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The Return Of Two Classic Cinema Heroines

Its been an interesting few days as two long running film franchises both announced two new sequels and the return of two memorable female characters. Yes – both Laurie Strode and Sarah Connor are set to make comebacks in sequels to the Halloween and Terminator film franchises and both played by their original actresses too as Jamie Lee Curtis and Linda Hamilton have agreed to appear in their respective roles.

But wait a second, isn’t there a slight problem here? I mean both of the characters are dead. Laurie was killed at the start of Halloween: Resurrection – in fact Jamie Lee Curtis only agreed to be in the film if they finally killed her character off. She was stabbed in the back and thrown off a roof by Michael Myers.

Laurie Strode Death

Sarah Connor was killed off screen for Terminator 3: Rise of the Machine where it is revealed that she died in 1997 from acute myeloid leukemia and was cremated in Mexico after using her casket to hide a cache of weapons.

Sarah Conner Death.jpg

Yeah, they dead alright. So how can they be in new sequels?

Well the first announcement was made when writer/prouder Jason Blum made this Twitter post which Jamie Lee Curtis herself later confirmed when she Tweeted…

“Same porch. Same clothes. Same issues. 40 years later. Headed back to Haddonfield one last time for Halloween. Release date 10/19/18.”

Laurie Strode Return.jpg

The film is said to be directed by David Gordon Green with original Halloween creator/writer/director, John Carpenter also on board as an executive producer, consultant and possibly provide the music too. Little is known about the film right now but it has been stated that it won’t be a reboot (as some sites are erroneously reporting), in fact to get around the fact that Laurie Strode is dead – the film is said to be a direct sequel Halloween II from 1981 that’ll ignore all the other films in the series… so a ‘proper’ Halloween III if you will and a celebration to mark the 40th anniversary of the original 1978 picture.

As a side note: I love the real Halloween III: Season of the Witch. Awesome flick.

And it seems that creating sequels that ignore other films in the series is becoming a trend as that is exactly how they are bringing Sarah Connor back from the dead too. The rights to the Terminator franchise will revert back to the franchise’s creator (if you ignore Harlan Ellison) James Cameron in 2019 and he’s already planning on making more movies as The Hollywood Reporter has revealed. This new Terminator flick will be a sequel to 1991’s Terminator 2: Judgment Day that (just like the new Halloween) ignores all the other films in the franchise.

Sarah Conner

Note I wrote “making more movies”, plural. Yes, Cameron has said he’d like to make a trilogy of new Terminator films. At this point I’d also like to bring up that both Terminator Salvation and Terminator Genisys were planed as starts to new trilogies too and look how that turned out…

But its not just Linda Hamilton who had agreed to come back for the new sequel as the main man himself Arnold Schwarzenegger has signed on the be in the new film too. Said to be directed by Tim Miller of Deadpool fame with Cameron as writer/producer and he had this to say about the movie…

“We’re starting a search for an 18-something woman to be the new centrepiece of the new story. We still fold time. We will have characters from the future and the present. There will be mostly new characters, but we’ll have Arnold and Linda’s characters to anchor it.”

No release date has been announced but (as previously mentioned) the rights to the franchise do not return to Cameron until 2019 – so I’d guess either a 2019 or 2020 release would sound about right.

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I Feel I Should Come Out

I’ve been writing this blog for a while now. Sharing my love of films along with my views and opinions. I really appreciate anyone who reads and follows what I do. I feel comfortable with my readers and I think I can be honest and frank with you all. So This article is my ‘coming out’ article.

So, here it goes…

Its been a little over a year now and I think the time is right to share with you all. I liked the new Ghostbusters movie. There, I’ve said it (well typed it) – its finally out in the open and I feel much better for it too.

Ghostbusters 2016

Now before I get all the “You’re not a true Ghostbusters fan!” bullshit thrown at me, I did a blowout Ghostbusters celebration last year – where I lauded the original film and it took me weeks to research and write (link right here). I took a look at the making of the original, did an overview of the film, the Ghostbusters games and so much more. It was a multi-part Ghostbusters festivity. I am a Ghostbusters fan – a HUGE one.

Now I’m not going to review the film, as I already did that. The short version? I was entertained by it. This serves more as an introduction to the point of this article. I’m going to admit to liking certain films that a lot of people really seem to hate.

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.jpg

Oh yeah, I’m going there.

I’m a massive Indy fan – I’ve not done a huge Indiana Jones movie celebration… yet. But believe me, I’m a fan. I grew up watching Indy, he was one of my first childhood cinematic heroes. I’m such a big fan that I can even see the good in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom… and that’s not easy.

I was so looking forward to seeing this when it originally came out and I was there at the cinema a few days after it was released ready to watch it. I also made the terrible mistake of reading up on reviews of the film before I went to watch it (something I no longer do). The hype and excitement for this flick were high – the return of one of cinema’s great icons after a 19 year wait. But the reviews were terrible and downright depressing. It seemed that no one liked this one and were all lining up to tear it apart. So my expectations were low.

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull 2

But how could it not be good? Pretty much all the original cast and crew returned, they even got Marion Ravenwood back and she’s the best Indy girl by far. Ford looked amazing for his age and comfortably stepped back into the role with ease.

