There is the wish list of gifts one might wish to receive for a birthday, things which are predictable and anticipated, but often it is the unexpected gift which is most fulfilling. The fiftieth anniversary of the first broadcast of Doctor Who has been inching closer since the unprecedented success of the show’s revival in early 2005, the march of time in the real world neither wibbly nor wobbly, with the media and fans speculating and discussing the possibilities of the inevitable celebratory episode.
It is no secret that Hollywood is the Ouroboros, the snake that consumes itself, endlessly remaking and reinventing, hoping to create itself anew so the audience doesn’t realise that what they are consuming is the same as was offered yesterday and yesteryear. While Sherlock Holmes and Dracula are the most adapted literary characters it is rarer for a science fiction novel to receive the same continued attention, yet Jack Finney’s The Body Snatchers, serialised in 1954 and published as a novel in 1955, has now been filmed four times, first by Don Siegel in 1956 as Invasion of the Body Snatchers then again by Philip Kaufman in 1978 under the same title. Abel Ferrara chose to return to the original title of the book for his version, released in 1994, while in 2007 Oliver Hirschbiegel chose the simplicity of The Invasion for his poorly received version which endured a troubled shoot.
Did you know that Middle-Earth has an official airline? It's called Smaug-Air.
That's actually not even a little bit true, but Air New Zealand is - unsurprisingly - a corporate sponsor of The Hobbit and they got in touch with GeekChocolate today to tell us about their new Hobbit themed video.
The video, Just Another Day in Middle-earth, stars Air New Zealand flight attendants, pilots, aircraft engineers, an aircraft marshall, baggage handlers and airport staff as themselves, with a cheeky film-inspired twist, and more than 120 extras. It aims to inspire travellers from around the world to take their own unexpected journey – with the key message ‘Middle-earth is closer than you think’.
Through the late sixties and early seventies, horror was a genre in transition. While Britain remained in the comparatively genteel but fading grasp of Hammer and its sibling Amicus, America had become increasingly transgressive with George Romero’s taboo breaking Night of the Living Dead and John Carpenter’s defining slasher picture Hallowe’en, while respected directors Roman Polanski and William Friedkin brought respectability to their respective demonic tales, and north of the border David Cronenberg’s body horror probed the darker recesses, but not one of these visionary filmmakers approached their work in the manner of Texan born former documentary cameraman Tobe Hooper, who in 1974 took a chainsaw to the silver screen.
It often seems like comic books these days are devouring themselves, and at an unsustainable rate. The hegemony of the Big Two, and their number one product, nostalgia, means that the vast majority of mainstream comics take their inspiration from and trace their origins back to one thing: old comics. Front covers homage older front covers, story beats evoke "iconic" stories from the glory days. For a longtime reader it's a warm embrace, comfortable and familiar, but it’s the exact opposite of innovation.
With the publication of Carrie in the spring of 1974, debut novelist Stephen King made horror commonplace, suburban, modern and real. Carrie White was unusual, both protagonist and victim, the tale unraveling from her point of view, not a monster, but whose monstrous power is a curse. With inserts of supporting documentation, newspaper articles and excerpts from books such as “The Shadow Exploded,” unlike the other major horrors of the era, The Exorcist, The Omen, Rosemary’s Baby, where humans are pawns in the struggle of light against the pit, religion does not drive the plot of Carrie, though it is their extreme belief of the characters which fuels the story.
The film industry is constantly in change – the introduction of sound, then colour, cinemascope, 3D, digital, each of which has seen new innovators and pioneers. As with any other art form or endeavour, while those who are carried on the winds of change see their careers rise, others find themselves swept aside. In the unceasing barrage of found footage horror films, even established directors have found themselves moving towards that genre, Rain Man’s Barry Levinson with The Bay, Dog Soldiers’ Neil Marshall rumoured for the unnecessary American remake of Troll Hunter, and this film, from Renny Harlin.
While the fantastical has become the dominant form of genre entertainment for children, for adults science fiction and horror have remained the prevailing forms. Despite the superficial similarities there are key differences which define their individuality, and it is very rare for a successful hybrid to be produced, with Alien, The Thing, Event Horizon and Pitch Black among the few survivors on a battlefield littered with the remains of Screamers, Hellraiser: Bloodline, Ghosts of Mars, Jason X and Doom, to name but a few.
According to the blurb, Phillip Blake (“the Governor,” although anyone who doesn’t know that will probably not be particularly interested in this book) is an “uber-villain” who runs the walled off town of Woodbury in a world overrun by the undead, “a man who is just as terrifying as the zombie menace outside.” The previous Walking Dead novels from Robert Kirkman and Jay Bonansinga, The Rise of the Governor and The Road to Woodbury, dealt with the evolution of the character, how he came to be the sadistic and violent leader that terrorised Rick Grimes and his group.
Genre has always been looked down upon by the establishment, science fiction a ghetto occupied by fanciful writers of whimsy, horror regarded as lower still, lurid and base, an indulgent and perverse flaunting of the rules of polite society. Only within the last few decades has the relevance of science fiction begun to be recognised and accepted – an Oscar nomination for Sigourney Weaver for Aliens in 1986, Golden Globes for both David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson for The X Files in 1996 – but horror, possibly proudly, has retained its pariah status, yet is arguably equally important, the peeling back of the veneer of civilisation as much as of flesh to examine the truth beneath.