Tag Archives: aliens

THE LAST KNOCK presents: Horror Double Feature: Antibirth and The Love Witch

The Last KnockNo two horror films could be so diametrically opposed. Antibirth is a gritty bizarro film with a 1980’s flavor and The Love Witch comes on with romance through the eyes of a desperate woman. But are they worth watching? And if you’re a fan and supporter of “Women in Horror,” you’ll definitely be interested in these two independent movies.

We go knee deep into both features and deliver our take on Antibirth, The Love Witch, the people who made them, and the people who starred in them for better or worse – and definitely until death due us part.

This episode’s SCREAM OUTS from Twitter: 

@TimothiousSmith @TraCee_tr @dkarner @SamesCarolyn @AFiendOnFilm @Kent_Harper @aicforever @cbkillers @RealJillyG @BleedingCritic @isaacrthorne @d_m_elms @palkodesigns @JessicaCameron_ @CarnEvilKlown @RonGizmo @CrypticPictures @nicolemalonso @OklahomaWard @missannabiller @msrobinsun @GianKeys @JeffreyVParise @antibirthmovie @nlyonne @OfficialChloeS

THE LAST KNOCK presents: Thespians of Terror: Bill Paxton

The Last Knock

A few weeks ago, we lost the wonderful Bill Paxton to complications from a stroke. The actor, director, musician, and family man, left behind a legacy of great films and cool performances from Near Dark to the incredible film, Frailty. Join us on a cinematic journey celebrating the work of the man who made “Game over!” one helluva catch phrase.

This episode’s SCREAM OUTS from Twitter: 

@lancehenriksen @IndieWire @jenettebras @RealJillyG @BonafideBlack @TTBOProductions @kevinbacon @Isaacrthorne @tomhanks @MelanieMcCurdie @theclinthoward @ChadSchimke @jeremysumpter @LGWhiteAuthor @RonGizmo @lorettamilan @RiverCityOtter @Scream_Factory @JimCameron @ScarecrowVideo @jamieleecurtis @GuyRicketts @FINALLEVEL @LoudGreenBird @Dolph_Lundgren @palkodesigns

Let us know about your favorite Bill Paxton memories!

Crash Analysis: A Bug Hunt: ALIENS

Four_Marines-A2*** Spoilers abound ***

In 1986 James Cameron’s ALIENS was released, and I was one of many in theatres around the world engaging the action/sci-fi/horror. Though it received several Academy Award nominations, and is adored by many around our little blue ball, I always hated the damn thing – even before I saw poor Lance Henriksen pop out of his hole, revealing the lower half of his body to catch that screeching urchin, Newt.

Yes, the original ALIEN is my favorite film, but don’t think I’m knocking on Cameron’s second installment simply because it’s a sequel.

The year is 2179, and Lieutenant Ripley, the sole-survivor of the Nostromo, has been rescued by a salvage team. Brought back to Earth, she learns that she’s been floating in space for 57-years, and in short order, the planetoid where the Nostromo crew had picked up the alien now has a small colony on it – and “the company” has lost contact with the place. Of course her employer’s ticked that she blew up their ship because they don’t buy her story (it’s amazing how Cameron left out any civil ramifications for her implied murder of six crew members. However, Ripley eventually sets off as an advisor with Colonial Marines, aliens run amok, and the only question is: “Who will survive?”

After the opening with the salvage crew (the best part of the movie), we soon discover that Ripley’s Colonial Marine buddies must have been magically transported from 1968. Instead of coming up with clever slang and such, Cameron fell back on Vietnam War speak and characterizations that are all sad caricatures, whether they’re discussing cornbread based cuisine, how “short” some of the “grunts” are with enlistment, or scoring some “poontang.” Again with the element of caricature, we have a rag-tag group of rejects (Vasquez and Drake), including a nutcase (Hudson), and other passive-aggressive or “soldiers on the ball” (Hicks, among other red shirts). They are led in command by their big daddy sergeant, Apone, the spokes model for the Corps, and what would be called a “90-day wonder” in Vietnam: Lieutenant Gorman. The lieutenant is the new “by the numbers” guy who’s had all the training but none of the practical experience. Oh, and “the company” (now named in the sequel as the “Weyland-Utani Corporation”) has sent along their own representative in a snake oil man named Burke.

None of the dialogue is new or special for the age, though STARSHIP TROOPERS screenwriter, Edward Neumeier had no trouble employing new lingo, something author Robert A. Heinlein had even failed to do. But when Hudson makes an illegal alien joke about Vasquez’s ethnicity, I find it hard to believe that we’d still have that issue almost two centuries from now.

