Monday, December 31, 2007

Full [Rec] Trailer Online

At first, I was gonna do a nice little "2008 Preview" post in honor of New Year's, but that'll have to wait. Because late last night I came across this nifty little trailer for the Spanish zombie flick [Rec]. I posted the teaser for it a few weeks ago, and man am I even more mondo psyched to see this than ever before. Just when I thought the ghoul-boom of the past five years was finally losing steam, along comes this gem. I dare you to watch this and not be praying for a U.S. release like I am. Check it out, courtesy of Bjorn at Gnolad:

Oh yeah, and a very Happy New Year to one and all!!! Break out the bubbly!

Munny Custom by Zirca

Saw this 8" Munny custom on Vinyl Requiem. More monster-esque robotics by Zirca. I'm also loving the hacked off hand turned into a power-tool of some sort....brilliant!

Here are the details:
The Grunt by Zirca
Piece: The Grunt
Items Used: Sculpey, Wire, Electrical Parts, Resistors, Glass Eyes, Circuit Boards
Name / Alias : Zirca
Location: Toronto, ON, Canada
Piece for sale: No
Commission work: No

Ergo Proxy

Ergo Proxy is a science fiction anime that aired on Japanese TV in 2006. It was directed by Shukou Murase and the screenplay was written by Dai Sato et al. (go to the end of this review for a full list of the writers). Ergo Proxy runs for 23 episodes and is nine volumes long in Japan and six volumes long in the West. The animation is a combination of 2D digital cell animation, 3D computer modelling and digital special effects. This anime also uses a combination of cyberpunk and steampunk elements.
Ergo Proxy is set in the future after a war that has left the Earth virtually uninhabitable. The story begins in the domed city of Romdo where humans and androids live together (humans rely on androids to manage their daily lives and do the things humans consider too mundane to do themselves). There have been a series of murders that have been committed by androids infected by the Cogito virus (Kojiro virus). This virus starts to affect the delicate balance of the social order in Romdo. “A group of robots become infected with something called the Kojiro [sic] virus, and become aware of their own existence. So these robots, which had been tools of humans, decide to go on an adventure to search for themselves. They have to decide whether the virus that infected them created their identity, or whether they gained their identity through their travels. This question is meant to represent our own debate over whether we become who we are because of our environment, or because of things that are inherent in us. The robots are all named after philosophers: Derrida and Lacan and Hussard [sic].” Dai Sato

Re-l Mayer is assigned to investigate the murders with her AutoReiv Iggy. When she is attacked in her home by a ‘monster’, and when the government tries to cover it up Re-l is driven to investigate further. This leads her to an immigrant named Vincent Law. Vincent has no memory of his past and is desperately trying to fit in and become a citizen of Romdo. But after a Proxy chases him in public he becomes a wanted man by the government and leaves Romdo on the run. After this Re-l has to know what is going on and when she learns a little too much, someone tries to kill her. While hiding out, Vincent decides to go to Mosko (his home town) with an infected AutoReiv named Pino in order to find out who he is, and he soon discovers he is a Proxy. After escaping death Re-l decides she must find Vincent and goes after him. They end up traveling to Mosko together to find out the truth about the Proxies.

This is a very good anime; the animation is excellent and the story line flows well. Ergo Proxy focuses on some very hard topics like the psychology and mentality of the main characters and the other people and androids living on earth. An anime covering these topics had the real potential to suck, but this anime pulled it off. There are a few episodes that are a bit wired and at first don’t seem to have anything to do with the rest of the anime. But if you just sit back and watch you soon find out that they are used to give you more information about what has happened in the past and what is going on the present. And the way the story line is set up they would not have been able to inform the viewers without using these wired episodes. This anime will be for those that like a dark and thought provoking anime with some silly episodes to lighten the mood and inform the viewers. This is also a good anime to start you off if you were thinking about or tried to watch anime like Serial Experiments Lain or Texhnolyze but thought that they were too weird or hard to fallow. I personally watch my anime dubbed but I have been told that the voice acting is much better in Japanese so if your inclined, give it a go and let me know.

