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Top 5 Genre Redefining Horror Films

Horror movies are churned out at a fast pace, rarely does a forth night go by in the cinema without a new one being released. They normally slip by our consciousness without much notice. Disposable entertainment to never be looked at again but on occasion the genre strikes gold. It makes a film that rewrites its own rules, causing a slew of copycat films made to cash in on its success. The films in this list might not be in your opinion the best of the genre but they most certainly helped redefine it. They breathed new life into a failing facet of cinema, helping horror live strong for many many decades.  So turn off the lights, lock the door and ignore that clawing sounds coming from the window outside….

1.  The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)

Tobe Hooper made a little low budget horror film called The Texas Chainsaw Massacre for $300,000 in the summer of 1974. It went on to gross over $30 million in the American box office. Not only is there a raw rushed energy about the movie that will shake your central core (the dinning room scene must be one of the most terrifying pieces of cinema ever) but it basically invented the slasher movie genre. An iconic masterpiece that is as flawed as it is perfect.

2.  Scream (1996)

After The Texas Chainsaw Massacre the slasher genre began a slow decline. Lots of straight to video releases and trashy movies caused the Horror industry to loose its appeal but in 1996 a pop culture referencing, quick talking, tongue in cheek movie called Scream came out. It played all the right cards, a nostalgic throwback to the likes of Halloween and Friday 13th while never taking itself too seriously. The 90’s had found their horror icon in the shape of Ghost face.

3.  The Blair Witch Project (1999)

Spawning too many copycats to count (see Paranormal Activity) The Blair Witch Project helped pave the way for Mockumentary filmmaking. Using hand held cameras and the premise of a “True Story” it gave an added fear factor to the market. Playing on the idea that we associate home movies with real life it made the scares much more real, much more tangible. To really see this movies impact all you have to do is look at the amount of movies made using the same technique.

4.  Saw (2004)

Welcome to torture porn. Its gonna be graphic, its gonna be nasty, its gonna be about as gory as you can imagine and then maybe add another 10 gallons of blood. Saw uses the gross out technique to give the viewer a good scare and judging by the box office figures and numerous sequels it seems to have done the job. This franchise opened the door for the likes of Hostel and Captivity.

5.  28 Days Later (2002)

28 Days Later brought the scares in the form of zombies with the ability to run fast, very very fast. Gone were the days of the stumbling, doddering brain eaters, Danny Boyle had replaced them with sprinters ready to hurdle any obstacle you put in their way all just to spread their virus. Low budget cameras gave the film a gritty home hitting feel that brought the audience right into the middle of the action. Maybe not the best zombie movie of all but definitely one that broke a good few boundaries.

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Not So Happily Ever After For Average Snow White Film

Coming in a year where fairytale based movies seem to be a dime a dozen, Snow White and The Huntsman has been billed as a gritty, dramatic take on the much-loved fairy tale. Sticking quite closely to the story we all know it stars Kristen Stewart in the title role with support from Chris Hemsworth as the Huntsman and Charlize Theron as the evil Queen.

A relative newbie to the scene Rupert Sanders has stepped up to the plate to direct and he hasn’t done such a great job at it. The film isn’t terrible but it seems to be lacking in the general scheme of things. Charlize Theron has a great turn playing the beautiful and villainous Queen Ravenna. She eats up every second of screen time given to her and her performance alone nearly makes this film worth watching again but alas this isn’t a fairytale of a movie.

Kristen “why do I have to be here?” Stewart seems to never really have the strength to command the role given to her. In a scene where she must rally the troops it all falls a little flat. Hemsworth gives a good stab at the Scottish accent, even if the only research he done for the role was to watch Braveheart.

The problem lies with the chemistry between the two leads. The audience is supposed to buy and root for their relationship but in the end it all comes off as a little cold and aloof.

The costume design in flawless and helps give the film more of a cinematic scope. But for every positive there is a negative waiting to leap out and pounce. More humour wouldn’t have gone amiss and maybe a better developed story. Less C.G.I and more special effects make up might have helped.

The list could go on and on, so maybe its best not too.

It’s a shame because a movie like this had a lot of potential. This bedtime story was just a little too good at causing the audience to yawn.

Even Darker Shadows

Another film has arrived from the assembly line that is Tim Burton and Johnny Depp. Plastic wrapped and predictable, their latest offering is nothing for the record books. Dark Shadows, based on a long running U.S sitcom tells the story of Barnabas Collins, an 18th century vampire made by a jealous witch, adjusting to 1970’s life after numerous years under ground.

Set in the gothic, beautifully stunning world of Burton it starts out with all the promise of his former glory, see Edward Scissorhands, Sleepy Hollow, Ed Wood to name but a few, but falls flat very soon after. The problem with recent Burton endeavours seem to be a classic case of style over substance. The man has created a universe so instantly recognisable, an achievement but by the looks of things his downfall.

Early works had the heart of a great story to centre the films but with Dark Shadows it never quite gets there. Case in point, a love story between Depp’s character and a young nanny never seems to be built, it just kinda happens all a little too quickly. Too many sub plots and not enough development time makes for a film that seems half baked and thrown together. You get the feeling that a lot of stuff ended up on the cutting room floor.

