Article: Halloween (1978) Vs Halloween (2007)

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Rob Zombie’s remake of John Carpenter’s Halloween is not only a prime example of a remake done right; it’s a prime example of how a remake can surpass the original.

Now before I go on to discuss why I much prefer Rob Zombie’s much maligned take on Carpenter’s beloved classic, I’d just like to clarify that I’m a huge John Carpenter fan.  I like most of his films, including some of his more scorned efforts.  In fact, I even defended ”Ghosts of Mars” here.  So understand that this isn’t a criticism of one of the greatest filmmakers in the history of American cinema.  This is merely my opinion and I hope you’re not upset if you’re part of the majority who are going to disagree with me.

Carpenter’s ”Halloween” was a revolutionary horror film that paved the way for the slasher boom that was to follow.  It’s one of the most influential genre films of all time and nothing will ever change that, especially not my opinion.  Rob Zombie’s version will never be held in high regard; even though it is a better movie.

The appeal of the original Michael Myers is his mystery.  He’s The Boogeyman: an unstoppable, supernatural force of nature who could pop out at any time.  He’s supposed to be an inhumane embodiment of pure evil.  I respect that and I can see why people find it effective.  Rob Zombie on the other hand, gave Michael a backstory of growing up in a broken home and being bullied in school.  I’ll be the first to admit that Zombie’s backstory doesn’t tread any new ground.  In fact, on paper it’s fairly generic. However, I’ve always loved Zombie’s depiction of Myer’s upbringing from a white trash background and feel it added meat to the bones of a story that was severely lacking in substance originally.

Personally, I’ve always been fascinated with backstories in horror films.  I like to see the origins and motivations of my villains and Zombie’s ”reimagining” of Myers is one of the best.  Furthermore, regardless of which version of Myers you prefer, did you want to see the exact same portrayal in both?  Aren’t remakes better when they do something different?  The original wanted us to fill in the blanks ourselves; the remake done it for us. It was the right approach to take in my opinion.  Some movies are bogged down by needless exposition; but if it wasn’t for Zombie delving into the life and psyche of Michael Myers he’d have remained one of the dullest characters in horror lore.

Dullness is my main issue with the original version.  Many fans I talk to praise it for being a prime example of Hitchcock’s pure cinema; this is where a story is told through visual composition, editing and the use of sound and images.  It’s very minimalist, and it’s been used to great effect in a lot of movies.  When done well, it can be awe inspiring.  However, ”Halloween” failed to build suspense, tension and that sense of dread we need to evoke a fearful response.  Fans of the film will counter my statement by saying it has all of these things, and who am I to argue?  It certainly aims to accomplish them, but for me it came out feeling flat.  For others, it’s the exact opposite.

Zombie’s also fails to capture the aforementioned characteristics.  He uses brutal violence as a substitute for suspense and creating a foreboding sense of doom.  Does this make it an effective horror film? I don’t think it does; horror needs more than blood and gore to be effective. However, I don’t for one second consider the remake to be an effective horror film.  The violence is just one aspect that makes it entertaining; the original had absolutely nothing happening and it was tedious.  Give me entertainment over boredom any day.

If your film isn’t going to scare us, at least make it engaging in other ways. Zombie has enough respect for the original and its fans to approach it from a new perspective; his fresh perspective just so happens to be an improvement on the original, where he takes it’s template and adds elements it was severely lacking – a story, interesting characters, entertainment and violence.  Of course the original wouldn’t have needed any of these things if it was successful in other departments – like causing the fear it tried to create.

Rob Zombie’s ”Halloween” isn’t a masterpiece of cinema.  It’s an interesting violent slasher with some layers the original lacked.  In comparison to Carpenter’s, it is a masterpiece.  The backstory is a white trash soap opera, but it’s handled in such a way you can see why it would turn Michael into a psychopathic killer.  In summary: the remake is a fine piece of entertainment and the original is a tedious bore which fails to accomplish the effective horror it tries for.

Zombies sequel, however – now that is a masterpiece.  But more on that some other time.

