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Goal of the Dead (2014)

Goal of the Dead (2014)Starring Alban Lenoir, Charlie Bruneau, Tiphaine Daviot, Ahmed Sylla

Directed by Benjamin Rocher


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Goal of the Dead (2014)Starring Alban Lenoir, Charlie Bruneau, Tiphaine Daviot, Ahmed Sylla

Directed by Benjamin Rocher


On the heels of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, another football-crazed country, France, has combined the two things that have always been proven to bring the masses together in times of peril: the international sport of soccer and the unrelenting hordes of the undead. With Goal of the Dead (first released as a two-parter in its country of origin), directors Thierry Poiraud and Benjamin Rocher have teamed up to create a fast-moving, character-driven zom-com that manages to keep its momentum despite the film being divided up and then slapped back together again for a festival run at the Fantasia International Film Fest.

Cleverly separated into “First Half” and “Second Half” installments, there’s no mystery where the outbreak virus originates (a post-credit sequence in Part 1 gives even more info), and the character carrying the infection winds up having a long-standing connection with the main lead character that pays off later on in the film.

Still full of himself after all these years, famed footballer Sam Lorit (Alban Lenoir) returns to the home field of Caplongue – a town he abandoned 17 years previous to join up with his current squad, the splintered but talented Olympique de Paris. Although the match is just an exhibition, the diehards of team Caplongue are ravenous with anticipation, hellbent on sending Lorit back to Paris with his tail between his legs.

Not soon after the match starts, more carriers race through the gathered crowd, spreading the Z-germ by means of high velocity white vomit preferably applied directly to the mouth and face of the nearest fan. The outbreak personifies the over-excited, near religious fervor of the local football supporters and serves as a microcosm for the international obsession of soccer worldwide. (It’s also pretty disgusting but in that charming, Stand By Me “complete and total Barf-A-Rama” sort of way). Akin more to rabies than rigor mortis, once this killer cocktail is fully ingested, the mayhem spreads from the stands into the streets, where soccer town becomes riot town.

Once team Paris is split up, the story begins to humanize anti-hero Sam Lorit – now trapped in a bar with a cute fan girl (Tiphanie Daviot) – when it’s revealed that he regrets leaving his hometown and once had plans to return before he realized how much the people despised him. On the other end, Paris’ man-child superstar athlete Idris (Ahmed Sylla) remains lost in the bowels of the stadium with an obsessive, weird fan that he would completely ignore in normal circumstances. Both amuse as their egos slowly fade as they’re forced to become more human as the hordes outside become more monstrous.

The “First Half,” directed by Rocher, has plenty of action and humor, but it’s left to Thierry Piraud to deliver the climactic battle in the “Second Half,” where the drama (just as if it were an actual match) kicks into high gear. Each section complements the other well with the tone and style never changing greatly from one “action” call to the next. Some shots of the action on the field in both parts are striking in their scope and composition, adding some cinematic flourishes that are normally reserved for larger affairs. In fact, it looks as if an entire town really was involved during some wide shots showing a staggering amount of extras in full freak-out mode.

All in all, Goal of the Dead continues the above-and-beyond quality level of Shawn and Juan, almost as if an actual epidemic of Romero-esque parody swept across Europe from England to Spain (by way of Cuba) and, finally, small-town France. If anything, transplanting the underlying commentary of mindless consumerism to a lightweight statement on unruly fandom feels fresh. In that respect, Goal of the Dead draws a fun connection between sports buffs and horror fans that reminds us that maybe we’re not so different from each other after all.

4 out of 5

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Fearsome Facts – Dracula: Prince of Darkness (1966)

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Sir Christopher Lee returned to portray the charismatic count of Transylvania in Hammer’s Dracula: Prince of Darkness (1966) for the first time since taking on the iconic role in 1958’s Horror of Dracula – an eight year absence. 

And while Lee endured a love/hate relationship playing the Carpathian Count over the years, the actor reluctantly tackled the role a total of 10 times for the Silver Screen. Three of those performances came outside of the purview of Hammer Horror, but this list is dedicated to the first Hammer Dracula sequel to feature the return of Christopher Lee in the lead role.

Now, here are 5 Things You May Not Know About Dracula: Prince of Darkness.

5. Dracula: Speechless

Dialogue never played a crucial part in Christopher Lee’s portrayals as Count Dracula, but this film is the epitome of that contentious notion. Lee doesn’t utter a single word during Dracula: Prince of Darkness’ 90 minutes of run time. In interviews over the years, Lee said that he was so unhappy with his lines that he protested and refused to say them during the filming process. “Because I had read the script and refused to say any of the lines,” Lee said in an interview at the University College of Dublin.

However, screenwriter Jimmy Sangster insisted that the original script was written without any dialogue for Dracula. There was even a theory that circulated for a time which postulated that Hammer could not afford Lee’s growing salary, so the studio decided to limit the Count’s screen time. Did this lead to the demise of Dracula’s dialogue? Regardless of whom you want to believe, Dracula is the strong, silent type in Prince of Darkness. 