But its not all doom and gloom, the costume work and set design is a treat for the eyes and you may even find yourself having a chuckle at some of the jokes, predictable they may be but funny all the same.

Depp as always is great in the character driven role but you can’t help but feel we have already been there before. Having worked together  now for a massive run of eight films its like watching two guys flog a dead horse.  Burton needs to step back, take stock of his recent works and find a fresh approach. This man has made some of the most iconic films of the last twenty years but also some of the most disappointing. Hopefully there is still some gold left in them there Burton/Depp mountains.

Battle Of The Bands In Aid Of Barretstown

Where will you be Wednesday 23rd May? Hopefully supporting a worthwhile cause and enjoying some stellar live music or maybe even rocking out for your chance to win a music video directed by Bowsie Workshop.

The ever so lovely Loft @ The Grand Social is holding a Battle of the Bands in aid of Barretstown Children’s Camp. Every single cent raised goes to the worthwhile cause that helps children affected by cancer.  With a plethora of music to assail your ears to and maybe even a guest D.J. or two, the €10 entry seems like a mighty bargain.

For all the musicians there is still some spaces left for the competition. The grand prize being a shiny new music video courtesy of the ever so talented Bowsie Workshop. Check out the link below for a taster!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EzrEeKRgCjs&feature=player_embedded#!

Email Jen for more info on how to get your band on the bill at

battle4btown@gmail.com.

The Art of Cinema

So we have all been there, its Sunday night and the best way to round off a great weekend is with a great film enjoyed at your local cinema, right? Well maybe. You take your seat, after paying a hefty ticket price to find a fellow cinema goer enjoying a feet up experience at the back of your head. Catching glimpses of a pair of size 10 crusty trainers with your peripheral vision for two hours, or maybe just experiencing a new age massage which involves them kicking the back of your chair haphazardly throughout the film. You turn around to politely ask them to stop and settle back in to relax only to find the person in front has taken out their phone and is“covertly” trying to text, the only problem with this is that their screen is so bright they may aswell have brought a torch to the cinema.  People start talking, people start munching, people start to get bored not to mention the twenty minutes of ads you have to endure before the film and all of a sudden your relaxing trip to the movies has turned into a two hour distraction nightmare that you paid for.

Has the art of cinema died?  Well apparently not in Ireland. We hold the most cinema admissions per capita compared to anywhere else in Europe.  A massive 4.3, compared to the European average of  1.96. Maybe its in direct relation to our ever changing weather, where any given day rain can be on the cards. But maybe it’s something different. Take aside all the above mentioned problems that can come with sitting in a room full of strangers for a films duration and look at the pleasure cinema can bring.  There have been numerous studies about the cinematic experience, from the darkened room to the massive screens.  It gives a viewer full emersion into a different world, a different story, a different relationship. Having the lights off can make a massive impact. Like being wrapped in a cocoon, a viewer soon forgets about the outside world and of themselves with a flick of a switch. Also take the screens, it fully envelops your eye sight. A truly beautiful film is awakened on a big screen, its how they were meant to be shown.

So maybe next time, turn off the phone, no feet on the furniture and try to not talk.  Switch your mind off and let the film do what its meant to.  Give the people who slaved away at their jobs for months and sometimes even years a chance for their film to be seen the way they wanted it to.  On a big screen.

Netflix: the good,the bad and the downright ugly

After a treacherous journey across the Atlantic Netflix has finally reached our shores with a few casualties along the way.  Launched in January this year Netflix is an online site allowing customers unlimited access to their film and television show catalogue for a small enough monthly fee.  Starting in America in 1999 Netflix became a massive hit and has now launched its European counterpart.  Seems all great in theory, your favourite film or sitcom at any time of the day, streamed in HD with no limits but there is a catch..

According to reports Ireland’s version of the site has only a small percentage of what the American version does.  The content just doesn’t seem to be there yet. Lots and lots of straight to D.V.D movies containing actors you’ve never heard of before.  But don’t be fooled, if you look hard enough there are plenty of gems found amongst the stones. Take for instance the brilliant sitcom Its Always Sunny in Philadelphia.  Apart from a small run on 3e a few years ago the show has not had much publicity in Ireland, which is such a shame. Set in Philadelphia, it centres around a group of friends who own an Irish Bar. Starring Danny DeVito and the always funny Charlie Day, its crude and stupid while still managing to retain a sense of intelligence.  Probably one of the most underrated comedy shows running currently and with Netflix all seven seasons are available for the subscribers pleasure.

Other great listings on the site include  the beautiful if not slightly depressing Into The Wild, directed by Sean Penn.  The American version of The Office, widely regarded as better than its source material. The Ben Affleck directed Gone Baby Gone and the George Clooney directed Confessions of a Dangerous Mind.  These all nearly make the site worth paying for. Nearly being the operative word. At times a slow internet connection can give the viewer a fuzzy image and some of the films audio is so low its nearly inaudible, even with the sound at full volume.  It still has its appeals though, recommendations based on what you have viewed and your preference ratings make it easier to decided what to watch. You might even discover something you didn’t know you’d like. For the price of a cinema ticket once a month you can’t really argue.

There is still a lot of kinks for the people at Netflix to work out but when they do they will be on to a winner.

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