I left that cinema with a huge smile on my face and just did not see the same film all the bad reviews were talking about. I watched a rip-roaring action/adventure flick with a great B-movie style… which is all the Indy films have ever been. But the fallout for the film was stunning with people nit-picking even the most mundane aspects.

Now don’t get me wrong – the picture has its problems (quick newsflash for you, all films do) and I admit to it being hard to argue against some of them. Yes Shia LaBeouf as
Mutt Williams (Indy’s son) was terrible and yes the whole tree swinging/’greaser monkey’ thing was cringe-worthy. It annoyed me that they decided to retcon Indy’s history to force in a son, as he had a daughter originally (told you I was a fan). And yes, those prairie dogs were fucking stupid. But still, some of the complains felt childish…

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull explostion

Lets take the bull by the horns. ‘Nuking the fridge’. I could not believe that this moment in the film kicked up such a fuss – so much so that there was a movement to have it replace the phrase ‘jumping the shark’. The hatred for this scene seemed to stem from just how ridiculous it was – and you know what? I agree, its ridiculous… but is it worthy of all the hate it got? Its an OOT scene… but just look at that image above and tell me that is not iconic, not awesome to look at. Seeing Indiana Jones standing in front of that mushroom cloud looks stunning, that is an iconic cinematic image.

But about the scene itself. People got all upset saying that it was not ‘realistic’  and would comment on how ‘impossible’ it was or how Indy escaped with no injures. Yeah cos that is not welcome in an Indiana Jones film right…

Temple of Doom raft

Climbing into a lead lined fridge and surviving a nuclear blast is ‘unrealistic’… but jumping out of a crashing plane with 2 other people in an inflatable raft. Then falling a few dozen feet at speed and hitting a mountain, to then go on sliding down said mountain and managing to avoid every tree/rock before plunging off a waterfall and landing in a river… with no one hurt and the only complaint is being wet… that’s okay is it?

These are what the Indy films are known for, the ridiculous. As I mentioned before, they are B-moives, high budget and slickly produced but still B-movies none the less. That is where their inspiration comes from. They are supposed to be OTT and outrageous. The Indy films have never… NEVER strived for ‘realism’. They pay homage to classic 50s action/adventure serials and they have never shied away from that either.

Yes the fridge scene was stupid, but so are several other scenes in the films too. I liked the fridge scene because it was stupid – it reminded me of ‘classic’ Indy. You know what? I liked the red ant scene too – now I’m not going to get into a diatribe as to why as there are other films I want to cover. But before I leave Indy 4 behind – there is one element I need to address…

Indy 4 Alien

Oh yeah, the aliens… sorry ‘interdimensional beings’. They’re aliens okay? This is an argument that I see both sides of. There are those that cry that “aliens don’t belong in an Indiana Jones movie!”. But why not? So you can have other (non proven) forces like God but not aliens? No one kicked up a fuss when Raiders of the Lost Ark was released. I have no problem with aliens being a part of the Indiana Jones universe and it makes sense given what these film’s inspirations are. But it is with Raiders where I also need to go for my argument against the aliens in this film. You see, Raiders had an element of the unknown with the Ark of the Covenant. When Indy is first asked to look for it and gets out that book with the illustration. You know the one depicting the Ark killing people via some kind of force…

Raiders book

Yeah – that’s the one. Anyway, when Indy is asked what it is – he replies with “Lightning. Fire. Power of God or something.” Key word there is ‘something’ as no one knows what it actually is, its just ‘something’. Maybe it is the power of God, maybe its not. Point is that its left ambiguous as to what kills all those Nazis at the end. The major failing with the aliens in this film is that they showed it. Its not open to interpretation, you can not come up with your own theory as to what these things are… they’re aliens. Showing the alien and having it kill the bad guys at the end is (other than a lazy re-hash of Raiders) like actually having God turn up at the end of Raiders and smiting the Nazis. This film would have been so much better if the aliens were left ambiguous. I don’t mind aliens being part of the Indy lore… I just don’t like how it was handled.

Anyway, I liked Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull it entertained me and I had a smile on my face when I left the cinema and that is what I want from movies… to be entertained. Its not my favourite Indy film, but I thoroughly enjoyed it anyway.

For my next film, actually – lets says ‘films’ as I’m going to do a horror remake double bill. Oh yes, the horror remake!

A Nightmare on Elm Street

A Nightmare on Elm Street 2010.jpg

Are you ready for Freddy?

You have no idea how much I adore the original A Nightmare on Elm Street. It is this film that turned me into a self-confessed Wes Craven nut and I miss that mad-genius of horror so damn much. The world is a much lesser place without the great Wes Craven in it.

When the remake was announced, my eyebrow raised a little. I knew this had to be something special for it to be accepted… what bullshit, no matter how great this film turned out – it would never be accepted because of the anti-remake crowd. I knew there would be changes and updates and I could not wait to see them for myself. Of course Robert Englund would have to be replaced as the iconic Freddy and of course other characters would be changed too – its inevitable. Now I have to admit to not really liking too many of the main characters in this remake, they seems so ‘typical’ so sub-standard. But what of the big guy himself?

