Friday, October 28, 2005

Lost...and sort of found

I was trying to send a link of my review of The Devil's Rejects to Lion's Gate and, somehow, it has disappeared. So I'm posting some brief notes that I made on some message boards.


So, in many ways, The Devil's Rejects is the film that QuentinTarantino originally intended Kill Bill to be: a true grindhouse retromish-mash. Less slick and far more streamlined than Tarantino's(admittedly great) film, TDR is an astonishing, eye-opening work.Zombie has given us the most audaciously gruesome work of mainstreamAmerican cinema since Stone's Natural Born Killers.

The Devil's Rejects (even better than Natural Born Killers) manages to be both nostalgic and visionary. I'm known to laythe hyperbole on a bit thick sometimes, true. But I've not been thisinvigorated by American cinema since Van Sant's Gerry. And, although Ithink that film is probably, ultimately, a better one, I can't helpbut feel like The Devil's Rejects is a landmark movie, our generation's Bonnie & Clyde.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Horror in the palm of your hand...some capsules

Up until a few days ago, my Sony PSP was pretty much just the thing I play Hot Shots Golf and MLB Baseball 2006 on. Thanks to the folks at Anchor Bay, I now have a handful of terrific horror titles to watch in the wee hours of the night.

Hellraiser - Cliver Barker's kinky, bloody chamber piece has always been one of my favorite horror films. A mixture of comedy, drama and high Grand Guignol theatre, Hellraiser is bent and beautiful, mysterious and macabre.

Evil Dead - Before chronicling the adventures of everyone's favorite webslinger, director Sam Raimi delivered this nasty little beaut, his breakthrough film about a group of friends besieged by an evil force in a cabin in the woods. Later followed by a sequel/remake, Evil Dead II and a third film, Army of Darkness.

Halloween - The ultimate in moodmaking horror. John Carpenter's masterpiece is a supreme study in terror, both subtle and outlandish. Michael Myers is a horrifying embodiment of quiet, murderous normality. A brilliant film.

Children of the Corn - An extremely underrated film. While certainly lacking in the panache and craftsmanship of other films from the same era, Children of the Corn nevertheless manages to capture a kind of Stepford Wives/Village of the Damned creepy fascist vibe. There are few things more frightening than murderous children.

I also received Dead and Breakfast, but I'll be reviewing that film separately via DVD in an upcoming post.


The first caveat of reviewing a film adaptation of a video game seems to be: does it capture the essence of the game? Fans of video games, even more than fans of adapted novels at times, are ravenous when it comes to dissecting (or, rather, obliterating) the bastardizations of their beloved shooters, RPGs, brawlers, etc.

The fallacy, of course, is that it's quite literally impossible for any video game adaptation to live up to that level of expectation. Moreso than a novel or play (which, at the very least, have fixed narratives), a video game is ever-changing. Even the most pedestrian of video games (the "on-the-rails" shooter House of the Dead 3, for example) is different every single time it is played. Gamers DEFINE their gaming experiences. Developers merely provide them the necessary tools to do so.

An expansive shooter like the various Doom titles is impossible to replicate. Especially in terms of the most recent incarnation, Doom 3, the interactive cinematic possibilities are endless. Missions can be accomplished using different paths, weaponry, etc. How can a film, which, even at the pinnacle of inventiveness, is always the same, hope to live up to the hype of a salivating gaming world? The answer, of course, is: it can't.

Doom arrives with all of that baggage, and then some. The first Doom revolutionized gaming. In fact, despite the rather late appearance of the title (in the 1990s), many would argue it shaped the contemporary world of gaming as much of, or perhaps more than, any other title in the history of gaming. It invented a genre. It launched a wave of interactivity. It created a community. It created a zeitgeist. ID Software did it again this past year with the marvelously reinvigorated Doom 3. And here awaits fandom, claws at the ready. Most have already begun their gnashing of teeth. So have critics.

For my money, Doom is the best of the video game adaptations (quite possibly the weakest status label I've ever given a film). Despite its presence as, essentially, a big, dumb action movie, Doom manages to be a quite amusing, muscular picture which, at the very least, earns its R rating, something that cannot be said of the increasingly spineless, neutered "horror" films that continue to plague American cineplexes.

It is very much set in the Aliens mode. Team of badasses go to Mars, fight baddies, some die, hero escapes with loved one in tow. It's a formula that has been used time and time again (even to be recycled twice, at least in part, in the Alien franchise itself, with Alien: Resurrection and Alien vs. Predator). But it works, for the most part, with the fun (if not groundbreaking in the slightest) Doom.