Shocking Saturday: REC 3: Genesis

The third instalment to the Spanish REC series sees the storyline take another interesting twist, and is portrayed in a different, although still great, way to the previous films.REC-3-Genesis-Poster

The tricky thing with horror sequels is trying to make them as good, if not better, than the first. Many horror trilogies wither and die by the time their third film comes around, with the storyline becoming repetitive after the original directors and writers have abandoned the franchise. Take for example the ‘Hostel’ franchise, it began so well with a plot that shocked and terrified audiences, mainly due to the incredible SFX, but after the – although still entertaining – ‘Hostel: Part 2’, the films had given out all they could do. Then arrives ‘Hostel: Part 3’ which went straight to DVD, due to the fizzled out plot, which never really changed between films.

The way to combat this is by keeping the audience on their toes, on the edge of their seats, and by introducing a new plot twist with each film, offering them something slightly different to watch every time. This is what you get with the hand-held camera REC series, now I’m not going to give away any spoilers when I talk about the previous films, because I know how infuriating that can be – but to sum up. In REC, a news reporter and her camera man are following a Fire Department as they embark on the night shift, however what was thought of as a run-of-the-mill emergency call, turns out to be something much worse. As the residents of an apartment building begin foaming at the mouth and attacking anyone they come into contact with, in most cases mutilating them. Things are made even worse when the building is put under quarantine (hence the name of the much tamer, and less thrilling American version ‘Quarantine’).

REC 2 is based at the same time as the first film and is located in the same place. This time following two groups, a SWAT team being sent in to the building with a scientist to clear it out, and a group of kids who break in to try to uncover what is happening. It really is hard to write about the second film and not give anything away, I implore you to watch it, especially if you have viewed the first one, it has the same jumps and scares, and changes the plot in a way you could never guess.

What is great about REC 3: Genesis is, directed by Paco Plaza, that it takes us away from the setting of the first two films – although based at the same time – and drops us into the wedding day of Clara and Koldo, and is filmed from two points of view – the wedding photographer and the groom’s nephew. As the post-wedding celebrations start, Koldo’s uncle, who complained about a bite on his hand earlier, begins to attack the party guests jugulars in a crazed frenzy. All hell then breaks loose, as people are attacked left, right and centre and being turned into ferocious killing machines. As Koldo and various others escape into the kitchen they plan to find a way out, but not before he has found his beloved Clara. The film then does an incredible thing and switches from the hand-held camera to a normal film camera, and continues the rest of the movie this way. This could have perhaps just been used to carry on the film if the camera men were killed, but it took me by surprise and put a different perspective on the film. Speaking of perspectives, the film follows two – Clara’s and Koldo’s. As they go about searching for each other amongst the chaos, not realising that their journeys are constantly intertwining.

REC 3: Genesis did not really offer an amazing plot twist like it’s predecessor did – it had more or less the same story, just based in a different location. However it gave fans of the first two films, a different way of seeing the violence unfold, instead of through a POV shot. We could see the full extent of the horror, especially the unforgettable chainsaw scene.

Being a Spanish horror, the gore and effects were top-notch, and the dialogue was rather enthralling as well. Mixed in with a slight bit of comedy and the jaw-dropping but incredible ending, makes this a truly great horror film, recommended for fans of the previous two and any fan of the horror genre.

Tag Line: You May Now Kiss The Bride.

Horror Rating: (:-O) (:-O) (:-O)

Star Rating:

World War Z

The long awaited zombie-epic fails to deliver all that it set out to.

World War Z will have been on many cinema-goers watch lists since filming started in 2011, but fans will probably create an epidemic of their own after viewing the film.WORLD-WAR-Z-Poster

Based on the novel of the same name by Max Brooks, the film follows Gerry Lane (Brad Pitt), as the undead ravage and take over the planet. Gerry manages to get his family out of Philadelphia and on to an army control boat. Where he is then informed that he needs to leave and try to find the source of the infection in North Korea, although what expertise he can offer are never really specified. This idea is quickly put down the drain though as they fly off to Israel – where the city of Jerusalem has been walled off – to find more answers. After a slight run in with the zombies, it’s off on another flight to Wales for the slow and rather unclimactic ending to the film. Where for some reason there are only English and Irish people.

