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Showing posts from October, 2015

Why is Stop Motion So Scary?

What is so scary about stop motion? You may have noticed that stop motion is arguably the most popular form of animation in horror/suspense. Many of our more recent popular Halloween films are stop-motion animation: Coraline, ParaNorman, Frankenweenie, and of course The Nightmare Before Christmas (almost all involving either Tim Burton or Henry Selick or both). But why is it that stop motion has been singled out as the best conveyer of fright? Could it be the even sense of movement, or the clear hard effort; or could it be just a style of character and set design that works best in a stop motion setting? Well I wondered about that too. There are some good Halloween movies done in other forms of animation (Disney’s Legend of Sleepy Hollow, Hotel Transylvania, Scooby Doo on Zombie Island, and of course Over the Garden Wall which I’ve already discussed at length) but the only ones that really get commercial and critical praise are the stop-motion ones. I looked at some of the most popular…

Doctor Who (Spoilers!) Review: "The Woman Who Lived"

Virginia Woolf’s Orlando is definitely one of the most fascinating stories and characters in literature. Its 1992 film adaptation is certainly worth seeking out for Tilda Swinton’s amazing performance and some really significant themes on gender and identity. I bring it up because this episode of Doctor Who, “The Woman Who Died” centring on an immortal who’s been living through centuries of European history, is very similar in set-up.                 The Doctor comes face to face with the consequences of his actions in “The Girl Who Died” in this follow-up which is almost as good. It explores the drama of the situation and condition the Doctor left Ashildr in as well as the overall nature of his Lone Ranger-come-into-town-solve-problem-and-leave tendency. Add to that some great set pieces, the show having fun in an era I don’t think it’s visited since “The Visitation” (referenced in this episode), and the fact that one of the things I liked best about “The Girl Who Died” …

A Son Reclaims His Father’s Throne

It’s finally happened! We finally here in Canada have a Prime Minister who looks like he once belonged to a 90s boy band (though admittedly Diefenbaker came close)! Justin Trudeau’s band stormed the castle and mounted Stephen Harper’s head on a spike. Caught up in the excitement, many of Tom Mulcair’s forces joined in the siege forcing him to only look on with a gaping mouth as Trudeau was crowned champion! Did anyone see that coming? I sure didn’t. It’s a good thing I’m not a betting man because I was sure there would be a minority government coming out of this election for either the NDP or the Conservatives. Where did this Liberal majority come from?? It was like musical chairs in the House of Commons with the Liberals winding up in the Tories’ old place, the Tories in the NDP’s, and the NDP in the Liberals’. The Bloq managed to steal a couple chairs in the hubbub while the Green Party just didn’t participate in the game. It was really a dramatic and exciting night and this sudden vi…

Doctor Who (Spoilers!) Review: "The Girl Who Died"

Now THAT is more like it!                 I missed something clearly as it looks like every episode this series is going to be a two-parter. I think its Steven Moffat trying to add another element of the classic series to the revived one and I don’t mind that. It does mean there are less stories but some stories will get the chance to be expanded upon which I like. Others though like the last two-parter could clearly have just been confined to one hour. But if these episodes continue like this, being connected by only a couple threads of story or character, I’m going to enjoy them more. I’m already starting to enjoy a lot more.                 Thank god for “The Girl Who Died”! This episode was really good. It offered a new scenario, some serious discussion that connected to the story, great characters and actors, marvellous set pieces, revelations, creativity, and humour that’s fresh and effective. Lousy title though. Not only does it spoil the last part of the episode, but it’s ano…

Back to the Feature: Carrie (1976)

Okay, just putting it out there, if you’re going to kill a pig just for a prank, you’re a freakin’ psycho and you totally deserve to be crushed and exploded in your own car! Carrie’s one of those movies I’ve heard a lot of good stuff about and been meaning to get around to watching for a while. It’s based on the novel by Stephen King (his first published novel) and seeing as two other of his stories, The Shining and Misery are horror favourites of mine, it’s Halloween, and this is one of the revered horror classics I decided to finally check out King’s twisted take on Cinderella. And it’s good. Not great I have to say, but good, and certainly has some exceptional moments of terror. But maybe it’s not quite the classic I was led to believe. Carrie is directed by Brian De Palma and is about a seventeen year old girl Carrie White (Sissy Spacek) who is tormented both at home by her abusive Christian fundamentalist mother (Piper Laurie) and at school by her classmates who cons…

