Month: June 2013

Top Five Horror Movies I’d Like To See Remade

I love a good horror movie. I even like some not-so-good horror movies too. Hollywood, as we all know, loves to remake horror movies–Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Halloween, and Evil Dead just to name a few. Sometimes they hit a home run like with the Dawn of the Dead remake. Other times–like with A Nightmare On Elm Street, Friday the 13th, and Halloween–they miss the mark. In my opinion the originals were, and always will be, superior to the remakes.

I thought it would be fun to make a short list of horror movies I’d like to see remade. What I was thinking about as I compiled this list was how dated the original feels, story potential, and legacy. Let’s face it, the more popular movies are likely to be remade because of their popularity.

Shall we get started? Feel free to throw any recommendations at me in the comments. I’d love to hear your thoughts and even see your top five.

mutant5) Mutant (also known as Night Shadows) (1984)

Zombies are still shambling along pretty well at the moment. I know, some of you are getting tired of them but I don’t think they’re going anywhere anytime soon. Mutant is a low budget film with zombie like mutants with acid for blood. It always struck me as a movie with a great premise that never lived up to its potential. The idea of being from the big city and getting stranded in a remote country town where an outbreak just happens to be starting is scary. That’s what happens to brothers Josh and Mike Cameron (played by Wings Hauser and Lee Montgomery). They discover a mutilated body with strange burn marks and report it to the local sheriff. When they go back to investigate, the body is gone and the sheriff isn’t pleased. Soon after, Mike goes missing and a young woman turns up dead leaving Josh the prime suspect. The country town has been hiding a dirty little secret and soon the mutant menace born from those secret experiments rises up. All anyone can do is try and survive the night!

Sounds good, right? This film was released in 1984 with a budget of two and a half million dollars. The special effects are terrible and the acting suspect. If ever there was movie that could be remade to be far superior to the original, this has to be on the list.

Devil-s-Rain14) Devil’s Rain (1975)

What’s not to love about a movie with devil worshipping witches that also happens to star Captain Kirk? We’re going all the way back to 1975 for this one and John Travolta’s film debut! Hot damn, this film has some impressive legacy! This movie is about a coven of witches who were betrayed by one of their own–the Preston family–who steal and keep a sacred book with the names of all the souls offered to Satan. It has been three hundred years and the leader of the coven, Jonathan Corbis (played by Ernest Borgnine), has tried to get the book back to complete his dark ritual. Bad news for the Preston boys, played by Tom Skerritt and William Shatner as the coven comes calling and manages to get their hands on the book and their family! Duhn-Duhn-Dunnnn!

Believe it or not, this film has a star studded cast. One of the major problems with this film is how dated it feels. A talented director could really breathe new life into a film like this. I don’t want to spoil the ending, but I’d venture to say you’ve never seen anything like it. This is a film I still watch from time to time for nostalgia’s sake and is still worthwhile for any horror aficionados out there. Plus, you get to see William Shatner in his heyday! Who doesn’t want to see that?

hellraiser3) Hellraiser (1987)

I may catch some slack for this one, but it’s my list and I’d like to see this film remade with a grittier, darker look and feel. Let’s face it, the acting in this film isn’t the best and other than Pinhead, the Cenobites are nothing more than set pieces. There were rumors of a potential remake, but that was years ago and news seemed to fizzle out as quickly as it surfaced. This film will always have a place in horror history and I can’t think of a sexier pick for a remake. Pinhead (played brilliantly by Doug Bradley) is one of horror’s most iconic figures. If a remake is going to work, they have to find someone as sadistic and commanding as Mr. Bradley who brings their own flavor to the role. No small task, for sure. This is the newest film on my list (1987) but I think the evolution of special effects and CG would greatly enhance a remake of this film. Hollywood, get on it already!