Freddy K

Stepping into the shoes of one of horror cinema’s most (in)famous creations must be a daunting task. I mean, its not like they were remaking Dr. Giggles and saying “Larry Drake – you’re out. We need a new actor.”. This is Freddy ‘fuckin’ Krueger and without Robert Englund playing him. So Jackie Earle Haley had to step into the grimy, brown hat and dirty red & green sweater. And you know what, I liked him… I really, really liked him. It was an all new Freddy and if I’m honest I grew to dislike old Freddy more and more in the (terrible) sequels after the first film. I wanted to see a new Freddy and I got exactly that. I personally thought Haley was awesome in the role and for me, he lifted this otherwise cookie-cutter horror remake to another level. As an overall film, I felt it was a little predicable (well it is a remake) and the majority of the characters were forgotten about as soon as the credits rolled… except for Freddy.

Freddy K 2

There was a moment in the story where I thought they were going to do something really interesting. You see, in the original – Freddy was definitely guilty. But in the remake, there’s a whiff of suggestion in the first third that Freddy could be innocent and the parents killed him erroneously. This would have been a great twist and added a much needed extra level to the plot – but sadly they didn’t do that an instead made human Freddy a sadistic child killing/molesting bastard. Just try to imagine having a Freddy Krueger you could have sympathy for.

I can’t say that the A Nightmare on Elm Street remake is an outstanding flick… but its also not as horrendous as people make it out to be either. Sadly it offers no real surprises and is bland in many aspects. But it does have a great sense of dread whenever Freddy is onscreen and there a handful of good horror moments too. But Jackie Earle Haley’s version of Freddy was amazing and worth watching just for that.

So from one remade horror icon to another…

Halloween

Halloween 2007

Evil. Remade.

When to comes to great horror writer/directors, I hold John Carpenter in the same regard as Wes Craven… but I have to admit to finding the original Halloween one of his lesser pictures. So it does not hold as much of a place in my heart as A Nightmare on Elm Street.

I was not sure what to expect from this remake other than a lazy retread. But I have to admit to being pleasantly surprised when I did watch it. When you look at the film on the whole, the original Halloween is a very bare-bones flick. The story is almost non-existent and the characters became clichéd before the cliché was even created…. like totally. One of my favourite aspects of the film is the exact thing I hate about what they did in the original sequels.

Michael Myers

We follow a young Myers and see his disruptive family life, we get to see his relationship with Dr. Loomis. They gave Micheal Myers a backstory, a history and a reason for his murderous intentions which is something that I enjoyed about the remake and dislike about the original films, you know when they explain Myers via all that Thorn cult crap. I tend to lose interest when they try to give reason to a horror icon. I don’t mind the odd hints here and there, but when they attempt to give an explanation to a killer’s killing motives, that’s when I lose interest (see Freddy, Pinhead, Leatherface, etc). However, that was something about the Halloween remake that I really enjoyed. I wanted to know this Michael Myers, I wanted to learn of his history as it added much needed depth to an otherwise empty story and it is when you re-watch the original after seeing the remake when you realise just how little plot/story there is in it.

Michael Myers 2

Okay, so the hick-family members of the remake are stereotypical and very one note but that is what I like about them. The film isn’t trying to be high-art, its trying to be a horror film with just a touch of heart, a modicum depth and I think what it does, it does well enough. I genuinely felt for young Myers and his relationship with Loomis felt honest. In the original – there’s none of this. Its just a film about a guy killing babysitters while an eccentric doctor tries to stop him. The remake has that but adds more meat on the bones too.

Of course if there is one thing the original is famous for then its the lack of any blood and gore. There’s a few shots with very little blood but other then that – the flick is relatively bloodless. The remake goes the other direction and turns up the dial. There’s more than enough blood and gore in this version and to be honest… I’ve still not made up my mind whether I like it or not. I’m no prude, I’ve seen far bloodier and gory films over the years – I just can’t work out if I like it in this film or not.

Given the choice. I’d rather watch this remake than the original Halloween. As for Rob Zombie’s Halloween II? Fuck that movie.

Of course, Halloween is still not dead as another new film is on the way due to be released next year. This one is said to be a sequel to the original Halloween II with Jamie Lee Curtis returning to play Laurie Strode.

Halloween 2018

But that is a different article all together and this one has gone on long enough…

Anyway, there you go, that is my ‘coming out’ with films I liked others do not. I really enjoyed writing this one and my return with more ‘coming out’ movies in the future.

 

They All Float! IT Wasn’t Scary At All

Sorry folks but that clown was about as scary as a fluffy bunny wearing a pink bow. Now I’m not talking about the recent film remake in the cinema that is getting good reviews right now. Oh no – I want to take a look at the original TV mini-series that aired back in 1990.

It Novel

For those not in the know. IT was an adaption of the Stephen King novel of the same name. Many people consider the novel to be pretty damn terrifying, though it tends to drag on in places – its a horrific story done in that Stephen King style. There’s blood, gore, violence and even an underage gangbang.