The scrip witters are Dai Sato, Yuko Kawabe (Office Crescendo), Seiko Takagi, Yusuke Asayama, Naruki Nagakawa, Jun'ichi Matsumoto
Photos Via Photobucket

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Day of the Dead Remake Goes Straight to DVD

The long-plagued and much-maligned Steve Miner-helmed Day of the Dead has officially been shuffled off to the direct-to-video ghetto. It was originally slated for a February theatrical release, but word got out last summer that some reshooting had been called for--never a good sign. And now, predictably, it has been announced on Bloody-Disgusting that the Romero remake will no longer be hitting the big screen at all, but will instead come out on DVD April 8.
Although Miner has quite the background in horror (Friday the 13th II & III, House, Warlock, Halloween H20, Lake Placid), I've heard nothing but bad things about this one. Although I must admit, I am slightly interested in seeing Ving Rhames' portrayal of the deranged Capt. Rhodes.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Add Cronenberg to the Anti-"Torture Porn" Camp

A couple months back, I posted some interesting comments from Clive Barker, in which he took a shot at the current state of the horror film genre. Along similar lines, another 1980s shock-meister, David Cronenberg, had some things to say on the subject in an interview with Wired yesterday.
After churning out a series of horror classics in the big-hair decade that included Scanners, The Dead Zone, Dead Ringers and The Fly, Cronenberg left genre fans in the dust to pursue crime dramas like A History of Violence and Eastern Promises to even greater mainstream acclaim. But D.C. doesn't rule out a return to fright flicks, provided "something came along that was intriguing and challenging." According to Wired, however, the director is somewhat less than enthusiastic about the rash of so-called "torture porn" that has arisen over the past decade. In fact, Cronenberg goes so far as to intimate that the sub-genre is nothing more than a pale imitation of the "body horror" subgenre he pioneered a quarter century ago:
"'Body horror' was not my term. It was a term someone used to describe what I was doing, so it is not a category in my head that I use to make films. And I think, without trying to sound egomaniacal, that my movies have been picked apart piece by piece, and recycled quite a bit. But that's the nature of the film business, or creativity in general: We are all feeding off of each other. There's no question about that, so I guess it's not a surprise that I'm moving somewhere away from all of that."
Cronenberg argues that he still has the same mission, which is to shock and horrify audiences. However, in a world where images of violence are so much more a part of our everyday life, he now chooses to do it sans the gore with which he made his name:
"We're in a very bizarre era right now, where snuff porn that never really existed before is now available. If you want to see beheadings or stonings, you can see them any time you want on your computer. And it's low-tech, too: not the internet, but a woman being stoned to death."

Friday, December 28, 2007

Crazy Science : Blending to the Extreme

This is one of the best video series I've seen on YouTube!!!! "Will It Blend?" takes the simple concept of blending to the extreme! Ever wondered what would happen to a light bulb in a blender?...or a baseball? Then these should tickle your fancy! Of course, you shouldn't try any of this at home, and that's why I love it..because I get to see the results without having to, and thus reducing the risk of serious harm to myself or others!

There are loads more in the series but not all of the items are blendable(if that's a so don't be too disappointed if you pick one that is just a boring still image of what you hope to be an exhilarating show! Also, not all of them are from BlendTec, which ESP considers the Master of the "Will it Blend?" conundrum!

Videos found on YouTube by BlendTec

Steeeeee---rike ONE! Robot Baseball

At first this video didn't really strike me as anything spectacular, especially as the robot didn't have any real aesthetic beauty...but after a few seconds I started to realise that it hadn't missed a ball yet!!!....If you've ever watched baseball, the hitters miss quite often! The action of striking the ball is really fluid and after the montage of successful hits the rugged machine, created by Robocross, takes on it's own personality, playing certain pitches with certain strokes. Add a sophisticated outer shell and you've got yourself a fatigue-free, perfect strike-rate-hitter!

Video found on YouTube by baseballbats


Written by Ronald Harwood
Directed by Julian Schnabel

Jean-Dominique Bauby: Mon premier mot est “je.” Je commence par moi.

