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Posts Tagged ‘Monsters’

Heather over at Man I Love Films has published a list of her “TOP TEN FAVORITE POST-APOCALYPTIC MOVIES” I started replying but soon realised it was just a list of other movies that I would recommend, so I decided to post my own alternate list instead. As an alternate list I have avoided all the films heather chose, The Mad Max Trilogy, 28 Days Later, 12 Monkeys, Children of Men would all have made my list. Escape From New York may have made the list and Reign of Fire would have been worthy of an honourable mention. As anyone who listens to Wittertainment (if you don’t know what Wittertainment is google it) knows, Post Apocalyptic is an oxymoron as there is no “post apocalypse”, after an apocalypse there is nothing! So putting that cheery prospect aside we will continue to use the term Post Apocalyptic as it is the accepted name of this sub genre.

Planet of the Apes (1968) Everyone knows all about Planet of the Apes, most people have seen at least one of the movies and many know the twist at the end, but go back and watch it again and remind yourself just how great it is.

Death Race 2000 (1975) I saw this movie when I was very young, too young! I loved it at the time but didn’t really get it. Following a financial crisis and a military coup United States has become a fascist police state. The most popular sport is the Annual Transcontinental Road Race, a race where drivers score points for killing pedestrians as they race from coast to coast. The acting is terrible and the production cheep, but it has aged surprisingly thanks to a simple subtext that makes it an effective political satire.

Dawn of the Dead (1978) Heather favours the 2004 remake that I must admit I like but the original is my all time favourite Zombie movie. At its heart it is a clever satire and allegory of modern consumer society but forgetting that its just a great horror movie.

Hardware (1990) Written and directed by Richard Stanley and based on a short (7-page) comic strip called SHOK published in 2000 AD by Steve MacManus and Kevin O’Neill. Set in a dystopian world ravaged by war, the population is living of the scraps of the dead and decaying civilisation. A soldier retuning home for the Christmas cease-fire, gives the head of a long destroyed robot to his sculptor girlfriend, before long it begins to reassembles itself the body count begins to rise. There is an inherent honesty in the low budget simplicity of the movie that is as sumptuous in its grime and bleakness as it is in its sense of desperation.

Delicatessen (1991) Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s feature début is set in a strange retro post apocalyptic France. A bizarre little film about a butcher and landlord who finds an interesting and cannibalistic way of feeding his customers. Like so many films of the genre, it is about a fight for survival, but in this case its on a smaller and more intimate scale.

The Matrix (1999) One of Heaters honourable mentions but deserving a place on my list as a hugely influential film and one of the best films of the 90’s. A lot of The Matrix is set within “The Matrix” so it is easy to forget the real world scenes onboard the Nebuchadnezzar. Like The terminator movies the glossy Sci-Fi is enhanced by the grim reality of the dystopian future. 

Doomsday (2008) Doomsday is a bit of a mess of a movie but it such a good fun mess it really doesn’t matter. Made up of multiple set pieces including shootouts, car chases and sword fights (inspired by movies as varied as Escape from New York, Aliens, Mad Max 2 & 3 and Gladiator) the final result is a little disjointed but each element is extremely well made. At the heart of the story and holing it all together is Rhona Mitra in her best role to date as a sort of female Snake Plissken. Think of it as a more polished and high quality take on a Enzo G. Castellari style movie. It actually gets better each time I watch it. 

The Road (2009) Post Apocalyptic movies are often gung-ho survival of the fittest stories in the new world order, The Road is very different. A melancholic and chilling story of a world dying with a whimper told through a grim and gritty story of a farther and sons fight to survive. It sounds depressing but it strangely isn’t.

Stake Land (2010) Thanks to a certain franchise of sparkly, vegetarian, teenage vampires the genre has taken a bit of a beating in recent years, Stake Land redresses the balance with the style, brutality and themes of a zombie film except with vampires. Like many great genre movies it is enhanced by a strong subtext, reflecting the time it was made, the tone of the movie is bleak but with a small but vital glimmer of hope, in other words a reflection of the world today.