This is all just my opinion.  The consensus is I’m in the minority, but I can’t change how I feel, folks.  I state it with respect for the original as it inspired filmmakers and movies I love, but I don’t consider it to be a good movie. Feel free to berate me in the comments below or on Facebook.  These are 2 movies that always create some fun conversations when compared.

Article: My Favourite Movies About Cults

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Cults have always fascinated me: if there’s a movie about a group of fanatics out there then you can bet your bottom dollar that I’ve either seen it or have it in my DVD collection waiting to be watched.  I have a special fondness for Satanic cults; the hysteria surrounding them during the 70’s was capitalized by many a filmmaker, and as cheesy as some could be, the image of a group of people in cloaks chanting for the dark lord has always sent a chill down my spine.  Growing up on a steady diet of horror films, I was always suspicious that my neighbours were Satanists, part of a secret sect, sacrificing virgins at the altar of Lucifer.  During my walks into the forest, I used to worry about bumping into a group of nudists dancing around a fire.  But the only naked person dancing around fires was me, I’m afraid.  Not for Satan though: I done it for the ladies.

There have been various cults reported throughout the years; it’s a farfetched notion to acknowledge the existence of extreme sects living on the outskirts of society – or secretly within it.  With all of the ideologies out there, cults come in many shapes and forms.  And so do the movies based on them.  Here are some of my favourites I believe everybody should see at least once if the subject interests you.

Holy Ghost People (2013)

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Mitchell Altieri (one half of indie horror experimentalists The Butcher Brothers) directs this Southern Gothic thriller, which focuses on a religious commune of snake charmers in the Appalachian Mountains, led by the charismatic Brother Billy.  On the surface it looks like a hard working community for healing and worship; but there is something sinister going on just waiting to be uncovered, leading to a twisted finale.

‘’Holy Ghost People’’ is a huge departure for Altieri, whose previous work included genre-bending efforts such as ‘’The Violent Kind’’ and ‘’The Hamiltons.’’  Focusing on a more by the book drama, this is easily the most accessible feature involving The Butcher Brothers – and the best.  Stunning scenery, fractured characters, a constant sense of dread and a thrilling climax makes for a simple but effective experience.

Lord of Illusions (1995)

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‘’Lord of Illusions’’ is a criminally overlooked and underrated chiller from the demented mind of Clive Barker.  Based on his short story, ‘’The Last Illusion’’, Barker also directs this haunting blend of noir mystery and occult horror, which follows a private detective hired to protect an illusionist from a fanatical cult who plan on resurrecting their leader.

‘’Lord of Illusions’’ isn’t a perfect movie like Barker’s previous film ‘’Hellraiser’’, but it’s still one of the golden nuggets from the sea of mediocrity that was 90’s horror.  For the most part, it’s a mesmerising mystery that’s morbid, violent and frightening with a few nightmarish images sure to lurk in your mind afterwards.  Barker mind is a chest full of treasures to be cherished, and this is ample proof that he’s a master of his craft when it comes to storytelling that’s scary, original and large in scope.

Red State (2011)

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”Red State” is the first venture into horror from Kevin Smith.  Inspired by religious hate mongering idiots of The Westboro Baptist Church, it follows a group of teens who accept an invitation for sex online, only to be taken hostage by the Five Points Trinity Church – a group of Christian fundamentalists led by Alvin Cooper, portrayed by the world’s most unappreciated character actor Michael Parks.

What makes ‘’Red State’’ so effective is the notion that it could happen.  Although the Westboro Baptist Church haven’t murdered anybody that we know of (yet), who’s to say they won’t inspire an even crazier bunch of loons in future.  Social commentary aside, ‘’Red State’’ was a huge change of pace for Kevin Smith, which ultimately rejuvenated his career.  It works both as a horror and action thriller, with a career best performance from Michael Parks – who makes monologues of hate speech sound like poetry with how amazing he delivers it.  You might hate the words he’s saying, but he delivers such an impressive acting master class you’ll want to watch it over and over again.

Daniel Day who?  Michael Parks is the world’s finest actor.

