Archive for May, 2013

In a similar vein to my previous post ‘Paranormal Activity 5: What They Should Do Next’, I have decided to write about how I think the Batman franchise should be rebooted. A reboot is inevitable: The Dark Knight Rises became the eighth-highest-grossing film of all time, raking in over $1.08 billion. This plus the fact that Man of Steel is a Superman reboot means that we can be pretty sure that DC are going to something Batman-y in the next few years. Just recently, Warner Bros. announced that Henry Cavill will be reprising the role of Superman in a Justice League movie, with principal photography beginning in 2014. But this post isn’t focussing on the Justice League, it’s focussing on Batman.

I think I can safely say that I have enjoyed every Batman film that Hollywood has produced (yes, even that one), and the different style that each film brings to the table. With Tim Burton’s films you get the emotional pain Bruce Wayne feels at the loss of his parents; with Joel Schumacher’s contributions you get crazy villains and nipples on the Batsuit; and, with Christopher Nolan’s version you get a more realistic tone to the story and, arguably, one of the worst deaths ever recorded on film.

But here’s the thing: I don’t want realism. 

Somehow I don’t think we’ll be seeing him in Justice League

Batman, for me, is all about the villains. I mean really, really fucked-up villains. Everyone’s familiar with the classic bad-guys like Joker, Riddler, Two-Face etc. but there are so many forgotten ones: Mad Hatter, Clayface, Calendar Man and even The Calculator (I think at this point they’d probably ran out of ideas). Now some of these bad guys are seriously messed up in the head – Riddler was abused as a child by his father, as was Two-Face (by his own father though, not Riddler’s…) , and poor ol’ Penguin got into a bar fight and someone shoved a bottle into his eye. 

So what I’m suggesting is that for the next big reboot of Batman they should make it all about the villains. I would absolutely love to see origin stories for all the major Batman villains – and how they interact with one another.

See, the thing is, I don’t care about Bruce Wayne. Now that sounds pretty heartless, but I don’t care. I’ve seen his origin story too many times now, and if Hollywood tries to milk anymore out of it then I’m going to scream. 

Kinda like this, but more awesome.

So why not make a new series of films focussing on each villain, whilst having Batman as a secondary character? That way you’d get to see what made them become the villain that we all know and love. Villains are so much more interesting that good guys, especially when it comes to some of the weird and crazy characters of Batman. And, seeing as Hollywood is going through an ‘Avengers/Justice League’ phase, if they really wanted to they could tie all the films together with one Arkham Asylum-esque film at the end of the franchise. 

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Anyway, there are my two cents on what I would love to see in the next Batman adaptation. It probably won’t ever happen but hey – we can dream, right?

If you’ve got any thoughts/ideas on what you’d like out of a new Batman reboot, then feel free to leave a comment.

Tom

 

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I love the Paranormal Activity franchise. Well, I loved it. Now I’m not as ‘in love’ with it as I used to be. The first film was fantastic: it was a fresh, original idea that genuinely scared me. And I’m only semi-ashamed to admit that it took me a little while longer to fall asleep that night. Then there was the second film. It was at this point the creators thought ‘Crap, we better add some kind of over-arcing story to this‘ and so we got the whole ‘demon-pact’ backstory. (Oh, that was a spoiler to those who haven’t seen it, oops.) The third film was better: I enjoyed the scares and we found out a teeny-tiny bit more about the girls’ past and their connection to the demon, ‘Toby’. By the time the fourth film came out, the creators had found their gimmick: make a movie every Halloween with some semi-decent scares and try and shoehorn in some ‘demon’ nonsense. And now we are expecting the fifth film – thoughtfully entitled ‘Paranormal Activity 5‘ – this October and I believe that this is going to be the make-or-break point: if it continues in the same vein as the others then it’ll fast turn into a new ‘Saw’ franchise; if not, then it’ll ‘rekindle’ the love that many people, including myself, had for the original film.

