THE WALKING DEAD:DIFFICULT DEAD…

This very gory splatter filled horror TV series has been on air for a round two years now, with the second series soon ending in the UK. I have to admit that I have not really paid too much interest in the second series so far, as I think that I’ve lost some interest. Now, I do really want to like show with very impressive full-on CG gore, high drama and big scares with classic horror monsters on our screens. This is zombies though, who along with vampires have really reached overload, with zombie themed books, films, comics, games, all over everywhere we look. Does this mean that we’ve become desensitised to their terror now? Are they just boring, when we see them every day, in all directions and forms of entertainment?

I do wish to like this series still, and I want to support high quality genre television which is continuing strongly in most forms. So why have I lost interest with the dead ones? Well, even with the first series it was to some degree, not completely fresh or original but a new experience for television I think. The budget and production values were surprisingly good, and suggested fine things ahead. I came to it late, but then managed to catch it all very quickly on repeat.

Again, like some other genre shows now, some of them are almost blurring into one another, with desperate groups of people evading some terrifying gangs of either zombies, werewolves, vampires or something similar to that. They owe much to the storylines of shows previously such as LOST or HEROES, though not always but with so many genre shows appearing over the last half decade or so with increasing regularity now many are emulating others, showing signs of familiarity

THE WALKING DEAD is actually originally adapted from a fine successful comic book series, written by Robert Kirkman, Tony Moore, Charlie Adlard.  I do think that I probably would enjoy a lot and stick with if I began reading it. So I am wondering about the differences between horror in graphic novel/comic book form and horror on the screen in series form-is one better or more successful than the other? Why is that?

Comic readers might have different attitudes or interests than more relaxed television viewers which could mean that the comic version might have different storylines, structure that just might not adapt well to television, but then the TV series can probably display better certain levels of extreme dramatic horror scenes that the comic could only begin to suggest.

I hope it is still doing well, and a third series seem to be appearing too, along with a videogame. It’s the undead, they just keep coming back for you…

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Second Coming: Problems with Genre TV series returns…

Alright then, finally watched the final two episodes of AMERICAN HORROR STORY. I did enjoy them, and the series in whole generally but now looking back, I can see some peaks and lows and changes throughout which helped at some times, troubled it at others.

I did watch it in an irregular order, catching I think episode 3, then back tracking and continuing on, before a gap until the last two. I did heard that it has been signed for a second series, JESSICA LANG also reprising her nasty neighbour role again. Now having seen the way it ended, I can wonder how it might successfully continue on.

This now, is of course a very well noticed, often tragic problem. With so many new drama and genres shows over the many television channels, more appearing all the time, they really have to work at gaining a strong loyal audience against the others shows, and then maintaining them through to another series and so on, keeping ratings good enough to justify producing more.

Most recently I have seen the passing of the V remake series, which I think could have pulled through somehow and before that JOSS WHEDON’S DOLLHOUSE series, which did get a second series but then had to tie up loose ends and plotlines in the last episode inventively.

I am currently watching LOST GIRL, on SyFy which is now running a second series, after successfully picking up a good audience response so far. It is something different, light hearted, but good enjoyable dark fantasy speaking an language I like. But with budgets tight at television stations and production companies, who knows how long it will last. I think there is a good run in it though.

Right now though, over say the last year or so, so many have been appearing in the dark fantasy/sci-fi/horror mould it is almost unbelievable. Now we have Speilberg produced TERRA NOVA-oh dear, problems there, GRIMM-Looking quite good initially, think I’ll watch, THE WALKING DEAD-Caught the first series, but have lost interest now the second is here, THE FADES in the UK-Very impressive short dark urban fantasy horror, MISFITS is doing well in the uk, not really seen it though, SANCTUARY is surprisingly strong, continuing on, and I do like what I see of it, SUPERNATURAL-bit too mainstream, handsome leads, not my thing. There are many others still, and in one sense this is a very great thing, evidence of strong interest and possibilities with these kinds of series and audiences there for them, mostly.

