WILD PALMS: THE OLD NEW REALITY SHOW…

Over the last week of so I have finally watched the much criticized mini series which aired on television way back in 1993, almost twenty long years ago now. I personally remember it being unfairly judged alongside Twin Peaks, as trying to imitate the Peaks kooky, bizarre and surreal drama.

I remember that it did seem to do very badly, most people just not bothering with it, or simply just honestly exhausted by Lynch’s Twin Peaks before it. While Wild Palms is now, I see, a very different kind of show, it is again similar in being at times very challenging, arguably confusing and surreal.

Wild Palms is actually sci-fi based in concept, but set in the near future (which of course, has now passed technically) and seems to have been heavily influenced by the work and books of cyberpunk SF author William Gibson. The big draw with Palms, was that it was produced by Oliver Stone. While I think his touch can definitely be seen through the series, it is unusual as Stone has not exactly been really involved in science fiction films or projects, usually just political-which this show is.

In a very, very basic plot summary, the series focuses on an Attorney, Harry-played by James Belushi-who becomes involved in a new television channel project, but this project involved a highly experimental form of virtual reality, which could seriously revolutionize entertainment and living. Different groups begin to fight for the equipment, and Harry finds that a number of very dangerous secrets connect his family and the people who are tempting him into work with Channel 3.

The main question is of course, why did it do so badly? Why the terrible reaction from audiences?

Well, though I personally really did want to understand it and put the time in, for most audiences back in ’93, to begin with the show was very probably maybe even more obtuse, confusing and impenetrable than Twin Peaks. With Peaks also having just rambled on for months, then been cut short, and to some, just not answered many questions at all, to go through that again would be sadistic.

The producers were very probably just lazily riding on the quirky look and feel of Twin Peaks to help pick up that audience for this show, but this is a very different thing once you get further into it. While yes, it does very obviously share visual and others themes and film techniques of Twin Peaks and even Blue Velvet before that, it is a science fiction tale. It has detective mystery but no Agent Cooper, no evil Bob spirit or Log lady either.

I think it tries to go further with the post-modern pop-culture referencing, with costume, music, direction and more, beyond Peaks but that probably distracts too much from the already choppy sci-fi narrative. I really did like that it was taking William Gibson concepts into televisual series form, and yes only half succeeded with it, but at least it did try. It was possibly in some ways, ahead of its time.

It is certainly a show worth seeing, but be warned that it definitely is a challenge but dig in, and enjoy the unreal, new reality ride.

WOLVERINE: A MASTERLY RETURN FOR THE MUTANT?

Much more news is creeping now about this mysterious but quite honestly very much anticipated new WOLVERINE X-MEN spin-off film. Following the first WOLVERINE movie, which generally most everyone views as a huge explosive but utter shambles of a mess; this new sequel still suggests something which could really open up some fantastic depiction of the most mysterious, and interesting character from the X-MEN history.

Yes, the previous first WOLVERINE movie did involve a good few of the interesting back story themes, which many fans had hoped to see tackled on screen in some way, but the other terrible missteps and ill choices practically overshadowed those scenes. The legendary Weapon X narrative was depicted, and to some level, it was fairly good on screen, but the other dumb mistake and ruined the rest of the movie.

With this new sequel for WOLVERINE, so much has been alluded to that could be very great. This is a character that has built in so much mystery and enigmatic back story, and this film could showcase it.

The obvious difficulty though I see now, is how this movie will exist alongside the new re-branded X-MEN series of films. Not that they have been polished or distorted to an extreme extent, perhaps like some other Marvel films and characters, but this Wolverine should now have a suitably authentic feel and look with should not bow to pressure of wider younger tween audiences. For many years Wolverine has, in the X-MEN comics arguably been the most dark and difficult character, with much deep psychological tensions and almost extreme bleak and bloody existential violence seen, as he struggles with his past and own self. This is what we should hopefully be seeing in this new movie.

Will it offer up a true, more authentic Wolverine than the previous largely dumb but simplistic fun film?

This new sequel is due on screens July 2013.