So in today’s blog post, I’m going to throw around some idea on how they could go about ‘fixing’ the franchise. Enjoy!

1. Tie everything together in one neat little bow.

One of the most infuriating things about this franchise is that, by the time you come to the end of a film, you have learnt next to nothing about what’s going on. I mean, take Paranormal Activity 4: at the end of the film there was the ‘alright-ish’ twist about the son (although, many many people could see that coming) and there was some more witches/creepy women. Well, in terms of the over-arcing story, we knew all that witch stuff from Paranormal Activity 3. The stuff about the son was just a little twist to keep that particular film from dragging.

Remember this?

So, after 4 films, the audience are left with so many questions: ‘What was the ritual the girls were going to at the end of 3?”; “Did Julie die at the end of 3?’; ‘What happened to Katie and Kristi between 3 and 1?’; ‘What about all those scenes that were cut from trailers (like the house fire)?’; ‘What is the demon going to do now that it apparently has a boy?’ I appreciate that not all these questions are going to be answered (otherwise they’d need 20 more films to do so), but in order to leave fans of the franchise satisfied, they’re going to need to answer most of them.

At the moment, the franchise is starting to feel a little like ‘Saw’: at about film number 5 it felt as though the creators were just adding more and more ‘flashbacks’ to try and milk as much out of the storyline as possible. Don’t get me wrong, I loved every Saw film, but I really don’t want to see the Paranormal Activity franchise go down that same ‘gimmick-y’ route. So yeah, Mr Oren Peli, please answer some of these questions. Ta.

2. Enough with the ‘found-footage’, already.

I really enjoy found footage films. I think they’re great. They give the film a ‘real’ edge to them, which works so well in horror films. That’s why the first Paranormal Activity was such a success: people thought it was real. But now, as we approach number 5, the novelty has worn off. In number 4, for instance, the whole Kinect idea was very well played, but when it comes to things like the Skype conversation it’s just predictable stuff that we’ve all seen before. The most innovative camera trick in any of the PA films is the ‘rotating camera’ used in PA3: where the camera is strapped onto a desk fan. Everytime that it cut to one of those scenes, I could feel the tension rising. It was very very well done and the franchise needs more moments like that.

Found footage presents many problems, in terms of storylines and film-making itself. The most commonly asked question from an audience is probably: ‘Why would you be carrying a camera while a demon is destroying your house? Why wouldn’t you just drop everything and get the fuck out of there?!’ In terms of film-making, you’re very limited as to what you can and can’t get away with: I mean, there’s only so many times we can watch a film about someone installing home security cameras before we get bored.

So, for this next film, perhaps they should move to more conventional styles of film-making. Scary films don’t have to be found footage films.

3. Do something completely different.

Picture this: a film about a coven of witches ‘initiating’ a new member. The film (that could be done as found footage) shows the trials and tribulations of a young, innocent girl who is thrown into a life of witch-iness. She takes part in rituals and even ends up sacrificing animals as she tries to come to terms with what she’s doing. We see the inner turmoil she is going through. Then, at the film’s climax, it’s her turn to take part in the ‘most important ritual of the century’: a human sacrifice to a demon. She agrees to go ahead with it, knowing that if she does, she will be a witch forever. The time comes for the ritual, then BLAM! We see Katie standing with her son, Hunter. It’s them that she has to sacrifice.

Now, wouldn’t that just blow your freaking mind?! To have that mahoosive twist at the end, and not knowing anything about it? I think that would be a fantastic way to end the franchise.

The thing is, when people go to see a Paranormal Activity film, they have assumptions on what they are going to see. We expect demons and things that jump out at us; we expect some form of ‘big scare’ at the end; we expect to be left with a cliffhanger at the end. But when people go and see a film they have little information about: they are completely open. I would love to see a film that looks as though it is no way connected to a Paranormal Activity film only to find at the end that it’s actually a sequel/spinoff/whatever you want to call it.

