Black Melt (my short horror film)

Inertia creeps.

Here’s a creepy b&w short film I did just recently.¬†It’s the first time I filmed something, so take you time to praise bash this no-budget production.

Anyone who can guess from which title I borrowed the sounds will receive an honourable mention in the end credits! ūüėÉ

Please, watch with headphones as there are some weird sounds and I highly recommend switching to YouTube HD quality.

 

Kill Command

fcd8861acdbf8bbb9d79dd7a098acbdfDirector: Steven Gomez. Starring:  Vanessa Kirby,  Thure Lindhardt, David Ajala. UK, 2016. Budget: $1.5 mln. IMDB: 5.7. My rating: 3/4.  Creepy sci-fi thriller about military guys and 1 cyborg vs huge rogue robots on a remote island.

–¬†It’s like watching 1.5 hour long cut scene from some shitty video-game.
(ola_norsk)

– This is exactly what a B-movie should be like.
(InterArmaEnimSilentLeges)

–¬†If you remember your feeling from watching the Predator for the first time – you will certainly enjoy Kill Command.
(Stasulos)

I didn’t have any kind of expectations from “Kill Command”, one more movie about the military guys vs the robots. Maybe that’s why I enjoyed it so much? Probably, but that would also diminish the movie’s quality.

Just look at this beautiful picture. It says it all. Those who still are not fully convinced, scroll below…there are more pictures.

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Do you smell death in the air? No?

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Well, now you do.

The plot. In the not so distant future, a military group is sent to an island for training. The purpose or type of training is unknown. They are accompanied by Mills (ice-cold Vanessa Kirby) – half-human, half-android, who has significant difficulties in gaining the trust of the¬†others humans due to her ‘impure’ nature. As the unit deploys on the island, they unexpectedly lose any connection with the outer world. Soon the group encounters robotic creatures they did not expect.

The production. “Kill Command” is a debut by Steven Gomez (responsible for both directing and writing), who has built a career in visual effects. It has a budget of around $1.5¬†million (it was hard to find the precise info, but it’s about that), which is very low for a movie that includes massive robot fighting scenes. But it looks as great as $150 million movies. Visually, I enjoyed ”Kill Command” much more than “Passengers”. Only that is a great praise already. The location is outstanding. It’s an island with hills, deep forests and some abandoned facilities – a perfect place for a sci-fi scenario like here. The movie was shot entirely in the UK.

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Of course, technically it is still one more movie that explores the idea of a group of people¬†going somewhere remote where they encounter something scary and unknown. But somehow ”Kill¬†Command” still manages to be an original movie.¬†It leaves a good aftertaste. When you watch these kind of movies, it often happens that it’s actually fun to watch, but they quickly fade out of your memory and the impression worsens as time passes. Strangely, with “Kill Commando” a reverse effect happened. What makes it stand out?

Several things. It’s quiet slowly paced.¬†You will not see a continuous sequence of extremely quick cuts that resemble more a video clip, than a movie (hi, Michael Bay!). It somehow reminded me of the sci-fi wave of the 80-s/90-s. Even the action scenes are not that fast. You have enough time to see everything in detail and I think, it was more typical of a good old sci-fi film of 20-30 ago, than some newer stuff. In one of the interviews, Gomez said he tried to show the robots in all the detail from close distance – and he succeeded.

Kill Command” is quite a minimal movie – remember, it’s set on a tiny remote island – but what you see has great¬†design and lots of details, starting from abandoned facilities, uniforms, weapons and, of course, robots. Reminds me of Far Cry in a way (well, except for the robots, but that’s a mino-or detail). The other thing is the location set and it’s used to a great extent. I would even dare to say that I had a feeling – pardon – that some scenes come close to being almost meditative. Maybe I am wrong. But even remote feeling like that says a lot about the impression you can get from a movie. I still remember well one of the scenes – in the light of a sunset, the soldier¬†is on the roof of an abandoned building, aiming with his rifle somewhere faraway, waiting for the enemy. His body posture is tense. Around him you see the see, the sunset, the forests. In a “normal” low budget robot movie, that scene would last half a second, here it lasted 3 or 4 and seemed like an eternity, but in a good way. And there are some scenes like that that here and there – it’s not something straightforward, but more of something you understand later.