Jug Face (2013)

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‘’Jug Face’’ is a horrific coming of age story about a pregnant teenage girl who must escape from a backwoods commune who worship a creature that lives in a hole in the ground.  To appease a supernatural force, a sacrifice must be made to the creature or else the community shall perish and this time, Abby has been chosen.

‘’Jug Face’’ is an offbeat indie feature that puts an interesting and unusual spin on backwoods horror.  Larry Fassenden is outstanding as the clan leader; completely believable in his role as a societal outcast living in the woods, worshipping a hole.  This is one of the best indie horrors in recent memory.

Black Death (2010)

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Christopher Smith’s ‘’Black Death’’ is a period piece set during the first outbreak of the Bubonic Plague.  It follows a young monk (Eddie Redmayne) and a group of religious mercenaries (led by Sean Bean) as they are tasked by finding out the secrets behind a village unaffected by the outbreak, where the dead come back to life.

Part man-on-a-mission adventure, part folk horror, ‘’Black Death’’ is an excellent movie.  It explores themes such as consequences of trying to force your beliefs on others; something which has led to trouble in modern day society which we read about daily in the news.  It also explores the nature of arcane religious concepts which stunt progress.

A shameless homage to ‘’The Wicker Man’’ at times it may be – but that’s no bad thing.  This is the type of film with ambition I’d like to see more of.  It has battles, an array of interesting characters and a splendid climax where beliefs are questioned and violence ensues.

Drive Angry (2011)

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Nicholas Cage plays Milton, a vengeful father who escapes from Hell to hunt down the satanic cult and kidnapped his granddaughter to use as a sacrifice for the Devil.  He is pursued by The Accountant, Lucifer’s right hand man.  Along for the ride with Milton is Piper, a hot waitress he picked up after she left her down and out husband.

‘’Drive Angry’’ is one of the better neo-Grindhouse movies and Cage’s most enjoyable of his career in decline years.  It has fast cars, sex scene shoot outs and Amber Heart sporting a pair of tiny shorts.  What’s not to love?  It’s pure popcorn entertainment, with lots of open road carnage and high octane action.  I love this movie more than most.

End of the Line (2007)

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Maurice Devereaux is arguably horrors most heartbreaking story.  The guy just can’t get any projects off the ground, yet his imagination is just what the genre needs.   In 2001, he made a little known film called ‘’Slashers’’, about a group of Americans on an extreme Japanese reality show trying to survive a deadly game.  It’s well worth seeing if you can track it down.  However, 6 years later he would unleash ‘’End of the Line’’ – an Apocalyptic thriller about a group of religious fanatics on a killing spree in a subway station.  There is much more to “End of the Line’’ though; supernatural evil is present and Armageddon might actually be happening.  It’s an ambitious effort which pays off – and one of the best unseen horror films you’re ever likely to see in your life.

The Manson Family (2003)

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Has there ever been a scarier cult than The Manson Family?  Led by Charles Manson, a group of young hippies committed some of the most notorious crimes to ever hit American headlines; including, but not limited to, the murder of Hollywood actress Sharon Tate while she was two weeks away from giving birth.  Such crimes should never be celebrated, but Manson has become a cult icon in his own right; and the poster boy of the celebrity serial killer.

Jim Van Bebber’s ‘’The Manson Family’’ is a dirty movie; it’s grainy, nasty and downright trippy at times.  A movie like this is always going to be polarizing, but no film about some of history’s sickest criminals should be presented as pretty.  Shot in the style of a quasi-documentary, it shows Manson and his ‘’Family’’ engaging in sex, drugs and violence – as well as discussing their delusional beliefs and the figurehead who inspired them.  It doesn’t glorify them like other movies have done: it’s an ugly, accurate depiction of a group of lost sheep succumbing to the beliefs of a madman.

Some might call it an exploitation movie.  It’s not; it’s a stomach churning account of humanity at its ugliest: a reminder that these are people who should not be celebrated.  I wouldn’t call it a morality tale; it’s just an honest portrayal.