Upcoming Horror Movies lists this film as stalled out at the moment (as of 2011). You can read about it here: http://www.upcominghorrormovies.com/movie/hellraiser

phantasm2) Phantasm (1979)

I’m not going to lie, this is still one of my favorite horror films. When I was younger, the ending scared me, but only the ending. This is another movie with an iconic villain, in the “Tall Man.” Phantasm was released in 1979 and it shows. The premise is out there and sometimes feels like an LSD trip but horror fans never mind that one bit! The Tall Man works at the local cemetery and over the years he’s been stealing the dead bodies and sending them…somewhere, possibly another dimension. They come back as his little helpers–pint sized versions of their former selves–who help him with his nefarious task. What that task is, we don’t know. All we know is these crazies want to enslave the entire town, including 13 year old Mike who has been spying on the Tall Man. Phantasm is as unpredictable as it is good, leaving viewers wondering where they’ll end up next. The flying metal spheres are a nice touch and Angus Scrimm’s performance as the tight lipped Tall Man is superb. He rarely says two sentences, but when he does, he scares the pants off viewers. “Booooooooooyyyyyy!” As with Hellraiser, this film’s success as a remake would hinge on properly casting a new Tall Man. Advanced special effects would do wonders for a remake too. I would definitely pay to see a good remake of this film.

Demons1) Demons (1985)

We’ve made it to the number one movie I’d like to see remade and man would I throw my money at any studio who remakes Demons. I love this film. I watch it at least once a year and laugh at the corny acting. It’s fun. Anyway, Demons is an Italian horror movie release back in 1985. It tells the story of a cursed mask turns an unsuspecting movie patron into a demon whose soul purpose is to turn everyone else trapped inside the theater. Yes, the doors to the movie theater have been locked and no one can escape. Chaos ensues as people run and fight for their lives. While the acting is laughable, the concept behind the film is brilliant. We’re led to believe from the beginning that something strange is going on at the new horror movie premiere, and boy is there. Once everyone settles in for the film, the doors are locked and the demons come out. Little do the patrons know as they watch the transformation of a human into a demon onscreen, it’s happening in real life! When the first demon bursts through the movie screen, all hell literally breaks loose. I love movies where it’s a fight for survival, and Demons does not disappoint. I’ve been waiting years for someone to remake this film and I ain’t getting any younger. C’mon, Hollywood, do me a solid, will ya? FYI, the sequel is pretty awesome too.

There you have my top five horror movies I’d like to see remade. What horror movies would you like to see remade? What do you think?

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Song of the Week: Conditions–Open Eyes, Better Life, and When It Won’t Save You

I haven’t done a song of the week in a while and thought you may like the band Conditions. I’m not going to ramble on about who they are and why you should listen. Click on some of the videos and make up your own mind. You won’t regret it.

Did you like what you heard? You can find Conditions here: https://www.facebook.com/conditionsband

Book Review: Fall of Thanes, by Brian Ruckley

Fall of Thanes is the third installment of the Godless World trilogy, written by Brian Ruckley. If you haven’t read the first two, you’re missing out. Grab Winterbirth, and Bloodheir first. They’re worth the read.

Fall of ThanesFrom the publisher:

The True Bloods are in disarray, their alliance crumbling and their armies humbled by the forces of the Black Road. Aeglyss, falling ever deeper into madness, casts a shadow across all. At the court of the High Thane, Anyara faces a savage struggle for survival against the na’kyrim’s possessed agent: Mordyn Jerain, the Shadowhand.

In the Glas Valley, Kanin, the embittered Horin-Gyre Thane, plots a desperate rising against the halfbreed. But ultimately it will be Orisian, Thane of a Blood that no longer exists, who must stand face to face with a darkly transcendent Aeglyss and make the sacrifice – of himself and others – required to end the threat he represents.

FALL OF THANES is the spectacular conclusion to the Godless World trilogy, a sweeping epic of war, politics and empire.

After finishing this book, I put it down and said, “Wow!” That was my initial reaction. So simple, yet so accurate.

Fall of Thanes is the natural, and enjoyable, conclusion to the Godless World trilogy. What I mean by that is Mr. Ruckley does a wonderful job building upon the solid foundation of his previous two books and taking readers to the logical ending they should expect. That’s not to say he doesn’t throw a few surprises in there for good measure, because he does…in a good way. All of the characters we have come to know and love/hate are back. They all push toward the final endgame. And push they must because they are each at the end of their ropes.

