Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood

F13P7 PosterI’ll give the producers of the Friday the 13th series credit for one thing: they seem to have been at least somewhat aware of the need to do something to keep the series fresh. Even though “Jason Voorhees chopping up campers” is what the series is all about, there needs to be some sort of variety, or there’s no reason to watch Part N instead of Part N-1.

In part 7, directed by John Carl Buechler, the writers have taken a page from the Nightmare on Elm Street playbook and introduced an element of the supernatural (well, besides Jason’s continued existence.) In fact, it was apparently originally intended to be a crossover between the two franchises until plans fell through. Those plans would eventually come to fruition 15 years later, but in 1988, the “new blood” the writers came up with was to focus the movie on a young woman with telekinesis. Continue reading

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Farewell, Terry Pratchett

Reaper Man CoverTerry Pratchett, author the Discworld series and various assorted other novels, has passed away at the age of 66 from a chest infection. One of the most successful and prolific contemporary British authors, Pratchett wrote over 50 novels in his career.

I first started reading Pratchett’s work when I was in high school. I’d already seen from some other authors that fantasy could be written comically. Pratchett showed me that comic fantasy could be written for grown-ups… and more impressively, that comic writing could also be serious at the same time. Continue reading

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The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

Catching Fire PosterThere’s an art to doing sequels, and there are enough critical essays on the subject to be classified as their own genre. One common topic in such essays is a sort of “sophomore slump” for series, where the second movie is notably weaker than either the first or third entry, largely because it has to serve as a bridge between them. The Empire Strikes Back is a famous exception, and there are a few others, but regretfully I can’t classify Catching Fire among them.

It’s not the fault of director Francis Lawrence, who takes over the reins from Gary Ross. Rather, I have to assume the blame lies with novel writer Suzanne Collins. When I reviewed the first film, I wrote “I haven’t been reading the novels. I don’t know where the next part, Catching Fire, takes the characters — presumably they don’t have to re-enroll in the Games themselves.” But that presumption was, as it turns out, entirely incorrect, and therein lies the problem. Continue reading

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Trancers PosterSometimes you’re just in the mood for a bit of cheese. And for cheese with a bit of a science-fiction flair we turn, as ever, to the 1980s; in this case, to 1985, with Trancers. The film was directed by Charles Band, a dedicated purveyor of schlock. For a good laugh, check out the titles on his IMDb page some time; Trancers may be the high water mark, at least as far as the names themselves go. In fact, Band would go on to form Full Moon Pictures, a studio dedicated to direct-to-video sci-fi and horror. The original Trancers, however, did get a theatrical release, if IMDb and Wikipedia are to be believed.

Charles Band is the son of Albert Band, director of — among numerous other films — I Bury the Living, a film I reviewed in 2013. So he’s a director with a B-movie pedigree. Trancers has an obvious pedigree as well, bearing a resemblance to Blade Runner in plot and themes, if not in budget. Continue reading

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Digital Downsizing

Downed DownloadersI am no prophet. I don’t see into the future, and if I make any prognostications that turn out to be correct, it is only because I have looked at the existing situation, connected the dots, and extrapolated ahead. I don’t imagine my track record on predictions is any better than most peoples’. Yet it appears that I may have been onto something when I said that digital delivery for movies weren’t going to take over from DVDs right away. I’m not saying the idea is a complete failure, of course; nothing of the sort. But it’s apparent that it’s a more difficult sell than the media distributors were expecting.

Why do I say that? Well, it’s related to the reason there haven’t been any Tech Reviews on the site since summer 2013. The last two times I was ready to write a review of a new service, the service went under before I had the review written. And now a third, which had been one of my earlier reviews and one of my favorite services, has just been scheduled for shuttering. Continue reading

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A Clockwork Orange

Clockwork Orange Poster1971 Best Picture Nominee

One thing you have to give Stanley Kubrick credit for: his films are seldom easy to dismiss from one’s thoughts. I’ve seen four of his films now, and arguably the least memorable of them would be The Shining — and that’s one of the greatest horror films ever made, so it should be clear that “least memorable” is not a strong descriptor in this case. Of the other films, both 2001: A Space Odyssey and Dr. Strangelove are very dense films, requiring a lot of thought to process afterward. A Clockwork Orange is no different in that respect. I’ve been digesting this bit of mental gristle for nigh on a year now, and for multiple reasons. The first is that it really does have some thought-provoking concepts behind it. The other is that, despite those concepts and a high degree of technical quality, I can’t say that I enjoyed the experience. Continue reading

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Jason Lives: Friday the 13th Part VI

Jason Lives PosterAfter the frankly dire quality of the fifth Friday the 13th film, I was feeling a bit jaded about the idea of continuing the blog’s tradition of watching and reviewing a Jason Voorhees movie every Friday 13. Not that I wasn’t going to do it, mind you; just that I was keeping my expectations really low.

With the sixth film in the franchise, I think it’s reasonable to say that it’s probably never going to return to the quality of the very first film. However, it is substantially better than its predecessor, and is a relatively high mark for the franchise so far. Continue reading

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