People often find themselves feeling trapped. They feel trapped at work or trapped in a bad relationship. When we find ourselves in these sorts of situations, we are sometimes fortunate enough to have choices. We can change our surroundings; we can look to new possibilities and put the scenarios that are suffocating us behind us. And if we can’t make that change happen immediately, we can find ways to escape for a while. We can go for walks; we can talk to friends; we can go to the movies. Now, thanks to director, Julian Schnabel, we can feel just as trapped at the movies as we already may feel in our regular waking lives. THE DIVING BELL AND THE BUTTERFLY is a French film about one man’s true account of what it feels like to experience the medical condition called locked-in syndrome. Someone in this condition can see and think, even remember everything but his body is paralyzed from top to bottom and he cannot move his mouth to speak. As depressing as this all sounds, it is nowhere near as intense as how it feels to see the film from the perspective of the patient, which is exactly where Schnabel places his viewer. Whatever you were escaping won’t seem so important after having experienced this cinematic paralysis.

The film is even more devastating because this horror is a true story. Former Elle magazine editor, Jean-Dominique Bauby (played in the film by Mathieu Almarich) suffered a stroke that left him in a coma in 1995. The film tells his story from the moment he awakes from that coma twenty days later. He must battle his way through his confusion to deal with the crushing news that the life he knew is now over. This is a man who worked in fashion. His life was glitz, glamour, always moving and now he is sitting in a cramped hospital room and unable to get out of bed or even sit up. While Bauby wakes up to hell, we wake up to cinematic heaven. Award-winning cinematographer, Janusz Kaminski, developed a style of shooting that shows the viewer what Bauby is seeing. Doctors and orderlies are constantly in his face; images are blurred or skewed depending on how alert Bauby is; and when he closes his eyes, we see nothing but the back of his eyelid. We get out of that claustrophobic space the same way Bauby does by following his imagination, which takes him back to many memories or to all-together new places for experiences he’s never had. The dreamy technique is humbling, inspiring and, rather ironically, cinematically alive. Kaminski has taken a paralyzed perspective and made it dance.

Ronald Harwood’s script lights a fire of frustration in the viewer while it exposes the stupidity of humanity. While no one around him can hear his thoughts, we are privy to all of them being trapped in the mind where they are formed. The manner in which the senior doctors speak to him and the liberties they take knowing he cannot speak back or push their fingers away while they poke at him exposes the inequities of the medical profession. Hope is casually dropped into the conversation whenever there is nothing more to say. Even in this so obviously dire situation, people cannot directly address pain and suffering. Harwood is also careful not to inundate us with imagery of Bauby’s former existence. The memories we do see alert us to significant relationships and moments but make no linear trajectory of everything that led up to this. Nor are we subjected to clichés of everything exciting that Bauby will never know again. Instead, we are just shown glimpses of the man we are meant to identify with. This story would be tragic no matter what the background and Harwood’s sparse humanization allows us to see that clearly. More importantly, the dialogue in Bauby’s head and the little that manages to get to those around him allows us to see who he is right now. After all, he is still alive.

As harrowing as this all sounds, THE DIVING BELL AND THE BUTTERFLY is still uplifting. Bauby manages to maintain some of the relationships he had prior to his attack and their new context is a reminder that something deeper than mindless chatter holds them together. And for every bumbling doctor that doesn’t know what to do with him, there are just as many others determined to help him, even some that develop all new relationships with him. While his whirlwind life may seem to have come to a deadening halt, he learns a lesson that we all need to remind ourselves of regularly. There is no sense in sitting around feeling sorry for ourselves while we are still alive and capable of progress. If you need an example to see that, you should know that by blinking his way through the alphabet one letter at a time, Bauby wrote the book on which this film is based.

First Glimpse of the Rebooted Hulk!