The Novel

The story revolves around a groups of kids living in Derry, Maine during the late 1950s who call themselves ‘The Losers Club’. They are haunted by a mysterious creature who manifests itself as the kids most deep rooted fears; a mummy, a leper, a werewolf and most famously – a clown. The kids manage to fight of this creature, this IT and the kids make a pact they they will return to Derry to fight of IT again if IT ever returns.

Of course IT does return later as its stated in the book that IT must feed every 27 years. The kids are now grown up and IT begins to terrorise the children of Derry once more. So as adults, ‘The Losers Club’ reunite to defeat IT once and for all.

So that’s the basics of the novel – lets take a look at the mini-series.

The Mini-series

Originally aired on the ABC network on TV in 1990 and split into two parts shown over two consecutive nights totalling a 192 minute run-time – the later DVD release has a 187 run-time and has several scenes removed or shortened.

Pennywise 2

And this is the main problem for this mini-series. The fact it was made for TV in 1990. You see, TV can get away with pretty much anything these days. We have bloody/gory TV shows full of violence everywhere now. But this was not the case back in 1990, while the mini-series does have its share of blood – its really nothing compared to the novel. EVERYTHING is watered down. Just as an example: the novel opens with a kid, Georgie chasing a paper boat down a gutter. This is where we first meet IT the clown, ‘Mr Bob Gray’ as he introduces himself (A.K.A ‘Pennywise’). As Georgie reaches into the gutter to retrieve his paper boat, Pennywise pulls Georgie’s arm off – and this is all depicted in gruesome detail. In the mini-series, you have Georgie chasing his boat and meeting Pennywise who does grab the kid’s arm… and then it cuts to black and you see nothing.

Most of the scenes of this mini-series are just like this, they have the build up, the tension – but the payoff is just not there and you’re left with nothing.

Then there is the structure. The mini-series jumps around every five minuets between the 1950’s period when they were kids to the ‘present day’ as adults. I don’t mind non-linear structure (some of the stuff I write is done this way), but its overused here and gets annoying… really, really annoying. You’re introduced to a character as an adult and it’ll flashback to when they were a kid – rinse and repeat for every single main character in the plot. It fills in the back story but with all the jumping around – you’re left with a headache and not enough time to get to know each character. This is something the new remake corrects as its split into two separate moives with the first one just following the kids and the second flick telling the story of the adults – a much better narrative.

ITs Not Scary

When I say ‘ITs not scary’ I mean in both the sense of the overall story and how its been diluted for TV to the IT character itself. Most of the ‘scares’ in this involve balloons… yes – balloons.

IT Balloon

There’s a scene where one character (Mike Hanlon) does his annoying flashback introduction thing and when it cuts back to him as an adult – a balloon is floating next to him and it pops… and this is supposed to be a scare. See the pic above for another example of a balloon scare. There’s another scene where a fridge is opened and a load of balloons come out. There are balloons everywhere in this thing – in fact, I think there are more balloons than characters and its clear they’re really trying to make balloons scary. They just randomly appear and pop – popping balloons are not scary. They can give you a jump in real-life when you’re not expecting it I admit – but in a supposedly scary TV horror adaption?

I can just imagine how the pitch went for this mini-series…

Director: “I want to turn Stephen King’s IT into a TV series.”

Producer: “That’s quite a violent and bloody book. You sure we can get away with that stuff on TV?”

Director: “Already have that covered – we’ll remove most of the scares, blood and violence and replace it all with balloons.”

Balloon Pop

Okay so the mini-series has a few decent scary moments… a few. But for something that runs at 192 minuets – its just not enough. I’ve seen scarier Goosebumps episodes and that was a kids TV show.

Pennywise

Now for the main course – Pennywise himself. He comes across as just mildly more scary then all those damn balloons. Now I mean no disrespect to Tim Curry playing Pennywise here as he’s amazing. This mini-series is worth watching just for Tim Curry’s performance alone. He really pours his heart and soul into this role and that shows on the screen… he’s just not scary.

Pennywise 3

No, not even with those teeth. Not scary. He’s funny – downright hilarious in fact. cracking jokes, making puns and that laugh.

Pennywise: “Do you have Prince Albert in a can? You do! Well you’d better let the the poor guy out! HU-HA-HU-HA-HU-HA.”

Pennywise Gif.gif

This is what he does best. Make bad, outdated jokes while laughing hysterically and he’s brilliant at it too. I love Tim Curry in this and I love his character, he’s just in the wrong genre. Tim Curry should return to the role as a kids entertainer –  I’d hire him for birthday parties. I could watch Curry’s Pennywise all damn day.

IT is funner than it is scary and at times it genuinely feels like a parody/spoof. Have a double feature of this and Airplane! and you’re in for a good time.

Now I know what people are thinking – You’re an adult. Of course its not scary now, you should have watched it as a kid.. Well – here’s my rebuttal. This mini-series was made for adults in 1990, so it was adults that would’ve watched it back then. Besides, I’m in my 40s now. I did watch this as a kid back in 1990 (think I saw it in 91). Its not scary now and it wasn’t scary then either.

