Two Themes to Halloween

Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross (whom I really want to call ‘Atticus Finch’) are individually two talented instrumentalists/composers (the latter’s soundtrack for The Book of Eli is particularly good) and lately they’ve been working together for movies like The Social Network.

Most recently they tackled John Carpenter’s Halloween theme and…it’s okay (and certainly different). 

For sake of comparison, here’s Carpenter’s theme. What’s worth noticing is how–relatively speaking–simple it is.

It moves with a relentless repetitiveness, evocative in some ways of Michael Myers himself, with the mood made by a contrast between synths and piano.

While Reznor and Ross’ version is another matter entirely.   After around 50 seconds (!) of silence it starts up with a dull, mechanical drone. When it gets going it sounds more complex, more layered than the original.  

Though it loses quite a bit of tension–mainly due to the aforementioned drone–before it leads into the more familiar terrain of Carpenter’s original. 

When all is said and done, it’s effective in its own way, thouughnot nearly as sharply focused (or as iconic) as Carpenter’s.

Though things really go to heck around the 6:10.mark, where it turns into a pretty uninteresting techno song.

Pity. 

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‘IT’ – Official Trailer #2

The latest trailer for Stephen King’s IT dropped a few hours ago, and the first thing I wondered when I saw if was if IT was also a part of the Stranger Things universe.

Both feature Finn Wolfhard, both revolve around a group of young people on the cusp of the adult world–and the secrets that it holds–facing bullies and their demons (both real and imagined).

And perhaps most importantly, both revolve around either the supernatural or things than can be easily interpreted as such (the Upsidedown from Stranger Things is approached in a more overtly scientific fashion than the terrors of IT but that’s less a question of the former not being supernatural than the approach to it being based in science).

Though the more likely explanation for the similarities is that Stranger Things is very much based on the work of Stephen King and movies of Steven Spielberg and John Carpenter (particularly Carpenter, as far as the music and whole esthetic goes), so that it resembles a Stephen King movie is hardly a coincidence.

A Cure For Wellness – Trailer

Having watched The OA on Netflix a few weeks ago–check it out, it’s really intriguing and pretty clever at times–I’ve come to notice that Jason Issacs in the latter part of his career seems to be specializing in criminally-inclined medical professionals.  

And I think it was his turn as a trauma surgeon in 1997’s Event Horizon that sent him over the edge. 

So, in The OA he’s a doctor who’s seeking the secrets only those that have had near death experiences can reveal, while in the upcoming A Cure For Wellness he apparently has not only continued experimenting with people against their will, but is potentially connected to a much larger conspiracy.  

Some people have mentioned that the trailer plays a lot like Shutter Island, and while there are similarities, it seems so much more similar to John Carpenter’s In The Mouth of Madness–with a dash of The Wicker Man–that another lawsuit might be in order though if I recall, Madness was written by Michael De Luca, not John Carpenter. 

Valerian And The City Of A Thousand Planets – Teaser Trailer

The trailer for “Luc Besson‘s Valerian And The City Of A Thousand Planets dropped earlier today, and visually speaking, it’s gorgeous.

Then again, Besson is the guy that directed The Fifth Element–another visually dazzling sci-fi epic–so that’s not really a surprise. 


The only fly in the ointment (or spanner in the works or pig in the trough–I made that last one up) is that Besson isn’t a particularly strong–or original, in some instances–writer. 

And he’s apparently a huge fan of John Carpenter because while Besson was successfully sued for Lockout, his 2004 adventure movie DistrictB13 is disconcertingly similar to another movie by John Carpenter, Escape From New York

Hopefully Valerian And The City Of A Thousand Planets will follow in the footsteps of the French comic, written by  Pierre Christin and drawn by Jean-Claude Mézières, that inspired it and not any of John Carpenter’s work.  

Valerian And The City Of A Thousand Planets – Poster

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Lucy Besson, while a visually sumptuous director, is not a terribly original writer–which may have a little to do with him settling with John Carpenter over his 2012 movie Lockout, which was essentially Escape From New York aboard a space station.

Lucy, directed by Besson in 2014, fared particularly well financially, though many considered the story (about a woman, played by Scarlett Johansson, who though a mysterious drug gains the ability to unlock the unused potential of the human mind and gain god-like powers) as particularly dopey.

He’s back in 2017 with Valerian And The City Of A Thousand Planets–a title that on its face doesn’t make sense–that’s based on a French comic series by Jean-Claude Méziéres.

I hope it does well mainly because many European comics don’t get nearly the recognition here that they do there, and it would be good for people to expand their knowledge of such things beyond what we see presented by Marvel Studios and DC Films.

The Fog (2005) – Postmortem

Screenshot 2016-08-23 23.05.50.pngAs I have said time and again, I am not fond of remakes.

More often than not they don’t add anything to the original–did we really need to know about Michael Myers difficult upbringing in Rob Zombie’s Halloween reboot?–or they add details that seemingly are there just to differentiate them from the original.

The thing is, as far as remarks go, Rupert Wainwright’s remake of The Fog (it doesn’t help that  John Carpenter directed the original) isn’t terrible.

It’s not particularly good, but it’s different enough that you don’t at least hate yourself for wasting an hour and a half that you will never get back.

What works is the whole leprosy subplot–in the original I don’t recall the movie going into huge detail about what William Blake was doing with the gold–but in the reboot the point was to get his people to a place where they could live in peace because they were suffering from leprosy.

He was building a leper colony!  It’s a pretty clever idea that the movie unfortunately doesn’t take advantage of (there’s a scene where one of the ghosts comes in physical contact with a person, and she’s decays like she’s caught leprosy on steroids).

Unfortunately it’s an angle that they don’t deal with again.

They could have also done more innovative things with the fog itself, especially when you take into account that the bulk of it is CGI, but unfortunately they don’t.

It’s a movie full of wasted opportunities–especially compared to the original–but at least you don’t feel your time slipping away like digital fog.

 

Postmortem: The Thing (2011)

With John Carpenter’s The Thing–based on Christian Nyby’s 1951 movie The Thing From Another World and the original John Campbell short novel, Who Goes There?–we got to see a director at the peak of his powers.  Carpenter was able to combine Rob Bottin’s extraordinary creature effects with a taut story of an otherworldly threat that had the ability to mimic whomever it killed.

So you can imagine that when Universal Pictures decided to do a sequel in 2011–without Carpenter’s input–that fans would probably not be too keen on it.

And that’s a bit of an understatement, with many–myself included–hating the movie on general principal.

Having recently re-watched Matthijs van Heijningen’s prequel, it’s actually pretty good.  And while I wished that it had more in the way of practical effects–though as far as I can tell the CGI is based on designs from Alec Gillis and Bob Woodruff (who are credited) and while it’s not as innovative as the practical special effects of Rob Bottin, They’re okay.

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