You'll have to forgive me the slight deviation from the usual subject matter here at The Vault of Horror. Seeing as how I am a fan of both horror movies and comic books, and how the Hulk is the most horror-themed of all superheroes--having been inspired by Robert Louis Stephenson's Dr. Jeckyll & Mr. Hyde--I figured it would be OK to share with you this image of the creature that was released today by Universal Pictures:The image comes from Universal's The Incredible Hulk, unofficial sequel to 2003's disappointing original Hulk movie. With a script rewrite by Edward Norton--who takes over the role of Bruce Banner--rumor has it this new one seeks to undo the damage wrought by Ang Lee's overly sober and somewhat pretentious outing. Also, as you can see, there has been a concerted effort to step up the CGI work, which was another oft-cited letdown in the original. I also notice the big guy looks a lot more like he does in the classic comics.
Despite being marketed as a restart of the franchise, the plot of the picture does seem to pick up where the last one left off. Although I did enjoy the first one a little more than most, it certainly didn't live up to my expectations. Nevertheless, I am giving Marvel Entertainment and new director Louis Leterrier the benefit of the doubt. It does seem to be an earnest attempt to respond to fan complaints, most notably with the excellent casting of Norton. The film hits theaters on June 13 (my ninth wedding anniversary--Hey, what an excellent way to celebrate, right, sweetheart....??)

Umfeld DVD trailer

Trailer for Umfeld, Jochem Paap(Speedy J) and Scott Pagano's 2007 audiovisual DVD release. Purchase the DVD and download the FREE full-res version at

Thursday, December 27, 2007


Written by Diablo Cody
Directed by Jason Reitman

Juno MacGuff: I think I’m, like, in love with you.
Paulie Bleeker: You mean as friends?
Juno MacGuff: No, I mean, like for real. You’re like the coolest person I’ve ever met and you don’t even have to try, y’know.
Paulie Bleeker: I try really hard, actually.

I must be older at heart than I thought. I was instantly put off by Jason Reitman’s JUNO. Here you have this little movie about a pregnant teenager who is just trying to do the right thing by everyone and all I could think was how hard it was trying to have its own marginalized identity. A sketched doodle of the word, “autumn” appears at the top of the screen; the sounds of Barry Louis Polisar’s indie acoustic music begin to play as a comic book-like animated title sequence takes over the screen; Rainn Wilson, working as a convenience store counter clerk, says things like, “Your eggo is preggo,” and “What’s the prognosis, Fertile Myrtle?” It was as though Reitman was pulling out every trick he could think of to make sure we knew how edgy his film was. “We are indie!” it screamed like a loud teenager yammering away in the back of the theatre. Only, just like that teenager, JUNO is much deeper than it first appears and simply requires a closer look to see Reitman’s sensitive, gentle hand at work. JUNO just may be the most earnest and humble film I’ve seen all year. It’s merely hiding behind a tough exterior.

That tough exterior comes courtesy of first-time screenwriter, Diablo Cody, and is reinforced by Reitman’s strong understanding of the nuanced material. It is honest, frank and forgiving, which is a refreshing take from the usual damnation pregnant teenage girls suffer on film. Parents don’t scream and shout when they find out about their daughter’s situation; nobody forbids anyone from seeing anybody else ever again. It is not the least bit dramatic considering that exaggeration colors mostly every word uttered on screen. (Look, I can embellish too!) The non-judgmental approach allows almost every character to come from his or her own perspective and place in the story, making them much more real than they let on. We know that prospective adoptive mother, Vanessa (Jennifer Garner), is concerned with image and perception because we see her hands straightening frames and towels while waiting to receive company before we even see her face. We know that her husband, Mark (Jason Bateman), is not as enthusiastic about the adoption as his wife is because he isn’t by her side when Juno (Ellen Page) first appears at their door. These kinds of subtle visual touches act like prenatal vitamins meant to ensure that Cody’s script is born with a healthy heartbeat.

JUNO also gives birth to a new star, albeit a little bit past her due date (despite her young age of 20). Halifax native, Ellen Page, carries the majority of the film and is as complex as they come without making it seem labored (no pun intended). Past starring roles in lesser-known films like HARD CANDY and THE TRACEY FRAGMENTS were explosive and impossible to ignore only the films themselves were overlooked. Turning in another unforgettable performance in a crowd pleaser is sure to get her the accolades and recognition she deserves. Page whips out Cody’s snappy pseudo-hipster speak with fervor and confidence but gives herself away without realizing. She always plays it cool so that no one, including herself, can acknowledge how frightened she must be to be in her position. Her decision to have her baby and put it up for adoption rather than go the abortion route is brave but naïve as she has no idea how adult her decision actually is. She speaks like she has all the answers and yet has no idea what she’s talking about most of the time, but once you catch a glimmer of that fragility, anything that came off as false prior, shows itself as the front that it is.

