Friday, 17 October 2008

Gloopy horror...

The biggest problem I have with horror films is that too many of them are rubbish and daft people like me will watch anything with 'blood' or 'massacre' in the title in the hope of finding a good one. Stephen King once made the insightful observation that horror fans develop an immunity to bad films. The reasoning behind this is that for every truly great horror film there are a hundred bad ones, but the truly great ones are so brilliant that they make trawling through all the rubbish ones worthwhile. However, since I'm often paying actual money to watch bad films I occasionally lose my patience and boycott anything that isn't specifically recommended to me.

Every now and again a film comes along that restores my faith in the genre and makes me wonder what I'm missing, leading me to add loads more bad horror films to my list. Films like Fragile, The Mist, The Abandoned, and Wind Chill - all underrated and rather brilliant horror films that put most of the usual big budget horror films to shame. To be fair, The Mist did get a theatrical release over here so perhaps shouldn't be included in a post that is primarily about straight-to-DVD horror films, but The Mist is so good it's almost worth mentioning in every post.

Anyway, the point of all this is that the other night I watched Isolation, a British/Irish co-production that's been around for a couple of years but I avoided because I was going through a phase of zero tolerance on straight-to-DVD horror films. Then some friends recommended to me so I decided to give it a go, and now wish I'd seen it when it came out so I could go around recommending it to people as a new thing instead of sounding like I've only just caught on.

What's great about Isolation is that it's a reminder of what horror films and, in particular, the monster movie, used to be in the pre-CGI days. At the same time it's a neat little film, very well shot, acted (Sean Harris is amazing as always - makes you care more about his backstory than the main plot in places), and produced. And the effects are fantastic. This is a gloopy horror film - lots of blood and fluids with things writhing around in them. There is a creature, but I don't want to go into great detail about that for fear of ruining it. What makes the effects so great is they are pretty much all practical (I say 'pretty much' because I don't know enough about the production to say for definite - I certainly didn't notice any CGI at all). Not only that, they are lit and shot really well - never showing you too much, but always enough to make you believe what you're seeing. I therefore wasn't surprised to see Bob Keen's name on the credits as he designed the make-up for the Hellraiser films. As much as I love The Mist, and as much as I realise the monsters in that film are not the 'real' monsters, if the creature effects in The Mist were as good as this it would be the Citizen Kane of horror films.

So watch that if you like gloopy horror films, or just want to see a British film that isn't rubbish. Some random musing - it's getting colder which means people are less interested in the Brighton seafront which is good news for me. I love Brighton, I love living by the sea, but I hate large gatherings of people and unfortunately for me large gatherings of people also love Brighton, especially when it's warm. Or even when it's not warm, but could potentially be warm as they're all in search of this mythic British summer we occasionally have by accident. So I like winter because Brighton empties out, which is good for writing. Long walks are an essential part of writing for me and luckily I have a necessary one to and from work everyday. But it's not so helpful when walking through town with a billion people, or along the seafront in summer also with a billion people. In winter it gets empty and emptiness is good for ideas. Not that I'm allowed to have any at the moment - too much other stuff to do.

Still planning to have the first draft of the as-yet-still-titled The Dark Room script ready by next Friday. Read through it the other night as an experiment and it reads okay, even the bits I thought were rubbish. By okay I don't mean it's any good, but it's good enough to start getting feedback. Nearly. Also doing a rewrite which I've started and the other feature for a producer which I mention every month and haven't yet started.

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