Not much family resemblance, I must admit…

A fantastic example of this are the films Cloverfield and Super 8. Both films feature a ‘monster’ of some sort. Plus, both films were the brainchild of the brilliant JJ Abrams. Now, there was much speculation on the Internet as to whether Super 8 was in fact a sequel/prequel to Cloverfield. Abrams denied this.

What I would have loved, and I mean loved is at the end of Super 8, after the father-son reconciliation and it cuts to black, just when the audience are about to stand up and leave, the following words appear:

“39 YEARS LATER”

Loads of news reports are heard. ‘New York in chaos’, ‘Hundreds die’, ‘worst attack ever seen’, etc. The scene cuts to a helicopter news footage of a headless Statue of Liberty (by this point the audience can guess what’s coming, everyone’s stomach starts tingling), it then cuts to a ground reporter in a ruined street. She tells the camera how this unexplained attack has left thousands homeless. She motions to the street behind her – ‘what once were people homes are now just empty shells, their memories scattered across the street’ – she bends down to pick something up. She holds something to the camera, explaining that this may have belonged to a little boy, Heaven only knows where he is now. The camera adjusts focus, and zooms into it. It’s a locket. Joe’s locket. The one that the Super 8 alien took. *beat* The monster from Cloverfield WAS the fucking alien!

CUT TO BLACK.

 

Now that would have left me shaking. I would have been speechless. Sadly, this was not the case. Don’t get me wrong, both Cloverfield  and Super 8 are fantastic stand-alone films, but what would have made them truly great is for a little tie-in between the two. Ah well, one can hope.

But, to get back on point, this is what the Paranormal Activity creators should do: a completely different horror film that is a decent film in its own right, but through some extremely clever writing, it manages to conclude the Paranormal Activity  franchise.

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So that concludes my little list. I hope that it not only made sense but that you agree with some of the points I made. If you have any other ideas on how they might continue with this franchise, then why not leave a comment.

Tom.

Here’s some more spam comments for you to chuckle at! Enjoy!

comment5

 

I love the use of the word ‘mates’ in this: did they think that I’ll read this and go “Hey, he called me ‘mate’, I better pay attention to what he’s saying!”?

comment7

 

This is just another unintelligible one. Still funny though.

And now, for the highlight of the bunch!

*drumroll*

comment6

 

I don’t even know where to begin with this one: ‘foot-soldier’? Or the fact that no one outside of Westeros uses the word ‘diurnal’? Regardless, this is going on the ‘Spam Comments Wall of Fame’.

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Another short, yet sweet, blog post today – blame my exams. On another note, if anyone wants to write a guest post for my blog, then I’d be happy to read it, change the grammar, add in Star Wars references then post it. So yeah, get in touch.

Tom.

As I’m part-way through my exams, I don’t have much time to produce anything as witty as my other blog posts (although I’m pretty proud of the title…) and so I figured I’d go for the cop-out option: pictures!

The Internet has a lot of crap on it. And as such, some of it gets filtered down to my blog – by way of spam comments that ‘people’ post. Now while I am flattered that this blog is actually being looked at (by people other than those that I force it down on Facebook/Twitter), some of these comments are completely pointless, and yet, hilarious. For example:

comment1

I’m glad he/she likes my ‘goods’…man.

See, this comment tries to sound friendly with the wonderful use of the word ‘man’, but it all goes downhill from there. It’s still sweet, nonetheless, so thankyou ‘J65TH34HY63’ for your kind words.

comment2

I sure as heck do not want to anger the ‘web people’.

I hope all you ‘web people’ obtain benefit from my blog.

comment3

Comment fail.

See, I know this one is spam because the comment is about the sheer amount of  other comments on this post. That’s right, the post that has ZERO comments! So how can you possibly get ‘three emails’ when no one has commented (by the way, that wasn’t a passive aggressive dig at how I get  no comments on my posts: when I’m being passive aggressive, you’ll know about it).

comment4

I really hope that isn’t a misspelling of ‘bogroll’…

I’m glad this person thinks my writing is ‘awesome’, but I’m afraid there’s only one of ‘me’…unless you count my split personalities, in which case there are 12.