The whole story line of the film keeps on changing with every different location, and it becomes hard to get your head around where the film is actually going. It’s as if the only reason we are taken to these other settings is to set up for another zombie attack, which don’t get me wrong, are amazing and adrenaline fueled, mainly in Israel, but slightly less on the unlikely plane escape to Wales. However the film is never in one location long enough to explain thoroughly why they are there.

Having not read the novel, I can’t refer much to it, but after reading various reviews it appears that the film has differed greatly from the source material, which will create quite an uproar in the World War Z fan base.

Being a huge zombie film fan, this one seemed as though it was going to be the film which topped all others, due to the amount of attention and coverage that it was getting. I’m not even sure you can call it a horror film though, it most definitely should not have a 15 certificate rating, due to there being barely a drop of blood seen throughout the film. One of the best parts to me was the opening zombie take-over of Philadelphia (which was filmed in Glasgow), mainly because it showed a slowed down transformation from human to zombie, and the amount of time which the infection took to take effect on a host. After this scene the film slowly slid downhill, with a few uplifting moments.

Brad Pitt’s summer blockbuster failed to live up to its expectations, and much of the acting appeared wooden. Even ‘Pitt’ looked as though he was just trying to get through this film and start working on another as soon as possible.

World War Z was directed by Marc Forster, who is also famous for raising our hopes and crashing them down with another film, Quantum of Solace. The Bond film which most fans are trying to forget.

This is not really a film for zombie/horror lovers, it comes across more of a family disaster film like ‘2012’. So horror fans, don’t be rushing out the door to see this, I would recommend staying in and sliding ‘Romero’s’ Dead trilogy into the DVD player instead.

Shocking Saturday: V/H/S

This weeks film is by far one of the best horror films that I have seen in recent years. Although it isn’t the scariest, it is the ideas in the story line that make it great. Being an anthology film – several stories being shown throughout the movie, with the same premise – V/H/S takes influence from such films as Tales From the Crypt (1972), Creepshow (1982) and Trick ‘r Treat (2009).vhs

It thrives off of creepiness, rather than scaring you to death, and the five stories which are shown give you an unnerving feeling, and this feeling is what makes you want to carry on watching, because you can’t tell where the story is going to go.

V/H/S revolves around a group of semi-professional criminals, who in their everyday lives go around smashing up houses and filming themselves lifting up unsuspecting women’s tops, and then selling the videos to mediocre porn companies. They have now been offered a large sum of money from a third-party to carry out a job, all they have to do is break in to a house and steal one VHS tape. However, upon entering the house they realise that there are loads of tapes. So whilst three of the goons search the rest of the house, looting every tape they can find in the process, one of them sits down and decides the view some of the videos. Each one filled with a story filmed from the camera man’s point-of-view, and each one more horrific than the last.

It puts a bit of a twist on the typical hand-held camera film though, there are five stories in total (unless you count the criminals stealing the tapes), two are filmed on hand-held cameras, and the others are from a glasses-cam, a web-cam and a camera inserted into the hood of a Halloween costume, which in some respects makes the film more realistic as it is actually from the eyes of the victims. Without giving too much away, the videos consist of the supernatural, the paranormal and serial killers. Don’t let the fact that you may have seen films with those things in before put you off, I guarantee this film is different.

Each video was directed by different people, all known in the horror genre: Adam Wingard (A Horrible Way To Die), David Bruckner (The Signal), Ti West (The Inkeepers), Glenn McQuaid (I Sell The Dead), Joe Swanberg (Silver Bullets) and the film-maker quartet Radio Silence. Having different directors gives the film a slight edge, as each video will be portrayed in a different way. The stories don’t become repetitive and boring because they are about 15-20 minutes each and get straight the point. This is great for the majority of the film, but some of the videos seem like they could have been explained better, and some seemed to be over too quickly, with not much of a storyline emerging. It would have been better to lengthen the more interesting stories and maybe cut out the ones that weren’t really going anywhere.