There was one clown that scared my back when I was a kid and if I’m being honest, still kind of does now. And that was this fella…

Poltergeist Clown.jpg

And that was a doll, and inanimate object.

Pennywise is a riot, a complete laugh. If you want a load of un-scary balloons and a damn amazingly comical clown performance then the IT mini-series is a must see. Its rib-crackingly good fun. Its one of the best comedies of the 90s – well worth a watch. A terrible horror but a brilliant comedy.

I’ve not yet seen the recent remake (yet), but it is getting good reviews and people are saying that it is scary… but is it as funny?

Just as a side note: It is mentioned in the novel how IT returns every 27 years to feed. Well its has been 27 years from the release of the mini-series up to the release of the remake…

Pennywise 2017

The Michael Keaton Revival

Now – I love me some Michael Keaton, he’s one of my favourite actors and has been for years. Sadly he has often been overlooked and underused particularly in the late 90s and early 2000s, but recently Keaton has been having a bit of a resurgence in his career – and I for one love it. So right here, I want to take a quick look at Keaton’s career so far and celebrate the return of one of cinema’s overlooked greats.

His real name is Michael Douglas, but he had to change it when he became an actor because of that other Michael Douglas fella. Exactly where Keaton took his stage name from – I’m not 100% sure as I’ve read two different sources. One stating he used the name after reading an article about Diane Keaton and another saying he took the name from Buster Keaton.

Keaton’s acting career began in the mid 70s on TV in shows like  Mister Rogers’ Neighbourhood, Maude and The Mary Tyler Moore Hour. In 1982 he secured his first co-starring credit appearing alongside Henry ‘The Fonz’ Winkler in the comedy flick Night Shift. This role kick-started his early film career and Keaton became known as a comic actor when he starred in Mr. MomJohnny Dangerously and Gung Ho.

Johnny Dangerously

By the way, I recommend Johnny Dangerously if you want a stupidly funny parody flick in the same vein as Airplane! and The Naked Gun. Its a brilliant spoof of gangster films and often overlooked. ‘You fargin’ icehole!’

It was in 1988 when Keaton got his major breakthrough role. Tim Burton cast him in the horror/comedy picture Beetlejuice. Probably one of my favourite Tim Burton films and one of my favourite Keaton films too, even though he appears in less than 20% of the movie, Keaton stole the entire flick and cemented Betelgeuse (correct spelling of his name) as one of the most memorable film characters of the 80s. The much rumoured sequel is still – supposedly in the works.

Beetlejiuce

It was the following year in 1989 when Keaton would team up with Burton once more in one of the most controversial pieces of casting ever…

Batman Logo

Oh my goodness, the backlash both Burton and Keaton got for Batman is legendary. There were over 50,000 letters of complaint sent to the studio when it was announced that Keaton would be playing Batman in the (then) new movie… and this was the late 80s, pre-internet days too. Years later, Keaton spoke out about the outrage his casing caused.

“It baffled me that anyone was thinking about that. I heard about the outrage, and I couldn’t get it. I didn’t understand why it was such a big deal. It made me feel bad that it was even in question.”

All this backlash steamed from the simple fact that Keaton was known for his comedic roles and the fans just refused to believe that this comedy actor could play a serious Batman. Of course both Burton and especially Keaton would prove their doubters wrong. In my humble opinion, I still feel that Keaton was the best live action Batman and Bruce Wayne.

Keaton Batman

The success of Batman catapulted Keaton into the limelight and he became a superstar. The film also began the more ‘adult’ superhero movie and a trend that still continues today where every other flick released now is a superhero one. This was followed by the sequel Batman Returns in 1992 where Burton and Keaton teamed up once more. This sequel was much darker and violent than the first. There was even a third Batman film in the pre-production stages, but when Burton left the project – so did Keaton and the franchise took a massive nosedive as it continued without either of the two people who made it the success it became.

Keaton was riding high in the late 80s and early 90s as he starred in more films including; Pacific HeightsMy Life, The Paper and Multiplicity – a return to his more comedic roots written and directed by the great Harold Ramis where Keaton’s character clones himself.

Multiplicity

After re-watching the film recently, I was pleasantly surprised to find it still holds up well and you get four times the Keaton too.

In the late 90s, he played the same character twice in two different movies based on novels from the same writer. He appeared as Agent Ray Nicolette in Quentin Tarantino’s Jackie Brown from 1997 and then again in Out of Sight from 1998. Both films based on the work of author Elmore Leonard. But by the time the 2000s rolled around, Keaton career was drying up. He still acted but never managed to reach the same success as the late 80s/early 90s and those heady Batman years. The 2000s were a very mixed bag for the actor and appearing in movies like Herbie: Fully Loaded hardly helped either. But here’s the thing about a bad Keaton film, the movie may be bad – but it still had Michael Keaton in it and he was always a joy to watch.

The big major starring roles were just not coming his way and I couldn’t understand why – he was still a damn good actor, he just wasn’t getting the job offers he deserved. In 2014 he was cast as the antagonist in the terrible remake of Robocop… and you know how I said before how a bad Keaton film is still worth watching just for him? Well this Robocop remake is a perfect example of exactly that. Despite the lacklustre career Keaton was experiencing by 2014, it was this very same year he starred in the movie that changed everything.

