Boom! Studios. Variant cover.
Boom! Studios. Variant cover.
Isn’t this the coolest Halloween card ever? The little skeleton guy dances.
Hope you guys have something scary planned for the month ahead. I’ve got a short list of movies I’d love to make time for: “Dracula” (1939), “House of the Devil” (2009), “Annabelle Creation” (2017) and “Mr. Mercedes” Season 3 (2019). Yeah, I know that last one isn’t a feature film, but it’s a program of truly cinematic quality. “Mr. Mercedes” has been the best kept secret in Stephen King fandom — no, its antagonist isn’t as flashy as Pennywise the Clown or The Gunslinger’s various nemeses. But it’s a gorgeous adaptation of a King novel that might even be better than its source material. Check it out, seriously — skip “American Horror Story” if you have to.
There are two movies I need to get to that have been recommended to me with a lot of enthusiasm. The first is “In the Mouth of Madness,” 1994’s H.P. Lovecraft adaptation starring Sam Neill. (I actually started it a few years ago after a friend in New York urged me to, but it just didn’t hold my interest.) The second is 2001’s “Shadow of the Vampire,” which features Willem Dafoe doing Nosferatu. (I only discovered just now writing this that John Malkovich portrays F.W. Murnau.)
I’ll tell you something else, too — I’ve checked out one or two short films on the free ALTER channel and they’ve been terrific. Maybe I’m due for another visit there.
20th Century Fox. Composer Ed Harcourt.
Writer-director Neill Blomkamp (who brought us 2009’s “District 9” and who wanted to bring us a fifth “Alien” installment) is currently releasing a series of sci-fi short films via his “Oats Studios” channel on Youtube. There have been four released so far, with a fifth, “ZYGOTE,” scheduled for release today.
The two to which I’ve linked below, “Firebase” and “Rakka,” are fantastic. They’re both military science fiction, they’ve both got lots of gore and great special effects, and they both show Blomkamp’s trademark predilection for body horror.
They’re both incredibly dark stories, too. “Firebase” is disturbing; “Rakka” is downright horrifying. (The Eiffel Tower scene … yeesh.) It might make you smile, though, to see none other than Sigourney Weaver fighting alien invaders.
If “Firebase” doesn’t make much sense to you, try not to let it hamper your enjoyment of it. (The short’s reveal shows us that many of these disparate story elements actually aren’t supposed to make much logical sense, considering their cause.) And you should know ahead of time that both of these short films should serve as prologues for sequels or longer tales. (Maybe Blomkamp is planning their denouements in subsequent shorts?)
I was so befuddled by “Firebase” at first that I wound up turning it off and then returning to it later. I still think that its writing could be cleaned up a bit. It’s definitely out there, and strays from science fiction into fantasy and … maybe even theology. It was “Firebase,” however, that stayed with me and really got under my skin — much more than the more straightforward invasion horror story, “Rakka.”
DC Comics. (Variant cover for August 2009 issue.)