But my favourite one so far is….. *drumroll*:

comment

Awww, how….sweet?

I’m just glad that I made this person’s weekend ‘pleasant in favour of him’ – that counts as my ‘good deed’ for the month. Now I can go back to being a bastard.

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Well, this post was short and sweet. But I hope to add more to it when I find more funny spam comments I can share with you.
Tom.

 

 

I love being scared. Fear is one of the most primal human emotions and one of the strongest. If something scares you, you remember it. As a result of this, I watch a lot of scary films and read a lot of scary books (I do play some scary games, but I won’t focus on them this time). And one thing that I’ve started to notice is that I’m just not scared any more.

This might be because I’m getting older, or maybe because I’ve watched/read so many scary things that I’ve become desensitised to the whole horror genre (I hope for my sake that this isn’t true). Another theory is that things are becoming less and less scary. I mean, sure, things in films make me jump, but what I’m talking about are things that are scary: things that keep you up at night as you replay them over and over in your mind. What I’m talking about, is a little thing called Fridge Horror.

A lot of people will look at this and think that this’ll be a post about how manky our student refrigerator is. It is not. Oh, and for the record, our fridge is fine: slightly oozing, but fine.

There’s ‘obvious’, and then there’s this.

No, what this post is about is something that a few people overlook when watching films: the subtle things. It is called Fridge Horror because, after watching the film/reading the book you’ll head to the fridge for a snack and then SUDDENLY the thing you have been watching/reading will make sense and scare the living shit out of you. This has only ever happened to me once (I wasn’t at a fridge though) and it is one of the best/scariest feelings ever for a horror fan.

Nowadays with the help of CGI and what-not, practically anything is possible: a man can watch as his guts fall out in front of him and then try and stuff them back into his chest (Dog Soldiers); giant monsters can destroy cities in a vomit-inducing 90 minutes (Cloverfield) and Eddie Murphy can transform himself into a whole host of ‘racially-sensitive’ characters (Norbit, The Nutty Professor, The Nutty Professor II: The Klumps, Coming to America, you get the picture). The point being, that nowadays many films don’t rely on the subtle in order to evoke fear in the audience: they assume that unless they have something literally poking out in front of their faces (Saw 3D) they will either not see it or think to themselves ”Hmm, no one’s been ‘human-centipede’d yet, THIS FILM ISN’T SCARY!”

“Ermahgerd, transfermers!”

The problem with trying to make a ‘subtle’ horror film is that people don’t pay enough attention to films, in general. Nowadays people tend to put films on ‘in the background’ rather than sitting down and investing their time and attention into them. Whilst this is perfectly justified for some films (I mean, Transformers: Dark of the Moon doesn’t really have any ‘blink-and-you’ll-miss-it’ moments, despite the perfectly crafted storyline and Rosie Huntington-Whiteley’s exquisite performance), other films require a little more investment. As a result of this, many people watching a ‘subtle’ horror film would likely get bored.

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy slasher films and films about ghosts but, whilst they make me jump at certain points (Paranormal Activity 3 – ‘the women bit’) I’m not scared by them. What I want is to watch a film and feel genuinely creeped out: this is why I love watching ‘home invasion’ films. These are the films, funnily enough, where someone’s house gets broken into (The Strangers, Funny Games, Inside). The reason I enjoy this type of film is that it could happen: most of these films’ premise is that an unsuspecting family/couple become the target of a home invasion, and it could happen to you. The same principle applies to ‘kidnapping’ films.

Recently I stumbled upon a website called CreepyPasta which is a collection of user-submitted creepy stories/images. It is definitely worth checking out. Some of the stories are pretty lame, but occasionally you come across some real gems like the one I’m about to mention. This is a collection of 6 short-ish stories all based around the narrator’s childhood. Now, I’m not going to spoil it but I was really creeped out by them. They are the kind of stories that leave you thinking about them as you try and get to sleep and is, in essence, Fridge Horror.

