It only rates 42% at Rotten Tomatoes, but they're retards.
I prefer the Quiet Earth
website for sci-fi and horror reviews.
QE is primarily interested in post-apocalyptic themed films. But it also provides a decent amount of coverage for other genres as well. They're especially good at finding obscure indie and non-US movies. They're a good source for pictures that don't get much coverage elsewhere.
FWIW I seldom read or otherwise pay attention to reviews until I see the film. Before that, all I'm looking for is a brief non-spoiler
plot synopsis; a few stills so I can get some idea of the overall 'look' and level of production; and a trailer or two. (I love trailers!)
Once I see the film, I'm much more open to reading reviews. But the main reason I do is to see if I might have missed something rather than to seek validation for my own impressions. I'm at the stage where I'm pretty comfortable with just liking what I like.
I find that the very best films are often horror films. Now, 99% of horror films are just drivel, but that rare horror that pokes its head above the crowd really does go beyond.
One of the reasons I've never had much interest in horror films is because most are pretty lacking. But as you noted, that only makes the rare exception even more enjoyable. And when they're good, they're very good indeed.
I never had patience with vampire anything
until the lovely Kate Beckinsdale took a crack at it in the first two Underworld
installments. I thought the third one lost something, but the first two were very well done. Same goes for Blade
and Blade II
. Both were way up there for pure entertainment value. (A vampire Pomeranian?
Love it! You need a really sick sense of humor to come up with something like that.)
Sci-fi I find are generally more consistently good, but again, rarely truly are "great". Star Wars and Blade Runner are what film makers aspire to. Getting there is another thing though.
The biggest problem with filming sci-fi is the story. It's exceptionally hard to translate something as idea-based as a sci-fi story into something as action-oriented and visual as a movie. As one director pointed out, all you can film are actions and images. There's absolutely no way to film someone's emotions or thoughts. The best you can do is imply
them through visual cues.
Then there's the problem of providing context. Since much good sci-fi creates its own universe, there's a huge amount of background information that needs to be conveyed before the reader/viewer can get into the story. Fans of sci-fi have an advantage because they already know certain genre conventions
which allow them to enter into the story more quickly than the average viewer. Say "warp drive" and a fan will immediately recall the six or seven fully developed (fictional) ways a starship can be made to hop from star to star. A non-fan will need more hand-holding and explanations. Which takes time away from telling the story
. And that's a big problem in the film world.
In the trade, losing footage to provide necessary background is referred to as "laying pipe." A good example of where it didn't become a problem was in Blade Runner
. With a few well chosen scenes and images, Ridley Scott plunked his audience right down into Phillip K. Dick's dystopian future in less than 5 minutes. And with hardly anyone noticing just how strange
a world it was.
A good example of where "laying pipe" was
a problem was in the film The Minority Report
. If you had never read the story, you would have been lost without being filled in on how this weird new method of law enforcement worked. And for it to be believable, you needed a lot of background. Unfortunately, Spielberg spent the first twenty or so minutes providing nothing but background. The real story didn't get started until around the 22 minute mark.
That delay would have been enough to kill The Minority Report
for most people - even if it weren't such a lousy movie. (Which it was.)
One interesting option is to blend horror with sci-fi. It's probably one of the toughest tricks in the world to pull off. But it hasn't kept some directors from trying. Event Horizon
tried and failed despite it's huge budget, name director, and excellent cast. Just goes to show that all the acting talent and special effects in the world still couldn't compensate for a fundamentally flawed storyline. It was almost painful to watch superb actors like Fishburn, Neill, Quinlan and Richardson giving it their all - and to no avail. Event Horizon
was one of the few films I ever went to where the audience started walking out before it was over... (The other was Excalibur.)
Carpenter's Prince of Darkness
mostly succeeded even though the ending got dragged out longer than it should have. AFAIK, this was the very first movie to posit the notion of evil as being a form of malignant intelligence that exists in a dark parallel universe. And one which is actively trying to cross over into our own.
Shades of the old master: H.P. Lovecraft
with his "Elder Gods"... Ia! Cthulhu fhtagn!
I wouldn't mind seeing a remake of PoD
. Especially if it were updated to include some of the more recent discoveries in physics. And
if they fixed the pacing.
The 2006 movie Pulse
actually did succeed in merging the two genres. Fairly believable if you put yourself within the context of the story. It also contains some of the better creepy visuals out there.
Imagine our wireless technologies made a connection to a world beyond our own. Imagine that world used that technology as a doorway into ours. Now, imagine the connection we made can't be shut down. When you turn on your cell phone or log on to your e-mail, they'll get in, you'll be infected and they'll be able to take from you what they don't have anymore -- life.
This film has some memorable scenes. One of the best takes place during a discussion in a coffee shop in what is now a virtually deserted city following an unexplained rash of suicides and disappearances. The character Maddie is trying to explain to skeptical computer hacker-extraordinaire
Dexter what she thinks she knows about what's happening. A very strange wild-eyed man, half-drunk, and half out of his mind with fear, butts into their conversation:
Mattie Webber: Just like Josh said, he pulled something through...
Dexter McCarthy: Pulled ghosts through the Wi-Fi? I just doesn't make any sense.
Thin Bookish Guy:[adding to their conversation] It makes all the sense in the world. Do you have any idea of the amount of data that's floating out there? The amount of information we just beam into the air? We broadcast to everyone where we are, and we think we're safe? The whole freakin' city is going insane, and we're acting like it's nothing. Well, it's not nothing. It's something we don't understand, and it is coming for us.
There's a clip up on YouTube if you want to watch it. Link here
. This scene starts at the 1:22 mark.Pulse
is an American remake of the 2001 the Japanese film: Kairo
. It's one of those few times when a remake holds it's own against the original. I have both. I personally think Pulse
is the better movie.
You can watch the trailer for Pulse here
and the trailer for Kairo here
One new movie that looks promising is a Columbian military/horror piece called El Paramo
A special high mountain command composed of nine experienced soldiers is sent to a military base in a desolate high-plains moor of Colombia with wich contact was lost several days ago and was believed to be the target of a guerrilla attack.
Upon arrival, the only person found inside the base is a peasant woman who is heavily chained. Gradually, the isolation, the inability to communicate with the outside world and the impossibility to escape, undermine the integrity and sanity of the soldiers, causing them to lose the certainties about the identity of the enemy and creating them doubts about the true nature of that strange and silent woman.
Prisoners of fear, paranoia and a dark secret that they carry, they will challenge each other becoming animals willing to kill one another in order to survive.
Quiet Earth has a write up and a trailer if anybody's interested. You can find it here
Looks pretty cool.