Reitman, Cody, Page and the rest of the fantastic cast (J.K. Simmons, Alison Janney and the fascinatingly talented and gangly, Michael Cera) light JUNO afire with warmth and genuine caring. This is a movie about real people dealing with the obstacles they’re faced with rather than sitting around and whining about them. On that level, there’s nothing indie about this movie. Instead, JUNO is the perfect portrait of a young girl flung into adulthood unexpectedly. She feels prepared, realizes she isn’t, learns that she needs others and yet carries herself like she’s been the one calling the shots all along. It sure sounds awfully adult to me.

Custom Home Theatres

So custom toys and PC cases just aren't enough anymore. There are some incredible home theatres now that don't just contain top of the range audio/video equipment but themes of aesthetics too! Behold three examples of home theatre customising to the extreme.

This Star Trek theatre is so technically cool that I'm not gonna try and make any lame jokes about how cheesy bla bla it looks....According to Wired, this home "features motion-activated air-lock doors with series sound effects, and a “Red Alert” button on the Crestron TPMC-10 controller to turn all of the LEDs bright red and flashing. The system also features “one of the largest Kaleidescape hard-drive based storage systems” ever created, amassing eight servers with 3,816 DVDs."

A great theatre for sci-fi lovers. Loads of amazing toys/props/replicas as well as a sweet set-up for the gadgets. This guy has 3 XBOX 360's set up on 3 different screens so the whole family can join in the network fun! WTF?!


Blindfolded Fighting Master

This guy'll knock you out without having to look at your ugly mug first! Incredible sensory skill from the Philippines....

Video VIA.

My Bloody Christmas

We all know it's better to give than to receive, don't we? Still, it's an awful lot of fun to receive, isn't it? And I certainly did my fair share of receiving this Christmas. I could get into the clothing items and electronic gadgetry that came my way this year, but for the sake of thematic unity, I think I'll stick with the horror-related gifts. So here are this year's newest additions to The Vault:

My insufferably cute six-year-old daughter saved up her allowances to get this for dear old Dad (with a little help from Mom.) She was intent on "surprising" me with a "monster movie", so I asked my wife to give her the choice between this and the new edition of Nosferatu. She wanted it to be something we could watch together, which effectively eliminated the Return of the Living Dead special edition.

My sister, who never fails to pinpoint my tastes with perfect accuracy each and every year, picked me up the first two volumes of Steven Niles' vampire series. I enjoyed the flick very much, plus Niles is a friend of a friend, so I had been curious to check these out. Thanks, Sis!

Now here's a box set I've had my eye on ever since it came out four years ago. Finally got around to buying it by gathering together a bunch of my Christmas/birthday gift money. It's got the first two Hammer Frankenstein films, the first three Draculas, and The Mummy. Perfect for a kid who grew up watching the Hammer classics on those lazy weekend afternoons in the glory days of syndicated TV.

MaK X Unkl

My absolute favourite, Maschinen Krieger creator Kow Yokoyama has been asked to collaborate with toy/design company Unkl on the MaKPo project.

According to Vinyl Pulse, this has been over two years in the making, and is set to be a premium project fusing Kow's Machinen Krieger universe with UNKL's signature design aesthetic. The interior of the cockpit features a soft material housing a mini HazMaPo pilot. Apparently, there are two editions planned. A green colorway (400 pieces) due in April 08 and also a special orange edition (100 pieces) which will drop at SDCC '08.

Images copyright of VP.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007


Written and Directed by Tamara Jenkins

John Savage: Your life is much more portable than mine.
Wendy Savage: What does that mean? Like a toilet? Like a port-o-potty?