4. Double Duty for Drac

Hammer Film Productions doubled down, so to speak, on the production and post-production aspects of Dracula: Prince of Darkness. First, the studio filmed the vampire flick back-to-back with another project titled Rasputin: The Mad Monk (1966). In doing so, Hammer used many of the same sets, actors – including Francis Matthews and Suzan Farmer – and crew members to shoot both motion pictures.

Second, Dracula: Prince of Darkness was featured in a double billing alongside the film The Plague of the Zombies (1966) when it screened in London. Insert cheesy cliche: “Double your pleasure, double your fun with Doublemint Gum.” 

3. Stunt Double Nearly Drowned

Dracula: Prince of Darkness introduced a new weakness in the wicked baddie, but it nearly cost a stuntman his life. During the film, it was revealed that running water could destroy Dracula. Wait, what? Apparently, leaving the faucets on at night not only prevents frozen pipes, but blood-sucking vampires, too.

All kidding aside, it was during the climactic battle scene in which Christopher Lee’s stunt double almost succumb to the icy waters on set. Stuntman Eddie Powell stepped in as the Count during that pivotal moment, as Dracula slipped into the watery grave, but Powell was trapped under the water himself and almost died.

2. Lee Loathed What Hammer Did to Stoker’s Character

Christopher Lee’s return to Hammer’s Dracula franchise was a stroke of genius on the part of producers, but Lee was more than a little reticent when it came to initially voicing his dislike for playing the iconic role. As mentioned above, a lot of speculation swirled around the lack of dialogue given to Lee in the Prince of Darkness script. And if you don’t count the opening flashback sequence, which revisits the ending of Horror of Dracula (1958), Count Dracula doesn’t appear on screen until the 45-minute mark of the film.

Dracula’s lack of character, and presence, began to affect Lee particularly when it came to signing on to play the character in the three films following Prince of Darkness. Indeed, the lack of meaningful character development led to Lee initially turning down Dracula Has Risen From the Grave (1968), Taste the Blood of Dracula (1970) and Scars of Dracula (1970). Lee said in countless interviews that he never got to play the real version of Count Dracula created by Bram Stoker, at least via Hammer Studios. This was a true disappointment to the late actor.

But Hammer guilt Lee into taking on the role over and over again, because the studio claimed to have already sold the aforementioned films to the United States with Lee’s name attached to the projects. Hammer informed Lee that if he didn’t return the company would have to lay off many of their workers. The tactic worked, since Lee was friends with many of the Dracula crew members. Fortunately for fans, Lee kept coming back for blood.

1. Faux Pas

Outside of the character of Dracula only appearing on screen for the last half of the movie, Dracula: Prince of Darkness had even more pressing issues that unfortunately survived all the way to the final cut of the film. One of the most appalling of these occurrences happens during the picture’s climatic confrontation. Watch the skies above Dracula and you will see the trail of a jet-engine plane staining the sky.

Another faux pas occurs in this same sequence when Dracula succumbs to the icy waters. Watch closely as the camera’s long shot clearly reveals the pivots holding the ice up underneath Chris Lee. Finally, watch the dead girl who is being carried during the opening funeral sequence. She is clearly breathing and quite heavily at that.

***

Which Dracula: Prince of Darkness moments did you find the most interesting? Were there any obscure facts you would have enjoyed seeing make our list? Sound off on social media!

 

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Carnivore: Werewolf of London Howls on VOD

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Joining the ranks of The Curse of the Werewolf, An American Werewolf in London, The Company of Wolves, and Dog Soldiers, Carnivore: Werewolf of London is the latest in a long series of fantastic British werewolf movies. Directed by Knights of the Damned’s Simon Wells, the film focuses on a couple trying to save their relationship by taking a vacation in a remote cottage, but rekindling their old flame soon proves to be the least of their worries as they learn that something with lots of fur and lots of teeth is waiting for them in the surrounding woods.

Carnivore: Werewolf of London stars Ben Loyd-Holmes, Atlanta Johnson, Gregory Cox, Molly Ruskin, and Ethan Ruskin, and is available to purchase now on Google Play, Amazon Video, iTunes, and Vudu, although it doesn’t appear to have received a physical release as of yet.

More information about Carnivore: Werewolf of London is available on the film’s official Facebook account, along with a ton of production photos.

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John Carpenter … NOT DEAD!

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We currently live in a world of false alarms. Within the last several days we’ve suffered everything from warnings of doomsday to Rotten Tomatoes accidentally celebrating the passing(!) and career of the very much still alive John Carpenter.

That’s right, kids; earlier today RT tweeted, “John Carpenter would have been 70 years old today! We celebrate his birthday by looking back at his five favorite films.” The tweet… has since been deleted.

We are here to tell you… John is very much alive! Alive and well, even. Carpenter himself responded on Twitter by alerting the site that “despite how it appears, I’m actually not dead.

This is great news indeed. One of horror’s best and brightest is still bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. Now then, let’s take this time to celebrate the man’s birthday PROPERLY by talking about our favorite films of his. Speaking personally for myself…

Prince of Darkness is a movie that both unnerves and scares the hell out of me. One of Carpenter’s most thought-provoking works is just as frightening now as it was when we first received that grainy transmission as a dream from the year…

Tell us your favorite Carpenter movie in our comments section below.

…and HAPPY BIRTHDAY, JOHN!

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