Starring former Harry Potter Daniel Radcliffe, The Woman in Black, based on the novel by Susan Hill, was a conscious effort to introduce British horror studio Hammer to a new generation, and a vastly successful one at that, grossing almost $128 million on cinema release, a fine return on the $15 million production budget. Of course, a sequel beckoned, moving the story forward a generation from the period prior to the Great War to the days of the London blitz as a schoolteacher and her young charges are evacuated to the supposed safety of isolated Eel Marsh House. Tom Harper directs from a script by Jon Croker, based on a story by Susan Hill, the writer of the original novel.
“Every person living on this planet has their own unique pair of eyes,” says Ian Gray, father, husband, scientist: he is bound by what he can observe, measure, categorise, but equally true is that every person on the planet has their own set of experiences, their own unique vision and perspective, and so it is possible for two people to look upon the same thing and yet see something quite different. So it is with the latest film from Mike Cahill, a wide eyed gaze at the contrariness of love and the conflict between faith and science.
Riding on the crest of a wave of box-office success in the USA, The Maze Runner now hurtles into multiplexes nationwide, the latest in an increasingly desperate succession of Hunger Games cash-ins, this Young Adult dystopian drama is adapted from the 2009 novel by James Dashner. Taking place mostly in the Glade, a sylvan clearing which is effectively a prison inhabited by a small community of teenage boys surrounded by impassable walls on all four sides, the story begins in medias res with the arrival of Thomas (Teen Wolf’s Dylan O'Brien), the latest in a long line of monthly arrivals.
It’s not a typical apocalypse, nor was the inspiration as obvious as the inescapable cold war angst during the escalating tensions between Reagan’s America and the revolving political door of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics at the time, Brezhnev, Andropov, Chernenko and Gorbachev within a matter of months. Instead, writer and director Thom Eberhardt says the muse for his 1984 feature was actually a romantic comedy released eighteen months previously, director Martha Coolidge's Valley Girl, starring Deborah Foreman and a teenage Nicholas Cage.
Most often seen as a cinematic venture, Star Wars
has not always been an easy fit with television, even though the immediate successor to the global phenomenon of 1977 was a television event, November 1978’s Star Wars Holiday Special
which set the tone for all further small screen adventures, focused on the child rather than the family demographic of the films: the two Ewok adventures Caravan of Courage
(1984) and The Battle for Endor
(1985), the cartoon series Droids
(both 1985-1986) and the various Clone Wars
iterations (2003-2005 and 2008-2014).
Ostensibly a film with time travel as a central plot device, Edge Of Tomorrow
is less influenced by the temporal mechanics of The Time Machine
or the paradoxes Looper
and is more honestly positioned somewhere between Groundhog Day
and Saving Private Ryan
. Adapted relatively faithfully by Christopher McQuarrie (Jack the Giant Slayer
) and brothers Jez and John-Henry Butterworth from the novel All You Need Is Kill
by Hiroshi Sakurazaka with illustrations by Yoshitoshi Abe, the film is directed by Doug Liman, continuing his cinematic evolution which has taken him from Swingers
(1996) through The Bourne Identity
(2002) to Jumper
(2008) and now here.
“I didn’t make it as a horror film, I made it as a statement,” says writer/director Michael Armstrong in the interview accompanying Arrow’s Blu-ray release of Mark of the Devil, the 1970 film which was marketed as "Positively the most horrifying film ever made" and "Rated V for Violence" by the American distributor Hallmark. Filmed in West Germany, a country which now has a pragmatic approach to superstition, it was an international collaboration which allowed content which would not have been allowed by the censors of Britain nor the studios of America, always answerable to their shareholders. Specifically, European cinema would question the complicity of the church in the persecution of women in the middle ages where Hollywouldn’t.
Science fiction is most often the medium of the future, looking forward to a tomorrow which may be brighter or may be troubled but will certainly be different, changed through a technology which has opened up a new possibility to humanity be it good or bad. Yet science fiction also has the past to explore and an equally valid subgenre is the alternate history, the world as it might have been had a different route been taken, or in the case of the deep space refuelling point Space Station 76, how the solar system might have been had the reality of economics not curtailed the ambition of the space programme.
Do zombies eat the flesh of the dead, or only the living? Given sufficient need, will zombies even feast upon each other? Given the evidence of the pilot episode of SyFy’s Z Nation, there is apparently very little that zombies will not consume and regurgitate wholesale upon the screen given the prompting of a production team boldly aiming to go where many, many have gone before in a cycle of ever decreasing and decomposing returns.
It began with The Hunchback of Notre Dame in 1923 and The Phantom of the Opera in 1925, both starring Lon Chaney, based on the novels by Victor Hugo and Gaston Leroux respectively, the first films in the sequence which came to be known as the Universal Monsters, though it was not until 1931 when Bela Lugosi played the title role of Bram Stoker’s Dracula and Boris Karloff appeared in the adaptation of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein that the series would truly come to be recognised as such, with over seventy films produced through the decades that embraced pulp science fiction as much as literary horror before concluding with The Leech Woman in 1960.