What better time of year to talk about family? The holidays bring families together. Differences are put aside; memories are shared. I don’t know about you but this warm, fuzzy Christmas wish is not what happens when my family gets together. We’re lucky enough if we actually manage to get together. Still, we are far from savages … far from THE SAVAGES, that is. Now this is a real family. Mom left when little John and Wendy Savage were still prepubescent. They suddenly found themselves under the sole care of Lenny Savage but his idea of care included neglect and beatings. Now, Wendy Savage (Laura Linney) is nearly 40 and temping to support herself while she dreams of being a playwright in New York City. John Savage (Philip Seymour Hoffman) is a theatre professor who has success but carries himself like a failure. As for dear old Dad, Lenny Savage (Philip Bosco) went off and made a home for himself in Sun City, Arizona. He moved in with his lover and the two were together until her death. With dementia and Parkinson’s disease settling in, Lenny is no longer capable of taking care of himself. John and Wendy, having washed their hands of the old man years ago, now have to take responsibility for what is theirs, whether they want to or not. We can run as far away as we want but family is still family.

You would never guess but THE SAVAGES is actually pretty darn funny. Tamara Jenkins both wrote and directed the film, wise to realize that her harsh reality would be difficult to swallow without a little sugar added. In fact, this is the script’s greatest triumph. Life is messy and you will get your hands dirty if you decide to go outside. Still, no matter how hard it gets, laughter makes it easier and Jenkins can see humour in even this dark scenario. The laughter serves not only to put her audience at ease but it slowly heals the Savages as well as they find themselves seeing life more honestly than they ever have before. Nothing forces people to live in the present more than the promise of death. With Lenny reaching the end of his line, John and Wendy must do something they have never done before; they must grow up. (It’s no wonder their surnames are taken directly from the Peter Pan stories.) Growing up for these two means turning around to face the very man they have been running from for their entire lives, seeing him as the fragile human being he is and releasing him of the blame they have laid on him and hid behind for as long as they can recall.

John and Wendy must learn to forgive in order to move on. Simple enough of a concept, perhaps too simple, but Jenkins is smart enough to know that this is a nuanced, sometimes torturous process and one that would require a higher caliber performer to convey. Wendy Savage is essentially paralyzed. She wants to be a writer but lacks the confidence to make that happen. While she lives in the shadow of her brother’s numerous degrees, she makes the cubicle rounds and seems to be waiting for someone to acknowledge her talent as worthy before standing up for it herself. Linney plays Wendy as a woman who knows she deserves more from everyone in her life, including herself, but hasn’t quite figured out how to make that necessity manifest. Meanwhile, brother John doesn’t dress up for funerals, refers to his father as a situation and signs sympathy cards without reading them first. His work is his life and he refuses to feel for anyone but as Hoffman goes from sternly controlling his sister to crying privately in the bathroom in the middle of the night over a woman he does not know how to love, it becomes obvious that the feelings he is trying so hard to suppress will be coming out regardless. The Savage siblings will come a long way from only being able to say, “I love you,” on a balloon.

It would be entirely left field to call THE SAVAGES preachy or overly critical but Jenkins does still draw our attention to some truly savage human behavior – our treatment of the elderly. While the orderlies and nurses are doing their best, they clearly lack funding to make their residents feel as comfortable as possible. Regardless of how you lived your life, there is no reason it should end in small room made even smaller by a curtain that cuts it in half. The elderly may be dying but they aren’t already dead and that’s the way we’re treating them. Jenkins and her sensitive, honest film should be commended for not wagging a judgmental finger in the faces of the characters or the audience but rather showing all involved that caring for our elders in their final hours is definitely hard but there is still laughter to be found in the days before darkness falls.

Creepy Kids Rule!

Get ready goth boys and girls...from the man who brought you The Nightmare Before Christmas comes another stop-motion animated flick based on a warped children's book. That's right, Henry Selick, director of the Tim Burton-produced 1993 holiday classic has been hard at work adapting Neil Gaiman's Coraline, and Gaiman himself has just posted the first bit of footage on his website. Finally, a family movie I can be proud to take my progeny to see! Check it out below. Take that, Alvin & The Chipmunks!!

For the super hi-res Quicktime version, go here.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007


Written by John Logan
Words and Music by Stephen Sondheim
Directed by Tim Burton

Sweenney Todd: I can guarantee the closest shave you’ll ever know.

