Reviewed by MattFini
Starring Corey Feldman, Casey B. Dolan, Tanit Phoenix, Jamison Newlander, Seb Castang
Directed by Dario Piana
Distributed by Warner Home Video
Enjoyment of Lost Boys: The Thirst is perhaps contingent on one’s reaction to 2008’s misguided Lost Boys: The Tribe, specifically Corey Feldman’s reprisal of resident vampire hunter Edgar Frog. Make no mistake, this second sequel to Joel Schumacher’s 1987’s vampire classic is a considerable step-up from the debacle of The Tribe, but we’re still wading through direct-to-video waters here. Burdened with a low budget (noticeably so at times) and some weak second-tier performances, Feldman’s grumpy vampire slayer takes center stage to battle a devious clan of raver vamps. Think of this not so much as a sequel to The Lost Boys but rather The Further Adventures of the Frog Brothers and it actually works.
Largely ignoring the events of The Tribe, Edgar Frog has fallen on tough times. His brother Allan (the returning Jamison Newlander) is now a vampire – the result of a botched slaying job – and killing vampires just isn’t the lucrative gig it once was. He’s approached by the mastermind behind a series of Twilight-esque novels, bestselling author Gwen Lieber (Tanit Phoenix), to rescue her kidnapped brother from a pack of nefarious bloodsuckers. Edgar is reluctant to take up arms against these creatures as it means crossing swords with an ‘Alpha’ vamp (apparently the ‘original’ vampire) but soon finds himself leading a last-ditch rescue effort.
The Thirst isn’t taking itself very seriously; Feldman’s one-note, cantankerous Frog brother spends the entirety of the run time with a scowl on his face and a growl in his throat. It’s all that can be expected from a former child star who never had much range to begin with. The dynamics of his performance are naturally limited but the biggest surprise is that everything Feldman does winds up working in the movie’s favor. Between an altercation with a snobby comic book customer over term ‘graphic novel’, or competition with a pompous reality star turned amateur vampire hunter, everything’s a bother to Edgar Frog. He’s a guy who just wants to be left alone. Feldman milks that nuance for all it’s worth, winning us over while keeping his tongue planted firmly in cheek.
The rest of the cast finds varied success throughout. Seb Casting is appropriately skeezey as DJ X, the pompous record spinner with designs on enslaving the human race. Casey Dolan is Edgar’s loyal confidante and fellow comic geek, Zoe. Dolan isn’t an amazing actress and her performance is a tightrope act between the annoying and the engaging. Tanit Phoenix certainly looks the part of an exotic and alluring prissy writer but she isn’t given much to do aside from appear in varying degrees of undress. Much has been touted around the triumphant return of the Frog Brothers, but Jamison Newlander finds himself in the backseat for much of the proceedings. A shame, too, considering that he and Feldman have some damn good chemistry whenever they’re on screen. The Thirst spends some time repairing their brotherly rift and, should a fourth film see the light of day, let’s hope the producers see fit to give Newlander more to do than appear in a handful of scenes.
It’s evident that The Thirst wants to tell a story that is too large for its budget. From the opening scene which finds the Frog Brothers tracking vampires in Washington D.C. to the final action set piece, the action is never quite as rousing as it wants to be. Fight choreography falls entirely on the clunky side and the climactic battle with big bad number one goes off without a hitch. But director Dario Piana does his best to cover budgetary limitations with some gratuitous doses of nudity and gore while moving things at a breakneck pace (76 minutes, sans credits). The end result is a film that occasionally feels like it’s trying awfully hard not to overstay its welcome, but some important character bits and story points tend to feel a bit rushed as a result.
Some will argue that there never should’ve been a sequel to The Lost Boys and now there’s two (with promise of another). This is the film Warner Bros. should’ve given us the first time out and they obviously realized it too since they went through great lengths to rectify the travesty of The Tribe. Keep those expectations in check and enjoy the goofy delights offered here. It’s far from perfect but it’s not hard to have a good time.
The Thirst takes a bite out of Blu-ray with a soft-looking, yet detailed high definition transfer. Colors take on an intentionally muted tone throughout much of the film although that doesn’t prevent this encode from offering inky black levels and appeasing grain structure. There are some very minor instances where blocking and clipping is glimpsed but nothing that should detract from enjoying this modest little HD presentation.
The DTS HD 5.1 track is more successful, offering an aggressive mixture of textured music and effective sound effects. Dialogue is slightly flat but falls easy on the ear. There lots of action to keep this one chugging along and Warner’s track does it tired and true justice.
There’s only a handful of supplements to be found here, a silly featurette called How to Kill a Vampire runs five minutes and features Edgar Frog and an array of weapons. The Return of the Frog Bros. runs for seven minutes in which you can see Corey Feldman interview both Frog Brothers. What is the Thirst is a throwaway, six minute feature which is nothing but promos for the vampire drug glimpsed in the film. Lastly, Charisma Carpenter Hosts The Art of Seduction: Vampire Lore is a superficial look at vampire culture and its allure. Meh.