Rosemary’s Baby (1968)

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Rosemary and Guy Woodhouse move into an apartment in a building with a bad reputation. They discover that their neighbours are a very friendly elderly couple named Roman and Minnie Castevet, and Guy begins to spend a lot of time with them. Strange things start to happen: a woman Rosemary meets in the laundry dies a mysterious death, Rosemary has strange dreams and hears strange noises and Guy becomes remote and distant. Then Rosemary falls pregnant and begins to suspect that her neighbours have special plans for her child.

”Rosemary’s Baby” is a stonewall horror classic which has stood the test of time and remains fresh to this day.  Very few films have successfully captured paranoia and fear at every corner quite like Polanski’s blueprint for crafting a perfect horror film.  Although not my favourite film on the list, it’s probably the best.  Very few films have replicated its ability not to trust a single character.  When I saw this as a kid, I did not trust a single person for months.  This is horror which gets under your skin and into your mind.

Race With The Devil (1975)

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Frank and Roger and their wives take off for Colorado in a recreational vehicle, looking forward to some skiing and dirt biking. While camping en route, they witness a Satanic ritual sacrifice, but the local sheriff finds no evidence to support their claims and urges them to continue on their vacation. On the way, however, they find themselves repeatedly attacked by cult members, and they take measures to defend themselves.

”Race With The Devil” is one of the best movies of all time to ever blend horror and action.  Coming out during the golden era of carsploitation films and satanic hysteria, it blends both to create a thrill ride with high speed chases and lots of smashed up vehicles; yet it manages to maintain a mood of dread and paranoia throughout that’s genuinely unsettling.

This is popcorn entertainment that’ll give you the willies.

The Sacrament (2013)

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The journalist Patrick works at the Vice, a company dedicated to cover bizarre news. When his sister Caroline joins a community, she travels abroad with her new family. Out of the blue, Caroline invites her brother to visit her in an undefined country and Patrick travels by helicopter with his friends Jake and Sam that work with him at Vice. They find weird that the men that have come to guide them to the Eden Parish have guns. On the arrival to the camp, Patrick, Sam and Jake find a community of happy people that worship Father. They interview Father but soon they realize that people are not as happy as they seem to be.

Ti West returned to cult horror with this found footage thriller loosely based on the infamous Jonestown Massacre.  It puts the viewer right in the midst of a mass suicide – but don’t think for one second just because it’s suicide that it’s optional.  No one is getting out of this one alive.

This is chock-full of suspense and dread, with a jaw-dropping climax that left me stunned – and in love.

House of the Devil (2009)

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Ti West’s breakthrough hit was a return to the good old days of 70’s satanic horror.  It follows a strapped for cash college student who accepts a babysitting job on the night of a lunar eclipse, which we all know is the night Satan likes to have his followers do nasty things to attractive young woman.  From the moment she accepts the job we know she’s in danger.  It’s all about waiting for it to happen.

What makes “House of the Devil’’ so harrowing is the general likability of protagonist Samantha; from the outset she’s somebody you root for.  Most people who have been to college know how difficult it can be financially; she’s a sweet girl trying to make ends meet.  Therefore, her plight into danger is most unwelcome – but so expertly done it makes for a modern horror classic.

‘’House of the Devil’’ is a very slow film, but it’s wracked with suspense from the start and doesn’t let up; this makes the horrific moments more effective when they do happen.

VHS 2 – Safe Haven (2013)

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If there’s ever been a short film of an anthology series I’ve wished was a full feature, it’s ‘’Safe Haven’’.  Co-directed by Gareth Evans (The Raid) and Timo Tjahjanto (Killers), it follows a group of reporters who infiltrate an Indonesian cult on the ‘’Day of Reckoning.’’  What ensues is a bat shit insane segment involving mass suicide, zombies and a giant goat demon; it’s very violent, thrilling and intense and I really don’t have anything else to say about it.  Just go watch it.

Society (1989)

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Bill is a teenager living in Beverly Hills.  He’s popular at school, an athlete and has a beautiful girlfriend.  However, he feels like he doesn’t fit in: his parents and sister are close, but he suspects he might be adopted.  With his sister about to join the “Society’’, a serious of strange events transpire and Bill finds out his suspicions might not be all that far-fetched at all.

