Why William Friedkin Was Wrong About Wes Craven

Twitter

For my money William Friedkin is one of the most talented directors working today.  Not everything he does clicks (with the public or box office-wise, for that matter) but as far as I am concerned he’s made one of the best crime thrillers in recent memory with 1985’s To Live And Die In L.A.  Some might suggest that I am crazy, and bring up 1971’s The French Connection, but for my money To Live And Die In L.A., with its combination of a talented director, an outstanding cast and great music hit all the right notes.

Interestingly enough, Friedkin also directed one of the best horror movies, The Exorcist, ever put on celluloid.

And while the movies that Wes Craven created, particularly A Nightmare On Elm Street, managed to tap into The zeitgeist in a way few other films have done besides being visually interesting, though more often then not his movies were products of the time that they were made; which is another way of saying that they don’t age particularly well.

If in doubt check out Craven’s The Hills Have Eyes.  While the idea of cannibalistic mutants preying on hapless tourists is always potentially interesting, the movie has not aged well (though Alexandre Aja’s 2006 remake…pretty good, almost brilliantly so).

Let’s contrast that with the The Exorcist.  It’s not only one of the scariest horror movies ever made–I think that Craven’s The Snake And The Rainbow was probably his most effective movie as far as terror goes though it doesn’t have the single-mindedness of Friedkin’s classic.

I also had the feeling that Craven was a horror director less because he actually wanted to do it, that it was a niche that he  happened to fall into (which isn’t an insult by any means.  John Carpenter did some groundbreaking horror films, though recognized, and at times seem embittered by the fact, that it limited his ability to move into other types of filmmaking).

So, while Craven was known as a maker of horror films, it never really felt to me that he committed to the genre to the degree that other directors, such as Carpenter (or even Friedkin himself) have demonstrated.

So Wes Craven will always be known for the horrors that he helped to bring to grisly life, though I am not at all sure that that’s what he would have wanted.

Concussion – Trailer

I have to admit that Will Smith portraying a character with an accent (which I can’t place.  It sounded vaguely Jamaican or Haitian, though not quite) in Peter Landesman’s Concussion caught me off-guard (as did Albert Brooks being virtually bald).

That being said, I heard during Joe Rogan’s podcast that perhaps football players should consider using leather helmets like they did when the sport was first created, with the logic that since a player’s head wouldn’t be nearly as well-protected as they currently are, they would avoid head impacts.

I am not a huge football fan, but it’s certainly a story worth telling.

It Follows – Review

It Follows movie poster

It Follows is a great idea in search of a better movie.”

Based on all the hype that accompanied It Follows theatrical release, you’d think that David Robert Mitchell was the heir apparent to John Carpenter.

And I’m here to tell you it’s just not the case because It Follows is an awesome idea surrounded by a decent movie.  It’s not terrible by any stretch, though its not “One of the most striking American horror films in years” either.

Though that concept…Wow.  The antagonist of the movie is essentially a curse, a sexually-transmitted demon.  Once contracted, the only way to hold off death is to pass it on to someone else, who will have a limited amount of time to do the same.

If you fail to pass it on, it kills you, and works its way down the list of people who have slept with you.

I told you it’s an awesome concept.  I also liked the idea that the movie wasn’t targeting anyone because of sexually promiscuity (in fact, it could be argued that the more people you sleep with, the better off you would be).

The movie takes place in the present day, though the effective soundtrack has a 70’s vibe to it that hightens suspense.

Though as I implied, the movie has problems, the biggest of which is that it too quickly abandons the mythology it’s built up whenever convenient (Quentin Tarantino was right).

For instance, the creature isn’t stupid, but it’s slow and has to walk to get around. This often serves to heighten suspense–like a zombie, there’s an inevitability to the creature that faster-moving terrors often lack–but there’s some oddness that accompanies the behavior that doesn’t serve the movie well.

For instance, the creature just appears in really odd places, and if it could just turn up anywhere it wanted to, it undermines the whole idea of it walking.  For instance, there’s a moment when it turns up on the roof of a house.  Did it climb the roof?  And if so, why?  And if it didn’t, that means it could pretty much appear wherever it wanted, which as I said, pretty much kills the suspense the movie spent valuable time building.