Here is the link to the first short story, entitled ‘Footsteps’, taken from Reddit: http://www.reddit.com/r/nosleep/comments/k8ktr/footsteps/ There’s also a link at the bottom of each story to the next one.

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I could talk for hours and hours about horror films, and probably will at some point, but for now I’ll leave it at that. If anyone has any experiences with Fridge Horror or any creepy stories/films they would recommend I would be more than happy to hear them and check them out.

 

Tom.

 

The cinema is one of my favourite places. Not a particular cinema, but just the place in general. It’s where you go to be entertained, thrilled, scared, amused, and to forget that once the film’s over you still have six exams to sit, starting in 4 days…shit…

But yes, my point is that I enjoy going to the cinema. Now, I’m not going to launch into some aggressive rant about how ‘cinema prices are too damn expensive’, because it’s been done a thousand times before. No, instead, I’m going to talk about the people in the cinema – not the employees, but the audience members – because it is they who can ‘make-or-break’ my cinema experience.

So what follows is a list of ‘do’s and ‘don’t’s’ of the cinema. Enjoy.

1. If you’re sitting next to someone, establish ‘Arm Rest Rules’ early.

Films nowadays are long. I mean, Django Unchained was about 2 hours 45 minutes. That’s a very long time to be sitting in the same seat for and so, naturally, you are going to want to rest your head. But, lo and  behold, the douchebags sitting next to you have flopped their arms onto the arm rests surrounding you – leaving you to sit through Tarantino’s “How Many Times Can I Fit The N-Word Into One Film?” with no means of resting your neck. *Spoiler Alert* The N-word was used 111 times in Django Unchained.

So, my solution to this is simple: mark your territory early. By which I mean, put your arm on the arm rest (now, don’t use both of them – that’s just being a dick.) as soon as you sit down. That way, any person sitting next to you will see this and think ‘Ah, well this is obviously his arm rest, I think I’ll use the other one’ and the problem is solved.

2. Be considerate about where you put your feet. 

Don’t put your feet either side of the chair in front of you: you look like you’re visiting your gynaecologist.

3. Don’t talk. 

Now, this may seem obvious – you don’t talk during a film. In fact, Cineworld (remember them?) mentioned it in one of their adverts – the one with the Lara Croft-esque woman who beat the shit out of anyone who disrupted the film. See, I have no issue if you want to talk before/after the film, but not during. In fact, if people are even talking through the trailers I get annoyed. There are several sub-points to this one, all involving the issue of talking.

a) Don’t shout ‘tits’ every time someone takes their top off on-screen.

am, believe it or not, watching the same film that you are and so, I am well aware that someone has taken their top off and do not need to be reminded of the fact. The same rule applies to ‘I would’ and ‘Fit’. 

N.B. The same also applies to shouts of ‘no tits‘: I can see that Kiera Knightley has no breasts, and I’m sure you shouting about it won’t help the situation. 

b) Film students, I don’t need to hear your ‘oh-so-ironic’ commentary during the film. 

I swear to God, if I hear the word ‘Kafka-esque‘ at the cinema one more time, I’m going to rip out that person’s throat.

N.B. To any film students reading this, Piranha 3DD is NOT a metaphor for the apartheid – it’s boobs and blood, get it? Boobs. And. Blood. 

c) Learn to laugh. 

If something’s funny, I will laugh. If something is hilarious, I will laugh a little louder. If something is only slightly funny, I will titter. Those are pretty much the 3 standard levels of laughter. People need to learn which ‘laugh’ applies to which situation. I remember seeing ‘Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part I’ and when Ron says the line ’10 inches. Nothing special.’ when referring to a wand, that was ‘titter-worthy’. But the person sitting on the row in front had obviously never heard a penis joke before because he was on the verge of wetting himself with hysterical laughter. Heaven help him if he ever saw a ‘Carry On’ film…

4. If you’re watching a 3D film, don’t gasp every time something ‘3D’ happens.

It makes you look like a child.