Brian Yuzna’s first film as a director is a social commentary on class divisions with a cult and body horror twist.  It’s a very funny movie; it’s also very disgusting and bizarre, with a climax that you’ll never forget.  I have friends who won’t listen to my recommendations anymore because I made them watch this.  I also know people who are eternally grateful for me putting them onto it.  See it for yourself and make up your own mind.

Martyrs (2008)

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The New Wave of French Horror during the 00’s was one of the best periods the genre has ever known.  Movies like “Inside’’, ‘’High Tension’’ and “Frontier(s)’’ were, essentially, the horror movies fans of the extreme had been waiting for.  However, the best of the bunch is “Martyrs’’ – deemed by many as one of the most disturbing films ever made.

‘’Martyrs’’ is a grim, bleak experience no person in their right mind would ever want to revisit.  It’s incredibly violent, psychologically punishing and uncompromising.  It’s also an intelligent movie which excels beyond the one dimensional torture porn films it shares elements with.  This is horror that is devoid of humour and resolution; the experience is unrelenting and harrowing.  It won’t entertain you, but it’s a true masterpiece in the truest sense of the word.

The Wicker Man (1973)

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Sargent Howie travels to Summerisle in the Scottish aisles to investigate the disappearance of a young girl.  The locals are weird and unhelpful – he’s convinced that they’re hiding something and he’s adamant to get to the bottom of it.

“The Wicker Man’’ is one of very few movies that is as ridiculous as it is scary.  Unabashedly camp, often silly and offbeat in every way, it incorporates strange musical numbers and left field humour into a suspense-filled, paranoid mystery thriller to great effect.  It’s a strange concoction that shouldn’t work, yet it does – wonderfully well.

Christopher Lee gives the best performance of his entire career as the peculiar and imposing Lord of the Isle; his scenes are basically cameo appearances, but they’re so powerful and essential to the film it adds to the mystique of his character.

Chilling.  Enchanting.  Funny.  Bizarre.  Unsettling.  Unforgettable.  “The Wicker Man’’ is a one in a million cult classic that will never be replicated.  This is magic captured on film unlike anything else.

Kill List (2011)

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Ben Wheatley is the most exciting director working today and “Kill List’’ is my all time favourite horror film.  Many would say that it’s three movies thrown into one – a Ken Loach style social realist drama, a hitman thriller and a horror film to put a cherry on top.  Upon my first viewing, I felt this way; but subsequent rewatches have made me realize how it’s all tied together.

The story revolves around an ex-hitman with financial woes.  He quit the business after a past event which is never discussed in detail, but we get the impression it was bad.  Now, in desperate need for a payday, he agrees to help out his old partner in crime who has a lucrative job for them.  It seems run-of-the-mill at first, but the organization who hired them have a hidden agenda for Jay.  As his sanity starts to slip, he gets deep into a situation he can’t escape from.

“Kill List’’ is a movie you have to watch closely to see how the events which transpire are connected.  Nothing is randomly thrown together; every single moment in Jay’s downfall has been premeditated.  To sum it up: he didn’t take the job by chance.  He was carefully chosen and lured without his knowledge.

This is an ambiguous movie, with no exposition to guide you.  You’ll pick more up every time you watch it and make your own evaluations.  It’s a fun movie to research and interpret.

’Kill List’’ is very grim and violent, with occasional moments of pitch black humour.  Neil Maskell delivers a powerhouse of a performance and shows that he’s one of the best around for playing characters with violent tendencies.  All in all, this film is perfect.

What are some of your favourites?

Guest Article: Tyler Hosley Picks His Favourite Movies About Drugs

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When I started blogging, I did so with the sole intention of meeting like minded film fans to share and discuss my passion for cinema.  However, one person I discuss movies with all the time is my good buddy Tyler Hosley.  If you read my blog and wonder how I come across certain movies, you can bet a good percentage of the time it’s because of Tyler. Our tastes are similar, yet in many ways so different and it always makes for some amazing film chat.  Anyway, I asked Tyler to be a guest on my little blog so he could discuss a type of cinema we’re both fond of – Drug. Below is a list of some of Tyler’s favourite movies about people who like to puff the magic dragon, with his reasons for loving them so much.  I hope you enjoy his picks and hopefully find some recommendations as a result.