It would’ve been nice had Warner Bros. bothered to give us a commentary track with the Frog Brothers or something of equal substance, but even if this disc offers a meager collection of forgettable extras, the movie is still a lot of fun in the right frame of mind. Lost Boys: The Thirst isn’t necessarily a worthy successor to the original but it’s a delightfully goofy time nonetheless.
3 1/2 out of 5
2 out of 5
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IAMX’s Alive in New Light Review – A Dark, Hypnotic, and Stunning Musical Endeavor
Recording eight albums is an achievement no matter the artist, group, or band. This is especially true for Chris Corner’s IAMX, his solo project after the trip hop group Sneaker Pimps, which has enchanted listeners since 2004’s Kiss + Swallow with its dark electronic aesthetic. There’s something fascinating about the music Corner puts out as IAMX. Perhaps it’s the underlying melancholy that seems to pervade the music, almost certainly a result of the musician’s battle with depression and chronic insomnia [Source]. Perhaps it’s the unexpected melodies that reveal themselves with each new measure. Whatever it is, IAMX’s music is a constant delight.
On Alive in New Light, Corner reveals that his eighth album was a product he created as a way of “…breaking free from demons that have long plagued him,” per an official press release. Strangely enough, this uplifting attitude may easily be overlooked but repeat listens unveil a sense of hope and wonder that are simply breathtaking. The title track echoes with almost angelic choir pads that positively shine as Corner exultingly cries in a shimmering falsetto, “I’m alive in new light!” This comes after the Depeche Mode-esque “Stardust”, which offers the first collaboration with Kat Von D, whose pure voice is a beautiful addition to the pulsating track.
The third track, “Break The Chains”, has an opening that immediately called to mind Birds of Tokyo’s “Discoloured”, which is meant as a compliment. It’s followed by the Nine Inch Nails influenced “Body Politics”, which meshes Corner’s crooning vocals with a 90’s industrial backdrop. “Exit” has an almost sinister progression lurking in the background that builds to an aggressive, in-your-face third act. The cinematic Middle Eastern flairs of “Stalker” mutate effortlessly into a heartbeat pulse that features back-and-forth vocals between Corner and Von D. The haunted circus vibe that permeates through “Big Man” is mirrored by its playful gothic aura, ghostly “oohs” and “aahs” sprinkled carefully here and there.
While the album has been a delight up to this point, it’s the final two tracks that took my breath away and left me stunned. “Mile Deep Hollow” builds layer after layer while Corner passionately cries out, “So thank you/you need to know/that you dragged me out/of a mile deep hollow/and I love you/you brought me home/because you dragged me out/of a mile deep hollow.” The way the song’s melodies back these wonderfully uplifting lyrics feels grand and epic, as though a journey is coming to an end, which is where “The Power and the Glory” comes in. Far more subdued, it’s a beautiful song that feels almost like a religious experience, a hymn of a soul that is desperate to claw its way to salvation and escape a life of pain and darkness.
What makes Alive in New Light so wonderful is how much there is to experience. I got the album and listened to it no less than five times in a row without pause. I simply couldn’t turn it off because each return revealed something new in the music. Corner also makes fantastic use of Von D’s vocals, carefully placing them so as to make them a treat and not a commonplace certainty.
While some may be disappointed that there are only nine tracks, each of the songs is carefully and meticulously crafted to be as powerful and meaningful as possible. It really is a stunning accomplishment and I’m nothing short of blown away by how masterfully Alive in New Light plays out.
IAMX’s Alive in New Light is a triumph of music. Full of beauty and confidence, it doesn’t forget the foundation that fans have come to know and love for over a decade but instead embraces that comfortable darkness with open arms. Corner states that this album was a way to break free from his demons. It certainly feels like he’s made peace with them.
The Hatred Review – A History Lesson Dug Up From The Depths Of Hell
Starring Zelda Adams, Lulu Adams, John Law
Directed by John Law
I don’t know about the scholastic interests the masses had (or have) that read all of the killer nuggets that get cranked out on this site, but when I was an academic turd, one of my true passions was history, and it was one of the only subjects that managed to hold my interest, and when the opportunity arose to check out John Law’s ultra-nightmarish feature, The Hatred – I was ready to crack the books once again.
The setting is the Blackfoot Territory in the late 1800s, and the pains of a lengthy conflict have taken their toll on the remaining soldiers as food has become scarce, and the film picks up with soldiers on the march in the brutal cold and snow covered mountainside. In tow is a P.O.W. (Law), and the decision is made by the soldiers to execute him in earnest instead of having to shorten their rations by feeding him, so he is then hung (pretty harshly done), and left to rot as the uniformed men trudge along. A short time later the group encounters a small family on the fringes of the territory, and when the demands for food are rebuked, the slaughter is on and the only survivor is a young girl (Adams) who prays to an oblivious god that she can one day reap the seeds of revenge upon those who’ve murdered her family. We all know that there are usually two sides to any story, and when the good ear isn’t listening, the evil one turns its direction towards those who need it most, and that’s when the Devil obliges.