But there is only so much air time on television, only so much budget for shows to win our attention. So the pressure comes. This is the problem. I think I really noticed it well, a couple of years ago now, maybe during the TERMINATOR: SARAH CONNOR CHRONICLES. It was regularly reported in magazines and entertainment news, how it was progressing along, how it might go, the ups and downs. That is pressure enough on the writers, as well as the rating coming in. I did not watch all of that series, and was possibly put off by these reports. I sometimes don’t even wish to begin watching a new series, if I think it is likely that it will only been around for one series but by then  I really like that characters and situation.

So when a new series know they want to get lit for another series, now we can almost see them very desperately doing just about anything with the characters and plots to confuse or create any level of desire in us for more. Sometimes this backfires terribly, and ends in a very embarrassing mess. This can then ruin the whole series, and what has gone before, simply for chasing the chance to get signed for a chance to return and do the same over again

Should the writers and directors not ultimately strive to create the most convincing, engaging well made, honestly crafted series before thinking of long time comfortable payment or playing it too safe to just simply be there, on air?

Well, I know there are some producers, writers and directors in television who do take bold chances, who risk cancellation for the chance to make something unique, special and loved.

URBAN GOTHIC:Televised Terror…

Shown on Channel 5 in the UK over a decade ago, one of the most brave and bold series commisioned and unfairly largely forgotten now.

I am currently making my way through the second series in the box set, which can be found at a quality cheap price.

An anthology series, individual one of horror tales, in urban areas, London or thereabouts. Yes, some of the episodes work some do not quite succeed well, but good efforts are made. The budget seemed to be fairly low mostly, but they should be admired for attempting to create a good level of horror and scares to match many films around.

Featuring some actors well known such as, at the end of series one RICHARD O’BRIEN, and more now presently established since working on the series like ASHLEY WALTERS and SEAN MAGUIRE.

The tales vary from the urban creepy corpse finders, voodoo tales, hospital monsters, vampire documentary to less convincing almost comedy horror satire. When it does work, it really can be genuinely entertaining and respectable horror.

I see that there are even rumours that Channel 5 just might actually be planning to produce a new third series this year. True or not, fans of British, modern, short horror entertainment should view these modern classic tales of URBAN GOTHIC.

Player one:Genre Games around now…

Again this week in various press and television there has been more dramatic debate about the merits and social dangers of modern video games on the youth of today and their attitudes and social skills once more. I do personally defend some elements of gaming, and as many games are certainly blurring the line in serious entertainent alongside film and television for storyline and characterisation and entertainment. There is definately a narrow line of media fear demonising of game culture.

While there are certain types of games which may remain hugely popular but very repetitive, fairly simple and violent there are then very many games which most definately challenge and engage the player, often RPG’s, also games such as PORTAL 2, HALF LIFE, games which truly stun and amaze like BIOSHOCK, MASS EFFECT, DEUS EX, L.A. NOIRE, ALAN WAKE, to name only a few which really demand full attention, thought, decision and choice making from the player. Highly interactive and stimulating, often educational.

So which games are arriving soon or out there that I really want to have a go with at the moment?

To begin, there is THE DARKNESS 2, sequel to the first game which was really very impressively film like and so engrossing. Like a very dark supernatural gothic gangster mob film with sniggering monsters it stood very unique and the sequel should be a great thing hopefully.

One of the very biggest and certainly most anticipated games of the year out in a few weeks will be MASS EFFECT 3, finishing off the space opera trilogy. The series has been hailed and loved as truly emotional, hugely dramatic stunning experience as you make choices through the games, shaing the narrative uniquely as you play each time individually. Porbably the most engaging, visually and dramatic sci-fi game out.

There is more RESIDENT EVIL on the horizon soon, with OPERATION RACOON CITY which may or may not be worth our time. How far can the gore horror survival series really go, and is it still really what it used to be or does that not matter so much? Then later around November there will be RESIDENT EVIL 6. It seems like it could be taking things right back to some of the more classic elements that we know and love, stronger characters and moments like in the second game. We will see.

There is unexpectedly a sequel to the fairly cool PROTOTYPE game, which hopefully might build on the initial begining as it really could be a very awesome title.

The METAL GEAR franchise returns, and could be coming back into a good stable level like it has been known for in past times with its blend of sleuth stealth combat sci-fi action.

Most people now are really getting hot under the collar for the new ALIENS game-ALIENS:COLONIAL MARINES, due March. Screen shots and trailer look very good, so could it be one of the better ALIEN title games, to really turn the second film successfully into game action?