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Drug films have just always been my thing, whether it be people snortin’ coke, shootin’ heroin’, droppin’ acid, smokin’ meth, suckin’ on that crack pipe, takin’ handfuls of oxycontin while on PCP and fucking his AIDS infected junkie girlfriend in the ass, if the movie has characters doing drugs, trust me, I’m on that shit like crabs in a street whore’s bush! Anyways…yes, I love drug cinema, it’s my favorite sub-genre of all time, if the sub-genre had a pussy, I’d most likely fuck it, but yeah, here’s a list of 15 of my own personal favorite drug flicks, I’ll keep it at 15, because if not, I’ll probably keep taking & talking and list 300 movies….in no particular order:

SPUN– probably the most authentic look into the life of speed/meth addiction. It’s grungy, dirty, and beautifully over the top!

REQUIEM FOR A DREAM
– Not much to say about this one that hasn’t been said thousands of times in the past, so I’ll leave it with a……ASS TO ASS!

THE BASKETBALL DIARIES– A masterpiece! I’ll never forgot the first time I saw this movie, I knew DiCaprio was gonna be a star! It truly is a perfect film, and fantastic soundtrack, too! Fun fucking fact, this is actually the movie that inspired my little short film ‘Junkie’ SHAMELESS PLUG ALERT! wink emoticon

SCARFACE– More of a gangster film, but you can’t have a list of drug movies without the cocaine king of Miami Tony ‘fucking’ Montana being on it!

LIFE IS HOT IN CRACKTOWN– Bleak, brutal, and relentlessly depressing, Buddy Giovinazzo doesn’t hold back here, and delivers one of the best crime/drug flicks of the 2000’s! The movie opens with a brutal gang-rape, so you pretty much know what you’re in for within’ the first five minutes!

ENTER THE VOID– A neon lit, drug-fueled piece of art! I can guarantee you’ll never see anything like this ever again, Gaspar Noe once again proves he’s a living goddamn legend of filmmaking!

GIA– The story of Gia Carangi and her bleak downward spiral of heroin addiction & her contraction of AIDS! It’s such an amazing film, with my personal favourite performance by Angelina Jolie, who so happens to by my favourite actress of all time.

THE SALTON SEA– Val Kilmer’s finest hour, along with Vincent D’Onofrio’s fucking incredible performance as drug dealer ‘Holland Dale “Pooh-Bear” Monty’ if you’ve seen this movie, then you’ll agree, if not, you’re wrong and you suck at life…..I’m just kidding, I promise, you don’t suck at life, you just suck at movie watching!

TWEEK CITY– One you probably won’t see on many lists of ‘favorite drug films’ but it should be! A very raw, little micro-budgeted indie drug film, with a great performance by the always awesome Giuseppe Andrews!

CANDY– Probably some of most realistic withdrawal sequences to ever grace the screen! A junkie love story, with two absolutely amazing performances by Heath Ledger & Abbie Cornish! I love this movie to death, it truly warms my depressing cinema loving heart!

DRUGSTORE COWBOY
– Every time I watch this movie, it inspires to form a crew, and rob Pharmacy’s for prescription drugs!

THE PANIC IN NEEDLE PARK– This would actually make the perfect double feature with Candy! Another excellent junkie love story, with some brutally realistic shooting-up sequences, one of the best flicks of the 70’s!

COOK COUNTY– This movie wallows in beautiful, dirty, meth-addicted, white trash filth! I have a raging boner right now just thinkin’ about it!

TRAINSPOTTING– You’ll see this one on every list, so I’ll keep it short! Is & will always by my favorite Danny Boyle film!

CHRISTIANE F – Heroin addiction & soundtrack by David Bowie! That is all

So there you go, 15 of my personal favorite pieces of drug cinema!, and if that list doesn’t inspire you and your buddies to go stick a needle in arm & smoke some meth, then I really didn’t do my fucking job!

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There you have it: Tyler’s favourite movies about drugs.  What would your choices be?