To date, the only horror movie I can think of that presented a military unit in its best trained and most logical form is Neil Marshall’s DOG SOLDIERS. But in ALIENS, they are loose, cliquish, and silly. Besides their Pulse Rifles (which includes parts of a Franchi SPAS-12 shotgun), Hicks carries an Ithaca Model 37 pump shotgun “for close encounters”, while Private Frost whips out a Heckler-Koch VP-70, and Vasquez sports a Smith and Wesson Model 39 automatic. Now, we’re about two hundred years in the future, and these marines carry weapons from the late 20th century? That’s ridiculous. That means my personal back up on the field would be a 1793 Versailles Flintlock Cavalry Carbine. I don’t think so. I guess they raided a museum on the way to the planetoid.

So the company apparently wanted to send the worst, most ill prepared group to the colony. Once again, as in the original, they send along a “goddamned robot” with Bishop, who can’t harm humans. Of course, this kicks Ripley’s PTSD into high gear, and it’s clear that she’ll eventually trust him over time. Yawn. We also learn that the only survivor of the colony is a squealing little runt called “Newt.” And in an instant, Ripley becomes her surrogate mommy, and we know beyond a doubt that absolutely nothing will happen to the squirt (though I truly wanted an alien to tear her to shreds). Another yawn.

The worst part about ALIENS, however, may be the transformation of Ripley as intelligent survivor of an alien attack to an obnoxious, bitchy, know-it-all. What we loved about her in the original has been stripped away as she becomes what many theatregoers at the time labeled as “Rambette” (Sylvester Stallone’s ludicrous “Rambo” crap was big at the time). Her ugliness shines through in the scene where the marines are below the nuclear engine that drives the colony. When it’s made clear that the ammo the marines use can damage the tanks, which would end in a thermo-nuclear explosive of epic proportions, Gorman orders Apone to collect ammo yet continue with the sweep. In short order, the aliens unleash themselves, and the near defenseless marines are either dead or dying. It’s full combat, and Gorman freezes, but Ripley’s suddenly in full mental awareness and tells them to get out of there. One: did anyone need to tell them to pull out? Two: If one listens to Gorman’s wimpy dialogue about “laying down” suppressing fire and to withdraw, his plan’s pretty solid, but no one can hear the whispering pinhead over the carnage. Third – and most crucial – this is a nuclear power plant without the capability of exploding in mass megatonnage. Sure, a meltdown could happen as well as intense contamination, but a nuclear explosion? Never. It’s clear that Cameron didn’t give a damn about any semblance of reality and simply wanted to create a mindless action romp.

Other stupid stuff:

In the original, when an alien bleeds acid, it burns through a few decks. However, although marines are affected by acid splashes, when the aliens are initially attacked under the power plant, acid doesn’t burn through floors or walls.

How the hell did little shit Newt survive all that time? If these aliens are so damn smart – intelligent enough for the queen to not only get on an elevator but pick the right floor – how come none of these creatures ambushed her outside of her hiding place? Better still, all Newt does is scream, which gives away her position time and time again. Nope. She would have been nothing but food or a place to lay an egg.

Speaking of which, Burke apparently wanted to impregnate Ripley and Newt to get them back to Earth for the bio-weapons division. But if his plan had worked, the marines would have seen the facehuggers stuck to their faces because they like to hang on for a while. Plus, they would have known something was up because the two had been locked in the med lab and Ripley’s Pulse Rifle had been removed. You think the company would have sent a sharper scumbag along.

After the first dropship exploded, why didn’t Hicks get Bishop to bring down the other dropship right away so they could escape? Nope, they had to wait until almost all hope was lost to get the hell out of there for good. This is pure idiocy, and more bad writing on Cameron’s part.

Best of all: who knew that Ripley was so ripped? Just think of the finale, which doesn’t do much to deviate from the original, because the only way to get rid of the queen is make sure the vacuum of space gets her. Yet, even with Ripley’s “loader” (the mechanical suit I’m still surprised we don’t have yet – and no, that’s not a nod to Cameron, but a nod to Heinlein), space, and the alien queen tugging on her, she gets away, and even climbs a ladder to shut the doors. Incredible.

So don’t be suckered. ALIENS may look good, and even sound cool, but the narrative is weak, and the plot is full of enough holes to make that planetoid a piece of cheese. A marine unit, or any military unit for that matter, wouldn’t last a day if they acted like they’d never been trained. And for Hudson? It would have been “game over” long beforehand because guys like that wouldn’t qualify for a mission.