Perfect Sense (2011) Like the road Perfect Sense tells a story of society going out with a whimper and not a bang. Starting with taste, people start losing their senses. Concentrating on a chef and a scientist (Ewan McGregor and Eva Green) who fall in love as the epidemic unfolds it could have been soppy, disjointed and depressing, it isn’t.

Here are a few more movies that are set in Post Apocalyptic future that are worth a look: Monsters, Zombieland, The Hunger Games, The Book of Eli, A Boy and His Dog, Night of the Comet. And don’t forget The Terminator and Terminator 2, set in the present day but featuring characters who have travelled back in time from a post apocalypse future. There are also a lot of films set in a dystopian future that probably don’t fit the Post Apocalyptic tag, they include: Metropolis, Brazil, Nineteen Eighty-Four, Rollerball, Eraserhead, The City of Lost Children.

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I tend not to write about politics, lets be honest regardless of you political affiliation movies are more interesting than politics. But something this week has made me want veer towards politics, it wasn’t the Meryl Streep vehicle/Margaret Thatcher biopic The Iron Lady, it was our Prime Minister David Cameron.

Our role, and that of the BFI (British Film Institute), should be to support the sector in becoming even more dynamic and entrepreneurial, helping UK producers to make commercially successful pictures that rival the quality and impact of the best international productions” David Cameron.

To put things simply David Cameron has suggested British filmmakers should “aim higher”, unfortunately he isn’t suggesting they make better movies, he suggests they more commercial movies. The idea is that rather than unproven filmmakers receiving lottery funding, business should invest in movie with “mainstream potential”. I don’t think he gets it. How do you predict the success of a movie? The King’s Speech had a budget of around £8 million and would have be considered a financial success had it earned £25million, in fact it made £250 million. Slumdog Millionaire had a similar budget and box office return but at one time looked like it would skip cinemas and go direct to DVD. The problem, when the movies were conceived who could have predicted the box office or the awards? One is about a man fighting to overcome a speech impediment the other, a partly subtitled movie about child exploitation. The reason for their success was that they are great films not because they are commercially minded. But been great isn’t a recipe for success, just take a look at Citizen Kane or Blade Runner.

It works the other way. The Invasion is just one example of an unexpected flop. It had a talented director, Oliver Hirschbiegel (Downfall and The Experiment), it has a tried and trusted story (Jack Finney’s often filmed novel “The Body Snatchers”) and an A list cast including Nicole Kidman and Daniel Craig (fresh from Casino Royale and it half billion dollar box office), despite all this it took around $15million having cost around $80 million to make. And this isn’t a small British movie, this is a Hollywood studio production. An industry that knows a lot more about making (and losing) money than our little cottage industry!

What part do the governments have to play in the British film industry? As I see it, directors like Gareth Edwards who made Monsters (ranked 3 out of the 111 new movies I saw in 2010) have proved that truly independent movies can be made. The governments role should be to distribute them so they are seen in UK cinemas and are sold around the world turning them into commercially viable products.

My point is that British filmmakers could sacrifice artistic integrity to make more commercially minded movies only for them to lose tens of millions. This the impact of this could be catastrophic resulting in little or no British film industry. I am not saying that if they find the funding British film makers shouldn’t make mega budget movies to rival Spielberg, Cameron or Bay but they shouldn’t do it at the expense of what they are doing now. I have no idea how much money Mike Leigh and Ken Loach movies make or lose, and have no intention of finding out, all I know is the world is a better place for their art. And on that subject I would like to refer the Prime Minister back to one of his predecessors:

The story as I understand it dates back to the Second World War; as the cost of war was escalating and the government struggled to balance the nations books a minister suggested cutting funding for the arts to prop up the war effort. Winston Churchill response was to ask the question “Then what are we fighting for?

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