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I’m sure there are probably more things that I can think of concerning the cinema and its associated ‘rules’, but I have an exam to prepare for. If you can think of any more items I can add to my list, just leave a comment.

Till next time,

Tom.

This might seem a pretty random topic to talk about, so let me just add a little bit of background context. The other day I was walking through town and I heard some schoolchildren (probably Year 8ish) talking about their plans for the upcoming disco. Now had I been a pensioner I probably would’ve stopped and talked to the youths, telling them how discos were so much different ‘back in my day’ and maybe offered them a Werther’s Original; however, I am at the age where any form of ‘youth’ scares me and thus I chose, no doubt wisely, not to engage them. Anyways, their conversation got me thinking about my experiences with the horror of school discos. It will be split up into three main parts: the build up to the event; the event itself; and the aftermath. I hope you enjoy.

N.B. Heavy amounts of artistic license have been used in this post, all for the sake of trying to make people laugh. I hope it works.

PART III – THE AFTERMATH

This section will be shorter than the previous two, however I feel as though what happens *after* a disco is still worth talking about. So, here we are on the Monday morning after the disco. You sit in class, listening in on people’s conversations regarding Friday’s events – usually consisting of ‘Oh my God, I cannot believe that <insert boy’s name here> got off with <insert girl’s name here>!’ and words to this effect. I listen out for any mention of Tweed-Guy’s name or The Black-Widow’s but then I realise that I actually don’t know either person’s name: I pretty much spent most of Friday night sitting next to a complete stranger who, to add insult to injury, snogged the girl who I was literally a heartbeat away from talking to! The nerve of some people…

Anyway, I speak to some people who I knew were at the disco and ask them if they knew who ‘that weird guy wearing tweed was’. Turns out his name is Barry and The Black-Widow’s name is Alicia. Barry and Alicia, now Tom and Alicia sounded so much better, but alas, Barry got there first, in a manner of speaking. I decide to go and find Barry at lunchtime and pump him for information. I eventually find him in the library , chatting with his equally gormless friends.

Now comes the point where I have to pretend that I’m not even remotely bothered in how he and Alicia are getting on, however I will still try and pump as much information out of him as possible. During chatting to Barry, I found out two things:

1) He refers to people he has only just met, i.e. me, as ‘mate’…God, what a dick…
2) Alicia and him were planning on going to the cinema this weekend on a ‘date’.

So now Barry, after being probably the only person of ‘The Library Brigade’ to touch a live female human being, was crowned ‘King of the Nerds’. Over the next few days, the one major consequence of discos began to emerge: rumours.

Now, I used to love watching how rumours got passed around and subsequently warped as they went around our school, however, as far as Barry and Alicia (or ‘Ballicia’ as they became known as) and their relationship were concerned, ignorance was bliss. It began on the Monday as people talking about Barry kissing Alicia, just harmless gossipping; but by Friday, what went from a harmless kiss at a school disco quickly warped into Barry and Alicia apparently having sex (the location varied depending on who told you – for some it was ‘on a car bonnet’ and for others it was ‘on a park bench’. Stay classy, Barry!). The worst part was that Barry didn’t refute these rumours: he was loving the attention he got, the arrogant douchebag! Personally, everytime I heard the phrase ‘Ballicia’, I wanted to throw up. However a few weeks later, something miraculous happened: Alicia found out that Barry told everyone he had sex with her (yes, it turned out that Barry himself started the rumour!) and so she broke it off with Barry and made it clear to everyone that she HAD NOT had sex with him. And so Barry went from being ‘King of the Nerds’ to ‘Barry’. How the mighty have fallen.

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Now, I appreciate that this post may not have been as exciting/funny/awesome as the previous two parts, but I feel as though I owe it to you to tell you the gripping conclusion to the Barry/Alicia drama. I hope you enjoyed it.

And that concludes my second trilogy – wow, I feel like George Lucas, only without the money…or fame…meh.

Tom