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The main problem of the movie comes from here too. I don’t know though if it was Gomez’ intention to film in that way¬† (from trailer and posters, it seems no and probably that’s why some part of audience didn’t like it that much – they didn’t see that was expected compared to how the movie was promoted). That would be interesting to know and it’s a pity that the movie did not develop more in this direction. It looks like it can’t decide whether if wants to become an action movie or something slower and deeper. The acting is quiet good, but uneven. The characters could have been developed more. You could easily find other things to criticize. But should you?

The reception. The movie has a whopping 5.7 on IMDb – totally undeserved, but 67% on RT may render some justice. I guess most IMDb bad reviews come from guys from were expecting a fact-paced action robot movie, but ”Kill Command” is better than that. Most reviews over the web are quite positive too, check out here, here and also this amazing insight here.

Worth watching? Yes! Far from being perfect, it’s a beautifully shot and richly detailed warfare movie. Tense, minimal and with its own nerve. No useless philosophizing about what makes human a human or robot a robot bla bla bla because it’d ruin the movie. Just keep in mind that it’s just not an average fact-paced sci-fi flick with humans and robots, like the recent hypnotizingly beautiful but rather soulless “Ghost in the Shell” adaptation, nor it is an arthouse film.¬†So if you are a fan of “Terminator“, “Predator” (which reboot is coming out in 2018!) or, maybe, “Far Cry”, definitely have a look.

3/4

Frankenstein (1931)

Poster - Frankenstein_02Director: James Whale. Starring: Boris Karloff, Colin Clive, Mae Clarke, John Boles. USA, 1931. Budget: $262,007. Box office: $12 mln. IMDB: 7.9. My rating: 4/4. A classic horror tale.

–¬†Look! It’s moving. It’s alive. It’s alive… IT’S ALIVE!
(Henry Frankenstein)

– Would you like one of my flowers? You have those and I’ll have these. See how mine float.
(Little girl talking to the monster)

– The brain which was stolen from my laboratory… was a criminal brain.
(Dr. Waldman)

– That body is not dead. It has never lived. I created it. I made it with my own hands, from the bodies I took from graves, from the gallows.
(Henry Frankenstein)

There is some very primordial feeling in “Frankenstein”. A fear not so much of the unknown, but rather of something (and this word, “some – thing” is crucial here) non-understandable, incomprehensible, irrational. Unlike most post-70’s horror classics¬†(although I am not such a big horror conoisseur), it is not driven by purely evil instincts which normally include only chase, torture and murder, but has a more human face and body. Human soul? Good question. But body – yes, even if it comes in artificially combined limbs and organs. Like a caged animal, it retreats or attacks. Caged in by humans. And created by humans, too.

The background. Tons of literature was dedicated to “Frankenstein” and all that surrounds it. In short, it belongs to so-called Universal Horror films. Officially, it was a period between 1923 and 1960, although it was the Classic Period¬†(roughly 1930-1946) when the best movies were made, like:

You can read in short about the most important things of the Classic Period here.

Two rival actors, Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff played a crucial role in establishing the success of the new world of horror and often starred together (Lugosi was even initially casted as the monster in “Frankenstein”, but refused the role claiming that playing the monster is too low for such an artist). What’s interesting, both actors and the director were expats – Boris Karloff and James Whale were British, Lugosi was Hungarian.

stillAnnex - Clive, Colin (Frankenstein)_NRFPT_01

What I liked.¬†So let me develop my initial thought. Most post-70’s Western horror movies create the suspense by jump scares – the film is not showing the fear source for a while and that is followed by an unexpected attack. For example, often the modern Asian horror works, for the most part, in a different way, the atmosphere itself is the swamp of fear you’re drowning in; the shock moment, although important, is not decisive. So if you want a simple comparison. “Frankenstein” was clearly shot in the vein of modern (last 20-30 years) Asian horror, like most pre 70’s horror movies in general.