I want to be clear about something. Many other readers complain about the bleakness of this book. To those readers I say why wouldn’t it be? This is a world at war. Friends, family, and fellow soldiers are dying every day. Add to that the influence of a certain na’kyrim, who fills their hearts with dread and their heads with sorrow and fear, and you have a recipe for an often bleak and bloody war. It’s not like Mr. Ruckley doesn’t give his characters a spark of hope, because he does. If the world was totally bleak, everyone would just give up. War is hardly happy, fun, or anything other than a duty. I know, I’ve been there. Everything can’t be rainbows and roses.

We’re talking about a world at war. Not a town, city, or village, but an entire world. It affects everyone. Anyone expecting anything else has only themselves to blame.

As a matter of fact, Mr. Ruckley does a fantastic job showing us how the burdens of war affect each character, the sacrifices they make. He even shows us what keeps them going when most folks would curl up in a ball and give up. The bleakness of this world at war almost becomes a living, breathing thing of its own. And I loved that aspect of this story. It felt like something different from the genre norm, a welcomed change of pace.

It felt like Mr. Ruckley found his stride with this book. The writing felt crisper, the characters more three dimensional, and the action…well, the action has always been visceral and top-notch. His characters, while always good, really came alive in this final book. He tugged on all the right heartstrings and the ending is a real tearjerker. I wanted these characters to succeed, even those who weren’t the typical “good guys”–even when, deep down, I knew not everyone would make it out alive. By the last hundred pages, I didn’t stop reading for anything. Sorry, bladder, I had to see how the story played out.

I will definitely read this book, along with the other two, again. This series will be a staple in my personal library for years to come. I’ll gladly read about these characters and this world again, and again. Being such a picky reader, that’s high praise from someone like me. Mr. Ruckley’s writing makes me want to become a better writer. It’s inspiring. He’s gained a fan for life.

What I liked:

  • The world feels vast, but not too vast to follow along.
  • The atmosphere feels like a world at war. It’s bleak, just the way it should be.
  • The characters really come alive in Fall of Thanes. Each one shines, even the antagonists.
  • People die. Sometimes they die spectacularly. The action is superb.
  • The author finds the right balance of action, description, and character insight, grabbing the reader by the heartstrings and never letting go. You’ll be turning the pages through the night and into the wee hours of the morning.
  • No character is safe from death, keeping readers on their toes.
  • Each plotline is satisfactorily resolved by the end of this book.
  • The women are still just as strong as the men, and just as important to the story. No damsels in distress here.
  • The stakes are high and readers easily believe what will happen if these characters fail.
  • This book builds upon the previous two and surpasses them in every way imaginable. Fantastic read.
  • The ending will make you weepy eyed. Very well done.

What I didn’t like:

  • I thought long and hard about anything I possibly didn’t like and came up with nothing. This book met, or exceeded my every expectation. I take it back, I didn’t like that it was over. I want more!

Overall: You’re still here? I thought you’d be starting this trilogy. Seriously, if you like quality Fantasy, then you need to read these books. I’m giving Fall of Thanes five out of five stars. What seemed to plague the first two books is absent in the third, making a much smoother read. I can’t talk enough about the fully realized female characters in Mr. Ruckley’s world. The women brought just as much to the table as the men, sometimes (in Shraeve’s case) even more. These characters and world will stay with me for years to come. I’m so happy to have stumbled onto Winterbirth, the Godless World trilogy, and Brian Ruckley. I can’t recommend this book, and trilogy, enough. Pick them up today and get reading. If there’s ever anything else set in this world, count me in. I’ll be there with bells on!

You can find Brian Ruckley here: http://www.brianruckley.com/

Another Modest Proposal About Firefly

FireflyThis post wouldn’t be possible without the original from M. L. Brennan. You can find it on her blog by following this link. Please start there. Did you read it? Good.

Many of us are fans of Joss Whedon’s Firefly. We love many things about it and some of us can’t believe it was ripped from our television screens before we were ready. Well what if they made another Firefly show? That’s what M. L. Brennan wonders. She got me thinking…

Basically, she proposes continuing the beloved show with a new crew, on a new ship, based around the same principles of the original show. She compares it to the Star Trek shows, how they had TNG and it continued within the parameters of the original show while forging a path of its own. Franchising, if you will. After reading her post, I was intrigued. In fact, the idea stayed with me all day and my brain couldn’t stop churning.