Birdman Poster

Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) is a brilliant film that sees Keaton cast as a struggling actor who was once famous for playing a superhero decades ago… does any of this sound familiar? I really do not want to say too much about this one as going into it blind is the best way to experience this flick. But any and every Michael Keaton fan should watch Birdman. Keaton is on top form as actor Riggan Thomson who tries to put on a Broadway play in an attempt to reinvigorate his failing career all while being haunted by his iconic, titular superhero alter-ego Birdman… or is he?

Keaton even won a Golden Globe Award as well as earning a Best Actor Oscar nomination for his role in Birdman. At last, he was back where he belonged and was getting the recognition he deserved as an actor. On the 28th of July, 2016 – Keaton was given a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and about damn time too.

Also in 2016, he starred as Ray Kroc in the movie The Founder which tells the true story of the man who created the McDonald’s fast food empire… all be it not very harmoniously.

The Founder

In fact the very reason I decided to write this article was because I just watched The Founder and thoroughly enjoyed it, highly recommended. Its just so great to see Michael Keaton not just getting acting jobs, but getting great ones and doing them justice too.

Most recently Keaton has returned to his superhero movie roles, only this time on the other side of the the coin when he played super-villain The Vulture in Spider-Man: Homecoming. No, I’ve not yet seen it as I’ve been a bit busy getting ready to welcome our first baby due in just a couple of days as of writing this. But I have heard great things about the flick and in particular Keaton himself. Plus you’ll also be seeing him soon-ish in Disney’s live action version of Dumbo, set to be directed by his old sparring partner Tim Burton in 2019… maybe Beetlejuice 2 after that?

Well it seems like Michael Keaton is back and I for one love it. I miss him when he’s not acting or acting in bad films and I always enjoy it whenever he is on screen (yes even in bad movies). His career, right now is going from strength to strength – I hope it continues for many years to come. If you know any film fans that are not aware of this man’s work – then, I want you to do me a favour. I want you to tell all your friends about him… He’s Keaton.’

Micheal Keaton 2

I’m just shocked and thankful that I’ve gotten away with everything – experimenting here, trying at this, failing at that, being good in some things, not so good in others. It’s kind of amazing that people are still sticking by me. When they come up to me in the street, I just want to write them all cheques. – Michael Keaton

George A. Romero

Strangely enough, last night I was watching Night of the Living Dead when the news of the legendary George A. Romero’s passing popped up onto my news feed. And I do mean ‘legendary’, a word that is often thrown around when talking about writers/directors/actors, etc and one often misused – but what else can you call the person who invented the modern zombie?

Right here, I’d like to take a look at Romero’s amazing career in films and even games, his massive influence and how he changed the horror genre forever.

George A Romero Quote

Born George Andrew Romero on the 4th of February, 1940.  Romero was born in the New York borough of The Bronx. He started his career filming short films and commercials and in the late 1960s, he formed a production company called Image Ten Productions. In 1968 Romero wrote, produced and directed quite simply one of the most seminal and influential horror movies ever – Night of the Living Dead.

Night of the Living Dead

Originally called Night of the Flesh Eaters and even given a copyright under that title. The film’s name was later changed to Night of the Living Dead, yet the original theatrical distributor failed to include a new copyright under the new name and the film became public domain. Romero never made a single penny form the movie as it became the most popular horror film of 1968 meeting with rave reviews and high critical praise.

There are pluses and minuses to the film being in the public domain. The negatives mean anyone can do anything to the film… and they have – from colourised versions and alternate cuts with newly added scenes and music to endless remakes and reissues. As of writing, there are six different remakes/version of this movie and countless alternate cuts and variations. The major positive about this being in the public domain is that the movie can be seen completely free and legal pretty much anywhere – including right here…

Night of the Living Dead created what we consider the modern zombie. Yeah sure, there had been zombie flicks before it, but they were zombies created by mind control or curses, etc. It was George A. Romero who changed zombies into the re-animated dead corpses that eat flesh that we now know. The film’s influence can still be felt today and zombies are more popular than ever now. Big fan of the TV show The Walking Dead? You can thank George A. Romero for that, even The Walking Dead creator, Robert Kirkman has stated how much of an inspiration Romero and Night of the Living Dead was to him.

The Simon Pegg/Edgar Wright modern classic Shaun of the Dead was massively inspired by Romero’s work and chock full of hidden jokes and references for the hardcore Romero fan to find. The influence this movie has continued for decades and still remains today.

Romero may have never made any money from his first major film, but the high praise the movie did get allowed him to make more movies (this time with copyrights). He continued to make more movies including There’s Always VanillaJack’s Wife / Season of the Witch and The Crazies. None of the films really made any impact in the way Night of the Living Dead did previously. Then in 1978, Romero directed Martin.

George A Romero Martin

Martin is a vampire film with a lot of heart, a stylistic flick that modernised the vampire lore. Often overlooked and forgotten about, Martin is a film I can’t recommend enough.