So if we have to compare, say, “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” (1956, an amazing¬†sci-fi metaphorical horror with social subtext, one of my all-time favourite movies)¬†and post-Halloween¬†slashers, “Frankenstein” is definitely closer to the first one. It’s not a movie you’d watch just to get some adrenaline. In first place, it’s a wonderful story to follow with a gloomy atmosphere.

There is a great book “Of Mice and Men”, probably one of most beautifully painful novels ever. In case you haven’t read it, here’s the story.¬†Two migrant field workers are in California on plantations during the years of Great Depression‚ÄĒGeorge Milton, a smart but uneducated fellow, and Lennie Small, a bulky and strong giant with a mind of a child, mentally disabled. As the events unfold, we see that probably there is no place in this rational world for such people as Lenny. What it had to do with the movie? Well, Lenny and Frankenstein share a lot in common. They are portrayed as monsters, but they are just victims.

What I didn’t like. It is clearly visible that the film was shot in a studio with paper backgroungs and that distracted me a little in several important episodes. I wonder why nobody took care of the film and did a proper restoration instead of shooting useless remakes like “Victor Frankenstein” (2015, with James McAvoy, Daniel Radcliffe) – these things are easy nowadays, just look what George Lukas did with his “THX 1138“. Then there were some occasional weird video editing cuts, but that’s a minor complaint.

Worth watching? Absolutely. “Frankenstein” is a great story. I have enjoyed the film much more than I expected (and my expectations were already high!). And it’s awesomeness lies not only in the everlasting influence, as it often happens with older movies. Just like “Metropolis“, “Frankenstein” doesn’t feel dated. A gloomy gothic atmosphere (hi, Guillermo del Toro), wonderful acting – especially Boris Karloff who portrayed not just a monster but a complex character – and beautiful photography.

The primordial inner shiver definitely works on multiple levels here.

4/4

 

 

 

The Killing of a Sacred Deer / posters

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***

”…¬†from the dude who made the weird as shit yet wholly entertaining¬†The Lobster.¬†And¬†The Lobster¬†himself, Colin Farrell, returns alongside director¬†Yorgos Lanthimos for¬†The Killing of a Sacred Deer” (reblogged from The Missing Reel).

Couldn’t agree more. Lanthimos and Villeneuve are probably the most remarkable directors of the last decade who manage to combine incredible visuals, original concepts and meaningful story. And both are just getting started.

Top 10 Soviet Science Fiction Movies

Here is my Top 10 Soviet sci-fi movies with a dozen of modern trailers I made specially for it while studying some video editing.

†1924-1988 selection.

Beautiful new ambient, shoegaze, dreampop, synthpop and techno soundtracks included.

 

 ***

1. ”Stalker”, 1979.

A cerebral timeless masterpiece by Andrei Tarkovsky, probably the most renowned and influential Soviet/Russian director. Loosely based on a story by important Soviet science fiction writers¬†Strugatsky brothers (and seen by many as a prophecy for several upcoming catastrophes including Chernobyl), “Stalker” could be interpreted as a philosophical tale about destiny and choices. But there’s much more that that. It’s simply one of the most important cinema achievements ever, let alone science fiction. The story follows three men as they penetrate deeper into into a mysterious area called “The Zone”, each of them for a different purpose. A thinking sci-fi geek’s must-see. This movie is like a Universe, there are always new layers to discover. Read more¬†here¬†and here.

Music by Bowery Electric.

2. ”City Zero”, 1988.

Theatre of the absurd, a mysterious tragicomedy, a dark metaphor. The late 80-s, without doubt, were the most prolific period for the underground culture in Soviet Union, especially rock music but also cinema.¬†‚ÄĚCity Zero‚ÄĚ is the finest dark offspring of that epoch. The film is normally classified as sci-fi/mystery ‚Äď but if you analyze every single scene separately, there‚Äôs nothing completely impossible. It’s the sum of all parts that is greater than the whole… The famous headcake scene actually happened once in Russia. But looking at the whole story makes you feel like slowly drowning in the swamp… It‚Äôs kind of ‚ÄĚDonnie Darko‚ÄĚ goes on ‚ÄĚMulholland Drive‚ÄĚ in ‚ÄĚThe Twilight Zone‚ÄĚ atmosphere. My full review here. Watch online here.