Doctor Who (Spoilers!) Review: "Before the Flood"

Where the Doctor meets the Fisher King! No not the Robin Williams movie. Well that was a little better. Nice that while this year’s first two-parter had a slightly lesser second episode, the second two-parter had a slightly better second episode. “Before the Flood” still had some significant problems, the script being at times too incoherent for its own good and there being a lack of any real stakes, but I was entertained watching it, which is more than I can say for the last episode. The Doctor and Clara are separated with the survivors from the last episode. The Doctor has taken O’Donnell and Bennett back to before the flood (I get it!) to 1980 in the middle of the Soviet Union (though somewhere that’s pretty abandoned). They meet Prentis the Tivolian doomed to become a Victorian ghost, who as it happens is an undertaker for a great warrior called the Fisher King one of his species’ most recent conquerors (there are some good jokes at the expense of how frequently his home plant is co…

The Story of a Martian who's Not Marvin

Wow! Matt Damon’s character from Interstellar got his own spin-off! The Martian is based on the book by Andy Weir and directed by Ridley Scott best known for directing such classics as Alien, Blade Runner, and Gladiator. Then he decided to take a fifteen year break from directing classics. Thankfully he’s still got it, as this film is absolutely tremendous!                 The story is about a manned expedition to Mars which is cut short by a monstrous storm. Commander Lewis (Jessica Chastain) and most of the crew (Michael Pena, Kate Mara, Sebastian Stan, Aksel Hennie) manage to escape quickly but are forced to leave their botanist Mark Watney (Matt Damon) when he is presumed dead. However he actually survived and is forced to use his smarts, skills as a botanist, and determination to keep himself alive on the lone planet. On Earth NASA finds out he’s alive and led by chairman Teddy Sanders (Jeff Daniels) and Mars Mission director Vincent Kapoor (Chiwetel Ejiofor) they l…

Why Over the Garden Wall is a New Halloween Classic

It’s that time of year again when the spooks and ghouls come out of the closet....to scare! Halloween is a great time for entertainment, with so many great film and television specials around the holiday. But when they’re animated, they have a harder time being effective due to the distance animation generally seems to have from real life and thus is less accessibly frightening. But there are some that have broken the mold. And now it’s the time to re-watch some terrifying animated Halloween classics like Disney’s Legend of Sleepy Hollow, The Nightmare Before Christmas, Casper, Over the Garden Wall…wait what?                 Yeah surprisingly last year’s Cartoon Network miniseries Over the Garden Wall,which just won the Emmy for Outstanding Animated Program, I think may be a perennial classic. It really has the makings of one and I hope it achieves that status because it’s a terrific miniseries that’s inspired, atmospheric, funny, fascinating, visually marvellous, and m…

Doctor Who (Spoilers!) Review: "Under the Lake"

Airing two pairs of two-part episodes back to back is a little strange even if it’s not at the start of a series. Granted Classic Doctor Who stories consisted of a number of episodes and even The Sarah Jane Adventures episodes were always doubled up. But to have two “to be continued…” shows almost back to back for Doctor Who at this stage is unusual. It’s not a terrible idea but it does mean almost all of the episodes after next week’s “Before the Flood” are going to be one-offs. Which is fine but…I don’t know, I guess what bugs me is THIS was a story they decided to spread across two whole hours.                 Not that there’s anything really wrong with “Under the Lake” written by Being Human creator and Doctor Who semi-regular Toby Whithouse. But for the most part it just feels like a basic Doctor Who monster story.                 The Doctor and Clara come upon the Drum an underwater mining station sometime during the 22nd century where recently the crew there has …