 In the bestsellers we still have epic free roaming RPG SKYRIM, CALL OF DUTY:BLACK OPS, the final epic GEARS OF WAR 3, HALO REACH, a tasty METAL GEAR collected set, the fun and often bizarre fantasy FABLE 3, FINAL FANTASY of course has made another huge return, UNCHARTED still entertaining in the ongoing wild action hero style, as ever more STAR WARS branded games keep coming, with varied quality.

Me personally, I have to get right back there into Gotham, to BATMAN:ARKHAM CITY I think.

THE WEIRD:COLLECTED TALES OF EVERY WEIRD KIND…

Well I am going to now simply promote a fantastically great looking new anthology collection which I have gained as a freebie in a  competition from the guys at Geek Syndicate wordpress blog. THE WEIRD is edited by ANN and JEFF VANDERMEER, Hugo award and World Fantasy award winners. It is a truly impressively huge book which includes so many collected short fiction tales from classic much respected authors such as KAFKA, LOVECRAFT, SAKI, through to more modern edgy writers just as admired and talented including some very personal favourites like CLIVE BARKER, POPPY Z BRITE, RAMSEY CAMPBELL, NEIL GAIMAN. There are writers fearured who would not usually be collected together like DAPHNE DU MAURIER, ROBERT BLOCH, the amazing MR JAMES, the legend that is STEPHEN KING, and so many more.

With an introduction from MICHAEL MOORCOCK, and ‘Afterweird’ from the currently highly successful CHINA MIEVILLE, I just cannot wait to dig right into this heavy facinating big read. You certainly should consider it if you too also have any interest in just what WEIRD really is…

ROMANCE OF THE DEAD:HORROR LOVE

Today is of course Valentines Day, so let us think briefly of some stranger, darker macabre relationships of horror fiction and film…

From the begining there have been some tragically beautiful examples in classic such as THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA, THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTREDAME, DRACULA. The many film adaptations of all of these over the decades have focused at different times on the conflicted forms of love and lust between the anti-heroes and the ones they loved whiled usually doomed from the very start.

There was the classic BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, filmed by COCTEAU in 1946 and then the television series in the late eighties. Romantic, dramatic misundertood.

We could argue that in films like A NIGHTMARE ON ELMSTREET and HELLRAISER their is a bizarre form of love and lust between Nancy and FREDDY, and KIRSTY and PINHEAD in their own ways. Their was also then the fine SILENCE OF THE LAMBS and HANNIBAL books and film adaptations where Clarice Starling and HANNIBAL LECTER depended and upon each other with possibly a tragic kind of trust, loyalty, and twisted love throughout.

More recently of course there is the hugely dramatic youthful love between BELLA and EDWARD in the massively popular TWILIGHT book and movie series. The crushingly beautiful romance in this series ecpilses almost any element of terror or horror between the vampire and werewolf battles.

So today rember some love monsters, some monsters need love, and have a happy Valentine’s Day…

Just going to reel off some of the shows and films I am viewing around now, and some quick thoughts-

LOST GIRL SEASON 2-It is continuing well, still humourous, though repeating itself a little but good fun

AMERICAN HORROR STORY SEASON 1-Almost finished, got to catch up. Very pleased about the second season, and JESSICA LANG appreciation in awards recently

REGENESIS SEASON 1-Going to begin watching this seemingly underrated different kind of sci-fi detective drama

MASTERS OF HORROR-watching through season 2 now, still very good, possibly more thoughtful, psychological episodes now

Have also the GINGER SNAPS werewolf films lined up, have seen first one and was very impressed with the strong originality, humour, and lead female characters.

Hopefully see GHOST RIDER:SPIRIT OF VENGENCE in a few days too, the inner comic nerd in me very eager for that one.

A VAMPIRE RETURN:NEW LESTAT AND ANNE RICE ADAPTATION?

As the whole world around seems obsessed in good or bad ways with all kinds of fanged creatures, most of them sparkling unfortunately, I see reported from SFX magazine site, that the rights to film the ANNE RICE book THE TALE OF THE BODY THIEF the forth VAMPIRE CHRONICLE book and featuring vampire LESTAT, previously played by TOM CRUISE in the 1994 INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE movie.