Music by Auktyon (–ź—É–ļ—Ü—č–ĺ–Ĺ).

3. ”Dead Man’s Letters”, 1986.

Directed by K. Lopushansky, surely the most faithful of all Tarkovsky’s followers (he worked as assistant on ”Stalker” set), this film is a heavy and realistic portrayal of the end of the world. Endless piles of rusty metal, interminable yellow twilight, dirty radioactive puddles of mixed water and blood. And dead bodies. Dead bodies everywhere. Men, children, women. Everywhere. There is no hope here. It‚Äôs finished. There is no ‚ÄĚif‚ÄĚ. The doomsday clock has moved. We are just witnessing the final decay of small group of survivors that will last several months, probably. There is not even a single hint about their survival. It‚Äôs a death rattle. Just a matter of time. My full review here. Watch online here.

Music by Ital Tek.

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Alien / goofs

I’ve always considered this film to be a perfect one (and still think so), just these 2 shots bother me each time I see them… The doll of Ash on the left should have been done way more carefully.

Event Horizon

Director: Paul W. S. Anderson. Starring: Sam Neill, Laurence Fishburne, Kathleen Quinlan. USA, 1997. Budget: $60 mln. Box office: $27 mln. IMDB: 6.7. My rating: 3/4. Sci-fi/horror/thriller in deep space.

– Where we’re going, we don’t need eyes to see.
(Dr. Weir)

– You will never be alone anymore. Now you are with me. I have beautiful things I want to show you.
(Dr. Weir’s dead wife)

Darkness, space, hell, madness and obscurity. Such a cheerful company. Welcome on board of the “Event Horizon”.

Before Paul Anderson entered the endless Resident Evil epos, he did some other notable films as well, like “Mortal Combat” and “Event¬†Horizon”. We all know how his films look, right? I suppose almost every teenager (well, I speak mostly for¬†boys) had a period, when he is eager to¬†watch stuff about zombies, strange creatures, space and stuff. So what happens when these boys grow up? Some make movies, others watch them. Mostly, without being too serious about it. If there is a movie for each occasion, so for me these movies are perfect to watch late on a Friday, when the brain protests against any kind of work. Or after a late party, when you come home late but still not sleepy. But…¬†“Event Horizon” is not exactly what you would expect from a typical Paul Anderson’s film.

It’s also has a very curious and bleeding produciton history, probably one of the best I’ve ever read together with ”The Island of Dr. Moreau”.

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Get Out + some notable sci-fi debuts

GetOutDirector: Jordan Peele. Starring: Daniel Kaluuya, Allison Williams,  Katherine Keener. Budget: $4.5 mln. Box office: $252 mln. USA, 2017. IMDb: 7.8. My rating: 3.5/4. Social commentary with elements of thriller, horror and sci-fi.

– The mind is a terrible thing to waste.
 (a quote from the movie and the motto of the United Negro College Fund)

– If there’s too many white people I get nervous.
(one of the main characters)

There were, without doubt, some prominent sci-fi debuts that marked the history of cinema, like…

  • Mad Max” (which I don’t really like a lot, but it was¬†hugely influential)
  • Silent Running” (which was undeniably cool in 1972 but didn’t age well)
  • THX 1138” (a disturbing art form of ”1984” by George Lucas, which wasn’t received well but that changed later, as it often happens with dystopias).

There was a huge wave of many good low-budget independent debuts released recently, such as…

…and many other cool flicks. Some of them had mighty figures behind or even directly involved in the production, for example..

Finally, there were some weird and hard to classify sci-fi debuts like…

A full list will be published soon. Anyway.

I doubt whether “Get Out” will become a cult movie like some of these, but it’s an oddball and perfectly crafted movie, mixing all the genres – a bit of comedy, a slice of horror, some sci-fi – all wrapped into a caustic social commentary.

Also, I wouldn’t call it a horror, rather a thriller. It’s not that scary and has little to do with what is intended as modern horror (luckily!) where people like to go in the dark basements and put their limbs in dark holes.

And Samuel L. Jackson’s rant about casting black British actors when plenty of Americans were available is incredible indeed… but more about that later.

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