First Draft (no date)
So I received the Halloween script from an anonymous source a few days ago while making last minute sales calls at work, just waiting for the day to end. I could not believe it was the script, I would not believe it was the script. Then I printed it out and that, to me, was test #1 as to its authenticity. I’m a writer so I know the look, feel, and texture of a proper script.
When I printed it and saw it in front of me – I knew it was the real deal. All formatting was right, the dialogue, action, everything systematically correct (even hardcore fans/hobbyists do make mistakes when trying to pass something off as the real thing). Most importantly, though, was the fact that I could see remnants of the three-hole punches on each page. I knew right away someone at the studio scanned a hard copy and made a PDF file to get it to the masses.
I hurried home and nestled myself in a warm and scary corner of my house so nothing could distract me – no phone, computer, TV, dumper (ha!), nothing. I scanned page 1 – the mood of Halloween, the feel of the holiday, was there. I could see a stuffed scarecrow on the porch with a jack-o-lantern for a head. I was excited – I’m reading Rob Zombie’s script! Before page 1 could end I spotted the 1st of a hundred typos, however; that was distracting but I pressed on and to my amazement, the script was … oh it was …
I wasn’t in love with it … I didn’t hate it … I felt … eh, not bad.
Let’s start with the basics. This is Zombie’s vision. He is doing what he wants and we have to deal with that. He did not go to the John Carpenter School of Suspense and Chills. He’s doing this his way and we should come to terms with that.
Okay so it’s 1978 and Mikey Myers is a little ten-year-old blonde with more problems than he can shake a stick at. His mom is a stripper with a vulgar mouth at The Rabbit in Red Lounge. Her “boyfriend of the month”, as sister Judith puts it, is Ronnie – an abusive drunk, chain smoking homophobe who is all bark and never gets a chance to use his bite. Judith is the promiscuous older sister that uses every opportunity to degrade her little brother. Oh, and Mikey likes to beat it, you know, it, while listening to the sounds of animals he had brutally killed in the past (at age 10 he has quite a libido it seems).
Mikey also has two tormentors at school that follow his every movement. When his teacher finds some drawings and summons his mother to meet at the school with the principal and child psychologist Samuel Loomis, Michael disappears from school and decides to make little Jennifer his first human victim. I won’t spoil the rest of Halloween night 1978; let’s just say the aspects of the original are there but they dropped a hit of acid in Zombie’s setting. Thus sets off the beginning of Michael Myers; not Michael the Evil on Two Legs that we’re used to, but rather Michael The Rage on Two Legs. Michael’s rage is a big part of this script and his driving motivation to kill.
We then see Loomis try to reach Michael, spending, say, 7 years or so attempting to connect with him, and then another 8–10 years (more like 10 since it is a 17-year gap before escaping as opposed to the 15 from the original) trying to keep him locked up. We see Michael staring at the wall, looking past the wall, being inhumanely patient, knowing some force is biding its time within him for something no one at Smith’s Grove Sanitarium, save Loomis, can comprehend.
When two idiots decide to rape a mentally challenged resident of Smith’s Grove, Michael makes his escape and the remake begins. Now many people, including Zombie, said that the film eventually gets to present day Haddonfield, but I only saw/read a 17-year gap; thus the remake takes place in 1995 … yet the technology is 2007 so I don’t know.
Now we get to the best part of the script. All the subtle nods to the original are there: “totally”, Ben Tramer, etc. Yet I somehow still felt cheated. There was no character exposition – Annie talks like a complete moron and Lynda’s lines read from the “Guide to Being a Badass in 6th Grade – Swear Your Ass Off”. No girl with proper self-respect tells her boyfriend, at age 18, to “Oh, put it in me”…at least not the little vixens I went to school with. Laurie is the good girl once again and her dad hates corporate America (the roles of her parents are pointless, though, as Cynthia is in 1 scene and Mason only in 2, at least in this draft). Zombie makes the mistake of trying to cram 90 minutes of film into 57 pages of script; Laurie at 17 is introduced on page 69 in the version I obtained.
There are plenty of scares but no mood or chills, although Laurie’s chase scene is just as good if not better than in the original – and more realistic. I like that we get to see Paul, Annie’s boyfriend, even if he is just knife fodder. And speaking of her, Annie has a bigger impact on the end of the film and I can see all three girls’ characters working well if the chemistry among Harris, Compton, and Klebe is right. When Michael speaks, it’s actually spine tingling and the way he obtains the mask and his obsession with it in this draft are both home runs.
Contrary to Zombie’s previous statements, Loomis is basically the same character, no more developed than from Carpenter’s original; one scene with his wife does not round him out in my book. His best lines are lifted right from Halloween 1978, actually. McDowell is a good character actor so I’m sure he’ll make it better than written. Sherriff Brackett is beefed up a bit, however, and more willing to go along with Loomis this time around. In fact Brackett almost does a better job at handling the effect Myers has on his town, although the true Loomis pulls through in the end. I do love Loomis’ obsession with Myers in this film more than in the original. Zombie hit that right.
In the end, did I like the script? Is this the way to do a remake? I don’t know. All I know is the blueprint is there for this to be a new classic – it really is. Zombie just needs to do a few things: 1) Make Loomis his own; he is not doing what he said he wanted to see Loomis do; 2) Laurie needs to be a little more fleshed out; right now she’s doorknob dull; 3) Decide if this is a dramatic study on the effects of a negative familial society on a child (or prequel for those that want a straight one-word definition) or a genuine reimagining of a true horror classic. I think both are fascinating ideas for a film, but Zombie either needs to take away 30 pages from one half and use that extra time for more exposition in the other half of the story or make two films – each 90 minutes long – the first being a psychological thriller on the man behind the mask and the second our remake.
The chances are there for him to make a good film – scratch that, a great film – he just needs to choose wisely to make it great. Either way I am behind Zombie and hope his version of Halloween kicks ass.
3 out of 5
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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