If you’re a military/horror fan, watch DOG SOLDIERS. And if you love a great sci-fi horror, check out Ridley Scott’s ALIEN and enjoy the character interactions and claustrophobia. As for Cameron, he does choose visuals over story, but I do have respect for the man. Watch his documentary on the sinking of the Bismarck and you’ll find something truly worthwhile.

one star out of five

(Photo from Avi.Wikia.)

Crash Analysis: DARK SKIES (2013)

Family nightmare of interstellar proportions

A solid surprise

Over time, alien visitation or abduction movies see to come out of the blue, so to speak.     dark_skies_ver5 Sure, CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND (1977) and ET – THE EXTRA-TERRESTRIAL (1982), may have collected the oohs and ahhs of audiences worldwide, but I’ll take XTRO (1983), ALTERED (2006), and even COMMUNION (1989) any day for the real horror splendor of it all. Sorry, we’re not dealing with alien invasion here, just those small party visits to keep things intimate and personal, and uncanny.

DARK SKIES (2013) is the latest horror/sci-fi that forces us once again to acknowledge that our homes are not sanctuaries, and when it comes to the Universe, we may only be a big fish in a very small pond if not a puddle. Hit-or-miss writer/director, Scott Stewart got it right this time with a surefire winner for those who like that extra chill with their sci-fi.

The tractor beam is set upon the Barrett family, who collectively mirror the average struggling American family. Lacey (Keri Russell) and husband Daniel (Josh Hamilton), have two young boys (Dakota Goyo and Kadan Rockett), and a façade of a happy home. Jesse’s (Goyo) starting to spread his tween wings, Sammy’s (Rockett) an inquisitive little kid, Daniel’s desperate for work and lovemaking after a layoff (and butts heads with Jesse quite often), and Lacey’s the mom trying to keep the ship afloat as she hopes real estate will fill the family bank account. But when strange things start to happen in the homestead, think POLTERGEIST (1982) here, the family must accept the highly improbable, and stick together to keep world traveling wolves at bay.

Granted, the foundation for the tale isn’t that different from many we’ve seen in the past, but Stewart’s excellent dialogue brings a breath of authenticity that many movies of this ilk lack. With that comes some wonderful character development, and very relatable story lines and subplots. Together, Russell and Hamilton become one phenomenal team with believable chemistry, and push-and-pull Goyo may as well be their offspring. That threesome carries the film, though Russel and Hamilton truly delivered on a grand scale by nailing just about every emotion known to humankind.

To enhance the ominous feel and element of foreboding, even in the daylight, David Boyd’s exceptional cinematography delivers the atmosphere. Then again, most science fiction and horror fans have seen his work on “The Walking Dead” and “Firefly”, among others. His shots are crisp and definitive, and even in the darkness, no detail is lost on the viewer – and Boyd accomplishes this without presenting a sterile look.

DARK SKIES brings the suspense early, and keeps the tension brewing throughout – whether something strange is afoot, or even in a simple family bout. What Stewart captures is that horrific feeling that we can’t control a damn thing in our lives. The Barretts are screwed with finances, the mortgage, and any bill in general – much like many in America, and around the globe. Then their one son hangs out with a questionable character, the other needs hand holding, and when things go off the rails, even a little bit, the Barrett’s friends and neighbors are gone, and the family becomes their own island in judgmental suburbia. Lacey and Daniel must now fight on their own – and the only fight they have left is the equivalent of a suicide mission.

Yet seeing the Barrett’s world shrink until they are but a lonely speck ripe for the picking, really amped up the scares and suspense. DARK SKIES truly became more claustrophobic as time marched on as Freud’s “uncanny” continued to come right at them. We not only witness a family struggling against far more intelligent dark sources, but working overtime to keep their minds sharp in a world that shut them out.

For a PG-13 rating, I wasn’t expecting much, but Stewart delivered a solid and impressive tale. If more PG-13 horrors are as well crafted as DARK SKIES, many won’t cringe about the rating. The only other PG-13 horror to have any weight and merit is the exhilarating THE SIXTH SENSE (1999) – and we’ll have to wait and see if WORLD WAR Z (USA/Malta, 2013) doesn’t fall short.

This is definitely worth a rental, and conversation afterwards. Admittedly, I didn’t care for the completely non-sensical idea of branding in the film (you’ll see), but that wasn’t nearly enough to bring the house down.

With Stuart’s successful “Defiance” pilot, and this feature, those bad days may just be behind him. I doubt we’ll see another LEGION (2010) from him, and look forward to his next venture.

3.5 out of 5 stars

(Photo from Imp Awards)