It was also in 1978 when Romero released what many (including myself) consider the greatest zombie film ever made – Dawn of the Dead. Released a decade after his first foray into the zombie film, this is not a sequel to Night of the Living Dead but more so just another zombie picture that may or may not exist in the same universe. Romero then followed this up with another zombie movie – Day of the Dead in 1985 which rounded off his then ‘Dead trilogy’ of films.

It was in 1982 when the trifecta of horror royalty of the 80s came together to make what is considered one of the all time great anthology horror movies…

Creepshow

Creepshow. Three of the finest in 80s horror teamed up to bring this flick to the big screen. So you have George A. Romero directing stories written by Stephen King with the awesome Tom Savini doing the special effects/make-up work. Three of the best of the best of the best all in one fantastic movie. Creepshow is a great mix of gore, scares, macabre and very, very black humour. One of my all time favourite anthology films that any horror fan should watch.

Romero was at the top of his game through the 80s and most of the 90s too. Films like Monkey Shines, Two Evil Eyes and The Dark Half (written by Stephen King) ensured Romero kept himself busy. And in 1990 , he updated his original screen play for Night of the Living Dead to be remade by his long time friend and collaborator – Tom Savini, a remake I definitely recommend as its great. But Romero didn’t just stay behind the camera as he made a easy to miss cameo in The Silence of the Lambs in 1991 as one of Lecter’s jailers…

George A Romero Silence of the Lambs

Romero not only plied his talent to movies, but also video games too. In 1998, he directed an advert for the then new Resident Evil 2 game. A game franchise that is very heavily influenced by Romero’s ‘Dead’ series of films. He was even asked to direct a whole movie based on the game franchise but declined saying:

 “I don’t wanna make another film with zombies in it, and I couldn’t make a movie based on something that ain’t mine.”

But the time the 2000s rolled around, Romero’s film career was drying up. His influences were still felt throughout the film-making world, and his ‘Dead’ film series started to see numerous remakes as zombies became hugely popular once more. Both Dawn of the Dead and Day of the Dead saw remakes in the 2000s. As the zombie genre was gaining popularity, Romero decided he was not yet done with his ‘Dead’ series and directed a few more films – Land of the DeadDiary of the Dead and Survival of the Dead. 

Romero also made a cameo as a main boss in the game Call of Duty: Black Ops. He appears as a zombie version of himself in the add-on Call of the Dead zombie map.

George A Romero Call of the Dead

Romero was joined by other horror TV and movie icons, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Danny Trejo, Michael Rooker, and Robert Englund. 

On the 13th of July this year, Romero announced yet another film in his ‘Dead’ series – Road of the Dead and even released an official poster.

George A Romero Road of the Dead

He described the movie as…

“Set in a sanctuary city where this fat cat runs a haven for rich folks, and one of the things that he does is stage drag races to entertain them. There’s a scientist there doing genetic experiments, trying to make the zombies stop eating us, and he has discovered that with a little tampering, they can recall certain memory skills that enable them to drive in these races. It’s really The Fast and the Furious with zombies.”

Just three days later and he passed away. What is going to happen to the movie now is (as of writing) unknown.

George A. Romero’s influence has lasted almost fifty years, from his breakthrough classic Night of the Living Dead in 1968 right up to today. He has had a hand in creating some of the best and most recognisable writers and directors working in horror today. Romero also influenced the video game world and I’m sure he will continue to influence the horror genre in any medium for many more years to come too.

George A. Romero passed away in his sleep on the 16th of July, 2017 following a brief but aggressive battle with lung cancer.

George A Romero

“If I fail, the film industry writes me off as another statistic. If I succeed, they pay me a million bucks to fly out to Hollywood and fart.” – George A. Romero

Queen Biopic Finally Gets A ‘Breakthru’

Its been a long time coming, with several pre-production problems – but the Queen/Freddie Mercury biopic is going ahead. Officially announced on the Queen website, the movie will be called Bohemian Rhapsody and the project is so far along that pre-production work begins next week with filming starting in September!

Queen Band

Queen were one of the greatest rock bands of the 80s and their music still continues to inspire to this day.  The film is set to show the band’s early years, rise to fame and the almost break up in 1985 before the memorising Live Aid gig that eventually catapulted Queen back into the limelight once more. But who will be playing the key roles?

FreddieMalek

Well flamboyant front-man, Freddie Mercury will be played by Rami Malek who was recently seen in Mr Robot. As for the rest of the band? Well they have yet to be announced, but Queen Online has promised to make more announcements soon.

The film will be directed by Bryan Singer – known for The Usual Suspects and several of the X-Men movies. With Roger Taylor and Brain May on board as the film’s executive music producers. Roger and Brain have said on Queen Online that…

“Rami has great presence and he’s utterly dedicated to the project. He’s completely  living and breathing Freddie already, which is wonderful.”

But there’s more. Fancy trying out for a role as an extra in the movie? Well you can…

Queen Castcall

Is your hair 70s/80s enough to apply?

No release date has been announced yet – but stay tuned to the official Queen website for more news. After all the false starts and breakdowns with the project over the last few years, lets hope everyone involved can all share One Vision.