That little criticism doesn’t take away the adrenaline-ride that was V/H/S though, maybe I just have a hankering for hand-held camera films and like to see where the new ones take the genre. But throughout the entire film I could not stop watching, it just kept me hooked, and I think that a lot of horror fans will be impressed with it. Not only for the story, but for the effects, the blood and guts factor is huge, without going over the top into B-Movie standards, and is ridiculously realistic. A high point has to be after the stomach of a victim is opened, their intestines are reeled out of their body, by a killer named ‘The Glitch’, which I thought was a great name. When you see the film you will understand why.

You can only truly witness the greatness of this film by viewing it for yourself.

Just to entice you even more, here are the titles of each video tape shown in the film:

Tape 56/Frame Narrative

Amateur Night

Second Honeymoon

Tuesday the 17th

The Sick Thing That Happened To Emily When She Was Younger

10/31/98

Tag Line: This Collection Is Killer.

Horror Rating: (:-O) (:-O) (:-O) (:-O)

Star Rating:

Graphic Novel: Marvel Zombies

Taken straight from the pages of Ultimate Fantastic Four, comes a spin-off depicting a universe similar to our own, with one major difference…it is inhabited by flesh eating ghouls.mz1

It started after Reed Richards’ (Mr. Fantastic) counterpart attempted to lure him into another dimension, however Magneto, who is still alive in this other dimension, succeeds in smashing the machine and closes the gateway. Protecting our world, but leaving himself stranded and at the mercy of the re-animated bodies of the Marvel heroes.

An infection has spread throughout this world turning people into the undead, no one was safe from the virus, not even the Marvel super-heroes, who, after turning into zombies themselves, proceed to scour the earth in search of survivors which they can sink their teeth in to.

As soon as I heard about this comic book series I knew that I would enjoy it, being a lover of Marvel Comics and anything zombie related, and it does not disappoint. The novel sort of turns the super-hero theme on it’s head, with the protagonists being turned in to the antagonists, however the personalities and emotions of the characters are still the same, it is just the hunger which has changed them. We still get the comical quips from Spider-Man, the leadership position from Captain America, the intelligence from Ant-Man and the bitchy arrogance from Iron Man. All your lovable heroes…with a slight twist.

It was obvious that this was going to be an enjoyable and exciting series when I heard who was behind the ideas for it: Mark Miller (Kick-Ass, Ultimate Fantastic Four, Wanted), Robert Kirkman (The Walking Dead) and Ralph Macchio (who everyone should know as The Karate Kid). Beginning with a call from Macchio who knew that Kirkman was basically the go to zombie guy, after the great success of his Walking Dead series. Macchio explained that whilst Miller was writing his Ultimate Fantastic Four comics, he wanted to tell the story of this other universe, and have it be the best it could be. After much deliberation of how gory the series could be, due to it being a Marvel comic, the Marvel Zombies series was born. You can see the huge influence which Kirkman had on this project, the comics still had to have that element of being Marvel, but somehow be different. They are, in the way that the story is told through a view which Kirkman is known for, he wrote his Walking Dead series because, although he loved zombie films, he always wanted to know what happened afterwards. A film is limited to an ending, but a comic book series can carry on the story of survival, and Marvel Zombies shows this, everyone on this earth has been eaten, so the question is ‘what do the zombies do now?’marvel-zombies-2

Every part if this graphic novel was just perfect – zombie heroes fighting regular heroes, an all out brawl between undead heroes and villains, the attention to detail and humour of the gore used and the arrival of the Silver Surfer and a certain 28ft destroyer of worlds who attempt to rid the planet of this evil. Not to mention the artwork which was used for the five comic book instalments, original artwork from older comics such as Amazing Fantasy #15 (first appearance of Spider-Man) and Fantastic Four #1 (first appearance of Fantastic Four), and changed them to the zombie versions of the heroes and villains.

Anyone who is a fan of Marvel Comics will definitely enjoy this series, which continues with Marvel Zombies 2, 3, 4, 5 and one of the best cross-overs that could possibly happen…Marvel Zombies vs Army of Darkness.

Publication: MARVEL

Shocking Saturday: Paranormal Activity 4

Being one of the biggest horror film franchises in cinema today, you would expect the Paranormal Activity series to get better due to its popularity, sadly, this is not the case.

