid?  It’s clearly used as a fuel, but it also happens to modify your DNA to turn you into a prawn?  I’m sure glad gasoline doesn’t have that side effect.
  • Does it affect all DNA or just so happens to affect humans in this way?
  • Those questions, and the fact that the prawn hero, Christopher, insists on returning in three years to “fix” Wikus in the scene where he is returning to the mothership are clearly setting us up for a sequel.
  • The movie closes with Wikus having fulling transmuted into a prawn.  Will we see him again?  Will he regain his humanity as promised by Christopher?  Will there be more exploding guts?  I fuckin’ hope so, bitches!
All in all, what an awesome flick!  I have been gushing about it for days now.  It was non-stop excitement, awe, disgust, horror, sorrow, and mostly fun.  Sadly, no sideboob, but that’s ok.

Based on the fact that the movie made over $37M USD in its opening weekend, I have a strong feeling we’ll be paying a visit to District 10 sooner than later.

Alive in Joburg? Welcome to District 9!

Maybe you’ve heard about District 9?  You know, the documentary-style sci-fi flick about aliens who have come to earth as refugees that is being produced by Peter Jackson and is coming out on August 14th?  Yeah, that one.

Just so we’re clear, a few days ago I said I popped no less than 17 boners during the 7-minute trailer at Comic-Con.

Ok so now that we’re clear, what you probably didn’t know is that the director, Neill Blomkamp, was a virtual unknown whose only notable work was a 6-minute short called Alive in Joburg. During the District-9 panel at Comic-Con, when he was describing the motivation behind the project, Peter Jackson said that he had seen this film on YouTube and knew that Blomkamp would be the one to direct his next film.

So, check it out:

Pretty fuckin’ awesome, right? Obviously it has umm… EVERYTHING to do with District 9 and is the direct influence for it. Considering that the budget for D-9 is only $30M USD, I think it’s 117% awesome how the concept of the original short has been expanded and improved upon.  The short is shot in the same grainy, documentary style and doesn’t make use of absurd effects to get the point across, but it’s not done in a way that looks cheap.  The emphasis on the tangible drama of aliens living in South Africa as refugees, vs. focusing on douchebags with laser rifles is a stray from the norm these days, and I am all about it.

Don’t get me wrong, there WILL be douchebags with laser rifles in District 9, but it’s not at all like anything you’ve seen before.  Not to mention that it’s being backed by Peter “Motherfuckin'” Jackson.

I will now leave you to your boners (or their female analog, whatever that may be).

p.s. There are a lot of secrets in District 9.

San Diego Comic Con 2009: Brain Dump

So I just spent the last four days of my life at the 2009 San Diego Comic Con. It was the third year in a row I have been to SDCC and the first year that I went for more than just one day.  It was both too much and not enough at the same time.

I found myself wanting to live more of the professional experience of talking to artists, getting books signed, hunting down exclusive items and generally just living of all the action that makes it so awesome.  I met some interesting people, and was surprised that many of the most popular comics out there just don’t interest me.  I guess I have always kind of been like that.  I’ve never really been IN to comics in the way that most comics fans are, or at least how I perceive them to be.

I feel like most of the plots and stories I are cliche and most of the art is just too absurd or derivative.  It’s really hard to explain without sounding like I’m a pretentious dickwad.  Fact is I’m not a fanboy, I’m just a fan.  I only buy into comics when I can get in on the ground floor and feel like I’m truly experiencing a story from the beginning.  For the most part that leaves me out of pretty much every mainstream franchise and I’m totally okay with that.

So rolling with that, I’m going to list my favorite things from SDCC 2009, only the first of which is actually a comic:

  1. Kick-Ass: I recently discovered Kick-Ass in a local comic store.  As I mentioned above, I only like getting into stories from the beginning. Issue #6 was the first one I bought, which has a little girl covered in blood holding two swords.  I was intrigued.  I bought issues 1-4, and 6.  They were out of #5. I went to SDCC with the mission of finding #5.  Turns out, they are making a Kick-Ass movie and held a panel for it at SDCC!  I missed the panel, but did make it home with #5.  Mission accomplished.
  2. Avatar: James Cameron’s first film in 15 years?  I’m there.  I didn’t see the panel nor the exclusive trailer, but I heard lots and lots of chatter all weekend about the concept of the avatars.  There was also an Avatar booth with a massive 20-foot mech suit (wicked!) from the film and prototype toys in a diorama case.  I hate it when you can’t play with the toys!
  3. District-9: I attended the panel for this on Friday. Peter Jackson himself led the panel and spoke candidly on the birth of the project. It was fascinating to learn that as soon as the plug was pulled on the Halo movie, they immediately focused all of that creative energy into their own project which became District-9.  Considering it was made on such a low budget ($30M USD), you would never know having seen the 7-minute teaser we got to see.  I popped at least 17 boners, while watching it.  And we got to see it twice.  So that’s what… 34 boners minimum?
  4. Iron Man 2: Aww yeah,  Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow?  17 more boners.  Not seen:  Gwyneth.  Who cares?
  5. Chessex Booth: Dice!  Role-playing supplies!  I was at this booth for like half an hour drooling over the absurdly vast selection of dice.  I just love dice!! Of course I bought some.  I could feel my girlfriend judging me all the way from LA, but it wasn’t enough to stop me.
  6. Half off all trades! Got some great last-minute deals on some books I’ve been wanting for a long time.  Like Wanted for $10!
  7. Half-ass costumes. Low point equates to high point.  I laughed a lot at the expense of others.  A LOT.  Come on people.  If you’re going to dress as G.I. Joe, go the distance.  Slapping on some camo pants and a toy gun is not half the battle.
This was the biggest SDCC to date.  Try to imagine 125,000 geeks, freaks, nerds, dweebs, artists, impersonators, celebrities, executives, and a handful of ingrates descending on San Diego like the plague.  Make no mistake: it was C R O W D E D.  You couldn’t swing a dead cat without hitting a fat nerd dressed as a Klingon.

Ok, I’m exaggerating… a little.  I didn’t see a single Klingon this year!  The theme was definitely Steampunk, which I found odd because there is nothing coming out that directly inspires such a theme.  I guess that’s just the in thing right now amongst the nerdy elite.  It’s like Back to the Future 3 meets Final Fantasy, if you can picture that.  Or how about people in trenchcoats with goggles, rapiers, army boots, and… laser guns!  pew pew pew

Being that it was so crowded there was a lot of pondering about how “it can’t go on like this”.  The average wait was like two hours for the big panels and no less than an hour for everything else.  There was a rumor floating around that this could be the last year of SDCC in San Diego as we know it.  The rumor was that it could be moving to Los Angeles or (God forbid) Las Vegas if the San Diego Convention Center and possibly even San Diego at large can’t meet the growing demands of the con.  Something about the contract being up for negotiations, blah blah blah, etc etc.

All I gotta say is it just wouldn’t be the same SDCC without the SD in it. I wouldn’t mind it being a little closer to home in LA, but downtown LA is fucked enough as it is without 125,000+ nerds descending upon the place for five days in the dead of summer.  Yeesh.  I hope the folks in San Diego don’t let the convention walk.  That would be bad stuff.

I had a great time and was sad to leave on Sunday.  Despite how crowded it was I want to go for the entire time next year, instead of only Friday – Sunday.  That is, if it’s still there… dunt dunt dunnnn