When the ensemble harmonizes the unsettling baritone with the glass-shattering soprano parts of “The Ballad of Sweeney Todd” at the opening of the stage production, SWEENEY TODD: THE DEMON BARBER OF FLEET STREET, the tone is not only announced but adamantly affirmed. You are in store for a truly bizarre tale that is the epitome of madness and you are being introduced to man burnt by an unjust system, robbed of everything and everyone that ever meant anything to him, who has now returned for his due vengeance and has brought with him a very unhealthy bloodlust. It would seem that there could be no one better suited to translate this haunting story to film than master of the dark and champion of the disenfranchised, director, Tim Burton. Burton begins by hastily deciding to skip the ballad and go straight to what he knows best. Bright red blood drips down walls and slips between the gears of a giant meat grinder, Stephen Sondheim’s potently explosive score driving everything forward. But just as the ballad foretells on stage of unbelievable vocal histrionics to come and amaze, Burton’s decision to remove it in favour of score and visual gore confirms that he will be relying on what he knows in fear of the daunting music he has failed to grasp.

For a director who has built his entire reputation on his creative visual style, it is genuinely surprising to watch SWEENEY TODD unfold in such an unimaginative fashion. It does not seem so at first. In fact, it is quite a twisted treat to dive in to the cobblestone streets of yesterday’s London, tainted blue and gray by cinematographer, Dariusz Wolski, to a saturation point that makes the patrons appear as though they are just waiting, if not begging, for their dull lives to end. Who can blame them really? The light of day rarely seems to rise on London as it is constantly shrouded in heavy cloud. And while the camera hints at the scope of London by weaving from the picturesque rooftops to a dizzying maze of streets, it quickly ceases to a halt on one particular street corner, home to Todd’s barbershop. Despite having so much room to move, Burton traps us here and allows the claustrophobia to set in. This is a fine way to make people uncomfortable but it also makes for some rather limited musical staging. Burton rushes through the musical numbers by slicing lines out (unfortunately some of the more hilarious ones) so that he can get to the action because he knows that their stunted staging slows the pace. Subsequently, he leaves us with nothing more than a bloody mess on the floor.

Further proving the unimportance of technical mastery in this musical is Burton’s decision (with the perplexing blessing of Sondheim himself) to cast untrained singers in the demanding leads. The character of Sweeney Todd requires a voice so powerful and fierce that it resonates fear through the bodies of all who hear it. Johnny Depp surprises with how well he can handle the material but his capable performance never ignites the passion of a mad man. Meanwhile, Todd’s counterpart in scheming evil, Mrs. Lovett, a woman so conniving and desperate that she will say or do anything to make sure her man is content and by her side, is played by Helena Bonham Carter, a woman whose voice is so weak that she is barely capable of communicating any of the colour in the character. Each actor carries the same drab expression on their face throughout the film as though they are bored or just completely unsure of themselves. They each have their moments but neither successfully demonstrates the depths of their treachery or the heights of their dark wit. As they watch each step, careful to avoid each other’s toes, Burton guides their performances into characters with soulless shells that barely frighten each other, let alone the audience.

In what will hopefully be his last musical outing, Burton breaks a golden musical rule. The musical numbers should never be rushed. That’s why we’re there – to appreciate the beauty of Sondheim’s layered and dense masterpiece. Only that isn’t why Burton is there. Clearly, Todd’s penchant for slashing throats is what most fascinated the man at the helm of this horror story. And while the blood gushing out and splattering against the camera and the walls is both disgusting and exhilarating at the same time, it amounts to very little more than gorgeous torture porn. Who knew that SWEENEY TODD would be so maniacal that even the insane genius of Tim Burton could not fully comprehend the man himself?

Monday, December 24, 2007

Seasons Greetings from the Christmas Fly!

OK, I realize this probably needs a bit of an explanation. Some of you may remember my rather fearless three-year-old son from my previous post, "So Does Showing My Toddler Shaun of the Dead Make Me a Bad Parent?" As I wrote then, I've been introducing my boy to monster movies for the past few months, and he's been taking to them like a vampire to fresh plasma. So much so, in fact, that his fascination has endured even into this joyous time of year.
You see, I tried to switch things up by showing the kids some holiday-related entertainment for the past couple weeks. But one night it was just him and me, and the boy asked for a monster flick, so what could I do? I decided to break out the original 1958 version of The Fly (even I'm not wacked out enough to subject him to the Cronenberg one....yet.)
Needless to say, he loved it. It was a little touch-and-go in the beginning, when the movie is a bit talky and feels more like a murder mystery. But once the sci-fi elements kicked in, he was hooked.
Problem was, the little one seems to have confused the two genres he's been absorbing in recent weeks. That would explain why he's begun asking to see "The Christmas Fly". We've gotten such a kick out of it that the Christmas Fly has become something of a running gag in our home--our own offbeat holiday character, if you will. Which is why I felt today would be a good day to share him with you.
Bye bye, Santa Claus! Take a hike, Mr. Grinch! The Christmas Fly has arrived. So be good, for goodness sake--unless you want him buzzing down your chimney come this time next year!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