The answer to the young girl’s prayers comes in the resurrection of the prisoner that was hung a short time ago, and he has been dubbed “Vengeance” – together their goal will be achieved by harshly dishing out some retribution, and the way it’s presented is drawn-out, almost like you’re strapped into the front-row pew of a hellfire-cathedral and force-fed the sermon of an evil voice from the South side of the tracks. It’s vicious and beautiful all at once, Law’s direction gives this visually-striking presentation all the bells and whistles to please even the harshest of critics (hell, you’re reading the words of one right now). The performances, while a bit stoic in nature, still convey that overall perception of a wrong that demands to be righted, no matter how morally mishandled it might be. Overall, I can absolutely recommend The Hatred for not only those wanting a period-piece with ferocious-artistry, but for others who continue to pray with no response, and are curious to see what the other side can offer.
The Hatred is a visually-appealing look into the eyes of animus, and all of the beauty of returning the harm to those who have awarded it to others.
Before We Vanish Review – A Quirky and Original Take on Alien Invasions
Starring Masami Nagasawa, Ryûhei Matsuda, Hiroki Hasegawa
Written by Kiyoshi Kurosawa
Directed by Kiyoshi Kurosawa
During the J-horror rampage of the late 90’s and early 2000’s, Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s Kairo (aka Pulse). A dark, depressing, and morose tale of ghosts that use the internet to spread across the world, the film’s almost suffocatingly gloomy atmosphere pervaded across every frame of the film. Because of my love of this film, I was eager to see the director’s upcoming movie Sanpo Suru Shinryakusha (aka Before We Vanish), which follows three aliens who recently arrived on Earth and are preparing to bring about an alien invasion that will wipe humanity from the face of the planet. Imagine my surprise when the film turned out to be barely a horror title but was instead a quirky and surreal dramedy that tugged at my heartstrings.
Admittedly, I was thrown completely for a loop as the film begins with a scene that feels perfectly at home in a horror film. Akira (Tsunematsu), a teenage girl, goes home and we enter moments later to blood splashed on the walls and floor and bodies strewn about. However, the disturbing visuals are spun around as the young girl walks down a highway, her clothes and face streaked with blood, Yusuke Hayashi’s music taking on a lighthearted, almost jaunty attitude. From there, we learn of the other two aliens (yes, she’s an alien and it’s not a secret or a twist, so no spoilers there): Amano (Takasugi), who is a young man that convinces a sleazy reporter, Sakurai (Hasegawa), of his true form and tasks Sakurai with being his guide, and Shinji (Matsuda), the estranged husband of Narumi (Nagasawa).
What sets these aliens, and their mission, apart from other invasion thrillers is their means of gathering information. They’re not interested in meeting leaders nor do they capture people for nefarious experimentations. Rather, they steal “concepts” from the minds of people, such as “family”, “possession”, or “pest”. Once these concepts are taken, the victim no longer has that value in their mind, freed from its constraints.
While this may seem like a form of brainwashing, Kurosawa instead plays with the idea that maybe knowing too much is what holds us back from true happiness. A man obsessed with staking claim to his family home learns to see the world outside of its walls when “possession” is no longer a part of his life. A touchy boss enters a state of child-like glee after “work” has been taken. That being said, there are other victims who are left as little more than husks.
Overly long at 130 minutes, the film does take its time showing the differences between the aliens and their individual behaviors. Amano and Akira are casually ruthless, willing to do whatever it takes to send a beacon to begin the alien invasion, no matter how many must die along the way, while Shinji is the curious and almost open-minded one, whose personal journey finds him at one point asking a priest to envision and describe “love”, a concept that is so individualistic and personal that it can’t be taken, much less fathomed, by this alien being. While many of these scenes are necessary, they could have easily been edited down to shave 10-15 minutes, making the film flow a bit more smoothly.
While the film begins on a dark note, there is a scene in the third act that is so pure and moving that tears immediately filled my eyes and I choked up a little. It’s a moment of both sacrifice and understanding, one that brings a recurring thread in the story full circle.
With every passing minute, Before We Vanish makes it clear that it’s much more horror-adjacent than horror. An alien invasion thriller with ultimate stakes, it will certainly have appeal to genre fans. That being said, those who go in expecting action, violence, and terror will certainly be disappointed. But those whose mind is a bit more open to a wider range of possibilities will find a delightful story that attempts to find out what it means to be human, even if we have to learn the lesson from an alien.
Before We Vanish is a beautiful, wonderful tale that explores what it means to be human when faced with the threat of extinction.
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