Coming up very soon and just timed for Halloween, there will be an adaptation of JAMES HERBERT’S The Secret of Crickley Hall on our UK tv screens. Will it be a successful small screen conversion? Would there have been more appropriate books from Herbert or other authors which could also have scared us this Halloween? How many modern horror novels from UK or overseas authors would be just right for small screen adaptation?

Some authors, and I am mostly thinking about the horror genre here, seem very much perfect for adapting onto television, their books and tales tailored just perfectly in tone and drama. Whereas there have in the past been a small number of James Herbert books adapted to film and mostly been unsuccessful, on television I believe his work would very likely shine much stronger.

Some of his books such as Once…, The Dark, Shrine, could cross onto small screen and quite possibly become very excellent dramatic fear series. Yes, at times in those novels there are often some very graphic elements which could be an issue, but if later released on dvd/Bluray, those more harrowing scenes could flourish.

Other British horror authors that could also offer some excellent scares on television with there short tales or novels could include of course Clive Barker, and then the often underrated Shaun Hutson, and then some new younger authors like David Moody.

While this new adaptation of Herbert’s The Secret of Crickley Hall will be I think drawing on strong, dramatic fear and chills in atmosphere, there could be plenty of horror which could creep and crawl onto our small screens if the producers dare take the chance…

CONTINUUM: RETURNING TO A TOMORROW AGAIN?

I am now feeling just a little underwhelmed. Yes, that amazing looking shiny new sci-fi show which was due along, and looked very much like it might just blow your tiny mind all over, and seemed to arrive quite sudden really, well now it is in my eyes struggling just a bit.

Okay, I will admit that I have missed the first episode, and yes I am now of course seriously hoping that that has not just drastically ruined the onward narrative for me, and that is how I am sure many would aim to argue my words here. But even just jumping in through the second and third episodes, it has not yet grabbed my curious sci-fi mind and shouted into my aging ears-‘Hey, this is like a documentary from some awesome tomorrow, guy!’. No, that has not happen yet.

Believe me though, while there are always many new shows arriving all of the time, and a few in the SF manner (though most genre shows today include or focus on teenage wolf people or confused but gorgeous detective vampires) I eventually saw them teaser trailers, and read some news about this instantly fascinating show. It was the kind of sci-fi show that I did really want to see on small screen, it is even close to some of the science fiction that I myself have written at times. It sounded good, and looked five times better.

But now that it is on our screens-is it such a great show? Can it still become that?

It might just be that it has been so long since this particular kind of science fiction show has been on television, a show not set in space, and neither a few hundred years ahead in time but located close enough to our own time and with a fresh realistic enough feel at many times. It could take a while to adjust to the specific themes, and style of the writing and settings of the show, which I would still continue to watch on through.

I do very much like some SF which is connected close to our own times, perhaps a few years from right now. In that sense, CONTINUUM should provide a fresh enough angle. And it does seem that the writing of both male and female characters is balanced to a pleasing level so far.

I only hope that it pulls up in soon enough, throws out some stunning scenes, twists and performances which could then make it a truly remarkable series that could survive on air.

Fashion Beast #2 – Review

Weekly Comic Book Review

By: Alan Moore and Malcolm McLaren (story), Alan Moore (script), Antony Johnston (sequential adaptation), Facundo Percio (art) and Hernan Cabrera (colors)

The Story: A young lady (?) gets a choice modeling gig.

Review: This is a tough issue to review because it says “Alan Moore” on the cover.  Even though it is not a traditional Alan Moore comic (for reasons I described in the review of issue #1), it still has that golden halo of quality about it that makes me view the comic in a “glass half full” sort of way.  What I can’t tell you is whether I’d still view the comic in that way if it didn’t say “Moore” on the cover because, well, let’s just say that you can’t “unring the bell”.

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Clive Barker’s NIGHTBREED:THE CABAL CUT-MIDIAN RISES (PART 3)

What did I think after seeing the CABAL CUT of Clive Barker’s NIGHTBREED?

Around two nights before, I had watched almost all of the previous cinema version release, which I have seen many times over the years. Even than previously botched and distorted version inspired me and my own film/writing/ art work, as though it was imperfect, not completed in the manner Barker intended, it still contained many very iconic scenes, sequences, characters, dialogue from the mind of Barker and also the amazing musical score of Danny Elfman.