It Came from Hollywood: A History of Horror Movies, Part 3

Following the horrors of World War II, America became a vastly different place. This, in turn, profoundly affected the entertainment industry--particularly the fictional horrors of the movies. The gothic scares that had been all the rage during the '30s and '40s had lost their power. Classic creatures like Dracula, the Frankenstein Monster, the Wolf Man, et al simply no longer cut the mustard.
The new horrors of the world had much to do with modern science, and so it was in the 1950s that science-fiction and horror intersected like never before. It suddenly seemed like every other film had some sort of creature grow to gigantic proportions thanks to atomic age radiation--whether it be ants (Them!, 1954), spiders (Tarantula, 1955), or just about anything else. Even human monsters were mutations created through mishaps of science--most notably in the 1958 chiller The Fly.
Extending the sci-fi horror theme to include another great fear of the 1950s--the Red Scare--the genre unloaded a barrage of flicks having to do with alien invasions, including The Blob (1958), The Thing from Another World (1951), and the one which most closely paralleled Eisenhower-Era America's terror of communist takeover, Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956).There were some exceptions to the rule. Gothic horror still had a bit of life left in it, as evidenced by the landmark House of Wax (1953), the first major 3-D production. It also helped establish the career of one Vincent Price, a refined art lover and Yale graduate who had been working in Hollywood since the late 1930s without much notice. Following up with two Fly pictures as well as House on Haunted Hill (1959), Price was a new horror icon before the decade was out.
Meanwhile, across the Atlantic Ocean in the U.K., a new movie studio was taking shape that would become at the same time both a throwback and a groundbreaker. Hammer Films was a production house built almost completely for the creation of horror movies. Particularly, they were interested in reinventing the classic monsters of old, with a modern flair. Kicking things of with 1957's The Curse of Frankenstein, and following through with 1958's Horror of Dracula and 1959's The Mummy, Hammer brought back the old baddies, this time in bold technicolor, and--most shockingly of all--with plenty of blood. A taboo throughout much of the history of the horror genre, the use of blood became a Hammer trademark, and would most certainly be a sign of things to come. Along the way, Hammer made horror legends of director Terence Fisher and actors Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing.
Yet the promise of Hammer was a deceptive one. While the graphic violence would hint at what the next turbulent decade had in store for the genre, horror would nevertheless move further away from its gothic roots than ever before, and land smack dab in the real world. In the 1960s, the monsters would become us.
Other major releases:

Part 1: The Silent DeadPart 2: Gods & Monsters
Soon to come: Part 4 - The Times They Are a-Changin'


We have ditched the traditional red and green for some neo-geo optical illusion colors of purple and green for Xmas this year! We hope that as you read this, the image above is moving about. Have a brilliant one wherever you are in the world! All the best from the ESPV Team!

The Purple Nurple Optical Illusion
Walter Anthony (c)2007

Os Gemeos Show in Netherlands

"The OS GEMEOS crew (two identical twin brothers), have created their largest-ever European exhibit for their incredible new show, “The Flowers in This Garden Were Planted by My Grandparents,” that debuted at the MUSEUM HET DOMEIN in the Netherlands in November. Filling the cavernous space with monumental sculptures, interactive audio exhibits, a stage for Brasilian musician Siba Veloso (who performed at the show’s opening), and copious amounts of their unmistakable spray-painted fantasy imagery, the boys from Sao Paulo awed the locals with the kind of show-of-force they’ve become known for in recent years."

Photos by Mieke and Will Schmitz.
Words by Supertouch.
To see more of the incredible Os Gemeos duo, go HERE.