Freddie

 

Moore, Roger Moore – Licensed To Thrill

I became a James Bond fan in the 80s – mainly due to one man. Sir Roger George Moore who sadly passed away recently. Right here, I’d like to take a look at the legend, his life and career as I remember Roger Moore.

Early Life

Born on 14 October 1927 in Stockwell, London – the only child to policeman George Alfred Moore and his Indian born mother, Lillian Pope. Roger Moore attended Battersea Grammar School, but as the Second World war broke out – the family was evacuated to Holsworthy, Devon where he was educated at Launceston College.

Moore had an apprenticeship at an animation studio – but was fired after making a mistake with one of the animation cells. Around the same time, his father was investigating a robbery that had been reported at the home of film director Brian Desmond Hurst – which in turn led to Moore being introduced to the director and eventually hired as an extra in the film Caesar and Cleopatra from 1945. Hurst was so impressed with the young Roger Moore’s professionalism that he offered to pay Moore’s fees at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. Moore spent three terms studying at RADA where, in a strange twist of fate, he met one of his fellow classmates for the first time – Lois Maxwell, who would go on to play Miss Moneypenny in the James Bond franchise.

When he turned 18, Moore was conscripted for national service at the end of WW II. He was commissioned into the Royal Army Service Corps on 21st September 1946 as a second lieutenant. Moore was an officer in the Combined Services Entertainment Section and eventually became a captain, commanding a small depot in West Germany.

Early Career

Moore worked as a model through the early 1950s appearing in print adverts for knitwear and toothpaste.

In 1954, he singed a seven year contract with MGM and the movies he featured in were all disasters. In Moore’s own words…

“At MGM, RGM (Roger George Moore) was NBG [no bloody good].”

Roger Moore

Appearing in the movies, Interrupted Melody, The King’s Thief and Diane – Moore’s MGM contract was cancelled due to the critical and commercial failures.

Moore starting making appearances in TV shows such as, Alfred Hitchcock Presents and the TV series of The Third Man. He landed the lead role as Sir Wilfred of Ivanhoe in the TV show, Ivanhoe (1958–1959). After which, he secured yet another lead TV role with The Alaskans (1959–1960) – where Moore played “Silky” Harris. But it was his casting as Beau Maverick for the TV series, Maverick (1960–1961) where Moore started to become recognised. Interestingly enough, a young Sean Connery tried out for the very same role role too.

From his role in Maverick, Moore was then cast as the lead role of the James Bond-esque Simon Templar in The Saint (1962–1969). A role that made Moore an international star on both sides of the Atlantic. Moore was then cast as Brett Sinclair alongside Tony Curtis as Danny Wilde in the TV show, The Persuaders! (1971–1972). The show was a flop in the US but successful in other territories including Europe and Australia.

Just around the corner was the pivotal role that would make Roger Moore a guaranteed superstar.

The James Bond Era

Interestingly enough, Moore had previously been considered for the role of James Bond several years earlier after his success with The Saint. It was around 1966 when Sean Connery declared he was retiring as James Bond and the producers of the successful franchise began looking at a replacement. Moore was too busy with his TV commitments – so he role went to George Lazenby in 1969 before Connery changed his mind (and his bank balance) and returned as James Bond in 1971s Diamonds Are Forever. Then when Connery stepped down for good, this was when Moore got to play James Bond for the first time in Live and Let Die… or so many people believe.

While the 1973 flick, Live and Let Die was Moore’s first cinematic outing as James Bond – he had previously played the role. In 1964, he made a guest appearance as a more humorous take on James Bond in the comedy series Mainly Millicent.

You can watch Moore’s very first James Bond performance right here.

Moore would go on to play Bond in The Man with the Golden Gun, The Spy Who Loved Me, Moonraker, For Your Eyes Only, Octopussy and A View to a Kill. He was the oldest actor to play the role as Moore was 45 when he starred in Live and Let Die and 58 in his final Bond film, A View to a Kill.

Post Bond Career

During the Bond years, Moore made several film appearances including playing the role of an eccentric millionaire so obsessed with Roger Moore that he had had plastic surgery to look like his hero in The Cannonball Run. Yes, Roger Moore played a character that looked and acted like Roger Moore… the casting was perfect.

Yet he didn’t act on screen for five years after retiring as James Bond. It was in 1990 when Moore returned to the screen with the TV show, My Riviera. He also appeared inThe Quest and the Spice Girls movie, Spice World. While the unfunny 2002 movie Boat Trip was critically panned – Moore’s role of an amorous homosexual was highly praised as he got to show off is more comedic talents.

In 2010, Moore voiced the bow-tie wearing, talking cat, Lazenby (get it?) in the family movie Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore. Which itself contained more than a handful of James Bond references, in-jokes and parodies. Even after all those years, he could not shake that James Bond persona.

He also has several films in post production waiting to be released in 2017 and 2018 including, Summer Night, Winter Moon, Astrid Silverlock and Troll Hunters.

He was one of the best. Charming, erudite and talented.

Roger Moore died in Switzerland after a brief battle with cancer on 23rd May 2017. He was 89 years old.

Some are blessed with musical ability, others with good looks. Myself, I was blessed with modesty.

Roger Moore