The fourth instalment fails to dazzle and scare, as you sit through 88 minutes of anticipation, for a disappointing ending, and the feeling that I’m glad I bought that DVD for £3 from a Blockbusters bargain bin.pa4

The film is based after the second, and if we all remember, at the end of the second film, Katie, our lovely demon possessed woman, has stolen, Robbie, her sister’s baby. Fast forward about 8 years, and Katie and Robbie have just moved on to a new street. Where Alex, her family and her sexually frustrated boyfriend live. As we see with the first three films, these people just can’t get enough of video taping everything that goes on in their daily lives. This time mostly from the families laptops, which does actually give the film a more modern feel, and the ability to give Skype users something to be afraid of. After Katie apparently gets ill, Robbie has to stay with Alex and her family. When Robbie begins to act strangely around the house and jump in to bed with Alex whilst she is sleeping, they think that it is time to video tape the events that are occurring. If they had watched the first three films, they would have known that filming only encourages the demon.

When Paranormal Activity came out in 2007, it was new, it was fresh. Sure there were loads of hand-held camera films already out, but this one offered something slightly different. With it being set in an ordinary American household, it made the story more believable, therefore scarier. Although it wasn’t a complete scare-fest, it still brought some new ideas to the table, and I think, on its own, was a good film.

Of course with every great horror film, eventually there is going to be a sequel made. I was actually looking forward to seeing Paranormal Activity 2 and 3, to see what the film-makers had done with the story to make it more terrifying. It seemed they didn’t do anything really, but take every aspect and jump scare from the first film, muddle them up into a different order, give it the next number in the line and stick it in a cinema.

It was great that they carried on the story from the first film – the second showing us that the demon was actually given to Katie by her brother-in-law and the third taking us back to the 1970s, when the haunting actually began. But the films always seem to be leading up to something massive, like a huge climax, and then everyone will die in a 10 second scene, and the film is over. It is the same with the fourth. The creepy video-taping of when the haunting is beginning to happen throughout the middle of the films, is actually scarier than the endings, which usually leave me saying “what?”, with my hands in the air and a confused look on my face.

It has to be said that there was one really good scene, amongst all the monotonous ones used from the previous films, which shows Alex, her boyfriend and Alex’s little brother, Wyatt. When they turn out the lights in the living room, motion-sensing dots from their Xbox Kinect show up on their bodies as they start to dance around, with Robbie, sat on the sofa. The camera from the Kinect is filming them, and shows the dots on the sofa next to Robbie move and turn to look at the them, in the shape of a man.

It has been such a shame to see this franchise go downhill, especially with Oren Peli at the helm. He has played his hand in some great films over the past few years Chernobyl Diaries (2012) and The Bay (2012). Not forgetting Insidious (2010) and Dark Skies (2013). It is a shame that this is what he is going to be remembered for most.

All round though, this is one film to stay clear of. I recommend watching it if it is on television, and you have and hour and a half to kill, don’t prepare yourself for some scares though…because you won’t get any.

Tag Line: All The Activity Has Led To This.

Horror Rating: (:-O)

Star Rating:

Graphic Novel: Kick-Ass 2

The second edition of the popular realistic super-hero comic book series, delivers a fan-boys wet dream.

Following straight on from where Kick-Ass left off – Hit-Girl/Mindy Macready has given up her hero lifestyle for a normal life and Kick-Ass/Dave Lizewski has recovered from his ball-busting injuries and continues to rid the streets of injustice.kick ass 2 graphic novel cover

With the success that the first graphic novel and the film adaptation had, the second had some great expectations to live up to. How do they accomplish this? How about a super-hero team? The aspect which comic book fans love to see, there is nothing better than seeing your favourite heroes team up to fight crime – The Avengers, Fantastic Four, X-Men, The Justice League – are just a few examples. The great thing about it happening in this novel is that we don’t know any of the heroes, so we are introduced to a whole load of new characters with different backgrounds. All with a personal back story of why they want to be a crime-fighter.

