Cigarette Burns (2005)

Discussing the true power of film in "Cigarette Burns".
Discussing the true power of film in “Cigarette Burns”.

from Showtime’s “Masters of Horror” series

Cigarette Burns (2005)
Directed by:
John Carpenter
Written by: Drew McWeeny and Scott Swan
Starring: Norman Reedus, Udo Kier, Christopher Redman, Chris Gauthier, Zara Taylor

PLOT
In this episode, Jimmy Sweetman ventures out to locate a rare film print called “La Fin Absolue du Monde”. The film once shown has been known to drive its audience into a crazed frenzy before the theater goes up in flames. He finally discovers that the film does live up to its reputation and the results are quite shocking. (from tv.com)

Continue reading “Cigarette Burns (2005)”

REVIEW: ‘Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter’

Mr. Lincoln (Benjamin Walker) forgoes parlimentary prodcedure in "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter".
Mr. Lincoln (Benjamin Walker) forgoes parlimentary prodcedure in “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter”.

“Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”

This phrase is often tossed around as an admonition to learn from your mistakes so as to prevent yourself from making them again. To hear some people talk, you’d think that the worst possible sin would be to continue to make those same mistakes over and over again. But what if there was something worse? What if you not only continued to make those mistakes but also managed to use history to make them worse?

Such it is the lesson we get from “Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter”.
Continue reading “REVIEW: ‘Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter’”

REVIEW: ‘Chernobyl Diaries’

Following the uranium brick road in "Chernobyl Diaries.
Following the uranium brick road in "Chernobyl Diaries.
Following the uranium brick road in "Chernobyl Diaries.

Life is hard.
Math is easy.

Not including algebra, calculus or any other numeric discipline longer than four letters, I’m inclined to agree with that statement. Life can throw you all kinds of unexpected craziness – even under the most mundane and seemingly predictable circumstances. Math, on the other hand, is fairly consistent. Two and two will always equal four – no surprise there. However, there are occasions where life imitates math when all the pieces of an equation add up to the same thing every time.

A model of such consistency is “Chernobyl Diaries”.
Continue reading “REVIEW: ‘Chernobyl Diaries’”

REVIEW: ‘The Raven’

Poe (John Cusack) ponders once upon a midnight dreary what went wrong with "The Raven".

Literary history and Hollywood go together like… well, like two things that go together particularly well. With the exceptions of perhaps Hemingway and Hunter S. Thompson, writers lead notoriously uninteresting lives. Thoreau may very well have plucked the phrase “quiet desperation” from his own life to describe the life of your average writer. So, for Hollywood to attempt to mine the life of a writer – in this case, the godfather of American Horror, Edgar Allen Poe – for an early summer popcorn muncher, they must have something special on their hands.

Well, at least they have Poe and we, in turn, get “the Raven”.
Continue reading “REVIEW: ‘The Raven’”

REVIEW: ‘Silent House’

Sarah (Elizabeth Olsen) seeks out the secrets of the "Silent House".
Sarah (Elizabeth Olsen) seeks out the secrets of the "Silent House".
Sarah (Elizabeth Olsen) seeks out the secrets of the "Silent House".

If you can’t have good actors, have a good story. If you can’t have good actors or a good story, have good effects. If you can’t have good actors, a good story or good effects, have a good gimmick.

And when all else fails, have boobs – lots and lots of boobs.

The horror genre has a long history of using gimmicks to get people into the theaters. Most likely, these saw their halcyon days back in the late 1950s but even today, we appreciate the lure of the gimmick – whether it is the earnest whisper of “Based on a true story,” or the promise of terrifying found footage. The latter – the found footage film – is everyone’s darling these days but even it’s starting to show signs of wear; much like a bow-legged streetwalker after the fleet’s been in port for two weeks.

How about a real-time horror movie?
It seems to work for “Silent House”.

Continue reading “REVIEW: ‘Silent House’”

REVIEW: ‘The Woman in Black’

Arthur Kipps (Daniel Radcliffe) shines a light on the mystery of "the Woman in Black".
Arthur Kipps (Daniel Radcliffe) shines a light on the mystery of "the Woman in Black".
Arthur Kipps (Daniel Radcliffe) shines a light on the mystery of "the Woman in Black".

For those who live in and around the Dallas area, you might think that growing up in Oak Cliff is a lot like growing up somewhere just outside of downtown Bagdad. While I can’t necessarily speak for the conditions today, I can say it wasn’t as bad as some might expect. We would play in the schoolyard, climb trees and engage in some friendly games of “Oak Cliff freeze tag” – which involves a lot more rock throwing that regular freeze tag. However, there was one thing we didn’t do and that was go anywhere near the old Ravina Mansion.

Continue reading “REVIEW: ‘The Woman in Black’”

REVIEW: ‘The Whisperer In Darkness’

Albert Wilmarth (Matt Foyer) unfortunately finds "the Whisperer in Darkness".
Albert Wilmarth (Matt Foyer) unfortunately finds "the Whisperer in Darkness".
Albert Wilmarth (Matt Foyer) unfortunately finds "the Whisperer in Darkness".

Nothing good is easy.

I’m sure I’m not the first person to say that but I will tell you to carve that in stone. Be it in work, play, life or love; it’s just one of those universal truths. And while we’re on the subject, let’s add this little nugget onto that list: the stories of H.P. Lovecraft are difficult to adapt to film. There may be some of you snickering at that remark because you know the vast amounts of understatement I just used. For those who haven’t clambered aboard the Lovecraft bandwagon, please allow me to explain. Lovecraft’s favorite themes had to do with the vastness of infinity and how unknowable it was to mankind’s limited existence. Often, his protagonists would encounter something so mind shattering that it could not be described, explained or even named.

Now try filming that on a typical Hollywood budget.

And not even a big typical budget, but the below ten million dollar budget usually relegated for horror films – which with the current popularity of the cinéma vérité movement in horror, that number is probably closer to just one million dollars. Especially since Hollywood and mainstream audiences demand spectacle from their movies: you have to show the monster. Unnameable and unshowable usually lead you straight to unfilmable.

Continue reading “REVIEW: ‘The Whisperer In Darkness’”