Article: My Gratitude For The Internet Geek Community

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”Internet friends aren’t real friends.”  To those who feel that way, I feel sorry for you.  I feel sorry that you can’t embrace people just because you’ve never met them.  There are people I speak to on a daily basis I care about as much as my real life acquaintances who I have more in common with than people I’ve known for my 25 years of existence.  Last month, a member of my favorite Facebook movie group passed away too soon, leaving a young, beautiful family without a husband and father – and our geeky little group without a valuable member.  If one positive can be taken from that tragedy, it was a reminder not to take people for granted – especially the people you met on the internet you speak with daily about movies.

I live in a small town that isn’t exactly brimming with culture: beer and sports are the closest thing there is.  Now, I love beer and football as much as the next guy and some of these torags are people I’d take a bullet for; but they don’t understand my love of film and geek culture.  As an avid lover of movies, pro wrestling, comic books and bizarre fiction, I need an outlet to discuss my obsessions – with like minded people who understand me and share my passion.

I started blogging just to vent my thoughts on movies; then one day people read it and responded.  This led to fun conversation and friendships were born out of it.  As much as I’d love to write about movies as a paid gig – and it is my dream – I do this because it’s fun for me.  Not only do I get to share my thoughts on movies, but it’s led to me establishing friendships and relationships with fellow bloggers, writers and fans, as well as getting to know some filmmakers, authors and artists.  It’s a community where we all support each other, and sometimes it leads to personal bonds with people we might never meet.

When I returned to blogging after a hiatus, I was happy to find some of the blogs I followed were still in existence; then again I was upset to find that many were inactive and people I used to converse with regularly were gone for now.  It made me regret not getting to know them more and keeping in touch; you should know that I don’t add any old randoms to Facebook, but a cool person I have something in common I’m more than happy to have in my Friends list.  Thankfully, I’ve met some awesome people since returning to blogging and posting in more groups and forums.  Sometimes life happens and we have to go live that out for awhile, but it sucks to think people who were a regular fixture in your routine become only a fond memory who you knew briefly in a small corner in cyberspace.

I’m a weirdo with an overactive imagination: to this day I still look up to the sky at night and imagine myself on space adventures with alien lifeforms; I often find myself floating back into reality and wondering how I got there because I’ve spent so long living out my fictional Wrestlemania moment in my head; sometimes I even imagine what would happen if I were stabbed to death or eaten alive in a horror movie.  I play my own movies which don’t exist out scene-for-scene in my head, with actors living and dead, to scores I don’t have the musical know-how to create.  Some people dream of traveling and living life to the fullest; I just want to spend it immersing myself further in the hobbies that I love and continue to meet people who share my enthusiasm.

So thank you to all of those who satisfy my indulgences.  It’s a pleasure knowing all of you: if we speak regularly in some capacity just know that I enjoy discussing our shared interests, whether we agree or not.  If you read my blog or have in the past or will in future, I appreciate it so much.  The internet can be a glorious place and I’m grateful to this geek community for having me.

TV Article: Looking Back At… Special Unit 2 (2001-02)

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Ah.  The turn of the century – or a year afterwards anyway.  The good ol’ days of my early teen years where I’d sit in my pajamas watching all kinds of random television shows that would inevitably be scrapped after 2 seasons; that’s if they even made it past the first season.  One of those shows was the short-lived supernatural detective series Special Unit 2, which followed Detective O’Malley (Michael Landes) and Detective Kate (Alexondra Lee) of a secret police unit as they battled monsters and creatures of folklore on the streets of Chicago.  Cancelled due to a combination of poor ratings, critical panning’s and a lawsuit for plagiarism of an old roleplaying board game, Special Unit 2 never had the chance to reach it’s full potential, but it was always a fun way to spend 60 minutes.

As a detective comedy, it contained all the necessary stereotypes: an unlikely leading buddy duo, who, despite their differences, make a very pragmatic team; an African American Captain with a temper, and, more importantly – a leprechaun who provides an encyclopedia of supernatural knowledge.  As a supernatural action drama, it’s charming with the way it explored random folklore portrayed in a lighthearted, humorous manner.