Continue reading

The Perfect Guy – Trailer 2

I don’t tend to catch thrillers in theaters (if it isn’t horror, science fiction or Marvel Studios I don’t tend to be too interested, truth be told) though when I saw the trailer for The Perfect Guy I was surprised at how effective the first trailer was.  I appreciate a slow burn, and the portrayal of Carter (Michael Ealy) as kind and considerate for at least half the trailer before he went full on Fatal Attraction.

The second trailer plays the same, with the addition of Screaming Jay Hawkins’ “I Put A Spell On You” (speaking of which, I don’t know who sings the song. but Nina Simone would have been awesome).

The Perfect Guy probably going to make a bundle, if only because it seems geared at the African-American audience and probably has a relatively small budget (though Ealy isn’t exactly hard on the eyes).

I Suspect I Know Who Mads Mikkelson Is Playing In Marvel Studios’ Upcoming Doctor Strange

According to Superherohype, Mads Mikkelson (Hannibal) will have a role in Scott Derrickson’s upcoming Marvel Studios feature, Doctor Strange.

Assuming that to be true, they also let slip a little more information than they may have intended, because they also mention that he’ll be playing a villain.

And since Baron Mordo is taken, there’s only one real option, in my humble opinion because, while Doctor Strange has a pretty deep Rogue’s Gallery, most of them are so esoteric that–like Marvel is doing in the case of Thanos–they’ll more than likely use Strange’s introduction to reveal a character who’s presence will reverberate throughout the entire MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe).

And that character will more than likely be…wait for it…Dormanmu (Eternity or the Living Tribunal would also be kind of awesome, but I suspect that it’s too early for either of them)!

image courtesy of Marveldirectory.com

Think about it, and I think you’ll agree that there are few Doctor Strange villains that they could introduce that would not only drive comics fans apeshit, but would impress casual viewers as well.

And Dormammu, played by Mikkelson, would be beyond incredible.

And this is where Scott Derrickson being a horror director will come into play, namely he has to create the atmosphere were one of Marvel’s stranger villains will not only appear realistic, but demonic and terrifying as well.

Something he’s well-equipped to do if you’ve seen either Sinister, Deliver Us From Evil or The Exorcism of Emily Rose.

And he actually has an interesting mythology, which should buttress his credentials, and connection, with the audience.

And keep in mind that Marvel has done this type of casting in the past, using big-name actors in roles that obscure the actor themselves, such as Vin Diesel as Groot in Guardians Of The Galaxy or James Spader, in Avengers: Age Of Ultron.

And Dormammu has the potential–especially if they stick to Steve Ditko’s original designs, as opposed to more modern interpretations of the character–to be absolutely unbelievable.

The Visual Effects of Marvel’s Daredevil

Daredevil openingWatching Netflix’s Daredevil, you’d probably be surprised to learn that a lot of the scenes that you thought were practical were actually digital.  For instance, the scene where Daredevil jumps from a window into the Hudson River?  Digital.

The fight between the titular hero and the red ninja in episode 9 – “Speak of the Devil“?  A lot of that was CGI as well (particularly Daredevil’s wounds and blood spatter).

I tend to be on the lookout for such things, yet I didn’t notice any of it which is a good reminder that CGI can be unobtrusive as well as bombastic.

Click here for an interview with Bryan Godwin, CEO and Executive VFX Supervisor for Shade VFX, the company that provided all the visual effects for Netflix’s Daredevil.

Lego DC Comics Superheroes: Justice League: Attack of the Legion of Doom – Trailer

I am not a big fan of DC superheroes, though I am a huge fan of Legos (though to be fair I was weaned on Batman; as I got older my comic preferences shifted).

That being said, I enjoyed the somewhat goofy adventures of the Justice League from the cartoon, though I had soft spot for the villains, particularly Black Manta.

Though the base apparently modeled on Darth Vader’s head?  Priceless.

And speaking of Black Manta, his name was always a bit odd for me in that Manta Rays are black (with a white underside), so calling him Black Manta is sort of like a superhero named Brown Cougar or Gray Shark) though that was before I learned that he’s an African-American under that odd mask, and his story is a lot more interesting than you’d think.

And Aqua-Baby? Seriously (on top of Aquaman being the lamest of superheroes)?  No wonder I moved on to Marvel Comics.