It is about time that a new film from the pages of ANNE RICE vampire novels showed up to show the young romantic vampires how it is done with much more drama, style and fear. While INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE directed by NEIL JORDAN did run into much debate and controversy on release many fans of the book displeased with the choice of casting CRUISE, and then BRAD PITT many felt was also miscast, on the whole it was a fairly good epic impressive vampire film, like barely any other. After that, in 2002 there then came the bold but even much more flawed adaptation of QUEEN OF THE DAMNED which also featured LESTAT in his later wild modern rockstar period. More bad casting, unconvincing special effects and short running time ruined that one.

It is a real shame, as the vampire books of ANNE RICE are so very rich, descriptive, emotional and evocative in the telling of their dark gothic tales and provide so much to work with for film makers. The lure of big box office takings, mass appeal and mainstream success seem to continue to ruin the original intent from the stories. Again, while vampires are a top drawer sure cultural fixture in the wake of mass popularity of TWILIGHT, TRUE BLOOD,  and various genre television shows and movies recently producers and filmmakers have been drawn toward the queen of vampire tales of our age and opportunity suck the life from another loved source of horror. Let us hope that the new LESTAT will creep up and shock us, with respectful authentic fangs, eclipsing Team Edward and  Sookie’s vampire friends as he rightly should…

SCI-FI NON-AMERICANA…-CHRYSALIS(2007)

Recently watched a very nice french sci-fi film called CHRYSALIS from 2007. It ran along the lines of MINORITY REPORT, BLADE RUNNER kind of thing, a large hint of William Gibson and Philip K Dick in there too. It did have that ‘out of Hollywood’ feel, where there seems some actual depth and emotion to many of the characters and situations.

It of course had the influence of the MATRIX movies over it, but held its own interesting story of mind and memory manipulation, with a sly homage to A CLOCKWORK ORANGE. This is not the only French sci-fi movie I have seen lately, and it is certainly great to finally be seeing gradually increasing confidence and quality genre movies from Europe and Asia too, to challenge Hollywood and offer alternatives to the far to predictable, mega-budget, malnourished screenplay movies usually exploding our way from the US of A.

This movie did owe much to MINORITY REPORT from a couple of years earlier, and K DICK but the characters and acting were good enough to hold my attention. There were problems with the contrived fight sequences, but there were a number of very stunning and impressive moments in this largely ignored fine example of European sci-fi film.

 

CONAN THE BARBARIAN: WASTED LEGEND?

I have this past weekend finally viewed the recent CONAN THE BARBARIAN remake from a few months back, which I personally was looking forward to seeing. Yes, I did hear that it was mostly full of blood splattering brutal fights, grunting savage characters, excessive naked woman jiggling around and a CONAN with silky smooth metrosexual looks but still I needed see it.

As the original from 1982 starring an iconic ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER was a huge cult success over the years with a sequel which was only mildly decent, the continued original books, comics and other merchandise has kept the brand there right until this latest cinematic version had appeared.

One reason I really wished to see this new version was that it had MARCUS NISPEL directing, who has previously put out stunning remakes-visually at least-of THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE and FRIDAY THE THIRTEENTH. NISPEL really can create some highly atmosphric disturbing dark imagery unlike few others. I had seen early images of this CONAN and it did seem to appear to possibly be absolutely stunning.

 Well, it is not a complete disaster really but also it is not really the huge epic fantasy adventure it really could. It almost is there, but just not quite. NISPEL does good work, but so far in, it feels like perhaps he loses his way. There is already so much inspiring CONAN artwork from the book covers and comic imagery to draw from, and much of it is clearly inspired that way. It ultimately seems very likely that the budget was just not big enough for what it really could have been. The script too, seem only have polished, and maybe the whole film is too intimidated by the shadow of the original and SCHWARZENEGGER. JASON MOMOA who plays CONAN is a reasonably decent choice, possibly better than SHCWARZENEGGER really but the script and direction let him down.

It all could have been much more epic, as it just about nearly is. It is not entirely a terrible verison, I really can atch it again, but I am sad to think of what it could easily have been. They were apaprently hoping to make it a new franchise, a new CONAN film series. Judging by box office, that may not happen. In time, CONAN might return once again, he is too mighty a character to stay down for long