M. L. went with Joss Whedon’s original formula of concepts instead of names.

  • The Captain: Malcolm Reynolds (Nathan Fillion)
  • The Soldier: Zoe Washburne (Gina Torres)
  • The Pilot: Hoban “Wash” Washburne (Alan Tudyk)
  • The Ambassador: Inara Serra (Morena Baccarin)
  • The Mercenary: Jayne Cobb (Adam Baldwin)
  • The Mechanic: Kaylee Frye (Jewel Staite)
  • The Doctor: Simon Tam (Sean Mahar)
  • The Fugitive: River Tam (Summer Glau)
  • The Shepherd: Book (Ron Glass)

For our “new” show set in the world of Firefly, we’d ideally need to fill these roles. Let’s take a look at what my twisted mind cooked up.

The New Captain: Jeffrey Donovan. Any captain needs to be the clear cut leader. When they speak, people listen. When they move, everyone else follows. My choice is Jeffrey Donovan. You may know him from the show Burn Notice.

Jeffrey Donovan

Jeffrey Donovan

I first noticed Jeffrey in the 1998 HBO movie titled, When Trumpets Fade. He had a small role but his performance stayed with me. I believe he embodies that “normal guy,” but with an edge. He can be your best friend or your worst enemy. He became anti Alliance after his wife (a fellow Browncoat) was gunned down. Wounded and unable to act, he watched as she was mercilessly murdered. Lucky for him the fugitive was around to carry him away, patch him up, and fly him to safety.

Jessica Lucas

Jessica Lucas

The New Soldier: Jessica Lucas. For this character, I wanted someone on the younger side. Her father, Book from the original series, was murdered during the events of the film Serenity. She’s tough as nails and looking for payback. Through her we’ll get to learn more about Book’s past. My choice is Jessica Lucas. You may recognize her from the recent Evil Dead remake. Her role wasn’t major, but she did impress. Plus, I’d believe she was Book’s daughter. This character must be a tough killing machine, driven by revenge, but also emotionally vulnerable. She believes that if she was on Haven things would have ended differently. She’s constantly looking for ways to improve her skills almost to the point of being reckless. Her fighting skills make her the captain’s natural right hand.

brandon_t_jackson

Brandon T. Jackson

 

 

The New Pilot: Brandon T. Jackson.I want the pilot to be a strait up hot shot full of swagger. Someone who is the first to tell everyone else how good they are. They love to point out everybody else’s flaws and crack jokes but are the first to step up if others crack on their friends. You know, a wise ass with a heart of gold. I was thinking Brandon T. Jackson would fit this role like a glove. You may know him from the Percy Jackson movies. Deep down, the pilot is as loyal as they come and not afraid to get in a fight. His easy going personality is what got him the job as pilot. The crew generally love having him around.

Dominic West

Dominic West

 

 

The New Ambassador: Dominic West. I’ll be honest, this was the one character I had trouble with. I didn’t know what kind of person I wanted. In the end I decided on a criminal kingpin character who was betrayed by his “family” and is lying low with our new Firefly crew. Once I came up with a concept, it was easy to fill the role. Dominic West is my ambassador. Watch his performance in the film, Centurion, and you’ll understand why I chose him. He’s the type of actor who can smile all pretty while cutting your heart out, perfect for a scorned criminal. Having a guy with his underworld connections makes it easy for his new crew to fly under the radar and get work. They need him just as much as he needs them.

Seann William Scott

Seann William Scott

The New Mercenary: If you saw M. L.’s post, you saw my comment about having a mercenary who was a complete fraud. This character is technically a Browncoat but hid amongst the dead as his fellow soldiers perished. After a particularly bloody battle, he bought his way off world and never returned. Nowadays he walks around bragging about how he survived the battle of Serenity Valley. The best part about this character is even though he’s onboard to shoot and protect, he’s the one who often needs protecting. The other characters are always ripping on him for them having to save his ass. He would be the comic relief, the hapless soldier who will have to stare his past in the face one day. The captain took him in because they both used to be Browncoats. This one was easy, Seann William Scott. You may know him better as Stiffler from American Pie.