I had many years ago read the comic book adaptation, and the original novella CABAL which Barker based NIGHTBREED upon, written only a short time before. It is certainly a huge cult movie now, today and should get the treatment and respect that it rightly deserves. I honestly also believe that, even though imperfect, the previous cinema version has definitely had a very strong influence upon many genre television shows and movies, and fiction and films since then, especially things like BUFFY, ANGEL, LOST GIRL, NEIL GAIMAN.

So then, THE CABAL CUT. WARNING: I may possible add spoilers here, if you have not yet seen it or the original, so you may wish to look away now.

It does start fairly close to the first version, but soon enough new footage is added. As some have stated, yes the quality is markedly poor, dark and very grainy at times but I personally could largely look through it to see newly revealed scenes which expanded on the characters and narrative. We see more of Boone and Lori, see their relationship, we see more of the character of Boone. Some of it maybe is too much, not totally necessary but interesting to see.

A number of people over the years have spoken about the quite distinct plot holes and jump cut confusion of the original cinema version, which is agreeably there and today very understandable. The new footage does fill in a few of these areas, and offers more besides, with a good few surprises. It really is amazing to know that so long after it was made and released at the cinema the first time around, we can now see a very different, expanded version. Today we expect this kind of thing, with multiple disc box-sets and deleted and additional scenes and extended director’s cuts, but this was barely even dreamed of ever being seen and it really, honestly is such a fascinating joy to sit through.

I have to just explain that I do come from a film production/art/writing background, and so I can very easily sit through varied degree quality of film and digital footage and have edited films myself and so can possibly tolerate THE CABAL CUT more easily than an average film fan. Saying that, I do not want to sound like some film snob at all, because I do hope that many will watch the entire new CABAL CUT, with patience and understand the process and long hours put into the making of it, where it is at right now.

Many of the main characters are extended, developed out much more, including some great new scenes with Narcisse, Rachel, Babette, and possibly most controversially David Cronenberg’s Decker. Now, before my screening of THE CABAL CUT, the editor who has made it all possible and taken it around the US and UK, Russell Cherrington; had explained the processes involved, the problems with cutting in the new footage, re-ordering with the NIGHTBREED previous cinema cut. Even now, this may not be the final version, though Clive Barker has very much approved it personally.

One point stressed was that he has been intending to create, with all of this new footage found in recent times, and more still surfacing, a version which is a much more faithful adaptation of the book, which is what Clive himself had been trying to film and deliver until the film studio panicked. So the new footage included in this cut, does very much try to create a version of the book, and has a number of scenes from the pages, and does of course seem much more like a book translated to screen, even in this rough, at times grainy and difficult version. It does cut between grainy old VHS footage, and digital previous clean NIGHTBREED footage, though not as much as it could have done.

At around two and a half hours long, it possibly does feel just slightly overly long, and perhaps it has been hard to cut it down too much, due to the genuine excitement in seeing the new footage. The hillbillies and macho cops do march around on screen for maybe too long, but then there are now some really great new scenes with Lori, Boone, Ashberry for certain, which really open out the narrative greatly.

I guarantee that there are some surprising moments, some new funny scenes, it is arguably now much more emotionally engaging, but still possibly meanders along, losing some of the dramatic pacing. That is where I and maybe surprised with my thoughts that in some ways, the original cinema version, though nowhere near the version Clive could be happy with really, did in some ways have a kind of strong paced dynamic within in. While we now see so much new exciting footage, it is in places slower, and maybe even just slightly repetitive, though some of that is due to editing decisions.

It was good to hear Russell saying that he himself want to get a true, faithful version together, he has personally invested many months of his own spare time in editing various tapes and footage, then added audio over dubs and extras on top of it too. He himself admits it is still moving along, taking shape, and very much can still be done until it reaches a final stage. So much now depends on how the film studios see the reaction, and interest from fans and film audiences globally, before they spend and offer help in polishing it up, and creating a final most truly crafted version. So go see it, spread the word.

Midian must be built again, Cabal will rise and NIGHTBREED will be what it was intended to be.