Special Unit 2 wasn’t original – characters were cliched, the leads were reminiscent (but not as iconic) of Mulder and Scully and it followed police procedure by the book as much as CSI, it was still a lot of fun and watching reruns still makes for some Sunday omnibus viewing.  It won’t blow your mind, but it might just steal a part of your heart.

Article: Ghosts of Mars Is Not Bad At All

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John Carpenter is universally regarded as one of the true ”masters of horror”, but he hasn’t always been held in the highest regard by fans and critics alike. There once was a time where the classic, The Thing (1982), was critically panned; but throughout the years it’s grown to become one of the most beloved horror films of all time and you’d be hard pressed to find many who don’t consider it a masterpiece. By no means has his career been a stranger to negative press, but as time has progressed, most of his movies have garnered appreciation and love. They Live (1988) has gone on to become a cult classic with poignant social commentary considered ahead of its time; In The Mouth of Madness (1994) was initially met with scorn, but is now considered one of the most underrated entries of his entire filmography, and it doesn’t end there. The point I’m making is: Much of Carpenter’s movies are like fine wines, more appreciated in hindsight than on first impression. But that doesn’t seem to be the case for Ghosts of Mars (2001); a movie that was such a commercial and critical flop that it effectively killed the little directorial enthusiasm he had left and sent him into semi-retirement, only to resurface in 2010 to helm the generic, but competent chiller, The Ward. I have no doubt in my mind that was more about that money than getting his feet wet again after a long vacation. But who can blame him? After a 30 year career, with the majority spent without an instant hit, who would want to rush back in if they didn’t have an overwhelming desire to create? That being said, Ghosts of Mars was unfairly maligned, and despite the negative feedback, is still a feature Carpenter can be proud of. It might be a flawed movie, but it’s also a fun one, with an original concept that makes for some fine popcorn entertainment.

Ghosts of Mars followed Assault on Precinct 13 (1976) and Prince of Darkness (1987) as the final installment of his ”siege” trilogy, a brothers in arms concept inspired by the westerns Carpenter grew up aspiring to make; set on Mars in 2176 AD, it follows a group of commandos sent to bring a dangerous criminal to trial, only to encounter an uprising of ancient Martian ghosts who want to slaughter the living inhabitants on the planet and reclaim it as their own.

Make no mistake about it: Ghosts of Mars is a B movie in every sense, from cast to set pieces to dialogue and performances. The cast comprised of an up and coming Jason Statham, Ice Cube, Pam Grier and Natasha Henstridge, so marketable talent it had not; but B movies with B list actors has been a norm for Carpenter throughout his career, and with those ethos he managed to conjure up a few modest financial hits. So what made Ghosts of Mars such an impotent thrust on the box office that was lampooned by everyone and their grandmother this side of the Red Planet?

The biggest criticisms towards Ghosts of Mars are the set designs, dialogue and performances from the actors. Although no stranger to the corny side of cinema, this was considered to be an all time low for Carpenter. Like I said earlier, this is a B movie in every sense of the word and the criticisms are true to an extent; but, for me, that’s what makes it so much fun. By no means is Ghosts of Mars a bad movie, nor is it a great one; but it has the charm of modest budget sci-fi films from the 80’s, and considering the budget it was made on, the set pieces are impressive.

However, those criticis failed to acknowledge the positives: As a horror film it works; full of tension, atmosphere and scary looking creatures, it ranks among some of his finest work. Furthermore, like most of his movies, it’s not without its deep rooted themes and playfully explores the battle between the sexes, as well as incorporates elements of the 1974 movie Zulu; so much so that the creature designs resembled African tribal warriors.

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Thankfully, over the years the Carpenter faithful have given this movie the respect it deserves, but one can’t help but feel it deserves more. It keeps its tongue firmly planted in its cheek and is meant as nothing more than mindless entertainment. In those regards, it succeeds triumphantly and in this day and age I’d like to see more movies with this level of imagination. It’s a shame we lost Carpenter to the directors retirement home as a result, but if history is any indication its audience will keep growing over time as it did with most of his films.