Hayley Kiyoko

Hayley Kiyoko

The New Mechanic: Hayley Kiyoko. I went back and forth on this one a bit. In the end I wanted to go with a stowaway that the captain couldn’t turn away. This young woman prefers the company of the ship than her crew. She’s mouse like and naïve to the universe around her, and that’s the way the captain wants to keep her. He see’s her as the daughter he never had and often seeks her out when he needs someone to talk to. Her innocent, heartfelt views often make the most sense. She’s wise beyond her years and somewhat of a sage. She doesn’t like to talk about her past. It becomes clear that she’s hiding something but the captain never pushes the issue. I think Hayley Kiyoko would fill this role well. You may know her from her work in Disney Channel’s Lemonade Mouth, or Cartoon Network’s Scooby Doo! The Mystery Begins.

Brittany Snow

Brittany Snow

The New Doctor: Brittany Snow. This was the first character I had an idea about. She’s addicted to half the meds she uses. The Alliance wants her for stealing those same meds and killing a high ranking official while under the influence. Her addiction is a constant battle and sore subject for the captain. The problem is they don’t have anyone better to act as a doctor. She needs to hide from the Alliance, and our crew needs a doctor. She’s allowed aboard, but only after locking all her meds up and giving the keys to the captain. She would eventually fall for the captain, but never really breakthrough because of her drug habit. It would be the classic will they or won’t they scenario. My first thought was Brittany Snow. You may know her from her work on the films Pitch Perfect, Hairspray, or Prom Night.

Alison Pill

Alison Pill

The New Fugitive: Alison Pill. Our fugitive and the captain have a past. They served in the Browncoats together along with the captain’s deceased wife. She’s the reason our captain is alive today and he feels like he owes her. The fugitive’s character is wanted for terrorism by the Alliance. She convinces the captain she’s innocent but as the series progresses, more and more about her charges are uncovered. Just when we think she’ a no good, dirty, killer, she shows that heroic side again. The captain can’t help but keep her around and she does just enough to make it worth his while. The ambassador knows a thing or two about her and says he’ll keep quiet if she helps him out from time to time with his “extra curricular” activities. She has no choice but to help him in order to protect her secrets. She doesn’t mix words and tells it like it is. She has a hard exterior, but a soft spot for the captain. I think Alison works because she can be tough but looks wholesome. She uses her appearance to catch people off guard and surprise them with her ice cold demeanor. You may know Alison from the films Scott Pilgrim or Goon.

Carlos Arrechea

Carlos Arrechea

The New Shepherd: Carlos Arrechea. I wanted a character who was naïve, or green. This shepherd is brand new and ready to bring the good word to the universe. He’s young, good looking, and has no clue what he’s doing. I had to search a while before I found the type of guy I was looking for and eventually found Carlos. His character needs a ride someplace and stumbles upon our new crew. The mercenary suckers him aboard and he never gets the chance to get off thanks to a gunfight followed by a space chase. I wanted a latino actor who could start speaking Spanish when he gets emotional. The thing is, he doesn’t realize he’s doing it. The crew like to tease him because nobody understands what he’s saying. They all speak English and Chinese. He’s obviously the moral compass of the group because of his unspoiled outlook. I thought someone who was too hunky to be a shepherd would add to the role. Everywhere he goes, people can’t believe he’s a shepherd. The mercenary can’t believe all the ladies flock to the shepherd instead of him.

Tricia Helfer

Tricia Helfer

Kevin McKidd

Kevin McKidd

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The New Villains: Tricia Helfer and Kevin McKidd. Every show needs a great villain. Or two. I don’t know who they are or what they do, but I thought these two actors would be badass as villains in this show. I’d cast Tricia Helfer as an Alliance loyalist. If you’ve seen her act in the new Battlestar Gallactica, you know what I’m talking about. My second villain would be Kevin McKidd. You may remember him from HBO’s Rome or Dog Soldiers.

Annnnd I’m done. Whew! Like M. L. Brennan, I put way too much thought into this. You know what? It was fun.

Who would you cast in another Firefly show? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below, or make your own post. Just make sure you aim to misbehave. 😉