Even in the anything-to-get-your-adrenaline-pumping world of Hong Kong cinema, RIGOR MORTIS stands out. The story of a famous actor, Chin Siu-Ho (played by actual famous actor Chin Siu-Ho — your heard us), who has to contend with a seedy apartment building whose walls reverberate with echoes of his most famous film, the hopping vampire horror-comedy MR. VAMPIRE — including mysterious spirits, a mystical warrior-cum-resterateur (played by MR. VAMPIRE cast-mate Anthony “Friend” Chan), and, yes, a hopping vampire — the film plays as both a tribute to, and a dark and dizzyingly intense reimagining of, a beloved sub-genre. Director Juno Mak makes his feature film debut with this visually stunning, shockingly violent, and at times surprisingly moving, effort, and we were eager to discuss the roots of the project in the legendary MR. VAMPIRE franchise, and the challenges of creating this effects-laden feast. Click on the player to hear the show.
At long last, Dossier Fantastique re-opens, offering need-to-known data regarding the latest in horror, fantasy, and science fiction cinema and television. Dan Persons makes his long-awaited return, riding the rails with SNOWPIERCER, the metaphoric science fiction film from Bong-Joon Ho (THE HOST). Lawrence French receives THE SIGNAL, an indie sci-fi flick. And Steve Biodrowski unearths Dan Curtis’ DRACULA from its new Blu-ray casket.
Also this week: commentary on SALEM and PENNY DREADFUL; a long overdue obituary for artist H.R. Giger (ALIEN); and an after-credits discussion of SANTO VS. LAS MUJERAS VAMPIRO.
HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON 2 is soaring at the box office, but does the DreamWorks Animation sequel fly as high as its predecessor? Lawrence French and Steve Biodrowski think not, and you can find out why by listening to the Cinefantastique Spotlight Podcast Volume 5, Number 23.
No one went to see it, but EDGE OF TOMORROW is one of the most clever and interesting science fiction films of the summer, outdistancing the more successful X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PASSED and THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 2. In Cinefantastique’s Spotlight Podcast Number 5, Volume 2, Lawrence French and Steve Biodrowski explore the virtues of the worthy effort, which has become a critical darling in spite of audience indifference.
Angelina Jolie is marvelously wicked in Walt Disney Pictures’ live-action MALEFICENT, but is the film’s attempt to de-villain-ize its villainess a success or a failure? Check out this (belated) installment of the Cinefantastique Spotlight Podcast to find out. Lawrence French and Steve Biodrowski debate the wisdom or retro-fitting classic tales with updated elements that may not fit.
The speaker of the Louisiana State Senate. An agoraphobic starfish. Two copies of Playboy with their centerfolds torn out. These are probably the only things actor Doug Jones hasn’t been in his variegated career. In makeup and out, whether playing an amphibious scholar, a benevolent alien, or a mute, demonic organ harvester, Jones has managed to create roles that have been at once vivid, evocative, and memorable.
It happens to be a good time for Jones. Not only was there the recent video release of the ultra-violent grindhouse action film, RAZE — in which Jones plays the entitled overseer of an all-female death-match — but the complete third season disc set of FALLING SKIES, where Jones is the alien ambassador Cochise, has just come out, and now Jones appears as a wandering (and canny) minstrel in the dizzyingly eclectic post-apocalyptic/ROAD WARRIOResque/alien invasion/western, DUST OF WAR, which just became available on VOD. We’re thrilled to be able to talk with Doug Jones about all of this, and more, as we kick off our second season of THE CFQ INTERVIEW. Click on the player to hear the show.
From the Better Late Than Never Department: Cinefantastique’s Spotlight Podcast 5:20, focusing on X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST, was supposed to post last Monday. Unfortunately, technical delays prevents it from being posted until today. Listen in as Lawrence French and Steve Biodrowski discuss the latest installment of the Marvel mutant film franchise, in which Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) travels back in time to enlist Dr. Xavier (James McAvoy) and Magneto (Michael Fassbender) in an attempt to prevent an apocalyptic future with dire consequences for mutants and humans alike.
Godzilla has stormed into theatres, and he’s too big to fit into one podcast! That’s right: this week the Cinefantastique Spotlight will be presented in two parts. The first features regulars Lawrence French and Steve Biodrowski, along with special guest Steve Ryfle (author of Japan’s Favorite Mon-Star: The Unauthorized Biograph of the Big G). Listen in for insightful commentary about the new film version of GODZILLA, from Warner Brothers Pictures and Legendary Pictures, which has crushed the box office competition flatter than its titular monster razing a skyscraper to the ground.
Come back soon for Part Two!
Okay, put away THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 2. That film has already caused so much pain (mostly from brain-strain as one struggles to figure out how such a major project could go so wrong), that it doesn’t really deserve any more consideration. Let’s focus instead on something more worthy of attention: a dystopic, Kafkaesque comedy called THE DOUBLE, based on a novella by Dostoevsky and starring Jesse Eisenberg as a mousy little bureaucrat who finds his life upended when his job hires a charismatic and morally-challenged new employee who looks exactly like him. The film is directed by Richard Ayoade — known for his involvement with THE IT CROWD and GARTH MARENGHI’S DARKPLACE — and he uses his facility with unhinged humor to good effect in this sardonic glimpse into one man’s crisis of identity. Click on the player to hear the show.
To be perfectly blunt about it, big studio blockbuster releases typically don’t fail as spectacularly as THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 2. Oh they can be bad, but a comforting buffer of test screenings, focus groups, top-level executive intervention, and directorial and editorial wisdom tend to at least modulate them into some form of narrative coherence. Watching them isn’t akin to witnessing a trained chimpanzee trying to explain quantum physics.
Between the two super-villains, the romantic troubles between conflicted super-hero Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) and his ambitious girlfriend Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone), the ongoing corporate espionage/missing parents story-arc, a new will-Spidey-share-his-blood-for-a-dangerous-but-possibly-lifesaving-procedure subplot, the ever-present exploration of the with-great-power-comes-great-responsibility theme (featuring a guest appearance by Denis Leary as Dolefully Glowering Ghost), Paul Giamatti in a tragically wasted role, and somewhere on the order of 23 discreet endings, THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 2 is one astoundingly awful mess. This is BATMAN AND ROBIN-grade disaster, so stunningly bad that the Cinefantastique Online team of Steve Biodrowski, Lawrence French, and Dan Persons get a little giddy trying to suss out what went wrong. Click on the player to hear the show.