This time the story follows Kick-Ass as he teams up with ‘JUSTICE FOREVER’, the new super-hero team which includes: Colonel Stars, Lieutenant Stripes, Doctor Gravity, Night Bitch, Insect-man, Battle-Guy and a duo called Remembering Tommy. Together they open a can of whup-ass on the seedy under-belly of their city. However it doesn’t take long before Chris Genovise/Red Mist, who now calls himself ‘The Mother-fucker’, hears about them, and because he is still pissed about Kick-Ass killing his dad, he decides to assemble his own team of criminal villains and plans his revenge. It also doesn’t take long before the right actions provoke Hit-Girl to don her costume again.

Mark Miller (The Ultimates, Ultimate Fantastic Four, Wanted, Nemesis, Civil War), John Romita Jr. (The Amazing Spider-man, Thor, Iron Man, Hulk and just about every other Marvel Comic) and their team, bring back what made the first series of comics so great. Miller’s comedic but serious writing and super-hero quips mixed in with Romita Jr.’s colourful yet detailed artwork which shows the fast-paced, gory fight sequences so well, make this graphic novel such a thrill to read, for the mind and eyes.

What makes Kick-Ass stand out from many other comic books is the fact that it is all happening to an every kid who just really wanted to be a super-hero – no powers, no elite fighting skills (although they have improved in this one) and the costume is a wetsuit which he bought on eBay. It also shows all the problems, if someone did try this in reality, you would face; gangs, cops and real injuries.hit girl

Kick-Ass 2 differs from the first in one vital way though, it is much darker. The death-toll is phenomenal, and I’m sure the artwork has gotten a lot better with the realistic gore throughout.

This graphic novel is one of the best I have read and it was impossible to put down until I had finished reading it, I would tell anyone who was a fan of the first one, the film or any comic book fans in general to give it a read. You will not be disappointed, and will get everything that was great about the first one turned up about 5 notches. The story line will have you reading the pages as fast as you can to find out what happens next, as the enjoyably, dark and gruesome tale leads up to an amazing climax, and one of the best that I had read.

Kick-Ass 3, the final in the series, is currently being published.

Kick-Ass 2 (The Film) is out 16th August.

Publication: TITAN BOOKS

Graphic Novel: God Save The Queen

What starts out as a novel which appears to depict two stories simultaneously happening at the same time, turns in to something completely different as you read on.god

‘God Save The Queen’ is exactly what it says, the story is about saving a queen who has been over thrown, in the Faerie Kingdom. The novel switches back and forth to the kingdom and north London, where we find Linda, a rebellious teenager who gets tangled up with a group of druggies, and their new substance.

This is no ordinary drug though, it is called ‘Red Horse’, and is a mixture of heroin and human blood. It is a dangerous high, which Linda finds out, and transports her into the Faerie kingdom whenever she takes a hit. Making her see the devastation which has come to the land after the dark queen ‘Mab’ and her demonic helper ‘Puck’ have taken over from queen ‘Titania’.

The gang decide to visit the border between our world and the next, to get a first hand experience and the ultimate trip. After entering the kingdom, they realise that all is not well and attempt to flee the grief-stricken land. However in the panic, Linda is left behind, and through her short time there learns that she is actually half human and half fairy. Also that it is up to her to stop ‘Mab’ and her path of destruction.

The reader is taken from an everyday teenage-angst reality, to an outrageous and hellish fantasy world. The story is sewn together through the writing of Mike Carey (CROSSING MIDNIGHT, LUCIFER, The Devil You Know) and the talented fantasy painting of John Bolton (FABLES:1001 NIGHTS OF SNOWFALL, THE FURIES). Bolton captures the images perfectly, linking the moods and emotions felt by the characters to the drugs and death scenes shown in the comic panels. The tone of the paint builds a darkened feel throughout the pages, which does not let up until queen Titania is returned to her throne.

The story has such potential to be great; a gripping storyline, unpredictable characters. However the novel seemed too short for the story which it was trying to tell, as though everything had been crammed in. There were certain parts which could have been a lot longer, and the ending just seemed too abrupt.

Saying that, it was still an enjoyable read, and I would recommend it to any lovers of the mature reality/fantasy genre.

Publication: DC COMICS/VERTIGO COMICS