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Posts Tagged ‘Sam Raimi’

In a particularly meta moment in the oh so meta Scream 2, Randy (Jamie Kennedy) tells us “Sequels suck!” and “By definition alone, sequels are inferior films!”. Classmate Mickey (Timothy Olyphant) disagrees “It’s bullshit generalization. Many sequels have surpassed their originals.”  He suggests T-2, another classmate played by Joshua Jackson thinks “Aliens. Far better than the first.”  While I don’t totally agree, I prefer The Terminator to T-2, and love Alien and Aliens equally, there are however, some horror sequels and second films is series that I prefer to the first:Aliens and T2

Bride of Frankenstein (1935): I love the original, but the sequel has the edge.  Together cinematographer John Mescall and art director Charles D. Hall, director James Whale created Expressionist masterpiece that isn’t just a horror movie, it’s also a social satire and a comedy.  The greatest of the Universal horrors. Bride of Frankenstein

Dawn of the Dead (1978): George A. Romero’s masterpiece came a whole decade after the original film, Night Of The Living Dead. Tom Savini (who also appears in the film) provided the zombie makeup that makes the film so effective.  The allegory of modern consumer society is more and more relevant as time passes.  A film that manages to be both a truly gruesome horror and a clever satire.  Dawn of the Dead

Evil Dead II (1987): Bruce Campbell returns as Ash in Sam Raimi’s sequel to The Evil Dead.  It is essentially more of the same from the first film but more polished, more gory and a hell of a lot funnier. Evil Dead II

Dracula: Prince of Darkness (1966): Most fans will tell you the first Hammer Dracula, Horror of Dracula from 1958 is the best.  While a great film and one of the studio’s best, it is a retread of Bram Stoker ‘s original often told story.  Prince of Darkness is an original story, and a really effective one. It lacks  Peter Cushing as Van Helsing (except a prologue recap of the previous film) but Andrew Keir’s Father Sandor is a suitable substitute.  Famously, Christopher Lee doesn’t speak in this film (as the dialogue in the script was so bad), this makes his performance is more chilling.  A true horror that has a feeling of dread from start to finish. Dracula Prince of Darkness

Blade II (2002): Wesley Snipes is perfectly cast as the half human, half vampire “daywalker” vampire hunter.  Predating the MCU, Blade (1998) proved what Marvel movies could be.  It works as both a horror, and an action movie, with suitable amounts of both gore and humour.  How could you make this better?  Hire Guillermo del Toro to direct it!  del Toro brings even more style, but also, as always  he plays with the idea of who the monsters are. blade II

The Devil’s Rejects (2005): Admittedly this one has something of low bar, 2003’s House of 1,000 Corpses wasn’t great, but this second instalment of the (mis)adventures of the Firefly family is a really solid grindhouse inspired gore-fest.  By far the best Rob Zombie directed movie, and the end is fantastic.  A third instalment 3 from Hell is in post production and due out in 2019. The Devil_s Rejects

10 Cloverfield Lane (2016):  Totally different to the original, telling a very different story, and dropping the now tired found footage gimmick.  Most of the film is a claustrophobic three-hander; John Goodman is fantastic, Mary Elizabeth Winstead is even better. 10 Cloverfield Lane

I have only included horror movies, there are plenty of examples from other genres, I have also stuck to examples where I think the sequel is better than the original movie, not merely good sequels.  

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I get to see reissues of old movies at the cinema from time to time, but something I haven’t had chance to do for a long time is to see an old movie for the first time at the cinema. Thanks to the Independent Cinema Office I have had the chance to do just that. They describe their Made in Britain season as been “sandwiched between the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and the Olympics and will give audiences across the country the opportunity to enjoy five restored classic British films on the big screen”. I have already seen four of the movies: Passport to Pimlico (1949), The Man Who Fell to Earth (1976), Hobson’s Choice (1954) and Quatermass and the Pitt (1967) but I had never seen Plague of the Zombies (1966) until last night.

Sir James Forbes (André Morell) receives a letter from former student Dr. Peter Tompson (Brook Williams), now a doctor in Cornwall whose patients are dieing unexpectedly. Together with his daughter Sylvia (Diane Clare), Sir James travels to the aid of his former pupil. They arrive to find another young man has died with no discernable cause and Tompson’s wife Alice Mary (a young Jacqueline Pearce, better know for her later role as Servalan in Blakes 7) acting strangely.

Although the movie lacks any of the Hammer big names it is as full of atmosphere and style as you would expect. It also contains many iconic images that have since become synonymous with the genre. Fitting perfectly between early zombie classics like White Zombie (1932) and I Walked with a Zombie (1943) and the reinvention of the genre by George A. Romero and Sam Raimi. Interestingly it only predates Night of the Living Dead by two years. Predating both infected zombies and “When there’s no more room in hell….” these are traditional Haitian Voodoo zombies. There isn’t a huge amount of zombie action, but there are a couple of standout scenes at the centre of the movie. The movies treatment of its zombies really cements its place within the genre. It actually contains just as much political subtext as Romero movies, but with typically British restraint it is all a little to subtle for some.

The movie does occasionally suffer from shaky dialogue (and sets) and the final act is a little week in comparison to the rest of the movie but I am prepared to live with this for the rich atmosphere and charm. Possibly more a steppingstone than a milestone in the zombie genre but certainly one worth seeing. Interestingly it was originally shown as a double billing with the first Hammer movie I have Dracula: Prince of Darkness.

I won’t be going to next weeks screening of The Man Who Fell to Earth clashes with the England v Ukraine football. I’m not sure about Hobson’s Choice the week after but will certainly be going to see one of my favourite Hammer movies Quatermass & The Pit on 3rd July.

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